God's Plan For You   No matter if you are an Apple or Android supporter, one thing is certain, there is an app for anything you need or anywhere you want to go. Planning our course or our next step is at our finger tips. In fact, with a few keystrokes, we can find numerous routes to get to the same destination. And many times, when we pull our route up on our phones, the first thing we do is hit “details,” because we want to know HOW we’re getting somewhere. Sometimes, we even choose another route because we think the appointed route might be too slow!  But if we are going to walk with Christ, and if we sincerely believe He has the best route for us, we must be content with the words He used when He recruited His disciples, Simon, Peter and Andrew in Matthew 4:18-22 and Matthew in Matthew 9:9…”Come, follow Me…”  Can you imagine the disciples looking at Jesus and saying something like, “Jesus, what do you mean, follow you? Where are we going? What are we doing? What bases should I cover before I go? What’s the five-year plan?”  In the study,  Experiencing God , the author points out that Jesus gave them very little detail. It was just a simple command: Follow me, and I will show you as we go. Talk about counter-cultural to 2017! But in most ways, it actually becomes easier when we don’t demand the specifics of the plan. Then our lives as Christ-followers become more about following Him according to His will and not our own. Following Him becomes more about what He wants to do through me than what I want to do for Him. The best question isn’t, “God, what is your will for me?” but “God, what is your will?” Period. That way, we can see where He is working, and simply say, “Ok, you lead, I’ll follow.”   Matthew 4:18-20 “One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers – Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew – throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow Me, and I will show you how to fish for people!’ And they left their nets at once and followed Him.”   Today, ask God to help you see His plan for your day.

No matter if you are an apple or android supporter, one thing is certain, there is an app for anything you need or anywhere you want to go. Planning our course or our next step is at our finger tips. In fact, with a few keystrokes, we can find numerous routes to get to the same destination...

      DeVeloping a Relationship with God  Every year about this time, we regroup, reassess and make goals for a better life, trying to figure out how to get where we want to go – how to get ahead in our job, how to have better relationships, how to look and feel better, and the list goes on.  Just like us, people all through the Bible kept trying to figure out how to get where they wanted to go, but the ones who experienced success were those who first failed, then realized that by staying close to God, He would show them the way. For example, Moses knew he wanted to help his people, the Israelites, but actually kept making it worse by trying to make things happen on his own. Thinking no one was looking, he even killed an Egyptian, who was abusing a Hebrew, only to be confronted the next day. The result? He had to run for his life.  Not until years later did God essentially say to Moses that he would deliver the Hebrews, but it wouldn’t be Moses’ plan, it would be God’s plan done His way. God’s way of communicating the truth to Moses, to lead an entire nation to a promised land, started with God and Moses having daily conversations – we call that prayer.  In the study,  Experiencing God , the author points out that like Moses, God wants a relationship with you – a real relationship that’s based on His love. He is pursuing you. He is simply trying to get you from where you are to where He is, so that He can reveal that He’s ready to use you for really big things, life-changing things that can change your world.   Exodus 3:10 – “Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”  (For more about the life of Moses, read  Exodus , chapters 2-4.)   Today, pray that God would help you develop a closer relationship with Him.

Every year about this time, we regroup, reassess and make goals for a better life,

trying to figure out how to get where we want to go – how to get ahead in our job,

how to have better relationships, how to look and feel better, and the list goes on...

      He Is the Potter  It can be a bit disconcerting when we see that God compares us to a lump of clay in Jeremiah 18:1-6, yet when you think about it, it’s actually comforting. Really, God simplified our existence by saying something like, “listen, I’m the potter, you’re the clay. Stay in the palm of my hand, let me mold you, and then I will use you for my Kingdom. Just be my servant.”  Most of us understand that we’re supposed to be His servants, left here on earth after our salvation to do His work. To think we’re His plan to share Jesus with the world could be overwhelming except for the fact the scriptures, especially ones like Jeremiah 18:1-6, totally take the pressure off! Our Father God is working in the world, and all we have to do is watch and see where’s He’s working, then adjust our lives to serve Him in the way He chooses for us.  When we’re in a personal relationship with Jesus, which implies a lot of trust like any relationship, then we’re ready to be molded and used according to His will. All we have to do is stay tuned and join Him in what He’s doing around us. When we start thinking we’re the potter, life can get messy. If you’ve been on this earth long enough, you know how bad something can get when we take matters into our own hands.  However, when we leave our life in His hands and focus on being obedient, then the clay of our life can turn into a beautiful piece of pottery by which others are inspired and moved to follow Christ too.   Jeremiah 18:1-6 “This is the word that came from Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.’ “    Today, pray that you can recognize God as the potter of your life.

It can be a bit disconcerting when we see that God compares us to a lump of clay in Jeremiah 18:1-6, yet when you think about it, it’s actually comforting. Really, God simplified our existence by saying something like, “listen, I’m the potter, you’re the clay...

      Self-centered or God-centered Living  Have you ever felt slighted or a bit overlooked? Maybe you were passed over for a job promotion, not invited to a meeting, or left out of a get-together with friends? Since we live in a social media-blast culture of updates and people’s best-case scenarios, it’s easy to get caught up in what you’re NOT doing.   There’s a guarantee that you never have to feel that way again – it’s called God-centered living. In the study,  Experiencing God , the author points out the differences in self-centered living and God-centered living. When we live a self-centered life, we are totally about ourselves – we receive affirmation from self, depend on our own abilities, and look at our circumstances from a purely human perspective.   However, when our focus is on God, then our confidence, our circumstances and lifestyle reflect Him and His purpose for our lives. In fact, to live focused on self is a distortion to God’s plan, which is why the more self-centered we are, the more unsettling it feels.   It’s not about what we want to do; it’s about what God wants to do through us. If you look at people like Abraham and Noah, they lived God-centered lives. They didn’t tell God what they dreamed of doing for Him – they lived God-centered lives and then obeyed when God told them what He was about to do. After all, the book of Genesis is not a record about Abraham or Noah’s walk with God; it’s a record of God accomplishing His purposes through them.  The successful pattern shown through people’s lives in Scripture is to submit ourselves to God, center our lives around Him, and then wait for Him to show us what He’s about to do through us.    “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9   Today, pray that God will help you focus on God-centered living.

Have you ever felt slighted or a bit overlooked? Maybe you were passed over for a job promotion, not invited to a meeting, or left out of a get-together with friends? Since we live in a social media-blast culture of updates and people’s best-case scenarios, it’s easy to get caught up in what you’re NOT doing.

      Back in Bible times, nations went to war basing their ability to win on the number of chariots and horses they possessed. David and his little nation of Israel were usually outmanned and under-equipped so it was interesting that every time they were invaded by another nation, they usually won.   That fact was never lost on David, which is why he wrote in Psalm 20, verse 7,  “Some trust in chariots and some in horses. But we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”    Imagine one of our modern day political leaders saying, “Some trust in artillery and some in missiles, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God!”   In your daily world, your “chariots and horses” are those things in your life that are not powered by God. Maybe you want to accomplish something and have all the weapons - the best strategies, good connections and plenty of financial resources, yet you can’t figure out why “it’s” not working, and you surely don’t feel like you’re winning.  It is only living by God’s plans, not your own, that will guarantee the win for you. Maybe you’re not sure of God’s plans for you, whether it’s just for today or for the long term. Not to oversimplify, but what God wants for you as a Christ-follower is to put your confidence and trust in Him. Spend daily time in His Word and build your relationship, and then with spiritual eyes, you will be able to see God working all around you. Just as the study,  Experiencing God , says that being able to see Him working is much more important than telling God what you want to do for Him.  As you watch Him work and adjust your life to what He’s doing, your battles will be fought in the name of the Lord your God, and your wins will increase exponentially. And when that happens, you will see that God can do more through you in six months than you could have done on your own in sixty years!   “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7  (For more on the battle from which theologians think Psalm 20 was based, read 2 Samuel, chapter 10.)   Today, ask God to guide your plans according to what He’s doing around you. 

Back in Bible times, nations went to war basing their ability to win on the number of chariots and horses they possessed. David and his little nation of Israel were usually outmanned and under-equipped so it was interesting that every time they were invaded by another nation, they usually won...

      God Provides  Most of us have been through a tough situation and needed God to show up. And that’s how Abraham must have felt when God told him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Remember Isaac? Isaac was the son God promised to Abraham when Abraham was 100 years old.   And God was faithful and gave baby Isaac to Abraham and Sarah. But then, a few years later, He told Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son.  Talk about a tough situation. Think how Abraham’s stomach churned when he and Isaac were climbing the mountain to make the sacrifice, and Isaac said, “Father?”  Abraham answered, “Yes, my son?”  Isaac said, “We have the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?  Can you imagine the thoughts running through Abraham’s head as he went forward in obedience? But he said to Isaac, “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son.”   Abraham knew that God had instructed him to sacrifice Isaac, but time and time again, he had also seen God provide when he thought there was no way. After all, who has a son at the age of 100 unless God has provided?   As Abraham lifted his knife to sacrifice his son, an angel stopped him and a substitute for the offering, a ram, appeared in the thicket. At that moment, Abraham really believed what he said he believed – that God would provide a substitute for his son.  He named the place of that sacrifice “The Lord Will Provide.”  Why did God put Abraham and Isaac through that near-death experience?  Was God watching to see if Abraham would trip and fall and in the end, be disobedient? No. God used that experience to deepen Abraham’s capacity to obey in order to develop His character.  Like Abraham, God meets us where we are to show us who He is. Time and time again, experiences are shown in the Bible to reveal God’s character to develop ours, so that He can use us for Kingdom purposes.   God provides for you in just the way you need. Do you need peace? Ask Him. Do you need a shelter in the storm? Ask Him. Do you need a spring of living water to rush through your heart? Ask Him. He is faithful, and He is your Provider.    “Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means ‘the Lord will provide’). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’“ Genesis 22:14   Today, ask God to provide for you in a miraculous way.

Most of us have been through a tough situation and needed God to show up. And that’s how Abraham must have felt when God told him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Remember Isaac? Isaac was the son God promised to Abraham when Abraham was 100 years old...

      Every one of us has planned something that didn’t turn out quite like we planned. Maybe it was a conversation over lunch or dinner with a friend. Maybe it was something bigger, like a career, a relationship, or a marriage…but whatever it was, you look back and see that somehow you missed it. Maybe you realize the way you chose might not have been the best way.  That’s why it is so important to know God’s plans for you. If your plan is not God’s purpose for you, nothing is going to turn out right. And the only way to know God’s purpose and way for you is to have a relationship with Him – the kind of relationship you have with a close friend, a family member or your spouse. The kind of relationship in which you can hardly let a day go by without having a conversation with your loved one.   To have a conversation with anyone, we listen, and we talk. With God, it’s the same - listening to Him (reading the Bible) and talking to Him (praying).  Daily. The more you’re with Him, the better you know Him, and the better you know Him, the more you’re convinced of His love for you. The more you’re convinced of His love, the better you listen.  The truth is that there is not another person on earth who loves you like God, and there is not a person on earth who has a better plan for you than God. When you make your own plans without listening to God, you probably have learned the hard way that His way would have been best. But just because you may have missed it in the past, doesn’t mean you need to miss the next opportunity. The beautiful thing about your relationship with God is that He is compassionate and always wants to give you a new start.    With God’s help, your failures do not determine your future. What determines your future is how well you’re tuned into God’s voice and listening to what He says to you.   You’ll find the more time you spend with God, the more confident you become of hearing His plan for you. The more you hear Him, the more confident you will become that His thoughts are not your thoughts, and His ways are not your ways.    “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8   Today, tell God you want His way in your life and that you are listening.

Every one of us has planned something that didn’t turn out quite like we planned. Maybe it was a conversation over lunch or dinner with a friend. Maybe it was something bigger, like a career, a relationship, or a marriage…but whatever it was, you look back and see that somehow you missed it...

      The Bible talks a lot about being blessed, about having the favor of God. Sometimes, though, we get the order of events wrong. We might start by saying,  “God, please bless me today.” Then we score Him. Bad day? God gets a 2. Great day? God gets a 10.   For a Christ-follower, it’s really not supposed to work that way. Our devotions, which include reading His Word and praying, are not a religious activity; it signifies our personal relationship with God. The purpose of our devotional time is to adjust us to God, not to adjust God to us.   When we adjust ourselves to God, we become tuned into what He’s doing around us and are more apt to join Him. Sometimes, however, we’re not sure what He’s doing around us. Take comfort in the fact that the Holy Spirit, who dwells in every believer, is giving us those nudges of what God is doing and what He wants to do through you.   After you sense what God wants you to do, then you have to decide if you want to participate. The author of  Experiencing God  calls that a crisis of belief. It might not feel like a crisis, but it is the first turning point to being able to experience Him.   For example, you see the Scripture in Romans 12:9 that says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them,” yet you have been struggling to love someone who’s pretty unlovable. At that moment, you know God wants you to reach out to that person – not to confront them but to love them in some kind word or deed.  Deciding to have an uplifting connection with someone who is difficult is called a crisis of belief. That is your turning point. And when you do reach out, you know that His kingdom will be better because you chose to glorify Him. Whether or not you feel blessed by that experience, you know that you have made Christ look good to the world. He gives you a 10.   “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” Romans 12:9   Today, ask God to help you adjust when you sense the leading of the Holy Spirit.            

The Bible talks a lot about being blessed, about having the favor of God. Sometimes, though, we get the order of events wrong. We might start by saying,  “God, please bless me today.” Then we score Him. Bad day? God gets a 2. Great day? God gets a 10...