How Controlling the Tongue Will Make You Think about Your Words

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Daniel 7-8 GW; James 3 GW

Tongues praise and curse.

One minute we’re praising God; the next moment, cursing people.  More times than I’d like to admit, I’ve had people say this to me.  “God doesn’t know them like I do.”  Typically, these words come after I remind them, “God loves whoever too.”  When someone has hurt us, the last thing we want to think about is God’s affection for them.  After all, how could God cherish someone who caused us pain?  The answer is simple because He created them.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27 NIV)

What I’ve learned about difficult people in my life, they are the ones God uses to grow me.  Loving people you like is easy; however, caring for those who annoy you, not so much.  Obedience to God requires loving people.  God created us in His image, but each of us has a unique personality.  The challenge comes in showing affection for those opposite of us.

Keep a soft heart.

Recently, my therapist gave me a new prayer.  We were discussing someone whose actions aren’t lovely towards me.  Understanding this person is operating from a place of pain, I’m trying not to take offense.  But when someone is intentionally mean to you, keeping a soft heart is challenging.  We can’t remain affectionate towards them without God’s help, which is why my therapist told me to ask God to keep my heart soft.

Ever since my therapist said these words to me, they’ve changed my life.  Anyone at all who offends me, I immediately begin praying, “Keep my heart soft.”  Her words captured me.  My therapist made me realize how easily we harden our hearts towards people because of their actions.  But if we’re to love like Jesus, we need to keep our hearts soft.  Controlling our tongue helps us accomplish our goals.

Speak only uplifting and encouraging words.  If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.  Ask God to keep your heart soft towards those who hurt you.  Let praises come from your lips, not curses.

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Lord, thank You for creating us in Your image.  Forgive us for cursing others.  Help us keep soft hearts towards those who offend us.  Let words of praise come from our mouths.  Stop us from saying mean things that cause pain.  Fill our mouths with uplifting and encouraging words only.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

Who is your heart hardened to today?

How the Writing on the Wall Will Make You Change Your Ways

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Daniel 5-6 GW; James 2 GW

God writes divine messages.

King Belshazzar, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, threw a party and decided to use the gold and silver utensils his grandfather stole from God’s temple.  Amid the banquet, a hand appears and begins writing on the wall, but no one can interpret the writing.   Finally, Daniel, a prophet of God, comes and reads the words: Numbered, Weighed, and Divided.

Daniel explains to the king because Belshazzar used the utensils from the temple, he was declaring himself mightier than God.  As a result, God sent this message:

“This is its meaning: Numbered—God has numbered the days of your kingdom and will bring it to an end. Weighed—you have been weighed on a scale and found to be too light. Divided—your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:26-28 GW)

Pay attention to the writing.

King Belshazzar didn’t live to see another sunrise; he died that very night.  He ignored the writing because he genuinely thought he was invincible.  God sends us messages, too; it’s up to us whether we accept them or not.

The first place to hear from God is through the scriptures.  Technology may change, but the human condition doesn’t.  Emotional reactions and situations aren’t anything new.  Instead of jealousy over someone’s horse, we’re now envious of people’s cars.  Relationships endure lying, cheating, and stealing throughout history.  How to deal with these situations is what we find in the Bible.

If we ignore the writing, we miss the message.  Part of my daily practice is to read the chapter of Proverbs that coincides with the date.  Thirty-one chapters mean one for every day, which also equals fresh wisdom daily.  Every day my heart receives a message of wisdom from God, written by Solomon for all to enjoy.

Take time to read God’s writing.  Spend time in the scriptures daily.  Your life will change, without a doubt.

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Lord, thank You for Your love letter to us.  Forgive us for not reading the scriptures more.  Help us today; receive the message you’re sending us.  In all things, let us submit to You.  As we read Your word, let it change our lives for the better.  Help us represent You well today. IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How has reading God’s word changed your life?

How God’s Presence Will Make You Survive the Fire

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Daniel 3-4 GW; James 1 GW

God’s with you in the flames.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were friends of Daniel’s.  In captivity,  King Nebuchadnezzar forces them to worship his gold idol or get thrown in the furnace.  Standing firm in their faith, the three young men refuse.  As a result, the guards tie their hands and pitch them into the flames.  The furnace was so hot; the fire killed the soldiers who took them to their fate.  But then God appears in the blaze.

King Nebuchadnezzar lept to his feet when he realized something was amiss.  Instead of seeing three men in the fire, he sees four.  Not only were they walking around in the fire, but their hands were no longer tied.  In amazement, the King calls out to them:

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,” (Daniel 3:26 GW)

You aren’t alone.

No matter what blaze life has you in today, God is with you.  Not only is God present, but His presence frees you from whatever binds you.  Fear can’t hold you down when God is holding you up.  The flames of life are hot, but God controls the fire.  Just like the King called the young men out of their fiery furnace, in time, you will come out of yours.  In the meantime, you can stand firm, knowing God is with you in the flames.

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7 KJV)

The fires of life purify us, helping our faith grow.  When tossed in flames, our only hope is God.  As He walks through the blaze with us, God doesn’t let us perish.  Instead, praise comes from our lips for God’s protection from the heat.

You’re not alone in the fire.  God is with you.  With Him, you will survive.

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Lord, thank You for Your protection in the fire.  Forgive us for doubting Your presence in our storms.  Free us from the ties that bind us, help us walk confidently in the flames, knowing You are with us.  In You, we find victory.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What fire are you facing today?

How God’s Mercy Will Make You Understand Forever

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Daniel 1-2 GW; Psalms 136 GW

Forever doesn’t end.

And neither does God’s mercies.  Whatever you’re beating yourself up for today, God will forgive you. Don’t let your misdeeds separate you from the unconditional love of God.  His mercies are fresh every morning:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,therefore, I will hope in Him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV)

Every single day of your life, God has fresh mercies for you and me.  As humans, we are never going to achieve perfection.  Not until God calls us to our heavenly home will we find absolute excellence.  Until then, we will battle our sinful nature.  But God’s mercy is available to help us start again.

Managing my weight is always a challenge.  Some weeks I do well, others not so fantastic.  But each Saturday morning, when I step on the scale, it is a restart.  Whether the past seven days were good or bad, my slate is clean, and I begin again.  Life with God gives you the same opportunity each morning.

Surrender daily.

Beginning again daily with God requires surrender.  Acknowledging the sins of yesterday helps to lay them at the foot of the cross, allowing God to do His work in us.  The first thing God does is cover us in His mercy. He is renewing us as He forgives us and prepares us for the day ahead.

Essentially, receiving God’s mercy means giving up our schedule for His, laying down our desires, pursuing God’s instead.  No matter how many times we falter, God always forgives.  His purpose for your life is unique to you.  Whatever challenges you face, God will use them to grow you, helping you become a new person in Christ.

Accept your human nature.  Trust that God forgives you. Each morning, start fresh.  Receive God’s mercy and begin again.  His mercies are forever, never-ending.

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Lord, thank You for Your unending mercy for our lives.  Forgive us for thinking we’re unforgivable.  Soften our hearts today, help us receive the mercy You offer.  As we do, give us what we need to forgive ourselves.  For everyone reading this, renew their hearts as they receive Your mercy.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

What do you need to lay at the foot of the cross today?

How God’s Righteousness Will Make You Clear Paths

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Lamentations 4-5 GW; Psalms 85 GW

God clears the way.

On the morning of this writing, I prayed this prayer, “God, clear the way for us.  We’re exhausted, give us a break.”  Life can overwhelm all of us.  Long workdays, unpredictable events, aches, and pains from aging can make one tired.  Sometimes, we’re fighting so hard on our own, we forget to rely on God.  His yoke is light:

“’Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

If we get too far ahead of God, our yoke becomes heavy.  When we let Him do the leading, we lighten the load.  God knows debris lays in our path.  If we allow Him to go before us, He’ll do the heavy lifting.  Give the weight of your world to God, let Him do the work.

Follow behind.

One thing we must accept in our relationship with Jesus, we walk behind Him.  Jesus prepares the road He wants us to take.  He went first in all things, including death.  We haven’t experienced any temptation, Jesus, Himself didn’t face.  We can handle our struggles by doing what Jesus did, realizing, He understands.

As a coach, I lead the way for my students.  Making sure I continue to play the sport, not just teach it, helps me empathize with my students.  When an opponent makes a questionable line call, they remind me how difficult managing the frustrating emotions are.  Therefore, when coaching, I teach my students how to handle bad line calls and the feelings that come with the situation.  Trust is built between my students and me because they know I understand.

Let God do the leading today.  Trust He knows what He is doing, even if you don’t understand it.  Allow God to clear your path, making your yoke light.

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Lord, thank You for making way for us.  Forgive us for not trusting You.  Help us keep moving forward, even though we don’t necessarily understand.  Give us Your yoke, making our journey easy.  Allow Your peace to sustain in whatever crises we are facing.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

How are you following Jesus today?

How Desiring Safety Will Make You Seek God

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Lamentations 3 GW; Psalms 140 GW

God protects.

If we want safety, God is the answer.  Ruler of the Universe, He is our protector.  No one else can do what God does.  Christ-followers in peril seek God.  Currently, in certain places around the world, having faith in Jesus will lead to death.  In their darkest hour, God is their protection.  Praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are under life-threatening persecution is something we all should do.  Living in America at this time, we don’t know that fear.  But we can pray for those who do.

People exist who want to abolish Christ-followers.  Jesus’s name is the only one people curse.  I’ve never heard anyone use Buddha or Mohammed as a swear word.  But I regularly hear people say Jesus’s name that way.  Why is that?  Because Jesus is the one true God.  Seeking Him leads to eternal life found no other way.  Satan wants us to curse Him, don’t fall for the trap.  Guard your hearts and minds.  

Cloak yourself in Christ.

Putting on the armor of God will help you stand firm in the face of adversity:

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  (Ephesians 6:11, 14-17 GW)

Dress for success today in God’s armor.  Whatever foe you’re facing, let God keep you safe.  Cloaked in Christ, you have the assurance of life eternal.  Nothing can separate you from God.  In Him, you are safe.

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Lord, thank You for protecting us.  Forgive us when we seek security elsewhere.  Help us put on the Your full armor today.  Cloak us in Christ as we face our enemies.  Let us respond in love to all that would hurt us.  As we move through our day, help us stand firmly, knowing You are our ultimate protector.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What storm do you need refuge from today?

Why Dark Nights Will Make You Grow Closer to God

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Lamentations 2 GW; Psalms 77 GW

Hope, not despair.

Unfortunately, the dark nights of the soul are part of the human condition.  We will all experience them at some time or another.  Typically, they happen unexpectedly.  Jacob wrestled with God throughout the night.  When daybreak came, he had a new name:

“Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:28 NIV)

Struggling with God in our darkest moments changes us.  We become new people as we overcome the temptations of the world by placing our faith in Jesus.  We have hope when we are down in the pit because Jesus is in the hole with us. God went before us, so we never have to go alone.  But we do have to go.  Each of us will have our struggles with God and man; it’s part of life.

Perseverance is key.

Jacob was victorious because he didn’t give up.  Knowing he was wrestling with God, Jacob refused to let go.

“Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26 NIV)

We can’t let go of God.  When we are deep in misery, pray “Hope, not despair.”  Three words that can help you cling to God, reminding you of Jesus.  God knows your pain; He sees your hurt.  Whatever you are going through, God is going through it with you.  Hold tight; the morning is coming.  Darkness doesn’t last forever, only for a time.

My last night of the soul wasn’t that long ago.  An unexpected event sent me spiraling.  I spent a sleepless night crying out to God, feeling no relief.  But I didn’t let go; I held tight to my Creator, knowing He is where my hope is.  Daylight did come; my soul received comfort as I clung to God.

Cling to God amid your pain.  Hold tight to the One who is in control.  Draw closer to God as He comforts your soul.

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Lord, thank You for never letting go of us.  Forgive us for not holding on to You.  Help us through our dark nights of the soul.  Let light penetrate the darkness and give us hope.  Draw us closer to You as we wrestle with You.  In all things, the glory is Yours.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How does your faith give you hope?

How the Sun and Moon Will Make You Remember God

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Jeremiah 52 GW; Psalms 74 GW; Lamentations 1 GW

God decorates.

We hang pictures on the wall; God hangs the sun and moon. 

Years ago, I did an apologetics class, learning how to defend the Bible.  Our teacher was a rocket scientist working for NASA at the time.  Using scripture, he explained how the Earth is set perfectly in place.  If our planet tilted minutely from its current position, the Earth couldn’t sustain life.  I’ve never forgotten his teachings, in awe of God’s precision.

Job 9:6, “Who moveth the Earth from its place…” inspired Galileo to discover our planet isn’t sedentary.  Up until that point, the church believed the Earth was stationary and the universe revolved around it.  Galileo invented telescopes and discovered the opposite; the Earth revolves around the sun.  For his discovery, Galileo spent the last nine years of his life on house arrest.  The church convicted him of heresy, a belief contrary to religious doctrine.

Funny how the early church thought the sun revolved around the Earth.  I’m certainly guilty of thinking the world revolves around me.  But neither of those statements are true.  The Earth revolves around the sun; God is the center of the world.

Revolve around God.

Life is a never-ending journey.  Putting God in the center of the circle makes life much more enjoyable.   Our perspective is limited, God’s infinite.  He wants so much more for our lives than we can even imagine.  But if we’re only thinking of ourselves, we’ll miss out on what God has for us.

Allow scripture to inspire your imagination.  Let God lead you into discoveries you never imagined.  Just like Galileo was amazed by the magnificence of the sun and moon, feel his wonder.  Meditate on God’s precision in hanging the stars:

“God hung the stars in the sky-the Dipper, Orion, the Pleiades, and the stars of the south.” (Job 9 GNT)

When you look at the sun and moon, remember God.  Think about the precision He used in creating our world.  Watch a sunrise or sunset.   Your doubts of God’s existence will vanish when you gaze upon His wondrous decorations.

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Lord, thank You for decorating our world with such beauty.  Forgive us for taking it for granted.  As we experience life today, let us not forget what You have done for us.  Without Your precision, the Earth couldn’t sustain us.  Thank You for giving us such a beautiful home.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

When was the last time you looked at the stars in wonder?

How God’s Power Will Make You Awestruck

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Jeremiah 50-51 GW; Psalms 137 GW

God rocks!

Seriously, stand outside on a clear night and count the stars.  Watch the sunrise bring light into the world.  Listen to ocean waves as they lap against the shoreline.  Hold a newborn baby and witness the miracle of life.  God made all of these things without any of our help.  And He did it with words:

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.” (Psalm 33:6 ESV)

One of the most miraculous things God created is the human body.  Not a doctor, the workings of our inner system amaze me.  We take, on average, 23,000 breaths a day.  Our hearts beat 100,000 times in one day, which is around 35 million times in a year.  Yet, we do nothing to make them work.  God designed us as resilient beings that heal from the wounds we encounter.  Our immune systems fight off things we don’t even know exist.  All while we walk through our days, oblivious to the inner workings of our bodies.  

God is life.

Without God, we wouldn’t exist.  He puts breath in our lungs and heals our wounds.  As a clumsy person, I often find myself suffering from a minor cut or bruise.  Instantly, our body begins to heal.  One moment we’re cut and bleeding; within days, the body forms a protective covering, then works diligently to restore the hurt—all part of God’s design for our lives.

God created the universe; then He placed you in it.  Where you live, who you interact with each day are part of a larger narrative.  Your purpose on earth is one no one else can accomplish.  God placed you in His story, at this time and place, to fulfill your mission. 

“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  (Esther 4:14 ESV)

God is amazing.  He does everything with intention.  You are part of His story.  God’s narrative never ends; eternity is forever.

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Lord, thank You for creating us.  Forgive us for taking for granted the work You do for us daily.  Help us remember today Your sovereignty in our lives.  Every breath we take is a reason to praise You.  Let us worship in wander today at Your glorious works.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

How has God amazed you lately?

How Depending on God Will Make You Find Peace

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Psalms 123 GW; Jeremiah 48-49 GW

God gives peace.

Trusting God when life is tough requires conscious effort.  We have to remind ourselves of God’s sovereignty.  What looks like a disaster to us doesn’t look the same to God.  When things aren’t going my way, maybe they are.  We think life is pitiful, but God doesn’t.  God never loses control; nothing happens that He doesn’t know.  

One of the most poignant posts I read on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 was about the people who weren’t in the towers.  People whose alarm clock didn’t go off or had a flat tire on the way to the office didn’t lose their lives because of their unexpected issues.  One man stopped to buy band-aids because he was dealing with blisters on his feet.   Various “annoyances” prevented them from getting to work on time; and saved their lives. 

Comfort isn’t God’s number one goal for our lives; growth is.  In America, we live better than anyone else in the world.  We have freedoms no other country offers. Our forefathers created a system with checks and balances that still stand today.  Our pampered lifestyle isn’t one Jesus enjoyed.

Count the blessings.

Next time you attend a pity party for yourself, remember your blessings.  Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, thank God for what you do.  First and foremost, you have Jesus.  He loves you so much; He died for you.  And Jesus didn’t live in comfort.  He never owned a home, drove a car, or enjoyed a Starbucks latte.  Jesus didn’t sleep on a temperpedic mattress or wear expensive walking shoes.  No, Jesus rested on the ground and wore sandals that didn’t do much to protect his feet.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You.” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV)

Stay steadfast with the Lord.  He does take pity on our circumstances.  However, God’s view and ours differ.  What we think is terrible isn’t.  Only with time can we see the truth.  

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Lord, thank You for taking pity on us.  Forgive us for thinking our circumstances are worst than they are.  Help us to focus on our blessings, remaining steadfast in You.  When our hearts need encouragement, give us the boost we need.  All glory is Yours.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

How are you remaining steadfast in God?