But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Today is my journey.
Today is not a race or a destination.
Today is a journey to be experienced and enjoyed.
Today is a teacher
imparting wisdom for tomorrow’s part of the journey.
Today is a disciplinarian
training me for the next leg of the journey.
Today is a cheerleader
encouraging me on through the rough sections.
Today is a photojournalist
recording the journey to help me remember
where I’ve been,
what I’ve done,
and what I’ve learned.
Today is an opportunity.
Tomorrow is full of possibilities.
Tomorrow is the hope that pushes me through today.
I found this little gem in my journal recently and thought it was appropriate in light of all the uncertainty in the world right now.
What journey are you on today?
Who is with you?
Who is waiting to be invited along?
What is there to enjoy today?
What is tomorrow’s possibility?
Have you been learning anything today?
Are there any special memories to be stored up?
Have you taken advantage of any opportunities today?
What hope for tomorrow is pushing you through today? Why?
Summarizing the journey of faith is impossible because we are all so different. Despite those differences there is still only one way to God. (John 14:16) The 6 S’s of Salvation below show how all our different journeys share the same one way. We all begin at the same place…
Sin is doing what God has told us not to do (1 John 3:4) and not doing what He has told us to do (James 4:17). Doing what He told us not to do covers a litany of sins from lying to adultery to using the Lord’s name in vain. Not doing what He has told us to do can be more insidious. It is failing to honor our parents, failing to offer hospitality to others, or failing to love Him with all our hearts. Simply put: sin is disobedience to God. (Check out Defining Sin.)
Sin is the state we find ourselves in when we aren’t 100% devoted to God. Since none of us can claim to be 100% devoted 100% of the time, we all live in a state of sin. (“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23) That state of sin separates us from God.
Shame is that feeling we have when we realize our sinful situation. Feeling mortified by our actions or attitudes, feeling humiliated by our situation, feeling worthless because of our choices or situation, and feeling powerless to change any of it, all bring intense shame. It is a shame sorrow that should move us to seek forgiveness from a loving God. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
The only solution to our sin and shame situation is to surrender to Jesus – to repent of our sin. God will not force Himself on us. He waits for us to want to change and to want to be with Him. God waits patiently for each one of us to surrender our sin and shame to Him. (1 John 1:9; John 3:16-18) (For a more information, see Define Repentance.)
Once we surrender everything to God by repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus as our Savior, we enter His salvation. Laying all our sin and shame at the feet of Jesus and asking Him to be the Lord of our lives, brings forgiveness. (Romans 10:9)
Sanctification is the process of becoming holy (set apart) for God. Sanctification (as it refers to salvation) is a one time deal. When you ask God to forgive you and apply Jesus’ sacrifice to your sin, you are forgiven and receive salvation. You are immediately made a part of his holy people. (1 Corinthians 6:11) But salvation is just the beginning of the process of sanctification. It is through that process that we become more and more like Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23; John 17:17)
Finally, the Christian is expected to serve Christ by serving one another. And not just serving one another, but doing so with love (Galatians 5:13;1 Peter 4:10; John 12:26; John 13:35)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ∼John 14:6
The only way to God is through Jesus Christ. That path takes us from a place of sin and shame through surrender to salvation and sanctification and is seen through our loving service to others.
It is easy to get stuck in a routine without even realizing it has happened. If you have a routine that includes reading your Bible, has it become just that–routine? Don’t forget that this book is alive and each word was inspired for a reason. Here are 3 questions to ask yourself whenever you read a passage of Scripture. Asking these questions will elevate your study time from routine to challenging. Give it a try!
How does this passage apply to me?
Whenever you study God’s Word, you should ask Him to show you how it applies to your own life. That is your first (and most important) task. I challenge you to not only ask how but to do the work of appling the lessons you learn from studying God’s Word.
How can I use this passage to encourage another believer?
How can you use today’s lessons to encourage a fellow Christian. Did the passage you read today talk about the Jesus who overcame? How can you use that to encourage another believer? Was the passage about worry? Who can you share the lessons with? Take the time to widen your vision to include others.
How can I use this message to introduce someone to Jesus? And who will it be?
Finally, I challenge you to ask God to show you someone who does not know Jesus and to show you how you can share what you learned with them. Use the things you are learning to introduce others to the Jesus they don’t know.
Pray through each question!
Spend some time each day praying that God will reveal how your current study text applies to you, who you can encourage with it’s message, and who you can introduce to Jesus using what you have learned. Then, act on those discoveries.
Do you need some help starting a Bible study journey? Have you been on the journey for a while, but find yourself in a Bible study rut? Are you between Bible study sessions and just need some direction? Wherever you find yourself, here are 7 Tips that will help improve the time you spend in God's Word.
Always begin your time in prayer. Recognize the One who inspired and preserved His Word for you. Ask God to help you understand what you are about to read. Ask Him to help you have a teachable spirit so you will be able to learn and apply what you discover. Thank Him for placing His Word in your hands.
2. Read It Intentionally
Slow down and pay close attention to what you are reading. Try reading it in a version you are not familiar with. Force yourself to slow down and pay attention. Consider hand-copying what you are reading.
3. Read It Straight Through
Read the book (or passage) you are studying from start to finish. Don’t stop. Don’t look at commentaries or other study aids. Just read it.
4. Read It Again
When you read it the second time, note any interesting facts, record your personal insights, and jot down any questions you have.
5. Choose a few verses to memorize.
Concentrate on verses that summarize the theme of each passage.
6. Seek Answers
Now that you have read through it and written down the interesting facts, personal insights, and questions, seek more information. This is when you can look at the notes in your study Bible, commentary, or Bible study guide. A concordance and lexicon are also great tools for topic and word studies. Pastors and Bible teachers are also valuable resources. Try using resources from various theological viewpoints to challenge yourself to think about what you believe and why.
7. Read It Again
Now what you have answers to questions, and you have thought about what the passage means, read through it again to see if your understanding of the whole passage has deepened.
Looking for an excuse to get out of the house and walk off some of that candy you scored last week? Well, consider going on a treasure hunt. Who doesn’t love a good puzzle and treasure hunt? I can guarantee your kids do for sure. So use this as an excuse to get out there and do a geocache with your family. If you’ve never done a geocache, it’s a great way to open up some God conversation with your kids.
All over the country, people have hidden containers filled with little trinkets. They post the GPS coordinates and some clues, then hikers using a GPS unit go on a treasure hunt to find what’s hidden.
You’ll discover things like erasers, pens, key chains and other trinkets in weather proof containers hidden along trails all over the country. When you find the cache, you put a treasure in, and take one out, then sign the “I found it” log and read what others have written. We’ve cached all over the country, from Mt Rushmore to an island off the Florida keys. It’s always fun. Here is a picture of Uncle Gene and Grandma finding a cache in North Carolina.
Here are a few websites if you need some help getting started
If you have ever taken a hike in a park, or just wandered through the woods, you have likely passed one of my favorite flowers. It’s not flashy, you never see them in a bouquet, but these happy little orange slipper-shaped flowers are a quiet unassuming messenger from the creator who loves you.
It’s called Jewel Weed, or Impatiens Cenesis. They grow about waist high where the shadowy woods gives way to the light of an open area. When you ask the experts why it’s called Jewel Weed you get a variety of answers.
First if you take a leaf and immerse it in water, you’ll find it turns a silver color. A second reason it may be called Jewel Weed is that when water from rain or dew sits on the leaves the water beads up and looks like thousand shining diamonds in the sun. But my personal favorite reason it may be called Jewel Weed is found in the best part of the plant, the way it re-seeds itself.
Jewel Weed develops long pods that contain tiny seeds, and in the fall months the seeds ripen and turn brown. When that happens, the pods become highly sensitive, and a light brushing against a ripe pod will cause it to explode and throw seeds far and wide. This is why it is sometimes called a “Touch-Me-Not”. As a kid (and I admit still as an adult) I loved touching the pods and watching them scatter their seeds. When your out next time, give it a try, just find a pod like you see here and put your fingers on the top and bottom. If its ripe enough you won’t even have to squeeze!
Now, to the jewel. The ripe seeds are very small and brown, but if you carefully peel back that top layer and look beneath it, you find a lovely turquois nut at the center. I’m told this is the only place the color turquois occurs in any plant.
God has packed many lessons in this little flower if we pause and take the time to think about it.
The leaves turning silver when immersed.
When we allow ourselves to be immersed in Christ, completely saturated with His Spirit, we are transformed into something priceless. God no longer sees the way we’ve messed up, or our faults, he sees Jesus. Paul says it like this
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ
You may have heard it said that in every life a little rain must fall. Trying times can be a difficult thing in life, but when we follow Jesus those difficulties don’t beat us down, or make us lose heart. Instead they can sit on our lives like the beads of water on a leaf, and when the light hits our momentary troubles, they can shine like diamonds for the glory of God. Because we know that life doesn’t end here. We rest in the confidence of something better waiting for us.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Many of us feel like we don’t have much to offer. We view our lives like the Jewel Weed’s seeds… small….brown…. unremarkable. But God knows differently. He knows that hidden just below the surface is a beauty that doesn’t exist anywhere else but inside YOU! And he wants you to brush up against the lives of others around you:
so they can see how you are as valuable as silver when you are immersed in Jesus
so they can learn how troubles don’t defeat you but shine like diamonds in your life
And when you do engage with others around you, you will scatter the seeds of God’s Good News to a world that needs it desperately. You will say like David:
Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.
The next time you go past this happy little flower…. pause….. make one of the seed pods explode and let your heart remember who you are.
This time of year in Ohio is spectacular. The air starts to cool down, the trees start to put on their colorful clothes, and I feel the pull to get out of the house and onto the trails. I love to hit the parks, fields and other places to just get away and connect with God.
The God we serve is a very interactive God. He put his fingerprints all over creation, and calls to us to come and find Him. Everything in nature tells us about who He is, and what He's like. God knows we need the opportunity to search for him, and he promises that when we search, we will find him.
God says "Come find me!"
He's not very good at hiding!
It reminds me of how kids play hide and seek. You know what I mean, they sit in the middle of the room, giggling away under a blanket. When we go looking for God, there He is in the middle of everything, plainly visible to anyone looking. That's exactly how he designed it. He wants us to see him and talk about him, especially with our kids.
I'd love for you to go with me on a couple walks, metaphorically of course. So pack up your water bottle, and grab your kids. Let's take a hike and explore what we can learn about God. Because you see, we are called to talk about Him, to discuss his principles while we do life. Deuteronomy 11:18-91 says it like this:
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
So come with me as we walk along life's road and talk about the God who loves us so much.
Over the next couple weeks we'll explore simple lessons you can learn along the trail. Things that can teach lessons to your kids and maybe you will gain some insight too.
Today we are honored to have my friend, Julie Shirkey, as our guest blogger. Welcome, Julie!
When We Finally Decide to Pray About Our Problems
When do you reach the point that you fall to your knees and pray?
Is it when you are desperate and everything else has failed?
When all the wisdom from your family or friends has failed you?
When you have no where else to turn?
Is this when you finally pray?
In the book of Jonah we see a man who was disobedient to God and thought he could run from God’s sight. You see, God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn them of His upcoming judgement against their wickedness and the need for the people of Nineveh to repented. What did Jonah do instead? He ran to a boat that was going in the opposite direction from where God wanted him to go.
Did God ignore Jonah?
No, He didn’t.
Jonah faced a great storm on this boat. The crew on the boat asked why such a storm was happening and why Jonah was below deck sleeping! They inquired of Jonah and after casting lots it fell on Jonah to explain. Jonah confessed it was his fault and they should throw him, a prophet of The One True God, into the sea and the storm would end.
Wow! What did the crew do? They tried with all their might to row back to shore, but the storm was too great, the waves too high and the wind too forceful to row against them. They finally relented and threw Jonah overboard. But to everyone’s surprise, especially Jonah’s, a big fish swallowed him whole. Now I believe this not only shocked each person on board but probably Jonah the most! The crew on the boat believed this was the end of Jonah, and the storm ceased.
This might seem the end of the story,
but, alas, it is not.
What I find most fascinating is it took Jonah three days before he prayed while in the belly of this fish. Yuck! But if Jonah wasn’t praying before about where to go, which city, which boat or what direction, I’m sure it never entered his mind to pray about this fish!
How about you?
Do you pray about what you might face today?
Has it entered your mind to pray over any situation you might face?
There are many situations I have faced that I never thought to pray about. Oh, we all say those blanket prayers: for safe travels or like some like to say “for travel mercies.” Or to protect us as we go about our day, “put a hedge around it.” Keep my family safe. These prayers are all good, but when God gives you instructions, it’s best to do those instructions rather than not pray about it and run from God.
Back to Jonah…
can you imagine what might be in the belly of that fish? It’s lunch from that day, digestive fluids, darkness, and the stench? And Jonah waited three days to pray! But that’s what Jonah did. “And he said: ‘I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction. And He answered me.'” (Jonah 2:1-2 NKJV)
Do your circumstances seem like Jonah’s?
Are you in a smelly, messy, dark situation because of your disobedience?
We all have been there, don’t deny it. And some of you are there now, in the stench and mess of disobedience, in a smelly fish belly of your own. But you know what?! God heard Jonah in the belly of that fish! Wow! Isn’t that great!
God heard Jonah,
and that gives us hope that God hears us too.
Even in our mess.
How desperate are you for help? Have you hit the bottom and all you can see is a dark hole?
It doesn’t matter the mistakes you have made,
God will make a way.
What a sight we must be when we emerge from our dark hole. I can see Jonah, vomited up on the beach by this big fish, bleached white from stomach acids, seaweed dripping from his head and shoulders. He must have been quite a sight. “The waters encompassed me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me; weeds were wrapped around my head.” (Jonah 2:5 NKJV) And yet, God still used Jonah for His purpose. God still sent Jonah to Nineveh. “Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.” (Jonah 2:6 NKJV)
When we pray, we might still be in our mess.
We might look a mess.
We might be a mess,
but when we truly pray and are obedient, we are victorious!
What is keeping you from obedience and praying?
Don’t wait until you are in a great mess to cry out to God.
Julie and her husband Steve reside in Jacksonville, IL. They enjoy the outdoors, working on their cars and seeking and sharing Jesus Christ through their ministry. Julie is not only a Christian author, she is also an audio technician, is self taught in the art of stained glass, and enjoys building her own furniture. Steve is an over the road truck driver who he enjoys hunting, fishing, and drag racing. (And helping Julie move her big, heavy, homemade furniture!) Their goal is to reach the world for Christ by sharing their testimonies and God’s Word. Visit julieshirkey.com/ to learn more about Julie’s ministry and to order her book, A Life in Christ: Seeking God’s Will.
Have you ever considered this question? Have you perchance asked this question of someone? There are all sorts of “good Fridays.” There is rejoicing because Friday, for most, is the last day of the work week, and the next two days are days to relax or take care of other things that you need to tend to. There are the Fridays that lead to extended weekends. We all love those 3 or 4 day weekends. There are those Fridays that are actually a Thursday. You know, you have Friday off so Thursday is your Friday. There is Black Friday. That’s a really good one. Just think of all the great deals you get.
However, there is only one Friday that is “Good Friday.” Why is it “Good Friday?” Jesus was arrested, tortured, beaten, spat upon, mocked, and so much more. He was hung on a cruel and rough hewn cross after having been tortured and having carried His cross through the crowded streets. He was nailed to the cross through His wrists and feet. He was bleeding, bruised, beaten. How can you call this good?
Before any of this, Jesus was in the Garden with His disciples. He asked them to wait and pray with Him. He went off to talk to His Father. When He returned they had fallen asleep. This was repeated 3 times. One of His very own betrayed Him to the soldiers to be arrested and dragged off. He was denied by another of His disciples 3 different times after pledging his undying love and following. How can you call this good?
Yet in the Garden, Jesus prayed, “…My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39, NASB) He came and checked on His disciples, found them sleeping, woke them up, admonished them, and went off once again. Once again He prayed to His Father, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it. Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42) How can you call this good?
We can call this good. God is so good. It’s hard to understand. From our human point of view we have trouble reconciling all of this with the fact that we call this Good Friday. Oh, my friend, this IS Good Friday. Did you read those words that Jesus said to His Father? “Your will be done.” Jesus told God, “I don’t necessarily want to do it this way. It’s going to hurt bad, but God, I want to do your will.” It is good because it was for you and me that He did this. God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you and for me. It is good because Jesus willingly walked the path to the cross to pay the price for our sins.
My friend, the best is yet to come though. S.M. Lockridge coined the phrase, “It’s Friday but Sunday’s comin’.” If we didn’t have Good Friday, we wouldn’t be able to have Resurrection Sunday. Because of Good Friday, we have the opportunity to repent of our sins and accept Christ’s finished work on Calvary. We have the opportunity to go to heaven one day. There was a price that needed to be paid. Jesus paid that price. We have a sales slip so to speak with all our sins listed. When Jesus died that sales slip was stamped, “Paid in Full.”
So here is the most wonderful part: Jesus ROSE from the dead!. He did not stay dead but He arose. He is alive. Jesus bears the marks of our sins upon His body, but my friend, He is alive!
So what’s so good about Good Friday.
The answer is pure and simple: Because of Good Friday, we have Resurrection Sunday and the opportunity to live forever in Heaven with the One who loved us so very much that He did this for us.
Have you received Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life? Do you know that one day you will live in Heaven? If you can’t answer yes, please contact us, and we can help you know how this promise can be yours. God is good all the time, and He wants you to share everlasting life with Him in heaven.