I buy milk at the grocery store so that my children can have cereal and I can drink my morning coffee. I go to the gym so that I can get exercise to take care of my health. I walk the dogs every morning so that I can have quiet time with God and get the dogs some fresh air. The “so that” is important. Things are often connected. God has a plan. God uses everything for His good purpose. Things are often connected.
In Psalm 23:3, David wrote that God opens and He leads. The verse includes a “so that” which cannot be passed over. He opens and He leads SO THAT you can bring honor to his name. Things are often connected. Yes, we get to enjoy the fruit of open pathways and leading with footsteps of righteousness, but this all is to point to Someone greater. The doors that open are to point to Jesus. The footsteps of righteousness point to Jesus. All that we do and say should point to Jesus.
Today, look out for the “so that.” Consider the people God brings before you today. Consider the time, talent, and treasures in your possession. Consider the circumstances and events of the day. Be open to the “so that,” and remember the importance of bringing honor to His name. With your words, with your actions, with every breath may you honor Him!
“That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name.- Psalm 23:3 [TPT]
Something that I have been thinking about a lot is usefulness. There are moments when we have items in our home that are not useful to us. Sometimes we have apps on our devices that are not useful. Maybe at a time they seemed useful, but things have changed. But usefulness isn’t only something we consider as objects or possessions. People can be useful or not useful too.
Paul was writing to Philemon about the runaway servant Onesimus. He tells Philemon about this change that has occurred. Yes, Onesimus was deserving of punishment, which could have meant a death sentence. It was within the legal limits. But Paul mentions this great conversion of Onesimus. Not only did he give his life to Jesus, but in doing so, he became useful. In saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done,” he became useful. God had big plans for Onesimus!
If someone would consider your usefulness, what would they say? Would they describe you as very useful? Do you think you are very useful? Or is something getting in the way? That something could even be you! Truth be told, you have a great purpose. God has known this since the very beginning. It is a purpose that I pray you embrace and pour yourself into as an offering. Aim today to come to terms with this usefulness, and if the Spirit convicts you, follow His leading. It is a very dangerous prayer to say, “Use me.” Yet is a prayer than can help position you for what God has already prepared. Be useful. Plant for a good harvest.
“Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us.” – Philemon 1:11 [NLT]
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No matter how many times Jacob said he was the servant to Esau, it wouldn't change God's plan. Jacob was positioned to receive the blessing. Not Esau. No matter how many times you try to deny or thwart or stall God's plan, His plan stands. Embrace His plan. #Genesis32 #Jacob #Esau #Bible #BibleStudy
In Genesis 32, we read about Jacob preparing to meet Esau. If you remember, the last time these two brothers were together, Jacob had taken Esau’s blessing through deception. Esau was furious and vowed to get revenge. Jacob fled to safety. In this chapter, Jacob wrestles with God and is renamed Israel. After all of this, he continues to call himself a servant to Esau.
Esau was the firstborn, and rightfully was to have the firstborn rights. We read about Jacob taking Esau’s birthright over some stew. We later read that Jacob dresses as Esau to take the blessing as well. God foreknew this all. Remember, Genesis 25:23 tells us that the birth order will be switched – the older will serve the younger—so this shouldn’t be a surprise.
As you look through Genesis 32 and 33, note all of the times Jacob says he is the servant to Esau. As many times as he states it, it never changes what God has ordained long ago. The line of blessing was Jacob’s line. This great line would become a great nation. It is through the line of Jacob that we find Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Today, consider who God says you are and what God has shown you for your life. This is precious. This is to be embraced. No matter how many times you try to reach for something else, deny something, change the order or design, God’s plan stands.
“But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” – Psalm 33:11 [NIV]
I am not much of a runner; however, I have been blessed over the past few years to watch my daughter run for Cross Country. She loves running Cross Country. Running the race, is not simply about being the winner—as there can only be one—but also about beating a personal record or P.R., as the experienced runners know it to be called. My daughter was always about beating her P.R., but recently she has been held back. The thing she loved most about running, that time alone to clear her mind and reconnect, was not happening because she couldn’t focus.
My daughter’s friend wanted to move up and join the high school practices due to transportation issues. The friend is a bit slower and loves to talk more than my daughter (I didn’t think that was possible). The practices no longer were about body conditioning, preparing for the season. The runs were no longer a time of peace and enjoyment. My daughter found herself being held back, running at a slower pace. With her friend’s gift of gab, they also were missing some instructions for some of the practice runs. This caused them to get lost a few times, run shorter or longer courses, and my daughter unnecessary stress. My daughter and I had a long talk about boundaries and goals.
Friends are great. Relationships are important. In life, we have a choice who we invest our lives in. We also have a choice of who we surround ourselves with and we have a choice of priorities. Jesus should have first place in our lives. The Bible tells us to love God and love others, to go and make disciples, to serve—we have choices to make to see these things through. Paul wrote that we should give everything our best as if for the Lord. All is for His glory. When we allow ourselves to be held back, for our focus to drift, if we surround ourselves with people who will constantly keep us from being where God wants us, we are not properly aligned. Today, reflect on God’s will for your life. Consider your relationships. Look at the boundaries you have in your life so that you are able to pursuit the goals God placed before you. Above all, make sure you connect with Him today—in His Word and in prayer.
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” – Colossians 3:17 [NLT]
A tortoise stands up to allow lizards and birds to get the insects that are in the hard-to-reach areas. One would think that a tortoise would not want to surround himself with lizards and birds, that they are very different from the slow-paced life of the tortoise. While this action of the tortoise benefits the tortoise, who likely gets irritated and annoyed by the insects, it also benefits the lizards and birds, who get a nice meal. What a great way for these creatures to live together in harmony!
In life, we are supposed to live in harmony with each other too. This can seem like a hard task as we sometimes do not understand certain people or enjoy their company. We question why someone comes along our path. We see some people near us as a nuisance. There are people we do not see as helpful. Some people are draining. Let’s be honest. It’s true. You will not like everyone. You will not get along with everyone. You may not want to lift yourself up for a lizard to help you out, because you cannot get past the annoyance of the lizard.
When you face these challenges, understand that the other person is created in the image of God. Just like you, the person is a broken image-bearer. It may be for your good that you have encountered the person. Remember, God uses all things to accomplish His great purpose. God is continuing to grow you into who you were meant to be in life. Today, choose to rise up like the tortoise and elevate those around you. As you look out for the best interest of others, as you invest in others and do whatever you can do to speak life to them, God will use what you pour out for His glory and He will continue to mold you into His image and teach you how to love others as He loves.
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” – Romans 12:16 [ESV]
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27 [ESV]
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 [NASB]
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4 [ESV]
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12 [NIV]
I love to cook. When I have the time, I will search for new recipes and walk in uncharted territory. I love to pull out old recipes that are favorites to enjoy again. Sometimes I will pull from my Pennsylvania Dutch roots. Whenever I am cooking, utensils are needed—and for some things I have a special utensil used for a particular usage. I will look deep in the utensil drawer to grab that one, no matter how long it takes to find it. To me, it is the only one that can do the particular job.
In 2 Timothy we read about keeping ourselves pure. Today’s verse speaks of a “special utensil for honorable use.” We might think about the special utensils we have in our kitchens; however, we also are special utensils. Each one of us was created by God and chosen for honorable use. He has a great plan and purpose for YOUR life.
You will be a special utensil for God. You need only “keep yourself pure.” Focus on Him. Focus on His Word. Focus on what is good, pure, holy—and watch how God uses you for His glory. This is a great promise. YOU will be a SPECIAL UTENSIL for HONORABLE USE. Yes, you!
“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 2:21 [NLT]
Almost a year ago I sat down to write about Daniel 3:18. When I write, there are two different ways that I begin. First, there are moments when I am walking my dog Max and the Lord leads me to something. Second, there are moments when I am reading my Bible (many times during my lunch break), when He leads me to something and I will scrawl down some notes for later. Nonetheless, this week I was again reading Daniel 3:18 and was led to write about it. But it felt very familiar.
I considered that perhaps I had written about it before. After writing devotionals, other books, papers, sermons, lessons, etc., it was a possibility. I felt this overwhelming need to search, and then I found it, “But Even If.” Does someone need to hear it again? Yes, and God knew—it was me!
Life has been very difficult lately. Life in general is difficult, but lately I have been feeling exhausted. Not tired. Exhausted. Everything is a battle. I have followed the narrow path. But when we are on the journey God has placed before us, our expectations of the outcome might be very different from where God takes us. Hence the exhaustion. For some of us it’s frustration or even worse. But God reminds each of us that He is with us and He has a great plan for our lives. No matter where we are at on the journey, no matter what our expectations for a situation, our lips should say, “But even if he doesn’t” we will still press forward and live each day firmly rooted in Him. I’m pressing forward. He is my hope and my confidence.
“But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” – Daniel 3:18 [NLT]
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” – Psalm 25:5 [NIV]