I have asked one thing from the LORD; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the LORD and seeking Him in His temple. – Psalm 27:4
Can you think of a time you thought someone was cute? Maybe they were in your math class and instead of listening to your teacher you stared at them instead. You watched their every move during class. Perhaps you found out they were out for the band, so you decided to join too, just to be closer to them. Because let’s be honest, when you like someone, you want to know all about them and be with them as much as you can. That’s a lot like we’re supposed to feel toward God. We should be desiring to be where God is. We should be thinking about Him and be wanting to know Him more. We get that when it comes to someone we think is cute, but it’s a bit harder with God, isn’t it? How do we seek God and spend time with Him? One good place to start is by setting some time aside each day and talking with God and reading God’s word. You could begin by simply reading a scripture before bed and spend a couple of minutes praying. As you get comfortable, you could increase your time with the Lord. Any time you spend getting to know God is not wasted. Knowing Jesus is the best decision you could ever make. So challenge yourself to go deeper with God and get to know Him better.
O lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. – Psalm 139:1
It can be easy to get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and not like what you see. You might wish you were taller, had a different hair color, or were more outgoing. It’s easy to want to beat yourself up for not looking, acting, or being a certain way. What’s really great about God is that He looks at your heart. This verse tells us that God has examined our hearts and knows everything about us. And the great thing is, He still likes us. When God looks at you, He doesn’t see all your flaws, short comings, or failures. God sees you in Jesus. In Jesus you are perfect and complete. God sees you as a person of worth. He loves you more than you can ever know. So instead of getting down on yourself because of how you look or how you act, choose instead to see yourself like God sees you. Choose to see yourself as a person of worth. You are someone that God paid a huge price to get to know!
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 1 Timothy 1:6-7 ESV
The Lord of everything. The Creator of heaven and earth. The one who breathes life into our lungs and knows the number of our days. That same God lives inside of us. Believing in His power and believing in the power He has placed inside of us is a daily fanning of the flame. How do we fan the flame? We ignite the flame within us by spending time in His word. We ignite the flame by spending time with Him in prayer. We ignite the flame every time we believe that His power is greater and stronger than any of our fears. We have nothing to fear when we are with God. Yet, we get stuck fears, big and small, that should really have no power over us. We tend to make God smaller than He is. In moments of intense fear and worry it is hard to remember how big our God is. Daily practice of fanning the flame reminds us of the power that is within us. What fears have been holding you back lately? Are you believing in the full power of God?
And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ – Eph 4:32
I had a job once where my boss went out of his way to be mean to me. He’d try to get me to drop things and mess up. Each day, I dreaded going to work because of him. He was never friendly to me, and always seemed to have a grudge against me, for no reason. Every day at work, I challenged myself to do what this verse said. I didn’t react, or respond to him in anger. I wasn’t mean back to him. I was always kind even though he was so mean to me. It didn’t happen immediately, but eventually, my boss stopped giving me such a hard time. Sometimes the best response to someone who isn’t nice is to do what this verse says. Be kind to those who aren’t nice to you, forgive them when they don’t treat you right. You can do this because God did the same thing to you. He forgave you even when you didn’t deserve it. So even when it’s hard to treat others with kindness, it’s the right thing to do in light of what God did for you.
And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:26-27 ESV
Best sellers in box offices and book stores are filled with stories that mirror this sentiment. We love stories about the victorious underdog, about the person who is told he or she can’t do something, then works harder than everyone else around him or her and accomplishes it. Movies and novels about events like these are often heartfelt, wonderful and uplifting. But what do they really tell us about ourselves? In today’s text, Jesus clearly stated that there is such a thing as “impossibility” for man “but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” What this means is that ultimately, God is the Hero. We, as His creation, have a part to play in His story, as little “h” heroes. We are the supporting cast that may have a brave scene or a series of profound lines, but in the real story, the real big “H” Hero is God. He graciously brings us into His wonderful story and gives us far more than front row seats, He gave us His Son and His shed blood. The great thing about not being the hero is that we never have to worry about not being good enough. The true Hero in our life will never fail us like we can and will fail others. Rejoice in our grand Hero, God, from whom all good things flow, and never forget that not even death could hold Jesus. Remember, the next time you encounter a story about overcoming the impossible, that we model in small what God is in big.
Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:35-36
I remember a time when I was attending youth group and we were writing on a dry erase board. One teen wrote on the board accidentally with a permanent marker. At the time we didn’t realize it, so a few weeks later when we tried to use the board again, we couldn’t. The marker had dried and the teen’s writing was on the board permanently. As much as we tried scrubbing with soap and water, we couldn’t get rid of the teen’s writing on the board. That reminds me of today’s Bible verse. We have a place in God’s family. We belong to God’s family forever. It’s in that family we find our identity, our place, and our purpose. So today if you struggle with feeling like you don’t belong, realize that you do. You’re a member of God’s family and you do belong. You’re who God says you are!
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life – John 3:16
This verse is one of the most popular verses in the Bible. In fact, it’s used so much, it’s almost easy to read it and take it for granted. We are so used to the fact that God loves us that we don’t really let it sink in. God loves us. He has no reason to love us. The human race never did anything for God, but God went out of His way to love us. He pursued us when we didn’t deserve it. He loved us when we were unlovable. He did this so that we could enjoy eternal life with Him. We could talk to Him, walk with Him, and enjoy eternity with Him. Choose today to let this verse sink in. Don’t just read it quick and forget about it, but instead choose to think about the fact that God went out of His way to pursue a relationship with you.
The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth. – Proverbs 12:22
Telling the truth is pretty easy when it doesn’t really matter. If someone at school asks you if you went shopping this weekend, telling the truth is easy. Regardless of your answer, it doesn’t really matter. However, if your mom asks you something and the answer would get you in trouble, telling the truth becomes a lot harder. It would be easier to stretch the truth or change what happened a bit to make yourself look good and avoid trouble. Telling the truth in moments like those takes courage on your part. It’s not easy telling the truth when it costs you or gets you in trouble. Being a person of character means telling the truth regardless of the consequences. It takes work to put aside what’s easy and would feel good at the moment to do what’s right in the long run. God rewards character and those who seek after Him, so challenge yourself to be a person full of character. When you do, you can watch and see God do great things through you.
Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. Luke 6:47-48 ESV
If you grew up in the church, you probably heard the parable of the man building his house on the rock and the man who built his house on the sand when you were in Sunday school. We can often focus on the foundation of the man whose house was built on the rock. He obeys the words of Jesus and his house stays up. We often tend to ignore that this man also goes through the storm. Both of these men go through the same storm, but there is a different outcome for these men. The only difference is their foundation. We can learn a little nugget of truth from this parable. We learn that the Christian life isn’t about escaping the storms that come our way. The Christian life is about weathering the storms with Jesus as our foundation. Jesus never said that the man who does his words won’t have any problems in life. He says that the man who does his words will be able to make it through these problems because he has Jesus as his foundation. What or Who is your foundation during the storms of life?
No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. – Romans 8:37
Have you ever won something? Maybe it was winning a speech contest, getting a solo in choir, or making the winning shot in basketball. When you do well or win something, it is a really great feeling. That feeling of victory is how we should be living our lives every day. God tells us that He made us more than victorious. That means that you are a winner. You can walk around your school, job, and home with your head held high because you know that you’re a winner. You’ve got value to God because He placed value on you. God loves you and has an awesome plan for your life. So be encouraged today, you are a winner because of who God says you are. You can experience victory every day because of who God made you to be.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 ESV
The entire human experience revolves around relationships. Outside of our own physical and emotional health, a meaningful connection to other believers helps us thrive. Yet, relationships are often one aspect of life that we struggle with the most. Whether due to a fear of being vulnerable, a painful past, a lack of self-confidence, or a perception that we’re just too busy, we often fail to be intentional about the people in our lives. Here are four directives to improve the overall quality and integrity of your relationships:
We must nurture.
Our close friends and family are the relationships we’ll carry with us for a lifetime. Never take them for granted. That sounds obvious, but we’ve all been guilty of treating those closest to us more poorly than they’ve deserved at times. Look for opportunities to demonstrate your love and affection by genuinely investing your time, attention, and energy into these relationships (Romans 12:9–10). Continually nurture them. Don’t put it off until there’s a problem.
We must restore.
Everyone, at some point, has been hurt by someone close to them. However, the best relationships are those that have allowed restoration. Choosing to forgive, or allowing yourself to be forgiven, isn’t always easy. Yet, when we lean on our faith, the Holy Spirit will give us the strength and words we need. If there’s a broken relationship in your life that you’d like to see restored, do it today. Because the pain of an unresolved hurt is far greater than the discomfort required to resolve it. (Matthew 18:15)
We must eliminate.
Our relationships set us up for success or failure, impact our decisions, and influence how we treat others. With this in mind, it’s wise to take stock of our existing relationships from time to time. Are you surrounded by anyone who negatively influences you? Do you have active relationships that are unhealthy, unwise, or even unholy? In these cases, if these people are not willing to grow with you, then they’re most likely holding you back. You should consider kindly and gracefully eliminating them from your circle (2 Corinthians 6:14).
We must initiate.
Many of us are what society would classify as being shy, or introverted. Others may be holding onto a past hurt that prevents us from stepping out. Whatever the reason, we can find strength in Christ to move beyond our fear (Philippians 4:13). Any doubts you may be holding onto have been put there by Satan himself. He wants you to be lonely and afraid. But God’s plans for you involve being strengthened and uplifted in community with other believers—daily (Jeremiah 29:11).
God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. – 1 Corinthians 7:23 (NLT)
Have you noticed how easy it is to get sucked into the things going on around you? You might get pulled into being worried about your weight or looks. Perhaps you get sucked into worrying about your social status at school. There are so many things yelling for your attention, it’s easy to get sucked into the superficial things of this world. However, today’s Bible verse tells us that God paid a high price for us. That means we matter and we’re important. When you spend some time thinking about how important you are to God and how much He loves you, it makes the stuff going on at school and home seem a bit less important. So today, spend some time thinking about your value to God. Remind yourself of how important you are to Him and how He paid a big price to bring you into His family. Be encouraged – you are important to God.
One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith. Titus 1:12-13 ESV
A sharp rebuke is the sort of conversation most of us don’t want to have. But the harsh reality is that is just the talk many of us need. We live in an age where many things come easily to us, with little effort or thought required. For example, a person finds he or she is in the mood for chicken, simple. Swing by the grocery store on the way home from work and pick up some chicken already baked and breaded, ready to eat! Comfort and convenience are not evil things, but can become detrimental. Even more so when we consider that the Cretans of Paul and Titus’ day didn’t have near the creature comforts we are surrounded by in our modern age. When things come easily in our physical lives, we often allow that “comfort with ease” mentality to slip into to our spiritual walk. In fact, often times it can even dominate as the physical realm is intricately intertwined with the spiritual. In order for us to keep a guard against comfort and ease dictating our spiritual and even physical wellbeing we need accountability. Those same “lazy gluttons” in Crete were under the supervision and leadership of Titus, and therefore accountable to him as he was to them. But accountability doesn’t do a beneficial thing for us if we don’t receive rebukes along with praise. Find trustworthy accountability for your life, and once found, submit to it understanding that God uses rebukes that we may “be sound in the faith.” Is your life lived in accordance first and foremost with comfort and convenience affecting your spiritual walk?
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – John 3:17 (NIV)
If anyone ever had the right to condemn people it would have been God. Yet, when He sent Jesus His Son into the world, He didn’t condemn them. God’s desire was to save people. We often feel that we should tell people what’s wrong with them and that knowing this will drive them to God. Yet, what they really need to know is that God loves them and went to amazing lengths to save them. Thank God that today He did not condemn you but saved you. Realize you do not need to condemn others but to love them and let them know that God loves them too!
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
Today’s verse is a challenge. It talks about us taking responsibility for what we say. It’s not up to God to watch what comes out of your mouth, or stop you when you’re about to say something bad. Today’s verse implies that this is our responsibility. It’s up to us to guard the words we speak. We shouldn’t be letting any thought or feeling just fly out of our mouths. Instead, we should pay attention to what we speak and choose to speak life-giving words. Choose today to be more careful about what you say. Your words are powerful, so be sure that you’re using words that build others up and help them. Choose to speak words of life today!
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 ESV
In agriculture, there are about four months between planting and harvesting. During this time the farmer waters and fertilizes, but doesn’t yet get to enjoy the benefits of his harvest. This can be similar in our lives, and Paul knew this first hand. He had spent time in Galatia sharing the Gospel of Christ and a church was born. However, it seemed only to hear later that they were close to departing from the very faith by which they’d been saved. But Paul would not grow tired of doing good, and knew that he would reap the benefit of his continual love for the church in the future. You may be a parent loving the child who has decided to leave all the values you taught him, or her. Paul encourages you not to be weary and keep loving and praying for them. Maybe your parents aren’t followers of Jesus and reject any idea of becoming one. Paul encourages you not to become weary and continue loving and praying for them. It is easy to do good and not give up when we can reap immediate rewards. But, there is a spiritual reward we will reap in heaven, if not on this earth, that we can look forward to as Paul did with the many churches he fathered. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like your good deeds are going unnoticed. Paul wrote that we should not give up, for in due season we will reap. What an encouragement!
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. – 1 John 3:1
Do you have days where you doubt your worth? Maybe you wonder why you are the way you are, or why you can’t say the right thing at the right time. Or perhaps you don’t look the way you wished you did. All this self-doubt can start to weigh on you, and make you feel like you’re not important. The verse above gives us a true picture of our worth to God. It tells us that God has adopted us into His family. Because of this. We now have value and purpose. All the superficial things, like how you look and what you do no longer matter. What matters is what God says about you. Your true value is based on what God thinks of you. The good news is, God thinks you’re great. He loves you in a big way. He wants nothing more than to know you. He loves you with a greater love than you’ll ever know. So when you have days where you question your worth, take some time to think about how much you’re worth to God. He loved you enough to adopt you into His family. To Him, you’re priceless!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
When we’re battling difficult circumstances, how do our friends or colleagues respond? Usually with encouraging words like, “I’ll be hoping for the best ” or, “hopefully things turn around soon”. They hope for the best on our behalf. However, hope isn’t a verb. It’s not something we can do for ourselves, let alone decide to do on a whim for someone else. Then where do we find hope? We find hope in God’s presence. When life feels out of control, turn to Him in prayer. “He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone (Psalm 62:6–7 NLT).” We find hope in God’s promise—His living Word. “My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word (Psalm 119:81 ESV).” We find hope in God’s process, which almost never matches our own human understanding. Even in our pain, God is at work sewing things together for good. This may not translate to our comfort, it’s meant to conform us to be more like Christ (Romans 8:28). God uses our struggles to produce endurance, which produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5:3–5). We find hope in God’s purpose for our lives. Every single one of us has been created with a divine plan in mind. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).” And finally, we find hope in the promise of things yet to come. In John 14:1–2 (NLT), 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; gifted to us by God’s unending grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. Hope is the anchor for our soul (Hebrews 6:19) and without it, we’re incomplete (Proverbs 13:12). Are you hopeful? If not, are there areas of your life that you’re not fully trusting the Lord?
If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:3 (NLT)
I used to think that honoring my parents meant I had to agree with everything they did or said. There were times when I would get so mad because I felt that my parents didn’t understand me, and I couldn’t understand their actions. However, one day I was reading this Bible verse and it dawned on me that this verse wasn’t talking about agreement. It didn’t say that I had to agree or even see eye to eye with my parents on every decision. Instead I was supposed to honor them. Honor isn’t really a term used all that often, but it’s sort of like respect. I realized that I was supposed to respect my parents. I didn’t have to agree with everything they did or said, but I was to still respect them. From that day on, I stopped complaining to my friends about how bad my parents were and stopped talking about them behind their back. I chose rather, to give them some respect. I might not agree with every decision they made or how they handled things, but I needed to give them room to speak into my life and hear them out. I really feel like my relationship with my parents changed from that point on. Instead of me always being frustrated, I was more at peace. I stopped being angry at my parents and began to respect them. I challenge you to do the same if you’re not already. Decide today to stop bad mouthing your parents and being angry at them. Choose instead to respect them and treat them well.
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself – 1 Cor 6:19 (NLT)
I remember one year at youth activity, I heard one student say some swear words. I then heard his friend tell him to watch what his language. His reason for watching his language was that they were in church. Isn’t it funny that we often watch how we act or what we say in church, without realizing that we have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us. That means that even more than watching what we say and do at church, we should be saying and doing things with our bodies that bring God glory. This verse tells us that we no longer belong to ourselves. We should be aware of the awesome fact that we have the gift of God’s presence on the inside of us. This knowledge should inspire us to behave in ways that make Jesus shine through to others.