25 NOV: PERFECT CREATION

All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you. _ Songs of Songs 4:7

READ PSALM 139:1-14

I don't have any friend, nobody likes me, I am ugly and shy Franklin always thought. He feels inferior around people and tries to please everyone around him. But nothing changed. When he learnt to please God and put God first before others, his reasoning changed. Loving himself and being real made people value him. He realized his worth and admitted he is the work of God.

True, there are many who love themselves a bit too much; but for a good majority of us (whether we would like to admit it or not), we struggle with loving or even liking the person we are. “My hair is too curly.”

“I’m too short.” “She draws way better than me.” “I don’t know how to relate to anyone.” The lists of “I can’t…,” “I’m not sure…, and “Look at me, I’m just…” can get very lengthy, and we start to see ourselves as having no value. In our minds, everyone else is better, and I’m nothing compared to them.

God’s view of us is the opposite of how we tend to view ourselves. He took the time to create each one of us, so we shouldn’t diminish the quality of His work. He gave us our hair color and type, talents, likes, dislikes, and dreams. God decided before we were born if we were going to write with our right hand or left, have a mole on our leg, and walk slowly or quickly. He thought of every detail of our being, and He thinks we are marvelous (see Psalm 139:13-14).

Love who you are. God certainly does, and He did a great job creating you.

REFLECT & PRAY

Thank God for how wonderfully and unique He made you. Take pleasure in knowing He made you unlike any other. Celebrate, along with God, the person you are.

Find comfort that He made you in a particular way for His good purpose.

24 NOV: BEYOND DISAPPOINTMENT

Hope in the Lord and keep his way. Psalm 37:34

READ GENESIS 29:14-30

Perhaps you’ve seen the video of the little boy who learns he’s getting another sister. In the middle of his meltdown he laments, “It’s always girls, girls, girls, girls!”

The story gives an amusing glimpse into human expectations, but there’s nothing funny about disappointment. It saturates our world. One story from the Bible seems especially steeped in disappointment. Jacob agreed to work 7 years for the right to marry his boss’s daughter Rachel. But after fulfilling his contract, Jacob got a wedding night surprise. In the morning he discovered not Rachel but her sister Leah.

We focus on Jacob’s disappointment, but imagine how Leah must have felt! What hopes and dreams of hers began to die that day as she was forced to marry a man who did not love or want her?

Psalm 37:4 tells us, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Are we to believe that God-fearing people are never disappointed? No, the psalm clearly shows that the writer sees injustice all around him. But he takes the long view: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (verse 7). His conclusion: “The meek will inherit the land” (verse 11).

In the end, it was Leah whom Jacob honored and buried in the family grave plot with Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 49:31). And it was through the lineage of Leah—who in life thought she was unloved—that God blessed the world with our Savior. Jesus brings justice, restores hope, and gives us an inheritance beyond our wildest dreams. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord, sometimes it’s so hard to wait patiently for good things. Forgive us for comparing ourselves to others and for complaining about what we don’t have. Help us meet You in a new way today.

Jesus is the only friend who never disappoints.

23 NOV: A COUNSELOR

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,... –Isaiah 61:1

READ ISAIAH 61:1-4

A counselor gives you a point of view that you don’t have…to render help you need…and to provide a remedy to a problem that you don’t understand. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus offers to do for us? Only most of the time our problem isn’t as simple as calling a repairman—it’s that we contend with broken lives.

As Isaiah 61:3 helps us understand, the mission of Jesus Christ goes far beyond just securing a place for us in Heaven. His goal is threefold: Rescue. Redemption. Restoration.

Regardless of what you face, remember that no situation is too hopeless for God! He never gives up (Philippians 1:6). He is constantly working to deliver you from the futility of living for yourself and tirelessly works to restore you fully to Himself.

So as you face each day with its unique challenges, you’ll likely be confronted with conundrums far more perplexing than putting together a bike, assembling a trampoline, or fixing a broken dishwasher. And when you do, invite Jesus to be your Wonderful Counselor, remembering that there’s nothing He can’t rescue, redeem, and restore!

REFLECT & PRAY 

God, help me see how You are currently working to rescue, restore, and redeem me right now.

Jesus, is our Wonderful Counselor. He shows us what to do. 

22 NOV: DISPLAY ABOVE US

Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. — Luke 10:42

READ LUKE 10:38-42

Anne watched a fireworks display during a celebration in her city, she became distracted. Off to the right and the left of the main event, smaller fireworks occasionally popped up in the sky. They were good, but watching them caused her to miss parts of the more spectacular display directly above her.

Sometimes good things take us away from something better. That happened in the life of Martha, whose story is recorded in Luke 10:38-42. When Jesus and His disciples arrived in the village of Bethany, Martha welcomed them into her home. Being a good host meant that someone had to prepare the meal for the guests, so we don’t want to be too hard on her.

When Martha complained that her sister Mary wasn’t helping, Jesus defended Mary’s choice to sit at His feet. But the Lord wasn’t saying that Mary was more spiritual than her sister. On occasion Martha seems to have shown more trust in Jesus than Mary did (John 11:19-20). And He wasn’t being critical of Martha’s desire to look after their physical needs. Rather, what the Lord wanted Martha to hear is that in the busyness of our service, listening to Him is the main event. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Dear Lord, help me to remember that my service for You is important, but it can never take the place of intimate fellowship with You.

Jesus longs for our fellowship.

21 NOV: THE BIG PRIZE

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

READ PHILIPPIANS 3:7-14

In every field of endeavor, one award is considered the epitome of recognition and success. An Olympic gold medal, a Grammy, an Academy Award, or a Nobel Prize are among “the big ones.” But there is a greater prize that anyone can obtain.

The apostle Paul was familiar with first-century athletic games in which competitors gave their full effort to win the prize. With that in mind, he wrote to a group of followers of Christ in Philippi: “Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). Why? Because his heart had embraced a new goal: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings” (verse 10). And so, Paul said, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (verse 12). His trophy for completing the race would be the “crown of righteousness(2 Timothy 4:8).

Each of us can aim for that same prize, knowing that we honor the Lord in pursuing it. Every day, in our ordinary duties, we are moving toward “the big one”—“the prize for which God has called.” (Philippians 3:14 ). 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Dear Lord, when I get discouraged, help me to keep pressing on, looking ahead to when I will be with You forever.

What is done for Christ in this life will be rewarded in the life to come.

20 NOV: CURTAILING PEER PRESSURE

If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

READ GALATIANS 1:6-10

Peer pressure is part of everyday life. Sometimes we base our decisions on what other people will think or say rather than on our convictions and on what will please God. We’re worried that we’ll be judged or made fun of.

The apostle Paul experienced his fair share of peer pressure. Some Jewish Christians believed that Gentiles should be circumcised to be truly saved (Galatians 1:7; see 6:12-15). However, Paul stood his ground. He continued to preach that salvation is by grace through faith alone; no further works are required. And for that he was accused of being a self-appointed apostle. They further asserted that his version of the gospel had never received the apostles’ approval (2:1-10).

Despite the pressure, Paul was very clear about whom he served—Christ. God’s approval mattered most, not man’s. He made it his goal not to win the approval of people, but of God (1:10).

Similarly, we are Christ’s servants. We serve God whether people honor or despise us, whether they slander or praise us. One day “each of us will give an account of ourselves to God” (Romans 14:12). That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t consider what people think or say, but ultimately, we make pleasing God our main concern. We want to hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23). 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Dear Lord, no matter what others may say or do, give me the courage to be faithful to You today.

Keep following Jesus.

19 NOV: BLESS. DON'T CURSE

Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. –Luke 6:28

READ LUKE 6:27-36

Have people ever decided not to like you without even trying to get to know you? They might see you talking to someone they don’t like and decide that you must be an enemy too. You are condemned without a trial.

Would you be offended or be unfriendly in return? Would you try to defend yourself? Would you go and confront the person? There are many choices, but only one of them is God’s way. Luke 6:28 shows us God’s way, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Our flesh doesn’t want to do it God’s way; it wants revenge. Matthew 5:9 says,“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” So, what do you do? You could buy the person a gift, something very personal. You could write an encouraging note. How about an invitation to go to coffee so you can get to know each other better. What do all of these ideas have in common? You are showing God’s grace and love. God’s ways are always the best ways.

REFLECT & PRAY 

Offenses come to us all. Dear Lord, I pray that i’ll be wise enough to return a blessing for a curse.

Hurt people hurt people. Be the person who gives grace, forgiveness, and love. Plant seeds of kindness.