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Devotions

God Will Meet You Right Now as You Ready, Set, Pray!

Do you feel a million miles away from God right now? Well, let me ask you this: Have you ever invited Him into your heart? If not, it is impossible to be close to Him. Are you ready? Get set! And then pray! Tell Him you want to meet. Ask Him in.

For more information, read The Gospel in a Nutshell and feel free to ask any questions you have.

Once you’ve done that- even as you’re doing that- He will meet you where you are and NEVER leave you.

“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’.”

Hebrews 13:5b

Maybe you have already established a personal relationship with God but still feel distant and alone today. If so, there is hope! This is fixable.

While it is true that God will never leave us, we often turn our backs on Him. And once we’re facing in that opposite direction, we can move as far and as fast from Him as we will. Can you look back and recall small steps or long sprints you took which carried you away from Him?

He isn’t a dictator, and He doesn’t force our faithfulness. We are free to make our choices. But He is a loving Father, and He wants a relationship with us. All it takes to restore our closeness with Him is our repentance.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

No matter how far we’ve gotten, or how lost we feel, He knows exactly where we are. We just need to decide that we’re ready, set our hearts towards Him, and pray. He will meet us. He will walk with us as we face the natural consequences of the poor decisions we’ve made. I read this recently:

“One thing I love about God is, He’ll bring you out of situations that you got yourself into, and won’t hold it against you.”

TobyMac

Precious friend, if you’re feeling separation between you and God today, please know this:

No matter how far you have gotten, you’re only just a prayer away.

He will cover the distance and come to you. He will walk you back. If you want to erase the miles between you, let Him know. He’s not mad; He’s waiting. Moments from now, you could be enjoying sweet fellowship with your Creator again. Ready, Set, Pray!

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Devotions

How to Get Out of the Mud and Clear Our Heads about What God Requires

Have you ever wondered what God wants from you? Sometimes I get caught in that rut. As the saying goes, a rut is formed in the mud. I don’t want to be thinking in the mud. I want my mind and focus to be clear.

How to Get Out of the Mud and Clear Our Heads about What God Requires

Pigs with faces in the mud: How to Get Out of the Mud and Clear Our Heads about What God Requires
Photo by Samira on Pexels.com
If we’re going to clear our heads, we have to get out of the mud!

Overthinking is the enemy of simplicity, and the gospel is simple. God wants a relationship with you and me. He has done everything to make that possible. But once it is established, what then?

God spoke to His people in the Old Testament through the prophet, Micah. He clearly stated what He requires.

“He has told you, O man, what is good—

    and what does the Lord require of you,

but to do justice and to love mercy,

    and to walk humbly with your God?”

Micah 6:8 (emphasis mine)

Surely, He wants more than that. He wants mission work and tithing and sacrifice, right?

He wants our hearts to be willing to act when He prompts us, yes, but so much of what we feel we must do comes from our own imagination. If we read the above verse in context, we get a clearer picture.

“With what should I come before the Lord,

    and bow down before God on high?

Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,

    with calves a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

    with ten thousand rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

“He has told you, O man, what is good—

    and what does the Lord require of you,

but to do justice and to love mercy,

    and to walk humbly with your God?”

Micah 6:6-8

Fast forward to the New Testament. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of that day. They were so obsessed with pleasing God, that they turned the Ten Commandments into over 600. I’m sure anyone who observed their lives was impressed with their fervency.

Everyone, that is, except Jesus. He had some harsh words for them. He was unimpressed with all that they had set themselves on doing, because they were neglecting the things they had been told to do.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You tithe mint and dill and cumin, but have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done without leaving the others undone.”

Matthew 23:23 (emphasis mine)
Mud flying off a motorcycle tire: How to Get Out of the Mud and Clear Our Heads about What God Requires
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com
Muddy!

If I want to offer my service to God, out of the kindness of my heart – or even out of a misguided sense of duty, He will accept it. He will use it. But He will not take it in exchange for what He has already told me He requires. Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with Him by faith.

As the new year rolls around, I want to make sure I’m making the main things my main things. As I think about the goals I want to accomplish and the person I want to become, I will be keeping Micah 6:8 in focus. God has told me what is good and what He requires. He has made it clear.

Vehicle spinning its wheels to get out of a muddy rut: How to Get Out of the Mud and Clear Our Heads about What God Requires
Photo by Alexandra Bakhareva on Pexels.com
Stuck in a rut, wheels spinning to no avail

My friend, do you have a relationship with God? Are you stuck in a rut wondering what He requires of you? First and foremost, He wants a relationship with you. He wants you to get to know Him in a personal way.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

Revelation 3:20

From there, He will show you the purpose for which you were created. He will guide you into doing justice, loving mercy, and walking with Him in humble faith.

We cannot expect that, in the end, our good will outweigh our bad and He will be pleased. He has given us His Word so we will know what He wants from us. He isn’t interested in accepting our offering in place of what He has said.

Are there things you need to get right with Him as we head into this New Year? Maybe some efforts to abandon and others to embrace? The time is now to get out of the mud and clear our heads about what God requires.

“Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion, every man to his brother.”

Zechariah 7:9
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Conversations Devotions

SuperPower Sunday: Wisdom

Welcome to Superpower Sunday!

This week’s Super-Character skill is Wisdom:

Seeing and responding to life situations from God’s frame of reference.

Character Bookshelf Series, Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Proverbs 9:10

Please Share! In the comments section below, let us know what you learned and tell your success stories from the last week of practicing truthfulness. Also, we’d love to read your ideas of how we might exercise wisdom between now and next Superpower Sunday!

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Conversations Devotions

SuperPower Sunday: Truthfulness

Welcome to Superpower Sunday!

This week’s Super-Character skill is Truthfulness:

Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts.

Character Bookshelf Series, Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

Ephesians 4:25

Please Share! In the comments section below, let us know what you learned and tell your success stories from the last week of practicing thoroughness. Also, we’d love to read your ideas of how we might exercise truthfulness between now and next Superpower Sunday!

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Conversations Devotions

SuperPower Sunday: Thoroughness

Welcome to Superpower Sunday!

This week’s Super-Character skill is Thoroughness:

Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected.

Character Bookshelf Series, Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.”

Proverbs 18:15

Please Share! In the comments section below, let us know what you learned and tell your success stories from the last week of practicing sincerity. Also, we’d love to read your ideas of how we might exercise thoroughness between now and next Superpower Sunday!

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Devotions

Wait, What did You Mean by That? The Second Nature of Second Guessing

“Just to clarify…” If I had a dollar for every email I sent with those words, I don’t think I’d have to send them anymore. I’d invest those dollars and retire. I am frequently second guessing my understanding of things. Can you relate?

I have noticed that people seem more distracted and less prepared lately, me included. Those qualities do not make for clearer communication. I frequently want to interject “Wait, what did you mean by that?”

And sometimes, even with our best efforts and preparation, our words land with meanings which are different than we intended. It can be a good thing when someone second guesses their first inclination about what we meant. Written words are especially prone to misinterpretation.

The texting world is a great example. I think emojis are intended to help me understand the spirit with which a message is sent, but still I second guess. Apparently, each emoji has an assigned emotion, but I don’t know what they are. I have to interpret the face and let’s be real, a wink could mean a lot of different things!

I saw something like this the other day. I have recreated it as I remember it.

Font matters: Wait, What did You Mean by That?  The Second Nature of Second Guessing...
Words alone aren’t always enough to convey a message!

When I saw the graphic, I read the two notes to myself in very different voices. It was second nature to me to assume one was a promise and the other a threat. Contemplating this brought to mind two other instances I’ve encountered lately where I second guessed the meaning of a message and its implication.

The first was when someone told me that I seem very content. I smiled and thanked them, because it made me feel good. But then I second guessed their motives. Had that been a compliment or an accusation? What did they mean by that? I am happy with what I have and who I am. But did they mean it to say that I should driving and striving for improvement? I’m still not sure.

The other thing was something Jesus said. And it wasn’t so much a matter of not understanding what He meant. His words are living and active (Hebrews 4:12), meaning they hit differently, depending on the condition of my heart. This is what He said:

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Matthew 6:6

If I read these words during my quiet time, with my Bible open and my heart pure, they are sweet, aren’t they? They reassure me that, even when nobody else can see me doing the right thing, God sees. It makes me feel like I don’t need anybody else’s recognition or praise.

But yikes! The words here say that God sees what I do in secret. What if I’m doing something sneaky and naughty? This verse takes on a whole different meaning under those circumstances, doesn’t it? Suddenly, it is anything but reassuring. I feel like a deer in the headlights, second guessing what I think I’m getting away with.

To be honest, I don’t think we can ever get away from misunderstandings entirely. Maybe we all do well to cultivate a second nature of second guessing. But I want to focus mine to be more productive.

Instead of fussing with insecurity and obsessing over what was meant by the little comments people make, I want to use my second guess to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes, believing the best of someone will literally mean I need to wait and find out what they meant. Other times, it will just be a decision I make in my heart to believe the best of them. After all, God knows the truth and He rewards what nobody else sees. And I never have to second guess His word!

Are you a second guesser? Do words return to your mind with an uncertainty as to what they mean? Or maybe you are characterized by confidence and rarely think twice about things. I guess we all have a second nature inclined one way or the other. What is yours?