With Thanksgiving now past and the countdown to Christmas and New Year’s begun, we set our sights on the true meaning of the season: Immanuel—God With Us.
Have you ever considered how a holy, righteous, omnipotent, omniscient God could have simply said to us, “You’re going to need to figure out a way to get to Me,” … or “You’ll need to meet all these strict requirements to reach me.” But the very fact that we can call Him “God With Us” is a miracle. He came to us, to seek and save that which was lost. This Christmas, each time you hear the word Immanuel, think about what this actually means for you … God came after you, just as He went to find Adam and Eve in the Garden … the search that began that fateful day has never stopped for God … going after His kids that are lost and need to be found. We don’t “find God,” He finds us.
We all have suffered great loss in life. Something at one point you could not imagine being broken was broken. Something you thought might live forever, died. We know what it means for our hearts to be broken and our lives to be wracked with grief, to live in a state of sorrow. For that very reason, the message, the reminder, that Immanuel—God with Us—has come for us is so important for us to focus on this season.
Right now, you may be in the very beginning stages of grief, of sorrow. You may be right in the middle of a divorce or loss and pain is with you every day. Or you could be coming out of a storm and have begun your journey of healing. No matter where you are, today, right now, God is with you, whether you care right now or not, whether you feel Him or not, He is with You. I want to encourage you to never confuse God allowing something to happen as God not caring for you. He never promised to take us out of this broken and fallen world, but He did promise to be with us when life breaks us and things fall apart.
Listen to Isaiah’s prophecy given to him by God 700 hundred years before Christ was born.
(Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7 NLT)
Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. … For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
We have the privilege of living on the other side of this prophecy. The Wonderful Counselor that Isaiah promised has come. The Mighty God has made Himself known. The Everlasting Father is present right now. The Prince of Peace is ready to remove the chaos, heal the hurt, and replace your sorrow with joy. No, this won’t happen overnight, but as you allow, invite, and welcome Him into your life and heart, these good things of God will come to you. Because He is Immanuel—God with … you.
What is God impressing on your heart right now? He is here with you right now. Take a moment to acknowledge Him.
Pray with me: “Immanuel, when I struggle in my hurt, when I doubt and question Your goodness, when I think no one cares, please allow me to feel Your presence in my soul, my heart, in the air I breathe, and the very life You give. Immanuel - God with us.”
As we go through this Christmas season, there are two categories of people and you fall into one. Those who have been hurt and know grief and sorrow, and now have a compassion and empathy during the Holidays to see those who are hurting and offer help, to be able to speak hope when and where it is so desperately needed. … Or those who are hurting right now. You look around and see the lights and decorations and none of it seems to matter, because the last thing you want to do is celebrate … anything. I want you to know if that is you, I get it. I have felt that way. I know that horrible feeling. All those in the first group of survivors know that heartbreak all too well.
But there is Someone else who understands your pain. He is Immanuel, the Promised One who came and is with you now. Today, we read from Isaiah once again, in chapter 53, and again, the text prophesies about the life of Jesus. If you really listen to what these words say about Christ, you’ll see He knows pain and understands heartbreak. Close your eyes. Tune in. Listen with your heart.
Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.
Sorrow, pain, anguish, injustice, feeling despised, harsh treatment … all because of us, all for us, so God could be with us. Who better to invite into your hurt and your healing than Jesus? Can you imagine this God who loved you so immensely being crushed to make your whole? He is acquainted with grief and He is with you right now.
Let’s pray: “Lord, thank You that You came, that You suffered for us, that You endured all this when You didn’t have to do anything at all … but You did. I can be counted righteous today because of You. Thank you for being God with Us. Immanuel - God with us.”
Two days ago, we looked at the passage in Isaiah where he prophesied about the birth of Christ 700 years before the event actually took place. Today, we’re going to look at the passage in Matthew where this prophecy was set into motion.
(Matthew 1:18-24 NLT)
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. (Matthew 1:18-24 NLT)
The Gospel of Matthew quotes Isaiah verbatim. So how does our focus topic this week of Immanuel being God with us in our sorrow and grief come into pay in this passage?
When we hear this story around Christmas, all we tend to think about is the celebration of the birth of Christ. While true that this is a joyous occasion, that is actually a one-dimensional outlook. Here’s why: In the day that Joseph and Mary were planning their wedding, an engagement or betrothal was very different than today. Once betrothed, there was a legal agreement as if you were already married but not yet living together. For Mary to tell Joseph she was pregnant with him knowing they had not been together was the same as adultery.
The bottom line is that Mary was amazed at what God had told her and was doing in her life, yet fearful and heartbroken at the same time because she knew what this would mean for her relationship to Joseph. Once Mary told Joseph, he was then heartbroken because, imagine for a moment, your fiance telling you she is pregnant and the Father is God. … God? How many people would buy that? There was no joy in these moments of conflict … there was fear, pain, grief, sorrow, and pain. But here’s the game changer for Joseph and Mary, as well as for us today in our pain … God spoke and confirmed the truth, taking away the fear. Would all this have been hard to believe and explain to people? Absolutely. But Joseph being a man of faith, as Mary was a woman of faith, responded in obedience, which was the very reason God chose them. He could trust them both with His plan.
When we are in the midst of a heartbreak … sorrow … feelings of betrayal … pain … He is moving and active in our disappointment. We too must listen for the voice of God to speak. Hear His truth about our circumstances. Allow Him to take away our fear. He is as He promised … Immanuel—God with us. Today, wherever you may be in your circumstances, please take it from me, no matter how things may look today, God has a plan and a purpose for your life. Believe. Trust. Obey. One day, you will look back and see how the hand of God was with you, leading you, holding you, carrying you out of the pain and into a new life.
Let’s pray: “Father, Mary and Joseph’s faith and belief in You is inspiring. Please help me to trust you with the same heart. Help me to see past my circumstances today and look toward what You will do as You are with me now and already in my future. Immanuel - God with us.”
There are times in these reflections and topics that we address where the best words we can offer you are that of Scripture. Our words fade away, but God ‘s Word stands forever. Once His Word goes out, it always accomplishes what God desires for it to do. So, today, I want to give you some of Psalm 31. David, before he was king and after, suffered at the hands of many. But the one constant we see in the life of David was no matter how far away he got, he would always return back to the truth he knew of God. No matter how prodigal David got, he always returned back to the Father’s arms.
Take in his words. Listen to these truths. Apply them to your own hurts for hope and healing, just as David called out to Immanuel—God with us—to experience in his own life.
(Psalm 31:1-5, 6b-10, 14-15a, 16-17a, 19-21a, 22b-24 NLT)
O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me; rescue me quickly. Be my rock of protection, a fortress where I will be safe. You are my rock and my fortress. For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger. Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me, for I find protection in you alone. I entrust my spirit into your hand. Rescue me, Lord, for you are a faithful God. … I trust in the Lord. I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to my enemies but have set me in a safe place. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress. Tears blur my eyes. My body and soul are withering away. I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within. … But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, “You are my God!” My future is in your hands. … Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me. Don’t let me be disgraced, O Lord, for I call out to you for help. … How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues. Praise the Lord, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love. … But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help. Love the Lord, all you godly ones! For the Lord protects those who are loyal to him, … So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!
What phrase stood out to you? … There is a reason it did. God is speaking to you through His Word. Allow this word to be personal … for you from Immanuel. Focus on those thoughts right now.
Often in the Psalms, David went from crying out for help to worship. His prayers turned to praise. This season, even through any moments of grief and pain, take some time to thank God for the blessings He has given you and the fact that, today, you are still here, still standing, and that is a testimony to the fact that God is with you.
Let’s pray together: “Heavenly Father, thank You that once we know Heaven is just a matter of time here on earth. That means I am here for a purpose for the time You allow me to accomplish Your will. Please use me, use my circumstances to touch others, to reach others, and glorify You as You are Immanuel, God with me.”
The Book of Revelation often gets a bad rap simply because it can be easily misunderstood and misinterpreted, yet some of the most beautiful passages in the Bible, telling us about eternal life, can be found here. As we close today, I want to encourage you that Immanuel promises the pain and grief of this life will one day be forgotten in light of eternity. Faith will be rewarded and trust will be worth every doubt and struggle we overcome. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and listen to the words of God, given to us through the exiled apostle and prophet John.
(Revelation 21:1-7 NLT)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
Did you hear it? God’s home is among His people. He will live with them. God Himself will be among them. Tears gone. No more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone … forever. And please, please hear these words … “Look, I am making everything new.” And with God, everything indeed means everything.
In this Christmas season, look for God. Live for Him. Know in your heart and your spirit that this day Revelation describes is coming for you. Listen again to these key phrases written for you.
Look, God’s home is now among his people!
He will wipe every tear from their eyes
Look, I am making everything new!
o all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.
I will be their God, and they will be my children
I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End.
I want to encourage you to find today’s passage in your Bible or on an app and, when life gets tough, read this to remind you where you are headed. … Because of Immanuel—God with … you.
Pray with me: “Immanuel—God with us, with me, with you, thank You for not abandoning us, but coming to save us through Jesus. Thank You that a baby in a manger changed everything through a man on a cross. I invite You to come and be with me now and stay in my heart forever. Help me to make room for You always. As above, so below.”
This week we’ll be talking about teaching our children how to know their purpose by specifically helping them understand how much God values their lives and who He made them to be.
The first thing we must say, though, is that a parent that struggles to see value in their own lives is going to have a very difficult time teaching His value to their children. To truly transfer truth, we must first believe that truth for ourselves. We can’t pass on what we don’t have. Hopefully, this Sound Mind Set series is helping you accept and receive God’s value for you. If you view your child to be of great value to you, if you would do anything for them to see and find their purpose in life to thrive and succeed, you must know this: that is exactly how your Heavenly Father views you and what He wants for you. One of the reasons God allows us to be parents is to see our children and understand that is how He sees us.
Let me ask you: Why else would God have created your children and given them life other than to have value and purpose?
Listen to the powerful passage in Psalm 139:
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them! I couldn’t even begin to count them—any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! (Psalm 139:13-22 MSG)
I want to encourage you to accept this truth about yourself and then pass this on to your children. In fact, why not read these very words to them? If they are old enough to read, let ask them to read it out loud to you, so it is first-person about them. You can find this exact passage on any Bible app.
Do you believe your child is marvelously made? If it is true for your child, it is also true for you. God says so.
Let’s pray together: “Father, the psalmist’s words about your thoughts of our creation are amazing. My kids are beautiful and I have You to thank for that. Help me to teach them that truth and help me to believe it about myself as well. As above, so below.”
Today, we continue talking about how we can transfer and convey God’s value to our kids so they accept and receive it as they grow up.
The world tends to always take any milestone or accomplishment and respond with, “That’s great. So what’s next?” Think about it: You graduate from high school after 12 long years of school and everyone asks, “So, what’s next? College? Career?” You graduate from 4 or more years of college and everyone asks, “What’s next? Career? Marriage?” You get married and everyone asks, “What are you two going to do? Where will you live? When will you have kids?” Fast forward to the season after someone retires—even then we ask, “What’s next?” “Golfing? Fishing? Move to Florida?”
On and on through life, the question comes on constant repeat. Until we die, we ask each other, “What’s next?” But there’s even then the question of “What’s next?” after we die.
Today, let’s listen to a passage that will be the most negative and depressing we will likely ever share here, from King Solomon in his frustration with the “What’s next?”
“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now. (Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 NLT)
Petty cynical, huh? Well, we all have days when we feel this same way. Solomon was simply voicing what we in the human race feel quite often. Now, listen to him in chapter 3, verses 11-13: Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
Just like you, your kids are going to eventually feel the weight of what Solomon expressed in the first passage: meaningless feelings about their days. But God is the crucial element in life to bring value and purpose, even to the mundane and the seemingly meaningless. Teach your kids to find beauty in the world, that He has planted eternity in every human heart, so everyone has value, that while not everyone will see the work of God, that’s okay, because they can, and to enjoy every blessing that God brings, no matter how small. Life itself, even on the meaningless days, is indeed a gift from Him.
Let’s pray: “Father, help me to teach my kids beauty, value, purpose, eternity, and to look for Your work in their world and celebrate your gifts, especially the gift of life. As above, so below.”
Have you ever thought how death is what makes life so valuable and crucial? The end brings value and purpose to the journey, because we don’t know how much time we have. Every day, any day, could be the last. We just don’t know. This creates an urgency that, honestly, few embrace, in fact, most ignore. So many folks live in denial that the end is coming.
When we’re young, it is really easy to live like we have 60-70 years ahead of us and statistics prove that may be true. But, still, no one knows. Yet we all assume we’re the exception. But this is also why when a young person is tragically killed; it is so devastating to family, friends, and the community. It drives home the reality of a short-lived life.
But the real tragedy is not a short-lived life, but an un-lived life. Linda Ellis wrote a poem simply called “The Dash.” She refers to the birth year and the death year on every headstone, but writes the line: “What matters most of all is the dash between those years.” When she writes and speaks, she encourages people with this advice: “Live your dash!”
In Deuteronomy 30, we hear God speaking to the children of Israel through Moses:
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land …” (Deut. 30:19-20 NLT)
Listen once again to these words in verse 20: You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life.
Funny how every human seeks the key to life and God has told us clearly in just one verse where it can be found. Teach this truth to your children. Life has a beginning, an end, and a dash in between. They can live their dash well with no regrets if they will follow the key to life: Loving God. … Why can’t it really be that simple?
Let’s pray: “Father, help me to choose your life and live that in front of my kids. Help me to love You and show that to my kids. Help me to obey and commit my life to You and pass that on to my kids. As above, so below.”
We hope this week you are allowing the truth to sink in that the value of your kids’ lives is going to be best spoken, taught, expressed, and passed on by you. You will verbally and non-verbally transfer that spiritual life dynamic to your kids.
One of the most crucial truths you must somehow help your kids to accept is God’s unconditional love and grace. So many people come to believe that salvation is somehow up to them through performance, good works, or even thinking they have the ability to get to Heaven on their own—the “but I’m a good person so why wouldn’t God let me into Heaven.” The reality of sin creating an unreachable chasm between us and God is important to understand, but also the reality of a God who created a solution for that divide by the sacrificing His Son for us is equally as important.
Listen to how Jesus explained the reality of salvation:
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” (Luke 15:1-10 NLT)
If it was important to Jesus to tell stories to help us understand how God feels about saving us, then it is also important to pass those on, as well as the truths of His great love and grace, to our children. People turning their lives to Jesus is the source of joy in Heaven. What a beautiful picture to paint for our kids.
Let’s pray: “Father, thank You for salvation, rescue, redemption, and Your amazing love and grace. Thank You that I have been found. I want my children to know what that means and what that feels like—to be found and held by You. As above, so below.”
We hope this week has been helpful to you as a parent, but also inspirational to you as a child of God. Today, as we close out this week, we will listen to a powerful and popular passage from the Apostle Paul, but also show you how to make his words a prayer for your kids, to not only communicate their value, but to pray that for them as well.
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT)
What if on a regular basis, you prayed this prayer over, for, and with your children? You, along with their heavenly Father, expressing how much you want them to grow in His love and grace? What if through your prayer He “accomplished infinitely more than you might ask or think” for your kids?
Incorporating prayer and Scripture is a powerful way for You to have a one-two punch against the plans of the enemy for your kids. To cover them, bless them, encourage them, and teach them what God has in store.
I want to encourage you, on your very next opportunity, using the version of Scripture of your choice, to read and pray this over your child, out loud. Imagine what God could do over time in you and your children with a prayer such as this.
Let’s pray together: “Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word. Please give me the boldness and the wisdom to teach my kids Who you are and who they are in You. As above, so below.”
This week we’ll be focusing on our purpose through the lens of living as a child of God. When we see Him as Father and ourselves as His children, then all of life—relationships, parenting, career, everything—filters and funnels through that relationship to create a higher purpose for all we are and all we do.
Throughout this week, we’ll be reading from the life of Joseph, one of the most compelling and incredible stories in Scripture. Every time life dealt Joseph a tragic and challenging hand, God came through to redeem and restore Joseph’s life. Our prayer is that you would view yourself as a modern-day Joseph—that no matter what has or will happen, God will be at work on your behalf for your good.
When Joseph was seventeen years old, he often tended his father’s flocks. He worked for his half brothers, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. But Joseph reported to his father some of the bad things his brothers were doing. Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him. (Genesis 37:2-4 NLT)
Now, fast-forward to Joseph being sent by his dad to check on his brothers who were working in the field …
When Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders … Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt. (Genesis 37:23-28 NLT)
Do you have a memory in your own life that this story triggered for you? Something tragic? Betrayal? An injustice?
While this story is painful to hear, the bottom line is we all understand family dysfunction that causes pain and creates scars that we have to deal with for a long time. But these events in our lives offer us a choice: will I let this define me or will I allow this to become a defining moment?
Your relationship with God can bring purpose to create a greater, stronger you out of any circumstance. But for this to happen, the pain and the process has to be surrendered to God and then stay submitted to Him on the journey to wholeness and healing.
Let’s pray: “Father, thank You for providing examples in Scripture that show me how to navigate the tragedies of life through You. Right now, I surrender my hurts, my pain, and my process of healing to You. Use it all—the good and bad—to bring me a greater sense of purpose about my life, as You lead me. As above, so below.”
Today, we continue our look into our purpose as a child of God. As we also continue to read the life of Joseph, we’ll see the roller coaster of good and evil in his life. But most importantly, his response to the injustices done to him and God’s response to Joseph’s faith.
When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. … This pleased Potiphar, so he … put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. … With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing—except what kind of food to eat!
Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded. But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. … How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her … One day … She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house. Soon all the men came running. “Look!” she said. “… this Hebrew slave … came into my room to rape me, but I screamed. … Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story … So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison … But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. (from Genesis 39:1-21 NLT)
Among the evil Joseph had to endure, what were the two phrases that created game changers for him?
“The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did …”
“But the Lord was with Joseph … and showed him his faithful love.”
“The Lord was with” simply means there was a constant, continual relationship between God and Joseph. Like a hybrid of family and friend. No matter what you have been through, are walking through now, or will endure in your life, that “with” is available to you 24/7. The difference made is simply found through obedience, awareness, and agreement that God is involved in your life, offering His purpose through His plan.
These same thoughts are what Paul meant when in Romans 8:31, he stated, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”
Let’s personalize and repeat that phrase right now: “If God is for me, who can ever be against me?” … “If God is for me, who can ever be against me?” … “If God is for me, who can ever be against me?”
Let’s pray together: “Father, thank You that nothing that can happen to me is bigger, stronger, or greater than You. I want my life to be marked by the “with” of being in a relationship with You. I invite You into my life to experience the same closeness as Joseph had. As above, so below.”
For our third day of focusing on our purpose as a child of God, if you either didn’t know the story of Joseph or haven’t heard it in a very long time, the back-and-forth that happened to him is mind-boggling. Today is certainly no different. I want, as you hear Joseph’s story, to overlay your own circumstances to know that God desires to create the same type of outcome for you.
But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed. (Genesis 39:26-31 NLT)
Are you starting to see the pattern? When Joseph is put in a bad situation, he responds by working hard and having the best attitude he can. That has to be true or these people in authority wouldn’t have done the things they did for Joseph. His life must have expressed something very different than other servants or prisoners. His life reflected, not his own, but that of the God who gave purpose to Joseph’s life.
Ultimately, Joseph spent years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Even once when he thought one of the king’s staff would tell the king of Joseph’s ability to hear and interpret dreams for a possible release for service, verse 23 states: “Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.”
It is so crucial and important for us to not miss the many times Joseph had the opportunity to get bitter, to be vengeful, to hate, to curse, and to decide God had forgotten all about him. But he didn’t. He knew that son or servant, palace or prison, God was with him, showing him the way through, not the way out. Apply these truths to your own life today, because they are certainly very real and available to you right now.
Let’s pray: “Father, I know what it feels like to be forgotten by people and start to believe that nothing good is going to happen. But with You, that is simply not true. You never forget. You always see me. You are always with me. Help me to accept and know that truth today and every day. As above, so below.”
We really hope you are enjoying this week and the amazing story of Joseph. God had given him a strange, mystical gift of being ability to hear someone’s crazy-sounding dream and be able to offer a credible interpretation that applied to the person’s future. And would most certainly come true.
When Pharaoh was finally made aware of Joseph and called him before the throne to hear a dream, Joseph made it clear who would actually be giving the interpretation. He responded to Pharaoh: “It is beyond my power to do this, … But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”
When the dust had settled after Joseph heard, interpreted, and offered solutions for all of Pharaoh’s dreams, the ruler of Egypt made a surprising declaration to everyone, but most especially to Joseph:
Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.”
Every problem that humans threw at Joseph, God always in time provided a promotion for him. Ultimately, he became the second most powerful leader in the known world.
This story is much like when Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 19:26: “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
I hope you are starting to realize that God can overcome anything if we will simply place the circumstance in His hands. The handing-over can be very hard sometimes, because we feel out-of-control. But giving control of something we cannot control anyway to the God who is always in control will be the best decisions we make—every time. Like Joseph told Pharaoh: “It is beyond my power to do this, but God can …”
Let’s pray: “Father, thank You that whatever happens, You can. What is impossible for me is always possible for You. What seems impossible to happen or not happen, You have control over. I submit my life, my purpose, my own need to be in control to You. As above, so below.”
I hope this week has inspired you, encouraged you, or reminded you that God can make something out of nothing. He can redeem anything, and be the Gamechanger for us, no matter how things might look. For our final day this week, we’ll see how, surprisingly, Joseph’s life was brought full circle for a total and complete redemption. Why? Because he followed the purpose and plan of God.
When Jacob heard that grain was available in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you standing around looking at one another? I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Go down there, and buy enough grain to keep us alive. Otherwise we’ll die.” So Joseph’s ten older brothers went down to Egypt to buy grain. (Genesis 42:1-3 NLT)
You know what’s coming, don’t you?
Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where are you from?” he demanded. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied. “We have come to buy food.” Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize him. (Genesis 42:6-8 NLT)
Chapters 42-44 detail an amazing story of Joseph’s brothers never realizing who he is, as he had obviously grown from a boy to a man. But finally, the moment came for the reveal.
And he said, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. … God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! (Genesis 45:4-8 NLT)
What if we decided like Joseph to take every tragedy, every injustice, every wrong done to us, and ask God to show us the “why,” the greater purpose that could come from the “what?” How might some things come full-circle like Joseph’s family reunion? How can you take the Joseph pattern we have seen all week, from his being sold into slavery, to Potiphar’s house, from years in prison to Pharaoh’s right-hand man, and take a fresh look at your own life and circumstances? To see God’s greater purpose for you, to see His plan, and to see your future with Him?
Let’s pray together: “Heavenly Father, there are things in my life that I know You want to restore and redeem like Joseph’s. Help me to see my life through Your eyes, to hear Your truth, and to live my purpose just as You planned when You created me. As above, so below.”
As we launch into our second week on worth, we want to focus on the art of self-discovery. When we make the determined choice to choose God’s worth in who we are, let go of old patterns and accept and receive new patterns, just like any new relationship, we have to dig deep for the gold that we now believe is deep inside.
Let’s define self-discovery like this: Remember the newness and excitement of moving into a new place, getting a newer car, starting a better job, hanging out with a new friend? I want to encourage you to tap into that kind of feeling and emotion in getting to know yourself in this new way, for the new things God can and will show you. Look forward to finding new interests, skills, qualities, and even emotions … whatever you desire for God to show you … the things you want to see happen for you and the surprises God may bring through your new mindset and heart-set.
For today’s passage, even if you know it well or recall it from your past, try to hear this truth in a new way, with the same freshness you are going to approach your life now.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NLT)
These are the words of Jesus Himself. Notice his intentional use of the language—you will receive … you will find … the door will be opened. He then goes on to make certain we know that no one is excluded from this promise. That said, we have to be careful to not manipulate or misinterpret His teaching. God will never go outside of His Word, His ways, or His will. But, inside those holy parameters, He is inviting all of us to ask, seek, and knock. He is inviting you right now.
In your new adventure of self-discovery, be proactive. Asking, seeking, and knocking all take both action and faith. What might look like for you. It might be asking, God, what ‘good purpose’ does a given situation present? Or asking God to reveal some hidden or overlooked gifts He has given you.
As we have many times before, let’s take this passage and make it into a personalized prayer.
“I will keep on asking, and I will receive what I ask for. I will keep on seeking, and I will find. I will keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to me. For I will ask to receive. I will seek to find. And I will knock, for the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NLT, adapted)
Let’s pray together: “Lord Jesus, give me the boldness, the strength, the passion to get up and ask, seek, and knock to discover whatever You have for my life. I believe You spoke these words because You believe we are worthy because of Your sacrifice. May I walk in Your Word, Your will, and Your ways. As above, so below.”
Today, we continue our encouragement of self-discovery of our worth in God’s eyes.
Busyness and distraction are rampant in our culture, as you well know. The calendar and the clock rule our lives, along with the latest text, post, email, or call. To truly discover your identity in Christ, to consistently go deeper in Him and who you are, paying attention to Him and what He tells you is a must on a daily basis.
Listen to this story about Jesus and his two friends who were sisters.
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 NLT)
Martha just knew she was in the right, didn’t she? She was busy fixing a meal for a room full of hungry people and growing impatient with her sister for leaving her to do all the work. Imagine her surprise when Jesus told her that Mary was actually in the right place doing the right thing. … The Bible says Martha was distracted while Mary was discovering. … Notice Jesus’s choice of words, translated into English, of course. There is only one thing worth being concerned about. And Mary has discovered it.
Today, there are things you have to do and things you need to do. But to stay on the path of finding who you are in Christ requires setting aside some to-do list stuff and do what Mary did—intentional time to sit and listen to Jesus. In stillness.
Imagine the Lord words from this scripture directed to you today, “My dear friend, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Discover it.”
Let’s pray together: “Lord Jesus, remind me, help me take the time to stop life and listen, to not be distracted, but discover more of You, to discover more of me. As above, so below.”
So, have you discovered anything in yourself this week that is new and fresh for your life? Today, let’s take another step toward self-discovery in our identity in Christ and His value and worth placed upon us as His children.
The apostle Paul wrote one of the most transparent passages about himself in Romans 7. But he also wrote the words knowing we all deal with this Jekyll and Hyde-type existence when we become Christ-followers, yet still live in sin. This truth is very important to understanding the dilemma of living in the Kingdom of God while also still being a citizen of earth. Listen closely …
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:15-20 NIV)
Even though the words can sound confusing at first read, we also completely get it, don’t we? What I want to do, I don’t do. The good I really want to do, I can’t seem to do. And I hate it! And I … just … keep… doing … it!
But Paul went on to solve the mystery. Listen …
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:21-25 NIV)
In our personal worth, in our discovery of who we are, in our discovery of who we no longer are, our only rescue from this crazy life is found in God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The next time you get frustrated with yourself and your choices—to do bad or to not do good, stop, read, and remember Paul’s teaching here. We all have sin waging war in us, even though we truthfully want to do what is right. Ultimately, the rescue from the moment you are in and from the shame that accompanies it, is found only in Jesus.
Let’s pray: “Lord, thank You for salvation that provides the rescue that even allows us to have a choice between sin and righteousness. Lead me, help me to look to You when I struggle with who I am and what I do. Help me to grow in my relationship to You as I make decisions today. As above, so below.”
On this Day 4 of looking at our worth in Christ and encouraging the self-discovery only He can provide, we want to spend the bulk of our time together in meditation on a powerful chapter that King David wrote. Today, our focus will be to understand who we are, we must first know that God is God and we are not. So much of the issues in our lives regarding our identity is when we try to keep ourselves on the throne when we were never created to sit there. Only our God.
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and out. Be still. Listen. Listen to the words while hearing the Holy Spirit.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
at a place near your altar, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises. What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem. O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer. Listen, O God of Jacob. … A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you. (Psalm 84 NLT)
What phrase or thought stood out to you? Consider why. What is God saying to you right now?
Hear the closing words once more: For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.
What if you memorized and repeated those thoughts this week? What difference might that make in your attitude and mindset, in the state of your heart?
Let’s pray: “Father, David used the word ‘joy’ many times in this Psalm. Help me to find more joy in You and in my life. I need You to be my sun and my shield. Please give me Your grace and glory. I want to do what is right in Your eyes so You will withhold no good thing from me. As above, so below.”
For our final day this week, I can’t wait for us to read a passage from The Message Bible—Romans 5:1-5.
Remember on the first day this week when I spoke of a newness and excitement that we can experience when we choose to receive our new identity in Christ, accept His worth into our hearts, and begin to discover who we truly are? Well, this passage is a great sum-up and send-off for the week in trying to live in this new mindset as a Christ-follower.
Please close your eyes. Take this truth in. Visualize yourself in the scenes that the Scripture describes.
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! (Romans 5:1-5 MSG)
Let’s personalize these scriptures… God has made you right with Him through Christ. That’s what He wanted for you when He created you. God has thrown open the doors of Heaven to you. He wants you to throw open the doors of your heart, your mind, your spirit to Him. And now you are standing where you have always hoped to stand—out in the wide open spaces of His grace and glory.
Let’s take a few moments … I want to ask you to express Your praise to God. Whether you shout or you are silent, take a moment to worship like Paul expressed, as he calls it standing tall and shouting our praise.
Please know that the enemy of God and the ways of this world do not want you to know who you truly are in Christ. So that is exactly why the battle is so strong on so many of your days to pull you down and keep you down. But please, keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking … never stop. Know who you are and only go deeper in your relationship with Christ. You will never find the end of Him this side of Heaven, so I want to inspire you to dive deep in His grace and in His glory.
Let’s pray: “Heavenly Father, we worship You today as the One who gives us our life, our breath, and our identity. You alone establish our worth and our value. Help me, lead me, to just keep asking, seeking, and knocking to know You deeper and higher and farther and longer in Your love until I come home to be with You. As above, so below.”
The first step to discovering our identity is deciding what we believe about the source of where we originate. Where we came from is crucial to how we view our own lives. Are we a handcrafted masterpiece or a cosmic accident?
The story is told of Sir Isaac Newton, the famous mathematician and scientist, who had a strong belief in God. One day, Sir Isaac went to an artisan carpentry shop and asked the owner to make a model of our solar system. This model was to be to scale, intricately painted, and designed to resemble, as closely as possible, the actual solar system.
Several weeks later, Newton picked up the model, paid for it, and placed it in the center of a table in his house. One day, a friend who was an atheist came to visit. When the man arrived at Newton’s house, the model of the solar system caught his eye, and he asked Sir Isaac if he could inspect it more closely. As the friend looked it over, he was awed by the fine craftsmanship and beauty. The friend then asked Newton who had created this wonderful model of the solar system. Sir Isaac promptly replied that no one had made the model but that it had just appeared on his table one day, evidently by accident.
Confused, the friend asked the question again, and Newton repeated his answer that the model had come out of thin air. As the friend became frustrated, Sir Isaac then explained the purpose of his answer: If he could not convince his friend that this crude replica of the solar system had “just happened by accident,” how could the friend believe that the real solar system, with all its complex design, could have appeared only by chance? The moral to the story: Design always demands a Designer.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)
When was the last time you watched your children sleeping? Why do you suppose as parents we do that? Stare lovingly at a perfectly still and peaceful child? It’s because we marvel at how they are created and are a part of us. … Design does indeed demand a Designer.
Regardless of how you or anyone else has ever attempted to determine your worth, God has already stated clearly that you are His masterpiece … just like those beautiful kids you love so much. He has declared your identity because He created each of you and placed you together as a family.
Pray with me: “Father, I want to accept and receive that I am Your masterpiece, created anew in You to accomplish the things You planned for my life long ago. I claim that same identity and destiny for my incredible kids. Thank You for my life. Thank You for their lives. As above, so below.”
Today, we continue diving into our personal worth, our true identity.
One of the greatest artists of all time was the sculptor and painter Michelangelo. In the early 1500s, when he was commissioned by the Catholic Church in Rome to paint the twelve apostles of Christ against a starry sky onto the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he asked if he could paint a more complex scheme. Over the next four years, Michelangelo painted nine scenes from Genesis onto the chapel ceiling, including over three hundred characters. He divided the artistic mural into four groups:
—God’s creation of the earth
—God’s creation of mankind
—Man’s fall from God’s grace
—God’s redemption of man with the salvation of Noah and his family.
Today, you can still see Michelangelo’s amazing work, which has been preserved over the centuries. What if God has uniquely placed you into His painting of life to be a key character? He has artistically orchestrated your life, skills, gifts, talents, and qualities to be used in His masterpiece. But, it’s your call. He’s a Gentleman, so He will not force you to believe in Him. But know this: God definitely believes in you and wants you in the picture, right there with Him, in the middle of His canvas.
Now consider this: What if you are painted into His masterpiece, and yet He also allows you to be a painter with His hands guiding the brush. God wants to involve and engage you in His story to change the world.
(Psalm 139:13-18 NLT)
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
Our hope this week is for God’s Word and work in your life to be so clear that you see who you are in Him and that truth will forever re-shape and re-purpose the rest of your life, as well as how you parent your children.
Let’s pray together: “Father, while I may struggle to use words about myself like “complex, marvelous, and precious,” thank You that You have expressed those feelings toward me. I want to believe my worth in and through You and I want to receive my identity from You. As above, so below.”
We all know today that the world and media want to tell us our value, our worth, and our identity. The rules and cultural norms are constantly shifting and finding truth today is kind of like trying grab a handful of jello.
Let’s go back to the first pages of the Bible where God Himself speaks of human origin.
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! (Genesis 1:26-31 NLT)
As a human being, this passage talks about your life. God looks at you and says, “Very good!” That is the truth about your personal value, your very worth, the essence of who you are in your identity. And your children? Well, they are your part of being fruitful and multiplying, filling the earth, and governing. Your parenting is fulfilling God’s original design and plan.
Consider doing this activity with your kids. Look up this passage—Genesis 1:26-31—in your Bible or Bible app in your favorite version and where you see the words “human beings” or “them” or “it,” insert your name in each place and read it out loud to your kids. Then do the same with each of your children. Personalize this passage to communicate God’s love and care for your family.
No matter what the world may scream at you every day or what social media may try and tell you, accept and receive God’s worth and identity as your never-changing, eternal truth.
Let’s pray: “Father, thank You for my life. Thank You for the lives of my children. Help me to teach them Your view of them and help them to accept Your heart for them as their own truth, just as I must as well. As above, so below.”
Today, we continue our look into our personal worth and identity.
Consider this: If someone believes he or she was an accident, this strongly affects how someone thinks about themselves and their future. If there is no real point or purpose to life, why care about others and why show love and kindness? Why not do what we want and have all the fun we can while we can? If we are our own standard, why should personal responsibility matter at all?
But on the other hand, and let’s personalize this thought—how does a belief that a loving God created you and wants a relationship with you affect how you think about yourself and your future? Having a real purpose for life means decisions and behavior will not only impact you, but also those all around you. The great news of the gospel is that God has always been involved in your life and always will be.
Yesterday, we read from Genesis 1. Today, let’s read a verse from Genesis 2.
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
And now for the beautiful side of the story, let’s skip to verse 21:
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. “At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’” (Genesis 2:21-23 NLT)
Where was God in these scenes? He was in the dirt—involved, creating, engaged. He was crafting man and woman. He breathed His own breath into them. No one did “the dirty work”, so to speak, for God; He did it Himself!
God was giving, not taking. And He has been giving life from the very beginning and has never stopped.
If we are going to believe the Bible and what God says, then these are our truths: You were formed out of a deep love from a God who desperately loves you. You didn’t come from apes. Your ancestors didn’t crawl up onto the seashore out of primordial ooze. You didn’t evolve or morph, and you certainly were not an accident. God planned, designed, and made you. … And every single one of your kids. That is who you and your family are … God’s very own.
Pray with me: “Father, thank You for planning us with and for a purpose—me and my kids. Guide me, lead me to help us all find that purpose through Your plan and with an attitude of worth, value, and identity that only comes from You. As above, so below.”
For our final day this week, let’s look at a fascinating thought that you can find right at the end of your own fingers.
Of the thousands of questions about our bodies that scientists have answered, there is a certain mystery that has never been successfully resolved: our fingerprints. Why do we have them? What’s their biological purpose? Years of research have not produced a good answer.
While one study attempted to prove the purpose of fingerprints was to aid the grip of our fingers, another contradicted that study and concluded that the skin patterns actually reduce the contact area, making it harder to hold slick surfaces. Some scientists only believe that fingerprints exist to improve our sense of touch.
The only fact that all scientists agree on is that no two people’s fingerprints are the same—even those of identical twins. Throughout all of human creation, no repetition of fingerprints has ever been found, with every set being original.
Well, if science cannot figure out what fingerprints are for or their origin, but no two are the same, then the next major question is what or who placed them on us?
Consider this: What if God gave us our fingerprints, like the painter’s final brush strokes on the canvas, our Creator signing each of us with His customized one-of-a-kind signature?
What if God gave us fingerprints, making them unique to each person, simply to show us the great detail and care He takes in His creation?
Remember earlier this week when we read in Genesis where God said “let us make human beings in our image”? Our image? The Gospel of John gives us a better understanding of that statement in the very first verses.
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:1-5 NLT)
Christ, the One who was there with God, at your creation came to this earth and lived, died, and was resurrected for you—to offer you new life, God’s value, God’s worth, and His very life for you to live in and through Him. We pray you have received that gift. But until you have no breath left, it will never be too late to invite Jesus into your life.
Here’s the good news: like so many other topics in this world, your kids are going to learn most of how they view and handle money from you. Now, here’s the potentially bad news: your kids are going to learn most of how they view and handle money from you. We will all teach our children from both a positively and a negative viewpoint, directly and indirectly about so many things, including finances and budgets. When we speak truths to our kids such as, “It’s all God’s money. We want to work to be good stewards of what He gives us,” that offers our kids a spiritual worldview of money. When we open a bill and say out loud, “We never have enough. I can’t ever get ahead from being so far behind,” we are also giving our kids a spiritual worldview of a different kind.
So, with that perspective in mind, let’s receive some encouragement for our own financial filter.
A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank. The rich and the poor shake hands as equals—God made them both! A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered. The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God is plenty and honor and a satisfying life. The perverse travel a dangerous road, potholed and mud-slick; if you know what’s good for you, stay clear of it. Point your kids in the right direction—when they’re old they won’t be lost. The poor are always ruled over by the rich, so don’t borrow and put yourself under their power. … Generous hands are blessed hands because they give bread to the poor. (Proverbs 22:1-7, 9 MSG)
Working to offer ourselves and our kids a great reputation has nothing to do with the amount of money we have. A satisfying life can have nothing to do with money. Wisdom and common sense don’t increase because of a raise in wages. Generosity is not driven by our account balance. The right direction in life for your kids will never be determined by how much money you have—or don’t have.
Think for a moment about what you voice about money to your kids.
If you never have any more resources than you do right now, what might need to change in how you are shaping their worldview of God’s blessings?
Listen once again to a few of today’s verses:
A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; … a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank. … The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God is plenty and honor and a satisfying life. … Point your kids in the right direction—when they’re old they won’t be lost. … Generous hands are blessed hands because they give bread to the poor. (Proverbs 22:1, 4, 6, 9 MSG)
Today, no matter how you speak of money to your children, ask God to teach you for you to teach them. That will always be the best, right choice for your family.
Let’s pray together: “Father, regardless of our bank balance each month, I don’t want to teach a spirit of poverty or scarcity or ungratefulness to my children—Your children. Help me to see my money and blessings through Your eyes and teach my kids about You through everything in our lives. As above, so below.”
Today, we continue our encouragement of teaching our kids about the connection between God and our money, our faith and finances.
I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (Proverbs 34:1-10 NIV)
His praise will be on our lips, when? When there’s more money than bills? No. At all times, always. God can deliver from some of our fears? No, all of them. When are our faces covered in shame? When we decide we can be forgiven? No. Never. God saved the poor man from how much of his trouble? All of them.
Do you detect a theme, a pattern in those verses? God does not do anything halfway or partially. He is all or none. And He needs nothing from us except obedience … agreement … faith. He does it all, we simply agree for Him to do the work.
The first part of today’s passage is first person. Let’s make the rest personal as a prayer as we read the passage again.
I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; when I am afflicted, let me hear and rejoice. I glorify the Lord; I will exalt his name. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. I look to him and am radiant; my face is never covered with shame. Being poor, I called, and the Lord heard me; he saved me out of all my troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around me as I fear him, and he delivers me. I taste and see that the Lord is good; I am blessed because I take refuge in him. I fear the Lord, as one of his holy people, and because I fear him, I lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but because I seek the Lord, I will lack no good thing. (Proverbs 34:1-10 NIV, adapted)
Money is as much or more about our attitude than our aptitude of it. Consider reading this passage to your kids. Talk about the truths contained here. Make a list of the “good things” in your life that have nothing to do with money and everything about what God has blessed you with.
Let’s pray together: “Father, help me to praise you at all times. Remind me that You can deliver from all fears. Teach me to look to You for refuge. Help me to teach my children that we lack no good thing in You. As above, so below.”
Today, we continue with our encouragement of how we communicate God’s blessings to our kids through the filter of our finances.
(Deuteronomy 4:9-10 NIV)
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”
Throughout the Old Testament, God told His people to talk to their children about Him and what He has done. The only practical purpose that might serve is for the children to choose for themselves to follow Him too as they come of age. It also shows us how much God values children and their choices for Him.
Have you ever thought about keeping a sort of diary with your kids to write down prayers you have prayed together that God has answered? Or to record things you and your kids have experienced of Him and seen Him do for you? What an incredible legacy to pass down to the next generation—a personal record of God’s work in your family. Your family’s finances would most certainly be reflected in many of those prayers and answers.
As we have done many times already, let’s take today’s passage and personalize the words:
Help me to be careful, and watch myself closely so that our family does not forget the things our eyes have seen or let them fade from our hearts as long as I live. I want to teach them to my children and for them to be taught to their children after them. I want to remember the days I stood before the Lord our God in my home, when he said to me, “Assemble your family before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10 NIV, adapted)
May we teach our children the ways of God, how He provides, how He answers, and how He blesses.
Let’s pray: “Father, help me to stay current with my kids about You and Your work in our lives. Don’t let me forget and become complacent. I want my kids to follow You even more than I have and for each generation to grow and serve You more. As above, so below.”
As we begin Day 4 of our look at money and finances through the lens of teaching our children, again, we repeat that our mindset and perspective is critical to what we teach our kids about money. Isaiah 55 is a great passage to communicate that the things of God are available in abundance for free every day of our lives, regardless of circumstances; we need only to be obedient to Him to receive.
“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life.” (Isaiah 55:1-3 NLT)
Isn’t it amazing how much so many of the things we long for, wish for, hope for, have a price tag? Often a price tag out of our reach? How often do you consider the things that God offers for your character and walk with Him do not cost anything and you can have them as soon as you allow Him in to begin?
In your financial budget, do you allow for what God might want to do in and through your finances? Do you invite Him into your bill paying sessions? When you check your balances? When you get paid? How might that discipline change your perspective in not doing anything financial without including Him?
As you think on these questions for today, listen intently to Isaiah 55:1-3 again:
“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life.” (NLT)
Listen and receive that last line once more: “Come to me with your ears wide open. … Listen, and you will find life.”
Pray with me: “Father, I seem to stay thirsty, so to speak, and, too often, I feel like I have no money. Help me to stay away from the junk food the world constantly tempts me with and help me to seek You and what is good for me, the place where you serve the finest food. I want to come to You with my ears wide open. I want to listen and find Your life. As above, so below.”
For our final day this week, we’ll focus on several verses that can encourage you and also are great to share with your kids. One of the best ways to teach them biblical principles such as stewardship, generosity, faithfulness, and blessing is through reading, repeating, meditating on, and memorizing Scripture together.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38 NLT)
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7-9 NLT)
Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. (Psalm 37:3-4 NLT)
God knows how important your finances are to you and the life of your family. He knows what you need even before you need it. He wants to take care of you and your kids. The more you surrender to Him, the more your kids will learn the same. The more they see you obey God’s Word in faithfulness, the more they will learn His ways. Showing them first-hand how to rely on the Lord and place your lives into His hands will set them up for success in life, regardless of money now or money to come.
For the Christ-follower, everything in life is spiritual. We hope this week you have decided to view your finances through God’s will, from God’s hand.
Let’s pray: “Heavenly Father, a dollar bill is just a physical resource, but what we do and how we handle our finances is such an important part of our spiritual life. Teach me to teach my kids Your ways, Your will, and Your Word. As above, so below.”
This week, as we seek encouragement on stretching our budget, we’re going to go to the Book of Proverbs. With King Solomon being the richest and wisest man in the known world at that time, he is a great source of encouragement for us to find principles to adopt for our modern day money management.
So, let’s start at the beginning—Proverbs 1:
These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles. Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (1-7 NLT)
Wisdom and discipline seem to always go hand-in-hand, don’t they? You rarely find one without the other. And then Solomon connects discipline to success with success connected to “what is right, just, and fair.”
How do you define success in your own life? What makes you successful or who determines when you are successful? That is a very important question to answer on a personal level when it comes to finances and money management. Why? Because the world not only offers a constant picture of what success is in all forms of media.
The great news if we believe God’s Word is that He alone truly determines if we are a success by His mercy and grace. And His standards and definitions never change. Because the fear—or awe and respect—of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge.
Listen once again with those thoughts in mind:
These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel. Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young. Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles. Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (1-7 NLT)
I want to encourage you today to find your meaning of success in Christ and allow the truth of Proverbs to guide your path to discipline and wisdom.
Let’s pray: “Father, I know if I gain Your wisdom, I will handle not only my money but my life correctly and successfully. Help me to not be distracted by the world’s standards and definitions, but every day to look only to You for my identity. As above, so below.”
Today, we continue looking at the Book of Proverbs to seek God’s wisdom for our finances and lifestyle.
My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. (Proverbs 2:1-8 NLT)
As we look around in our culture today, it’s getting harder and harder to find those who truly treasure God’s commands, those who seek them like hidden treasures. But here’s the great news—you can. Whether you have for many years or you are listening to these words because you are ready to begin, God’s Word is ready to guide and instruct you as only a good Father can.
Let me ask you … do you want to gain the knowledge of God? Would you like a treasure of common sense and to have your integrity be like a shield to protect your life? For your path to be guarded and your life protected?
Let’s take Solomon’s words and personalize them to be our prayer:
I listen to what You say, and treasure Your commands. I tune my ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. I cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. I search for them as I would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then I will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and I will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants me wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to me as I am honest. He is a shield to me as I walk with integrity. He guards my path to be just and protects me as I am faithful to him. (Proverbs 2:1-8 NLT)
When we begin to see God as the Treasure of life and not look to the wealth of the world, then everything, including our finances will fall into perspective and priorities will stand to bring us true success—God’s way and will in our lives.
Let’s pray together: “Father, guide me to align my life priorities with You and Your ways and Your will. Take my life, my bank account, all I have and don’t have, all I want and all I need and help me to seek You as my Treasure to find contentment and satisfaction in my life. As above, so below.”
(Proverbs 3:1-12 NLT)
My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine. My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
Did a particular verse, phrase, or promise stick out to you? Never ignore when that happens as God can certainly be speaking to you.
Our finances and money management will always be a reflection and an indicator of biblical qualities such as favor with God and man and a good reputation. Even the world places a numerical value on our handling of money with a credit score. Regardless of what yours may be today, honoring God and giving Him the best part of everything we produce will lead us to the right places in life and finances. Maybe you are in a season of great blessing right now or maybe you are in a time of great need. The seasons of our lives will change but God can be God through them all.
Listen once more, but be sure you catch the first two words of how God addresses you:
My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine. My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:1-12 NLT)
Let’s pray: “Father, I desire Your loyalty and kindness in my life. I seek a good reputation. I want to stay with You and away from evil in all things. Help me to honor You with all You give me and to always offer You my very best in everything I produce and gain. As above, so below.”
As we look at money management through the lens of King Solomon, you have already figured out that the Bible has no verses such as, “Thou shalt not spend money on a new TV” or “Put your money in the stock market for seven years and you shall reap a great harvest.” But grasping a biblical worldview and a correct perspective of God’s wisdom that is available to us is a game changer for how we handle our money and all our resources. God teaches us principles to live by that have worked for generations. If these were good enough for Solomon, they are good enough for us. Today, we move on to Proverbs chapter 4.
“Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you. Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you. She will place a lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown.” My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life. (Proverbs 4:4-13 NLT)
The promises we are offered in this passage are so powerful. But what is always the one prerequisite for them to be able to work in our lives? Adoption. Obedience. He says, “Take my words to heart. Follow my commands.” That is where success begins.
Don’t you want to lead a long, good life in a straight path? Aren’t you ready to walk and not be held back? Are you ready to run and not stumble? Know that is exactly what God wants to do in your life right now. But again, this starts with agreeing to follow Him and His ways and His will.
Rather than reading the passage again, I’m just going to list the key words. Meditate on these with me. Take them in like clean, mountain air. Let them go deep into your spirit and revive and restore you. Believe these to be true for you.
“Wisdom. Good judgment. Protection. A guard. Greatness. Honor. A long, good life on straight paths. You won’t be held back. You won’t stumble. The keys to life. She will place a lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown. (from Proverbs 4:4-13 NLT)
God wants to bring these good things of His into your life.
Pray with me: “Father, I ask You for wisdom, for good judgment, for protection, to experience Your greatness and honor. I commit my steps to You so I won’t be held back and I won’t stumble. As above, so below.”
For our final day this week, we jump forward to Proverbs chapter 8. Our prayer and hope is that you will continue on in your reading of Proverbs. With 31 chapters, it makes for great daily reading in a month. Learning to consistently ask God for wisdom and discernment will revolutionize your life over years and literally change your future as He answers you.
Listen as Wisdom calls out! Hear as understanding raises her voice! On the hilltop along the road, she takes her stand at the crossroads. By the gates at the entrance to the town, on the road leading in, she cries aloud, “I call to you, to all of you! I raise my voice to all people. … Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you. Everything I say is right, for I speak the truth and detest every kind of deception. My advice is wholesome. There is nothing devious or crooked in it. My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge. Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it. “I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment. … “I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me. I have riches and honor, as well as enduring wealth and justice. My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver! I walk in righteousness, in paths of justice. Those who love me inherit wealth. I will fill their treasuries. (Proverbs 8:1-4, 6-12, 17-21 NLT)
What is the one overarching principle you have gained and understood this week regarding your life and specifically finances as you have listened to Solomon’s Proverbs and God’s Word? I want to encourage you to take a few minutes and write down any profound truths you have received this week. Retention and application are necessary for gaining wisdom.
God does not promise any of us that we will become rich in wealth, but He does promise us His riches. And those are never temporary, but eternal.
Listen again as we close with verses 17-21:
Those who search will surely find me. I have riches and honor, as well as enduring wealth and justice. My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver! I walk in righteousness, in paths of justice. Those who love me inherit wealth. I will fill their treasuries.
Pray with me: “Heavenly Father, I want to change my worldview to Yours. I want to see life, money, lifestyle, and priorities as You want me to. With You in my life every day, I know I will be exactly where I need to be with all that I need. As above, so below.”
David stated in Psalm 24:1: The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. (NLT)
People tend to either believe God created the world or He didn’t. And then if someone believes He did, the next step of faith is believing whether or not He is actively involved in the lives of the people walking on His planet.
King David was clear. The earth belongs to God. Everything in and on the earth belongs to God. The entire world and even all the people belong to Him. If we believe this to be true, then we are never actually owners of anything while we are here. If the earth belongs to God, we are merely stewards of what He allows us to have. That is a game changing concept when it comes to finances. What an interesting thought that the dollar in your pocket is there because God gave it to you.
How do you view what you have? As you being the owner or the steward? How might being a steward change your mindset about your finances?
Listen once again to Psalm 24:1: The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. (NLT)
Let’s offer a personalized version: What I have on the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in my life. My world and all the people I know belong to him.
We know the old saying, “You can’t take it with you when you go.” Just more evidence that we are merely borrowing everything we have while we are here. To trust God with our money and to ask Him for help with our finances and what we own, we must first see everything as His and come to accept we are stewards of His blessings, responsible and accountable to Him.
Let’s pray: “Father, I confess my world is yours and everything in it. Remind me every day that the world and all the people are yours. Help me to be a good steward of all I have and all You allow me to hold while I am here. As above, so below.”
(Proverbs 23:4-7 NLT)
Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle. Don’t eat with people who are stingy; don’t desire their delicacies. They are always thinking about how much it costs. “Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it.
The Bible never says that wealth is a sin, but rather the results of focusing on wealth through greed and being a miser is. While the last two sentences in today’s passage may feel disconnected from the first three, the correlation is the character of a person shows when it comes to money.
Think about this…could you tell a great deal about the habits, focus, and lifestyle of a person by looking at their bank and credit card statements? Absolutely. Our money and its management does not make our character, but rather reflects our character.
Is there something you would be proud for people to find out about you if they saw your accounts or looked at your spending? Something you might want to hide?
Listen again to Proverbs 23:4-7, but this time in The Message Bible: Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; restrain yourself! Riches disappear in the blink of an eye; wealth sprouts wings and flies off into the wild blue yonder. Don’t accept a meal from a tightwad; don’t expect anything special. He’ll be as stingy with you as he is with himself.
He’ll be as stingy with you as he is with himself. … Wow. None of us want these words to ever describe us, so we have to keep looking honestly at our lives to evaluate how much our focus on money might be driving us, not God.
Let’s pray together: “Father, no matter how much money You ever allow me to have, help me to keep You as the Center and Catalyst of my character, not my bank balance. Help me to live as though You are always in control of my finances, what I receive, what I spend, and what I give. As above, so below.”
(1 Timothy 6:17-19 NLT)
Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.
Now, first things first … there is a strong likelihood that you, like me, read a passage like this and think, “Well, this doesn’t apply to me because I’m not rich.” But the reality is this: When you take the history of the world into consideration and the great affluence of the western culture, in light of the rest of the world, we are rich. The people in third world nations would love to have even what the worst neighborhoods in our cities have. Just being able to access clean water would feel like a luxury to so many in our world. So, in light of when we live and where we live, being “rich” is relative. Perspective and worldview are vital to interpreting Scripture.
With those thoughts in mind, listen again to today’s passage: Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19 NLT)
Verse 17 shows us the principle of stewardship once again. Our trust should be in God who richly gives and money should be used for good works and generosity to share with those in need.
Can you recognize the riches you have? Imagine what it would be like to turn on the water in your house and nothing come out…and live with that being the norm every day. Is God prompting you about being rich in good works and generous to those in need? What would that look like?
Let’s pray: “Father, help me to not be proud and not to trust in money. Teach me to trust in You. Lead me to use money for good and to be generous to those in need and share with others. I want to store up Your treasure to experience true life. As above, so below.”
(1 Timothy 6:6-12 NLT)
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. … so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith.
A consistent theme throughout Scripture is placing focus on God, His goodness, and His grace while staying away from the attraction of the world and sin. Simply reading the news every day gives us plenty of evidence that money and power do not make people happy and content. Suicide, depression, anxiety, and the like have little to do with the state of income but rather the state of mind.
Let’s do an honest inventory. What is an area of your life that your focus has been the ‘craving’ of money as the scripture calls it?
Listen once again, this time focusing only on the “do” verses, not the “don’ts”: Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. … Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. (1 Timothy 6:6-12 NLT)
Might it be possible that if we follow the advice of today’s passage we would live much better lives and money could simply become a resource we steward and not a driving force or constant burden?
Let’s pray: “Father, teach me to be content. Help me to pursue righteousness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness as I fight the good fight for my faith in You. As above, so below.”
For our final day this week, we are going to read a tough passage, but we’ll also turn it around and end on a bright spot. Paul shared these words with Timothy in his second letter, chapter 3, verses 1-5:
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
When you heard these words, did it sound like something from today’s news feed? Love only themselves and their money? Boastful? Proud? Scoffing at God? Disobedient? Ungrateful? Nothing is sacred? This is exactly why God’s Word is timeless and always current.
Again we see how the love of money and the pursuit of wealth is associated with a lack of godly character. The last verse even says the religious people will reject God’s power.
Now, let’s take Paul’s words, and as what would be in line with many of his other passages such as 1 Corinthians 13, for example, turn the phrases around to encourage ourselves to follow God and pursue Him, not the things of this world, to see our money merely as a means, not an end.
For people must love God and not their money. They must not boast and be proud, or scoff at God, be disobedient to their parents, yet be grateful. Consider everything sacred. Be loving and forgiving; never slander others and always have self-control. Never be cruel. Love what is good. Never betray friends, be reckless, puffed up with pride, or love pleasure rather than God. Don’t act religious, and reject the power that can make us godly. Hold strong to people like that!
Pray with me: “Lord Jesus, thank You that You provide us with all that is good in this world and allow us the ability to stay away from what is harmful to us. There is always that choice. Thank You that You died to give us that choice. Help me to follow You and make my money a means, not an end. As above, so below.”
For the next several weeks, we will be focused on financial matters. So for most of us, a meditative resource to calm us down and give us hope is a necessity when it comes to money. Jesus taught on money, wealth, and giving many times. He used money and wealth in analogies and parables. Not because those things were a focus for Him, but rather because He knew money and things have always been a major source of temptation and struggle for us as humans. This week, we will begin by looking at the words of Jesus and what He had to say about money. Regardless of our financial circumstances, we can find some peace and hope in this often volatile area of life.
The wording of Matthew 6:19-24 in the New Life Bible is intriguing. Listen to the words of Jesus …
“Do not gather together for yourself riches of this earth. They will be eaten by bugs and become rusted. Men can break in and steal them. Gather together riches in heaven where they will not be eaten by bugs or become rusted. Men cannot break in and steal them. For wherever your riches are, your heart will be there also. The eye is the light of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. If your eye is bad, your whole body will be dark. If the light in you is dark, how dark it will be! No one can have two bosses. He will hate the one and love the other. Or he will listen to the one and work against the other. You cannot have both God and riches as your boss at the same time.
Now, Jesus is not saying that it’s wrong to have a savings account. That’s not the point. The concept here is not about our bank account, but our motives and focus. It’s interesting to think of money as a boss. In fact, we will often put up with a lot in our lives in work with actual bosses because money is our ultimate boss. But Jesus is saying that mindset easily competes with God’s place in our lives.
Verse 21 is a great litmus test to constantly evaluate our lives: For wherever your riches are, your heart will be there also. The converse is also true: Whatever has your heart, that’s also where your riches will be found. In other words: We put our money into what we love most. But money is just a thing. A resource. An asset. So let’s let that love be our boss, our catalyst, our driving force—where our riches, our treasure, our hearts, are.
Let’s pray: “Heavenly Father, please help me to keep money in perspective—a heavenly perspective. I want you to be the Boss. I give my finances to You today. Help me to treat money as the simple resource that it is and help me to keep You as my treasure, where my heart is. As above, so below.”
One of the most fascinating conversations recorded in Jesus’s life was with the “rich, young ruler,” evidently a young man with both power and money. In other words, this guy “had it all.”
(Matthew 19:16-22 NLT)
Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
This young man’s life was all about what he had, what he had done, and what he hadn’t done. His focus was on behavior, not his heart. How things looked to others, not how things actually were. Jesus knew his treasure was not in pleasing God, so He challenged the man to find a greater, more valuable life than the one he had. For many of us we treasure how things look. How we are perceived and how we measure up to others. Imagine this conversation is with you and Jesus asks you to let go of all worldly possessions and perceptions... how do you respond?what comes to mind as the hardest thing to let of? You are not alone... in our current culture, how we look, what we have, and what we want can be more important than a relationship with Jesus.
For our purposes in this time together, let’s close with a focus on Jesus’s words: “You will have treasure in Heaven when You follow Me.” Can we be satisfied with that? Will you allow His treasure be enough today?
Let’s pray: “Dear Father, I am grateful that when I first encountered You, I said ‘yes’ and didn’t walk away. But help me every day to keep saying ‘yes’ to You, to put You before money, stuff, and the things of this world that distract and attract. Help me to keep selling out for You and following You. As above, so below.”
In the New Testament, one of the saddest uses of money were the thirty pieces of silver that Judas agreed to take from the religious leaders to betray Jesus. Theologians disagree on what this amount would be today, but values range from $100 to $3000. Regardless, certainly not a high price for the cost of a life. The odd thing about this transaction is that Jesus was walking freely out in the open among the people every day. He was not hiding. So the real key for the religious leaders was not exposure, but betrayal. For someone in his inner circle to side with them and hurt Him. But the real story for our purposes is that it was money that motivated a follower to turn over His leader who he had claimed was his Lord. Sadly, we in the human race have been taught that everything can have a price tag, including a life, even a friend.
Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss. Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.” Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. (Matthew 26:47-50 NLT)
Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders of the people met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple … (Matthew 27:1-5 NLT)
We must be careful that we never allow money to tempt us to place price tags on anything precious to us or God. We should never put a price on a relationship for any reason, for any amount of money. Is there a situation or relationship in your life that money is a motivator? It may not look like judas’s betrayal often it is subtle... such as in the form of job promotions, late child support checks, leadership positions, anywhere that intangibles of power and money can take precedent over people. All too often, money is in the mix and creates a distraction.
Value people. Value relationships. Value God. That is where we will always easily find Jesus.
Let’s pray: “Father God, help me to be Jesus in all my relationships, never a Judas. Help me to always keep money and price tags away from people and to value and respect relationships above all, just as You do. As above, so below.”
In our passage today from Jesus’s teaching on money and things, we see Him connect worry and meeting our needs to our relationship with Him. His words offer us promise and encouragement.
“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. (Luke 12:21-32 NLT)
What is your greatest financial worry right now? What is stressing you out about money?
Jesus encourages us to trust Him, to give those cares to Him. Listen again to verses 31 and 32. Take these in, trust and believe Him: Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
Right now, in this moment, literally hand over your worries and stresses about money to Jesus. Show Him you are taking Him at His Word. Seek Him today. Seek His kingdom. Then he’ll take care of yours.
Let’s agree together: “Father, I hand over my debit card, the credit cards, my bank accounts, every dime I have, and every dime I don’t, to You. I also hand over my bills and all my worries. Give me wisdom. Guide me. Take control. I’ve seen what I can do, now show me what You can do. While You work on my behalf, I will seek You and Your kingdom. As above, so below.”
An important aspect of Jesus’s teaching that we also see throughout the principles in the Old Testament is stewardship—the belief that God has created all and gives all, so what we do with what He blesses us with is crucial to our lives. Listen this parable in Luke 16 and His closing, yet challenging statements.
Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’ “The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’ “So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’ “‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’ “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light. Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.”
Did you catch the teaching about stewardship? Here’s Jesus’s statement again: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.”
Faithful in the details, faithful in the big picture. Have you ever considered how our finances and how we handle them are a reflection, like holding up a mirror, of our entire lives? If someone is constantly counting their money and fretting over how much is there, that person is rarely generous toward others. If someone is disorganized in most areas of life, their finances are often a constant struggle to manage as well. But the other side is true, a person who values stewardship before God is both generous and wise with money.
No matter the state of your life or your finances today, you can place God first, through Him you can change, and become faithful in all things.
Let’s pray: “Heavenly Father, help me to use all You have given me to benefit others and honor You. I want to steward all things in my life as You would have me. Help me to be faithful in the little as well as the big things so my life will reflect Your glory. As above, so below.”
This week we will spend time in simple, quiet worship. Let’s dedicate these moments to simply focus on God and His goodness. Slow down. Close your eyes. Breathe deep. Rest. Receive. Embrace. Allow your spirit to connect to His Holy Spirit. Tune in as we experience His Word together.
Psalm 29 from The Message — A Psalm of David
Bravo, God, bravo! Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!”
In awe before the glory, in awe before God’s visible power.
Stand at attention! Dress your best to honor him!
God thunders across the waters,
Brilliant, his voice and his face, streaming brightness—God, across the flood waters.
God’s thunder tympanic, God’s thunder symphonic.
God’s thunder smashes cedars, God topples the northern cedars.
The mountain ranges skip like spring colts,
The high ridges jump like wild kid goats.
God’s thunder spits fire.
God thunders, the wilderness quakes; He makes the desert of Kadesh shake.
God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing
A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.
We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”
Above the floodwaters is God’s throne from which his power flows, from which he rules the world. God makes his people strong. God gives his people peace.
What words, what phrases stood out to you? What moved your spirit to worship?
Listen once again to the final verses:
We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”
Above the floodwaters is God’s throne from which his power flows, from which he rules the world. God makes his people strong. God gives his people peace.
As you walk through hardships and the challenges of your life, remember that Your God is the God of the thunder, of the rain, and of glory and power. He has you. He holds you. To make you strong. To give you peace.
Let’s pray: “Father, I realize Your power. I recognize Your glory. Today, in this quiet moment, I worship You. Thank You for Your strong arm that protects my life. Thank You for Your gentle Spirit to give me peace. As above, so below.”
Today, we will spend time in worship. Simply focusing on God and His character. So, invite His Holy Spirit to pour over You with His presence. Listen intently as we experience His Word together.
From Psalm 33 The Message
Good people, cheer God! Right-living people sound best when praising.
Use guitars to reinforce your Hallelujahs! Play his praise on a grand piano!
Invent your own new song to him; give him a trumpet fanfare.
For God’s Word is solid to the core; everything he makes is sound inside and out.
He loves it when everything fits, when his world is in plumb-line true.
Earth is drenched in God’s affectionate satisfaction.
… bow before God; … down on your knees!
Here’s why: he spoke and there it was, in place the moment he said so.
God takes the wind out of Babel pretense, he shoots down the world’s power-schemes.
God’s plan for the world stands up, all his designs are made to last.
Blessed is the country with God for God; blessed are the people he’s put in his will.
He has shaped each person in turn; now he watches everything we do.
No king succeeds with a big army alone, no warrior wins by brute strength.
Horsepower is not the answer; no one gets by on muscle alone.
Watch this: God’s eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love.
He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together.
We’re depending on God; he’s everything we need.
What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own his holy name.
Love us, God, with all you’ve got—that’s what we’re depending on.
David speaks of instruments and songs, but also of bowing in humility. What is your personal expression of worship? How do you express Your love to God?
Let’s personalize the last lines of Psalm 33:
I’m depending on You, God; You are everything I need.
What’s more, my heart brims with joy since I’ve taken for my own Your holy name.
Love me, God, with all you’ve got—that’s what I’m depending on.
Pray with me: “Heavenly Father, Thank You that I don’t have to worship, but I get to worship. You are a Gentleman who never forces His way, yet loves in such a powerful way that invites a response of gratitude. Thank You for loving me with all You’ve got. As above, so below.”
Continuing our week solely focused on worship, today we will experience Psalm 34. Be present. Be all in on this moment. No distractions. Listen with your ears and your heart. Let’s experience His Word and our worship together.
Psalm 34‚ NLT
I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need.
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.
Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?
Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies!
Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help.
But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
… the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
When was the last time you bragged on God? When was the last time you shared with someone what He has done for you? That is as much worship as singing songs in church. In fact, you might impact someone else’s life the way Yours has been touched.
Let’s pray just as we have worshipped: “Father God, thank You for being our guard who surrounds and defends. Thank You that You watch over us and hear us. Thank You that You are close to the brokenhearted and though we face troubles, You will rescue like the good Father You are. As above, so below.”
Today, we will experience Psalm 40, another transparent and poetic text from King David. So let’s go all in these words. Let’s experience God and His Word together in worship.
Psalm 40 NLT
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.
Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols. O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.
You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings.
Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand—you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
… I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.
… Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me.
Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles surround me—too many to count!
My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out.
They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage.
Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me.
… may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you.
May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!”
As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in his thoughts.
You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay.
These words reflect a grateful heart that recognizes the reality of being rescued. Realizing a new life can emerge by God’s hand of blessing, grace, and mercy. The confession of being poor and needy is met with help from a Savior.
Where are you today? Waiting? In need of rescue? Or grateful that God’s help did arrive? No matter where you are, He is near. God is ever-present. You are in His thoughts. Allow Him to be in yours.
Let’s pray together: “Father, thank You that You will hear our cries and lift us out of our self-laid traps. Thank You that You will then give us a new song and a new life to have the freedom to tell others about what You have done for us. Thank You for Your tender mercies, unfailing love, and faithfulness. As above, so below.”
Today, we close out our meditative walk in worship through the Psalms. Psalm 91 is popular for its incredible promises of God’s protection. Satan even quoted a verse from this passage in his temptation to try and get Jesus to jump off the top of the Temple to prove God would save Him. Whether we consider some of these phrases as literal or metaphor, the reality is that the greatest power we have in our lives to protect us is God Almighty. I want to encourage you to take in every word. Don’t just hear them, but listen to the love in them. Right now, sit before Your Savior and trust these words to be true of you, and for you.
Psalm 91 NLT
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.
… The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
Did you notice the certainty in the words, in the phrases like “will find” and “will cover” and “will shelter”? Words of trust and faith that God does and will answer, rescue, reward, and honor the obedient heart of His followers. All of the Psalms we have walked through this week are not just about other people, but about you. You can personally apply the words as if you wrote them, because they are for you and about you. Because God intends His Word to be a personal love letter to you … from His heart to yours.
Pray with me: “Heavenly Father, thank You for Your refuge, Your shelter, Your safety, Your covering. You don’t promise us that trouble won’t come, but thank You that You do promise to be with me when anything threatens. I worship You as my Lord and My God. As above, so below.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-7 MSG)
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-7 MSG)
The old saying goes: “Timing is everything.” That is especially true when we consider being obedient to God and His timing. Realizing and accepting when we should let go of holding onto something from our past can be so difficult for us on so many levels. But yet letting go is such a right and natural part of life. Navigating seasons in life, we cannot grab hold of the future until we let go of the past.
We cannot die until we are born. We cannot harvest with planting. We cannot tear down that which we never built. We cannot turn away from something we never embraced. Sometimes letting go can make us feel less-than or create the false assumption that we are giving away a part of our heart we may never get back. But think of it this way: we cannot harvest, heal, mend, or dance while holding onto unhealthy things in our lives.
Is God calling you to heal but you can’t because you’re still allowing bitterness to hurt your spirit? Is it time for you to experience a final letting go and forgive someone?
Listen again to a personalized version of Ecclesiastes 3:1-7:
A right time [for me] for birth and another for death,
A right time [for me] to plant and another to reap,
A right time [for me] to destroy and another to construct,
A right time [for me] to cry and another to laugh,
A right time [for me] to lament and another to cheer,
A right time [for me] to embrace and another to part,
A right time [for me] to search and another to count your losses,
A right time [for me] to hold on and another to let go,
A right time [for me] to rip out and another to mend,
A right time [for me] to shut up and another to speak up,
Let today be your day to let go, to forgive, to be born, harvest, heal, build up, laugh, dance, gather, embrace, mend, and speak new life.
Let’s pray: “Father, thank You for Your timing. That You give us seasons of change. That You allow us to experience freedom from the past, hurts, and harm that we have done and experienced from others. Please grant me the freedom today to forgive and let go. As above, so below.”
(Romans 6:12-14 NLT)
Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
Granting forgiveness, experiencing total freedom, and letting go for good is a mental, emotional, and spiritual experience. And yes, it can even be physical. Holding onto bitterness affects our ability to smile, facial expressions, countenance, and body language. When our hearts are closed, we look closed off. Giving ourselves completely to God, as Paul tells us here, is as much as about what we let go of as what we take up. To block forgiveness from someone is to allow sin to be our master us and keep us under the law, not under grace. And when we can’t give grace, we can’t embrace grace.
If there is someone you struggle to let go of and forgive, think about how this makes you feel, even physically, how it affects your being in every manner? Refusing to let go creates more pain as we work harder to hold on.
Listen once again to Paul’s commands:
Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. (Romans 6:12-14 NLT)
Forgiveness and letting go diminishes sin’s control, allowing us the freedom to give ourselves completely to God, to glorify Him, for Him to be our Master, not sin. To live under the freedom of God’s grace.
Pray with me, using Paul’s words: “Dear Father, help me to not let sin control the way I live; to not give in to sinful desires, to not let any part of my body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Help me to give myself completely to You and experience new life, to use my whole body as an instrument to do what is right for Your glory. I do not want sin to be my master or live under the requirements of the law. Instead, let me live under the freedom of Your grace. As above, so below.”
(Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
The phrase, “get rid of,” means to leave no trace of what was once there. The idea here is to not just cut the weed off at the ground so it is no longer visible, but to pull it up by the roots as if it had never existed at all. Interesting that we often use the word “root” in connection to bitterness. But as the apostle Paul often did, he told us what to eliminate, but then next, he also told us what to do in its place. He offered us the qualities of God to replace those things that only harm us.
Paul told us to get rid of anger and be compassionate. To get rid of rage and be kind. To get rid of bitterness and forgive. These opposite, contrasting qualities cannot co-exist. They can only be exchanged. Let go of the old and embrace the new.
Think about these truth as you listen again to today’s passage:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT)
Notice that the reaction to a feeling, like anger, is not a feeling. Paul is not asking us to feel differently - he is asking us to do something. In doing something, in extending grace, we are not condoning any offence, rather we are showing strength, the strength that only a God can supply. Is there any anger that you need to exchange with showing compassion? Any rage that you need to exchange with showing kindness? Any bitterness that you need to exchange with offering forgiveness?
Let’s pray: “Father, guide me, lead me, help me to get rid of the things that hurt me and displease You. I want to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, to the depths that You have forgiven me. As above, so below.”
(Matthew 5:21-25 MSG)
“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill. “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. “Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him.
Jesus was crystal clear that His followers must live by a higher standard … His standard. His teaching always pointed to the importance of the intent of our hearts. Anger, verbal insults, careless words, and grudges all come from a troubled heart. But the real point isn’t even about holding a standard, but rather what is right for us to live in peace and righteousness, the best thing for us and everyone in our circles.
As you heard Jesus’s words, did anyone’s face pop into your mind? Did these verses trigger an instance in your memory?
Listen again to some of the key phrases in this passage:
“The simple moral fact is that words kill.” … “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. “Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. (Matthew 5:21-25 MSG)
When God brings someone to mind or a circumstance, remember His words: “Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right.”
Let’s pray: “Father, thank You that You hold us to a standard, yet You have made provision by Your grace and mercy when we fail. Please forgive my words that have killed, do kill, and can kill. Teach me to make the first move to make things right. To let go and give both my hurts and my sin to You. As above, so below.”
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. (Romans 12:17-21 NLT)
There is some great relationship advice in this passage: Don’t pay back evil with evil. Live honorably. Never take revenge. Serving even your enemies in times of need proves character comes first. Good will always overcome evil—in His time, in the end.
But one of the best pieces of counsel here is found in verse 18: “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” God only expects us to do what we can. We are not responsible for anyone else’s actions. We do our part whether they do theirs or not. And who does this apply to? Everyone. Saints and sinners. The guilty and the innocent.
In your life right now, is peace your agenda or is revenge on the table? Is it time to let God handle something for you so good can conquer evil?
Listen to this priceless passage one more time but this time from The Message Bible:
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. (Romans 12:17-21 MSG)
Pray with me:
“Heavenly Father, teach me to live honorably. Show me how to live at peace with everyone. Help me to stay away from revenge and leave that with You. When I encounter evil or am tempted by evil, help me to choose Your way. May I learn how to surprise others with Your goodness. As above, so below.”
Even in a casual reading of the Bible, one can see that King David’s sin and his attempted cover-up created a great deal of public guilt and shame before his nation and his God. But his very vocal wrestling recorded in the Book of Psalms to accept God’s forgiveness is a huge help to us as we navigate forgiving ourselves for our mistakes too—past and present.
Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past. Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord. The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands. For the honor of your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins. Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose. (Psalm 25:4-12 NLT)
In David’s personal processing and prayer, He reminds himself of God’s goodness and confesses the truth that that goodness is greater than any sin he could ever commit. Finally, David declares that God is the only one who will lead us out of our sin and into safety and security.
What is an area of your life that you need help in forgiving yourself? What would it feel like to not carry the weight of that shame with you everyday?
As I read the passage again, notice how David prays, then in verse 8, he changes to a declaration of what God does, but then in verses 11 and 12 he goes back to personal prayer:
Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past. Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord.
Here’s the turn: The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
And now back: For the honor of your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins. Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose. (Psalm 25:4-12 NLT)
David was bold in his brokenness. God is inviting you to the same as you share your heart with Him.
Let’s do that now—together—with David’s own words: “Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by Your truth and teach me. I put my hope in You. Remember me in the light of Your unfailing love, for You are merciful, O Lord. For the honor of Your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins. … As above, so below.”
Today, we continue with King David’s words as he deals with his own sin and forgiveness:
Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. (Psalm 32:1-5 NLT)
David’s detailed and intense description of his battle with sin and confession offers us such a great encouragement to go straight to the Lord and be honest with all our confessions. We see the journey of David trying to ignore his guilt and pain, his loss of even physical health, and then his ultimate surrender of all rebellion. Healthy acceptance of shame through confession brings us in line with authentic humility and our dependency on God.
Can you see the power in confession and surrender? Is there something in you life that you need to confess and surrender to God’s grace?
Listen to verses 1, 2 and 5 once again—the result of full confession and acceptance of forgiveness:
Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! … You forgave me! All my guilt is gone. (Psalm 32:1-2, 5 NLT)
One thing we can know for certain: refusing to confess sin and trying to hide guilt for very long cannot last. Eventually, like water seeping from a crack in a dam, it begins to leak until a deluge comes pouring out. Today, if you relate to any part of David’s words, take his advice and make things right. Confess and then accept total and absolute forgiveness.
Pray with me using David’s words: “Heavenly Father, forgive my disobedience. Put my sin out of sight. Clear my record. Thank You for forgiving me. Now, may I let go of my guilt and accept Your grace. As above, so below.”
Psalm 51 is one of the most raw and brutally honest passages in the entire Bible as David’s surrender and submission to God finally happens following his sin with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah.
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. … Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. (Psalm 51:1-4, 7-12 NLT)
It is common knowledge that blood stains are almost impossible to remove. Painting white over red until the crimson tint completely disappears takes many, many coats. David’s language reflects those thoughts. He longs to not feel stained or dirty or guilty or broken or disloyal or isolated any longer. We all know these feelings much too well.
Reflect on David’s understanding of how absolute the removal of any trace of sin God can bring. Like it never happened. David talks about how his rebellion haunts him day and night. Is there sin in your past, or even currently, that haunts you day and night?
Listen again to what David asks of God:
Have mercy on me … blot out the stain of my sins … Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. (from Psalm 51:1-4, 7-12 NLT)
It is likely that whatever the sin that haunts you day or night is not as drastic as the affair and murder that David carries. In confessing and asking forgiveness we are talking to the same God that David did in this passage. We know that God’s forgiveness is as absolute then as it is now. God’s grace never runs out. His mercy never ends. His love never quits. Can you offer the same grace to yourself that God gives? He promises a clean heart, a loyal spirit, joy of the salvation given to us.
Pray with me: “O God, thank You for Your mercy, Your unfailing love, Your removal of guilt and Your cleansing of stains. Thank You for Your restoration, but most of all, thank You for Your presence in my life. As above, so below.”
Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help. Protect me, for I am devoted to you. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly. Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you. O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry. I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me. (Psalm 86:1-7 NLT)
As we learn to go to God with our sin, our guilt, our past, and all our stuff, we can then begin to sense His constant presence, because while He has been right with us all along and never moved, we finally choose to stop running away and attempting to hide. We see that progression in today’s passage as David’s Psalm 51 moment is now in his rearview mirror.
Our brokenness can produce a humble boldness.
Our surrender can provide a sense of security.
Our submission can protect us from falling again.
Do you recognize, can you feel, God’s presence with You as You begin to live in a constant state of forgiveness?
Like King David, you can call to God whenever You are in trouble and He will answer You.
Let’s make Psalm 86 our personal prayer. I’m sure that’s what David and God would want us to do:
Bend down, O Lord, and hear my prayer; answer me, for I need your help. Protect me, for I am devoted to you. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God. Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am calling on you constantly. Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you. O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry. I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me. … As above, so below.
O Lord, I have cried to You out of the deep places. Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears hear the voice of my prayers. If you, Lord, should write down our sins, O Lord, who could stand? But You are the One Who forgives, so You are honored with fear. I wait for the Lord. My soul waits and I hope in His Word. My soul waits for the Lord more than one who watches for the morning; yes, more than one who watches for the morning. … hope in the Lord! For there is loving-kindness with the Lord. With Him we are saved for sure. (Psalm 130:1-7 NLV)
David has worked through a great deal in his life. He has literally worked out his relationship with God to live in a state of security and blessing once again. He does not claim to be without sin now, but rather, he knows where to go when he does and to go quickly! Being aquatinted with our shortcomings produces humility and a correct posture of dependency on God for His grace and Power.
David confesses that God is the only One who forgives, He is loving and kind, and the path to certain salvation. Can you confess with same assurance that the same God that David is talking about here from thousands of years ago is active and available today to you in real time. How would it change the way you approach your day, your relationships to live in the full acceptance of God’s loving and kind forgiveness? If God has forgiven you, isn’t it time to let the weight of toxic shame go - and be empowered by the grace forgiveness and acceptance that the God of the universe extends to you.
Know that God wants for you to accept His love, receive His forgiveness, allow for His mercy, embrace His grace, and stay current by coming to Him with your sin, your temptations, your struggles, as well as your relationships with others to keep forgiving to keep your slate clean. A free life is fully available every day, all the time, with God.
Let’s turn Psalm 130 into our prayer today:
O Lord, I have cried to You out of the deep places. Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears hear the voice of my prayers. You are the One Who forgives. I wait for You, Lord. My soul waits and I hope in Your Word. My soul waits for You, Lord, more than one who watches for the morning; yes, more than one who watches for the morning. I put my hope in You, Lord! For there is loving-kindness with You, Lord. With You, I am saved for sure. … As above, so below.
While Jesus certainly taught us all about God’s love, mercy, and grace, some of the toughest words He spoke were about forgiveness … and the lack of forgiveness.
“And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:12-15 NIV)
Jesus included forgiveness in a very short example of how to talk to God, in what came to be known as The Lord’s Prayer. But then immediately following the prayer, He continued His teaching on forgiveness. It is important that we notice in verse 12 that Jesus says “Forgive us as we forgive.” Connecting that phrase to verses 14 and 15 communicates that God expects us to keep our slate clean and our list empty of what we hold against others. So He can then do the same for us. This does not mean that God is unable to forgive, but because He is God, He has a divine order for everything that He knows is always the best thing for us. Staying free of bitterness and unforgiveness, along with being forgiven for our offenses, is the healthiest path for us all.
Do you have an “I will never forgive that person” list? An “I can never forgive that person” list? Sometimes it is only through God’s strength that we are able to forgive.
Let’s personalize Jesus’s words in these verses:
“And forgive me of my sins, as I have forgiven those who sin against me. And don’t let me yield to temptation, but rescue me from the evil one. “If I forgive those who sin against me, my heavenly Father will forgive me. But if I refuse to forgive others, my Father will not forgive my sins.” (Matthew 6:12-15 NIV)
We need to avoid the temptation to view Jesus’s words as harsh, but rather as what it takes for us to be our best and healthiest in the sight of God. As our Father and Creator, He does know what is best for us and looks out for our best—always.
Let’s pray together: “Heavenly Father, I want to lay my list of people I can’t, or struggle to, forgive before You right now. I confess I battle with forgiving them. Father, I don’t want anything to come between my relationship with You, so please give me the strength and obedience to follow Your words—to release them and forgive them for good—just as You have forgiven me for my offenses and sins against You and others. As above, so below.”
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! (Matthew 18:21–22)
Jesus was not teaching the disciples that on the four-hundred-and-ninety-first time someone offends you that you can then take action against them. Peter obviously thought adding up to seven was a huge display of grace, but Jesus corrected his math using multiplication.
The idea here is that we forgive so much that you stop counting. We don’t add up offenses. We multiply grace and forgiveness. Another way of interpreting this passage is: Don’t keep score, just like God doesn’t with us. When you apply Jesus’ answer to the context of all New Testament teaching, the bottom line is we must forgive others as often as God forgives us.
Is there someone in your life that you feel has or is pushing you far past seven times? In fact, you are thinking right now that they might be nearing the “seventy times seven” range? Picture that person in your mind now.
Listen to The Message Bible’s version of this passage:
At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21–22 MSG)
I don’t know about you, but I am so glad that God doesn’t keep score or have a “sin quota” that once we go over, we run out of His grace. Doesn’t it make sense that as His followers He would expect us to do the same? As hard as it is, if we want the “seventy times seven” principle applied to our lives, then we must live by it as well?
Let’s pray: “Father, thank you that You don’t keep score with my sin. Please help me to stop keeping score with others. Help me to let things go, I confess I have a hard time on my own strength. Teach me to live in Your grace and share Your grace with others. As above, so below.”
Today, we will look at three short, yet powerful verses that encourage us to forgive ourselves by accepting the fact that God has already forgiven us.
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9 NLT)
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. —Psalm 103:12 NLT
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. (Ephesians 1:7 NLT)
Our confession of sin—one time—triggers God’s faithfulness, forgiveness, cleansing, removal of sin, kindness, grace, and freedom. What an amazing deal for us once we simply get honest with God about what we have done.
If you struggle with forgiving yourself for any past mistakes and sins, maybe it’s time to have a funeral for them. Confess, place them under the blood of Christ, and ask for forgiveness one final time. Commit to this being the last time you will bring it up. Just like when a funeral is over, you need to walk away once you’ve said your goodbyes. But now instead of mourning and grief, you say hello to freedom and forgiveness. What is a specific sin you are willing to confess and bury today?
Listen once again to God’s promises and the finality of what happens once we confess:
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9 NLT)
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. —Psalm 103:12 NLT
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. (Ephesians 1:7 NLT)
Is it time to say a final goodbye to something God wants to see you let go of? That you know you need to let go of? As you can see, He has made your forgiveness and freedom available to you right now. How does it feel to know that God not only forgives your sins, but He forgets they even happened. What does it look like to accept you are living with a new reality, a clean slate.
Let’s commit this to Him: “Father, I want today to say a final goodbye to the things that have held me back from receiving all You have for me. Today, I hand these things over You. Thank You now for Your faithfulness, forgiveness, cleansing, removal of sin, kindness, grace, and freedom. As above, so below.”
(Romans 5:15-18 NLT)
There is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and His gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.
Through Adam’s choice to disobey God, he brought death. Through Christ’s obedience to God, He brought grace and forgiveness. Through Adam’s choice to disobey God, he brought condemnation. Through Christ’s obedience to God, He brought righteousness, along with the opportunity for a right relationship with God and new life for … who? Everyone who believes.
Whose image do you feel like you live in day in and day out? Adam’s or Jesus’s? Through Jesus we are offered ‘new life’ - how does it feel for you to experience that all condemnation is lifted from you right now?
Listen again, but this time, we will focus only on what Christ provides for you: There is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. … But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different … God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. … But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, … Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. (Romans 5:15-18 NLT)
The word “gift” is used five times in this passage. God’s wonderful free gift of forgiveness and His righteousness. Today, His gift is yours. Receive it. Open it. Live it. Share it.
Let’s pray: “Father, thank You for Your gift. Thank You that You offer this gift to me every day. Help me to receive what You give and be grateful that I can walk in true, real freedom and forgiveness. As above, so below.”
(Colossians 1:11-14 NLT)
We … pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
Focus on these key words from this passage. Strength … power … endurance … patience … joy … inheritance … belonging … light … rescue … deliverance … freedom … and forgiveness.
Who wouldn’t want all that Paul tells us here that God through Christ offers? On this final day of the week, consider this question … Where does the path to forgiveness lead? Where does it end and where are we when we arrive? The answer is a life filled with the words I just read. But all of those amazing gifts, promises, and qualities are found daily in, and through, and from, a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Listen again and meditate on these words: Strength … power … endurance … patience … joy … inheritance … belonging … light … rescue … deliverance … freedom … and forgiveness.
Let’s turn today’s passage into our prayer today:
Father, I pray that You will strengthen me with all Your glorious power so that I will have all the endurance and patience I need. May I be filled with joy, always thanking You, Father. You have enabled me to share in the inheritance that belongs to Your people, who live in the light. For You have rescued me from the kingdom of darkness and transferred me into the Kingdom of Your dear Son, who purchased my freedom and forgave my sins. … As above, so below.
In Luke 7, Jesus was teaching about forgiveness and gratitude to God when He said:
Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.” “That’s right,” said Jesus. … but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.” (Luke 7:41-47 MSG)
Oftentimes, we view sin as if God has levels of disobedience. We can get into debates on whose sin was the greater. While God in His perfection sees things as black and white, He knows the sin we struggle with causes us to view things in such a skewed way. Here, Jesus was allowing for that mindset by acknowledging that the more we are forgiven of, the more grateful we will be. Why? Because the more shame we feel, the greater relief we experience when forgiven. The farther we have fallen, the higher we can rise up.
In your life, how have you experienced this dynamic—what is something that you have felt the most shame for? Knowing that, if you have asked for it, that sin is completely forgiven… like it never happened, how does that make your heart feel? Focus on feeling that great gratitude, let it uplift you spirit.
Listen once again to Jesus’s main points: Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?” … speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman?... She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.” (Luke 7:41-47 MSG)
The path to avoiding arrogance and staying humble is to maximize our gratitude. The road to staying forgiven before God is to continually acknowledge sin and practice being grateful each day.
Let’s pray: “Father, I never want to take Your forgiveness for granted. I also don’t want to view sin as what I do being less than anyone else’s offense. Help me to stay clean before You. Help me to keep my list short and my gratitude constant. As above, so below.”
(Psalm 138:1-3 MSG)
Thank you! Everything in me says “Thank you!” Angels listen as I sing my thanks. I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: “Thank you!” Thank you for your love, thank you for your faithfulness; Most holy is your name, most holy is your Word. The moment I called out, you stepped in; you made my life large with strength.
In this passage, King David’s gratitude is all encompassing. Everything in him says “Thank you.” Nothing is held back. All of his heart, soul and mind kneel and worship God.
David’s gratitude is expressed specifically about God’s love, His faithfulness, His name, and His Word.
David’s gratitude has an origin and a reason for being: the moment I called out, You stepped in and brought strength.
Gratitude cannot be fully expressed until the reason for gratitude has been fully recognized. Our busy, often distracted lives can cause us to miss God’s goodness. Our self-focused perspective can keep our eyes on our perceived lack, not our realized gain.
Listen again to David’s appeal to God: Thank you! Everything in me says “Thank you!” Angels listen as I sing my thanks. I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: “Thank you!” Thank you for your love, thank you for your faithfulness; Most holy is your name, most holy is your Word. The moment I called out, you stepped in; you made my life large with strength. (Psalm 138:1-3 MSG)
If you know Christ today, if you have a relationship with God, then He has indeed stepped in; He has most certainly made your life large with strength, even in Your darkest moments. There is power for daily living in gratitude. What are areas of you life, or people in your life that you should express your gratefulness right now? Can you thank him for the challenges too, knowing He will use them for you good?
Let’s pray using David’s words: “Thank you! Everything in me says ‘Thank you!’ Angels listen as I sing my thanks. I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: “Thank you!” Thank you for your love, thank you for your faithfulness; Most holy is your name, most holy is your Word. The moment I called out, you stepped in; you made my life large with strength. As above, so below.”
(Matthew 8:2-4 MSG)
Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.” Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. Jesus said, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”
The famous saying by St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel everywhere and if necessary, use words”. Francis’s wisdom reflects Jesus’s teaching in that a radically healed and changed life will always speak louder and be respected more than any sermon from a life that just looks like everyone else’s.
When God forgives any sinner and sets that person free, the reality of a changed life will result in a constant reflection of gratitude to Him that flows out of a transformed heart. How has your heart been changed or transformed through Jesus? What is noticeable about your life that points towards God and His Grace ?
Listen once again to Jesus’s final instructions to the healed leper: Just quietly present your healed body … along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” (Matthew 8:2-4 MSG)
St. Francis was certainly right in his day, and most especially today in our current culture. People are longing to witness a forgiven, grateful, and transformed life. That message never gets old and always makes a difference. Today, choose to let your cleansed and grateful life bear witness to what Jesus has done in your attitudes, words, and actions.
Let’s pray to that end: “Father, may all I am be a reflection of all You are. May my life speak loud about You and all You have done for me. Today, I am forgiven. Today, I am grateful. As above, so below.”
In John 11, we find the story of Jesus coming to Lazarus’s tomb after he had died. When He arrived, Jesus said:
“Go ahead, take away the stone.” They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, “Father, I’m grateful that you have listened to me. I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here I’ve spoken so that they might believe that you sent me.” Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.” (Luke 11:41-44 MSG)
It’s fascinating that the first thing Jesus did was to have the stone removed that was blocking the tomb. Then to raise a man from the dead, He began by expressing gratitude to God, His Father. After thanking God for listening and responding, He commanded the man’s resurrection and ultimate freedom.
Think about a situation in your life where you are struggling. Is there a situation that seems hopeless - that feels dead and you desire new life.
Listen once again to Jesus’s main commands: “Go ahead, take away the stone.”… Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, “Father, I’m grateful … Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out, … Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.” (Luke 11:41-44 MSG)
Today, your stone can be rolled away to free You. Can you thank God for listening to you? Can you trust Him to resurrect hope that seems dead? You can come out of your struggle with a renewed and transformed life from witnessing God’s miraculous power.
Let’s pray together: “Father, thank You for resurrection and new life. Thank You that You have power over sin and death. Thank You that You forgive and offer real freedom. I believe You today for all these in my life. As above, so below.”
For our final day this week, we are going to meditate completely on Scripture that expresses gratitude. Right now, for the next few minutes, close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and take these passages into your mind, heart, and spirit.
(Psalm 100 NLT) Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
(Psalm 105:1-4 NLT) Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord. Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.
(Psalm 106:1-2 NLT)
Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise him enough?
(Psalm 107:1-2 NLT) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
(Psalm 108:1-5 NLT) My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart! … I will wake the dawn with my song. I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.
(Revelation 5:11-13 NLT) I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”
Pray with me: “Lord Jesus, thank You for forgiveness and freedom. As I accept Your forgiveness and freedom, help me always to grant forgiveness and freedom to others. You are worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing. As above, so below.”
(Philippians 3:12-16 NIV)
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things.
While we all have a past on some level, and things we’ve done that we aren’t proud of, the apostle Paul had the execution and imprisonment of Christ-followers in his recent past. He had overseen the stoning of Stephen recorded in Acts 7. So when he says “forgetting what is behind, straining ahead, and pressing on to his goal,” that effort is no small feat. But Paul lived first and foremost from the knowledge that Christ had forgiven him.
Anyone can set an audacious goal, but reaching for, straining toward, and winning that goal takes great courage. To make major progress and reach new heights in our lives, we must let go of the painful events, relationships, and things of our past that hold us back from becoming who we need to be.
Listen once again to Paul’s action phrases: I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. … one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us … who are mature should take such a view of things. … let us live up to what we have already attained. (from Philippians 3:12-16 NIV)
Does your past effect you making audacious goals? Do you currently have big goals or major plans? Like Paul had to do, let go of your past. Press on towards Christ. Be mature and live up to what He has already provided for you—forgiveness, redemption, freedom, grace, strength, courage and love. … It’s time to move towards the goals He has place in your heart.
Pray with me: “Father, help me to press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Help me to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead, to press on toward the goal to win the prize for which You have called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. May I live up to what I have already received from You. … As above, so below.”
(1 Corinthians 9:24-27 MSG)
You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.
Paul used runners in a race as a metaphor for the Christian life. Notice he never mentioned the prospect of losing, only what must be done to win. A major mental and emotional dynamic of serious athletes is to constantly envision winning. For you to set and attain your goals in life, try to take losing off the table. Run to win. Train hard. Give it everything you’ve got. Stay alert. Envision winning. Why? Because we tend fulfill the personal prophesies that we create in our minds.
Listen again to Paul’s inspirational speech: Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 MSG)
What do you need to let go of, or what do you need to start doing to race like you never have before?
Declare these words from the scripture with me: I run to win. I’m after a gold medal that never tarnishes and fades. I will give it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I will stay alert and in top condition. (from 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 MSG)
Let’s pray together: “Father, I desire to win any and everything that You intend for me to win in life. Teach me to think Your thoughts and live as one who desires to win and cross Your finish line. As above, so below.”
(Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)
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.
This passage from the prophet Isaiah, offering God’s words to the people of Israel, is both beautiful and poetic. As followers of Christ, we can apply these promises to our own lives because God has opened every door and provided every gift He holds in His storehouse for us through Jesus.
God has created for us a way out of the past and into the realm of the new He has made. He wants us to see, understand, and embrace all He has for us. In what was once a wilderness, He makes a way and what once was a wasteland, He creates a stream. That, my friends, opens up the doors for us to not only set new and exciting goals for our lives, but actually see them come true.
Listen to The Message Bible’s version of this passage: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. (Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG)
Declare this with me: I will forget the former things; I will not dwell on the past. I will see the new thing that God is doing! I will experience it spring up; and I will perceive it as He is making a way in my wilderness and a stream in my wasteland. (from Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)
Let’s commit this to prayer: “Father, thank You for the new thing You are doing in my life. I receive it and want to see it happen. Bring Your way, create Your stream, through my life to live as You desire and designed me to live. As above, so below.”
(Joshua 1:6-8 NLT)
“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
For those who love God, for those who follow Christ, the way to reach the life goals that God created us to attain is only through Him—His way, His will, and His Word. To become everything He planned for us when He formed us in our mother’s wombs.
When God spoke to Joshua on behalf of the people of Israel about moving to the Promised Land, He twice said to “be strong and courageous,” and then to be very careful to follow His Word. Then they would prosper and succeed. The same is true for us today. Follow God’s way, His will, and His Word, which in today’s culture, will take being strong and courageous.
Listen once again to this rephrasing of today’s passage: “Be strong and courageous … Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions God gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study His Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. (from Joshua 1:6-8 NLT)
It is clear in this passage how important it is to Study and Meditate on God’s word to be successful. As you listen to these meditations, you hear God’s Word, but I want to encourage you to be sure you are taking it in yourself by reading your own Bible or listening on an app. The path to success and achieving goals for the believer only comes through an uncompromising path through His Word.
Let’s pray: “Father God, please give me a hunger for Your Word, a desire to study Your Book, to meditate on it, and be careful to obey what You tell me. As above, so below.”
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7 NLT)
What does loving others on God’s terms have to do with setting and attaining our personal goals? … Everything. … People, quote-unquote, win and succeed every day and reach amazing goals, but they harm and hurt people along the way. Is a win actually a win if we have made someone else lose? What good can come of a goal met if someone has been pushed aside in the race?
The one who loves like Christ, as Paul defines in this passage, will win. That person will attain their goals because others have been placed first, people have seen Christ, and God has been loved more than self.
Listen to verses 4-7 again: Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7 NLT)
Let love set your goals. Let love drive your goals. Let love be your goal. After all, that is the true goal Christ came, died, and rose again to allow us to gain and attain.
Let’s agree in prayer: “Lord Jesus, help me to be patient and kind, to not be jealous or boastful or proud or rude, to not demand my own way, to not be irritable, and to keep no record of wrongs, to not rejoice about injustice, but rejoice whenever the truth wins out. May my love for You, in You, and from You, never give up, never lose faith, always stay hopeful, and endure through every circumstance. As above, so below.”
Today, we’re going to pick up on the story where David is about to face off with Goliath:
(1 Samuel 17:32-37 NLT)
“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!” “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”
David saw his life of being alone in the shepherd’s field as preparation for just such a moment. He saw the protection of his sheep from the mouths of lions and bears as training for protecting God’s people from the hands of a giant. David didn’t see a difference in the circumstances because he had the same God helping him defeat the threat in both places.
Listen to the shepherd-warrior’s words once again: “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (1 Samuel 17:34-37 NLT)
No, you aren’t fighting lions and bears or even giants, but the principle behind David’s mindset can be yours today. Can you remember a time that God gave you the strength to do something beyond your own ability? A time where you prayed and asked for help, and God showed up and gave you strength you didn’t know you had? Picture that situation. The same God is with you now. He has never left you since He formed you in your mother’s womb. He is here to help you in every battle and struggle your life.
Fill in David’s words with your own right now. When I pause, in your own mind, fill in the blanks for you: The Lord who rescued me from … will rescue me from this too!”
Let’s pray: “Father, thank You that You have always been with me. Strengthen me and fill me with Your courage today to face my giant. Like David, I know You are with me. As above, so below.”
Today, we’re going to look at the moment of truth in Gideon’s life:
(Judges 6:12-16 NLT). The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you! “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” The Lord said to him, “I will be with you.”
Gideon had the opposite mindset of David, our Bible story from yesterday. But while two different men had two different perspectives of what they could accomplish, one factor was same: God had called them.
Gideon even named himself the least man, in the weakest clan, of all the people. In today’s language, he would say: “Lord, I’m the last guy you want to pick for this job.” But the Lord said, “I will be with you.” That truth is exactly what gave David and Gideon the courage and the confidence they needed to face their enemies.
Do you feel like David today, ready for your big moment, or more like Gideon, “I’m the last person you want to pick, God.”
Listen again to what the Lord said to Gideon: “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” … “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” … “The Lord said to him, “I will be with you.” (Judges 6:12, 14, 16 NLT).
What if God appeared to you right now and called you a hero? How do you know He isn’t? Maybe he looks upon you and what you are pushing through right now in your life and sees your courage? Regardless of how you may feel or see your life, this much is true: He is telling you to go at your life with the strength you have because He is with you. And He is most definitely saying today: “I will be with you.”
Declare this after me: “Lord, I know You are with me.”
Let’s pray: “Dear Lord, thank You for examples like David but also those like Gideon, so we can see that the Source of our courage and victories are You. Help me live today knowing, believing, that You are with me. As above, so below.”
Today, we’ll jump into Ruth’s story when she and Boaz first met.
Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? … the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since …” Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.” Ruth thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.” “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” (Ruth 2:5-12 NLT)
You must remember that quite often you are being courageous, but you can’t see it. … But others do. In fact, most often courage is something we experience but may not even recognize until later, once we are past the circumstance. God has a unique way of providing confidence when we don’t know it. Just like Ruth, there is a humility that coincides with that kind of courage.
Think for a moment about the last time you knew you exhibited strong confidence and courage. Did you know it at the time? Did you feel it? Likely not. You may not have seen it in the front windshield but now you clearly see it in your rearview mirror. But like Boaz with Ruth, others were en-couraged by watching you have courage in a tough situation.
Listen again to Boaz’s words: “But I also know about everything you have done… I have heard … [so] May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” (Ruth 2:11-12 NLT)
Whatever you are walking through today, remember that God is giving you confidence, not in yourself but in Him, to be courageous, not just for you, but for others. He sees you. He knows what you are doing. He hears you. And so do others. Your life is making a difference as you walk through every struggle.
Let’s pray: “Father, Thank You for Your confidence and Your courage. Help me to en-courage others as you give me the confidence to press on. As above, so below.”
Today, we jump into the story of Queen Esther and Mordecai where the most critical decision of Esther’s life is about to take place:
Mordecai gave Hathach a copy of the decree issued in Susa that called for the death of all Jews. He asked Hathach to show it to Esther and explain the situation to her. He also asked Hathach to direct her to go to the king to beg for mercy and plead for her people. So Hathach returned to Esther with Mordecai’s message. Then Esther told Hathach to go back and relay t