How Money Will Make You Resentful

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 45-46 GW; Matthew 20 GW

Wrong perspectives about money creates resentment.

Today’s verse comes from a parable Jesus told about money.  In the morning, a landowner hires workers for his vineyard.  As the day goes on, he added more people to the payroll.  With only an hour left, the boss hires a few more men.  When the time arrives to pay the men their wages, the landowner started with the last hired, ending with those who worked all day.  Each man received the same amount, whether they worked eight hours or one.  Grumbling erupted among those who worked longer.

Without a doubt, I would have grumbled too.  But this story isn’t about justice; it’s about generosity.  The landowner was generous to those in need.  He offered them work, then paid them a day’s wages, no matter how long they were in the vineyard. During that time, the law required payment at the end of the day.  The reason they received payment daily so that they could purchase food.  When the landowner paid them all the same wages, his generosity allowed them to eat.  An hour’s worth of salary wouldn’t provide a meal.

Gain the right perspective.

Money is nothing more than a means to an end.  All of us require paychecks to buy food and necessities.  When God allows us to work, He’s providing for us.  If you’re in a position to pay someone for their time and efforts, you are helping to feed them and their families.  The landowner in this story is generous to those in need.  Instead of offering charity, he’s allowing them to earn their keep.  By so doing, he not only feeds them, but he gives them a sense of purpose and worthiness. 

Others may receive more than you, but don’t let it plant a seed of resentment in your heart.  Instead, thank God for His provision.  Gratitude for what you have eliminates resentment towards others.

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Lord, how thankful we are for Your provision.  Forgive us, Lord, for thinking we know better than You about what a person deserves.  Only You know the intimacy of their lives and what they truly need.  Help us instead, choose gratitude for what we do have.  From the blessings You have given us, allow us to bless others.  Don’t let money cause resentment within us.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Has resentment of money caused distance in your relationship with God?

What Will Make You Miss God’s Kingdom

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 43-44 GW; Matthew 19 GW

Love of stuff will make you miss God’s kingdom.

When we think of God’s kingdom, we think of heaven.  God dwells in heaven.  When we believe in Him, He lives within us.  Therefore, heaven is within us.  God rules heaven; He rules us from within our hearts.  However, if we entangle ourselves in worldly things, we will miss God completely.  We will never accept Him because our god is stuff.  Where our treasure is, our hearts follow.

When I begin to think a thing or money has more importance than God, I realize I have a problem.  One pastor said he could tell what god we worshiped by looking at our calendars and bank statements.  Where you spend your time and money identifies what is most important in your life.  Don’t let stuff keep you from missing out on the kingdom of God that is within you.

Generosity leads to God’s kingdom.

Generosity defeats materialism.  When you can identify those things in your life that is hindering your relationship with God, give them away.  Break the hold stuff has on you by getting rid of any unnecessary “things.”  Begin tithing on your income; watch how it takes your shift from money to God.
Daily Hope by Rick Warren is a daily devotional I follow.  Not too long ago, he made a point I haven’t stopped thinking about since.  As humans, we are willing to trust God with our eternal life, but we cannot trust Him with our money.  Why is that?  Because we’re not genuinely giving God our whole heart.  We are the same as the rich young ruler if we miss Jesus because of our possessions.  Don’t let stuff make you forget the peace God is offering.

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Lord, how grateful we are for Jesus.  His teachings open our eyes to what we cannot see.  Forgive us for our love of stuff.  Help us overcome the materialism in this world.  Instead, help us focus on Your presence within us.  You reside in our hearts, heaven within us.  Help us find your Kingdom here on earth as we trust You.  Let nothing come between our heart and Yours.  From within, Lord, change us into Your creation.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

What stuff is keeping you from a deeper relationship with God?

What Will Make You Become Like Children?

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 42 GW; Matthew 18 GW

Total trust in Jesus is childlike faith.  Complete reliance on God makes you a kid again.

As a tennis coach, I work with all ages of kids.  In 2020, with the pressures of the world, they reminded me how to have fun.  My students trust me; many of them I’ve taught for years.  Because they have faith in me, they don’t worry about what will happen in class.  They know I have a plan for them; they have confidence in it.  So they just have fun.  

God wants us to trust Him like my students trust me.  Each day when you get up, know He already has the day mapped out for you.  In His wisdom, He’s taken care of all the details of the day.  Jesus wants you to trust Him completely, in all ways.  He wants you to live your life to the fullest, enjoying every moment, just like a child.

Instead of dreading the day ahead, trust that God has good things in store for you.  

Children trust.

When children fall and scrape their knees, they trust Mom or Dad will help.  In their pain, they turn with outstretched arms to their parent.  They know the comfort found in the warm embrace.  The pain may exist, but it lessens in the arms of their trusted guardian.  Jesus wants us to believe like a child.  When we fall, He wants us to turn to Him with tears in our eyes, arms outstretched. 

Choose childlike faith today.  Instead of worrying about the future, enjoy the blessings of this day.  Listen to your favorite song on repeat, volume high.  Play a game with your child.  Allow silliness and curiosity to reenter your life.  If you get hurt, turn to Jesus, let Him comfort you.  He knows what is best for you.

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Lord, thank You for reminding us of childlike faith.  Forgive us the time and energy we waste worrying about things we can’t control.  Instead, strengthen our belief in You.  Help us remember, “You got this!”  Give us eyes today to see the blessings You placed in this day for us.  Let us enjoy them to their fullest as we journey forward.  Help us have fun today as Your children.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

What is something fun and childlike you can do today?

Who Will Make You Sing Praises?

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 41 GW; Psalms 40 GW; Matthew 17 GW

God gives songs of praise.

Each day, if you look for God’s goodness, you will find it.  Even on the darkest days, God is with you.  Things happen we can’t explain.  People choose to turn their back on God daily. Instead of following His desires,  they follow their own.  We can’t control what others do; we can only control what we do.  You have the choice today where you focus your attention.  If you choose God, He will give you a reason to sing praises.

This morning as I was scrolling Facebook, one meme caught my attention.  The words said:

 “No matter how good or bad

You think life is, wake up

Each day and be–

THANKFUL FOR LIFE

Someone, somewhere

Else is fighting

to survive.”

FGMIQ

If you need help finding God’s goodness, start with life.  Remember, someone else is fighting for theirs today.  Gratitude for good health is one we all take for granted.  Intentionally praise God for the life He gave you, the air you breathe.  Every breath is a gift from God.

God is worthy of praise.

When you begin searching for God’s goodness in your day, He will give you a song of praise to sing.

Over Christmas, my husband I camped in Florida.  On the second day of the three-day drive, we were in Georgia on I-95.  Amid an emotional conversation, one in which I was crying, a piece of metal flew off a truck in front of us.  My husband, thank God, is an attentive driver.  He saw what looked like the blade of a push lawn mower when it dislodged from the truck, headed directly for me.  With his eye on the metal, he gently swerved, giving the object room to pass by just inches from the windshield.  God’s goodness causes me to sing songs of praise.

Start searching for His goodness in your life.  Let His good works fill your mouth with song.

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Lord, how grateful we are for Your protection.  Thank You for waking us this morning to face another day.  As we walk through today, let us see Your goodness.  Fill our mouths with songs of praise as we follow You.  Forgive us for taking Your presence in our lives for granted.  Renew our faith as we seek You today.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How has God given you a song of praise to sing?

What Will Make You Pick Up Your Cross?

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 39-40 GW; Matthew 16 GW

Picking up your cross means following Jesus.  What makes people want to follow Jesus? They realize they need a Savior.  Something happens in their life, and they are finally ready to ask for help.  When they do, Jesus is waiting with open arms.

Jesus’s life was far from one of ease.  Remember, He didn’t have electricity, running water, or an indoor toilet.  In His humaneness, He lived in what we would consider poverty today.  Jesus endured name-calling, beatings, and torture.  People Jesus grew up with didn’t believe He was the Son of God.  Jesus was considered a rebel.  His teachings went against Jewish tradition.  Jesus’s enemies were great, but His God is greater.

Suffering is a part of everyone’s life, even Jesus’s.  He doesn’t promise a rose garden; He promises us trouble:

“I’ve told you this so that my peace will be with you. In the world you’ll have trouble. But cheer up! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 GW)  

Picking up your cross will come with suffering.  But take heart, Jesus overcame the world.

Jesus overcomes.

Jesus helps you overcome the troubles in life.  He understands political upheaval and false teachings.  When Jesus entered the world, it was much like the one we live in today.  He faced every temptation and fear we do. Jesus dealt with the sick and dying.  He knows the heartaches of life.   But Jesus didn’t focus on the world; He focused on the Father.  By keeping in union with God, He became a victor.

When you pick up your cross and follow Jesus, you will gain victory.  His teachings will transform you.  You will find purpose in Him that will use your unique gifts.  In Him, you will overcome.

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Lord, how we thank You for what You did on the cross.  We’re grateful You picked up Your cross for us.  Help us pick up our crosses and follow You.  Forgive us for the times when we fail to follow.  Give us the strength to say no to our desires as we embrace Your plans for us.  Let us see the world through the lens of Your love.  Everyone we meet carries their burdens.  Help us lighten their load as we reflect You to them. IJNIP. Amen  

Question for reflection

What will make you pick up your cross today?

Why Traditions Will Make You Break Commandments

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 37-38 GW; Matthew 15 GW

Traditions can mislead.

Jesus is addressing the Pharisees in today’s verse.  He’s making a distinction between “the command of God” and Jewish Tradition.  The Pharisees didn’t understand why Jesus and His disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating.  These were oral traditions passed down from generation to generation. In other words, the Pharisees are concerned with outward appearance more than inward cleansing.  

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is pointless, because their teachings are rules made by humans.’ ” (Matthew 15:8-9 GW)

Jesus is telling the Pharisees, “You’re missing the point.”  Because they focus on tradition, they miss what Jesus is trying to teach.  Living a life of faith requires a spiritual connection with our heavenly Father.  He’s more concerned about our relationship with Him than any human traditions.  When we consume ourselves with tradition, we break God’s commandments.  The Pharisees worried about making the physical world look good but were not concerned with the sinful nature that lives within all of us.

God’s commands cleanses us inside.

Washing their hands put on a show for the people around the Pharisees.  They were trying to impress the crowd, not God.  What Jesus wants is for us to have a relationship with God beyond what people can see.  If all we care about is outward appearance, we’ll miss the internal transaction God yearns for us to have.

You can only have one master.  In the simplest of terms, you will follow man or God.  If you get caught up in man’s traditions, you’ll miss God’s commands.  Without God’s commands, you cannot fully connect to Him.  Only as you practice Jesus’s teachings will you find life to the fullest.

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Lord, thank You for sending Jesus to show us the way.  Thank You for His teachings; help take our focus off outward appearance and place it on Your commands.  Forgive us the times we get caught in human tradition.  Help us to identify the areas of our life where we’re breaking commandments because of misguided focus.  Our hearts are for You; our lives are Yours.  Today and every day, draw us into a deeper relationship with You.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection:

What human tradition is causing you to break God’s commandment?

What Will Make You Sink?

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 36 GW; Matthew 14 GW

Losing focus of Jesus makes you sink.

Peter walked on water until he took his eyes from Jesus.  Amid the wind and rain,  the disciple stepped hesitantly at first, then more boldly.  The moment he looked at the weather instead of Jesus, he began to sink.  Jesus catches him as he falters, then says:

“You have so little faith! Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31 GW)

Don’t doubt Jesus’s presence in your life.  Instead, focus your gaze on Him with laser intensity. As storms occur, trust Him to lead you through them.  

Over the years, I’ve heard many pastors describe how storms work in our life.  We are either entering one, in the middle of one or coming out of a storm at all times. Wherever you are in the process, Jesus remains constant.  You may feel ravaged by the winds and waves that are raging around you, but Jesus is in it with you.  Focusing on Him will help you walk boldly on water.  

Jesus is Savior always.

Our earthly view doesn’t understand God’s heavenly ways.  When we find ourselves amid turmoil, we quickly forget who Jesus is.  Instead of turning to God, we try to solve our problems on our own accord.  The issue with excluding God, we’re not gaining His perspective.  Only when we focus our eyes on Him will we navigate the storm successfully.

Jesus is waiting for you to turn back to Him.  Whatever hurricane you find yourself in today, don’t get caught in the wind.  Instead, do what Peter did, shout out to Jesus, “Lord, save me.” Just as He stopped Peter from sinking, He will do the same for you.

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Lord, You are truly amazing.  Your consistency amid our lives gives us hope on the dark days.  Help us to refocus our eyes on You today.  Instead of seeing the magnitude of the winds and waves, let us see Jesus.  Hear us as we cry out to You for help.  Listen to our pleas; stop us from sinking.  Instead, in all we do, let us glorify You.  Lord, let Your light shine so brightly through us today that the darkness completely recedes.  Let the world have no victory over us because we know; You are Savior in all circumstances.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

What are your eyes focused on today, Jesus, or the storm?

What Will Make You Fall from Faith

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 35 GW; Matthew 13 GW

Lack of roots causes you to fall from faith.

Root systems in plants are typically found underground, out of sight of the human eye.  The roots’ network serves four purposes: anchor the plant to the soil, absorb water and nutrients, feed the water and nutrients to the stem, and store food.  From a Christ-follower’s perspective, roots are the unseen practices in private that anchor us firmly in God.

Each day you choose to open God’s word, absorb His teachings into your life, memorize scripture, then apply it to your life; your roots grow deeper.  How extensive your root system develops is dependent on you.

Often, when you put Jesus’s teachings into practice, people misunderstand your intentions.  As a lifelong Christ-follower, I’ve experienced this many times over my life.  Roots in Christ cause choices that go against worldly practices.  When you don’t do what everyone else is doing, people tend to ostracize you.  Most people care more about what other humans think than what God thinks.  To keep the faith, you must develop a root system dependent only on God.

Daily devotion causes deep roots.

If you have ever planted a seed and watched it grow into a plant, you understand, growth takes time.  When you first begin seeking God, that is the first tendril of a root starting its journey into the solid ground of God’s goodness.  Every day you pursue Him, the seed grows a little more.  Eventually, the actions done in secret begin to overflow into your daily life as the sprouts of your devotion poke through into the world around you.

When the storms of life hit, hopefully, you’ve grown a root system that will sustain the rampage.  Troubles will happen.  God tells us so in His word.  But if your roots are in Him, He’ll support you no matter what rages around you.

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Lord, how grateful we are for Your presence in our lives.  Help us today to strengthen our root system.  As we seek You, let Your word nourish us.  Let our minds memorize Your Word, so we have it on the ready, no matter what the day brings.  Blossom us into people who reflect Christ’s love to the world, no matter what the storm.  Let the love and grace we find in You flow from us to others.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How can you strengthen your root system today?

What Will Make You Produce Good Fruit?

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 34 GW; Matthew 12 GW; Psalms 64 GW

Loving like Jesus produces good fruit.

With every person you encounter, ask yourself a simple question.  How would Jesus love them?  Each individual requires a different response.  People receive love differently. Past experiences and hurts cause people to build walls around their heart, protection from further pain.  Lack of trust causes people to question innocent motives.  If we’re going to love people well, we have to learn how to love from Jesus.

Within the pages of scriptures, Jesus shows us the way.  He cared for the sick, loved the unlovable, and forgave the unforgivable. Above all, Jesus took no offense. Jesus is the master at loving people. We can’t imitate what we don’t know.  If we want to reflect Jesus to the world, we have to know Him. 

You choose the fruit you produce.

Honestly, what you produce depends on you.  You can either react with anger, jealousy, and bitterness or not.  Controlling your reaction is that simple.  As an adult, you have the capability of managing your responses.  When you partner your life with Jesus, He’ll show you how to produce fruit with eternal ramifications.  His answer is always one of love.

To help me control my reactions, I tell myself what I’m not going to do.  For instance, I’m working on taking no offense.  No matter what someone does, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.  Instead of assuming negative thoughts, I’m working on not thinking anything.  When my temper begins to flair, I remind myself, take no offense.  More than anything, putting into practice what Jesus did helps me manage my emotions.  When I keep the feelings under control, I gain a better perspective of the situation.  Then I am more equipped to love instead of assume.

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Lord, how grateful we are for Jesus.  His example of loving You and people is one we can all benefit from today.  Help us to forgive those we’re struggling to forgive.  Let us serve those who are sick and are in need.  Give us love from above to love those around us, especially those we struggle with most.  Today Lord, let us take no offense.  Instead, let us respond like Jesus, with love.  May we produce good fruit in all we do today. IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How can you love like Jesus today?

Keeping Faith in Jesus Will Make You Blessed

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Genesis 32-33 GW; Matthew 11 GW; Psalms 131 GW

Following Jesus leads to a blessed life.

Before you can follow Jesus, you must place your faith in Him.  What that means is trusting His teachings.  Once you trust, then you follow.  Following defined is “coming or going after or behind; pursuing; attending; imitating; proceeding in the same course.”  After you place your faith in Jesus, the blessings come as you pursue Him. The more you chase Him, the more your confidence will grow.

To imitate Jesus, you must get to know Him.  The disciples followed Him as He fulfilled His ministry on earth.  Reading the scriptures brings us into their story.  We learn how Jesus dealt with the storms of life.  As you dig into His parables, He teaches you how to love both God and others.   As you begin to put His teachings into practice, blessings will begin to overflow.  God’s blessings aren’t the same as man’s.  His peace is something man can never give.  Grace is only possible because of Jesus’s act on the cross.  God’s love reflects in His creation.

Believe in the Blessing.

When life is imploding around us, losing faith can happen.  When a spouse leaves or a child dies, the pain is unbearable.  Unexpected loss of any kind is devastating.  Understanding why things happen is beyond our human capacity.  During these times, continuing to believe is a choice.  We have to choose to follow Jesus, even when we don’t understand.  God creates beauty from the ashes of our pain, but only if we give it to Him.

Have faith in Jesus that He is with you, right now, today.  Whatever trial you’re facing, He faces with you.  Your heartache is His heartache.  Lean into Him today, trusting His promises to bring you His blessings of comfort, peace, and joy.

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Lord, thank You for Jesus.  May all who read this continue to have faith in Him.  May we pursue Him today harder and faster than we ever have.  Thank You for Your blessings that only come when we keep the faith.  Amid turmoil in our lives, let our faith stay strong in You.  Help us to follow You wherever You take us.  Let Your plan unfold in our lives as we move through this day.  In You we trust.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Are you missing Jesus’s blessing because you’ve lost faith?