The Need for Self-Discipline

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1 Corinthians 9: 24-25

This devotional has a quote written by Charles Stanley.

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Day 137:

The devotional topic today is self-discipline.  I can’t say that I have good self-discipline.  Case in point, I don’t even do this daily devotional daily.  Seriously, this book was supposed to take one year.  Three hundred sixty-five days, I knew I wasn’t going to do weekends, but I started doing this book, August 1, 2017.   A year has gone by.  I really did expect to finish it in October, because I knew I was skipping weekends.  But I’m only on Day 137.  So all in all, self-discipline is not my strong suit.

However, self-discipline needs to be a basic building-block of our faith.  It’s one of the things we need to have a sturdy foundation.  We have to have the discipline to run the race daily.  We need to follow the routine of daily devotion, prayer, praise to exercise our faith. We can’t let it become a going through the motions, to do for the sake of doing. (it is a fine line)

We have to show self-discipline in all ways of our lives.  Seeking God daily, faithfully.  When we love on God, God loves on us back–even more than we do.  Showing that discipline every day is a way of seeking God.  Whether it’s doing a devotional or controlling what you say. It’s a way of praising God.

Yesterday in Sunday school, we had a very unorthodox lesson.  It was a small group and we all went around telling the good things that God is doing in our life.  When it got to me, I was the first mom in the room and said my peace.  Next, was another Mom, she said her thing.  Then the third and final Mom in the room told how proud she was of her kids.  How she felt she was doing something right because she could see her kids making right choices.  We then proceeded to vent a little.   Which isn’t the best thing to do in Sunday school, but as moms we all needed to hear that we weren’t alone in the world.  We talked about how Satan uses that idea you are all alone to hurt us. (So it had a point) but it also was said that we get so frustrated with our children.  How does God feel about us and our misdeeds?

Now, this anecdote brings me back to the point of self-discipline.  God is our perfect parent.  He has to deal with each of us, in the way that will teach us.  But when we aren’t being scolded, taught or anything us.  That self-discipline is what keeps us in line.  Keeps us on the right path.

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The Choice to Forgive

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Matthew 5:43-45

This devotional has a quote written by St. Augustine.

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Day 136:

Forgiveness is a choice.

It’s a hard choice. It’s one of those choices that will eat you up inside.  You may not want to forgive.  But the thing is, and I do speak from experience here when you don’t forgive you are harming yourself.  Not only are you being hurt by that person, you are being hurt by your own actions.

When you make the choice to NOT forgive. You allow the person who wrong you to have more power over you then they should ever have.  You allow that person to continually hurt you.  It gives that person the ammunition to torture you. It makes you doubt yourself.  It makes you twist and turn in the hatred of your own heart.  When you the choice is to not forgive, it’s a disservice to yourself.

When you forgive.  You rise above it.  It isn’t your issue anymore.  That person doesn’t have power over you.  Your heart isn’t’ full of hate and resentment. We have a clean heart that God can do something with.

Forgiveness is a choice.

it’s a hard choice.

But it’s the only choice that you should be making.  Because not making it, is worse for you.

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Contagious Faith

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Colossians 3:23

This devotional has a quote written by A.W. Tozer.

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Day 135:

In the last paragraph of today’s devotional, it asks: “Does Christ reign over your life?” No matter what your current personal answer is, we should all strive to make it a yes.  I hate to admit it, but I don’t think my answer is a clear-cut yes.  I wish it was. But I see my actions as those for me more often than for the Lord.  It’s shameful.

My actions, our actions should always be for the Lord.  We should be working on finding our joy in Him.  As our devotional title says, our faith should be contagious.  We should be showing God in all our actions, words, moments.  We should be such an example of Christ that sinners/non-Christians want to know why we have such joy. Why are we good even in the worst scenarios we find the good.

Think about your actions and words as the day progresses.  Are they for you or for the Lord?  Are you sharing your faith? Or belittling it?

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The Gift of Salvation

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Ephesians 2:8-9

This devotional has a quote written by Phillips Brooks

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Day 134:

Phillips Brooks says:

Christianity helps us face the music even when we don’t like the tune.

If I were to take a survey of my life, my actions, my attitudes, and my thoughts I would have to honestly say.  I don’t deserve to be saved. It’s not that I’m a bad person.  Or that I’m this train wreck that can’t be salvaged.  But it’s because I’m a bag of bones, made of flesh.  And I’ve done wrong.  I’m short of the glory of God.  All have fallen short. Romans 3:23.  If you were to do the same, I’d be willing to be you’d come to the same conclusion.

Salvation is a gift.  It is because God knows that mankind is going to have errors, and in his grace, he forgives us anyway. So today my only question is what are you doing with your gift?  Are you worshiping, praising, and thanking God for his gift?  Are you being negative, hateful, and wasting his gift?  In return for his gift, we should be worshiping and spreading the Love of God around.  Showing others what God does for you.

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A Growing Relationship with God

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2 Peter 3:18

This devotional has no quote.

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Day 133:

There is this myth in the minds of people; that if you are a good person and asked Christ into your heart at one point in your life that is enough.  But the truth is it’s never enough.  That one-time ticket punch is not a lifelong ride coverage.  Paul said I die daily.  That is what we need to do.  Daily wake up and punch that ticket again.  We need to say, “God today I’m yours.”  Each day we should recommit to God.  Each day we need to walk his path.

The devotional today tells us that our relationship with God is a daily evolving, changing, growing relationship.  Just like any of our personal relationships on Earth, the one we have with our Heavenly Father is one we shape based on our choices, decisions, and actions.  So the question I pose to you today, is are you taking actions to grow closer to God?  Are you developing your relationship or letting it grow dormant?

Many times Christians, myself included, become complacent.  We are happy where we are, comfortable and then we become stagnant.  That is not good for our relationship with Christ.  Every day we must push ourselves to grow closer to God.  Don’t let it lag and drag.  Push it forward, be determined.  Grow in the Lord.

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Character Counts

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2 Peter 1:5

This devotional has a quote written by Warren Wersbe.

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Day 132:

“Integrity is what we do when no one is looking.”

That’s one of those phrases that people use to teach others about what it is. The character of a person is one of those things that really does define a person.   You get this first sense of people from others.  And others define you by your actions.  The pastor of my church, I’d define as a good, loving, caring, hardworking man.  He’s a man of God.  Everyone knows that.  That is what defines him.  That is what his character is.  Tom Hiddleston seems like a perfect gentleman, I’ve never met the man, but everything that I’ve seen or read seems like he’s a great guy.  Who is kind and caring.  Everyone says so.  Kayne West seems like a jerk.  Again, I’ve never met the man, but I have seen his actions in public, heard his speech and I’d define him as a jerk.

Actions, words they define you.  They make your character.  You build your character for as long as you live.  The drug addict has one character that defines them, but they can change it.  Recovering drug addicts admit they were corrupt in the past, and many fight tooth and nail to change their character to become more than they were. Just like my pastor (if he wanted) could change his character, but instead, he works on keeping it.   Tom Hiddleston could come out and start being a jerk, and that would change his character.  Kayne West could work and become this amazing guy who people wouldn’t see as a jerk.  Because the other part of a person’s character is it changes, sometimes in an instant.

That is why as Children of God, we need to work on building a character that pleases him.  To be the honest, fair, loving, kind, compassionate people who God wants us to be.  Those defining traits that Jesus carried when he walked this Earth.

Today be mindful of your actions, take a personal inventory of what you are doing to build your character.  What you are doing that defines you and how that is good or bad.  Do a little work to see what you stand for.  Change what needs to be changed.  Who are you, when no one is looking?
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When People Behave Badly

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Proverbs 22:25

This devotional has a quote written by Franklin Graham.

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Day 131:

God is funny.  Yesterday I said ““But that’s not my job.  I can’t tear others down just because I’m in pain. “”  And today our devotional is called ‘When People Behave Badly.’  (Trust me, I’m not one to look ahead, so I really had no idea) The first paragraph goes into explaining how no matter what, even when we want to, even when we feel we have every right, God corrects people’s people, we have to stay out of it.

The entire point of the devotional is hard to swallow today.  Without spilling any dirty laundry on a social media platform, I have been going through a hard time with someone who hurt me very badly.  I’ve been trying to forgive and it just hasn’t happened yet. I keep wanting to lash out, to make sense of the bizarre turn of events that led me to the place I’m currently finding myself.

Making the idea of writing a response to the devotional extremely hard, I can’t talk about how to deal with people behaving badly because I have not figured it out.  I know in theory that I”m supposed to let go and let God.  But that is so much easier said than done.  I want to march my tail end to Person’s house, give her person a tongue lashing they’d never forget.  I want to so badly.  But I can’t.  I know I can’t.  But it hurts that I can’t. Does that even make sense?

Our devotional instructs us to walk away and let God handle that person. That God will deal with their heart.  That God will take away your pain.  That God will be the comfort you need to heal from the incident, whatever it may be.  We can’t lose our tempers.  We have to have the ability to walk away.  To give it to God.  If you are like me, you may have to keep giving it to God, daily.  But give it to God.

For us to salve, the ointment that soothes the irritations of life, is Jesus Christ, the Great Physician. And we have instant communication with Him through times of prayerful solitude.

–Franklin Graham

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The Power of Words

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Ephesians 4:29

This devotional has a quote written by Jim Cymbala.

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Day 130:

The devotional today is all about words.

Man, do I know a thing or two about words.  I like to believe I’m in the business of words. But setting that aside, I know what a power word have over a person. I have been on both ends of the stick.  Receiving words and giving them.  I’ve seen how it can lift a person up, bring a smile to their face.  And I’ve seen how an unkind word destroys a person.  Also, I’ve been on the side of words.  I know how it feels when someone is uplifting and someone is doom and gloom.  So I really do know how words impact a person.

Jesus instructs us to uplift others with our words.  Our scriptures instruct that our words should minister grace.  I have to admit I’m struggling with that one.  I have this whole fiasco that has really wrecked me.  And to speak in a way that ministers grace, well that is extremely hard.  I’m hurting.  So the flesh wants others to hurt.  But that’s not my job.  I can’t tear others down just because I’m in pain.  (there is a whole other lesson in that, but we are sticking to words today) I have to minister grace, uplift, build with my words towards other.  Let God hold my pain, and do what I’m instructed to.

Every single day we have a choice of how to use our words.  You can lie, manipulate, deceive, create your own version of the truth and in doing so you can destroy families, people, legacies.  Or you can be honest, kind, helpful.  By doing that you are restoring, building, helping.  It’s your choice. Build up or destroy.  How will you use your words today?

 

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Decision-Making 101

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James 1:8

This devotional has a quote written by Warren Wiersbe.

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Day 129:

Personal:

So it’s been 14 days, 2 full weeks since I’ve posted a devotional.  I wish I could say it’s because I was doing great work, and doing all these great things.  But the truth is not that pretty.  I was busy to the point where I let it become more important than the measly 30 minutes I spend on my devotional.  I wasn’t managing my time well.  I wasn’t putting my focus where it should have been.  I let my to-do list and my worldly problems come between me and my God time.  It’s quite sad really.  I at the time could really justify it. Kiddos birthday parties meant I had to clean and prep my house for the company.   But seriously, is that more important than keeping my heart clean.  NO.  But alas that is my bad behavior.  One week I put cleaning over the devotional time.  The second I put my hurt heart, headaches and extreme exhaustion over it. So kudos to me for royally being wrong.  But today I’m back on focus.  I’m back to the devotional.  I’m back with a heart that only wants to serve and learn.  My point of this is to A. apologize, someone looks at this every day and for two weeks, I’ve let them down. B. to explain my actions/lack of devotionals.  C. to say that it’s okay when you fail and falter.  The important part is you admit, seek forgiveness and correct the bad behavior.  Now.  Onto today’s devotional.

Devotional:

Today’s devotional focuses on the need to be decisive. If you are following along with the book, you have read the steps that the writer has laid out about decision-making.  Gather info, don’t be impulsive, ask advice, pray for guidance, trust your instincts, and finally make the decision.  No procrastination.  (I have paraphrased the list from the book.)  This list, I have found is the utter truth.  Because like our scripture states, being double-minded, indecisive, undetermined, ambiguous is unstable.  I have made some terrible decisions in my life. (Thankfully, nothing too permitted) but I made the decision.  I wasn’t wavering.  It was a bad choice, but I stood firm in it, let the cards fall and then repented, sought forgiveness and started again.  Thankfully with age, wisdom, and maturity, I’m not making so many terrible decisions.  The times when it’s been most difficult is when I’m not firm.  Being wishy-washy is quite terrible.  You can’t move, you are frozen but flopping.

Making any decision is hard.  It’s difficult to choose because you don’t know where things are going to lead. You don’t know how the choice will affect your life, your families life.  But you have to trust in God and hear his voice telling you where to go.  He’ll never leave.  He has promised his children, literally the world.  There are over 6,000 promises in the Bible for God’s children.  (Thank you, Pastor Ray, for that tidbit fact.)

At the end of the day, you have to make the decision to trust God.  You have to make the choice to serve him, listen to him, follow his path.  When you are living in his will, then you should be able to make the choices easier.  Knowing what God wants you to do.  But it’s all comes down to not being double-minded.  Not being wishy-washy.  Be firm.  Be courageous in your decision-making.  Faith.  Courage.  Trust.  Place it all in God and you’ll be fine.  It might be hard.  But God will see you through.

There is no need to fear the decisions of life when ou know Jesus Chrsit, for His name is Counselor.
-Warren Wiersbe.

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God Never Leaves You

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2 Samuel 22:2-3

This devotional has a quote written by Victor Hugo.

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Day 128:

Maciena, the person, has been raised in the church.  There was never a time that I didn’t attend church. But the Maciena, the believer, has always been there, but she wasn’t always wise.  In fact, one of my few childhood memories is how I visualized being saved. Because as kids we are told to let Jesus into our hearts.   So I somehow saw the human body as having two hearts. One that did the body good, one that did the spirit well.  I was an imaginative kid.

As a grown-up I know it’s talking more metaphorical than physical, but I have been brought back to that image of having two hearts by today’s devotional. God never leaves you, he’s a constant in your life, like your heartbeat.  He’s strong and steady.  He’s prepared to do what ever is necessary to keep you alive.

Fear is very real and in today’s political and economic climate it’s very easy to fall into the flesh trap of fear.  But we should all remember the innocent thought of my youth, that you have two hearts, and Jesus resides in one of them.  Then you can be comforted knowing that God is with you.  He’s never going to leave you.

No matter what you are feeling (fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, worry) you can take it to God and know that he’s big enough to carry it. That you don’t have to carry those burdens yourself.  He’s there for you and he’ll never leave you.  Never.

Do you trust God enough to hand those burdens to him?  Are you allowing God in your heart so that your spirit is whole? closing header

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