"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageos. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9)
Over the years of your life together as husband and wife, God will take you to unexpected places. You'll face new jobs, addresses, and relationships. You'll tackle challenges and questions that shake you to the core. At the first sight of change, you might be tempted to run back to what's familiar. But when God's leading the way, you're called to face the future with courage.
Where is God taking you today? Which aspects are most intimidating? How do you feel inadequate to face what's ahead? What kind of disaster fill your imagination? Lay down your fears by trusting that God is in control. Take hold of his promise to be with you every step of the way.
God is keeping you under his wing. Nothing that's ahead will be a surprise to him. He promises to use everything for your good because he loves you. Be strong and courageous!
Lord, you're leading us down unfamiliar roads. Give us confidence in your presence so we're set free from fear. Give us courage to follow you every step of the way.
One Plus One Is One
"For this reasom a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."(Matthew 19:5)
Moving forward means leaving the past behind. If you keep looking over your shoulder, you'll stumble and fall as you travel the road of life. To fully embrace a new identity in marriage, you leave your parents' household and build your own home.
Have you "left" your father and mother? Is your parents' approval more important than your partner's? Do they provide for you financially? Is there pressure to arrange your plans for their benefit rather than yours? You need the privacy to work through decisions and conflict on your own. Have they offered their home as an escape if things don't "work out" in your marriage? Have they given their blessing, respecting you as adults with separate goals, dreams, and life choices?
You're called to honor your father and mother (Exod. 20:12). Their wisdom and help can be a gift. They deserve thanks for supporting you growing up. Ask God for direction in how to move fully into marriage relationship while still showing kindness and respect to your parents.
Lord, teach us how to leave our past behind and build a new life with each other. Unite our hearts so we can become one.
Faith Like a Child
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them. (Hosea 11:4)
In our fast-paced world, kids grow up in a hurry. Success is defined by self-reliance. Independence. A competitive edge. We're told with an education, the latest technology, and money in the bank, we can handle whatever comes our way.
There's no room in that worldview for childlike faith. You belong to a father who knows your heart- need for kindness. You don't have to be self-sufficient in tough times. You can cry out for loving comfort when you're hurt or afraid. He binds himself to you with constant love. He reaches out and holds you when you need him most.
Today, remember your God and king is your "Abba, Father" too. Pray about your problems. Bring him your sorrows and disappointment. Ask for him to provide for all your needs. Let him lead you by the hand, trusting he'll take you where you need to go. Have faith, believing he delights in you as his precious children.
Lord, we try hard to be tough in every situation. Soften our hearts so we remember how much we need you. Thank you for loving us as our kind, faithful Father.
Give What You've Received
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Our spouse can become a target when we see them fall. We're tempted to shoot arrows of criticism, judgment, and spite. We can name every flaw, and use their past as a weapon in the present. Gentleness and love are stamped out by angry accusations.
Instead, our spouse can serve as a mirror for our own heart. Their weaknesses reflect our own. We can identify with their lack of self-control, relational struggles, and discouragement. We're reminded of times we've also lost our courage or caved in to temptation. The Lord's grace toward our partner reflects his mercy towardsl us as well. We're moved to show patience and understanding as we remember our need for Jesus.
Today, put down the arrows that will shatter your partner's hearts. Allow the Lord to develop compassion and kindness between you. Choose to respond with forgiveness instead of anger. Praise God for bearing with you through every struggle.
Lord, teach us to forgive as you've forgiven us. Let us encourage one another to love and obey more fully each day. Fill us with your mercy and kindness.
As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" ( 1 Corinthians 12:20-21)
All believers have unique gifts, passions, and abilities to share with others. Joined together, a fully-functioning spiritual family is formed.
In the same way, a husband and wife unite their different strengths in marriage. The cliche that "opposites attract" proves true- we fall in love with qualities distinct from our own. The shy introvert enjoys his outgoing girlfriend who brings him out of his shell. The free spirit respects the reliable, detail-oriented approach of her fiance. Discovering how we "fit" is exciting. We feel complete as we join our lives together.
Just as God builds the body with uniquely gifted believers, he builds a family through the strength of each member. Rather than resenting what sets you apart, celebrate each other as God's creation. Ask him to reveal his plan for serving him and each other. Love and depend on each other today.
Lord, thank you for making us unique. Show us how to love and help each other with out gifts.
Love in the Real World
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. ( 1 Corinthians 13:4)
We find out quickly after the wedding that love is more than feelings - it's hard work! The lord knows true love calls us to surrender our pride and preferences.
How are you challenge in patience today? Do your partner's quirks and habits get on your nerves? Ask the lord for a fresh filling of grace to accept your differences.
How can you show kindness today? Give a gift, pitch in with chores, or pay compliment. Look for opportunities to help and care for one another.
How might you be coverting your spouse? Are you resently, thinking they have a better job, more fun, and less stress than you? Choose to rejoice today over the blessings you've each received.
How is pride stealing joy from your marriage today? Do you point out your superior parenting, organization, and money management? Do you pressure your partner to be just like you? Ask God to renew your respect for each other's strengths.
Fix your eyes on Jesus - our servant King and his example of perfect love. He'll turn your hearts toward each other and give you joy.
Lord, forgive us when we're impatient, jealous, and proud. Teach us to cherish one another as gifts from you.
Keeping It Real
One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.( Proverbs 13:7)
It's tempting to control what the world thinks of us. We manipulate our image so we look as attractive, successful, and happy as possible. Struggles and failure are kept behind closed doors. We can make much of our small success, or cover up prosperity with false modesty. We settls for superficial relationships so nobody finds out who we really are.
You're called to authenticity in Jesus. He invites you to bring every sin and weakness into the light of his grace. You lay your need for salvation at his feet and he purifies your hearts. By inviting him into the darkest corners of your life, you allow him to make you new.
Your lives become a story of his transforming work. You can share the miracle of being changed from who you once were. As you become real with others- letting them see who you truly are- the love and power of God are made known.
Lord, give us the courage to be ourselves. Let us lay down the need to impress other people. Let us tell your story of redemption as we openly share our lives.
Love For A Lifetime
"The man who hates and divorces his wife,"says the Lord, the God of Israel,"does violence to the one he should protect,"says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.(Malachi 2:16)
It cuts a wife to the core when her husband turns his heart away. She notice the subtle glances at other women. She's aware of his visits to pornographic sites online. Her internal alarm goes off when past relationships return in the present. When the walls of faithfulness fall down around your marriage, a wife is crushed in the rubble.
Guard your hearts from unfaithfulness today. Rebuild accountability and boundaries so you're not overcome by temptation. Confess your sin to one another and begin again today.
Take any hatred or bitterness to the Lord in prayer. Let him soften a hardened heart. Choose to put your marriage first, ahead of any other relationship or goal for your life. Turn your fighting with each other into fighting for your marriage.
Close the door of your mind to any thought of divorce. Ask the Lord for strength to keep your promises to one another. Let him rekindle your love, and erase any infatuation or desire to walk away. Let his perfect love teach your hearts to love each other well.
Lord, when our marriage feels difficult, its tempting to look for a way of escape. Keep us from breaking apart. Guard our love and give us strength to stay together.
The Treasure of Your Marriage
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.(James 1:17)
When you fell in love, you were excited about all you had in common. You felt complete and happy together. You enjoyed the affection and encouragement you shared. You were certain you were God's "good and perfect gift" made just for each other.
God's love and wisdom for your life hasn't changed. You know that neither of you is perfect, yet your marriage is still part of God's plan to bless your lives. No matter how you've failed each other, God is still good. His Word is always true. He's as strong and able as ever to heal, mend, and make things new. He still offers grace and mercy, no matter how much you've sinned and failed.
Today, thank God for the relationship he created between you. Confess how you've neglected to cherish each other as his good gifts. Praise him for offering all you need for love and life together. Ask him to show his never-changing goodness by restoring your joy in each other. Depend on him for enduring love like his.
Lord, thank you for never changing, so we can trust you all the time. Teach us to be faithful in loving each other and you.
The Privilege of Giving
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. (2 Corinthians 9:12)
Today, you may be the answer to someone's prayer. The meal delivered to a new mother brings relief from her exhaustion.
The visit to an elderly widow comforts her lonely heart. The music prepared for Sunday morning allows the church to worship. Money sent to a struggling family satisfies their landlord for another month. Donated clothing keeps foster children warm in winter. Help with car repairs lets a missionary focus on Ministry. The help and encouragement we share is God's way of caring for his people.
Pray and ask God how to serve others today. Consider what you have to give- time, skills, resources- and pray for opportunities to share. Look forward to the thanks God will receive as he directs you to help.
Remember how the Lord met your needs through Christian in your life. Thank him for the blessings You've been given. Praise him for heading your prayers and moving in people's hearts for you.
Lord, thank you for the family of God. Teach us to serve our brothers and sisiters in Christ, loving them in your name. Let all the glory go to you.
Give and You'll Receive
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.(Proverbs 11:25)
Is your marriage weak and tired? Is conversation wasted by pointless arguments? Have you lost your partnership by looking out for yourselves alone? Do you feel lonely even when you're side by side? Pour the cool waters of generosity over your dry relationship and watch it come to life.
Pour an extra cup of coffee for your loved one. Give a back rub after a stressful day. Stop at the store for their favorite dessert. Wash the dishes without being asked. Take the kids to the park so your spouse can enjoy a quiet house. Give a listening ear to their worries and dreams. Offer affirming words to build up their confidence. Pray over the burdens your spouse is carrying. Surrender your time and energy so they'll feel heard, valued, and cared for.
Thoughtfulness and kindness are powerful ways to refresh your marriage. Ask God for strength to give and to put each other first today.
Lord, give us your gracious Spirit that gives generously at all times. Show us how to encourage and serve each other freely. Keep us from distraction or selfishness that holds back our love.
Help Is On the Way
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!(Isaiah 30:18)
God doesn't play games with your life. He's not cruel, waiting to see how far you'll bend before you break. He's not indifferent to your stress and pain. He's not manipulative, making you work for his attention. He's not corrupt, saving his blessings for the highest bidder. He's not slow, forgetful, or unsure what to do.
Trust in God's grace today. He's with you in your struggles. He hears every word of your prayers. He hates to see you endure gossip, accusations, and abuse. He has a perfectly orchestrated plan for your life and situation. He loves you as his child- he's compassionate and wants to help.
Pray for patience to wait for God. Ask for faith to believe he's working in ways you can't see yet. Thank him for loving you today, and for all he's going to do tomorrow. Look forward to his coming. In the end you'll see him face to face as the greatest reward of all.
Lord, hard times bring doubt and worry. Teach us to wait for you. Your love and grace are more than enough.
Listen and Learn
Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.(Proverbs 13:10)
Pride is at the root of every argument. We're convinced that we're right. We know our way is best. It would be easier if everyone would just cooperate with our plan. We don't want to slow down and listen to another perspective. We're so busy proving our point, that's people's feelings are left in the dust.
What is the conflict between you today? Take time to listen respectfully to each other's ideas and opinions. Ask questions and seek to fully understand your partner. Put the goal of unity ahead of your desire to win. Be open to advice from those with greater experience and wisdom to share. Take your issues to God in prayer, asking him to give insight about what to do.
There's no satisfaction on winning an argument if the relationship is broken in the end. Humble your hearts today to give up the fight. Let your love for each other and for God cover every disagreement.
Lord, forgive us for fighting to have our own way. Give us humble hearts to listen to each other and to you. Teach us to communicate with kindness and respect. Give us your perfect wisdom as we make decisions.
God's Way or No Way
He replied: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,'and,'Do not follow them."(Luke 21:8)
We hear the false teachers around us. They promise wealth and prosperity for following Jesus. They tell us to follow the rules or suffer God's wrath. They threaten us with the risk of losing our salvation. They require supernatural signs to confirm our position in Christ. They deny the holiness of God, saying wrong is right and good is bad. Deception can lead us away from the One we love.
Be alert, watching who holds influence over your life. Reject those claiming inspiration apart from the Word. Turn away from anyone denying Jesus as the Son of God- "the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). Ignore those who promise salvation apart from believing in Christ.
Pray today for wisdom to know who to follow. Study the Scriptures so you know what's true. Worship in a church that holds the Bible as God's inerrant Word. Trust God to give you all you need to follow him without stumbling. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32).
Lord, guard our hearts and minds from deception. Keep us faithful and true.
The Comfort of Quiet
Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. (Job 2:13)
It's hard to see your loved one hurting. You can't heal their disease. You can't erase the cruel words of rejection. You can't provide a new job or opportunity. You can't restore the person they lost. You can't replace what's been taken. You can't explain why they're suffering. You feel helpless in the face of their pain- you don't know what to do.
Today, be still. Resist the urge to "fix it" or find somone to blame. Offer the gift of your presence. Clear your calendar so you can stay close. Be willing to listen as they process what's happened. Comfort them through your touch and provide a shoulder to cry on.
Pray for God's healing and help. Ask for insight to understand what your spouse is going through. Let him supply patience and compassion. Thank him for giving you each other so you're not alone. Trust him to do what's needed at the right time. Thank him for his grace that's enough for today.
Lord, show us how to carry this burden together. Bring your comfort and help. Give us hope for all you're going to do. Let us trust in your love.
Watch Your Words
Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. (James 4:11)
When united in marriage, you begin the process of becoming one. Each of you brings unique traditions, experiences, education, and personalities. As you do the hard work of blending your lives, guard your words and attitudes carefully.
None of us choose our relatives - resist the urge to put down your loved one's family. Find ways to compliment your spouse, even if you don't understand their taste in food, music, or friends. Have patience as you build teamwork in managing your household, money, and schedule. Assume the best in each other before critical words stir up conflict between you.
You'll be tempted to slander if you expect your spouse to be just like you. Remember, you are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps. 139:14). You're chosen and loved by the Lord (2 Thess. 2:13). You're accepted by God (Acts 10:35). Your value is internal, for "The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7).
Ask for God's eyes to see each other's worth today. He'll help you to cherish and celebrate one another as you grow in love.
Lord, fill our mouths with words of honor and respect. Teach us to build each other up with praise.
Find Your Lost Temper
Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. (Proverbs 14:29)
Our spouse can be disorganized. Forgetful. Distracted. Their quirky habits drive us crazy. When they do that annoying things again, we're tempted to get angry. We think the louder we yell, the better they'll hear us. We feel justified in our temper- surely if they cared they would change their ways. Yet it's foolish to think an angry outburst will improve the situation. All it can do is tear down our loved one and push him or her away.
Have wisdom today to choose patience over anger. Seek to understand the motives behind your spouse's behavior. Consider if they're tired, overbooked, and overwhelmed. Recognize how they're following pattern of their upbringing. Appreciate how their skills, gifts, and personality may differ from your own.
Give grace go each other today. Don't assume your partner is deliberately frustrated you. Guard your heart from taking things personally. Seek to listen and understand. Work to find solutions as a team. Forgive, offering the kindness you hope to receive yourself. In this way, build trust and love that lasts.
Lord, quick tempers will tear us apart, but patience knits us together. Let us show the same compassion we receive from you.
The Healing Power of Confession
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
Is your marriage "sick" today? Hurtful words, selfish choices, and unresolved conflict create distance between you. You can drift apart, angry and cold toward the one you most want to be close to. As time goes by, you'll struggle to find the way back to each other again.
The Lord provides the medicine for your marriage: confession and prayer. Be willing to admit your part in building the wall between you. Confess the ways you've put yourself first. Apologize for wounding your spouse in the fight to have your way. Ask for forgiveness and a chance to begin again.
Pray for your partner - for healing, help, and wisdom to know what to do. Ask for God's truth and compassion to fill the space between you. Pray for him to renew your love and intimacy as you open up to each other today. Let him tear down the walls and unite you as one again.
Lord, we've sinned against each other and you. We need your grace and help so we're free to love again. Do a powerful work of healing in our marriage today.
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:12-13)
You don't have to be afraid of eternity. Wondering if you're really in the faith. Scared that your sins have turned God's heart away. You can know for certain if you have eternal life: " If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord, " and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9).
If you truly believe in Jesus today, have peace. If you've called him your lord, you're his. Leave your doubts behind. Put away your insecurities and trust in his promise. Answer his call to "fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (1 Tim. 6:12).
Pray together for faith to love God, trust in his salvation, and live for him until he comes. Nothing will separate you from his love or snatch you from his hand.
Lord, thank you for giving us life in Jesus. Build our faith so it can't be shaken.
The Humble Road to Greatness
"Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all." (Mark 10:43-44)
The headlines are dominated by the dealings of powerful leaders. Magazines highlight celebrities and success stories. Advertising sells the way to grab more attention, status, and prosperity. We're pushed to fight our way to the top.
Jesus calls us to trade in greatness for servanthood. We're to lay down our rights. To put other first. To show mercy and kindness. To love others more than ourselves. No matter how impressive our rank or wealth, we're to surrender ourselves like Christ.
How can you serve today? Who needs a helping hand to move forward? Who is stressed, not having what they need? Who needs comfort and a listening ear? Who needs shelter, rescue, or hope? Who needs what you have to give?
Choose the way of Jesus today. Let pride and selfishness be overcome by humility. Pray and ask for wisdom to pursue his kind of greatness - modesty, love, and willingness to serve. In this way you'll please the One who gave himself for you.
Lord, teach us what it means to be "slaves of all." We want to give and serve with humble hearts like Jesus.
Stick With Jesus
Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 9)
Faith is not a one-time prayer at summer camp. It's not a few good works to ease our conscience. It's not serving God on Sunday and pleasing ourselves through the week. It's not a feel-good message on a t-shirt. It's not a tradition, a lifestyle, or a social activity. Faith is an all-in, life or death, transforming belief in Jesus who died for our sins.
Are you putting your hope for tomorrow in your faith of yesterday? Has that faith endured? Are you still believing? Obeying? Serving? Loving? Praying? Trusting? Are you loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength?
Pray today for faith that last for life. Pray for perseverance to keep growing and learning the Word. Pray for trust in God through whatever comes your way. Pray for Jesus to fill you with his love for everyone.
True faith goes on and on, believing until the end. "Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him" (2 Tim. 2:11-12). Keep believing Jesus. Give your life to follow him. Know you're his forever.
Lord, we want true faith to believe and obey until you come again. Keep us faithful to you and your Word every day.
Heading for Home
But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for God always, (Hosea 12:6)
Life's distractions and temptations can lead you away from God. Is your family traveling in the wrong direction today?
Is love fading in your house? Do you treat each other with courtesy or rudeness? Are you generous or selfish? Patient or easily angered? Encouraging or critical? Comforting or callous? The further away you wander from God, the less his love fills your lives.
Is your family known for its justice? Are you honest and trustworthy? Do you care for the poor and marginalized? Do you treat each other fairly? Remember God's call to lives of integrity, standing for the truth.
Are you waiting for God every day? Do you continually pray and expect him to answer? Do you search his Word for wisdom? Are you eager to hear him speak through pastors and teachers? Do you depend on him for your daily needs? Have faith, living in eager anticipation of his presence.
If you're distant from the Lord, return to him today. Love one another. Stand for justice. Invite God into every part of your life.
Lord, keep us from wandering away from you. Fill our home with your love and justice. Teach us to wait for you to accomplish all you've got planned.
Grace or a Grudge?
"When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your father in heaven may forgive you your sins."(Mark 11:25)
Is there anything between you today? Perhaps you're still hurting from words of the past. Frustration over a recent argument. Betrayal from a broken promise. Disappointment from unmet hopes and expectations. Rejection as jobs, families, or friends competes for your spouse's attention. You're wounded by their lust, anger, or selfishness. You're trying to be patient, but resentment is building each day.
Unforgiveness divides both your marriage and your relationship with God. You can't ask for his mercy if you keep it from each other. Take your pain and frustration to God in prayer. Ask for compassion and understanding. Depend on him to make peace in your home. Trust him to help your spouse grow and change. Call on him for humility to see your own need for forgiveness.
Today, lay down what you're holding against each other. Start again, giving the grace you've recieved through Jesus.
Lord, help us to forgive each other today. Let us show the mercy you've shown to us. Give us a fresh start as we let go of the past.
The Gift of Prayer
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. (3 John 2)
You know your loved one better than anyone else. You're intimately acquainted with their likes dislikes, hopes and fears, friends and enemies. You know their stress, their aches and pains, their disappointments. You're the keeper of their secrets. The lover of their heart. You know more than anyone else how to pray for their life.
Love each other by praying every day. Ask God to heal your pain and sickness. Ask for strength to keep up with life's demands. Ask him to prosper your work and guard your reputation. Ask him to keep your marriage close and connected. Call on him for wisdom to handle tough decisions. Pray for discernment to understand the Bible and live by its truth. Cry out for courage and rescue when the enemy attacks your faith and family.
Invite God's love and power into each other's lives. Your faith will grow as you see him move in your home. You'll be secure, knowing you're in his hands. The Spirit will make you one as you lift each other up.
Lord, make us faithful to pray for each other about everything. Bring your wisdom, help, and blessings as we pray.
We All Need Jesus
Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." (Matthew 21:31-32)
God invites everyone to enter his kingdom. He sees the inner-city mom on welfare. He knows the criminal locked away in jail. He sees the addict. The stripper. The corrupt and cruel among us. The message is the same to all: repent and believe.
Jesus isn't impressed by credentials. Playing by the rules won't get you to heaven. He loves those devastated by guilt and regret. He hears their cry to help and forgiveness. He never turns away "a broken and contrite heart" who believes in him ( Ps. 51:17)
We need humility and grace today. Humility to remember our own need for Jesus, and mercy for others who need him too. Thank God today for loving you no matter what you've done. Ask for faith to keep believing and turning away from sin. Lift up the lost around you - believe in Jesus and be set free. Pray for a heart of compassion for everyone.
Lord, keep us free from pride thats says we deserve your love. May we keep believing, obeying, and loving the lost in your name.
The Open Arms of God
" So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. " (Luke 15:20)
Are you " still a long way off " from your father God today? Perhaps pain and struggle have damaged your trust in his love. The pull of money or success has captured your focus. The Bible and church feel less fulfilling than other activities you enjoy. You're losing the battle against temptation, so you quit trying to obey the Lord. For whatever reason, your heart and mind are far from God.
Don't beleive the enemy's lift that God has given up on you. Replace and fear of his anger with confidence in his mercy. Trade in your self-reliance for humility to tell how much you need him. Come as you are - guilty, tired, wounded, full of doubt - and receive his compassionate embrace.
Pray. Confess. Let go of the past. Run toward your Father who forgives and makes all things new.
Lord, we've tried living without you and it's no life at all. Today, we surrender our lives to your control. We trust in Jesus work on the cross to cover every sin and save us. Keep us close to you forever.
We're in This Together
Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
We weren't meant to follow God alone. We need accountability to do the right thing. We need godly friends to encourage us along the way. We need to remember that this earth isn't our home - we're looking ahead to eternal life with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Left to yourselves, you'll forget who you are as believers. You'll fall into sin without anybody challenging your choices. You'll become self-absorbed and blind to the needs around you. You'll start living for the "now" instead of keeping your eyes on the horizon of eternity.
Commit to the church as a couple. Participate in worship, service, and friendship with other believers. Invite Christians into your life who set an example of obedience and knowledge of the word. Look for those who need love and help in difficult circumstances. Invest your time, energy, and spiritual gifts to build up the family of God.
Let God reveal his truth and comfort your pain through others who love him.
Lord, thank you for creating a spiritual family in Christ. Show us how to share our lives with your people.
Kids and the Kingdom
He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. "(Mark 10:14)
God loves children. He wants to know them, hold them, and love them. As parents or friends of kids, we have the privilege of introducing them to Jesus. We're to do all we can to help - not hinder - children in coming to him.
Pray for kids' salvation and protection from evil. Pray with them for God's help with their troubles. Invite them to bring their thanks, fears, and questions to him in prayer.
Teach children God's Word. Read Bible stories before bed. Take them to church. Shield them from false teachers who deny the truth. Let them see you study Scripture for yourself.
Worship together. Sing along to worship music. Enjoy God's creation. Take every opportunity to tell God how wonderful he is.
Show love to others. Give kids a chance to give and serve. Lead them in praying for their friends. Encourage them to reach out to those who are hurting or left out. Show them how love is meant to be shared.
A child's faith inspires our own. Their simple trust and open hearts are beautiful to God. Pray today for faith like a little child.
Lord, thank you for your love for children. Show us how to love them in your name.
Pay It Forward
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
On the other side of suffering, we carry a measure of comfort to share. We can identify with the hurt in another's heart. The childless relate to the pain of infertility. The jobless know the stress of unemployment. The addict knows the ruin of destructive choices. The abused and rejected know the heart's deep longing for safety and acceptance. Those who receive God's grace and healing are especially enabled to share compassion with others.
How has God met you in your pain? Remember how he cared for you. Share your story with those walking the same dark road. Have courage to enter into their grief. Offer words of hope from your experience and God's Word. Give assurance that just as he's been faithful to you, he's faithful to all his children. Remember his power that's strong enough to hold you to the end.
Lord, thank you for meeting us in our darkest hour. Your love is enough to carry any burden and heal any wound. Use us to comfort those who are suffering today.
Learn Before You Teach
"How can you say to your brother, "Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye; when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to removethe speck from your brother's eye." (Luke 6:42)
When you marry, your life becomes an open book. It's hard to hide your bad habits and weaknesses from the one who knows you best. It's tempting to point out every error and pressure each other to change. And, its much easier to focus on the someone else's failings than your own.
The Scriptures challenge you to keep your focus inward rather than outward. Keep a sensitive conscience to the Spirit's correction. Take responsibility for your actions, confessing your sins to God and the one you've offended. Study the Word diligently to know his will for your life.
Once you've humbled your hearts to acknowledge your mistakes, you're in a position to encourage one another. You can lovingly help each other do the right thing. You can seek God together to ask him what to do. Then your marriage becomes a place to grow in obedience every day.
Lord, give us eyes to clearly see our sin. Help us to focus on our own obedience instead of trying to change each other .
Give What You've Got
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. (Proverbs 3:27)
To love like Jesus, we can't turn a blind eye to the needs around us. Whether it's taking a sick child to a doctor appointment, holding the door when our partner's arms are full, or giving fair payment to our lawn service, we're responsible to care for those in our lives. Holding back from doing good is the opposite of Jesus servanthood and sacrifice.
Who needs your help today? What blessings could you share with others? Who needs the gift of friendship to ease their loneliness? Who needs a listening ear or encouraging word? How can you show thoughtfulness to your family as you go about your day? Who deserves a reward or payment for their service to you?
Jesus gave up everything for us - even his life on the cross. He asks us to give out of the good we've received from his hand. Experience the joy of loving others in Jesus name.
Lord, prompt our hearts to serve and give generously to those around us. Let us share our time, energy, resources, and love. Teach us to be thoughtful and kind to one another.
Don't Be Scared
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your father's care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31)
Few of us stand out in a crowd. Our influence is small. Our talent is far from extraordinary. We don't have power to keep ourselves secure. We don't have money to buy our way out of trouble. When trials and enemies come, we're helpless and afraid.
Jesus said you'd have trouble in this world. He understands your struggle to do the right thing. He sees the enemy scheming, lying, and tempting you to sin. He knows the world hates you for loving him. Even so, he says, "Don't be afraid."
God is not surprised by your struggle. He knows everything about you. You're his treasures - chosen, loved, and bought with the price of his life. This testing will build your faith and endurance. In all of it, he's working for your good. He'll strengthen you, comfort you, and love you until the end.
Pray to take hold of his promise today: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).
Lord, give us courage when it's hard to live for you in this world.
Stand in the Gap
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. (2 Corinthians 1:8)
God has called his people to dangerous places. They share the Word where it's forbidden. They rescue children from slavery. They stand for justice for the oppressed. They supply food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, and work for the poor. They take back ground from the enemy for God's kingdom.
The cost of obedience is high for many. They suffer violence, disease, and even death for the sake of Christ. As their brothers and sisters, we can be blinded by our safety and comfort. How do we stand with God's servants today?
Learn, give, and pray. Discover how missionaries are serving around the world. Read their stories and support them as God leads you. Send gifts and encouraging letters. Share the needs you discover with others, inviting them to care. Most of all, pray. Cry out to God for their safety, strength and courage. Ask for his favor and victory in their battles. Remember them when they feel alone in the fight.
Lord, in the security we enjoy, we can forget the pressure on our brothers and sisters. Meet their needs , give them hope, and guard their lives.
Twisting the Truth
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman,"Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?" (Genesis 3:1)
The gateway to sin is through doubting God's Word. "Did God really say "sex was just for a married man and wife? "Did God really say" to submit to those in authority? "Did God really say" to be generous with our hard-earned money? "Did God really say" to keep slander, coarse jokes, and gossip out of our conversations? "Did God really say" to be an active part of his church family? When we don't take God at his Word, sin is sure to follow.
Today, pray and ask God to show if you're making excuses for your actions. If you're compromising the truth. If you're living to please yourself instead of him. If you're resisting the Word, afraid of the cost to obey. If you're doubting his wisdom and goodness in your life.
God loves you. He knows the peace and blessings that come through obedience. Surrender to him as the Lord of your life today.
Lord, protect us from the enemy's lies. Give us faith to trust and obey your Word.
Touch, See, and Believe
He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." (Luke 24:38-39)
Our emotions are deceptive, making us feel like God is far away. Trials and pain create doubt in his love. Enemies and persecution stir up fear, and we wonder if we're safe in his hands. Delayed answers to prayer shake our trust that he's listening. We lose faith in what we can't see, despite his promise to be with us always, to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:20).
Pray for eyes of faith to see Jesus. He doesn't always show up in the way you expect. Your difficulty may be his loving hand of discipline. Your friend's encouraging word is his voice of love. The food on your table and roof over your head is his faithful provision. Your loving marriage is his gift of comfort. His Word is always at hand to give truth and wisdom. He's not absent or hiding from you today. Let go of your doubt and believe he's with you.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be dicouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Josh. 1:9).
Lord, you're alive, you're here, and your love never fails. Make us sure of you today.
The Temper Trap
Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24-25)
Is anger taking hold in your home today? It's inevitable that bitterness and rage will impact each member of the family. A parent who lashes out and punishes harshly will make their child bitter and discouraged (Col. 3:21). A spouse who's easily offended will divide the marriage and stifle love (Prov. 17:9).
Sarcasm is contagious. Angry insults crush respect and kindness. A hot temper breaks trust. Walls are built around the heart to defend against the next explosion. How is your household suffering the effects of anger today? Freedom is found in Christ. By forgiving as you've been forgiven, resentment and bitterness fade away. By the power of the spirit, you lear kindness, gentleness, and self-control. He makes you his new creation, frees you from the power of darkness, and gives you everything you need to overcome.
Pray today for rescue if anger is doing damage in your family. Trust him to fill you with love and peace as you depend on him. Praise him for the healing he'll bring as you submit to him in everything.
Lord, forgive us for the angry words and actions that hurt each other's heart. Heal our wounds and teach us your way of peace.
A Teachable Heart
Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. (Titus 3:9)
Are we concerned with being right or righteous? In our sin, we can turn the Scriptures God gave into an object of debate and division. Instead of responding to the Word with a humble heart, we use it to condemn those around us.
Perhaps your Bible reading gives you a sense of moral superiority to your neighbor. Maybe the appeal of your studies is to come out on top in a discussion. Secret fears can drive you to learn God's "rules" to earn his love. The bible can become a tool to boost your pride rather than renewing your heart and mind.
Consider how the Bible is shaping your life together. Does it challenge you to love and obey the lord? Is it leading you to worship? Is it helping you respond in mercy to those who are lost in their sin?
Ask God for a fresh perspective on his Word today. Pray for a pure desire for knowledge and understanding. Find freedom from legalism and conflict with others. Let the Lord's love and wisdom fill your life as you seek him.
Lord, thank you for your Word that teaches the way of salvation. Help us to know your truth and live in your will. Keep us humble as we seek to understand the Bible more and more.
Give Grace, Get Grace
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be juged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)
It's a lot easier to judge others than to examine ourselves. We hold a gavel in our hand, declaring people guilty for not living up to our standards.
We decide how our brother should handle his emotions. How our teenage neighbor should be modest. How our sister should save her money. How our pastor should preach. How our friends should raise their children. How our boss should lead the department. We create our own definition of right and wrong, apart from the Word of God.
Let God be God today. Trust him to deal with others sin in his way, in his timing. Believe the Spirit is able to provide the wisdom that's needed. Remember how you need forgiveness every day. "Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins" (Eccles. 7:20). We all would be lost without Jesus.
Pray for humidity today. Ask the Lord to make you sincere. Kind. Free from hypocrisy. Obedient to his Word. Let his love and mercy fill your heart.
Lord, keep us from trying to take your place and judge other people. Fill us with your grace toward everyone.
The Wealth of the Word
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 24:3-4)
We can build a mansion with boards and bricks. We can paint, decorate, and landscape the yard. We can fill its rooms with expensive furniture, clothes, and toys. Yet a house without God's wisdom is missing the greatest treasures of all.
Pray for God to establish your home today. Depend on his Word for knowledge and understanding. Learn how to raise your kidd and honor your marriage. Let it teach you how to work and rest, show hospitality, and care for your neighbors. Submit to his will with your money and possessions. Find strength to cope with enemies and trials that come your way. The truth of God will make your house secure:
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock" (Matt. 7:24-25).
Praise God for the gift of his Word as he leads your family today.
Lord, make our house a home that's filled with grace, truth, and love. May we treasure your Word and live for you.
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (Isaiah 43:2)
Are you drowning in grief today? Are you buried beneath waves of pressure and stress? Are people's needs and expectations crushing you under their weight? Are you feeling the heat of threats to your good name? Is anger buring in a difficult relationship? In your most desperate hour, the Lord is with you.
Today, tell God your deepest fears. What feels overwhelming? Which situation seems hopeless? What have you lost that can never be replaced? Who are your enemies? What is too hard to possibly handle on your own?
Trust God's promise to never let you go. "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Cor. 4:8-9). Don't let the storms and fires today shake your faith in his love. He's going to bring you safely home.
Lord, when we're hurting and afraid, give us faith to believe you're here. Give us hope and peace as we trust you through it all.
A Firm Foundation
As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. (Luke 6:47-48)
Is a tsunami bearing down on your life today? Are financial pressures, broken relationships, or life's demands sweeping away your stability and hope? Sickness can strike, children rebel, and possessions are lost. You wonder how to build anything that lasts.
True security is found in the Word of God. Its wisdom gives answers to the challenging questions of life. It guards you from sinful, destructive choices. It points the way to knowing the Lord and experiencing his joy in every situation. When you live by the Bible and hold to faith in Jesus, you cannot be shaken.
If the foundations of your life are crumbling, take hold of the Word. Discover the peace and confidence that come through knowing his promises. Understand his will so you can follow where he leads. Find peace in his unshakable truth.
Lord, teach us your Word so we can do what it says. Be the foundation of our lives.
Righting our Wrongs
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift," (Matthew 5: 23-24)
No matter our good intentions, we let each other down. We forget our debts, break our promises, and wound with our words. Our busy lives distract us from meeting other's needs. We carry on, too stubborn or careless to try to work it out.
The Lord challenges you to make things right when you've done wrong. Before you enter into worship, pursue peace in your relationships. Have the humility to confess the sin. Pay the debt. Apologize for the hurt. Undo the damage as much as you're able. Freely approach the Lord with a clean conscience, knowing you've done all you can to reconcile.
Pray for peace with everyone today. Ask for courage to obey, and for mercy and forgiveness to heal the past. Rejoice in the unity that can be found in him.
Lord, you know the ways we've failed to love. Show us the way to peace and reconciliation. Give us your grace and help to restore what's been broken.