Memory verse: Philippians 4:13: "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (NIV)
Seize the moment!
Lose weight. Start exercising. Save more money. Pray regularly. Oh the wonderful accomplishments we could make if only we didn't procrastinate. But there's always tomorrow. Or is there? The psalmist pleads with God in Psalm 90:12 to "teach us to use wisely all the time we have." (CEV) And how should that be? Paul encouraged the Ephesians to make the most of every opportunity. We can apply this seize the moment attitude not only to our personal lives, but also to our lives as children of God and followers of Christ. We can love God. We can love others as Christ loves us. We can share the good news of Jesus Christ to unbelievers. We can confess a secret sin. We can forgive a bygone wrong and mend a broken relationship. We can make a fresh start today!
Dear God, You know my heart. You know the many things I should be doing, but haven't because I've procrastinated. Help me make a fresh start today by seeking Your will for my life and serving You. In Jesus' name, amen.
Tame your fears!
Fear of failure or fear of success? Most of us suffer from one or the other. Both paralyze us from becoming the joyful people God made us to be. Where do our fears come from? Why do we seem to succumb to them so easily? One of Satan's most effective lies is that those who fail are unworthy of God's love and the love of others, and deserve to be condemned. Satan strives to rob us of the joy God wants us to have in His love. Satan wants us to live a life of fear, separated from God.
So how do we tame our fears? God provides the answer, and it comes through our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God loves us deeply and passionately, and is so very pleased when we accept that Christ's death on the cross has appeased His wrath toward our sins past, present, and future. Proverbs 29:25 says, "The fear of human opinion disables you; trusting in God protects you from all that." (Mes) If we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, if we fully accept God's love and His forgiveness of our sins, what or whom do we have to fear?
Dear God, I have succumbed to Satan's lies. I have let fear rob me of Your joy. Help me to accept that I am deeply loved, completely forgiven, and totally accepted by You. In Jesus' name, amen.
Announce your faith!
In Mark 10:51 it says, "Jesus asked him (Bartimaeus, a blind beggar), 'What do you want Me to do for you?' The blind man answered, 'Teacher, I want to see.'" (NCV)
Jesus knew what Bartimaeus wanted, but gave him the chance to ask publicly. Jesus gave Bartimaeus the chance to publicly announce his faith. It's little challenge to announce our faith on Sunday morning, among fellow believers. How many of us, however, have the boldness to announce our faith in our other walks of life? One of Jesus' challenges in His Sermon on the Mount is as true today as it was then. We are to let our light shine before men, that they may see our good deeds and praise our Father in heaven. Better yet, we are to accept our responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ to go and make disciples. What better way to shine our light and teach others about Jesus Christ than to publicly ask Him to meet our needs? And praise Him publicly when He does!
Dear God, I want a fresh start. Grant me the boldness of Bartimaeus to announce my faith publicly in all walks of my life. Instill in me the confidence to boldly exemplify the life-changing power of faith in You. In Jesus' name, amen.
Receive God's grace! (part 1)
James 4:6 says that "God opposes the proud, but favors the humble." (NLT) We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Many of us continue to struggle under the burden of guilt and condemnation related to that sin because we are too proud and shameful to repent and seek God in
humble dependence. If we desire God's grace in our lives, we must be willing to lay down our pride and
humble ourselves before the Lord. We must admit our inadequacies and accept Paul's proclamation that, "Everything we have comes from God by way of Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:30, Mes) Through humility, we can more freely walk in faith with God. He wants to work in our lives through His amazing grace, but it is our faith in Him that accesses this grace, as we see in Romans 5:2: "We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise." (Mes) When we face our trials in life by faith in Jesus Christ, we draw upon God's grace to grow spiritually and enable God to work in and through our lives.
Dear God, I humbly admit my insufficiency to produce the life You want me to live. I proudly profess that Your grace is sufficient for abundant life and fruitfulness. In Jesus' name, amen.
Receive God's grace! (part 2)
How many times have you found comfort in Jesus' invitation to "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
When we first come to Christ, down on our knees, broken, desperately needing God's comfort, we find God's grace to forgive us of our sins and guilt. And by coming to God, chosen and made by Him to worship Him, we are not only edifying God, but we too are being built up as holy examples of God's grace and redemption through Christ.
It's easy to grasp the 'rest' part of Jesus' invitation, but what about the 'take my yoke' part? When we yoke up with Jesus, walk intimately with Him, and learn from Him daily, we find God's grace to rescue us from the fleshly striving that continues to tempt us. Yoking up with Jesus habitually for the grace that we need daily is at the heart of growing in grace and maturing as Christians.
Dear God, thank you for the rest You give my soul daily in Your grace. Help me yoke up with Jesus so I can continue to grow in Your grace and mature in my relationship with You. In Jesus' name, amen.
Receive God's grace! (part 3)
A yoke is a curved piece of wood fitted for receiving the necks of oxen, thus binding them together to work in unison to draw a plough. In the New Testament, the word 'yoke' denotes servitude, as in service to Christ. Servitude implies a master/slave relationship, which is essentially true regarding our relationship with God through Jesus Christ (we are either slave to God or slave to sin), but yoked to Jesus, we work with Him in unison. If we take this figurative yoke seriously, we have no choice but to come to Jesus habitually for the grace that we need daily.
This habitual servitude to Christ is at the heart of growing in God's grace. When we read God's Word, we are seeking Jesus. When we pray to God, it is in Jesus'
name that we pray. When we worship, we are not merely singing songs, but are singing to the Lord Himself. When we minister to others, whom are we serving and why?
We should be serving God, and desiring to bring glory, honor, and praise to Him. By yoking up with Jesus, we serve our God and grow and mature in His edifying grace.
Dear God, give me the courage to take up the yoke of Jesus and grow in Your grace. In Jesus' name, amen.
Take the next step!
It happens to all of us at some point in our lives as Christians. We get in a rut. Maybe it happens often. Maybe it lasts a long time. But it happens. We lose the fire we felt when we first accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. But God is never done with us even if we sometimes slip into a life of lukewarm living and begin to feel separated from Him.
God wants us to snap out of it. He wants us to take the next step toward a deeper faith in Him, toward a greater love for others, toward more joy in our lives, and toward more humble service in His name. God wants us to grow in our maturity as followers of Christ.
So what's your next step? Maybe you need to join a ministry that needs more volunteers. Maybe you need to start a new ministry that God has placed on your heart. Maybe you need to start tithing. Maybe you need to finally invite your friend to church. Maybe you need to get back in the routine of praying and reading your bible daily. There's no better time than now to take the next step to reignite your faith in God, your love for Jesus Christ, and your heart for growing in God's grace.Dear God, help me take the next step to grow in my relationship with You. In Jesus' name, amen