Journey of Faith: Day 23

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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)

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Journey of Faith: Day 22

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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

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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

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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)

Journey of Faith: Day 19

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Day 19: Dare to Get Your Head Out from Under the Circumstances

Throughout our life we will come face-to-face with many different situations and we are each given a choice in how we handle them. This is part of the free will we are given by God. We can choose to overcome the circumstances or allow them to overcome us. Many times, it is easier to put ourselves underneath the circumstances. In doing so, we receive sympathy for what we are going through and may even like the added attention from it. It may seem easier to live underneath it all, but in the long run we are only prolonging our suffering and causing ourselves and others more heartache.

The book states, “When we focus only on self and become consumed by the conflict, we begin to live under it rather than being an overcomer through faith in Christ.” Each circumstance we face is an opportunity to put all our faith, trust, and belief in God. Keep all focus on Him and you will overcome your circumstances instead of being buried beneath them.

 

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

(John 16:33)

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

(Romans 12:21)

 

“for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”

(1 John 5:4)

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

(Matthew 6:34)

Journey of Faith: Day 18

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Day 18: Dare to Live with a New Focus

 

It’s so easy to let our minds wander and linger on the negatives when there are so many positives and blessings in our life to turn our minds towards. Someone criticizes your work, you dwell on those comments all day; ultimately, affecting your performance in a negative way. Instead of rising above the criticism and seeing a new opportunity to strengthen your weak areas and improve work performance, you do the exact opposite.

What if we saw every stumble and every road block as an opportunity to learn and grow? Think about how much more we could grow and accomplish if we had the above mindset. These opportunities should be seen as God giving us another chance to make things right. He’s growing us spiritually in our faith and dependence on Him. We cannot let every detour in our path throw us off course. Fix your eyes on the One who is in control of your outcome and trust Him to lead and guide you through.

 

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

(Colossians 3:15)

 

“I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”

(Psalm 34:1-5)

 

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

(Hebrews 12:2-3)

 

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

(Luke 12:7)

Journey of Faith: Day 17

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Day 17: Dare to Live in the Miracle of Who You Are

How many of us can truly say we are happy and content with who we are? What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror? Is the reflection staring back at you someone you are proud to be? Speaking for myself, this has been a huge obstacle to overcome. Battling weight problems most of my childhood led to a lot of self-doubt and low confidence levels in many areas of my life. I constantly compared my looks, my spiritual life, to everyone around me. I wish I had realized sooner what I now know to be true. If only I had looked at myself and my life through the eyes of God I would have known that He has given me a unique purpose for my life.

It has been several years now since I started overcoming my weight struggles, and not only was it a journey of reshaping my physical appearance, it became a journey of self-discovery into who I was. I did not realize that beginning that journey would lead to a college major change, which led to a change in college location, which led to another move and my first job since graduating, which has now led me to the present at the most amazing job. Each change that came about, brought its own obstacles to overcome. New people, new places, forcing myself further and further out of my comfort zone. The places I have been, the people I have met along the way, have all played a huge part in shaping my life and who I have become. This journey has taught me to let God take the reins and let Him have control. I am slowly beginning to see my life through His eyes and I know He is watching over and looking out for me each day. There’s been too much evidence these last several years to not believe that truth.

I hope that as you’re reading this and these scriptures to follow, you will be uplifted and encouraged to know God is not finished with you yet. He believes in you and He wants you to have a little more belief in yourself and in Him in your journey of life.

 

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

(1 Corinthians 15:10)

 

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

(Psalm 139:13-16)

 

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

(2 Corinthians 5:16-17)

 

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

(Ephesians 2:10)