Day 211: This I Vow… (Psalm 59-61; Acts 28:16-31)

“So I will sing praise to Your name forever, that I may daily perform my vows.” -Psalm 61:8

When you were baptized, you promised your life to God and that you’ll serve Him with a good conscience. Furthermore, during the course of your life, you’ve likely made other vows and promises to God. Maybe you vowed to kick a bad habit, to be nicer to your sister or to read the Bible more often.

What promises have you made to the Lord? How are you doing on those? Are you remembering to fulfill your end of the deal each day? 

Too often, we make promises to God and then after a couple of days, we forget about them. Here, David talks about daily performing his vows to the Lord.

So, today, I urge you to take stock of the promises and vows you’ve made to God. Make a list. Then start a chart: on the vertical y-axist list the dates of this coming month and on the horizontal x-axis, list out those vows. Use a Google doc, a planner, a wall calendar or a piece of graphing paper. But start to keep track of those vows daily. If you fulfill a vow, give yourself a gold star or a smiley face for that day. Let that be a constant reminder of what your priorities are. Live out your vow daily and see how your life is transformed!

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Day 210: Overcoming Fear (Psalm 56-58; Acts 28:1-15)

When I was little, I went through a time when I had nightmares to the point where I could not sleep. I was terrified that someone would break into our house and harm us. When I shared this with my dad, he made me memorize this verse:

“In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” -Psalm 56:11

Many times since then I have recited these words over and over again until I believed them to my core. Because unless God allows it, no one can hurt me. There are horses and chariots of fire all around me (2 Kings 6:17). He has put a hedge of protection around me (Psalm 139:5). When I cry out to Him, my enemies turn back (Psalm 56:9).

People may wish you harm. Some may try to hurt or destroy you. Mean girls abound in spades and cyberbullying continues to plague many teenage hearts. A girl walking alone on a dark street can cause even the bravest of women to walk a little bit faster and to be hyper vigilant. But don’t forget who walks beside you.

My grandmother grew up in Siberia. Jesus found her when she was 15 and she would walk several kilometers to pray with a few elderly women, often returning home late at night or early in the morning so she could sneak back in to her parent’s home (her parents were not believers). One winter night, as she was returning home at the age of 16, a group of gang members, known as the “Black Cats” emerged out of the shadows and began to taunt and torment her. With a prayer on her lips, she told the men to let her go in the name if Jesus Christ or God himself would come down from Heaven and defend her. As she prayed and pleaded with them, pillars of fire came down from above – my grandma describes them as thick bolts of lightening that lit up the surroundings for several minutes without wavering. The men questioned if it was maybe a car or projector as they shielded their eyes from the light. But my grandmother insisted that it was God. Within minutes, the men ran away and slowly the light faded away.

So, if you ever find yourself in fear of man, I hope you’ll remember this testimony and the one in whom you trust.

Day 209: Willing & Able (Psalm 53-55; Acts 27:26-44)

“God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God.” -Psalm 53:2

God is always in need of people to do His work. Unfortunately, it sounds like good help is hard to find for Him. Maybe it’s because we are prone to not see the need around us – everyone seems to be getting along just fine. Or, more likely, we don’t feel “ready” to do anything significant or think that someone else can do it better than us.

Yet, God continues to look for a willing and ready heart to do His work. He doesn’t need you to first get a college degree or to go on a mission trip to a third world country. He doesn’t check if there is a wedding ring on your finger or if your body is at your target weight. He doesn’t care if you have ten social media followers or a million; whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert; or the balance in your bank account.

He just wants someone who understands and seeks Him. That is all.

So today, I challenge you to pray: “Here I am Lord, use me.” Then, keep your eyes open for an opportunity to be used by Him. And an opportunity will present itself -it might be as “small” as praying over a friend in need or a major life change like clearly seeing what your college major should be. Be ready. Be willing. Seek Him. And listen. God’s got great things planned for you, Love!

Day 208: A Steadfast Spirit (Psalm 50-52; Acts 27:1-25)

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Most people tend to focus on the first part of this verse, but the second part is just as important. But what is exactly a steadfast spirit?

Steadfastness can be defined as: (1) constant in effort to accomplish something; (2) attentive and persistent in doing anything; (3) fixed in direction; (4) firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, etc.. as a person.

2 Peter 3:14-18 tell us to be steadfast in holy conduct (without spot and blameless), godliness, and peace. This can be accomplished by growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus. All of this doesn’t happen overnight though. It’s about being consistent and persistent, one decision at a time; it’s remaining firm even when time and circumstances change. That is a steadfast spirit.

So, may our prayer today echo David’s: Lord, give us a pure heart and renewal of a steadfast spirit. We have a long race to run before we inherit an eternal kingdom. We must not give up, but instead remain persistent, constant and firm in the fact that God is faithful and His promises will indeed one day come to fruition.

Image via Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies

 

Day 207: Callings (Psalm 47-49; Acts 26)

Paul’s story of his conversion is inspiring to many. We might even wish that a voice from heaven would tell us that clearly what to do and where to go. The thing is, God knows exactly where to find us and how to commission us with our callings.

If you’re reading this devotional, God has most likely already met you somewhere. You’ve repented, accepted Him as your savior and been baptized. There may also be a few of you who are still dipping your feet in the waters of faith, unsure if this whole religion thing is for you. Regardless, we all wonder what God wants us to do.

But we already know. It just doesn’t seem as glamorous or as exciting as Paul’s story. But the calling remains the same:

To be witnesses of the things God has done in our lives already and the things which He will reveal to us in the future.

To open the eyes of the people around us to the Truth.

To be the light in a dark world so that everyone around us has the chance to receive forgiveness of their sins and an inheritance among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ.

We can do these things every day – regardless of our college major, profession, economic standing or age. A lawyer can do this just as well as a stay at home mom. A nursing student can do this just as well as a high school drop out. An artist can paint it and an engineer can design it.

Paul was called to it. And so are we. You don’t need a message in the sky or writing on a wall. Because it’s already written on your heart and poured into you through the Holy Spirit. You’re already called. Chosen. Created for a purpose. Now, you just have to live it out. Today. Tomorrow. And every day until the Lord calls you home.

Day 206: Here Comes the Bride (Psalm 44-46; Acts 25)

I adore Psalm 45. It is especially meaningful to our community. We speak often about the fact that we are daughters of the King, and here, David writes of the Messiah and His bride:

“The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace; her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors; the virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You. With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought; they shall enter the King’s palace.” -Psalm 34:13-15

There is so much joy here. If you’ve ever participated in preparing a bride on her wedding day, you experienced a glimpse of this: the excitement is almost palpable in the air and the flurry of activity as everyone gets ready is interjected with laughter and giddiness. You can’t help but get caught up in the anticipation of what’s to come.

Ladies, this is our life. Even if you live to be a hundred, each day is bringing you closer to your bridegroom. Your King is awaiting you and to Him, your hundred years on earth are but a single day (2 Peter 3:8). Like any bride though, we need our time to prepare for our groom. So, God gave us these years on earth. We choose how to spend these years though.

We can be the kind of bride who kicks herself into gear in anticipation of her wedding day – a complete overhaul of her eating habits, daily exercise and every beauty ritual known to man just so she can be the most beautiful and healthy version of herself for her groom.

Or we can be the kind of bride who has all the best intentions to make changes in her life, but in the end time just slips away as she focuses on her to-do list and the concerns of this world.

With what kind of mindset are you approaching these days of preparation and the coming meeting with our bridegroom?

Day 205: Thirst & Living Water (Psalm 41-43; Acts 24)

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” -Psalm 42:1-2

One of the most common prayer requests and questions we get are along the lines of: “I just don’t have the desire to read the Bible” or “I am so bored when I read the Bible and I just don’t understand any of it.”

One survey shows that the average household has 4.4 Bibles, but only 26 percent of Americans read their Bible on a regular basis (four or more times a week). The majority of twenty-somethings (57 percent) read their Bible less than three times a year, if at all.

And why should we when we can easily find our favorite Bible verses on Pinterest and worship music is so much easier than in-depth Bible study. Listening to podcasts or 20-minute sermons fits our schedules better. Although all of that is good, it’s not as filling as Living Water and the Bread of life. Reading a supplement or Cliff Notes version of a book won’t give you as much as reading the actual book. Eating dessert regularly won’t fill you up properly and in large amounts may actually be harmful.

But the reality is when we’re used to small bite-size, easy, sweet, uplifting content as our interaction with God, we stop desiring Living Water. For example, I’ve met people who are so addicted to soda and other beverages that they rarely, if ever, drink regular, pure water. I’ve met people are so used to polluted water that they prefer that to purified water (and vice versa).

So, if you find yourself in a season of not desiring the pure, unfiltered word of God, I challenge you to assess what “spiritual” food you’ve been filling yourself with lately. Just like any lifestyle change, cut back on those other things and slowly start to fill your day with more of the Bible. It may take years to wean yourself off the sugar-laden substitutes, but soon you’ll find that you actually crave time spent in the Scriptures over the easy fix of a 20-minute podcast, 200-word devotional or a worship song. Only then you’ll see the latter as treats and supplements, not the main entree.