Wednesday, January 17, 2018

1 Peter 4:9

1 Peter 4:9
Open your homes to each other without complaining.

Luke 14:12-14
Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." 

Father in Heaven-
Thank you for giving me the miracle of a Christian home. This home is not mine. It belongs to You. Often the details of entertaining consume me. I want to impress people with my meticulous well kept place, my clever decorating, and my gourmet cooking. I am so busy with the preparations that I forget WHO I am serving.

Empower me to put people before things. Instead of putting away the dirt, I will put away my pride and allow others to see my humanness. Shape my home into a place free of false pretensions where people can relax and be themselves.

Open my heart to a needy family in my community. I will obediently open my home as a place of rest and healing for them. It is my desire to use the gifts You've lavished on me to glorify You. I am Your humble servant, please show me how to practice biblical hospitality for Jesus' name sake. Amen.

The root word of hospitality is "hospital." Hospitals are places to rest and heal. Our homes should be places where people can come to rest and heal. Do you receive exquisite meals at a hospital? Are hospitals fussily decorated? Do hospitals only serve friends and family?

Think of your home as a hospital. Consider inviting to your home: the elderly neighbor who is always alone, the neighbor who's recovering from surgery, the family that just received devastating news, the neighbor that's unemployed, or someone new to your community.

What's keeping you from demonstrating biblical hospitality? Resolve to set aside your agenda to be more hospitable this year.

Just this week a friend who has a daughter with Downs Syndrome called me. They were locked out of their house on a frigid winter evening. Off the cuff, I invited them to come to my home, and to stay for dinner. They were incredibly grateful for a warm place to wait, a warm chicken dinner, and warm conversation. It didn't matter that my sink was full of dirty dishes, the floors needed vacuumed, and dried up poinsettia leaves had fallen all over the dinner table. All that mattered was their safety and our sweet time of fellowship. When we die people won't remember how clean our homes were. They will remember the warm welcome we gave them even when it was inconvenient. 

Psalm 39:4-5

Psalm 39:4-5
"Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
      Remind me that my days are numbered-
      how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
      My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
      at best, each of us is but a breath." NLT

Heavenly Father~
          Creator of all living things~
                   Thank You for the fabulous, fragile gift of life.  I will cherish every day as a valuable present from You, my loving Father. Forgive me for tossing miracle moments aside to worry about insignificant incidences. Often I spend more time securing my life on earth, than I do thinking about where I will spend eternity.

Life is short! I don't have long to stay here. Enlighten my mind to Your Holy Spirit and fill my heart with more grace so that I'll be ready when You call my loved ones or me home. This is a picture perfect day that You have made. I'll rejoice and be thankful for it. Living in the blessing of each precious moment, I'll joyfully love and serve others because today could be my last chance. Please just give me more of Jesus to focus on the most important matters today for Your namesake. Amen. 

You just don't know when your life will be interrupted by an unexpected event. Resolve to live each day like it's your last.  Don't miss an opportunity to tell someone you love them. Give someone a hug today. Call a friend. Be a friend.

Most importantly, tell them about Jesus because it may be your last chance.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Psalm 130:5-6

Psalm 130:5-6
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
       and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
       more than watchmen wait for the morning,
       more than watchmen wait for the morning.

I admit I'm a most impatient child! Even though You promise special blessings for those who quietly wait, it's a very difficult assignment for me! I'm living in a fast-paced world where we drive fast cars through fast food restaurants, gobbling the grub as we speed down the freeway. Instant cash at ATM's and instant information on the internet provide for instant gratification. And I wonder why waiting is hard!

Please dear Lord, slow me down! I want off this race track! Rather than speeding to keep up with everyone else, worrying about my security, career and relationships, I want to deliberately depend on Your provision and protection. Instead of pursuing power, prestige, and possessions for pleasure, I want to down shift, allowing You to take me to everlasting happiness. Zooming through life I miss out on opportunities to serve You; consequently, also losing the rich rewards You pay Your workers.

At break-neck speed my perception is poor and my vision distorted as in the darkness of night. I simply can't see clearly! Going at a slower, safer speed I'll begin to see You for who You really are: loving, kind and reliable. I'll come to depend on You for power, provision and protection. I'll learn to trust Your principles, promises and purposes. Concentrating on Your goodness, I'll find peace and hope in Your Word, the Bible.

Please fill me with patience to endure the long, silent night of my soul, eagerly expecting the definitive morning when the Son will rise and warm my heart with heavenly hope for Your namesake. Amen.

Most of us are waiting for something - a promotion or pay increase, a diagnosis or cure, the death of a loved one, a trial and verdict, a wayward child to come home, to overcome an addiction or bad habit, to win the lottery or lose a few pounds, for a voice to pick up the phone or a computer to respond.

What are you waiting for? Are you impatient, like me, trying to devise your own schemes and plans to get ahead? I encourage you to slow down and go with God. In His Word you will find the only Way to peace and everlasting happiness.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Galatians 6:2

Galatians 6:2
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

John 13:34-35
Jesus said, "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." NLT

Glorious Lord,
You are my wonderful Savior! When I stumbled and fell over shame, You found me, and compassionately picked me up in Your strong arms. Injured and weak from the fall, You resiliently carried my wounds on Your body to Calvary. There, You disinfected my sore soul with Living Water from the gash in Your side and cleansed me with the antiseptic of Your blood. You covered every mistake I ever made and ever will make.

Miraculously, You healed me and gave me a vivacious new life full of love and strength. You promised to continually carry all of my problems. Leaning on You, I won't stumble and fall from the weight of my anxieties. I'll stand up tall under stress, affectionately praising Your mighty power!

All around me are indignant, hurting people who have stumbled
and can't get up. The weight of their troubles is more than they can bear. Please enlarge my heart. Fill me with a spirit of compassion to notice the fallen people in my path. Just as You mercifully care for me daily, I resolve to graciously stoop down, pick them up, and carry their load. Since You went a great distance to save and strengthen me, I'll go the extra mile to lift up needy people. I'll voluntarily go out of my way to attentively listen to them, boosting their spirits with kind words of encouragement and prayer. Make me a mighty magnet to draw others to You for mercy. In doing so, I'll fulfill Your command to love others, and show the watching world that I belong to Jesus through whom I live and pray. Amen.

If you know someone who's struggling financially, deliver groceries to their door. Secretly pay their utility bill or their rent.

If you're aware that someone has received devastating news, pick up the phone and call them. Tell them you're thinking of them and ask how you can help.

Go visit an elderly or disabled person. Take along a balloon bouquet to brighten their surroundings. Your presence will make their day.

Relieve weary parents of small children by taking the children for an afternoon.

Write a letter to a prisoner who's been forgotten by society. Tell them about God's forgiveness. Show them His mercy.

Offer to pray for someone who is hurting and do it on the spot. It will bless their heart to hear their name being carried to the throne!

Ask God to give you a spirit of forgiveness and forbearance. Ask for an enlarged heart and a spirit of compassion. He will be delighted to give you these things! Then, open your eyes. Look around and you will see someone close by who has fallen and needs your help. Show them that you are a Christ follower by lightening their load today.

Find someone with a load heavier than your own, and help them carry it today. It's not optional!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

1 Timothy 4:8

1 Timothy 4:8
Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. NLT

My Divine Coach and Trainer,
Here I am - weak, out of shape and ready to get rid of the unnecessary stress and strain in my life. This year I resolve to get firm and fit with You. I know this fitness program will be extremely challenging, excruciatingly painful and very expensive, but the end result will be well worth it. Willingly, I'm surrendering my entire life to You, absolutely determined to improve my image from the inside out.

Giving You my best effort will be easiest if I have a few spiritual friends to train with me. Together, we'll encourage each other to persevere through the pain and doggedly practice the difficult maneuvers You teach us. Shutting out every other thought, we'll keep our eyes on You, and do exactly what we see You doing. As our hearts beat in rapid unison with Yours, we'll breathe in Your sensational power and blow out Your extraordinary strength.

Frequently refreshing with Living Water from the deep well of our Bibles will make us excitingly different. As we monitor our hearts and measure our progress, the noticeable change will motivate us to keep working out our faith with fear and trembling. Under Your rigorous daily discipline, we'll become firm and fit forever, taking on the strong physique of Your Son.

Going to the gymnasium is useful, but exercising a disciplined life with You daily is far more beneficial. When You are magnified in our bodies, we won't be ashamed and will have the stamina to endure all kinds of problems and pressures. Others will instantly recognize the drastic improvement in us and naturally be attracted to Your fitness program too. Amen.

Have you resolved to get more physical exercise this year? Me too! In my quest to get firm and fit, I'm going to sign up for a membership today. But did you know 80% of the New Years Resolutions crowd drops off by the second week of February? That could easily be me. I don't enjoy exercising.

Fortunately, God's Word says that training for godliness is even more beneficial than physical exercise. What will you do to get firm and fit with Jesus?

Even if it's as little as 10 minutes a day, you can't afford to not train with Him. Find a study buddy and commit to working out together by doing a daily devotion. Share with each other what the Lord's teaching you. Together, you'll improve your image as you grow in His strength.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Matthew 11:28-30

Matthew 11:28-30
Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." NLT

Jesus, You are my Personal Trainer.
Thank You for inviting me to come work out with You. I'm exhausted and bulging with burdens. I admit that I've lazily neglected my spiritual needs and put off coming, afraid of repeat failure. Loveless and loaded with lies, I'm tired of living like this. My heart and mind have been fed empty calories by false teachers preaching shallow theology. My soul is suffering from the stress and stain of tragedy and trouble. Constant problems and pressure have packed on the pounds and I'm absolutely miserable. I've been weighed down with worries and full of fear for too long. Lord, I'm sick and tired of carrying around this excess baggage! Because I don't want to spend the rest of my life feeling this lousy I resolve to lose weight this year.

In Your precise training program, You'll gently teach me a lifestyle that totally reflects who You are. Determined to get rid of this heavy load, I'm dedicated to Your demanding daily discipline. I'll eagerly get up and access the godly equipment in Your gymnasium every day. Actively using my Bible, I'll consume reasonable portions of strength enhancing nutrients. Vigorously working through Your Words will stimulate my messed up mind to perform perfectly. Coupled with the power of persistent prayer and praise, my bulging burdens will slowly shrink as I transfer the weight of them to You.

Completely trusting You with my problems will give me more energy and freedom to effectively serve and love others. Under Your gentle control my heart and mind will miraculously heal. Resting on Your powerful promises will inspire me to continue working hard toward my life long goal of being shaped into Your remarkable image. In my life, Lord, be magnified so that I can be more productive for You. Amen.

The holi-daze have taken a toll on my healthy eating habits. Having a packed on pounds from too many Christmas cookies and carb fests, I now need to lose weight. Have you resolved to lose weight this year too? Consider giving the weight of your worries to Jesus. He's inviting you to "Come," work out with Him. He's offering to take your load and teach you to live differently. As you trust Him completely with your heart problems, the physical pounds may dissipate too.

Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you. Psalm 55:22 NLT

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Galatians 5:25

Galatians 5:25
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Father in Heaven,
Thank You for compassionately choosing me to be Your beloved child and adopting me into Your great big diverse family when I was an utterly rebellious brat. When you found me I was absolutely loveless, kicking, screaming and demanding my own way. Fiercely in pursuit of fame and fortune, I was rudely pushing and shoving anyone in my path. My all-consuming desires were never satisfied! A mountain of putrid garbage had accumulated in my mind and soul. Amazingly, You picked me anyway, and sent Your infinitely powerful Spirit to tame me from my wild and wicked ways.

Vitally dependent on Your divine discipline to break my bad habits, I resolve to relinquish control of my life to Your Spirit this year. Fully submitted to Your authority, I'll recognize Your commanding voice when I purposely read my Bible. Resolutely, I'll follow Your step-by-step instructions for functioning Your way. With Your Words embedded in my mind, Your love will be behind my actions and Your power will control my egocentric desires.

Under Your wise counsel and watchful eye, I'll learn to imitate Your unrestricted love. My heart will joyfully dance and my mind will peacefully sing as I tag along with You through all kinds of stress and strain. Firmly in Your grip of grace, I'll persistently endure difficult people and situations by repeatedly demonstrating Your undeniable loving kindness. Making the most of every opportunity, I'll welcome interruptions to help carry the burdens of others I encounter along the way. Trusting You to gently lead and guide me by Your Spirit, I'll live a drastically different life that magnetically draws others to the life changing power of Your Almighty Spirit. Amen.

Will you resolve to live by the Spirit this year by fully submitting to His authority and respectfully following Him step-by-step every day?

Can people recognize you as a child of God by your attitudes and actions? If not, humbly admit that you need tamed by His almighty power. Ask Him to teach you in the way you should go. Listen carefully to His instructions and willingly follow them no matter how difficult.

When you keep in step with the Spirit, the outgrowth of the Spirit will be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Monday, January 08, 2018

2 Corinthians 5:17

Most of us make New Year's Resolutions. Many of us want to eat healthier, lose weight, and exercise more. Some of us want to get out of debt, save money, and increase our wealth. Others want to change careers, a bad habit, or our priorities. But, what if we resolved to be more like Christ? Recreated in His image, we would be healthier spiritually, carry fewer burdens, and exercise our souls. Our eternal debts would be paid and we would be rich with heavenly rewards. Walking step by step with Jesus, bad habits could dissipate and our priorities would surely change. Let's pray together and resolve to be more like Christ this year. 

 2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Dearest Father in Heaven,
I'm eternally grateful that You've saved my life by deliberately removing my dysfunctional, diseased heart and intentionally replacing it with the strong, healthy heart of Your dear Son. My heart now beats in vital unison with Yours. Since You munificently recreated my miserable old life into a magnificent new one full of love and power, I resolve to live a drastically different life this year by being:

Receptive of people who are fundamentally different from me
Empathetic, polite and kind rather than rude, arrogant and obnoxious
Content with the things You've given me instead of envying what others have
Recognizant of the good in bad circumstances
Ecstatic with the truth instead of misled by deception
Accepting of people's faults as opposed to being critical and judgmental 
Tolerant of abrasive people and harsh conditions
Even-tempered and calm even when I'm angry, resentful and mistreated
Devoted, protective, persistent, hopeful and trusting to the end

Thank You, Father, for opening my heart and implanting Your Son. Radically changed, I'll graciously look beyond the diseased, dysfunctional lives of others. Generously, I'll pour out Your infinite mercy and amazing love on hurting, helpless, and hopeless people bringing glory to You through the new life You've magnanimously given me through Jesus, Your Son.  Amen.

O. Chambers writes in My Utmost For His Highest, "If you are born again, the Spirit of God makes the change very evident in your real life and thought."

What radical difference has Christ made in your life? The above resolutions are from 1 Corinthians 13. Can you boldly stand in the light of God's truths without squirming and evading them? If not, continue surrendering yourself daily to the Great Physician until His heart is fully implanted in yours. 

Sunday, January 07, 2018