Each morning (Monday – Saturday) we’ll post a new Scripture reading, paired with a few paragraphs written by one of the leaders at Harbor to help you reflect on the verses and focus on a specific teaching from the Bible. They’ll take just a couple of minutes to read (and are best paired with prayer!), providing a perfect way to start your day with your focus on God.
Daily Directional: 8.10.20
Written by: Pastor Ron Sears
“We must be purposely kind and generous, or we miss the best part of living” observed Horace Mann. He continued, “We do ourselves the most good doing something for others.”
The service can be noble and sacrificial, or it can be small and simple.
“A University of Michigan study followed 2,700 people for over a decade (and found) those who performed regular volunteer work showed dramatically increased life expectancy…”
May I encourage you to enhance the quality of your life and volunteer to help a ministry at Harbor.
Contact me at email@example.com. I’ll connect you with a chance to make life better – for yourself and others.
Daily Directional: 8.8.20
Written by: Pastor Ron Sears
Read this on my son’s social site – many are mad wearing a mask to church. But they’ve been doing that for years.
We grow up learning the lie; if you knew me you wouldn’t like me. So, we develop masks to wear at the appropriate time and place.
But, what would it feel like to be totally honest and open. To stand and declare, this is the real me – what would happen; what could you accomplish?
Perhaps today is your day to give it a try. King David wrote,
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my bodyand knit me together in my mother’s womb.Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it… How precious are your thoughts about me, O God… They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!”
God knows. He’s aware of every thought and the intentions behind them. He sees your weakness and gave you your strengths.
Boldly stand before God and thank Him.. for your life; weaknesses that draw you to Him; victories and failures. Allow yourself to crawl into His lap and let Him hold you. Hear His voice telling you how special you are – how deeply He loves you. Watch Him speak to the Father and explain how precious you are to their Heavenly family.
He loves you even when He knows everything about you.
Daily Directional: 8.7.20
Written by: Hannah Dziczek
John 6:68 – “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Historically, Napoleon Bonaparte once had his troops burn their own ships as they entered a new battle. He was said to have told his men that if they were to ever return home, they would have to go back in their defeated enemy’s ships. He took away the possibility of retreat…and empowered his men to move forward with even more determination.
How many ships of compromise, retreat, doubt, unbelief or maybe even of the ‘old you’, are on your shores? In my life, I have left many retreats available should God not be what He said He is, or not do what He said He would do. “I’ll wait for marriage” but just in case I left a ship in the shore: “as long as it doesn’t take too long.” Or “I’ll run my business with integrity and biblical ethics” but I do have this row boat: “as long as I make enough money” tied to shore just in case God doesn’t produce.
Burn your ships. He has the words of eternal life. He will never let you down. He loves you with an everlasting love. He knows all your days. He counts every hair on your head. You are the apple of His eye. His Word brings abundant life, it sets you free, and it heals your heart. Burn the ships. Tell God there are no ships left in my harbor (no pun intended), I trust you, where else can I go? You are the way, the truth and the life.
Daily Directional: 8.6.20
Today, join us as we focus on a specific verse from God’s Word. Pray over it, read it out loud, and keep it at the forefront of your mind as you go through your day.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.
Daily Directional: 8.5.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” Luke 11:24-26
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
This passage in Luke 11 is a little strange at first glance, but it has been very helpful in my life. There are times in my life when my worries and the lies that Satan tells me have controlled and influenced me. We learned not long ago, from Pastor Josh’s sermon series ‘Not Today Satan,’ that Satan has many tactics to keeping us ineffective and weighed down in this life. We learned the ways that Satan “deceives, destroys and devours” us, so that we could be on guard and fight against his lies when they come. Maybe since then you have worked on cleaning out the lies. You’re saying, “not today Satan” and choosing not to believe his lies. Let’s look back at the story from Luke. The person cleans their house, but the impure sprits come back. When we try to clean house without filling it with the truth, the lies return with a vengeance and take over the house once again. I think this story teaches us two things. One, when you try to clean your house on your own it doesn’t work. The lies return, the temptations come back even stronger than before, and we are powerless to stop it. And two, we must fill our house with the truth, with the holy spirit, to fight against the lies and temptations coming back. It is one thing to clean the house, it is another thing to surrender your life (your house) to Jesus, who is the only thing that can fill you (the house) and protect it from impurity coming back. You cannot just rid your house of the lies you have to fill your house with the truth.
First, we need to surrender to Jesus, who can fill us with the truth that sets us free (John 8:32). Then, “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5), as Paul says, meaning we examine our thoughts and ask, do they line up with the truth or are they a lie from Satan? My husband and I have done this exercise ever since our Counselor shared this very passage with us from Luke. When we begin to worry, we say to each other, “what’s the lie?” Then we will take the thought captive and speak it out loud, like “we won’t be ok financially.” Then we say, “what’s the truth?” And we find what the Bible says about the situation we are worried about. “The truth is God promises that he will take care of us (Matthew 6:25-34).” So not only do we get rid of the lie, but we fill our minds with the truth found in God’s word. We aren’t perfect at this, sometimes we let things weigh us down, we’re human, but this practice has helped us not only take our thoughts captive and talk about them, but also it reminds us of what God says about the situation, and the truth sets us free. Also, this exercise might happen once on a subject or it might be a daily, minute by minute, reminding ourselves of the truth. The point is to know the truth and fill your house with it.
I like practical help when people are encouraging me to grow in my faith. So, how do we know the truth. Read it, God has given us his word and its available to us like never before, we have access to it 24/7, especially if you have a smart phone. The more you study it, the more truth will fill your house. This month how about reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), three chapters a day and you’ll be able to get through all four books in one month. Reading through the gospels will give you lots of good truth from The Truth (Jesus) as each author shares an eyewitness accounts of the life and words of Jesus.
Daily Directional: 8.4.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
When we first began sending out these directionals, I wrote about the fact that God is not wasteful – specifically, that he does not waste time. Each day we are given is a gift with a purpose, a 24 hour span that God can use if we will offer it up to Him. However, there’s another part of this life that God does not waste: our pain.
Pain is a stumbling block for skeptics, new believers, and long time Christians alike. When life gets difficult, doubts creep in. When we are hurting, God feels distant. Even David – defeater of Goliath, author of dozens of Psalms, referred to as “a man after God’s own heart” – has a hard time trusting that God is with him in his anguish. He wrote, “1 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? 2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” (Psalm 13:1-2)
When we can’t see an end to our pain, it feels like God no longer sees us.
The truth is, God does not promise us a painless life – in fact, the Bible tells us to expect to suffer. What He does promise is that our pain will be used for good: 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. (Romans 5:3-4)
If you’re looking for real life examples to prove that God does not waste our pain, start with your own life. Have you suffered in the past? Has God used it in some way: to strengthen your faith, to open your eyes to a new path, to allow you opportunities to comfort others in their sufferings?
For the ultimate example, we look to Jesus – he suffered the worst pain imaginable, giving His life on the cross. Jesus was willing and able to take on that pain because He knew that God had a plan that would outweigh His suffering; God used that temporary pain to provide eternal hope.
And through Him we have that same hope:
17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
Daily Directional: 8.3.20
Written by: Hannah Dziczek
Luke 6:45 – “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Human beings are like icebergs: only 1/10th of an iceberg is seen, the rest is underwater.
Behavior modification is controlling the 10% above the water, that people see, and ignoring the 90% under the water, that people can’t see. The visible 10%, “the mouth” speaks only from the 90%, your heart.
God is always after your heart. He is always after that which will correct the course, heal your soul, and bring you into fullness. Religion says: “get your act together, put on a nice outfit, go to church, sit, stand, recite, go home, and BE GOOD, control your behavior (that 10%) religiously!” The Holy Spirit says, “give me your heart, let me show you what needs some cleaning up, and together we’ll make you the brightest, most integral iceberg in the whole sea!”
The unseen 90% is where the work of the Holy Spirit is done, where you are made into more of the Son, and out of a wealth of HIM, your top 10% will overflow with the gifts of the spirit. No more behavior modification!
Let’s invite the Holy Spirit below the surface to help us heal, grow, and float like the freest iceberg in the ocean.
Daily Directional: 8.1.20
Once each week, we provide a few verses on their own for you to focus on without anyone else’s thoughts or additions. This morning, pray over these verses and ask God how He would use them throughout your day.
17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
Daily Directional: 7.31.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
Ephesians 2:6 “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Psalm 62:1 “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.”
Isaiah 30:15a “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.’”
Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
It’s interesting that God made Adam on the sixth day of Creation. God spoke all of creation into being on days 1-5 before He created Adam. Clearly, God did not need Adam’s help. Adam’s first day after he was created was God’s seventh. God did all the work and Adam began his existence by resting with God.
Normally, I only think of resting and sitting AFTER I have worked. Then I cannot wait to sit down and rest. God’s ways are most often counterintuitive to our own (Isaiah 55:8,9). Our natural inclination is to think that we must DO something to begin a relationship with God, when in fact it is simply to rest in faith in what Jesus has already DONE. Just as Adam began his new life by resting in the work God had done, we also begin our new life in Christ by resting in His finished work on the cross. Jesus invites us to come to Him that we may find rest for our souls. We are invited to enjoy the work He has done for us. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. Jesus declared on the cross, “It is finished.” We have only to receive His free gift by faith.
When we put our faith and trust in Jesus, God creates us anew and immediately our spiritual position is changed. Ephesians tells us we are raised up and seated in the heavenly realms. We are children of the King – a royal priesthood! (1 Peter 2:9) God gives us this position of rest. Our job is simply to accept this position by faith.
This principle of resting applies to the start of our faith journey as well as throughout it. Every day we must make the choice to utterly depend upon the Lord. When we sit, we “take a load off” – we relax and let the chair or couch bear our weight. This is what God wants us to do daily – stop bearing the weight – the weight of our future, the weight of the world, the weight of our struggles – and cast our cares fully upon Him as we choose to trust Him completely and cease to carry the weight ourselves. (I Peter 5:7) Today, even as you go about doing the day’s work, be at rest in your soul, knowing that God continues to work on your behalf and you can trust that, just as in Creation, what He is doing in and around you is good.
Daily Directional: 7.30.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
In every era of human existence, there have been differing opinions – you don’t have to get very far into the book of Genesis to see the truth in that. And you don’t have to flip through many channels or scroll through many social media posts to see that, while the issues and the method of delivery may be different, people are still disagreeing on every subject you can imagine.
Chances are, the people you disagree with are seeing entirely different information than you are. Depending on where you get your news, or how your social media algorithms are set, information is being presented to you as “fact” that is the exact opposite of the “facts” that others are seeing. It’s getting harder and harder to know what’s true.
So what does this mean for us? First, it’s a great reason to show one another grace. Believe it or not, most people are not willfully ignorant. No one thinks their opinion is wrong. No one believes that the “facts” they see are incorrect. That is true of you and that is true of your worst enemy.
So we educate ourselves, we seek to learn more, but above all we strive not to judge others based on their opinions. You may have heard the phrase that Jesus once uttered, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.” (John 8:7) We would all do well to take the spirit of that statement and apply it to many areas of life – such as, “let the one who has 100% correct views on every social and political issue throw the first stone.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m not tossing a thing.
Knowing how hard it is to find the truth these days should, more than anything, lead to gratitude. In a world full of all kinds of information, we are blessed to know that there is one place we can trust 100% to find the truth. That place is God’s Word, the very Bible that you can pull up on your phone any time you’d like.
If you find yourself a little lost, a little confused, a little overwhelmed by all the different opinions out there, I’d encourage you this morning to land on the only sure and steadfast source we have: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Daily Directional: 7.29.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
“Remember [always] the word and promise to Your servant, in which You have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me and given me life.” Psalm 119:49-50
I’m sitting in my hot house with all the windows open and the fan on, thinking about how uncomfortable I am. My ice-cold water brings me some comfort, it’s very refreshing, and when the breeze blows through the windows it’s a little more bearable. Now today’s hot day is only an annoyance for me, but there are many things in our lives that bring pain and suffering. I’m sure you can think of something that you desire comfort for or have desired comfort for in the past. If you’ve read a few of my directionals over the last few months you know how much I love God’s promises. In Corinthians, Paul tells us that God is a God who comforts us (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). I guess technically this is a promise from Paul, but he is speaking from experience and through the holy spirit on the character of God. God has compassion for us and comforts us.
Now today, I’d like the temperature to drop about 25 degrees and/or central air conditioning in my house. But God’s comfort is not to just make us comfortable. When God comforts, he does not just take away the suffering. He walks with us through the suffering (Psalm 23:4), gives us supernatural peace and strength (Philippians 4:7, 13), and then (my favorite part), he uses our suffering, it is not wasted (2 Corinthians 1:4, Romans 8:28). Paul says that God comforts us so that we can turn around and comfort others. Have you been through suffering and been comforted by God? He wants to use that, and you, to comfort others. And the scripture doesn’t just say comfort those who are going through exactly the same thing as you, it says, “so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
I find this scripture in 2 Corinthians so encouraging. I love that God has purpose for our lives, for our suffering. There is hope for what you are going through. Hope that God is with you and he is the “God of all comfort.” And there is also hope that all the pain you are feeling is not wasted. He will use you, if you let him, to bring comfort to others. I am comforted knowing that the suffering I’ve experienced is not wasted, God has and will use me to comfort others, and when I comfort others, I too am comforted even more.
Do you desire comfort from God? First, ask him for comfort. David in the Psalms cries out to God for help often (Psalm 40, Psalm 69, Psalm 80). Also know that it is in the very nature of God to comfort. Know Him, and you will be comforted. David writes, “This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me and given me life” (Psalm 119:50). God’s word comforted David in his time of suffering. David’s description of God as a shepherd and comforter is a good place to start. Read Psalm 23 and remember that God does not just take the uncomfortable away, but he is with us through the valley and he uses us to comfort others in their valley.
Daily Directional: 7.28.20
Written by: Pastor Ron Sears
Have you ever been there – “God! Do you hear my prayer? Do you care what’s happening right now? Are you even there?”
It happens. Unexpected life events: hurt; pain; wounds; abandonment; mundane. The enemy is there to whisper “God does not care; He has left you and will not return.” Others will fill your mind with thoughts that you stepped over a line and there is no return. They will indicate you may once have been favored, but not now. Like so many earthly fathers, you may believe He has abandoned you.
Allow me to quote Isaiah, “… how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? … have you ever heard? … the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary… He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” (40:27-29)
Come to the Father. He really does care. It may seem silent but He is actively preparing a way of escape. Your darkness may only be to help you see His light shining from the darkness. Your pain may be preparing the way for you to enjoy His peace and calm. Again… “how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?“???
Daily Directional: 7.27.20
Written by: Josh Hingston
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
People seemed to be obsessed with what’s new and what’s next, but I want to talk to you about the power of continuing to remain in the principles of the one who never changes and rock that doesn’t move. I found that consistency is the key to sustaining growth in any endeavor, and our walk with God is no exception. In our world, we find that there is a lot of change and our culture is always evolving. It can be very easy to compromise our beliefs and values with the changing social structures that are put into place. We can find ourselves getting caught up in the noise of external voices, sometimes we lean too heavily on the shifting sands of people’s opinions, or put too much stock in ideas that may be contrary to God’s word. That’s why we must ensure that we continue to build our house on the solid foundation of the one who’s word is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
God’s promise for us is that if we remain in Him, then we will bear much fruit. It is scary to think about the fruit that some of us have learned to depend on might be cut away. The scripture tells us that the father’s desire for us is to bear much fruit. Not just a little bit of fruit or just enough fruit to make ends meet, but much fruit for His glory. The truth is that between fruit and much fruit there will always be a cutting away. And some of us are experiencing a cutting away in our lives right now. Maybe it’s a job, maybe it’s a relationship, or maybe it’s something that we feel like we can’t live without. My prayer for you is that you don’t get discouraged. If your life feels like you are getting sifted like wheat, my hope is that your faith may not fail you. God is working to produce much fruit in all our lives. That is why it is imperative that we remain in Him. God’s glory will eventually shine through, but we must continue to engraft His word in our lives and remain in the vine, for in the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Remember the key to growth and change is to remain. Sometimes it’s in what we perceive to be monotonous that can lead us to the miraculous. That prayer every day that you don’t think matters, that person you stop to help on the street, or even the service you provide in church that you think doesn’t make a difference, might be the very thing that God is going use to change not just you, but the people around you. Be encouraged, the fruit will come if you continue to remain in Him.
Daily Directional: 7.25.20
Written by: Pastor Chuck Groover
1 “Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance, who seek the Lord! Consider the quarry from which you were mined, the rock from which you were cut! 2 Yes, think about your ancestors Abraham and Sarah, from whom you came. You worry at being so small and few, but Abraham was only one when I called him. But when I blessed him, he became a great nation.” Isaiah 51:1-2
Some of you who are reading this are old enough to remember these lyrics from Paul Simon:
When you’re weary, feeling smallWhen tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all, I’m on your side, oh, when times get roughAnd friends just can’t be found.
It may very well be as Covid-19 and other concerns in your life seem to consume you these days, that you are weary and you wonder where your friends are. Then remember the Lord of the universe is more than a bridge over troubled waters. He is the author and giver of life who redeems and sustains those He loves. As you seek the Lord today, think about your spiritual heritage, where you have come from, those who have set a spiritual legacy before you to build upon.
Our God has and still does great things for those He loves. While you may think those who are sharing the faith journey with you are in the minority, remember Who is watching over you and providing your deliverance. When life becomes a burden too heavy to carry, the Lord is not a bridge for you to cross, He is the righteous right arm that carries you as He sees you through the storm. Be grateful today, that Jesus is your solid rock!
Daily Directional: 7.24.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21
“Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
In all likelihood, this directional is reaching you at about the same time as your direct deposit. Maybe the amount hitting your bank account today disappoints you, or maybe it fills you with pride. You may be looking forward to spending some of it on a nice dinner, or you may be counting the seconds until you can pay a looming bill. Regardless, money has a way of creeping into the forefront of our thoughts. Even if you don’t consider yourself a particularly materialistic person, your finances can have a profound affect on your plans, and if you’re not careful, your attitude.
The verses above serve as bookends to a Biblical view on finances. The first passage (Luke 12:16-21) is a warning— it shows us the pitfalls of putting our trust in money, and of investing everything we have into earthly security. The truth is, no amount of money can afford you true security: only God can do that. Even if you amass mountains of wealth, it can’t protect you from your own mortality, and it can’t buy you eternal life. This is why money is a terrible god to worship.
The second passage (Ecclesiastes 5:19) is a promise from God. When He supplies wealth and possessions (in any amount), He is also able to supply the ability to enjoy them. This is a gift! You do not need to be ashamed of what you have, you need to be grateful for it. This is why money is not, in fact, the root of all evil.
The last verse puts it all together — “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” . Be content with what you have—do not believe that lie that more money will make you more joyful, or more secure. If you have an abundance, praise God! Pray that you will steward it well, and use it to the glory of God so that your wealth will bring you joy and gratitude, not pride or self-sufficiency. If you have little, remember God’s promise that HE will never leave you or forsake you— even when it feels like your paycheck leaves you all too quickly.
Daily Directional: 7.23.20
Written by: Marilyn Sears
14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this? Esther 4:14
Esther is my favorite person in scripture for so many reasons. One of the main reasons is her bravery in spite of the odds against her. The most quoted verse is Esther 4:14 “for such a time as this.” Going further in scripture we find that “such a time as this” could be life or death to her. Yet, she went before the King and the Jews were saved. Challenges – we all face them but do we all prevail? My greatest challenge in the time we’re in now is SOCIAL DISTANCING. I am such a people person I miss the hugs and coffee dates and seeing the smiles behind the masks. I smile at everyone and no one sees! But reaching out is so very important. Calling, texting, social media, Face Time or zoom are simple ways to connect. When I get contacted by anyone I’m so uplifted, even if its a telemarketer. Today, why don’t you connect with someone, maybe not someone you usually connect with but ask the Lord, who may need a touch today.
Daily Directional: 7.22.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. (James 1:23-25)
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24)
How much time do you spend reflecting on your actions? The Bible tells us, many times and in many different ways, to examine ourselves, to look at our motives, and to ask God to reveal to us what is going on in our hearts and minds.
If you’re like me, you spend plenty of time thinking about your actions: the dumb thing you said earlier, all the work you have to do tomorrow, the reason why that person didn’t give you what you wanted. But getting stuck in a self-centered thought loop is not the same as using God’s law as a mirror, testing our actions and seeing if they stand up to who God created us to be.
We can have all the right knowledge in our head, but if we don’t put it into practice it is useless. We can go about our lives assuming we’re honoring God, but if we never take a step back to reflect and ask Him if we are following His path, there’s a very good chance we’re slipping into sin without even realizing it.
And if every time we reflect on our lives we leave riddled with shame and guilt, then we are not looking into a perfect law that sets us free. We’re just looking in a mirror, focusing on ourselves, putting the weight of righteousness on our own shoulders and beating ourselves up for missing the mark.
But Jesus already took that beating. The aim in self examination is not condemnation, but growth. It is asking God to shine a light on your life, revealing the parts that don’t give Him glory, so that tomorrow you can be a little more like Jesus. “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:12-13)
Daily Directional: 7.21.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the Lord for the generations to come.” Exodus 30:7-8
This might be an odd thing to love about God, but I love that God created and appreciates good smells – I’ll show you how I know this in a second. First let’s talk about good smelling things; baked bread right out of the oven, cut grass in the spring, wood stove in the winter, fresh baked cookies, you can fill in your favorite smells. Smells are so important; they add to our ability to taste and enjoy food, they can warn us that something is not right, they can remind us of something in our past, and they can just bring joy and comfort to a space. One of my favorite smells is cinnamon. I love to boil cinnamon and cloves on the stove, especially in the fall and winter. It’s something my mom would do growing up, so the smell reminds me of my childhood. I love how, as it fills my house, it makes it feel warm and cozy, like a big cinnamon blanket.
In Exodus 30:1-10, God gives Israel his instructions on building an altar for the burning of incense. Aaron is to burn special and specific incense on the altar in the morning and evening. Things did not smell too great back in biblical times. I lived in Idaho for a few years, surrounded by farms, and sometimes when the wind blew a certain direction the air smelled like cow manure, not a great smell. In biblical times, in an agricultural society, things didn’t smell great. Often incenses were burned in the king’s palace to mask the smell. In the Old Testament God dwelled in the tabernacle, his throne on earth, so burning incense was a sign of his rule and authority.
I mentioned above how smells can remind us of things. I wonder if the smells that came from the specific and sanctified incense recipe that was burned on the altar, as it travelled through the air, acted as a reminder for the Israelites that God was with them. Just like the smell of cinnamon reminds me of my mom, when the incenses were burned on the altar it reminded the Israelites that God was with them. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they were burned day and night. I know I need reminding often that God is with me.
The bible refers to prayer as incense. In Psalm 141, David writes, “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!” and in Revelation 5:8, “…when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” As the smoke rose from the altar, it engulfed the whole tabernacle, including the Holy of Holies, where God dwelled. A place the Israelites were not allowed to enter, but like their prayers, the smells of the sacrifice reached God. It is a symbol of a promise that God hears us when we call to him, and our prayers are pleasing to him, they smell good to him.
1 Peter 3:12 says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” In the passage in Exodus 30 we started with, verse ten tells us that once a year the priest would have to make an atonement offering of blood on the altar. For things to be right with God a blood sacrifice had to be made. For the smell of the incense to be acceptable to God, a blood sacrifice had to be made. Thankfully, the righteousness that Peter refers to in the scripture above is given to us by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. His death paid for our sins, and when we accept his sacrifice, we are made right with God and our prayers are sweet smelling to him. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Next time you light a sweet-smelling candle, or smell the salty air at the beach, or boil cinnamon on the stove, think about how amazing it is that God created a world with smells. Next time you smell something wonderful let it remind you that God is with you, that he desires your prayers like sweet smelling incense, and he hears them, they are acceptable to him through the blood of Jesus.
Daily Directional: 7.20.20
Once each week, we choose a passage to focus on without any additional commentary, allowing God’s Word to stand alone. This morning, reflect on these verses and how God may want to use them to guide you throughout your day:
4 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. 5 For we are each responsible for our own conduct.
Daily Directional: 7.18.20
Written by: Pastor Chuck Groover
27 O Jacob, O Israel, how can you say that the Lord doesn’t see your troubles and isn’t being fair? 28 Don’t you yet understand? Don’t you know by now that the everlasting God, the Creator of the farthest parts of the earth, never grows faint or weary? No one can fathom the depths of his understanding. 29 He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak. 30 Even the youths shall be exhausted, and the young men will all give up. 31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:27-31)
As you begin a new day in the midst of the ongoing issues related to the current Covid-19 situation, it is good to review how God encouraged our spiritual ancestors from long ago as they faced challenges. God does see the struggles of His people. God is mindful of their trials. God may be beyond our understanding, but His is always near to assist those He loves.
Today is a day to embrace the power of His promise as you wait upon the Lord to renew your strength allowing you to face any and all trials in life. He is not only life giver, He also sustains you in life as He renews you each day in His mercy. It is time to mount up on wings and soar like an eagle as you find your rest in God’s majestic power.
Daily Directional: 7.17.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7
“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.” James 3:18
“In my experience, those who plow injustice and those who sow trouble reap the same.” Job 4:8
“Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9
It is impossible to read through scripture and miss this idea of “sewing and reaping”. In other religious systems, this idea is twisted to become “karma” — the idea that whatever you put out into the universe comes back to you. Through Christ, we are actually freed from “karma” ; our sin does not come back to condemn us or threaten our salvation, but we still may face consequences for our actions.
Some of the most painful times in my life have been moments where I have forgotten this principle. We are given the choice each day where to invest our time, finances, attention, and adoration. Too often, I sow seeds into garden beds of earthly pleasure, human approval, or material wealth. I seem to be constantly surprised when I find myself feeling defeated, frustrated, or envious; but this should come as no surprise. I am reaping what I have sown: hollow fruit from infertile soil.
It also works this way in relationships: if you find yourself constantly at the center of contention, gossip, or envy, it’s worth asking yourself what you have been sowing in your relationships lately. Is your speech marked with jealousy? Judgment? Gossip? I’m not suggesting that every fight that finds you is your fault—we know that isn’t true because Jesus was perfect and people still spoke badly about Him! But if it is your constant state of existence, you may want to take inventory of what you have been sowing, after all: “the fruit of righteousness is sewn in peace by those who cultivate peace”.
Lastly, a word of encouragement: if you have been sowing the seeds that God has given you, do not be discouraged when progress is slow. Faith is the act of trusting that our diligent obedience to God will yield results, even if in the moment it looks like we’re just burying all of our resources in the dirt.
Daily Directional: 7.16.20
Every week, we intentionally take a day to focus on a particular passage, asking God how He would use it in our lives.
Today, join us as we read Psalm 4:3-5
3 You can be sure of this:
The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
The Lord will answer when I call to him.
4 Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
Think about it overnight and remain silent.
5 Offer sacrifices in the right spirit,
and trust the Lord.
Daily Directional: 7.15.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid. But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation.The others, however, were shouting for joy. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.”
This is a weird story from the Bible. And yet, it’s this passage that I felt led to share with our volunteer team this past Sunday during our pre-service rally.
Now you might be thinking: “Ummm…yeah….those verses seem a weird choice to use to celebrate your first Sunday back inside the building, pastor.” And you’d be right. Those are weird verses. They tell of both sadness and joy being expressed at the exact same time by people experiencing the exact same event.
How can one event be viewed with despair by some and with celebration by others?
The older men could only remember the former glory of the previous temple. When they saw the new meager foundation of the rebuilt temple, they could only cry. They cried because they knew the temple used to be much bigger. The temple used to stand for the power and protection the Israelites once had under God.
The young men, those that had never known the old (first) temple – they were ecstatic. They sang and praised because they finally had a temple they could call their own. They finally had a “church” they could celebrate in.
It’s the age-old question: Is the cup half full? Or half empty?
Well, it depends on your perspective.
Will you choose to look at your life today and only see what it COULD have been? Will you take inventory of your existence and only note the areas you’re missing out? There is a value to recognizing one’s mistakes and learning from them as so not to repeat them. But God hasn’t called us to focus on the negative. He wants us to repent of our sins and move on. Like Jesus’ words to the adulterous woman; “go and sin no more.”
The expectation is clear. Live today in the FREEDOM and the JOY that a relationship with Christ can give you. Don’t waste time crying when you could be singing.
Other people may focus on all that is broken with this world, but you are called to focus on what is right with God.
“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.”
Daily Directional: 7.14.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35
“Give us today our daily bread.” John 6:11
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4
Oh man do I love bread! During quarantine I jumped on the bandwagon of learning how to make sourdough bread, which is my favorite kind of bread. It’s amazing to me that two ingredients, flour and water (three, if you add a little salt), can make such a wonderfully fragrant, flavorful, scrumptious loaf of bread. I think bread is one of the most comforting foods; warm, out of the oven, with a little butter on top, it’s like a food hug. I know some people choose not to eat bread for various reasons, I used to be one of those people, but I was always in search of a substitute to satisfy my craving for it. Most people agree that it is an amazing food, and so does God. Did you know bread is mentioned almost 500 times in the bible?
God provided a bread-like substance, called Manna, in Exodus 16, when God’s people were in the desert after freeing them from slavery in Egypt. God used bread to supply their physical need for food, and bread is a symbol of God’s provision throughout the whole bible.
Jesus adds to what bread symbolizes by saying that He is the bread of life, God’s provision for us spiritually through his Son, Jesus. Bread is so satisfying to me; the taste, the smell, even the process of making it brings satisfaction; but after I eat it, no matter how good it is, I will get hungry again. When Jesus says He is the bread of life, he promises “whoever comes to me will never go hungry” (John 6:35). He promises that what he has to offer will satisfy our life. Interestingly, Jesus says this to a crowd that has followed him across the Sea of Galilee after he miraculously fed them (the 5000). “Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill’” (John 6:26). He’s trying to teach them that He has more to offer than temporarily filling their bellies. He will satisfy their souls, if they believe.
Jesus also uses bread when teaching his disciples how to pray, instructing them to pray, “give us this day our daily bread” (John 6:11). A prayer for both physical provisions (food, shelter, etc.) but also spiritual provision. When you pray are you asking for both? Do you ask God for the spiritual provision and satisfaction he promises those who believe? In Philippians 4:13, Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Are we asking God daily for the strength that Jesus provides, the living bread, that satisfies our soul? I don’t know about you, but the second I wake up I’m hungry, and some say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Do we desire Jesus, like we desire breakfast in the morning? Do we wake up and ask God for our daily bread, not just physical provision, but the love, joy, peace, patience, strength, power, eternal perspective, spiritual fervor, God provides for those who believe in his Son Jesus. Jesus told us to ask, give us today what we need physically and spiritually, what we can’t live life abundantly without.
One other time Jesus speaks on bread also reiterates the point that life is more than the physical. Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, that man needs more than just bread to live, he needs the word of God. Just like we need food to sustain us, we need God’s word to give us life. You can go through life nibbling on food, barely digesting enough to survive, or you can enjoy food, appreciate the taste, digest the nutrients, be thankful for the strength it gives you. This is also true of God’s word. You can nibble at it; hear a verse or two in a sermon, like a graphically designed Instagram post of a scripture, get the verse of the day email in your inbox; but although those are good places to start, in order to have the abundant life God promises to those who believe, we need the word of God to feed us, we need to feast on it, to digest its nutrients. Sometimes this is hard to do, maybe we don’t know where to start, or have never been that studious. I myself go through times when I nibble versus feast. God knows, he knows everything, his words are a gift, he’s not going to force feed us, but he also wants us to have all that we need. Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). Don’t you want that abundant, full, satisfying life? It comes from Jesus the bread of life and through feasting on the word of God, what we need to live abundantly. Ask God to help, to give you the daily bread you need, to help you feast on his word, and then sit down at the table, not to just nibble but to savor his word and live abundantly.
Daily Directional: 7.13.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
These verses, particularly verse 11, tend to be a go-to promise of God in times of trouble, or when we are in search of hope. Unsure of our next career move, or what will happen to our loved ones, or how our relationships will ever be mended, we trust in the fact that God has plans for us, and those plans are for good.
God certainly cares about, and provides for, all of those areas of life that we have fears about. But there is a much bigger promise here that we can cling to even tighter.
Our hope for the future is found entirely in Christ, and it is that hope that ought to get us through our daily struggles and fears. You and I don’t know what tomorrow looks like – that’s something we can and should trust God with. But if we have put our faith in Jesus, we do have the joy of knowing where we’ll be spending our eternity – and that’s something more powerful than any future plans we could ever lay for ourselves.
How often, then, do we have eternity at the forefront of our minds? Unfortunately I think the answer for most of us would be “not enough.” We focus on what is directly in front of us, always finding a new urgent issue to tackle. But if we get in the habit of looking beyond our immediate needs to the future and hope God has promised us, suddenly those issues become a lot smaller in the face of eternity.
1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)
Daily Directional: 7.11.20
Written by: Josh Hingston
What’s in Your House
In a time of not enough, I find that Christ is more than enough. In a season where it may feel like we are asked to do more with less, I find that is when Christ multiplies.
In the story of the widow from Zarephath (1 Kings 17:7-16), we see this woman who is seemingly down to nothing, and a Prophet named Elijah gives her a strange command. He asks her to pour out what little oil she has left – it must have been challenging for her, but how many of us know that when we are down to nothing God is up to something?
In our world we feel like when I get more, then I’ll begin to pour, so we have a tendency to hold on to what we have while we wait for what we want. But in God’s kingdom, what we have becomes more as it is poured.
Many of us have so much more to offer than we ever imagined: talents, gifts, abilities, resources, time or even finances. I know that it may not feel like much to you, but I believe if you will pour out what you have and if we as a body would pour out what we have together, not only will God multiply it, but we’ll see what God will do with a little church from Hyannis.
Daily Directional: 7.10.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”
I don’t enjoy taking my dog out in the late evening. The place where we take him is way back in the woods at the end of our property. There are no lights whatsoever. Unless there is a bright moon, I can’t see anything around me. It is so dark that my flashlight only lights up the path directly ahead of me. When I have to take my dog out in the pitch-black night, I have to be sure to shine the light right in front of me so I can proceed safely. Without that light, I have no doubt that I would find myself injured and heading in the wrong direction.
God promises that His Word will be a lamp to guide our feet and a light to our path. He does not promise that His Word will be a floodlight to our feet and a streetlamp to our path.
“In ancient times a tiny clay lamp was sometimes fastened to the thong of a sandal so that the pool of light cast was sufficient only for a single step. The traveler took that step and found light enough for the next. So the psalmist wrote: ‘Thy Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light on my path.’”( A Lamp for My Feet, Elisabeth Elliot)
In this life we often find ourselves surrounded by dark circumstances beyond our control where we cannot see the path ahead. We have to walk forward and sometimes make decisions with only a little information, not fully knowing what will come of our choices. This can leave us feeling fearful, confused and paralyzed with indecision. We must remember that we may not know what lies ahead, but we know the One who does. We can trust that if we are seeking to know and obey Him, He will reveal each step to take and He will be faithful to illuminate each next step. This is how God grows our faith and teaches us to trust and follow Him alone.
The verses surrounding Psalm 119:105 continually refer to the psalmist’s commitment to knowing God’s Word and vowing to obey it. So often we allow the pressures of the day, our emotions, and what we want in the moment to dictate our decisions rather than allow God’s word to illuminate our path.
“Ask God to show you if there are certain steps of obedience He wants you to take. He’ll tell you. You can depend on it. When you come to a place where you trust Him so thoroughly that you will obey whatever He says, you’ll find that obedience won’t be a gut-wrenching misery; it will be a privilege. You’ll obey because the rewards are great. You’ll obey out of the desire to have nothing come between you and God. You’ll obey because you’ll pay any price to not have your light shut off.” (Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On, Stormie Omartian)
If we would commit to obeying what God says, regardless of the difficulty, we would find ourselves in the place we wanted to be all along – walking not in darkness, but in His wonderful light. (I Peter 2:9; John 8:12)
Daily Directional: 7.9.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Today’s directional idea was from a friend at church; who, when I mentioned needing ideas for things to write about, said I should write about how to have patience. He went on to explain his struggle with being patient with his kids. I’m sure many of you, especially in the last few months of quarantine, have felt a similar struggle. I told my friend that maybe someone who had kids would be better equipped to write about this subject, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I too struggle with patience. Even though I don’t have kids, I have siblings, friends, a husband, the guy who cut me off when I was driving, the chipmunks who dig holes in my garden, you get the point. We all have things in our life that cause us to lose patience.
So, how do we have more patience? Patience is one of the fruits of the spirit; which when we surrender to Christ are available to us through the holy spirit. If it’s a fruit, let’s go back a couple weeks to when I talked about gardening. Remember in John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” If patience is a fruit, we must remain attached to the vine to bear it, we can not do it on our own. I recently read a devotional by J.D. Greear, who put it this way,
“With a literal plant, you don’t grow fruit by focusing on the fruits. Fruit happens naturally when the roots are deep and healthy. The same is true in our spiritual lives. Some Christians approach spiritual growth like stapling roses to a dead rosebush. If you drive by and look at that kind of “rosebush” quickly, you might think it’s healthy. But stapling roses on there doesn’t fix the real problem. In the same way, you won’t grow spiritually by trying to add love, joy, peace, and everything else to your life. You can only do it by driving your roots deep into Christ. The more you embrace his love and promise in the gospel, the more spiritual fruits will appear naturally in your life.”
With regards to patience, the more connected I am to Jesus, the more the spirit will help me to be patient. The more time I spend with Jesus, in prayer and reading his words, the more I realize his great patience with me. When I deeply understand the mercy and patience that Jesus gives me, the fruit of that will be patience with others.
In Psalm 119:11, David says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Hiding God’s word in our heart (memorizing scripture) is like fertilizing the soil, giving more nutrients to the branches, letting our roots grow deep in the knowledge of who God is and what Jesus has done for us, which will cause us to bear more fruit. For example, James 1:19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” is a great scripture to memorize on patience. Memorize it and ask the Holy spirit to bring it to your memory when you are tempted to be impatient. Remember, quoting scripture out loud is how Jesus fought temptation in the desert.
We can try on our own to be patient. You can google “how to have more patience” and lots of articles with 5, 7, 10 steps to more patience, appear. You may be able to staple some roses on your branch, but true and lasting fruit only comes from being connected to the vine (Jesus). We stay connected to Jesus through communication with him, through prayer and reading his word. It is a relationship, just like you have to put time and effort into staying connected to your spouse or friend. And the promise is that when we are connected, we will bear fruit.
Daily Directional: 7.8.20
Once each week, instead of including any additional thoughts, we simply send out a few verses to focus on together. Take this opportunity to reflect and talk to God about this passage.
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Daily Directional: 7.7.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“If you see oppression of the poor and perversion of justice and righteousness in the province, don’t be astonished at the situation, because one official protects another official, and higher officials protect them. The profit from the land is taken by all; the king is served by the field. The one who loves silver is never satisfied with silver, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income. This too is futile.” Ecclesiastes 5:8-10
“Don’t be astonished at the situation” — too often, we see the state of the world and we act surprised. But the Bible tells us not to be shocked by the injustice in the world. The world is built on human systems that reward our self interest with material wealth or elevated social status, and so it is no wonder that there is injustice, disparity, and division.
When we seek to find our peace from the world, we will be disappointed. When we try to find our satisfaction in the things the world offers, we will be disappointed—“The one who loves silver is never satisfied with silver, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income”.
In the kingdom of God things are different. Instead of self interest, we are called to die to ourselves (Matthew 16:24-25). Instead of seeking wealth, we are called to seek God’s kingdom, His will and righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
“Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. But it is not so among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you will be a slave to all.” Mark 10:42-44
Rather than striving for power or control, the path to greatness in God’s kingdom lies in servitude and humility. Here, we can find the justice we crave, the satisfaction our hearts long for.
As you go about your day, remember which kingdom you belong to—and decide which kingdom you will serve with your actions and your attitude. Trying to wield influence in the world often leads to frustration, but when we surrender ourselves to God’s kingdom we have access to the power that is bigger than the troubles of the world.
Daily Directional: 7.6.20
Written by: Blake Hunter
One day when Jesus and his disciples were traveling, they stopped in a Samaritan town called Sychar. His disciples had gone into town to purchase food, but Jesus, tired from traveling, sat outside by the well in the middle of the day. Typically, women would come to the well first thing in the morning and late in the evening to get water for their household, but one woman came around noon to draw water. She had been married five times and was living with another man and was probably trying to escape the endless gossip and derision she received from the other women at the usual water-drawing time, and so she came in the heat of the day to draw water alone.
Jesus asked her if she could provide some water for him to drink, which surprised her. Jews and Samaritans resented each other, and Jews, especially, tended to look down on Samaritans as lower-class. Jesus responded by telling the woman that the “water of life” he could offer her was much more valuable than the water in the well. He and the woman were both tired – Jesus from his travels, and the woman from a life of bad decisions. She could provide a drink for Jesus that would last until he was tired again, but Jesus could offer her “living water” from which she would never thirst again. How could she turn that down?
There is an interesting note in the story in John 4:28 — “The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone.” She left her jar beside the well. She decided not to take the water home that her household needed that day. That could wait. They could figure out those little life-sustaining details later. This message was more important. The eternal refreshment that Jesus offered was the best news this woman could have ever hoped for, and she simply couldn’t wait to share it. So she left her jar, and she ran.
Jesus stayed in Sychar for two days so that many more could hear the message of living water, and many Samaritans believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony. I imagine that her status in the town was quite different from then on. Because of Jesus, she would never thirst again. If today you find yourself tired and in need of this living water from Jesus, he still offers it freely to all who believe (John 3:16), and if you are already in possession of this gift from Jesus, share it.
Daily Directional: 7.4.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
As many of you probably know, a recording of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” was released for in-home streaming yesterday. The play tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, the brilliant (though certainly flawed) mind behind most of our nation’s financial systems, who until recently was sort of an unsung founding father.
The reason his story was able to be told in such detail is because he wrote so voraciously. He left behind thousands of pages of letters, manuscripts, and musings.
For better or worse, most of us don’t spend much time writing letters or treatises these days. I don’t expect a pile of parchment to be left in my wake. However, we are putting our thoughts into writing all day every day in brand new ways: texts, emails, social media posts. These words are far more permanent than ink on a page – and what story do they tell?
The Bible has a whole lot to say about our words (the book of James is a great place to start if you’re interested in the subject), but one particular passage has stuck with me the most. Jesus was talking with the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, and said:
35 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you. (Matthew 12:35-37)
My honest reaction to those verses is: yikes. Every idle word? Every idle text? Every casual bit of gossip, or biting comment that I just couldn’t stop myself from sending/saying?
If someone, generations from now, were to pore over everything I ever put into writing, what kind of heart would they see?
There’s a great line in Hamilton: “What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”
The Bible tells us what those seeds should be: 5 You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
Daily Directional: 7.3.20
Written by: Pastor Ron Sears
6 Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. 7 Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. 8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. 10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. 11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. (Isaiah 55:6-11)
I have a friend in New England who is running for the senate. In our texting back and forth today he shared with me Isaiah 55:6-11. As I opened my Bible app and read, my heart was hit with several thoughts.Please allow me to list the thoughts God’s Spirit shared with me. Perhaps, you will be encouraged too:
A. Take advantage of every open door God presents to you. Don’t wait – do it now (v6).
B. Every time you are tempted, turn to God. He is full of mercy and generously offers forgiveness (v7).
C. God’s plans and thoughts about you do not always make sense (v8).
D. His mind thinks of things far higher and larger than we can imagine (v9).
E. God’s Word accomplishes everything He intends – everywhere it goes (v11).
Then my mind wandered to a statement I heard my step-mother’s first husband preach… “You can never take the Gospel to the wrong address.”
Be encouraged. God has awesome plans for you. You may feel they don’t make any sense. But God is planning on a higher level and His plans will succeed.
Daily Directional: 7.2.20
Once each week, we take a day to simply read a reflect on a passage from the Bible, with no one else’s input. This morning, ask God how He would use these verses to draw you closer to Him.
21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Daily Directional: 7.1.20
Written by: Blake Hunter
Blake and Megan Hunter are missionaries to Cape Town, South Africa who Harbor supports and partners with. If you’d like to learn more about them, head to capetownpartners.org.
1 Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. 2 As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. 3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.4 Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” 6 The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. 7 Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus. (Matthew 17:1-8)
This is one of the coolest experiences any of the disciples ever had with Jesus. Peter, James, and John got to see a little glimpse of the true glory of Jesus. They had been with him for a while now and were beginning to understand the significance of who he was, but they didn’t quite get it yet. Here, God revealed to them that Jesus is more than they thought. As if Jesus’ blinding appearance wasn’t enough, two of Israel’s greatest heroes appeared and began speaking with him. Moses represented the law and the old covenant that God had with Israel. Elijah represented all of the prophets who foretold the coming of the Messiah. These are legendary figures that even common fishermen exalted, and here they stood with Jesus!
Peter, often speaking before thinking, blurted out that he’d be happy to build a monument for each of them, letting Jesus know he considered Jesus to be in the same category as the other men. But before he even finished his train of thought, God the Father stepped in and set the record straight: “This is my dearly loved Son.” Jesus wasn’t in the same category as Moses and Elijah; Jesus was entirely in his own category. He fulfilled everything that those two heroes represented. The lives of the other two men, and everything that they stood for and believed and taught, culminated in Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God.
I love the final statement of this passage: “…and they saw only Jesus.” There are a lot of important things in life, but there is nothing like Jesus. When we “build monuments,” let’s not confuse important things with Jesus. He isn’t even in the same category.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
— Chorus of “The Heavenly Vision” by Helen Howard Lemmel
Daily Directional: 6.30.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
[On the third day] Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:11-12
[On the fourth day] Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. God made two great lights—the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:14-18
Four years ago, in the middle of a difficult time in my life, I read a devotional by Beth Moore called Whispers of Hope. Today, I was reminded (by Facebook) of something I learned while reading that I thought I’d share for the directional. Some of you might know my story, or some of my story, but if you don’t; four years ago, I had just gotten married and my husband and I were making the decision to move forward with my above the knee amputation surgery, after not being able to walk for four months and at the recommendation from my doctors. There is a lot more to the story, but during this time it looked and felt like God didn’t know what he was doing, or that what he was doing was not good. Both of which I knew were outside the character of God, but still struggled, as we all do, with understanding what God was doing. Here is something I learned that gave me hope during this time, and as I’m reminded of it today, gives me hope today too.
Did you read the scriptures above? What came first in the order of creation? God made plants on the third day. What do plant need to survive? Sunlight. God created plants to use sunlight to turn carbon dioxide and water into food (photosynthesis). Ok, but God didn’t create the sun until the fourth day. “What good are seed bearing plants with no sun for photosynthesis? In his wisdom God knew the work was good because He knew what was coming next” (Beth Moore).
God knows what’s coming next. He can look at our situation and say “it is good” because he knows the provisions he will make in our lives, if we trust him. He’s not worried or thrown off by all the plants that need food in our life. He’s got a plan; he knows the sun is coming. We can trust him.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
Looking back now, over the last four years, there are so many ways God provided. He knew everything that was coming, everything that I would need. I didn’t know, but He knew; he had a place for us to live, a job for my husband and an amazing church family. He knows what we need, he knows because he created us, just like he created the plants. And he’s not worried because tomorrow he will create the sun.
Daily Directional: 6.29.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
All That Shines
There’s a cool story in the Bible about how King Solomon wanted to honor God. After building a temple to the Lord, he commissioned the creation of extravagant, solid gold shields.
These gold shields hung on the walls and reminded all who saw them that the Lord had blessed Israel and all of her wealth was because of His mercy and grace on them.
Then, years later we read what happens to those shields:
In the fifth year of King Rehoboam’s reign, King Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Jerusalem. He ransacked the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple and the royal palace; he stole everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. (1 Kings 14:25-26)
The following verses tell us that Rehoboam made substitute bronze shields. He used the replacement shields to avoid admitting that he had screwed up and to try and keep people from noticing or remembering that their temple had been ransacked.
Those bronze shields looked like the gold ones if you didn’t get too close. If you shined them up and kept your distance, you might not realize they were cheap substitutes.
Isn’t that what we do sometimes? We polish up our lives and keep everyone at a distance, hoping no one will notice that we’ve replaced God’s best in our life with a cheap substitute.
Instead of hiding, what if we were honest before God and each other, and trusted that God would transform us the way He has promised?
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:9-11)
We are not supposed to hang bronze shields and hope that nobody notices. We are not supposed to present a fake front to God and hope that He will accept it. Instead, we are asked to present ourselves to God as we truly are and allow Him to transform us from the inside out.
Daily Directional: 6.27.20
Written by: Pastor Chuck Groover
People will insult you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do, you will be happy. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because you have a great reward waiting for you in heaven. People did the same evil things to the prophets who lived before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)
Jesus not only called attention to the blessings that flow from the throne of the Heavenly Father, He also provided information about what those who choose to follow Him should expect as a result of their following Him.
As Jesus came into this world, a world He created, He came unto His own (John 1) and His own received Him not. Those who would be expected to recognize Him and embrace Him for who He is did not. Throughout His ministry Jesus was challenged, accused, rejected, and finally crucified for who He is. Just as His Father was rejected in the garden, so too was Jesus denied by most.
For those who determine to walk in His path of righteousness, you can expect the same treatment because you follow Him. It is important to distinguish what Jesus said from the popular thought today. Jesus said those who follow Him would be insulted, hurt and lied about. In other words you will share in the treatment Jesus and everyone sent by the Heavenly Father has received. You are not to be glad when people persecuted you because of a pious position or stance you take on your own – that has little or nothing in common with Jesus and His compassion for people who are hurting and harassed by the cares of this world.
When a pious position is taken that can be cruel and does not consider the lost condition of people – that is not following Jesus. Jesus wept over the broken lives of people and never celebrated their brokenness.
Before we rejoice over people speaking against us, let’s make certain it is because we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus and not in our own piety expressing condemnation rather than compassion. Something to think about today.
Daily Directional: 6.26.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
38 They will be my people, and I will be their God. 39 And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. 41 I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.
If you read the rest of the chapter (and really the whole book of Jeremiah), you’ll know that these wonderful promises come in the midst of utter crisis. The people of Israel have abandoned God, the city of Jerusalem is going to fall, and there is a whole lot of misery in store for everyone involved.
But God promises restoration.
The key to it all, and the part I wrestle with the most, is that God must be the author of the restoration. For a moment, put someone you love in the place of Israel in this passage. I’m sure you, like me, want them to experience everything God describes in these verses – a heart for God, a clear purpose, the desire to worship, and an everlasting relationship with Him.
But we see clearly that He is the one who changes the hearts of His people. He places the desires in their hearts.
Most days, I want this passage to say that, “Katie Rose will argue her friends and family into one heart and one purpose.” Or, “If Katie Rose just says and does all the right things, and is convincing enough, they will desire to worship God and start doing all the things she believes is best for them.”
The terrifying but beautiful truth is that I am absolutely helpless when it comes to changing the hearts of the people I love. I can watch them struggle, and my heart can break for them, but there is no perfect combinations of words that is going to make them suddenly see the light. Heart change is God’s work, not mine.
The same goes for my own heart. I can see my own sin, and hate my own actions, but at the end of the day I am left with no choice but to come to God – desperate – asking Him to be the one to create a clean heart in me (Psalm 51:10).
But when I finally let go, I find nothing but freedom. Thank God that I’m not in charge of my own heart. Thank God that I’m not in control of the lives of the people around me. Instead, I get to put my trust in the One who sees the whole story, who never stops doing good, and who promises restoration if we will only return to Him.
Daily Directional: 6.25.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“On the third day a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’s mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding as well. When the wine ran out, Jesus’s mother told him, “They don’t have any wine.” “What has this concern of yours to do with me, woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour has not yet come.” “Do whatever he tells you,” his mother told the servants.”
I was reading this passage a week ago and it occurred to me that Mary’s words here represent one of the first (if not the first) prayers offered to Jesus.
I love its simplicity.
“They don’t have any wine” — she comes to Jesus and simply states her concern. She’s not even asking a question here, or really even asking Jesus to do anything specific…she is just telling Him what is bothering her.
She then follows up by directing the servants: “do whatever he tells you”.
Of course, what follows is Jesus’ first miracle; turning water into wine and kicking off His ministry on earth. But this moment begins with a prayer (of sorts) that contains two elements: a request, and a confirmation of Jesus’ authority.
As followers of Jesus we are invited to come boldly to God, and we are also invited to pray in the name of Jesus. We are actually instructed to pray for our wants (John 14:13). This may seem presumptuous, until you remember that we are also asked to call God father. We do not ask because we are in charge. We ask because we are beloved children of the One who is in charge.
As we pray, we can have the same attitude as Mary: bringing our cares to Jesus, and also declaring His authority over them. We can give our problems wholly to Him, and also put our faith in His solutions.
Mary did not know what Jesus was going to do about the problem, she just knew He could fix it. May our prayers be similarly marked by a fearless openness with our savior, and deep faith in His promises.
Daily Directional: 6.24.20
Once each week, we take a chance to focus on a specific passage from the Bible – use this opportunity to think, reflect, and pray over the following verses.
24 He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.27 His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. (Acts 17:24-27)
Daily Directional: 6.23.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6
Over the last few weeks, there seems to be a theme to what I have been sharing from the bible—food. Last week I shared about fruit and the gardening God does in our lives. The week before that we focused on seeing the goodness of God through good food. Today let’s talk about salt. Salt has many uses and is mentioned over 40 times in the bible. Jesus used it as a metaphor for us as believers in his famous ‘sermon on the mount’. Salt is primarily used for preserving and flavoring, but it was also used in sacrifices and even as currency. It was a valuable commodity in biblical times because of its preserving nature – there was not modern refrigeration, and this would keep food from going bad.
When Jesus says we are the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13) he is telling us we are valuable, we have a purpose, we enhance the world around us. Our purpose in being salt is to affect the world around us for good. Just like salt preserves meat, we are to affect the world positively and keep it from going bad. Salt also is a natural antiseptic and for thousands of years has been used for cleaning wounds. We are to be a healing force in our world. And just like salt enhances the flavor of food, we are to enhance the world around us by bringing hope, joy, love, etc. into the world because of what Christ has done for us. Now Jesus warns to not ‘lose your saltiness,’ but remember salt doesn’t have to work to be salty, it’s the Creator that makes it salty. Just like the branch must stay connected to the vine to bear fruit, we must stay in relationship with the salt maker (Jesus) to stay salty.
In the second verse above, Colossians 4:6, Paul teaches the Colossians about speech, by using an analogy of salt. One translation says, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt…” meaning grace does to our speech what salt does to food. One commentator wrote “so when grace goes along with speech, it makes it pure and incorrupt, sound speech which cannot be condemned: and the apostle’s view is, in this exhortation, that nothing unsavory and corrupt proceed out of the mouths of believers” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible). You know when you have a perfectly flavored meal, the chef has used salt to enhance the flavors, and you just want more and more of it. Our speech should be that way, it should leave people wanting to come back for more and ultimately lead people to the reason for your saltiness, Jesus.
Ask yourself: Am I this way in my community, do I flavor the world around me, do I encourage and lift up? Do I bring healing, joy, righteousness, hope? Is my speech full of grace, is it pure and incorrupt? Does my speech draw people to Jesus? When you go to post something on social media, or speak something to someone, ask yourself if what you’re going to say is seasoned with salt (grace). I encourage you to meditate on the scriptures above, thinking about what it means for us as believers to be salt in the world.
Daily Directional: 6.22.20
Written by: Ron Sears
Getting ready for a garage sale… I never realized how much stuff can be accumulated in such a short time. And, placing a .025 orange dot on an item that cost $30… I am reminded of the true value of stuff.
I once heard a pastor say, “No one leaves this world pulling a U-Haul.”
Today, as I sit waiting for the Nashvillians to come and give me all their quarters, I am reminded of the importance of focusing on the eternal… of investing in things of another world… And somehow I begin singing an old song from my childhood. This world is not my home. I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.
Then I return to reality as I hear myself saying, “Uh, yes ma’am. I’ll take a dime for that $90 Titans t-shirt.”
Daily Directional: 6.20.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)
When we’re stuck in a valley, it is all too easy to keep our eyes downward. We focus on our problems, our emotions, our circumstances. When that fails to supply the help we need, we look to the side – to what others have (or don’t have), to the advice the world has to offer, to whatever we can use to escape our reality. We find temporary solutions, but time and time again, we end up back in a valley.
But if we are looking for lasting hope, the kind of hope we can have confidence in, the only place to look is up. Beyond the valley, even past the mountaintop, to the One who spoke it all into existence.
Psalm 121 was often sung by travelers on long journeys, yearning to reach their destination. If they plodded along, singing these words, the truth is that their help hadn’t come yet. Their journey wasn’t over, and they were still very much in need of protection, guidance, and comfort. Even so, they looked up with confident expectation. They knew where help would come from, and more importantly WHO help would come from.
At each step along your journey, do you expect God to show up in your times of need? Or are you looking around for backup plans, in case God doesn’t come through and you have to figure things out on your own?
This confident expectation is the difference between an empty wish and a faith filled hope; the difference between a distant God and a God who came to Earth; the difference between a story that ends with the cross and our story that is still being written because the stone was rolled away.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Daily Directional: 6.19.20
Written by: Nick Stuart
Nick and Katie Stuart are missionaries to South/Central America that Harbor partners with – your giving allows us to support the Stuarts as they reach across the world with the hope of Jesus!
Romans 5:3-43 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
James 1:2-42 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I want to be completely open with you all during this short directional, as many of you know my wife and I are missionaries with Manna Worldwide and we absolutely LOVE Harbor Church!
During this time just like most of the world we are facing more tests and trials than we ever have. There is so much uncertainty circling the world and it’s tough for us to be limited in what God has called us to do. Currently we are not able to go to the countries we serve in because of all the restrictions and the borders being closed. But I love these few verses, because what we see here in the book of Romans and James is God sharing with us that during these tough times that’s when We, “The Church” need to step up! There are so many people in our sphere of influence that are struggling financially with loss of jobs, emotionally and physically with their health, and during this time of incredible need we need to share with people that the answer to all of this is Jesus.
People are scared and worried but God says to cast your burdens upon him. People are losing hope everyday with everything that is going on, and we have the answer to that, we have our hope in Jesus Christ who is bigger than all of this. But God has not called us to sit back and relax during this time, He has called us to Step-Up, Step-Out and Step-In to what He has called us to do. God has a purpose and plan for each of us!
I love these verses because we see God telling us that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces character and character produces HOPE! Then, we see in Joshua, God tells us to be Strong and Courageous. Maybe right now you are going through some very tough times, with your job, your family, or whatever else it may be – we need to remember to always come back to the cross knowing that he is the answer to all of this.
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” – Francis Chan
Lets remember that God is bigger than all of this, and that the little things of this world shouldn’t get in the way of what really matters; that is sharing the hope and love of Jesus Christ with everyone we know, especially during this time when so many people are hurting and seeking that hope.
Daily Directional: 6.18.20
Every now and then, we like to take a day to ensure that the focus is on the Bible and not on our words. Take this opportunity to think and pray over how God may want to use this verse in your life:
2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
Daily Directional: 6.17.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2
Basil is one of my favorite things in my garden right now. It smells so good and gives so much flavor to so many things. Last night I put it in my marinara sauce and on my salad, yum! Did you know that in order for a basil plant to produce more basil, you have to cut off some of the leaves? To encourage new growth, you pinch some of the leaves off, right above where you see two new leaves starting. You must prune it for it to continue to grow.
I read this passage in John the other day and started thinking about the pruning that God does in our lives, to us who are connected to the vine (Jesus) and are producing fruit (fruit is evidence that you are attached to the vine, like fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, etc. or making disciples, or acts of worship and service to God). Just like the basil needs to be cut away and pruned in order to produce more, Jesus is saying here that God will prune us so that we can bear more fruit than we already are.
Pruning is painful, and God can use many things to prune us. Maybe these last few months you have felt God pruning some things in your life. Although it may be painful, it can also be exciting. God is getting you ready to bear more fruit. There’s a promise here in this passage too. Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit…” John 15:5. Even though the pruning may be painful, Jesus promises that if we remain attached to the vine, to him, we WILL bear fruit, because the vine will give us what we need to bear fruit.
There is so much more in this passage in John (John 15:1-17). I encourage you to read the whole thing and study what it means for God to be the Gardener and Jesus the Vine. Don’t be surprised by the pruning but excited for the fruit that’s coming.
Daily Directional: 6.16.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
“How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?” Galatians 3:3-4
I read a story to explain what grace means in very basic, contemporary terms: Imagine you’re at a restaurant. You are taking your family out for a luxurious dinner. You begin by ordering appetizers that wow your family, hoping they take your queue to not worry about the bill and just enjoy the best of what they can through your graciously given opportunity. They order top of the line drinks and entrees from the most expensive part of the menu, as do you, to enjoy the most out of your time at this nice restaurant. The time comes at the end of the meal to pay the bill, and having prepared your finances ahead you are ready to take the check on behalf of the sensational dinner you and your family have experienced. The waiter comes to your table to inform you that the check has already been paid for. You naturally contest this because you had no intention of taking charity for this kind of night, but the waiter assures you that your bill has been paid in full. A stranger approaches your table at this time to shake your hand and tell you that they were the one who paid your bill. At this time, you now have two options: accept the generosity of someone you don’t know and earnestly thank that person for what they have done, or argue with them that they had no right to pay your bill and that you were fully prepared to take care of your own debts.
Are you surprised by what you naturally feel if you put yourself in the shoes of the person trying to take your family to a nice dinner? Would your pride have gotten in the way when the stranger approached you in front of your family to tell you that everything you had previously enjoyed was actually on their bill, not yours? Imagine if you had truly dug your heels in, how that would feel to the person who was trying to do a nice thing for you? Naturally, this pales in comparison to the image we see between us and Jesus. And that’s what grace is.
We have this large bill, some of us believe we can pay it, some of us don’t know how we’re going to afford it. Then Jesus walks in and tells us it has all been taken care of. So what do we do then? Here’s where the entire book of Galatians speaks to us – right in the middle of the contention where our pride, guilt, shame, egos, and more come face to face with the grace of God. Galatians 3:3-4 feels like quite a spiritual smack, and rightfully so! Because honestly, how foolish can we be? When grace has come in to take our steep checks from us, why not celebrate, shake the strangers hand, invite him to dinner and make a wonderful eternal friend out of him?! If only we were so ready to accept generosity. And if we are that willing to accept it, shouldn’t we then continue to eat out every night hoping the benefactor continues to pay our bills? NO! (Romans 6:1) Should we feel bad about the debt that has been paid, accept it, and then try to convince the restaurant later that we can pay for that same bill through strenuous dish work or vacuuming? NO! (Galatians 3:3) We should celebrate the promises given to us by the blood of Jesus, and do what we can to tell others of the freedom we have found in Christ (Galations 3).
There is much turmoil in the world right now, as there has always been. We should speak up when evils are done to our fellow man, but not in such a way that we are trying to earn back the salvation already given to us. We should do good and love others because of the salvation given to us. And if this seems like a simple concept, take a moment to pray and reflect on the last 10 things you’ve done for someone else and search your heart if any of them were because you felt that you owed that person, owed God, or owed your ego.
For you are all children of God through FAITH in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on CHRIST, like putting on new clothes. (Galatians 3:26-27)
Daily Directional: 6.15.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
This simple verse is one I often use as a prayer at the beginning of my day. It helps to align my heart correctly and serves to remind me that my goal in that day is to do one thing – please the Lord. Serving the Lord with our actions is not always easy, but what can be even more challenging is pleasing Him in our speech and in our thought life. Words have power! It is our speech – written or spoken – that will either bring about death or life in our own life and in the lives of others who are impacted by our words. (Proverbs 18:21) What we choose to meditate on (to dwell on, to think about repeatedly) directly affects our ability to please the Lord in what we do, say, and think.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
We cannot will our way into thinking the things that will change us and make us more like Christ. Thankfully it doesn’t depend on us! God is the one who does the transforming – if we submit to Him and cooperate with Him by letting Him transform us. Another version states it this way: “be transformed and progressively changed by the renewing of your mind.” How is the mind renewed? Here’s where our part comes in – we choose what things we will think or meditate on.
The Psalms give us direction as to what we should be meditating on – God’s unfailing love, His law, His wonderful works, His precepts, His decrees, His wonders, His statutes, His promises. In fact, the Psalms begin with instruction as to how often we should be meditating on God’s Word – day and night! We are promised if we do so we will be blessed.
Over and over again throughout the Psalms we are reminded that if we would only believe that God’s Word is something so right, so trustworthy, so wonderful, so joy and peace giving we would learn to love and delight in it and find our soul revived if we would just continually dwell on it.
I don’t know about you, but I need this reminder. Despite starting my day by reading the Bible, as the rest of the day gets underway, my thoughts can so easily drift away from God’s life-giving words and drift into all kinds of other life-draining thoughts. I can start to focus on my selfish wants instead of putting God and others first. I can become weighed down with the problems of this world instead of putting my faith and hope in the One who promises He has overcome the world and works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28; John 16:33) Pretty soon, if I don’t take these selfish and anxious thoughts (to name a few!) captive and bring them into alignment with God’s Word, my speech, as well as my mood and actions will start to reflect what my heart is meditating on. (Luke 6:45; 2 Corinthians 10:5) But the good news is that God has given us the ability to choose to fix our minds on His Word. When we do so we are promised joy and peace that passes understanding, as well as a life that is transformed and guided by the Holy Spirit. (Colossians 3:2; Isaiah 26:3)
When Pastor Kevin Eloy came to preach at Harbor this past fall, he said, “Thoughts become words; words become actions; actions repeated become habits; habits repeated become destinies. My life will follow my thinking.”
God has graciously given us His Word. Dwell on it. Obey it. And watch your thoughts, your speech, and your life be transformed!
“A noble and God–like character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with God–like thoughts.”
James Allen – As a Man Thinketh
Daily Directional: 6.13.20
Written by: Timothy Keller, from “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life”
23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. 24 Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. 25 Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. 26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. (Proverbs 4:23-26)
The Heart Shapes the Actions
In the Bible the heart is not primarily the seat of the emotions in contrast to the head as the seat of reason. Rather, the heart is the seat of your deepest trusts, commitments, and loves, from which everything flows. What the heart most loves and trusts, the mind finds reasonable, the emotions find desirable, and the will finds doable.
How do you guard your heart? The passage hints that, though ultimately the heart is the central control, our words, eyes, and feet can influence the heart. If we gaze longingly enough at an object, it may capture our heart through the imagination (as when Achan looked, desired, and finally stole the treasure in Joshua 7). If we speak bitterly against someone, we can sour our heart toward them. The best way to guard your heart for wisdom is worship, in which the mouth, the mind, the imagination, and even the body are all oriented to God.
Is there some way in which you are failing to guard your heart right now? Are there things you are seeing or doing that may be moving your heart away from God? This morning, ask God to guard your heart – just as you don’t want to digest or take bad things into your body, ask God for the wisdom and self-control to not allow toxic images and beliefs into your heart through your imagination and thoughts.
Daily Directional: 6.12.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“One day as he was teaching the people in the temple and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the scribes, with the elders, came and said to him, “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?” He answered them, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves: “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are convinced that John was a prophet.”
So they answered that they did not know its origin. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”” Luke 20:1-8
“Don’t answer a fool according to his foolishness or you’ll be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his foolishness or he’ll become wise in his own eyes.” Proverbs 26:4-5
I will be transparent: these are among my favorite passages in scripture. In our current era, where online debate is an ever present temptation and it feels as though every argument deserves our “two-cents”, these two passages have served as my guardrails to remind me that I am allowed to exercise the wisdom God has given me to excuse myself from unproductive conversation.
Jesus had the full power of God at his disposal, and even HE knew that some fights are not able to be won — even if you have the right answer. It is a relief to me to know that my charge as a Christ follower isn’t to win arguments, it is to love God and those around me. It is possible to have the right answer, but also to have the wisdom to know when that correct answer will not be understood.
It is possible to willingly lose an argument and still win for the sake of the gospel. The Bible tells us that our love for one another will show the world that we are disciples of the true God, not our ability to win arguments.
Wisdom is a gift of God, but do not worry if you are not able to persuade others to see your point of view. Often the wisdom of God appears as foolishness to the world (1 Corinthians 3:19), and it is the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s truths to the world. It is our work to love others as Christ has loved us, and to share the gospel as we also live it our in our own lives, serving one other and the world around us.
Daily Directional: 6.11.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
John 1:42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”).
Matthew 16:16-18 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
Some of my favorite stories in the Bible are when God gives people new names. In the life of Simon Peter, we see a simple fisherman changed so completely that Jesus says his name needs to reflect a new man: someone so solid and faithful that he will be a rock upon which God will build His church.
Like Simon Peter in John 1:42, we are meant to have an initial moment of transformation when we meet Jesus for the first time – but it should not stop there. After that first encounter, Peter experienced failure and forgiveness, just as we all do while taking steps toward becoming who God has called us to be. You see, the change in name was simply the beginning, the mark of the start of Simon becoming the Peter that God knew he would become.
So what got Peter to the point that he lived up to his new name? Time spent with Jesus. Learning from Him, following Him, changing and growing into the rock of a man that Jesus saw in him from day one.
And so it is meant to be with us. I hope you’ve already had that initial encounter with Jesus, when you decide to follow Him completely and are made into a new person on the spot (2 Corinthians 5:17). But when was the last time that your proximity to Jesus brought about change in your life? Not just a moment of “I want to be better,” but actual, tangible change put into action.
If we’re finding a lack of change in ourselves, it doesn’t come from God – He is still the same God who changed Simon into Peter, and wants to do the same in our hearts. It must, then, come from me and you. From a lack of genuine, surrendered time spent at the feet of Jesus. Time when we block out the noise of the outside world, and focus entirely on what God has for us, allowing him to transform us from the inside out.
Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
I don’t know what new name God has planned for you – but I know He’s not done using simple fishermen like you and me to continue building His church and changing lives.
Daily Directional: 6.10.20
Written by: Craig Alsup
Craig and his family are missionaries to Asia that Harbor partners with – your giving allows us to support the Alsups as they share the hope of Jesus around the world!
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
If this year has done nothing else, it has taught us as believers and as full-time missionaries that our plans are not always God’s plans. These verses remind us that we must be flexible in our plans and submit them to the Lord. This is not a call to stop planning, but a call to realize that in every circumstance our greater call is to follow the Lord down whatever path He leads.
Taking these verses in and accepting this premise is freeing and frightening.
We want control. We want things to go our way.
Too often and for too many of us, we want a faith that saves AND a freedom that allows us to accept the salvation that Jesus gives, but not the submission that follows.
If the Lord wills, in time our lives will return to ‘normal’. But is normal what we’re after?
My favorite part of this verse is the final part. It’s a clarion call to each follower of Christ to do the extraordinary. To see the needs around us and the needs within us, to determine the right thing to do from scripture and the Spirit’s leading, and to do it no matter the consequences.
We are called to reject sin and seek after the good of others, to the Glory of God.
May we do the right thing, no matter the consequences, Church. May we do it for His Glory and the good of those around us and for our own good.
Daily Directional: 6.9.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“This is what the Lord says—
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters,
who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:16-19
This verse popped up in my Facebook memories today, as I was sitting here trying to think of something to write for this week’s directional. Feeling a little overwhelmed with what is going on in the world, I take great comfort in the promises of God. In this promise God lays out why he is trustworthy, why you should listen up to what he’s about to say. Then he gives a command for Israel, whose principle can be applied very easily to our lives, and then he gives his promise.
This is what the Lord says, listen to him because he has done amazing things in your life. Water parting, enemy extinguishing, life changing things. Just like God brought the Israelites out of slavery, his son, Jesus, broke the bonds of sin in our lives. Forget about the things in your past, God is doing something new, look for it, do you see it? God promises he is making a way where it seems lost and too broken, he will bring “streams in the wasteland.”
Daily Directional: 6.8.20
Once each week, we like to highlight a verse or passage on its own and give you an opportunity to reflect on it, keep it in your mind, and use it as you pray. This morning, join us as we take a look at:
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
Daily Directional: 6.6.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
There’s a lot of information coming in these days (or at least that’s what it feels like to me) so I wanted to share something simple with you. A small promise from scripture to encourage you to press on.
Often doing the right thing feels futile, like a drop in the ocean as we see what is happening in the world around us. Our small acts of obedience feel pointless when injustice continues, when divisions become larger, when wrong seems to triumph. Maybe for some of us it’s more personal: a broken relationship that doesn’t mend despite our best efforts, a physical ailment that isn’t alleviated in spite of our prayers.
I can’t tell you what your harvest will look like. I can’t tell you that eventually God will respond the exact way that you want Him to. What I can offer is the promise that we are given in Galatians. God will bless us at just the right time, if we don’t give up. The work of our faith in the day to day is often the simple exercise of choosing to trust God, even when His provision seems delayed.
Do not get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get tired when it would be easier to give up, don’t get tired when your efforts feel pointless, don’t get tired when other’s mock you, don’t get tired when it seems like God doesn’t see you. God has promised that His blessings come in perfect timing, He has promised that there is a reward for your effort. So do not despair, and do not give up. God can and will work through your trust and through your obedience— so let’s keep doing what is good.
Daily Directional: 6.5.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
Remain in me, and I will 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. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:10)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-10)
We pride ourselves on being “busy” people. We like to get things done and be productive. But how do we know at the end of the day if all our busy-ness has been truly fruitful?
In the life of David, we see an example of a man who was known as “a man after God’s own heart.” In addition to being a man who lived a life of worship, he also modeled the kind of leader God desires…most of the time. David was known for “inquiring of the Lord” before he made any decision. In other words, before he acted, he got God’s perspective on it. However, there are a few times David does not inquire of the Lord before acting and the results are disastrous. One such incident finds him going ahead with his plan without getting God’s perspective, as well as ignoring good counsel. You can read about it and the resulting devastation in I Chronicles 21 and 2 Samuel 24. Oh, there was a lot done during this time – over 9 months worth of work to accomplish the task of taking the census. It wasn’t the taking of the census that was David’s sin. In fact, there are times in Scripture God even commands it. However, David’s reasons for doing it (most likely pride and trusting in numbers rather than God) were not pleasing to God. David later admits his sin, but this does not remove the consequences of his actions. There was a lot of time and effort expended on a task that kept a lot of people in David’s kingdom busy and productive. A huge task was completed but, in God’s eyes, it was far from fruitful.
Jesus tells his disciples in John that apart from Him they can do nothing. Nothing. Well, if you look around, we are all doing a whole lot each day, so it’s not as though we are actually doing nothing, but the question is – are we living a fruitful life, one that is “worthy of the Lord,” a life that pleases Him? It’s not just that we are physically unable to do anything. Clearly, we can accomplish a great deal in this life – but we will do nothing of worth apart from God – nothing truly fruitful.
What is it that qualifies as fruitful in God’s eyes? A fruitful life is one that pleases the Lord. Paul instructs us in Ephesians, as children of light, to find out what pleases the Lord. Think about the effect of light on plants. Plants that don’t live in the light will wither away eventually. Just as plants need light to be fruitful, only by living in the light of God’s truth will we grow and thrive and have a fruitful life.
Jesus says that we will not bear fruit unless we remain in Him. He reveals the key to remaining in Him in John 15:10 “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.” We see a principle that is simple, although not always easy. It is up to us to “find out what pleases the Lord” and then to do it. We get to know the Lord and what pleases Him through reading His Word and listening to the godly counsel He puts in our lives. As we obey God’s directives, we are promised that our life will be fruitful.
How can we know if all our “doing” is pleasing to the Lord? “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands.” (I John 2:3) The evidence of really knowing and loving God is that we are people who are characterized by obeying His commands. When we obey Him, our lives will bear the fruit of a life that pleases God – a life that is loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. (Gal. 5:22-23)
Daily Directional: 6.4.20
Written by: Lori Dutra
Jeremiah 10:23 “Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
I recently suffered a knee injury that suddenly made me very aware of how I walk: “Heel-toe, heel-toe” is what the nurse said, and now I’m mindful of every step I take. I’m finally off the crutches, but moving slowly, occasionally grabbing onto things for support and balance.
I am one who goes, goes, goes from one project to the next, always having something to do, wanting to be productive. I stay busy cleaning, organizing, planning, fixing, straightening, scrolling – DOING – but often overlooking the more important things that should be the focus of my time and energy. My steps are pressured, hectic and misguided, the furthest thing from being “mindful”.
My Heavenly Father knows me SO WELL and loves me so much. He allows “injuries”- events – into my life to slow me down, stop me in my tracks, and redirect my steps. Like a parent when a child wanders, God wants to guide the steps of my life in the right direction, away from harm. I know God is stopping me in my tracks to break this exhausting cycle.
Breaking bad habits and wrong cycles is uncomfortable; it slows my spiritual progress, like walking on crutches. I feel spiritually like I do physically – like I’m hobbling around awkwardly. But God promises me in His Word (if I’d only take the time to read it) that I can come out stronger from every challenge, and that He’s with me every step of the way.
Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
My Heavenly Father supports me and holds me up, like my crutches do, until I’m ready to start walking (with Him) again.
But here I go AGAIN! I’m finally able to walk without my crutches, and I still want to hobble around the house overdoing it, putting unnecessary strain on my knee. And here comes the weakness and discomfort again! I have to hold onto things to stay balanced.
How similar this is to when I try to walk without God. I wander off His perfect path, heading straight for the path that I want. It never fails. I think that I don’t need God’s help; I can do my own thing. I’ll take control. I’ll do “me”. But as much as I try, I HAVE to hold onto something! And if it’s not my Heavenly Father, I fall.
The more I try to direct my own steps, the more I wander off His good and perfect path. And the more I wander without His support, the more weakness and discomfort I have. And SURPRISE – now I need to stop, ice, and elevate.
And so it is in my spiritual life. God is teaching me to STOP trying to GO-GO-GO! He’s teaching me to REST and TRUST in Him. He’s teaching me that I need spiritual ‘ice and elevation’ – to study His Word, to pray, to rest in His presence. Sometimes I get it right, other times not. But my Heavenly Father loves and forgives me. He knows I’m doing my best – with His guidance – to walk with “mindful steps.”
Daily Directional: 6.3.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14
I remember learning this verse in a counseling class in college. The professor called it the instruction manual for how to counsel. Since Pastor Josh has been speaking on relationships, I began to think about this verse as a great guideline for relationships and how we interact with others.
First, “be patient with everyone,” at the end of the verse, is the overarching theme of how we should interact with all people; with patience. If I was just better at this one, I know all my relationships would be better.
Let’s look at rest of this verse. There are three different types of people; the idle, the disheartened and the weak. The word idle was used in Greek society for those who did not show up for work. Some translations use the word lazy or disorderly/out of ranks—those who are choosing to walk in a way contrary to what God has directed them to. For these people we are instructed to admonish. The word admonish here in the Greek translates to warn, caution and gently reprove. This is not condemnation; this is a warning coming from love and requires patience.
The disheartened are those who, because of life (nurture or nature), are timid and lack courage. Paul instructs us to patiently encourage or calm them. And the weak, or those without strength, need to be helped. In the Greek the word help here translates to “keep oneself directly opposite, to hold to him firmly.” It is a support when someone is without strength.
I encourage you in your relationships to first be patient with everyone, but also to try and understand where the person is coming from and to use this wisdom from the Bible as a help for how best to approach the situation.
Daily Directional: 6.2.20
Written by: Shawn Brown
Who hasn’t done a little bit of “binge watching” during this stay-at-home advisory across the Commonwealth? My daughter Erin and I recently watched one of her FAVORITE movies from when she was growing up, “Soul Surfer”, the true story of Bethany Hamilton and her life as a surfer after a horrific shark attack.
During one scene, a character quotes Jeremiah 29:11, ‘“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.”’ Erin just about jumped off the couch! “Every girl in middle school had that as their favorite Bible verse!”
Who doesn’t love an inspiring Bible verse, right? However, do we remember what Jeremiah 29:10 says?? “The Lord says: “You will be (in exile) in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.”
Wait, what? I need to wait 70 years in exile before I get the good things you’ve promised, Lord? Heck, I bet to the people who heard that message, the previous generation’s circumstances of wandering in the desert for 40 years looked like a pretty good deal.
To some of us right now, it may indeed feel like we’re all in some sort of 70 year exile. The reality of this “situation” for us is that it’s barely been 70 days! But the fact of the matter is, this is just a season in our lives. Yes, hold on to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, but remember all the other promises we get from the divine word of God. We are not alone, for Isaiah 41:13 reminds us that, “I hold you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’” In this time of testing, remember that, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) When our thoughts get the best of us and it seems like we have no one who will listen, remember, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6) Trust in the Lord, “My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.” (Proverbs 3:1-3)
Pastor Josh reminded us during one of the 8:28’s to “be hungry” and try to memorize a verse of scripture every week – not just during these times, but during all times. That way, when you need to do battle against the forces of evil, you have “the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” in your heart to help you fight the battle!
Daily Directional: 6.1.20
Written by: Pastor Ron Sears
Did you know… John Maxwell wrote that most people who desire success mistakenly focus almost entirely on themselves and not others.
Douglas Lawson wrote, “We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give.”
The current world shutdown has given each of us time – to do the forgotten; complete the unfinished; to (even in our self separation) invest in others.
The Bible is filled with examples. Ruth had Naomi. Moses found his Joshua. Elijah was given Elisha. And on a road to nowhere Saul was given Jesus.
If you can see God’s plan in all of this, you can find true success.
Help someone learn commitment and express, “May nothing but death separate us.” Learn to lead from the wilderness into the Land of Promise by walking with the elder. Show someone God’s plan so they can accomplish twice as much as you.
From your “prison” called quarantine, write a note and say… “In all these things we are more than conquerers through Christ.”
True success comes when one generation impacts the next; one person touches another…
When asked for a final message from his deathbed, the founder of the Salvation Army simply said, “Others.”
Use this quarantine wisely and focus on others.
Daily Directional: 5.30.20
Take some time this morning to simply reflect, pray, and focus on these words from the Bible. These daily directionals are great, but it’s much more important that we are spending personal time in God’s Word, and personal time with God in prayer. Take this opportunity to do just that.
14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Daily Directional: 5.29.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
Canonizing the order of the Bible was a heated debate for hundreds of years (and still today according to some groups). We don’t often think about how or why this massive book we pick up is organized the way it is, but I think it is an interesting history lesson to look into. If you spent much time in Sunday school growing up you may be able to rattle off the books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Joshua…etc. But did you know that according to the original Hebrew tradition these Old Testament books were in a different order? Much of it the same, but the overall layout of the books were placed into the Torah (or teaching), the Prophets, and the Writings. For thousands of years the Word of God was taught to the Jewish people in roughly this order, and though the order of the Bible is not divinely inspired, the scripture itself is. So how did this divinely inspired scripture end in its original form just prior to Jesus arriving in history? The answer may surprise some of you: Chronicles.
The last chapter of Chronicles ends with a summary of a succession of kings who ruled over Israel. One of the final kings, Zedekiah, “did evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 36:12). The chapter goes on to say, “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy.” (2 Chronicles 36:15-16) The final verses end as a new king takes this kings place, and with the Lord’s blessing on him he says, “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up!” (2 Chronicles 36:23) This story may seem like an odd way to end the chapters of history before Jesus, but in reality it is a direct parallel to the sinful condition of humanity and the great restorative gift God gives us in His son. Israel had yet again abandoned the Lord, and we read here that God specifically sends messengers “again and again” in an attempt to rescue them until “there was no remedy.” What better way to end the chapters of biblical history than to be reminded that we were once beyond remedy. Israel, like us, was at the very end of its rope. In this story, Israel was sent a king, Cyrus, who corralled the people to rebuild the temple of God, to pave a way for restoration. Likewise in our story, at the very end of our rope, God sent us a messenger in John the Baptist to pave the way for our ultimate restoration through Jesus Christ. In the final chapter of the final book of the original Old Testament, God was building a new kingdom for His people.
If you were to read those words a few thousand years ago and then flip the page into Matthew where the opening lines are the historical genealogy of Jesus set in the right place in history to be the Messiah, the story would have seemed seamless! Of course the true new kingdom is not a physical one, but a new kingdom of eternal salvation in Jesus. What a hope for us today to read the dejecting phrase “until there was no remedy” to flip the next page to Jesus came.
Daily Directional: 5.28.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:1-6
Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
The power of scripture is its ability to pierce through our surface appearance and reach down into the reality of our motivations. In that respect, the passages above are (in my opinion) some of the most painful in the entire Bible.
In the era of social media it sometimes feels as though we are just a collection of the things we project. Even for those who aren’t heavy social media users, it can feel sometimes like nothing we do is real if nobody notices it. But when we adopt this mindset, our acts of kindness begin to take on an air of selfishness as we “practice our righteousness in front of others, to be seen by them.” We begin to seek validation from the very people we are trying to serve, we become more consumed with receiving praise than we are with loving those around us.
This view can also lead us to discouragement when we feel that we aren’t being noticed, or thanked properly. We may even stop doing good things, sure that nobody appreciates them and that it is all pointless.
This is not the kind of service believers are called to. As followers of Christ, human affirmation should never be our goal. Instead, we are called to love and to serve and to give because it is right, not because it makes us look good. God uses our good works to point others to Him, yes, but it is His power — and not our own effort — that fuels that process.
When we do things God’s way, it removes the barriers that so often drive a wedge between us and others. When we do right and trust that God sees us, even when nobody else does, it removes the chance for bitterness, envy, resentment and greed to take root in our hearts. This is what allows God’s power to shine through us, so that others will come to know Him because of our example.
Daily Directional: 5.27.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
Don’t Look Too Hard
“Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.””Daniel 6:3-5
When I was younger my mother would often make cleaning my room a prerequisite for being allowed to do the most recent thing I had requested to do; go play outside, ride my bike, hang out at a friend’s house, etc. She would inspect my work like a a drill sergeant looking for infractions. I remember that feeling of nervously watching her look around my room, inspecting the bed spread, peering under the bed for tossed toys or dirty clothes. I would stand nearby just whispering under my breath – “don’t look too hard”.
This “inspection” from my childhood came to mind when I was reading the story of Daniel. This part of the story often gets skipped on our way to reading about Daniel in the lions’ den (spoiler alert: he makes it out). But these verses aren’t in the Bible to act as filler. They remind us of a few important takeaways.
1. There are people out there looking for a reason to discredit you. Now that doesn’t mean everyone is out to get you, but it does mean we all have our critics. Especially those of us trying to live our faith out loud for the world to see. Some people don’t want to see your faith, they just want to see your failure.
2. Those critics are going to be thorough. Like my mom, or any good drill sergeant, your critics will also be very intentional to inspect the tiny corners and dark closets they think you’re most likely to be hiding something.
My question to you today, is: how hard do they need to look? How long would they have to read your social media posts? How long would they have to listen to one of your conversations at the water cooler? How many texts messages or browser histories would they need to inspect before they found something to condemn you? If you knew they were looking through your trash can right now, would you be whispering “don’t look too hard”?
We all have issues. Even me. Especially me. I’m not writing this to guilt trip you or make you feel ashamed. I writing it to remind you that 1)Christ died to forgive those sins and to remove that shame. And 2) That if we know people are looking for a reason to discredit our faith, to shame our Savior, to mock our Hope… then we have to ask ourselves: ‘are we making it easy for them?’
I hope not.
Let us all live our lives (privately and publicly) in a way that would say ‘there was no error or fault found in him/her.’
Daily Directional: 5.26.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the Lord came to him a second time: ‘This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’” Jeremiah 33:1-3
Call to Me
Jeremiah 33:3 is a familiar verse to me, in fact a few months back this was the Harbor Kids memory verse and I loved seeing the videos of the kids reciting it. But I didn’t realize the verses surrounding it, or the complete context this promise from God was given. Jeremiah was in prison. And this is what God wanted him to know. First, he reminds Jeremiah that He is LORD (Yahweh), the LORD that formed the earth. When God refers to himself as Yahweh, he is reminding Jeremiah (and Israel) of his covenant, promise making, promise keeping, faithful relationship with Israel. The God that made everything and keeps all his promises is speaking, listen up Jeremiah.
Next, God tells Jeremiah to call to him and God promises to answer. The God who made the earth and keeps his promises, promises Jeremiah and Israel, that if they called to him, he would answer them. This promise may have been meant for Jeremiah and Israel, but the faithfulness of God is eternal, the principle that when we call out to God, he answers us is for everyone. Jesus himself said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” Matthew 7:7.
Like Jeremiah who was in prison, maybe the last few months have felt a little like prison. If you’re feeling a little stuck—stuck at home, stuck in anxiety, stuck in a rut—call to God, ask him, seek him, and he will “answer you, and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Daily Directional: 5.25.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
“Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.” Proverbs 28:26
I stumbled across this verse the other day, and couldn’t believe how counter cultural it is. Everywhere we look, we are told that YOU can do it and YOU’VE got this. It appears that, if we would just believe in ourselves and try hard enough, we can make it happen – the dream job, dream family, dream relationships, etc.
Yet here we see the exact opposite. If we trust our own insight, we are fools. Yikes.
The truth is, I love my own insight. I think the things that go on in my brain are great! Right up until I make a mistake, or come into conflict with someone else who also seems to think that their ideas are awesome, or need to make a decision and suddenly realize that I don’t have all the answers.
Through prayer, however, I have direct access to the God who created the entire universe. The God who created the moon and the stars and sunflowers and mountains wants me to tap into Him as the source of wisdom for my life. And He wants to give that wisdom freely!
Prayer is such an easy thing to write about, or talk about, or think about, but it is often incredibly difficult to actually do. It takes patience, and discipline, and complete trust in a God that you cannot see and a process that rarely brings immediate results. Like anything worth doing, true and honest prayer takes time.
But if we want to walk in wisdom, we cannot hope to do it without building intentional prayer time into our everyday lives – because we can spend all day talking about God, but if we’re not talking to Him, where are our insights really coming from?
Maybe you have a great, consistent time of prayer with God everyday. I hope you do. But maybe (like everyone I have ever known has experienced at some point) you’re struggling to find the time, or the space, or the words, or the faith to talk to God. I’d challenge you right now to simply….do it. Don’t worry about saying the right things, or allotting the proper amount of time, or getting mad at yourself when your mind drifts. Just talk to God, openly and honestly.
If you don’t have the words – tell Him that. If you’re struggling with doubts – tell Him that. If you’re scared or anxious – tell Him that. And if you, like me, are tired of trusting in your own insights – tell Him that, and ask for the wisdom to walk forward.
Daily Directional: 5.23.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
WHAT YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR…
One day a young man came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
Jesus tells him to keep the commandments from the Old Testament and recites a few to the young man, and then we see the story take a turn, you can read what happens next:
“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Matthew 19:20-22
What I noticed (and what I’d like for you to pray on today) is that Jesus says something so pointed (and on the surface, even hurtful!) that the young man is taken aback. The Bible says he leaves sad/depressed.
Why would Jesus do that?!?
When given the opportunity to encourage or uplift someone, shouldn’t we? Of course! BUT we aren’t supposed to lie either.
Jesus actually models what a REAL friend should be. What a real teacher does. How a real leader reacts. Jesus was a true friend.Jesus told the young man a hard truth. Jesus gave him a honest but poignant fact about what life “on mission” is supposed to look like.
Too often people think it’s unkind to speak truth into someone’s life. That’s probably why some people choose to never say anything confrontational to their friends. But is that really working? Are you really a friend if you don’t give honest truth?
Don’t get me wrong: You need grace to be coupled with truth. You don’t use “truth” to beat someone up. It’s not a knife to stab them with, it’s a scalpel to do surgery in order to help them get better.
Choose your words carefully, your friendships depend on them. Choose your friendships wisely because your future is shaped by them.
Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14 “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
Psalm 141:5 “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me;It is oil upon the head;
Do not let my head refuse it,
For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds.”
Daily Directional: 5.22.20
Join us this morning as we take some time to focus on a few specific verses. Pray through these verses, think about them, talk about them, and ask God how He might use them to guide you toward being more like Jesus today.
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Daily Directional: 5.21.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
Whenever the Lord raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the Lord took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering. (Judges 2:18)
Judges is one of the most bittersweet books of the Bible in my opinion. Here we have a nation set apart by God to bring Him glory and be the conduit for His presence on Earth throughout the Old Testament. And yet, in spite of this great honor that no other nation shared except for Israel, they continuously abandon the Lord and worship other gods. And in spite of their rebellion, the Lord remains faithful to this people by rescuing them from themselves over and over. Judges shows us, if nothing else, the magnificent gift of God’s long-suffering patience, and I believe we have much to learn from Israel’s hot and cold relationship with God for our lives today. To bring you up to speed on exactly what I mean when I say “hot and cold” I want to share an abridged version of Israel’s history through the book of Judges by a series of verses:
The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight….(Judges 3:7)
But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord raised up a rescuer to save them. (Judges 3:9)
Once again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight…(Judges 3:12)
But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord again raised up a rescuer to save them (Judges 3:15)
…the Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight….Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help.(Judges 4:1,3)
(God sends Deborah and brings Israel victory)
The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. (Judges 6:1)
Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help. (Judges 6:6)
(God sends Gideon and brings Israel victory)
As soon as Gideon died…They forgot the Lord their God, who had rescued them from all their enemies surrounding them. (Judges 8:33-34)
Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. (Judges 10:6)
Finally, they cried out to the Lord for help…(Judges 10:10)
Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the Lord. And he was grieved by their misery. (Judges 10:16)
Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for forty years. (Judges 13:1)
(God sends Samson and the rest of Judges follows his story and the aftermath of his reign as a judge, as well as what became of Israel).
At the end of Judges, the final verse states “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” How many times did we read the same verses showing Israel abandoning God, crying out for help, God rescuing them, and then Israel yet again abandoning God? Even at the end of so many years of this pattern, Israel still concludes this section of history by “doing whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” But much like the story of Jonah, I believe we have far more to learn from God’s response than we do the human character we are reading about. God did not withhold His anger from Israel, but neither did He withhold His faithfulness to rescue them. What a beautiful picture this is of what was to come when God sent His son Jesus to be the final rescuer for us all, in spite of thousands of years of rebellion, in spite of that final verse that says Israel still chose themselves over God. Judges teaches us that where the love of God is, there is no action that can stop this love when we earnestly cry out to Him. He has endless compassion for His children, and He has a plan for our rescue at every moment of our lives. I don’t know what you are facing today, and I don’t know what mess you may have made of your situation – but I do know that whatever it is God has a plan to rescue you from it. When you cry out to God, there may be repercussions for having abandoned Him, but He will always return to you as you return to Him. Today I am grateful that there is no final hammer from our heavenly Father, that in the end we will have a victory in the form of eternal presence with Him should we accept it.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Daily Directional: 5.20.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. (James 3:13-17)
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
We are constantly being bombarded with information. The internet age has brought the sums of man’s knowledge (and opinions!) to our fingertips, and it does not take long for that amount of input to wear a person out! How can anyone discern what is right? How can anyone know where to find truth, who to believe, or how to behave?
This verse from James gives us a quick litmus test that we can use to judge our mindset. James gives a method for determining whether or not we are thinking correctly according to God’s standards. Our first test is humility: are we living in humility? If our hearts are filled with bitterness, selfishness, or jealousy, then we can be sure that our supposed “wisdom” does not line up with God’s heart.
Next we are given a checklist: is our wisdom pure? What about peace loving? Gentle? Willing to yield to others? Do we show favoritism; treating some with love and others with contempt? Are we merciful and quick to forgive? If our opinions or our worldview fails this test, that’s a sign that we need to return to God humbly in prayer and ask for a reset. James 1:5 promises us that God gives wisdom generously, and that He pours is out freely on anyone who asks for it in sincerity and humility.
As believers, we have direct access to the storehouses of God’s perfect wisdom. We don’t have to live in confusion, fear, or uncertainty: we can go to the source of knowledge and ask God to give us a mindset that matches His, to give us wisdom that lines up with what is true.
God Himself instructs us with humility, gentleness, and mercy; and He has asked us to deal with each other in the same way.
Daily Directional: 5.19.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8
Taste and See
This verse jumped out at me last week, maybe because of how much I love food, especially good food (although that’s not all this verse is talking about, I’ll get to that in a second). My mind wandered, as I read it, to the goodness of God regarding good food. Have you ever thought about how wonderful God is to have made things taste good? He could have made a world where our nutrients came from a mush like substance with no flavor (think the Matrix), but he didn’t. He gave us sweet strawberries, savory wheat, salt (which is a flavor but also is used to bring out other flavors better!), and then gave us the ability to take his creation and make yummy things like sourdough bread, creamy vanilla ice cream, colorful salads, rich chocolate, etc. Ok, now I’m hungry. We can find God’s goodness in the blessing of all the different tastes in the world and be grateful for that.
However, this verse is talking about so much more than tasting food. Let’s look at the second part of this verse first. “Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” The word blessed here is the word ‘esher’ in Hebrew and can be translated as an interjection, “How happy!” The words “take refuge” can also be translated “trust in” or “hope in.” We are told by David, speaking from his personal experiences with God, that the person who trusts in God is blessed, is happy! This whole verse is an affirmation and praise of God’s goodness in David’s life, and an encouragement for us to put our hope in God and find his goodness in our lives.
Let’s look at the first part of the verse now. On Sunday night we heard John Petty talk to us about the attributes of God. Knowing them is important, but experiencing them is the most important. Having a relationship with God where we spend time with him enough to experience the attributes of his character, like his faithfulness, as John used for his example, is what we are invited to do. This is exactly what David is encouraging us to do. David is proclaiming an attribute of God, his goodness, but he’s not merely saying have a head knowledge that God is good or think about God’s goodness. He says TASTE it and SEE it.
The word “taste” here is the Hebrew word ‘ta`am’ which can be translated “perceive it”. This isn’t a quick bite of some broccoli your mom made you eat, this is a savoring, enjoying, flavor finding, taste. Do you look for God’s goodness in your life, do you savor it when you find it? The word “see” can also be translated to perceive, think deeply about, learn about, gaze at, to look upon with joy. Again, just like John encouraged us to do, these words encourage us to experience God’s goodness; to go deeper than head knowledge that God is good, but to savor, gaze at, look with joy, experience the goodness of God.
Have you ever had food that tasted so good you remember it for a long time? It probably wasn’t a meal that you quickly ate over your sink before taking your kids to soccer practice, or fast food drive through on your way to work. You probably took time to experience and taste the food, enjoy it, and that memory has stayed with you. Just like that when we realize God’s goodness in our lives, we need to take the time to experience it, enjoy it, so that later we can remember it. What ways do you see God’s goodness in your life, and how can you take time to taste and see it today?
Daily Directional: 5.18.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
I Corinthians 13:1-7, 13
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. These three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”
The unfortunate thing about being IN culture is that it’s difficult to recognize ways of thinking and behaving that don’t please God. Take, for example, the Israelites. It may be baffling to us to try to understand why they kept going back to worship lifeless idols made of metal, stone and wood when they were witness to the incredible miracles of the living God. The simplified answer is that they wanted to fit in with the cultures around them. It was considered normal in their day and they had a difficult time giving up something that was so common around them.
When something is the “norm” around us we tend to be more accepting of it regardless of what God tells us in His Word. This can become an area of confusion to us – where we feel things may be a bit gray or unclear. But as believers in Jesus Christ we need to hold all thinking up to the plumb line of Scripture. Where our thinking falls out of line with the teaching of Scripture, it is up to us to realign with Scripture, not up to Scripture to realign with our faulty thinking patterns – even if those thinking patterns line up with what our culture accepts, embraces, and claims to be true. (Col 2:8)
In today’s culture there is an extraordinary emphasis on self. It is encouraged and often applauded to put self first. We see it all the time in advertising, in social media, even in the first letter that happens to be at the beginning of many of our phones and tablets! The Bible tells us that we are primarily selfish beings. I see this truth confirmed in my own daily battle against selfishness. (Phil. 2:21, James 4:1-3)
Contrary to socially acceptable forms of selfishness, the Bible tells us we are to model Christ, who laid down His life in the ultimate act of selflessness when He offered Himself up as a sacrifice so that we could be made right with God. The remedy for our natural tendency toward being selfish is first and foremost to submit ourselves to a loving God who desires to fill us with His love so that we might allow it to flow out of us. In accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who promises to empower us to live obediently to God. He enables us to focus on the things that God tells us should be our focus – loving Him and loving others. To keep ourselves in line with this practically, it is helpful to look at God’s definition of love – patient, kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not demanding of its own way, not irritable, doesn’t keep a record of wrongs, doesn’t rejoice at injustice, rejoices when the truth wins out, doesn’t give up, doesn’t lose faith, is always hopeful, endures through every circumstance. It has been suggested to insert your own name in front of each part of this definition to see if you are indeed being loving. ( _________ is patient, ___________ is kind, etc.) Maybe you, like me, are greatly humbled and convicted at how far you have to go to be truly loving as God defines it. However, we should also be encouraged as this is how God loves each one of us! He promises to work in and through us to love others as we daily submit our lives to Him. Let us make living a life of love our ultimate goal as we follow the example of Christ, who loves us perfectly and selflessly laid down His life for us so that we could truly live and love.
“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Ephesians 5:2
Daily Directional: 5.16.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:6-7
Worries and cares tend to be something we want to act on. We listen to music, or talk to a friend, or go for a drive, just to avoid and/or work through the things that are weighing us down. It often feels so much more productive to take things into our own hands, to really do something with our anxieties – but all we’re really doing is ignoring them.
This passage doesn’t take the time to get into the circumstances of these particular worries and cares – because all of our circumstances are different, right? We’re worried about our jobs, or our families, or our finances, or our emotions, or our likability, or…..you fill in the blank. It doesn’t matter what I list, your particular circumstances are ever so slightly different from anything I could write, and I probably couldn’t ever completely understand what you’re going through.
But this passage is not about our circumstances – it’s about our reaction to them. “Give your worries and cares to God”, it says. Some translations even say to “THROW” your worries and cares upon God. If we’re looking for something productive to do, what’s better than throwing our worries and cares? Tossing them out of our house and into God’s, where He can truly deal with them?
Today, we have the choice to let our worries and cares weigh us down, or to give them to God. Because frankly, they exist. We have worries. We have cares. That’s not going to change. But we get to decide whether they dictate our lives or strengthen our faith. And before this decision (as we see in verse 6) comes humility – believing that God is bigger than us and bigger than our problems, that He has the power to lift us up, and that He can handle whatever worries and cares we throw at Him.
Daily Directional: 5.15.20
Every now and then, we like to take a day to focus solely on a passage from the Bible – while outside voices and wise leaders are important, it’s vital that we are able to read, understand, and apply God’s Word for ourselves.
Today, keep these verses on your mind and in your heart as you face whatever obstacles come your way.
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
Daily Directional: 5.14.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
“When is Enough Enough?”
I’ve heard the word “enough” used a lot lately.
– “I’ve had enough of this quarantine stuff!”
-“I’m not sure I have enough left in the tank to make it”
We use this word [enough] in connotation with our resources, our emotions, our intellect and even our resolve. And yet the word “enough” seems to have lost its definable characteristic. It may be that what is “enough” for you isn’t quite “enough” for me, and vice versa.
This may be because our situations are different or because we humans are all different in small ways. But it may also be that when it comes to the earthly, tangible things (money, gas, possessions) or the things in our own control (resolve, anger, our attention) – Enough will never be Enough.
The Bible says this: “Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!” Ecclesiastes 5:10-11
These verses seem to mock us. To remind us that BOTH our goals and our limitations here on earth amount to nothing in the light of eternity.
This can be encouraging or defeating to you depending on how you want to look at it. Your “good enough” will never be good enough, not in comparison to a perfect and righteous God. BUT… and here’s where you need to lean in… your bad is never bad enough to keep that same God from loving you.
We all have a chance to draw close and hide under the protection of an Almighty Father. Not because we have enough resolve deep down, or because we earned enough credits along the way. But because Christ was and is enough of a sacrifice to pay for us in full.
Hang on to that today. Let that be your source of hope and strength. You don’t HAVE TO be enough…JESUS ALREADY WAS!
“For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!” So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.”1 Kings 17:14-16
Daily Directional: 5.13.20
Written by: Mike Thompson
Matthew 8: 23-27
23When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. 24And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. 25And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!’ 26He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. 27The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
Calm in the Middle of the Storm
Have you ever been through a hurricane? A tornado? Have you seen a storm viciously whirling around, ripping up everything in its path? Recently some of us experienced a tornado this past summer. We saw how devastating even a fairly small one was when it ripped through Cape Cod. Storms wreak havoc in our community, our homes, our lives and can break us down as we gaze at the extensive aftermath. Has there been a time in your life full of unseen blows during the middle of pain, loss, betrayal, or defeat? It is extremely easy to lose hope, become anxious, become depressed, and ultimately give up on everything. This is what Satan wants from us, he wants to deplete everything we have so we give up on our Father! (Maybe you remember the series “Not Today, Satan” that Pastor Josh preached a few months ago.)
You see the funny thing about the eye of any storm, is that it is the most peaceful part of the storm. Can you imagine in all the high wind, the pressure and the fierceness of the storm that the centermost part is calm and peaceful? If you had asked me five years ago, I had a hard time believing that, but now I do know that the middle of a storm is the calmest. The strong surface winds that converge towards the center… never actually reach it. This is the exact place to seek out and know we will find God there. God provides calm in the middle of the raging storms of life! At the storm’s peak, our best choice is to sit with God, right in the center, waiting it out. Isn’t this true when we allow God to be our number one, we can remain calm and trust that he has a plan and will be the Shepherd?
I hope, if you are feeling like you are in a storm of your own, a turmoil of uncertainty, you will look for the eye of the storm where you can sit quietly. Letting the outside world, the wind, the pressure carry on while you find your peace with God in the center. I hope as you do this you will be, and feel, calm during the mighty storms.
With Him it is peace!
Daily Directional: 5.12.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.
Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!
For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread.
Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh.
I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places;
I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse.
For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink,
because of your indignation and anger; for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.
But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations.
The description given before this psalm reads, “A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord,” and haven’t we all felt faint and afflicted, if not now, then at some point in our lives.
This is a prayer of lament. Lament is kind of an old school word that we don’t hear in our modern language very much anymore, but it is very prevalent in the Bible and important for us to understand and practice. The definition of Lament is “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow,” but if we look at examples in the Bible it is more than just an expression of sorrow, and definitely more than just complaining or venting. To lament is to tell God your pain with a purpose; a purpose to trust God with it. It is naming/voicing your pain and deep emotions to God with whom you believe, and trust, can do something about it.
Do you struggle being so bold with God? Look at some of the language the psalmist David uses in his laments to God.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest”
My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”
David is very bold and honest about how he feels and what he desires from God—where are you God, if I had wings I would fly away from here, I don’t want to be here, rescue me—and that’s ok, because he is taking his laments to a big God who promises mercy and grace when we need it most.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16
Another important part of lamenting, found in the Psalms, is to speak truth about God and reorient yourself to that truth. Using statements of trust like, Psalm 13:5, “but I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation,” or in Psalm 28:7, “the Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me,” will help to reorient your heart back to God’s truth.
Practice lamenting, true lamenting to God. Don’t keep your sorrow, grief, fear, anger inside and don’t vent or complain to your family or friends, lament to God. Be bold and honest with him about your pain and feelings, and trust that he is the only one that can comfort you, the only one who can rescue you, the one who promises mercy and grace to help you. And remind yourself of those truths too, just like we see in the Psalms.
Daily Directional: 5.11.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.”
1 Corinthians 6:19- 20
There are a lot of political conversations surrounding personal autonomy, and I promise you I’m not going to get into any of those. But what I will offer is this scripture, which reminds us that as believers, our bodies and our lives don’t really belong to us.
That’s a pretty aggressive statement so I’ll pause to let it sink in.
As Americans, or even just as citizens of the modern world, we are conditioned to believe that our highest purpose is to pursue our own pleasure. The constitution of the United States guarantees us the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; but the awkward truth is that the Bible guarantees us no such thing.
I’m not at all suggesting that it is wrong to enjoy the freedoms that many men and women have died to preserve. But what we see clearly in scripture is that if we are Christ followers, our own happiness cannot be our first pursuit.
Our bodies, and our lives, exist to serve God and those around us. When our duty to this call comes up against our personal preferences, it is clear which we are supposed to choose.
Christ laid down his life and His rights to serve those around Him, and in His name we are asked to do the same.
Daily Directional: 5.9.20
Written by: John Petty
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
What is your “and”? I remember some years back how this verse stuck out to me. It’s a great passage and probably familiar to many of you. However; this one word “and” really drew my attention that day. Perhaps it is obvious to most, but for me the concept of there being other things besides sin which could hinder my walk with God was noteworthy. When we begin our walk with God the Spirit begins to show us things in our lives that are not in line with God’s best for us. He reveals them to us, but we must make the hard choice to leave the patterns we have learned on our own. If we choose to cooperate, we then begin to adopt new ways, more specifically His ways. In the instances where we are doing (or not doing) things that are in direct conflict with Scripture its usually pretty clear. It is still difficult to deny myself what I want, or change the way I live, but if it is a clear directive (sin) all that is left is the battle of wills between me and God. Which coincidentally He will always win.
There is a lot more I could write about struggling with sin (I am kind of an expert in this category), but as I mentioned, I would like us to camp on this word “and”. Are there things in our lives that are not sinful, yet are somehow hindering us from cooperating with God’s Spirit? What is the writer driving at? In the previous chapter we read through a great list of men and women that are included in what some have called the “hall of fame” of faith. We are given a recap about who they were and the impact they had. We are reminded how their obedience to God, and their willingness to trust His leadership preserved them. They were able to be used by God in mighty ways because they did not try and hold onto what they had, what they knew, or who they were. They were certainly not perfect sinless humans, but they obeyed the call. Hebrews teaches us that these greats are all around us, watching us, I imagine even cheering for us. The writer then moves into this directive to throw off sin “and” everything that is hindering us. I believe what the writer is driving at is less about things sinful or not, and more about an attitude towards our faith. Are we doing the bare minimum as we see it? Or are we with reckless abandonment seeking after a life of faith. More to the point, are we wholly trusting in Jesus for our every breath, our personal fulfillment, our validation, or have we somehow compartmentalized our faith?
The call is to let go of everything, go all in. It reflects a complete surrendering of our will in pursuit of His. We are in this proverbial arena called life, surrounded by the faithful of the past. They are watching us, cheering us on in our daily battles. Consider the words of the Hymn writer below. Let them resonate in your heart and mind as you go about doing battle today.
All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live
Daily Directional: 5.8.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
Don’t abandon me, for you made me.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
There is a lot of emphasis in our current culture on self-promotion and self-improvement. The desire to reach your potential is admirable, and in some ways, Biblical (to whom much is given, much is required, after all!) In that striving, however, sometimes we begin to sink into an attempt to control. We begin to believe that without our careful machinations, our life’s purpose will pass us by, unfulfilled.
This is a terrifying thought, this idea of “what might have been”. It causes us to live in fear, wondering if we are maximizing our time well enough, presenting ourselves well enough, accomplishing enough. Through Christ, we have a very different model: one of trust. The LORD will work out His plans for my life—it is God who works through us to accomplish the purpose of our lives, not our own anxiety, not our own control.
When we surrender control of our lives over to Christ, we also inherit a place in His divine plan. The guarantee of faith in Christ is that if you spend your life following Him and His purposes, you will not waste your life. God made you, and in Him you can trust that He will work out His beautiful, meaningful, richly satisfying plans for your future. The only thing you have to do is trust Him, and rest in His promises. This will require surrender, sacrifice, and occasionally pain—but it will never require fear. You can live boldly in the confidence that your life has meaning when you submit to the plan that the God who created you has designed.
Daily Directional: 5.7.20
While it’s always enlightening and encouraging to hear insights from some of our leaders at Harbor, this morning we’d like to encourage you to simply meditate on a verse from the Bible. Read it through multiple times, say it out loud to yourself, write it down and put it somewhere you’ll see it throughout the day – whatever you can do to keep this message on your mind and in your heart.
These are Jesus’ words, spoken to His disciples shortly before giving His life on the cross.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NLT
Daily Directional: 5.6.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
This passage is such a fitting reminder as many of us are experiencing trials in ways we did not expect to. Many of us are facing loneliness, the drag of monotony, financial struggles, tension with family, sickness, fear for the future, a severe absence of community support systems, and so much more. Yet, Peter teaches us that endurance through trials will produce faith. I have seen that the people who have the deepest faith have undergone some of the worst trials in life and have learned that it is far more important to focus on how God gets them through the trials rather than focusing on why the trials happened in the first place. It feels trite to smooth over these hard times by thinking about how much faith we will have after, but I love that Peter reminds us that the value of faith is worth more than gold. When we all stand before Jesus in the end, two moments occur. The first is what we did with what Jesus offered us. Did we accept his free and precious gift of salvation and payment for our sins? And if the answer is yes, the second moment is when we get to offer him back one thing from our lives: our faith. When I think about this, I no longer roll my eyes at the idea that the difficult things I am facing now being opportunities to grow my faith (which again feels trite when I often can only see how bad things are), instead I am inspired to seek out God through my hardship so that the faith I can give to him on the last day will be as refined as it can be and more precious than gold.
A friend once shared with me a children’s storybook where the main character continues to face different obstacles as they make their way on a journey. Each time, whether it was a storm or a pile of mud they said “you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it, you have to go through it.” That is where we find ourselves now. Much of our lives have been temporarily altered and we are facing one big mud pile of a pandemic…we can’t go under it, we can’t go around it, we must go through it. So as we all go through this together, let’s remember the “wonderful joy ahead” and come out with faith greater than gold.
Daily Directional: 5.5.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” Philippians 4:4-9
I heard a sermon yesterday on anxiety, and in it the Pastor referenced Max Lucado’s book “Anxious for Nothing.” In an interview with Max Lucado he describes the book, which is based on the passage above, Philippians 4, as a tool for us to know how to respond to anxiety in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I appreciate a good acronym and Lucado breaks down the passage in Philippians into an easy to remember acronym for how to react when we are feeling anxious, and it spells CALM.
C – Celebrate God, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (verse 4). Remember the faithfulness of God, what he has already done in your life, his grace and mercy, the beauty around you, the goodness and truth you see, even in the midst of your struggles.
A – Ask God for Help, “By prayer and petition…present your request to God” (verse 6). Tell God what you need, talk with God about it.
L – Leaving the problem with him, “with thanksgiving” (verse 6). There are many other scriptures that tell us to take our burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of it (1 Peter 1:7, Psalm 55:22, Matthew 11:28). When we truly believe this is true and trust in his power, we can be thankful for his work and his peace.
M – Meditating on good things, “whatever is true…think about such things” (verse 6). The end to this passage in Philippians is similar to the beginning. Think about what God has done, his truth, the beauty and goodness around you, think about fun things and things that bring you joy. Bring your mind back to God’s truth.
Lucado teaches us too, that the words “be anxious for nothing” do not mean “never feel anxious.” The Greek verb translates better “do not allow yourself to be perpetually anxious,” don’t get stuck in anxiety. So, when you feel yourself continually worrying or slipping into a pit of anxiety, use this tool, CALM, to encourage and challenge your heart and mind to take steps to fight it. Write it on the mirror in your bathroom or on a sticky note and put it somewhere to remind yourself and invite the “peace that passes all understanding to guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Daily Directional: 5.4.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
Verses 1 and 2 of this psalm tell us a story that, if we’re honest, we’re probably pretty familiar with. We don’t talk about it much, but I’m willing to bet that everyone reading this directional today has experienced a time in their life when they cried out to God and felt….nothing. I’ve been there, David (the author of this psalm) was there many times, and you or someone you love may be there right this second.
It is incredibly comforting to know that even the heroes of the Bible who God used to do amazing things had moments when they felt entirely alone. But we see a few crucial points in this psalm that point to why David, even with his moments of feeling distant from God, remains a hero of faith even to this day.
First, we see that David did not give up on God just because he felt abandoned by him. It seems that David knew what we often forget – God is not a feeling. God’s love for us is not contingent on our always being able to recognize it, and God does not stop working just because we can’t see what He’s doing. David felt alone, abandoned, and like God was far away – but every day and every night he continued to call out, because his trust was in GOD, the Creator of the universe, not a god who existed simply to make him feel good.
Second, when David could not feel the presence of God in his life, he chose to look back on all God had done in the lives of his ancestors. The way forward was unclear, but David used the resources around him to remind himself of who God was. In modern times, we have even more resources at our disposal. We have the entire Bible, full of examples of God’s faithfulness, along with the technology to reach out to trusted friends/mentors at any given moment who can provide us with personal stories of God showing up in their lives.
In all of this, more than anything, I hope we find comfort. God had not abandoned David, and God has not abandoned you. He is still holy, still on His throne, and still in the business of saving all who call out to him. So keep calling.
Matthew 7:7-8 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Daily Directional: 5.2.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Psalm 27:14 (AMP)
“Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.”
“So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.”
I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t waiting for something – something to happen, something to arrive, something to get done. And then there is the waiting in traffic, waiting in line, waiting to be called at the RMV… lots and lots of waiting. Lately, there’s been even more waiting – waiting in line outside of the store, waiting for that deposit to be made, waiting for answers, waiting for life to return to normal… I don’t know about you but I do not feel my strength renewed when I wait. In fact, waiting often does just the opposite – it saps my strength! Isn’t it surprising that such a passive act can be so utterly exhausting?
So why is it that Isaiah tells us that waiting on God actually renews our strength? We find the answer if we examine the root of this word “wait”. The original Hebrew word means “to bind together by twisting – as in a rope”. The cords of a rope are wound so tightly around each other that something of strength, something that can be trusted and depended on is produced. As we draw so close to Him that we are “intertwined” with Him, we are promised a strength that is not our own that enables us to hold fast no matter the pressure exerted upon us.
“Waiting on the Lord” is anything but inactive, in fact it is proactive! It is not a sitting by the wayside, wringing our hands, wishing and wondering if and when God will act on our behalf. As we “bind together” with the Lord and remain close with Him, He grants us the strength we need to do extraordinary things like soar high on wings like eagles and run and walk without growing tired and faint. Of course, this is a poetic picture which teaches us that the kind of strength we need on a daily basis to get through all the things that sap our strength and make us grow tired and weary, only comes as a result of being intentional in nurturing our relationship with the Lord. As we take deliberate actions of spending time drawing close to the Lord, we can rest confidently in hopeful expectation and anticipation that our loving, faithful, and compassionate God longs to help us when we are tired and weary. He promises to renew our strength if we would just come.
“In place of our exhaustion and spiritual fatigue, He will give us rest. All He asks is that we come to Him… that we spend awhile thinking about Him, meditating on Him, talking to Him, listening in silence, occupying ourselves with Him – totally and thoroughly lost in the hiding place of His presence.”
Daily Directional: 5.1.20
Written by: John Petty
Psalms 107:4-9 NIV
Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
This passage is another great reminder of God’s faithfulness to his people. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe we all need constant reminders of God’s persistent, and consistent care for us. This is true as the challenges in our lives can push us to doubt.
However, today I would like to draw our attention specifically to vs 8. Here the Psalmist is encouraging the people to now “give thanks” to the Lord. This doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request when you consider the contrast between the two circumstances described here. Why then would the Psalmist have to encourage the people to be thankful? Perhaps it is because their hearts were much like my own. My heart does not default to thankfulness. In fact, even if you give me $20, my heart would be tempted to complain if the line was too long to get it. Conversely, I have seen my heart attitude completely transformed simply by choosing to focus on what God has done for me even if I might have to pay $20.
Here in this passage we read how God gave a home to a wandering people. We know from the rest of the Bible that we too once wandered. We were spiritually homeless in a world which could not satisfy. God called us out, gave us a home, a purpose, and a promise that He will continually satisfy our soul through his Spirit. I know it may not be our default setting but reminding ourselves to be thankful is important. When we choose to look at Jesus for who He is and what He’s done for us instead of our circumstances, it orientates our hearts properly. This refocusing will not only have a transforming power which benefits our own mental state, it might even help us become more bearable to those around us.
God is not deficient, nor does He need our affection. However, when our hearts are rightly orientated, and full of gratitude toward Him, we are poised to do His will. In this state of gratitude, we best reflect His love to other wandering souls. Perhaps you are like me and need to be reminded today to be thankful. Perhaps you too need a reminder to be on guard against a complaining spirit, full of pride. Let’s work together today to refocus our hearts on the new homes God gave us through Christ. Let’s focus on all we are now able to participate in, and our future inheritance, instead of all we think we are lacking.
A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.
Henry Ward Beecher
Daily Directional: 4.30.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
This morning, I’m sharing a line from an old hymn rather than a Bible verse to start. It isn’t motivating to talk about, but we all sin and know the effects of it when we do. One of the worst consequences of sin is shame. I can’t think of anything else we experience in this life so encompassing and demoralizing as shame. When singing this hymn it seems easy to me to wrap my mind around the idea of Jesus taking away the wrong things I’ve done…but the idea of Jesus taking away the shame from the wrong things I’ve done seems near impossible. I often replace the words of this song with “What can wash away my shame? Nothing but the blood of Jesus,” just to drill in this idea that I constantly war against in my own mind.
Shame is such a personal thing for us all. It is tied directly to the things we’ve done, but more than that it is tied directly to the embarrassment from them. We all remember being a kid acting up in class, and then the intense feeling of being emotionally cornered when we were called out by our teacher in front of all our peers. It stings. You can almost feel it on your skin the way it crawls all over you for hours after, taunting you over and over again that you have done wrong and that you deserve to be embarrassed/punished/ashamed/harassed – you fill in the blank.
And then Jesus walks into our lives. While on earth, he did all he could to teach us about righteousness and about how to live more like him. He loved the weak and the poor, he turned away from temptation each time it faced him, he kept close to God through each moment of each day. And at the end of his life, knowing fully that we could never live each day perfect as he did, he gave up his perfect life to pay for our sin. For our shame. He became naked, embarrassed, punished, harassed…so that we would not have to face it. All of us know what it feels like to be exposed and ashamed. The greatest gift we were given in Jesus Christ is restoration with God, which brings about one of the sweetest feelings we can experience: complete lack of shame. When we accept the payment for our sins in Jesus, we can receive the full gift of God’s gracious love and lack of condemnation, absence of fear, defeat of all threat of being exposed.
I want to finish with the verses that inspired the lyrics written many years ago that continue to pierce our hearts today about what could possibly wash us clean of our sin and feelings of shame: nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Isaiah 50: 7 But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
Hebrews 12:2 Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 9:14 How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Daily Directional: 4.29.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“All the streams flow to the sea, yet the sea is never full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are wearisome, more than anyone can say. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.”
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
This season of life, for some, has highlighted the monotony inherent in our every day life. As life begins to feel like “Groundhog Day”, the things in life we use to give us a sense of purpose are tested.
Our work, our hobbies, our social circles: it is easy to allow these things to become our measuring stick for satisfaction. But these are streams that flow and never fill us, and when they are removed we are reminded that everything apart from our purpose in Christ is fragile. This world promises us fulfillment, but it can’t deliver.
How many of us believed that if we just had time to work on that project, learn that skill, read that book — that we would be happy? In our isolation (and even in our boredom) we are learning day by day that Jesus is the only one who can deliver on His promise to fulfill. When we put that burden to fulfill on the other things in our life, they turn bitter. Their inability to satisfy us leaves us empty.
When we allow Christ to be our purpose, when we trust Him to give us a satisfying life, then everything else becomes a gift that we can enjoy. Our days (even when they blend together) are full of joy because we know that each day that is given to us can be used for God’s glory.
Daily Directional: 4.28.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. Ephesians 5:1-2 AMP
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV
Our main scripture today is from Ephesians. There’s so much in this one scripture but let’s just focus on two things today. First, be imitators of God and second, well-beloved or dearly loved children.
In order to become imitators of God we must understand who God is. The verses go on to say, “just as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us.” When we understand the love that God demonstrated through his son, we can then begin to imitate that love. Do you know how much God loves you? Do you grasp the mercy and grace he has given you? If you do, imitate that; forgive as you have been forgiven, be patient with others, just as God is patient with you; be generous to those around you, just like God is generous towards you. If you don’t know who God is well enough to imitate him, or you need a refresher (we all do), open your Bible and learn who God is. Read about Jesus’ ministry and the way he treated those around him. If you don’t know where to start, try reading the book of John. The author of John is John, one of Jesus’ disciples, who sometimes refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He gives a firsthand account of the life and ministry of Jesus. He could literally imitate Jesus, seeing as he spent so much time with him. So, this is a good place to start.
The next part of this scripture calls us (those who are followers of Christ) “dearly loved children.” We know from other scriptures that we are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), meaning that we are adopted into the family of God and share in the blessing and inheritance with Christ, but this description of how God sees us is very special. The Greek word used for “dearly loved” is agapetos and also can be translated beloved. This same word was used by God when he spoke from heaven after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. “A voice came from heaven, ‘you are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased’” (Mark 1:11). The same word used to describe the affection God had for Jesus is the same word used to describe his affection for us. We are dearly loved by God.
When you know that you are dearly loved by God, doesn’t that also help with the desire to imitate Him? Just as a well-loved child wants to do everything just like his/her dad or mom, when we understand the depth of God’s love for us it only fuels our love for him and our desire to be just like him. As we get to know him better, we can imitate him as a child would imitate his loving father.
Daily Directional: 4.27.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
Psalm 56:3 But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
How many of our problems in life stem from fear?
We become stressed or upset because we fear we won’t be able to pay the bills. We try to control the people we love because we fear they will make wrong choices. We watch something, or drink something, or lie about something, because we’re afraid to face whatever pain is in our lives. We try to figure out our own problems, to get by on our own strength, because we fear that God won’t provide. While our actions may appear to tell a different story, usually the root of our issues is simply that we are afraid.
“But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.”
This is an easy thing to say, but often a difficult thing to do. Sometimes it even feels impractical – sure, we want to trust God, but what does that actually look like in day to day life when we’ve got things to take care of? Let’s go straight to the source:
Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”
Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
Psalm 28:7 – “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”
These are just three of three hundred verses that tell us what it means to trust God, and what happens when we do. But if we take these three as a quick guide, we find some very practical ways to actively trust God when fear creeps in and life gets difficult.
- Don’t depend on your own understanding: go to the Bible, get serious about prayer, seek out wise counselors, but do not assume that whatever you think or feel is fact.
- Be still and know: don’t just go talk at God, but pause and listen for what He might have to show you; our instinct in times of trouble is usually to keep ourselves busy and run around trying to fix the problem, but God calls us to take a step back, and in our stillness demonstrate our trust.
- Practice thanksgiving: this doesn’t necessarily require songs as the verse demonstrates, but it does require gratitude; be intentional about taking time to thank God for who He is and all He’s given you! You may not always have exactly what you want, but He always provides just what we need. The more you choose to recognize what God has already done, the easier it becomes to trust in what He will do.
The beauty in these three steps is that there’s absolutely nothing groundbreaking about them. Chances are, I’m not telling you anything you haven’t heard. But take this moment to ask yourself: do I just know that these things are helpful, or do I actually trust that God will use them to relieve my fears? That, I’ve found, is the difference between empty beliefs and a life giving relationship with the Creator.
Daily Directional: 4.25.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
What is it about sheep?
Psalms 95:6-7 “Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!”
Psalms 79:13 “Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will thank you forever and ever, praising your greatness from generation to generation.”
Psalms 23:1-4 “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”
The Bible references either sheep or lambs over 500 times. It often compares us to sheep while referring to God as the shepherd we all need. But why sheep? Why couldn’t the Bible call us lions or eagles or honey badgers? Why do we have to be compared to sheep?
Because no other animal depicts us as accurately as sheep.
I was blessed to have a lot of different jobs growing up, but one of the most interesting jobs was my time as a shepherd. I learned a lot, especially about sheep. Sheep are some of the dumbest, most helpless animals on the planet.
Here’s what I know: sheep MUST HAVE A SHEPHERD. If it weren’t for humans, sheep would’ve gone extinct ages ago. Why? Well, besides that fact that they’re dumb, they can’t take care of themselves.
There are three reasons that sheep need a shepherd:
– Sheep NEED PROTECTION. They don’t have large teeth or talons. They have no claws. The lack speed and strength. The don’t even have a natural camouflage. They are easy prey for anything hungry enough to attack them.
-Sheep NEED PROVISIONS. These animals are so dumb, they will consume anything that looks good to them. The just eat and eat and will at times eat things that are poisonous or even not necessarily edible – (I’ve seen them eat tin cans and clothing)
-Sheep NEED A PATH. Because sheep are so dumb and also so willing to chase after any food that looks good to them, they often wander away. They are prone to leaving the flock and getting lost. If they don’t find their way home quickly they run the risk of dying to the elements, starvation, or being eaten by a host of predators.
Now, can you see yourself in this animal?
John 10:27-28 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me.”
Without a shepherd/savior we are so prone to attacks. We are vulnerable to every predator that’s out there. Our adversary, the devil, is described as a hungry lion looking to eat us. When Satan sees a little sheep (aka you) without a shepherd, he licks his chops just knowing how easy a meal we will make.
Without Christ feeding us from his word and through the Holy Spirit, we would starve spiritually. Many people that drift away from their shepherd become so hungry, they unknowingly but eagerly ingest the poisons and lures of this world.
Lastly, without a shepherd, the sheep don’t know which way to go. The man or woman that has put God on the “back burner” of their life, have blinded themselves to the path of righteousness. They neglected the shepherd’s words or directions (The Bible) and without it, they are lost. (Prov. 3:5-6)
So today, as you read this, please take a moment to recognize that you too need a shepherd. That you aren’t as strong as you like to think you are. That you need his provisions- not yours, because left to your own devices you’ll keep consuming the “poisons of this world”. And without a close walk with Jesus, you’re just like that wandering sheep, that prodigal son, that wayward child that has lost their Father and so desperately needs to return home.
Cling to your shepherd, now more than ever!
Daily Directional: 4.24.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”
Jesus tells us here that this one commandment is the essence of the entire law. That is a big statement! The law and the prophets were all anyone had ever known of God, and here comes Jesus, summing up thousands of years of religious history in a single sentence. The law was full of rules, constrictions, and don’ts. Jesus flips all of that around and fulfills a giant list of don’ts with one simple “do.” “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”
For me, the problem with implementing what we’ve come to know as “the Golden Rule” is that it’s not passive. I no longer get to call myself faithful for not doing things. Instead Jesus is telling us that our faith is meant to be active. Jesus’ goal for us is not simply to avoid doing wrong – it is to get out there and seek out a full life that is defined by loving God and loving others.
Right now that may be a pretty confusing and exhausting thought. So many of us are just trying to get by – to manage our emotions, finances, relationships, anxieties, etc. and keep our heads above water. But could it also be an exciting thought? A freeing thought? The point of our creation is not just to survive. We were not made to manage. The God who created us and everything we see doesn’t want us to live our lives huddled in a corner, hoping not to screw up. Jesus did not come to Earth and sacrifice Himself to help us scrape by a measly existence – He came to give us a “rich and satisfying life”! (John 10:10) Quick hint: this kind of rich doesn’t have anything to do with money.
And the key to holding onto this selfless, satisfying, Christ-like life? Letting it go. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Matthew 16:24)
Daily Directional: 4.23.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
David inquired again of God, and God said to him, “You shall not go up after them; circle around behind them in front of the balsam trees. It shall be when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall go out to battle, for God will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.” 1 Chronicles 14: 14-15
Reading through David’s life in the Old Testament, it always amazes me the great detail we’re given on his relationship with God. I can’t say definitively, but given what we know I would argue that, aside from Jesus, David spoke with God more than anyone we have an account of. I want to focus on how these verses begin: “David inquired again of God…” During this time, David was establishing his reign as King and at this moment had learned the Philistine were marching against his lands. His first response when heard of this was to specifically ask God what to do. God answered and delivered him into victory. Then again, David learns the Philistines have launched another raid and we read these verses where David again asks God specifically what he should do. Both times God gives him specific instructions, David obeys, and God leads him to victory. In Psalms we read through the emotions David faces over the course of his life, and I’m continuously struck by how honest David is with God and how ready he was to seek after Him. These events in Chronicles predate David’s rebellions as King, and his affair with Bathsheba. Shortly after seeing such a poignant display of his closeness with God we see how far away from God he fell. Of all the losses David suffered in his life, of all the laments in Psalm from battles waged, the most anguished we find David are the times in his life when he personally turned away from his relationship with God. No wonder this is the case when David grew up so much of his life in such close communication with God, to the point where he asked him both if he should make an attack and how he should make an attack when the Philistine approached. And God answered.
We can learn a lot in these few verses, and from looking at David’s life in general. How different would our lives look if we had David’s kind of prayer life? How many more answers would we have to questions we are constantly plagued with? How much more would we know the next right thing to do? I think if David could come back today and speak to us in our times, I don’t think he would give us amazing advice on how to be a good king. I don’t think he would remind us how important it is to do the right thing always. I think he would tell us how desperate we all are for communication with God. He’d remind us how imperative it is to talk to Him through every decision we make, and to listen as He guides us. David certainly knew the laws of Moses and the will of God spoken through his ancestors as we know now…but David knew so much more about what God was asking him to do personally each and every day. And not by some great mysterious revelation! He just simply talked with God. The same access you and I have today, David had back then and he used it. I’m reminded of a line from one of my favorite songs: “Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” Whatever it is you’re facing today or for all the days to come, remember how great a lifeline prayer is. Remember we have a God who loves to speak to us and through us whenever we let our heart openly commune with Him.
Daily Directional: 4.22.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
A few weeks back John Petty encouraged us in a daily directional to seek out God’s promises, to write them down, memorize them, send them to a friend, to promote God’s truth in this time of uncertainty. So today I thought I’d just share some promises from God that have been on my heart.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so, through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20
This is a promise that all of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ. That when we know Jesus as our personal savior, we have access to all God’s promises.
“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8
Pastor Josh shared this one on Sunday. So simple and so reassuring. If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. What a comforting promise. We are never alone. But also, that God will never force a relationship with Him, He is waiting for us to turn to Him.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1,4
I need this one today, as this time of self-distance and quarantine drags on, it can seem overwhelming. But God promises that there is a season for everything, that this will not last forever. We will dance again.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26
God promises to take care of us. Do what this verse says and “look at the birds” and then remember that God promises to take care of us, that we are more valuable than the birds who He takes care of.
“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
This is a good one! The Lord’s great love will keep us from being consumed by the troubles we face. His mercies, His compassion, is new every morning, He gives us what we need to face the day. He is faithful!
There’s nothing better, nothing I could say to encourage you more, than the truth from the Bible. God’s promises are hope builders. Jeremiah, who wrote the last promise I shared from Lamentations, wrote directly before the promise, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.” Jeremiah is remembering the hard times he is going through, but he’s not staying there, he is reminding himself of God’s promises and it brings him hope. I pray that these promises have brought you some hope today. Now go find some more, memorize them, call them to your mind, and share them with others. Let’s build some hope.
Daily Directional: 4.21.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
15 That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”17 “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.18 “Bring them here,” he said. 19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people.20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
At Harbor Church we want to be known for what we give not what we take. There are times in life (Coronavirus or not) where we find ourselves feeling we have little to give – little time, little finances, little ability. During this time when our interactions are greatly limited, it may appear that there is not much we can do individually to make any kind of significant impact. And yet, we serve a God who is known for doing much with little and who only asks that we be willing to give what we do have.
In the parable of the feeding of the 5000 Jesus tells his disciples to feed the hungry crowd. Incredulous, they tell him what they do have to emphasize how little they have to work with – only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. In human terms that “only” should be there – in reality that wasn’t enough. However, in their midst was the One who created reality, made the laws of reality and could override them whenever He willed. Jesus was well aware of their reality, He wanted them to take whatever they had to offer and watch what He could do with it.
Maybe you, like me, have been feeling a bit helpless to do much during this time where we have so many limitations. Maybe you’ve been tempted to think that the “real work” of helping others will have to wait until things get back to “normal”. However, the amazing this is that God is always at work around us no matter what is going on around us. He invites us to join Him in His work! We get to join Him if we are willing! How cool is that? He doesn’t need us to do anything and yet He lets us help. Much like the little one who “helps” in the kitchen or “helps” with the chores, our loving Father lets us be a part of the amazing things He has in store for us all!
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
I Corinthians 2:9
Will you ask God what it is that He wants you to join Him in doing – right now – not when “this” is all over? Perhaps we can take inspiration from this story and do something during this time that at the outset seems small. I wonder what Jesus could do if we each committed to taking 5 minutes a day and reaching out in some way to 2 different people each day? That 5 minutes could be the time spent to pray and ask God who He wants you to reach out to and what He wants you to do or it could simply be the 5 minutes it takes you to send someone a text to let them know you are thinking of them and praying for them. Scripture tells us to encourage one another daily and I can think of no better time than now to do so. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”I Thessalonians 5:11
I wonder what Jesus will do if we take 5 for 2… I have a sneaking suspicion it will involve multiplication!
Daily Directional: 4.20.20
Written by: John Petty
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Are you a hoarder? Most of us have seen shows on TV of these extreme cases of hoarding. We watch and discover that there are people who hold on to, and cling to literally everything that comes into their midst. Even actual garbage. Just a heads up, they usually have a cat, or two, so loving cats may be an early warning sign. Seriously, when you see their dwelling space you think, how in the world did it get this way? Ironically, even when the hoarders describe their own circumstances many of them ask that same question. I am not going to try and unpack the psychological reasons why people may hoard things, or why people love cats for that matter. Mostly because I have no idea. However, I would like to take a minute and ask what kind of thoughts and ideas we might be hoarding in our mental dwelling space.
We live in a world where we are bombarded with limitless ideas, information, and perspectives (or teachings) on our life. Furthermore, our culture fully embraces this. In fact, there are entire platforms now that are devoted solely to information gathering and sharing. Overall, I think this is a positive thing for humanity. Easy access to information, and an array of perspectives will offer us all the best chance at success. However, I do see one trap. If we are not careful, we can become “hoarders” of all these various thoughts and ideas. A real and present danger exists if we don’t clean out our thought life occasionally (2 Cor 10:5). In other words, regularly asking ourselves what kind of teachings and ideas am I storing up there? Trust me, I know what I am asking. My brain is a scary place too. Like many of the hoarders I mentioned earlier, I’m literally afraid to even go up there. Not to mention actually rooting around for stuff. Nevertheless, I believe this is just as essential, if not more, than cleaning our literal houses.
There are several places in the Bible where false teaching is addressed. Mostly, because God knows these lies, or half-truths, will do harm to His people and dilute His message. In many of the epistles, including this one from Jude, the authors literally write “I am reminding you of these things (God’s promises), even though you already know”. Why would this be necessary? I’m so glad you asked. I believe it’s because even though the church was initially taught the actual truth, and many even fully believed, they were constantly being presented with contradictory messages from their culture. They needed constant reminding to reject these falsehoods and hold on to the original truths. In this way, we are no different than the early church. If anything, we have even more contradictory teachings about who we are and who God is than they did. I would also venture a guess that they are coming towards us at a much more furious rate of speed. My hope is that before an intervention is needed requiring a whole dumpster, I will start purging all the thoughts and ideas I may be hoarding that don’t line up with the true teachings of Scripture.
Spring is a great time to clean. Let’s work together to go up to our scary attic spaces and clear out some clutter. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are loved. The creator of the universe cares for us. He wants a relationship with us. He has a plan for us. He promises to keep us and watch over us. While you may already know all this, perhaps it’s hard to realize because the truth is buried under some clutter.
Daily Directional: 4.18.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
2 Kings 5:1-3
1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. 2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
If you read those verses right, you’ll notice something that seems to make no sense at all: a slave girl who saves her captor’s life. Why? After all, he invaded her country, burned down her house, murdered her family, and took her away to be a slave.
If we’re honest, we would most likely be filled with either rage or despair. Yet, we see this servant girl show genuine love and concern. In one verse we see her not only show forgiveness, but also a desire to rescue. She gives them direction, a truth, and a hope for life. She shares the cure and provides her oppressors with a unique opportunity to be saved.
Remind you of anyone?
We see in John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
In one verse He gives them direction, a truth, and the hope of life. And He tells us time and again to love others the way He loves us and to give them the same hope He offered us. So why is it that we so often choose the worst for our enemies? We cheer for their downfall, we do our best to ensure that the last thing they feel is hope.
This young slave girl models exactly who Jesus was. A servant; abused and betrayed, yet willing to serve the very people guilty of causing pain. Offering hope to the very people that tried to take it away.
Our savior took our sins on Himself just to give us the hope of life in Him. He could have given us payback for the cross, but He instead gave us a “paid in full” receipt.
He wants us to show the same grace and love to those around us. What if we treated our enemies more like this girl treated hers? Instead of hate, offer hope. Instead of despising them, inspire them. Instead of giving them hell, offer them heaven?
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Daily Directional: 4.17.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
“Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth.” -Colossians 3:1-2
Peace on Earth is not a formula. There isn’t a way to avoid being disappointed (I’m focusing on that emotion in particular because of the times we’re in, though you can substitute any negative emotion in here and it will ring true). For someone like me, this is an incredibly tough pill to swallow because EVERYTHING has to have a practical answer right?! I chose Colossians 3:1-2 because it’s a beautiful example of how one habitual act can lead to the one practical answer you need for all occasions. Let’s break it down:
Part 1: “If you have been raised up with Christ” This is a simple disclaimer to this verse, both meant to specifically address those who claim Christ as their savior, and meant to remind those that do that they have claimed Christ as their savior. Very clever trick, Paul. Ok so we’re listening, we’re reminded first and foremost that we have been raised up (i.e. from our spiritual dumpster fire lives, don’t gloss over this) with Christ…the Christ who beat death 3 days after being crucified.
Part 2: “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is”This part is the practical application of what we’re supposed to be doing every day: keep seeking the things above, WHERE CHRIST IS. The one that raised himself and us up. You could almost end the verse right here and it would be enough for most of us to put aside whatever is bothering us. But Paul goes on…
Part 3: “seated at the right hand of God” As if it wasn’t already enough to really get our perspective off the world and onto Jesus, Paul drills it in exactly where Jesus is- seated at the right hand of God. The God who created the very universe we’re living and struggling in. He’s begging us to think big picture here; this isn’t a motivational speech he’s giving, it’s a set of instructions. Which brings us to that last hard hitting verse.
Part 4: “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth.” The first half of this is to remind us again of the instructions that we talked about in the first 3 parts, and the last half is an extended definition “not on the things that are on the earth.” If you only have enough brain space to memorize one of these two verses, memorize this part because it’s the quickest and the easiest 180 from whatever it was you were previously focusing on. Just remember that Paul isn’t merely saying “just don’t think about it” to all our earthly troubles, he’s saying we have good reason not to focus on it. Because we have been raised up with Christ and there are much bigger things to dwell on!
I encourage you all as the world continues to feel more fragmented as the weeks go on, and many of us have already encountered a fair deal of disappointment and struggle, to remember this verse tomorrow as you’re tempted to despair. Remember that you have risen up, remember who raised you up, and set your mind on what is above you, not on what you see before you.
Daily Directional: 4.16.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.””Matthew 11:28-30
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”Philippians 1:6
There is a lot on social media dedicated to convincing us that this time of quarantine should be transformational; that this is the time to learn a new language, drop a bad habit, pick up an instrument, or become a world class chef.
Lurking in our hearts is the idea that we need to improve, that we are lacking something. In fact, much of the religious tradition of Jesus’ day was dedicated to answering that anxiety: do these things and you will be accepted by God, perform and you will be enough.
Often we go through our day carrying the weight of our own self-improvement, shouldering the tremendous burden of our own growth. But Jesus comes to us and offers something beautiful:
“My burden is easy, and my yoke is light”.
We are promised that the good work God began in us, the transformational work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, will be completed. The only prerequisite is that we are submitted to God, eagerly seeking His will in our lives. It’s the spiritual equivalent of having a personal chef —- Jesus is doing all the cooking; we just have to eat!
It is easy in this time of solitude to worry about maximizing your time, about coming out of the other side better. But maybe we can put that anxious energy aside, and instead rest, trusting that God will continue to work in us—as long as we are willing to listen.
Daily Directional: 4.15.20
Written by: Mike Thompson
Perseverance: The Struggle Makes You Stronger
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Perseverance is the determination to not give in and never give up. God uses difficulties to build our character and develop our perseverance. Satan, our adversary, comes at us even harder during these times of uncertainty, confusion, and the unknown because he recognizes the potential growth of love, faith, and hope. We need to develop discipline and harness the wisdom from God’s word, disciplining ourselves to seek God’s word and grace on a daily basis. Holding on to God’s truths during trials leads to perseverance, which will strengthen your character, deepen your trust in God, and give you greater confidence about the future.
Paul stated in a letter to the Corinthian church, when our greatest weakness is yielded to Christ, He can transform it into one of our greatest strengths. God already knows what is at the end of this and He will calm all our fears. Be a person with true grit, one who has passion and perseverance, and shows the strength of character that comes from faith in God.
Daily Directional: 4.14.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” Luke 24:6-7
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” Galatians 5:1
After Pastor Josh’s sermon on Sunday I have been thinking a lot about the empty tomb. I woke up in the middle of the night last night with the scripture, “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” on my heart and in my mind. The tomb is empty, Christ broke the chains of sin and death, so we, as followers of Christ, can have freedom. Christ has set us free, so that we could live in freedom. Are you living in freedom?
The second part of this verse says that even though Christ has set us free, we can choose to live a life burdened by a yoke of slavery. Paul is urging the people of Galatia to stand firm against this yoke of slavery and stay in the freedom that Christ’s sacrifice gives. What does he mean by “yoke of slavery”? A yoke is a tool used to bind to oxen together for plowing. The metaphor is used a few times in the bible. Here Paul is referring to two things that take our freedom away. A yoke of slavery to sin—fleshly desires, our old life before we were set free in Christ; and a yoke of slavery to the law, or things to do in order to earn salvation, which was exactly opposite to the freedom of salvation through grace that Christ died to give us. And man does Satan want you to have a yoke of slavery! If he cannot take away your eternal freedom from death, he wants to keep you from living a free life, keep you burdened by sin and far away from the abundant free life Christ wants you to experience.
Do you have a yoke of slavery? Are you burdened by fear, the approval of others, an addiction, anxiety? Do these things keep you bound up, worried, hurting? Jesus’ freedom gives us the power to conquer sin, to live in peace and grace, to live boldly and with purpose, to be full of hope and sure of the strength found in Christ. His freedom lets us move mountains, live in a scary difficult world with joy, be a light and unselfishly love others. What a way to live. I want more of that, what about you?
Christ has set us free, his sacrifice on the cross gives us the opportunity through faith to be set free from sin and to have a relationship with the father. But how do we continue to live in that freedom that he has set us free for? Two things, first Jesus said that we need to come to him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
He will replace the yoke of slavery that Paul was talking about, with his yoke, which is easy and light. Remember a yoke is who we are tying ourselves to, and Jesus invites us to yoke up with him and let him do the heavy lifting. You have to be close to someone to be yoked to them. Sometimes the bible refers to marriage as being yoked. Do you have this kind of relationship with Jesus? Do you talk to him, listen to him through his word, spend time being still and quiet with him? He is inviting you to be this close with him, “come to me,” he says.
And second, the truth brings freedom. “Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” John 8:31-32. The truth will bring freedom. We battle the yoke of slavery that Satan is trying to keep us in with the truth. The teachings of Jesus, the truth found in God’s word, studying them as a disciple or student, really knowing them, will bring freedom.
Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave, beating sin and death, to set you free, so each day you could live in freedom. Stand firm, then, in that freedom!
Daily Directional: 4.13.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
John 1: 4,5 “… His life brought life to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
I Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
All around us people are feeling a wide array of emotions. Recently, I heard someone label their feelings during this time as grief. We normally think of grieving as following the death of someone we know and love, however, while during this time there are those who are experiencing this devastating kind of grief, there is another kind that is being experienced on a wider scale. One blogger defined it this way:
“Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind… the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.”
People all around us are reeling from the many changes in their familiar patterns of behavior – a loss of normalcy, grieving over what may never be or not knowing what else may be lost. On top of dealing with our own feelings, we may feel helpless to know how to assist others.
In the story of Lazarus’ being raised to life found in John 11, we find the shortest verse in the Bible in verse 35. “Jesus wept”. There are many reasons for Jesus’ tears, but one that I find comforting is that Jesus loved Mary and Martha and it hurt Him to see them hurting. What a loving and compassionate Savior! Despite knowing that He was the solution to their suffering He first shared in their suffering. That very day he knew their mourning would turn into joy after He raised their brother Lazarus from the dead! He knew He had a better plan that only could come as a result of going through suffering. And yet, He did not scold them for their feelings. In fact, He felt deeply alongside them. Jesus, the Light of the World, is willing to meet us in our darkness and despair.
Acknowledge any grief and loss you may be feeling as a result of your circumstances. Allow yourself and others to express painful emotions. But let’s not stay there. Jesus came alongside Mary and Martha in their suffering. He could have stayed where He was and spoken a Word and Lazarus could have been raised from the dead that way. But He came – He was present.
In this time of isolation, it would be easy to pull away and isolate even further, giving way to feelings of anxiety and depression. Instead, choose to be available and present by whatever means you can, willing to serve.
Be available for those with whom you are quarantined. Just because you are living with others, doesn’t automatically guarantee that you are available. We have often experienced the feeling that someone is physically with us, but they are not really with us.
Be available for those outside your home. In this time, we may not be able to be present in a physical sense, but we can be available. Will you pray and ask God to show you someone you should reach out to even when you are struggling yourself? Don’t wait until you have your problems under control, until you have energy or motivation or desire to do so. Do it anyway. Act despite your feelings. Your feelings don’t have to control your actions. And who knows? It may just be the antidote to rising above them.
We may not know the outcome to all we are facing, but we know the One who does! The One who brings light to our darkness! The One who grieves with us even when He knows victory is coming!
Daily Directional: 4.11.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
Genesis 22: 1 Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.” 2 “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”…9 When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” 12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
It’s easy to focus on what Abraham did in this story – he demonstrated extraordinary faith, and showed that there was absolutely nothing he would hold back from God. But it’s also important to note what he learned through this incredible, challenging moment.
The thing is, Abraham could have promised to trust the Lord with every breath…but until those promises were put to the test, it was just talk. Likewise, through hardship and struggles, we find confidence in our faith in way that we couldn’t if life were just one season of joy after another.
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5)
I don’t know if I could bear Abraham’s long walk up the mountain with his son by his side. But I do know that the same God who stopped Abraham when the knife was in his hand is the same God who gave His only Son for my salvation and for yours – the same God who tells us time and time again not to fear, because He is with us.
At the end of the day, the most beautiful part of this story is not that Abraham was faithful, but that God is faithful. At just the moment when Abraham needed Him, God showed up. It must have been great for Abraham to know that he trusted God enough to follow through in obedience. But it was so much more important for Abraham to see that God keeps His promises.
20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. (Romans 4:20-24)
I don’t know what pain or trials you are going through – but I do know that if times are hard, you’re in the perfect spot to see if your faith will hold firm. Better yet, you’re in the perfect spot to see that God always holds firm – and nothing reminds us of that more than Easter. It doesn’t mean you won’t have to walk up that mountain, but you can be certain about the One who will meet you at the top.
Daily Directional: 4.10.20
Written by: John Petty
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
Words are so vitally important. With them we convey all sorts of thoughts and ideas. In fact, a carefully placed word in a phrase or sentence can often communicate our ideas in a completely different way. For example, I recently heard a clinical psychologist use the phrase “physical distancing” in replacement of “social distancing”. Swapping out that one word, he conveyed an entirely different meaning while accomplishing the same task. We read in James that controlling our words is not something we are particularly good at. In fact, we are taught here that for us it is easier to tame a wild animal than to tame our tongue. Just watch the series “Tiger King” on Netflix, and you can see this point made abundantly clear.
If I am honest, at times I have quite literally wrecked everything and everyone with a few single misplaced words. In my actions I have given more credibility (not that it needed it) to a verse found earlier in this same passage. A verse that compared our words to a small spark that can set a wildfire. Winston Churchill once said “To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”
If you’re like me controlling what comes out of your mouth is a full-time job. I’m reminded in Luke 6:45, that I cannot control it on my own. Jesus teaches us that if I want my words to be right, I need to keep my heart right. Again, just do the one thing He’s asking me, deny self and follow Him. I know I am a broken record when it comes to this, but I see all roads leading back to my heart relationship with God (Prov 4:23). This passage in James is simply one more call for me as a believer to be on task pleasing God daily. It is always important, but critical when times are tough or stressful. When I am confronted with difficult times and difficult people my word choices are excellent indicators of letting me know who is control of my heart.
During this tough time, let’s do our best to stay close to God and use words that heal, rather than hurt. Consider memorizing the proverb below to keep as a pocket-sized reminder of the unbelievable power in your speech. We are supposed to be bringing the “good news”, let’s not add to all the noise.
Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Daily Directional: 4.9.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
“But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?””Jonah 4:11 NLT
This week we heard a message from Pastor Josh on the story of Jonah, a prophet who wanted to do anything but what God had asked him. We didn’t delve into much detail about the rest of Jonah’s story, but to sum it up (kind of) quickly:
- Jonah is thrown from the boat he’s “escaping” on
- God sends a fish to protect him from drowning
- Jonah repents
- God makes the fish spit Jonah onto the shore and asks him again to go to Nineveh
- Jonah goes, prophecies about the city’s coming destruction, the people repent, and God spares the city
- Jonah is VERY upset by this, wishes for his death because he was hoping for Nineveh to be destroyed, and pouts outside of the city under a scorching sun while continuing to complain to God about His compassionate decision
- God very lovingly answers Jonah’s complaints with verse 11 listed above
We won’t unpack Jonah’s heart for the sake of this devotional, though I’m sure MUCH can be learned from his poor example. Instead, I want to focus on God’s heart in this story. I can count 7 different ways God showed compassion to Jonah either by protecting him from his own mistakes, by allowing him so many chances to have a part in His plans, or by answering Jonah’s complaints like a good father would his son. God’s heart for the city of Nineveh itself is even more evidence of His love as we know He spares them when He easily could have destroyed them justly. Look into that verse again, and how much care God puts into His response to Jonah! Couldn’t God have just as easily given a “shut up and color” response to someone so hateful towards a group of people God cares deeply for? And not only does God reason with Jonah by revealing his care for the 120,000 of this “great” city, he even adds in that phrase “not to mention all the animals.” It makes me laugh to read such a simple response, and it amazes me at the same time to see just how DEEP the love of God runs for His creation. Even in their rebellion, God was moved by the people of Nineveh. Even in Jonah’s childish behavior, God was moved to be a good father to him. And as Easter approaches, it feels imperative to remember the idea of how much we move God as His children and creation. This same spirit of compassion was sent down in the person of Jesus Christ to display for us the ultimate example of God’s heart for His people. Shortly before Jesus goes to the cross we read about the story of Lazarus, and I want to highlight a couple verses that again demonstrate how intimate Christ’s love is for us:
“When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept.”John 11:33-35 NLT
Much like in Jonah’s story, God already knew the miracle He was going to perform for Lazarus and His family. So why did Jesus bother to weep? Why did God bother to answer Jonah’s indignant questions? Why does God today still bother to answer our prayers, offer us encouragement, provide for our daily needs? Because He is moved by us. It’s the very reason Jesus endured a cross over 2,000 years ago to spare us from our own mistakes. I encourage you this week, while we prepare our hearts for celebration of the greatest day in history, to remember and thank God for the love He has for us. To remember that it isn’t a distant cold kind of love…it is a wildly compassionate, deeply intimate, detail oriented, immensely empathetic kind of love. Even for the Jonahs among us.
Daily Directional: 4.8.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.””
Mark 14:34-36 NLT
“…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NLT
These scriptures highlight two different examples of people asking to be delivered from hardship, and being denied. One, of course, is Jesus himself. This prayer before he is going to be crucified shows His humanity, but it also shows His deep submission to God’s will. Jesus shows here what it means to let our faith embolden us to the point of facing extreme adversity, trusting that God’s purpose is great and beautiful, even in the face of suffering.
We see something similar in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, where he describes an affliction (the nature of which we don’t know, though many suspect it may have been to do with his eyesight) that he has begged God to remove—and yet it remains. Paul relays what he heard from God:
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness”
Paul shows us a response that guides us through suffering, something that we can hold in our hearts to comfort us. Our weakness does not equal God’s weakness; in fact, our weakness magnifies God’s greatness! The weakest among us are most able to showcase God’s power. What an incredible promise to hold to when we feel weak, useless, or scared.
In the days leading up to Easter, as we reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice and the gift of salvation that was won from His suffering, let us also remember that God had plans for our suffering as well. We know the great gift that came from Christ’s pain, and so we can trust God to do something great from our own pain, as well.
Daily Directional: 4.7.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“…Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
“For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17
The joy of the LORD in being our Father
In the Bible, God is often described as being our Father. For some who had a pleasant childhood this can be an easy characteristic of God to comprehend, it can bring comfort and security. While for others, whose earthly fathers fell short, God as a loving father figure can be hard to understand.
In the parable known as the prodigal son, Jesus teaches us about God’s fatherly love. I encourage you to read this parable in its entirety. It’s found in Luke 15:11-32. To summarize, the parable is about two sons and a father. The younger son asks for his inheritance and the father gives it to him. Then the younger son is “prodigal” or wasteful and spends all his inheritance. He gets to the point where he is starving to death and decides to go back to his father to hopefully work for him as a servant. Verse 20 says, “But while he [the son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
This is the kind of father that God is. We can do everything wrong, waste everything he’s given us, end up in the pig pen, our life can be a dumpster fire (as Pastor Josh loves to say), but the second we turn towards God He is running towards us, with open arms. The joy and delight the father has for his son in this parable is the same joy and delight the God has towards us when we turn to him.
Nehemiah 8:10 says “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” The joy that God has in being our father, in taking care of us, in having compassion and mercy on us, is where we can find our strength. Just like a child finds safety and strength when his/her father finds joy in being their dad and taking care of them, we can rest and be strengthened by knowing that God enjoys being our Father, “he delights in us”, as it says in Zephaniah 3:17.
Maybe you have been prodigal (wasteful) with the things God has given you and you are ready to turn back to him; God is ready to run to you. Maybe you need to be reminded that God enjoys being your father, and he is perfect at taking care of you, so rest in that today. Let the knowledge that God delights in being our Dad calm your fears and give you strength.
“For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17
Daily Directional: 4.6.20
“It’s Okay To Be Different”
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
Exodus 19:5 “Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you will be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:”
1 Peter 2:9 “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”
Peculiar – is commonly used to mean strange or odd; unusual, but it can also be used to mean belonging exclusively to.
It shouldn’t surprise us that God says that those of us that follow Him would be peculiar. God clearly wants us to STAND OUT. Now, culture would have you believe that following God means you have to be…well, a nerd. That believers have to be a ‘Ned Flanders, hi-diddly-do’ type of person. However, God hasn’t called us to be awkward or antisocial, but He’s also not looking for followers that blend in or think like everyone else. He wants those that have surrendered to Him to have something noticeable about them, something that may even seem a little weird!
Matthew 5:13a“You are the salt of the earth. (You need to be flavor in a flavorless world) But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?”
Today in our current situation we may feel a pull to be afraid or anxious (why not? everyone else seems to be). You may feel a temptation to hoard your supplies and turn a suspicious or greedy eye on those around you. But this is where we are supposed to be different! We are expected to be the ones that go above and beyond in demonstrating service and sacrifice, for showing radical generosity. We should be the ones running towards the problem when others are running away.
Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
I pray that in the days to come you’ll be proud to be different, set apart, and peculiar. The world needs that now more than ever.
John 13:35 “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.””
Daily Directional: 4.4.20
Written by: John Petty
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Love, joy, peace, “PATIENCE”….
These character traits and a few others are all listed as “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians chapter 5. Of course, when we look at the list who wouldn’t want this fruit? Especially when you consider the alternate list containing the acts of our sinful nature also listed in Galatians 5. However, what we learn from this passage is that desire alone will not produce them. In fact, if we read the whole chapter carefully, we will see that they are not really our traits at all, but rather those of the Holy Spirit reflected in us. In this passage we begin to understand that this fruit is produced by a willful act of obedience to God and His commands and a “crucifying” of our sinful desires. When we trust God instead of allowing our visceral reactions to life and circumstances overtake our thoughts something quite supernatural takes place in our heart. We go from being a self-focused human displaying all the stuff that comes with that, to becoming a God focused human that begins to display the very character traits of God’s Spirit.
This goal simply put is to please God and not self. What a simple concept to understand. It is so easy to write, say, teach, and read. However, the discipling of our will is incredibly difficult to do. In fact, I think I struggle with this minute by minute some days. I want what I want, when I want it, and how I want it. I am ok with loving God and serving others provided it fits within my agenda. As conflicts between the two agendas arise, my attitudes and actions will soon reflect who I have been putting first. I can try to power through holding on to my agenda and just pretend to have the fruits, but I will soon grow weary and just give up. It is because as John 15 reminds us fruit not connected to the vine will wither and die. Conversely, when I first put my heart on the one thing God asks of me; To fully trust and obey Him and His will for my life, I am literally a different person. I find myself walking through the same life, still completely aware of the situations and problems around me, but not troubled by them. Moreover, my reactions to adversity and conflicts are very different.
I have read this passage many times and I don’t know why (I kind of do) but after reading this recently the word “patience” just jumped out at me. Basically, I was attacked by the Bible. A spiritual sucker punch if you will. Perhaps it is because I have seen a subtle lack of patience displayed in my actions and attitudes towards, well just about everything. Thank you, God, for the reminder that my lack of patience right now will not be remedied when my circumstances change, or by some mustered up stiff upper lip approach to life. I may be able to prevent an outburst or two, or perhaps hide it so no one even knows, but it will do nothing to address the real underlying issue. According to this passage, my lack of patience has its origin when I stopped looking at Jesus as the author and perfecter of my faith and started charting out my own course of how things ought to be.
Perhaps you like me needed that reminder today. I attached an excerpt from Psalm 27 I found particularly helpful. A Psalm I believe was written by David where he again is counselling himself (and us) back to a place where we are looking toward God not ourselves and trusting in Him alone.
13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Daily Directional: 4.3.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
1 John 2:7-8
“Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.”
The more I live the more convinced I become of how much God knows what He’s doing. Lyrics of a song we sang together a few weeks ago ring out as time continues to pass in quarantine: “You take what the enemy meant for evil and you turn it for good.” We base our nightly prayer off Romans 8:28 with this same message. And now here again reading through 1 John I see God continuing to teach me that He has always had a plan to lift the darkness from our lives. A pandemic is sweeping through our nation, our churches aren’t gathering in person, the body of Christ is regulated to their homes and only a few people around, and yet I am watching God actively spread the Gospel in a way I have never seen or heard of. Many of you are living with people in your homes who don’t know who Jesus is yet, and many of them have probably refused to come to church with you. So what do we see God do? He brings church directly to them! Not just by us being the messengers, but by literally placing church on the television! And not just on Sunday morning…every night at 8:28. Every time you zoom your connect group. Every time you open up one of these directionals. How is it possible that during a worldwide quarantine the darkest areas of communities are more saturated with the Gospel than every before?? The answer is simple: God. Our miracle working, amazingly compassionate, all knowing, all powerful God is lighting up the darkness right before our eyes. Do not pass up this moment in history, do not miss what He is doing, do not mistake this beautiful upside-down time period for anything other than the miracle it actually is! What I love most about this part of 1 John is that he doesn’t say “the true light will shine.” He says true light is ALREADY shining. Pandemic and all, God’s light is causing our darkness to disappear before our eyes. What a beautiful time to know the One who holds miracles in His hand and gives to us so generously in ways we never expect.
Daily Directional: 4.2.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
We don’t like the feeling of being weak. Fitness and nutrition articles remind us how we must be diligent in diet and exercise to maintain and increase physical health and strength. We know we need to get proper rest to have the needed energy and stamina to face our day. We look to the experts to discover how we can be our best selves, to be mentally and emotionally strong so that we are equipped to handle life and relationships. And yet situations arise continually that remind us that we are, in fact, weak. When faced with a task we feel inadequate to tackle, when circumstances arise beyond our control, when we encounter problems we cannot seem to fix, when swelling emotions seem beyond our control – we are confronted repeatedly with our weakness.
God’s ways are most often counter to our natural tendencies. He says we should delight in our weakness! Why? Because it is then that we are strong! This doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface does it? However, it is in our weakness that we experience God’s power working in and through us. It is our weakness that drives us to stop depending on our frail and unreliable human strength and start drawing from God’s unending supply of supernatural strength. The power of Christ is always available to those who believe and put their trust in Him. Just how powerful is this power? It is “the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:19)! Why do we still try to depend on our own strength when the strength that has the power to raise Christ from the dead is available to us?
We can be encouraged that not only is this power available to us but that the Lord wants to give it to us! We are told in 2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” I love this image of God actually actively searching the earth for those who have given their hearts completely to Him just so he can strengthen them. God is omnipresent. He is everywhere. He doesn’t need to search for anything as if anything is hidden from Him. But this verse pictures for us our loving heavenly Father who longs to grant us His strength in place of our weakness.
When you feel weak or ill equipped to handle whatever you are facing, don’t just try to muster up some strength within yourself. Talk to God. Tell Him you feel weak and ask Him for His strength. Then trust Him to supply it even when you don’t feel strong. Trust His Word more than your feelings. He longs to strengthen you. He promises to strengthen you. He is strengthening you even when you feel weak. He will always do what He promises. You can count on it.
“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
Daily Directional: 4.1.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
There is a lot of backstory to these verses (you can find the full story in chapters 15-21 of Genesis), but I wanted to focus on a brief series of verses within the story. Hagar was the servant of Sarah and Abraham, who were used by God to start the nation of Israel. Before Sarah and Abraham were given their promised son Isaac, however, Hagar became a pawn in their ill-advised plot to bring about God’s blessing their way. Hagar found herself pregnant by Abraham, and severely mistreated by Sarah as a result. These verses pick up after Hagar has run away to avoid more mistreatment, and is now alone in the wilderness:
The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.
The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.” And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress…
…Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”
Hagar had no friends, no family, and no home. The only stability she had came from Abraham and Sarah, who were now mistreating her. She ran away to the wilderness, and was then completely and totally alone. Many of us are now experiencing something similar: a profound sense of isolation, a disruption of our stabilizing routines. Many are celebrating milestones (birthdays, births, and even weddings!) away from the people they hoped to share those moments with. Many are also mourning alone, working through difficult moments away from communities they relied on.
In this passage our attention is drawn to two things: God HEARS and God SEES. Even at our most alone, God hears us and He sees us. He knows our hearts: our joys, our fears, our doubts and our sorrows. Hagar believed that she was alone, abandoned, and unnoticed. But after her encounter with God, she referred to Him always as “The God who sees me.” She took comfort and confidence from the knowledge that she was known and noticed by God himself.
As you are going through your day, remember that our God is the God who sees and the God who hears; and that even when at your most alone, fearful, or insecure, you are known and loved by Him.
Daily Directional: 3.31.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen and heard this verse so many times that I have a habit of passing right by it. But this one sentence could (and should) change our entire lives: the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Think about it for just a second – no really, think about it. The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. Another translation says it this way: the Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need. If I were to live each day in a way that reflected an all in, sold out, whole hearted belief in the fact that God is guiding me and I will never want for anything…I’d say things would look a bit different.
Now, to be clear, this passage is not saying that we will get everything we want. But God will provide us with everything we need, and we will not be left wanting. Usually when I hear about God’s provision, my mind goes toward the practical – finances, food, shelter, safety. But it is also true that God provides for us spiritually and emotionally – meaning that with God as our shepherd we will not be left without love or acceptance, purpose or meaning, compassion or understanding. Turns out we humans are a needy bunch. Thankfully we have a God who is for us – so “for us” that He didn’t even hold back His only Son.
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:31-32)
For someone who believes that God is for me, I sure do spend a lot of time being for myself, as if He doesn’t have it covered. But the Lord is my shepherd. I have all that I need. Who or what could possibly threaten that?
Today, let’s choose to keep Psalm 23:1 at the forefront of our minds, and choose to live in a way that reflects faith in a God who provides for our every need. I don’t mean just nodding in agreement right now as you’re reading and then forgetting about it in five minutes. What if you tried a practical solution – when faced with a situation that brings about fear, pride, discomfort, or temptation, say those nine words in your mind. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
When that bill comes in the mail – the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. When that person isn’t showing you the love you crave – the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. When you are faced with that diagnosis – the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. When you feel alone and overwhelmed – the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
Then think of all the other people out there right now, reading these same words.
The Lord is our shepherd. We have all that we need.
Daily Directional: 3.30.20
Just One Touch
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
“A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.””
The woman in this story didn’t ask Jesus for a prayer or a blessing. She didn’t need to take any of His time or attention. She didn’t need a long begging intercession from this visiting Rabbi. She didn’t need to own his robe or even put it on. She didn’t need hours and hours of treatment, consultations, or interactions with Jesus.
All she needed was one moment where she reached out to Jesus in faith and believed that He could heal her.
Your spiritual restoration is a simple act of faith away. You don’t need a long drawn out wordy prayer. You don’t need to buy a special coat, book, or blessing. You only need the power of Jesus. Forgiveness, spiritual healing, happens in an instant, the moment you trust Christ with your life and eternity.
If you’ve already experienced this forgiveness, then your job is to be the robe.
This world is filled with people that are broken and feel ashamed. They already have been let down and disappointed by so many false “saviors” their skepticism and/or insecurities are going to keep them from getting as close to Jesus as they may want. HOWEVER… you’ve been touched by Jesus. And the Bible says that those of us that know Christ, have the Holy Spirit living inside of us.
You may just be the thing that person needs most. You’re now a conduit of Jesus’ love for them. Don’t get me wrong, you and I can’t take away anyone’s sins or offer them salvation. But as Christ’s followers, we are His lifeline to save others. So stay close to Jesus…close like a coat in winter time. So close that when someone reaches out to you, they reach out to Jesus by extension. Maybe even now there is someone in the crowd, just waiting to be healed.
Daily Directional: 3.28.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“Only be careful and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
Remembering is a big theme throughout the Bible. All through the Old Testament, God repeatedly tells the Israelites to remember; remember God and remember what the Lord has done. But oh, how quickly they forget. God brings them out of Egypt, out of slavery, parts the Red Sea, does all kinds of miraculous things, and then they find themselves in the desert, forgetting all these things and wishing they were back in slavery. They forget the God who is taking care of them. But he does not forget them. God always remembers the promises he makes to us.
There are several different things that those in the bible do in order to remember God’s faithfulness. Building monuments was one way. Pastor Josh did a whole sermon series last year on this; the monumental things God has done in our life and remembering those events. The Israelites would set up monuments, sometimes piles of rocks, to remind themselves of God’s faithfulness (Joshua 4:1-24).
Writing was another important tool used in the bible to remember. David, in the book of Psalms, writes about the times God rescued him, blessed him, heard his cry, and was faithful to him. Speaking is also used to remember. In Deuteronomy, Moses tells the Israelites to talk with their children about the miraculous things God did; and in Revelation, it says that we will overcome Satan by Jesus’ blood and by speaking out loud the memory of God’s faithfulness in our own lives (Revelation 12:11). Food, festivals and celebrations are also things that God uses to help us remember. Festivals in the Old Testament reminded the Israelites of God and his faithfulness, the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
Why did God make remembering such a big deal? Because he knew that when we started to forget Him, His faithfulness, the things He has done in our life, that would be when the fear and worry would take over, when we would trust ourselves, and try in vain to control our situation. We would lose our joy and peace that comes only from Him. Thankfully, for those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, we have something that can help us remember; the Holy Spirit. It is literally one of his jobs to help us remember. “He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26).
We have the Holy Spirit to help us remember and we have several ideas from the bible on how to remember (monuments, writing, food, speaking it); so, today remember. Especially in a time of uncertainty, remember God’s faithfulness to you. And then do something to remind yourself of that memory; talk about it with your family, create art (monument), eat a meal in celebration, journal about it. Remember God’s faithfulness because He is always faithful and His faithfulness in the past is an example and a promise for his faithfulness in the future.
Daily Directional: 3.27.20
Written by: John Petty
9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
This is most likely a familiar passage to you; the very words God spoke to Joshua before he was to lead the people across the Jordan river on their journey to the land God had promised to give them. God uses the phrase “be strong and courageous” to both encourage Joshua and remind him of where the strength for the victory will come from. In fact, this is the third time God reminds Joshua of this in this very passage. Joshua now has the task of standing before all the nation and leading them to trust God in very uncertain times. He immediately obeys the call and encourages the people of God with this same approach. He moves ahead and encourages them to remember the promises God made to them and to charge ahead. The subsequent victories and achievements stand as a testimony to the fulfilment of those promises. These fulfilled promises have been recorded in God’s word and generations have been able to reflect upon them in times of uncertainty.
It is important to note that today we have the privilege of reading these passages from the vantage point of history. In other words, we already know the outcome. God did exactly what He said He would. His promises were fulfilled, and all His words came to pass. Why is this important? I am glad you asked. It is important because here, and throughout the entirety of Scripture, we have countless historical records of the same exact thing. All of God’s words and promises are true. They do not change as they are not subject to humanity and our limits. Basically, we can always trust Him. The only difference in our specific circumstance is the vantage point from which we view it. In other words, we do not know the specifics of the eventual outcome. However, neither God or His promises have changed. We can still fully trust them both.
Let us remind ourselves (and each other) that in uncertain times and circumstances we have these certain promises. As you can see in the passage the consistent reflecting on these promises are the key to our confidence. God thought it important to keep reminding Joshua (even though he was already aware) that He would be with him. Therefore, we would be wise to do the same for each other. Proverbs 12:25 reminds us that “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up”. Now is the time to remind each other of the certainties and promises we have in God’s word. Take some time today and seek out one or two of God’s promises to us. Write them down, memorize them, send them to a friend. Let us work together to promote the true narrative of God’s promises to those He has called according to His purposes. Of course, we don’t know the future, but we can always trust in an unchanging God who does.
Daily Directional: 3.26.20
Written by: Kimberly Rockness
Psalm 112:1, 7-8
“Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.”
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”
In this passage we are presented with two types of fear – one that is desirable and one that is undesirable. We are promised that we can live a life without fear, in fact, God commands us not to fear (Isaiah 41:10). The only exception is that we are to fear the Lord. That is a phrase that doesn’t make much sense to the modern mind, but here we are told a little bit about what fearing the Lord means practically – one who finds great delight in God’s commands. As people who like to do what we want to do and when we want to do it (and most often have the freedom to do so), we don’t usually think of commands as something that we would even remotely like, much less find great delight in. And yet, God says if we delight in His commands, we are blessed. In fact, here we see that one of God’s blessings is being able to have a heart that is steadfast, secure – at peace.
Psalm 112:7 sheds light on how we can get to the place where we find “great delight” in God’s commands – by trusting in the Lord. That phrase is thrown around a lot, but if we are to actually do it, it will require a conscious choice on our part. If we really and truly trust the Lord, no matter what is going on around us, no matter what bad news we may receive – we do not need to fear. Note that it does not say that we won’t receive bad news – just that we won’t fear it. It is only if we are so fixed on the truth of what God says, more than on any bad news we may receive, that it is possible for our hearts to remain securely grounded in peace.
If you have ever tried to encourage a child to jump off the side of a pool into your arms you know that you soon find out if that child really trusts you to catch them. If they refuse to jump or are protesting in fear despite your cajoling, it is because they are fixated on the perceived danger – the water. In that moment they believe you won’t really catch them and that they will drown. As one who loves this child, you know you would never let this happen and that their fears are unfounded. “Don’t you trust me?” you may ask. “Oh yes, I trust you,” comes the reply. However, once you have done all you can to convince the child to jump, if they persist in focusing on their fear of the water, have they demonstrated that they trust you? Is the fact that the child said that they trust you evidence enough that they do indeed trust you? The only way they demonstrate their trust is by focusing on you and on the fact that you love them enough to remain true to your word. Ultimately, they don’t demonstrate their trust just by saying they trust you, but by obeying your command – Jump!
How do we, who are hearing so much bad news these days, get to the place where we can be free of fear and confidently trust the Lord to care for us no matter what hardship we may have to endure? The psalmist tells us we need a steadfast heart. Steadfast means firm, unwavering, determined. Let’s determine to spend more time fixing our minds firmly on the truth of God’s Word that we may possess an unwavering faith and trust in the God who desires to grant our hearts peace in the midst of any circumstance. Through Jesus, it is possible for us to be overwhelmingly victorious and triumph over the foe of fear! (Romans 8:37)
Daily Directional: 3.25.20
Written by: Kristen Lambrich
17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. 20 But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!“
If you’re like me and read through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount you feel dejected…because what Jesus lists out for us is honestly impossible. You haven’t murdered, but you’ve been angry with someone (Jesus says those are the same). Maybe you’ve sworn to do something and failed to followthrough, maybe you’ve hated your enemy, maybe you’re divorced, or you’ve been selfish towards the poor, or hypocritically prayed to God, or put your faith in finances, or judged your neighbor, or given up hope in God altogether, or looked out only for yourself…even just one time.
Which brings me to this ball of yarn I’m working on. Or at least it WAS a ball of yarn until my lovely nephew got ahold of it – now it’s a total mess. I’m about 5 hours into attempting to untangle it, and to be honest it looks about the same as when I started. Isn’t that just like all of us, staring at our mess and trying to untangle all the bad things bit by bit only to make a fraction of a dent? And what if that dent is still not enough? It’s easy to start feeling immensely anxious at this thought, until you remember the completion of Jesus’ ministry here on earth: “It is finished!” John 19:30
Through his work on the cross every bit of my mess was paid for. His life for mine, not in part but ENTIRELY. He hasn’t merely helped fix up my mess…He has given me an entirely new life (or a whole ball of fresh yarn so to speak) to point to at the end of all of this. I’ve chosen to put my faith in the work of Christ and NOT myself! Finally, a true hope without fear.
It’s been settled that when I come face to face with God I don’t have to present myself perfectly, but rather present the perfect Jesus in my place. So why bother untangling that messy yarn now?Because eventually this tangle will be a baby blanket. Or a scarf. Or a pair of socks (I really haven’t decided). My point being…my mess is worth untangling because of what it can be: something beautiful.
So while we have this time to reflect, and change, and dig through ourselves let’s remember the One who stands in the gap of our sin, and “let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9
Daily Directional: 3.24.20
Written by: John Rockness
“He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.”
This verse illustrates God’s great compassion for the poor in that He clearly states His indebtedness to those who minister personally to the poor in His name. To the believer who willingly extends his or her resources to those in need, God Himself has promised to pay back what is given. When God pays back it is more often than not in greater proportion to what was given. He delights in “opening the windows of heaven” as a blessing to those who would serve Him.
Who are the poor we are to serve? They may not just be the financially poor. God could direct you to minister to the one who is poor in health. It could be someone who is poor in spirit, downcast or suffering through an emotional need. It could be a lost soul who is spiritually destitute. Someone who needs to hear the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. Taking pity on the poor is more than giving money to someone who has a financial need. It is meeting whatever need the person God puts in your path may have. It could be as simple as just being a friend to someone who has none.
We currently find ourselves living in an interesting and concerning time. We, as children of the Almighty and Loving God of the Universe have a unique opportunity to reach out to those uncertain about their future. In giving our time, money and efforts to the ones around us who are desperate, we become an extension of God’s great love for them.
When we do this, not only does it divert our focus away from our own fears and anxieties but it creates the opportunity for us to grow in faith and for God to meet our own needs in abundance.
The needs are many. What will you do?
Daily Directional: 3.23.20
Written by: Kaleigh Adams
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”
“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”
1 Timothy 6:17
“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.“
Jeremiah tells us that those who have put their hope and confidence in the Lord are blessed, it says they are like trees that never stop producing fruit, even during long periods of drought. An earlier post talked about the fruits of the spirit, which are characteristics that God promises to those who follow Him (Galatians 5:22-23). One of the fruits of the spirit is JOY!
Times of crisis or struggle have a way of exposing what it is we are actually putting our hope in. A pastor I know used to say “Tell me what you’re most afraid to lose, and I’ll tell you where your hope is.” What’s happening in our world right now is robbing a lot of people of their joy, because it is attacking the very things that so many of us put our hope and confidence in: our wealth, our job security, our social lives, our routines, and even our health. But when we instead choose to put our confidence in God— trusting that He is good even in bad circumstances, and that He will give us joy even through the darkest moments, we put our hope in something that can never be taken from us.
The Bible tells us that we can “rejoice in our confident hope”, and that God “richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.” There is no promise that life will always go the way we planned, and there is no promise that there will be no pain and no struggle. The promise is that God will faithfully supply the strength we need to have joy, no matter what happens to us.
In Proverbs, it describes a wise woman who “laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25). Imagine what it would be like to be able to experience the kind of joy that produces laughter, even in the face of an uncertain or frightening future! This is the level of confidence that God has promised us, if we will put our confidence and hope in Him.
Daily Directional: 3.21.20
Written by: Katie Rose Ritchie
1 Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. 2 He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains. 3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” 5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! 6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! 8 Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. 9 He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.
Something I often fail to remember is that God is not wasteful. Times that we see as passive waiting periods are often the times when God is doing His most incredible work in ways that we can’t or don’t see.
We see examples of this in life nearly every day. While we’re waiting for a flower to poke up from the soil, there are beautiful, essential stages of growth happening just under the surface. When we spend 6-8 “unproductive” hours sleeping each night, our bodies are resetting, rejuvenating, and healing. Or when we are in the midst of the most painful, difficult seasons of life, we end up learning the very things that God will use to guide us toward carrying someone else through their trials.
We see this in the Bible all the time, as well. Saul (soon to be Paul) spends three days in utter blindness, not only to have his vision restored by God, but to come out an entirely new man. Jonah spends three days in the belly of a fish, where he learns that following God is not the same as getting what we want (but it turns out to be much better). And best of all, Jesus spends 3 days in a dark tomb, only to emerge as our Savior, promising new life to any and all who will accept it.
If we see, then, that God does not waste time, it begs the question: how is He using this time in your life?
Maybe getting into this Daily Directional is your first step toward building a lifelong habit of beginning each day with God. Maybe this unexpected time with family is your opportunity to finally have that hard conversation, or show love to that person you’ve been neglecting. Maybe right this second you find yourself in utter darkness, only to realize that God is there with you, walking you patiently toward a light you can’t yet see.
Or maybe the answer is simply this: God is giving us all a chance to trust Him. Perhaps for the very first time, or maybe in a brand new way. To trust that He is in control of things on a global scale, and to trust that He will not waste our time if we will only let Him use it.
Daily Directional: 3.20.20
Written by: Pastor Josh Adams
As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
What Lies Beneath
It’s hard to believe that some people could act the way you see depicted on the television. What’s beneath the surface of the people that one morning are smiling and waving politely, and the following morning they are hoarding boxes of ramen and leaving angry comments on the internet?
Perhaps just beneath the surface of the calm and collected facade lies a person racked with anxiety, greed, and fear?It may just be that your neighbor, the person on television, or the one in your bathroom mirror all suffer from a low grade, unending, uncertainty.
When the rich man in Mark 10 asks Jesus for direction, Jesus tells him to sell his belongings, give everything to those more in need, and follow Christ. The rich man leaves sad at this news, not empowered. Why? What was so depressing in Jesus’ description of self-sacrifice? Jesus was exposing a hidden idol in the rich man’s heart. While on the exterior, his typical daily behavior would have led his friends and neighbors to believe he was a good, and even “religious” guy, when faced with the reality of Jesus and the call to love others the rich man showed what was truly in his heart.
For those who follow Christ, our true character should be one of love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. (Fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5) What a testimony it would be for the chaos of the day to bring to the surface an attitude of care and compassion instead of greed and self-preservation.
Daily Directional: 3.19.20
Written by: Angela Hansen
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (NLT)
“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]” (AMP)
Fix your thoughts on what is true.
We live in an unsure world, even before the uncertainty of the coronavirus, our world was facing a pandemic of anxiety. So, what to do to fight the fear that plagues our world today? Think about what is true.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, addressed their struggle with anxiety, giving them godly help with a real-life issue they were facing. These are practical steps we can take to fight anxiety. First, in Philippians 4:6-7 it says, we should pray about everything, sharing our worries and requests with the Lord, and thanking him for what he’s already done in our lives. Paul promises if we do these things that an incomprehensible amount of peace will fill us.
But let’s focus on verse 8, it gives us another practical thing we can do to fight anxiety. Shift our thoughts from the fear and worry, the what if’s and uncertainty, to the TRUTH. Think about things that you know are true, things about God from his word. Think about things that are pure and lovely, that fill your heart with peace and joy. The amplified version of the bible says, “…think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”
Today when you’re overwhelmed by the uncertainty of the things in this world, shift your thoughts to the truth found in God’s word. Think about the things that bring you joy. Center your mind and heart on the truth that God is in control, and we are not alone. Take it one step further and talk about, with your family and friends, the true, pure, lovely things you are thinking.
Daily Directional: 3.18.20
Written by: John Petty
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
The setting of this story in the Old Testament is right after God lead the Israelites out of slavery. They encounter some difficulty, and immediately begin to complain against their leaders, which translates as an attack against God. Their memories of the previous hopeless state they were in become clouded by the current battles they were fighting.
Here in this passage we see a repeated theme throughout Scripture. God will supply all our needs according the riches of His Glory. He is in charge, and He cares for His own. We need not doubt His provision; However, it is imperative that we do not lose sight of God’s desire for us to stay focused on the day. As Billy Graham used to say, “Do not be afraid of the future, God is already there”. In this current time of apparent chaos, let us remind each other to stay focused on pleasing God in the day, and trust in Him for all our provision. He is the one that lead us out of the darkness of our sin. He is still on the throne and He still has a plan to glorify Himself through those He has called out.