Tag Archives: spiritual growth

New Years Prayer 2019

Lord,

I thank you for this new year and all the blessings you will bring into my life during it. Give me the wisdom to make the best decisions for my life this year so that I follow your plan for my life. I know that this year will have moments where I can’t see your hand at work where I don’t understand what you’re doing in my life. Help my unbelief in those moments and strengthen my resolve to trust in you no matter what. I know that you see the bigger picture for my life and that you have a plan that is for my good.

As Hebrews 12:14 says, help me to be swift to choose peace over competition in every relationship. I also want to run towards holiness in my life. I want to reflect your Son in the things I say and do this year. Let your light shine brightly through me so that I point others to you instead of to me. Help me to achieve the potential you see in me and to fulfill all that you have for me to do in this coming year. I know there are greater things in store for my life. Give me the courage to follow where you lead me.

As Hebrews 12:15 says, help me to make sure that no one I come into contact with misses the revelation of your grace. Protect me from any root of bitterness that may try to spring up in my life. I want to live in your peace and have your compassion flowing through my life. Whatever you are dreaming of doing this year, I want to be a part of making that happen. I submit my will, and the plans I have, to yours. Let 2019 be the year where I do more for you than I ever have. Put people in my life to help me accomplish all you have for me to do, and people that I can strengthen and help as well. Open my eyes to see others the way you do and help me to love them with your love.

I ask all these things in Jesus’ name.

Amen

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Pursuing Peace

Years ago “The Lion King” was a huge box office hit. The main character, Simba, was tricked into believing that his father’s death was his fault. Rather than face the consequences, he let fear drive him far away from home. That’s where he ran into Timon and Pumbaa who taught him their life motto: Hakunah Matata. It means no worries. Simba adopted it as His life motto as well until he had to face his past and find peace. It wasn’t until he adopted that philosophy that he became who he was born to be.

What’s your life motto? Is it helping you to become who you were created to be? Or is it keeping you away from it? Every one of us have two fingerprints on our lives. We have the fingerprint of Adam that pulls us toward sin and away from God’s presence. We also have the fingerprint of God which holds our true identity. Each one of us allow one of those fingerprints to define our motto and how we live.

Psalm 34:14 says, “Keep turning your back on every sin, and make ‘peace’ your life motto. Practice being at peace with everyone” (TPT). God desires for every one of us to identify with His fingerprint on our life and to adopt His motto of peace. He is the Prince of Peace after all. This is a great time to put the past behind you and forgive those who have wronged you. Doing that will help you find peace internally and then you can begin pursuing peace with others. It’s not too late to adopt a new motto.

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Stronger Faith

When life gets tough, do you let it push you closer to God or farther away from Him? I’ve had it do both. There have been times in my life where I desperately wanted God to show up and answer prayers, and to me it felt like He remained silent. I became upset with Him and decided I wasn’t going to ask Him for anything again. Another time, I was far away from Him, and when things got bad, I turned to Him to survive. My faith became the foundation on which I rebuilt my life. In both incidents, events in my life were more than I could handle.

Each of us go through difficulties. Each of go through times where our faith is all we have left. How do you respond in those moments? Do you tell God you’ll never ask Him for anything again because He didn’t answer? Do you have faith God will see you through when there’s no visible path forward? Faith is all about trusting God in life’s most difficult moments. It’s easy to have faith when you don’t have to use it. But what about those moments when it’s all you have left?

James 1:12 gives us a promise from God that says, “If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God!” (TPT) When we hold onto our faith in those periods where it’s all we have left, we experience a depth of God’s grace we’ve never known existed. We also get to know a God more intimately because our relationship deepens in those times. When God is all you have left, your faith has the ability to grow. These times are not designed to crush you or push you away from God. Rather let them do the work of deepening your faith and relationship with God.

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The Waiting Process

To be honest, I’ve always wanted God to operate on my time instead of His. Wouldn’t life be much easier if He did? There would be no waiting for the answer, no stress of things coming down to the last minute and no panicking that it might not happen this time. If only God would answer my prayers when I want Him to, that would be amazing, but it wouldn’t involve faith. Without the pressure of getting to the point that if God doesn’t answer things will go badly, there’s no growth in who we are as people. We are refined in the waiting process and our strength is increased. God doesn’t make us wait for the sake of waiting, He’s growing our faith.

David, who was a man after God’s own heart, was good at waiting. He understood that God knows better than we do and His timing is perfect. He didn’t try to make things happen when God slowed them down. He simply went through the process, trusted God and he was rewarded for it. Admittedly it’s no fun to be in the place of waiting. David had to live in caves and be on the run before he could live in the palace. God used that time to grow him into the best king he could be. Imagine what God is doing in you as you wait.

Here are some Bible verses David wrote about waiting on God.

1. My strength is found when I wait upon you. Watch over me, God, for you are my mountain fortress; you set me on high!

Psalms 59:9 TPT

2. Listen to my cry for help, my God and king! I pray to you, O Lord; you hear my voice in the morning; at sunrise I offer my prayer and wait for your answer.

Psalm 5:2-3 GNT

3. I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.

Psalms 40:1 NLT

4. Wait passionately for GOD, don’t leave the path. He’ll give you your place in the sun while you watch the wicked lose it.

Psalm 37:34 MSG

5. Wait for and confidently expect the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the LORD.

PSALM 27:14 AMP

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Prove It

I think we can all agree that there is a difference between saying something and proving something. When we were kids, we all had that friend that told tall tales. He was related to famous people. He was going to be on TV. He had a hundred dollars. You name it, he either did it or had it. After a while, we found the phrase, “Prove it!” It turns out, he could tell you just about anything, but he couldn’t prove any of it. Without proof, we had no reason to believe the things he said.

When I was younger, I heard someone ask, “If you were to be convicted of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to prove it?” That’s a tough question we should all think about. A court can’t convict anyone unless there is some form of evidence against them. In some cases, that evidence comes from first hand witnesses. Other times it comes from physical evidence left behind. What evidence are you leaving behind for others to know you are a Christian? Can eye witnesses tell by how you live that you’re a Christian?

In Matthew 3:8, John the Baptist was out at the river baptizing people when the religious leaders came to take a look. One of the things he said to them was, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (NLT). He knew they were manufacturing false evidence to try to prove they were righteous, but their lives contradicted that evidence. Jesus later said they were whitewashed tombs. They looked good on the outside, but were full of death on the inside.

Today’s devotion is not to say that you earn salvation by your works – that’s what the religious leaders were trying to do. It’s saying when you truly experience the power of God in your life, it changes you. Your life changes inside and out. You find that going to church isn’t evidence that you’re a Christian – living for God is. When you experience the power of salvation, you begin to leave evidence everywhere that you have repented and followed Christ. My challenge to you today is to take an honest look at the evidence in your life. What does it point to? Is it manufactured or is it natural from a changed heart and life?

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Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Fighting Peer Pressure

I was in a meeting when a group of coworkers decided to go downtown for dinner and to check out the night life despite being told by our supervisors not to. They were asking one guy to go with them and he said, “I don’t like to be out late. I’m a bear when I don’t get my sleep.” They continued to pressure him until finally he agreed. They all cheered and he smiled sheepishly. The group then turned to me and said, “Let’s go! Are you in?” Matter of factly I said, “No.” The leader of the group said, “Well, that was definitive.” He turned to the group and asked what time everyone wanted to leave.

Peer pressure isn’t something that only kids face. We as adults are exposed to it almost daily. Most of it is harmless, but there are those moments when it’s trying to get you to sin. I’ve learned that disobedience likes company. It’s a way of justifying your desires that are counter productive to what God wants you to do. If more people are doing it, then it’s the popular opinion and we must be misinterpreting God. That kind of peer pressure is what got Adam and Eve to sin.

Proverbs 1:10 says, “When peer pressure compels you to go with the crowd and sinners invite you to join in, you must simply say, ‘No!’” (TPT) If you haven’t decided before a situation arises how you are going act or what you’re going to say, it becomes increasingly difficult to respond the right way. We need to purpose in our hearts to say, “No” when temptation comes. We must be firm and have a desire to please God more than man. Remember that peer pressure only works when they think you can be influenced to go along with the crowd. Ask God today to help you stand firm in the areas where you normally give in.

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Forgiving One Another

Several years ago I reconnected with a person that went to my high school. I watched silently as they posted pictures of the ministry they were doing. Inside, i would think, “What’s their game? Who are they trying to fool?” I had seen this person play the part of a Christian, but could tell they were faking it. Fast forward twenty years later and I felt like they were still faking it. I watched them for almost a year as they kept updating about their ministry. Each time it would burn me up. One day as I was stewing over it, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Why are you holding their past against them? Do I do that to you?”

I can tell you that was an humbling experience. God reminded me that as a person, I only look at the outside of a person, but He looks on the inside to see the true intent. I finally reached out to this person and found out that God changed their life in college. After they shared their testimony, I confessed how I had felt and what God spoke to me. From that point, I began to look for ways to partner with them in the ministry they were doing. Once I forgave them for their past, I was free for God to use me as well.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love” (TPT). Many of us are guilty of holding something against someone because of something they’ve done in the past. As believers, we must forgive them or we withhold our own forgiveness. If the depths of Christ’s love can cover any sin, we too must learn to forgive in the same manner. Who knows what our unforgiveness is keeping us from? Even if the relationship isn’t reconciled, forgiveness is our path forward in Christ.

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