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Reluctant Obedience

God doesn't just want our obedience; He wants us to obey with loving, glad hearts.

Jonah 1

Have you ever resisted obeying God because His instructions were something you didn’t want to do? That was the case with Jonah. The inhabitants of Nineveh were Assyrians, a people known for aggression and cruelty. Since they were enemies of Israel, Jonah thought he had good reason to resist the Lord’s command to preach to them.

While the goal was to draw the Ninevites to repentance through Jonah’s preaching, the Lord was also working to change the prophet’s unloving spirit—Jonah did not want that hostile people to experience divine grace and forgiveness. Though he eventually obeyed and went to Nineveh, his heart didn’t change.  

The same thing can happen to us. It’s possible to go through the motions of obedience while harboring resentment, anger, and a rebellious spirit. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 warns us that even our greatest acts of sacrificial obedience, done without love, profit us nothing. God wants more than begrudging compliance; He wants us to do His will from the heart (Eph. 6:6).

The next time you’re reluctant to obey the Lord, ask Him to change your heart. He wants His children not simply to obey but to delight in doing His will.

How can you know God?

It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection, see Romans. 5:10.

Romans. 10:9 promises, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." If you have not yet begun your personal relationship with God, understand that the One who created you loves you no matter who you are or what you’ve done. He wants you to experience the profound depth of His care.

Therefore, tell God that you are willing to trust Him for salvation. You can tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer:

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you have just prayed this prayer, congratulations!

You have received Christ as your Savior and have made the best decision you will ever make—one that will change your life forever!

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A Realistic View of Life

Fearing death is fruitless and only distracts us from our true life; shifting our focus to God helps us keep a realistic view on Earth.

Psalm 103:15-18

Our culture desperately tries to postpone death. Yet vitamins, exercise, and healthy diets will eventually prove futile because, as James 4:14 says, our life is “a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away.” We’ll all die, but believers have no reason to fear. In fact, the apostle Paul assures us that, far from being a dreadful change, physical death actually leads believers home to be with the Lord forever (2 Cor. 5:8).

Ultimately, none of us have control over the length of our life because all the days ordained for us have already been written in God’s book (Psalm 139:16). So the important issue is how we use the days He has allotted to us. As we share the Lord’s love near and far, we should remember our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20); we’re passing through this earthly life as travelers. If we become too comfortable here or seek to find our security and worth in worldly success, it won’t be possible to maintain an eternal perspective.

Have you become distracted from the eternal by living for the temporal? The way to shift your focus heavenward is to know and love the One who dwells there.

Ending Well

Paul encourages us to live our lives fully focused on Christ and complete life by "ending well."

2 Timothy 4:6-8

Have you ever thought about what God will say to you after you’ve finished the course of your earthly life? The apostle Paul was imprisoned when he wrote the epistle known as Second Timothy, and he knew his life would soon be over. Since this letter contains his last words to the young man he mentored, we can assume that Paul was writing about matters he considered of highest priority.

What a blessing, not just for Timothy but for also for us, that Paul took the opportunity to instruct fellow believers and pray for them. He understood that the Christian life is full of struggles, obstacles, and suffering, and through the ages his letter has encouraged Christians to persevere faithfully. And that is possible only if we do what he himself did throughout his ministry—rely on the grace of Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1).

In addition, Paul urges us to cling to the truth of God’s Word and handle it accurately (2 Tim. 2:15). He also tells us to cleanse ourselves from sin and flee sinful lusts so we can be sanctified and useful to our Master (2 Tim. 2:20-22).

Later in that same letter, Paul confidently writes about the crown of righteousness awaiting him (2 Tim. 4:7-8). If we’ll follow his advice to Timothy, we too can expect to finish life well.

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The Spirit Within Us

The Spirit works constantly to conform believers to the image of Christ so that we can impact unbelievers.

Romans 8:1-17

If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, God’s Spirit is at work in you whether you feel His presence or not. He’s conforming Christians to the image of the Savior, and the evidence of this transformation is known as the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). These godly character traits are not something we can generate on our own but are divinely produced in us as we yield to the Spirit and walk obediently with Him.

We should never underestimate the impact of spiritual fruit when unbelievers observe how we respond to pressure, temptation, suffering, or an avalanche of problems. By demonstrating peace rather than anxiety or practicing patience instead of speaking a sharp word, we bear witness to the beauty of the gospel.

One way God uses Spirit-filled lives is to create curiosity in the unbeliever—and an openness to the message of salvation. Wherever you are or whatever you do, you can be powerful witness for Jesus Christ when you walk obediently with the Holy Spirit each day

The Reason for Our Boldness

We need to always be willing and searching for opportunities to share the gospel boldly and confidently with the lost.

Romans 1:8-17

Even though Christians are familiar with the gospel, many are reluctant to share their faith. One reason is because they don’t feel capable of explaining it well and are afraid of negative reactions or questions they’ll be unable to answer. But we must remember that God has given us the most important message in the world.

The apostle Paul welcomed every opportunity to tell people about Christ. That’s because he personally experienced the gospel’s life-changing power and made that his focus rather than the negative reactions he might encounter. Oftentimes the reason we’re ashamed to talk about our faith is that we’re concerned about ourselves. But if we begin to look at people who are lost and ask God to open a door for us to share our faith, He will answer that prayer.

We tend to be distracted by temporal activities that eventually fade away. But souls are forever, and people need to know the Savior. That’s why it’s important for us to understand the gospel well enough to present it with confidence and boldness. We can’t let fear or ignorance keep us from giving a lost world the only message that can change a person’s eternal destiny.

Unashamed to Share the Gospel

Like Paul, we as believers should have no shame or fears in sharing God's merciful gift of salvation with others.

2 Timothy 1:6-12

Yesterday we saw how Paul understood the awesome responsibility of being entrusted with the gospel. Knowing he’d one day give an account to the Lord for how he carried out his calling, the apostle was willing to suffer for Christ’s sake to accomplish the task. As believers, we also have an obligation to share the gospel with whomever God places in our life. And we would be wise to consider what our level of commitment is.

Paul felt compelled to tell people about the Savior. In fact, he said, “Woe to me if I do not” (1 Cor. 9:16). No matter how anyone treated him, he wasn’t ashamed of the message of Christ. And he kept warning unbelievers about the eternal consequences of ignoring the Lord’s gracious offer of salvation.

We may not want to warn people about God’s judgment, for fear of driving them away from Him. But in reality, people living in spiritual darkness are already far from the Lord and need to hear about His offer of forgiveness. Paul was even willing to die to get the message out. If we let ourselves be inspired by his example, we may discover unexpected boldness to share our faith.

A Necessary but Challenging Lesson

Patience is a fruit that can be difficult to exhibit, but we must always seek God's will and wait for His perfect timing.

Psalm 27:7-14

There are many lessons for us to learn in the Christian life, and one of the hardest involves patience. When we have a problem, we want an immediate solution, but that’s not always God’s will for us. He wants us to trust Him and leave the timing in His hands.

As you read today’s passage from Psalm 27, notice that David coupled the admonition to wait upon God with encouragement to be strong and courageous (Psalm 27:14). In our culture, people are quick to act because they’re afraid of missing out on something; it takes courage to go against this trend and be still while the world rushes past. There are even many believers who have bought into that attitude. Instead of waiting for God’s timing, they make a move and ask God to bless it.  

Are you asking the Lord for guidance or provision but hear only His silence? Jesus addressed this issue when He said that if we seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, then whatever we need will be provided (Matt. 6:33). As you wait, ask the Lord for His peace and patience. Then trust Him to take care of any remaining needs in His perfect time.

Devotion in Despair

In troubling times, turning to God's unfailing love will be a place of refuge and escape.

Psalm 42:1-8

Where do you turn in times of trouble? For believers, the first response should be to cry out to the Lord for help. That’s exactly what we see in today’s passage. When the psalmist was in despair, his soul yearned for God. He knew that even in raging adversity, he could count on the Lord’s unfailing love being poured out on him (Psalm 42:8). It was a truth that gave him hope and the ability to praise the Lord, even in the midst of his trouble.

This is a recurring theme in the psalms, many of which begin with images of despair and hopelessness but end with affirmations of God’s unfailing love. He’s often described as a rock, a stronghold, or a refuge in times of trouble.

When you are overwhelmed by difficulty and despair, turn to the psalms for encouragement and restoration of hope. In good times, we can easily grow distant from God, but adversity drives us to draw near Him with yearning—not just for deliverance but for intimacy with our loving Father. Then as we read about His love and faithfulness, we find hope and a sure foundation upon which to rest.

Hunger and Thirst for God

Only a believer of God can experience full satisfaction and a yearning love for Him.

Psalm 63:1-11

David’s love for the Lord inspires us to want that same kind of relationship ourselves. But where does such passion for God come from? It’s not manufactured or created by effort or willpower, nor can we work ourselves into a genuine emotional state of yearning. Love for God comes only from Him, as a gift to those who belong to Christ (1 John 4:19).

This means the only ones who can truly hunger and thirst for God are believers. The rest of the people yearn for other things—like wealth, security, control, or prominence—which they mistakenly think will satisfy their soul. Many go through life trying to create whatever kind of personal connections they can, in hopes of fulfilling desires they don’t even understand. All too often, the result is empty relationships, excessive work, and immoral behavior.

David knew God was the only solution to the constant yearning in his heart. As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in [Him].” Are you feeling empty from trying to satisfy your soul with something other than the Lord? Come to Him with all your heart, and discover the fullness He offers.

How God Views Unbelievers

God is loving and merciful, but it is a harsh truth that the spiritually dead will experience His wrath.

Ephesians 2:1-5

God’s Word is always true, but sometimes it comes across as confrontational when it exposes our erroneous thinking. One truth that’s often considered challenging is the way God describes the desperate state of those who are without Christ. They are ...

  • Dead in their offenses and sins. Spiritual death came to all people as a result of Adam’s sin, leaving the human race under God’s condemnation (Eph. 2:1).  
  • Unable to grasp spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). Their minds are darkened, and they cannot understand the things of God.
  • Outside of God’s family. Spiritually, there are only two families in the world: the family of God and the family of Satan (John 8:44).
  • Under God’s wrath. Unbelievers, even the ones who are kind and loving, are under judgment because of their unforgiven sins (Eph. 2:3).

Those without Christ are in grave danger and don’t realize it. They need to hear the bad news before they can see their need for a Savior. So find a way to carefully give them these hard truths, and explain how they can be rescued: Through faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ on their behalf, they can escape God’s wrath and condemnation.

Finding Favor With God

The acts of man will never earn God's favor, but He is pleased when we obey His commands with pure intentions.

Hebrews 11:1-40

There are people who work hard in an attempt to earn the favor of employers, parents, friends, and even God. The truth, however, is that divine approval cannot be earned. There’s only one way to acquire it, which Hebrews 11:6 states clearly: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (NIV). Like the saints commended in today’s passage for their faith, Christians today don’t have to strive for God’s favor. That’s because in Christ, we have been lavished with divine grace (Eph. 1:8).

Yet we sometimes tend to overlook the most basic examples of the Lord’s kindness to us: He provides for our needs, puts limits on suffering, answers prayers, encourages us in our trials, and offers His strength in our weakness. In fact, every good thing that comes our way is from His hand (James 1:17).

God’s goodness is stored up for those who fear Him and take refuge in Him (Psalm 31:19). But even though His favor isn’t something that can be earned, we still have a responsibility to live in a manner He finds pleasing. As was true for the role models of faith in Hebrews 11, God’s grace should motivate us to be righteous and blameless in our walk with Him.

A Prayer Burden

God wants us to share each other's burdens so we can all be strengthened in the body of Christ.

Nehemiah 2:1-8

Christians use the word burden to refer to a spiritual weight placed on their heart, usually because God wants their attention focused on a certain matter. For example, Nehemiah was burdened to intercede for the Jewish people left vulnerable by Jerusalem’s crumbling walls. The Lord already knew the Israelites’ troubles, so He certainly didn’t need the prayers of this one man. Rather, the burden was for Nehemiah’s sake. He made himself available for God to use as a conduit and thereby tapped into a reservoir of compassion. So great was Nehemiah’s love for his countrymen that he set aside his fear and addressed the Persian king about the help they needed.

Bearing each other’s burdens is one way we can strengthen the church. It’s human nature to feel connected with those we’ve helped. That’s true even of the people who never discover that we have interceded. In this way, God knits believers together to make up a cohesive whole, which He calls the “body of Christ” (Rom. 12:5).

Our heavenly Father is looking for people willing to be burdened for their brothers and sisters in the Lord. I challenge you: Make yourself available to intercede on behalf of someone else. Strengthening the body of Christ is an awesome privilege.

An Advocate for the People

Like Nehemiah, we can make a big difference in our communities by praying for and acting on behalf of others.

Nehemiah 1

Before a single stone was laid to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, Nehemiah began to humble himself before God. After fasting and mourning over his people’s vulnerability, He offered up a three-part prayer—confessing Israel’s sin, proclaiming the Lord’s promises, and requesting success for his plans.

Like Nehemiah, we should be committed to protecting our people. His response to Israel’s situation is a good template for us to follow. Perhaps you’ve never considered fasting over a local or national crisis, or interceding for your community’s disobedience to God. But taking action to protect and serve others is a believer’s responsibility (Matt. 25:35-40).

There are those who doubt that one person’s prayers or actions can make a dent in a nation’s future, but Nehemiah proved otherwise. God used him to gather supplies and organize the Jewish people to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls in just 52 days (Neh. 6:15).

The impact of your intercession may not look like Nehemiah’s, or it may be unknown until you reach heaven. But if we’re to build communities where the vulnerable are protected and justice prevails, we must commit to small steps of change every day. And we should begin as Nehemiah did—with prayer.

Doubting God’s Goodness

Our humanity can make us question what good God is working in a certain situation, but through faith and obedience we will find it.

Genesis 3:1-7

Living in this fallen world can make us question God’s goodness. We might wonder why He doesn’t always fix our problems and give us what we want. For example, when Eve listened to the serpent’s lies, she began to doubt that the Lord had made the right choice in forbidding her to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why would He deprive her of wisdom and the enjoyment of such desirable food?

Our thoughts are similar to Eve’s when we don’t agree with the Lord about what’s best for us. From a human perspective, “good” refers to that which is enjoyable, comfortable, or profitable. But God has a much higher standard and is always working to achieve His purpose—developing Christlike character in His children.

Behind every restriction or commandment from the Lord is His loving care for His followers. He knows the consequences of sin and wants to deter us from choices that will wreck our lives.

Eve and her husband Adam both learned through disobedience that God knows what’s best.

We have the opportunity each day to discover His goodness by listening to His voice, obeying His commands, and trusting His wisdom. Whatever comes our way, we can know that He is working for both our temporal and eternal good.

Experiencing God’s Goodness

When we look and listen for God's goodness, we will truly know He is good because evidence of His love shines all around us.

Psalm 31:19-24

When life is pleasant, we find praising God easy because His kindness is evident. But recognizing hardship as an expression of His care is hard. In difficult times, we need to remind ourselves of today’s passage, which tells us the Lord has stored up goodness for those who trust and obey Him. If you feel He’s benevolent only when circumstances are to your liking, then you misunderstand His nature. Those who know His character are able to see evidence of His goodness in all situations.

I didn’t always understand this truth. When I was growing up, my goal was to be obedient so God wouldn’t do anything bad to me. But the difficult and painful situations in my life hindered my understanding. Now as I look back, I can see His love and wisdom in allowing and using those trials to shape my character.

Today when God does something that I don’t like, I pour out my heart to Him. After seeking His perspective and listening, I’m filled with gratitude and trust in His character. And then I am willing to accept His wise choice for my life.

We live under the umbrella of God’s goodness. When circumstances and feelings tell you otherwise, rely on what you know. Throughout the day, look for signs of His loving care. As your perspective changes, then no matter which way you turn, you’ll be able to see confirmations that He is good.

When God Is Silent

Like Mary and Martha, we can easily believe that God could have done better for us in difficult situations, but if we trust His timing, all will be good.

John 11:1-44

In times of urgent need, our prayers become fervent and our desire for a quick answer intensifies. It seems that if the Lord doesn’t intervene soon, the very thing we dread could happen. And without a detectable response from God, we may feel as if He doesn’t care—even though Scripture assures us He does (1 Pet. 5:7).

This may have been the way Mary and Martha felt after asking Jesus to come and heal Lazarus. They knew that the Lord loved them, but when He didn’t show up in time, their pain overtook their faith, and they both voiced disappointment: “If You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, John 11:32).

We have all said or thought something similar when the Lord didn’t answer our prayers as we hoped. But we know from Scripture that God’s purpose in all His choices for us is His glory (John 11:4). His goal is not to inflict pain unnecessarily but to let Christ’s life shine through us in hardship, to stabilize our confidence in the Father’s goodness, and to strengthen our trust in His loving sovereignty. His glory is for our good, and in this we can rejoice.

God’s View of Our Sin

We should be careful not to downplay the seriousness of sin because it offends our wrathful God, and believers need to live in the light.

Ephesians 5:1-17

Some people consider sin no big deal and think breaking biblical rules won’t have any effect on them. But they are actually deriding God with their attitude. What’s more, they have fallen victim to the enemy’s deception that it’s possible to get away with wrongdoing. For this reason, right before teaching the principle of reaping what is sown, Paul tells the Galatians, “God is not mocked” (Gal. 6:7).

The truth is, what we or anyone else thinks about sin is not the issue. All that matters is what God thinks, and He has made His views very clear in the Scriptures. So if we trivialize our sins, it’s an indication we don’t understand how holy and just the Father is. To emphasize the seriousness of sin, Paul lists ways we offend the Lord with our motives, impure character, words, idolatries, and actions. And in verse 6 of today’s passage, he warns, “For because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

As believers, we need to remember how offensive transgression is to God. Although we’ve been saved from His wrath, we cannot sin as we please and claim it’s all covered by grace. Our aim should be to live as children of light, not darkness.

The Church

The church may be separated into denominations, but there are three things that unify the whole body of Christ.

Ephesians 1:18-23

The church is one body, made of all believers in heaven and on earth. There are many denominations and approaches to theology, but Christians are united by a common message, mission, and motive. 

Message. There are three parts of the church’s primary belief. First, man is sinful and unable to alleviate the penalty of sin. Next, Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay our debt, was buried, rose again, and ascended to heaven. Third, everyone will someday stand before God and give an account for his or her life. At that time believers will take responsibility for what they did with the truth they knew, but unbelievers will answer for their rejection of Jesus Christ.

Mission. The church is also united by its goal to spread the gospel around the world and teach new believers how to grow in faith (Matt. 28:19). We do this by telling others about the experiences we’ve had with God and His Word.

Motive. The church’s motive is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and to glorify God the Father. This should be the driving force behind everything a body of believers sets out to do.

Church is not a place where we go to hide from the world—our mission is to spread the gospel to glorify God. There will be varying levels of opposition and persecution, but we stand together as one body and persevere.

The Body of Christ

The body of Christ—also known as the church—is made up of all who believe in Jesus.

Ephesians 4:11-16

As we saw yesterday, the body of Christ is made up of all people who worship Him, no matter where they are. The head of this body of believers is Jesus Christ, whom Paul described as “the beginning, the first-born from the dead” (Col. 1:18).

At salvation, you become a part of the body—regardless of what the membership rules may be at your local church. Therefore, if you’re a believer, you are a breathing and active part of Christ, who is at work on earth through His followers. The church acts as Jesus’ feet to carry the gospel message, His hands to care for those in need of love, and His arms to uphold the weak.

But being Jesus to the world isn’t easy—it means making sacrifices, accepting ridicule, and loving our enemies (Heb. 13:16; Matt. 5:44). God may have called us to spread the gospel, but that doesn’t mean people will necessarily like what we have to say. Regardless, we’re to carry out the work of God, even when doing so is uncomfortable.

The gospel is spread through the strength and wisdom of Jesus Christ. And for this task, He has also chosen to use the body of believers united by His Spirit’s indwelling presence. What an honor to be used to reach the world for our Savior.

Our Source of Hope

Because Jesus paid the price for our sins, we can have hope for the future.

Titus 2:11-14

Some people believe ethical behavior and moral character will get them to heaven. Others think a self-improvement plan is the way to get there. And sadly, there are those who assume they’ll be barred because of their past mistakes.

The truth is that character and deeds do not determine our eternal state. Rather, the barrier between us and holy God is our sinful nature. Adam and Eve’s sin caused all mankind to begin life spiritually dead and under a sentence of judgment (Rom. 5:12). No amount of good works or moral behavior can change our unholy nature—nor do bad choices make our nature worse.

Without direct help from the Lord, the entrance to heaven would be closed to everyone, and we’d all face an eternity of separation from God. But the Father had a plan so we could live with Him forever: He sent His Son Jesus to take our sins upon Himself and receive the punishment we deserved. What we were helpless to do, Christ accomplished for us. Through faith in Him, we receive a brand-new nature and get to live in God’s presence forever.

We don’t have to worry about earning our place in heaven. Because of Jesus, we can be confident of our future there, which gives our life on earth hope and meaning.

A Living Hope

We who believe in Jesus no longer have to live as sinners; now we should live as children of God.

1 Peter 1:3-5

Did you know the city of Corinth was known for its ungodliness? The believers there had once been no different from nonbelievers—filled with sexual immorality, greed, envy, wickedness, deceit, and malice. But now they were new creations, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and adopted into God’s family. The “Corinthian lifestyle” no longer fit who they had become in Christ.

Paul reminded the believers of that city not to be influenced by their culture or old patterns of thinking (1 Cor. 6:9-11). The apostle was not warning them that they might miss out on the kingdom. Instead, he was encouraging them to abandon old ways and bring their behavior in line with who they really were—children of God.

We, too, should know that salvation is permanent and faith ought to have a positive effect on our conduct. Our Savior willingly paid the penalty for our sin, satisfying divine justice and the Law’s demands (Rom. 3:25-26). No one can undo what God has accomplished in saving us—namely, pardoning our sins, giving us a new nature, and adopting us into His family. Knowing what His wonderful grace has accomplished should motivate us to live in our new identity as His children, reflecting His light in the world.

The Landmine of Fear

Though some apprehension is healthy, fear shouldn’t be a way of life for the Christian.

Isaiah 41:8-10

Since our world has many dangers, we have legitimate reasons to be afraid. But Christians shouldn’t live in trepidation as a way of life, because God’s awesome promises allow us to be at peace in every circumstance.

For our protection, God has instilled some natural apprehensions in us, like a fear of snakes or deep water. He also gave us a warning system so that we could react quickly to danger. For instance, if a car speeds toward us, an instantaneous reaction of alarm could save our life.

But a constant, all-consuming dread is unhealthy. Most of our fears relate to dangers that might occur, threatening the welfare of loved ones, financial stability, or future security. Our attention is then centered on these concerns rather than on the One who promises to hold us in His hand (Isa. 41:10). As anxiety grows, trust in the Lord weakens, and we become consumed with worry.

Instead of going down this route, ground yourself in Scripture, and don’t allow apprehension to blind you to God’s promises. Believe what He has said in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, and ask “the Lord of peace” to “continually grant you peace in every circumstance.”

A Pattern for Prayer

Jesus teaches what to focus on in our prayers and encourages us to approach God with a humble heart.

Matthew 6:5-10

Are your conversations with God primarily a checklist of needs? Petitions are certainly appropriate, but prayer is also a time to focus on the Lord in love and worship. When praying to our Father in heaven, we should ponder three things that today’s passage indicates are important to Him: His name, His kingdom, and His will (Matt. 6:9-10).

Hallowed be Your name. While the goal is to honor and exalt God, our prayers can easily become self-centered. This can be an issue in public prayer if we try to exalt ourselves in the eyes of others. But it can also happen privately when we focus only on what we want God to do.

Your kingdom come. Praying for God’s coming kingdom means setting our hope on Christ’s future reign while submitting to His rule over our life now.

Your will be done. No matter how much we want the Lord to answer our prayers the way we desire, every petition must be readily submitted to God’s will. It is a way of acknowledging that His way is always best.

The next time you pray, make a point of pondering the Lord’s greatness, exalting Him, and humbly submitting your will to His.

Bringing Our Needs to the Father

If we pray like Jesus, we’ll prioritize God’s desires over our own.

Matthew 6:9-15

The first half of the Lord’s prayer focuses on God, but in the second part, Jesus addresses our need for daily provision, forgiveness, and protection. Notice His words remain centered on the Father, who provides all three.

Give us this day our daily bread. The Lord is the source of everything we need—physical, material, emotional, and spiritual (Phil. 4:19).  By asking Him to provide our basic necessities, we’re acknowledging our complete dependence upon Him and trusting in His sufficient provision for each day.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. This part of the prayer is meant to ensure that everything is right not only between us and our Father but also between us and other people. Since God forgave our sins, it is His will that we also forgive others.

Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Our prayer is for the Lord to protect us from falling into temptation, and we instead honor Him by living righteously.

This entire prayer is focused on our heavenly Father. It teaches us to worship, submit, and depend fully on Him for needs of any kind.

God’s Plan for Our Life

We may wonder what God's plan is for our life, but we can be certain it includes our spiritual development.

1 Peter 2:1-12

Many Christians today want to find God’s plan for their life but, sadly, often overlook the one place it’s revealed—the Bible. His overall goal for each of us is that we would bring Him glory, and He uses both His Spirit and Word to accomplish this.

Today we’re going to focus on three ways we glorify God.

1. With our behavior. Righteous living stands out in stark contrast to lifestyles of the world around us. Godliness shines like a light pointing others to Christ and bringing glory to the Father.

2. With our character. God’s purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son. As the Spirit’s fruit is produced in us, we display Christ’s likeness in our attitudes and responses to people and situations.

3. With our obedience. Scripture reveals what God has commanded and how He wants us to live. When we do what He says, we glorify Him.

We usually focus on finding God’s plan for our life with regard to circumstances, relationships, and other practical matters. But the Lord’s priority is our spiritual development. When we obey what His Word reveals to be His will, He’ll sovereignly direct our path in every other matter.

Relying on Christ

Instead of focusing on our self-esteem, let’s rely on Jesus in our inadequacy.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Our world emphatically proclaims the importance of self-esteem, which is a favorable impression of oneself. It’s not unusual to hear that an individual who values himself will accomplish much. Yet Scripture warns us not to think too highly of ourselves (Rom. 12:3). We should have far greater confidence in Christ than in ourselves.

Despite his impressive credentials (Phil. 3:4-5), Paul knew he was inadequate to complete the ministry God gave him. In fact, today’s passage says that when preaching the gospel to the Corinthians, he came in fear and trembling (1 Cor. 2:3). His message wasn’t delivered with self-confidence but in complete reliance upon the Spirit. And that’s exactly how we should live as well.

When we rely on God’s power instead of our own abilities, He produces supernatural boldness in us. Even in the midst of difficulty, we can live with confidence because the indwelling Spirit of the living God enables us to follow Him. He directs and strengthens us in every situation as we humble ourselves in dependence upon Him.

Are you facing situations that make you feel inadequate? Instead of shrinking back, consider them as opportunities to put your confidence in the Lord. You can trust the One who is your Creator, Redeemer, and Friend.