Resource Library

Monday
Jan152018

Keep it simple.

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified".

- 1 Corinthians 2:2

Vince Lombardi was known for keeping things simple. As head coach of the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s, he won five NFL Championships and the first two Super Bowls. His motto was simple: concentrate on the basics.

On one occasion after a particularly rough stretch in the season, Coach Lombardi gathered his players on the field and looked them squarely in the eye. Holding the football high in the air, he shouted, “Okay, gentlemen, today we go back to the basics. You guys, look at this. This is a football!”

Sometimes in our faith we just need to get back to the basics. Not because it’s wrong to wrestle with profound spiritual matters – but because the fundamentals of the Gospel are what fuel the Christian life.

As Paul writes in Romans 1:16, the Gospel is “the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

So take some time today to quiet your heart, clear your mind, and meditate on the essentials: Jesus loves you. Jesus saved you. And Jesus is with you.

Those simple truths can have a profound impact on your faith – giving you the strength and wisdom you need to live boldly and joyfully for Christ.

Prayer Challenge:

Ask God to impress on you the essentials of the Gospel. Pray for the grace to keep your heart focused on these basic truths.

Questions for Thought:

Why do you think Christians lose sight of the essentials of the Gospel?

How is the Gospel both simple and profound at the same time? (See the rest of 1 Corinthians 2)

 

Monday
Jan152018

The most powerful motivation you can give others

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

- 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Dr. Ernest Mellor tells a story of him and his wife attending an outdoor performance by young violin students. After the concert, an instructor spoke briefly on how children as young as two, three, and four years old are taught to play violin. The first thing the children learn, he said, is a proper stance. And the second thing the children learn—even before they pick up the violin—is how to take a bow.

“If the children just play the violin and stop, people may forget to show their appreciation,” the instructor said. “But when the children bow, the audience invariably applauds. And applause is the best motivator we’ve found to make children feel good about performing and want to do it well.”

This doesn’t just apply to children; adults love applause, too. Being affirmed and encouraged in any aspect of life—marriage, work, and friendship for example—makes us feel wonderful. But on the other hand, harsh criticism tears us down and results in poorer performance.

As Christians, we’re commanded to encourage others whether they are our friends, our spouses, or our coworkers. So make it a point to encourage others with the love of Christ. It will be a great motivator for them, and it will reaffirm and strengthen your relationship!

Prayer Challenge

Pray and ask God to show you how you can specifically encourage others in your life.

Questions for Thought

What’s the best word of encouragement you’ve ever received? How did it make you feel?

Who are some people you know that could use a word of encouragement from you today?

 

Monday
Jan152018

The powerful influence you can have on others

"Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction".

- 2 Timothy 4:2

When Rosina Hernandez was in college, she attended a rock concert where she witnessed a young man brutally beaten. The next day she was shocked to learn that the youth had died as a result of the pounding. Yet neither she nor anyone else did anything to help him. She could never forget the young man, nor her lack of inaction.

Some years later, Rosina saw a car driving in the rain ahead of her suddenly skid and plunge into a frosty river. The car landed head down in the water with only the tail end showing. A woman appeared on the surface shouting for help and saying her husband was stuck inside.

This time Rosina waited for no one. She plunged into the water, tried unsuccessfully to open the car door, then pounded on the back window as other bystanders stood and watched. She screamed at them, begging for help and telling them there was a man dying in the car.

First one man, then another, finally came to help. Together they broke the safety glass and dragged the man out. They were just in time—a few minutes later it would have been all over.

It was one person’s action that saved a life that night. And had Rosina done nothing, no one would have acted. In the same way, we as Christians must also act to save others from a Christ-less eternity by sharing the gospel. When we do, others will follow our example!

Prayer Challenge

Ask God to give you the initiative to lead out and introduce others to Christ.

Questions for Thought

Who first told you about Jesus Christ? Do you think you’d be where you are today if they hadn’t?

What are the names of some people you can take initiative with this week by sharing the gospel with them?

 

Monday
Jan152018

Do you know Calvary love?

"We love because He first loved us".

- 1 John 4:19

Amy Carmichael served as a missionary in India for more than 50 years. Working largely with orphans who had escaped lives of forced prostitution, she came to be known by many as “Amma,” which means mother.

Her selfless commitment is something every Christian should aspire to emulate. And yet, one of her most well-known works is a self-reflecting poem titled If, about how easily we fail to love others as Christ has loved us.

In it she writes…

“If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting ‘Who made thee to differ? and what has thou that has not received?’ then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel bitterly towards those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

Do you know Calvary love today? Does it show in your life?

The love that Jesus poured out for you on the cross is the same love He’s empowered you to pour into the lives of those around you.

And as you choose to love just as Christ has loved you, you’ll discover the great truth of Calvary love – the more you give, the more fully God’s love will fill your heart and transform your life!

Prayer Challenge:

Ask God to open the eyes of your heart to the depths of His love. And pray for the grace to show that same love to others.

Questions for Thought:

Who are some people in your life whom you could show Calvary love this week? What are some ways you could love them like Christ?

 

Monday
Jan152018

God’s greatest commandment to you

“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

- Luke 10:27

A pastor once told the story of the public library in his town that had a system called “Dial-A-Tale.” With this system, anytime a young child wanted to hear a story, he could call the number and a voice would read a short story to the listening young ear. However, the number the children were to call was only one digit different from the pastor’s number.

Because small fingers often make mistakes, the pastor would receive frequent calls from a child listening for a story. After several unsuccessful attempts to explain a wrong number to the small child, he felt he had only one alternative. He obtained a copy of Three Little Pigs, and set it by the phone. And whenever a child would call, he would simply read them the story.

The pastor gives us a great example of what it means to put others first before ourselves. He didn’t, as you might have thought, change his telephone number to avoid the invasion of his privacy. But instead, he used the situation to give joy to others.

As Christians, part of our greatest commandment is to put others before us—considering their wellbeing first and thinking of ourselves second. So today, find ways you can consider others better than yourself, and you’ll reap the rewards of obedience!

Prayer Challenge

Pray that God would help you put others first when you’re tempted to think of yourself.

Questions for Thought

Think of a time when someone put you first and himself second. How did that make you feel?

How can you be more intent on considering others better than yourself in your daily life?

Monday
Jan152018

Be lifted up!

"Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up."

James 4:10

Do you long to walk closely with God? Do you desire to experience His presence? Do you want to make an impact for Him in people’s lives? Then you must root out pride in your heart.

It could be pride in your possessions, pride in your reputation, pride in your experience, or even pride in your faith. Whatever fuels your pride, let go of it.

C.S. Lewis said it best when he wrote…

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people. And, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

Pride distorts our view of reality. It lifts us up to where we don’t belong, puts others down, and blocks our ability to see God clearly. And a person who can’t see things for how they really are is a bit like a prisoner in their own mind. Blinded to who God is, they’re robbed of all He wants to be and do in their life.

But something amazing happens when you cast pride away and humble yourself before the Lord. In His love and grace, God lifts you up! When you let go of pride, God infuses your life with true dignity – the dignity of knowing who you are as a child of God and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ.

So don’t let pride blind you any longer to the glory of God and all He wants for you. Be free of its burden. Bow your heart and then lift up your eyes to see the almighty God who loves you unconditionally!

Prayer Challenge:

Ask God to reveal any pride that may be lurking in your heart. Pray for the grace to live with true humility.

Questions for Thought:

What are some of the more subtle ways that pride can take hold of your life?

How does pride keep you from ministering to others?  

 

Monday
Jan082018

The best way to deal with anger 

"Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools."

- Ecclesiastes 7:9

The author Jim Taylor tells a story about his longtime friend, Ralph. One morning, Ralph woke up at 5:00 a.m. to a terrible thumping noise up on his roof. Still in his pajamas and groggy from just waking up, he walked out into the backyard to investigate.

As he gazed up high, he found a woodpecker on the TV antenna pounding its little brains out on the metal pole. Ralph was so angry that he picked up a rock and threw it at the little woodpecker. The rock sailed over the house and he heard a crash as it went through his car windshield on the other side of the house.

Even angrier, he reared his leg back to give a good kick to a rock on the ground, only to remember too late that he was still barefoot!

Anger is a very interesting animal. There are times that anger, when it’s controlled, can be good. Then there are those fits of uncontrolled anger that often have consequences that were never intended. That’s the kind of anger that should be avoided.

When you’re angry, learn to have self-control. Don’t allow impulsive behavior to rule your life. Instead, make good, sensible, Spirit-led choices on how to express your feelings. When you do, you’ll avoid negative consequences and live with much more joy!

Prayer Challenge

Pray that God would help express your anger at the right time and in the right way.

Questions for Thought

What are some examples of how you’ve expressed anger wrongly in the past?

How would it have looked for you to express your anger properly in those situations?

Friday
Jan052018

The priceless reward of a good friend

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."

- Proverbs 27:17  

During World War I, a Protestant chaplain with the American troops in Italy became a friend of a local Roman Catholic priest. In time, the chaplain moved on with his unit and was killed. The priest heard of his death and asked military authorities if the chaplain could be buried in the cemetery behind his church.

Permission was granted. But the priest ran into a problem with his own Catholic Church authorities. They were sympathetic, but they said they could not approve the burial of a non-Catholic in a Catholic cemetery.

So the priest buried his friend just outside the cemetery fence. Years later, a war veteran who knew what had happened returned to Italy and visited the old priest. The first thing he did was ask to see the chaplain’s grave. To his surprise, he found the grave inside the fence.

“Ah,” he said, “I see you got permission to move the body.”

“No,” said the priest. “They told me where I couldn’t bury the body. But nobody ever told me I couldn’t move the fence.”

A good friend is a rare commodity. Yet so many people go through life and never really connect with others on a deep level. But the good news is that it’s never too late to start. Find a good friend who you can share life with because God never created you to live life alone!

Prayer Challenge

Pray and ask God to bring you godly friends who you can share life with.

Questions for Thought

Why do you think it’s difficult to find good friends?

Who are some people in your life today with whom you can put more effort into building relationships?

Friday
Jan052018

How to overcome the enemy’s intimidation

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

- 1 Peter 5:8

In the operating room of a large hospital, a young nurse was completing her first full day of responsibilities. “You’ve only removed 11 sponges, doctor,” she said to the surgeon. “We used 12.”

“I removed them all,” the doctor declared. “We’ll close the incision now.”

“No,” the nurse objected. “We used 12 sponges.”

“I’ll take full responsibility,” the surgeon said grimly. “Suture!”

“You can’t do that!” blazed the nurse. “Think of the patient.”

The surgeon smiled, lifted his foot, and showed the nurse the 12th sponge. “You’ll do,” he said.

It’s often when the heat is on and the pressure rises that we’re most tempted to compromise in doing what we know is right. But it’s when we’re intimidated and our backs are against the wall that God calls us to radical faithfulness to what we know is right!

The world and the enemy will try to intimidate you into compromise. But don’t let them. Remain steadfast in what you believe and stay true to your godly convictions, no matter what!

Prayer Challenge

Ask God to give you the strength to stand strong in the face of the enemy’s intimidation.

Questions for Thought

Think of a time you stood firm for what you knew was right in the face of pressure. How did you feel when it was over?

Where is the enemy trying to get you to compromise today? How can you practically stand firm in the face of his intimidation?

Friday
Jan052018

What it takes to stand for the truth

"So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter."

- 2 Thessalonians 2:15

In the fateful winter morning of January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger stood poised for launch. Overnight, the temperature had plummeted into the twenties. At liftoff, it was a crisp 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Huge icicles clung ominously to the launch tower.

Allan McDonald, an engineer employed by the manufacturer of the solid rocket boosters that straddled the shuttle, shuddered, but not because of the cold. Research had shown that the O-rings sealing the sections of each booster might be more likely to leak as the temperature dropped. In fact, the rings had never been tested during an actual launch below 51 degrees.

McDonald stood virtually alone as he steadfastly opposed the launch that icy morning, but he was overruled. The launch went ahead as scheduled, and 73 seconds later, six brave astronauts and one enthusiastic school teacher lost their lives when the O-rings failed.

Was Allan McDonald arrogant when he challenged the decision to launch? Was he intolerant? Any thinking person would say no. He just was unwilling to see innocent people die because others had ignored or distorted the facts. Allan McDonald knew the truth, and he stood up for it.

Far too often, Christians know what the truth is, yet they neglect to stand up for it. But just as those seven people on the Challenger were headed toward tragedy, so are those who enter an eternity apart from Jesus Christ. So stand up for truth, whatever it takes.

Prayer Challenge

Ask God to give you the strength to stand firm for the truth even when it costs you.

Questions for Thought

Who are some people who are famous for standing firm for what’s right even in face of persecution?

How can you, like them, be more intent on staying true to what you believe and standing firm in your faith?

Friday
Jan052018

The blessings that are yours today

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

- Galatians 3:28

There was a golfer on the pro tour years ago who was a pompous egomaniac. In his mind, he could do nothing wrong, and he always had a quick excuse for any loss. As if these faults were not enough, he was also not above hustling a few extra dollars playing amateurs in cities on the tour for $50 a hole.

One day he was approached by a man wearing dark glasses and carrying a white cane who offered to play him for $100 a hole. “Why, I can’t play you,” the professional protested. “You’re blind, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am,” replied the man. “But that’s alright. I was a state champion before I went blind. I think I can beat you.”

Now the pro had not been doing well lately, and he needed the money. So he told the blind man, “It’s a deal. When would you like to play?”

“Any night you’re ready.”

It’s interesting how one small factor can take a seemingly impossible situation and level the playing field. Take the Gentiles of the Old Testament, who had to essentially renounce their own heritage and become Jewish to partake of God’s blessings. Yet when Christ died on the cross, He leveled the playing field and opened the door of God’s blessings to all people, no matter their walk of life!

God made a way for all people by leveling the playing field. So thank Him today that all you have to do is believe, and the blessings are yours!

Prayer Challenge

Thank God that the playing field is level and you have immediate access to His blessings!

Questions for Thought

What does it say about God that He’s called all peoples to Himself through a faith relationship?

How can you share that great news with others?

Friday
Jan052018

What it means to show Jesus to the world

"We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God."

- 2 Corinthians 5:20 

J. Allan Petersen tells of a little boy who was consistently late coming home from school. His parents warned him one day that he must be home on time that afternoon, but nevertheless he arrived later than ever. So his mother met him at the door and said nothing.

At dinner that night, the boy looked at his plate. He had received a slice of bread and a glass of water. Then, he looked at his father’s full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent. The boy was crushed.

The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took the boy’s plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front of the boy, and smiled at his son. When that boy grew to be a man, he said, “All my life I’ve known what God is like by what my father did that night.”

As a Christian, you may be the best picture of God others will see. And while we’ll never be perfect representations of a completely holy God, we can exemplify His attributes—like grace, love, joy, and peace—in our daily lives to a watching world.

While most non-believers may not pick up a Bible, they will see God in how we conduct ourselves. So live your life to reflect Jesus to a watching world!

Prayer Challenge

Pray that God would help you clearly reflect who He is to a watching world.

Questions for Thought

Who are some people you’ve known over the course of your life who have reflected God’s attributes in a powerful way?

Who are some people in your life today who need to see Jesus in the way you live your life?

Thursday
Dec282017

The importance of adding action to your plans

"Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."

- James 1:23-24

Dr. J.B. Gambrel tells an amusing story from General Stonewall Jackson’s famous valley campaign. Jackson’s army found itself on one side of a river when it needed to be on the other side.

After telling his engineers to plan and build a bridge so the army could cross, he called his wagon master in to tell him that it was urgent the wagon train cross the river as soon as possible. The wagon master started gathering all the logs, rocks, and fence rails he could find and built a bridge. Long before daylight, General Jackson was told by his wagon master all the wagons and artillery had crossed the river.

General Jackson asked, “Where are the engineers, and what are they doing?” The wagon master replied, “They’re in their tent drawing up plans for a bridge.”

There are times when perfect planning is crucial. But there are also times when quick action is more important. And it’s in those times that over-planning can result in a lack of action altogether.

The church today must plan, but it must also act. And far too often, the step of action is what’s missing. So instead of just talking about doing something great, do it. Take action for the Kingdom and make an impact for Jesus’ name!

Prayer Challenge

Pray and ask God to show you where you need to add action to your plans.

Questions for Thought

Why do you think taking action is often more difficult than just making plans?

What are some plans you’ve made that you can begin taking action on today?

Thursday
Dec282017

How to experience the fullest life possible

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

- Philippians 4:13

Thirty years ago, 33-year-old Larry Walters decided he wanted to see his neighborhood from a new perspective. He went down to the local army surplus store one morning and bought 45 used weather balloons. That afternoon he strapped himself into a lawn chair, filled the balloons with helium, and cut his tie-downs. He took along a BB gun, figuring he could shoot the balloons one at a time when he was ready to land.

Walters, who assumed the balloons would lift him about 100 feet in the air, was caught off guard when the chair soared more than 11,000 feet into the sky and into the middle of the air traffic pattern at Los Angeles International Airport. Too frightened to shoot any of the balloons, he stayed airborne for more than two hours, forcing the airport to shut down and causing long delays in flights from across the country.

Soon after he was safely grounded and cited by the police, reporters asked him, “Why did you do it?”

“Because,” he said, “you can’t just sit there.”

Many Christians today are content with “just sitting there” and letting life happen to them. Sure, they’ll go to church on Sunday and read their Bibles during the week, but they never really engage others with their faith.

Don’t just sit there. Take action and do something bold for Christ. When you do, you’ll experience the fullness of life God has for you!

Prayer Challenge

Pray that God would show you where He wants you to do something bold for His name.

Questions for Thought

When’s the last time you really did something outside of your comfort zone? How did it make you feel?

What’s one way you can get out of your comfort zone today and do something bold for Christ?

Thursday
Dec282017

Don’t be shaken!

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe."

- Hebrews 12:28

During an earthquake that occurred many years ago, the inhabitants of a small village in South America were terrified as the massive quake shook their village apart. When the earthquake finally subsided and the people emerged from what shelter they could find, they were surprised to find one of the village’s elderly women smiling contently.

Perplexed, one of the young men approached her and asked, “Mother, aren’t you afraid?”

“Of course not,” replied the wise old woman, “I rejoice to know that I have a God who can shake the world.”

We put stock in so many things in life that can be destroyed in an instant. But as Charles Spurgeon once said, the truth is that “there is nothing stable beneath these rolling skies.”

The storms of life are sure to come, and the ground beneath you is sure to quake. But these are not signs that you should despair. You are a child of God, and no change of circumstances can rob you of that privilege or snatch you out of His hands.

Be encouraged to know that the One who formed the foundations of the earth also holds you firmly in His will. And His Kingdom will never end. So smile contently, and show a hopeless world that your hope will not be shaken!

Prayer Challenge:

Pray for the strength to trust God when your world is shaken. And ask for the grace to point others to the reason for your hope.

Questions for Thought:

What are some times in your life that God has held you firmly when your world was shaken? What kind of impact do you think that testimony has on others?

Thursday
Dec282017

How to recognize and overcome evil 

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

- Romans 12:21

John was driving home late one night when he picked up a hitchhiker. As they rode along, he began to be suspicious of his passenger. John checked to see if his wallet was safe in the pocket of his coat that was on the seat between them, but it wasn’t there! So he slammed on the brakes, ordered the hitchhiker out, and said, “Hand over the wallet immediately!”

The frightened hitchhiker handed over a billfold, and John drove off. When he arrived home, he started to tell his wife about the experience, but she interrupted him, saying, “Before I forget, John, do you know that you left your wallet at home this morning?”

It’s human nature to jump to conclusions about others we perceive to be different than us. That’s because evil has been characterized in our culture with a “this and not that” mentality. For most, evil is what happens when a terrorist attacks a crowded building, but it’s not what happens when a clean-cut employee gossips about a coworker. Yet the Bible says that both are evil.

As Christians, we must come to recognize evil wherever it is. Yes, we have to see it in ruthless killings of others. But we must also learn to perceive it in our own lives as well as those around us.

Evil is evil, no matter what flavor it is. So pray that God would give you wisdom to discern what’s right and what’s wrong, and strive each day to overcome evil with good!

Prayer Challenge

Pray for discernment when it comes to recognizing evil in your daily life and strength to overcome it.

Questions for Thought

What are some pictures that come to mind when you hear the word evil? How have we been conditioned to think that way?

How can recognizing evil in all its forms help us to overcome it?

Thursday
Dec282017

This is good news!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”

- Luke 2:10

Do you remember the holiday classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas?

It tells the charming story of poor Charlie Brown’s crusade to discover what Christmas is really about. After a series of setbacks including receiving no Christmas cards, failing miserably to direct the school’s Christmas pageant, and nearly killing the tattered tree he’d worked so hard to decorate, Charlie Brown finally gives up on his quest in despair.

But everything changes when his friends gather round him and begin singing these powerful words…  

“Hark! the herald angels sing,

glory to the newborn King!
peace on earth, and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
joyful all ye nations rise
join the triumph of the skies
with th'angelic host proclaim
‘Christ is born in bethlehem.’
Hark! the herald angels sing
glory to the newborn King!"

Do you feel a bit like Charlie Brown this Christmas? Are you overwhelmed by all that’s going on in the world? Are you tired, frustrated, or maybe just lonely?

Don’t give into despair; because the story of Christmas is not just the celebration of God’s grace in the past, it’s an ongoing celebration of His work today through the Gospel.

Christmas was just the beginning of God’s mighty work of redemption. The story’s not over – and you’re part of it. So rejoice and let your life show a watching world what Christmas is truly about as you point them to the living Christ. 

Prayer Challenge:

Ask God to fill you with joy in the Gospel. And pray for opportunities to share that joy with others.

Questions for Thought:

What are some ways you could share the Good News of Christmas with those around you?

Friday
Dec222017

The key to real spiritual growth 

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

- Micah 6:8

It was a simple clerical error, but it could be the most expensive typo of all time. In 1978, Prudential, the largest insurance company in the U.S., loaned $160 million to United States Lines, a shipping firm. As part of the deal, Prudential got a lien on eight ships.

In 1986, U.S. Lines went into bankruptcy proceedings and started selling off assets. Prudential said it was owed nearly $93 million, the value of the lien, from the ships’ sale. Or so the insurance company thought. A close look at the lien documents disclosed that someone had omitted three little zeros, thus entitling Prudential to only $92,885 instead of $92,885,000.

The clerical error was corrected, but it cost Prudential millions in legal fees and contract negotiations, all of which could have been avoided if only the contract were correct in the first place.

In the Christian life, the little things matter. Not with regards to salvation—that’s already settled if you’re in Christ. But when it comes to growing in God’s grace and deepening your relationship with Him, it’s the small, daily acts of love that serve as steps toward a more fulfilling relationship with God.

So remember, focus on the small things. Spend nuggets of time in God’s Word. Find everyday ways to show His love to others. It’s those small acts that will help you grow in big ways!

Prayer Challenge

Pray and ask God to show you how you can grow in His grace through small, everyday acts.

Questions for Thought

Why do you think many people become frustrated and quit when trying to make dramatic changes in their spiritual lives?

What are a few small practical things you can implement in your life today that will help you grow spiritually?

Friday
Dec222017

You’ve been made rich!

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."

- 2 Corinthians 8:9   

A big department store was gearing up for its holiday ad campaign. The VP of marketing was dead-set on outselling their competitors, so he decided to play on people’s sentiments.

“We’ll have a nativity scene!” he exclaimed in their first meeting. “And our slogan will be, ‘It’s more blessed to give than receive.’”

The VP instructed his sales staff to display a huge variety of gifts at the manger scene. The wise men would hand baby Jesus all of the most popular toys. The shepherds would be sporting the latest styles of hip fashion. And even Mary herself would be seen taking advantage of the most convenient products for moms on the go.

When the VP saw the final images for the campaign, he was ecstatic thinking of all the money they would make. But then he scoffed when he saw baby Jesus lying in a plain wooden manger.

“We don’t sell mangers,” he said. “Let’s trade that dirty thing out for a luxury bed!”

If we miss the humility of the Christmas story, we miss Christ’s invitation to us. The lowliness of the manger scene is a reminder that we are all poor and broken apart from Jesus. But He – whose majesty and splendor is beyond anything we could ever imagine – entered into our brokenness and identified with our poverty.

So this Christmas, rejoice in the lowliness of Christ’s birth. Because His humility is your invitation to be made truly rich in Him.

Prayer Challenge:

Ask God to help you focus on Christ this Christmas. And praise Him for identifying with you in your poverty so that you could be lifted up in the richness of His grace.

Questions for Thought:

How did the circumstances of Christ’s birth contradict what most people expected of the Messiah’s coming? What do those circumstances teach us about God’s character?

Friday
Dec222017

How to experience abundant grace through 

"But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

James 1:14-15

Many accidental deaths result from taking risks. That’s the conclusion of an organization in Canada that is seeking to decrease accidents between cars and trains. Roger Cyr, the organization’s national director, puts most of the blame for fatalities on drivers who are risk takers.

“Studies have shown that when people hear a train whistle, their minds tell them to accelerate their speed,” says Cyr. “About 43 percent of the accidents occur at crossings equipped with flashing lights and bells or gates.” Cyr also said that many drivers “even have the audacity to drive around or under gates.”

Drivers take the risks, thinking they can beat the train and somehow miss the collision. But the consequences are often tragic, because when a car and a train collide, the train will always win.

While it’s easy to look at such sad statistics and shake our heads, the truth is that many people today, even Christians, do the exact same thing with sin. They think themselves to be invincible to sin’s effects, and they charge headfirst into situations that often result in them succumbing to destructive behavior.

When it comes to sin, don’t take unnecessary risks. Guard yourself against falling into the destructive behavior and live your life in obedience to God through His grace!

Prayer Challenge

Pray that God would give you the wisdom to avoid taking unnecessary sin risks.

Questions for Thought

What are some times in your life that, as you look back, you took unnecessary risks that caused you to fall into sin?

How can you avoid falling into those same traps in the future?