Friday, September 30, 2016
In review of Proverbs 20:5 it says, “People’s thoughts can be like a deep well, but someone with understanding can find the wisdom there”
While people’s thoughts can be deep, someone with understanding will know how to draw it out.
What this means to me:
Good advice lies deep within the heart, if I am to become a person of understanding and wisdom, I will learn how to draw it out and find the wisdom in it.
In order for me to be wise, I need to learn how to ask wise questions. Today’s verse from Proverbs 20:5 says, “People’s thoughts can be like a deep well, but someone with understanding can find the wisdom there” (NCV). I think this is conveying that everybody’s got something to teach me. It’s like deep water in a well, and I’ve got to draw it out of them.
What I’m learning is that to draw this wisdom, I need to learn to ask smart questions.
It will be difficult to learn anything if I’m talking. If my mouth is moving, I’m not learning. I won’t learn anything by talking. I will however learn if I’m listening. So I need to learn to listen.
I also need to learn how to set up a question and then just listen. I’ve got to be willing to ask questions and then listen. According to this verse, this is the mark of a wise man or woman.
While this may be difficult in my work situation, I’m going to try to spend the day focusing on listening rather than talking. And if I must talk, I will consider what kind of question I should ask.
Overall I think it will make a big difference when I learn to ask questions and then wait and listen with focus and interest.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
In review of Proverbs 15:14 it says, “A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash”
Be wise, seek and learn, it’s foolish to just feed on trash.
What this means to me:
It’s smart and prudent for me to seek and learn more, as only a fool would continue to feed on ignorant trash.
From what I understand becoming wise is listening to God’s Word daily. At the beginning of Proverbs it says, “It is the Lord who gives wisdom; from him come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6, TEV). This means that it won’t come from TV, the internet, magazines or social media. Wisdom comes from God.
Todays verse, Proverbs 15:14 reminds me that, “A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash” (NLT). I can either feed on truth, or I can feed on trash. However, whatever I fill my mind with is what’s going to come out — garbage in, garbage out.
To be wise, I’ll need to make sure that I continue to feed each day on truth, not trash. There are three kinds of things I can fill my mind with: poison, junk food, or health food.
Poison is stuff that will “poison” my system. It’s bad for me. It will take me down. I shouldn’t be so open-minded that my brains fall out. What I watch on TV/Movies or read makes a difference, I can’t say that I can watch that stuff and not have it bother me anymore.” In reality If I can watch and read stuff that is profane, blasphemous, evil, vile, and abusive and it doesn’t bother me, then I have a problem. I have become a fool.
If I am to be wise I need to protect my mind. I should put on the helmet of salvation and not just allow anything into my mind. I need to keep the poison out.
Junk food in of itself is neither good nor bad. It just has no nutritional value. A lot of stuff I see on tv is not evil. It’s just junk food. It’s much like stuffing. But the problem with stuffing is that when I stuff myself with stuffing, I have no hunger for truth. If I watch TV for four hours, my mind is full of empty calories that don’t help my body or my mind.
Health food is nutritional food. It helps me grow and maintain my health. It is truth, and a wise person feeds on truth. It makes me wiser; in my relationships, time, money, business, parenting, marriage, and every other area of life.
I need to continue to fill my mind with God’s truth. Keeping this habit of spending time each day reading and studying the Bible, will help grow my wisdom.
Today, I will consider what kind of junk food I allow to fill my mind?
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
In review of 2 Corinthians 9:13 it says, “As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ”
Your service will bring honor and praise to the Father as you believe the message about Christ and share it generously.
What this means to me:
The way in which I prove myself by my service and ministry will bring honor and praise to God. As I believe the message about Christ and obey it by sharing it generously with all that come in contact with my life.
What I’m learning is that as a follower of Christ, I need to be generous. It will make an impact to my life.
It aids in being happy. Acts 20:35 says, “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (NLT). Jesus didn’t say it is not a blessed thing to receive. It does make me happy to receive. But the world tells me that I’ll be happiest when I receive. Jesus however turned that idea around and said that I’ll be happier when I give than when I receive.
It goes along with 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Remember this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (NIV). I know that I want others to be generous with me. If I choose to be selfish in my life, then I’m not going to reap generosity from God and others. If I want to reap generosity, I have to sow generosity.
My generosity will show the world what God is like. The Bible says, “As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ” (2 Corinthians 9:13 NLT).
As the ultimate example of generosity, I only need to look at the incredible generosity of God. Look at the world I get to live in. Look at the life he gave me. Look at the way he meets my needs. God is the perfect model of generosity. And when I’m generous with others because of God’s generosity toward me, it can help point others to God as well.
Today, I will consider what are some ways that I can sow generosity.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
In review of Colossians 3:13 it says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others”
Put up with each other, and forgive those who do you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you.
What this means to me:
I am to make allowances, be gentle and ready to forgive others faults. I am to remember how the Lord God has forgiven me.
Today's verse comes from Colossians chapter 3 where Paul is speaking on living the new life. He tells us that since we have been raised to new life with Christ, we should set our sights on the realities of heaven. We should think about the things of heaven, and not those of earth.
We are to put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within us. We are to not be greedy or idolaters, worshiping the things of this world. And now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. We are to put on our new natures and be renewed as we learn to know our Creator and become like him. In life, all that matters is Christ.
Since God has chosen us to be the holy people he loves, we must clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We are to make allowances for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends us, remembering that the Lord forgave us. Above all, we are to clothe ourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. We should let the peace that comes from Christ rule in our hearts. For as members of one body, we are call to live in peace and always be thankful.
We should fill our lives with the message about Christ. Teaching and counseling each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. Whatever we do or say, we should do so as representatives of our Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Given this do I really show people grace? It is what God wants me to do, however it’s not always easy to do especially when I focused on myself.
It’s much easier to be selfish instead of being gracious. I know I see the slow counter clerk at Starbucks as a five-minute interruption to my day rather than somebody who might be new or struggling to keep their job, or who just got the worst news of their lives five minutes before.
I see the one in my family who’s struggling right now as a drain rather than seeing them hopelessness over a desperate situation. I see the person who cut me off on the freeway as the physical embodiment of Satan instead of just a jerk who is in need of God’s love.
The thing is, I’m a jerk in need of God’s love. That’s why Jesus Christ came into this world. And to show people grace is to remember what God has done for me. The ultimate way God shows me grace is by forgiveness. And the ultimate way he asks me to show grace to other people is by forgiving them.
Colossians 3:13 reminds me to, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (NLT).
Lack of forgiveness will keep me stuck in the past. I need to forgive others for my own sake. Forgiveness is not saying that what somebody did was right or that there shouldn’t be consequences for what happened. It just means that you let go of your anger and hurt and give it to God so that you can move on with God’s purpose.
So when I feel like I can’t be gracious toward someone, I need to bring to mind that Jesus forgave me. Remembering the grace God has shown me will give me the strength to be gracious to and forgive others.
Monday, September 26, 2016
In review of Hebrews 11:26 it says, “[Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Hebrews 11:26 NIV).
Better to suffer for Christ than to obtain any treasures of this world.
What this means to me:
When I truly consider it, it is better to suffer for the sake of Christ as a greater value than any treasures of this world. It’s better to look ahead to a greater reward.
Today's verse comes from Hebrews chapter 11 where we are given several great examples of faith. In this case, it was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. Rather he chose to share the oppression of God's people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. Furthermore It was faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king's anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.
This reminds me that first I must choose to be who God wants me to be. Secondly I need to choose short-term pain for longer-term gains. Based on the example of Moses, he also made a third life-shaping resolution: He chose God’s values, not the world’s. And God used him!
Hebrews 11:26 says, “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (NIV).
Moses made a value judgment. He clarified what mattered most to him. So I think I need to ask myself What matters most in my life? What are my top three or four values? Can I easily name them? As I consider this, three come to mind... integrity, humility and service.
Identifying and clarifying my values is important to me living them out.
In this verse, Moses chose God’s values over the world’s values, which is extremely important. If I didn’t decide what was important to me, then others will decide for me. They will push me into their mold. There is an importance to narrowing down and deciding what values to live for.
Friday, September 23, 2016
In review of 1 Thessalonians 2:4b it says, “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts”
Speak to please God, not people. God knows your motives.
What this means to me:
When I speak and share, my purpose should be to please God and not to please people. God will always know my true motive.
God did not make me to be what somebody else wanted me to be. He made me to be me. If I’m to become all I can be, I need to refuse being defined by others. I’m reminded in Hebrews 11:24, “By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” (NIV).
Moses experienced an identity crisis. He was born a Hebrew slave but raised as Egyptian royalty, the grandson of Pharaoh. When he grew up, he had two choices: He could pretend to be Pharaoh’s grandson for the rest of his life and live a life of luxury and fame and power. Or he could admit who he really was: a Jew. If he did, his family would kick him out to live with slaves the rest of his life. He would be disgraced and humiliated and live a life of pain and drudgery. If I was given this choice, what would I choose?
There seems to be a lot of people who are living lies. Trying to be someone they’re not. I’m reminded that Moses in his early life refused to live a lie because he was a man of integrity. He insisted on being who God made him to be against all kinds of peer pressure.
I need to ask myself, who am I letting determine my identity?
Without some frame of reference or perspective, most (including myself) will let the culture and media around say what we should be. Todays verse reminds me that “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4b NLT).
The first resolution to make is this: “Resolve to not let other people/culture press me into their mold.” Romans 12:2 in the J.B. Philips version reminds me, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.” (Phillips)
Next, if I’m going to be what God wants me to be, I’m going to do what God wants me to do, and I’m going to fulfill the plan that God has for my life, not somebody else’s.”
Earlier this month I was struggling with my own identity and listed below is what I decided:
My identity is simply that as a child of God, made in his image. My purpose in life is to show and bring glory to Him through my life and what I do. I am to advance what He thinks is important (people and relationships). I am to share and introduce Him to others He brings into my life. Let them see Jesus in me and let me see Jesus around me. I don’t need to base my life on an identity in a career, job or role. I am simply a servant who serves, illustrates the love of God and who works towards making a difference in the lives of others. I am making this choice to conduct myself in this manner, and I will choose to think of myself in this context.
I believe that success in life will come from being exactly who I was created to be and nothing more. Today, I will just live this out my identity statement from above.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
In review of Ephesians 4:15 it says, “God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love — like Christ in everything”
Grow to know and tell the whole truth in love, like Christ.
What this means to me:
God wants me to grow up and know and tell the truth. I am to grow in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
Today's passage comes from Ephesians chapter 4, where Paul is speaking of unity in the body. He explains the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. It is their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the body of Christ, the church. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ who is our leader. Christ is the one who makes the body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
So the point is that God wants me to no longer remain as a child, but rather grow up, “God wants you to grow up: “We are not meant to remain as children” (Ephesians 4:14a Phillips).
God the Father’s goal for me is to mature and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ, living a life of love and humble service. Sadly, if I don’t get this, I can grow older but never really mature to this point, I’ll be stuck in a perpetual spiritual infancy. Spiritual growth is not automatic; it takes an intentional commitment on my part. I must consciously decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing.
Discipleship is the process of becoming like Christ, and it begins with a decision: “‘Follow me and be my disciple,’ Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him” (Matthew 9:9b NLT).
As I have learned, when the first disciples chose to follow Jesus, they didn’t understand all the implications of their decision. They simply responded to Jesus’ invitation.
Today, I will consider how I want God to work in my life to make me more and more like Christ. I will ask God to grow me in what I identify and for trust and patience as he does it, in his timing.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
In review of James 1:4 it says, “Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed”
Let pressure do its work, you will learn from it and become mature.
What this means to me:
I should not try to get out of any problems prematurely. I need to let it do it’s work so that I can develop maturity and the ability to handle things that come up.
Today’s verse is a reminder for me to be patient with God and with myself. One frustration is that God’s timetable is rarely the same as mine. I’m often in a hurry when God isn’t. I may feel frustrated with the seemingly slow progress I’m making.
What I should keep in mind is that God is never in a hurry, rather he is always on time. He will use my entire lifetime to prepare me for my role in eternity.
God’s Word is filled with examples of how He uses a long process to develop character, especially in leaders. He took 80 years to prepare Moses, including 40 in the wilderness. For 14,600 days Moses kept waiting and wondering, “Is it time yet?” But God kept saying, “Not yet.”
So contrary to many popular book titles, there are no “Easy Steps to Maturity” or “Secrets of Instant Sainthood.” When God wants to make a giant oak, he takes a hundred years, but when he wants to make a mushroom, he does it overnight.
In addition great people are grown through struggles and storms and seasons of suffering. Be patient with the process. James advised, “Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed” (James 1:4 MSG).
Don’t get discouraged. When Habakkuk became depressed because he didn’t think God was acting quickly enough, God had this to say: “These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” (Habakkuk 2:3 TLB)
I can consider how far I’ve come, not just how far I have to go. I’m not where I want to be, but neither am I where I used to be. I know that God is not finished with me yet. So I should keep on moving forward. Even the snail reached the ark by persevering!
Today I will consider how I can show patience with others, just like God is patient with me? Also, how could I encourage people today in their spiritual growth?
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
In review of 1 Timothy 4:15 it says, “Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress”
Practice and devote yourself to what you’ve learned, let others see the difference it has made in you.
What this means to me:
I’m to put into practice what I’m learning. I am to devote my life to them so that everyone can see how it has made a difference in my life.
Today's verse comes from the last part of 1 Timothy chapter 4 and is where Paul is instructing Timothy (and us) about how to be a good servant of Christ Jesus. We are to explain what we have learned to others and thereby become worthy servants of Christ Jesus, continually nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching we follow. Don't waste time arguing over godless ideas or old wives tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. We do this because our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all.
So we are to teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don't let anything think less of us because of age or other differences. Be an example to all in what we say, in the way we live, our love, our faith and purity. Focus on reading and reviewing the Scripture to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.
We are to not neglect the spiritual gifts we have received. We are to give our complete attention to these matters. Thoroughly engage yourselves into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. Keep a close watch on how we live and on our teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of our own salvation and the the salvation of those who hear us.
While I was given a brand new nature at my moment of conversion, I still had lots of old habits, patterns, and practices that need to be removed and replaced.
So, I need to let go of the fears that keep me from growing. It is the truth that sets me free, even though it can make me miserable at first. It’s the fear of what I might discover if I honestly faced my character defects which keeps me from living in the prison of denial. As I allow God to shine the light of his truth on my faults, failures, and hang-ups that I can begin to work on them. I suppose this is why I cannot grow without a humble, teachable attitude.
Good habits take time to develop. So I’ll keep in mind that my character is the sum total of my habits. I won’t be able to claim to have integrity unless it is my habit to always be honest. My habits define my character. So I will need to practice every day the habits that will make you more like Christ. “Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15b GW).
Today, I should consider what I need to change about my life or schedule, how I spend my free time, etc., so that I can work on developing better habits.
Monday, September 19, 2016
In review of Ephesians 4:22-24 it says, “So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to — the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy”
Put on your new self, created like God, that is now different.
What this means to me:
I must put on a new self, one which is created in God’s likeness and they reveals itself in a life that is conducted in an upright and useful manner.
Today's passages come from the second part of Ephesians chapter 4, where Paul is explaining to those in Ephesus about living as children of light. He tells us to no longer live as the Gentiles do, helplessly confused. For they are far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. So we are to throw off our old sinful nature and former ways of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception of this world and culture. Instead, we are to let the Spirit renew our thoughts and attitudes. Then based on this renewal we are to put on our new nature, one created to be like God, truly righteous and holy.
Although God could instantly transform me, he has chosen to develop me slowly. Jesus was deliberate in developing his disciples, just as God allowed the Israelites to take over the Promised Land “little by little” so they wouldn’t be overwhelmed (Deuteronomy 7:22). It seems God prefers to work in smaller incremental steps.
I am learning there are several reasons for what God works this way:
First, I’m a slow learner. I often have to relearn a lesson 40 or 50 times to really get it. The problems keep recurring, and I think, “Not again! I’ve already learned that!” But God knows better. The history of Israel illustrates how quickly we all forget the lessons God teaches us and how soon we revert to our old patterns of behavior. It seems I need the repeated exposure.
Second, I have a lot to unlearn. Since most of my problems and bad habits didn’t develop overnight, it’s unrealistic for me to expect for them go away immediately. There is no pill, prayer, or principle that will instantly undo the damage of many years. It requires the hard work of removal and replacement. I believe this is why scripture calls it “taking off the old self” and “putting on the new self” (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:7-10, 14).
Thirdly growth is often painful and scary. There is no growth without change; there is no change without fear or loss; and there is no loss without pain. Every change involves a loss of some kind. We fear these losses, even if our old ways were self-defeating, because, like a worn-out pair of shoes, they were at least comfortable and familiar.
Lastly good habits take time to develop. I’ll need to keep in mind that my character is the sum total of my habits. I can’t claim to be kind unless I am habitually kind. My habits will define my character.
There is only one way I can think of to develop the habits of Christ-like character: I must practice them, and that will take time! There are no instant habits. Which is probably why Paul urged Timothy to, “Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15 GW).
Often, God allows us to experience pain and loss in our journey to growth. I suspect that there is no better way than through experience to work this and its emphasis into our lives.
One of my bad habits that comes to mind for me is being humble. I’d like to think of myself a being humble, however based on my actions I find myself not so humble at times. I often get big headed and think of myself much greater than I should.
One thing I can try to practice each day is from Philippians 2:3-4, and its practice humility and considers others as better than myself. Then attempt to serve them and make a difference in their lives.
Friday, September 16, 2016
In review of Philippians 1:6 it says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns”
God who began this good work in you will be faithful to complete it.
What this means to me:
I can be assured that God, is the one who began his good work in me, and will continue this work in me until it is finished, the day that Christ returns.
Today's verse comes from the first chapter of Philippians where Paul is reflecting on the people of Philippi. He is telling them about how he prays for them. He gives them the assurance that God, who began a good work in their lives, will be faithful to complete it when Christ returns.
What I’m learning is that the development of Christ-like character cannot be rushed. It takes years for me to grow to adulthood. It takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time.
Before Christ truly came into my life at conversion, he had to “soften me up” by allowing problems I couldn’t possibly handle. The moment I opened myself to Christ, God got a “foothold” in my life. While I may think I have surrendered all my life to him, there’s a lot to life that I’m not even aware of. I can only give God as much of myself as I understand at that moment.
It’s good to be reminded that once I gave Christ a foothold, that he begins the campaign to take over more and more territory until all of my life will be completely his. I will experience struggles and battles, but the outcome will never be in doubt. God has promised that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV).
Today, I should consider what areas of my life have I yet to surrender to Him? Also, what kind of fruit do I want God to produce in my life?
Thursday, September 15, 2016
In review of Galatians 6:5 it says, “We are each responsible for our own conduct”
We are responsible for our own actions
What this means to me:
I need to make sure I’m bearing responsibility for my own faults and burdens. No one is perfect.
Today's passage also comes from Galatians chapter 6 where Paul explains that we harvest what we plant. We are to gently and humbly help those who are stumbling, being careful to not fall into the same temptations ourselves. We should sharing each other's burdens. We are not above helping anyone. We should pay careful attention to our own work and not compare it with others, for then we will get the satisfaction of a job well done. We are to take responsibility for our own conduct. We will always harvest what we have planted. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. For at just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone as nothing worthwhile will ever be easy.
Often in our culture, taking personal responsibility for our actions is substituted by placing the blame elsewhere. It is always someone else's fault. This verse reminds me that I need to take responsibility for my own actions and faults. With this in mind, my choices about how I respond to and handle things are far more powerful than my circumstances.
I may not like how complicated my life has become. But with few exceptions, no one is forcing me to keep my life complicated. I have the power to simplify my life. In fact, I believe that God would expect me to assume responsibility and to carefully choose how I spend my time.
What I’ve been learning is that I have just enough time to do God’s will while I’m here on Earth. I’ve been given just enough time to fulfill my purpose. When I try to do more than God planned, it’s only natural that I’ll will find myself constantly out of time or stressed over my schedule.
I should make a list of the activities and responsibilities that are causing me stress. Then based on this list, ask God to help me determine the things on my schedule that he never intended for me to do. I should also consider where I believe God wants me to focus my time and energy?
Then, I can consider what choices I’ll need to make to help me focus more on what God has planned.
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