So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. – Hebrews 4:16
Have you ever been in a situation when you didn’t know the answer to something? If you’re like most people, you probably reached out, grabbed your phone and starting searching Google for the answer. It’s so nice to have the answers you need to a lot of questions right there at your fingertips. Did you know that as easy as it is to get help from Google, that it’s just as easy to go to God to get the help you need? Anytime you need help, you can go to God to get it. You’re able to tap into His ability and mercy to help you in any situation that you face. Take comfort today knowing that you can go to God in any situation to get the help you need. When you need help today decide to go to God. He is happy to help you with anything you face.
One night he went to Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you.” – John 3:2 (CEV)
Have you ever noticed how the people the closest to you are often the ones you take for granted? Its easy to forget the things your mom does to help you out, or the way your best friend always listens to you. Sometimes, when you’re close to someone, you don’t take time to think about the things that make that person special. The same is true with Jesus. Its easy to get busy, and overlook all the great things that Jesus does for us. This Bible verse shows us one thing that Jesus does for us, and that is teach us. Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus is our teacher? This verse shows us that He was sent by God to teach us. What does a teacher do? They show us things, instruct us, and make sure that we’re learning. That’s a lot like what Jesus does. He showed us the father God in the Bible. He helps us learn who we really are in Him. So as you go about your day, don’t forget about the fact that Jesus was sent to us by God to teach us and help us grow!
It’s 2018: How Would You Spend Your Last Night Alive?
Welcome to 2018. Let’s kick it off with a profound question. Imagine learning that you are going to die tomorrow. If you knew this, how would you spend your last night on earth? You have a brand new year stretched out before you, but you only get today. …who would you gather around yourself? …what would you spend your time doing? …what would you be thinking about? This may sound morbid, and even farfetched, but this is exactly the situation Jesus was in in today’s devotional verse:
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:3–5 ESV
In John 13, we find Jesus on the night before his crucifixion. He knew exactly how he was going to die, and was well-acquainted with the horrors of Roman execution. Even knowing this, Jesus spends his last night loving and serving his friends, and washing their feet. Oh wait… It wasn’t just his friends there, was it? Judas Iscariot was in the bunch. He was about to do the unthinkable and betray his Master for a handful of coins. Jesus knew this too. Yet, he spent his final night focused on loving others well, for, “he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). In light of the way Jesus spent his life, even to his final night on earth, how will you spend 2018? Our lives are meant to be like Jesus’. To continue his mission in the world. As Jesus said: ” A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). So, how will people recognize you as a disciple of Jesus in 2018? Is that one of your resolutions?
For with God nothing shall be impossible.- Luke 1:37
It’s a new year, and you’re probably all geared up for all your new year’s resolutions. Maybe you want to spend less money, read your Bible more, or get better grades in Chemistry. Whatever your goals might be, it’s always good to get God involved in them. If you set a goal to get better grades, then get God involved with it. Find some scriptures in the Bible about learning and choose to read and study those. As you get God involved and mix faith with your efforts, you’ll really see your goals succeed. God says that with Him nothing is impossible, so believe God this year. Choose to have faith that He will do what He says. Believe Him that He will bring your goals to pass and that with Him nothing is impossible!
“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. – Mark 11:23
Today’s Bible verse starts with Jesus talking about the power of our words. He shows us the power of our words and that if we speak to something it has the power to change. Our words can change things in our lives. The words that we speak each day about ourselves and our circumstances matter. If we speak doubt, unbelief, and negative words, then we’ll have negative results in your life. Simply, put, our words matter. They set the course and tone for our life. If you don’t like what you’re seeing in your life begin to change the way you speak. Speak words of life, words that build up and are full of faith. Choose today to put a guard over your mouth. Don’t just speak whatever thoughts or emotions enter into your head. Choose to speak words of faith and build the realities you want to see in your life. The Bible says that if we believe what we say will happen, that it will be done for us. So speak good things over your life and situation today!
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13 ESV
con·tent (kuhn-tent) adjective satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.
The apostle Paul is the writer of Philippians. Here he states that he has learned to be content in any situation. I love the definition of content. To be satisfied, not wanting. How often are we in a place like this? Paul says that he has been in times of hunger and of abundance, and he has learned to be content in all things. In times of hunger it is easy to want. Typically, I find that I am wanting money. When the time comes where I find myself pinching pennies, all I can think is that more money would just fix this problem, take away my anxiety, pay my bills, and make me feel better. Or, on the flip side, when times are far more comfortable financially, I find myself wanting the next best thing. Maybe it’s new electronics, clothing, home décor, or whatever else seems to have you wrapped around its finger. It’s almost like as soon as I purchase one thing that I think will make me happy, it doesn’t. Then it’s off to the next thing to present itself to satisfy me. What a sick cycle! It is only when we rest in God that we are truly content. God already knows what we need and what we don’t need. When we are at peace with Him and thankful for every blessing He has bestowed upon us, we are content. It doesn’t matter if we are broke or have an abundance of money, unless we let God satisfy us, we will never truly be content. Contentment is not based on your possessions, but on who possesses your heart, Jesus. Take a moment (or a few moments) to reevaluate your heart to be content in Him.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – Romans 1:1 (NIV)
Paul says in this verse says that he is a servant of Jesus. A servant seeks fulfilling the desires of their master before seeking their own. This was Paul’s approach to life after He met Jesus. He wanted to please God above anything else. It’s also interesting to the fact that Paul declares he is a servant of Jesus before he mentions any of his titles and what he was called to. You might be called to be a preacher or a businessman. You might be called to be a missionary or serve God as a teacher, however first and foremost you should strive to be a servant of Jesus Christ. It’s exciting to fulfill a God given dream and to use your talents for Him but you cannot truly serve Him if you are not first a servant of Him. Today, decide to follow in Paul’s example and become a servant of Jesus Christ. God has done so much for you it’s the least you can do for Him.
“The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10
Many times when bad stuff happens in life, it can be easy to want to blame God. Its easy to get angry at God when something doesn’t go your way or turn out like you expected. However, God shows us in this verse that He isn’t to blame for the bad stuff that happens in life. Jesus came so that we could have life, and have an abundant life. So when bad things happen, realize that blaming God doesn’t do any good. Jesus came to give us an abundant life!
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. Psalm 102:25-27 ESV
Think of a mountain. Imagine its high soaring peaks and crags, its deep valleys and dense forests. Imagine its age, with some of its trees being hundreds of years old, not to mention the rock itself. A thing as daunting as a mountain can seem unchangeable, almost permanent. But we know that this isn’t so. Valleys are carved by the flowing of streams and blowing of the wind. The panorama of peaks we enjoy are sculpted slowly, over thousands of years, into their present grandeur. Now, while a thousand years may seem a long time to us, there is one to whom it is just as a day (2 Peter 3:8). Our God is ever living, eternal, and truly unchangeable. The “foundation of the earth” is a reflection of his strength, existing for his eternal glory (Romans 1:20). As the ages of men change, as the problems and persecutions of Christ’s Church shift, and even our lives transition from consistency to catastrophe, there is One apart from it all, yet keenly interested in it. Our God exists: apart from the changing seasons, apart from the rising sun and setting moon, apart from a nation’s wealth and dominance, apart from our personal prosperity or poverty. As we read our Bible and see the love and grace God showed to his people throughout generations, we can be encouraged that the same God still takes care of his people. God’s unchanging character helps us make it through the valleys knowing that the God who helped us through it the last time is still there walking beside us. Dwell on God’s eternal nature and allow yourself to feel comfort in His unchanging presence.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”– Matthew 19:26 (NIV)
In today’s Bible verse, Jesus is talking about how to enter the kingdom of God. He makes it very clear that we can only do this through God’s ability, not in our own strength. There is no amount of good deeds or hard work that can make us right with God. We needed a savior, Jesus. Through Jesus, God made the impossible possible. God wants to do the impossible in our lives, but we have to trust Him and believe that what He says is true. Today decide to trust in Jesus and know that if He promised it, it’s possible in our lives. Be encouraged that it’s not in our own ability but through His that these things are possible.
And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her. I Kings 10:4-5 ESV
Solomon’s flawless court, and astounding wealth, were overwhelming. So overwhelming that a queen was stopped mid-sentence, and left breathless. There was no mistaking wealth like Solomon’s: tables laden with food in a masterfully crafted palace, beautiful tapestries cascading down the walls as servants and cupbearers attended his court and its guests. His treasure was immediately recognizable, he was physically prominent, and his intellect was unsurpassed. What do God’s people have today? Is our treasure to be like Solomon’s, with wealth so great it draws people from far off lands to witness our majesty? Not for most of us; though the treasure God intends for us all is truly great. Our spiritual wealth, just as Solomon’s riches, should leave those who witness it breathless. As followers of Christ, our love and service for one another should be unmatched! Our grace, holiness, and humility we should be unparalleled! Our treasure is still very much God-given, it is by his Holy Spirit that we are led and equipped to live for God’s glory and others’ good. Our treasure, our delight, is in Jesus Christ, the one who gave himself up on our behalf. We are intended to be like “a city set on a hill [that] cannot be hidden” (Matt 5:14), a light, a beacon of true wealth not printed on paper or stamped on coin. Our glory is Christ; are you living in a way that seeks to display Him as your great wealth and treasure?
What is Christian Love?
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 ESV
As Christians, true love is defined by God himself. Love is not our God, love is shown to us by him. So, in today’s verse we learn what real love looks like: Jesus Christ and his mission to save us. What’s amazing isn’t simply Jesus’ sacrifice for people who are undeserving. It’s his sacrificing for people who are ill-deserving. There’s a difference.
Undeserving vs. Ill-Deserving
Imagine someone broke into your house. They robbed your valuables and destroyed the property. At the end, you were left with a shell of what once was your safe home. However, the police caught the criminals and took them to the station. Upon hearing this, your father went to the station. And rather than telling the cops to “throw the book at them…” Your dad says something else. He tells the police, “Please don’t prosecute them. I know they’re guilty. I understand they destroyed my home and stole my things. But I will stand in their place and take their punishment.” The officers are stunned—as are the criminals. It’s quiet for a moment as everyone processes what your father just said. Then one of the criminals breaks the silence. He asks, “Why would you do that?” Your father answers, “I love you.”
What Love Really Looks Like
This is a simple illustration of what love really looks like. You see, people are not only undeserving of salvation, we are ill-deserving. We aren’t mere bystanders. All it takes is a moment looking around the news to see humans are actively engaged in evil. Wars, human trafficking, murder, rape, robbery, and the list goes on… Yet, while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. He loved us in a scandalous way. On the cross, Jesus’ perfection was exchanged for our depravity. This is the measure of Christian love. This is the breadth of God’s forgiveness. This is the depth of his kindness. …and remember, God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance (Rom 2:4).
Applying God’s Love:
- How will you reflect God’s love for people today?
- Where do you need to be drawn in by this radical grace and repent?
- Is your heart thankful to God? If so, does your gratitude for his love overflow into your life?
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. – John 1:14
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.
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8
During a professional basketball game, there’s no confusion as to what players play for what team. Why? Because in professional basketball, each player wears a jersey. That jersey has the team logo on it. Each team member wears the same colors and logo. The jersey identifies them and tells others which team they play for. In the same way, as Christians we should have an identifying characteristic. There shouldn’t be any confusion as to whether someone is a Christian or not, it should be evident. The Bible tells us what our identifying characteristic should be, and its love. Love is what should make us different from everyone else. Love is about seeing people and valuing them like God would. It’s looking past what they look like and talk like. Love sees others like Jesus sees them and chooses to say they’re important. So decide today to love others, not in response to how they treat you, but because they have value to God.
But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. – Isaiah 53:5
Today’s Bible verse paints a somber picture of what Jesus went through on the cross. It describes Him being beaten, crushed and whipped. Jesus went through all of this so that He could pay the price for our sins. This suffering was selfless, Jesus didn’t need to go to the cross for His sake. He did it out of love for you and me. And because of it, Jesus is the only way to be saved. Because of the great love that Jesus had for us, we can now begin to love others and ourselves. As we begin to focus on how important we were to Jesus that He took beatings and whippings for our sake, we realize our true value. In the eyes of God, we are priceless. We should no longer look at ourselves and feel like we don’t measure up, or that we’re not important. God’s love proves our worth. We also should treat others with respect because they are important to God. We realize the bullies, the outcasts and the popular students at our school are important. Not because of their social status, but because of how much God loves them. Today challenge yourself to look at yourself and others differently. Instead of seeing all of the shortcomings, and failures, choose to look at people through God’s eyes. See the value He places on each individual and begin to treat others and yourself as God’s best.
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 was 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. 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.
Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. – Matthew 7:12 (NLT)
This simple saying that Jesus said can be applied in so many aspects of life. If you ever are in doubt on what to do in a situation where you’re dealing with others, you can use this Bible verse. If someone is being mean to you, how would you want them to treat you, then do that. If you see someone in financial or simply need and you have the ability to make a difference, think what you’d like others to do to you in that situation and do that. This also can be applied in being bold to others. It might not be popular to tell someone the truth, but in the long run, wouldn’t you rather have someone tell you the truth? If you’re heading down a destructive path, wouldn’t you like someone to have had the guts to possibly stand up to ridicule and say, “Hey I know this is popular and everyone else is doing it, but this is hurting you and it’s not God’s best”. Think of ways you could apply this Bible verse in your life and pray that God would show you how you can treat others how you’d want to be treated.