February 27 THE BEAN

And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. –Ephesians 5:2 

READ EPHESIANS 5:8-17

Coffee beans by themselves have an aroma, but the true flavor of the coffee only comes out when the beans are ground. Grinding the beans doesn’t produce the flavor; it releases what’s already inside the bean.

We are very similar. Have you ever been in a situation where something happens and your response was less than loving? Just as surely as grinding coffee beans brings out what’s already inside of them, uncomfortable situations release what’s already inside of us. If we respond negatively, it’s because that attitude is already in our hearts. Others don’t cause bad responses, trying circumstances just release them. Maybe we’re just having an inner conflict over who we really are. If we solve the inner turmoil, the outer behavior will change.

So how do we solve this inner turmoil? The simplest way to solve this inner turmoil is to act and think in a way that please God. Rather than making efforts to please those around us, we should make efforts to please God because when we tend to please God, our behaviour produces positive responses. Follow God's example, live as children of light. For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)  (v. 9)

We alone control our responses, it’s no one else’s fault when we react wrongly. Maybe it’s time we took responsibility for our actions, owned them, and did something positive about it. May what happens in life release our inner joy, and may we express the aroma of God.

REFLECT & PRAY 

God help us focus more on what pleases you. what’s coming out of us than what’s going in. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Help us guard our hearts

February 26 CONQUERING YOUR WORRIES

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

READ 1 SAMUEL 17:4–7, 45–50

Fear ruled a man’s life for thirty-two years. Afraid of being caught for his crimes, he hid at his sister’s farmhouse, going nowhere and visiting no one, even missing his mother’s funeral. When he was sixty-four, he learned that no charges had ever been filed against him. The man was free to resume a normal life. Yes, the threat of punishment was real, but he allowed the fear of it to control him.

Likewise, fear ruled the Israelites when the Philistines challenged them at the Valley of Elah. The threat was real. Their enemy Goliath was 9 feet 9 inches tall and his body armor alone weighed 125 pounds (1 Samuel 17:4-5). For forty days, every morning and evening, Goliath challenged the Israelite army to fight him. But no one dared come forward. No one until David visited the battle lines. He heard and saw the taunting, and volunteered to fight Goliath.

While everyone in the Israelite army thought Goliath was too big to fight, David the shepherd boy knew he wasn’t too big for God. He said, “the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s” (v. 47).

When we’re gripped by fear, let’s follow David’s example and fix our eyes on God to gain a right perspective of the problem. The threat may be real, but the One who is with us and for us is bigger than that which is against us.

REFLECT & PRAY

Thank You, God, that You’re bigger than any other giant in my life. I trust You.

February 25 I AM GOING TO...

Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”— when you already have it with you. Proverbs 3:28

READ GALATIANS 6:8-9, JAMES 4:17

Do you find yourself making remarks such as, “I’m going to simplify my life,” or “I’m going to start praying more,” or “I’m going to get in shape.”? These statements sound admirable, but in reality they are deceptive. In essence, such remarks reveal that you are simply not taking action.

You are not “doing it” now. You are putting off an action that has the potential to positively impact your life and or the lives of others. The Lord has much to say about procrastination: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17. Sin has consequences. “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty” Proverbs 14:23.

Whatever the cause for not following through on what the Lord has placed upon your heart, whether from fear, apathy, or mere laziness, move beyond it. Stop talking about what you are going to do: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” Proverbs 27:1. Time is of the essence. Without infinite time on this planet, make each moment count with purpose-driven action.

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord will give me the strength to take action on whatever You places upon my heart. Help me to be aware of any areas of procrastination in my life.

February 24 MOVING THROUGH CHANGE

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. –Isaiah 41:10 

READ ISAIAH 41:8-15

Transitions. We all go through them. Some are dramatic and painful. Others pass almost without notice. Anticipation and excitement about new possibilities are often punctuated with hesitancy and fear of the unknown. What lies ahead? And what will we leave behind in the process?

Into these unsure moments, God speaks to us tenderly the words of Isaiah 41:10. Isn’t that exactly what you need to know when you’re facing uncertainty? That you’re not alone and that it’s not up to you to figure out what to do next? God reminds us in these verses that He is interested in what’s happening in our lives and promises to strengthen us to face whatever comes our way.

There’s nothing we can do to stop the shifting tides of change. But even when stability seems tenuous, we as believers have to choose to immerse ourselves in the Word of God and hang on to what we know is true, regardless of how we feel. God’s steadfastness and unchangeable nature give us the only solid foundation to stand on, even when everything else in our world seems to be shifting.

REFLECT & PRAY 

God, You are constant, immovable, and unchangeable. Help me to hang on to You when my world is in turmoil. O Rock of Ages, be my stability and permanence in a world where nothing is sure.

February 23 SCRAPED OFF DEBTS

The Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. Deuteronomy 15:2

READ DEUTERONOMY 15:1–8

The practice of charging parents for the administrative costs of their children’s incarceration has roots in 1970s and 1980s social policy, which suggested that parents would have more incentive to keep their children out of trouble if they were held liable for it. Los Angeles County led the pack by eliminating fees related to juvenile detention in 2009, those with unpaid fees from before the change in policy were still required to settle their debt. Then in 2018 the county canceled all outstanding financial obligations.

For some families, canceling the debt aided greatly in their struggle to survive; no longer having liens on their property or wages being garnished meant they were better able to put food on the table. It was for this kind of hardship that God called for debts to be forgiven every seven years (Deuteronomy 15:2). He didn’t want people to be crippled forever by them.

Because the Israelites were forbidden to charge interest on a loan to fellow Israelites (Exodus 22:25), their motives for lending to a neighbor weren’t to make a profit, but rather to help those who were enduring hard times, perhaps due to a bad harvest. Debts were to be freely forgiven every seven years. As a result, there would be less poverty among the people (Deuteronomy 15:4).

Today, believers in Jesus aren’t bound by these laws. But God might occasionally prompt us to forgive a debt so those who’ve been struggling can begin afresh as contributing members of society. When we show such mercy and generosity to others, we lift up God’s character and give people hope.

REFLECT & PRAY

Jesus, thank You for caring about the financial burdens we carry.

February 22 THE SEEKER

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

READ JEREMIAH 29:11-13

Are you seeking the truth? Have you wondered how in the world you can relate to Jesus? You think that He does not know what you are going through and can’t possibly understand.

Yet, Jesus loved us so much He left His heavenly home to live among us. Jesus not only teaches us through the Word, but He also experienced everything that we do. How can He understand your pain, fear, failures, and the disappointments of friends and family? Because He experienced all of that Himself while on earth.

Jesus experienced pain firsthand on the Cross. He may have experienced fear when He asked the Father to remove the cup from Him in Mark 14:36. Jesus asked His disciples, His friends, to keep watch and pray in the Garden, yet they fell asleep and failed Him. He also experienced rejection by Peter, one of His dearest friends.

He was tempted several times in the wilderness, so He truly knows what it means to be tempted. Jesus understands your situation because He experienced it firsthand. When we seek the King of kings, we will find Him, and He will show us the only way to the Father.

We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so wait no longer to find Jesus. Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord, I pray you would move the Spirit more boldly in my life. Help me crave your presence more than I crave sin. Help me grow in the fruit of the Spirit and so walk closer with Yourself.

February 21 OUR REAL HOME

For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:14

READ HEBREWS 13:11-16

We all have heard the expression “There’s no place like home.” We hear it in movies, read it in books, and hear it spoken many times in conversations. We all have a yearning inside us to have a place to belong and rest. However, the home we are in was never intended to be our permanent home.

Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:2-3, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” This is the home we all long for. There is comfort in these words.

John 14:1-3 says that Jesus is in heaven preparing a place for us to live. In heaven, those saved by God will have new bodies without the curse of sin! There will be no one who is blind, deaf or lame in heaven (Isaiah 35:5, 6 and Philippians 3:21). Although Jesus builds houses in heaven, the Bible also says that those saved will also build their own houses and inhabit them as well as plant and eat from vineyards (Isaiah 65:21). Most importantly, God will be in heaven and He wants to be your friend. He wants to dwell with you and wipe away all your tears (Revelation 21:1-4).

Jesus went ahead of us to prepare our home in Heaven. We belong to Him, and He will come back for us. Our life, as we now know it, will pass—but believing in Jesus gives us hope for eternity. "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4). We will be free from pain, worry, and heartache. What a perfect home Heaven will be where we will meet our lost loved ones.

REFLECT & PRAY 

Holy Spirit, help us set our eyes and hearts on our final home with Him in Heaven. Thank You Jesus for Your great love.