Notice, Paul speaks about a mindset. He doesn’t talk about actions that please God.
When we use only our actions to please God, but don’t let Him in to renew our minds, we boil ourselves down to nothing but a religion. When you review your reflection on a surface level, you will easily be fooled. It is easy to appear clean on the outside, but it is far more complicated to have a well kept heart. For example:
On the flip side, when we rest our eyes on the temptations of the world, we disregard God all together, finding no rest at all. You can’t avoid the mirror and expect to avoid problems :
Any of these thoughts sound familiar to you? Me too.
The religious person looks in the mirror and likes what they see because they can’t see any further. The procrastinator avoids the mirror afraid of what they might discover or have to change. What they both fail to realize is that no matter what person stands in front of the mirror, their reflections will always have one thing in common: sin.
We have a flesh mindset because we are sinful, but when we put our faith in God we can see through God's eyes.
So what is the point of the mirror? The point of the mirror is that it shows us where and how we need Jesus in our lives. The mirror can be used as a tool instead of a judge.
I abused the girl in the mirror for far too long. I had failed to mention how loved she was. It was when she stopped acknowledging me and turned to God, her confidence was resurrected.
“You are more than just a body.” He said to her, “Your stretch marks are reminders of the two miracles I have given you and where you see wrinkles, I see growth.” She felt alive again.
Who are you listening to when you look in the mirror? Today, dig into God’s word without hesitation. Look at it with new eyes and ask God to search your heart. Remind yourself of the Holy Spirit that lives within you and draw near to Jesus for it is by Him we are saved.
Memory Verse: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Romans 3:20
“I may not be able to buy any toys, but at least I get to help tell people about God.” As she spoke those words, my heart melted. To many it may seem like just a bag of change, but to her it was everything she had. She gave it all to share God’s word. That day God used my daughter to remind me of the cost of following Jesus.
In Matthew 8, a man is telling Jesus he will follow Him wherever He goes. Well, surely Jesus gave him some comforting words and invited him along for their new journey, right? Not so much. Jesus was not interested in selling people on following Him; He was more of a straight shooter. Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20).
Jesus, Messiah, God’s one and only Son, homeless. Think of all the places he traveled with dirt lingering on his hands and feet. Imagine the holes in His clothes, stained with sweat and tears. Jesus didn’t just tell this man He had to give up his life to follow Him; He taught by example. Jesus gave up everything to do what God called Him to do. People wanted to learn from and be like Jesus, yet they weren’t willing to make sacrifices. They wanted Jesus in their life but they didn’t want to give their whole life to Jesus. Isn’t that like us sometimes?
If we are honest with ourselves, we may find there is a lot of ‘loose change’ in our lives we hang onto. We want to spend our time, talents, money, mind, or bodies on things that serve us instead of God. But He wants us to serve Him with everything in our being down to the last brain cell, word, or penny. He is the one and only Holy God and He is selfish. Not in the way we are selfish. He is selfish because He knows when we give ourselves to anything but Him, we short change ourselves because He is better than anything this world has to offer. Our God deserves all we have including our ‘loose change.’
Sister, we are called to dedicate our life to Him. Even if it's all we feel we have left, we give it all to Him for He is worthy.
Do you have some ‘loose change’ you're holding onto? Where is your mind, body, and soul? Is it aligned with God's glory or your own? Pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you what you are keeping from him and what you need to let go of. Ask Him to help and guide you to give your whole self to Him today, even your ‘loose change.’
Memory Verse: "Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it." Luke 17:33
Job also admitted some really awful ideas and thoughts to His Heavenly Father. One of the most heart wrenching parts of his dialogue is when he tells God he wishes he was never born. Yet God wasn’t surprised and He didn’t turn away.
Job was concentrated on the why: “Why me? Why now? Why, why, why?” God’s response wasn’t what Job expected, but rather answered his question with “Who are you?” God didn’t belittle Job and his despair, but rather realigned his perspective. When we are completely vulnerable with our God, we are able to fully see what God is trying to tell us. Our hearts are changed.
God already knows how you feel whether you share your feelings or not. God turns the table and begins to ask Job some hard questions, some things we still don’t have the answers to. Job responds with a change of heart: “Then Job replied to the Lord: ‘I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know’” (Job 42:1-3).
In this conversation between God and Job, we start to understand that we aren’t meant to lean on our own understanding, but to trust in the Lord. God made it clear to Job that he failed to do this.
But I have to believe that even though Job had to swallow this hard truth, he was comforted knowing that he didn’t have to pretend in front of his Heavenly Father. That by being vulnerable, God spoke truth over him. Vulnerability leads to humility which softens our hearts to truth. He may not give you the response you want, but He will always give you the truth.
Shortly after the conversation with my therapist, I came to God and I admitted I was weak. I needed Him to battle with me and sustain me. I needed Him to fight these intrusive thoughts because He has strength I never will. I am not close to perfect; I never will be. But I can say alcohol doesn’t control my life anymore and those intrusive thoughts are getting better and better with every prayer and Christ-centered person He has continued to place in my life. I could sum it all up to this: His grace.
Sister, what question are you struggling with today? Whether it's an addiction, an illness you feel is unfair, a circumstance you feel you can’t bear, be honest and bring it to His feet today.
Pour out your heart and ugly truth. Listen for God's loving response and pour into His word. You don’t have to fake it or hide; He will love you through it. He will love you because of it. He will restore you, not through your power, but His power and His perfect love in your weakness.
Memory Verse: "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: 'God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'" James 4:6
“What is the secret to a long, happy marriage?” the DJ asked. The couple had the whole room’s undivided attention; we were eager to know the answer. Sandra took the mic, “Putting the other person first,” she said, locking eyes with her husband. “If each of you do this, then you will always be taken care of.” It’s the way she said it, you could tell taking care of her husband gave her joy.
More than anything, Paul wanted to deepen his relationship with Jesus, and bring others to Jesus. This is how he saw it: he got to wake up and show people Christ or he died and got to be with Jesus. Paul did not put Jesus first because he had to; he desired to. Paul had an ‘I get to’ attitude. A ‘have to’ attitude is the product of acting with half of our hearts. (And girl, Jesus wants the whole thing.)
Just as this couple shows their love by caring for each other, we can show God we love Him by how we love others around us. We get to serve His church, we get to read His word, we get to be the light of a dark world. We can do all these things for and through Him, who strengthens us when we adopt this attitude, because our eyes and hearts are set on Jesus. While we are here on this earth we can be the hands and feet of Jesus. We can do this in small ways such as paying for someone's coffee behind us in the Starbucks drive-thru or bigger ways such as sacrificing our spare time to help in a soup kitchen down the street.
Paul knew life was so much better this way and he was committed to sharing this with others. We can have joy and the strength to hold on in a world full of sin, because that is what Jesus brings to the relationship. He will have and hold you at your best and even at your worst. He is our forever and always, our ride or die. He came down, the Son of God, and humbled himself, so he could save you and me. He didn’t do it because he had to, He did it because he loved you. Jesus laid down his life for us so we would get to wake up for eternity with Him.
You do not have to give Jesus your heart, your mind, your soul, or your life…
Girl, you get to!
Memory Verse: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16a NIV
My husband had been so gentle and patient with me, even after I had come down on him like a ton of bricks. I knew I had to apologize. As I drove into the parking lot, I saw him standing there, propped up against his car. He had already dropped off my girls in their Sunday school classrooms but he had come back for me. I was pleasantly surprised to see him. Stepping out of the car, I apologized and I asked him, “Why did you wait on me?” Taking my hand, he looked me in the eyes and said, “I thought maybe you needed me.”
As the people came to understand what Ezra was preaching, they also understood they had sinned. They were ashamed, but their remorse was a promising sign. Ezra then tells them to get up, and celebrate. Yes, you read that correctly.
These are Jesus’ words: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7)
Heaven celebrates when you repent! Jesus is telling us that repentance is an act of humbling ourselves, and admitting a desperate need for a savior. If God never shed light on our sin, how would we be able to fix it? If you don’t know what there is to be sorry for, you can’t deliver a proper apology. When we are able to acknowledge our sin, and bring it to God, the Holy Spirit works on our hearts, bringing us into a deeper relationship with Him.
This is what Ezra wanted the people to understand. Not only was the wall accomplished, but when they acknowledged their sins, it showed God had been up to something bigger. He had worked on their hearts.
Why did he say not to mourn? Didn’t they need to feel sorry for what they had done? Yes, and they did! But there is a difference between repenting and dwelling. When we dwell on our sin, we can become discouraged. Repentance is not just about our sins, it is more so about our need for Jesus Christ, who indeed paid for all sin.
To dwell means to “live in.” We were not meant to live in our past mistake. We are told by Jesus Himself to live in Him: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).
Repentance is a sure sign that the Holy Spirit has not left you, sister; it means that the Spirit is working in you! Come to Jesus, the one who has the power to take away all sin. He is waiting for you and He is glad to see you. You are never too far gone for His love. Dwell in Jesus and celebrate with Him!
Memory Verse: “For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” 2 Chronicles 30:9b NIV
Pride causes resentful feelings to flood into our hearts. Jealousy, insecurity, anger, and bitterness will eat away at us until we are empty. We don’t have to let it though. David shows us there is another option.
David was continuously in prayer. He prioritized what God thought and knew Saul was God’s anointed one. Faithfully trusting the battle was the Lord’s, he turned down the opportunity to kill Saul. He loved Saul. David wrote a song in honor of him after his passing. David was considered a man after God’s own heart. We see why, because Jesus called us to treat our enemies, the way David treated Saul:
“‘You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven’” (Matthew 5:43-45).
Debbie Burns, a woman dear to my heart, always has something profound to share with our Rooted Mom’s group. One Monday night she gave us a little piece of wisdom I will keep with me forever. It is so good, it almost felt like a secret. “Pray for God to let you see your enemies how he sees them.”
WOW. What a David mentality.
Why give a piece of your mind when God can give you peace of mind?
There is power in praying for our enemies. One of Satan's greatest lies is that hate is more powerful than love. When we give into our worldly feelings (revenge, hateful words, spiteful actions), we give our energy to the enemy; the one who comes to kill, steal, and destroy (Jn 10:10). Satan wants to instill fear and hate in your heart to kill your faith. He will steal any joy you have and replace it with insecurity. He will destroy you by leading you astray from God, the one who sustains you.
God will give you the strength to overcome the temptation of seeking revenge and wisdom to know the battle is His. He will provide you with the strength to love ones who hurt you and wisdom in knowing who the real enemy is. Prayer is our greatest defense against any troubles the world brings because it connects us with the Prince of Peace. Today be assured your Father in Heaven sees and hears you! Give your energy to Him and you will be showered with His peace.
Memory Verse: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 NIV
The life I had been living did not reflect God. I made lots of mistakes, and there were many consequences. Don't get it twisted though, Kori (my daughter), was neither of those things. God made Kori. God does not make mistakes.
One of my waitressing friends invited me to a Bible study. The people who were in my Bible study came from all different backgrounds. One, in particular, was a former alcoholic. He was the one who led me to Jesus. I was baptized in the river behind his house. He lived just five minutes down the street from my mom's house.
God used my sin and blessed me with Kori. He moved me right where he wanted me. He used this man, despite his former sin, to be a messenger. All because God wanted a relationship with me. I can't type that sentence without being in a state of awe.
God's will is perfect, even when He uses imperfect people. Isaac's family, just like me, was full of sin, but do you remember God changed Jacob’s name to Israel? His family would be God’s children: The Israelites.
God already knew the drama that was going to unfold in Isaac's family before Jacob and Esau were even born: "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger" (Genesis 25:23).
Rebekah and Jacob still went to great lengths to make sure Jacob received Isaac's blessing over Esau. Why? God had already promised this! Why did they come up with their own plan when God already had one? They lacked faith.
Then we have Isaac, who also tried to make his own plan, but when it failed, why couldn't he just give Esau a blessing too? I think Isaac may have realized at this point that when God has a will, it will be done. Isaac could have blessed Esau repeatedly, but if something isn't blessed by God, it's not going to happen.
Every family member in this story had their own agenda, and none of it was focused on God's kingdom. Each of them, fearful things would not turn out the way they had planned, sinned against God.
Have you, like me, made this same mistake of ignoring God's guidance to follow the desires of your flesh?
When you are scared, stressed, angry, depressed, anxious, grieving, whatever it may be, do not make plans based on selfish worldly desires. God may not give everything your fleshly heart desires and He did not come to fix everything in your life. He came to fix your heart, so you would live life with and for Him. That is His plan. Seek and ask Him to reveal His plan for you and trust that it is better than your own.
Memory verse: "’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
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