Friday, February 26, 2016

Day 57 - Christ's Compassion

Day 57
Exodus 27-28, Matthew 14
The intricacies of the piecing together of tabernacle and the logistics of it is definitely an indication of how detailed and intricate our God is. This shows how detailed He is with our lives and our hearts too! He cares about every aspect of our lives, no matter how trivial and complicated our situation may seem. He knows and He wants you to come to Him.

Our reading in Matthew today is a prime example of God's heart for us, as we see the compassion, sadness, and care that Jesus shows here. As Jesus receives word that his friend, John the Baptist, was killed He tries to go find solitude to grieve. But as we read, the people follow Him and He notices the need that is before Him. Rather than avoiding the multitude of people tracking Him down, Jesus feeds them by performing a miraculous feat in multiplying the bread and fishes.

When we read of Peter walking on the water with Jesus, we can see where faith comes into play here. Jesus cares for Peter and grabs him when he falls into the water, but also reminds him that it takes faith to stay afloat. Jesus wants us to have that faith in Him and to trust that He will catch us when we fall. He wants us to grow and to lean on Him, even if that means we have to learn some hard lessons at times.

The next time you question your worth, remember how much Christ cares for you. He has every detail and every step planned for us. He cares for our needs and what we are desiring. And, He cares that we continue to grow and lean on Him in all circumstances. Remember how much He loves you - so much that He died for you, so you can spend eternity with Him!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Day 56 - Welcoming Your Everything

Day 56
Exodus 25-26, Matthew 13:30-58

Do you realize how important a relationship with Jesus is? Jesus tries to explain in parable after parable about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. Even though Jesus shares how urgent it is to hear the Good News, His words were still turned down by some, including His own hometown. Welcoming Jesus into our hearts and lives today is an urgent message that needs to get to all!

The Israelites built a tabernacle so that God could "dwell among them". While going to church or walking into the tabernacle then doesn't bring you salvation, or make you a Christian, it is a way to intentionally bring our offerings to God in worship and recognition each week. Everyday should bring this, in fact. The difference between the time of Exodus and the time after Jesus' death is that we don't have to have a middle party to have God's presence. Moses had to approach God on behalf of the people, and up until Jesus' death, a priest played that role.

Jesus, once again, breaks the trend and the traditions of what was known. God walked among us through Jesus, and because of that, the Kingdom of Heaven was explained through His Words. The comparisons we read of here include the Kingdom of Heaven being like:

A mustard seed - the tiniest seed can spread rapidly
Yeast in bread - it permeates with little
Hidden Treasure/Pearl - Once you find it, it is all you need
Fishing - keep the good and weed out the bad - what the angels will do with the people on judgement day.

These may seem daunting, but Jesus makes it so possible for all to get there. Accepting and welcoming Him into our lives is more than a checklist - but it is making Him our lives and allowing our hearts to embrace His mission. Little is much in spreading God's Kingdom, and it is everything we could ever need. Make sure the motives of your heart are in check and fully embrace Him. He is all you need and will ever need. Welcome Him today and feel the power of His Kingdom. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Day 55- Let it Grow

Day 55
Exodus 23-24, Matthew 13:1-30

Jesus explains the four types of seeds in His parable, which we can probably relate to if we've been working on growing our faith or planting the seed in someone else to grow. Jesus says "he who has eyes and sees is blessed and he who has ears that hear is blessed."

It takes an open heart and soul to allow our faith to grow. The Israelites have experienced this every step of their way, and now they are ready to build a relationship with God and know Who He is. God comes to them and tells them the covenant He wants to form with them, and the people are able to be in awe of the Lord because of their ears that heard (literally at times) and there eyes that saw.

This can be a very frustrating thing in our lives. Sometimes we long to see God and we long to hear God but we feel like He isn't moving. God's timing, as you know by now, is everything. There are seeds that are sown that land on a path, and never have the chance to grow, because their foundation is not ideal. Maybe you've shared the message with someone, but it just didn't click for them, or they were turned off by it.

The seeds that were sown onto rocky soil also didn't have ideal conditions to form roots. They are so excited about what they have heard or what they have experienced, but as soon as life throws them a curve ball or worries hit, their hearts turn to other things. The seeds that are choked by thorns let the worries of life invade and they don't turn to God for those worries. They deal with them on their own and fall away from the true help they could have had. Then there are the seeds that grow in the good soil and produce great fruit in their lives that give off the sweet taste of God and their faith. They are able to share it with all who come near them because they give off a wonderful vibe of Who God is.

What kind of seed are you? Do you know someone who falls into a category that could use some prayer?

If you have the open ears, open eyes and open heart to received the goodness that God has poured into your life, you are blessed indeed. Even in the rough times of life, if you can cling to what God has in store for you, you are sitting pretty good. But for those who need prayer to grow in faith and to hear the message in a powerful way, don't give up! God's timing is everything. Keep planting the seeds and let God work.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Day 54 - Bottom Lines

Day 54
Exodus 21-22, Matthew 12

While policies are so boring and can make a person feel like they're being put through the processes, they are a necessary evil. As the people of Moses begin to settle in together as a traveling community, we read how the policies are needed to keep the lines evident and the expectations clear. The same goes for certain areas of our lives today, whether it be in our work or as a parent to our children.

As we begin just the beginning of the rules and regulations that are being presented in Exodus (and beyond), we'll probably have to shrug our shoulders at some of them and remember how different the times and culture were back in that day. The bottom lines still remain though - love God, love others.

In Matthew, we see how Jesus puts a spin on the old rules and gets called out by the Pharisees for allowing the disciples to eat from the fields and by healing people on the Sabbath. Jesus challenges them and their reasoning however, and asks a very important question that is relevant today. "How much more valuable is a person than a sheep?"

But really. We cling to our traditions. We cling to our "ways of growing up". We cling to everything but reaching out to people it seems. Jesus shows us how to love. Traditions are great, but they can sure hinder the outreach part of church and life at times. The organ may be traditional and a very beautiful-sounding instrument, but it isn't so appealing to the younger generation that just needs a trusting place to fit. We can turn them away (people) because we care too much about our things and traditions. We are NEVER to give up the Gospel message and the essentials that go along with that, but for the other things that hinder growth of someone's faith, we need to think hard.

What is the bottom line in your life? Do you cling so tightly to traditions and the old rules, that you can't see past what people need today? Everyone is looking for something. The people who enter our churches looking for something honestly don't really care about your traditions. The bottom line is Jesus and loving Him and loving others. Jesus makes that pretty clear. There is nothing wrong with traditions and doing things the "ol fashioned way", but don't ever let it hinder the love we need to show others, so they may have a clear picture of what Jesus is about. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Day 53 - Consistent Life

Day 53
Psalms 26-27
Coming to God anytime and all the time, rather just when we need Him to rescue us is ideal. We see how David has constant contact with God throughout his life, when times are good and when times are bad. I can't help but wonder when people say "God isn't real because He didn't answer my plea". God becomes real when He is THE reason you live life and you treat Him with a proper relationship.

Where is your heart? What are its motives? Leaning on God for one situation and then acting like He doesn't exist in your life will show you where those motives are. David asks God to show him the blind spots in his faith and in his life. His heart longs to be right with God as he goes about life.

We see David relate with God in all aspects of his life as we read throughout Psalms. David not only asks for protection, but he also praises God, admires Him, asks to be cleansed, points out attributes, etc. What else do you talk to God about rather than just asking for His provision in a particular situation?

Don't treat God like He's only there for your provision. To have a true relationship with people, you talk to them about whatever, you don't only ask them for things. (That is just downright annoying too.) If you are seeking to have a "real" God in your life, start treating Him like He is real and keep your conversations with Him consistent all throughout the day, not just when you're facing a problem.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Day 52 - Evidence of God

Day 52
Exodus 19-20, Matthew 11

It is interesting that God reveals Himself in mighty ways to fill the Israelites in on the 10 Commandments. The complaining and disbelief would have likely ended here with that kind of evidence that God was with them, but we'll continue to read of the peoples' lack of faith as we continue on through Exodus.

The rules weren't made so that we as a people couldn't be free in Christ, but so we can be made whole in Christ. Think of it as setting the rules for kids. Parents set rules not to stomp on their kids' fun, but to keep them safe and growing up right. God made "rules" so that we can be kept safe an continually growing in Him. Our hearts will land in the rule book in the precise spot that it longs for. What I mean by this is that if we long to have Christ in our lives and to grow in Him, the rules will come naturally and your life will carry evidence that Christ is a big deal in it. If you care about yourself and having temporary fun, then you'll probably land somewhere outside of the rules.

According to the 10 Commandments, God values 2 things: Respect and respect for others. What we value, we put rules on. He values us, thus the rules. There is evidence that we are His valuable creations.

John the Baptist needed confirmation that Jesus was the Messiah. He was having a tough time seeing the evidence that Jesus was He. How many times do we do this throughout life? We question the whole "God's path" thing because it just doesn't seem spectacular enough, or flashy enough. Jesus came as a humble baby - not what many were probably expecting. He wasn't the most respected person as He carried out His ministry. Again, probably not what people were picturing in a "messiah". And He was crucified. This led to the disciples and many questioning everything, until He rose again. All throughout Scripture, there is great evidence of Jesus being the Savior.

Is God evident in your life? Do you realize that there is evidence that shows how valuable you are to Him? When the path we are on doesn't seem all that "miraculous", remember how humble God is. His plans are always perfect and in time you will see how evident He was in the molding of the plan He sent you. Ask God to show you evidence of Him as you proceed through today, so you can continue to be in awe and have an inexplicable faith that longs for Him.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Day 51 - Ultimate Provider

Day 51
Exodus 16-18

God grants us with astounding provision at just the right time. We see the example of the Israelites and the manna that God provided just enough of for the day. It is so easy to keep thinking we need more when we live in a culture where we can have anything we want anytime we want. Keeping up with the people around us and trying to have what they have is a dangerous path to be on. The people learned this as they tried to take more than they needed, and it rotted.

Not only in food did the Lord provide for the Israelites, but the very next chapter of Exodus, He provided water. Even when the people continued to complain and show their lack of trust. And then in the next section, we read that He granted them protection from the Amalekites. The Lord cares about our personal well-being too, as Moses is told by his father in law to start delegating the numerous tasks to trusted leaders of the people.

I can't even tell you how important that delegation thing is, but it is gold. Not only does it take some off of your plate, but it empowers other leaders to take ownership in the mission you are trying to carry out! There are great benefits to doing it, no matter where you are!

In Matthew, we read as Jesus "delegates" the disciples to go out and spread the Good News. He gives them specific and solid instructions, telling them not to bring anything with them, but to depend on the hospitality of the homes they find themselves in. He tells them not to fear or to waste their time on places that refuse their welcome. Jesus also says to shout His news from the rooftops!

I just love this part:
“But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. 27 What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!"

I think it is so easy for people to speak their minds about whatever, but when it comes to talking about Jesus, Christians can freeze up and avoid the conflict. We read though that we shouldn't be afraid and that the Lord is on our side when we work for Him. If we hold on to our reputations and pride, we will lose our lives. But when we give it up for Christ and His mission, we will have greater life to come! 

Where do you need His ultimate provision today? Hopefully most of you reading this have food in the fridge and water, but do you need to delegate more? Maybe you need protection from a situation or a deep, heartfelt prayer answered. Jesus calls us to go out and shout His News from the rooftops. Do you need a little courage to do that? God has it and He knows just what you need TODAY! Give it to Him and He will be your Ultimate Provider if your needs match His will! 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Day 50 - Faith in Action

Day 50
Exodus 14-15, Matthew 9
Prayer is a very essential part to faith and finding out God's direction for your life. I am a firm believer that it should be a a major part of your walk with Him. But when we begin to use that "wait and pray" time as an excuse not to jump eventually, it can sure hinder the faith in action portion of your walk.

We read an example of this in Exodus as the Israelites stay put and pray to the Lord as the Egyptians close in on them. God tells them to get moving, asking them why they are still crying out to Him. If we wait around too long, too fearful to move in the direction God is telling us to, we can get overrun and miss out on a great opportunity. Because the Israelites had faith in God doing the impossible, they got to witness great miracles done by Him, and we read how much they praised Him for it.

There are many examples of this throughout Matthew 9, as people continue to approach Jesus, needing healing and help. It's the people who go to Him and take the initiative who experience His true power. The bleeding woman who reached out and touched His robe took quite the risk in carrying out her faith, and it paid off. She was healed and blessed because of her boldness and faith.

At the end of Matthew 9, Jesus points out how workers are needed to help others in need. Isn't that so true today too? I think many times we are too afraid to help or jump on board a mission opportunity because we want that specific "nudge" from God that we can keep changing the specifications of. We can sit around and wait for the perfect opportunity, or we can pursue and path and know that God will close the door if it isn't right.

God wants us to take a leap in His direction. We can sit around all our lives waiting on all the "answers" and the "specific nudging that we make the rules for," but we will be missing out on what God has in store for us. His miraculous ways are evident when we move in His direction and allow Him to guide us through the seemingly impossible paths that lie ahead. As intimidating as they may be, He will make it all so worth it.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Day 49- Remembering

Day 49
Exodus 12-13, Matthew 8

God sure pulled people out of some hefty storms and situations. I think He has come to everyone's rescue at some point, whether you believe it or not. We read how the Israelites celebrate Passover in order to remember the great rescue God provided them from Egypt. As we continue to read about their journey, we will see soon enough that they quickly forget about God's faithfulness to them and complain about even lesser situations.

It is important to remember what God has done for you, both big and small. Whether He healed you in a miraculous way or put food on your table, proclaiming glory and gratitude are in order. As we read how Jesus healed the sick, we can see the different reactions from the people. Many rejoiced and told everyone they knew. Others felt humbled and deeply grateful for the miracles blessed to them. Some ordered Jesus away. 

The disciples even had a rough time remembering how faithful God was and were scared in the midst of a storm at sea. Jesus questions them and calms the storm right before their eyes. After witnessing all of the miracles Jesus performed, they still forgot in the midst of hardship. 

How do you intentionally remember what God has done for you and His faithfulness to you? It's hard to relive the hardships we have faced, or the difficult situations we have found ourselves in, whether we put ourselves there or not, but how do you celebrate and remember God's goodness? The Israelites struggled with this, and even the disciples who walked next to Jesus. Remember what God has done for you, and cling to that as you face the next storm. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Day 48 - Giving it Over

Day 48
Exodus 9-11, Matthew 7

What is hardening your heart recently? When God asks you to give something over to Him, what do you tend to hold onto the tightest? We see how Pharaoh refused and refused to give over the Israelites, even though God's power was displayed over and over for him to see.

I think we sometimes miss the miracles that are right in front of us. We expect God to do mighty, obvious acts, like He did with the 10 Plagues, but don't you realize that everyday He does do just that all around you? Every breath we inhale and every beat of our hearts is a gift from God. The way He works out a situation or when you run into the right person at the right time, He is moving in mighty ways. I have experienced miracles a few times in my own life, and I am a firm believer of the modern day miracles that show Who God is in powerful ways. Yet I still struggle with letting go of some things.

Pharaoh slowly built up to letting the people go, but he kept on holding onto his pride, insisting on getting something out of the deal - whether Moses was only allowed to take the men, then all but the livestock, and finally he folds and gives it all over. We see how God takes away more and more throughout the whole ordeal with him though. When we have trusted God with everything, we can be okay when things fall out of our lives, because we know His plan far-exceeds our own.

This kind of faith can guide us in what we ask God for and how we judge others. Knowing God's heart and trusting in His hand to take care of us no matter what we lose and what we go through sure changes the picture when we approach Him for "favors" and requests. Building that relationship with Him so we can get to that point is a long and painful process, but so worth it!

What do you hold tightly to? Is there something in your life that you need to be okay with handing over to God - like your finances, your family, your career, your plans for even tomorrow? Building that relationship on the Rock can give us a true perspective of what really should matter most in our lives, and then we can be okay no matter what we lose or what we endure in this life. Consider the miracles He shows you daily and know His power is greater than anything else in this world!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Day 47 - Show Them Your God

Day 47
Exodus 7-8, Matthew 6:19-34
Did you know that when you claim the title of "Christian" you are constantly painting a picture of who God is to all around you, especially to unbelievers? In Exodus 7:1, God tells Moses that He "will make him seem like God to Pharaoh." Moses is essentially showing Pharaoh how powerful and persistent his God is. What are you showing others about your God?

We can show people over and over Who our God is, but maybe they stay hard of heart like Pharaoh. Be persistent. You never know when God will move in them. Show them why you shine and why you have a reason to hold your head up. God can perform great miracles through you like He did with Moses. Moses didn't have the confidence to face Pharaoh, but we see that God still used him to move mountains and rescue His people.

As we continue to read the Sermon on the Mount, we read about storing our treasures in heaven and casting aside our worries. When we store everything we care about in heaven and have a heart for what God's heart beats for, we can find freedom from the worries of this world. Where your heart and worries are makes all the difference as to the light that shines from you. When your cares are in God's hands, you can fully give yourself to Him and His cause. But when you are weighed down and worried about things of this world, it is easy to forget where your heart needs to be.

Believe that God has you and you can shine His light so bright to those around you. Paint that picture of Him to others that portrays Who He really is. Be persistent when you don't think He is using you for His cause. Stay in tune with Him and let Him direct your steps and the mission He calls you to. Cast your worries into His very capable hands and let your light shine so that others want a piece of what makes you glow. 

Day 46 - A Good Shepherd

Day 46
Psalm 23-25

Even though we read Psalms 23-25 today, I'd like to take a closer look at Psalm 23, and see what it means to us today.

The Lord is my Shepherd
I have all that I need

How has God provided for all of your needs?

He lets me rest in green meadows, 
He leads me beside peaceful streams

 How do you find peace in the Lord? Reflect on something today that you could use peace from or about.

He renews my strength
He guides me along right paths
bringing honor to His name.

Where do you need strength today? How can you bring God honor with the strength He provides for you?

Even when I walk through the darkest valley
I will not be afraid
for You are close beside me
Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.

How can you remind yourself that everything will be ok, even as you walk through a tough time in life? A shepherd uses his staff to keep a sheep on the right path and correct them. How does this line up with what God does for us?

You prepare a feast for me 
in the presence of my enemies. 
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.

What are your thoughts on this section? How does this apply to you today?

Surely your goodness and
unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

How does sticking close to your "Shepherd" lead you to a life of love and goodness? What about in the dark times of life - how does this apply then? What reward awaits us at the end of this life for staying close to Him?

Psalm 24 is a good follow up to the end of Psalm 23, as it goes into who will truly see the Lord. Psalm 25 leads us into our everlasting trust in the Lord, even when life throws us enemies (whether that be in health, people, jobs, etc.). Repenting and remember what He has done for us and holding tight to what He will do will keep us close to Him.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Day 45 - A Real God

Day 45
Exodus 4-6, Matthew 6:1-18

Making excuses to God when we are called to do the hard things can be a bad habit indeed. We see how Moses was pretty much terrified to face Pharaoh, but God didn't allow him to keep making excuses, as He provided everything Moses needed to approach Pharaoh.

What kind of excuses do you feed God when you feel that nudging to do something you don't think you can do? One thing we need to remember is that God is truly real and that He will carry you through if you are pursuing a task for Him. I think it is so easy to make these excuses because we don't think that is really God prodding us, or we forget that He can do great things because we don't always see Him.

When we can look back and see God's faithfulness in our lives and how He pulled us through the missions that seemed intimidating at the time, we can look ahead at the next mission He calls us to, and perhaps feel like it isn't so bad compared to how the last time went. Any mission that God calls us to will be well worth it in the end, and you will come through a new, changed person with faith that can move mountains.

It is important to remember how real our God is when we are praying to Him. In Matthew, we read that Jesus told the people not to just babble on and on when you pray, but to take it seriously and have faith that your Father is listening. The same goes with how you fast and give. Remembering that God sees all and knows all is important, as we strive to please Him and Him alone. What people around us think won't matter in the end. God has the last say and everything we do should be for His glory and not for ours.

How real is your God to you? Do you have faith in Him to carry you through the missions He calls you to? Excuses are easy to make when we don't feel like doing the hard things, and passing them off is simple because even though you feel God's nudging, you can easily deny your abilities and His calling. But if you believe in a Real and Powerful God, you can find it easier to have faith to do the hard things. The same goes for when you talk to Him in prayer. Rather than sharing your words with the people all around you and showing them how "good" of a Christian you are, make it real just between you and God. Talk to Him like you would a friend. Make God real in your life today.

Day 44 - Obedience in God's Timing

Day 44
Exodus 1-3, Matthew 5:27-48

As you recall back when we wrapped up Genesis, Joseph and his family were a high-ranked people in Egypt. As time went by, and rulers passed on, however, the Hebrews become intimidating to the Egyptians, and they are forced into harsh slavery. As Pharaoh calls for all the newborn boys to be slain, in hopes of controlling the population of the Hebrews, we see two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who take the high road in doing what is right to preserve the lives of the newborn boys.

Because of another mother's heart for doing the right thing, we see that Moses' life is preserved and he would go on to rescue all of God's people out of Egypt. God's plan in the small acts is something that can end up huge in the end. This mother's small act of putting her baby in a basket, turned into a big deal later down the road.

Once Moses grew, he had a sense of justice as well, when he saw the Egyptian beating a Hebrew, and he reacted by killing the Egyptian, then fled. But as we continue to read, Moses escapes and God comes to him with a master plan through a burning bush. Moses, being unsure, still obeys with God's help, as we will read later.

The theme of obedience in God's timing continues as we read through the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus state various laws that came out of Moses' time and puts a different spin on them. Rather than abolishing the law, Jesus makes them more relationship-oriented. We can see how timing is everything here and in Exodus. As a world takes on a Savior, the laws become different. If you are 5 years old and your parents give you rules about staying out too late, that doesn't seem to fit. You have rules for what applies at the time and in the specific situation. The similarity is here as Jesus speaks about the laws. After a Savior dies for us, the world became a different place in terms of how things were done as believers.

Obedience in God's timing can be tough. We want things on our time and we have a hard time when things change. But trusting that God has a plan in the timing scheme, can help us to see past our wants, and look deeper into the grand plan of His power. Trust in His timing and allow Him to work in and through you as He carries out His master plan!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Day 43 - Blessings

Day 43
Job 41-42, Matthew 5:1-26

The ways Jesus put out on who is blessed vs. what the world says about being "blessed" seem to completely contradict each other. Those who realize their need for God will inherit the kingdom! Job was this person. He knew how much he needed God and he repented in this way towards God in the end. Job fit many of the categories listed in the Beatitudes. We can see just how blessed Job was, and just how much he shined for God in his circumstances.

God wants us to do right by others, as he states in the Sermon on the Mount and as we see at the end of Job. "So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the alter in the Temple, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the alter. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God."

At the end of Job, God has his friends bring sacrifices for speaking wrongly about Him, and has Job pray for his friends. This seems like a genius way to humble the friends who thought they knew it all, and help Job be reconciled with them.

Are you living in a grudge of a broken relationship? Being reconciled with that person is huge to God as He tells us to not even bring Him our offerings until we are reconciled. Communion is a classic example of holding off of until you are made right with the people in your life.

God blesses the most unexpected people. The ways of the world say that you will be "blessed" by all the stuff and power you have. Jesus says that the poor, meek, merciful, pure, peacemakers, and persecuted will find blessing. Forgiveness and a humble heart are key. Be reconciled with one another and experience the true blessings of our Father, so you can truly shine for Him!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Day 42 - All-Knowing God

Day 42
Job 38-40, Matthew 4

Arguing with God is so easy to do, especially when life seems unfair. We question God's motive and wonder why He would let bad things happen to us. We see Job struggle with this as well as his friends on his behalf. But when God rebuttals and makes Job realize just how all-knowing He is, Job is left practically speechless and ashamed.

When we question God, it is important to remember that He knows everything. Every details of our lives is planned out and set ahead of us, as well as the big picture of His perfect plan. We can question all we want, but it won't change this fact. Just because God speaks audibly to Job (as it seems), doesn't mean He doesn't speak to us, through His Word, wise counsel around us, through nature, etc. He leaves us reminders all over to help us through and call us back to Him.

As Jesus is tempted in the wilderness by Satan, we see just how well He knows the scriptures to avoid the temptation. There is something major to be pointed out here - Jesus is tired and hungry. Isn't this when we are at our weakest moments in life? We tend to make irrational decisions when we are hurt, hungry, angry, tired, or lonely. (H.A.L.T) Because Jesus quotes scripture, we see that He remembers His Father's words and has them embedded into His life. And while we can expect this from the Son of God, it doesn't mean we shouldn't take note of this and embed the Word into our lives as well, to be reminded in the weak moments of God's all-knowing characteristic.

As the followers come to Jesus as He begins His ministry, we can take example from them in considering what and who we will follow in this life. We can follow the unknown things that know nothing about our lives, or we can follow an all-knowing, all-powerful God, Who cares for us deeper than anyone else ever could.

God knows where our lives are heading. He can pinpoint the days ahead and lay out spectacular plans. He knows all! He knows the intricate details of our lives and the big picture of His perfect plan for all of eternity. Knowing Him and embedding His Word into our lives will help us when things get tough. Follow the One Who cares the most for you, rather than the temporary things in this world and the people that disappoint. He knows your heart and He knows what you need in this very moment.

Day 41 - Wonder

Day 41
Job 36-37, Matthew 3

I have a song that is completely ingrained in me since returning from the Dominican a couple weeks ago. Maybe you have heard it - "Wonder" by Bethel. Some of the words that repeat are:
"May we never lose our wonder. 
Wide-eyed and mystified, may we be just like a child, staring at the beauty of our King."

I find such beauty in this song since hearing it for the first time in the midst of a poverty-stricken community. I can see what Elihu is getting at here when he goes through all of the wonderful things God has accomplished in nature. We can't help but wonder how His plan comes together and becomes His best work when we are at the bottom of the hole like Job. He has commanded the lightening, created gorgeous store-houses in the snow and He can surely create beautiful things in us.

I think the more we wonder about God and His ideas, we draw nearer to Him. John the Baptist creates a great sense of wonder when he prepares the way for the Savior. People aren't sure what to believe, but it sure got them wondering what was going to happen. Then Jesus turns the tables on John and asks that he baptize Him. John is at a loss and feels like it should be the other way around.

We can sure wonder at times about our situation and what God's plan is in the end. If this Mighty God can create a home for the birds and make everything so intricate, He can surely work the same way with us, who He finds much more important than birds and nature. Jesus' ways weren't like that of our world. They sure contradict what we are surrounded by. But when we continue to wonder about His teachings and put them into practice, we can grow and be unashamed of who we are in Him. May we never lose our wonder.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Day 40- Seek Him

Day 40
Job 34-35, Matthew 2

 Even though reading parts of the Christmas story right now may seem funny, the concepts most definitely still apply! Even in Job's situation, we can tie together these two books of the Bible.

As the wise men traveled far to seek their Savior, we need to understand that these men were much like the "unchurched" in today's world. They were "looking for something" meaningful, as many who are seeking meaning do. The wise men were not the high of the society, but they still went to Christ, outwitting King Herod in the meantime.

Once they found Him, they brought Him gifts and worshiped Him. The process here is stunning. Seek, give, worship. There is no reason this can't apply in today's world. People are looking for something - a meaning, a fix, a way to live. We can pound Jesus into their heads all we want, but it won't matter until they experience Him themselves. One person's word doesn't mean much when you come from a life of disappointment and life falling apart.

Once you find Him, and give Him your all, the amazing things begin to blossom in life, and we can't help but worship.

We need to seek Him in every situation. I'm sure you know by now that situations like Job's require a lot of heart searching and remembering Who you serve. His friends could take this to heart too. Seeking Christ will lead you to the best advice, and give you words to live by. Rather than repeating over and over again how arrogant Job was, and how sinful he was, his friends could have had the truth revealed to them if they just opened their eyes instead of their egos.

Are you seeking something right now? Is the meaning of life something that is just blurry to you? Look for something different, something eternal and something that is completely worthwhile. In everything you do, seek Him! Finding your place in Christ's plan can cause amazing awe in your life, and you can't help but worship because of the amazing things He as done.

Day 39- Victory

Day 39
Psalm 20-22

We read David's powerful words to His God, as he celebrates victory over his enemies thanks to God's hand. The power portrayed in David's words give us a glimpse of the God we serve and have by our sides. It is interesting in Psalm 22 where it foreshadows to Jesus' death. David's life felt hopeless, much like that time for Jesus and His disciples, but as you know, victory was the moral of the story, and it can be your story too. 

Have you celebrated the victories God has given you? Whether they are big or small victories, they are worthy of praising Him for them. With the rest of your quiet time, reflect on the victories God has given you. Celebrate and praise Him for them! If you're in a rut, pray for God's victory. Trust in Him to show you a marvelous light through it all! 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Day 38 - Own It

Day 38
Job 32-33, Matthew 1

We see how God takes ordinary people to do extraordinary things and make wonderful points. Matthew leads up to the birth of Jesus through people who weren't all that holy. As you will see as we make our way through the Word, however, is that God used these people to bring the Savior!

Trudging through life, and trying to cope in "survival mode" seems to be a theme for many. We get through a day and move onto the next one, not really looking back or looking ahead. When we hit a wall and mess up, we figure we are unworthy or done with what God had planned for us, but the truth of the matter is those moments are when God can shine in you most.

Even in Job's situation, God will move in extraordinary ways. He has a plan, He has a plan, He has a plan! Despite how people judge you and what they think about the situation you are in, He is ultimately the One in control.

Each of the names leading up the Christ's birth had a story and they had hardships. There are no perfect people, nor are there easy lives, but these people, whether you had heard of them or not, played a huge role in bringing Christ to the world. No matter how insignificant you feel or how messed up you think your life is, God will use you!

Joseph, Mary's husband, was a great example of owning his situation. Because Mary had gotten pregnant (Joseph was unaware of how until the angel came to him) he had made plans to leave Mary quietly. In this culture, this was a big deal. Mary could have been stoned to death if Joseph had blown the whistle on her being a "cheater", before knowing the whole story. But Joseph, we read, takes ownership and he "took" Mary to be his wife. This word "took" means to take (receive) by showing strong personal initiative. Joseph owned this situation and stayed in God's plan!

Where are you finding yourself in life today? No matter how insignificant you feel, or how mundane your days are, remember, God is using them for a greater purpose. You may feel like your life is so messed up and there is no fixing it, but God has a plan! We see all the "messed up" people He used to bring us a Savior! He will do greatness in and through you too! Own this day and your situation. Own your life!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Day 37-Getting Over Yourself

Day 37
Job 30-31

The pride that stirs in our culture is very evident. While pride alone isn't bad, it is where pride can lead us that causes issues. Galatians 5:3 says that "you are not too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important."

I don't point this out to cause you to completely trample yourself and not find value in who you are, but to remind you of the gentle nature we are to have in a world that thrives on "being the best". Humility gives you those eyes to see the needs around you. Living in a self-absorbed bubble blurs what you see when you look out it.

Job was a man of great humility. Though he was rich, blessed and had everything he could have ever needed and wanted, he still helped others and was righteous in the Lord's eyes. Job rants on about what he has accomplished and had, but he pads that with God is God and always will be. We cannot judge the Lord and we surely can't change the way of His plan.

Our Galatians reading today tells us to bear each others' burdens, and as we reflect back to Job's friends, we can see that they didn't do such a lovely job at that. They tended to throw Job over the coals for things he wasn't guilty of, rather than simply listening and being humble towards him. As Galatians states, don't follow what people tell you to do, as they are trying to get the credit for your works, but follow what Christ is telling you to do, because our boast should be in the cross alone.

If your life is all about what you can do for you, rather than humbling yourself to help others, you have received your reward. Having open eyes and a heart for the hurting around you, and finding your pride only in Christ and what He has done for us all will put you and the ones you help on the right path."As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified and the world's interest in me has also died. It doesn't matter what you do. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Day 36 - God's Perspective

Day 36
Job 28-29, Galatians 5

The way that Job explains and builds up to how valuable and precious God's wisdom is sure shows us how important it is to chase after it. Job knows that we have an All-Knowing God, Who has reasons for everything that we endure and will make great things out of it. Job points out how God has planned paths for lightening, shows the wind how hard to blow, and He knows the outcome of our daily lives. God has this wisdom beyond comprehension that is incomparable to anything else in this world!

As Job reflects back over the good life he had before everything fell apart, I don't think it is coincidence that he prefaced this with speaking of God's wisdom and how precious it is. Job knows that God has reasons and plans for everything. Our minds can't fathom what God can do in the midst of chaos and darkness. We see how respected of a man Job was and how wonderful his life was. My question and challenge for you is this: If you had a like like Job had had before all the chaos, would your faith be as strong?

In Galatians we read about finding freedom in Christ, and allowing the Spirit to empower our lives, rather than things of this world. When we find our grace and wisdom in Christ, we gain so much. The Spirit produces good kinds of fruit, as we read - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Anything that contradicts these in this world, are not from God, as it states "there is no law against these things."

When we allow these little pieces of the world to get into our lives, they become like yeast in bread and end up saturating our lives. Developing our character from the fruits of the Spirit in every aspect of our lives can help us to gain that perspective of God. He wants every part of us.

When we open up our all to Him, we begin to saturate our lives in His wisdom, perspective and grace. We can hang onto a piece of our lives and keep it from Him, but that little piece still makes us who we are as a whole. Not giving it all over to God can cause us to miss out on the full picture of God's greatness and plan for our lives. Soak up His wisdom and live in the power of His Spirit, embracing every turn in life that can grow you.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Day 35- Humility Works

Day 35
Job 25-27, Galatians4

The opportunities to be humble throughout our readings today show us how important it is. Job's friends need to realize how far a little humility can go when they can learn to consider the situation before trying to speak their minds and fix something that isn't broken in the way they think it is. It is easy to take pride in the knowledge we have and spew it all over someone who is hurting and lost in life, but what will that really do for them?

We see how frustrated Job continues to get at his friend for not simply taking compassion on him, rather than running their mouths and making harsh assumptions. Job, we know, is a humble man. His conscience is clear because he daily brought himself to the Lord and admitted his faults and needs to Him. Does this make Job a perfect person? No. But it kept Job's pride in check as he expressed his need for the Lord daily.

In Galatians, we read about being open to the changes God wants to make in our lives. Paul speaks to the people of Galatia, urging them to change their ways. When we face accountability with a person we can trust, it takes great humility to realize the changes we need to make and to be open to being told of the changes we need to make. It is amazing the way humility can make your life so much better!

In a world full of pride and speaking one's mind, we read in God's Word that humility is key and that it works. How great can it be if we decide to set our pride aside and love people for who they are, and showing them how much we care before showing them how much we know. Being humble before God keeps us on a right path with Him, and we gain a whole different perspective of the world around us. Rather than looking at what the world owes us, we can see what we can do for the world around us to shine His Light.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Day 34 - Grace Across the Board

Day 34
Job 22-24, Galatians 3

When you view grace and God's love, do you picture it through works? Do you picture it only available to certain people? Job's friends continue on about how Job has done wrong in the Lord's sight. And while the law was a very important part of the culture at that time, Christ has died for us so that the law is no longer our primary guidance.

I don't know about you, but I would have been so done with my friends by now if I were in Job's shoes. They continue to practically say the same things over and over, claiming that Job has done evil, whether known or unknown in his sight, and this is the reason he as faced so much hardship. But once again, we know that Job has been righteous in the Lord's sight and this is from Satan's schemes. We will see the amazing work that the Lord will do in, through and for Job as we continue through his book. God's grace is not only for Job, but his friends as well, even if Job and we are annoyed with them already.

We may rely on getting God's grace through obedience to Him, but this is not how we get grace. It isn't about what we do, but what He did. God loved us so much, He provided a way around all the legalism in sacrifices and keeping every law perfectly, in sending His Son to die for us. Grace is for everyone. We don't need to keep up with it by doing all of these good things. While what we do reflects our hearts for God, it isn't the way to heaven. Accepting His grace and gift to us is our goal. The motives of our hearts will be determined through the rest.

Do you have a hard time seeing that God's grace is for all? Maybe you feel like you are unworthy, or don't fit the picture of what God is looking for in sharing His grace and love. There is good news! You don't have to clean your life up to come to Him or to walk into a church. He is ready for you NOW. His grace is available to ALL. Saying yes to Him begins a whole new road to a life full of grace, love and the ultimate satisfaction in growing in Him!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Day 33 - Stand Firm

Day 33
Job 20-21; Galatians 2

It can be so hard to stand firm in the midst of hardship and loss. We may see people around us prospering and not having to worry about things like money, health, relationships, etc. and wonder why they get the "special treatment" from God. The truth is no one has everything together. People just cover things in different ways. Some put on their Sunday best all the time and don't allow others to know the secrets in their lives that are causing the stress. Others feel like they are falling apart all the time (I sure can relate) and can't seem to cover it up like others.

As Zophar talks to Job and tries to "encourage" him, I guess... we do see the truth that God doesn't let anyone get away with their crime. In Job's case, Zophar - like all of Job's other friends, is wrong, but he speaks truth about Who God is. We can feel burned by people at times and wonder why they are able to get away with it, but the truth is, they won't. Just because on earth here they may never get "caught" doesn't mean that God won't pour out justice on them. Remember this when you think you can get away with something too. Always have a pure heart towards others and you'll have a pure heart towards God. A firm heart towards God when things seem unfair is important.

Job struggles with Zophar's response against him, and replies with an attitude of humility towards God, claiming that no one has the right to judge God and Who He is. Job knows that God has a plan here and that God is in control, even though right now it doesn't feel that way. In the midst of our hardships, we can choose this attitude as well. God IS in control and God DOES have a plan. His way is perfect! Having a firm heart towards God when everything falls apart is important.

Today, in Galatians we read about Paul's experience with standing firm, as he tells about refusing any other truth or foundation other than the Gospel. Paul wasn't intimidated by these individuals who were labeled "great leaders" in the community. He was only moved by what God wanted of him. Even the law cannot bind Paul, as that can even cause us to forget the true meaning in Who God is. Keeping up with God and your relationship with Him is more important. Legalism is not keeping a relationship - it is keeping a religion. Having a firm heart when it comes to God and HIS essentials is important.

We need to have soft hearts when it comes to being humble and relying on God, but stand firm when it comes to hardships, legalism and when things feel unfair. His plan is perfect and He will make a way that is beyond comprehension. Stand firm and stand tall in Him.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Day 32- Praise from the Depths

Day 32
Psalm 18 & 19

When is the last time you ran to God in complete celebration and praise? David is showing that incredible emotion here. These Psalms were written in light of him being delivered from the hands of his enemies, and the praise he offers up to God is powerful.

This Psalm offers so amazing attributes of who God is! Fortress, Rock, Rescuer, Perfect, Gentle, are only a few! What an amazing God we have, Who fits all of these so perfectly. David got to see first hand how wonderful our Creator is by being pulled out of the depths in mighty ways. This juxtaposition he writes about God's character and powers is simply incredible.

Lying face down in the pit and in constant worry for what is going to happen to you can really leave you unable to focus on God, but this is the precise moment you look up and realize He is all you have. His plan is perfect and it will pave a way for His glory to shine. These moments, while awful and just terrible, can bring so much power and faith to your life and heart. It is incredible how God uses the hardships to shine His Light in our lives and the lives around us that witness how He has worked.

Next time you are surrounded by hardship and sitting at the bottom, then rescued by this Almighty God we have, remember to give Him praise for Who He is and what He has done! This light you cast will be a powerful one for those around you to see the amazing work of God's hands in your life. You are a walking testimony and story for God's greatness! Have you told it and praised God for it?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Day 31 - Twisted Truths

Day 31
Job 17-19, Galatians 1

Today, we continue with Job down this agonizing path. His friends keep accusing him, rather than comforting him, and we can see that Job is right fully upset. His friends raise a lot of truths, but in Job's situation, they are not true at all. They don't take the time to check the facts and trust Job's words.

It is so easy to be a "Bible-thumper" without knowing someone's heart. It isn't only annoying, but it can be very hurtful. I personally get very offended when someone tells me how I should be living my faith, when they have no clue what I've been through. I am guilty of telling people what to do, when I have no clue where they have been in life. I think it is necessary to empower people and push them in faith a little, but I don't think it is ever okay to beat them with God's Words, which is completely contradicting Him anyways.

Galatians opens with this point of twisted truth. Not only do we twist the Word to use against others, but we twist it to fit what we want and how we want it. Paul warns us that there is only One you are to gain approval from, and there is only One you answer to in the end. Working for man and seeking their approval is going to be a harsh reality check. When you are constantly in the Word and KNOW what God says about things, rather than listening to what man says, or what man says he thinks God says, you can go a lot further.

A heart changed for Christ is no mistaken thing. Paul makes this clear as he tells his story. There is truth behind an authentic heart that is sold out for Christ. When we are able to be open to others about our faith and allow God's Word to envelop our hearts, we can do amazing things through Christ!

Keep yourself in check when it comes to God's Truth. Don't use it to judge someone, or beat them down, but to empower them and to lift them up! Don't try to keep fitting God's Words into your ideal box and make it tailored to your comforts, but use it to grow and to go! Beware of the twists our society and culture put on things and stay in the Word!

Day 30- Patient Until the End

Day 30
Job 14-16, James 5

I think many times we just hope that the Lord will return before all of these foreseen troubles come our way. Rather than dealing with the problems in life, we try to run, or hope for God's return. I can't even count how many times I've hoped the Lord would come back before I had to face something, or just for the sake of shaking up the mundane life that seemed to keep going on and on. We read today, however, that holding onto that hope in waiting for Christ's return, we keep endurance to continue on the mission that God has set us here for.

Job is actually quoted in our James reading today, as James reminds us that Job's endurance through hardship landed him in great reward in the end, as the Lord had mercy and showed Job kindness. It is interesting reading that in James after reading about the midst of Job's agony.

The power of prayer can be a powerful tool in our waiting. As we stagger through this life, hoping for God to have mercy on us and for Christ to return soon, we can be in constant communication with God 24/7. We are told in James to pray in all circumstances! Tell God when you are happy and praise Him for it! Pray about your hardships. Have people pray for you when you are sick. Pray for each other. Prayer is a way to remind us of that hope that is coming someday and the hope we have now as we walk this earth with a Living God.

I can't help but feel for Job as his friends continue to talk for no helpful reason. A man in such agony as he, also having to deal with his friends blaming him for his misfortune just causes me to cringe. I'm not sure I would have had the strength that Job has throughout this ordeal. But as we read in James, we know that Job's endurance will bring him to good places in the end, and that hope is what keeps Job going. Just because your friends have bad advice, doesn't mean you can turn to God's advice instead. Pray to Him and ask Him for strength. Trust in His will and way.

This world can be unfair and so hard to deal with at times. Many times, I don't feel like I fit, but remembering the hope that awaits me when Christ returns or calls me home is such an encouragement. Be patient as you wait on Christ and in constant communication with Him through prayer. Hold on to Him. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Day 29 - He Knows

Day 29
Job 11-13, James 4

We are wide-open books to God. We may be able to cover things up to the people around us, but God will always know the things we do, what we say, think, and the motives of our hearts. Zophar made this point - although very wrongly Job's case, he was correct in this fact. People can deceive us and we can surely deceive people, but if God could tell us the thoughts of everyone, it would be scary indeed.

Why do we hide our motives from people when God can see right through them? Why not trying to be pure all the way through, so you are genuine and authentic? Job knows how authentic he has been, and wants to argue his case with God. The only thing Job is forgetting is that God already knows his inside and out. He knows his heart and knows what is going to happen. Job and his friends don't know what lies ahead. One thing that Job reminds us of though is that God's wisdom is the best wisdom.

We can trust that God's plans will far-exceed our own. We plan and plan and plan and think we have life all laid out ahead of us, but we are reminded in James that our lives are here today, but could easily be gone tomorrow. We fight for what we want, but forget to get God involved, in asking Him for His ideas and His plans.

How often are you convinced you will reach a certain goal? I don't think there is anything wrong with goal-setting; in fact, I believe it is a healthy thing to do. However, when you set goals without taking God's plans into consideration, you may end up crushed temporarily. Having a heart that is open to God's timing and God's leading will ensure you are brought to your knees in the amazing work He can do in and through you!

Remember that God knows everything. He knows you inside and out. He knows your heart and it's motives. He knows what lies ahead of you. When you begin to try and hide things from God, you will be harshly mistaken one day in thinking you can, and when you set goals outside of His plans for you, you may end up crushed rather than see the amazing things He can do that will far-exceed your plans! Give it to Him, because He knows you and He knows what lies ahead.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Day 28- Wisdom from Christ

Day 28
Job 8-10, James 3

We see the struggle of Job with his friends, challenging them in their perception of God. Job points out how unworthy he is to question God's judgement and doesn't see fit to try and reason with Him. I think it is so easy to tell God how unfair He is being when things fall into the pit. But as Job states, we are so unworthy to know what God is really planning and to know what He will teach us through it.

We also see how Job's friend, Bildad, wrongly accuses Job of not having full trust in God. But as we read in the opening of Job, he was most definitely relying on the Lord, and even making sacrifices for his children in case they weren't following Him fully. The insecurities that come, only come when we don't put our reliance on Him. Bildad definitely speaks out of term as he tries to call out Job's faith. How many times do we just talk to hopefully make a situation better, just for the sake of saying something? I know I can get that way at times...

James shares about using our tongue for good, rather than hindering. A tongue is so small, but it has all the power. Whatever you say to others will leave an impression, whether negatively or positively, and the negative impression is harder to get out. Your reputation is at the stake of your tongue in many cases, so it is important to tame it and watch what you say, whether it is to someone's face, behind their back, or through the false security of a computer screen.

From what we continue to read in James, chapter 3, the wisdom that comes from God is pure, peace-loving, gentle at ALL times, humble, full of good deeds and mercy, shows no favoritism, and is always sincere (James 3:17). Perhaps the best advice that comes out of our mouths should reflect these things, as that wisdom comes from God.

Next time you have a friend that is hurting, think twice before just talking to fill space. The words you say can help greatly, or hinder dramatically. Remember how to recognize what God's wisdom looks like and act on that. The words we say are powerful and last a very long time in a heart.

Day 27 - Dead Faith

Day 27
Job 5-7, James 2

Job's friends seem to know things. They will continue to offer him advice, and Job will continue to tell them that they simply do not understand the entire situation, nor do they know his heart. His friends keep telling him to get right with God, but as we read in the opening of Job, he was a righteous, blameless man in God's sight. 

I think it is important to know a heart and an entire situation before trying to offer advice. I've been guilty of this and have come out feeling like a fool after. It is so easy to jump all over someone and let them know your thoughts before knowing their heart. Social media is a huge promoter of this practice, as people like to hide behind the screen to voice their opinions for all to hear. 

"Don't tell me how much you know, until you tell me how much you care."

James hits this nail on the head. Faith without works is dead. Works do not get us to heaven, but when you just talk about your faith, rather than showing it, you have no credibility. Show favoritism and only being nice and helpful to people you like will destroy people's view of your faith. We a offered many examples as we read about this concept. Abraham, being the prime example with his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. 

You can say all you want how great your faith is, but until you show it through your actions and really care abou people, no one is honestly going to care. Don't speak until you know the heart and situation. Act on faith before shouting about your faith. Show how real it is in your life, rather than always talking about it.