“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.” EPHESIANS 5:15–16
Imagine if we had a Category 5 hurricane barreling down on us and all the local news media stations were giving us notice to evacuate. You know that time is of the essence. With one hour to load up the family and any belongings before leaving town, what we spend our time on would reveal our priorities. We would not be worried about recording our favorite shows, downloading some new apps, or going to the gym to work out. We would use every minute to get the house ready for the storm and our family ready for the journey ahead. Spiritually speaking, we need to prepare for storms. Sin has caused the world we live in to be broken. Because of sin in our world there is evil which causes storms, devastation, and desolation. God’s Word tells us that we need to make the best use of our time because the days are evil. This means we need to take care of the people around us by making sure they know the truth of the gospel of Christ. We have to do our best to make sure that everyone knows that in the midst of the storm of evil, Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Jesus is the Savior that can sustain us and protect us. Beyond our words, we need to evaluate our actions. We need to watch what we say and how we say it. We live in the victory of Jesus’ defeat of sin, not weighted down by guilt and shame. Because we do not have much time, we must use the time we have to the glory of God. We need to live differently, speak differently and act differently.
“Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” PROVERBS 3:5–6
A Bible teacher named Ray Ortlund tells a story that illustrates these famous verses found in Proverbs and what it means to “trust in the Lord with all your heart.” He says, “One winter day, a man was crossing the Susquehanna River. He did not know how thick the ice was. So, after crawling along on all fours across the ice, gingerly feeling his way forward, he heard some racket and clatter coming up behind him. He looked back, and here came a sleigh being pulled by four horses, and the driver was moving them along at a pretty good clip right across the frozen river. The man driving the sleigh was a local. He knew how thick the ice was because he had crossed it lots of times. Too many Christians are like the man down on all fours, creeping along, and way too cautious. Their trust in the Lord is halfhearted. Then along comes a wholehearted Christian, one who knows God and has experienced Him many times before, and he changes the tone for everyone around.” We as Christians must realize how sure and solid our foundation is. We have the responsibility to look out for our brothers and sisters who are also traveling this road with us and continually encourage them about “how solid the ice is.” As we grow in our faith, we will come to trust the sureness of Christ more and more. Who has God put in your life that you can look out for and encourage today?
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” ROMANS 8:28
Do you ever feel like some days you serve God and live fully in Him and other days you don’t? That’s because sometimes it’s easy to see God working in our lives and other times we feel like we don’t. This is because of a word called, “perspective.” Our perspective is how we see things, not actually how they are. Just because we can’t see God working doesn’t mean He isn’t. When we feel like we don’t see God working in our lives part of our flesh wants to give up living for God. We think, “God I’ve been praying about this for hours and nothing has changed. So I’ll do this my way since your way doesn’t seem to be working.” This is the part of our heart’s perspective that plays tricks on us. John reminds us though that God is greater than our perspective, even 22 the nagging voice that keeps us from receiving all Christ has in store for us. Remember 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God is greater and He is faithful. The reality is that God is working for you. God is madly in love with you and God will never let you go. Depend upon God and live for Him today and every day of the year! It’s so important to stay connected to God every moment of every day.
“Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” HEBREWS 10:23-25
Pinterest is a social network that allows users to visually share, and discover new interests by posting (known as ‘pinning’ on Pinterest) images or videos to their own or others’ boards. Typically three types of people use Pinterest for arts and crafts. There are those who create a craft, photograph it, and post it. Others view the post, pin it, and do the craft later. And the last group just looks through posts with no intention of ever starting a craft project. Pinterest was created for people to share with the world, their love for something. As Christians, we are commanded to love God first and then love one another. Our love for God and others wasn’t intended to be hidden, but shared. Holding onto God’s promises and trusting Him at his word helps us to love Him more and more each day. Finding Him faithful time and time again brings us to a place where our love for Him is real and strong. Other people, however, can be harder to love. As the body of Christ, we are to encourage one another. Let’s get creative in how that looks. It may be a cup of coffee to a new mom who just needs to stay awake. It may be warm, fuzzy socks for someone spending a few days in the hospital. It may be a meal for a family coping with loss. Let’s get creative in how we encourage one another. If you have no idea where to begin, feel free to copy other people’s acts of encouragement! God wants us to give love to each other and not just sit by and watch as it is given. We are all needed and wanted in the body of Christ! Write the names of people who you know need encouragement below. Then pray for them and begin thinking of ways you can encourage them. It may take a group effort so include others. Jesus told the disciples they would be known by others for their love for one another (John 13:35). We want everyone to know us by how we love one another.
“So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city. When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. ‘Oh, sir, what will we do now?’ the young man cried to Elisha. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ Elisha told him. ‘For there are more on our side than on theirs!’ Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.” 2 KINGS 6:14-18
Here’s some background to this amazing story: The king of Aram was attacking the people of God. Elisha, God’s prophet, would let his king know of upcoming attacks and they would thwart the king of Aram’s plans. The king of Aram accused his commanders of treason, but they informed the king of Elisha’s work against him. Elisha’s servant woke up early one morning and went about his duties only to receive the shock of a lifetime. He was not a soldier; he was a young servant of a prophet. He was scared. Elisha wasn’t scared and comforted his servant by asking God to reveal His supernatural troops. When the servant saw the mighty army of God, he no longer feared the army of soldiers on their doorstep. When you first get up in the morning and start your daily routine, do you sometimes discover problems that may seem to equal an army on your doorstep? What do you do? Do you run and hide or just give up? Let’s give God the first of every day. Let’s ask God to show us His provision before we even discover the army on our doorstep so we will not be driven to fear at the sight of our problems. God is our protector and He is mighty to save and you are more than a conqueror in His strength!
“Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. Then you will destroy all your silver idols and your precious gold images. You will throw them out like filthy rags, saying to them, “Good riddance!” ISAIAH 30:20-22
The prophet Isaiah was speaking to a people that over and over again had turned away from God to trust in themselves, other countries, or even idols. God gave them warnings and second chances, but they chose to learn the hard way. Isaiah reminds them of God’s continued care, even through the tough consequences to their poor decisions. God not only allowed them to live and continue to be a people, He continued to be present among them even through their hardships. Isaiah knew the people would continue to wander off of God’s plan, but he reminded them that God’s voice would continue to affirm His path and encourage them to follow. And as the people followed God’s good path, they saw the worthlessness of their idols and the ineffectiveness of trusting in pagan nations. What about us? Do we find ourselves continuing to travel down the path of trusting our own devices, or the provisions of others who do not know God? Have we caused problems for ourselves that could have been avoided if we would have just listened to the voice of God? If so, it’s never too late to start listening to God. Ask God to reveal to you anything you place over Him and why it will fail. Then ask God to put down barriers to those detours that so easily trap you. As the Message translation puts it, “God is right there and He’s on the job.” He is faithful. He is always present. He can be trusted.