DECISIONS

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Kings 6:1-7:20 ESV, Acts 15:36-16:15 ESV, Psalm 142:1-7 ESV, Proverbs 17:24-25 ESV

Daily Verse: “As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem.” (Acts 16:4 ESV)

DOGMA (1378): “Is transliterated in English, primarily denoting an opinion or judgment; hence, an opinion expressed with authority, a doctrine, ordinance, decree.”[i]

Opinion expressed.

Paul and Timothy relay the news from the Jerusalem Counsel about the decision not to require circumcision.  Often, we hear about court rulings and decisions made by judges to enforce the law.  Every day we express our opinion an average of 35,000 times.[i]  Whether we like it or not, life demands evaluating situations and drawing conclusions.

God’s foundation.

When Paul and Timothy gathered at the Jerusalem Council to decide the issue of circumcision, they did so based on Jesus’ teachings.  The foundation for evaluating and concluding came from what Jesus said and did.  If we make our decisions through the lens of scripture, our opinions change from self-centered to God-centered ones.

God must place us in situations to help us learn to make decisions.  If circumcision didn’t become an issue, the debate and decision wouldn’t have happened.  We don’t grow if we don’t learn to apply God’s word to our lives.  Every situation we encounter offers an opportunity to decide based on God’s teachings or our instincts.  Looking to Jesus’ coaching will help us overcome our limited perspective.

In the same way, as we face circumstances and seek God’s guidance, we’ll become better at responding like Jesus instead of ourselves.  Practicing forgiveness makes forgiving easier.  Intentionally asking God to give you His perspective will change how you think about people.  Everyone matters to God, even the person you despise.  God wants them to matter to us.

Decide today to turn to Jesus, allowing Him to help you make decisions.  God gives us a firm foundation and the instructions to navigate this world in the Scriptures that have stood the test of time.  Refer to the owner’s manual to help guide you through your day.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 71) Thomas Nelson

[i] https://www.inc.com/heidi-zak/adults-make-more-than-35000-decisions-per-day-here-are-4-ways-to-prevent-mental-burnout.html#:~:text=It’s%20estimated%20that%20the%20average,than%2035%2C000%20decisions%20per%20day.

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WELCOMED

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Kings 4:18-5:27 ESV, Acts 15:1-35 ESV, Psalm 141:1-10 ESV, Proverbs 17:23 ESV

Daily Verse: “When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them.” (Acts 15:4 ESV)

APARADECHOMAI (588): “To take fully, i.e., welcome (persons), approve (things). To welcome, to accept gladly, to receive without reserver.”[i]

Accept gladly.

Paul and Barnabas travel to Jerusalem to settle the matter of circumcision.  Jewish tradition required it. Gentiles didn’t.  Following Christ united them and caused a debate that needed settling.  Since God gave the Gentiles the Holy Spirit without circumcision, it became unnecessary.

Arriving in Jerusalem, the apostles felt welcomed by Peter’s church.  Gladly, the people accepted them into their midst.  Following Jesus will develop your hospitality muscle, whether you like it or not.

Christ welcomes all into the kingdom of God.  People choose to decline the invitation.  As messengers of Jesus’s gift to humanity, we must welcome others into His presence.  If we don’t gladly accept others, we’ll miss the opportunity to share Christ’s love.

Ice and ottoman.

Playing in his regular men’s tennis league, Ron hurt his knee.  We traveled to South Carolina for his work the following day, combining it with a visit to our Life Community Church family.  When I texted to let them know our progress, I asked for prayer for Ron’s knee.  The reply text welcomed us with open arms:

“…we’ll have ice packs and an ottoman ready for him to relax and rehab when he gets here!”

Welcoming others gladly comes naturally from our LCC family.  In the past twenty years of friendship, they’ve welcomed us many times.  As a result, our relationship with Jesus grows as we learn more about Him through their hospitality.

See a need, meet a need.  Nothing will convey Christ’s love more than helping others deal with the frustrations of this world.  As you do, you’ll have the opportunity to share the news about eternal life with Christ.



[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 35) Thomas Nelson

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FRUITFUL

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Kings 3:1-4:17 ESV, Acts 14:8-28 ESV, Psalm 140:1-13 ESV, Proverbs 17:22 ESV

Daily Verse: “Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17 ESV)

KARPOPHOROS (2593): “Fruitbearing (fig): -fruitful (1x).  As an adjective, denotes “fruitful.”[i]

Fruit-bearing faith.

Paul and Barnabas in Lystra healed a disabled person in front of a large crowd.  Thinking their power came from Greek gods, the people named Hermes and Zeus.  When the apostles hear this, they protest vehemently, reminding them of Jesus and His Spirit that now lives within us.

Because of the Holy Spirit, we become fruitful.  When Jesus departed earth for heaven, He left behind help.  Tuning in to the Spirit’s work in your life happens when you seek God intentionally.

Daily inviting Jesus into your life brings fruitfulness you can find no other way.  Applying Christ’s teachings to your life situations will give you life to the fullest.  Amid the madness, you will produce incredible fruit.

Become fruitful.

Let Jesus help you bear good fruit.  Get to know Christ by reading the gospels.  Feel the love Jesus leads with as you see Him interact with people.  Imperfect, sinful humans whose lives had no hope, Jesus loved.  Learn about Christ’s Spirit through the authors of the Bible who experienced it first.

As you apply Jesus’ teachings to your life, you will become more sensitive to His Spirit within you.  You’ll recognize the nudge that causes you to do what Jesus did instead of what you want to do at pivotal moments.  Leading with grace becomes your calling card the more you follow Jesus.

Recognize the one true God.  Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Begin doing what Christ did.  Without a doubt, you will produce better fruit than you can even imagine.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 128) Thomas Nelson

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CONTINUE

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Kings 1:1-2:25 ESV, Acts 13:42-14:7 ESV, Psalm 139:1-24 ESV, Proverbs 17:19-21 ESV

Daily Verse: “And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.” (Acts 13:43 ESV)

EPIMENO (1961): “Is a strengthened form of meno (3306) (epi, “intensive”), indicating perseverance in continuing in the grace of God, Acts 13:43.”[i]

Indicating perseverance.

Paul’s sermon captured the attention of “many Jews and devout converts.”  So much so that they followed him from the synagogue, wanting to hear more about Jesus.  The following week, “almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord” (Acts 13:44 ESV)

Urging them to “continue in the grace of God,” Paul and Barnabas encourage them on their journey.  Perseverance requires commitment when we don’t understand.  Following Jesus often means not knowing why.

Circumstances can quickly deter our walk.  Looking around our world today, one can easily ask God, “What the heck?”  Suffering and turmoil hang like a cloud over the earth.

Grace continues.

Learning to respond with grace, despite the pain, takes intentionality.  Choosing to trust God in the chaos of life takes work.  Often, we can’t control what happens in life, but we do control how we respond.  Centering our lives on Jesus helps us respond with Grace.

As a tennis coach, I have the task of teaching independence.  Students must learn how to think for themselves and adjust to a match’s situations.  For success, they must learn to process negative emotions quickly, or else it will impact their game.

We can learn how to respond positively to adverse events.  Recognizing, accepting, investing, and nurturing the painful feelings we have allows us to wash them in God’s grace.  Remind yourself all things work for the good for those who believe and trust in God will help you move forward.

Accepting the truth that in this world, we will have trouble helps us through life’s valleys because we know Jesus overcame the world.  Time and again, Christ’s grace heals our heartaches.  His complete and total love for you has no conditions.  In Jesus, you will find grace to continue, even on the most challenging days.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 98) Thomas Nelson

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WRITTEN

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Kings 22:1-53 ESV, Acts 13:16- 41 ESV, Psalm 138:1-8 ESV, Proverbs 17:17-18 ESV

Daily Verse: “And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.” (Acts 13:29 ESV)

GRAPHO (1125): “To grave, espec. To write; fig. to describe.”[i]

Written description.

Reading opens doors to unexplored worlds. Unlocking the Bible leads us into a relationship with God.  Story after story in the Old Testament points us to our need for Jesus.  Studying the Gospels shows us how to live like Christ.  Each day we pursue life with Jesus, our faith grows.

As a child, reading “Little House on the Prairie,” the chronicles of Laura Ingalls Wilder, taught me about life in the late 1800s, covered wagons, mud patched homes, and faith.  Ever dedicated to God, the Ingalls family devoted their lives to Jesus, living one day at a time for Christ.

We take the ability to read for granted, but 100 years ago, not everyone could.  Even today, people don’t know how to read in remote areas.  Some areas in Africa have less than 20%, and Afghanistan has a 38% literacy rate.[i]

Written fulfillment.

Jesus fulfilled every word written about Him, including dying on the Cross.  All actions, from stabbing Him in the side, giving Him wine to drink, and throwing lots for His clothing, predicted in God’s word beforehand.  Over 300 prophecies about Jesus’ life came true when Christ lived and died.

Putting into perspective what Jesus did, imagine the state of Texas covered in silver dollars two feet deep—marking one coin, mixing it into the pile, then sending in a blindfolded man to find the coin. He would have the same odds as Jesus fulfilling just 8 of the hundreds of prophecies made about Him.  Yet Jesus did every one of them.

Lose yourself in Jesus by reading God’s word, written by people who dedicated their lives to following Him.  Open a new world, one with endless possibilities as you let God lead you.  Find life to the fullest as you build your relationship with Jesus through the scriptures.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 62) Thomas Nelson

[i] https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/literacy-rate-by-country

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FASTING

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Kings 20:1-21:29 ESV, Acts 12:24-13:15 ESV, Psalm 137:1-9 ESV, Proverbs 17:16 ESV

Daily Verse: “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:3 ESV)

NESTEUO (3522): “As a verb, means “to fast, to abstain from eating,” and is used of voluntary fasting.”[i]

Voluntary fasting.

Preparing to send Barnabas and Saul off on a mission trip, the church at Antioch fasted and prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit.  Fasting helps eliminate the distractions of the world and focus our attention heavenly.  Gaining Godly wisdom comes from seeking God earnestly.

Each Monday, I fast breakfast and lunch as I seek God for guidance for the week to come.  Feeling overwhelmed trying to find a rhythm in my life, I realized I needed to become more intentional about seeking God through prayer and fasting.  As a result, I no longer make appointments on Mondays, using that time to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance. 

Become intentional.

Intentionally seeking God requires thought.  Like any relationship, we must prioritize our time to develop the connection.  Sometimes, we must give up something to establish a stronger bond.

Throughout the Bible, you will find many examples of people fasting.  Daniel’s fast in the Old Testament has become one of the most well-known.  But you can fast other things than food.  In today’s world, digital media sucks the life from us.  On average, we spend 35 hours a week watching television.  When someone opens social media, they typically spend 15 minutes on it.   

The world distracts us in many ways.  Fasting allows us to eliminate distractions and focus our attention on God.  When we do, we discover a stronger connection with God’s Spirit.  Jesus wants to guide you, but you won’t get direction if you don’t seek Him.

Try fasting.  Whether you decide to give up food, or something that hinders your relationship with God, replace that time with prayer.  Meditate on a scripture that speaks to your heart, and allow God to lead you where He wants you to go.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 171) Thomas Nelson

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BOUND

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Kings 19:1-21 ESV, Acts 12:1-23 ESV, Psalm 136:1-26 ESV, Proverbs 17:14-15 ESV

Daily Verse: “Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison.” (Acts 12:6 ESV)

DEO (1210): “To bind.”[i]

Bound together.

Peter, chained between guards, experiences a supernatural breakout.  An angel appears before him, instructing him to “Get up quickly” (Acts 12:7 ESV), the chains falling from his wrists.  Getting dressed, Peter follows the angel to freedom, walking past the guards and iron gate.  Once free, Peter’s guide left, and he went to Mary’s house.

Jesus frees us from our bonds, giving us life to the fullest.  However, if we refuse to let go of the bonds, we keep ourselves in bondage. Peter didn’t understand the events unfolding before him, but he knew enough to follow God’s messenger.  We may not understand all aspects of faith in Jesus, but we know we must follow Him to find out.

 Jesus wants to free us from the bonds we struggle to release.  My therapist tells me often, “You’re not that person anymore.”  When we talk about what I consider shameful subjects, I’m the one still holding onto the sin.  God forgave me the instant I laid it at His feet.  Instead of leaving my misdeeds at the foot of the cross, I choose to pick them back up, carrying them with me. 

Break free.

Follow Jesus to freedom.  Let Him lead you out of bondage into the joyous life He has for you.  Holding onto the past makes us miss out on the joy of today.  Internal chains keep us bound between past events.  Jesus wants us to leave the chains behind and follow Him.

“As the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12 ESV)

Faith in Jesus separates us from our sins.  Acknowledging our sins and laying them down at the cross allows us to move forward, leaving the past behind, no longer letting it hold us.  Forgive yourself because Jesus already has.  When Christ got on the cross, He did it for you. 

Freedom in Christ comes when we accept the gift He offers.  If we refuse to leave the bonds behind, we won’t enjoy the grace God offers through Jesus.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 64) Thomas Nelson

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GRACE

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Kings 18:1-46 ESV, Acts 11:1-30 ESV, Psalm 135:1-21 ESV, Proverbs 17:12-13 ESV

Daily Verse: “When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose” (Acts 11:23 ESV)

CHARIS (5485): “Grace indicates favor on the part of the giver, thanks on the part of the receiver.  Although charis is related to sins and is the attribute of God that they evoke, God’s eleos (1656), the free gift of the forgiveness of sins, is related to the misery that sin brings.  God’s tender sense of our misery displays itself in his efforts to lessen and entirely remove it- efforts that are hindered and defeated only by man’s continued perverseness.  Grace removes guilt; mercy removes misery.”[I]

Favor and thanks.

Grace brings together favor and thanks.   Whoever offers grace extends favor; whoever receives it feels thankful.  Full confession, I still struggle to receive the grace God offers.  For some reason, extending forgiveness to others seems easier than accepting it for myself. 

In my family, my parents placed high expectations on me.  If I came home from school with an A, why didn’t I get an A+?  As a result, I set high standards for myself and others by default.  But God doesn’t place impossible expectations on us.  He gives us one requirement: to believe in Jesus.

Share grace.

If we want to imitate Jesus, we must lead with grace everywhere we go.  When Christ came to earth, He did so on a ticket of grace.  Extending forgiveness for our sins sets us free from condemnation and gives us a second chance at life.

During my undergraduate years in college, I rebelled against God.  Seven long and torturous years passed before I received my degree.  Graduating with debt up to my eyeballs and following my path did not make my life easier.  I created my heartache.

God gave me a second chance when I went back to school for my Masters.  I clung to my Maker as I worked through my classes after a 25-year hiatus.  Receiving God’s grace meant letting go of past mistakes and moving forward with a clean slate.

Whatever areas you struggle to forgive yourself, God’s already forgiven you.  When you submit your life to Jesus, He rebuilds the broken pieces, making you whole.  One day at a time, Christ leads you with His peace that surpasses all understanding.

Accept God’s grace with thankfulness, knowing nothing you do will ever separate you from Christ’s love.



[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 270) Thomas Nelson

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.

PRESENCE

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Kings 15:25-17:24 ESV, Acts 10:24-48 ESV, Psalm 134:1-3 ESV, Proverbs 17:9-11 ESV

Daily Verse: “So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” (Acts 10:33 ESV)

PAREIMI (3918): “To be near, i.e. at hand. To be by, at hand or present, of persons, of things, of a particular season in the Lord’s life on earth.”[i]

At hand.

Picking up where we left off yesterday, Peter, now in Cornelius’ home, shares the gospel for the first time with Gentiles, non-Jews.  Cornelius explains how an angel told him to send for Peter.  Gathered in the presence of God, Peter speaks.

As followers of Christ, God’s presence never leaves us.  Our feelings don’t determine God’s attendance in our lives.  Don’t let your emotions trick you into believing a lie.  Often, God works in silence as we move through our days.  Seeds planted in darkness grow into the light.  Just because we can’t see the growth doesn’t negate it.

Draw near.

Trusting God’s presence in our lives allows us to draw near Him.  When events unfold in our day, we can look for God’s hand—running late to work because of an unexpected occurrence or maybe God’s way of protecting you from an accident.  Or perhaps not getting the promotion allows you to spend more time with your family, time you’ll never get back.

When my nephew died, I thanked God for my time with him on earth.  I’m glad I didn’t get the promotion to District Manager of the Midwest, requiring me to move 1000 miles away.  Disappointed at the time, now I’m grateful I stayed and spent those years with my nephew.  God knew what I didn’t.

God never leaves nor forsakes us.  Feelings don’t equal facts.  Trust God’s presence with you, even when you don’t feel it.



[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 192) Thomas Nelson

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.

COMMON

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Kings 14:1-15:24 ESV, Acts 10:1-23 ESV, Psalm 133:1-3 ESV, Proverbs 17:7-8 ESV

Daily Verse: “And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” ( Acts 10:15 ESV)

KOINOS (2840): “Is translated “unclean.”  Where the perfect participle, passive, is used with the article, hence “them that have been defiled.”[I]

Made clean.

Peter, praying on the roof, had a vision.  The heavens opened, and a sheet descended with reptiles and birds.  God commands, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat” (Acts 10:13 ESV).  But Peter protests because eating these “unclean” animals goes against Levitical law.  Three times the vision occurred before God pulled the sheet back to heaven.

For a knowledgeable Jew like Peter, God’s revelation truly baffles him.  However, Peter quickly realizes the meaning of the vision:

“You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.” (Acts 10:28 ESV)

Equal in God.

Peter’s vision signifies the equality of man.  Jesus’ actions on the cross fulfilled the law once and for all, opening the door for everyone to enter heaven.  We know little about the thief on the cross who hung beside Jesus, but we know he’s enjoying paradise.

“And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43 ESV)

Equality in Christ applies to everyone.  Ethnicity doesn’t decide entrance into heaven; faith does.  God loves all.  Whether they love the Lord in return remains their choice.  But I believe that if we love others well for Jesus, giving Him the glory, others can’t help but love Christ. 

Don’t call common what God calls clean.  In Christ, everyone has the opportunity to experience paradise.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 141) Thomas Nelson

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.