Here’s a favorite statement: “The world will never become a better place because the people of God believe that everybody else needs to get right with God.” It’s always easier to detect others’ shortcomings, but we’re going to experience spiritual growth and life transformation when we let God teach us to recognize our own sin.
If you want to make a positive impact on your church, if you want your home to be a more peaceful place – if you hope to be used of God to right any wrongs – let the process begin with you. Ask God to help you get the log out of your own eye! I challenge you today to renew your commitment to take your personal sin very seriously. Hear the words of the Psalmist: Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). Consider your ways.
When we’ve sinned and asked for God’s forgiveness, shame wants to linger because we aren’t able to forget just how badly we messed up. Today’s chapter encourages us to embrace God’s grace and relinquish the shame in honor of the gift of God’s forgiveness, bought with the heavy price of the blood of Jesus.
Here’s another thought for the day. Just as we can live free from shame, do we extend that same freedom to others? When others have wronged us, do we expect them to beg our forgiveness over and over, do we expect them to prove how sorry they are through acts of contrition, do we get angry and take their apology lightly if they seem to get over their wrongdoing just a little too quickly?
How is God challenging you today – to live forgiven, or to release others to live forgiven?
Let’s think long and hard about God’s glory today. We have much to be thankful for, but instead of thanking God for what He has done, at this moment let’s just think on who God is. Let’s think deeply about His identity and His attributes. Let’s get lost in His glory. Let’s declare His glory.
– What are the characteristics of God that you would declare as glorious?
– Be intentional to think about God’s glory all day long. At the end of this day, ask yourself: how did meditating on God’s glory affect my day?
In an effort to be relieved of worry, we are tempted to scramble around, manipulating our lives, trying to create a solution – any solution – that will make the source of our worry go away. Today’s chapter is about recognizing this temptation and making the choice not to do it. That brings up another good question: if I’m going to wait on the Lord and stay out of His way, what am I supposed to do with myself in the mean time?
Times of waiting are great opportunities to refresh your memory of the sovereignty of God. Meditate on His goodness. Don’t gloss over that; really think about who God is. As He is exalted in your mind, your problems will shrink.
Times of waiting are also great opportunities to invite God to refine your character. Invite God to work on you – not just work on your problem, but really work on you – so that you can become more like Christ.
If I believed that I crept out of primordial stew and walked the earth among other humans who evolved from monkeys, I might feel compelled to try to figure out every problem in my world. After all, I would have no one to rely upon but myself. But praise God, I know that the Lord is my Creator and Sustainer. I know He holds the universe in His hands. And this wonderful knowledge invites me to let go off my control issues and rest in the Lord.
Did you note a very important word in today’s chapter, the word “freedom”? Believing in God’s authority grants us freedom to rest, even when we have absolutely no idea why things are happening all around us that don’t seem to make sense.
How would you finish this sentence based on the challenges of Day 7: “Because I trust God, I have the freedom to…”?
“Worry takes hold of our minds because we’re believing in the power of our problems more than we believe in the power of God.”
What have you learned in your life about the power of God? How would you describe it? How has God demonstrated His power to you? For me, I specifically think back to kneeling beside my bed as a teen and experiencing the power of God as I confessed my sin and immediately felt His cleansing power wash over me. God’s power was amazing. I had tried many times to shake loose my guilt, but it took God’s power to remove those chains.
What’s your story?
We think we’re right most of the time, don’t we? But yikes, as hard as it is to admit, often we’re wrong. So we’re sure that our son should go to soccer camp, we spend ten minutes affirming to ourselves why we’re right and our husband is wrong, and then we pray for fifteen seconds: God, please change my husband’s mind about our son going to soccer camp. Help him to see why this experience would bless our son. Please help my husband not to be so stubborn and selfish. Amen. Hmm….
Or we spend our drive home from work thinking through how uncaring our boss is, as we replay his hurtful words over and over again on our mental tape recorder, and then we pray: God, I’m so hurt all the time by my boss. I know you love me. Please help me find another job. And because we’re sure that we’re right, we neglect to pray about whether or not God wants us to stay in the job, we don’t ask God to refine and strengthen us, and we don’t ask God to reveal to us where we are sinning in this relationship with our boss so that we can be more like Christ and a better witness in the workplace.
Prayer is a beautiful exercise of the mind as we talk to Almighty God. Are you willing to ask God today to reveal to you where your thinking is in error? This small yet bold step will strengthen your prayer life.
Okay, friends, today’s chapter calls for a response. A balanced diet for the brain sounds great, doesn’t it? We would all love to have quality time with the Lord, quality fellowship with loved ones, and time to rest, read, dream, take a walk, plant a flower garden…and as soon as we get ten things knocked off our to-do list, we’ll start fresh for a balanced lifestyle, right? Nope. If we postpone balance because we just don’t have time right now, we’ll never get still long enough for God to teach us – to TEACH us – how to stay in balance.
Today God is inviting all of us to make a choice. It might mean leaving socks in the dryer overnight. It may mean saying “no” to a request. Here’s what it will not mean: if we try to continue doing everything we’ve been doing and then tack on those things that we know we need to add, like rest, or prayer time, or time to be creative, we’ll fail because we’ll soon grow weary and revert back to our bad habits. No, we’ll have to ask God to teach us what to let go of so that we can free up the time needed to experience God’s best.
What is God saying to you today?
Several years ago, I started noticing wrinkles forming around my eyes and forehead from having to squint in the sun, and I instantly became an avid sunglass-wearer. As much as I am committed to wearing those glasses, I’ve noticed that I’m quick to remove those glasses when I’m looking at something that’s really important to me. For instance, I’ll wear my sunglasses long into the afternoon on a sunny day at the lake, but the glasses are coming off when I settle myself on a pier to watch the sunset. I want to see the sun-streaked sky as vividly as possible, and I will not let the tint of my shades obstruct the purity of every color God has painted for my eyes to enjoy.
Are you viewing the world through tainted lenses? Perhaps you view yourself through the lens of your mother’s constant criticism, or you view your job through the lens of bitterness because your friends make more money than you do. And how do you view the difficult people in your life? Do you look at them as Christ sees them – beloved individuals for whom He laid down His life in order to purchase their salvation?
Let’s start with just one thing and ask God to give us spiritual perspective. Today, I’m asking God to teach me to view my personal health (exercise, diet, rest, etc.) with spiritual perspective. Instead of trying to lose weight so I can look thinner, I want my motivation to be wrapped up in my love for God. For what area of your life will you ask God to grant you spiritual perspective?
Brain trash often stems from unhealthy conversations that we have with friends and peers. Even Christian women can be bombarded with negative comments, gossip, bad news, or even bad behavior from time spent with our Christian friends. (And unfortunately, sometimes we’re the bad influence on others!) Think on these two questions:
– Romans 14:19 instructs, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” How would your church be affected if each person made the decision to end all gossip and negative conversations that aren’t edifying to the body of Christ? (*Remember, think about the role you have to play before giving any thought to other people who may need to mend their ways.)
– God can use you to be a catalyst for change within your circle of friends, family, and coworkers. How is God directing you to respond today when you are approached with negative conversations?