Matthew 6:19-21

What are you working toward in life–what are your goals? Do you want to save for a house or car, take a vacation, complete your degree so you can get a better job, start up a business, or simply raise your children? Maybe it’s even more basic and you just want to survive–to put food on the table and pay the bills so the utilities don’t get shut off? Even though finances are important, we need to recognize that the things we work for and look forward to should be more multidimensional than the mere material needs and desires of those who don’t know or follow Christ.

“Do not store up for yourselves [material] treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires; that on which your life centers] will be also.” (MATTHEW‬ ‭6:19-21‬ ‭AMP‬‬)

We’re human; it’s almost as natural to us as breathing to want things and plan how to get them. It’s about a week before Thanksgiving as I write this, and I’ve already glanced at the Walmart Black Friday flyer. And while it’s not wrong to take advantage of great deals, it becomes wrong when our entire existence revolves around the acquisition of material wealth, however much or little that may be–because, you see, it is the focus of my heart that is at issue, not how much I actually possess.

The disciple John wrote one of the post difficult passages in the entire Bible, in my opinion. It is difficult because it spells out so clearly what someone who loves God looks like–and all too often, that doesn’t look like me (even though I want it to):

“Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]–these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.” (1 JOHN‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭AMP)

The three things that are not of our Father God are 1) the lust of the flesh (the things our body wants–illicit sex, too much food, addictions, etc.), 2) the lust of the eyes (the things we want to get (the Black Friday flyer, a nicer house, better car–or even more attractive wife or husband, etc.), and 3) the pride of life (anything that puffs out my chest–anything done so others will recognize how important or significant I am–any “I’ll show them!” behavior or desire).

Jesus recognized the grasp these three have on us, and gave a specific command to those who will follow Him–which, of course, is also synonymous with following our Creator God: work for, long for, focus on, employ yourself with eternal treasures. But what does this mean? Do we need to lock ourselves up in a room and do nothing but pray all day Obviously not. But once more–it is the focus of our hearts that is at issue. Jesus again:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord].” (MATTHEW‬ ‭6:24‬ ‭AMP‬‬)

So while God knows we have physical bodies and needs (“The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them.” Matthew‬ ‭6:32‬ ‭NCV‬‬), He wants us to love Him, not them. Remember that we are to pursue Him, and He’ll provide whatever else we really need:

“But seek first his kingdom [Christ’s righteousness in others] and His righteousness [in us] , and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew‬ ‭6:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

So, are you running after things that will be gone some day–things that at your dying breath will have absolutely no value to you? Or are you earning “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal”–are you pursuing His purposes in life, in some way shape or form? Ultimately, is He and what He cares about the real love and preoccupation of your life? May it be!

Dear Lord Jesus,

Help me store up for myself “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Amen.

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Romans 6:16

What is a life? Have you ever wondered why one person’s existence ends up a certain way, while another’s ends up completely differently? Of course we start out in different circumstances, but how many of us have ever really considered the process of how we are weaving the tapestry of our own life?

“Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” (Romans‬ ‭6:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Each of us does things for one of two reasons: for the result, or for the experience. When I decide to lose weight, it isn’t typically because I enjoy feeling hungry, but because I want to weigh less. On the other hand (unless I am a diabetic and my sugars have dipped dangerously low), I eat a chocolate bar simply for the mere pleasure of it. I am not doing it because my body needs more sugar or I need to gain weight; I eat it because it tastes good as it melts in my mouth. And whether we consciously realize it or not, all of our life’s actions are done for one (or in some less common instances both) of these two reasons. But why do I need to know this?

Much of what we do in life isn’t pleasant. It is not pleasant for me to stop eating when I don’t quite feel full, but I do it anyway because it is good for my body. It isn’t pleasant to do my daily exercise routine when I don’t feel like it, but I do it anyway because it, too, is good for me. It isn’t pleasant to study hard to get a degree, but I do it anyway because I want a better life. It isn’t pleasant to deprive myself now in order to be able to stash money away, but I do it so I’m not homeless someday when the unexpected happens. It isn’t pleasant to get up in the morning to go to a job I may not necessarily love, but I do it anyway because I want a paycheck. Life is full of things which aren’t necessarily pleasant, but need doing anyway. Yet the good news is that there is a strategy to help you cope, and ultimately keep at, the unpleasant but necessary activities of life.

This strategy is learning to enjoy–even to revel in—-the process of working toward your goal. According to Business Insider, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February (https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/new-years-resolutions-courses-2016-12). We can avoid being a part of this statistic by learning to appreciate and enjoy the process.

Say, for example, I have determined that I am going to exercise because it is good for my body and I would like to be more toned. If I focus too much on my goal–would I be willing to forgo the entire process itself if I could already be there?–I will miss a big part of the experience and may even give up. I may become discouraged when I realize how long it will be and how much effort it will take before I actually look better, and that, perhaps, no amount of effort will turn me into a centerfold.

If, on the other hand, I focus on the process of getting there rather than daydreaming about the result–if I recognize and constantly remind myself that all my efforts, the stretching of my muscles and my minor discomfort, is my body actively repairing, building and benefiting my cells, and that when I think about it, it actually does feel good to exercise–I will be much more likely to continue this activity until it becomes part of who I am, thereby increasing my chances of eventually reaching my goal.

In the same way, say I determine I will adopt a more healthy eating pattern, abandoning processed grains, sugar, and unhealthy fats, and increasing my consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. If I learn to enjoy the process–if I appreciate the wholesome taste of some foods I may not have previously consumed, if I recognize that with each bite I am feeding my cells rather than starving or even poisoning them, understanding that it is the process that is benefitting me bite by bite–I will be much more willing to watch what I place in my mouth and more likely to stick with it until it becomes a habit, and ultimately a defining lifestyle.

This same approach can be applied to anything of value that we set our minds to that may not, at first blush, appear pleasant. I desire a doctorate degree, but before I undertake to do so I have to commit myself to enjoying five to six years (plus the two more to first earn the requisite master’s degree) of a doctoral candidate’s lifestyle. I have to commit to studying, doing research, teaching, writing; I have to be prepared to throw myself into this lifestyle because, for the duration, it would be my life.

More importantly–especially when we set longer term goals–we also need to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we may or may not eventually get there–not because we will quit, but because life is brief and there may not be sufficient time to finish what we began–and we have to make sure we are okay with that.

All of this is just as true concerning the spiritual aspects of my life and my walk with God. If I do not feel like praying but recognize it is essential I have a passionate and deep prayer life, I need to focus on the actual process of praying. I need ask God for a desire to pray and for His presence; that I would pant for Him as a deer pants for water, that I would love Him with my heart, soul, mind and strength–and, because He “give[s] what is good to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:11)–He will give me this. In the same way, when I recognize I should “remain in…[Jesus] and…[His] words [are to] remain in…[me],” I must open His Word and focus on enjoying it–and again, if ask for this, He will give it, because it is good to enjoy His Word!

So what is the life application of all this? The most important take-away from all of this is that we are a sum total of that which we do. We really are what we do: our life is the result of the process of our living it. Because of this, we need to choose our behavior wisely.

How many times have you made an exception and done something you felt was not representative of who you are? You may have lied, although you don’t see yourself as a liar. You may have cheated, although you don’t consider yourself dishonest. You might have had an affair, although you don’t really see yourself as unfaithful.

We need to stop lying to ourselves and recognize that while one action does not need to end up defining us–we can turn away from it and never do it again–a repeated pattern does, and far too often what began as a one-off ends up becoming our lifestyle.

So each and every thing I do matters. Whether I recognize it or not, by doing it I am building it into my life. It matters that I make well thought-out decisions and act with wisdom, integrity and goodness each day because what I do today may really truly end up defining my life. If you do not want to become a liar, don’t ever lie. If you want to be a good student, begin today and turn in the best paper you’ve ever written. If you want to be healthy, never put into yourself anything that is bad for you. If you want to finish your education, sign up for the first class and give it your all. Most importantly, if you want to live in a way that pleases God–reading the Bible, praying, or going to church–begin doing it today!

RECAP

1. We do things for either the end result, or for the process.

2. We can stick things through better when we come to appreciate the process, even if it doesn’t initially seem pleasant.

3. Our lives are made up of our processes–what we regularly do.

4. We should therefore choose our processes wisely!

Dear Lord,

Help me be wise in how I live my life–most of all, help me choose to obey You, which leads to righteousness. Amen.

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John 9:4

Are you actively living your life for Jesus? Are you busy doing whatever it is He has laid upon your heart to do for the furtherance of His kingdom? Or are you like the man in the parable who took what his master left him to manage and buried it, effectively accomplishing nothing?

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” (John‬ ‭9:4‬)

Jesus said this about Himself, but it is equally applicable to each and every one of us too. Our time here in this life is short, and if we are not mindful, we may arrive at its end not having done much of anything for Christ. Granted, “doing stuff” for Jesus won’t get us into heaven; nor can we, at the same time, live a life of sin in disregard of His desire for our increasing holiness. Remember Jesus’ warning:

“Not all those who say ‘You are our Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The only people who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On the last day many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, we spoke for you, and through you we forced out demons and did many miracles.’ Then I will tell them clearly, ‘Get away from me, you who do evil. I never knew you.’” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:21-23‬ ‭NCV‬‬)

No, doing stuff for Christ won’t offset or make up for sin in my life. Yet, if I am genuinely obeying Him, I will seek to obey Him in all aspects of my life.

I will obey His Word to the extent I am conscious of everything He says. I will not lie, steal, or hate because I know it is wrong; I will seek to mirror God’s love to those around me and help those in need as I am able because I know He is love and as His follower I am to be like Him, and live in accordance with the dictates of His Word. And, I will also have a heart for missions, because He commanded it:

“All power in heaven and on earth is given to me. So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you, and I will be with you always, even until the end of this age.” (Matthew‬ ‭28:18-20‬ ‭NCV‬‬)

Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew‬ ‭6:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Our mission here is twofold: He wants us to be concerned (1) that we know Him (His righteousness in us; our sanctification), and (2) that others know Him (the furtherance of His kingdom). And, He wants us to be busy doing whatever it is that He has placed before us because, whether we are fifteen, twenty-five, fifty, or eighty, our “night” when our time of effective service for Christ’s kingdom–for the treasures that do not decay and cannot be stolen–is rapidly approaching.

We think we will be young forever–or at least we sometimes act as if we do. At twenty we imagine we have so many years before us; even at fifty we do not seem to quite recognize that those years have significantly diminished. Having had at least three elderly relatives develop dementia, I can attest to the fact that merely living doesn’t guarantee the mental faculties to be effective for Christ’s work. At a certain point, continuing to survive becomes challenging.

So, are you doing what God has laid on your heart for Him? Are you picking up the opportunity He has placed before you–whatever it might be–and getting to work for Him? Or have you buried what He has given you, refusing to be productive for His kingdom? Remember what the master told that servant?

“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew‬ ‭25:26-30‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

The night is indeed coming for each and every one of us when we will no longer be able to work; let’s do the good works NOW “which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”! (Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Dear Lord God,

Help me accomplish what You want me to while I still can–while it is day–because the night is quickly approaching when I will no longer be able to! Amen.

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Romans 10:17

How do people become Christians–how does someone actually come to saving faith in Jesus? Is there a secret? And why is it that there are those who never commit to Christ, even though their loved ones hope for years?

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

There are those who, for whatever reason, have concluded God can’t love or wouldn’t accept them, or they refuse to abandon an entrenched sin. But I suspect that the fact of the matter is that most have simply never heard enough of the message to understand that Jesus is for everyone and come to a saving faith in Him.

We frequently think: the gospel message is so simple, even a child can understand it–and that is true. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and those who come humbly to Him acknowledging their inherited sin-nature and inability to be holy, God accepts, forgives, and conforms to the image of Christ. But many who aren’t Christian are no longer children–they are adults, and the adult mind needs to be fully convinced. We need to hear enough to truly get it that God is real, this message is real, and I should trust Jesus, commit my eternal destiny to Him and spend my life obeying Him. And the best “convincer” is the Word of God itself. Today’s verse is 100% correct: faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God–or to put it more simply, faith comes by exposing yourself to enough of God’s Word.

Yet the problem is that many people never give themselves the chance to hear enough of the Bible to be fully convinced. Remember the sad reality that “…the sinful nature is always hostile to God…” (‭Romans‬ ‭8:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬) The sin nature in us tries to avoid contact with God. Rather than running to Jesus, whom we so desperately need–we run away.

Think of any person you know who is still actively hostile to Jesus–I bet he or she won’t sit still long enough to read a chapter of the Bible, or listen to a sermon on the radio, or come to church so he can be taught. They desperately need to “…escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (II Timothy‬ ‭2:26‬ ‭NKJV‬‬), yet they want no part of it and avoid that which might convert them–exposing themselves to enough of God’s Word. So what’s the solution? 

There is no easy solution: the fact of the matter is that conversion is something the Holy Spirit does in us, but He does it through the words of the Bible. Rather than do the instinctive thing and run away–which we all tend to do–we can give ourselves a chance. We can get together with people who love God. We can listen to Biblical teaching. Most importantly we can open the Bible ourselves and really read it to try to understand what God is saying to us.  And, we can pray for others to come to faith in Jesus. Because, after all, “…God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Dear Lord Jesus, 

Bring me to saving faith! Bring others to saving faith! Amen.

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1 John 2:15

Do you wish you had more hours in your day? Do you wish you were closer to Jesus on  a moment-by-moment basis throughout the day? Do you feel like you aren’t getting enough done in each twenty-four hour period? Are you starting to feel a bit murky in your walk with God–almost as if you’re able to tolerate more sin and not feel bothered about it? If so, there’s a reasonably good chance you’re too immersed in visual media or gaming (or even poor reading choices), and its effect on you is working.

“Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭AMP)‬‬

Visual entertainment is a killer deal–from the pit of hell, that is. Too much–or the wrong kind–of TV, Netflix, video gaming, You Tube, even poor reading material choices–achieves two major “keep-’em-out-of-heaven” strategies.

1) The first thing it does is eat up our time–and the more engrossing it is, the more of it gets wasted, because you can’t seem to pull yourself away from it. Years ago Focus on the Family, I think it was, came out with a cute cartoon movie. Kids ended up at this magical place that had the coolest video games; they plugged in, and before they knew it, they were old and shriveled up because it sucked the life right out of them. That’s not an exact representation of what happens to us when we binge-watch a series on Netflix or play straight through the newest game out because, of course, most of us have to eventually get up and do other things, but activities like these still steal huge chunks of our time.

Fast forward to the moment we give an account to Jesus–will we really want to have to admit, “I didn’t finish (even begin?) the  “…good works, which God prepared beforehand that…[I] should walk in them” (Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬) because we were too busy pursuing entertainment and “relaxation?”

2) The second part of the double-whammy attack of passive entertainment is that it also usually brain-washes us into ungodliness–into the world’s value system, i.e. sin. Some programs and games are overt and all out there–there’s immorality of all varieties, murder, deceit, lying, stealing and pretty much anything else you can think of that’s wrong–while some are more subtle–it seems relatively acceptable until they throw an abortion at you or the main protagonists cohabitate without compunction about the fact that they aren’t actually married. Regardless, we the viewers are–whether we realize it or not–slowly and almost indiscernably–becoming desensitized to various examples of how humankind can and does fall short of the glory of God. And because the entertainment industry tends to be populated by people who do not know and love God, the characters sin with pride and we never see an honest representation of its terrible consequences.

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing [as their Creator], God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness. They are gossips [spreading rumors], slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors [of new forms] of evil, disobedient and disrespectful to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful [without pity]. Although they know God’s righteous decree and His judgment, that those who do such things deserve death, yet they not only do them, but they even [enthusiastically] approve and tolerate others who practice them.” (‭‭Romans 1:28-32‬ ‭AMP‬‬)

But we know Jesus, and we know better–at least to the degree we shut off the monitor and open our Bibles.  Our lives, whether the ones we actively live or the ones we vicariously do, must not look like that! Our lives are to be spent, God gives us this time, to “perfect holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) And we CANNOT perfect holiness if we are incessantly immersed in its opposite–sin. Either we saturate ourselves with holiness or with sin. Either we fill ourselves with the teaching of God or that of Satan. Either we are busy for Christ’s kingdom or we become waylaid and are off the playing field for Christ. 

And that’s the plan of hell. I hesitate to speak too much about the devil, because it is frequently difficult to determine whether it was the enemy of our souls or simply my sin-nature than tempts me to fail, but in this circumstance it really almost seems like a plan. Two for the price of one? Waste of life and erase consciousness of holiness? And most of us excuse it because, let’s be honest, we like it.

Yet Jesus said something completely different. He didn’t say, “If it feels good, it must be right.” That’s sin lying to me. Jesus said:

“If your right eye makes you stumble and leads you to sin, tear it out and throw it away [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble and leads you to sin, cut it off and throw it away [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30‬ ‭AMP‬‬)

Jesus meant it–“it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body“–something in your life, that you may or may not even want gone from your life, that is keeping you from the holiness God wants to work in you–“than for your whole body to go into hell.” 

So, which will it be? Holiness or unholiness? Godliness or ungodliness? Christ or the sins of the world? His purposes and goals in you, or a wasted life? Remember:

“Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]–these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.” (‭‭1 John 2:15-17‬ ‭AMP)‬‬

We cannot pursue godliness while immersing ourselves in ungodliness. Which will it be?

Dear Lord Jesus,

You died for me so I could be forgiven, but also so I would have an understanding of holiness, and the freedom to choose right over wrong (or even better over not necessarily bad). Help me choose You. Help me remain in You. Help me choose to “perfect holiness in the fear of God,” rather than vicariously immerse myself in the sinful lifestyles of those who reject You. Amen.



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Matthew 6:33-34

Do you worry? Do you find yourself overwhelmed by issues you don’t know how to fix? Are you constantly scared that you won’t get good enough grades, that you won’t have enough money to pay your bills, or even maybe that someone unpleasant in your life will unexpectedly stress you out? If so, understand it’s not Christ heart for us to live like that.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew‬ ‭6:33-34‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

I knew today’s Bible verses since I was a child; they’re pretty well-known, especially if you grew up going to church. But I never got what the big deal was. That’s  because I never quite understood how overwhelming stress can be–how almost impossible it becomes under the right circumstances to not practically gnaw your nails off with worry because you are afraid of something. I suppose that’s because even though I had issues at various times in life, none were so all-encompassing that they threatened to keep me up at night.

But now that’s all changed. I’m fifty-five years old, have three children between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four at various stages in their academic and professional careers, and a husband with medical problems: yes, I now have concerns that threaten to weigh on me mentally and emotionally. And some days I give in–actually, to be honest, for a while there, I lived in what can only be described as an almost constant state of anxiety. That is, until I understood what Jesus wants all of us to understand.

The truth is that life can be very hard, depending on various factors–some of which are self-inflicted, some of which are not; some which we can control, others less so or not at all. Yet we have to get through the difficult time. We have to continue to function. And we have to not kill our bodies physically by acquiring stress-induced ailments like ulcers and high blood pressure. So, how do we do that?

We do that the only way possible–by walking by faith, not by sight. We may not be able to see the solution right now, but we have to trust God does. Jesus promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. God’s Word tells us that all things work together for good to those who love God–to those who are called according to His purposes. And we are assured that if we meet but two criteria–if we 1) seek God’s kingdom and 2) His righteousness in us–God will give us everything we truly need. Granted, my opinion of what I genuinely need may or may not agree with God’s all-knowing judgment of what I really truly need, but on this account, I can trust He knows best.

So, how do I tackle the scary anxiety when it threatens to overwhelm me? Mentally and emotionally, I take a long breath and jump–right into Christ’s arms, figuratively speaking. I trust that He knows how scared I am, that He knows what it is that I need, and that He is totally capable of providing it–and I don’t let the fear control me. Part of going through difficult times is not merely learning to tolerate a certain amount of mental discomfort–it is doing what needs doing, and then letting go of the rest.

Remember–Jesus told us how to do this. He said, “don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” 

We do it is one day at a time–that’s  the key to it. Sure, we need to plan for the future and do what we can to provide for it, but when things are genuinely overwhelming, getting an ulcer won’t make anything better. One day at a time–one day’s concerns are enough.

So, is there anything specific we can do when things get tough?Apart for the obvious practical things that need to be done, our best strategy is to make sure our priorities are in the right place. Am I really concerned about spreading the gospel and furthering Christ’s kingdom? Am I longing and praying for an ever-increasing degree of holiness in me? Or is my Christianity superficial? Jesus promises no provision to those who aren’t His–who don’t really follow Him. Let’s make sure we do!

Dear Lord, 

Help me deal with the difficult situations in my life by first and foremost seeking Your kingdom and righteousness, and then by handling the issues one day at a time. Amen.


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Romans 12:21

Are there times when you give in to what you know is bad? Do you sometimes find yourself eating another bite when you’re already really full, taking another drink when you’ve had enough, downing the pill even though you know you shouldn’t, or even doing something as stupid as binge-watching a Netflix series when you know it’s eating up your time and you really should be doing something else? It’s nothing no one else has ever fought with before, but know that this is a battle God wants you to win!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:21‬)

As I get older I am increasingly impressed by the fact that God gives His people strength if we ask. And all you have to do to be one of those–one of “His people”–is submit to His authority over you, confess your sins to Him, and trust in the forgiveness He freely gives because of Jesus. But once you’ve done that, YOU NEED TO GET INTO HIS WORD.

Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (‭‭John‬ ‭15:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

He also said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (‭‭John‬ ‭15:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

If we remain in Jesus, we will get whatever we ask for in prayer. If we do not remain in Jesus–apart from Him–we can do nothing. Jesus–everything; no Jesus–nothing. But what does it mean to remain in Christ? How do we actually do that?

You see, there’s this really peculiar relationship between the Bible and Jesus Christ. It is that Jesus is the Word of God:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John‬ ‭1:1-5, 9-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Jesus is the revelation of God bodily in human form–His Word, His expression, His logos; the Bible is the revelation of God put down for us in written form–His Word, His expression, His logos. But both are the revelation of God, and WE REMAIN IN JESUS BY FAITHFULLY AND FREQUENTLY READING AND STUDYING THE BIBLE. That’s the key to a successful Christian life!

The truth is that it is absolutely impossible for us to resist some things on our own. That’s why we need to ASK for His help. James tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” ‭‭James‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬) But wisdom isn’t the only thing we can and should ask God for: we should also ask for strength and self-control, and anything else we need to live a godly life. 

James goes on to say, “…You do not have because you do not ask God.” (‭‭James‬ ‭4:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

I have actually asked God not only that He would help me stop binge-watching an interesting series–basically that I would control it not it control me–but also that it wouldn’t be hard, and, the amazing thing is–He did! The lesson here is that we are not bothering God; He is our loving and kind Heavenly Father and wants us to ask for whatever it is we need to live a life of holiness that pleases Him!

Remember that “…’people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.'”(‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭2:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬) Even something not necessarily wrong can become wrong if it threatens to master and enslave us–if it controls us and our time instead of us controlling it. 

So, are you remaining in Jesus–are you faithfully reading and studying what God says? If so, ask Him for help with whatever it is you’re struggling with, and rest assured “…it will be done for you.” (‭‭John‬ ‭15:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Dear Lord God,

Thank You for Your precious Word; help me to remain in You, Jesus, and Your Word remain in me, so You will give me the help I need to obey You! Amen!!



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