THERE IS GOOD IN YOU

THOUGHT:
When anybody first gives their life back to God it is normal to be overwhelmed with a sense of remorse for all the sinfulness in our lives. That’s called conviction. We are guilt stricken because we are guilty. We realize, maybe for the first time, that we have offended a holy God.

It’s not that you have never done anything good. It just means that your good doing cannot save you. We have all done plenty of good and plenty of bad. But salvation is not based on the merit of our activity. We are saved by God’s grace and we receive His free gift of life.

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done. It’s all God. Everything we have is because of Jesus. This motivates us to do more good. We do good because God has made us good. We live a good life because God is a good God, and our good works bring pleasure to Him.

We were actually created to do good works. It’s God’s plan that our whole life would change and start to reflect His good character. That we would live lives that serve others and help others.
You have natural desires inside you to help people and to love them. It’s not too difficult for any of us to be moved with compassion for someone. All of us see situations and want to help make them better. That’s normal – because there is good in you.

The more we spend time with God and talk to Him about what is happening around us, the more we will start to see a natural desire to do good. It’s in you to do good. It’s part of being human – to love and to serve and make this place a better place for all.

TIME TO THINK:
What good activity do you find easy to do?
What good do you need extra effort to do?

PRAYER:
Father, thank you that You are a good, good Father. You have created me for good works. You want me to live a life that reflects Your goodness. Help me change from some of the bad things that are in my life. Help me to walk this new life by the power of Your Spirit, in Jesus Name. Amen.

YOU’VE BEEN CHANGING YOUR WHOLE LIFE

THOUGHT:
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the change that is necessary to become like God. It seems like such a long road home. But I want to help you see something – you’ve been changing your whole life.

You might say, yeah that’s the problem. I have been slowly getting worse my whole life. Well, that may be true in some areas? But, you have been making progress in other areas.

It’s so easy to think negatively about progress and growth. This is largely why we could be adverse to change. But there are many things that have already changed. Let’s start with the basics. Are you still crawling, or have you changed? Are you still eating baby food, or have you changed? Are you still in baby clothes, or have you changed? If you’re reading this devotional by yourself, you’ve most definitely changed!

Whilst you may not be all you need to be, thank God you’re not what you used to be. If you’re less bad, less negative, less selfish, or less anything – you’ve changed.

I know you have a long way to go, we all do. But you’ve been changing your whole life. So, keep changing. Become all God has destined you to be!

TIME TO THINK:
What would others say are the biggest or most obvious changes in my life? (Maybe ask people)
Knowing I have been changing my whole life, how does that inspire me to change today?

PRAYER:
God, You have been with me my whole life. Even when I was far away from You, You were near to me. Calling me and drawing me to Yourself. You have been watching me change, for better and worse, and You know I can keep changing. I want to change and become more like You.
Amen.

WE HAVE ALL CHANGED

THOUGHT:
Some of us are really hard on ourselves. We have high expectations. This can lead to great disappointment. The greater the gap between expectation and reality, the greater the disappointment of failure.

A high self-critical nature can lead to a high expectation of others, and this nearly always leads to being disappointed in people. Whilst we don’t want to make excuses for people’s bad attitudes and disgusting behavior, we do need to realize that we have all changed. We are now in a fallen world that is so broken, most of us don’t even realize we are marching to the same beat as everyone else.

Our reading today shows that all humans are like sheep, and we just wander off with everyone else. There are not many Christian communities that are all wandering toward God together. Most of us live in a society and feel like we are swimming upstream, against the tide that pulls us down.

This is why church community is so important. Gathering together regularly in church settings helps you not wander off with the rest of society. It’s ok to follow godly people toward God. One day (if you’re not already) you will be leading people to God.

TIME TO THINK:
Are my expectations of others too high?
Am I leading people to God, or am I still following?

PRAYER:
Father, it must break Your heart that we have all wandered at some point in our lives. Thank you for being so patient with us. Thank you for waiting for us to come back to You. Help me to not get stuck in the flow of the culture around me. Help me to swim against the tide and toward You.

YOU’VE CHANGED

THOUGHT:
God and man experienced an uncomplicated intimate friendship in the garden of Eden. It was the way it was always meant to be. No fear of judgement, no shame, no hindrance. Just a deep loving relationship that was life itself.

Sin changed all that. It severed what was natural and fulfilling. Sin interrupted a natural order and disturbed the peace -globally. For the first time, man was afraid so hid from God. And, well, we have been hiding ever since.

You have changed!

You are part of the human race that has changed and fallen from its original plan and purpose, which is to reflect the image of our Maker. Adam’s sim has affected us all. The whole planet is out of balance. This is the most vivid picture of how our choices today affect our descendants tomorrow.

Thank God for His plan of salvation. That God is reconciling the whole world back to Himself through Jesus Christ. Our only hope of changing back to what God originally made us to be is found in relationship with His Son, Jesus.

TIME TO THINK:
God saves us and restores us for relationship.
What relationships do I need to work on fixing or making better?

PRAYER:
Father, I’m sorry that sin has disconnected us all from You. And I’m sorry for all the sins I have committed against You and others. Thank you for Your love and mercy. Thank you for Your saving grace. Help me walk in Your love with You and others around me. Amen.

DO I NEED A VEIL?

THOUGHT:
The most interesting part about the story of the veil yesterday is not that Moses had to wear one because the people were afraid. What is most interesting is that, the glowing slowly disappeared after many days but Moses kept wearing a veil anyway. So, now the glow has gone but the people think it’s still there.

You may have found (like I did) that the beginning of your friendship with God, He is so close and you are very aware of His presence. After a while, you sometimes don’t feel as close to God. This is where we start the journey of faith – trusting God is present even if we don’t feel His presence.

Whenever we pretend to feel God’s presence it is like wearing a veil – a veil that is not needed. We are best just being honest and saying, I know God is real and He is with me even if I don’t feel it today. Julia and I have been married for 24 years, and there are days we don’t feel as in love like other days. But I still love her very much.

In fact, the moment I am honest with my feelings, even my lack of feelings, that’s the moment everything seems to change. The veil is removed again and there I am, face to face, spending time in the presence of the one I love.

TIME TO THINK:
When was the last time I didn’t feel God’s presence?
What changes can I make to lose the veil?

PRAYER:
Father, thank you for your unconditional love. You loved me when I was still far from You. Why would I think that Your love would run out now, now that I am pursuing You. Forgive me for pretending to be close to You when I actually feel so far away. Help me to understand how close You are even when I don’t feel anything. Amen.

WHY WEAR A VEIL?

THOUGHT:
Moses went up the mountain to get the Ten Commandments from God and when he came down his face was glowing because he had been in the presence of God. The whole community were afraid to come near Moses because his face was glowing, so he put a veil over his face to hide the glowing, then the people were comfortable to come close.

There is something wonderful and powerful about a person who spends time in the presence of God. They don’t even need to tell us they spend time with God. We are all able to see it. People change in God’s presence. You cannot hang out with God and stay the same.
Moses needed a veil because the people were afraid to come close. Moses could not help anybody if he could not get close to them.

When I first became a Christian, I think my zeal and passion may have been a little too strong for some people. I needed help turning down my dial. After all, what point is there in having a public passion that scares all my family and friends away? I need to maintain a strong private passion but develop a balanced public passion so people can get close.

TIME TO THINK:
Is my passion driving people away?
How can I stay privately passionate but change my public passion so people can see my friendship with God?

PRAYER:
Father, I long to be in your presence but I don’t want my passion for You to somehow make other people not want to come near me. Lord, please help me to live with a spiritual strength that makes others more interested in You. Amen.

CHANGED IN GOD’S PRESENCE

CHANGED IN GOD’S PRESENCE

THOUGHT:
Yesterday we read in Rom 12:2 “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.
So many of us try changing things from the outside first. I guess these are the obvious changes we need to make. The bible gives us great advice for this Christian journey – fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

It didn’t take me long to work out that God changes us from the inside first. I know it doesn’t always happen as quick on the inside but it seems to last longer. Maybe it’s because of the prayerful conversations we have with God over the areas that need changing?

We don’t have to wait until Sunday to be in God’s presence. We can enter His presence at any moment of any day. I love finding a place where I can spend time with God. A place where I know I won’t be distracted. Some place people won’t ask me questions. I call this my secret place. It’s probably not a secret place to everyone else – could be the front steps – but God and I know it’s a place we meet and spend time together.

TIME TO THINK:
Do you have a secret place?
How often do you spend time in God’s presence?

PRAYER:
Father, I steady my heart and I quiet my soul because I want to say I love You and I need You. Help me find places where we can meet together. Help me enter Your presence even if I can’t get to that place. Thank you that You dwell in me and will never leave me.
Amen.

egnahC —> Change

WHAT’S UP WITH CHaNGe?

THOUGHT:
Discipleship is the process of becoming like Jesus. Some would say (and I agree) that this is a life long journey. Becoming like Jesus obviously involves change and, well.. change can be uncomfortable. But sometimes change is amazing.

Getting married was an awesome change for me. Becoming a father was another awesome change. Becoming a Christian has been the greatest change of all.

What’s Up With CHaNGe is designed to help you walk this out for a month and realise that we are all changing all the time. There is far more to be said for how good change can be. We either change and become like Jesus or keep letting society change us. The bible says, don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.

You will look back, with many others, who all agree there have been significant changes. These changes are usually in your conversations, your thoughts, the way you treat people and the way you go about daily life in the world around you.

TIME TO THINK:
How have I changed?
Do people around me suggest I have changed?

PRAYER:
Father, you made me and you love me and you know the best way for me to live my life. I don’t want to become so well-adjusted to my culture that I fit into it without even thinking. Lord, please help me to embrace

One…

It’s hard to simplify life. Narrowing the focus seems impossible. Over this past year, you may have been asked hundreds of times, “How is it going?” Your response was probably something like, “I have been SO busy!” You never hear anyone say, “I’ve had so much time on my hands and I’m looking for something new to do.” That person doesn’t exist.

You have tons of responsibilities, and your schedule is crazy. You feel like you’re sprinting in life. That’s why we need to be intentional about clarifying and simplifying life. We have been sharing with many people the simple discipline of developing just one word as a theme for the upcoming year. We decided to stop listing the resolutions and start living One Word. Even though the Bible does not have the phrase “One Word theme,” it is interesting to note that the phrase “one thing” appears five times in the Bible: once in Philippians and four times in the Gospels.

In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul uses the phrase “one thing” to bring focus and clarity to his calling. In Luke 10:42, Jesus says to Martha, “only one thing is needed.” Both Luke 18:22 and Mark 10:21 include His words to the rich man and express a lack of “one thing.” John 9:25 also includes this phrase as the blind man tells the Pharisees, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” In the same way that Scripture uses these words, we also can put it to use by asking God to reveal a One Word theme for us for the year.

When we first started this process, half of the fun was choosing the word for the year, but we have learned that it is not necessarily us who chooses the word, but rather God who reveals it to us. God can indeed drop an anointed, specific word into your soul. In our first few years, we admit that it was mostly just us picking a word and very little receiving the word from God. Even so, God still used it! But as we became more experienced in the process, we learned to really listen and watch for God’s leading in selecting the word. By listening for God’s voice, you will discover a God-word, not just a good-word.

Enjoy the process and remember: just One Word. Not a phrase. Not even two words. Narrow the focus for life change. Just One Word!

Go
1. Why is it so hard to simplify life? Why is this life so complex?
2. Why do you think we try to impress people with more rather than less?
3. What is God saying to you now about your One Word theme for the year? Commit some serious time to praying and asking God to speak to you.

Workout

Hebrews 12:1-2, John 9:25, Phil 3:13-14

Overtime
“Dear Heavenly Father, I am asking for just One Word. I want a word from You. Please reveal Yourself to me. I am ready to receive the word meant for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

TODAY!

New Year’s Resolutions don’t work!

50% of resolution-makers fail by the end of January and 9 out of 10 quit by March! So instead of resolutions, get One Word for the year…but be careful! It might just change you.

If you have the “get-it-done” mindset like we do, you’ve done your fair share of goal–setting at the start of each New Year. However, as time goes by, we felt frustration as we fell short on our ambitious plans. We tried to do too much and as a result, we didn’t do anything very well.

In 1999, we started the simple discipline of developing a One Word theme for the upcoming year. That’s right—One Word. Not a phrase or a statement, just a single word. By focusing on just One Word we have experienced incredible life-change year after year. When you discover your One Word for the year, it gives you more clarity, passion and purpose for life.

The One Word exercise brings simplicity and focus. It cuts through the distractions and keeps us focused on what really matters. It has stretched us in all areas: spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally and financially. God has transformed us through this exercise; God delights in life change.

There is a reason why we say, “Get One Word for the year…but be careful.” As soon as you discover your word, the battle will begin. It will initiate a process of teaching, developing, refining, and molding. God will use your word as a light and a mirror – illuminating your path and revealing things that need to change. It facilitates a great journey of highs and lows all designed to make you into the person you are created to be.

It has been our experience that God quickly reveals His plans for the year regarding your One Word. That word (be it a discipline, fruit of the Spirit, character trait, or attribute of God) will brand you for the year! So discover your One Word for the year and share it with others! It might just change your life!

Go
1. What is God saying to you this past year?
2. What area does God want to take hold of in your life and use for His glory?
3. How does God want to position you for the upcoming year?

Workout
Psalm 27:1-14; Luke 18:22; Mark 10:21

Overtime
“Dear Lord, I ask that you will make it a life-changing year. Reveal Yourself to me as You show me what my One Word theme will be. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I realize that it is a journey of learning not a task to accomplish. Strengthen me as I live out my One Word every day. In Jesus’ name, amen.”