Day 88: The Hot Water Test (Joshua 23-34; Luke 6:27-49)

Day 88

I love this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, but Jesus totally called this concept centuries before the First Lady. Because it’s true: you don’t know the true character of a person until you’ve seen their reaction to hard times. It’s easy to be full of joy when life is good or to be on your best behavior on a first date. But what about when you snub your toe or someone cuts you off in traffic? What’s your first reaction? Cuss words? Taking the Lord’s name in vain? Cursing someone? As Blake Shelton sings, “Who are you when I’m not looking?”

“A good man out the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” -Luke 6:45

According to Jesus’s sermon in this chapter, what comes out of our mouths reflects what is in our hearts (Matthew 12:33-37). Yes, sometimes we can fake being good Christians with our words, but it’s only a matter of time until our true colors show. Because it is what comes out of our mouths that defile us (Mathew 15:11). Evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness all take root inside a man before they manifest themselves on the outside (Mark 7:20-23).

So, how can you know what’s truly inside of you? Is it good? Bad?

Turn your Bible to Luke 11:33-36. Here, Jesus teaches us about the access the eye gives to the rest of our body. If your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light. But if your eye is bad, your body is also full of darkness. It’s that concept of “you are what you eat”. What you consume with your eyes is what takes root in your mind and your heart. If you fill it with the Word of God, then His truth and His desires for your life will grow in you and yield good fruit. But, if you let your eyes wander to the shiny things of this World, soak in hours of worldly entertainment and buy into the World’s lies about how you should look and live, then your life will yield anxiety, envy, doubt, pride, and all those ugly things that defile a person.

Your hot water tests will continue to happen, whether it’s in traffic or a scary medical diagnosis. It may be minuscule or life altering. Will you pass or fail?

How can you prepare for your hot water test today?

Ask yourself: who are you when no one is looking? 

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Day 87: Promises (Joshua 21-22; Luke 6:1-26)

We’ve spent almost two months in the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and into the Promised Land. We read about their wins and losses; their sins and their worship of God. Above all, we watched God’s plan unfold over a 40+ year span.

Day 87

We all like people who keep their word. But we especially expect such accountability from God. Many prayers have been uttered in despair: “But, God you promised….” Because there are valleys in our lives when the only thing that gets us through is God’s promise that He will never leave or forsake us, that He will never give us more than we can bear, and that Heaven will be a better place with no tears or pain.

The enemy uses doubt to pierce holes in those promises though. I have received many emails from young women asking how we can take God at His word. How do we know His promises are true? Is Heaven for real? Will God come through for us in the end? We point to past experiences that hurt us and ask where God and His promises were in those dark moments.

If you’ve been reading along with us these last few weeks, then you know these are the exact questions that the Israelites asked as they wandered around the desert. In the end, God delivered on His promises, even though many Israelites didn’t actually see the promises come to fruition because of their own doubts, sins, and mistrust of God.

The Lord will hold to His promises, but you have a role to play too. You must believe in His promises and trust Him to do His thing, even when doubt and despair overwhelm you.

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” -Isaiah 55:11

If God promised you a good thing friend, He will see it through to the end. He may be merciful to us in not holding us to the punishments we deserve when we sin or displease Him, but when it comes to the good promises, He is true to His word. Always. Friend, He hasn’t failed you yet and He won’t start now. What He promised – it will happen. And if you don’t believe me, re-read the story of the Israelites in the books of Moses.

Which of the Lord’s promises do you cling to on a regular basis? 

Do you have a testimony of when the Lord came through for you on a promise He made? 

Day 86: Hypocrisy (Joshua 19-20; Luke 5:17-39)

Some mornings I wake up with awe as I realize the God of the universe loves me and has a plan in mind for me. Me, the person who practically sins before she gets out of bed, gossips, thinks I’m better than other people, and sometimes tells lies.

In the passage we read today we see Jesus eating with the tax collectors and how that stirred the Pharisees anger. Sometimes, we can be just like the Pharisees when we see good things happening to people that don’t love God as much as we do, when plans fall through, or when God makes us wait. Each life is important to God though. Each story is unique and carefully designed. He loves us all the same, even the Christians who have fallen off the wagon or those who are unsaved.

Don’t let your hypocrisy blind you from loving others the way that God does. Just like the tribes in Joshua who all had their specific places and allotments, we all have a specific plan and time of life that God calls us to. He will not forget about you.

So, today try your best to love someone around you that may consider unlovable. Jesus did that with the very least of these and He does it every day with you and me. Now, He asks us to do the same and pass on His love to someone who may be desperately trying to find their way to acceptance and love.

How can you encourage someone in Jesus today?

Day 85: Out of Balance (Joshua 16-18; Luke 5:1-16)

The last few weeks I’d been feeling so out of balance: a demanding work schedule, studying, church ministries, keeping up with my loved ones, trying to live a healthy lifestyle… I didn’t know how I could fit it all into my days. In the meantime, I kept God “on hold.”

“Yes, God, I will take the time to talk to you in a minute, but first I have to prepare my presentation.” Or, “God, I really want to have a nice cup of tea and dive into your Word, but there’s this pile of tests that I need to check before tomorrow…”

Sound familiar?

However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. -Luke 5:15-16

When I read this passage, I thought about what I would do if I had the power to heal and was surrounded by people who needed my help. Unsurprisingly, my first response was that I would first heal those people and then withdraw myself to pray. Because in a way, that’s what I had been doing in my own life! Granted, I can’t heal the sick, but God did give me talents and gifts that I can use to be of help to the people around me.

Jesus gives us such a great lesson here. More and more people began to ask Him for help, “so He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” Luke write this as if going away to pray is the most obvious thing to do when people are demanding your time and energy! The truth is, it should be the most obvious thing to do, because if we do not completely keep relying on God, how can we handle the growing demand? Jesus knew this. Do you?

If you’re feeling out of balance I pray that this verse will open your eyes, like it did mine.

Do you draw closer to God when life becomes more demanding? Or do you put Him on hold?

What in your life do you have to start saying “no” to (for now), in order to make time to withdraw and pray?

Day 84: Big Dreams (Joshua 14-15; Luke 4:33-44)

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. -Philippians 4:13

I’ve always been a big dreamer. As a young girl, I always had big dreams of travelling across all continents, speaking to thousands about the love of Christ and so much more. I wanted to move mountains and make a difference in the world in so many different ways.

I look back at those days and I miss that girl! I miss that fiery spirit that was able to see past the obstacles without fear of the challenges. Today, I was reminded of that girl by the life of Caleb.

There’s a certain unique, quiet strength that Caleb possessed and I so deeply admire. We read recently about how he was able to see past the giants to the greatness of the land God had promised them. Now, we read about how he claimed the land he wanted!

Caleb was one of two of the oldest men in Israel but he did not ask for himself a land already conquered, but the place which the spies thought impossible to conquer. But this didn’t stop Caleb: “…if so be, the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out” (Joshua 14:12). In his own strength, of course, there was no hope but in God’s strength the battle was already won.

So, today, I am laying aside all my worries and fears and I am taking back the spirit of that little girl. I am going to dream big because I serve a God who delights in moving mountains.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. -Isaiah 43:19

What is stopping you from dreaming big?

What are your hopes, dreams and goals for the future?

Day 83: Trust in God (Joshua 11-13, Luke 4:1-32)

Do you ever feel like the odds are against you? Like nothing in your life is going right?

You didn’t get the job. You didn’t pass your test, again. You are crazy busy and have no time to relax. Your friends are mad at you. You and your boyfriend couldn’t work it out. You don’t have enough money in the bank to make rent.

Whatever it is that makes us feel this way, we have two ways to respond: we can either trust ourselves or trust the Lord.

Often, we first try to handle the situation alone and come out defeated. We can apply for a different job, study harder, fight to create time in our schedules, or make amends. But this is exhausting.

When we look at Scripture, we see that Joshua had to trust God. His army was outnumbered and the odds were against the Israelites.

Jesus had to trust God in the wilderness with Satan, though He was tempted and later rejected by the same people He went to the cross for.

However, in both of these situations, God proved faithful. He redeemed Israel’s odds and gave them the land they were after. He gave Jesus the strength to deny the Devil’s temptations. If they had of trusted in their own strength, only having faith in themselves, they wouldn’t have seen the same results.

In the same way, God was faithful to us on the cross. When we were unable to save ourselves, He sent Jesus on our behalf to die in our place and raised Him from the dead. He redeemed us! If we can trust Him to be sovereign in that way, can we not trust Him with our circumstances?

So, what about you? What in your life can you let go of and trust God with?

Day 82: Beneath The Surface (Joshua 9-10; Luke 3)

The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. -Joshua 9:14

Have you ever been in a situation that was not what it seemed? Or needed guidance about something that looked right in your natural eyes? This is the situation Joshua and the Israelites were in when the people of Gibeon decided to deceive Israel into making a treaty with them. The people of Gibeon dressed up in worn out sandals and clothes, carried moldy bread and wineskins that were cracked and old. They did all of this to convince the Israelites that they had traveled from a far away country instead of right next door. The Israelites questioned the people of Gibeon, they examined the old food and the worn out clothes, and everything seemed to be just like they were told.

But they forgot to do one important thing: ask the Lord.

This struck me because so many times I make a judgment about a situation based only on what I can see, but forget to ask the Lord for His guidance. We have such an advantage as followers of Christ, the opportunity to communicate with the One who knows all. Stopping for just a moment to pray about a situation, no matter how small, can give us unprecedented wisdom and allow us to respond in a way that is pleasing to Him. I never want to regret not asking God for His guidance because I know He can bring clarity to any situation.

Is there a situation you have walked through lately that was not what it seemed?

How can we remind ourselves to pause and seek the Lord in every situation?