Celebrating 50 Years! Calvary Church of Naperville
Devotional Countdown


We're counting down to our anniversary celebration! Each day features a devotion written by one of our pastors. Check back daily and be encouraged with us!

1. Built to Last

July 1, 2017

It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise, and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. Luke 6:48

Have you ever made a promise you didn’t keep? What about trying to start a new spiritual habit (prayer, fasting, reading your Bible) only to end up with little follow-through? It’s easy to make promises, or to start something new, but continuing for a lasting period of time takes something altogether different: a good foundation. 

The beach is a fun place to relax, explore and play. A shovel, a bucked and a beach are the perfect equation for the greatest sandcastle ever constructed. Sandcastles are fun to build, and later, to pretend epic battle scenes with. But sandcastles aren’t made to last forever. They are temporary. When we try to build a habit without first building a strong foundation in Jesus, we spend time working on things that turn out to be spiritual sandcastles. They have all the appearance of something great without a lasting quality.

To build something that will last requires that we dedicate time and effort to the foundation. In Luke, Jesus says that folks who listen to his teachings and follow them are like a wise builder who builds on a solid foundation; when the storms come, they will last. The structure, or outward appearance, is not as important as what it is built on. In our spiritual walk with the Lord, when we try to do things in our own strength, our own way and in our own timing, we are often times guilty of building spiritual sandcastles. When we trust God, and do what he says, we can have something spiritual that is built to last.

2. The Sound of Rain

June 30, 2017

Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” I Kings 18:41

Growing up in a small town has its benefits. After playing outside on a hot summer day, something magical would happen almost every afternoon—a sound so familiar that still brings a smile when it is heard today. This sound would motivate any kid to sprint as fast as he/she could back into the house to grab a dollar. It’s the sound of an ice cream truck. You could hear the ice cream truck coming for blocks away as the music played and grew louder. With dollar in hand and huge anticipation and joy, you step up to receive the very thing you had been hearing for blocks now: ice cream.

Have you ever been anticipating God to give you something? Is there a promise right now that you are weary of waiting for? Be encouraged. God is moving. In I Kings, God had withheld the rain for a while, causing the land of Israel to be in severe drought. Nothing was growing, livestock couldn’t be watered and people were becoming desperate. Elijah, the prophet of God, hears the sound of God’s rain before He sees a cloud in the sky. Elijah sends someone to look for a cloud. It took seven times of sending the man before he saw a cloud the size of his fist. The man went and came back with a negative report six times. Do you think his anticipation level dropped with each trip? What if he would have stopped at time number six? Even on the seventh look, it wasn’t even a huge thundercloud. It was so small that it was the size of his fist. How deflating! But before long, this cloud turned into a huge rainstorm that brought the nation out of a drought!

In God’s kingdom, sometimes you have to hear something in your spirit before you can see it with your eyes. A spiritual anticipation will allow you to see God move even when it appears to be only a cloud the size of a man’s fist. God has so many great things for you. His desire is that goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life. Be reminded that all of God’s promises are yes and amen. Don’t stop looking for them. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of rain!

3. Goal Line Fumble

June 29, 2017

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Philippians 3:12

In 2014, during the college football season, something crazy happened. Utah went against the high-powered Oregon football team. Utah scored first and had a lot of momentum. On a 3 and 5 play, Utah made a huge completion in the middle of the field, and looked to score a touchdown. Not so fast! The receiver, in the rush of the moment, dropped the ball at the 1-yard line. Oregon picked the ball up and ran it 99 yards the other direction for a touchdown. This led to a change in momentum and an ultimate victory.

This outcome would be devastating to live down, but it happens more times than we want in our spiritual walk. Have you ever felt like life was going your way, and then, out of the blue, a huge attack from the enemy? We seem to be more open to attack when there aren’t struggles in our life. Our attitude about our spiritual walk might relax a little.

Philippians encourages us to have a different mindset and attitude. Our approach should be to press on, not coast in. To press on requires an attitude that says, this walk with Jesus gets better and better with each step forward. Complacency creeps in when we do not keep the mindset of pressing on. When complacency is established, we begin to say things like, “Remembering when God did this…?” or “I used to hear God so clearly.” A press-on mindset and attitude forgets the former things and reaches forward to what God has ahead. Don’t be guilty of a goal line fumble; remember the best is yet to come!

4. Your Life is a Letter

June 28, 2017

Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:3

Writing letters is a lost art. There is something powerful about sitting down and writing a letter. It speaks of time invested, thoughtfulness, a fully engaged relationship and intentionality. In today’s fast-paced world, with social media, emails and texting, our communication styles are about speed and short hand. It doesn’t matter if vowels are used, or spelling is proper, it only matters that a message gets communicated. What was once, “I love you" is now “Luv u.” It’s no question why a hand-written letter still holds a special place.

Your life is a letter! It’s true! Your life is a letter from Christ. The purpose of his letter is to show his work in your life. He writes through your life to show his grace, love and faithfulness to the world. Paul goes on to say in 2 Corinthians 3, your letter is “not written with pen and ink.” This indicates what is being written cannot be erased or changed by anyone except for author. The author of the letter of your life is the Spirit of the living God.

Imagining your life as a letter from Jesus, authored by the Holy Spirit, might feel a little overwhelming, but think of it with joy. God wants to capture your heart in such a way that the people around you are impacted. Your life being a letter means that God is investing his time into your life. It shows that his thoughts are for you, he is fully engaged in the relationship, and is intentional and true to his word. What is being written by God about you today?

5. Joy Under Pressure

June 27, 2017

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials... James 1:2

There is a huge difference between joy and happiness. One of the difficulties in our Christian walk comes when we try to put joy and happiness into the same bucket. You can have happiness and lack joy, and the opposite is true too; there can be a lack of happiness in your life, but you can still have joy.

When you break down the word happiness, it comes from the Middle English word hap, which means chance or luck. Another word from this is happenstance, which is chance or luck. Happiness basically means it is by chance or luck if something good happens. Happiness is completely based on what is going on around us.

Joy is much different. Joy is found in the knowledge of and experience with God. Joy comes from within, and is deeply rooted in our relationship with God. When James instructs us to count it all joy when we face various trials, he explains why. With trials, our faith is tested, and when our faith is tested, we develop steadfastness. Simply put, trials dealt in joy form a foundation to our faith that is unshakable. 

Joy under pressure is not based on what is happening around us. It is a result of what Jesus has done in us. When we experience joy in any circumstance or situation in our life, it is a good indication that the foundation of our faith is strong. If you are lacking joy, dig deep into your relationship with God. He promises you will find a new level of joy.

6. Vine and Branches

June 26, 2017

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

When caring for plants, a necessary aspect is called pruning. Pruning is the process of cutting away dead or overgrown branches, often due to a prolonged time of fruitlessness. If a tree has branches that are dead or fruitless, the tree will naturally still provide water to the dead area, causing other areas of the tree to suffer. If this continues for too long, it could really hinder the tree’s growth. Pruning ensures that the tree remains vibrant and growing.

Proper pruning involves cutting only the branches—not any roots or trunk. Defining these roles is important for the tree to sustain life. You cannot cut off a branch and plant it away from the tree and hope that it will live or produce fruit. A Branch is not a tree; it is part of a tree.

Christians are branches of a much bigger vine. It is impossible for us to produce any kind of fruit—much less sustainable life—apart from the vine. We are in Christ—completely. Our role is to be a branch, and His role is to be the vine. There are areas that are easy to graft into the vine, while there are other areas we want to hold onto and keep separate.

When we withhold areas of our life from the vine, they will stop producing fruit. Look at every aspect of your life: family, faith, finance, health, relationships. Is there an area that has stopped producing fruit? If yes, then give it back to Jesus. We are the branches, and He is the vine. If we remain in Jesus, we will produce a lot of fruit. But apart from Him, we can do nothing. What does your fruit look like?

7. Not a Mirage

June 25, 2017

The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Isaiah 35:7

A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects. Mirages are frequently seen in the dessert or at sea. If you have ever been traveling in a hot area, and in the distance, there appears to be water, but when you arrive, there is actually nothing, you have been the victim of a mirage. The optical phenomena can be frustrating, especially if you are incredibly thirsty. As you walk, you begin to get excited about what is in the distance, but with every step, the water seems further and further away.

There is a vast difference between a mirage and an oasis. A mirage gives the illusion of water without the reality of water. An oasis provides water and refuge. There are times in our life journey where we go through dry seasons, relationally and spiritually. During these times, there can be a lot of things that distract from our true calling and identity. 

The complexity of a dry season leads us to experience mirages. As we journey on in hopes of seeing something that will bring satisfaction, the enemy begins to play tricks on us. The dry season can be a time when we try to find rest and refuge, but they remain allusive. You might be in a dry season right now. 

Be confident in this: God is not a mirage. During a spiritual dry season, we are promised an oasis in the refreshment of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can bring a satisfaction to our lives that we’ve never experienced before. There may be areas in your life that look and feel like a parched ground. They seem so dry that no fruit could ever grow. However, there is a promise from God that the parched ground will become a pool. A dry season can be frustrating if we look toward a mirage instead of the oasis. Trust that God will satisfy the thirsty land. Your dry season will not last forever.

8. No Tiptoes Required

June 24, 2017

Ask and it will be given to you... Matthew 7:7

Most parents think the best way to deter a child from getting into something is to put it in a high place, out of reach. The high placement of candy, cookies, car keys, money and any other things so as not to be messed with is a false sense of security, which most adults buy into. Many times, kids allow adults to believe this tactic works. The reality is, kids know how to get what they want even from on top of the refrigerator.

If motivated enough, kids can reach any height to grab claim to what is put in high places. They will drag a stool across the kitchen floor, climb up on the stool and elevate themselves to the highest point on their tippy toes for the extra few inches. Finally they reach that prized possession! Kids are relentless in their pursuits, and it is actually shocking how much can be accomplished when kids get on their tippy toes. The reality is, kids aren’t the only ones that use their tippy toes. 

There have been goodhearted people who approach God like he has placed the most prized possession on top of the refrigerator. Have you ever wanted something so desperately from God, but it just seemed out of arms’ reach? Have you ever been in a place where prayer and worship almost turns into a tippy toe dance with God?

Be encouraged that God’s intention is for us to have a relationship with no tiptoes required. In fact, Matthew says, “Ask and you will receive ...” God’s promise is to put everything you need, and some of what you desire, right within your reach. We only get on our tiptoes to check the refrigerator when we feel like God is withholding from us. He wouldn’t do that. His hands are open, and he is ready to bless you. Maybe what you need isn’t on top of life’s refrigerator. Maybe what you’re looking for is right in God’s hands.

9. Dream Big

June 23, 2017

Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming!” Genesis 37:19

The story of Joseph in the Old Testament is a fascinating story. One of the youngest sons of Jacob, Joseph had a series of dreams in which his entire family bowed to him. When he shared these dreams with his family, they laughed and ridiculed him. When they saw him coming from afar, they said, “Here comes the dreamer.” This was probably said with a sarcastic undertone because they ended up selling their own brother into slavery.

Joseph’s story doesn’t end there. He goes through a lot of trials and struggles. He ends up in a prison cell, but he doesn’t stay there. He becomes second in command of all of Egypt. Many years later, during a massive famine, his entire family shows up and bows before him—just like his dream so many years prior. More than that, he was able to save his family and offer them food during the famine. What started as a dream became a reality.

Have you ever had a God-sized dream? When God gives you a dream, there usually isn’t an easy path. Trials and struggles often come—maybe so many struggles that you have given up on the dream or not even started it. When God wakes up the dreamer inside you, there’s often a greater purpose at hand. This is why the enemy tries so hard to stop the dream and the dreamer before the purpose can be realized.

If Joseph had quit during the hard time, his family would have died. But he didn’t. Every time someone tried to stop Joseph, God used it the circumstance to move him closer to the purpose and reality of the dream. Be encouraged to dream again. God wants to do something great for you and through you. It’s time to wake up the dreamer and get the God-sized dream going again so that people can say about you, “The dreamer is coming!”

10. Do Not Despise Small Beginnings

June 22, 2017

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel's hand. Zechariah 4:10

In 1967, Bob and Karen Schmidgall, along with 8 other people, moved from Missouri to Naperville, Illinois, with the dream of pioneering a church. Having recently graduated, this team was excited and ready to see God move. They purchased a building, and shortly after, had their first church service. It wasn’t heavily attended. In fact, alongside the ten planters, three additional people from the community showed up. This was a very small beginning.

Over the years, more people would show up to the church. Thirteen years into their journey, they had outgrown the little church. The search for a bigger building hinted that God was up to something. The move of God brought such growth that more space was needed. Lives were being changed, people were being saved, and God was building his church.

Over the next five decades, with countless prayer services, healings, concerts and salvations, God had taken a church what started with ten pioneers and three attenders to more than 7,000 people in attendance on a weekend across three campuses. What started out as small is known today as Calvary Church of Naperville.

It is always tempting to give up when results do not go the way we think they should. Zachariah illustrates God’s heart towards us when we obey his call and vision. Do not despise a small beginning! It may be a challenge, but it comes from God. What vision has God given you that hasn’t taken off the way you had hoped? Is there a ministry, job or relationship that seems so small right now that you want to give up on it? Don’t give up! Trust God! God rejoices in seeing action on your part. Trust in what God has called you to do and don’t despise small beginnings. You never know what God is up to.

11. Magnetic Relationship

June 21, 2017

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

Magnets are fascinating. Two objects that draw together simultaneously with torque. The amount of torque is proportional to the magnetic moment as well as the external field. Magnets have been around since ancient times and they serve a lot of purposes today. One of the most important purposes is holding the most important items onto the refrigerator. The magnet produces a magnetic field, which is invisible to the eye. This field is a force that pulls on other materials to attract the two pieces together.

Our relationship with God has similar qualities to a magnetic field. Think about it: There is an invisible force that pulls two pieces together. James 4:8 reminds us that when we draw near to God, he draws near to us. Our magnetic relationship with God is not one sided. He is always moving toward us. Something special happens when we reciprocate the movement. As we move toward God, the torque of the relationship intensifies and he is always faithful to meet us. 

What are you drawing near to in your life? Are there areas in your life where it looks like God isn’t moving? Lean in to him. Trust that when you move, he moves. When you draw near, he draws near. The relationship between you and God is of magnetic proportions. Draw near to God, and watch what happens next.

12. Sun Stand Still!

June 20, 2017

So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. Joshua 10:13

There is an interesting story in the book of Joshua. Joshua was leading God’s people into the Promised Land, and what is the first thing they encounter walking into this new season with God? Conflict. After a couple of victories in battle, Joshua and his army come up against one of the toughest battles they will face. Five kings had heard of the victories and decided to make an alliance against the Israelites. As they were fighting, God rained down huge hailstones on the enemy (Joshua 10:11).

Joshua sees how God is fighting for them. As the day grew long, Joshua knew he needed more time to completely defeat the enemy. What he did next was audacious. Joshua asked God to make the sun stand still. Guess what? God answered that request. The sun stood still for 24 hours and Joshua beat every enemy trying to attack him.

God wants to give us every advantage possible to defeat the enemy’s attack on our lives. Have you ever felt like the enemy was coming against you in every direction possible? It is in these moments where God can show up and show up big. Once Joshua saw God was fighting for him, it made it easier for Joshua to make a bold request. We often get so overwhelmed with a vigilant attack from the enemy that we don’t see God’s hand moving on our behalf.

When we begin to adjust our view from how strong the enemy is to how God is fighting for us, our perspective of what to ask for changes. The resolve of Joshua wasn’t just to survive the attack; his resolve was to defeat the enemy. God doesn’t want you to simply survive the attacks of the enemy. God is fighting on your behalf so the enemy can be defeated. With this perspective shift, what is your sun-stand-still request?

13. One Degree

June 19, 2017

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” Acts 26:28

Water boils at 212 degrees. When it boils, it creates steam. When enough steam is generated, a locomotive can be powered. At 211 degrees, water is simply … hot. One degree of separation can make a huge difference. With one degree, you can either power steam engines or not. One degree releases the necessary energy to produce movement.

In the book of Acts, Paul encounters a king named Agrippa. Paul, standing in front of this powerful man, gives an entire account of his relationship with Jesus. He talks through his conversion experience and builds a beautiful case for Christ. When the ultimate decision time came for Agrippa, his response was, “Almost!” He was almost convinced, almost ready, almost willing. What a debilitating word!

Maybe you’re reading this, and there are things in your life that God has asked you to give up. There might be someone reading who God has asked you to start something or to take a step of faith in a direction. The question is will you almost do it? 211 degrees with God is comfortable, but one degree will release the necessary energy to produce the movement you have been looking for.

With God, the key to going from 211 degrees to 212 degrees is faith. King Agrippa had all the information needed to make the decision, but He lacked the faith, leaving him at the point of almost. God’s best for your life isn’t a life of almost. Activate your faith and watch God take you from almost to exceedingly more.

What’s your temperature? 

14. The Power of Praise

June 18, 2017

Oh, give thanks to the Lord for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 118:1

One of the most powerful phrases is “Thank you.” Something happens when we are grateful; our outlook changes. Praise is the greatest form of gratitude. You can’t have negative thoughts when you are praising God’s goodness and thanking him for his mercy. When we praise him, we turn our focus from our surroundings and put our focus on God’s mercy. 

Why is this important? Think about the limits of God’s mercy: There are none! His mercy endures forever. Mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we deserve. Mercy is when he chooses to show kindness toward us instead of judgment. God’s mercy not only endures forever, but is new every morning. The thoughts he has toward you are to show you mercy and kindness on a daily basis.

It is easy to complain, but you will notice something when you complain; everything around begins to take the form of our complaints. If we complain about what we don’t have, it can begin to seem like we never have enough. If we complain about what is happening to us, it can seem like we are always under attack. What we plant, we harvest. When we sow in complaint, we harvest in deficiency because we elect to ignore everything good God is doing for us. But when we praise God, it changes everything. We begin to look at life through the lens of God’s goodness and mercy. Praise changes how situations appear. Instead of seeing an absence of things, we see an abundance of God’s grace. Instead of seeing what is happening to us, we see how God is working through us. Stop and take a 15-second praise break. God is so good and his mercy endures forever!

15. When Peace Like a River ...

June 17, 2017

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts, your minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Horatio G. Spafford was a successful lawyer in Chicago. He and his wife Anna had five children. In 1871, their young son’s life was taken by pneumonia, and later that same year, they lost much of their business in the Chicago fire. Despite their tragedies, they rebuilt. In 1873, Horatio sent his wife and four daughters on a boat to Europe, where he was going to meet them after finishing some pressing business. Four days into the voyage, their ship hit another ship. All four daughters were lost at sea and only Mrs. Spafford’s life was saved. Horatio got on a boat to meet her in Europe. Four days in his voyage, the captain of ship called to him to show him the very spot his daughters were lost at sea. It was at this moment where Horatio Spafford wrote the famous hymn, “It is Well with My Soul.” In the midst of his hurt and trial, he found a peace from God that was unlike any other. 

Have you ever felt like life was stacked against you? Maybe you are reading this waiting for the other shoe to drop. Anxiety is a real struggle. When anxiety is left unchecked, it keeps people from fully experiencing God, as well as impacts our minds and hearts. When we allow anxiety to have a place in our lives, our heart and attitude towards the promises of God changes. Philippians talks about a peace from God that surpasses all understanding.

There are situations that we go through that will require a peace that goes beyond our understanding. If we stuck to our own understanding, there is a great opportunity to be taken over by the storms of life. When we allow God’s peace to come into our hearts and minds, something powerful happens: anxiety stops. Peace can flow like a river. When peace is there, we have a different outlook and resolve. Even when we are looking at the place of our greatest loss, whatever our lot, even so, it is well with our soul.

16. Get Out of the Tent!

June 16, 2017

Then He brought him outside and said, Look, now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them. And He said to him, so shall your descendants be. Genesis 15:5

The dictionary defines the word “perspective” as a particular attitude toward, or a way of regarding, something; a point of view.  Perspective is important because it is the way in which the world is framed. The analogy of a glass of water is often used to explain people’s attitude about perspective. Do you view the glass as half full or half empty? This perspective shows how you process what happens to you in life.

In the book of Genesis, we see a dialogue between God and Abraham. Abraham is sitting in his tent and God is promising him many children. The problem with this was that Abraham’s wife couldn’t have kids. God promised, and Abraham’s perspective didn’t line up. Abraham was trying to make sense of what God was telling him. He couldn’t see past his perspective. What does God do? God instructs Abraham to get out of his tent and look up. God then reveals the huge promise to Abraham that his decedents will be as numerous as the stars. 

Wow! What a perspective shift. Abraham goes from sitting in a tent thinking about all the obstacles to God’s promise, to looking up at the magnitude of something God had created from nothing. God desires so much more for you than you realize. Sometimes our perspective is off because we are sitting in the tent looking at the obstacles. Get out of tent, look toward heaven and know that God comes through on his promise every time!

17. Confident Movement

June 15, 2017

As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 1 Samuel 17:48

In the 1920’s, a professor at Harvard Medical School named Walter Cannon first described the acute stress response. This is better known as “flight or fight.” When a stressful situation arises, our bodies quickly produce chemicals that cause a reaction that tells us to run away or stay and fight. If you have ever walked through a spider web, you have noticed acute stress response at the highest level. Either you run as fast as you can out of the situation (usually screaming) or, with force of a thousand thunderstorms, you get that web off of you and look around for the foe (aka spider).

This response is a physical response, but it can also have a spiritual component to it. The reality is that situations and circumstances happen that are often outside of our control. In each circumstance, we have a decision to make. Either let the circumstance overtake us or approach the circumstance with confident movement.

In 1 Samuel 16 and 17, the story of David shows us the perspective of confident movement. A young man goes to the front line of battle to find every Israelite soldier frozen in fear by Goliath, a 9-foot tall giant who fighting for the enemy. David was appalled when he heard Goliath call God’s name into question. David talks King Saul into letting him fight Goliath with a slingshot and five smooth stones. In 1 Samuel 17:48, we see the confident movement of David in the face of a huge giant. As Goliath moved to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 

What would life look like if we approached every circumstance and situation with the confident movement of David? Sure, there is an overwhelming giant awaiting us. Yeah, the situation looks really bad. But we understand that when God is on our side, we can take on any circumstance and situation with confident movement.

18. Jesus Wept

June 14, 2017

“Jesus Wept” John 11:35

In 1950, the movie “Harvey” was released. In this movie, Elmer P. Dowd begins having visions of a huge invisible rabbit named Harvey. Harvey never makes an appearance in the film, but his presence is definitely felt. It is humorous to see Elmer go through life trying to convince the people around him of the reality of Harvey, without actually seeing the rabbit.

When I think about the Lord, I am thankful he did not leave us in this same predicament of trying to explain something imaginary or invisible. Jesus is real. One of the key tenants of the Christian faith is that Jesus was fully God and fully man. It is so powerful to see him respond like the way you and I do. In John 11, one of Jesus’ closest friends, Lazarus, dies. Jesus is unable to immediately go to his friend and his family. When he arrives, seeing friends and family, and feeling the weight of the moment, he does the unthinkable. He cries. Jesus cried real human tears and felt real human sadness. He had a real response, to a real moment.

Think about this for a moment: Whatever you’re going through, whatever you’re feeling, you are not alone. “Jesus wept” isn’t some verse we memorize and move past without stopping and thinking about it for a moment. This personalizes Jesus. Not only is he our savior, he is also our friend. Jesus wept.

19. Unique Boldness

June 13, 2017

“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31

William Tyndale was part of the reformation of the church in the 1500’s. Tyndale had a passion for the word of God, which led him to translate the Bible. One of William Tyndale’s most notable accomplishments was translating the Bible into English. His was one of the earliest translations into English that drew from the primary languages of scripture: Hebrew and Greek. Tyndale’s translation of the Bible was very bold. He put God’s name, Jehovah, in the rightful place, and he utilized the printing press to make the Scripture available to every person. In 1535, Tyndale was arrested by the church for his translation work. A year later, he was convicted of heresy by the church and sentenced to death by strangulation. Because of his boldness, we have complete access to the word of God.

It is amazing what one act of boldness can do. Tyndale was warned to stop his translation because it went against the church, but he saw the importance of everyone reading God’s word. The disciples had a similar situation in Acts 4. They were threatened and instructed to never speak the name of Jesus again. The threat was so strong, it drove the disciples into hiding. There, they spoke of the repercussions of obeying God over man. With their future uncertain, they turned to prayer. Something happened! Their prayers were quickly met with the power of the Holy Spirit. Something ignited inside of them; they experienced a unique boldness to proclaim the word of God.

Can you imagine where we would be today had the disciples not operated with unique boldness? What about if William Tyndale had not had unique boldness? Life would look completely different! There would be no limit to the power of the word of God. Are there areas in your life that require a unique boldness? God wants to use you to do something great. Step out and experience a unique boldness, and see what God can do through you.

20. Healthy Boundaries

June 12, 2017

“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint…” Proverbs 29:18

In 1954, William Goldling wrote a fictional book called Lord of the Flies. The book tells a story of a group of boys marooned on a tropical island after their plane was shot down. The book shows the inner workings of people who live in a societal system without structure and rules; eventually the boys have no restraint and turn to violence. There is something unique about the presence of rules that helps keep people grounded.

Boundaries and rules regulate our lives on a daily basis. When you get into a car, you put on your seatbelt. When the light is red, you stop. We learn the principle of boundaries at an early age, and we live by this principal the rest of our lives. The Bible tells us in Proverbs that “where there is no revelation, the people cast of restraint.” This verse is talking about the revelation of the law of God. Without it, we give into sin.

Thankfully, we can have the kind of vision and restraint in our lives that help us live abundantly. There can be healthy boundaries in our relationships, in our jobs, in our finances and in many other places in our lives. The word used for revelation is the same word used for vision. Vision is so important to keep our life regulated. Not just any vision; we need God’s vision! Do you have God’s vision for your life? Do you have God’s vision for your family? Do you have God’s vision for your finances? Is there any area in your life where restraint has been cast off? If so, it’s time to put on our prayer glasses and get God’s vision.

21. Unwavering Faith

June 11, 2017

If that is the case, Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up. Daniel 3:17-18

Have you ever been faced with an impossible “either/or” situation?  In the book of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are faced with an impossible “either/or” situation. The king had built a golden image for everyone to bow to at certain times of the day. These three Israelites had an issue with this decree, because they were committed to only worshiping God. The king told them to either worship the image or get thrown into a fiery furnace. Their response to the situation was a response of unwavering faith. They told the king to throw them in the fire because God would save them. Just as importantly, they showed that even if God didn’t save them, they would never turn their faith from God.

The resolve of unwavering faith is found when the character of God is trusted. These Israelites knew that God was able to save them from the fire. They knew that if God didn’t save them, it was for a greater purpose. They trusted God’s character. Circumstances, situations and people on a daily basis will test our faith. If our faith is built on anything other than the character of God, it will fail. It is easy to trust God and have faith when life is good. The question is when life presents an extreme “either/or” situation, is your faith unwavering.

The only way to build unwavering faith is build it on the character and the word of God. When we do this, we put our trust in God’s willingness and ability to prove himself faithful. Our faith is founded in the belief that whatever the outcome, God is glorified and his will is done. Unwavering faith will help through the good times, but will also sustain you through the difficult. 

22. Learn to Pray

June 10, 2017

Lord teach us to pray… Luke 11:1

Do you remember learning to tie your shoe? There seems to be many variations to such an easy task. You are born with the capability of learning how to tie a shoe, but you do not know how until someone teaches you. There are a lot of instances in life where our capabilities are realized only once we are taught them. No one grows up and instinctively knows how to read, but with the right teacher, unrealized potential can be unlocked.

With that thought in mind, prayer is the same way. Have you ever heard other people pray and felt intimidated because your prayers didn’t sound as fluid, put together or strong? This is completely normal. The disciples spent a lot of time with Jesus. They heard his words, saw his miracles and witnessed his prayer life. One day, one of Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. So He did.

God wants to communicate with you. He wants to reveal the mystery of his goodness. He wants to hear from you. To experience that, prayer is required, and Jesus wants to teach you how to pray. What would your prayer life look like if you let Jesus teach you to pray? There is an increase in faith, persistency and expectation when we learn to pray. Like the disciples, ask Jesus to help you learn to pray and see what God does through you, in you and for you.

23. Burn the Boats

June 9, 2017

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Romans 8:37

In the 1519, Spanish Explorer Cortez landed on the shores of the Yucatan with 11 ships and over 500 people on board. He knew of the danger, adventure and risk in front of him. Once ashore, he instructed his men to burn the boats, eliminating the possibility of backing out and leaving unfinished business. Cortez did not come up with this idea on his own. When Alexander the Great arrived on the shores of the Persian Empire years earlier, he instructed his men to burn the boats. “We either go home in Persian Ships, or we do not go home at all.”

The resolve of both these leaders led them to make decisions in confidence and take risks to advance their cause forward. As Christians, we have a great cause in front of us. Jesus instructed us to make disciples of all nations. This requires risk, innovation and a lot of adventure. There are times when the enemy can try to bring fear of the unknown or shame from our past back into our lives to keep us from fully taking the risks God has for us. It’s like we have arrived in uncharted areas of faith, anchoring the boats of our past for a quick getaway.

The Bible tells us that we are more than conquerors through Jesus. As the captain of our lives, we can fully trust Jesus to lead us through every risk, adventure and unknown territory. Because we are more than conquerors in everything, when he directs us, we can burn the boats of fear and shame. Are you ready to conquer new shores? Are you ready to burn your boats?

24. Redefined Focus

June 8, 2017

But those who wait on 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 40:31

Runners talk about hitting a sudden wave of fatigue while running. Whether an amateur runner or an elite runner, every runner is hit with this fatigue called “Runners Wall.” During this moment, your lungs feel heavier and your legs turn into concrete. Your body responds by shutting down on you from the nose to the toes. Your mind begins to think through the overwhelming amount of distance still to be covered, and you want to quit and find rest. Research shows that if the runner makes simple adjustments instead of focusing on the distance to be covered—if they focus on the next step – there is a possibility of fighting through the wall to the allusive second wind.

This happens in our personal and spiritual lives as well. Day by day, we are faced with circumstances and choices that can tire us. In these moments, quitting seems to be a viable option. Our mind begins to play tricks by getting our focus on the overwhelming tasks ahead. But there is hope.

This hope is counterintuitive. Like the runner, if we stop focusing on everything that is stacked against us, we can focus on something different. Isaiah instructs us to wait on the Lord, but in the busyness of our lives, waiting doesn’t make sense! What would it look like if you redefined your focus? Begin to wait on the Lord, and see where your focus really needs to be. You might just find your strength is returned, your energy is back and you are able to soar. Don’t let fatigue get the best of you. Redefine your focus and see what God is waiting to do.

25. Measurement Tool

June 7, 2017

For with God nothing will be impossible. Luke 1:37

The best results in cooking are when you follow the instructions and use the proper measuring tool. Nothing is more frustrating than getting to the end of a delicious brownie mix and realizing you've misreading the directions. Mistaking teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of salt creates a dramatic shift in the enjoyment of the dessert. Using the correct measurement tool is imperative to getting the desired outcome. The same is true in life.

Smith Wigglesworth said, "There is nothing impossible with God. All the impossibility is with us when we measure God by the limitations of our unbelief." Maybe it is time to take out the word impossible from our vocabulary. With this word still at our disposal, there are times when we can let our own unbelief come in direct conflict with the truth that with God, nothing is impossible.

Are you comfortable believing God when it comes to the seemingly impossible? If not, you have limited the scope of your vision with unbelief and doubt. God is a good father and cares about the small things and great things alike. There is no matter too small that God will ignore, and there is no sickness, disease or circumstance too big for God to handle. It might be time to take a look at the measuring tool used to view God's ability and see if the right tool is being used. Impossible things can be done, because with God, nothing is impossible.

26. The Second Time!

June 6, 2017

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you." Jonah 3:1-2

Has God ever asked or told you to do something and your response was to ignore and disobey? There are many Christians who feel like they have missed out on God's perfect plan because of a moment of disobedience. Maybe you can relate to this same sentiment. People make mistakes, but make no mistake about this: God is bigger than our missteps and wrong choices!

Jonah is a familiar story in the Bible. Jonah is one of God's prophets and is instructed to go to the difficult land called Nineveh. Jonah responds by running the opposite way and ignoring what God has asked him to do. While on a boat in the opposite direction, a huge storm arises and the crew decides to throw Jonah over board. When Jonah hits the water, the storm stops and a huge fish swallows him. Jonah spends the next three days in the fish repenting for disobeying God. Then something awesome happens: The Lord spoke to Jonah a second time.

In the middle of disobedience, a lot goes wrong. We run from God's presence and we end up in huge storms, but there is hope. God doesn't want to just give us an opportunity to follow his lead. It is in his character and heart to give us opportunities. When we stop and truly repent, the Lord comes to us a second time! Are you running? Stop, listen, God is still speaking.

27. The Source of Your Faith

June 5, 2017

So that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5

The definition of the word source is "any thing or place from which something comes, arises, or is obtained." The source is the beginning of a thing or place. It determines the essence of the thing or place and drives its purpose. The source of something is foundational and will determine how we engaged with it.

There is a huge difference between someone with knowledge and someone with experience. You can read a book on skydiving, and the source of your knowledge might be vast and deep, or you could go skydiving, and the source of your knowledge would look different. When you read about something, your knowledge is limited to someone else's explanation of their experience. When you experience something, the source of your knowledge is first hand.

Faith also has a source. The source of our faith determines how we view God, life, people and scripture. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2, is saying that he did not use mere words to build Faith; he wanted to demonstrate God's power. He did this so the source of their faith would be in God's power—not in man's wisdom. It is easy, especially with the internet, to outsource the building of faith and understanding to other teachers and pastors. In reality, our source of faith should come from the demonstration of God's power. What is the source of your faith? God is waiting to show you something new today.

28. Do Not Quit

June 4, 2017

So David inquired of the Lord. 1 Samuel 30:8

David is on the run from Saul. He was anointed to be king, he slayed the giant Goliath and captured the heart of a nation only to lose the trust of its king. David is forced to run for his life. He has some great warriors join him, and these guys fight and conqueror anything in their path. They are hiding in caves and running from King Saul on the outskirts of the nation of Israel. David is forced to make an alliance with the very enemies he defeated earlier in his life … but that didn't last long. While David and his men were out, another army came in and ransacked their camp, taking all their possessions, livestock, women and children. When David arrived back at camp to see everything gone, his own men begin to turn on him. David did something monumental: He turned and inquired of the Lord.

Have you ever felt like life is stacked against you? Have you felt like no matter what you do you can never get ahead? Do you live life just waiting for the other shoe to drop? You are not alone. That doesn't feel very encouraging, but it's true. In going through difficult times, our victories often come from how we handle the situation. Faith isn't built in the outcome—it is built in the journey. Faith is built when the end cannot be seen, but you trust God to see you through anyway.

The resolve of David came when everything was going against him. When the loyalty of his men came into question, David went to the most faithful person he'd ever known: the Lord. In life, hard times come, situations and challenges present themselves. Don't lose faith! Take heart and inquire of the Lord. He is faithful and will get you through. Do not quit!

29. Childlike Boldness

June 3, 2017

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

There is a proverbial saying that sends a resounding message: "only a child will demand water from the king." The picture of this statement speaks of the boldness of a child to walk into any situation, even into the king's presence, to get a need met. Children have a resolve and boldness that goes against what adults have been taught. Even in the Bible, there is a group of kids, who against all social norms, run to sit at the feet of Jesus. The disciples' first instinct was to push the children away, but Jesus' response was to correct the disciples and welcome the Children.

When did we lose this type of boldness? At what point do we begin to question accessibility and trade boldness in for timidity? "I wish" or "I hope" statements are easier than a confident question of "can I please?" As believers, we have been given access to the very throne of God. That access comes with an invitation to come boldly, to find grace and mercy, in times of need.

You have access to walk into the throne of God, and ask the King for a cup of water. The desire of God is that we enter boldly, because he is willing and able to come through. Where is your boldness level? Is it childlike?

30. Be Still

June 2, 2017

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10

1.29 Seconds. This is how fast a Google search will render a response of over 1.27 million results. Our brains can see in imagine in as quick as 13 milliseconds—that's fast! We live in a fast paced world. News that is breaking on a major network is old news because of the Internet. We are so busy in our lives, it takes an extreme amount of intentionality to slow down and be still.

If all we do is go through life and become wrapped up in the busyness, we stunt our ability to know God in a different way. He commands, "Be still and know!" There is something in the mystery and wonder of God that can be discovered only when we are still. We begin to see how God is moving in our lives and families. In busyness, we focus on what is going on around us. In stillness, we focus on what is going on inside us.

The command in Psalms is to be still and know! God wants to reveal himself brand new today. The only catch, he will be found in the stillness. Is there an area in your life where you are needing to hear from God? Is there a decision that needs to be made? An answer to a prayer or a question? You might just find him in the stillness. Take some time today to be still and know. Then write down what God speaks to you!

31. Be Persistent!

June 1, 2017

I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. Luke 11:8

Have you ever been deep in thought, or deep in conversation, when someone was trying to get your attention? You notice them, but you don't want to break focus. They continue to get more and more animated to try to grab your attention, and that awkward moment of trying to remain focused and their desire for your attention comes to a tipping point. You cave and give them the attention, not because you want to, but because they won't leave you alone until you do.

This is the same attitude Jesus is telling us we need to have when it comes to prayer. We need persistence. In Luke 11, Jesus tells a story of a man needing some bread late in the night. This man goes to his neighbor's house and knocks on the door, asking for bread until an answer is given. Jesus says it isn't because he is a friend, but because of his persistency that the man gets the bread. The emphasis isn't on not being a friend, it's on the persistent attitude to have in prayer.

Is there something you are asking God for that will require persistency? What if God doesn't answer you the first time? There must be a resolve to continue to bring our prayers to God, with a resolve and persistency that will capture his attention. Are you willing to knock until he answers?

32. Speak Lord

May 31, 2017

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." 1 Samuel 3:10

Do you have people in your life whose voices you can recognize without seeing their face? In a time before caller I.D. and cell phones, it was always fun to guess the person on the other line by simple voice recognition. When we become so familiar with their voice, it can become recognizable even in a noisy crowd.

The same is true with God. He is speaking to us daily. In fact, you were created to have a relationship with God. Is his voice recognizable in your life? In 1 Samuel 3, we find the story of young Samuel learning what God's voice sounds like. As he lays in bed, a voice comes to him. He gets out of his bed and runs to the priest, Eli's, room, asking if he had called. This exchange happens three times before Eli perceives it is actually God who is calling out to Samuel. With this new revelation, Eli instructs Samuel to respond with, "Speak, for your servant is listening" the next time he hears the voice. Samuel does exactly as instructed, and God speaks to Samuel.

God was speaking to Samuel multiple times before Samuel recognized God's voice. Do you need to hear from the Lord? Is there a circumstance or situation in your life where you need God's wisdom or direction? God is speaking to you. Try Samuel's approach: sit back and say, "Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening."

33. It's not your battle!

May 30, 2017

He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. 2 Chronicles 20:15

In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, was faced with an impossible situation. A huge army was marching against him. The Bible makes it clear that the army was much larger than anything this king had dealt with in the past. Three different countries had aligned to attack his nation. His response was to seek help from the Lord. Jehoshaphat, his elders and the people all gathered together and petitioned God. God answers clearly: "The battle is not yours!" What happens next is confusing. The next day when they go into battle, Jehoshaphat appoints men to lead the army not with logical weapons of war, but with praise and worship to God. As these men worship and praise God, a confusion sweeps into the enemies' camps, and the three nations turn on each other. When God's people made it to the remaining camps, their conquest was quick and easy. In fact, there was so much plunder and supplies, it took three days to collect it all.

How great is this story? What battle are you facing today? Maybe you need to hear with clarity the same words Jehoshaphat heard: This is not your battle; it's the Lord's. When we allow God to fight the battles for us, we enter with a different resolve in our spirit. Our method of war becomes thankfulness and worship. If you are facing a situation or battle in your life right now, and if there is discouragement and fear, you might be fighting in your own strength.

Put down what you are fighting with and lift up some worship. It is amazing what happens in our spirit when we trust God to fight the battle. A new energy and rest is waiting for you. This battle is not yours; it's the Lord's!

34. First things first!

May 29, 2017

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

If there was a fire in your home, and you could only take one thing, what would it be? This question makes our minds race and quickly prioritize the most important things in our life. Some might think about people, some think about pets and some think about electronics or valuable items. But what if you did something different? What if you took one thing out the fire, and that one thing saved everything else?

In Matthew 6, Jesus is talking about worry in the context of stuff. Don't worry about what you will wear, eat or drink, where you will lay your head and don't worry about tomorrow. His answer? God will take care of it: Seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else will be added. We can get so consumed with different priorities in life that we get distracted from the main priority of God's kingdom.

Worry can stop us from being who we were created to be and stop us from accomplishing God's purpose for our life. We can become so consumed in chasing after the wrong priorities, worrying about not having or doing the latest this or that. At the end of the day, the question is about trust. Do you trust God to come through on his promise that when you seek him first, he will add everything else? Let's put first things first in our lives and see what happens.

35. Perfect equation!

May 28, 2017

Rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7

In 1905, Albert Einstein developed the Special Theory of Relativity. This theory explained the relationship between energy, mass and light—specifically the way in which these three components interacted with each other. Most people probably do not understand the theory, but have heard of the most famous of mathematical equations: E=MC².

Equations and formulas are important in math. If you have the right equation, you get the correct answer. More importantly, if you have the right equation, you have consistency. A person could guess enough times and eventually come up with the correct answer, but there would be no consistency in his or her process. With the correct equation, there will be a consistency of correctness.

This is similar to your walk with the Lord. Is there consistency or randomness? Colossians 2:7 gives the perfect equation for a consistent spiritual walk. Here are the variables: be rooted and be built up in Jesus, strengthen your faith and remain thankful. If we continue on in this equation of rooted, built up, strengthened and thankful, our lives will display a consistency that can weather any season and any storm. It is truly the perfect equation.

36. God is able!

May 27, 2017

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

There is a big difference between desire and ability. Imagine you were sitting in a room with 100 other people and someone walked on stage and said, "I would love to give you each a million dollars." You might begin to dream of the ways you would spend that money, all the while knowing you would never see it. The person on stage only desires to give you a million dollars. Imagine, however, if a speaker came into the same room and said, "I have a hundred million dollars, and I'm here to give it out to you!" In this case, your dream doesn't have to end, because the speaker is able to come through on their promise.

Do you approach God with the idea of desire or ability? God, through his mighty power at work in your life, wants to do so much more than we could think or ask. It is his desire to do so. But even more so, he is able to accomplish this desire. The question becomes: Are we asking? Are we believing and trusting that God has infinitely more for us?

Life can get interesting at times throwing out challenges, frustrations, hardship, sickness and disappointments. These can come at any moment and without any warning. When life happens, what we believe will determine how we respond. The reality is that God's power is at work in your life regardless of what the circumstances around your life look like. He is able and willing to accomplish infinitely more in your life. So, what are you asking for?

37. The Sound of Rain!

May 26, 2017

And Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain." 1 Kings 18:41

The story of Elijah and the Fire from heaven in 1 Kings 18 is an iconic story in the Bible. God makes himself known by sending fire from heaven to burn up a sacrifice set up by Elijah. There was a massive drought in Israel at this time, so when Elijah thinks he hears the sound of rushing rain, he sends Ahab to go out and look. Ahab goes out and looks over the Mediterranean Sea, but sees not even a cloud in the bright blue sky. Elijah sends Ahab back seven times before a cloud the size of a man's hand appears. Before they could even make it down the mountain they were caught in a rainstorm so great that it caught the attention of an entire nation.

There are times where God choses to speak before he moves. We can become frustrated looking for the action of God in our lives when he is trying to get us to hear his voice. Has there been a time in your life where you were praying and waiting for God to move? Maybe, like Ahab, you are looking for a sign of God's movement, hoping to see something as small as a cloud the size of man's hand, only to see nothing. It's in these moments that we should be encouraged to listen for the sound of God's voice. Don't get so caught up in the sight of rain that you ignore the sound of it.

God might be trying to get something into your spirit before he puts it into your hand. He does this because once his promise is released to you, it will be like the rainstorm in 1 Kings 18. It will be so big that it demands the attention of everyone around you. Do you hear that? It's the sound of rain!

38. Like a Flood!

May 25, 2017

So shall they fear The name of the Lord from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. Isaiah 59:19

In 2005, NBC reported a story about a little girl from Ethiopia. Men had kidnapped her from her home and were trying to force her into marriage. 350 miles from her home, authorities found a miracle: three lions stood guard around the little girl, acting as a shield. She was safe, and her kidnappers were nowhere to be found. As authorities approached, the lions "left her like a gift and went back into the forest."

Can you imagine being guarded by lions? You don't have to imagine; you already are! Revelation 5:5 says, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals." The enemy tries to attack our lives in so many different ways. Some of these ways are financial troubles, fear and sickness. Even though the enemy attacks, there is no reason for us to lose heart, because it is a greater indication that God is going to set a new standard in your life.

The lions in the story stepped out of their natural role as predator and stepped into a new standard as protector. This is exactly how God works. When the enemy comes in like a flood, God lifts up a new standard to keep us above the waters. It is when we stand confident in God as our strength and defense that we begin to see life-changing movement happen within us.

39. Encouraging Others

May 24, 2017

Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

Have you ever felt left out? Maybe you were the last one chosen for a game, or you didn't make the final cut for a school play, sports team or cheerleading squad. Maybe you didn't get that promotion at work. The fact is, we will all experience times of discouragement, confusion and disappointment. It's part of the trials of life.

Think of what happened to Saul (also called Paul), shortly after his dramatic conversion, when he tried to join the other disciples in Jerusalem: They rejected him. Saul was a man who had experienced a genuine change and total spiritual transformation, yet the Christians in Jerusalem weren't convinced that he truly was a new man. It is possible that Saul would never have been accepted by the church leaders were it not for the courageous efforts of Barnabas (whose name literally means "son of encouragement"). The Bible states that "Barnabas took him [Saul] and brought him to the apostles" (Acts 9:27a). Saul needed someone to look beyond his reputation and see the heart of a changed man. Barnabas' support was a tremendous encouragement to Saul as he fervently pursued God's plan for his life.

Everyone needs supportive friends like Barnabas who believe in them when they are worn down by the demands of life. That's why you are called by God to be sensitive to those around you who need encouragement. God wants people to take the time and effort to build up others. Will you be that kind of person? Look for opportunities to speak an encouraging word or perform an act of kindness that really makes a difference in someone's life!

40. Putting Christ First

May 23, 2017

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. John 15:13

In the 1950s, five young missionaries felt a deep calling to share the gospel with the Auca Indians, a violent tribe in the rain forests of Ecuador. Each man was prepared to put his life on the line for the opportunity to convey God's love. In January 1956, these five men made contact with the Aucas who brutally attacked and killed them. Even though the missionaries had weapons, they didn't retaliate. Instead, they spoke words of love and friendship with their dying breath. Because of their courage and willingness to place the lives of the Aucas before their own, their sacrifice was not made in vain. Others were later inspired to carry on their mission, and ultimately, the tribe accepted the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.

The missionaries had a deep understanding of Christ's compassion and sacrifice. Jim Elliot, one of the men killed that day, once wrote in his journal, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Those five men understood that if you desire to serve God, you must be willing to look beyond yourself and put others first. A true disciple is characterized by a passionate commitment to move beyond selfishness to selflessly serve others. You may never have to choose between life and death for the sake of others, but each day you have to decide whether to sacrifice your wants and needs for someone else's benefit.

God is searching for people willing to put their lives on the line. Are you genuinely interested in meeting the needs of others before your own? Ask the Lord to give you a heart of compassion and show you how to put others first.

41. God Cares!

May 22, 2017

Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you! 1 Peter 5:7

Have you ever felt alone? As if you were the only one carrying the weight of what you were going through in that season of life? One of the hardest ideas to wrap your mind around is the idea that God wants to be involved in your life. He doesn't just want to be asked into the big decisions and the tough moments, he wants in the everyday activities in your life.

In weight training, there are times when you push yourself to such a high weight that a spotter is needed. A spotter is someone who can carry the weight for you when it becomes too difficult to lift. It is not a good idea to try to carry the weight alone. How often do we approach life with the attitude that we have to carry every burden on our own shoulders?

In 1 Peter 5, the writer's instruction is to cast all your cares on Jesus, because he cares for you. The word "cast" used in this verse means to "throw or throw down." The picture here isn't one of handing politely and hoping someone takes it from you. The picture here is of you throwing down whatever you are carrying, because the promise is that God will be there to pick it up and carry it for you.

What are you trying to do in your own strength? What would it look life if you threw down your weight today and trusted God to pick it up?

42. A New Thing!

May 21, 2017

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19

In 1908, Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company introduced the Model T to the world. Before this moment, horses were used as a mode of transportation to help people get from one destination to the next. Since this introduction, horses have gone from the main method of transportation to almost never used at all. How does this happen? How does something so imbedded into the normal way of life in one generation, become nonexistent in the next generation? The answer: a new thing.

When asked about the Model T and the innovation of the assembly line, Henry Ford responded, "If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse." How true is this statement? At times, it seems we feel most comfortable looking at the past. Isaiah is telling the people of Israel to stop remembering the former things, and look at what God is doing now.

When it comes to your spiritual life, are you asking God for a faster horse or are you letting him do something new? God's promise for your life is that he will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. God is doing a new thing in you—will you let him?

43. As Yourself

May 20, 2017

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31

A couple of years ago there was a fad on the internet called doppelganger. A doppelganger is someone who looks like another person. How many times do people try to look and act like someone they are not?

This happens when people do not like who they are. Maybe a fear or insecurity has caused them to question their value or significance. It is just like the enemy to try to get people to believe that their value is insignificant. They try to find it and end up chasing the image of another person. Mimicry isn't all-bad; the Bible tells us to mimic Christ.

This is different because we were formed and created in his image. Too many times we are busy trying to project someone else's image. Our time, energy and resource are invested into being something that we are not. Let's be just like Christ and, in doing so, become more of ourselves.

44. The Holy Spirit is our Partner

May 19, 2017

And I will ask the Father and He will give you another advocate that will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit... John 14:16, 17

You've probably heard someone say that the only thing that is inevitable is change. Most people cringe at the idea of change because it's something that alters our normal routine or our way of doing things. It's different. And different can seem really hard when we're comfortable.

That's when a partner comes in hand. A partner can encourage you, compel you and advocate for you. A partner that has the same goal and wants to see you succeed is invaluable. It's a good thing we have one!

The Holy Spirit is our partner. Jesus tells us that he's going to send someone greater than him to be our helper. That's the Holy Spirit. Now, those are pretty big shoes to fill (greater than Jesus). But that's what the Bible says, so we know it's true. The Holy Spirit came to walk with us through everything, including change.

45. Fight the Right Battle

May 18, 2017

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

When I was in the 6th grade, I played in the most confusing basketball game of my entire life: both teams had the same color of jersey. To make it even harder, we all went to school together. It was hard to know who to pass to and who to guard because no one looked like the enemy. They all looked friendly!

As the game progressed, we had to find unique ways to identify friend or foe. As a spot shooter (meaning I picked a spot and shot from it), I had to figured out friend or foe quickly. The game ended and my team won, but not without confusion and mistakes.

Doesn't life get this way? As hurt, pain, fear, frustration and relationship all collide it can become difficult to know who the enemy is or even the right battle to fight. When our attention becomes confused, the enemy can sway us to fight the wrong battle. We can turn our attention to approval or weight or addiction. We need to remember that our battle is not against things of this world, and our enemy is not against flesh and blood.

46. Consistency!

May 17, 2017

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:27

I tried to read my Bible every day, but I failed miserably. I tried to wake up early to pray, but I missed the alarm clock … multiple times! I tried to take big leaps in my health, personal and spiritual life, but I get frustrated that the results are not immediate. It's made me want to give up. What am I missing? Consistency!

Don't forget the power of consistency! Commitment and consistency go hand in hand. In order to grow, we need to be committed to the end goal and consistent in our steps toward that goal. A faithful relationship with God is the best goal! Do something small over a long period of time, and it will have a big impact. Don't believe me? Water cutting through the earth over a long period of time forms a canyon – the Grand Canyon.

47. Strong Tower!

May 16, 2017

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

In running there is this concept called "the runners wall." Runners will start off fast and outrun their pace and energy. What happens next is they run into an invisible wall. Exhaustion takes over their bodies, and they will not finish their race at the level of energy with which they started. Training, practice, water and a good coach can get these runners back in the race.

This same idea can happen in a person's spiritual race. The race starts off well, but people begin to outpace their endurance levels. They hit the proverbial spiritual wall, weariness creeps in and some even choose to give up. A Christian can regain stamina by running, but this time running toward the right finish. When we run into the Lord, he is our strong tower; life and safety are found in Him. If you find yourself weary today, run to the Lord. He is your strong tower.

48. No Call Waiting!

May 15, 2017

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

Have you ever needed to get in contact with someone? You call them, but don't get an answer. You send a text, but there's no response. You leave a message, but did they get it? In a world full of technology and communication, not getting a response can be annoying, frustrating and disheartening.

God isn't like that. When we call to him, he always answers. The promise of God goes so much further than just answering. When he answers, he shows how great and mighty he really is. His answers give you more than what you want—they give you what you need. Try it today. Don't wait! Call out to God and he will not only answer, but wrap you up in his arms. You are his, and your calls do not go unheard.

49. Stand!

May 14, 2017

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

For many, a round-about is a form of traffic punishment. That's one of those intersections that makes you drive in a circle and exit at various points. If you know what you're doing and where you're going, you'll be fine. If not, it's never-ending.

In our lives, without clear direction in front of us, we continue with the same behavior patterns. These behaviors have the potential to keep us trapped in a never-ending cycle of action, guilt, shame, repentance and repeat.

What if we stopped? What if we took a different course and changed our behavior? Instead of going back again to the "yoke of bondage," let's break free and pursue the road Jesus won for us. This path of freedom never steers us back toward our shame—it leads us to God. What would your day, year and life look like if today you choose Freedom Street over Sin Circle?

50. Fear Not!

May 13, 2017

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Fear is an interesting motivator for the simple reason that fear motivates inaction. If you see something that startles you, your body freezes for a minute, and then you have two choices: Do I run, or do I fight? In our Christian walk, the enemy uses fear tactics to keep believers in a stance of inaction. If we continue in the pattern of fear for too long, something dangerous can happen: we can lose our courage.

In Joshua 1:9, God is encouraging Joshua to be strong and of good courage because God will be with him. This same promise is for you today. Whatever you face, whatever the circumstance or situation in your life, God is with you.