Take today’s next step: Exhale sin; inhale God’s forgiveness.
“O God, you are my God. At dawn I search for you. My soul thirsts for you. My body longs for you in a dry, parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1, GW)
As I traveled down the road on my lunch break today, I noticed off to the side of the road in the distance ahead, what appeared to be a couple of deer. Upon slowing down, I removed my shades to get a better look. I laughed out loud as I observed the large weeds on the side of the road.
It was then that I heard this question within my spirit: what is obstructing your view? You see, the shades made it difficult for me to view the situation clearly. As I took another look at my current situation, I realized what the Lord was saying to me.
Now, I ask you the same, what is blocking you from seeing clearly? What is it in your life today that is keeping you from seeing what the Lord is doing in and around you?
Often we allow what we are going through to cloud our vision. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, that these hardships are only temporary, they are small potatoes compared to what the Lord has prepared for us. Once we take the time needed to remove the distractions, the obstacles and reassess the situation, we find it is never as bad as it seemed.
I encourage you today to be proactive in your search for God. Always look and listen for Him in your everyday life. He is always speaking, even in the smallest things. Wisdom is always crying out in the streets.
Father, so often we are overwhelmed by life’s ups and downs. I pray that we will begin to open our ears and incline our hearts to understand what You are doing and saying to us during these tough times. Teach us, I pray, to wait in silence and be strengthened by Your voice. Help us to grab hold of Your promises and realize that You are always present with us; for You have promised never to leave us nor forsake us. Refresh our spirits through our time with You Lord, and continue to draw us to your side. Thank you for manifesting Yourself to us in an even greater way. In Jesus name, Amen
Question: In what ways has the Lord caught your attention lately?
Jesus called lowly fisherman to be his apostles. They weren’t esteemed, highly educated, or wealthy. They were regular people, much like you and me. Spending time in Nof Ginosar, looking at the 2,000-year-old “Jesus Boat” which locals believe to date back to the time of Christ Himself, it is striking to imagine that Jesus and his followers were also ordinary people who spent time at sea and lived a regular daily life.
While in the boat with a sleeping Jesus, the disciples cowered in fear because of the storm. They were quick to jump to conclusions that Jesus, though He was with them, did not care for their safety.
Question: How does your faith help you in difficult circumstances?
Take today’s next step: How do you define yourself?
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” (Psalm 103:1, ESV)
Sure, I bless the Lord with my lips and, as much as I can, with my heart. But with all that is in me? Can I really bless Him when my lower back is kinked or my sinuses are blocked and filled with pain? Can I bless him for my middle-aged tummy bulge or those widening hips? What about my second chin that is beginning to appear, or my hair, which has a mind of its own and pays more attention to the humidity than to any futile attempts to style it?
When we look at our flaws, imperfections, and body aches, it is hard to be positive, isn’t it? Other people may see our good points, but we magnify those things we hate about ourselves: our too-straight or too-curly hair; our big or pointy or hooked noses; our short legs; or, our over-sized bottoms. Some of us despise the fact that we are scrawny and tall and can’t seem to gain weight. (By the way, I secretly envy you, if that is your difficulty.)
Then there is the inside stuff: Our anger; our pride, which rears up when confronted; our stubbornness; and, our bad habits. Do people judge us more harshly than we judge ourselves? Does the way we act affect our appearance, or vice versa? What does that say about us as disciples of Christ? Where is our attitude of gratitude?
When will we realize that we are wonderfully and fearfully made by our Creator who desires relationship with us so much He even went to the cross so He could be with us? God sees us not as we are, but through the eyes of a loving parent. He sees the potential of who we can be when we use all the talents He has given us and when we choose to follow His ways. As the children’s song says, we are precious in His sight—no matter our race, our body shape, or our background.
It is true that some of our flaws are the result of our own life-choices. Through prayer and study of the Scriptures, we can change how we react to stress and to life in general. We can start turning to God for comfort and satisfaction, rather than to food or other worldly pleasures. We can spend less time at computers or on the couch in front of a television screen and, instead, get out to enjoy the beauty of our world. At the same time, we can help others in need.
Let’s read what Psalm 103 goes on to say:
“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (vs. 2-5, ESV)
The key is in the second verse when we forget not all His benefits; that is the attitude-changer. Once we claim Jesus as Lord, we receive eternal life and will one day have spiritual bodies free of disease and all imperfections. Since we have confessed Christ as Lord, we also get the crown. He forgives us, loves us, and shows us mercy. We can be more-than-satisfied with what is good, both in our bodies and in our lives. We can also seek God’s help to begin to see ourselves as He see us.
Dear God, the next time we feel down on ourselves, help us to remember who we are to You. Heal our attitudes and our bodies. Give us Your strength so we can renew every aspect of ourselves: our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies. May we rejoice in what we have been given, rather than complaining, knowing that so many have so little. Most of all, may we bless You with all that is in us for redeeming us from death and granting us eternal life and the forgiveness we could never hope to earn. We ask these things in Your holy and mighty name, Lord Jesus, Amen
Questions: When you look in the mirror, do you see yourself for your faults or for your blessings? How do you believe the Lord sees you?
Take today’s next step: What legacy are you leaving?
“Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again.” (Psalm 78:34)
Psalm 78 tells the story of God’s faithfulness to the people of Israel. Written as a reminder for generations to come, it records Israel’s history. Though the people disobeyed and refused to listen, God continued to provide for them.
Asaph lists his forefathers’ behavior toward God in Psalm 78:
Here is the interesting twist in the story: the Lord’s miracles failed to produce thanksgiving and devotion in the hearts of His people. Instead, God’s wrath brought them to their knees:
“Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.” (Psalm 78:34-35)
Like the Israelites of old, we also grumble and complain. We fail to thank God for His blessings and, instead, point out the things we believe we still lack. Then, when trouble comes, we cry out to God. In chaos, distress, and persecution, we recognize the Lord as our only hope.
Psalm 78 calls us to repentance. At the same time, it reassures us of God’s faithfulness in spite of our rebellion:
“Yet he was merciful; he atoned for their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.” (Psalm 78:38-39)
Gracious God, please forgive my rebellion. Help me to remember Your great acts of love toward me and to not doubt Your power. Thank you for Your great faithfulness. I praise Your holy and mighty name, Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
Questions: Why does it take trouble to make us turn to God? What stories can we tell our children so that they will trust God and not forget His deeds?
Take today’s next step: The 5-minute devo fix.
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” (Proverbs 14:1)
She quietly shared that life just seemed to be fraying around the edges, especially in her home. As we talked it was clear that the frenzied pace she kept was taking a toll on her home. “I love to be busy” she said. Yet the fruit of that busyness was not the fruit she desired for her home and family.
When we live at a pace that continually drains us we end up taking it out on those closest to us. Complaining, frustration and lack of patience can surface all too often. As women we can actually be tearing down relationships by our own hand and not even be aware we are doing so. A wise woman will take note of her reactions and make a choice to be a builder.
If your quiet time with God has slipped by the wayside of your life it won’t be long before you notice the tell-tale reactions of complaining, negativity and frustration in your life and relationships.
Ask God to help you keep some margin in your life so you are not running to the max all the time. Learn to choose your time investments carefully.
Ask God to come in a fresh way into your life to help you make time with Him a priority. Choose to make some changes in your schedule so God can make some changes in your heart. Invite His Holy Spirit to be the change agent in your life today. Ask for what the Bible calls the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) It’s “The Great Exchange.” He will help you build your relationships. You can depend on God to be your source for all your needs.
Father in Heaven, Today I ask that You would forgive me for foolishly reacting in ways that can tear my relationships down. Fill me afresh today with the fruit of Your Holy Spirit. May I be a wise woman filled with the wisdom and revelation that Your Spirit offers me. Help me to choose my activities carefully and to leave some margin in my life for rest. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Take today’s next step: Rest in God.
“If you set your heart aright and stretch out your hands to [God], If you put sin out of your hand and far away from you and let not evil dwell in your tents; Then can you lift up your face to Him without stain [of sin, and unashamed]; yes, you shall be steadfast and secure; you shall not fear. For you shall forget your misery; you shall remember it as waters that pass away. And [your] life shall be clearer than the noonday and rise above it; though there be darkness, it shall be as the morning. And you shall be secure and feel confident because there is hope; yes, you shall search about you, and you shall take your rest in safety. You shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid; yes, many shall sue for your favor.” (Job 11:13-19, Amplified Bible)
Can I get a break? I need a holiday, a vacation, an escape. Any of those would do; I’m not really picky. I’d even settle for just being able to put my head in the sand and let the world go by for a few days!
My life is just so crammed with stuff that continually requires my attention: there are the children who need help with their homework and have to be driven to soccer practice, picked up from gymnastics, dropped off at friends, and taken to the doctor! There is the job that never seems to be left at work; it sneaks into my car and forcefully makes its way into my home. Then there is the house: the never-ending mounds of laundry, dirty bathrooms, stacks of unwashed dishes, and weeds in the flower beds that threaten to take over even the hardiest plants. There are friends and relatives and neighbors who want my attention; the number of people in need goes on and on, and the list continues to grow.
Could I just scream, pull out my hair, and find the nearest closet in which to hide for awhile?
And then there is God. He is constantly at work, poking, prodding, re-shaping, and changing my life. Sometimes, I’m content to let Him do His work in me; however, after awhile, it gets a little laborious. I’m tired of being thrown out of my comfort zone! I feel like a cancer patient who is constantly jabbed with needles, poked in places that I don’t want to be prodded, and examined to the infinite degree. It gets to the point where I just want a break for a time – a sabbatical from God, if you will. Could I just stay where I am for awhile and not change?
I think summer is the perfect time to take a break from God. My Bible studies are finished; the children are out of school; and, my formal schedule is tossed out the window. I will be free! It’s not like it will last forever; I’ll just vacation for the summer and, then, when school starts up in the Fall, I will be ready for God to begin His work in me again.
I hear Him whisper, “My child, you will never just stay where you are; you are either moving toward Me or away from Me.”
Then I remember a verse from Proverbs 24 that says, “A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, with poverty as your permanent houseguest!” (vv. 33-34, The Message)
Do I really want that? Do I truly desire spiritual poverty as my permanent houseguest? I can already see myself bankrupt, sitting in a pool of self-pity and despair. I’ve been there before, and I know I don’t want to experience it again. What was I thinking? How foolish I have been!
Holy Lord, please forgive me. I’ve been a fool, but what grace You have extended to me in spite of myself! Teach me to love You with my entire heart, mind, soul, and strength. Let me never, ever take a holiday from You! I pray these things in Your mighty and precious name, Christ Jesus, Amen.
Questions: Have you ever felt you wanted or needed a vacation from God? How can we learn to rest in Jesus, rather than seeking time-out away from Him?
In the city of Jerusalem, we are given the incredible opportunity to retrace the footsteps of Christ. It is certainly a blessing to be able to visit places He has walked, dined, and lived in. Being in Israel is a poignant reminder of Christ’s life, His death and His resurrection. The city of Jerusalem, where tourists and historical sites abound, helps believers to consider the events in Scripture and how they may apply to our daily lives.
We can learn about the life of Jesus through a multitude of ways. Whether it is through Scripture or through holy places like Jerusalem, we are given a unique opportunity to get to know our God.
Question: What are some ways that you can help make Scripture come to life?
Take today’s next step: Invite the Holy Spirit to work in your life today.
“If the Son gives you freedom, you are free!” (John 8:36, CEV)
During winter months, my motivation waivers when the alarm clock screams MORNING and the view behind the blinds say it’s still the middle of the night. I don’t think I have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but the sun certainly does affect me in positive ways.
When the days are shorter, I find myself leaving the office wanting to put on my pajamas and bunny slippers. However, when the sunshine is gracing the morning and its warmth hugs me, it makes me look at my ‘to do list’ with new vigor.
It is the same when we have a relationship with the Son, Jesus Christ. He renews our hearts and gives us new perspective and energy to face the day. Some days are tough to get through. I am forever thankful for my relationship with the Son. From my corner of the world, He has been faithful to shine even when it feels dark. How about yours?
There isn’t much in life that is free. There is usually a catch. Not so with God’s promise. He gave His Son, through death on the cross, as sacrifice for our sins. We have access to eternal life and a relationship with Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. The chains of sin are released, and we can see life through His eyes.
Chris Tomlin in his version of “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)” pens the words, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me.”
Scripture expresses the same thing. John 8:36 says, “If the Son gives you freedom, you are free!” We just need to ask and have faith to move ahead. He passionately loves us and wants us to enjoy life to the fullest with Him. That was His plan in the beginning of time and it still is the plan today.
With that promise, we have the Son to greet us each morning to help us with our to-do lists. He doesn’t come and go or hide behind clouds. He is constant. His love is our warmth when the chill of life’s issues has us shivering. We can face today. The God of the universe wants us to live abundantly.
“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (I Timothy 1:14)
So whether the sun is shining today, we always have the Son in our hearts to spur us on to face today. He guarantees that He will be there. As you wake up, ask the Son to give you His energy and strength to help you today.
Jesus the Son, we are forever grateful for what You did for us on the cross. We are asking you to warm our hearts and our spirits to face today. We are so thankful for Your 100% guarantee of Your freedom and presence in this life here on earth. We ask for a renewed touch from You today. We praise You. Amen.
Questions: What are you facing today that needs His touch? Do you understand the freedom of life abundantly with Him?
Take the next step: Be bold. Take the 35 Day Challenge and learn how to share your faith with confidence.
“And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.’” (Exodus 3:12)
Have you ever said, “I can’t”? I know I have. I’ve always had a hard time with the words ‘I can’. ‘I can’t’ just rolls off my tongue with no hesitation, but for me to say ‘I can’ takes a confidence in myself that does not come naturally.
Recently, I committed to 40 days of prayer and we were encouraged to fast for the 40 days also. I decided to do the Daniel Fast (a fast that greatly limits food choices). When I discovered that other participants only gave up one item for their fast, I briefly considered withdrawing my commitment. Holding to my original commitment to the Daniel Fast, I knew the ’I can’t’ attitude just would not cut it this time.
I felt that God had called me to experience this 40-day commitment and I plunged in but only in submission to God. The temptations were there: the chocolate cravings, the treats co-workers brought into work to share, and the wonderful aromas of forbidden foods. Knowing that God was with me and that I had made my commitment to Him gave me the strength to see it through to the end. This experience showed me the ‘I can’ that was in me. Actually, I can because He does!
You and I are not the only people who have experienced the ‘I can’t’ attitude. When God called Moses, He told him that he was being sent to bring God’s people out of Egypt. “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’” (Exodus 3:11) I think this was Moses telling God ‘I can’t’.
We all know the story of Moses. We know he found his ‘I can’ and lead the Israelites out of Egypt but he didn’t do it alone. God lead him. God instructed him. God was with him every step of the way. When we know that God is there when He calls us and never leaves us, it makes it easier for us to throw aside the ‘I can’t’ and move forward with the ‘I can’.
Heavenly Father, empower us with your strength to say in confidence ‘I can’ in order to fulfill your calling on our lives. Amen
Question: Is there anything holding you back from taking the step in confidence to say I can to God’s calling? How can we pray for you?
Take today’s next step: We’re looking for prayer mentors.
“And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (I John 5:15)
My parents used to write notes on the mirror in the bathroom with a bar of soap. Usually it was “I Love You”; sometimes it was a reminder to pack something. I too leave notes on the mirror. Yesterday as I was in the bathroom cleaning up after one of the grandkids took a shower, I noticed an old note on the mirror – one I had long wiped away. But because of the steam, there it was plain as the day I had written it! Although I had forgotten about it, it was still there waiting to be revealed again.
Oh beloved, our prayers are like writing on the mirror. We give it to God. We talk with Him often about the need, the want, and the heart’s cry. We ponder and we wait. We go about our daily lives and carry on. We might even forget about it. But the Lord never forgets.
One day, just like the message in the steam-covered mirror, God’s answer will come. He will reveal His character, His will and His way. It’s not for us to know why delays happen. We know, by the word He has spoken that He is always with us. He always hears us, and always takes care of all that matters to us. Go ahead and talk to Him about your life and don’t leave anything out. You do not know when His answer of love will be revealed, but you can always trust that He loves you and has your absolute best in mind. He’s no ordinary confidant; He’s our beloved Savior!
“By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.” (Psalm 65:5, ESV)
Father, Thank you that You hear us. When we’re waiting and Satan tries to whisper lies to us suggesting that You have forgotten us or have stopped loving us, help us to be quick to run to You and quick to stomp on those lies with Your truth. Thank you that in You we are more than conquerors. Forgive us for the times we have doubted You and bring us into even closer communion with You today we pray. Amen
Questions: Think back to a time when God had you waiting. Were there specific verses that helped? What did you learn during that time?
What do you fear, and why? Is it holding you back from realizing your full potential?>Watch