God Gives Wisdom Generously

James 1:5
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.

Sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. You know?

Before I knew Jesus, I did not know my way of life was “sinful.” I lived like the people around me: my friends and my family. They were good people, right?

When I asked Jesus into my heart, the Holy Spirit moved in and made me uncomfortable with some of my behaviors: “Oh my God!” turned into “Oh my gosh!” because I did not want to use God’s name without truly thinking of Him.

My friendships changed; they became more about fellowship than partying.

My thoughts changed; they became more eternal than immediate.

I did not have to ask for all that new wisdom. No one told me. I discovered it as I was wading through the Bible as a new believer. There was so much to learn!

Perhaps scripture has revealed wisdom in bits and pieces to you too. Maybe your behavior has changed in small or big ways as the Holy Spirit has made your life a vessel to hold wisdom from life’s lessons.

With wisdom, you eventually realize there are things you don’t know. Things like: how to transition from one stage of life to another; how to suffer a loss; how to compete and not achieve; how to win; how to celebrate responsibly; and how to comfort a grieving friend.

What do you do when you simply don’t know what to do? You ask God to show you.

Wisdom takes on many forms. Sometimes, wisdom is:

  • Acknowledging that you know something God planted in your thoughts (Proverbs 2:10)
  • Recognizing a rescue from evil people and words (Proverbs 2:12)
  • Becoming more afraid of God than the opinions of others (Psalm 111:10)
  • Learning how to choose the best advisors and confidants (Proverbs 12:15)
  • Holding your tongue in a disagreement (Job 29:10)
  • Listening for that still small voice, and doing what it says even when it seems weird (1 Kings 19:11-13)

B4D-Devo-10-31Thought for the day: Psalm 90:12 says, “teach us to number our days so we can have a wise heart.” Let’s live the rest of our days seeking wisdom from God. When we get to the end of our days we get to look back on the lessons we learned. Did we spend days re-learning the same things? Did our heart grow wiser before it stopped beating? Did our hurts, hang-up, and habits get in our way of seeking wisdom?

Prayer: Thank You God that it is Your desire for us to gain wisdom and to seek You for answers. We are grateful that You don’t judge us for asking for help, but freely give us wisdom when we ask. Help us to number our days. Teach us to seek Your wisdom daily for answers so that our impact on the world is all that You designed for each one of us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Be Content with What You Have

Hebrews 13:5
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

In everyday life there are several voices telling us the story that we don’t have enough. It’s easy to fall into the belief that we won’t be satisfied until we buy a certain product, earn more money, or take that trip. The problem with contentment is that it’s a moving target. There will always be something new to covet.

The writer of this passage reminds the early church that God wants us to be content with what we have. While our wants and desires are constantly evolving, our God never changes. He says He will never leave us or forsake us, and that’s a truth we can count on. Rather than putting our hope in a fleeting feeling like contentment, we should put our hope in God—who is constant and loves us perfectly.

Thought for the day: Are there areas in your life where you need to find contentment? Take some time and remember that God loves you, He’s for you, and He’ll never leave you. B4D-Devo-10-30

Prayer: Dear God, thank You for providing all I need. Forgive me for the times I’m discontent. Help me to cling to the truth that you are enough. Amen.

He Is in Control

Hebrews 2:7-8
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.

We live in a broken world. Have you noticed? Things are not as they should be, and we are not as we should be. Have you ever done something you regret or said something you wish you could take back? In a bigger sense, do you sometimes feel out of control of the variables that impact your life?

The Bible teaches that when God created mankind, He created us perfectly and gave us dominion over the Earth; which means people didn’t hurt each other. The world was at peace; nothing bad happened. Then Adam and Eve, in defiance of God’s one and only law, ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ushering in sin, death, and chaos. The rules all changed, and nothing would ever be the same again. Or would it?

In today’s passage, the writer of Hebrews is quoting Psalm 5:8 (a prophesy about Jesus), which gives credit to God for putting everything under Jesus’ feet. What does that mean? The writer continues with an answer: Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” (Hebrews 2:8)

Jesus has been given authority to set right what was broken and one day everything would be restored to its former, perfect state. Read what the Apostle John wrote in the book of Revelation:

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

Thought for the day:
Do you feel tempted? Do you feel out of control? If Jesus is in control of all things, then He is ultimately in control of what you feel is out of control. Jesus is there to help you with the things you struggle with. Won’t you trust him with every area of your life, even the things you’re not proud of? You might not see it yet, but take courage, Jesus is “making all things new.”

Prayer: You are so good, Father! Thank You for setting everything under Jesus’ feet. Thank You that You are ultimately in control of everything and that You are making all things new. I trust You with everything I’ve got. Amen!

What Has God Placed on Your List?

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. 

A masterpiece: That’s what you are! No matter what you’ve done and no matter what’s been done to you, God created you to be a masterpiece.

You can focus on your imperfections, hang-ups, hurts, or habits, but that is not what God sees. He looks at you and says, “What a masterpiece! I could not have created anyone better for this part of the Kingdom! He/She is a work of art!”

God knows that one day you will meet Jesus. He knows that you will become a Christ follower and will be “created anew.” And that’s when all the fun begins.

He sends you off into the world with a long list of good things to do—things he has strategically planned so that only you can do them. He prepares you with the tools and experience you need to carry out that list.

You know the feeling: The rush of euphoria that the forgiveness of sin brings. The compulsion to go do something good for someone. That’s because those good things are on your list!

The joy we find in our lives is directly correlated to the accomplishment of the things on the list God created for us. If we do a good work that is not on our list, there is less joy.

For example, missions are a good thing, right? But only if it’s on your list. If a primitive mission trip is not on your list and you find yourself sleeping on a dirt floor surrounded by snoring strangers in a mosquito-infested room with no air conditioning, you will not experience joy.

Ask God what He has strategically placed on your list. What is important to you? What experiences have you had that might help others?

B4D-Devo-10-26Thought for the day: There is a world of people out there searching for happiness. They don’t realize what they really need is joy. They, like you, are a masterpiece, created by God, with a long list of good works to do while they are on earth. They may do some of the things on their list, but until they know Jesus, they will never know the true joy of pleasing God by doing the good works that He planned out for them before they were born. Perhaps meeting and sharing Jesus with one of those people is on your list.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You think I am Your masterpiece? I am so flattered that You look at me without seeing the imperfections I see. Thank You for sending me to earth with a list of good works—things only I can do in the Kingdom of God. Help me to pursue them as they are revealed by the Holy Spirit. Let me find the joy of knowing that I have pleased you. And may the people who need Your love be strategically put in my path so I can do Your will and move us both a bit farther down Your path. Thank You, Lord, for choosing me before I chose You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

He Will Never Let You Down

1 Corinthians 10:13
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.  (The Message translation)

This love note from God brings us great peace and relief.

First it says that temptation is common for all of us. On the days that you struggle remember you’re not alone. Even Jesus faced temptation and He was the only person in history that did not fall to it.

Second, it tells us that He is always with us to help us through whatever we’re facing. You’ve likely heard the phrase, “God will never give us more than we can handle.” Well, that’s sort of true. But actually, God will never give us more than He can handle.

He can and He will handle it. He is not going to do the work for us, but He will walk beside us every step of the way. He is who He says He is and He always does what He says He will.

Temptation itself is not the sin. The sin is when we follow through with the temptation. Jesus gives us tools to navigate through the temptation and the sin that can follow.

  1. The Bible. It is full of people who were tempted and failed, people who were tempted and succeeded in not following through, and people who were tempted and kept trusting Him.
  2. People. Your tribe. Your community. Your small group. God places people in our lives for a reason. We can trust our tribe to pray for us, speak love and truth to us, have compassion on us, and to distract us from following through with whatever temptation we’re facing.
  3. Celebrate Recovery. Currently three of our five campuses have a safe place to talk about temptation, brokenness, healing, restoration, and grace. If the temptation has turned into a hurt, habit or hang up of any kind (anger, anxiety, perfectionism, chemical addiction, pornography, shopping, fear, etc.) then Celebrate Recovery is for you.

B4D-Devo-10-25Temptation is part of life. The real problem is when we allow temptation to take us down a path of sin and destruction.

He has given us the tools to prevent it. And the cool thing is when we begin to realize that as part of the recovery, restoration, and redemption process, He is still faithful to us and gives us the same tools to get us back on the right path.

Prayer: Father God, thank You that You understand all that we will ever face in this life and that You always show us the way out of temptation. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love

Romans 8:38–39
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

It’s hard to find anything in this world that is permanent. A new house or car will eventually begin to show wear and need repairs. Our bodies, no matter our level of health and fitness, age over time. Even the strongest buildings can struggle to stand in the face of natural disaster.

Our emotions are even more temporary. The way we feel about an object we enjoy can change the moment a newer version is announced. A favorite restaurant can be blacklisted with only one poor experience. The way we view others in relationships isn’t exempt and our fickleness isn’t contained only to our junior high years.

With everything, including love, seeming to be so fleeting it’s no wonder we all struggle to feel peace in our lives.

Failed relationships that were once based on love typically root their issues in the fact that something changed. Maybe someone stopped trying or put all of their energy into other aspects of life. Perhaps someone had to relocate and the stresses of distance or a new environment caused insurmountable strain. In the worst case, infidelity or another moral failure could have been an issue.

Today’s verse is a really powerful reminder. There is no place we can go, nothing that we can do, and nothing that can be done to us that can separate us from God’s love. It wasn’t our own efforts that earned it or level of perfection that impressed God to begin with. He simply gave it as a gift and promises to never take it back.

If we try to run, He’ll outrun us.
If we try to hide, He won’t stop until He finds us.
If we fail Him, He’ll never give up on us.

He’s a perfect loving Father who loves us simply because we’re His and, like a Father, He wants what’s best for His kids.

B4D-Devo-10-24_vs3Thought for the day: Do you struggle with thinking you can lose God’s love? What areas of your life cause you to think that? Ask God to help you take steps in those areas, while living confidently in the love and identity He has given you.

Prayer: Thank You Jesus for loving me as I am, and not as I should be. Help me to stand and live in the confidence of knowing there’s nothing that can separate me from Your love and to live a life that honors You in response.

He Sets Us Free

Romans 8:1-2
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

This passage specifically says there is “now” no condemnation in Christ. That implies there was a before and we are now in the after.

Humanly speaking, we cannot accomplish the law of Moses, so God sent a redeemer, a blanket of mercy, and a justifier in and through the person of Jesus. The Messiah. The consequences of our past, present, and future sin were entirely replaced by the almighty mercy of God and His all-knowing assistance through the Spirit.

Jesus coming is the first part of the “now.” The second part is you and I saying yes to believing in what He did, acknowledging our sin, and turning our lives over to Him. His word tells us that He will come again.

Without Jesus as the intervention, the consequences would be eternal separation from God. You and I would return to dust and stay as dust. Jesus sets us free from that today and for all of eternity. We are born on earth, reborn in Jesus, and reborn into eternity because we said yes to Him. That isn’t a wishful thinking fairytale; that is His truth.

We get a taste of heaven on earth when we live our lives in worship and service to the God who set us free. Have you ever seen God break the chains of addiction in someone’s life, restore a marriage broken by sin, or give full health to someone on their death bed?

He has been setting His people free for a long time.

The Bible is full of stories about people being freed from oppression, addiction, consequences, hardship, and struggle. Our lives are full of freedom stories about messy people being freed from the very same things. They may not all be recorded in the Bible, but they are recorded in Him. If you are being held bondage from a hurt, habit, or hang up that is keeping you from living the life of freedom that Jesus gave His life for, there’s hope and help in the ministry of Celebrate Recovery.

Jesus is the freedom and fulfillment of the beginning, the after, and the new beginning to come. Because we have been redeemed, we are restored to rightness with God. We are found not guilty because we are covered by Him. If we are holding onto the chains of bondage, we can choose to get help.

B4D-Devo-10-23Thought for the day: Are you taking for granted the freedom you have been given? Are you living a life of obedience and thanksgiving for the miracle of mercy? Do you need help in order to heal? Learn more about Celebrate Recovery here.

Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your mercy and grace. Thank You that my debt is paid. Give me the courage to walk in freedom and to live a life full of worship and service to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.