Saturday, September 22, 2018

what God has already done

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Ephesians 1:1-23. Paul is telling us about all the things God has done to save us. And when you stop and think about it in that light, it's pretty amazing.

There were so many times throughout history that God could have given up on us. We rebelled so consistently that He even DID send a flood to sort of "start over". But He didn't give up entirely. He kept pursuing us. He sent prophets. He gave us commandments. He rescued us from slavery and persecution. He sent His son to teach us, to die, and to return from the dead, the first to do so - but not the last. He put His spirit in our hearts so that He could even help us WANT to do His will. He makes it as easy as that... so that we will do what is best for ourselves. His yoke is easy, His burden light. We just have to accept what He's given us.

God, thank You for going beyond what we can even imagine to save us. Please help us share that salvation work that You have done with everyone.

Friday, September 21, 2018

minding your own business makes you happier

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Galatians 6:1-18. And besides the hilarious verse where Paul says, "If you think you're too important to help someone, think again. You're not that important," we also get some good advice about comparing ourselves to others.

Paul tells us to pay attention to our own work, and not to compare what we are doing to everyone else. The reason, he says, is that we are each responsible for our own conduct. But there's another reason to follow this advice.

One of the reasons why we need to be careful when we're on social media is that it's easy to fall into comparing our lives with other people. And the problem is, we're not comparing apples to apples. Because what we share on social media like Facebook is the good stuff. We share the fun trips and the fun moments and the fun people in our lives. We seldom share the times when we struggle or when we're depressed or when things fall apart. So when I look at my friend John's life, I think "Why can't my life be fun and great like his?" And I compare my weakness to his strength, which leaves me feeling miserable.

Instead, we should focus on what God is calling US to do. Keep our mind on the tasks ahead of us. Try to live in the moment. Enjoy the love and grace that God gives us for THIS moment, rather than regretting the past or fearing the future. Psychologists tell us that comparing our lives to others, and living in the past or future instead of the present, are all the most common ways to be miserable.

But living in the moment, and focusing on our own lives, brings us joy. Helping others brings us even more joy. Let's try that, and try to stop comparing our lives to others.

God, thank You for teaching us how to be happy. Please help us follow Your advice.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

and that has made all the difference

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Galatians 5:13-26. In this passage, Paul tells us that there are two roads before us, just like in Frost's poem.

One road is full of drunkenness, sexual immorality, hatred, pain, violence, and fear. The other road is full of love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control. It seems pretty obvious which is the better road, doesn't it?

Yet our culture keeps pushing us toward the highway to hell. They make it look enticing. They act like it's cool, and that only square sticks in the mud would consider going down that second road.

But I think we all know where each road leads. And there's a little part of each of us that wants to go down the first road. That's what Paul tells us, too. That we're constantly warring inside of ourselves - the spirit of God and the spirit of the world are pushing us toward one road or the other. Which one do we choose?

We choose each one a little more each day. Choose wisely. It makes all the difference.

God, thank You for helping us see the roads clearly. Help us choose the right one every day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

yearning for God

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Psalms 63:1-11. The Psalmist writes that he earnestly searches for God... his soul thirsts for Him...his whole body longs for Him. Is that how you feel about God?

The Bible tells us that if we ask, we will receive. If we seek, we'll find. If we knock... well, you get the idea. So if you DON'T find yourself yearning for Him the way the Psalmist does (and there are many days that I don't), you can ask. This is most definitely a prayer He'll say yes to. And that's a big part of what prayer is about... learning which prayers get yes answers. If you pray for a Ferrari, you're probably not going to get a yes answer. But if you pray for your heart to be softened and changed so that you yearn for God the way the Psalmist did... that's a prayer that'll get a yes response.

And the great thing is that when you yearn for Him - He fulfills that yearning. He fills you deeper than you realized you could be. The deeper your yearning, the deeper your joy will be.

God, thank You for teaching us that we can yearn for You.... please help us do so.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

adopted children

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Galatians 3:23-4:31. Paul tells us that we are no longer just God's servants, but that He has made us His children.

And you probably know what that means. When you have a servant, you might fire them if they do something wrong. But when you have a child, you can't fire them from being your child. You love them, and you will do anything to protect them and help them grow.

That's exactly how God feels about you. You're His child, and He will protect you. He will give you everything you need to grow into a healthy, productive person. He will never stop forgiving you when you fail. He will never give up on you, even when you give up on yourself.

Thank You, God, for adopting us. Please help us to grow into Your image.

Monday, September 17, 2018

don't envy sinners

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Proverbs 23:17-18. The writer tells us that we should not envy sinners. And why is that? Well, the reason is that their short sighted.

See, it SEEMS to us in this life that we should try to enjoy our lives as much as possible. We should eat all the best food, live in the nicest house, drive the most expensive car... get the most enjoyment we can out of this life. But this is a mistake.

Our lives are very short, and eternity is very long. We need to be investing our lives in what really matters - not our short term enjoyment of the here and now (though enjoying life isn't itself a sin), but storing up treasures in heaven. How do we do that? By helping others to make it there.

In fact, we learn through both the teachings of Jesus and the lives of the saints that suffering in this lifetime is a good thing. Does that mean we should go out and try to suffer? Of course not. Plenty of suffering will find you. Just make sure you're ready, so that when suffering DOES come, you're able to allow it to make you better, and not bitter.

God, thank You for teaching us not to envy sinners, who don't have the end game in mind.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

God rewards our faith

Today in the One Year Bible, we read from Galatians 2:17-3:9. Paul tells us that God rewarded Abraham because He told him to do something, and Abraham believed Him and did it.

What is God telling you to do? Is there something He's told you that you need to believe and act on? If not, ask Him to tell you. He's got plans for you.

In the mean time, He rewards our faith when we believe the things He tells us in the Bible. That He came as a man and died on a cross and rose from the dead. It takes some serious faith when you REALLY think about that. And He told us that the way we express our faith in Him is by loving other people. Do you struggle to love certain people? Like, your enemies for example? There are some horrible people in this world. But God wants us to love them. They need love even more than the ones who are easy to love.

Let's show our faith by believing His words and doing what He tells us. Then, like Abraham, we can receive our reward.

God, thank You for rewarding those who believe what You tell us.