2018 – December

12-31-2018

Acts 10:34 (ESV)

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality,

Have you ever had a friend that was one of your teacher’s favorite students? Maybe your teacher always was friendly to them and seemed to go out of their way to treat them well. It’s easy to want to get jealous of those students that are the teacher’s favorites and feel like because you’re not the favorite that you’re not going to be treated the same as another student. Did you know that regardless of whether you’re a teacher’s favorite or not that God doesn’t show favoritism? If He did something great for one of His kids He will do the same thing for you. God loves you and wants you to experience His best in life.

He wants to bless you like He’s blessed others. He wants to have you walk in peace like you’ve seen others walk in. He wants you doing well in life. So today be encouraged. God wants good things for your life. So choose to believe and expect God to do good things for you.

12-29-2018

Psalm 119:11 (ESV)

11 

I have stored up your word in my heart,

    that I might not sin against you.

Lots of times in the craziness of life, we don’t take time to treasure God’s word. We think that if we aren’t too tired before bed we will read the Bible. Or if life gets less busy we will read the Bible. What we’re actually in essence saying is that we don’t treasure the Bible. We don’t make it really important in our lives.

When you treasure something you act like its important or valuable. In many cases, that’s not how we treat our Bibles. We often overlook the value that is at our fingertips if we would just open the book. The solutions to our problems are there. The answer to our questions is there. The peace that we are searching for is there. It’s all there, it’s just up to us to do like this daily Bible verse encourages us to do and treasure it.

When we treasure something we make time for it, and it is important to us. Today, don’t forget to set aside some time to read the treasure God gave to us, the Bible.

12-28-2018

1 John 4:20 English Standard Version (ESV)

20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen.

Today’s Bible verse uses some pretty strong language. It says that if you say you love God, but you hate another Christian brother or sister that you’re a liar. Think about that for a moment, if you don’t love your brother or sister, then you’re a liar if you say you love God. To really love God is to put aside your thoughts and desires for God’s thoughts and desires. So when you run across that person you can’t stand, you’re supposed to love them despite their flaws and shortcomings. To really love God is to treat other people with love and respect.

As a Christian there should be something different about you. You should be a person that others are drawn to. If you choose to show extraordinary love to others, you’ll stand out from everyone else. God is calling you as a Christian to live your life differently. Normally, if someone treats you badly, you would want to get back at them.  Instead, you should be striving to be more like Christ everyday.

So the next time someone does something that drives you crazy instead of hating them or seeking revenge, choose to do something different. Choose to let God’s love flow through you and be an example to those around you of God’s great love. As you love God, you will begin to love others also. That’s what we’re called to do!

12-27-2018

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,

When asked what the primary objective of life is, most people will answer, “to be happy”. In fact, many people arrange their entire lives around trying to be happy.

Society tells us that if we’re happy, we’ll be healthier and may even live longer. Sounds great!

Happiness by itself is certainly not a bad thing.

However, relying on it to make ourselves feel better day after day is not only missing the mark, it’s dangerous for our souls. The reason?

Happiness is only triggered by external forces like people, places, things, or events. It’s temporary and certainly not anything we can rely upon to get us through our most difficult days.

Joy, on the other hand, is the essence of God’s character and resides deep in our spirit.

It’s the result of God’s endless mercy and grace, fully realized through praise and worship, as well as prayer and meditation. When we pursue God and spend quality time with Him, we experience joy in His presence.

12-26-2018

John 14:27 (ESV)

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Have you ever had one of those really crazy stressful days? Maybe everything is not going the way you want or you have too much to do and too little time. Whatever it is that stresses you out, it’s good to remind yourself in stressful times that you can go to God for peace.

Jesus said in today’s verse that He left us peace. What does that really mean? Here are a few definitions from Merriam-Webster.com for peace.

* A state of tranquility or quiet

* Freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions

* Harmony in personal relations

God’s peace covers many of the things that bug us. Whether it’s oppressive thoughts, emotions, bad relationships, or just the stresses of life, Jesus said that He gave us peace.

However, just like any gift you get, however, it’s up to you to use it. If you got a new pair of shoes for Christmas, but you never took them out of the box and used them, they wouldn’t do you any good. The gift of peace is the same way. You’ve got to open it up and use it in stressful times and situations. Take a moment today and choose to tap into God’s peace. Give Him the things that are stressing you out and choose to walk in His peace today!

12-24-2018

Psalm 37:4(ESV)

Delight yourself in the Lord,

    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

This verse has often been misunderstood. Many have thought that if they delight themselves in the Lord, every desire they’ve ever had would come to pass. However, this is not what this verse is saying. This is saying that when you delight yourself in the Lord, the things you desire begin to change. God begins to give you new desires.

The great news about getting desires from God is that you know those desires already are something He desires for you. If He gave the desire, He also wills for you to pursue it.

Just like anything, you need to test your desires to see if they are of God. The only way to know what God’s will of something is, is by seeing if it agrees with what the Bible already says on the subject. However, if a desire is something that lines up with the Bible and the desire came as a result of truly delighting yourself in the Lord, you can trust that it’s a desire from Him. If the more you continue to delight yourself in God and the desire gets stronger, you can begin stepping out in confidence and head in that direction because you know that desire is from God.

12-21-2018

John 13:35 (ESV)

35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Love is powerful. So powerful that Jesus rolled up the entire Ten Commandments around the principle of love.

When the religious teachers of His day pressed Jesus on which commandment was most important, He responded:

“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’” The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these. (Mark 12:29-31)

But Christ goes on to say, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other (John 13:34) However, He doesn’t stop there. In Luke 6:27, Jesus takes this command a step further by saying, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

We’re to not only love those who are easy to love—like our friends and family—but Jesus also commands us to love the unlovable.

12-20-2018

John 1:14 (ESV)

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[a] from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Think about your school’s lunch room for a moment. In that room, is there a group of students that are more popular than the others? Is there a table that you just wish you could eat at? Or a group of students that won’t talk to you because you’re less popular than they are?

Jesus could have done what many popular people do. He could have only hung out with those who were as popular as He was. Instead, he did something different. Today’s Bible verse says that he became human and made his home among us. He was full of love and faithfulness.

It sounds like Jesus didn’t have an exclusive lunch table or friends. Instead, He made himself at home with us. He showed many people love and kindness who had never experienced it before. Jesus’ actions should make us so thankful that He chose to show us love and faithfulness. He didn’t ignore us, or hang out with the people who had it all together. Instead He poured His love out so that we could get to know the Father.

12-19-2018

Proverbs 6:20 (ESV)

20 My son, keep your father’s commandment,

    and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

Parents can be embarrassing, weird and sometimes hard to get. I remember always struggling with embarrassment from the things my parents did. I wished at times I wasn’t related to them and that they’d just leave me alone and let me do my own thing.

However, the Bible verse today says that we are to keep our father’s commands and not to forsake our mother’s teaching. It can be easy to want to forsake what our parents taught us in the face of peer pressure, and it can be easy to want to ignore what our parents tell us to do and the limits that they set.

However, God put our parents in our lives for a purpose. He wants us to listen to the wisdom that they offer and to hear what they have to say. Often, your parents can give you the input you need to make a good decision and save you from heartache.

Our part is to be humble enough to receive what they have to say. They aren’t perfect and they’re going to do things that are going to drive you crazy and that you don’t agree with, but they are put in your life for a purpose. So be willing to learn what you can from them and get their input. In the long run, you’ll be glad that you made the decision to honor your parents.

12-18-2018

Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)

2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Have you ever secretly wished to be famous? Maybe you wished you had all the riches that follow fame and could buy anything you ever wanted. Or maybe you just like the idea of everyone knowing who you are and listening to what you have to say. Regardless of the reason, fame can be appealing. And while you might not reach superstardom in your lifetime, there is something similar that you can achieve.

The Bible talks in Hebrews 11 about all the great things that the people in the Old Testament did by faith. These guys trusted God and believed that what God said would come to pass. They weren’t swayed by feelings and emotions, but rather held on tight to the things that God had promised them. When you trust God and the things that he’s spoken to you, you can have earn a good reputation just like the people in the Old Testament did when they trusted God.

12-17-2018

and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:15 ESV

God loves people.

In fact, God proved he loves us by actually becoming one of us. Jesus left the very place everyone from every era has literally been dying to get to; Heaven.

Jesus left an eternal place for a temporal one, left a place of satisfaction for a place of wanting, left a place of peace and majesty for a place of war and shadows.

The earth is beautiful to be sure, but it is only a dim reflection of heaven’s wonder. Jesus willingly came and died here to make peace between us and God. Our God values men and women and children, no matter the shape, size, or color. Human beings have intrinsic value and worth as we are created in God’s image.

12-14-2018

Matthew 6:20 (ESV)

20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. – Matthew 6:20 Today’s Bible verse got me thinking about Christmas time. How much of our energy is spent this season buying or getting the “right” gift? Why do we try so hard to get something that will be outdated or that you’ll get bored of before too long? So much of our energy at Christmas time is spent in the pursuit of things that don’t last. This verse tells us to not store up treasures on earth, but to rather store up treasures in heaven. So instead of just living for yourself and what you can get, choose to do something different this Christmas. If you have a friend who needs help offer it. If you see a need, meet it. If you have extra money, give it to your church to help them reach out to someone else in need. Mostly, just be open to let the light of Jesus shine through open doors all around you.

12-13-2018

Mark 11:23 (ESV)

23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

Are you facing a situation where you need a breakthrough? We all face situations in life when things are not the way we’d like them to be. In those times, the words you speak over your situation matter. Words aren’t inconsequential. The words you speak have power. If you get your speaking lined up with the Word of God, you’ll experience awesome results in your life. However, your words won’t line up with God’s word automatically. If a promise in God’s word isn’t real to you, your speaking won’t match what the Bible says.

To say something you have to see it first. You can’t speak something out until you’ve seen it first. Maybe you’re in a situation you need a breakthrough. To speak the breakthrough you’ve got see the breakthrough first in your mind’s eye. That’s faith. When you begin to look at things with a faith mindset, anything is possible. So choose today to change what you speak by changing what you see. This might involve you spending some time reading the Bible to see what God says about your situation instead of what you see around you. The more you see God’s promises and not your limitation the more likely you’ll be to speak God’s truth over your situation. Your words have power, so speak words of life and see the breakthrough happen.

12-12-2018

Romans 15:7(ESV)

7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

You’ve probably been labeled. We all have. Perhaps you’ve been labeled an athlete and so you feel you can’t try out for the band. Or maybe your mom told you that you were stupid and so now you don’t try as hard because you’re afraid to fail.

In life, we will pick up labels. People will call us things. However, it’s up to us whether we let those labels stick. We choose whether we let a label hold us back in the future. Labels don’t have to define us, but it’s going to take work to make that a reality in our lives.

We have to choose to believe what Jesus says about us more than what others say. It takes letting who we are in Christ be our label, not what others say about us. Doing that isn’t easy. We have to battle our feelings, fears and our past to see ourselves the way Jesus sees us.

So today, you may have been labeled. You might have let that label hold you back from doing things you know that you could and should do. Don’t live in bondage to your label. Instead, choose to look forward and see your value to Jesus. When you do, you’ll find that your future is unlimited.

12-11-2018

John 8:12(ESV)

I Am the Light of the World

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Have you ever been in a dark room and you turned your iPod or phone on? The light from your device was really bright and made the darkness go away. That’s a lot like how Jesus is in our dark world. He’s light. Where He is, darkness flees. When we walk with Jesus, we don’t have to walk in darkness. He came to destroy the devil’s work. He came to set people free. With Jesus, we have freedom and a new life. The kind of life that Jesus brought us is a good life. It’s freedom and peace for us. It’s a life of freedom from the things that once held us back. Jesus truly is the light of the world. He’s brought us light and life and when we put our trust in Him we can walk in that light in every area of our lives. So no matter what you’re facing, know that Jesus came to bring life and light to your situation. Choose to believe Him and walk in the light He provides.

12-10-2018

John 16:33 (ESV)

33 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.”

If you flip on the TV, or go online, you see lots of things that can bring fear. It is really easy to see all the horrible things happening in the world and begin to be afraid. No matter how crazy things get in the world around us, God doesn’t want us living our lives in fear. Fear stops us, holds us back and keeps us from doing the things that God intended for us to do. Instead of being afraid, we should put our trust in Jesus. He will keep us safe. He is there to help us navigate through the troubles and the craziness that life brings. So instead of being afraid of what is going on in the world around us, we should take heart and realize that the God we serve has already conquered everything we’re up against. We don’t have to fear, we’ve got a great God on our side!

12-8-2018

Hebrews 6:18-19 (ESV)

18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

When we’re in difficult times, and if we’re fortunate enough to have caring friends or family, they may offer encouraging words such as “I’ll be hoping for the best.” And it’s somewhat comforting to know that you have someone in your corner. But hope is not a verb. It’s not something we or anyone else can do for us. We can only find true and everlasting hope in the Lord. We find hope in God’s presence. When life feels out of control, turn to Him in prayer. We find hope in God’s promise—His living Word. We find hope in God’s process, which almost certainly does not reflect our understanding. But even in our pain, God is at work sewing things together for good. This process may not translate to our immediate comfort, but it is meant to conform us to be more like Christ (Romans 8:28). God uses our struggles to produce endurance, which builds character, and character produces hope (Romans 5:3–5). We find hope in God’s purpose for our lives. And finally, we find hope in the promise of things to come. In John 14:1–2, Christ says, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” Hope is not something we do; it’s something we possess. And it’s given to us by God’s grace. Hope is the anchor for our soul and without it, we would be lost. Are you hopeful? If not, are there areas of your life that you’re not fully trusting the Lord?

12-7-2018

Psalm 37:21 (ESV)

21 

The wicked borrows but does not pay back,

    but the righteous is generous and gives;

How do you handle your money? Are you always asking others for money to go to the movies? Or are you someone who is looking for opportunities to give?

This Bible verse really shows us how much better it is to be a person who gives. Giving to your church and to others is a great habit to get into while you’re young. Many people put off giving thinking that they will give when they’re making more money. The problem with that thinking is that it doesn’t matter how much money you make. You’re always going to find something else to do with it. If you can’t find a way to give when you have a little, you’ll never give when you have a lot. Giving is always worth it in the long run. You’ll find that God will really bless you as you give to Him and the lives of others. So don’t give into the lie that tells you if you give you won’t have enough. That is not the case. When you make giving a habit, you’ll find you’ll always have enough to do the things you want to do.

12-6-2018

2 Corinthians 8:21 (ESV)

21 for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.

Have you ever had to do the right thing, even when it was hard? I remember a time when I paid for something at a store and I noticed that the cashier had given me too much money back. I was tempted to just say that it was good luck and keep the extra money. However, after thinking about it for a while, I decided to return the money.Doing the right thing can be hard at times. Sometimes it can make you look weird or feel stupid. Other times it can be just plain hard to do what’s right because it costs you something. Doing the right thing isn’t easy but it’s always worth it. In the long run, being a person of character is worth the effort. When you do things well people begin to notice. They realize that you are a person of character and they want to do good for you and promote you. And even if no one notices you doing the right thing, realize that God does. He sees what you do and He will reward you for your faithfulness.

12-5-2018

Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

It’s hard to stay encouraged when you don’t see results. I find this true, especially in my own life. When I’m not acting or doing the things I think I should I get really frustrated. I wish I was farther along and at times feel like a failure when I don’t measure up to my own expectations. Today’s Bible verse really encourages me. It says that God has started a good work in me. He’s not completed it yet, but He’s started. And the good news is that He hasn’t given up on me. He hasn’t been frustrated with me messing up time and time again to the point where He’s decided I’m not worth the effort. No, instead He’s with me every step of the way.

He’s there helping me learn and grow when I make mistakes. He’s ready to come alongside me and help me out in the areas where I fall short. God hasn’t given up on me yet, so I shouldn’t give up on myself. I may not be perfect, but I’m learning and growing each day. So instead of being upset when I don’t do or say the right thing, instead, I’m choosing to be thankful that God hasn’t given up on me and He’s with me as I learn each and every day.

12-4-2018

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

31

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint.

It’s no secret that in this day and age, life is fast-paced and demanding. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed with all we have to do and the little time in which we have to do it.

To make matters worse, we all carry guilt from our sins, feel stressed by the demands of those over us, and may even be struggling physically or emotionally.

If we’re honest, we’re desperate for help.

Yet when we struggle, we shouldn’t focus on our feelings but on what we know: God’s Word.

Some of the most comforting words in the Bible come from Matthew 11:28. Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Notice, Jesus offers us His yoke. This means that work is still required of us, but it’s much easier with His help than it is all alone. Christ frees us from our burdens and promises us love, renewal, and a relationship with God. This allows our daily struggles to feel less like burdens and more like productivity and purpose.

And when we feel like we simply can’t go on, God promises us the strength to overcome anything (Philippians 4:13). In Psalm 23, David says, “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.” Other translations say “He restores my soul”. In either case, the picture David paints in these passages is a clear example of the kind of rest and relaxation our spirits need to get through our most trying times.

But to activate these promises in God’s Word, we must have faith. He is in control of all things and when we put our trust in the Lord, we’re giving him control of our lives, too.

Today, be confident that He will strengthen you to overcome life’s difficulties because you are a righteous, healed, and restored child of God.

12-3-2018

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God didn’t only make you a part of his family, God has also planned things for us to do. The things that God has planned for you are good. God doesn’t have bad things in store for your future, only good. God created you and made you with special gifts and abilities to help others. You have been made something very special. Don’t let fear stop you from stepping out and doing the things God has called you to do. Ask God to show you what those things are and be willing to be used by Him. If you stay open, God wants to use you to bless and encourage others.

Today challenge yourself to believe that God has in store for you. Step out and see what God will do through you!

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