How Knowing God is Using You Will Make You Hopeful

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Zechariah 12-14 GW; Philippians 1 GW

You have a purpose.

God created you for a specific work.  Your life events help form and shape you for the purpose God has for you.  And what God begins, He completes.

Listening to Zig Ziglar’s book, “Over the Top,” I loved when he talked about a recent contract he signed.  Sixty-seven years old at the time, he signed a seven-year contract.  And “Prayed the Lord would let me live long enough to fulfill it.”  His words struck me; I’ve never asked the Lord anything like what Zig did.  But he’s right; none of us knows how long we have on earth.  God’s words are clear:

“Our time on earth is brief; the number of our days is already decided by you.” (Job 14:5 NIV)

Now, I’m praying for time to repair the broken relationships in my life.  I’m asking God to let me live long enough to write a decade of devotionals and hopefully a ton of books.  Not only do I need time, but health and provision to allow me to do the work God has for me to do.

Work gives hope.

Having a purpose gives you hope.  As you follow Christ and begin to discover God’s plan for your life, you will experience life to the fullest.  In those moments when life knocks you off your feet, purpose helps you stand back up.  We all need something to do; idle hands are the devil’s playground.

Recently, when the devil knocked me to my knees with an attack, writing devotionals gave me purpose.  Thinking about everyone who reads my daily musings, encourages me, and grows with me, gave me hope.  The first thing I do is open God’s word, where He reminded me, I have a mission.  God is in charge of the heavy lifting, not me.  And He will complete the work he started.

God has a purpose for your life.  He will give you time to complete it.  Relax, God is in control.  He’s got your back.

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Lord, thank You for having our backs.  Forgive us for fretting about time.  Instead, please help us find our purpose in life.  Lead us into full life as we surrender our will to Yours.  Through You, help us complete the work You’ve begun in us.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What work has God begun in you?

How Obedience Will Make You Avoid Evil

2 minute read.


Daily Reading: Zechariah 9-11 GW; Romans 16 GW

Obedience protects.

Pick a topic: relationships, money, work.  The Bible has a lot to say about all of those and many more.  Did you know the big book talks more about handling money than salvation?  Probably because money is something we all need to manage.  Unfortunately, the love of money gets you into trouble.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10 ESV)

Notice, “love of money” is the problem, not money itself.  If you follow the principles in the Bible about money, you will learn how to manage money instead of letting money manage you.

Become obedient.

Obedience isn’t a one-time thing; it’s a constant becoming.  Whether you’re putting your finances in order or trying to have healthier relationships, it doesn’t all happen at once.  Taking repeated steps in the right direction pays off in the long run.

God’s word gives us practical advice on how to live.  Not because God doesn’t want us to have fun, but because He’s protecting us from ourselves.  Before I became obedient with my finances, I was up to my eyeballs in debt, losing sleep at night, wondering how I was going to pay my bills.  God’s peace was far from me because money was managing me.  Not until I became obedient to what God said did I begin to control money.

Whatever your struggle, find out what God’s word says.  If you are having relational issues, Google “Scripture on relationships,” you’ll find plenty.  You can do the same thing, no matter what the topic.  Compare different translations of the same verse so you can better understand what it’s saying.  Pick one that resonates with you, make the verse your screensaver, or write it somewhere you will see it often.  Allow the words to become part of you as you put them into practice.  Watch how God uses it in your life for good, not evil.

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Lord, thank You for having an answer to all of our problems.  Forgive us for not wanting to know what You have to say.  As we search the scriptures for answers, they lead us exactly where we need to go.  Help us become more obedient to Your word every day.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

What Google search do you need to do today?

How Becoming a Faith Builder Will Make You a Better Neighbor

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Zechariah 5-8 GW; Romans 15 GW

Start with your neighbor.

Some people are afraid to follow Jesus because He might make them move to the jungles of Africa to save lost tribes.  “If I go all-in with God, what is He going to make me do?” 

The answer is simple, love your neighbor.  My husband and I love the diversity in our neighborhood. Last year drew everyone closer as we kept protective eyes on our block, praying for them.

I’m not saying God won’t make you move, but odds are, He wants you to start right where you are.  Because we live in a military area, our community is transitional.  Our neighbor beside us changes every year or so.  The rental home is perfect for young military couples.  Ron taught me how to live in a transitional neighborhood.

Bring the basket.

The first time we had new neighbors, Ron couldn’t wait to meet them.  Shy by nature, introducing myself to the folks next door never entered my mind.  We were cute putting together a little welcome basket.  I was nervous ringing the doorbell, which was anticlimactic because they weren’t home.  Determined, as soon as they returned, I raced over to meet them. Now when we get new neighbors, I’m no longer shy. Instead, I look forward to meeting them and hearing their story.

Jesus wants us to meet our neighbors.  He wants us to love them because eventually, they will ask why.  Why are you so nice to me?  That’s when you can tell them about Jesus and your faith in Him.    Leading people to Jesus means loving them as He would.  Jesus never forced His presence upon people.  Jesus loved people to the point of death.  All He’s asking us to do is take a casserole next door.

People have to hear about Jesus to know Him.  People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.  Love them first.  Wait for them to ask why?  Then build their faith as you share yours with them.

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Lord, thank You for not asking us to move somewhere we don’t want to go.  Forgive us for our fears.   Show us ways we can share Christ’s love with those around us.  Give us opportunities to share our faith with others, building them up.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

Which neighbor needs Christ’s love today?

How Choosing the Right Battles Will Make You Love More

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Zechariah 14 GW; Romans 14 GW

Unity, not division.

One of the chapters in my book is on this topic.  All around our country, division is occurring.  As people of faith, our job is to unite, not divide.  Loving God and others is a one-on-one sport. 

Just like playing tennis, two players are necessary.  The difference between the two, following Jesus, isn’t about winning.  People aren’t drawn to us if our primary purpose is to win.  But people do enjoy the company of those who care more about them than winning.

As a life-long Christ-follower, I know about in-house debates; different points of view on scripture.  For instance, tribulation is considered the end time when Christ returns.  Some believe Christ returns before the tribulation, some believe in the middle, and others believe after.  Scripture supports each argument.  But the truth is, no one knows.  God is clear; we aren’t meant to know:

“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32 ESV)

Love don’t debate.

Since no one knows the answer, I choose not to get involved in in-house debates.  When people try to engage me, I don’t.  For me, debating unknowables takes time away from loving God and people. And I’ve seen division occur because people disagree.  One of the hardest lessons for me to learn, life isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about resolution.

For instance, my tennis partner handles communications for our academy.  In a recent email, her wording confused one of the parents.  When the parent asked for clarification, my partner immediately apologized for her lack of clarity.  She had a choice; she could have chosen to push back and blame the parent or defend her words.  But instead, she decided to own her actions and seek resolution, not victory.

Choosing what debates to invest time into is tough.  Ask God; He’ll let you know which battles to fight, which to avoid. In the end, you’ll have more time to love.

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Lord, thank You for guiding us.  Forgive us for not always seeking You for direction.  Show us the next steps you want us to take, Lord.  Make the battles clear to us, don’t let us engage in ones that take us away from loving You, loving others.  Our lives are Yours, IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What battles are you choosing?

Why Loving Your Neighbor Will Make You Happy

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Hosea 12-14 GW; Romans 13 GW

Blessings come from love.

When you give love away, it always comes back tenfold.  In God’s economy, He multiplies, not divides.  We are all equal in the Lord’s eyes; sinners in need of grace.

Loving your neighbor as yourself will bring you joy.  For instance, I love flowers, inheriting my mom’s love of them.  Each spring, I buy flowers to fill my pots on our back deck.  This year, I was zealous in my purchase and ended up with extra blooms.  Wanting to share my love with my neighbors, I found cute little pots for the gift.  When my neighbor answered her door and saw the flowers, her face broke into a smile.  And I’ll never forget her words, “God must have sent you.”

Surprisingly, my sweet neighbor had a water leak that caused thousands and thousands of dollars in damage.  A new washing machine installed improperly was the culprit.  Since the laundry is upstairs, her ceiling and floor needed replacing.  At her wit’s end, she was frustrated with life when I showed up unexpectedly with flowers.

Embrace the moment.

Trying to put into words how I felt in this moment is difficult for me.  My neighbor’s look of relief surprised me.  Adoring looks are uncomfortable for me.  And when she told me her dilemma, my heart swelled with love for her and God.  I was thankful I followed His promptings and loved my neighbor.  Not only did God use me to encourage her, but He also drew us all closer.

We can’t solve the big problems of the world; that’s God’s job.  What we can do is love our neighbor like ourselves.  And when you think of neighbors not only as those who live next door but everyone, you realize that many people need love.  In a world of anger and hatred, love is the answer.

Love your neighbor today.  Watch how God multiplies your efforts.  Enjoy the blessings.

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Lord, thank You for loving us.  Forgive us for not loving our neighbors better.  As You place opportunities before us today, let us take them.  Help us love others better than ever before.  As You pour into us, let us pour it out to others.  All glory is Yours.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What neighbor needs love today?

Why Changing the Way You Think Will Make You Find What is Good

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Hosea 8-11 GW; Romans 12 GW

Change the way you think.

Easier said than done.  After writing this devotion, I intend to finish a book on prayer geared towards changing our thoughts.  Connecting with God is how we change our thinking.  Allowing His word to fill our minds aligns us with God, not the world.  If we genuinely want to change our thinking, we have to take deliberate action.

“Short Prayers for Everyday Living,” the current working title of my book, is how I’ve changed my thinking.  Using scripture, I developed three-word prayers that help me keep my eyes on the Son.

For instance, we live in an outraged world.  I struggle with anger issues, so much so, my husband was hesitant to marry me.  “Grace not Anger” is the three-word prayer I used to help me change my thinking.  When the heat begins to rise within me, I cool it with those three words, “Grace not Anger.”  Like water on a fire, I pray on repeat, breathing deeply until the rage subsides.  After years of practicing this, God changed the way I think.  Anger doesn’t have the control over me it once did.  In Christ, I found freedom.

Control your thoughts.

What you put into your mind is what you will get out of it.  When you get squeezed, the juice tells the story.  Currently, our entire world is getting squeezed with the pressures we’re encountering.  Hatred is the juice that seems most prevalent.  But what if God’s love was overflowing from us instead?  What if our hearts and minds were so full of Christ, in the heat of the battle, Christ’s love is our response?

You can change your thoughts with God’s word.  Whether you use three-word prayers or favorite scriptures, meditating on God’s promises will help you find what is good, pleasing, and perfect.

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Lord, thank You for everything.  Forgive us for thinking like the world.  Help us today change our thoughts.  As we read your Word, fill us with the Holy Spirit’s presence.  When life gets tight, let Your love flow from us.  Today is the beginning of capturing our thoughts, giving them to You, and allowing Your Spirit to cleanse our minds.  Let us find what is good, pleasing, and perfect as we follow You, today and always.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What’s one thing you can do to change your thoughts today?

Why Trying to Understand God Will Make You Realize Its Impossible

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Hosea 7 GW; Romans 11 GW; Psalms 145 GW

Get comfortable not knowing.

Explaining why God does what He does isn’t our main purpose in life.  We can’t possibly understand the God of the universe.  Our limited perspective gives us the information we need to live our lives, not explain the world’s workings.  And even then, waiting on God to reveal the next step in our journey is a huge part of traveling with God.

Becoming comfortable not knowing is freeing.  Just because we don’t have all the answers doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy life.   My favorite phrase to use is, “God only knows….”

“We make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)

God directs our steps.

Every week I pray over my calendar.  Mark Batterson, the pastor of National Community Church, inspired me to do this years ago.  Using a planner, I write all of my appointments in it, then pray over them.  If you’re on my schedule, I pray for our meeting in advance.  At the end of my journaling, I always ask God, “Don’t let me miss any Divine Appointments.”  God lives up to His word.

Never does my week go as planned.  Appointments get added and dropped.  I never know how my week is going to go, but God does.  None of us knows what the future holds, except for God.  He knows exactly where He’s taking us and for what purpose.  We have to trust and follow.

Give up trying to answer every question.  At some point, accept God’s sovereignty in your life.  Realize, God’s thoughts are far above ours; we can’t possibly understand them.  But we can trust, follow and obey.  As we do, God will reveal more of His plan to us.  Now and then, we’ll get glimpses of the work God is doing in and around us.  Moments like those will make you want to follow God even closer.

You don’t have to know everything.  Just trust God has your best interest at heart because He does.

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Lord, thank You for looking out for us.  Forgive us for trying to understand things above our pay grade.  Help us accept Your sovereignty in our lives today.  Draw us closer to You as we trust You more and more.  In You, we find life.  IJNP. Amen

Question for reflection

How is God asking you to trust Him today?

Why Faith Will Make You Know God and His Love

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Hosea 3-6 GW; Romans 10 GW

“Ouch, God!”

Today’s verse lives in the book of Hosea.  With a prostitute chosen by God for his wife, Hosea’s calling is to love her every time she cheated on him. (Hosea 3:1 GW)

Marriage isn’t the topic in this story, how the Israelites constantly turned their back on God, yet God loved them anyway is.  Chapter four of Hosea is the Lord’s legal case against Israel, which doesn’t start well.

God’s anger is at their lack of faith.  Because they lack faith, they don’t know God.  Without God, you can’t know unconditional love.  We’re just like the Israelites.  Every one of us is guilty of cheating on God, somehow, some way. God knows every time we do and still loves us.

God never leaves.

Our world has moved away from God, but He hasn’t moved away from us.  Recently, I spent a Saturday afternoon in a writing seminar titled “Writing for Healing.”  The topic was grief.  Each of the participants had lost loved ones, some tragically.  As we worked through the exercises, I realized quickly, I was the only person of faith in the class, or so I thought.  Listening to the conversations of people dealing with heartbreak without Christ to help them caused me to pray fervently for each of them.  God worked a miracle.

From one person who vehemently denounced God, the conversation turned to another whose grief awakened her relationship with God.  Working towards a close, we discussed the fear associated with grief.  And we ended with the opposite of fear: love.  The facilitator used John’s first letter to make his point:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

1 John 4:18 NIV

Amid a group of people bashing God, they ended with God.  He is the only answer to our pain and suffering.  I never spoke; I just prayed, all glory is His.  In Him, we will find love.

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Lord, thank You for loving us even though we’ve turned our back on You.  Forgive us for constantly straying away from You.  Always bring us back into the fold, Lord.  Don’t let us stray too far.  Protect us from ourselves, Lord.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

How is God growing your faith today?

Why God’s Wooing Will Make You Want to Come Back

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Hosea 1-2 GW; Romans 9 GW

God woos us.

Hosea is another favorite book of mine.  God speaks to Hosea and tells him to marry a prostitute.  Throughout the book, Gomer, Hosea’s wife, repeatedly betrays him with other men.  Yet Hosea continually takes her back time and time again. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is a fictionalized version of this book set in the 1800s; I recommend reading it to understand Hosea better.  

Like Gomer and the Israelites, we constantly betray God.  Turning to Him, then away from Him just as quickly.  Yet God never stops loving us, just as Hosea didn’t stop loving Gomer.  Unconditional love means nothing can make God stop loving you.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)

God wants you back.

No matter how far you’ve turned from God, He’s waiting for your return.  God forgives whatever is keeping you from seeking His presence.  His love for you is unending.  Nothing you ever did or will do will make Him stop loving you.

Recently, I rejoined WW.  Offering a special deal for previous lifetime members, I couldn’t resist.  The reason I started was that my friend wooed me back.  First, she texted me and told me she had returned.  Then she texted me updates, telling me about the promotions.  Finally, two days before the opportunity ended, she texted me yet again.  I could no longer resist; her efforts brought me back to the proven method for losing and maintaining weight.  

God is doing the same to you.  Start looking for Him in your day.  You’ll find, He’s never left you.  Even if you turned from Him, God never turns from you.  He’s always present, waiting for every opportunity to connect with you.  

Don’t wait another day.  Turn back to God.  Pour your heart out to Him.  Let God do the healing.

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Lord, thank You for always loving us.  Forgive us for the times we turn our back on You.  Show up for us today in unique ways that are undeniably You.  Help us understand the unconditional love You have for us as we move through this day.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Have you strayed from God lately?

How Not Knowing What to Pray Will Make You Rely on God’s Spirit

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Job 41-42 GW; Romans 8 GW

God’s Spirit intercedes.

During highly charged emotional events in our life, we don’t know what to pray.  The heaviness of the emotions we feel is difficult to verbalize.  Knowing life is changing in ways you disagree with makes praying challenging.  At times when you don’t know what to say, God does.  His Spirit within you intercedes on your behalf.  

When one of my best friends was leaving to plant a church two states away, we didn’t know what to pray.  Realizing this would change our friendship forever, our hearts were heavy.  Neither of us knew what to pray, but God knew what our sighs meant. 

“You know what I long for Lord; You hear my every sigh.” (Psalm 38:9 NLT

God’s Spirit helped us in our weakness, knowing our needs better than we did at the time.  Years later, our friendship is closer than ever; God gave us what we needed when we needed it.

God knows your needs.

God knows your needs better than you do.  His Spirit within you allows you to relax.  You don’t have to know everything.  Words aren’t necessary for God to understand your emotions and feelings.  As your Creator, He knows you better than you know yourself.  God is in your corner, cheering you on in the race of life.  He provides your needs before you even need them.  One day at a time, God helps you persevere.

Just like wifi is an invisible connection between us and our devices, God’s Spirit does the same for us.  We’re always connected, whether we’re praying or not.  God is downloading our needs into our Spirit before we know we need them.  Just like wifi allows automatic updates, the communication between our Spirit and God does the same.  

Trust God’s Spirit keeps you connected to God at all times.  Even if you don’t know what to pray for, God’s Spirit does.  You’re never alone; God is always with you.

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Lord, thank You for our lasting connection to You through Your Spirit.  Forgive us for not trusting You more.  Thank You for always having our back.  As we move through our day, provide our needs.  Help us represent You well in all we do.  All glory is Yours.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What area of your life are you struggling with prayer?