What Will Make You Change the Way You Think

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Leviticus 13 GW; 2 Corinthians 7 GW

Godly distress causes u-turns in thinking.

Every time I hear the phrase, “You don’t find atheists in foxholes,” it makes me smile.  A foxhole isa hole in the ground used by troops as a shelter against enemy fire or as a firing point.” In other words, when people fear for their lives, they pray.  Whether they believe in God or not is irrelevant.  When you’re in a life or death situation, you recognize your limitations.  You know only something outside of yourself can save you.  Thinking changes when pressure is applied.

Hopefully, God doesn’t need to use a foxhole to get your attention.  But trials in our lives do bring us to our knees, causing us to look heavenward, seeking God’s aid.  When we bring God into our story, our thinking changes.

Changed thinking, changed actions.

Experiencing God’s grace changes your life.  When you are in your foxhole, surviving unscathed, credit goes to God.  His protection, provision, and guidance were the navigators.  Whatever the story of survival is, I’m sure you can’t make it up.  The details of God’s working in our lives are so personal; He’s the only explanation.  Godly distress draws us closer to our Creator; it illuminates His closeness in our lives.  As we know Him more, our thinking changes and our actions become more loving.

Whatever foxhole you’re in today, pray.  Seek the God who can get you out of the pit.  Give Him the glory when He brings you victory.

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Lord, how grateful we are for Your sovereignty.  In all things, You rule.  Even when we don’t believe, You love us.  Forgive us for our unbelief.  Thank You for Your protection during the storm.  Give us tails of survival that spread Your good news to the world.  Lord, let us experience Your grace today in a new and unexpected way.  As we draw into You, let us feel Your presence with us.  In all things, we give You the glory. IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How are you experiencing God in Your life today?

Demonstrating God’s Love Will Make You a Servant

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Exodus 39-40 GW; 2 Corinthians 6 GW

Loving others is serving God.

What is Jesus remembered for today?  The greatest act of love ever known, dying for the world.  When we are known as servants of God, we die to ourselves as we love others.  Instead of taking the largest serving at dinner, we take the smallest.  When we feel like complaining about someone, we use it as an opportunity to pray for them instead.  And when we see a need, we meet a need.  We help when people need help.  We listen when someone needs to talk.  We hold when someone needs holding.  That’s what a servant of Jesus does.

When you’re chatting with God in eternity, He’s not going to ask for a resume of good deeds.  God isn’t going to ask how many volunteer roles you held.  What God does care about is how you loved while on earth.  The depth of your relationship with God reflects in your relationship with others.  

Communicate with the Creator.

Without communication, you can’t have a relationship. Developing a more profound connection with Jesus requires talking to Him.  As you learn to converse more and more freely with Him, your service will become part of who you are.  Understanding the depth of God’s love for you means understanding He loves everyone equally.  When you look at another human being, you are looking at someone God loves.  And He wants you to love them too.  Serving Jesus is loving people more than yourself.

Let your actions speak for you today.  Whoever you meet, find a way to love.  Speak life into them with uplifting words.  Demonstrate your devotion to God by loving His people.

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Lord, You are the best Master we could have.  Your unconditional love flows into us more and more as we seek You.  Help us cleanse ourselves of our sins as we confess them to You.  Let us set aside time to have a conversation with You today and every day.  The more we learn to talk to You, the more we’ll learn to love.  Help us represent Jesus well today as we try to live as He lived.  At all times, He loved.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How can your actions show your service to God today?

Following Jesus Will Make You A New Creation

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Exodus 37-38 GW; 2 Corinthians 5 GW

Following Christ creates new life in you.

Our human nature has natural defaults.  When someone hurts us, we want revenge.  Whether someone lied to us, judged us incorrectly, or treated us as less than, pain causes a desire for retaliation.  But that isn’t Jesus.  When people mistreated Him, He responded in love.  Jesus didn’t exact revenge; He gave grace, mercy, and love to those who persecuted Him.  When we start responding like Jesus, we are new creatures.

When my mother was in her last years of life, she required more care than I could give alone.  As a result, she stayed with my brother and his family for a while.  Initially, I was opposed to this situation, and my attitude made my feelings clear to all.  My human emotions were in control.  To change my perspective, I needed Jesus.  When I turned to Him, He gave me a new heart.  Applying His teachings to my life revealed the truth to me: I needed the help.  Instead of anger, God gave me a spirit of gratitude.  In Him, I found new life.

Change of heart, change of attitude.

Jesus deals directly with our hearts.  From within our being, changes come.  Visibly, we look the same, but internally, we are new.  As we absorb Jesus’s teachings into our soul, our attitude changes.  We begin to take the focus off of ourselves and place it on others.  When someone hurts us, we look past the offense.  We understand, hurting people hurt others.  Their pain is causing them to act in ways they usually wouldn’t.  Instead of seeking revenge, we’re able to offer grace.

Let Jesus’s teachings take root in your soul today.  As you begin to live your life like Him, watch the transformation take place.  In Him, you will find new life.

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Lord, how grateful we are for the life You have given us.  Forgive us today for wrong attitudes.  Instead of seeking justice, give us hearts full of love.  Change us from within as Your word takes root within us.  In all things, let us respond like Jesus.  Give us the grace, mercy, and love we need to change the world, one loving act at a time.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Where do you need Jesus to give you a new perspective?

What Will Make You Renewed

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Exodus 35-36 GW; 2 Corinthians 4 GW

God renews.

Pansies are a favorite flower of mine.  They grow in my area from late fall to late spring; even snow doesn’t deter them from living. Life’s heaviness resembles pansies covered in snow.  Their tender petals hunched over under the weight—each new flake adds more weight to the fragile plants.  But from within, God renews. Even though they bend, they do not break. God designed them with an inner strength that perseveres the trials of the winter where we live.  God created us the same way.  Wherever you are, He will give you the inner strength to survive.  But first, you have to seek Him.

Pansies die from lack of water.  Water enters through the roots and nourishes the plant.  When the snow melts, it will nurture what it once tried to smother.  Just like flowers need water, we need the living water of Jesus.  Seeking Him each day waters our soul, renewing us, strengthening us for what is to come.

Living water renews the soul.

Consider time with the Lord, a form of watering your soul.  When the snow of life begins to weigh you down, remember it will melt.  Winter doesn’t last forever, just for a season.  When the cold months end, the melting snow waters the earth, bringing forth new life.  God will use the snowstorms of your life to water the seeds of new growth in you.  Drink deeply of the water Christ offers:

“But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14 NIV)

Let Christ renew you today.  Ask Him for His living water.

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Lord, how thankful we are you turn snowstorms into watering moments.  Forgive us for doubting You amid the storm.  Renew us from within our souls.  Though the storms of life cause us to bend, don’t let us break.  Strengthen us as only You can.  In all things, let us remember the water of life originates with You.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

What snowstorm is God using to water your life with today?

How Christ Will Make You A Letter of Love

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Exodus 33-34 GW; 2 Corinthians 3 GW

“It’s clear that you are Christ’s letter, written as a result of our ministry. You are a letter written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, a letter written not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:3 GW)

God’s Spirit transforms our hearts into letters of love to the world.

As we enter into a relationship with Jesus, He changes us from the inside out.  When we make an effort to live like Christ, the world will notice the difference.  Each day we choose to follow Him, we become more like Him.  Our love letter to the world is written one day at a time.

“This Lord is the Spirit.  Wherever the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17 GW)

God’s freedom we receive is a result of His unconditional love for us.  Each of us has imperfections that we think are unlovable.  God says, “I love you as you are.”  As we move through our days, we will make mistakes. 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 GW).  

Confidently, we can love others unconditionally because that is how God loves us.

Lead with love.

As you make your mark on the world today, lead with love.  Choose to embrace Christ’s teachings over your human desires.  Forgive the unforgivable, help the helpless, heal the sick.  Wherever you go today, whoever you see, leave an imprint of love behind.

Remember, everyone is struggling.  Just because people don’t talk about their pain doesn’t negate its existence.  Let the Spirit lead your heart.  As you tune into God’s guidance, write your letter of love to the world, one action at a time.

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Lord, how grateful we are for Your unconditional love of us.  Forgive us when we don’t believe the depth of love You have for us.  Instead, help us embrace Your Spirit fully, allowing it to transform our lives into a love letter to the world.  Whoever we meet today, let us lead with love.  Fill our hearts with unconditional love for those You place in our lives today and always.  Let the world know us by our love.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How can you let your life reflect love to the world today?

What Will Make You Fragrant

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Exodus 31-32 GW; 2 Corinthians 2 GW

“But I thank God, who always leads us in victory because of Christ. Wherever we go, God uses us to make clear what it means to know Christ. It’s like a fragrance that fills the air.” (2 Corinthians 2:14 GW)  

Sharing Christ makes you fragrant.

Fourteen years ago this day, was my favorite Valentine’s Day Ever.  On that Wednesday morning, I helped one of my closest friends move six and ½ hours away.  On a mission for the Lord, she and her husband were planting Life Community Church (LCC) in Mt. Pleasant, SC.  The women were all clothed in red Old Navy Valentine Tee-shirts. A caravan of cars, led by a U-haul truck, pulled out of Williamsburg, VA, into an unknown future.  Why was this particular V-Day my favorite?  Because we were sharing the best love of all to friends, we had yet to meet. 

Over the past fourteen years, LCC continually shares Christ’s love with their community.  Through the ups and downs of life, they have touched innumerable lives, too many to count. Watching what God did and is doing humbles us all.  When I meet a new face who comes to LCC for one reason or another, I have the same thought.  “We prayed for you before we ever knew you.” 

Christ’s love is perfect.

Someone somewhere is praying for you.  You may know who is praying for you; you may not.  I pray for everyone that reads my devotional.  Whether someone reads it once, or every day, or have yet to read it, I pray the same prayer.  “Lord, let my writing draw them closer to You.  May they know Your love so intimately that they can’t help but share it with others.”  

Focus on Christ’s love today.  Let His adoration for you absorb into your soul.  Then share it with others, letting your fragrance fill the air around you.

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Lord, how fragrant your love is today and always.  Forgive us, Lord, if our perspective is on worldly love.  Focus our eyes on You. For all we meet today, let Christ’s love fill the air around us.  As You pour Your love into us, let it flow to the dark world where we live—more of You, less of us.  Let the people in our lives know us by Your love.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Who can you share Christ’s love with today?

What Will Make You Able to Comfort Others

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Exodus 29-30 GW; 2 Corinthians 1 GW

“He comforts us whenever we suffer. That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4 GW)

Receiving God’s comfort helps comfort others.

God’s ways of comforting people always amazes me.  People go through storms in life, but they don’t go alone.  For one thing, God knows what turbulence you will encounter in this life before you do.  He already is placing His servants in a ready position for when the time comes.  People are His hands and feet, there to wrap arms around you when you need.

My friend’s husband had a heart attack just before Halloween.  When she raced to the emergency room, doctors were shocking his heart back to life.  Out of nowhere, a pastor appeared, someone she had never meant.  He gently guided her from the room so the medical personnel could work, leading her to the chapel to sit and pray with her.  She had no idea who he was, but in her darkest hour, God sent someone to help her.  Gratefully, her husband survived.  When she needed comfort, God provided in the form of a stranger.

Receiving comfort helps give comfort.

What my friend needed was comfort.  Because she received comfort, she knows how to give comfort.  Presence is more important than words.  When life is falling apart around you, the feelings of loneliness can overwhelm you.  But just sitting with someone lets them know they aren’t alone.  God knows what you are going through; He has a plan to get you to the other side of the storm.

Just like God shows up in our darkest hour, show up for others.  Sit with them silently; your presence will comfort their fears.  You don’t have to have the answers, just arms to hold them through the storm.  God sends people who are His hands and feet.  Sometimes they comfort you; other times, you are the comforter.

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Lord, how grateful we are for Your comfort.  Thank You for sending people to help us through our darkest hours.  Forgive us when we have not taken the opportunity to comfort others with our presence.  Instead, help us become comforters.  Let us show up for people in need, representing You.   Let our hands and feet bring comfort for others as we sit with them.  As you have comforted us, let us comfort others.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Who needs comfort in your life today?

What Will Make Y0u Give God Glory

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Exodus 27-28 GW; Psalms 96 GW

“Give to the Lord the glory he deserves.Bring an offering, and come into his courtyards.” (Psalms 96:8 GW)

Experiencing God’s presence causes glory.

Our problem isn’t God’s absence; our problem is seeking His presence. Over and over again in the scriptures, God tells us He never leaves us nor forsakes us.  Yet, we all struggle with periods when we don’t think He is living up to His word.  Distractions of the world cause us to miss what is right in front of us.  And the battle of whose will prevails is constant.  But if we seek His goodness, we’ll find it.  When we do, we can’t help but give glory to Him.

You can praise God for all things, small or big.  When you begin to thank God for something in your life, you’ll start to realize; He is always with you.  One of the worst days of my life was when my nephew died from diabetes at 20 years old.  In my darkest hour, God sent me family and friends who carried me through.  When I couldn’t walk because of grief, God carried me with His people. 

Glory is His.

Offerings of thankfulness and praise belong to God.  Without Him, we are nothing.  The air we breathe is a gift from above.  Living in America, even in political turmoil, is a blessing.  The freedoms we enjoy here, other places don’t.  You may not feel like you have anything to praise God for today, but those two things are a start.  Look around you today, find ten things to praise God for before the sunsets.  See what a difference glorifying God makes in your day.

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Lord, all glory goes to You.  Forgive us for taking credit for Your work.  As we move through our day, give us eyes to see what You’re doing.  Help us intentionally find things to glorify You for today.  Hone our vision so that in all things, we see You, even in our darkest hours.  We bring our offerings of praise and worship to You.  Bless our efforts as we strive to seek You.  Help us connect the dots of what You are doing in our lives.  To You, we give the glory.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How can You glorify God today?

What Will Make You Have a Desire to Serve

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Exodus 25-26 GW; 1 Peter 5 GW

“Be shepherds over the flock God has entrusted to you. Watch over it as God does: Don’t do this because you have to, but because you want to. Don’t do it out of greed, but out of a desire to serve.” (1 Peter 5:2 GW)

Your flock motivates service.

Wherever you are in life, you have a flock of people around you.  God grows us where we are.  Family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers are all individuals that create a herd unique to you.  No one else interacts with them as you do.  Every single one of them, whether you like them or not, are God’s children.  Loving God means finding a way to love your flock.  The light God shines through you to the world, no one else has.  

You don’t have to like someone to love them.  To “like” someone means “corresponding or agreeing in general or in some noticeable respect.” My best friends are easy to “like” because we all have similar beliefs and views.  People who have opposite views are not ones I particularly like, but I do love them.  We need people who challenge our thinking because our thinking isn’t always correct. 

Love goes beyond like.

To “watch over” your flock as God does means asking Him for His view.  As you think of the people in your life, lift up a simple prayer.  “God, help me see them as You do.”  When you put this prayer into action in your life, you’ll view your herd differently.  Everyone you encounter will matter to you in a way only possible through God’s lens.  You will want to serve them because of Christ’s love for you.  God’s lens changes your perspective about others, as well as yourself.

Liking people isn’t necessary to love them.  Understanding God’s love for you and others is.  As you absorb God’s love for you today, let it flow to everyone you encounter.  They’re your flock; love them well.

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Dear heavenly Father, thank You for Your view.  Forgive us for our deficiencies in serving the flock You’ve given us.  Help us today to gain a new perspective.   Whoever we encounter today, let us see them through Your eyes.  Let Your love for them motivate us to love them.  Help us tend our herd as You would.  Through You, we can.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How can you serve your flock today?

Why Sharing Christ’s Sufferings Will Make You Happy

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Exodus 23-24 GW; 1 Peter 4 GW

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised by the fiery troubles that are coming in order to test you. Don’t feel as though something strange is happening to you, but be happy as you share Christ’s sufferings. Then you will also be full of joy when he appears again in his glory.” (1 Peter 12-13 GW)

Suffering with Christ means sharing His joy.

When Christ suffered on the cross, it was temporary.  However, the victory He had over death is eternal.  Our sufferings on earth are not permanent; they will pass.  We share with Jesus in His success, which never ends.  But we will have fiery troubles that will test our faith.  Attitude is everything when facing a difficult trial.

When life knocks you on your back, the only place to look is up.  You will have events in life that cause you to fall to your knees.  Everyone does; no one gets out of this life without suffering.  Don’t let Satan trick you into thinking you’re the only one who has troubles; you’re not.  Some people may hide their problems better than others, but they still have them.  Jesus endured every temptation you will ever face.  In Him, find hope.

The Best is Still to Come.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12 NIV)

Your crown is waiting; hold on.  When life is closing in on me, I have one pervasive thought that carries me through, “Whatever God has on the other side of this is really good.”  The harder the trial, the greater the reward.  But we must endure the suffering to get to the other side.  Eternal life in Christ is the reward.  Today’s woes are tomorrow’s victories.

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Lord, thank You for showing us the way.  You didn’t run from suffering but persevered for our sake.  Forgive us for faltering; help us to persevere, no matter what the trial.  Let us focus on the joy we share with You.  Remind us; whatever we are facing, it will pass.  Thank You for working all things to the good for those who believe and trust in You.  IJNIP. Amen.

Question for reflection:

How does knowing your victory is in Jesus help you persevere?