John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Jordan River when the Pharisees and Sadducees approached. He called them a “brood of vipers” and commanded that they “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:7-8 NIV). This reminds me of what For King and Country sing, “Let my life be the proof, the proof of Your love.”
The question is when you look at your life from an outsiders vantage point, would there be proof? Are you living proof? The NLT version states it this way: “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” Proof requires an action. There’s something you must do to prove. The answer is there—by THE WAY you live. What should your life show? Repentance of your sins. Living for God.
There are many people who claim to be Christians but no one would see Christ or anything different about the person. If we are not to be of this world, there should be a difference. A person should be able to point to you and say, “Hey, there’s something different about that person. He’s not like most people. She’s not like the people I usually see.” Why? Because of the fruit. Because of the proof by the way you live. Today would someone look at you and say you are different? Would someone notice?
“Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” – Matthew 3:8 [NLT]
The approach varies when planting seeds, depending upon the seed. Some items would do best in a particular area with certain sunlight. Some seeds are best planted at a certain time of the season. Some seeds do better in soil that is different from what another seed would need to produce an amazing bloom. Isaiah mentions that a farmer plants seeds “each in its proper way, and each in its proper place.”
A farmer understands the difference between each seed and he or she handles the seeds individual characteristics to help the plant be more likely to be a success. In the same way, God understands that each of us is different. He made each of us unique. Each of our situations is different as well. God deals with each one of us and our individual characteristics and situations with great care. He knows the proper way and the proper place for us to find success.
Remember today that God understands your particular situation and he is very particular with your care, that it will be handled in the proper way, and that you will be placed in the proper place. The only way you can receive what he has for you is to follow his leading. You might not understand the plan that he has for you, but you can trust that it is a beautiful plan—the best plan.
“Does he not finally plant his seeds–black cumin, cumin, wheat, barley, and emmer wheat–each in its proper way, and each in its proper place?” – Isaiah 28:25 [NLT]
The Lord told Moses that He specifically chose Bezalel and personally appointed Oholiab as well. Specifically chosen. Personally appointed. Those descriptions fit us as well.
We each have a special calling on our lives—we each are specifically chosen. God has a plan for each individual and each plan is different. Two big problems we see today is either people who are trying to follow in the shoes of someone else and their life calling and people who have no intention of doing anything except what they set their minds to do in life.
Today I challenge you to seek God’s will for your life and to embrace your calling. God has personally, specifically chosen you for great things. There is no one else like you. Allow God to use you for His designed purpose and you will feel great peace and joy.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft! And I have personally appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make.’” – Exodus 31:1-6 [NLT]
Everyone is different and this can cause many disagreements. We all have varying ideas, a different way of doing things, different beliefs, etc. Disputes pop up and when they do, it is important to not let them create an atmosphere of discord and cause us to react in poor ways. We can learn a lot from how Abraham handled a dispute with Lot.
In Genesis 13, Abraham and Lot’s herders began to fight because the land couldn’t support all of the people, the herds, and the possessions. God had blessed Abraham well, but it ended up resulting in tight living quarters. Abraham took initiative when it came to resolving the dispute with Lot. He did not want any of the fighting to cause problems between them. He gave Lot first choice of land so they could part ways and spread out. In making this offer, Lot could choose the best of the land, meaning that Abraham would suffer some loss.
Sometimes we need to take initiative when it comes to resolving disputes. It may mean that we won’t have the better choice, but it does having promising results. Fighting is not good and it usually results in bringing both parties downward. Acting with humility has great rewards. If you are in the middle of a dispute or argument right now, perhaps today is a good day to act with humility.
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” – Proverbs 15:1 [NLT]
Recently when I was teaching, a student chimed up saying that her Bible didn’t say the same thing that the reader shared with the group. I explained to her that there are different translations of the Bible so that anyone can find a Bible that they can understand. The Bible has been translated in numerous languages as well as in numerous translations like the New International Version, the New Living Translation, the King James Version, the New King James Version, the Message, the Revised Standard Version… I could continue, but I think you get the point.
I know that there are some areas where it is hard to access a Bible, where people risk their lives to deliver Bibles to people. But things aren’t like that here and yet some people neglect the Word of God. There are homes you enter where various Bibles are sitting throughout the house, but none are touched. Bookstores have shelves of Bibles. The Salvation Army and other organizations hand out free Bibles. Bibles are given as gifts for birthdays, Christmas, Easter, etc. Yet some people neglect the Word of God. It just sits and collects dust.
Today I pray that you’ll be encouraged to seek the Lord diligently and devote yourself to daily Bible reading. I pray that a Bible won’t be part of the décor of your home or some gift you really wish you could exchange. To think there are people across the globe who would die for a Bible. It really puts things in perspective. The Word is bread. We need bread to live. Let us eat!
“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” – Matthew 4:4 [NIV]
Despite wearing suntan lotion, my daughter got sunburn. While walking through the parking lot, we were side-by-side heading toward the car. Halfway to our destination, a gentleman began to back up out of his parking spot without looking around in our direction to see if anyone was walking behind him. I forgot about my daughter’s sunburn at that point; I reached out and grabbed her shoulder to pull her back towards me so the car wouldn’t hit her. My daughter yelled because she claimed to have seen the car approaching and she said she was planning to stop. She was screaming because I had touched her sunburn. My daughter did not grasp the fact that I was trying to save her from injury.
Our Father tries to save us and at times we react in this same dissatisfied manner. We do not look at the fact that He’s keeping us from something that could be hurtful or something that could put us in danger. We look at what we lost or what we do not like with our situation. We see things with a different perspective. God looks at the eternal salvation perspective—wanting to save you so you can have everlasting life with Him. We look at what saves us at the moment—what makes us happy and satisfied right now.
Today consider the salvation that is offered to you. Thank God for His concern for your eternal well-being. Examine your current situation from this eternal vantage point. Perhaps things will look a whole lot different with this different view.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17 [NIV]
“Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all.” – Proverbs 22:2 [NIV]
The Lord is Maker of us all. Whether we are rich or poor, tall or short… whatever nationality, religious affiliation, etc., the Lord is Maker of us all. The Bible says that we are all made in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (NIV). We are all made in the image of God.
Today do not look at the differences that separate us but this truth that too often gets overlooked. When someone is not doing something like you would do it, remember that they are made in the image of God. When someone pulls their car out in front of you, remember that they are made in the image of God. When someone disrespects you, hurts you, or tests your patience, remember that they are made in the image of God. When you see people very different from you, remember that they are made in the image of God.
We are all faulty image bearers. We all have need for a Savior. Let us be encouragers and be wise with our words. Let us speak God’s truth into the lives of one another. Encourage one another. The Lord is Maker of us all.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31
This past weekend was graduation. I walked into a room full of classmates uncertain of what to expect for the actual ceremony. We had practice the evening before, but I was not familiar with the different meaning of the cords and tassels that were being distributed. As I was handed my cords, I thought to myself, don’t I get the gold ones because most people were wearing gold cords. It seemed to me that the thing to have was those gold cords. I had to ask what the different cords meant to understand how things work and to my surprise, I was given different cords because I was the Class Salutatorian and therefore had these other colored cords for the honors.
This got me thinking about how we always seem to drift toward that which is common among others. If we see most people driving a particular car, buying a particular television, making a particular amount of money, participating in certain events, getting particular grades, etc., we want to do that too because everyone seems to be doing it so isn’t that the way to go?
The issue is that God made us unique and we shouldn’t be considering our performance based on how others are doing in life. We should see our worth in Christ and find our identity there alone. For some of us, we will get gold cords. For others, we won’t reach the gold cords. For some, we will get the spots above the gold cords. The cord color changes with each situation in life. But at the end of the day, we need to remember to follow the path God has presented and not look to get a gold cord at all, even if most everyone has the gold cords. It could be possible that He wants to do something else for you, something that will bring Him greater glory.
Today, I challenge you to see if you have been aiming for gold cords in an area of your life when God wants to do so much more to display His glory to those around you.
“I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” – Psalm 86:12
As I prepared for the next lesson I would be teaching, I peered onto my bookshelf in search of other resources to help me study more in depth. I noticed a “tablet” that I was given months ago, almost five months to be exact. My best friend’s mother handed me this “tablet” that said “Holy Bible” on the front, suggesting that I could possibly make good use of it by filling it with notes. When I received the tablet, I paged through it and noted that it was unused. When I was packing my suitcase to leave, I slipped a photograph inside of my son that was taken weeks ago at a tourist attraction so that it would not get bent. Months later, I saw that I had carefully placed this “tablet” on my bookshelf beside the book “The Story of Jesus.”
I pulled this “tablet” off the shelf and contemplated what I would put inside. Maybe I could fill it with some notes. For some reason I paged through the “tablet” this time, and I realized something was different about this “tablet.” It wasn’t a tablet at all. It was a book—a special book that is used by pastors, teachers and speakers. This “tablet” I wanted to fill with notes was already filled with a useful teaching tool. It was not empty, though I had intended to fill it. The way it works is simple. Flip through the booklet holding the bottom, and the pages are blank. Flip through holding the top of the booklet, and the pages look like a brand-new coloring book. Flip through holding the middle and the eyes will meet fully colored pages.
This booklet shows the different stages we can be located at in life. If we see the Bible as meaningless, the pages as good as blank, we haven’t accepted Jesus and may even declare that God does not exist. Our life, as such, is very empty because the void that only God can fill is vacant and we try our hardest to fill it with things that can never work. Then there are the pages without color, but showing us a nice outline. We can choose to color in as we wish. We understand that there is a God. We go to church. We accepted Jesus, but yet there is part of our lives that we are holding back. We truly haven’t given Him our heart. We are on the borderline, wanting to walk forward but not wanting to give up control. Finally, there is the beautifully, colored pages that are full of life and symbolize what God brings to our lives when we accept Jesus into our lives and we walk with Christ.
Here I wanted to fill this “tablet” with notes. Here my friend’s mother did not realize what she was giving me. Sometimes we try to fill the Bible with what we think it says. We use it as a tool for our own good. Sometimes we try to fill the void in our lives with something other than God. And sometimes, we have something right in front of us and we do not realize what it is because we do not take the time.
Today I encourage you to spend time with God and His Word. It is never too late to open your Bible and to pray for the Holy Spirit to help you glean what you personally need to hear at this moment. Whether you know it or not, there is this amazing, sovereign God of the universe who loves you. The thought of that alone colors every one of the pages of my life.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
– 1 John 4:9-12