What can you look back on this year and wish you stared in January and stuck with it to the end?
No regrets today...just a fresh start!
What do you want to look forward to this time next year, grateful that you started and stuck with it?
Here are a few of my things:
What are some of your goals for 2018?
How can I pray for you?
Just when the caterpillar thought her life was over, she began to fly.
Just when the Jewish leaders thought they had stopped Jesus, a new day came. A new beginning. A better story.
The pain, suffering, mocking, betrayal was brutal, no doubt. But it had purpose.
There is beauty in new beginnings. There is nothing magical about a calendar flip to a new year, but there is magic in hope for what is to come.
I often think about what keeps some people pressing on and some stuck. I think the key ingredient is hope and purpose. Yes, hope in the secured future in Jesus, but also in the current tangible reaching for goals. Taking steps—even if tiny—toward doing what you love and what God has given you a passion to do.
We can’t all just quit our jobs and responsibilities, but there are things we can do alongside them that will feed our soul. And I firmly believe God is working in our current situations to sharpen our skills for our next calling. It all matters — the good, the bad, the mundane.
A new beginning is a beautiful thing. Embrace it. Take steps and even risks toward that which you know God is calling you to.
This right here trips a lot of us up.
Not letting go of those long-held things God has been telling us to leave behind.
Not forgiving ourselves for even the things that are behind us.
These things keep us from moving forward and living in the freedom God so desires us to be in.
Praying 2018 will be a year of freedom!
Who are your five?
Does their influence on you match the goals you are setting for 2018?
Do you make time...quality time...to spend with them (this is a big weakness of mine and something I will work in on 2018)?
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
Throughout history, and certainly now, the world tries to define God and truth and morality.
But there is only one God and one Truth!
This is why I feel so passionately about disciplining myself to be in the Word. I want to know what God says in a world that is trying to drown out His truth.
Join me in going through the New Testament in 2018. One chapter each weekday (the weekends will be to catch up and reflect)...easy peasy!
Link to more info and reading plan here.
As you join in and the Holy Spirit reveals a word to you, I would love to read it. Use hashtag #NTin2018 so we can find it.
If you plan to blog through the NT with us, comment with your blog address and I’ll link to it on my website.
Anyone else with a goal to work on discipline in 2018... to be in the Word more, healthier emotional/physical/spiritual habits, trusting rather than stressing?
Join me (a habitual quitter who needs a support tribe) in two things:
Tabs to both are on the menu above.
Getting up early to pray, instead of sleeping in a few more minutes.
Worshipping with believers Sunday morning, instead of tailgating for the early game.
Attending a small group Bible study, instead of grabbing a drink after work with co-workers.
Walking over to the next table to sit with the lonely girl, instead of eating your lunch with friends.
Volunteering at the local homeless shelter, instead of putting in extra hours to get promoted at work.
Mentoring the struggling student with a devastating family situation, instead of grabbing a few moments of catch up time during the day.
Playing another game with the kids, instead of finishing that load of laundry.
Taking a few minutes to pray, instead of checking off one more to-do item.
Inviting a hurting friend over for dinner, instead of having a quiet meal alone.
Writing the tithe check, instead of renovating the kitchen.
Loving and listening, instead of judging and condemning.
The world calls many things wasted that Jesus calls investments. May I always seek to invest in His kingdom.
(Re: Mark 24:3-9 & First5 devo)
If you feel the nudge to call, text, visit someone...do it!
I’ve recently been blown away by how God uses a simple, often out-of-nowhere, contact. A contact that changed the trajectory of a life.
What if we pray about who we need to reach out to daily and go with who God places on our mind?
If you are an introvert like me — this freaks us out. We can do it. The fruit of seeing God do His thing is so worth it!
And even if we don’t see the outcome (which often we don’t), know that God is using it, waiting for the perfect time. Many times we are in the seed planting role that takes years to bloom...but our obedience will always produce fruit!
“Here we are. In Bethlehem. Over 80 miles from our home. The place Micah said the Messiah would be born...if not for the census, we wouldn’t be here. Incredible. And the star so bright above. My perfect, beautiful baby boy. These words spoken by the shepherds. I can hardly take it all in. It is overwhelming. I know I must rest, but my mind won’t stop. My God, thank you.” Mary possibly ponders, her mind likely racing.
On this special day I can only imagine the other pondering that went on from heaven. Matthew offers a lineage of Jesus, full of unlikely characters preserved for all time by name.
“My household forgot me. I was promised a family redeemer, but no one came. I’m ashamed of how I took matters into my own hands. God, I am so grateful you are full of mercy and forgiveness and grace. I’m forever grateful you work all things for your good and your glory, even my horrible mistakes. Thank you for loving me when no one else did.” Tamar might be thinking as the Savior is born from her family line. (Genesis 38)
“God, I rejoice that you opened my eyes when I was steeped in sin. You showed yourself to me. You gave me the courage to believe and hide the spies. You saved my family. And not only on that horrific night for my people, but for eternity. Thank you for ushering me into my new family. Thank you for making all things new. For making me new.” Rahab must be reflecting as she watches this glorious birth in her family line. (Joshua 2,6)
“I remember the day so well. The day my son was born. A day that seemed impossible years earlier, as I mourned the death of my husband; as I made that difficult decision to leave all I know and follow Naomi to her home…to my new home. Thank you, God, for providing in ways that still blow me away. You are faithful.” Ruth may be thinking as a new child is born in her family line. (Ruth 4)
“God, thank you for not forgetting me. Thank you for preserving my name; me, a Hittite, no less. Thank you for taking even my earthly pain and making something beautiful out of it.” Uriah, the murdered husband of Bathsheba, might have thought as he watched the birth of the King of kings. (2 Samuel 11)
If I’m honest, the Martha and Mary story (Luke 10:38-42) always makes me a bit defensive. And I know it is because a handful of my weaknesses are exposed.
“Martha is the one who invited Jesus over,” I say.
“Martha is cleaning the house and preparing food...making the guests feel welcome and comfortable,” I say.
God is so good to preserve this story in all its detail for people like me!
Yes, Martha recognized how important Jesus is...enough to invite Him over. And yes, Martha is doing good work that needs to be done. But it is not the BEST work. Sitting at the feet of Jesus and letting other things go — a messy house, things not as Pinteresty as they could be, a meal not quite perfect — is the most important thing at this moment.
I need this story as much as I hate to see myself in Martha.
God, help me always put you in the proper position in my life. Help me let everything else go when it competes with sitting at your feet.
Galatians Day 15 – Galatians 6:11-18
This letter is deeply personal to Paul. As he brings it to a close, he excuses his transcribing companion and grabs the pen and parchment. Pouring out more of himself, Paul pens the final paragraph. “See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.” (Galatians 6:11)
After reinforcing his message of salvation alone through Jesus, Paul closes with these words, “From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” (Galatians 6:17)
Paul physically bears on his body the marks of Jesus. In preaching the gospel he is beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned (2 Cor 11:23-25). Many Christians around the world still physically bear the marks of Jesus.
But there are unseen marks as well. Jesus tells us there is a cost to following Him. It comes in different forms at different times, but we will be in positions where we will bear painful marks of a follower. There will also be times where we will bear beautiful marks of a follower – the marks of the fruit of the spirit, the marks of bearing one another’s burdens, the marks of serving others, the marks of love.
What marks are you willing to bear for Jesus?
What matters to you so much, you are metaphorically writing it in big letters as this year comes to an end and you look forward to a new start?
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.” (Galatians 6:18)
Galatians Day 14 – Galatians 6:1-10
“Nothing reveals the wickedness of legalism better than the way the legalists treat those who have sinned.” (Warren Wiersbe)
Paul has spent much of his letter to the Galatians addressing how they have been deceived by these false teachers requiring adherence to laws for salvation. But he also recognizes that we are sinful people who will mess up and fall to temptation from time to time. And though it doesn’t impact our salvation, it does diminish our impact. He says that in these cases we must – with gentleness – restore them.
Our lives aren’t meant to remain in a pit of sin and its effects. We must seek restoration and alignment with the will of God.
The goal is always RESTORATION. We are called to restore – not ignore or destroy.
Think about how most interactions with sin are handled. They are often ignored, hoping it will all just go away, or terrified of the consequences of addressing it. Equally devastating, the alternative is often a brutal and public attack, behind the back gossip, and harsh judgment.
Neither ignoring or destroying leads to a restoring.
Luther says, “if any man be overtaken with a fault, do not aggravate his grief, do not scold him, do not condemn him, but lift him up and gently restore his faith.”
When we are dealing with sin, it must be handled with gentleness. We are all prone to wander...Paul reminds us to keep watch on ourselves. As we seek to restore, we must examine our own shortfalls. Pride is a sneaky and destructive poison.
Likewise, we are called to bear one another’s burdens. If we want to know how to love our neighbors, we can bear their burdens. We all have burdens and we weren’t meant to bear them alone.
Jesus bore our burdens of sin and its devastating impact. What better example to follow.
Life is hard and full of trials. Why add one more burden that no one can bear – the burden of saving ourselves?
What if instead of piling on more burdens of legalism and striving to save ourselves, we bore each other’s’ burdens? What if we became burden-lifters by preaching the freedom found in Christ alone?
What if we were a community that bore each other’s burdens; that made life a bit easier and lighter instead of more difficult and lonely?
Imagine a community where you didn’t have to face trials alone; where when the load was too much to bear, a brother or sister in Christ came and gently, humbly, joyfully reached over and started taking it off your shoulder and passing it down the line to be shared as a community. This is what we are called to do.
And while our own personal trials are difficult, so are bearing each other’s burdens. But it is the beautiful and holy life. Paul reminds us in this section of the letter, “..let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10).
In due season, sisters! Let us not grow weary. It is worth it.
Who’s up for a challenge (and a blessing)?
The more days I am on this earth, the more I am convinced without a doubt that Jesus is the answer. But we are fighting a cultural battle and truth sometimes gets blurred by believers and non-believers alike. We need to know God’s Word; we need to abide in it….in HIM. We don’t need gimmicks and fancy rhetoric…we need truth…directly from the inspired words of God Himself.
Who wants to join me in digging into the entire New Testament in 2018? Each weekday we will work through a chapter of the New Testament, starting in Matthew and ending in Revelation (260 chapters in the New Testament, 261 weekdays in a year). We’ll share what spoke to us. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. It can be a verse that stood out, or a passage that you write an IG or blog post about each weekday. Don’t have a blog? This is the perfect opportunity to start…with built in content for the year to write about! But no pressure if you aren’t into the writing thing…a quick IG post with a few thoughts is just as good!
The goal is to grow closer to God and soak in His Word. We won’t beat ourselves up if we miss a day or get behind…we’ll just keep pressing on in grace. I’ve created a separate tab on the website for the #NTin2018 posts.
Pray about it and let us know if you are in. Use hashtag #NTin2018 with your posts so we can find you each day. Leave a comment here with your blog and/or Instagram address so we can follow you.
What do I put before You, God? Let me count the ways...
Lord, I’m too inexperienced.
Lord, let me first get my act together.
Lord, let me first learn more.
Lord, let me first get more qualified.
Lord, let me first check Instagram.
Lord, let me first get on my feet.
Lord, let me first shed this burden.
Lord, let me first get that job.
Lord, let me first check my emails.
Lord, let me first have a little fun.
Lord, let me first get married.
Lord, let me first get a little more financially stable.
Lord, let me first have kids.
Lord, let my kids get out on their own.
Lord, let me first retire.
Lord, I’m too old, let the younger generation take over.
Lord, let me not miss what You have for me NOW. Today. Lord, give me the courage to follow You.
Galatians Day 13 - Galatians 5:16-26
This portion of Paul’s letter to the Galatians shows the contrast between the works of the flesh and the works of the spirit. As believers, we have the FRUIT is the spirit within us.
Notice that fruit is singular, not plural. It isn’t like spiritual gifts. We don’t just hope for one, or maybe a few if we are lucky. We get them all. They are a package deal. Fruit—not fruits.
We have the spirit in us, so we have ALL he produces...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, AND self-control!
Paul closes this section saying, “if we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) And how does he continue this thought? With some advice we would all be wise and blessed to adhere to...”let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:26)
There is power in the fruit produced by the spirit in us. May we use it for good. May it be an outward blessing to others, the opposite of conceit, provocation, and envy.
God, stir up the spirit in us. Let us benefit from the fruit available to us. Let us not give in to the flesh and crowd out the power of the spirit in us.