How Doing What Jesus Says, Will Make You Believe

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 24 GW; Luke 22 GW

Jesus speaks the truth.

When Jesus told the disciples to go into the city to prepare for Passover, He gave them specific instructions.  Jesus told them what man to find and follow, what to say when they reached the house, and what to prepare.  Without blinking an eye, the disciples followed Jesus’ commands.  Everything was as Jesus said.

When we follow Jesus, things happen.  Applying God’s word to our lives means living counterculturally.  Putting God and others before yourself is not natural. In our world, self-centeredness wins; we are to fend for ourselves in the harshness of reality.  But for Christ-followers, He does the fighting for us; our duty is to follow His lead.

Because the disciples witnessed the miracles of Jesus, they had no problem following His commands.  Watching Jesus feed thousands with a couple of fish and some leftover bread would get anyone’s attention.  Witnessing Him heal people of their problems, whether physical or spiritual, is something you wouldn’t forget.  When Jesus told the disciples to go, they went.  Their experience with the Son of Man taught them to listen and obey immediately.

Act quickly.

When God tells you to do something, do it quickly.  Whether you’re reading one of Jesus’s parables or feel a prompting from the Holy Spirit, whatever the mission, make it a priority.  God is directing our paths every day; the problem is, we tune into the wrong station.

Instead of listening to God, we listen to the world around us.  People will tell you salaries, houses, and cars measure life.  God tells us life is measured by how well we love.  The two worlds collide when you begin to place God first.  God doesn’t care about your bank account; He cares about your heart.  When He tells you to do something, He expects immediate action.  The longer you delay obeying, the longer it will take to receive the blessing.

When God speaks, listen and act.  Blessings come when we obey Jesus. 

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Lord, thank You for guiding and directing us.  Forgive us for not acting quickly when You give us something to do.  Today, help us to tune into You and react immediately.  When the Holy Spirit prompts us into action, let us act.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

What is God telling you to do today?

How Faith Giving Will Make You Grow

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 23 GW; Luke 21 GW

Give in faith, reap in blessings.

Jesus watches what we give; He knows the motives behind the giving.  Today’s heroine, a poor widow with no name, gains His approval:

“All of these people have given what they could spare. But she, in her poverty, has given everything she had to live on.” (Luke 21:4 GW)

Heartbroken, with only 2 pennies to give, the poor widow gave in faith all she had, trusting her God would provide for her.  She knew Jewish leaders had a reputation for mishandling funds, but her trust was in God, not man. 

Jesus noticed.

Attention from Jesus is something we all crave.  Aligning my heart with His takes sacrifice but is always worth the effort.  Giving in faith takes the emphasis off of our shortcomings and places it on God’s power.  God has already made way for you.  

God provides.

Reaching the halfway point of studying Ruth meant a review of the Levitical law.

“’When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God.’” (Leviticus 23:22 NIV)

Long before this poor widow walked the earth, or Ruth, another widow, existed, God provided for them.  Notice, His provision required work.  God commanded food left behind for the poor and widows, but they had to go out and gather it.  God creates opportunities for us; embracing opportunity requires effort.  Your effort reaps the blessing.

Put your faith in God.  Give to Him out of your poverty, not your abundance.  Jesus will notice.  God has already provided.  Your job is to glean; then, you reap the benefits of your efforts.

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Lord, thank You for Your provision long before we ever existed.  Forgive us for doubting You and for expecting everything to come quickly.  Your word tells us, we must glean to reap.  Help us give life our all today, reaping Your blessings from our efforts.  Let us align our hearts with You.  As we give You our all, fill us with Your peace that surpasses all understanding.  Whatever circumstances we face, show us what You want us to do.  Then help us complete our divine tasks.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

What divine task does the Lord want you to do?

How Understanding Jesus Authority Will Make You Know Him Better

2 minute read.

God gives Jesus authority.

As a child, I never understood who Jesus was.  I knew we had to celebrate certain holidays and attend church each Sunday.  Like other kids my age, I made the felt figures that depicted different Bible characters.  I assumed everyone followed Jesus because that’s what you did.  But I never understood who Jesus was until I was an adult.

Only when I was at rock bottom in my life did I begin to understand who Jesus is.  At that point, I began to understand sin like never before.  As I looked around at the pieces of my life, I realized I’m the one who made the decisions that led me to such a low place.  Instead of following Jesus, I followed my sinful nature.

In the pit of sin, I realized who Jesus was.  Son of God, His life made a relationship with God possible for me.  Every one of my sinful ways, Jesus bore upon Himself.  When I could not bear to look at myself, Jesus did.  With love in His eyes, He helped me out of the pit I created.

Jesus is our defender.

Years ago, in a church service in Delaware, I saw one of the best portrayals of how Jesus operates in our lives.  Presenting the message were the youth from the church.  My friend’s stepdaughter was part of the production as the defendant, a.k.a. sinner.  Dressed in a black robe, the judge (God) sat at the front of the courtroom.  When the lawyer(Jesus) stepped between my friend’s daughter and the Judge, her sin was no longer visible to God.   Jesus stands between God and us, hiding our sin.  God doesn’t see our sin because of Jesus.  To Him, we are perfection.

Jesus is your defender.  God can’t see your sin because of Jesus.  In Him, you are white as snow.  Your iniquities separated from you as far as the East is from the West.  Let Jesus bond you to God today.

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Lord, thank You for Jesus.  Forgive us our sins, make us white as snow.  In You, we find new life today—one free from our past sins, full of Your promise for our future.  Let us live in the hope of Jesus today and always.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Have you asked Jesus into your life yet?

How Seeking Jesus Will Make You Climb Trees

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 21 GW; Luke 19 GW

Better view, better interaction.

Zaccheus was too short to see Jesus over the crowds.  Living in a world that didn’t include drones, his options were limited.  To get a better view, he ran ahead and climbed a tree.  From Zaccheus’s vantage point, he could see Jesus.  And Jesus noticed.

When Jesus approached the tree, He looked up and said:

“Zaccheus, come down!  I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5 GW)

Jesus noticed Zaccheus’s efforts to see him.  He also notices yours.  When you make an effort to seek Jesus better by expanding your vision, God notices.  God sees everything.  Every action you make to see Jesus more clearly is recognized.  And just like Zaccheus, Jesus will meet you right where you are.

Make every effort to see Jesus.

Zaccheus heard about Jesus and wanted to know more about him.  Whatever stories he listened to piqued his interest enough to go the extra mile to learn more about Jesus.  Climbing a tree was worth the effort when Jesus invited himself over for dinner.  Any scrapes and bruises Zaccheus experienced climbing up and down the tree were worth it.

Seeking Jesus might cause some bruises.  You may have to scrape your way through difficult situations to get a better view.  When we pass through storms, they will draw us closer to Jesus and give us a vision we couldn’t have any other way.

One way you can learn more about Jesus requires little effort.  Schedule time in your day to read the Bible.  You don’t have to climb trees; just open God’s word.  Spending 10-15 minutes of your day in the Scriptures will draw you closer to Jesus in ways you can’t imagine until you do it.

Jesus will notice your efforts.  You will draw closer to Him.  Jesus wants to come to dinner.  Open the door and let Him into your home.

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Lord, thank You for introducing us to Zacheus and his persistency.  Forgive us the times we’ve given up seeking Jesus because the climb was too hard.  Help us today go the extra effort.  As we open Your word and read it, draw closer to us.  Give us insight into Your message.  Help us open the door for Jesus.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How can you make time for Jesus today?

Why Praying All the Time Will Make You Benefit

2 minute read.


Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 19-20 GW; Luke 18 GW

Persistent prayer pays off.

Today’s parable is about a widow who needed justice.  She repeatedly went to the local judge and asked for help, but he ignored her.  Eventually, he got tired of her begging:

“For a while the judge refused to do anything. But then he thought, ‘This widow really annoys me. Although I don’t fear God or respect people,  I’ll have to give her justice. Otherwise, she’ll keep coming to me until she wears me out.’ ” (Luke 18:4-5 GW)

Jesus points out that if a dishonest judge will give justice to a persistent woman, how much quicker will God give justice to His people? (Luke 18:6 GW).  

When you’re facing an injustice, choose persistent prayer as your response.  Jesus makes this guarantee:

I can guarantee that he will give them justice quickly. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8 GW)

Believe God will.

God will bring justice in His time.  Jesus is asking, do you have the faith to believe God will bring justice?

Do you genuinely believe in God?

Scripture is full of God’s promises to rescue us from our trials and tribulations.  Jesus tells us He’s overcome the world, we’re to take heart (John 16:33 GW).  But in reality, we doubt He has.

The judge finally responded to get rid of an annoyance. God responds because He loves you.  Persistent prayer reminds us Who is truly in control. Prayer changes us, not God.  Releasing our troubles to God frees us from their hold.  

Sometimes, we need to chat continually with God to find His peace amid the storm.  Faith is trusting God will act in due time.  We must believe, God will act quickly.  

Remember, God’s definition of quickly isn’t ours.  Keep praying.  God will act.

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Lord, thank You for Your swift justice.  Forgive us for trying to put You on our timeline.  As we pray persistently today, let Your peace fall upon us as we faithfully wait for You to act.  We know that in all things, You will bring justice when needed.  Help us believe today that You’re listening.  Encourage us in our walk as we pray continually to You.  In all things, the glory is Yours.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

What are you praying persistently about today?

Why Situations and People Will Make You Question Your Faith

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 17-18 GW; Luke 17 GW

Questioning faith is common.

Life situations will happen that cause you to doubt.  Wavering in your faith is normal.  Everyone does; if they say they don’t, you may want to question their integrity.  Everyone has thought or uttered the words, “God, what are you doing?” Jesus says we will have situations in our lives that will cause us to lose faith.  But God always comes through.  Somehow, someway, God shows up. 

On the other hand, if you’re what causes someone to lose faith, not cool.  Jesus was most likely referring to the Jewish leaders, called Pharisees. These religious leaders concerned themselves with keeping the law more than listening to Jesus.  As a result, they caused people to question their faith.

Unfortunately, Pharisees still exist.  If you talk to people about church, you will find out quickly; most people have a horror story.  Something happened; members handled a situation poorly, people got hurt.  As a result, they question their faith.  Sadly, I’ve experienced this myself from people who loved Jesus.

Imperfect people love Jesus.

If we weren’t imperfect, we wouldn’t need Jesus.  God’s love for us, warts, and all are what draw us to Him.  When we confess our sins and submit to Him, we’re admitting our imperfections.  Every morning, as we start a new day, we begin again—the sins of the past day forgiven as we confess them to God and each other.

If you’ve caused someone to stumble in their faith, confess it to God.  Then seek forgiveness from whoever you wronged.  Admit your failure to represent Jesus well, then ask for grace.  Instead of causing someone to falter, you’ll help them to grow.  And you’ll grow too!

Situations and people will make you question your faith.  Ask God the hard questions, He’ll answer. If you’ve made someone stumble in their walk with God, own it. Faith is fluid, changing every day as we grow closer to our Creator.

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Lord, thank You for loving imperfect people like us.  Forgive us if we’ve caused someone to stray.  Show us the error of our ways and help us to repair the damage.  As we submit to You, let our faith grow.  Today, allow us to draw people to You by our words and actions.  In You, we can do all things.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Have you caused someone to stumble in their walk with the Lord?

How Trustworthiness Will Make You Receive More Responsibility

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 16 GW; Luke 16 GW; Psalms 62 GW

Trust is incremental.

The first time I was allowed to drive a car alone, I went from my house to the high school, picking up a friend along the way.  Living in Northwestern PA, we had snow in the winter.  Not understanding how the front-wheel-drive worked, I spun the tires.  Unfortunately for me, I thought something was wrong with the car.  As soon as I reached my friend’s house, I called home to report the incident.  Thankfully, my brother explained what was happening; and my parents trust in me grew because I handled the situation well.

Small deposits of trust over time create a trustworthy bank account.

After that first trip, I had many short trips.  Running errands for my Mom became my favorite thing to do because I got the car.  When my Mom allowed me to drive from Pennsylvania to Virginia alone, I knew she trusted me.  Why?  Because she kept allowing me more and more freedom with the car. Over time, incrementally, I gained her trust.  

Complete divine tasks.

Just like my mother gave me more freedom as I proved myself trustworthy, God does the same.  God assigns us divine tasks, acts of love towards others that have kingdom impact.  Divine tasks are prompts from the Holy Spirit that you can’t ignore.

For instance, the other day, God brought a friend to mind who is going through a difficult time.  Almost immediately, I felt the desire to brighten her day.  After thinking about what would make her smile, I decided to take her fresh-cut flowers to brighten her desk.  A divine task that I fulfilled showing God my trustworthiness to follow through.

Whatever divine task God is prompting you to complete, do it.  The more assignments you complete, the more God will give you to do.  Tiny acts of trust grow.

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Lord, thank You for giving us divine tasks to complete.  Forgive us the times we ignore them or don’t do them well.  Help us today listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.  When You give us a task, help us complete it quickly.  Let our small acts of obedience allow us to receive more jobs.  As we align our hearts with Yours, let us reflect Your love to the world.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What divine task has the Lord given you lately?

How Welcoming Sinners Will Make You More Like Jesus

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 14-15 GW; Luke 15 GW

Jesus partied with sinners.

Tax collectors and sinners were in Jesus’s audience.  Jesus welcomed them with open arms.  From short Zacheus (Luke 19:1-10 NIV) to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11 NIV), and everyone in-between, Jesus hung with them all.  

“Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (Luke 5:31 NIV)

Every one of us struggles with sin.  We are the sick who need the doctor; His name is Jesus. 

Son of God, His credentials are flawless. 

Jesus knew His mission, to bring healing to those who need it.  Grace and forgiveness are His salves that make us whole again.  As we allow Jesus to cleanse our hearts, we become new.  Our sins washed away, our futures full of hope.

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Zig Ziglar

Becoming more like Jesus means hanging with sinners.  One of the most impactful sermons of my life happened in Sharptown, Maryland. Pastor Steve Willing talked about running into an old friend at an event.  Whatever he attended was in a hotel.  While walking past the hotel lounge, he noticed the gentleman sitting in the bar.  Not wanting to miss the opportunity to connect with his friend, he went and sat at the bar with him.

Sharptown is a small community with few secrets.  People talk about what they see.  In case they didn’t notice, Pastor Willing told them.  They witnessed a man of the Lord loving one of God’s children where he found him, in a bar.

Over twenty years have passed since I heard that sermon, but its impact on my life has never left me.

Jesus loved sinners, wherever they were.  He sat at the table with them and called them friends.  We’re to do the same.

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Praise Jesus; You love sinners because I’m one of them.  Forgive us, Lord, for our sins; help us to forgive ourselves.  Guide and direct us as we move through our days.  Let Your light shine through us as we the bar as he walked past ingle with other sinners here on earth.  Give us grace and mercy for everyone we meet.  Help us love them well for You.  Bless our efforts as we become more like You.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Who is God placing in Your life to love?

How Honoring Yourself Will Make You Humble

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 12-13 GW; Luke 14 GW

Self accolades precede humbling.

Jesus is talking about guests at a banquet who choose places of honor to sit.  Instead of sitting in the reserved section, sit in the cheap seats.  This way, if someone more prestigious than you is coming, you don’t take their spot.  On the other hand, if you are an honored guest, the host will move you to the proper seat and everyone will witness the promotion to a better position.  (Luke 14:7-11 GW)  

Pride, laziness, and the desire for honor are in direct contrast to what we need to follow Jesus—chasing after Jesus requires humility, servanthood, and commitment.  We aren’t to honor ourselves; we’re to glorify God.  If God desires for us to take a different seat at the table, He’ll let us know.  Until then, we’re to sit humbly and wait.

Ultimately, Jesus is telling us we have to choose.  Our choice is simple:  Jesus or not.  We either believe Jesus and do as He says, or we don’t.  The decision is yours; God doesn’t give room for indecisiveness.

Yes or no.

Close-ended questions are those that have a one-word answer: yes or no.  In between doesn’t exist when it comes to Jesus.  You either say “Yes” to Jesus, or you say “No.” every time you say no, God grieves.  

When we choose to honor ourselves, God will humble us. If you have ever attended a party and taken the wrong seat, you know what Jesus means.  Public humiliation comes when the host asks us to move to a lesser spot. 

When faced with a daily choice to honor yourself or Jesus, say “Yes!” to Jesus.  Don’t sit in a place not meant for you.  Humble yourself before God.  Take a seat of humility today.  Allow God to change your position if it’s His desire

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Lord, thank You for reminding us of what happens when we place ourselves in a position not meant for us.  Forgive us for those times when we have tried to honor ourselves.  Help us to live humbly today.  When faced with deciding what seat to take, let us take the least, not the greatest.  As we strive to follow You, bless our efforts.  Help us learn from our failures, and in all things, honor You.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

What seat are you taking today?

How Yeast Will Make You Understand God’s Kingdom Better

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 11 GW; Luke 13 GW

God’s kingdom grows.

When you place the small pellets of yeast into a floury mixture, it will make the dough rise.  Growing up, any time I saw the giant metal pan sitting in the corner with a clean tea towel across it, I knew fresh bread was in our future.  Mixing the right ingredients and baking until crispy golden on top produces a melt-in-your-mouth experience like nothing else.  

Jesus is referring to a Galilean homemaker in this scripture.  He’s saying the labor she does in making the bread is enough to feed more than 100 people.  Jesus is using this metaphor to describe the kingdom of heaven. 

God takes our small actions of love and multiplies them for the kingdom.  Each time we step out of ourselves and love another, we’re doing kingdom work.  Your efforts are not in vain, even if you don’t see the outcome here on earth.  One day in heaven, someone you never met will thank you for helping them find Jesus.

Small actions have far-reaching effects.

Just like the yeast causes the dough to rise, your actions can change someone’s life.  One thing I’ve learned, you never know the impact you are having.  Sometimes, God will give you glimpses.  But most of the time, we don’t have a clue.

What we can do is trust God with our efforts.  As long as our hearts are pure and motive clean, God will take our humble offerings and turn them into life-change.  Just like the yeast takes time to rise, change occurs slowly.  Day-by-day, as we follow Jesus, we become a new creation.  Our past is left behind, our future filled with God’s purpose for us.  A mission that takes a lifetime to complete.

Don’t underestimate the small actions of love.  No matter how tiny the seed, God will multiply your efforts.  His kingdom will continue to grow.

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Lord, thank You for helping us grow closer to You through the parables Jesus told.  Forgive us for underestimating our tiny offerings.  Help us today knead yeast into the dough of life, one act of love at a time.  Let our efforts grow Your kingdom as we share Your goodness with others.  In You, we have life to the fullest.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

What small act of love changed your life?