Journey of Faith: Day 26

Standard

 

Day 26: Dare to Walk in Humility and Grace Toward Others

We live in a very selfish, me first society. Everything revolves around self and putting our own needs before others. Fame, fortune, and power are all about building up our own lives and getting ahead of everyone else, no matter the risk, no matter how many people we hurt along the way. This is not how we should be going about our lives. As a matter of fact, we are called to do the exact opposite.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, (Philippians 2:3)

Jesus was the epitome of a selfless person. He humbled himself, being made human, suffering through temptations, humiliation, death of friends, being crucified himself to save us all, knowing that we would not all come to know Him. If our lives are supposed to mirror His, why are we so inwardly focused?

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)

I can guarantee that you will become a happier, more pleasant person when you begin putting others’ needs before your own. You don’t have to make a grand gesture, just doing something small and meaningful to someone can turn their whole day around and affect them in ways you couldn’t imagine. In turn, it will make you feel good knowing you brightened someone’s day and seeing a smile on their face.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

(Romans 8:5)

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

(1 Peter 5:5-8)

As a prisoner for the LORD, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

(Ephesians 4:1-2)

 

*photo from: quotesvalley.com

 

Advertisements

Journey of Faith: Day 25

Standard

 

Day 25: Dare to Use Your Tongue to Bless and Build Up Others

I am sure we have all heard the saying, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.” This powerfully true statement is much easier said than done. How often do we carry this out? Many times, our words are out before we’ve given anything a second thought and we quickly regret what was said. I can’t tell you how many times I have said something and wished so badly I could take it back. Unfortunately, we can never put back the words we’ve already spoken.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

(James 1:19)

When we listen to songs on the radio and hear a certain one multiple times we can find ourselves singing along to it later, after we’re out of the car and it’s long off the radio. Same thing applies to the words we constantly hear, whether they’re positive or negative. If we are surrounded by people who frequently use bad language or gossip, how easy it is for those same words to eventually find their way out of our own mouths. We know we shouldn’t say it and maybe we try to stop the habit, but the more we hear it the more we say it, and the more we say it the harder it’s going to be to stop. That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with good influences, people that use kind, loving language. Their language should be used for encouragement and building others up, not degrading or tearing them down.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

(Ephesians 4:29)

The next time a negative thought or word begins to form on your lips really try to stop and process those words. Are they words of encouragement, kindness, love? If not, then why are you speaking them?

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

(Matthew 12:33-35)

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our LORD and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

(James 3:7-10)

 

*photo from: ryancairnsmyp.wordpress.com

 

Journey of Faith: Day 24

Standard

 

Day 24: Dare to Allow Your Heart to Connect and Your Mind to Engage with Others

Making yourself available to others is scary. And I am not just talking about romantically, I am speaking about relationships in general. It is very uncomfortable to allow yourself to be vulnerable, to open yourself up to someone else. Sometimes a certain level of trust needs to be established before you feel safe to do so. And sometimes the easy way out is to not allow anyone in at all. It is so much easier to not let others in, to close yourself off. I believe the common thought is that any potential for future hurt or pain from that person can be avoided if we close ourselves off. And while we may avoid being hurt by others we are hurting ourselves by not allowing those relationships to form.

I speak for myself in writing this. I prefer to keep a lot of things quiet or at least keep it in for a long time, much longer than necessary. This blog has helped me get some things out in the open somewhat. Still, it is easier hiding behind words on a computer screen. And to be honest, starting this blog was a scary experience. It is not as hard as it used to be the more I write and the more I share with you guys. Each post is one step further away from my comfort zone, but I can feel it helping in so many ways.

God’s plan for each of us was not to be alone. And again, I am not talking about marriage here, although that is very good as well. When God created Adam, he knew he should not be alone. He had given him everything in the Garden of Eden, yet God saw the need for another person to join him. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man (Genesis 2:18-22).

God saw the importance of relationships that day in the garden. He saw how much we need each other to share life’s burdens, to encourage and support one another. Maybe you do not have a problem sharing with your family or even sharing with the public through writing, but when it comes to your church family and even your friends in person, it’s easier to close off. Those of us that are blessed with having a church family and good friends in our lives, do not shut them out. They are there with open arms and open hearts waiting for you to take the first step. Share with them your story, pray with them, study with them, it will get easier the more you do it. Think of the weight that will be lifted when you begin sharing with others. Maybe you’ve been hurt in the past by someone close to you and your level of trust for others takes longer to build. Just take it one day at a time, one step at a time.

 

Behold, how good and pleasant it is     when brothers dwell in unity!

(Psalm 133:1)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

(Romans 12:9-10)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

(Romans 12:15-16)

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

(Hebrews 10:24-25)

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

(Ephesians 4:2-3)

A friend loves at all times,     and a brother is born for adversity.

(Proverbs 17:17)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

 *photo from kurtbubna.com

 

Journey of Faith: Day 23

Standard

Image result for Ephesians 4 29 Chalkboard

 

Day 23: Dare to Quit Being Critical of Others

What is it about gossip that is so alluring? Why is it so hard to not take part in it? I love the way the Cambridge Dictionary defines “gossip”: conversation or reports about other people’s private lives that might be unkind, disapproving, or not true. Our words are to be used for building each other up, not tearing them down. Yet how often do we take part in gossip when we are among our friends, even our own family?

In the moment, being critical and judgmental of others makes us feel better about ourselves. Putting others down, talking about their issues, personal lives, appearances, whatever; it’s only done out of selfishness and maybe suppressed shame and guilt in our own lives. We desperately want others to view us as perfect individuals, people who have it all together, but deep down we’re hurting and self-conscious.

Our job on this earth is not to judge others and their sins, but it’s to love each other as God loves us. We are all sinners; we are far from perfect. But we are shown grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness each day. We don’t deserve it, we never have and we never will, but nothing we do can change how much God loves and cares for us. If He can do that for every single human on this earth, why can’t we do the same to each other?

 

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

(1 John 3:10)

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

(Matthew 7:1)

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

(John 8:3-7)

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

(Romans 14:13)

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

(1 Corinthians 13:5)

and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,

(1 Thessalonians 4:11)

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the LORD. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the LORD’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

(Romans 12:9-18)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

(Luke 6:37-38)

Journey of Faith: Day 22

Standard

Image result for forgiveness doesn't excuse their actions

 

Day 22: Dare to Practice Forgiveness, Speak Forgiveness, and Choose Forgiveness

We have all been wronged by someone, maybe someone very close to us. It’s so hard to forgive that person, especially when there is no effort made on their part to make things right again. Time goes by and we are still holding onto that grudge and bitterness towards that person and their actions. Think about how much stress and anxiety that causes, especially every time we see them. Our stomachs twist in knots, anger rises, negative thoughts begin to turn around in our minds. Someone we once loved and cared for we can now no longer stand to be in the same room with.

We hold out in anticipation, waiting for them to make the first move. But how long will we have to wait? Truth be told we cannot and never will be able to control the actions and behavior of another person. We are only responsible for ourselves and how we choose to handle these situations. The Bible says, For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14). I think that’s motivation enough to turn the offense over to God. Let Him handle the outcome. Also, notice He never says the word “forget”. God doesn’t say we must forget what has been done to us, only to forgive. Once we release the offense we are free again. A heavy weight lifted off our shoulders and we can let go and move on. Hopefully mending the relationship and moving forward stronger if possible. No more bitterness, no more anger, but filled with peace.

“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

(1 John 2:6)

“The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, LORD, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”

(Psalm 143:3-10)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

(Luke 6:37-38)

 

Journey of Faith: Day 21

Standard

Image result for god is love

Day 21: Dare to Love Well

It is easy to love our friends, our family, our significant other, those who treat us well; but, what about loving your enemies? That commandment is significantly harder to carry out. You’ve been betrayed, left alone, abandoned, lied to, mistreated, wrongfully accused, and the list could go on to describe what has been done to you by others. Do you love that person who committed those things? What about murderers or adulterers. Do we show the same love to them as we do our family?

God himself is love and we are called to be like Him. If hatred burns in our hearts for our enemies and the enemies of this world we are going against His greatest commandment. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:36-39).

What drives our hatred? Maybe it’s pride, jealousy, greed, anger. When Jesus came to this earth He didn’t select just a few to die for, He died for the whole world. He died for the friends who betrayed him and even the ones who nailed Him to that cross. Why can’t we show the same kind of love to those who wronged us? We are all human; we all make mistakes. Yes, some mistakes come with much greater consequences, but we have all sinned and in doing so, have separated ourselves from God. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). By turning away from our sins, committing our lives to God, and receiving His forgiveness, we are then covered in the grace of God and our sins are forgotten. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:11-12). Let us all extend the same grace and love given to each of us.

 

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers.

(Psalm 1:1-3)

 

Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.

(Psalm 27:7-10)

 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

(Matthew 5:8-9)

 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

(Matthew 5:43-48)

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Journey of Faith: Day 20

Standard

happiest-people-760x760

Day 20: Dare to Speak Praise, Sing Praise, and Live with Confidence in God

All of life is unpredictable. We can plan and strategize all we want, but that does not mean we won’t face the unexpected. It is in these difficult times that our faith is truly tested. How we respond and handle situations speaks volumes of our trust in God. We can choose to whine and complain or we can decide to turn all our focus and attention on God; thanking Him for all the blessings that we have because no matter how hard life gets, we are never truly at a loss.

Paul comes to mind when I think of someone who through every kind of adversity, persevered through it all and continued to live out the calling God gave him. He had every right to quit and let his burdens overcome him, but he didn’t. He taught, he sang praises, he made the most of every situation. We should strive daily to have that attitude. Thank God daily where you are, for how far you have come. You may not see a way out now, but God won’t leave you there. He’s always with us and He will bring us out.

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

“A song of ascents. Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”

(Psalm 125:1-2)

 

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

(2 Corinthians 2:14)

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the LORD’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

(Ephesians 3:14-19)

 

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

(1 John 4:18)

for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

(Philippians 2:13)