Wait for the Lord’s help. Be strong and brave, and wait for the Lord’s help. Psalm 27:14
What is the most difficult thing about waiting to you?
When have you recently had to wait for something beyond what you wanted to wait?
When have you benefitted from a waiting period?
Waiting isn’t easy. It’s something we’re being taught more and more that we don’t have to tolerate. If there are more than three people in a checkout line, another cashier is summoned. If our internet or phone connections are slow, we can upgrade. Movies are available on demand. We can record television shows to watch at our leisure. Books are delivered to our e-readers in an instant. Waiting isn’t easy because we don’t exercise our waiting muscles.
We can easily generalize the speed of available information in every life to the response of God. After all, God is always present. He knows all. Why can’t he respond instantly? Well, he can, but that doesn’t mean he does. Time isn’t an issue for him. He can command a mountain to move, but he might not remove a small stumbling block from your path for years. Why? Perhaps he’s building his relationship with you. He wants you to experience him. He wants you to rely on him. He wants you to trust his timing instead of demanding your own. When we acknowledge his omnipresence and omniscience, we also have to yield to his will. He knows more than us, so wouldn’t he know better what the perfect response timing would be? Perhaps he has you in wait-training to build your spiritual muscles.
Purposefully sit quietly today. Exercise your muscles of “wait.” You don’t have to be waiting for anything specific. Sit in anticipation of God working in your life. Sit in his presence, trusting him to prepare you for something coming soon in your life. Try not to fill up the space and time of your waiting with your own requests and expectations. Keep your anticipation purely on God’s presence.
In the past, people did not understand God, and he ignored this. But now, God tells all people in the world to change their hearts and lives. (Acts 17:30)
How is your past negatively impacting your present?
How is your past positively impacting your present?
What piece of baggage do you most want to leave behind?
Our past doesn’t change, but the way we view it and use it changes – thankfully. The change doesn’t automatically happen. We can cling to the past so tightly that it seems the same or even worse than it did when we experienced it. We can also misconstrue it in a way that unrealistically paints a beautiful picture over something hideous. Neither is helpful when we respond out of our own desires and preferences. God alone is the redecorator of our lives. He determines what needs to be tossed aside, recycled, reused or handed down to someone else. Baggage is not always a bad thing. Our experiences of yesterday prepared us for today. We don’t see the benefit in every situation. Some situations are simply filled with pain. We might never see the benefit, but if we can’t see God using it in our lives, we don’t need to carry it with us on a daily basis. Just because something is in our past doesn’t mean it needs to become the filters through which we experience everything. Only God needs to serve as our filter. When we let him sift everything, he brings to the surface what is necessary for a particular day, situation, season or relationship. Unless God can use it, we don’t access it. It’s part of our baggage, but it’s in storage until God unpacks it and says, “I’m going to use this to grow you or someone else. Don’t worry. I’ll help you work through it, and when we’re done, I’ll repack it.” We can’t ignore or lug the weight of our pasts. Let’s let God decide the perfect timing of packing, unpacking, repacking, and purging.
As you pick up your purse today, ask God to reveal to you what needs to be packed for your day. Carry no more and no less.
Forgive us for our sins, because we forgive everyone who has done wrong to us. (Luke 11:4)
When have you struggled to extend forgiveness to someone?
When have you struggled to receive forgiveness from someone?
How completely do you accept God’s forgiveness of you?
Forgiveness is not easy. It’s easier in some circumstances than others, but it’s definitely not a simple process. It’s not the same in every situation. There will be times when someone says “I’m sorry,” and you can easily say, “No problem!” Other times you might hold onto the hurt for years. Someone might not actually say he or she is sorry. You might wait, expecting an apology and expecting to be able to forgive once the apology is given, but if you can’t forgive without the apology, you likely can’t forgive with the apology. Your forgiveness isn’t reliant on someone’s guilt and offering of forgiveness. We want justice and can’t imagine getting it without something tangible. God’s forgiveness doesn’t require justice. If it did, none of us would be forgiven. God’s way of forgiving is undeserved. Even when we know someone doesn’t deserve our forgiveness, we have to extend it when we’re trying to live by God’s will. We forgive because of who God is. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you don’t learn lessons from what has happened in the past. It doesn’t mean you never think about it again. It doesn’t mean whatever is forgiven has no impact on your life. There are still consequences. Forgiveness simply places the situation into God’s hands. It’s the act of saying to God, “I yield this to you and trust you in guiding me how to deal with it. Use it to draw me close to you.” Forgiveness is more about your relationship with God than the worldly justice you crave.
Say “I forgive” to someone today. It can be to someone in your past or present. It can be verbal or written. You might need to say it to God because you no longer have contact with the person or don’t know how to reach them. It might be for something small or something big. It might be for a small piece of a larger issue or the big issue itself. Start somewhere. Start today.
These 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)
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?
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.
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.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s victory parade. God uses us to spread his knowledge everywhere like a sweet-smelling perfume. Our offering to God is this: We are the sweet smell of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are being lost. To those who are lost, we are the smell of death that brings death, but to those who are being saved, we are the smell of life that brings life. So who is able to do this work? We do not sell the word of God for a profit as many other people do. But in Christ we speak the truth before God, as messengers of God. 2 Corinthians 14-17
What intimidates you about being God’s messenger?
When have you avoided being God’s messenger?
How has someone been God’s messenger to you?
We assume the responsibilities of being God’s messenger are going to be more than what we can handle – or more than we want to handle. Sometimes we’re simply too lazy to do that which is required of us. God gives us what we need. He often gives us more than what we want to handle, but it’s not about us. It’s about the big picture of what God knows needs to be done to further his kingdom and fulfill his will. Our role isn’t to figure it out, know all the details, or carry the entire burden of God’s will. Our role is to listen and be obedient. We can easily overstep our boundaries and take on a responsibility that is not ours to take. In the process, we are not only disobedient but we impact others’ obedience as well. We take the role or responsibility intended for someone else. We can also understep our bounds, not taking care of the territory God has specifically given to us. The ball is in our court, but we’re sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to show up and play the game. We make being God’s messenger much more difficult than it needs to be. As we live out the life God is leading us to live, being God’s messenger is simply part of the journey.
Watch for God to provide an opportunity for you to reflect him today. It might be a simple smile, encouraging word, help with a burden, sacrificial service, or personal testimony. Let God guide.
If you love only the people who love you, you will get no reward. Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than other people. Even those who don’t know God are nice to their friends. Matthew 5:46-47
When was the most recent time you developed a new friendship?
Reflect on how your friendship began with one of your very best friends.
Do you find new friendships exciting, daunting, or something else?
Not all of us struggle with making new friends. Those people who are very social meet new people just about everywhere they go. As our Facebook friends lists grow, we might feel we’re making friends with many people. However, for today’s devotion time, let’s stick to face-to-face, committed friendships – the friends you want to spend time with, investing your life into theirs and vice versa. You might have several of these friends in your life right now, or you might be searching for a person you can trust. God will provide. He wants you to be in healthy relationships with others, and he will guide you into relationships that will teach you what is healthy and what is not – in other words, what is God-honoring and what is not. But you must be sensitive to his leading and obedient in his guidance. Friendships don’t magically begin. No one shows up at your doorstep and announces she’s your new best friend. You don’t instantly share your life story with someone. Friendships take cultivation. Cultivation takes time and involves risks, which is why we often avoid friendships. Maintaining status quo is easier, but it also stunts growth. When you hesitate to invest in someone, you might be avoiding pain, but you’re also robbing yourself of potential joy. You’re also stealing opportunities from the person with whom God has the intention of you become friends. Obeying God’s way isn’t safe, but it’s always secure. You can trust him even when life is messy.
Watch for God to bring someone across your path with whom you can plant seeds of friendship. Or perhaps there’s someone you’ve been meaning to go a bit deeper with. Today is the day.
So God planned another day, called “today.” He spoke about that day through David a long time later in the same Scripture used before: “Today listen to what he says. Do not be stubborn.” — Psalm 95:7-8 (Hebrews 4:7)
Is the majority of your focus on yesterday, today, or tomorrow?
How much do you take today for granted?
What do you have planned for today?
We can easily become so consumed with the yesterdays and tomorrows of our lives that we miss out on the todays. Yesterdays are simply past todays that we can no longer change. However, we can change how we respond to yesterdays in our today. Tomorrows are simply future todays we cannot yet live. However, we can prepare for our tomorrows in our today. Yesterdays and tomorrows shape our todays; there’s no doubt about that. We can’t completely ignore yesterdays and tomorrows, yet they often consume our todays. Today is what we have to live fully right now. Why waste it?
There are possibilities in today. We can grasp the moment we have or resign ourselves to it. We can find purpose or meaninglessness, be encouraged or discouraged, and stand on a firm foundation or stumble across shaky ground. God gives us many choices, but he gives them to us one at a time. We often focus on the big opportunities of our days – or we turn something small into something big – and we’re soon so consumed with one thing that we miss out on many others. Or we focus so much on the way in which we reached our today, basically focused on yesterday, that we miss out on the opportunity to shape our tomorrows. You get only one today. As you read this, the moment is gone. You can’t grasp the moment and keep it. You can only choose well and live it fully. Will you?
Keep a small notebook with you and jot one word each time you experience the opportunities God is providing you through the day. As you experience God more, you’ll watch for, notice, and acknowledge him more.