When I first moved in the home I currently reside, I remember trying to get all of the utilities installed for the new place. One of the hardest vendors was the trash removal service company. I was asked to haul my trash a far-off distance because the truck couldn’t fit down our road. For years, I have been hauling the trash to this place they directed. This past week, we had a horrible snow storm. The snow blocked the already narrow road, but yet the trash truck came driving down the road—the road it was never supposed to be able to fit.
I’m not complaining about carrying the trash a greater distance; I need the exercise. In life, we find ourselves often limiting what can be done. We forget that we serve a God of the impossible. Instead of taking chances, instead of thinking outside of the box, instead of trusting the Spirit’s leading, we stay in our limited safe place. We trust the lies, that it is impossible. We even speak the lies to ourselves. But in not trusting in God’s plan, we find ourselves living a limited life, and missing out on what God has for us. We don’t think or imagine like God. We cannot grasp what He has planned for us. Yet, He has promised that whatever He has called us to, He will provide whatever is needed to see the task to completion for His glory.
Today, don’t go around placing limits on your life. If God has called you to something, trust Him. You might think that the truck won’t fit down the road—but you are only looking at things with your limited thinking. That road can fill with snow and the truck can get down if God has spoken. You can do all He has called you to do for His kingdom. He qualifies you. He equips you. Press onward. No limits! He is God of the impossible!! All for His glory!
“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8 [NASB]
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19 [NIV]
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 [ESV]
As I was reading John 20 this morning, I was reminded of the personal relationship I have with Jesus. I was reminded that each of us have a different relationship (or absence thereof) when it comes to Jesus. It all comes down to how we engage with God’s Word and with our Savior. Remember in John 20:20, we find Jesus appears to His disciples and He shows them His hands and side. He shows them His hands and His side. Later Thomas, or Doubting Thomas as many call him, returned. He missed the grand arrival of Jesus, and though the others noted that He came, Thomas would not believe. He said, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand in His side, I will not believe” (v. 25 NIV). Thomas desired a personal encounter.
Jesus appears later, this time Thomas was with the others. The Bible says that even though the doors were locked, Jesus came in. He said, “Peace be with you!” Then He directs Himself to Thomas. He says, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe” (v. 27 NIV). Immediately Thomas responds – “My Lord and my God!” Thomas had a personal encounter with Jesus.
We are often hard on Thomas. Yes, he demanded to have this personal moment with Jesus. He demanded to see Him, to touch the nail marks. He desired to look upon the One Who once bled for Him. He desired to reach his hands out and put his finger where the nails once were. He needed to have this personal encounter. Yes, he doubted. Yes, he needed some evidence. Most of all, He needed to encounter the risen Jesus Christ. He needed it to be personal. Remember, once this happened he immediately exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” Today, seek out that personal encounter with Jesus. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way. As you reach out and grasp a hold of Jesus, may you exclaim, “My Lord and my God!”
My son is quite the tea tosser. What is a tea tosser? One who tosses tea! I am a coffee drinker, but even more so, I am a bigger tea drinker. One of my mugs is black so it is not as easy to distinguish if the mug is completely empty when the beverage is closer to the bottom of the mug. When my son had seen my mug sitting on the counter top and it appeared to be empty, he thought he would be funny. He grabbed the mug and attempted to juggle it around. Needless to say, he dumped my tea all over the place. We had a good laugh. He truly thought the mug was empty. The joke was on him, as was the tea!
Many times, things are not like they appear. We look at the outside of a person, but we do not see the heart. We see outward actions, but we do not know the inward motives. The Lord looks at our heart. No matter how hard we try to disguise ourselves, how much we pretend to be something we are not, God sees. He knows how much tea is in the mug, and He knows how pure and how deceitful is the condition of your heart.
The Bible tells us that the heart is the most deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). It is clear our hearts are in need of some deep cleansing. Thank God, He has the perfect cleaner to get that accomplished (Titus 3:5). Our heart is purified by faith and cleansed by the Spirit (Acts 15:9). Ask the Lord today, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NIV).
Paul told the Philippians to “stay true to the Lord.” This is all about being totally committed to God, not letting anything come between you and your relationship to God. In Matthew 5, we read that those who are pure in heart are blessed. They will see God! How awesome is that?! Staying true to the Lord is having a pure heart—a heart for Jesus.
James speaks of a divided heart, a heart that is for the world and for God. This isn’t a pure heart. This is not staying true to the Lord. In James 4:7, we read that we should submit to God, resist the devil, wash our hands, and purify our hearts. We should stop being double-minded, and stay true to the Lord.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Do all you can to stay true to the Lord. When you find your heart divided between God and the world, ask that He give you a clean heart and a steadfast spirit (Psalm 51:10).
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.” – Philippians 4:1 [NLT]
Life is all about climbing monkey bars. Yes, monkey bars. We have seasons of life. We navigate through life by navigating through the seasons. Each season is to bring us to where God wants us for the next season. Each season prepares us for the next one. Paul notes that he wasn’t where he was meant to be when he wrote to the Philippians. He didn’t achieve the perfection. He was still running the race. But he was prepared to reach the end of the race and receive the prize. He understood that the prize was a heavenly one.
Paul made it clear that part of getting to the end of the race was letting go of the past and laying hold of the future. Monkey bars! When you are passing across the monkey bars from one side to the next, you have to let go of the one bar to move your hand to the next. If you don’t let go and grasp a hold to the next bar, you will end up hanging on the bars going nowhere. In time your dangling weight will cause you to let go completely.
Today, let go of the past. Forget what once was and lay hold to what God is doing right now, and what He has promised for the future. Keep pressing forward. Keep running the race. You too can reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize.
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Philippians 3:12-14 [NLT]
The Bible tells us to rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 4:4). This is very difficult, because we often find ourselves in circumstances that are not so delightful. Nonetheless, no matter what is going on in our lives, our heavenly Father is always deserving of honor, glory, and praise. This does not change with circumstances. Whatever happens – rejoice in the Lord!
Today, remind yourself to rejoice in the Lord. Take time to praise Him for what He has done, what He is doing, and what He has promised. “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen” (Revelation 7:12 NLT).
“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” – Philippians 3:1 [NLT]
When I was younger, no one ever spoke of clean living. Today it is a big deal. Many people have invested money and time in items that detox the body. Most places sell items that are organic. We have foods that are gluten-free, lactose-free, etc.
Living clean is not only a concept that relates to consumption. The Bible discusses the importance of clean living. We are to “live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”
How can you live clean? Most would first answer, “Don’t sin,” but we read that clean living is all about not complaining or arguing (see Philippians 2:14). We are to do everything without complaint or argument so that no one can criticize anyone. When we do this, we are living clean so we shine bright in this dark and perverse world. Complaining does nothing to bring glory to God. Today, live clean.
“So that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” – Philippians 2:15 [NLT]
Planning is important. The Bible tells us that before we start building something, we would certainly want to count the cost (Luke 14:28). Even so, planning is not everything. If you can only think up great ideas, but can never see them to completion, what good comes from the ideas?
In Proverbs, we read that good planning and hard work lead to prosperity. This means before we set out to do something, we should plan it out and use good discernment. When we have our game plan in place, then we should work hard to see it through. If we live this out, we will be prosperous.
Today, consider how you can be a better planner or how you can best follow through. Ask God to reveal any shortcuts you are attempting to take in life. Thank God for the opportunities He has provided to plan and work to glorify Him in everything.
“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” – Proverbs 21:5 [NLT]
Some of us are very blessed by our country of birth, the families we were born into, and the opportunities that we have had in life. We are blessed. We are blessed to be a blessing.
Even so, some people oppress the poor. Rather than answer the call to serve and assist the poor, there are steps taken that thwart any chance of the poor having opportunities for change. There are people who turn their eyes and look past those in need, while there are others who take advantage of those people who are already struggling. These people could use a hand up, but instead receive a push downward.
The Bible tells us that those who oppress the poor insult God. When we take steps to tear down rather than build up, this goes against God’s design. He created all people. He wants the best for all of us. Today, look for opportunities to help those in need. Do what you can to be the difference and shine the light.
“Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors Him.” – Proverbs 14:31 [NLT]
Many things in this world seem right. If I think back to days that have long since passed, there were many things that seemed right to me. Our definition of “right” evolves (hopefully improving as time goes on). I remember going from one extreme to the next. It’s easy to understand that the “seems” of this world don’t mean much. We are not living for the “seems” right but rather the “is” right.
When it comes to God and what He says is right, there is not a gray area. We like to talk a lot about the gray area. Things then aren’t right or wrong, or black and white. That’s what we tell ourselves. There’s this gray area. When we claim the gray area, we are able to bend the truth. We are able to accept the lies.
The Bible is clear. “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” Today, ask that the Lord reveal the path you are on right now. Ask that the Spirit opens your eyes to the truth, and remove any lies you may have accepted. Do away with the gray areas. Let go of what seems right. Cling to what God says is right and true and just.
“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” – Proverbs 14:12 [NLT]