February 17 ON A REPEAT MODE

Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”

READ ISAIAH 2:2-5

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The verse of the day essentially says if we let God show us the way HE works, we can live the way WE were intended to live. What a stunning, life-changing statement!

If you go way back to creation (Genesis 1:1-3), God created us on purpose. And with that intentionality came the opportunity to have an amazing relationship with the God of the universe—walking and talking with Him, having Him speak into the everyday of our lives.

Then humans lost that privilege. We sinned. It doesn’t matter what sin occurred, the change happened, and we lost that close relationship. But—over and over again—God offers us the chance to come back, to “live the way we’re made” with His love, grace, and forgiveness at the forefront of our worlds.

Imagine never needing to be afraid again, imagine having the courage to walk through whatever tough circumstances are in your world, and imagine living a changed life of freedom and passing the blessing on to all who will listen.

You don’t have to imagine, you can simply ask. Ask Him to show you the way HE works so you can live, really live. Ask Him to show you how to hear His voice, how to understand the way He works, and to have the heart to follow Him.

REFLECT & PRAY

God, thank You for making a way for me to live an incredible life!

February 16 GOOD DEEDS

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? James 2:14

READ JAMES 2:14–18

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Thompson knew what he needed to do. Having been born to a poor family in Asia and adopted by Americans, upon a return trip to Asia he witnessed the dire needs of the children in his hometown. So he knew he had to help. He began making plans to return to the US, finish his education, save a lot of money, and come back in the future.

Then, after reading James 2:14-18 in which James asks, “What good is it . . . if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?” Thompson heard a small girl in his native country cry out to her mother: “But Mommy, I’m hungry now!” He was reminded of the times he had been intensely hungry as a child—searching through trash cans for food. Thompson knew he couldn’t wait years to help. He decided, “I’ll start now!”

Today the orphanage he began houses fifty well-fed and cared-for children who are learning about Jesus and getting an education—all because one man didn’t put off what he knew God was asking him to do.

James’s message applies to us as well. Our faith in Jesus Christ provides us with great advantages—a relationship with Him, an abundant life, and a future hope. But what good is it doing anyone else if we don’t reach out and help those in need? Can you hear the cry: “I’m hungry now”?

REFLECT & PRAY

Direct my steps, O God, toward the actions You want me to take to help someone in need. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of Your work on earth.

February 15 SMOOTHLY INTERTWINED

Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Hebrews 12:1

READ HEBREWS 2:17–18; 12:1–2

Soldiers fighting in a sweltering jungle many years ago encountered a frustrating problem. Without warning, a pervasive prickly vine would attach itself to the soldiers’ bodies and gear, causing them to be trapped. As they struggled to get free, even more of the plant’s tentacles entangled them. The soldiers dubbed the weed the “wait-a-minute” vine because, once entwined and unable to move forward, they were forced to shout out to other members of their team, “Hey, wait a minute, I’m stuck!”

In a similar way, it’s hard for followers of Jesus to move forward when we’re ensnared by sin. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” and “run with perseverance.” But how do we throw off the sin weighing us down?

Jesus is the only one who can free us from pervasive sin in our lives. May we learn to fix our eyes on Him, our Savior (12:2). Because the Son of God became “fully human in every way,” He knows what it’s like to be tempted—yet not sin (2:17-18; 4:15). Alone, we may be desperately entwined by our own sin, but God wants us to overcome temptation. It’s not through our own strength, but His, that we can “throw off” entangling sin and run after His righteousness (1 Corinthians 10:13).

REFLECT & PRAY

Jesus, give me Your strength to overcome the sin in my life. Help me to trust in Your power rather than my own and lead me in the right path.

February 14 A SERVANT'S HEART

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. –John 13:15-16 

READ JOHN 13:3-17

To give is to receive. With closed hands, nothing is given, and nothing can be received. When you open and empty your hands, however, much is given and can now be received.

How is this best described? Serving! Where is a good place to start? Church!

Serving in church is an incredible and fulfilling experience. First and foremost, to be a Christian is to serve Christ in His church and God in His Kingdom. Those who serve with humility and selflessness gain the respect of others around them. These are the true leaders in the church.

To lead others with a servant’s heart comes with a huge responsibility. Our calling is to lift up everyone around us to see the vision and grace of our Lord while remaining selfless in our own walk. When we interact with others, let us encourage and promote the best in them. Joel Houston from Hillsong United says it best, “You never come in second by putting other people first.”

The enemy would have us live in a world of “Look at me!” As Christians, we should be instead saying, “Look at Christ in me!”

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord, help me to step outside of myself and use the talents You have given me to help others. Father, I offer myself to serve Your Kingdom. Fill my hands with Your grace so that I can share Your love with others.

February 13 UNENDING PEACE

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:7

READ PHILIPIANS 4:4-9

Often the words “peace” and “calm” are used together, but there is a difference between the two words. Being calm often depends on what our current situation is. If the day is going well, we are peaceful, which can bring a temporary calm. Calm is more of an emotional response. Yet, peace doesn’t depend on circumstances. It is not the absence of trials. It’s the presence of God in our life.

Little, everyday problems can be easy to handle; but difficult, life-altering trials are overwhelming and often bring us to our knees. It is in these situations we realize that we need God to give us His wisdom, strength, and grace. The storms will rage in seasons of our life, but God knew each and every one before we were born. We can prepare for the storms by being completely dependent on Him.

Remember 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” We need a relationship with Jesus, for there’s no power on our own. Jesus promised us His presence through the difficult times—telling us He will always be with us to the very end of time. This is peace beyond our understanding that translates to inner calmness for which we should praise Him.

REFLECT & PRAY 

Father, fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Set us free, and give us Your love, mercy, and peace.

February 12 IMPRESSIVE

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. –1 Samuel 16:7

READ 1 SAMUEL 16:1-13

Have you ever noticed that the most important things in life are often the least impressive? For example, you see a friend you haven’t seen in ages, and you notice that the person has lost weight. You immediately say, “Wow, you look great! How much weight have you lost?” It’s a big accomplishment. You’re impressed, and the person is encouraged by your compliment. However, losing weight is temporary.

Now, what about the friend we run into who has made a huge life change? For example, the person has forgiven someone of a huge hurt, and let go of bitterness, jealousy, or anger. Perhaps the friend has overcome an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or pornography. The person made a spiritual change that we can’t always see, yet affects many people. We rarely acknowledge those changes even if we do notice them. We’re not as impressed as seeing someone who wears a smaller shirt size.

Wisdom gives us the ability to see past the temporal to the spiritual. It helps us see what really matters in the totality of life. We’re not impressed by people, but we’re impressed by what God does through people. Let your eyes see the hidden parts of people’s hearts, not just their outward appearance. Encourage others in their journey of pursuing what’s really impressive in this life. It brings a great reward.

REFLECT & PRAY 

Jesus help me focus on what’s truly important in life; let me not be led astray by distractions.

February 11 NEAT AND CLEANSED

So I purified the priests and the Levites of everything foreign, and assigned them duties, each to his own task. Nehemiah 13:30

READ PSALM 51:1-12

When we think of parasites, head lice, and bacteria, just the mere words send shivers up our spine! Parents are aghast when they learn their children have been exposed. These little critters can wreak havoc in schools and homes around the globe. So small you can barely detect them with the naked eye, yet they cause all manner of discomfort, disgust, and anxiety. Heads are shampooed with special additives. Hand sanitizer’s are attached to back packs and are a staple in purses everywhere!

Nehemiah found the priests and temple in disarray when he returned from a journey. Among many other Jewish laws they were breaking, the Israelites were making unholy alliances that allowed a gradual decline in their spiritual health.

Because we live in a fallen world where we are exposed to sin daily, we too must be vigilant about unseen, barely detectable influences that creep into our lives and that of our children. We need to look for evidence of these symptoms just like the pests that produce undesirable effects once they attach themselves to us. While we can’t shield ourselves from every demonic influence, we can be vigilant to wash ourselves daily in God’s Word, the Bible. God gives us discernment to know where and when we need to guard our hearts and minds.

REFLECT & PRAY 

Holy Spirit, give us discernment where we need to be aware of the enemy’s influence in our lives. Thank You for blessing us with the gift of Your Word that guides us down the way of right living.