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Life Purpose

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New Levels

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].” 2 TIMOTHY‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭AMP‬‬

http://bible.com/1588/2ti.1.7.amp

God’s desire is that we continually progress, that we reach higher heights and go to new levels. Oftentimes, as soon as we make the decision to step out in faith and obey God, the enemy brings in fear to try to stop us. He’ll bring thoughts like, “What if you fail? What are other people going to think? You don’t have what it takes.” He’ll do his best to use fear to try to convince us to shrink back and stay where we are.

The Bible says that fear is a spirit. It plays on our emotions and holds us back. But the good news is that we have power over fear! The Bible says that perfect love casts out all fear. When we receive God’s perfect love, we will have confidence about the future because we know His plans are for our good. I’ve heard it said that fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. Understand that fear is a lie. Today, choose to believe God’s Word and receive His love so that you can overcome fear and move forward into the good life He has prepared for you!

Prayer:

Father in heaven, thank You for taking me to new levels. I know You have equipped me with a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. Fill me with Your confidence and assurance to embrace everything You have for me in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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The Girl In The Yellow Coat

http://odb.org/2015/02/09/the-girl-in-the-yellow-coat/

The Girl In The Yellow Coat
Dave Branon
Genesis 2:18-25

A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. — Genesis 2:24

It was her yellow raincoat that caught my attention, and quickly I became increasingly interested in this cute freshman with long, brown hair. Soon I worked up my courage, interrupted Sue as she walked along reading a letter from a guy back home, and awkwardly asked her for a date. To my surprise, she said yes.

More than 4 decades later, Sue and I look back and laugh at our first uncomfortable meeting on that college campus—and marvel how God put a shy guy from Ohio together with a shy girl from Michigan. Through the years, we have faced innumerable crises together as we raised our family. We’ve negotiated parenting four kids, and we’ve struggled mightily with losing one of them. Problems big and small have tested our faith, yet we’ve stuck together. It took commitment from both of us and the grace of God. Today we rejoice in God’s design, spelled out in Genesis 2:24—to leave our parents, to be unified as man and wife, and to become united as one flesh. We cherish this amazing plan that has given us such a wonderful life together.

God’s design for marriage is beautiful. So we pray for married couples to sense how awesome it is to enjoy life together under the blessing of God’s loving guidance.

Lord, the first thing You organized during society’s
earliest days was marriage. Thank You for how You
designed this amazing institution. Show me how to
help strengthen others in their marriage relationship.

Marriage thrives in a climate of love, honor, and respect.

In Genesis 1–2 we see two tellings of the same story. Genesis 1 gives a sweeping overview of the creation of the universe, including the creation of the first human beings (Gen. 1:26-28). Genesis 2, however, describes more specifically the distinctive relationship the man and woman have with their Creator and their roles in His world.

Bible in a Year:
Leviticus 6-7; Matthew 25:1-30

Who’s The Boss?

http://odb.org/2015/02/08/whos-the-boss-2/

Who’s The Boss?
Bill Crowder
Romans 6:1-14

Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. —Romans 6:14

As my wife was babysitting our two young grandsons, they began to argue over a toy. Suddenly, the younger (by 3 years) forcefully ordered his older brother, “Cameron, go to your room!” Shoulders slumped under the weight of the reprimand, the dejected older brother began to slink off to his room when my wife said, “Cameron, you don’t have to go to your room. Nathan’s not the boss of you!” That realization changed everything, and Cam, smiling, sat back down to play.

As followers of Christ, the reality of our brokenness and our inclination to sin can assume a false authority much like that younger brother. Sin noisily threatens to dominate our hearts and minds, and the joy drains from our relationship with the Savior.

But through the death and resurrection of Christ, that threat is an empty one. Sin has no authority over us. That is why Paul wrote, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).

While our brokenness is very real, Christ’s grace enables us to live in a way that pleases God and expresses His transforming power to the world. Sin is no longer our boss. We now live in the grace and presence of Jesus. His dominion in our lives releases us from the bondage of sin.

Thank You for Your grace, Lord, that
cleanses us inside. Your grace is greater
than all our sin. We know we can’t live without
it. And we’re grateful that we don’t have to.

God pursues us in our restlessness, receives us in our sinfulness, holds us in our brokenness. —Scotty Smith

Previously in Romans, Paul has been teaching about our redemption and justification—how through faith in Jesus Christ, God made us right with Him (3:21–4:25). Paul now deals with another aspect of our salvation—sanctification (Rom. 6:1–8:39). Because we have been given a new life and a new relationship with God (6:4-14), He expects us to live differently and to mature in holiness.

Bible in a Year:
Leviticus 4-5; Matthew 24:29-51

Habits Of A Healthy Mind

http://odb.org/2015/02/05/habits-of-a-healthy-mind/

Habits Of A Healthy Mind
David C. McCasland
Psalm 37:1-8

Trust in the Lord, and do good. —Psalm 37:3

There is much said today about improving our health by developing habits of optimism, whether facing a difficult medical diagnosis or a pile of dirty laundry. Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina, says we should try activities that build joy, gratitude, love, and other positive feelings. We know, however, that more is required than a general wish for good feelings. We need a strong conviction that there is a source of joy, peace, and love upon which we can depend.

Psalm 37:1-8 gives positive actions we can take as an antidote to pessimism and discouragement. Consider these mood boosters: Trust in the Lord, do good, dwell in the land, feed on His faithfulness (v.3); delight in the Lord (v.4); commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him (v.5); rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him, do not fret (v.7); cease from anger, forsake wrath (v.8).

Because they are connected to the phrase “in the Lord,” those directives are more than wishful thinking or unrealistic suggestions. It’s because of Jesus, and in His strength, that they become possible.

Our one true source for optimism is the redemption that is in Jesus. He is our reason for hope!

Lord, we can’t manufacture hope, and even if
we tried it wouldn’t be real. Help us to find
hope in You because of what Jesus has done
for us. We know You are walking beside us.
When there’s bad news, our hope is the good news of Jesus.

Psalm 37 is one of the many “wisdom psalms”—psalms that give instructions on how to live wisely. In this psalm, David deals with the perennial perplexity of the injustice of life—the wicked go unpunished while the righteous suffer. He tells the righteous not to fret, be envious, or be angry, for God will ultimately bring justice (vv.1-2,9-10,20,35-36,38). Instead, they are to be patient, to trust, to delight, to rest fully in God, and to continue to live godly lives (vv.3-8). For the “Lord upholds the righteous” (v.17), takes delight in them (v.23), and will not forsake them (vv.28-29).

Bible in a Year:
Exodus 36-38; Matthew 23:1-22

For Our Health

http://odb.org/2015/02/02/for-our-health/

For Our Health
Jennifer Benson Schuldt
1 Chronicles 16:7-14

Oh, give thanks to the Lord! —1 Chronicles 16:8

According to a prominent Duke University Medical Center researcher, “If thankfulness were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with [health benefits] for every major organ system.”

For some, being thankful means simply living with a sense of gratitude—taking time to recognize and focus on the things we have, instead of the things we wish we had. The Bible takes the idea of thankfulness to a deeper level. The act of giving thanks causes us to recognize the One who provides our blessings (James 1:17).

David knew that God was responsible for the safe delivery of the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 15:26). As a result, he penned a song of gratitude that centered on God instead of simply expressing his delight in an important event. The ballad began: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!” (16:8). David’s song went on to rejoice in God’s greatness, highlighting God’s salvation, creative power, and mercy (vv.25-36).

Today we can be truly thankful by worshiping the Giver instead of the gifts we enjoy. Focusing on the good things in our lives may benefit our bodies, but directing our thanks to God benefits our souls.

Gratitude is our natural response to God’s grace.
Nothing so takes the heart out of a person as
ingratitude. Gratitude is not only the greatest of
virtues, but the parent of all the others. —Cicero

True thanksgiving emphasizes the Giver rather than the gifts.

The ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s covenant and presence with His people (Ex. 25:17-22), was neglected by Saul and left abandoned in the Benjamite town of Kirjath Jearim for 20 years (1 Sam. 7:2). After David became king, one of the first things he did was to bring the ark back to Jerusalem (1 Chron. 13:3-14; 15:1-28; 2 Sam. 6:1-3). To commemorate the ark’s return, David composed a song of worship celebrating God’s presence and exalting God’s power (1 Chron. 16:8-36). Asaph (v.7) was one of David’s three music directors (see 1 Chron. 25:1) who sounded the bronze cymbals as the ark was moved into Jerusalem (15:16-19).

Bible in a Year:
Exodus 29-30; Matthew 21:23-46

A Closing Door

http://odb.org/2015/01/31/a-closing-door/

A Closing Door
Poh Fang Chia
2 Corinthians 5:18-6:2

Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. —2 Corinthians 6:2

Beep, beep, beep, beep. The warning sound and flashing lights alerted commuters that the train door was about to close. Yet a few tardy individuals still made a frenzied scramble across the platform and onto the train. The door closed on one of them. Thankfully, it rebounded and the passenger boarded the train safely. I wondered why people took such risks when the next train would arrive in a mere 4 minutes.

There is a far more important door that we must enter before it closes. It is the door of God’s mercy. The apostle Paul tells us, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). Christ has come, died for our sins, and has risen from the grave. He has opened the way for us to be reconciled to God and has proclaimed for us the day of salvation.

Today is that day. But one day the door of mercy will close. To those who received and served Christ, He will say, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you” (Matt. 25:34). But those who don’t know Him will be turned away (v.46).

Our response to Jesus Christ determines our destiny. Today Jesus invites, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9).

Today Thy gate is open,
And all who enter in
Shall find a Father’s welcome,
And pardon for their sin. —Allen

There’s no better day than today to enter into God’s family.

One of the great biblical texts on salvation is 2 Corinthians 5:21. There we see the partnership of the Father and Son producing our rescue. First, all of our sins were placed on Christ, who bore them on the cross on our behalf (1 Peter 2:24). Then, Christ’s right standing with the Father is given to those who trust Him by faith (John 1:12). Now we are no longer enemies of God, for we have been brought to the Father by the Son’s work for us. God demonstrated His love for us when He gave up His one and only Son.

Bible in a Year:
Exodus 25-26; Matthew 20:17-34

Sledding And Praying

http://odb.org/2015/01/30/sledding-and-praying/

Sledding And Praying
Dave Branon
Mark 14:32-42

Now it came to pass in those days that [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. —Luke 6:12

When the snow flies in Michigan, I like to get my grandkids, grab our plastic sleds, and go slipping and sliding down our backyard. We zoom down the hill for about 10 seconds, and then climb back up for more.

When I travel to Alaska with a bunch of teenagers, we also go sledding. We are hauled by bus nearly to the top of a mountain. We jump on our sleds and, for the next 10 to 20 minutes (depending on levels of bravery), we slide at breakneck speeds down the mountain, holding on for dear life.

Ten seconds in my backyard or 10 minutes down an Alaskan mountain. They’re both called sledding, but there is clearly a difference.

I’ve been thinking about this in regard to prayer. Sometimes we do the “10 seconds in the backyard” kind of praying—a quick, spur-of-the-moment prayer or a short thanks before eating. At other times, we’re drawn to “down the mountain” praying—extended, intense times that require concentration and passion in our relationship with Him. Both have their place and are vital to our lives.

Jesus prayed often, and sometimes for a long time (Luke 6:12; Mark 14:32-42). Either way, let us bring the desires of our heart to the God of the backyards and the mountains of our lives.

Lord, please challenge us to pray constantly—both in
short sessions and long. As we face the valleys, hills,
and mountains of our lives, may we lift our hearts
and minds to You in constant communication.

The heart of prayer is prayer from the heart.

Prayer was the essence of Jesus’ relationship with the Father. He often withdrew to a solitary place to pray (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; 9:18). Sometimes He spent long hours communicating with His Father (Luke 6:12; John 17) and other times He prayed short, quick prayers (Matt. 14:19; Luke 23:34,46; John 12:27).

Bible in a Year:
Exodus 23-24; Matthew 20:1-16

Our Source Of Help

http://odb.org/2015/01/29/our-source-of-help/

Our Source Of Help
David C. McCasland
Psalm 121

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. —Psalm 121:2

Twenty-year-old Lygon Stevens, an experienced mountaineer, had reached the summits of Mt. McKinley, Mt. Rainier, four Andean peaks in Ecuador, and 39 of Colorado’s highest mountains. “I climb because I love the mountains,” she said, “and I meet God there.” In January 2008, Lygon died in an avalanche while climbing Little Bear Peak in southern Colorado with her brother Nicklis, who survived.

When her parents discovered her journals, they were deeply moved by the intimacy of her walk with Christ. “Always a shining light for Him,” her mother said, “Lygon experienced a depth and honesty in her relationship with the Lord, which even seasoned veterans of faith long to have.”

In Lygon’s final journal entry, written from her tent 3 days before the avalanche, she said: “God is good, and He has a plan for our lives that is greater and more blessed than the lives we pick out for ourselves, and I am so thankful about that. Thank You, Lord, for bringing me this far and to this place. I leave the rest—my future—in those same hands and say thank You.”

Lygon echoed these words from the psalmist: “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2).

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Still be our guard while troubles last
And our eternal home. —Watts

We can trust our all-knowing God for the unknown future.

Three times in this short chapter the Lord is referred to as our keeper (vv.3,4,5). This idea is of great comfort to the believer because it presents God as one who is not passive but active in our lives. To “keep” something is to actively guard and protect it. This idea is underscored by the fact that as our keeper, God does not sleep or slumber (vv.3-4) and watches over us day and night (v.6). How wonderful to know that the God who holds our lives is not disinterested but is constantly watching over us.

Bible in a Year:
Exodus 21-22; Matthew 19

Strengthen My Hands

http://odb.org/2015/01/26/strengthen-my-hands/

Strengthen My Hands
C. P. Hia
Nehemiah 6:1-9,15

Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. —Nehemiah 6:9

Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, is the man credited with making Singapore what it is today. During his leadership, Singapore grew to be rich and prosperous and one of the most developed nations in Asia. Asked if he ever felt like giving up when he faced criticism and challenges during his many years of public service, he replied, “This is a life-long commitment.”

Nehemiah, who led in the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, refused to give up. He faced insults and intimidation from the enemies all around him as well as injustices from his own people (Neh. 4–5). His enemies even insinuated that he had a personal agenda (6:6-7). He sought help from God while taking every defensive step he could.

Despite the challenges, the wall was completed in 52 days (6:15). But Nehemiah’s work was not complete. He encouraged the Israelites to study the Scriptures, to worship, and to keep God’s law. After completing 12 years as governor (5:14), he returned to make sure his reforms were continuing (13:6). Nehemiah had a life-long commitment to leading the people.

We all face challenges and difficulties in life. But as God helped Nehemiah, He will also strengthen our hands (6:9) for the rest of our lives in whatever tasks He gives to us.

Dear Lord, sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged
when faced with criticism or challenges. Help
me to persevere and grant me the strength to be
faithful to what You have called me to do.

Life’s challenges are designed not to break us but to bend us toward God.

Bible in a Year:
Exodus 14-15; Matthew 17

A Wonderful Explosion

http://odb.org/2015/01/22/a-wonderful-explosion/

A Wonderful Explosion
Jennifer Benson Schuldt
John 13:31-35

As I have loved you, . . . you also love one another. —John 13:34

In the book Kisses from Katie, Katie Davis recounts the joy of moving to Uganda and adopting several Ugandan girls. One day, one of her daughters asked, “Mommy, if I let Jesus come into my heart, will I explode?” At first, Katie said no. When Jesus enters our heart, it is a spiritual event.

However, after she thought more about the question, Katie explained that when we decide to give our lives and hearts to Jesus “we will explode with love, with compassion, with hurt for those who are hurting, and with joy for those who rejoice.” In essence, knowing Christ results in a deep care for the people in our world.

The Bible challenges us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). We can consistently display this loving response because of the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts. When we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us. The apostle Paul described it this way, “Having believed [in Christ,] you were sealed with the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:13).

Caring for others—with God’s supernatural assistance—shows the world that we are His followers (John 13:35). It also reminds us of His love for us. Jesus said, “As I have loved you, . . . you also love one another” (v.34).

Dear Jesus, help me to experience Your
love more deeply so that I can share it
with others. Empower me through Your
Holy Spirit so that I can glorify You.

Love given reflects love received.

Love is one of the most repeated themes in both John’s gospel and letters (1, 2, and 3 John). John’s emphasis on love reflects Jesus’ own emphasis. Jesus said that He was giving a new command when He said to love one another. But how is this a new command? The key is not in the what, but in the how. In the law of Moses, it was commanded to love others as we love ourselves, but Jesus set a new standard: His love for us. In the hours before He went to the cross, He would both tell and show that love. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Bible in a Year:
Exodus 4-6; Matthew 14:22-36

Pointing To God

http://odb.org/2015/01/21/pointing-to-god/

Pointing To God
Lawrence Darmani
Deuteronomy 8:11-18

Remember now your Creator . . . before the difficult days come. —Ecclesiastes 12:1

“God bless our homeland, Ghana” is the first line of Ghana’s national anthem. Other African anthems include: “O Uganda, may God uphold thee,” “Lord, bless our nation” (South Africa), and “O God of creation, direct our noble cause” (Nigeria). Using the anthems as prayers, founding fathers called on God to bless their land and its people. Many national anthems in Africa and others from around the world point to God as Creator and Provider. Other lines of anthems call for reconciliation, transformation, and hope for a people often divided along ethnic, political, and social lines.

Yet today, many national leaders and citizens tend to forget God and do not live by these statements—especially when life is going well. But why wait until war, disease, storms, terrorist attacks, or election violence occurs before we remember to seek God? Moses warned the ancient Israelites not to forget God and not to stop following His ways when life was good (Deut. 8:11). Ecclesiastes 12:1 urges us to “remember now your Creator . . . before the difficult days come.”

Getting close to God while we are strong and healthy prepares us to lean on Him for support and hope when those “difficult days” in life come.

Father, I always need You. Forgive me for
thinking I am sufficient in myself. Help me to
follow You and Your ways whether life is easy
or difficult. Thank You for caring for me.

Remembering our Creator can be our personal anthem.

Deuteronomy records a significant moment in Old Testament history. At the end of Israel’s wilderness wanderings, Moses reaffirmed the laws of God. A generation had died in the wilderness and the new generation needed these lessons to prepare them for entry into the land of promise. The challenges that awaited them in Canaan made it important to remind the people of both God’s provisions and God’s instructions.

Bible in a Year:
Exodus 1-3; Matthew 14:1-21

The Wonder Of Sight

http://odb.org/2015/01/18/the-wonder-of-sight/

The Wonder Of Sight
Bill Crowder
Psalm 139:7-16

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. —Psalm 139:14

On the livescience.com website, I read something pretty amazing: “If you were standing atop a mountain surveying a larger-than-usual patch of the planet, you could perceive bright lights hundreds of miles distant. On a dark night, you could even see a candle flame flickering up to 30 miles (48 km) away.” No telescopes or night-vision goggles needed—the human eye is so profoundly designed that even long distances can be spanned with clear sight.

This fact is a vivid reminder of our amazing Creator, who designed not only the human eye but also all of the details that make up our expansive universe. And, unlike anything else in creation, God has made us in His own image (Gen. 1:26). “In His image” speaks of something far greater than the ability to see. It speaks of a likeness to God that makes it possible for us to be in relationship with Him.

We can affirm David’s declaration, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Ps. 139:14). Not only have we been given eyes to see, but we have also been made so that, in Christ, one day we will see Him!

Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed
Wherever I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread
Or gaze upon the sky! —Watts

All of God’s creation bears witness to Him as our great Creator.

In today’s reading, David’s declaration of amazement at how wonderfully he is made comes in the context of listing some of the other aspects of God’s creation: the heavens, the sea, the night, and the day. Verses 7-12 describe both God’s omnipotence and His omnipresence. David celebrates not only the magnitude and power of God, but he also underscores that no matter where he is, God’s hand will lead him and hold him (v.10).

Bible in a Year:
Genesis 43-45; Matthew 12:24-50

Extraordinary Showers

http://odb.org/2015/01/08/extraordinary-showers/

Extraordinary Showers
Jennifer Benson Schuldt
Ezekiel 34:25-31

There shall be showers of blessing. —Ezekiel 34:26

What do fish, tadpoles, and spiders have in common? They have all fallen from the sky like rain in various parts of the world. Fish fell on the Australian town of Lajamanu. Tadpoles pelted areas of central Japan on multiple occasions. Spiders showered down on the San Bernardo Mountains in Argentina. Although scientists suspect that the wind plays a part in these intriguing showers, no one can fully explain them.

The prophet Ezekiel described a far more extraordinary downpour—a shower of blessing (Ezek. 34:26). Ezekiel spoke of a time when God would send blessings like rain to refresh His people. The Israelites would be safe from enemy nations. They would have enough food, be liberated from slavery, and be freed from shame (vv.27-29). These gifts would revive Israel’s relationship with God. The people would know that God was with them, and that “they, the house of Israel, [were His] people” (v.30).

God blesses His modern-day followers too (James 1:17). Sometimes blessings abound like rain; sometimes they trickle in one by one. Whether many or few, the good things we receive come with a message from God: I see your needs. You are mine, and I will care for you.

“There shall be showers of blessing”—
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above. —Whittle

Daily blessings are daily reminders of God.

In today’s passage, the prophet Ezekiel offers a message of future hope and peace to a nation that had suffered defeat and was living in exile far from their homeland. Ezekiel 34:20-24 speaks of the shepherd who God will raise up to lead His people in the wonderful age described in verses 25-31. Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-18), and the joy and peace described in Ezekiel 34 are ours only in Him.

Bible in a Year:
Genesis 20-22; Matthew 6:19-34

Where Can I Help?

http://odb.org/2015/01/07/where-can-i-help/

Where Can I Help?
Dennis Fisher
Galatians 6:1-10

As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. —Galatians 6:10

Last winter our city was hit by an ice storm. Hundreds of ice-heavy tree limbs cut into power lines, leaving thousands of homes and businesses without electrical power for days. Our family kept basic energy coming into the house through a generator, but we were still unable to cook meals. As we set out to find a place to eat, we drove for miles past closed businesses. We finally found a breakfast restaurant that had not lost power, but it was packed with hungry customers who were in the same fix as we were.

When a woman came over to take our order for food, she said, “I’m not really an employee of this restaurant. Our church group was having breakfast here, and we saw how the staff was overwhelmed with so many customers who came in. We told the restaurant management we would be willing to help by waiting on tables if it would ease the burden and help people to get fed.”

Her willingness to serve reminded me of Paul’s words: “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all” (Gal. 6:10). In light of the many needs around us, I wonder what could happen if we all asked God to show us opportunities to serve Him and help others today.

Dear Lord, show us where and how we might
serve others and ease their burdens. Give us
hearts of love and compassion that reflect
Your love. Then help us to take action.

We follow the example of Christ when we serve people in need.

The letter to the Galatians is one of the most intense in the New Testament. Paul was dealing with a legalistic Judaism seeking to impose the demands of the law upon people who had, by faith, embraced grace in Christ. This legalism was intended to pull those followers of Christ back into a performance-oriented approach to pleasing God. Our service for God is to come from an overflowing heart of appreciation for His love for us.

Bible in a Year:
Genesis 18-19; Matthew 6:1-18

Mistakes Made Beautiful

http://odb.org/2015/01/06/mistakes-made-beautiful/

Mistakes Made Beautiful
Julie Ackerman Link
Luke 22:39-51

[Jesus] touched his ear and healed him. —Luke 22:51

Early in his career, jazz player Herbie Hancock was invited to play in the quintet of Miles Davis, already a musical legend. In an interview, Hancock admitted being nervous but described it as a wonderful experience because Davis was so nurturing. During one performance, when Davis was near the high point of his solo, Hancock played the wrong chord. He was mortified, but Davis continued as if nothing had happened. “He played some notes that made my chord right,” Hancock said.

What an example of loving leadership! Davis didn’t scold Hancock or make him look foolish. He didn’t blame him for ruining the performance. He simply adjusted his plan and turned a potentially disastrous mistake into something beautiful.

What Davis did for Hancock, Jesus did for Peter. When Peter cut off the ear of one of the crowd who had come to arrest Jesus, Jesus reattached the ear (Luke 22:51), indicating that His kingdom was about healing, not hurting. Time after time Jesus used the disciples’ mistakes to show a better way.

What Jesus did for His disciples, He also does for us. And what He does for us, we can do for others. Instead of magnifying every mistake, we can turn them into beautiful acts of forgiveness, healing, and redemption.

Lord, You understand how prone we are to make
selfish and foolish mistakes. Forgive us and
restore us. Please, for Your name’s sake, use even
the worst aspects of our lives for Your glory.

Jesus longs to turn our mistakes into amazing examples of His grace.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all record the story of Jesus’ disciple cutting off the servant’s ear (Matt. 26:51-52; Mark 14:47; Luke 22:50-51; John 18:10-11). Only Luke mentions the healing of the wound, and only John identifies the disciple (Peter) and the servant (Malchus).

Bible in a Year:
Genesis 16-17; Matthew 5:27-48

A NEW ROUTE

http://bible.com/r/55

Join me in reading Today’s Word with Joel and Victoria Osteen:

A NEW ROUTE

I know people who feel like they’ve wasted years of their lives because of poor choices. They spent years in a relationship that was toxic, years with an addiction, years at a job where they weren’t fulfilled. But you have to realize, nothing you have been through is ever wasted. Your past experiences, good and bad have deposited something on the inside of you. Those challenges have sharpened you to help make you who you are today.

When the enemy brings hardship into your life, God has a way of taking that experience and turning it around for your advantage. You may think you’ve hit a dead end, but if you’ll stay in faith, you will see God begin to open up a new route. He’ll put the right people in your path, the right opportunities, the right circumstances to move you forward toward your God-given destiny.

Today, don’t focus on what’s happened in your past, focus on what God will do in your future. He wants to restore your soul and revive your dreams. Keep believing, keep expecting, keep hoping because God has a new route for your future!

Prayer:
Father God, I come humbly before You today. I give You my past, present and future knowing that You will redeem my life. I release those who have hurt me, I choose forgiveness so I can be free to move forward in the new route You have for me in Jesus’ name. Amen.

FAILURE IS NOT FINAL

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Join me in reading Today’s Word with Joel and Victoria Osteen:

FAILURE IS NOT FINAL

Are you down on yourself today because of past mistakes you’ve made or because you’re not where you want to be in life? God knows every poor choice, every difficulty, every wrong turn you may have made, and He’s already planned your comeback! In scripture, Jonah took a detour, so to speak. It took him a little bit longer, but because he called out to God, because he believed, God not only rescued him, but God got him to his final destination.

Friend, know today that failure is not final. God always has the final say. Mistakes don’t have to keep you from your destiny. God’s plan can override every setback. Your world may be in turmoil today in a relationship, in your finances or health. But know this: not only will God rescue you; He will set your feet on a rock and lead you to your final destination in life. Remember, the promise He placed on the inside of you didn’t go away because you had some personal failures. No, that failure is only temporary but His Word remains forever! Keep hoping, keep believing because He will move you into the blessing and victory He has prepared for you!

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for Your hand of victory and blessing that is on my life. Today, I shake off the past, I shake off failure, I shake off poor choices and trust that You are restoring me and leading me into the plan You have for me in Jesus’ name. Amen!

LOADING UP

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Join me in reading Today’s Word with Joel and Victoria Osteen:

LOADING UP

This morning when you woke up, what was the first thing that went through your mind? Maybe you have a deadline to meet or a to-do list a mile long. Maybe you are facing a challenge or going through a difficulty in a relationship that’s consuming your thoughts.

Today, I want to encourage you, instead of focusing on what your circumstances have to offer, focus on what God has to offer you. His mercies are new every morning, and His compassion never fails. He has victory in store for you today. He has provision in store for you today. He has joy in store for you today, and He has peace in store for you today. He daily loads you with benefits!

The key to “loading up” these daily benefits is setting your focus in the right direction. You can’t wait to see how you feel, what kind of mood your spouse is in, or what the traffic is like. No, you have to set your focus by saying, “This is going to be a great day. I am blessed and cannot be cursed! I know God is directing my steps and something good is going to happen to me today!”

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, today I choose to focus on You. I open my heart and mind to receive Your daily benefits. Show me ways to be a blessing to others and use me for Your glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

REMEMBER WHAT HE HAS DONE

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Join me in reading Today’s Word with Joel and Victoria Osteen:

REMEMBER WHAT HE HAS DONE

Not long ago, I was talking to a professional baseball player. He has been in the big leagues about fifteen years. His life seems so exciting, far from routine, far from ordinary. He said, “No, Joel, it’s not what you think. We travel all the time. We’re always on the road, in hotels, eating out and away from our family.”

The truth is that I’m sure he was excited about it all when he first started. There are probably things in your life that you were once excited about. When God opened the door and gave you that new job, that promotion, you were so excited. You called your friends. You knew it was God’s favor. Well, don’t let the passion wear off just because you’ve had it five years! When you met that person and fell in love you were on cloud nine. You knew it was God’s goodness. Don’t take it for granted. Remember what God has done! Stir up the joy in your heart. Stir up praise. Thank Him for His faithfulness and let your attitude of gratitude pave the way to live the life of blessing He has for you!

Prayer:
Father God, right now I take time to remember and acknowledge Your goodness in my life. I praise You because You are good. Thank You for loving me, thank You for setting me free. Thank You for pouring out Your blessings on me and leading me into everlasting life in Jesus’ name. Amen.

OPEN THE DOOR TO BLESSING

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Join me in reading Today’s Word with Joel and Victoria Osteen:

OPEN THE DOOR TO BLESSING

Did you know that when you do something to the best of your ability because you want to honor God, it opens the door to His blessing? That means it will be easier, it will go better, and you will accomplish more. That’s why no matter what we do, we should give it our best. This is especially true even in the little things. For example, when you’re doing the dishes or mowing the lawn, don’t drag around sour and frustrated. Mow with enthusiasm! Mow it like you’re on a mission from God. With every step, thank God that your legs work. Thank Him that you’re healthy and strong.

At the office, don’t just do enough to get by. You’re not working unto people, you’re working unto God. Do it with your whole heart. When you volunteer at church, don’t wake up and think, “Awe, man. Why did I volunteer? I want to sleep in!” No, serve Him with all your heart because that’s what honors God. When you honor God, He’ll honor you. He’ll give you His life, peace, health and blessing now and forevermore!

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for Your hand of blessing on my life. I choose today to serve You with my whole heart and do everything to the best of my ability. Thank You for Your faithfulness to me in Jesus’ name. Amen.

My journey with Christ

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