Month: January 2019

A New Habit for 2019

Psalms 90:12
“Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”

Today’s verse tells us that we should value every day. It also says that it is hard to do that. Otherwise the Psalmist would not be asking God for help. Psalms 39:4 says, “Show me Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.” The Bible is very clear on our need to understand the value in each day and that we should make the most of every day we are given. When we learn to value each day, we also need to focus on what is most important. Our verse says, “that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Where do we get wisdom?

I know a woman who for 35 years has started her day by spending time with God. Her time with the Lord was so important that she would tell her young children, “If mommy’s door is closed you wait in your bed until I get up.” She would even have her husband leave her a thermos of coffee on her nightstand, so she could start her day with the Lord before she had any interruptions. She valued each day and she had chosen her source of wisdom. She knew that her days were better, her outlook was better, and her faith was energized by starting her day with Bible study and prayer.

What about the rest of us? I know I struggle to do the same thing two days in a row, let alone every day for 35 years. But in our verse today, we are to ask God to “teach us” to number our days. Learning is a long-term exercise, not a once and done activity. When we allow God to show us the value in each day and how precious our time is, we will make time with Him a priority. As we start a new year, let us also start a new habit of making Jesus the priority. A habit of 35 years starts with the first day. Let that be today.

19-Devo-1.4Thought of the day: Have you learned to value each day? Are you making time with Jesus the most important time in your day? Now is the time to start, one day at a time. You have already started by reading this devotional. Keep going!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach me to value each and every day. Help me to make time with You my number one priority every day. Thank You for this day, amen.

Do Not Dwell on the Past

Isaiah 43:18-19
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

A new year. New chapter. New beginnings. For me, resolutions are not a big tradition but choosing to be more intentional is. I aim to live one day at a time and choose joy over hardship, while understanding the hardship I do experience is the pathway to peace.

It doesn’t have to be the beginning of a new year to do any of this, but it just so happens to be the beginning of a new year. God makes a way every day, but only if our hearts are ready to receive it and our eyes prepared to see it.

He invites us to not dwell on the past. He says not to dwell, but in order to live in today sometimes the best thing to do is look at the yesterdays to figure out how we got to where we are. Deal with it, don’t dwell. Address it, walk through it, and live in the new today.

He promises us in Lamentations 3:22-23 that His mercies are new every morning. As Jesus followers, it’s a beautiful blessing that we can embrace that truth and see the new things He does and continues to do every day. New sunrise, new sunset. No day is ever the same.

When we struggle to let go of the wasteland and things of the past, we become dulled to and blind to the great gifts around us. It’s a new year, so maybe this day in the new year is the day we choose to get our eyes off the rearview mirror of the past and focus on the power of Jesus—the maker of all things new today, tomorrow, and forever.

At the time this scripture was recorded, Israel was in captivity to the past and because of their rebellion they assumed that God didn’t want anything to do with them. There wasn’t anything further from the truth. The same God that wanted to set the captives free then wants to do the same for us today. He loves us no matter what we’ve done or what’s been done to us and He will never stop pursuing us.

He is always at work to create new. He is already working on the plan and purpose of our lives even when we cannot see it. We can trust that He is working even if we have been running or in captivity to our pain and rebellion.

19-Devo-1.3Thought of the day: What part of your past or yesterday is holding you captive? What if today you could choose to trust and see the tender mercies of a new day, new year, and new life with Jesus? Are you numb or blind to His faithfulness and attempts to capture your heart?

Prayer: Father God, thank You that You are the maker of all things new. Help me to live today with eyes that see the eternal spring of hope and redemption through You. Help me to be bold and intentional in how I choose to use this day for Your glory and my good. In Jesus’ name, amen.

New Mercy Every Day

Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

Lamentations 3:22-23
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Day 2 of 2019. Aren’t you grateful for day 2s? Some of us have already failed to live up to some new resolutions that we started on day 1! If we haven’t yet, there is a good chance we’ll slip up somehow, somewhere. But here is the good news… God is the God of day 2. In Lamentations 3:23, we are told that every morning we wake this year (and every year), we will be granted new mercy. That tells me that the something will happen today that will require mercy. It also tells me that God is not going to give me what I deserve today. I needed mercy yesterday, and I will need mercy today and tomorrow.

As we look ahead to the rest of the year, Ecclesiastes 3:1 says that there will different seasons that we go through this year. There will be moments of joy. Possible moments of grief. There will be days we feel better than other days. Some days will bring us the highest of highs that life has to offer. Other days we will experience extreme lows. Through the seasons, one thing remains the same: God’s consistent, never-failing, patient love never ends.

This year just go ahead and plan on needing mercy daily. Don’t take yourself so seriously. In the highs and lows, emotions will run high. When that happens, logic often runs low. In those moments, let your convictions and beliefs “drive the bus.” In those moments, do not let your feelings and emotions make decisions, but rely on the promises that God speaks to you through His Word.

19-Devo-1.2Thought of the day: Remind yourself daily of these two truths: His love never fails and His mercies are new every morning.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for not giving me what I deserve, but rather granting me mercy every day. Give me Your perspective and help me see the big picture of what You are doing. Amen.

The Greatest Commandment

Mark 12:28-31
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one”, answered Jesus, “is this:  Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”

Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. Most people I know who set resolutions fail within the first few weeks. Instead of making a resolution, consider leaning into the lesson of today’s passage.

Today’s lesson is a tall order. Jesus’ response in verses 29 and 30 was quoted from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. God directed Moses to teach the Israelites His commands, decrees, and laws after they were set free from slavery and bondage in Egypt so that they would fear God and obey all of His commandments.

God’s commandments and decrees apply to us in 2019. Those who put their faith and hope in Jesus and trust Him for their salvation do not always live out the commandments in today’s lesson. Like the Israelites who continuously disobeyed God’s commandments, we too often fail. It is humanly impossible in our own strength to keep all of God’s commandments. Fortunately, God recognized this, so He came up with a solution for our disobedience/sin problem—Jesus.

In Luke 10, verses 25 through 37, Jesus taught a parable of the good Samaritan and what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. In the end, Jesus asked the question, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told the man, “Go and do likewise.”

In order to love our neighbor as ourselves we must first love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  The ways we do this include studying God’s Word, praying, serving others using the spiritual gifts God has given us, and sharing our testimony of how and what God has done in our own lives. We grow spiritually through our acts of obedience, especially during our trials and difficult circumstances. In doing so we are able to love others (even our enemies) in obedience to Christ. We honor God and receive His blessings in response to our obedience.

19-Devo-1.1Thought of the day: Today’s lesson could be viewed as a resolution for all who call Jesus their Lord and Savior and have put their faith and hope in Him for their salvation from their sins. God designed us to have a close, personal relationship with Him in and through the person of Jesus. His open invitation for us to seek Him first and to be in continuous fellowship with Him is a choice. It is possible, only with the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in every person that has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior, to obey God’s Greatest Commandment and to love your neighbor as yourself. Do you know Jesus? Are you making your relationship with Him your first and most important priority (Matthew 6:33), loving Him above all else and being consumed with the things of God for His glory? If not, will you commit in 2019 to live out His greatest commandments?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please give me a powerful sense of Your mission for my life. I love You and desire to love You with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. I desire to be used by You through the power of your Holy Spirit that lives in me to love my neighbor as myself. Use me to influence others to meet, know, and follow Jesus. In Jesus’ name and for his glory, I pray. Amen.