Whoever is not willing to carry his cross and follow me cannot be my follower. If you want to build a tower, you first sit down and decide how much it will cost, to see if you have enough money to finish the job. If you don’t, you might lay the foundation, but you would not be able to finish. Then all who would see it would make fun of you, saying, “This person began to build but was not able to finish.” If a king is going to fight another king, first he will sit down and plan. He will decide if he and his ten thousand soldiers can defeat the other king who has twenty thousand soldiers. If he can’t, then while the other king is still far away, he will send some people to speak to him and ask for peace. In the same way, you must give up everything you have to be my follower. (Luke 14:17-33)
What are you most likely to procrastinate?
How do you typically approach projects in terms of deadlines, starting, and finishing?
If you could change one thing about your habits of perseverance, what would it be?
There will always be at least one more thing to do. You cannot cross every single thing off your to-do list. New tasks are added as you’re accomplishing another. However, that’s no reason to become paralyzed. Progress is important. It’s not the same as busyness. One is purposeful and involves growth. The other is typically a time and energy waster. Not everything is intended to be finished in the way you believe it should be finished. When finishing becomes the focus, you’ll miss lessons along the journey. Let’s not use that as an excuse to not strive to finish what we start. We often don’t know where the finish line is until we begin. We start a project and think the finish line is full completion to our satisfaction. What if we’re supposed to complete something to a halfway point, then share it with someone who takes over the next part of the process? What if we’re supposed to learn something in the distractions we experience? Let’s not make excuses for not finishing, but let’s not get too task-driven either. Let God grow you. He already started. Join him as he finishes.
Take a “next step” today. Step toward the finish of something. God provides the energy. You provide the obedience.
Whoever loves money will never have enough money; Whoever loves wealth will not be satisfied with it. This is also useless. The more wealth people have, the more friends they have to help spend it. So what do people really gain? They gain nothing except to look at their riches. Those who work hard sleep in peace; it is not important if they eat little or much. But rich people worry about their wealth and cannot sleep. (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12)
What financial concerns do you currently have?
What are your financial goals?
How have you grown in your financial habits in the past years?
Money isn’t evil in and of itself. It helps us serve one another. It helps us honor God by providing for each other. It gives us the opportunity to be faithful stewards. We can choose to search God’s ways and respond in obedience – or not. God’s Word teaches us sound financial principles, but they conflict with the ways of the world. We’re surrounded by the “get more at any cost” mentality. Accumulating debt to get what you don’t need is widely accepted. Confusing needs and wants is commonplace. The confusion and discouragement becomes so overwhelming that to make changes seems impossible. The debt is too high, the needs are too great, and the income is too low.
God is sufficient for all things. He doesn’t work in the way or timing we want him to work, but he is always moving in our lives. The question is whether we’re being obedient or not. God isn’t going to fix everything we do wrong. He knows the goal, and he knows how to get there from here, but we have to join him in the journey. We don’t invite him to walk our path with us. He invites us to walk his path with him. We’re going to step off the path from time to time when we get distracted by the beautiful window displays of the world. But when we’re committed to God’s ways, our focus more readily returns to his ways. His choice becomes our choice.
What’s one response of trust and faith you can make to honor God in your finances today? Do it.
They spent their time learning the apostles’ teaching, sharing, breaking bread, and praying together. The apostles were doing many miracles and signs, and everyone felt great respect for God. All the believers were together and shared everything. They would sell their land and the things they owned and then divide the money and give it to anyone who needed it. The believers met together in the Temple every day. They ate together in their homes, happy to share their food with joyful hearts. (Acts 2:42-46)
How do your relationships reflect God?
In what areas do your relationships not honor God?
How are you growing existing relationships while developing new ones?
Relationships are messy. In general, we tend to gravitate toward the ones that most encourage us. If we like to have fun, we look for fun friends. If we like to have intellectual discussions, we look for intellectual friends. If we enjoy sports, we find friends who enjoy the same sports. We connect on commonalities. However, there will always be differences, too. No two people are alike. Differences will not doom a relationship; how we respond to the differences might.
Relationships are seasonal. People come and go because the purpose of specific relationships changes. Sometimes we mourn the transition and sometimes we spur the transition. Regardless of the circumstance, how we rely on God through it is paramount. We need to rely on God for all guidance and provision of relationships. If we’re to stick with a relationship we’d rather quit, we need to trust God’s direction. If God says ending a relationship is best, we need to do it in a way that honors him. If we’re to reprioritize our relationships, we need to let God do the rearranging. Relationships differ, but God doesn’t change. We can always rely on him to draw us deeper into relationship with him as we develop relationships with others.
What is God spurring you to do in response to today’s devotional? Be obedient. Trust his timing.
Brothers and sisters, in the past I could not talk to you as I talk to spiritual people. I had to talk to you as I would to people without the Spirit—babies in Christ. The teaching I gave you was like milk, not solid food, because you were not able to take solid food. And even now you are not ready. You are still not spiritual, because there is jealousy and quarreling among you, and this shows that you are not spiritual. You are acting like people of the world. (1 Corinthians 3:2-4)
In what areas do you most struggle spiritually?
How does your spiritual life coordinate with the rest of your life?
How is God challenging you to take “next steps” spiritually?
Spirituality can take on many meanings from a variety of religions to a concoction of self-mixed beliefs and assumptions. But spirituality is biblical. God created us to be spiritual people. He wants us to live by the Holy Spirit and set all other influence and guidance aside. Living by the Spirit should rationally be easier than living on our own. After all, the Holy Spirit is God working within us. His influence comes from within, guiding each step, decision and response. However, living such a spiritual life is easier said than done, mainly because it involves yielding. We soak in the world around us and feel as if we have some control over how we respond to it. We learn to live from the outside in because it seems more natural. We absorb and respond. We feel we have more control when we’re actually becoming passive in allowing what’s around us shape us. Allowing God to work through us is active. We must actively still and yield ourselves in order to listen and respond. How God directs us might not make sense to us, but it’s because we have a limited perspective. God sees all the details. He knows absolute truth. He will never misguide us. We, on the other hand, will generally get ourselves into messes no matter how confident we are.
Are you ready for solid food? Take your time as you chew today. Consider what God is spiritually feeding you and how you’re responding. Ask him to make necessary changes in your spiritual diet.
You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it. If you cannot do even the little things, then why worry about the big things? Consider how the lilies grow; they don’t work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that even Solomon with his riches was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers. God clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today but tomorrow is thrown into the fire. So how much more will God clothe you? Don’t have so little faith! Don’t always think about what you will eat or what you will drink, and don’t keep worrying. All the people in the world are trying to get these things, and your Father knows you need them. (Luke 12:25-30)
How does worry impact your life?
When do you rely on God the least – through the big or little things of life?
How is worry connected to control?
God cares about every aspect of your life, because every aspect of your life reflects your relationship with him. Even as you stand in front of the sale rack, determining whether to buy the blue or the red shirt, God cares – not because he’s into color-coding and fashion but because of how you process your decisions, how you prioritize, and what consumes your life. He wants you to rely on him for all guidance, no matter how insignificant you think a decision may be.
God doesn’t need for you to need him. He invites you into relationship because he’s invested in your life. He created you with purpose. He wants you to not only catch a glimpse of his plan for you but to fully grasp it and respond in each moment to it. He’ll sometimes have you wait patiently to hear from him in order to trust his perfect timing. Other times he’ll prompt you to step out before giving your response much thought. It’s about obedience. It’s about trust. Living in a dynamic relationship with God requires you to rely on him for everything and be active in your obedience. God is trustworthy. He will reveal his will to you. Will you be trustworthy with his provision and guidance?
List the top 3 “big” things and “little” things on your mind right now. Then hand them over to God.
You don’t understand what I say, because you cannot accept my teaching. You belong to your father the devil, and you want to do what he wants. He was a murderer from the beginning and was against the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he shows what he is really like, because he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you don’t believe me. (John 8:43-45)
What lie are you currently living?
How do you typically respond to deception?
How can deception be mixed with a dash of truth for a potentially lethal concoction?
We believe lies for several reasons. Sometimes the lies make sense to us. They fit with other things we know, so we assume them to be true. Sometimes we’ve been told the lies so many times and people or situations confirm them repeatedly, so we assume them to be true. Sometimes we don’t feel we have any other options. We don’t know the counteracting truth, so we believe the lies of familiarity. We will continue to believe lies if we’re not actively seeking truth.
Lies devour us. Whether we are speaking or listening to them, we live them out as they become a part of who we are. They begin to eat away at the truth of who God created us to be. They steal truth from us. Lies cannot tell us the truth. They cannot encourage us to live by the truth. Lies will never build us up, help us grow in maturity, challenge us to do the right thing or develop a healthy relationship. Lies are the weeds of our lives, and weeds can appear to be beautiful. The more lies overpower the truth, the beauty and reality of the truth is hidden. We can become so accustomed to lies that we don’t recognize truth. Lies become our reality. It’s time to invite God to help us reseed the fields of our lives and cultivate truth.
Find a weed and pull it – even if it’s a beautiful one. Get the roots. Set it aside and watch it die without the nourishment it needs. Let it remind you of uprooting the lies in your life.
By telling these things to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus. You will be made strong by the words of the faith and the good teaching which you have been following. But do not follow foolish stories that disagree with God’s truth, but train yourself to serve God. Training your body helps you in some ways, but serving God helps you in every way by bringing you blessings in this life and in the future life, too. What I say is true, and you should fully accept it. (1 Timothy 4:6-9)
When have you doubted something that ended up proving truthful?
When have you accepted something as truth that wasn’t?
What most often gets in the way of you listening to truth?
The truth of God’s Word is essential to ridding our lives of lies. God’s Word will not lie to us. We can twist it to make it sound like something it’s not, and we can ignore the truths we don’t want to hear or apply to our lives, but we can’t change truth. God reveals his absolute truth to us as we become familiar with him. We live within the boundaries of God’s truth, even when we’re rebellious. God’s truth exists no matter what we do. In order to live by it, we must engage with God’s Word to intentionally seek familiarity, answers, and guidance. We have to be still enough to hear, patient enough to discern, and bold enough to obey. God will speak his truth into you. Are you listening?
God desires for you to listen, because he wants you to know him. He wants you to purposefully walk through life. He wants you to reflect him to others. He wants your life – your words, responses, and actions – to point others to him. When you listen to God’s truths, you glorify God. As you fully accept God’s Word, you have the full assurance of God. You can’t help but to listen and obey, because the ever-deepening relationship you have with him requires nothing less.
Write one verse God is speaking to you today and stand firmly on it, keeping it with you and referring to it throughout the day. If a specific verse doesn’t come to mind, use today’s verses.