How God’s Building Up Will Make You Dance with Joy

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Psalms 87 GW; Jeremiah 30-31 GW; Hebrews 8 GW

 God builds.

Today’s scripture is from the prophet Jeremiah talking to the Israelites who are in exile.  God is going to rescue and restore them from their miseries.  Just like the Israelites, God does the same for us.  Always in unexpected ways.

One particularly rough start to my week, God built me up in an unusual way.  After waking up feeling sad over a situation, my discipline of connecting with God each morning never fails.  Barely awake, I grab my kindle and read the day’s Bible reading.  Then I spend time in prayer through journaling.  Rough mornings like the one I was experiencing,  I’m on the floor begging God to get me going.  God never disappoints.

A few hours later, I received a random text from a friend that instantly made me smile.  Having prayed for this situation for years, I was ready to give up. God let me know; He was listening.   He was in the process of building me back up.

God knows your pain.

Pain isolates us.  We don’t think anyone else can understand the hurts we feel.  I carried a chip on my shoulder for years after my dad died.  One of the stages of grief is anger; I chose to stay in that emotion for many years.  My annoyance towards other people was because they didn’t understand how deeply I was hurting.  I blamed God for taking my earthly father; my vexation at Him was justifiable.  But God loved me anyway.  Even though I turned my back on God, He didn’t turn His back on me.  I was never alone.

God knows your pain, whatever it is.  He’s waiting for you to release your hurts to Him.  We have to let go to allow God to build up.  Holding onto our afflictions is our problem; letting them go to God makes them His.  Once we empty our hearts of the aching, God can fill them with His love. 

God is always building.  We have to let Him do the work.  When we do, we’ll dance with Joy!

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Lord, thank You for building us up in our darkest moments.  Forgive us for holding onto the hurts we experience.  Help us learn to process our pain with You.  Give us the courage we need to confess our darkest thoughts to You.  Allow us to find victory from our sufferings; all the glory is Yours.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What do you need to let go of today?

Why Jesus Interceding for You Will Make You Glad

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Jeremiah 27-29 GW; Hebrews 7 GW

Jesus prays for you.

Because Jesus is eternal, He never stops interceding.   Throughout the pages of scripture, priests stand between the people and God, offering sacrifices and atonement.  Realizing, none of them can provide total atonement; God sent Jesus.  No other priests are needed, just Jesus.  Sitting at the right hand of the Father, Jesus has His ear.  When you place your faith in Him, Jesus takes up your cause.

None of us are without sin.  No matter how hard we try, we can’t save ourselves.  Good deeds don’t get you to heaven; Jesus does.  Only through Him can we experience a relationship with God.  Jesus’s grace and mercy extend to everyone.  Anyone who chooses to follow Jesus will encounter His unconditional love.  No matter what the offense, Jesus forgives.  Not only does He absolve you of your misdeeds, but you can also walk boldly, knowing Jesus has your back.

Join the family.

Becoming part of God’s family means you’re never alone.  Whether you have lots of relatives on earth or few in God’s household, you have plenty.  Big brother Jesus is watching out for you.  Sitting by Dad’s side, Jesus lets Him know what’s going on with you.  He asks God to intercede on your behalf when necessary.  Nothing you do is out of Jesus’s sight.  No matter what you do, you can’t get rid of Jesus.  Blood is thicker than water, Jesus’s blood the thickest.

Picture the family gathering, God in His comfy chair He’s sat in for eternity.  Jesus by His side, smiling and happy.  Us at their feet loved utterly, adoration on our faces—what a beautiful thing, life in God’s family is.

Join today, don’t wait another moment.

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Lord, thank You for Jesus.  Forgive us for not turning to Him sooner.  Help us open our hearts to Him entirely.  Let us confess all of our sins, even the ones we don’t honestly believe He will forgive because we’ve judged them unforgivable.  But Jesus doesn’t; He forgives all. Today, let us believe this truth in the core of our soul.  Ingratiate us with Your love so profoundly; we have no doubt.  Jesus loves us, warts and all.  Curl us into Your arms, God; let us feel Your love today and always.  All glory is Yours.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What do you want to talk to Jesus about today?

How God’s Memory of Your Efforts Will Make You Hopeful

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Psalms 75 GW; Jeremiah 25-26 GW; Hebrews 6 GW

Make an effort.

One of the sayings I’ve adopted in my life as a coach is, “No one does anything well the first time.”  Time and again, I see frustration rear its ugly head as students struggle to make contact with the ball or make the fuzzy yellow sphere go where they want.  People expect the first time they do something to do it well, but that’s not reality.

God isn’t expecting perfection from you; He expects effort.  No matter how many times you fall, get back up and keep trying.  When I first started coaching, one student taught me this lesson.  The pupil’s lack of coordination meant he couldn’t hit the ball.  At one point, I was beginning to think tennis wasn’t the sport for him.  But he didn’t give up.  Week after week, he showed up and tried.  Eventually, he began to hit the ball, then he began to control the ball, and now he is in the top six of his tennis team.  

God sees you.

God knows you’re trying.  Even the meagerest efforts, God sees.  He knows your heart behind the action.  Loving people imperfectly is better than not loving them at all.  Intent is what God judges.  Give yourself grace when your tryings fail, brush yourself off, and try again.  When our motives are in line with God’s, He uses all things for the good.

“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 NIV)

My favorite prayer for my husband and I, “God bless our efforts.”   Realistically, we’re not going to do the task perfectly, but with God’s help, our efforts aren’t in vain.  God knows we’re trying, and we’re doing the best we can.  The rest is up to God.

Whatever the task before you, ask God to bless your efforts.  Watch as God honors your request. 

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Lord, thank You for remembering our efforts.  Forgive us for trying to do things without You.  As we move through our day, bless our efforts.  Purify our hearts, refine our motives and let us do everything to the best of our ability for You.  When we falter, help us have grace for ourselves and others.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What effort do you want God to bless today?

Why Becoming Mature Will Make You Develop Discipline

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Jeremiah 23-24 GW; Hebrews 5 GW; Psalms 110 GW

Become mature.

Zig Ziglar was a motivational speaker in the 1990s.  A man of God, his books and speeches still impact people’s lives years after his death.  Listening to his presentation on his book, “Over the Top,” he made an interesting point:

“In the 1770s, 3 million Americans produced Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and James Monroe, among others.  In 1997, 266 million Americans produced?  You fill in the blank.  I can’t think of one equal to any of our Founding Fathers.”

Zig’s reasoning for this reality is because of how we learn.  During the 1700s, children learned to read and write from the Bible.  In other words, the textbook was the scriptures.  Slowly, over time, that changed.  Zig’s research to back up his point saddened me:

“According to the Thomas Jefferson Research Institute, in the 1770s, over 90 percent of our educational thrust was of an ethical, moral, religious nature.  By 1926, the percentage was down to 6 percent, and by 1951, the percentage was so low it could not be measured.”  

Growth requires discipline.

Years ago, the statistic for people who read scripture daily was 11%.  When I was looking for a Pew Research study to find a more current statistic, I couldn’t find one.  Instead, I found statistics for weekly.  Jehovah’s Witnesses were top of the list, 88% according to the poll, they believe Jesus is God’s son, but not God and the Holy Spirit isn’t a person.  Protestant’s, people professing to follow Jesus, were at 63%.  In other words, people who don’t believe in Jesus are reading the stories about Him more regularly than the people who do.

Growth can’t come without intention.  Reading the stories written by 40 authors over 1400 years has to happen more than once a week.  If you want to experience life change, discipline yourself to read the scriptures daily.  Give up ten minutes of your morning to read what God’s people have to say. 

Develop discipline, read the scriptures daily.  Become mature one day at a time.

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Lord, thank You for the authors who penned the books of the Bible.  Forgive us for forgetting the collection of books has individual writers who dedicated their lives to You.  Help us become more mature by developing a daily discipline.  Let us leave the milk behind and start eating solid food.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How can you develop discipline today?

How Confidence in God Will Make You Receive Mercy and Kindness

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Jeremiah 19-22 GW; Hebrews 4 GW

God rules with kindness.

Natural disasters, illness, and death of loved ones, job loss, broken relationships all make one wonder about God’s kindness.  How can a loving God allow such painful things to happen in life?  Maybe C.S. Lewis’s thoughts on pain provide an answer:

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains.  It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

In our pain, people do one of two things: turn to or from God.  During times of plenty, we don’t give God credit for what we have.  But when things go wrong, God gets all the accolades.  In reality, Jesus told us we would have strife in this world:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

Life is tough.

Anyone who says God promised a rose garden is lying.  No, where in scripture do you find that promise.  But you do see people enduring all types of hardships, God their strength in the storm.  David’s psalms are a collection of praises and laments.  As one friend said, David seems bipolar; one moment, he’s on the mountain top, the next in the valley.  But David’s constant is God, who never changes.

God doesn’t have highs and lows; He is constant.  Leading with grace, He is consistent in His love and adoration for you and me.  If God didn’t cherish us, Jesus wouldn’t have come.  But because God values us so much, He sent Jesus to create a way for us to connect with Him.  

If we don’t turn to God, we won’t receive.  Allow the pain you’re experiencing to draw you towards God, not away from Him.  Listen to the megaphone. Pour your heart out to Him, tell God how you are hurting.  Let Him into the deep crevices of your soul.  Receive God’s mercy and kindness as you give Him your hurts.

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Lord, thank You for Your consistency in our lives.  Forgive us for the times we turn from You.  Help us listen to You in our pain.  As we move through the storms of life, keep us afloat.  Send us help when we need it; let us bless others when they do.  In all things, the glory is Yours.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Where are you turning in your times of distress?

Why Trusting God Will Make You Have Strong Roots

2 minute read.

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Daily Reading:  Jeremiah 17-18 GW; Psalms 35 GW; Hebrews 3 GW

Trees need roots.

Trusting in God is the acorn.  Placing faith in God means trusting Him more than humans or your circumstances.  As we journey with Him through life, the acorn begins to crack open and tendrils start to work their way into the soil of our hearts.  God’s living water is the stream the roots find.  As we grow and experience life, nourishment comes from the eternal flow of God’s grace and mercy with a firm foundation.  

Outside our house stands an Elm tree.  Planted 30 years ago, the tree stands taller than our house.  Storm after storm, the branches sway in the wind, remaining ever strong.  Some of the tinier stems will inevitably break and fall, but the tree perseveres time and again.  Why?  Because the roots are well established in the moist soil below.

Grow intentionally.

When you plant a seed, you have choices.  You could just put the tiny pod in the soil and see what happens.  Or, you could nurture the kernel with love and intention.  

A friend gave me an African Violet recently.  Having never grown one before, I’m learning as I go.  First I needed to find the perfect place for my new plant, ensuring it gets the right amount of sun.  Then I must monitor how much water I give to my purple blossoms.  And adding exceptional plant food designed for my African beauty helps it grow even more robust.  

When we nurture the seeds of our faith with intentionality, we’ll grow strong roots.  Daily time with God’s word is a starting point.  Developing a prayer life, becoming comfortable talking to God strengthen’s your roots.  Spending time with other believers helps even more. Putting scripture into practice in your life will reinforce your faith like nothing else.

Grow your root system.  Enjoy God’s streams of life.  Become firmly planted in the One who never leaves nor forsakes you.

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Lord, thank You for being our stream of living water.  Forgive us for turning to other gods to try and fulfill our needs.  Today, as we intentionally seek You, grow our root system.  Create in us a strength that comes from You.  As the storms of life come upon us, let us stand firm.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How can you grow your root system today?

How Becoming Like Jesus Will Make You Merciful

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Jeremiah 14-16 GW; Hebrews 2 GW

Jesus understands.

Becoming God in the flesh means Jesus gets us.  Without sinning, He was put on a cross and crucified.  Judged and condemned, not once defending Himself.  In reality, we are the ones who deserve the punishment.  Jesus paid the price for our misdeeds.  His mercy comes first; grasping what it means will make you merciful.

When I was twenty-nine years old, I was a District Manager for a clothing store.  Responsible for 17 stores, I accepted the job with one primary condition.  Floor coverage wasn’t part of my responsibilities.  In other words, I wasn’t going to work 9:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m. every day.  My superiors agreed to my request, assuming I’d change my tune once I was in the role. They were wrong; I didn’t.  Six months later, sitting in another impossible meeting, I felt a nudge from God.  Bullying doesn’t work with me; I responded by giving my two weeks notice.

They know not.

When Jesus was on the cross, one of His most famous statements is:

 “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:34 GW)

Walking out of the corporate offices that day, I thought of Jesus.  His words ran through my mind.  All of the anger and bitterness washed away thinking of Jesus on the cross.  In my mind, I prayed for them, “Father, forgive them.  They know not what they do.”

Jesus’s actions made me more merciful.  If I didn’t know Him, I wouldn’t forgive others.  Twenty-three years later, I’m still learning to forgive.  Every situation is different.  As I move through painful circumstances in life, Jesus teaches me.  But I have to go through the experience to learn the lesson.  As I do, not only do I grow in knowledge but also my relationship with Christ.

Get to know who Jesus is.  Experience His mercy for you.  As you do, notice how you become more merciful to others.

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Lord, thank You for Your mercy.  Without Your grace, we can’t experience true freedom.  Forgive us when we’re not merciful.  Help us become more gracious with every day we live.  Guide and direct us in all we do.  Let us become more like Jesus today.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Who can you give mercy to today?

How Obeying God Will Make You His

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Jeremiah 11-13 GW; Hebrews 1 GW

God loves obedience.

Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church, has a saying, “You do the parts of the Bible you believe.”  In other words, we pick and choose what we like and don’t like.  When I was single, following God, I ignored the part about premarital sex.  As a result, I endured heartbreak after heartbreak, never finding the connection I deeply craved.  What I didn’t realize, only God could fill that void.  Until I became obedient to Him, I didn’t learn the lesson.

Hitting rock bottom is something you never forget.  Mine came around the age of 30, broke and alone; life appeared hopeless.  Praise God; He gave me a mother who taught me where to look at times like these:

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

    where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

    the Maker of heaven and earth.”

(Psalm 121:1-2 NIV)

Coming back to God was the best decision of my life.  I told Him, “My way ain’t working, I’m going try Yours.”  Which meant I paid attention to the part about premarital sex.  Over the following years, as I became more and more obedient to God, I realized something.  

God’s commands protect us.

Obedience to God protects you from yourself.  No one hurts you more than you hurt yourself.  When I ate two pieces of birthday cake, gaining a pound, no one forced me.  My actions caused the reaction.  God knows that about us. He understands we make poor choices.  His word helps us make better choices, ones that won’t hurt us.

Not sleeping with men didn’t hurt me; it helped me.  I began to realize; sex blurs our objectivity.  But taking time to build a healthy relationship protects your heart and body from pain.  As my husband loves to say, “He’s more committed with the ring on his finger.”

Choose one thing, become obedient to God in that area.  Watch as He draws you close and makes you His in a way you’ve never experienced before.

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Lord, thank You for Your word, our instruction book for life.  Forgive us for picking and choosing the parts we like.  Help us today become more obedient in our lives.  Equip us for the journey as you draw us closer to You.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What’s one area you can become obedient to God in today?

How Encouraging Others, Will Make You Encouraged

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Jeremiah 9-10 GW; Psalms 79 GW; 1 Thessalonians 5 GW

Encouraging others encourages you.

Playing doubles tennis with different partners and personalities has one thing in common; everyone needs encouragement.  When the ball isn’t going where you want it to go, and the frustration begins to build, it’s easy to get down on yourself.  That’s when encouragement is needed most.  The tricky part is finding what works best to help people overcome their difficulties.

People need uplifting in different ways.  Some people need you to tell them precisely what to do to fix the problem; others don’t want coaching.  In a recent match, my partner was struggling.  No matter what I did to encourage her, it wasn’t working.  Finally, down 0-5 in the second set, I looked at her and said, “We only need to win 20 points to get back to even.”  For whatever reason, she received this well; pointing out the facts helped her focus and got her head back in the game.  Getting her back on track helped me do the same.

Find what works.

When you’re trying to encourage someone, find what’s best for them.  When I’m discouraged, sometimes I need a hug, other times I need a kick in the butt.  Different situations call for different tactics.  When sitting with someone experiencing grief, I’ve found the best thing is to say nothing.  But if someone is exasperated after many failures, they need a push to try one more time.

Helping others continue on the journey helps us keep going.  When I know a friend is struggling, encouraging them always lifts my spirits as well.  

“He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)

Encourage those around you today.  Find what works for the person.  Help downtrodden people persevere in the journey of life.  Watch as you’re encouraged as well.

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Lord, thank you for encouraging us.  Forgive us the opportunities we’ve missed to spur others on in their struggles.  Don’t let us miss the chances you place before us today.  Let our eyes and ears remain attentive to those who need uplifting.  Give us the words and actions we need to help them.  As we encourage others, let us find encouragement as well.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

Who needs encouragement in your life today?

Why Living Quietly Will Make You Praise God

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Psalms 81 GW; Jeremiah 7-8 GW; 1 Thessalonians 4 GW

Quiet life is a good life.

Every year, I choose a word to guide the days.  Selah, meaning stop and rest, is my word this year.  After finishing graduate school last December, I had no idea what I was going to do next.   Reading my devotional one day, God impressed upon me the word.  For the first time in my life, instead of rushing into the next chapter, I paused, allowing God to do the leading.

As this year began to unfold, I found rest difficult.  But as I submitted to God, my spirit began to calm, and my prayers began to change.  I realized a quiet life is a good life.   Friends struggling with illnesses, loss, and financial struggles help me appreciate what we have.  Trouble always comes; when life is uneventful, enjoy the peace.  Thank God for your blessings.

Each day when my husband comes home from work, I praise God.  Writing this the day before the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I’m very aware, some people don’t.  Those who went to work that day had no idea what was about to happen.  We take life for granted until something occurs to remind us of its fragility.

Appreciate the mundane.

Routine can make you lose track of time.  Monday after Monday begins the same way.  But when the world gets turned upside down, you wish the routine back.  Every sandwich you make for packed lunches,  every piece of laundry you fold and floor you sweep, praise God.  Thank Him that your day is typical.

Quiet lives are a gift from God.  Appreciating normal is something we rarely do, thinking we’re missing out on something exciting.  You’re not.  Nothing is more precious than having good health, a roof over your head, and food on the table.  These things are gifts from God that come in the form of a quiet life.  Praise God for them.

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Lord, thank You for our quiet lives.  Forgive us for craving excitement instead of showing gratitude for what we have.  Today, help us take stock of our lives.  As we think about the typical routines, we engage in each day, help us praise You for them.  Remind us; a quiet life is a gift from above, one that we should cherish.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How does your quiet life make you thankful?