Day 97: Set Free (Judges 20-21; Luke 11:1-28)

“When an unclean sprit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house which I came.’ And when he comes, the finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” -Luke 11:24-26

In the modern church, we don’t speak often enough of demons and evils spirits. Maybe because we don’t want to admit that our sins and addictions stem from something serious – that we could possibly be under someone’s power. But, we know that you’re either with God, or you’re not. There are only two sides.

Yet, when we ask Him in faith, God sets us free of our sins and He chases away any evil spirits that may plague us. If you once struggled with a sin, when you are made new in Christ, that sin and it’s hold on you is forever gone. You’re no longer bound.

I shared this on Instagram a few weeks ago and maybe it will help illustrate this point: Somewhere in a remote village, a man kept a bird, tied to a tree outside, as a guard against intruders. However, after he found God, he couldn’t bear to keep another living thing prisoner when God had set him free. So he resolved to let the bird go. But, after removing the chains, no matter how much he tried to chase the bird away, the bird would not go any further than the circle it had worn into the ground during its captivity. 

Even though the bird was set free, it couldn’t live like it. It still thought it was bound by chains. Spiritually, that is a scary place to be. Because we leave ourselves vulnerable to fall right back into all the messes and sins we were just freed from. The enemy of our souls is cunning and clever – he will exploit every weakness he sees with a vengeance. And when he returns, he brings friends.

Every one of us has experienced something like this, at least once. It’s the time that you think you’ve overcome your addiction to pornography, alcohol, envy, partying, etc…, only to have a moment of weakness when it all comes back seven times worse.

So whatever you’re struggling with today, leave it at the cross. And then live like you truly believe that you have been set free. That bad habit or addiction no longer has influence over you. There is no room in your heart for the world, but you must guard your heart so that nothing of this world makes it in, because if it does, it brings it’s own chains and shackles your freedom in Christ. 

You have a new song and a new life. You are His, friend. Live like it!

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DAY 96: Let’s Be Kind (Judges 18-19; Luke 10:25-42)

When I read the parable of the Good Samaritan, I am always struck with the deep kindness of the Samaritan man. He had no reason to be kind to the Jew who had been left for dead, yet you can almost feel the tenderness of his heart as you read of the compassion he displayed. The Good Samaritan is an example of how we should love each other, but it is also a tangible display of the depth of mercy that is shown to each of our wretched hearts in Christ.

In my most recent reading of the parable, I was struck with this kindness anew, and heard the clear exhortation from Jesus, “Be kind, Sara.” My heart groaned with a convicted, fervent, “Oh Jesus, guard my tongue.” I can be so unkind. My tongue can be a weapon of the worst sort – inflicting wounds that I will never know the depth of.

The best way to cultivate a deeper love, especially for those who aren’t easy to love, is to spend time meditating on the incredible love of Jesus towards us. I cannot imagine the depths of patience that must exist in the heart of my Savior who puts up with my daily mistakes and endless wandering.

Kindness is a powerful force. It points to the power of the Gospel in a special way because it is something that our world, with all its hateful prejudice, simply cannot understand.

Today, spend some time meditating on all the ways Jesus has shown patience and mercy toward you.

Second, pray for those who are hard for you to love, and pray for your heart to become more like the heart of Jesus toward them.

Day 95: The Harvest is Plentiful (Judges 15-17; Luke 10:1-24)

Have you ever found yourself in a season of life where you’re unsure which direction to take next? Maybe you’re a new to ministry and you’re unsure of where to start. Or you are finding yourself stuck in an idleness that’s left you restless. The Lord created us for good works and, as born again Christians, He places in each and every one of us a passion for sharing the gospel.

True fulfillment comes from doing what God has called us to do.

Luke 10 starts off with Jesus gathered around the 72 people He appointed to go out to the places He was about to go. In verse 2, Jesus tells them “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” This still holds true today. We live in a world that is far from God and we have a calling as Christ followers to share the love of Jesus.

Although a busy life is not meant to be a fulfilling life, we are also not called to be idle. There is plenty of work to do. If you find yourself unsure of what you should be doing, take some time to ask God to delegate some work to you. He knows your heart and what you have to offer based on past experiences and circumstances, as well as the talents He has placed inside of you. He will also equip you to do the work He calls you to do. So, today, ask the Lord what area He has called you to harvest in and open your heart up to His desires. You will always be left fulfilled.

Are you feeling restless yet passionate to do something for God?

What are some steps you can take to be a laborer of Christ?

Day 94: Samson is Born (Judges 12-14, Luke 9:37-62)

If you’ve grown up in the church, you have heard of Samson. The guy with the long hair and super strength. But today’s reading is the prequel to that story. Today, we get the events that lead up to his mighty strength. We get the story of a couple living during another period of Israel’s rebellion from God.

The Lord chooses this couple to draw Israel back to Himself. He does it first by giving them something they thought was impossible: a son. Yet, when the angel of the Lord arrives to tell Manoah and his wife about this child, he asks Manoah’s wife to sacrifice. She isn’t to drink any wine or eat any unclean thing. And when the child is born, he shall be a Nazirite from when he is conceived to the day of his death. We read in Numbers 6 what it entails to be a Nazirite: no grapes or wine, no razor can touch the head, do not go near a dead body, etc… There were sacrifices in life to be made.

Luke 9 shows us that sacrifices are not just for the people of the Old Testament. In verses 57 – 62, we read about people who want to follow after Jesus, but who are unwilling to make the required sacrifices.

Though we so often prefer to talk about God’s grace and His gentleness, there are times when God requires us to sacrifice. To sacrifice our own wants. To sacrifice certain desires. To sacrifice certain lifestyles. To sacrifice things that might be “good” or “ok” for other Christians. To give up the world and to follow Him instead.

What are some things in your life that God is calling you to sacrifice?

What is holding you back from sacrificing them to Him?

Day 93: A Season of Suffering (Judges 10-11; Luke 9:1-36)

As I read about Jephthah and his daughter’s tragic story, I wondered what her life must have looked like those two last months. We are not given much detail about this season, though I can only imagine that it was a time of preparing herself for death; resigning herself to the fact that she would never be married, never give her father a grandson, never see another summer. Dream after dream died. Her life was coming to an end. The most amazing part is that she willingly gave it.

My piddly little troubles can hardly compare with that caliber of suffering.

When God asked me to sacrifice my treasure, I was an absolute mess. My heart was shattered and I cried daily over it. I felt like I had to walk hunched over because the pain was so intense. If you’ve ever experienced the sensation of suffocating over a broken heart, than you’ll know how I felt.

The reason I now look back on that season with fondness though is because I got to see Christ in a whole new way. He was EVERYTHING to me, because I had nothing else. Some of my very favorite stories of God’s grace came out of that season. My walk with Christ grew deeper than I had ever experienced because my suffering was deeper than anything I ever experienced.

“Love sweetens pain; and when one loves God, one suffers for His sake with joy and courage.” -Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

What kind of suffering have you experienced or are you experiencing?

How can I pray for you in that?

How can you practically bless someone that is suffering more than you today?

Lord, don’t let the thousand little sufferings a day go to waste! But accomplish Your purpose in refining my life and drawing me close to You throughout the day as I’m faced with frustrations and annoyances as well as joy and good experiences.

Day 92: The Miraculous God (Judges 8-9, Luke 8:22-56)

As I was reading the Scripture for today, I couldn’t help but see the poignant heart-problem of humanity.  In the Old Testament, God’s people consistently forgot about His goodness and turned to their wickedness.  The entirety of the Old Testament seems like a roller-coaster of sorts, with God wooing back his treacherous bride time and again.

In Luke, we see the shock people experience when God does His thing:  saving, loving, wooing.

Why are we so inclined to forget His goodness?  What is it about miracles coming from a miraculous God that we find so awe-inspiring?  Shouldn’t we expect our great God to do truly great things?

But there were a few who had spectacular belief.  “If I could just touch the corner of his cloak,” she thought.  Even the demons, friends.  Even the demons knew and feared the power of our great God.  They didn’t forget.

As I get up each morning, make the beds, feed the mouths, and do the dishes, I may be inclined to miss the miracles God places in my life.  The incredible sunrise, the sleepy smile of my little boy, the succulent smell of maple syrup…these simple miracles give me hope.  They fill with me joy and thanksgiving and open my eyes, if only a little, to the spectacular that God gives everyday.

Do you find it difficult to remember God’s goodness in your life?

What seemingly small blessings can you rejoice over daily to remind you of God’s goodness?  

What are some miraculous ways God has moved for you?

Day 91: The Women Who Ministered to Jesus (Judges 6-7; Luke 8:1-21)

“…and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities – Mary, called Magdalene, out of who had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chula, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.” -Luke 8:2-3

Reading about the women who followed Jesus always fills me with amazement! Women in biblical times were completely dependent on the men in their lives. They grew up only to have their fathers decide which man’s family would be the most advantageous to unite with. But in these verses, we see how something so small as following Jesus turned out to be so counter-cultural in their time and they did it because of their love for Him.

Mary Magdalene was a faithful follower of Jesus. The Bible is silent as to how Mary became possessed by those demons but it makes it clear that she became a devoted follower even witnessing Jesus being hung on the Cross and the first one to see Him after His resurrection.

Joanna was the wife of Herod’s household manager Chuza, which was an honored position. Yet prestige could not cure her of whatever illness she had until she met Jesus. She is listed as one of the women to report that Jesus was not in His tomb after bringing spices and finding the stone had been rolled away (Luke 24:10).

How Jesus healed Susanna is not mentioned as well but her name being mentioned in Luke lets us know that those reading about her may have been familiar with her.

Whatever the differing circumstances or backgrounds, there is one thing that remains the same: their lives were forever changed by an encounter with the Messiah. So many people identify themselves by their gender, nationality, professions, or marital status. As daughters of God, we are citizens of Heaven, adopted into a royal lineage, and humble servants with thankful hearts.

Do you identify yourself as God’s daughter first and foremost?