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]
In the world, we have favoritism. There are people we enjoy more. There are things we like more. We usually have favorites. But the Bible says that favoritism is a sin (James 2:9). We are not supposed to have favorites.
There are people who believe that God has favorites; however, He does not show favoritism. When we struggle, and see others doing so well, we think God loves those with less struggles more than He loves us. The truth is we are all on a journey that is unique. As we are going through struggles, it does not mean that God loves others more. God loves you. His love for you has nothing to do with you. His love is based on Who He is.
Favoritism is divisive. Showing favor to someone above another will cause stumbling blocks. God desires unity. Today, look at how you can promote unity. Take a closer look at your relationships and ask the Spirit if you are showing favoritism. Aim to look at people through God’s eyes today. Each person is special. Each person is important. Each person matters.
“For God does not show favoritism.” – Romans 2:11 [NLT]
As I have aged, I realized the great blessing of being disciplined. When younger, the word discipline was a cruel one we tried to avoid. No one likes discipline. We do not usually request or desire discipline. Discipline is punishing someone to correct poor behavior or disobedience. Discipline trains people to be obedient people.
The Bible tells us that anyone God disciplines is “blessed” or “joyful.” The world looks at the discipline of the Lord as wrath and usually describe it as harsh and unreasonable. As a child of God, hopefully you understand that God disciplines us as a father disciplines a child. It is for our own good. Discipline helps us to grow. Discipline protects and teaches us. Discipline is a blessing.
Today, thank the Lord for His instruction. Thank Him for His discipline. Thank Him for seeking the best for you. Thank Him for His love. Praise Him for He alone is good, and He alone deserves all honor, glory, and praise. I pray that you are joyfully disciplined.
“Joyful are those you discipline, LORD, those you teach with your instructions.” – Psalm 94:12 [NLT]
“Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good. So obey the commands of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him.” – Deuteronomy 8:5-6 [NLT]
In Psalm 59, we read about people who wander about for food, growling when they are not satisfied. What imagery we get from the Psalmist. It is easy to picture. The Psalmist continues, “But as for me.” I love it. “But as for me, I will sing about Your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about Your unfailing love.”
Life is difficult. Indeed. Even so, we have the choice to embrace God and the life He’s given us—to move forward as He leads. Or we have a choice to grumble in dissatisfaction and roam around growling.
Today, do you want to be a grumbler like the Israelites? Do you want to growl in dissatisfaction? Or will you be one of the few who say, “But as for me”? You have the choice. Do you look around and thank God for where He has placed you and His many blessings? Do you feel unsatisfied and complain? Will you sing with joy about His power and love?
God calls us to share the Good News with the whole world. Consider how many you reach with your grumbles and growls. Consider how many you reach with songs of praise and thanksgiving. When God gets the glory, eyes are pointed to Him.
“But as for me, I will sing about Your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about Your unfailing love. For You have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” – Psalm 59:16 [NLT]
Love comes from God. He loved us first. We love because He loved us first (1 John 4:19). Again and again in the Bible, we read how God loves us. We read of His love in action. John wrote that we shouldn’t just say that we love each other. Love isn’t simply words. Instead, “let us show the truth by our actions.” Let us love people by our actions. If we act in love, then we are showing our love.
John wrote a lot about love. Remember he was the beloved disciple. He walked with He Who is love. In 1 John 3:14, we read, “If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead” (NLT). John is saying that if we do not have love, that we are dead. Dead. Because if we do not have love, we do not know God (1 John 4:8). If we are not alive in Christ, we are dead in our transgressions.
Today, take time to accept God’s love and renew yourself in it. Consider how God loves you. Ask God to teach you to love like He loves. Aim to intentionally share His love with others. Ask the Spirit to reveal anything you are doing without love. Let us speak words of love, but let us also act in love.
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” – 1 John 3:18 [NLT]
The Psalmist asks God how he could know all the sins that were lurking about in his heart. He understood that we cannot see everything. We are blind to some of the things lurking in our heart. We try not to acknowledge some things that are happening. We disregard some of the sins. We turn a blind eye. But God, He sees everything. He sees everything on our heart. He knows us more than we know ourselves. All the hidden faults, all of the bad thoughts, all of the things we deny or turn our eyes from—He sees.
The Psalmist asks that God cleanse him from these hidden faults. He does not want to have this sin in his heart. He knows he cannot see it, but he knows there’s something there. God sees it. God alone can cleanse him from it. This is a great prayer we can lift to Him. Those sins that are hiding deep within—He can purify us from them.
It’s amazing to consider how awesome our God is, isn’t it? He has unfailing love for us. He pours out grace upon grace. His mercy is unending. Even though we have these sins, even these ones we deny or cannot see, He loves us. He forgives us. He calls us His own. Today, rejoice in His love. Rejoice in the freedom from sin that He alone provides. Rejoice, rejoice that He makes all things new!
“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.” – Psalm 19:12 [NLT]
When you look at the relationship between Leah and Rachel, on the surface you may feel bad for Leah because you read of Jacob’s great love for Rachel. Read Genesis 29. Rachel was younger, “had a lovely figure and was beautiful,” while Leah “had weak eyes” (v. 17 NIV). Plainly put, “Jacob was in love with Rachel” (v. 18 NIV).
Despite her love of Jacob, Rachel sacrificially remains silent so that Jacob would marry her sister Leah first. It was not a custom to have the younger child marry off before the eldest. Though Leah was “not loved” by Jacob as she desired, God soon blesses her with Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Note, Judah is the line that leads to Jesus.
These two sisters certainly had their moments, and more children followed to form the twelve tribes of Israel; Leah bore six of the twelve. Though Leah lacked the love of Jacob that she desired, God provided her a huge family and wealth. She is mentioned in Ruth 4, along with her sister, as building the house of Israel. Eventually she would be buried beside the man she adored, in the cave with Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah (see Genesis 49:29-33). God was with her and her children. She was loved by Him. She was not for lack. God loves you too. Today, rest in His love. You, too, are not for lack.
“When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, He enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.” Genesis 29:31 [NIV]
“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” – Psalm 127:3 [NASB]
As I look at my skin, I see many scars. I have a few scars from some bee stings that caused my life to be rattled for a few weeks. I have the scar on my right hand when I attempted to cut open a brand new VCR I got for college using my house key and it did not work out well. I have a scar on my knee from falling on the ice while walking Max, gashing my knee causing me to walk a mile home with blood dripping down my leg the whole way. I have scars on my wrists from when my great aunt put my chubby self into a checkered dress a size too small, only to have my circulation a bit cut off by the nasty elastic in the sleeves (hence why they don’t make clothing like that anymore). With scars, comes pain. Each of us have scars; each of us have suffered pain.
The Bible speaks about how life is going to be when we get to heaven. We know that we will leave the earthly body behind—which means all of our scars will be gone. We also will have no more pain, no more struggles. No more of the bad knee that causes the hobble walk. No more back pain that keeps you up at night. No more headaches that make it feel like your head could explode. Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 for more on the resurrection body.
We also know that there will be One Who will bear scars. In Revelation 5, we read of He who was slaughtered. We are reminded of the One Who never sinned, but died on a cross to pay for our debt, to be a sacrifice for our sins. We are reminded that the wages of sin is death, but that God has offered us life through Christ Jesus. We are reminded that we will see the Lamb, and we will see His scars. The scars remind us of His love and His sacrifice. No words can describe His love.
“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1 [NLT]
“Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.” – Revelation 5:6 [NLT]
Trying to figure out who you are is one of the hardest things to do in life. I remember when I was younger, it was a big question that would be bounced around in my head. Many people would ask what I had planned for my future. I remember the “are you going to college” and “what do you want to be when you grow up” type questions. Now my kids hear those same questions.
The truth is, we live in a world that tries to tell us who we are, and so often we listen. We listen when the world tells us what we cannot do. We listen when the world tells us what we are “supposed” to do in the eyes of the world. We listen to what the world says about how would should think or what we should wear. We constantly are listening.
All of the listening we do, we forget to listen to the One Who is Truth. We miss out on truly grasping who we are—a child of the King. As we are busy trying to fulfill the titles of mother/father, sister/brother, friend, co-worker, parent, teacher, doctor, cashier, drama queen, youngest child, cat lady, etc., we look in all the wrong areas to figure out who we are and what makes us and moves us and completes us. We don’t understand our place in the world or what defines us because we aren’t looking in the right place.
May today be a reminder for you—for who you truly are in Christ Jesus. As a believer in Jesus Christ, many things are understood about you. You are the salt and light of the earth (Matthew 5:13-14). You are chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16). You are a child of God (John 1:12). You are a member of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). You are a saint (Ephesians 1:1). You are a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). You are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). You are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). You are a personal witness of Christ (Act 1:8). You cannot be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39). You have been redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14). You have access to God (Ephesians 2:18). You are united with the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17). My friends, THIS is who you are—now live it out!