Grace from God

graceTo choose life is to love the Lord your God, obey him, and stay close to him. He is your life. (Deuteronomy 30:20a)

Ponder It.

  • How close do you feel to God right now?
  • What do you long for in your relationship with God?
  • How has the experience of these devotions affected your intimacy with God?

Receive It and Live It. A relationship with God won’t automatically grow. No relationship will automatically grow. Any relationship will default to atrophy. Without intentionality, we’ll become distant. We’ll question the importance of the relationship. We’ll wonder why we were in the relationship in the first place and might even begin to reframe it in negative ways, justifying why we’re no longer in it.

Faith takes nurturing. If ignored, it will cease to grow at all or grow in unhealthy ways. We have to pay attention. We have to invest. And we have to remember the relationship is not just about us. Our relationship is with God, which means he has significant input. We have to listen to him. We have to become familiar with him. We have to respect him. He is God and doesn’t need to prove his trustworthiness and sovereignty, but his consistency proves it in time as we interact with and rely upon him. We pray, not just sharing requests but praising God and allowing him to pour his encouragement and admonishment into us. We study, not just for head knowledge but for heart knowledge, placing intimacy with God far above familiarity for trivia. We worship, not just during a weekend service but as a lifestyle, striving to praise and honor him in everything we do.

Live It. How is God challenging you to become more intimate with him today, pouring life-sustaining water into you? Don’t wait. Respond today. Small steps are fine. Inactivity is not.

Grace from God

grace31To choose life is to love the Lord your God, obey him, and stay close to him. He is your life. (Deuteronomy 30:20a)

Ponder It.

  • How close do you feel to God right now?
  • What do you long for in your relationship with God?
  • How has the experience of these devotions affected your intimacy with God?

Receive It and Live It. A relationship with God won’t automatically grow. No relationship will automatically grow. Any relationship will default to atrophy. Without intentionality, we’ll become distant. We’ll question the importance of the relationship. We’ll wonder why we were in the relationship in the first place and might even begin to reframe it in negative ways, justifying why we’re no longer in it.

Faith takes nurturing. If ignored, it will cease to grow at all or grow in unhealthy ways. We have to pay attention. We have to invest. And we have to remember the relationship is not just about us. Our relationship is with God, which means he has significant input. We have to listen to him. We have to become familiar with him. We have to respect him. He is God and doesn’t need to prove his trustworthiness and sovereignty, but his consistency proves it in time as we interact with and rely upon him. We pray, not just sharing requests but praising God and allowing him to pour his encouragement and admonishment into us. We study, not just for head knowledge but for heart knowledge, placing intimacy with God far above familiarity for trivia. We worship, not just during a weekend service but as a lifestyle, striving to praise and honor him in everything we do.

Live It. How is God challenging you to become more intimate with him today, pouring life-sustaining water into you? Don’t wait. Respond today. Small steps are fine. Inactivity is not.

Grace for Myself

grace30These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold, which can be proved to be pure by fire but will ruin. But the purity of your faith will bring you praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is shown to you. You have not seen Christ, but still you love him. You cannot see him now, but you believe in him. So you are filled with a joy that cannot be explained, a joy full of glory. (1 Peter 1:7-8)

Ponder It.

  • How do you assign value to yourself in everyday life?
  • What do you believe God thinks of you?
  • If you could change one thing about the way you see your value, what would it be?

Receive It. God didn’t mess up his design of you. He’s God, and he’s incapable of messing up. He created you in his image. You have his imprint on you. You can distort the image he’s placed on you by the way you live, but you can’t eliminate the image of God within you. No matter what you do, you cannot veer so far from God that he cannot reach you. You can never completely eliminate the image with which he’s created you. You’re designed from the inside out. When we neglect or refuse to acknowledge the worth God has given us—whether we inflate or deflate ourselves—we are trying to say we know more about how we’re made and who we are than God does. We try to take control and assign value in an area in which we have no authority. Whether we think too much or too little of ourselves, we’re wrestling God for authority. We lose. God decides our worth, and he thinks we’re worth sending his only Son to die for us. Yes, God sees our shortcomings, but he sees them only in the context of our potential. He knows the possibilities with which he created us, and he will continually strive to guide and mold us to our completion. When we don’t acknowledge his will and our value, we miss out on his plan, which is exactly what he doesn’t want us to do. Let’s let him show us our value and fully live as he intends.

Live It. Look at yourself in the mirror. Study your image. Then close your eyes and ask God to let you see through the darkness of your closed eyes as he reveals the truth of your value. Trust his value.

Grace in Disagreements

grace29But respect Christ as the holy Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have, but answer in a gentle way and with respect. Keep a clear conscience so that those who speak evil of your good life in Christ will be made ashamed. (1 Peter 3:15-16)

Ponder It.

  • When have you experienced unhealthy disagreement?
  • When have you experienced healthy disagreement?
  • Would you identify yourself as an avid confronter, avoiding confronter, or assessing confronter?

Receive It. Disagreements usually include some kind of rebuttal, which involves an argument with proof. Perhaps a television courtroom scene comes to mind. Rebuttals can be driven by anger or they can be dry and boring, but when a rebuttal is God-driven, it will be driven by truth and love, because God-driven rebuttals are also God-directed. God wants us to know him. That means we need to ask questions and seek his answers. God isn’t intimidated by your questions. He wants to reveal himself to you, and it’s through your dialogue with him in search for answers that you will find and become more intimate with him. Unlike a court case, you won’t look for cold facts; there is nothing cold about God. When you’re authentically seeking God’s truth, you will most certainly find facts, but they will be through God’s warmth of mercy, grace, and love. Because God created you for relationship with him, and growing relationships are thriving with life, the proof you find will be very much alive. In our tolerance-driven world, it’s tempting to accept everyone’s beliefs, no matter how misguided or false they are, out of respect, but accepting who a person is and what she believes isn’t the same thing. Respecting what a person believes equally to the person isn’t respect at all. When you accept and respect someone, you’re invested in his or her life, which means you should, at times, ask questions and have tough discussions. That’s what you do in order to find truth with God. He’s not intimidated. Because you’re standing on his truth, as you let him lead, you don’t need to be intimidated either. Know truth. Always seek truth, and your rebuttal will be God-driven in content, approach and timing.

Live It. Gather evidence in the next 90 seconds. Write down everything you can think of that reveals life. How do you know you’re alive? How do you know the world around you is alive? Think big, and think small. The greatness of God is in the details.

Grace in Preparation

grace28He waited with patience so that he could make known his rich glory to the people who receive his mercy. He has prepared these people to have his glory. (Romans 9:23)

Ponder It.

  • How often do you rearrange furniture?
  • What are three words to describe your organization style?
  • What is God prompting you to move in or out of your life right now?

Receive It. God gives us everything we need to experience the joy he intends for us, but we must be willing to rearrange our lives for him. When we prepare to host a slumber party or lots of company, we often rearrange furniture. We move aside the couch and chairs to maximize floor space for sleeping bags or video games. We set up folding or picnic tables to accommodate extra people. We rearrange the food in the refrigerator to store the additional goodies we’ve prepared or others are bringing.

 

In our daily lives, we need to move aside some things in preparation for what’s coming. We need to prepare. God isn’t silent about the preparation he intends for us to make. The issue isn’t lack of instruction—even though we often make that rationalization—but lack of attention and trust. We want to know the “why” of what we’re doing when God is giving us clear instruction of the “what.” He wants us to be obedient. He doesn’t need us to be all-knowing; he has that role covered. When we’re focused on the “why” instead of the “what,” we’re not focused on the right insight, so we think we’re missing out. Because our eyes aren’t honed on the proper focus, we think God isn’t giving us what we want, let alone what we need. We’re mistaken. God never leaves us uninstructed.

We might not understand why God is telling us to rid our lives of something, plant seeds of something new in our lives, or reprioritize responsibilities and relationships, but we don’t have to know the “why.” God wants us to respond in obedience. And really, isn’t trusting God by responding in obedience enough of a “why”?

Live It. Get rid of something today. Give it away. Move something today. Get out of your comfort zone. Plant a seed today. Meet someone new. Invest in a relationship. Apply for a new job. Explore an unfamiliar area of Scripture. Set aside your plans for God’s.

Grace in Justice

grace27God does not twist justice; the Almighty does not make wrong what is right. (Job 8:3)

Ponder It.

  • When have you taken God’s justice into your own hands?
  • When have you experienced “unfair” justice?
  • How have you personally experienced God’s justice?

Receive It. Just as God wants us to love what he loves, he also wants us to hate what he hates. Let’s be clear. God doesn’t hate people. They are his creation, and he has a purpose for each person, whether he or she fulfills it or not. He doesn’t want to lose a single person from eternal life with him, but he gives us choice, and our eternal lives are impact by those choices. God hates sin. He hates anything that comes between us and him. “Right” is that which is of God and is within his will. “Wrong” is what is against God’s will. Because we are made in his image and intended to become more like him every moment as we pursue him through faith, we’re to love what he loves and hate what he hates, which means we need to be familiar with both.

We don’t carry the responsibility of God’s justice. That’s his role. There’s a difference between being the judge and jury and being a discerning believer who isn’t gullible enough to accept falsehoods or too proud to acknowledge or assume truth. As we become familiar with God’s will and he stirs the passions within us, he will let us know when we need to respond appropriately to something that angers him. We don’t have to fix everything. We don’t need to convict someone. But we also don’t need to stand beside the road and ignore what God hates. The key is discernment, trusting God’s timing in every response of thought, words and actions.

Live It. Consider how God’s justice has helped you grow. Thank him for being just and ask him to help you reflect his justice in every response you have today.

Grace in Where You Are

grace26I say it is better to be content with what little you have. Otherwise, you will always be struggling for more, and that is like chasing the wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

Ponder It.

  • What does contentedness mean to you?
  • In what areas are you most discontent?
  • How are you growing in contentment?

Receive It. Consider the acronym is PUSH or “Pray Until Something Happens.” While we might like the concept, it’s not biblical. We like to think our persistence pays off, and yes, God wants us to constantly seek him, but our relationship with God isn’t about a push; it’s about a pursuit. Pursuing God’s will isn’t about praying until something happens. Something is happening: God is present when you go to him in prayer, seeking and trusting him. God is listening, and he will not let you down. The “something” that happens in prayer might not be what you had in mind. From God’s perspective, the best “something” for you might be the process of waiting or struggling and growing closer to God during that time. Even though you might question when and how he’s going to answer, he’s answering and he’s pursuing you. As you find rest in the process of pursuing God, you’ll find contentment.

Contentment isn’t a static status; it’s a process. We don’t arrive at a place of contentment and camp under it. We move ahead in obedience, and we trust God to guide and provide. As we trust, we find contentment. Suffering on earth is inevitable, but we can experience contentment even in our suffering. We may not understand what’s going on in our lives, but we can be content to know that God understands each and every moment. God doesn’t waste a single opportunity to teach us a lesson; it’s just that sometimes we’re not listening.

Live It. God will not waste the opportunity to teach you about contentedness today. Anticipate it. Acknowledge it. Live it out loud in your relationships and circumstances.