Thirty Day Spiritual Challenge by Kathy Howarth
The Lord has put it on my heart to take on a discipline for 30 days which I hope will be helpful to at least one person. I am struck with the busy-ness of life and the fact that many Christians do not have a regular devotional time with the Lord. I am not a perfect model in this, but work on it all the time. Sometimes I leave my time with the Lord to the last possible moment of the day, or the time is rushed because I have other things on my agenda, which foolishly I think are more important…or easier. Worse, once in awhile, it gets skipped.
I have heard many Christians say, “I have my time in the car listening to worship music.” This is good, but it is not your personal devotional time where you read a bit of scripture, meditate on its meaning, and have definitive prayer. Set your goal easy at 5 minutes, and see if the Lord doesn’t expand it. To really put your time in perspective, compare the time spent on Facebook to you time on Faithbook. :) small pun sorry.
With that in mind, I am going to send a verse or two for each day for 30 days with some questions to ask that are prompted by meditating on the verse. I will pick verses from all over the Bible to show you God’s truth can be revealed in interesting verses from lesser read portions of the Bible. In doing this I hope to prime the pump in getting you to break off smaller chunks of scripture, and really think personally what God is saying to you. Asking questions is the best way. I hope you will begin to ask your own questions, and ponder through the day the meaning of that word God has given you. Think of concrete ways you can put it into action. He will often put it into play that day.
We go through day after day, shooting blanks when conflict assails us, like a co-worker abusing us in some way, an atmosphere of profanities, a boss or neighbor who treats us poorly, being overworked and under appreciated. We find ourselves just saying, “I’ve got to act like a Christian, I’ve gotta…" but we have no solid word to meet the situation, and we flounder, and fall to our old ways of dealing with conflict. We retort in kind, get angry, quiet, passive aggressive, peevish, retaliatory, complaining, discouraged and/or bitter. And often we are filled with guilt at our own failure to “be a testimony.” Staying “in the Word” shuts down that devil's victory. To put it into perspective compare the time you spend on facebook to the time you spend on “faithbook”. (small pun, sorry)
If your ammunition (God’s word) has been refilled, restocked, renewed that morning, you will be in much better shape to deal. You will have God’s own personal counsel to speak to your heart and to impart wisdom, peace, perseverance, and strength in that moment. It will be like a time-release medicine.
Not all of you may feel you need this, or will profit by one more thing on e mail, but if you could just humor me and allow me to follow through on a discipline that will help, and stretch me, perhaps more than you, I would appreciate it. I want to keep it short, not as long as this e mail by any means.
I’m going to ask the Lord’s leading on the verses chosen. If one person is launched into spending more quality time with the Lord, it will be worth it….and anyway it is worth it to me to do this discipline for my own growth.
Day 1. A loving letter to a believer:III John 2 (NKJ) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.If someone were to write that or say that to me, would it be a positive blessing? Is my soul prospering? Would it be great if my body and mental health was as good as my soul health, or would that be terrible? Would that mean I would be sick and mentally unstable? Could the reason I am not prospering as whole person, be that I am neglecting the most important part of my prosperity? Has my focus on “prosperity” been on liquid assets and possessions, and the comparative wealth of my neighbor? How can I nurture my soul? How can I feed it so that it is healthy and flourishing? What affect might this healthy soul have on my whole being? What can I do today to promote a healthy soul? What will I do to start this in my life? Is there anyone that could help me in this pursuit? Would the Lord answer a prayer for me to be a prosperous soul? Would I listen?
Day 2. Romans 5:7-8 (NKJ) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Wow, can I imagine me dying for someone who is an enemy, let alone a good friend? Have I even denied myself or sacrificed myself for someone who acts terribly toward me? Do I ever deny myself and my agenda or schedule, to help a stranger, or sometimes, even more difficult, someone close, like a family member, who is not pleasant but rather, irritating, unhelpful, and often opposes me? Isn't that what God did for me!? He died for me when I was still a sputtering, kicking, disobedient, sinful child! How could I inhabit this truth in my dealings with those who oppose me, or have it in for me at work, at school, at home? Could I do an act of kindness, or engage in an encouraging conversation with someone with whom it is hard to deal? Is this what God means about being crucified with Him? How can my “self” be crucified for someone else today? What can I do to lay myself down for their benefit?
Is there a phone call I could make, a small note, a gesture, a gift of time, even a smile, I could offer to a hard person in my life? Could I do this for more than a day, or to fulfill an assignment and consistently do this?
Day 3. A word and a vision given to the Apostle John on the deserted island of Patmos: Rev. 1:8 (NKJ)I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Am I living a life that recognizes the One who began it all, and will end it all, the ultimate authority, Supreme Ruler of everything and everyone in this universe and beyond? If He is the Beginning and the End, what is in the middle? Is that also ruled and saturated by Him? What is the affect of that on my life? Do I make decisions and choices with His pre-eminence in mind? Who am I answering to in my work, in my family, in my relationships, in my goals and passions? If He is pre-existent, having no beginning, ever-existent-always here, and continually existent-eternal, does that give me a perspective that is different from the world's? How does that change my outlook on what I do with my time, my money, my energy, my freedom? Am I experiencing His “Almightiness” in my life? If not, why not? What do I need to do in my life to live a life that shows the awesomeness of my God? How can I show with my life that the Almighty God inhabits all, past, present and future? Give me a sense of the bigger picture of who I am in the grand scheme of things, and what should be my focus. Give me, Lord, eternity in my heart.
Ecc. 3:11 (AMP) He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Day 4. Matthew 9:11-12 (NKJ) And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them,“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.”
Jesus is scandalizing the Pharisees and the disciples all at once, by sitting down, perhaps eating, with sinners. Am I insulating myself from those who need to hear and see the love of God in action most? Do I wish to escape their corruptive presence rather than engage, and pray silently for them? How do I plan to interact with my worldly co-horts, not by participating in their worldly mindsets and pursuits, but by being the presence of God among them (not in a self-righteous way) while they live confused and sinful lives? Do I show a distain for their activities and choices, and register judgment, or do I seek to meet them where they are, listen, hear their pain and desperation, and wait for the Holy Spirit to open up opportunities to minister to their hearts? Do I have a sense that God has placed little ol' me in a hospital of sinners to bring light, remedy, and redemption in whatever way His Spirit compels? How could this change my outlook toward them, and what affect might it have on them? Am I willing to be consistent and persistent in gracious listening, and covert praying until the day comes when they open up to me and ask some questions? Can I feel the excitement in being used in a purposeful way to win the lost in the circle in which God has put me? Could this enliven my own walk with Jesus to see Him work through me in the lives of others?
Day 5. From Ecclesiastes 8:2-3 (NKJ) Solomon, the preacher/teacher gives wisdom after a life of trying everything under the sun.
I say, “Keep the king's commandment for the sake of your oath to God. 3 Do not be hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand for an evil thing, for he does whatever pleases him.”
Even though I don't have a king, do I have authority over me which as a Christian I am bound by my oath to God to subject myself? In what areas of my life have I not subjected myself to God-given authority? Have I ever complained, vilified, criticized what God has put in place/allowed, just because I don't like it, it doesn't suit me, it makes it hard for me, or it doesn’t emanate from my “group”? Have I ever joined a rant or forwarded someone else’s vitriol which is unholy and not Christ-like?
Have I conducted myself as a mature person, and a mature Christian? Have I ever run from authority, instead of dialoging, asking questions, trying to gain understanding or remedy through the correct effective channels?
As God is my ultimate authority, how have I treated Him? Have I run from His presence, have I sought His wisdom, and brought my situation and others’ suffering to Him? Have I prayed, asked forgiveness, subjected myself in every area? Have I stood for an evil thing in fleeing His presence who is sovereign King over every place? He does what pleases Himself; am I pleasing Him, or myself who is subject to Him? What can I do today at work, school, or home to please God? How can I support righteous behavior by acting righteously myself?
Day 6. Psalm 63: 1 (NKJ) O GOD,You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
Why is GOD in all capitals? How is that a different name from G-o-d? Why should I seek You early? What would that mean if I did seek You early? Do I seek You early in my day and first, when a problem arises, or do I seek all kinds of other remedies, and You are my last resort? Do I go to You before friends, books, my intuition, impulse, some opinion? Does my soul really thirst after You, and do I truly long for You? If I do not, why don't I? Does eagerness to see what You have to say for my day, characterize my attitude? What can I do to foster a deeper more dependent, passionate relationship with You, God? Do I recognize this world is a dry and thirsty land, and there is no water for my soul to be found in any other place but in You? Do I try to quench my ever-present thirst with my passions, my extra-curricular activities, Hollywood fascination, romantic novels, parties, music, sports, theater, friends, a partner, power? Could I treat You like a loving suitor, and the more time I spend with You, the more I thirst for Your company?
Day 7. Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
Do I regard myself as valuable, a piece of workmanship, a masterpiece, that is fashioned by and for God? Do I wish He made me differently and sometimes complain about my foibles and imperfections? Do I think my productivity on earth is done because of some setback? Do I realize God counts me valuable in dying for me, and making all things new in me? Does He stand back and still smile in pleasure at His good work in me when I've messed up? If God values me so highly, should I also value His judgment of my attributes and the purpose for which He made me? Am I walking in the good works He has already lovingly scheduled for my life? If He is the Master who has made the masterpiece,can He take a broken instrument like me, restring me and make beautiful music? How does that make me feel that He has a definite plan for my life and has ordered my steps, that He has a specific purpose for my life. Should I ask Jesus to reveal to me more of His plan and take a look at His diary, the Bible to see what it tells me about Him and myself?
Day 8. II Sam. 24:24 (NKJ) Then the king said, to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for 50 shekels of silver.
Is David saying that what I give to the Lord must cost me something? What is my attitude toward giving? Should I regard every offering I make to someone, as an offering to God? Am I satisfied to give away things that people have given me that I don't want, and consider myself generous in doing so? Do the things I give to homeless people cost me anything, or are they dented, out of date canned goods, broken furniture, and spotted, faded, clothes? How often do I give something that is valuable and cherished by me? If something has no value to me, am I really being generous, or am I just glad to get rid of the item, and I think that's good enough for the Lord. Am I like the Pharisee giving out of my excess, rather than the widow who gave out of her poverty? Do I need to rethink my sense of values of all my service and my offerings to the Lord?
Day 9. Joshua 4:23-24 (NKJ) “for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we crossed over, 24 that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”
How many times has the Lord cleared a path for me and ridded a problem I had prayed about, and even when I didn't pray about it? Has He ever given me a job, some extra time, a promotion, a bonus, and unexpected gift, a wonderful relationship I didn't expect? Has He ever made a problem go away, when I was expecting to be blocked from doing something? Has He ever lifted a burden, healed, made a way through a confusing set of circumstances? Has He ever “dried up the waters and caused me to be able to cross over”? Why has He been so gracious to me? Why has He shown Himself in the way? Was it so the world could see His hand in my life and in the affairs of men? Should I not take more notice of God's care in the crossings of life, and be in awe of Him all the more? May I never forget His deliverances, and His mighty hand on my behalf. Have I given fresh testimony and shared how God has worked in my life so that others can be encouraged and “know the mighty hand of Lord in my life?”
Day 10. Genesis 18:25 (NKJ) Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right.” This is the bargaining conversation that went on between Abraham and the Lord to whittle down the number of people destroyed in Sodom and Gomorrah. Lord, could I be as bold as Abraham and have a give-and-take discourse with You? Could I make my prayers more personal practical, perceptive, and purposeful? Could I have boldness before You to ask You seemingly improbable and impossible things? Is it possible that my prayers do alter circumstances? Do I ever have anything to worry about as to how things turn out? Do I ever have to be concerned that You are going to be fair, and are justified in all Your actions? Do I need worry about those who seemingly have never heard of You and what will happen to them? What if I don't know if someone is saved, or is going to heaven? Help me to put before You these impossible situations that need remedy and to know that the Judge of all the earth will do what is right.
Day 11. Matthew 10:42 (NKJ)“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water because he is my disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
Lord, who are the “little ones” in my life? Are they children, those that are ignored, those that others might miss, those that are in a humble estate, those who are foreigners, displaced, lonely, needy, students, a harried mother, a widow, and aged person, those thought to be too young, too old, too fat or too thin, too uneducated, too crazy, too boring? Lord, can you show me who they are and make me more aware of them as they pass my way? May I not despise the day of small things (Zech. 4:10) Am I waiting for You to use me in some spectacular obvious way, instead of being ready at all times for humble things to do? What could they be, a cup of water, a small encouraging note, a phone call, a shared sandwich, a favorite candy bar, a hand on a shoulder, a stick of gum, a small toy, a book, laughing at a joke, a visit, a birthday card, recognition, a kind word, a response?? Show me Lord today just where I am.
Day 12. Mark 10:36 (NKJ) And He said to them,”What do you want Me to do for
you?” Jesus asked this question of James and John who had just said to Him, “we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”
Lord, do I ask for the wrong things, am I asking for things that are just for selfish purposes, or are they to promote Your glory? Am I any better than James andJohn in asking for a place of power and promotion, rather than a place of servanthood? You ask what do I want You to do. Do I even know what I want You to do? Help me to spend more time getting to know You so I know what to ask of You and be assured I am asking within Your will. Do I want to escape bad situations, or do I want You to teach me and use me in that situation? Do I want you to remove all temptations from me, or do I want to become strong in the Lord and claim the victory You have given, in Your name? Do I want to teach before I have learned? Do I want to lead before I have served? How can I serve You today, by serving others?
Day 13. Acts 9:15-16 (NKJ) But the Lord said to him, ( to Ananias, a Damascan disciple, speaking in reference to Paul)”Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake.”
Lord, I don't feel like I'm any Apostle Paul, but am I a chosen vessel of Your's to bear Your name before particular people? What is my calling, who am I called to? Is it to the people in the convalescent home, government people, is it to teachers, students, other artists, media people, children, teens, people of other color, other nations? Certainly I am called as any Christian to bear Your name before anyone I have in my circle, but am I a chosen vessel for a particular people? Would you put that passion in my heart for what and to whom You have called me? Do I expect it will not entail any suffering? I know You have said, if I am faithful in small things, You will bring me bigger things in which to be faithful. May I embrace whatever suffering comes for Your name's sake. Could you teach me how to take joy in suffering even in my work place, home, hospital, or educational institution realizing You are fitting me for service in the future?
Day 14. Deut 12:6-7 There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 7 There you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you, and your households, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.
Lord, what are You saying about the sacrifices, various offerings, the tithe, and the freewill offerings that You instituted? Do I have peace about my giving? Are there other scripture passages which would throw light on the issue of what You would want me to give to You? Do I believe, You gave me everything that I have, or that I earned it myself? What does it mean that You mention so many more offerings than the tithe? If I googled “tithing in the Bible”, would that help me understand what You are saying through Your word? Do I have a proper attitude toward giving? What do I think the church uses the money for? Is the tithe man's idea, the pastor's idea, the church board's idea, a denominational idea? What is the teaching of the Old Testament compared with the New Testament? Do I have to give a tithe (1/10) of my income to the Lord? Is that a limit, a suggestion, or the least I can do? Do I apply the concept of giving a portion of everything that is income, for instance, if I won a prize or someone gave me a gift, or I earned money on an investment? If I were to ask the Lord what I should give, would I listen to my heart's prompting? Do I need a better understanding of God's provision? Has God blessed me? What does it mean,”there you shall eat before the LORD?” Does that have anything to do with me benefiting from what I give? What is God's promise to those who give these offerings? Do I rejoice in all that You have put in my hand, or do I take it for granted, or even take credit myself? Is it possible my whole household would be blessed through giving from the heart? Am I missing a blessing I could have?
Day 15. Job 13:15, Job 23:10 (Job famous for God's testing of him)Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him....But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
Lord, do I turn sour when things aren't going my way? What if I am sick? How about when I feel disappointed by friends who have let me down? When I have lost my job or my money, or when I have lost someone close, do I still trust You?
Did Job expect he would lose everything? Was he prepared for such a time as that? What was there about him that he could respond, that if You killed him, he would still trust You? Do I believe that You, O God, know the way that I take? Could I stand with Job, and when the storms come, I trust in You? Could I rest assured You were in it all and that Your test was not to punish me, or toy with me, but to bring me forth as gold? How can I prepare myself for future challenges?
Day 16. John 10:27 (NKJ) “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Do I hear Jesus' voice? Do I hear other voices, and do I listen to them? How do I know I am hearing Jesus' voice? Do I feel that Jesus knows me because I've been very personal with Him and shared my inner fears, passions, and desires with Him, or is it just that He knows me anyway? Would I like to hear Jesus' voice and call more clearly? How does one “hear” the Lord; is it audible? Do I hear Him when I read my Bible or am in prayer? Am I following Him in everything I “hear", and if I am not, is it because I not listening to what He is saying in His word, and what His Spirit is convicting me of ? Does this alarm me? Is it important enough to do something about it, to earnestly ask right now for Him to speak to me, and for me to have the courage, self-denial and quietness of spirit, to shut down all the other voices that are calling out for my attention, and listen intently? Will He speak to me in suffering and loss? What kind of difference could it make in my life? Do I believe that when Jesus asks me to follow that He knows best the way and the timing?
Day 17. I Corinthians 7:20 (NKJ) Let each one remain in the same calling in which he is called. What do I think about “having a calling”? Is calling related to my job that I get paid to do? Do I know of my sure calling in Christ? Is it what I am good at doing? Is there some grand purpose in my calling? Does God ever ask me to do things I feel are outside my calling, just to show my dependence on Him? Do I wish I had my friend's or my opposition's calling? Do I spend my time wishing I were the person someone else is and doing the things they are doing? Have I sought God for Him to reveal more clearly what my calling is, if I am not sure? Have I sought experiences that would exercise my possible calling and reveal those things for which I really have a passion? What can I do even today to start clarifying and confirming my call, and seeking opportunities to operate in my calling? Are there books I can read or people I can talk to, that would help me solidify and train me in my calling? Am I willing to hear God call me to someone, some place or some people who are uncomfortable, far away, in a strange place? Can I honestly ask Him in prayer where He wants me, and I will obey?
Day 18. Psalm 23:1-2 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
Do You, LORD really lead me in everything I do? Do I ever try to take the staff from Your hand, Lord, and take off on my own and find “my own pasture”? Am I willing to surrender to being a lamb? Do I have some “wants” that really are not good for me? How can I tell the difference between my “wants” and my needs, and whether they are wholesome? Am I listening when You tell me to lie down to rest? In such cases, do I think I know best and can get more done, if I keep plugging on? Could You be asking me to come aside and be quiet and rest? If I did what You said, do I believe You have my interest in mind? Have I felt rested lately? Have I taken time to just come away and spend some time with You, Lord, to get my priorities reset and my energy recharged? What affect might this have on my family, my workmates, my friends, my ministry, my jangled nerves, my exhaustion, my attitude, my effectiveness?
Day 19. Psalm 61:3, Prov. 18:10 For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. ...The name of the LORD is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe.
Where do I run when I anticipate trouble, or when I am already “in” trouble?? What is my shelter? Where do I find protection and safety? Do I actually “run” to it, or do I finally stumble into it? What can I expect in a shelter? Who will be there? What will happen to my enemies? Will I be only as strong and protected as my tower is strong and sturdy? How do I know that God is my shelter and my strong tower? What gives me assurance of that? Why is the “name” of the Lord so powerful? What do I know about the name of the Lord? Has it sheltered me in the past? Is it still “good to go?” Do I know the Master well enough to know that tower?
Day 20. I Peter 5:7 (ESV), Psalm 55:22 (NET) Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you....Throw your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you. He will never allow the godly to be upended.
Am I carrying a burden that is not mine to carry? Is anxiety thwarting me from progress, or creative thinking, or quietness in my spirit? What does carrying my own burden, say about what I think about Jesus? Have I treated that anxiety like a sore loose tooth which I keep teasing with my tongue? Is there any part of me that seeks attention because of my cares? Do I ever share my worries as if they are a mark of a concerned Christian? Do I really want to be “healed” from worry? What is Peter, through the power of the Holy Spirit saying I should do with all of my burdens? If I did cast all my cares on Jesus, what might be the result? How would it change the way I feel, and what I affirmed I believe? Does it surprise me that this is not just a New Testament exhortation and that Peter is quoting a theme from the Psalms? How could I be upended if I carry anxiety?
Day 21. John 11:35 (NKJ) Jesus wept. How many times does the Bible record that Jesus wept or cried? If I find only 2-3 times,(Luke 19:41, Hebrews 5:7-8) does that mean He only wept those times? On these occasions recorded, what would cause the Savior of the world to weep? Should I look at this verse in context and not just skip over it as the most terse verse in the Bible? In this John passage, is He weeping over the lack of understanding and unbelief of Lazarus's sisters and the Jewish mourners, or is He weeping over Lazarus whom He knows is going to rise again? In the Luke passage, is He weeping in sorrow and compassionate longing that Jerusalem would come under His wings and repent and turn to Him and believe? Why does He weep in the garden? Is it the difficulty of following the Father's will unto death? What does this show about what Jesus wept over, and is there any lesson in what is worthy of weeping? Do I have compassion for unbelievers, and the unrighteous? Do I think it was easy for Jesus to do God's will and did not represent a temptation to escape His destiny? How do these instances show both the wide heart of God and the humble heart of a man? How can I be more compassionate to those who do not yet know Him? Can I start by praying for someone God brings to mind right now?
Day 22. Luke 15:20,22 (NKJ) The Prodigal Son - And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him....The father said to his servant 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his finger and and sandals on his feet.
Who does the father represent in this parable? Who does the son represent? Have I been either of these characters in my life? Have I been the “father”, as the compassionate one not waiting for the other party to come to me, or to be first to make an overture of love? Or have I stood far away, keeping my options open, reserving my approval and restraining my embrace from those who have wronged me? What is the significance of the father “running" to the son and falling on the son's neck to kiss him, and not hesitating? What does it mean about the father's watchfulness? What could it mean about our heavenly Father waiting for me at one time in my life, perhaps, many times? Was I ever, or have I ever been the prodigal, wasting my life on foolishness, separated from my Father in heaven? How did I feel, or would I feel, knowing my heavenly Father is eager for me to come to Him, and that He does not hold back His love because of my past sinfulness? Have I acknowledged and received the love of the Father who took me in, wrapped me in His righteous robe, gave me confirmation of my acceptance, received me back into the fold, and called me His own?
Day 23. Colossians 3:17 (NKJ) And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
When I plan my schedule, my work, my play, my day, my vacation, my service, my relationships, my meetings, opportunities, my encounters, my free time, do I do them in the name of the Lord Jesus? Do I forget this much of the time? Do I do a lot of things in my own power, and thus in my own name without regard to God? Do I regularly and joyfully give thanks to Jesus, and thereby give thanks to the Father for events, people, surprises, interesting experiences, having another day, health, difficulties, challenges that arise during the day? How would it change my attitude, my day, the results and goals of my life if I did this? What affect would this have on those around me? Is there something I could do immediately to recognize this principle in my life?
Day 24. Jeremiah 4:3-4 (NKJ) For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcize yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts....
Where is the fallow ground in my life, the ground left on its own, empty, without purpose, without wholesome growth or fruit? Are there weeds and thorns growing there instead? Is the good seed in my life being choked out by the thorns that crowd in and over and around any good growth and strangle it? Does my heart need plowing up and turning over to be restored and renewed in its love and passion to follow Jesus? What needs to be torn away and ripped off my heart to bear it for Jesus to do a new work in it? Is there something You want to convict me of, that I need to be rid of, and at the same time filled with something completely of You? Lord, I open myself to Your surgery.
Day 25. Ephesians 5:26-27 (NKJ)...that He might sanctify and cleanse her (His bride-the church) with the washing of water by the word, 27 that HE might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Who is the bride of Christ? Are men included? What does “sanctify” mean? How does Christ sanctify and cleanse the bride, through what means? If I am the bride, how am I washed by the word? Do I know this cleansing, and do I feel clean from all my sins? How is it that I have not blemish or wrinkle if I know I sin sometimes? Do I believe that Jesus has cleansed me completely and that there is no sin that I must give account for? Have I allowed His word to cleanse me by reading it and absorbing its life giving power? Have I totally embraced Christ's all sufficiency to take away all my sin, or am I still thinking there are some sins too great or too awful for which I could not be forgiven? Am I walking in total new birth, new man, and not old sin and old man?
Day 26. Romans 8:1 (NKJ) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk acccording to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Is there a sense in which I go around feeling condemned, or shamed by my ever present sin, and my daily failures? Am I showing the shallowness of my belief when I do not live in the freedom of 'no condemnation in Christ Jesus' ? What is it that I don't understand about condemnation? Do I live my life as if Jesus has condemned me, when really it is satan who wants me to feel condemned and not freed from sin? Can I acknowledge that Christ brings freedom from bondage, and satan brings bondage? Can you break my chains, every chain? Am I walking “according to the flesh” or “according to the Spirit”? If I claim to walk in the Spirit, what do I need to do to walk in newness of life and not the oldness of my sin? Lord Jesus, Can You renew a right spirit within me and cause me to walk boldly in the truth of my delivery from sin? Can You refresh everything in me, and cause me to stand in the fact that You did not come to condemn me, but to save me because You love me. John 3:17
Day 27. Exodus 4:1-2 Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say,'The LORD has not appeared to you.'” 2 So the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” he said, “A rod.”
What is the most significant thing I remember about Moses? Was he always a leader and someone who spoke up and said what needed to be said? What was he doing when God spoke to him and called him? Do I have my own doubts that I could do what God has called me to do? Have I fallen back on excuses or arguments to the contrary? What has God put in my hand? Is it a willing heart, strong commitment, determination, prosperity-money, physical strength, athletic prowess, mental accuity, wisdom, gifts of prophecy, teaching, preaching, evangelizing, helping, administering, pastoring? Whatever it is, could You show me Lord, what and how it can be used for You? Can you help me believe You will empower me, and it doesn't matter what I think I have in my hand, or how weak I feel? What have You put in my hand that I can use for Your glory and Your kingdom advancement?
Day 28. Acts 17:11 (NKJ) These were those more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with readiness, and searched the scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Is Paul making a distinction between two types of Christians? Which group, the Bereans, or the Thessalonicans would I most likely fit? Why would he attach the character trait of “nobility” to those who study and search the scriptures? Am I noble? Am I eager to hear and receive the Word when I hear it spoken, preached or taught? Would enthusiastic be a description of my listening, or am I just ho-humming my way through “another sermon”? Am I listening to learn and examine and build faith, or to criticize and judge, and to sound spiritually smart? Do I take notes to look at and look up scriptures that pertain to the same subject later? Do I passively accept what any pastor or teacher says, or do I look for myself to see what the whole counsel of scripture says? When the Pastor gives us an informal assignment from scripture, like read the whole chapter, or spend some time in this portion of scripture, or take down these references on the same topic, do I take it seriously?
Do I rely on popular Christian books which present some “new model”, more than the Bible itself in a translation that I find easy to understand? Am I increasing in the knowledge and wisdom of scripture on my own, or am I just relying on hearing a sermon to teach me? Is it possible that I could grow in my walk with the Lord much more if I applied this principle or studying and researching the scriptures to know the truth first hand like the Bereans?
https://youtu.be/vxNmpaV_Fr0 https://youtu.be/hDkPWhmsrCc I was very inspired by the life of Keith Green who died in a plane crash at the age of 30 and was a pioneer in so many ways. He was sold out to Jesus. We need more like him!!
Day 29. II Tim. 3:16 (NIV), Hebrews 4:12 (ESV), John 17:7 (NET) II Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. John 7:17 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and adiscerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Heb. 4:12 Set them apart in the truth; Your word is truth.
Do I really believe the Bible is God inspired, Spirit breathed? If I do, what does that mean about what it says? What is its relationship to my life? What does it mean to me to be “trained in righteousness”? Do I leave out any of its purposes, like conviction, rebuke, correction? Am I selective in what I believe or apply to myself? What does it mean to me to be fully equipped for every good work? Do I feel I am? Is the word of God living and active in my everyday life and not just a conglomeration of good sayings and positive teaching, or a once a week liturgy? Have I ever felt the piercing of it which targets my very core? How does the word penetrating my very thoughts and intentions make me feel? What are the ramifications? Have I been set apart by His word? How so?
Day 30. I Thessalonians 4:11-12 (NKJ) that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.
Do I lead a quiet life? How can I see the phrase, “mind your own business” in a positive, helpful light? Would my friends characterize me as peaceful, possessing quiet strength, and walking in truth and love toward others? Might people think me frenetic when they see me in my home, my place of employment, or working at church? Do I rush about because I am convinced activity means I am purposeful? What does it mean to me to live a quiet life and mind my own business in light of being “out there” sharing the Gospel and nabbing unbelievers? How do I apply this word to my life today in my thinking and my deliberate intentions? How can I know this state of “lacking nothing” through my gracious behavior and example? Is it possible for me to consider and change some behavior today that I see does me no good, and sets a poor example of a peaceful, purposeful Christian?
Day 31. John 3:16, Rom. 5:8 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Is God's love general? Is it specific? Is it personal? Individual? What attribute must I accept about God that would enable Him to love the whole world? Why would He love me? Do I have to continually earn His love? What does it mean “to perish”, is that forever? How is it demonstrated His love for me when I was still a sinner” and what does that mean to me? Can I lose His love? Can I get “more” of His love? What kind of belief is it that I must have? Is it enough that I believe He exists?
The End and the Beginning
You have now completed a 31 day inductive format of various scripture verses. The intention was to provide a helpful model for developing your own questions arising from the passage, contemplatively answering them, and then applying their meaning to your own life. My prayer is that if, even one person is stirred to deeper engagement with truth, it will have been worth it. We all need to spend efficacious, Spirit-filled time with scripture so we can discern what God is saying to each of us personally. k