The New Year is upon us! It is a year of New Beginnings. The time has come to say goodbye to the past and hello to the future. God has given us dreams and visions for the future, and now is the time to pursue them. There is much to be done—places to go, people to see, and things to do. It will require hard work and great faith to get it done.
The Scriptures teach us the following: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the LORD, not for human masters” (Col. 3:23 NIV). It doesn’t matter what you feel called by God to do, you can be sure that hard work will be at the heart of it. According to Mark Batterson, if we are to accomplish our God-given dreams, we must “Pray like it depends on God and Work like it depends on Us.”
+ If we are going to honor The Lord, then we must work very hard to do so in every area of our lives – home, school, work, family and community.
+ As followers of Jesus Christ, we have been set apart. We are no longer who we once were, but different-NEW. We don’t think the same or talk the same or even act the same. Therefore, our lives are to reflect the image and influence of The Lord Jesus Christ, so that the world around us can see the difference that only The Lord can make when one chooses to follow Him.
+ If you want to honor God and be the man or woman that He has created and called you to be, then follow the example that Jesus Christ has set for you. Love God, love people and work hard in every area of life. In doing so, you will continue to be shaped and molded into His image and become better prepared to do all that He has called you to do.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be the the person that you have created and called me to be. Help me to live a life that brings honor to You. Help me to understand the importance of working hard in all aspects of life: home, family, school and work, so that I can set an example for those around me, and show the world the difference that You can make in the lives of Your followers. Let everything that I do be done for the glory of God and for the good of the people. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
We live in a society that demands justice! When someone commits a crime against us, we want that person punished. When someone hurts is physically or emotionally, we seek retribution. When someone intentionally damaged our property, we seek recompense for the harm they caused. Whatever happened to mercy and forgiveness? Whenever someone wrongs us in any way, we demand that person be judged and punished for their actions. Instead of extending grace to that individual, we hold them in contempt and make them feel as terrible as we can. But God does t want us to behave this way. In fact, He gets angry when we do. We need to be aware of our own behavior, instead of judging someone else’s behavior. How many times have we rolled up the windows at a stop light or crossed the street when approaching beggars and the homeless? How many times have we treated people differently in public or a church setting? We criticize and judge people as though we are somehow better than they are. We favor people that we think can offer us something, and neglect those who are poor because they have nothing to offer us. But if God is a merciful God and we are His people, shouldn’t we extend mercy also? After all, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Prayer: Almighty God, forgive us where we have gone wrong. Forgive us for our foolishness in treating others with contempt. Help us to extend mercy to those who have wronged us and grace to those who have hurt us. Help us to treat people equally and to not show favoritism to some over others. Help us to be the men and women that You have created and called us to be. Change us from the inside/out, LORD. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. magañaben
“If you refuse to listen to the cry of the poor, your own cry for help will not be heard.”
Proverbs 21:13 GNB
The cries of the poor can be heard all around the world. But if you take a closer look in your own community, you will see that those same cries for help are coming from your back yard.
On most street corners and in every city square, the poor can be found begging for food, work or money. And if you take the time to engage with and hear their story, you will discover that the vast majority of them don’t want to be in that situation. These are folks that will do whatever they have to do in order to survive another day.
Some of us are moved by compassion to help the less fortunate by giving them food or money. While others are annoyed and disgusted by their very presence, and the idea of giving these people their hard earned money or goods is appalling to say the least.
We live in a society that seems to value human life less-and-less. Instead of looking at poor people as fellow human beings that are down on their luck, we view them as a blemish on the canvas of our society. We would rather turn the other way, rather than do something to ease the pain and suffering that exists all around us. God help us!
We are better than that! If we are not careful, we run the risk of the same thing happening to us. There are no guarantees in life. We could be doing well one day and then the next day be down on our luck. What then? Well, according to the Bible, we will meet the same fate.
“Speak and act as people who will be judged by the law that sets us free. For God will not show mercy when he judges the person who has not been merciful; but mercy triumphs over judgement.”
James 2:12-13 GNB
In other words, if we ignore the cries of the poor and refuse to help them, then our cries for help will be ignored when we are in need.
The solution is simple: HELP HURTING PEOPLE! The world will be a much better place if and when you do.
Anger benefits no one! It never produced anything good. I caused division among people, and if left unchecked, it can wreck relationships.
Words can be used for good or evil. They can build a person up or tear a person down. And they always have a lasting affect.
Words have the power to shape someone’s life. That is why we must think before we speak. One word or phrase can be the difference between possible and impossible; success and failure; hope and hopelessness.
I remember Junior High School like it was yesterday. I remember two teachers so specifically because of the impact they both had on my life. “Mr. D” was a sixth grade teacher and “Mrs. L” was a seventh grade teacher. They both told me the same thing: “Ruben, you will never succeed in life! You will never amount to anything.”
Something happened on the inside of me. I felt like a complete loser. I felt stupid. I felt worthless. I decided at that moment that no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I was never going to succeed, so why bother trying. After all, if my teachers saw failure in me, why would I think that I had any potential? I just gave up. Throughout my eight grade year, I rebelled. I ended up quitting school two weeks before Continuation. I didn’t attend or graduate High School because I didn’t believe I could.
Words matter! Use them wisely. Think before you speak because the words that you use can and will have a lasting impact.
PRAYER: LORD, guard my heart and my tongue. Help me to choose my words carefully. Help me to think before I speak, so that I won’t bring harm to or damage anyone. Let my words be life-giving. Let my words bring blessings and not curses. Let my words have a positive impact on the lives of others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
The wisdom of man can be found in a variety of places: Horoscope, Dear Abby, Social Media, etc. People always have something to say about a subject, and if you are willing to listen, they are more than happy to share. But just because advice is so readily available, doesn’t mean that it is always right or good.
You can identify the wisdom of man by its content, tone, manner and intent. Nine times out of ten, it is self-centered and self-serving.
The wisdom of God, on the other hand, can be found in one place – the Bible – the written Word of God. The Bible is filled with good, solid and godly advice that is beneficial for yourself and for others.
“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 3:17 NLT
Unlike the wisdom of man, the wisdom of God is marked by mercy and grace; gentleness and kindness; good and not evil, and is always others-focused.
If you want to be helpful to others and not harmful, then always be mindful of what you say and how you say it. Your words have the power to point people in the right direction or lead them astray.
PRAYER: LORD, help me to use my words carefully. Let them be helpful to others and not harmful. Let them be spoken in love and not hate. Let them bring unity and not discord. And regardless of the situation or circumstance, let my words offer healing and hope to those in need. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
“When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” — John 15:8 NLT
The Bible teaches us that a tree is known by our fruit (Matthew 7:17, 20). What kind of fruit are you producing? We must produce fruit in keeping with our salvation, which is the Character of Christ (Galatians 5:11).
As followers of Christ, we are known by our actions—the fruit we produce. It’s easy to say that we love God and love people, isn’t it? After all, we are commanded to do so (Matthew 22:37-39). But actions, my friends, always speak louder than words. It’s not enough to say that we love God. We must provide it by serving Him. Nor is it enough to say that we love people. We must prove it by serving them. Easier said than done, right?
For too long, we have been known for what we don’t do, rather than for what we should do. What I mean is, we criticize instead of encourage; judge instead of extend mercy; express bitterness instead of joy; anxiety instead of peace; are selfish instead of generous. My friends, this should not be the case. Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples”
— John 13:34-35 NLT. If you want the world to see Christ in you, then ask God to produce the Fruit of the Spirit in you: love, joy, peace, patient, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). When we exhibit these characteristics in our lives, then we will be able to extend the love God to others through word and deed.
Prayer: LORD, fill me with Your great love so that I can love others in a genuine and practical way. Produce the fruit of the Spirit in my life, so that others will be nourished by it. Let the character of Christ Jesus shine brightly in my life for the world to see, and let others be changed as a result. Let everything I do, be done, for the glory of God and the good of the people. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.