Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Day 26 - Endurance

Day 26
Job 3-4, James 1

 Have you ever reached the point of frustration with life that you just wish you never had to live it? That is where Job is at in this moment in our reading. When the silence is finally broken between him and his friends, we can see the venting that takes place as Job questions his life and purpose. Eliphaz offers his advice, without fully understanding Job's situation. He does, however, tell Job to look to God for hope, as he asks him if his reverence truly give him confidence. As this dialogue continues, we will see more and more how useless and frustrating their advice becomes.  

In those moments like Job has here, it is encouraging to remember James 1. We are told I have joy when we face trials. This doesn't seem to be a gut reaction when we face extreme hardship as Job has. We want to react and ask why God would allow something so I terrible to happen to us. But if we view trials and follow James' advice on how to take on trials, we will grow leaps and bounds in our faith and endurance. 

Much of our reaction to trials make us see where our loyalties lie. When you are able to stand on the Rock that is Christ, you get the amazing opportunity to see His work through your life and in your faith. With every hardship and trial given to Him, the greater faith and endurance you will have. 

Practicing and conditioning for sports is the same idea. If you jump into a competition without having those times of coaching and conditioning, it is going to be mighty hard to keep up with the team. However, when you prep yourself and view those tough practices as gaining you strength and endurance, they are better to face. Trials are like a conditioning for facing the ones ahead. 

Frustrations in this life can pile up and leave you feeling hopeless. We should find joy in them, however, as they are preparation for using your faith again. How can you allow the hardships in your life to grow you in endurance? Place your trust in Christ and see what He can do through you! 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Day 25 - Standing Firm

Day 25
Psalm 14-17

Ponder these verses you read today a little more:

I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. Psalm 16:8

You will show me the way of life, granting me with the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever. Psalm 15:11

I am praying because I know You will answer, O God. Psalm 17:6

Because I am righteous, I will see You. When I wake, I will see You face to face and be satisfied. Psalm 17:15

What is it you need from God today? Theses verses sure feed a soul, and empower a heart. Stand firm! He is with you and will fulfill you in every way. Stay by Him.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Day 24 - Don't Get Comfortable

Day 24
Job 1-2, John 21

Today, we kick off the story of Job. The trials Job faces is unreal. We read the conversation between God and Satan as God allows Satan to test Job, this seems a little unfair...But God is very confident in Job and that he will not turn from Him in any situation. Satan seems to taunt God and tells Him that if Job (His follower) experiences the lowest of low, he would surely turn away and curse God.

So, after losing everything, including his health, Job is left with a bitter wife and his friends, who we will read don't offer the best advice. However, we see that Job never loses his faith in God. That is one thing that can never be taken from you. Satan has tried to separate them, but causing all of this havoc in Job's life, but Job has great faith and huge priority in God, rather than all of the things he lost. Could you lose the things or people you are pouring all of your faith and priority into?

As John wraps up, we read how Jesus appears to His disciples once more as they are out fishing, and helps them in catching a huge haul of fish. Then, He cooks them breakfast. Jesus and Peter have a very intense conversation, with Jesus questioning Peter's love for Him. The interesting part of their conversation is that Jesus is telling Peter that if he truly loves Him, he needs to feed His sheep, right after feeding Peter and the disciples breakfast.

I believe that Jesus' question to Peter wasn't only for Peter. I also believe that when He told Peter to "feed" and "care for" His sheep, He was telling all of His followers then and now to love in all ways. We have a calling from Christ Himself to care for and to love others. We see how frustrated and uncomfortable Peter gets with Jesus in His questioning him. Do you ever feel uncomfortable when conviction hits you in just the right way?

If life were easy, we wouldn't need faith. We grow the most when we are the most uncomfortable. God cares that we are whole rather than comfortable. Comfort is temporary, but being whole in Him and helping others be whole in Him is eternal. What comforts today are hindering you from caring for people? Are you content enough in life that if you lost everything, you would be done? Don't get too comfortable.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Day 23 - Legacy

Day 23
Genesis 49-50, John 20

As Genesis wraps up, we read the parting words Jacob has for his sons. It is clear that each one leads his own legacy and has his own gift. The ones who haven't quite taken the right path in life, face the consequences for the remainder of it. Others have shown how faithful they were to God and have left leaving hope and great stories for others to be inspired by. We all will fall into a legacy, but the question is what kind of legacy will you leave?

Joseph's legacy, for example has been a very powerful one to read about. His relentless faith and leadership skills left a wonderful light on his family and the line he comes from. Jacob's life ends and his legacy is evident as well, as you can see the descendants he passed on and the life he led in forgiveness and humility. I think Joseph took after his father and uncle a little bit in this area. Joseph forgives his brothers, as Jacob once had to seek forgiveness from his brother, and because of this, amazing work is done to create good out of the bleak.

I think it's safe to say that Jesus has left quite a legacy. In fact, I would have to say that this is a huge understatement. As followers, we look to Him as our example. He died and rose again for us, so we could spend eternity with Him. We can never measure up to the legacy Jesus left, but we can strive to follow His example and do as He did to our best.

What legacy will you leave behind? We all will leave some sort of legacy, but some will leave a better one than others. Strive to follow the example of Christ and be inspired by the ones you read about throughout time. You have a story to share. Is it a good one?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Day 22 - Keep the Faith

Day 22
Genesis 46-48, John 19

There are so many unknowns in life. We can see this theme throughout God's Word as we watch God work through people and the processes of faith that take place.
Jacob, being near the end of life, I'm sure wasn't expecting much more. But we read the beautiful story of how his family is reunited and he is able to experience how God has worked in powerful ways. We will continue to read about the amazing things God does through this line of people!

Joseph's faith led him to where he is too. His family experiences healing because of it. Though Joseph went through horrible times of rejection and hardship, we can see how hard he holds onto God throughout, and because of his faith, life has come to God's awesome plan being played out.

Another step of faith is in our own lives. Jesus died for us and many have a hard time believing He rose again and will be coming back. We leave off in John at a seemingly bleak moment. A time of hopelessness and probably a lot of people losing the faith they had in God's power.

Each of these examples have one major thing in common. Each of them had a window of darkness at one time or another. That window, however, was expanded to see the hope and power that came through in the end. Just because you are looking out a dark window right now, remember that in days, weeks, months, even years, God's glory is revealed.

God does some of His best work in the midst of hardship. We have to be at the absolute bottom to know that up is the only place to look. The bottom of the pit is a lonely, dark, hopeless place to be, but as we read today, God works again and again for those who trust in Him. It is so easy to stumble and give up on faith. A stronger person holds on and keeps looking to Him, even when they don't feel like doing it. Hold on and keep having faith in what God has in store for you.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Day 21 - (Hope)lessness

Day 21
Genesis 43-45, John 18

After great hopelessness, comes great hope. That is surely a theme as we read on in both Genesis and in John.

As we continue on with Joseph's story, we can see the hopelessness that fills Joseph's brothers and his father as they seem to encounter hardship from this leader that they don't know is actually their long, lost brother. Jacob wants to cling to his family, and not lose any more of his sons, but it is Judah that takes responsibility for anything happening to Benjamin and it is Judah's words to Joseph that cause him to break down and share the truth. There has been great change in Judah over the years, as we see that hope can carry into people as well. Judah, being the brother who suggested doing away with Joseph and causing his father great pain in the first place, has now become the one to stand up for the favored brother, Benjamin and protect his father.

There is hope for changed hearts and changed situations. It is amazing how God works through these things and uses them for His glory!

As Jesus is taken into custody and Peter falls into the denial trap, all hope seems lost here as well. Jesus knows what will happen, and He knows that it is for His Father's will and glory. It is always hard to read of the struggles that Jesus endured for us, but the hope that it brought to the world is absolutely priceless.

The disciples probably felt pretty hopeless as Jesus' death is carried out. The bigger picture isn't clear to them yet, and they probably didn't expect things to go this way as a follower of Jesus. How many times as a follower do you feel like things can be hopeless? The bigger picture tells us, however, that with Christ, there is always hope! We can't lose everything because when He is our everything, nothing can touch that.

What are you hopeful for today? What may be causing hopelessness in your life currently? If you take anything from today's reading, remember that God has the big picture! Just because we're on the pixel that seems dark and unending, doesn't mean we should give up. When you can see what work God has done through those times of hopelessness, you can have greater hope in the future. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Day 20 - Letting Go

Day 20
Genesis 41-42, John 17

Have you honestly given everything to God? We can see the agony that Jacob has in possibly losing his sons. But what Jacob doesn't know is that the son he has "lost" is being used in great ways by the Lord. It is probably the hardest thing to trust God with your loved ones and give Him the ultimate control over them. As a mother, I couldn't imagine losing my daughter. It would absolutely break me! But in telling God that I trust Him with her life and the direction He takes her in, I am free to think that she is in the best hands possible.

Jacob doesn't want his sons to return to Egypt because he fears losing them. God is doing miraculous things, however, and unless Jacob lets them go, he will never get to experience what God has in store for his family and the power that will come with the healing. When we cling so tight to something, whether it be our family members, relationships, our jobs, our finances, our programs, etc., we could be missing out on the bigger picture of what God is trying to do. He will be glorified in our giving it all to Him, but unless we do that, we won't see it to its full effect.

Jesus prays for His disciples as He prepares to leave them. We see how He puts them in the hands of His Father and asks that they be blessed and grown in Him. Jesus states to His Father that the ones that were given to Him were always His Father's. What a powerful prayer for our children and loved ones! When we can honestly come before God and say "Lord, the children you have given me are Yours", we have opened up a whole new aspect of our parenting and faith.

We belong to the Father! We are His, and He wants to do what is best for us. Who else could possibly understand our hearts better than He? When we can come to the conclusion that everything we have is His, we can begin to give them all over to Christ, in full faith that His glory will be served. What is it that you need to hand over and admit fully is His? Give Him the control of everything in your life and you will not regret it!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Day 19- Never Alone

Day 19
Genesis 39-40, John 16

Joseph's situation is like a roller coaster ride. He is sold into slavery, but promoted again and again in his position, accused falsely, thrown in jail, promoted by the warden there, and then is forgotten about. We can see in reading Joseph's words in missing his homeland that he is hurting, but we can also see how he is thriving in the situations he is in, and giving the glory to God.
The situation you are in can be made the best of, as we see Joseph does. He uses his gifts and knows that he isn't alone - God is with him every step of the way! It is repeated again and again in these 2 chapters in Genesis that "God remembered Joseph" or "God was with Joseph". God is with you and remembers you too.

In John, Jesus is telling His disciples that He is going away, but they won't be alone, for the Spirit will be with them. This world is a hard, hard place, but Jesus reminds us that He has overcome the world and we won't have to do it alone. Tears will become joy and every situation can be made whole if we turn to Him!

Do you feel alone today? Remember that you are never alone when you accept Christ to be with you. He is your Rock and Advocate, and will carry you through this hard world. Make the best of every situation and use your gifts to stand out. Joseph was surely a light in his hard times, and you can be as well. Work diligently for the Lord, and know He is with you always. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Day 18- Being Real with God

Day 18
Psalm 10-13

We have all felt hopeless at one time or another. David shows it here. He cries out to God to show him some hope and to protect him. It is a little refreshing to see the struggle that David portrays throughout Psalms in writing. I think many times we fear to show God our true feelings, but we see that David doesn't hold back.

There is nothing wrong with asking God questions, or venting to Him, or being persistent with Him. This tends to be a misconception for many people. But the awesome thing about God is that He can handle it, and He wants us to speak to Him in honesty. We are not to sin in our anger, but we can go to Him with it. David, feeling helpless and afraid, does just this.

I believe there is healing in the venting. When we acknowledge to God the negative things in our lives, whether it be other people who are attacking us, situations that keep rolling in, or fear that has us at a standstill, God can heal it and pull you through it. The catch, however is how we will deal with the negative things in our lives. God gives us the choice to do as we please, and the way we cope with things is one of them.

Here, we see that David praises God for His unfailing love and protection. He trusts that God will pull him through and rescue him. When we can see the big picture of what God is doing through the crud in our lives, we can begin to find true healing and grow ever so strong in who we are in Him.

What keeps kicking you down in life? Have you had an honest, real conversation with God about it? He wants you to come to Him in persistent prayer! Have a heart to heart with God and ask Him to show you a light and hope in the midst of your struggle. He can handle it and He can show you immense hope and love as you endure and grow through it!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Day 17 - Contentment

Day 17
Genesis 36-38, John 15

What happens when we aren't content with where we are in life? We tend to sin and/or take life into our own hands. That is precisely the points that are made throughout our readings today.

God continues to prove His faithfulness to the line of Abraham as we read about Jacob and Joseph. The descendants that are now in Abraham's line are quite numerous, and we can see the great things that God is doing through them, despite the mess ups that keep happening. Jealousy rages in Joseph's older brothers as he is favored in his father's eyes. Discontent in this, they plot to kill him and he ends up being sold into slavery. Reuben, who wanted to prevent his own feelings of guilt, sees that his plan to save Joseph falls through, and the first thing he asks is "what about my reputation?" (vs. 30) Later, we'll see how God works through Joseph's situation, but for now, we can see how discontentment and jealousy can surely raise sin in our lives.

As we move into Judah's story, we definitely see a matter of demanding of one's way, as Judah's son, refuses to have a child who won't be his own heir. As custom would have it, these brothers didn't want to honor their older, deceased brother in giving him an heir. Tamar becomes discontent. Judah becomes discontent, and they end up having a child together through their individual discontentment. Judah, failing to keep his promise to Tamar, and Tamar taking matters into her own hands raises more drama. But Judah, steps up and takes responsibility for his actions, knowing full well the position Tamar was in.

In John, we are told to abide in Christ, for He is our True Vine. This ties in with contentment. Being content in Christ is abiding in Him, and abiding in Him means joy forever. We are warned that this world will hate us for our faith, but Jesus encourages us to abide and remain strong in His Father, as He will send us an advocate. When we find our contentment in Christ, we will be full and can be fruitful for Him. When we worry about being content in other ways, we try to be fruitful for ourselves, rather than for Him.

What is making you discontent at the moment? Remember to have faith that God has a plan, because acting on your own can lead to more chaos and sin. Are you jealous of someone else, wishing you could have what they have? How about you look at what you have, and what you are and be fully content today, remembering that abiding in Christ will lead you to joy. Don't let this world sway you any other way. Remember what you are here for and the work He is doing in and through you!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Day 16 - Heart Check

Day 16
Reading: Genesis 33-35, John 14

Has your heart been troubled? Today, we read that Jesus gives us the ultimate and only true peace of mind and heart that the world cannot provide. He reiterates over and over that He is the only true way to this peace and to great guidance, which is to His Father. He promises that when we follow Him, we will receive these things and we shouldn't be troubled by the circumstances that threaten to overcome us.

We see this play out greatly as we continue to read of Jacob and his family. There is a lot of "life" lived in these 3 short chapters of Genesis. Jacob and Esau reconcile. Rachel dies. Jacob is left with another son. His daughter is raped. His sons slaughter a village. They are moved again. And Isaac, Jacob's father dies.
We continue to see the faithfulness Jacob has in the Lord, however. God continues to bless and protect him and his family as they endure life. Jacob learns many lessons throughout his life, including the ones we've seen with cheating others, reconciliation, humility, parenting, etc. I think we can relate to Jacob in many ways - hopefully not in a "my family slaughtered an entire village" sort of way though... But we can see how God works in the situations that come our way and grows us through them. Jacob is angry at his sons for killing as he fears his reputation, but we see that God has bigger things in mind as he continues to lead him to protection.

Jesus came to offer us that peace. There is something to be said about a person who relies on Him when life hits the fan and things seem to be falling apart. The disciples felt this way, I'm sure, as they were told by Jesus that He was leaving them. They couldn't grasp it, and they didn't want to let Him go. But Jesus reassures them and tells them they will have guidance and peace. How would this be any different for us as His followers today? We can bet that staying in tune with Him will provide us with the peace that the world cannot offer (John 14:27).

Where is your heart today? Are you relying heavily on what this world is trying to offer for the ultimate "comfort", peace, and understanding? Jesus tells us that this can only come through His Father through Him. I can tell you firsthand that there has never been a truer statement. When life goes south and things begin to fall apart, looking to Christ will pull you through every time and leave a lasting imprint. Don't let your heart be troubled by the things of this world and of this life. Give your heart to God and let Him place a great peace and protection over it.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Day 15 - Leaving Well

Day 15
Genesis 31-32, John 13

 We see many examples of tying up loose ends and making amends in our readings today. First of all with Jacob. As he rushes away from Laban and fears him, we see in the end how things are made right between them. Jacob and Laban make a covenant and Laban is able to give his daughters and grandchildren a proper send-off. Because Jacob was humble enough to come to an agreement with Laban, that bitter taste of who Jacob is isn't left in Laban's mouth.
As Jacob is approaching Esau, after many years apart after robbing him of his blessing and rights of the first born, Jacob begins to fear facing him. Sending gifts and calling himself Esau's servant, Jacob hopes to make amends with his bother as well. We are left a little bit on edge, as this story will continue in tomorrow's reading, but as you can see, Jacob's efforts at this time are much different than the motives he had as a younger man. We see the growth that Jacob went through, probably because he got a taste of what it was like to be cheated from Laban.

Is there someone you need to make amends with? Perhaps they haven't made the effort, but why can't you make the first move? Jacob had cheated his brother, but had been cheated by Laban, but we see how each of those relationships are on their way to being restored. Jacob's heart changes greatly after growing.

In John, we read as Jesus prepares for His departure, He strives to leave well in humility. Washing His disciples' feet and being an example of servitude to them, we are also called to be such servants to others. It is interesting that this is where Jesus to love others and prove that people will know we are His followers by our love.

We are called to love and to leave this life, full of love. There is much debate on the meaning of "love" in today's world. But Jesus offers unconditional love. Because He offers this though, doesn't mean He jumps on the bandwagon of your lifestyle or your choices all the time. He loves us no matter what, but that doesn't mean He agrees with what we do or supports it.

This life can be over in the blink of an eye. Relationships can end in much the same way. A person you see today, you might not see again. What taste are you leaving with them about you? Are you striving for servitude and humility as Jesus did before He left this world? Or do you cling to the grudges, the past, and your own agenda as you go about this life? Love others. Forgive others. Serve others - even if the "others" aren't those you want to love, forgive or serve.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Day 14 - Worth

Day 14
Genesis 29-30, John 12

Worth is sought after in many places. You can try and find it among friends, relationships, status, achievements...but unless you find it in God's eyes, you won't ever feel content. We see this in the story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel. Jacob worked hard to "earn" Rachel from Laban, but was fooled into having Leah first. There was quite the rivalry going on between the sisters as they thought providing children was the way to Jacob's heart. If only Rachel could see that this wasn't what Jacob wanted from her, and even became frustrated, asking her why she expected him to provide her the ability to have children. Again, we see a family taking matters into their own hands to compete and feel valuable in the eyes of someone other than God.
We even see how Jacob had fallen into this worth ritual as he built up his flocks from Laban's, creating more wealth for himself. 
But God shows great blessing on Jacob as he has many children, carrying out the promise made about his family having many descendants.

In John, Mary anoints Jesus with expensive perfume, being judged by the people around her for "wasting". But Jesus assures the people that she is in the right. Mary is finding her worth and pouring out her entire life to what matters most in this life - Jesus.
And as the story of Jesus in the Book of John starts to near the end, we see the build up to His death. His triumphant entry show the people who believed in Him, praising Him as he went by. Others, however, still didn't believe and continued to walk in darkness. The Pharasees wanted human praise over the Lord's praise, as they continued to try to look good before others. Jesus calls this out in verse 43.
Jesus tells us that He has come so we no longer need to remain in darkness. Our eyes can be so opened wide if we just look to the Light that is Jesus! He shows us where our eternal value lies, but accepting this is hard for people. It can be discouraging watching a friend continually place their worth in other things that keep burning them. Eternal, lasting worth cannot come from things or people. It cannot come from wealth, spouses, friends...only in Christ.

What do you rely on to make you feel "worth" and value? Are you counting on a relationship? Are you hoping money will get you there one day? None of those things will do it in the long run. Money isn't forever. People are people. God, however is everlasting and unchanging. Placing your worth and gaining your value from Him will never send you wrong. Ponder today what you need to do to build yourself up in Him.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Day 13 - Timing is Everything

Day 13
Genesis 27-28, John 11

There is great evidence in relying on God's timing as we read our sections today. Rebekah obviously didn't trust in God's timing and manipulated the situation so Jacob would be blessed before his brother, even though God had already told her that Jacob would rule over him. Because of her plan, hostility builds up between the brothers and family drama breaks out. 

But we read that God still works despite Rebecca and Jacob taking matters into their own hands. The Lord speaks to him in a dream, sharing the covenant and promise that was shared with Abraham and Isaac. Jacob had to own it, though. Just because he happens to be apart of a family that is blessed and was raised in the faith doesn't mean it comes to him automatically. Jacob realizes God's presence and respects His timing, building a memorial with the rock he rested his head on. We see how his confidence changes after his interaction with God. Jacob went from manipulation with his mother to trusting in God's provision and timing, making a vow that if God provides him with everything he needs and protects him, he will give his tenth of what he has been given. 

How can you be sure that you are trusting in His provision and timing, rather than taking matters into your own hands?

In John, we read of Jesus raising Kazaus from the dead. The question that arises is why didn't Jesus come before Lazarus passed away? Jesus points out that God's glory would be revealed. 
Sometimes we have to endure the rough parts of life for God to reveal Himself. Great things happen when God works in impossible situations. Our suffering will be made whole when His glory is revealed through it. How awesome is it to be able to be that light for Christ? He can shine through you in His timing! 

As you look at where you are at in life today, and see the work God has done in it, do you truly trust that His timing is the best? Maybe right now you feel like taking matters into your own hands, or you feel spiritually dead. God has a plan and He has the perfect timing in mind! Pursue Him and wait. Let His glory be revealed through the circumstance He pulls you through.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Day 12 - Rivalry

Day 12
Genesis 25-26, John 10

Since the beginning, rivalry has been a very present element to the world. Cain and Abel were the first examples, and now we read about Esau and Jacob. Since they were in the womb together, we read that they "struggled" with each other, and as boys Esau ends up giving his birthright to Jacob.
Isaac himself faces rivalry in the water wells his father had set up. Ironically enough, Isaac falls into the same situation with Rebekah, as his father once had with his mother, in telling her to tell the people of Gerar that she was his sister, rather than his wife. Abimelech has Isaac leave eventually, because he can feel the rivalry building as Isaac becomes more and more wealthy and powerful.

Isaac is reminded, however of the blessing and covenant that God has made with his family. Because of Isaac's faithfulness and way with the Lord, we see that Abimelech approaches him and forms and oath with him. Rather than giving into rivalry, we see them pact together.

In John, we see the analogy of Jesus being our Shepherd and us learning what our Shepherd's voice is like. There are many things in this world that rival Jesus and His voice. We can choose to be under the protection of our true Savior or follow the ways and the deceptions of what the world wants to offer us. As Jesus says about the thief who want so seek and destroy, the world has a similar tactic. It doesn't have our best interest in mind like a shepherd does for his sheep, or like Jesus has for us.

We see how Jesus makes the people uncomfortable - to the point of them wanting to kill Him, and that is certainly true today, as the world continues to pull Jesus out of things because it doesn't want to face what is "uncomfortable" in causing the conflict.

What is rivaling in your life? Is there something trying to take the place that only Jesus can fill? We were never promised lack of conflict in life. But we were promised that if we stand strong and rely on Him, He will make a way for us. Hold tight to Him over anything else in this world and in your life. He has your best interest in mind and wants you to thrive!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Day 11 - Hope in Hardship

Day 11
Psalms 6-9

Have you ever cried so hard that your head hurt, your pillow was drenched and you felt like your face was going to explode? Then you can probably relate with David in these passages. Take heart, because David shows us hope that comes for crying out to God. He was surrounded constantly by enemies. They pursued him to kill him. He hid out in caves and in the wilderness, trying to avoid them. Can you even imagine the terror of that?
But we read that David cried out and had faith that the Lord would come through for him. He asks Him to protect him and take down his enemies. Yet David also praises the Lord for all He has done for him.
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers-
the moon and the stars you set in place - 
what are people that you should think about them, 
mere mortals that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
and crowned them with glory and honor. 
~Psalm 8:3-5

How can we deny that God cares for us when reading something like that? He has been on the side of His followers since time began, and we read that He is for David too. David knows he has screwed up like we all do, but he brings it to God and asks for a pure heart in His eyes. This is a big part of handing it all over to God, and allowing Him to take control of your situation. 
Whether you are facing people as enemies or situations that cause you to lose hope in what is coming, remember David and how He cried out to God. Remember God's faithfulness and how important He thinks you are. Praise Him for what He has done and what He will do in your life. Remember that trials and hardships draw us nearer to Him if we let them. Allow God to refine you and strengthen you as you face another day.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Day 10- All in the Heart

Day 10
Genesis 23-24, John 9

 Abraham says goodbye to Sarah when she passes on, insisting on buying the best place for her burial and for the family. It is evident how much he loved her and cherishes the promise she helped carry out for their generations to come. To Abraham, we can see that family is important.
Once Isaac is old enough, Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for him. We see how the servant looks at the inner beauty of Rebekah once he meets her. Not only does she have apparent outward beauty, but the servant sees her servant heart and her initiative to meet a need. Do you only pay attention to someone's looks, or do you look beyond that to what is more important - their heart? The story of how Isaac marries Rebekah is truly a love story that we should take example from. We see the heart Isaac has for her, and the heart Rebekah has for others.

Jesus heals a blind man in John, as we continue through the gospel. This becomes a huge deal to the Pharisees as they continue to question the man, his parents and Jesus about the ordeal. But one thing we see here is that Jesus had a heart enough for this man to deal with the repercussions of His miracle. Jesus payed attention to this man and healed him. The analogy that comes in here is though this man could now see with his eyes, we read that he could also now see with his heart as we read the end of this chapter. Jesus points out how blind the Pharisees are compared the the man who was healed and just proclaimed that he believed in the Son of Man.

Is your heart open? Do you see with your heart what you can't see with your eyes? So many times when we look at people, we judge the outside, when what is inside that matters most. When we are "spouse hunting" so many people get caught up in their looks, that they forget that the heart is more important. Assess what a person's heart is like before you judge them. Is it for God or is it for something else? Jesus wants us to see Him, and claim that we need to see Him. Look for Him and keep your heart open to His leading.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart.
I want to see You. I want to see You.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Day 9 - God Provides

Day 9
Genesis 20-22, John 8

The Lord provided a son for Abraham and Sarah. We also read that He provided a well and rescue for Hagar and Ishmael. Furthermore, we read that He provided a sacrifice for Abraham instead of Isaac being the sacrifice.
Abraham proved his heart was fully trusting in God when he followed orders to sacrifice his son. But after seeing how obedient and willing Abraham was to follow Him, the Lord sends a ram to be sacrificed instead.
Are you hanging onto something too tight because you don't trust in the Lord's provision? He provides us with everything we'll ever need. Mercy, grace, love...All we need to do is follow Him and listen for Him.

In John, Jesus provides mercy for the woman caught in adultery. As stated in yesterday's study, we are so quick to judge before looking at the person beyond their situation. Jesus did that. He saw this woman and He knew that everyone condemning her deserves punishment as much as she did. But He provides and out for all of us. By dying on the cross, Jesus takes our punishment and His Father's wrath, rather than us. This is the ultimate provision if we accept it.

There is more questioning of Jesus as He continues to teach. He is providing us Light and direction each day, as we read in His teaching. Jesus talks about His Father's provision in sending the message with Him to the people. But traditionalists can't let go of what they know and what they have, claiming that Abraham is better than Jesus, and that He is full of it. I think traditions and clinging to the comfort of what we know hinders us many times through life. We don't trust in God's provision, so we hoard, we leech, we try everything to look good and keep a good reputation. But this isn't what God's plan is.

What do you need to let go of in trusting in God's provision? Have you given Him your kids, your job, your relationship status, your traditions, your sins? He proves Himself to us over and over, yet we hold on to what we know, rather than what we can't see. Have faith that the Lord will provide for you in the perfect ways and in the exact moment you need it. He knows your heart and what you need. He will provide.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Day 8 - Your Judgement

Day 8
Genesis 18-19, John 7

 We see a definite pattern of judgement pan out as we read through today's passages. God's judgement, our judgement, "religious" peoples' judgement..
In the world of Sodom and Gomorrah, there is evil indeed, as we read about the conversation between Abraham and God. Abraham asking God to spare the land for 10 righteous people shows us that it was a corrupt land, as it was destroyed. However, God showed good judgement towards Lot and his family and sent angels to rescue them.
There is reward in doing what is right and following in God's footsteps, but to stand strong is a hard thing indeed. Lot fails to be a light to this community he is abiding in, and starts to blend in with the rest. When have you ever resorted to "blending in" to avoid conflict or embarrassment? Have you ever just gone with the crowd so you could get by easier? I know I have.
Poor judgement continues for Lot's family as his wife looks back, as the angels warned against, and later his daughters decide to "carry on the family" using their father.

In John, we continue to read about the comments made about Jesus. His own brothers are concerned about His fame, over what His message is. Jesus faces accusation from the people at the temple as they call Him possessed and false. Others who do agree with Jesus' words say nothing out of fear of the Jewish leaders. Jesus flat out tells the leaders to look beneath the surface of the law of Moses so they discern correctly what is right.
The talk continues to happen among the people of the city. They are divided and many don't believe.
The most important thing to remember is to stay in the scriptures and know what is right! We live in a world that blurs lines and twists words for their gain. Knowing the Word well is what will carry us through. Jesus tells us this in this passage to look beyond the surface and dig deep into His Word.

We are not the ones to ever judge. We all come with a list of our own flaws, problems, pasts, messes, and guilts. We have no right to judge others, as God makes this very clear that this is His job. We aren't to hate, but to love. We aren't to conform to the ways of this world, but be transformed by Him. He directed with humility and love. Truth and Grace. Stand strong, but don't be a lame Christian. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Day 7- Questioning God's Will

Day 7
Genesis 16-17, John 6

 I think we all hit a point in life where we question God. Perhaps after a hardship or after a situation occurs that is less than ideal, or like Abraham and Sarah, perhaps after waiting for God to come through, you take matters into your own hands.
Even after we read about Sarah giving Hagar to Abraham to have a child for them, we read that God still promises blessing on Abraham and Sarah. It had been 10 years since they settled in Canaan, and they were still waiting for God's promises to come through. Getting older and watching life pass them by probably sparked a little questioning and pro-activeness in "making" God's promise happen.
I think we can be guilty of this as well. We make plans, set agendas and wait for God to get on board with what we have planned, rather than waiting for God to set the plan in motion for us. It is important to remember that His timing is the best timing.

In John, we read about more questioning in the people and followers of Jesus. After feeding five-thousand and showing the amazing abilities He possessed, Jesus is still asked to show the people miraculous things. He gives them the message of being complete in only His Father, but the people, and followers, find this far-fetched and many walk away.

Do you ever think that God is far-fetched? I think it is a totally human thing to question God and use it to grow in Him, but when you question Him to the point of not displaying true faith in Him, it is easy to fall away.
It is important to remember what God has done for you already. He has done so many amazing things for you and He is working in you. When we can hang on to the times He has come through for us, in the little and big ways, we can begin to see the perfection behind His timing and will.

What is happening in your life right now that might cause you to question? What is something you've experienced in the past that can serve as a reminder to you that God is faithful? Faith comes into play when we don't see the whole picture. It is believing in what we cannot see. If we knew what was going to happen, faith would not exist. Trust in His timing and trust in His promises. He has you covered in the most amazing ways!

Day 6 - Humility Helps

Day 6
Genesis 13-15, John 5

Humility is key. This is how Jesus based His ministry. And it is the key to the sections we read about today.
When there is conflict between the Abram and Lot's people, Abram takes the humble way and offers Lot a choice of the land, knowing that he might not get the best choice after Lot gets it. But in doing this, Abram keeps close ties with his nephew and still finds blessing in the end. Abram even goes to rescue his nephew when he is captured during the wars. Abram could have easily let Lot go and then taken the land for himself, but he does the right and humble thing in going after him.
I think we all have instances where we don't humble ourselves to do the right thing. Whether it's because we want our way, or we don't want to look weak. But the reality of humility is that it is a very strong thing to do.

Abram gets great blessing from the Lord, as we read on to the covenant made. Abram doesn't feel worthy, as he doesn't even have a son to carry on his family. But the Lord promises him one, and that he'll have many descendants. (Abraham's line is actually the line to Jesus.) Because Abram was humble and followed God's heart, he is greatly blessed.

In John, we read about an encounter Jesus has with a man who cannot walk. He flat out asks the man if he wants to be well. Many might find this a strange question, but the reality of it is that we don't always want to ask for help - as we would rather do something our own way, or be stuck in the rut we're in because it has become the "comfortable" way of being. Asking God for help is a humbling exercise. When we can admit we can't do it with out Him, we can do impossible things indeed.

Jesus displays this in His own ministry by telling those who are after Him about how without the Father, He could do nothing. Without turning to Him, we can't do anything either. Jesus lays into the men accusing Him, and points out that even the laws they are following point right back to Him, yet they are too stubborn to come to Him.

Humility can make or break us. When we are too prideful to ask for help, or do the right thing, we can surely fall short, and even fall short for all eternity. Christ wants us to come to Him and know our need for His help in this life! When we are too prideful to do it, we will lose out eternally. Humble yourselves in every circumstance. Ask for help. Do what is right, even if it isn't in your best interest.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Day 5: Where's Your Worth?

Day 5
Genesis 10-12, John 4

I think we all struggle with "worth" at times. We search desperately for where it comes from and even place it in things that will never satisfy us fully. Today, we read many instances of this.
After the flood, people came together to build a tower as high as the heavens to be "great". There is nothing wrong with this achievement, or achievements in general, but in reality - who is it placing the spotlight on? When we pour our lives into our collections, our medals, our trophies, our networking, etc., we do those things to feel good about ourselves, and be "important" or "achieve". Again, nothing wrong with these things - I myself like to collect things from places I go because I'm a nerd and think it's cool to have. BUT, when we place that glory on ourselves, rather than building up a life pointed back to Christ, we become like the people building the tower. Like those people, however, God has a way of mixing things up at times to change our perspective.

It's interesting that the story of Abraham (Abram) begins shortly after the Tower of Babel in Genesis. Abraham had an opposite way of glory, in that he followed God's command to leave his homeland and go the path God wanted of him. We see however, when Abram takes matters into his own hands in Egypt, things go a little haywire.
Abraham, as we'll continue to read, was truly a man who placed his worth and direction in the Lord.

In John, we read about another matter of "worth" when Jesus comes to a Samaritan woman and speaks to her. This is very unlikely in this time, as Jews and Samaritans didn't speak, as you gathered from your reading. Not to mention this woman had had 5 husbands and was living with a man, unmarried. Yet Jesus shares with her the Good News of eternal living water. She is so excited, she tells her village about the "Man Who knew everything she had done". This draws more people to hear Jesus and believe. This woman was able to bring people to Jesus, despite her circumstances. Where then is her worth?

When we place our worth in people, things, achievements, etc., we are at a loss of a truly wonderful feeling of eternal security in Jesus. We can have those things and achievements, but they should never be our ultimate goal. Jesus can take your circumstance and make it something so useful and great for His mission. Don't ever throw in the towel of who you are because He has great plans for you!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Day 4: Woes of the Wicked

Day 4
Psalms 1-5

We are surrounded by enemies. Whether it be people who manipulate to meet their agendas, those who talk down on us, or the situations in life that beat us to the pit. We read in the very beginning of Psalms, however, that when we turn to the word of God, rather than the advice of the wicked, we will find greater joy in the long run. It is very evident that staying on the good side of God is the best place to be, not only because God crushes the wicked, but because He has the backs of all of His followers, and because of this, we needn't worry about anything in this life taking us down.

I get caught up in the little worries of life. I worry about bills, housework, work-work, my child, my husband, my friends, EVERYTHING! If you just ask my husband, I am one of those women who has the brain that goes everywhere in 30 seconds flat. He can't keep up and I get exhausted worrying about everything all the time.
One thing God really taught me when I faced such great and dramatic hardship a couple years ago was that He has this. As long as I strive to be in line with Him and follow His Word, I have nothing worth worry about. He has it. David faced great struggles, as we'll read throughout the Old Testament. He portrays his feelings throughout Psalms, which shows us how human and real David was, as well as how much faith he carried with him when crying out to God.
"In peace I will lie down and sleep, (surrounded by enemies in pursuit of him), for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe." (Psalm 4:8)
My dad used to say this verse to us each night before bed. As I grew up, I knew it meant God has my safety, but as life got real and I had to start making more choices, this verse was ever comforting to me.

Nothing, nothing, nothing can touch me if I have a heart for God. Those who follow in His ways are sure of this. Those who contradict His path and cause destruction in this world will feel an angry wrath that only God can produce. I never liked this picture of God (the wrathful, angry, scary one), but as I experience Him more and more, and the injustices and craziness that runs in this world, I can respect God's feelings towards it. Hang with God and you have nothing to fear. Nothing can separate you from that love.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Day 3- God > I

Day 3
Genesis 7-9, John 3

As Noah and his family wait to get off the boat amidst the 40 day storm (and another many months floating in the waters) that God washed out earth with, we can see the faith that Noah continues to have. It is incredible that Noah had so much faith that he spent about 120 years (according to the NLT Student's Study Bible) building the ark. This huge boat sat in Noah's neighborhood that long, as a last chance reminder to the other people questioning Noah's efforts. I couldn't imagine the faith Noah clung to for those years as he put up with the insults and jeering of the people around him. That is faith! We have a hard time wearing faith on our wardrobe now in grocery stores and at school, let alone displaying it as a massive lawn ornament, questioned by all. 
But, we see just how Noah's (and his sons') work paid off, and the flood waters came. And another 371 days goes by, waiting on faith. (According to the Chronological Study Bible.)

But we see how blessed Noah and his family are because of their faith. They have the wonderful privilege to start the world over and carry on God's covenant. But, as we read on, even these "mountain top" faith experiences can't keep us immune to sin, as the man God found favor in gets drunk and reckless. 

We read in John 3 today of another instance of faith. Nicodemus questions being reborn to the spirit with Jesus. Jesus explains it as the wind blowing. We see evidence of the wind blowing, but we can't see the wind itself. Faith in changing our lives and becoming new as a Christ-follower is key. We need to cling to the words and promises of God's Word as we step out in faith, living a life for Him. Our reward is beyond this life, in the Kingdom of heaven. Those who have great faith like Noah and John the Baptist, who proclaimed Christ to his own followers, telling them that Jesus must be more of the focus than him, will reap great rewards. 

Our lives should shine in exuberant faith! Make people ask why you shine, despite the evil in this world. Shine your light on God, rather than taking the credit for what you accomplish. Without God's direction and power, you would not have accomplished anything. Noah could have easily taken credit for the tiresome work he poured into the building of the ark, and John the Baptist could have made himself look like the greater leader, but both of these figures had faith enough to shine their feats back to God. How can you point your life back to Him? How can you become less, so He can be greater? Isn't that what our mission is at the base? 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Day 2 - The Downfall of Human Nature

Day 2
Genesis 4-6,  John 2

Human nature is what separates us from God. We just read of the first instances of human nature taking place in very dark ways. Cain killing Abel out of jealousy is a prime example of how we allow grudges and jealousy to invade us. God even warned Cain that sin would be lurking around the corner if he didn't just do things right in the first place. 
How many times do we try to make our lives easier by taking the quick way out? Or act on our emotions too quickly, as Cain did? Do it right by God, and sin won't overtake you.
We actually continue reading through Genesis how the world continues to spiral out of control until God actually feels sorry He created the world. This shows that our sin hurts God. I think we picture God as a stern, resilient judge and we forget He has feelings too. We were created in His image, and the way we feel is a taste of God's feelings. 
But God sees the good too. He sees Noah, and He tells Noah His plan to destroy the world. Noah has been chosen to carry it on after. I couldn't even imagine standing there, listening to God's plan and orders. I think I would be quite overwhelmed in building a boat big enough to hold all of those animals and supplies! But here, we see how God turns what seems impossible in our lives to possible. He makes a way if it is in His plan. We can count on that still today. 

In John, we read of Jesus' first miracle, performed at a wedding in providing wine out of water. Again, impossible made possible. This is what confirmed the disciples' belief in Him. 
Many times we overlook God's miracles today. He pulls us through some rough stuff, but many bat an eyelash let alone thank Him. 
Jesus again, shows that emotions are real when He is angered by the "human nature" of the merchants in the temple. This is where He gives the first mention of His dying and returning again in three days. 

Our human nature can be very stupid at times. We hold grudges, get jealous, lust, use God for our gain... But we have also read that God's glory prevails in the midst of our human nature. He has the power to change hearts and make Himself very known in intimate and mighty ways. Keep your human nature in check, and seek His glory daily!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Day 1 - In the Beginning

It's been too long since I've updated my In the Word blog! Motherhood sure pulls you time away, but this year, as we dive into a new one, I'm hoping to dive back into the Word more. I might not update everyday here, but I will be hopefully reading! So, here we go!

Day 1
Genesis 1-3, John 1

I find it ironic that today's readings begin with "In the beginning". Both John and Genesis have a "new" sort of feeling. Each year I dive back into the Word after failing at about 1 Kings, I realize that this IS a new beginning. Every day is a new one. We have a new year, a new day, a new hour, to start fresh all the time. God is so gracious to us in always being open to us when we fall and fall and fall again.
In John today, we read about how timeless God is! We are reminded right off the bat that He's been here since the beginning and His Word is always relevant. John the Baptist proclaims to the people that He is indeed Christ, and He is coming!
This year, we need to cling to our "true light" (John 1:9), proclaiming the good news of His coming an His coming again! John the Baptist was very bold in letting everyone know.
In Genesis, we read about how God made everything in the beginning. He made US in His own image, above all else on earth. But, as human nature would have it, we slipped up and did exactly what we were told not to do, and that perfection in the world was ruined because a serpent came along and tempted.
This isn't only true back in the beginning, but we need to be on our guard that Satan is lurking and seeking any foothold he can get in your life. He will find ways to make you slip and fall, but God can always pick us up again. Guard yourself from Satan's grasp and cling to your Light!
As John 1 wraps up, Jesus calls His first disciples. All a bunch of normal guys, who were eager to follow. When Jesus calls you this year, are you going to follow Him?

We have this amazing God...Who set the stars in their place, created the beautiful plants of the earth, and made YOU in His image. He loves us so much, that He is always walking with us. He is timeless. He is calling you to be on His team. This is a new year, filled with new opportunities, and new ways to experience Him. Shine His light, and shine it proudly, for there is no time like now to proclaim Him in your life!