© Copyright Second Missionary Baptist Church, Columbia, MO. all rights preserved.
February 24 - April 4, 2021
Special Thanks to Christina Jackson for the beautifully designed cover art.
Supplemental Plan for Fasting
We will journey together with House of Hope --Macon, Georgia, by adopting their plan for “40 Days of Fasting” to follow along side of our Prayer and Meditation period.
Thanks to our former members, Whalen and Dionne George and Pastor J.C. Howard for sharing this extraordinary vision.
Meatless Mondays—abstain from all meats
$10 Tuesdays—spend $10 or less for the entire day
(Pastor Ruffin would like to see you, not only spend less on yourself on Tuesdays, but also to give up to $10 to someone in need)
Water Wednesdays—only water from 6am-6pm
Thrice Thursdays-- pray at least 3 times during the day
Fried Not Fridays—abstain from all fried foods
Silent Saturdays—have at least one hour of prayer and time with God
You are invited to attend Bible Study to share your experiences and receive encouragement to continue, strongly, on this prayer and meditation journey.
Join Bible Study each Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. only on Zoom
Meeting ID: 837 7264 8077
A Journey Together
The mystery and miracle of God’s loving relationship with us is manifested in the gift of our free will. God does not force us to do anything. Rather he speaks to us through the Word to reveal the consequences as well as the blessings we receive because of what we choose to believe. Every morning presents a fresh opportunity for us to decide if our choices will be guided by faith or fear, determination or doubt, sadness or joy.
We make thousands of choices that seem to be insignificant: what to eat, what to wear, what to think, what to say, who to see and so on. However, it is important to remember that your choices matter because even the smallest decisions can change your life forever. Although the choices we make are unique to each person because of the circumstances we encounter, I encourage you to live each day by choice and not by chance; to make changes and not excuses, to be motivated not manipulated, to be useful not used, to excel not compete, to choose self-esteem not self- pity and to always listen to the quiet voice of your heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally.
The journey of your life is determined by the choices you make day by day and moment by moment. Therefore, I am excited to witness the infinite possibilities of what will happen during the next 40 days as we choose to take this inspired journey of meditation and prayer together.
I Choose to Abide
I choose to Abide.
If we are going to bear fruit in every area of our lives then we need to understand how to be fruitful. In John 15, Jesus provides us with a clue to how we can bear fruit that will last in our lives. He says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:6)."
But how do we abide in Christ?
To abide in Jesus means to keep his commandments and to keep his commandments means to love God with all our hearts and souls and minds and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37–39). One way that we display our love for God is through our trust, prayer, and devotion to Him. We pursue in love. We pray in love. We obey in love.
And here is the good news: We love Jesus because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). We didn’t choose him; he chose us and he chose us to walk out our faith in obedience to him. Apart from Christ, we cannot do anything (John 15:5). This is also good news to the weary person who thinks they need to muster up strength to pursue and know Christ (and to love their neighbor — a fruit Jesus emphasizes). He provides the grace and the strength. The fruit that Jesus speaks of is simply evidence of a relationship with him.
I am chosen by God and I choose to abide in Him. Knowing how well my Father loves me, listens to me, and desires to lavish good things on me, I draw near to Him with arms open wide, ready to receive
I Choose to Rest
I Choose Grace
I Choose Expectation
I Choose Joy
I Choose Forgiveness
I Choose Persistence
I Choose Persistence
Jesus told his disciples, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Luke 11:9-10)."
When it comes to your asking, seeking and knocking, don't hold back. Don't be tentative or afraid but know your position in the family, you are a child of God. Jesus reminds us that with prayer persistence is the key. The enemy's most effective strategy is discouragement but the hallmark of every successful Christ-follower is ‘never giving up'.
Jesus is aware of the challenges we face in praying to someone we can’t see. He understands that our minds wander, that we lose focus, that we get discouraged, that we get distracted. But remember, prayer isn't a task. It's an invitation to a relationship with the one who created us and has invited us to bring all of our requests to Him.
Today, determine to put a stake in the ground, that no matter how scared, tired, offended, hurt, or beat down you get, you will never give up asking, seeking or knocking.
I am chosen by God and I choose persistence. Holy Spirit empower me to persist in prayer, to fervently knock at heaven's door. Let me be bold and never back away. And even when I don't understand, I know that you are always with me and that you want nothing but the best for me. I trust in you and in your timing, your nature, and your goodness. I will keep on asking, seeking, and knocking because I trust that you will always answer.
I Choose to Fight
"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12)."
No doubt there would have been many times when Timothy, a young protege of the apostle Paul, became battle-weary and tempted to retreat. I can identify with that struggle, and perhaps some of you can too. We may want to see God’s Kingdom advanced here on earth, but that doesn't happen without struggle, and God-empowered determination on our part.
If you think that our enemy is going to willingly retreat, you’re greatly mistaken. Paul invites Timothy to fight the good fight, because he knows how difficult this journey can be. He has fought plenty of battles himself. In 2 Cor. 11:23-28 Paul reluctantly recounts his resume of suffering, which included imprisonments, countless beatings, and near-death experiences. And Paul was willing to endure such incredible hardship so long as it meant more grace leading to more gratitude leading to more glory for God.
The lesson here is for us not to give in or give up. We need to continue to push forward, not in our own strength and ability, of course, but in God’s strength. Cling to your faith and follow the teaching of His Word. God has directed us to fight–not each other but to fight in the faith. The Lord is our constant companion throughout the difficult journeys of life, and He sends people our way to help us as well. As tempting as it is to throw in the towel and give up, it’s important that we push ourselves forward in the faith.
I am chosen by God and I choose to fight. Open my spiritual eyes so that I can see that there are many more for me, than against me. I want to fight the good fight of faith. I need Your Spirit to empower me with hope, strength, and courage to move forward every day.
I Choose Hope
I Choose Hope.
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:19-20)."
In a world facing uncertain times, God’s people need hope now more than ever. Today's scripture reminds us of the certainty we have in God’s promises. The God who fulfilled his promise to Abraham, is the same God in whom we trust. Abraham waited patiently and the promise to him and Sarah was fulfilled. Their story reminds us that those who wait in faith and patience ‘will inherit what has been promised.’
When life becomes difficult it is easy to become fixated on the problems and forget the promises. But our hope is in Jesus Christ who brings us close to the throne of heaven, where we can cast all our burdens before God. As a result of God's promise to Abraham and the fulfillment of His promise in Jesus Christ, we have been invited to this place that was never accessible before.
The hope that we have in Jesus gives us a reliable anchor for our souls – an anchor that is anchored heavenwards, that is moving us forward, and that will remain firm and secure no matter how stormy our lives get. The author says, “We have this hope”; it is in the present tense, meaning we have it now, continuously. Despite what we see and feel there is still the assurance of what God has promised - Hope in Jesus Christ.
I am chosen by God and I choose hope. Thank You for infusing my hurting heart with the rock-solid assurances of Your truth, mercy, and control over every event that touches me. Help me place my hope where Your Word tells me to place it—in You and Your promise of an abundant future with You forever.
I Choose Humility.
"For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Luke 14:11)."
Down is much easier to come by than up, but the pain that happens in the process is most of the time anything but pleasant. Gravity pulls at us all, and through strength and effort we resist it because to fall usually means scrapes and bruises. Falling is no fun. It makes you look weak and vulnerable, and it's something that most of us desperately want to avoid. But in God's upside-down kingdom the opposite is true.
Jesus didn't arrive as a giant among men but as a child in a manger. God could have arranged a castle and guards for him, but he didn't even have a room. He could have had a wealthy endowment, yet he was a poor carpenter. This lowly position, which to the world might sound weak and pathetic, is really heavenly and eternal. Humility is the foundation of all righteousness.
The counterintuitive nature of taking last place is actually the remedy to all our anger, frustration, and bitterness. All of our self-protection and self-promotion comes out of our search for and/or belief in our own significance. But when we accept the notion that others matter more than we do, we are freed up from the competition of life. Choosing humility sets us free from the bondage of sin that attempts to raise us up on our own strength rather than the strength of the Holy Spirit that is within us.
In all he did, Christ was obedient to the Father, taking the position of servant, which was, in the eyes of the world, the lowliest position one could hold. What remains for us, therefore, is the obedience that Christ exemplified. Nothing could be more backward in today's culture than choosing humility.
I am chosen by God and I choose humility. If Jesus could get low and serve, so should I. I admit it, Lord—that’s hard for me. Help me embrace this new reality that down is up and realize that it's not something you can do for me it's something that I have to choose for myself.
I Choose Humility
I Choose Waiting
I Choose Waiting.
"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:13-14)."
Waiting can be uncomfortable. It’s not just that we live in an impatient society, and it’s not just that we can be selfish, and it’s not just that we tend to want life on our own terms - it’s that waiting requires surrender. Sometimes waiting can feel like we're giving up. But David reminds us in Psalm 27 that waiting strengthens the one who waits.
God doesn’t ask us to wait to torment us. He sees what we can’t and wants to give us more than we’re currently asking for. The great irony is that in all the times I’ve ignored God’s “wait” and taken matters into my own hands, a lot of precious time was wasted. But those that wait on Him will experience joy that far surpasses any temporary pleasure that comes with forging ahead alone. As we turn to the one who promises to give all that we ask, we learn that waiting on Him isn't weakness but strength.
We need to understand that what happens during the waiting is vitally important to God. The waiting is where God strips us of all self-sufficiency and endows us with His sufficiency. What we do during the waiting dictates whether our lives will be defined by worship or whining, whether we will become better or bitter. Allow the waiting to do its work and you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
I am chosen by God and I choose waiting. I am often fearful and full of doubt when I see so much turbulence around me. My resources aren’t sufficient, my wisdom can’t plot a way out, and my ingenuity can’t remove the pressure. But You know all about that. Forgive me for the times I’ve strived to do too much, and forgive me for the times I’ve worried and doubted You. Teach me to trust and wait.
I Choose Kindness
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12)."
If you are a follower of Jesus, then kindness has to be what you dish out on a regular basis. Treating people with kindness keeps our hearts and attitudes running in the right direction. Kindness involves giving of ourselves in love and mercy to others who may not be able to give anything back, who sometimes don’t deserve it, and who frequently don’t thank us for it. Basically, kindness means a way of thinking that leads to doing thoughtful deeds for others.
Why does God want us to demonstrate kindness? Because we are His instruments to extend lovingkindness and mercy to the world. We are to reflect the light and example of His compassion, mercy and goodness. When we show kindness, we are becoming like Him.
Paul's words to the Colossians remind us that kindness is a choice. Every day we choose what we wear and it's what we show the world. Kindness should be something that we put on each day and allow it to fully cover our words and actions.
I am chosen by God and I choose kindness. Thank you, heavenly Father, for treating us kindly in Christ. Fill us with your Holy Spirit so that others will see Jesus living in us as we show kindness to them.
I Choose Kindness
I Choose Light
I Choose the Light
"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk-in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).'”
We all know what it's like to find our way in the darkness. We have learned the hard way that trying to walk around in the dark can lead to lots of bumps and bruises. In John's gospel, Jesus reminds us that He is the Light of the World. When we walk in the light of His teaching and in His commandments, He will light our way and we will never walk-in darkness. His light will guide us and keep us from stumbling into temptation.
When Jesus makes this statement, He’s not delivering a sermon or speaking intimately with His disciple. The Pharisees tried to trick Him into blasphemy. They brought before Him a woman caught in adultery – read the story in John 8:1-11 – and wanted Him to condemn her. Instead, Jesus confronts the crowd and dignifies the woman.
It's in this setting that Jesus said to them “I am the light of the world." For the woman who had her sin exposed to the world, I can't imagine a darker moment in her life. And yet it was in that darkness that the light of Jesus set her free. For the crowd who was caught up in the commotion, I can't imagine a darker atmosphere to be in. And yet it was the light of Jesus that pointed them towards redemption.
We need the light of Jesus because it sets us free from the darkness within us and the darkness around us. It leads us into redemption and brings us life. We will always find life when we walk in the light.
I am chosen by God and I choose the light. Jesus, thank you for guiding me out of the darkness and into the light. I know that by following your ways it will lead me to a better life.
I Choose Faith
"Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!' He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm (Matthew 8:24-26)."
We place our faith in countless people and things. We believe our legs will support us, so we get out of bed. We believe our brakes will enable our car to stop, so we drive. We believe our boss will pay us, so we show up for the job. When we have faith in something, our behavior is affected. We act out of faith.
The opposite of faith is fear. We can choose one or the other. Matthew chapter 8 is full of stories about the fulfillment of God’s promises in peoples’ lives. If we really have faith that God works in these ways, it radically changes the way we live our lives. We are willing to address sin we’ve brushed under the rug because Jesus forgives and heals. We will step out and risk something for God because we know He’ll provide.
I know many people who are waiting for their mind to inform them or their emotions to lead them into a kind of faith in God that they see other people have. It never will. Faith is a matter of the will. It's a matter of decision. You'll never put enough information into your mind or enough emotion into your heart to have the kind of faith that you were meant to have.
I am chosen by God and I choose faith. Lord Jesus, may my faith in You and Your abundant promises be ever increasing each day.
I Choose Contentment
I Choose Contentment
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:12-13)."
Let's start with a definition: Contentment is satisfaction in God's sufficient provision. Talk about going against the grain of the culture. Contentment brings a settled sense of sufficiency and a peaceful pace that proves “more” is not the focus of our thinking. Contentment brings blessings, such as joy in the present and satisfaction in the simple things of life.
But contentment doesn't just happen, it's a choice. And when you choose it repeatedly, you create a lifestyle of being content. We don’t wake up one morning and say, “Wow, I think I got contentment last night." Paul says he learned to be content. He figured out how to be content in highs and in lows, in abundance and in need, in plenty and in hunger.
The secret of Paul's contentment was actually rooted in wanting more - more of Christ and less of everything else. That's why he says earlier in his letter to the Philippians, "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:20-21)."
When we choose contentment then our hearts are like wells that bubble up with gratitude for every small thing: for a day of opportunity to bring God glory with our attitude. The secret is in learning to lean on the source and not the supply.
I am chosen by God and I choose contentment. I come to you now, empty-handed but with a full heart. Fill me with Your Spirit that I may know what it means to be content whether I have plenty or I'm in need.
I Choose Trust
"Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before (Daniel 6:10)."
We're tempted to think of heroes like Daniel as supermen. People who have no fear and are born with great faith. But it wasn't superpowers that gave Daniel his courage. He was already in the habit of prayer. This verse reminds us that he was in the habit of walking with God daily. He submitted himself to God's authority, trusting Him to override anything that was contrary to His will.
The word prayed in verse 10 translates a Hebrew word rarely used in Scripture. It means "to limp as if one-sided." In his own strength Daniel knew he was too weak to walk the path before him. Through prayer he leaned into God and took one step at a time like a person who puts their weight on a crutch.
I believe he was scared. But he had no intention of turning his back on God. My favorite part of the story is that Daniel didn't receive the kind of help he anticipated. He probably asked for the decree to be overturned.
Maybe he simply asked for courage to die with dignity. I doubt he prayed for God to shut the lions' mouths. God doesn't always provide the sort of help we anticipate, but His method always provokes the most glory.
I am chosen by God and I choose trust. Today, I will lean into you Lord and trust you even though I am afraid. My security comes from knowing that the same God who met my needs yesterday will meet them today.
I Choose Trust
I Choose to Imitate Christ
I Choose to Imitate Christ
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity (I Timothy 4:12)."
Paul knew that discipleship involved imitating Jesus. He also knew that believers needed living examples, and he was willing to be such an example and encourage others to follow his lead. In his letter to a young pastor named Timothy, Paul wrote that he should set an example for those who had been entrusted to his care.
Many people today are quick to say, “Don’t look at me, look at Jesus.” While it is true, we must all look to Jesus as the ultimate Author and Finisher of our faith, every follower of Jesus should also strive to become a living example of what it looks like to imitate Jesus. Paul seemed confident that there was something in his pursuit of Jesus that was worth modeling and imitating. This doesn’t mean that he was perfect by any means but it does mean that he understood his responsibility to set an example.
The million-dollar question we must all ask is: If someone follows you will they end up at Jesus? Think about that as you seek to abide in Him today.
I am chosen by God and I choose to imitate Christ. Father, we can’t be perfect like Jesus, but we should also not be afraid to invite others to follow us as we seek to follow Him more closely. Help us Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live out our faith with such devotion that it truly is worth imitating by others.
I Choose Generosity
"One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:24-25)."
When asked to picture a generous person, most of us usually think of someone rich who has excess money, material resources, or time. We might even think to ourselves, "If someday I had some extra, then I would be generous, too. But right now, I have to concentrate on taking care of myself."
Sometimes people think it is money, education, upbringing, social standing that makes someone generous. But these things are not the major reasons people become generous. There are many people who have some or all of these things and have not yet learned to be generous. The secret to generosity can be found in one's understanding of ownership.
King David says, "Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand (1 Chronicles 29:13-14." What David is saying here is that everything belongs to God and when we give, it's simply sharing what has already been shared with us first.
I am chosen by God and I choose generosity. Father all that I am is Yours, all that I have is Yours, and all that I hope to be is Yours. Help me to trust that You will provide all that I need as I give to You for Your work here on earth.
I Choose Forward
I Choose Forward
"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 the world around us, voices for personal growth and well-being are almost unanimous, calling us to dig up our past so we can do better in the future. But God’s Word through Isaiah is clear: “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.” Apart from the lessons we’ve learned, there is nothing to gain by staring in the rearview mirror.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” God wants us on His newness program! This shouldn’t come as a surprise; the Creator of the universe is constantly in creation mode. And His resurrection power can change every circumstance He touches.
Can you perceive the “new thing” God is doing in your life? Are you discerning the opportunities and open doors that “spring forth” from His hand? Sadly, not everyone who follows Christ has eyes to see His newness. If you’re busy looking over your shoulder in regret or fixating on If only, you’ll be blindsided by a new thing—or miss it altogether.
God will make a way where there is no way. He can transform a lifeless desert into life-giving opportunity. We serve a living Savior—and everything He touches is new. Let's choose to live forward and not go back to the way things used to be.
I am chosen by God and I choose forward. Help me to entrust what feels hopeless into Your life-giving hands. Convict me when my eyes start looking back in regret and cause me to keep them fixed on Your Son Jesus, my Savior, who makes all things new.
I Choose Revival
“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvation (Psalm 85:6-7)."
When we hear the word “revival,” many of us picture tent meetings with altar calls playing Just As I Am on loop in the background. Not quite. Let’s revive the meaning of “revival.”
The Bible clearly and repeatedly teaches that God wants to revive our relationship with Him. He wants to wake us up, to refresh our faith, to fire us up again. Revival is renewed interest after a period of indifference or decline. Revival is returning to God’s path, setting our sights on the goal again, and pursuing with new passion the One who can make our lives more than we’d ever dreamed.
Revival is gladly experiencing and enjoying God at the center of our lives. Revival is seeing God at work.
Maybe you can remember a time when you were fired up about the Lord, but somehow you drifted away. Maybe you’ve become the passive observer at church, showing up but missing the point. Maybe somewhere along the line you lost your passion for the Lord. Well, you can have it back, and God wants you to have it back. God wants to revive you.
No matter where you are or what you’ve done, no matter what you feel or think you need, the clouds of heaven are now bursting with the favor and fullness God would shower upon the parched, dry places within you. A deluge of dangerous delight in the God who made you is ready to rain down upon you.
I am chosen by God and I choose revival. Lord, I admit that my soul is too often weary, dry, and lifeless. I need You to revive me, to give me new life, to wake me up again. I choose to return to You; that’s my part. I ask You to revive me - only You can bring fresh life to my soul.
I Choose Revival
I Choose to Remember
I Choose to Remember
"Then I thought, 'To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds (Psalm 77:10-12).'”
“Remember.” It is one of the most often repeated commands in the Old Testament. Maybe that’s because the number one mistake people make is forgetting what God had done for them. At stake is not just knowledge of history. At stake is identity. These were the acts that formed Israel and these are the acts that make us who we are.
We are what we are because of God's actions in the past. His every promise for our future is secured by these same actions. We speak out about what God has done and, in speaking, are drawn deeper into trust. Remember your past, the psalmist calls to us, and ask God for the eyes to see his hand at work in it.
Standing between the faithfulness of God in our past and the promises of God for our future, we align ourselves to his purposes by remembering. Like an actress learning her lines, we repeat to remember. Like exiles singing stories to our children, we remember to survive. Like travelers with our photographs of home, we let memories define us and shape our onward journey. To lose memory is to lose hope.
Maybe God hasn’t won any military battles for us or led us by fire or fed us with mystery bread—but He’s done some amazing things for you and me, beginning with our great salvation. Don’t forget these miracles. More importantly, tell your stories to the next generation so they’ll know how faithful God is and that He can be trusted.
I am chosen by God and I choose to remember. Lord, lead me to treasures buried in my past. Amaze me with wonders stored up for my future. Forgive me for letting distractions keep me from my hope in You. Help me to remember You and talk about You and live for You.
I Choose Friendship
"And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 'Don’t be afraid,' he said. 'My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.' The two of them made a covenant before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh (1 Samuel 23:16-18)."
The Christian life is not a solo thing. It requires teamwork. We desperately need each other so that when we want to quit, we can’t because our friends, won’t allow it. As you read God’s Word, you cannot help but notice that great men and great women of faith always had supportive friends around them. Always!
Often the way God works in a person’s life is through other people. If there’s anything in my life that is praiseworthy, so much of it, from my perspective, relates to the people around me—my family, friends, and ministry partners. These people know and understand the power of biblical friendship.
A godly friend is someone like Jonathan who says, “Times are hard? You’re disappointed and discouraged? You feel like a failure personally? I’ll stand with you, man. I’m not going anywhere.” Real friends come alive in those times. They move in closer. Jonathan had many reasons for staying away. Personally, he had everything to lose and nothing to gain. But David was alone and afraid, and there was no way Jonathan was going to let David down.
Make deliberate choices about who you want to invest in and who rubs off on you. Decide the kind of people you need to associate with, the ones who will be your real, heartfelt, lots-of-time-together friends. Then choose them and love them. If you want to see your future then look no further than your friends.
I am chosen by God and I choose friendship. Please help me to recognize and value a friend who will hold me up when I stumble, and if I don’t have that, please help me to build that kind of strong, biblical friendship with another Christ-follower. A true friend is a gift. Please help me to be that kind of friend.
I Choose Instruction
I Choose Instruction
"Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her (Proverbs 8:10-11)."
Are you teachable? It's an important question to ask ourselves and to honestly answer if we can. We would all like to think we are, but the facts may show themselves differently.
A teachable person is non-defensive. When they are wrong, they quickly admit their wrongdoing and seek to learn how to be better next time. A teachable person allows others to speak truths learned from experience into their lives. A teachable person does not make unilateral decisions but seeks wisdom and knowledge from multiple sources. A teachable person gains wisdom and abandons foolish decisions.
Being teachable starts with the acknowledgement that we don't know everything. God teaches us through his word, through creation, through life experiences, and through the people that we meet each day. We will not get everything right and sometimes we will need to be reminded of what is truly important.
Pride will keep you from growing, because when you pretend that you’ve got it all together, you won’t make an effort to learn from others. No one has it all together! Humility leads to happiness because it makes you teachable.
Here are some questions to help you determine whether you're teachable? Can you be confronted without bristling or making excuses for yourself? Do you ask questions when you’re around others, or are you quick to tell others your opinion on the topic at hand? Are you reading books that challenge you in Christian walk?
I am chosen by God and I choose instruction. Heavenly Father, I can point to many times in my life where I have not been teachable. Please forgive me for my willfulness and continue to put people in my life that will challenge me in love and keep me on the path You have chosen for me.
I Choose Obedience
I Choose Obedience
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much (Luke 16:10)."
God doesn’t owe you an explanation or reason for everything he asks you to do. Understanding can wait, but obedience can’t. Instant obedience will teach you more about God than a lifetime of Bible discussions. In fact, you will never understand some commands until you obey them first. Obedience unlocks understanding.
Often, we try to offer God partial obedience. We want to pick and choose the commands we obey. We make a list of the commands we like and obey those while ignoring the ones we think are unreasonable, difficult, expensive, or unpopular. I’ll attend church but I won’t tithe. I’ll read my Bible but won’t forgive the person who hurt me. Yet partial obedience is disobedience.
Today's verse reminds us that nothing we do is really small. Every action is of some account, either on the side of right or on the side of wrong. It is only through faithful obedience in the small transactions of ordinary life that our character is formed. It's when we are obedient in these small ways that greater opportunities come our way.
One of my favorite sayings is, "big doors swing on small hinges." It's a reminder that the smallest of actions can lead to greater results. It is conscientious attention to what the world terms "little things" that makes life a success. Little deeds of charity, little acts of self-denial, speaking simple words of helpfulness, watching against little sins, - this is what following Christ looks like.
God won’t promote you beyond your current level of competence and commitment. Indeed, He’ll keep bringing you back to these two things until you get them right. As you walk with Him, He’ll increase your faith by testing you in settings that require only a little faith. Every small step of faith leads to a deeper, richer and more rewarding relationship with Him.
What you’re doing today matters. It’s the determining factor in what God will call you to do tomorrow. So be obedient in the little things.
I am chosen by God and I choose obedience. Help me to follow you and to remain faithful. Thank You for having Your Son demonstrate in His life the importance of obedience even when it wasn’t easy, so that I would have a perfect example to follow.
I Choose Worship
I Choose Worship
"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care (Psalm 95:6-7)."
The very purpose for our existence is worship. And if we want to accurately embrace that purpose, we need to use a precise definition. Some people believe that making a meal, cleaning the car, helping a neighbor are all acts of worship. And when those acts are the outgrowth of our love for God and are done to demonstrate that love, they are worshipful, but technically they are not worship. Worship is the act of ascribing worth directly to God.
Worshipful actions may do this indirectly, but when the Bible commands and commends worship as our highest expression, it is not talking about anything other than the direct, intentional, vertical outpouring of adoration. While that does not have to be set to music, it does have to be direct.
The word worship in the Old Testament means “to bow before.” It’s the picture of pressing your forehead to the ground in extreme humility and recognition of the infinite superiority of the one who is worshipped. That is our rightful place. The amazing thing is not that God invites our worship, it’s that He would care about what we as sinful people would say about Him.
It’s important to honor God and be constantly aware of His presence that’s in and around us. The more we recognize His Spirit and His presence and not just wait for Sunday morning to roll around, the more of an understanding we’ll have for true worship.
Expressing gratitude and praise to the Lord should never be routine. As you prepare for your next opportunity to worship the One who gave His life for you, consider your level of anticipation. Remember, He is our shepherd and we are His flock. He leads us to greener pastures and makes us lie down beside still waters. He watches over us and protects us. We choose to worship because He is worthy to be praised.
I am chosen by God and I choose worship. Lord, You alone are worthy of my highest worship. You are merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness. Thank You for who You are and what You have done in my life—for loving me, choosing me, saving me, making Your home in me, and bringing me safely home to You.
I Choose Simplicity
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21)."
The question that arises out of this text is very simple: Where is your heart? The issue is not what you have but what you do with what you have. Is it for you or for the kingdom of God and His purposes? Someone once said, "There is no smaller package than a man wrapped up in himself."
Jesus reminds us that we don't need all the things and experiences we think we do. When only one thing matters most, life is far simpler. When we are not required to manage a myriad of things, we can focus our attention on the mission at hand - God’s mission.
Choosing simplicity helps us realize the things and experiences we amass amount to nothing when God is not the driving force behind or the center of them. Being able to concentrate our efforts toward one specific goal is far more uncomplicated when we are disentangled from other things that vie for our attention and energy.
Simplicity is the only thing that sufficiently reorients our lives so that possessions can be genuinely enjoyed without distracting us. Jesus did not store up things while he was here; he shared them, gave them to people in need, and used what he had to bless others.
I am chosen by God and I choose simplicity. Thank you, Lord, for investing so heavily in me and in the world in which I live. There is no one who can love me like you do. Help me focus my priorities and my thoughts on heavenly things.
I Choose Brokenness
I Choose Brokenness
"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:16-17)."
Our generation has been programmed to pursue happiness, wholeness, affirmation, and cures for our hurt feelings and damaged psyches. But God is not as interested in these ends as we are. He is more committed to making us holy than making us happy. And there is only one pathway to holiness—one road to genuine revival—and that is the pathway of humility or brokenness.
We often think of revival as a time of great joy, blessing, fullness, and celebration. And so, it will be in its fullness. But the problem is that we want a painless Pentecost ... a “laughing” revival. We forget that God’s ways are not our ways, that the way up is down. You and I will never meet God in revival until we first meet Him in brokenness.
That does not mean, as some think, having a gloomy countenance or being morbidly introspective. Nor can it be equated with deeply emotional experiences. It is possible to shed buckets of tears without ever experiencing a moment of brokenness. Further, brokenness is not the same as being deeply hurt by tragic circumstances. A person may have experienced many deep hurts and tragedies without being broken.
Brokenness is not a feeling; rather, it is a choice, an act of the will. It is not primarily a one-time experience or crisis (though there may be crisis points in the process of brokenness); rather, it is an ongoing, continual lifestyle.
Brokenness is a lifestyle of agreeing with God about the true condition of our heart and life, as He sees it. It is a lifestyle of unconditional, absolute surrender of our will to the will of God—a heart attitude that says, “Yes, Lord!” to whatever God says. Brokenness means the shattering of our self-will, so that the life and Spirit of the Lord Jesus may be released through us. It is our response of humility and obedience to the conviction of the Word and the Spirit of God.
I am chosen by God and I choose brokenness. Lord, I confess that I am naturally proud, stubborn, willful, and prone to believe I'm self-sufficient. I confess that I resist the thought of being broken, but I believe that, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Please help me to let go and allow You to have Your way in my life.
I Choose Edification
I Choose Edification
"Christ died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:10-11)."
If the people of God are to become a dwelling place for the presence of God then every individual Christian must be committed to building each other up. Edification is the biblical term for this process. The goal of edification is spiritual maturity and Christ-likeness. As each individual member does his or her part to build up the others in the Church, the entire Church grows up and becomes mature and healthy.
We so easily speak to one another words that hurt, criticize, or tear down or words that are just plain useless. Rather, we ought to build each other up with words of grace. Words of grace are the right choice of words spoken at the right time with the right spirit. Words of grace minister to others and meet their needs.
These words express love, encouragement, acceptance and affirmation. Which of us is not built up in our spirit when we hear genuine words like, "I appreciate you." "I love you." "God has used you to minister to me." "Thank you for your selfless ministry." "I have noticed the way God is changing this area of your life and I am rejoicing with you about it."
This is critical to understand: God is building something in the life of every follower of Jesus Christ. He has a personal construction plan for your life that targets where you need to grow and change. Most of the time those areas that need improvement are also noticeable to the people around you. When you insert your critical words into the middle of what God is working on, you are in essence tearing down what God is doing in their life. Instead, “say what is good.” Speak words that are helpful to God’s construction program in their life.
I am chosen by God and I choose edification. Heavenly Father, I don’t mean to have a critical spirit and sometimes my critical words are meant to encourage, but I need to pattern my words after what You tell me. I’m sorry for all the ways I tear down Your work in others. Remind me in the moment to be more careful. Help me to build someone up today with my words.
I Choose Transformation
"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18)."
When it comes to transformation, we tend to want a “quick fix”—a book, a conference, a counselor, an encounter, a miraculous deliverance, a program—something that will be effective, and preferably pain-free. But transformation rarely happens overnight. It involves training, testing, and time. There are no shortcuts.
Occasionally God does grant instantaneous victory, but more often He leads us through a process that requires obedience, faith, discipline, and time. God is committed to winning the hearts and developing the hearts and developing the character of His people.
As I read the Scripture and think on the Lord Jesus, I long to be like Him—humble, holy, compassionate, surrendered to the will of God, sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit. When our desire to be holy is greater than our willingness to stay where we are, we have taken a big step toward spiritual transformation. The process of true change takes place as we are weaned from our love and worship of self, pleasure, and this world; and our hearts become wholly devoted to Christ.
The problem is, we want to prevail without walking through the process. We want a breakthrough without the battle.
Praying and hoping for spiritual change is futile if we neglect the means that God has provided for our growth in grace. Bible study, meditation, worship, prayer, fasting, accountability, and obedience are disciplines that produce a harvest of righteousness in our lives.
I am chosen by God and I choose transformation. Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your persistent pursuit of my transformation. I believe that You love me and have my best interest at heart. Please reveal the things You want to change in me. Nothing is off limits. Lord, I want to be everything that You would have me be. Please convict me by Your Holy Spirit and conform me into the image of Your Son, Jesus.
We pray that you have been blessed by this 40 days of prayer and meditation exercise. Only 10 days left. Continue to enjoy your special meditation times with the Lord as you participate in the readings below. . .
I choose Restoration.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul (Psalm 23:1-3)."
For most of my adult life I have wrongly equated being busy with being productive. I am guilty as charged when it comes to living each day in overdrive. The result has been exhaustion, burnout, and watered-down living. The psalmist is aware of the needs of busy sheep.
He says the shepherd makes me lie down in green pastures. I think this part is puzzling. It doesn’t say, “He helps you lie down” or “He suggests that lying down in green pastures would be a good idea if you could find time.” Clearly it says: The Lord makes you lie down.
You may be thinking a good nap in green pastures would be nice if there were any around to lay in. Maybe your green pastures are only green from God’s perspective because of the good they could produce. Maybe your green pasture is a hospital bed. Maybe your green pasture is a penetrating loneliness or a painful relationship. Maybe it’s a persistent financial need and God has made you lie down in that green pasture. That’s the crisis of soul restoration.
You can’t miss the fact that in the gospels, Jesus repeatedly got alone. There were times when He said, “Sorry. Not today.” He left a group of people on the shore. He walked away from a crowd standing in a field. He removed Himself from the disciples. He woke up before daylight and went to a solitary place to pray. And if Jesus—God, the very Son of God—could not live on this earth without walking beside still waters, without lying down in green pastures, then how arrogant of us to think that we can get by without doing the same.
I am chosen by God and I choose restoration. Heavenly Father, forgive me for the arrogance that keeps me on the run, trying to prove my worth. Teach me how to rest in You, Lord. Help me learn how to say “no” to those things that keep me from sitting at Your feet. Give me a hunger and thirst for You that can only be satisfied by time alone with You.
I choose Thanksgiving.
"One of the lepers, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan (Luke 17:15-16)."
As part of a complex, ancient code of racial prejudice, the Samaritans were hated by the Jews. Though this man was technically outside the household of faith and had, on a human level, the fewest reasons to thank a Jewish man, he alone returned humbly and gratefully. No one has an acceptable excuse for ungratefulness—not even a Samaritan, who, based on the social prejudices he’d endured, could have had many excuses for not coming back. And surely, he was in a hurry to get his official, clean bill of health. If he could overcome all of that to express sincere gratitude, how could the others walk away?
Everyone can make the choice to give thanks and acknowledge the goodness and grace of God. Sadly, however, only a small fraction of the human population ever personally thanks God for His grace. Notice the stark contrast: a thankless nine vs. a thankful one. Ten gifts received and ten attitudes chosen, but only one was an expression of gratitude.
Gratitude heals our hearts. It displaces toxic complaining. It opens our eyes to the myriad graces of God in our everyday lives. Finding something to be thankful for in everything is certainly a step above having only random grateful thoughts. But there is still plenty of room for developing a deeply thankful heart. Here’s what you’re going for; Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I am chosen by God and I choose thanksgiving. Thank you, Lord, for all that You have done for me. Please replace my complaints with thanks. I want to be like the one, healed leper, who through his gratitude, was made truly, wholly well. Show me where I’m most lacking in gratitude, and give me strength to give You authentic thanks for those trying places in my life.
I choose Bonding.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)."
When you meet someone the question of what you do inevitably comes up. What are we looking for when we ask that question? And what do we hear when we’re on the receiving end of that question? What we do is important stuff in this world, and God desires greatly to be invited into what it is we find ourselves doing every day. God takes delight in the work of our hands. But do we sometimes confuse what we and others “do” with who we are, especially, who we are in Christ?
In ancient times, there was a practice where a servant who was loved by his master and who loved his master in turn could choose to be a servant for life. The nature of the servant’s new relationship to his master would be no secret. The transaction was to be made in a public ceremony where a sharp awl would be used to pierce a hole in the servant’s ear. Wherever he appeared, he was known, by the mark of the awl, to be bonded by love forever to his master, his wife, and his children. He was known as a bondservant.
More than a thousand years after the Old Testament bondservant law was first written about in Exodus 21:2-6, the apostle Paul, in his letters to the Romans, to the Philippians, and to Titus, introduces himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ. He considered his relationship of love with his Master, Jesus Christ, to be as permanent as the bondservant's was with his master.
One of the greatest paradoxes of this: is that freedom can be found in being bound. To gain the greatest liberty in God, we give up all rights and become a lifelong bondservant to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a glorious bonding that leads to the highest form of freedom and liberty. It is a voluntary surrender born out of love and affection, causing one to consider servitude even greater than sonship.
I am chosen by God and I choose bonding. Lord, thank You for giving us the privilege of counting ourselves as servants of Jesus Christ, bonded to Him by Your Spirit in a love relationship for life. Please remove from me any obstacles to the flow of Your love.
I choose Confession.
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9)."
It's interesting to note in the passage above the difference between the words, sin and sins. In Verse 8 it is in the singular form, "If we say we have no sin," in Verse 9 it is plural, "If we confess our sins." Now this marks a very important distinction, the distinction between the root which is sin, singular, and the fruit, which are sins, plural.
Sin is that part in each of us that makes us want to play God on every occasion. We know how this is: we want the world to revolve around us, always to be the center of things. We label it many ways -pride, selfishness, or independence. Call it what you want but that self-centeredness is sin.
On the other hand, there are many kinds of sins, but all from that one root. This is what John 1:8 is zeroing in on. He says if we say we have no sin, that is, no capacity to commit sins, if we deny the very possibility of sins, then we deceive ourselves. But when we do sin, don't try to hide it, do not cover it over, do not, out of some mistaken notion that you will lower yourself in the estimation of someone else, refuse to acknowledge sin. Confess it, say what it is - anger, or malice, envy or lust, jealousy or selfishness - any of these things. Do not deny them and do not deny the root. Face the reality and confess these faults when they appear.
Confession is God’s provision to clear obstacles that hinder our relationships with Him and with others. Confession is not just for those who don’t mind admitting their faults. It's for everyone who wants to walk in the light and is tired of living in deception. There is tremendous freedom that comes as we openly acknowledge the sinfulness of our actions. Confession is not a sign of weakness; it is the evidence of your refusal to allow sin to rule and ruin your life.
I am chosen by God and I choose confession. Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your persistent pursuit of my transformation. I believe that You love me and have my best interest at heart. Please reveal the things You want to change in me. Nothing is off limits. Lord, I want to be everything that You would have me be. Please convict me by Your Holy Spirit and conform me into the image of Your Son, Jesus Christ.
I choose Listening.
"So, Eli told Samuel, 'Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ So, Samuel went and lay down in his place (1 Samuel 3:9)."
There are a million different things happening around us at any given moment, every day, every week – all the time. We’re sleeping, eating, cleaning, watching TV, studying, working, driving, vacationing, running errands, paying bills, walking the dog, being with friends, arguing, making up, being sick, exercising … we live full lives.
Life will always be busy but instead of slowing down we turn up the beat, change the song, or search for a new frequency that resonates with our mood. Responsibilities, chores, the must do’s, the bills, the not enough, the success of today and the plans for tomorrow, can all distract our inner ear from hearing God's voice.
It’s no wonder that in the midst of the clang and clatter of life, children hear God’s whisper before we do. Samuel heard it. While all the adults were sleeping – perhaps not getting enough of it and already anticipating what they wouldn't get done the next day – Samuel, a small boy, heard a voice calling HIS name. Not the priest’s name, or his mother’s name… HIS name.
God speaks, we know that, right? The Bible is FULL of stories about God saying all kinds of things to all kinds of people. I know he’s spoken to me, and I bet many of you can say that he’s spoken to you. Yet still, I get asked a lot, “How can I hear the voice of God? How will I know it's him?”
Stop and listen for God; make yourself available to His instruction and presence; get silent. Remove yourself from all the crazy stuff that happens around you. Forget about your schedule, the dishes in the sink, the shows on Netflix, the problems at work…and just be still. Silent. Focused. Relaxed.
I am chosen by God and I choose to listen. Lord, open my ears to be fully attentive when You speak. Don’t let me wait until after You are speaking but give me a heart and ears that are ready to hear Your voice and Your Word before You start speaking.
I choose Partnership.
"But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best. A body isn’t really a body, unless there is more than one part. It takes many parts to make a single body (1 Corinthians 12:18-20)."
Have you ever experienced the frustration of putting together a puzzle, only to discover in the end that a piece was missing? Even though that piece is just a tiny portion of the puzzle, its absence leaves a very noticeable flaw in the whole picture.
As a believer, you have an important job to do. You have a major role to play in the Church of Jesus Christ. And it's the job of every believer to rightly discern his or her role in the plan of God and to serve with enthusiasm — no matter what job God asks you to do.
Here is an important truth: The body works best when all its parts work together. As believers, we are all different. We have different gifts and abilities, and we have different jobs to do. But we all belong to the same body. A believer functions best when connected to other believers.
Partnership doesn't happen accidentally. You must intentionally pursue your place in the body of Christ. Eventually, you will find how He has gifted you and what you’re good at. Every part matters! And when you find your place and begin serving His church, you will discover great joy.
We want to see the church grow but it's not to boast in attendance numbers. As the church grows, it means more of God’s people to minster with! More members mean more ministers because everyone has a part to play. You haven’t really joined a church until you have become a partner in ministry; filling a spot where you are needed; a role where you can serve.
I am chosen by God and I choose partnership. Father, I want to play my part, find my place in kingdom work, and use my abilities for Your glory. Renew my desire to serve You, God. Help me to let go of past disappointments, and forgive me for envying others’ abilities. I believe I am Your workmanship, uniquely gifted for the good works You prepared in advance for me to do.
I choose the Cross.
"Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (Mark 8:34).'"
Look up the word cross and you'll find these synonyms: frustration, trying situation, snag, hitch, and drawback. Are these words what Jesus had in mind when he said take up your cross and follow me?
As creatures of comfort, we try to avoid pain whenever possible—physically and emotionally. We cling to what’s secure, safe and feels good in our circumstances and relationships, naturally seeking to protect ourselves. But God often asks us to get out of our comfort zones and set ourselves aside for his glory. He wants us to trust him, but we can only do that when we let go and obey.
God doesn’t force us to follow him. He doesn’t put the cross on us, but asks us to pick it up willingly. Our decision to follow will always cost us something; there’s heavy lifting, rejection, and personal interruptions. Actually, it will cost us everything. The only way to get the life we work so hard to protect is to give it back to God and trust him to take care of it.
What we fail to remember is that there is more to the cross than just our sacrifice. The cross I carry is all that Jesus has done for me, just as the cross you carry is the gospel, or witness, of what He has done for you. Each day I take the hope, love, and forgiveness of the Cross of Christ with me to the grocery store, in the school car line, and to the office. I carry it everywhere my life takes me. These are the places where I offer the power and wonder of the cross.
I am chosen by God and I choose the cross. Lord, give me the courage, strength, and endurance to follow You every day. No matter how tough the obstacles, how long the dark night, how my plans might be disrupted, may I never forget that real life starts when I lay my life down. Thank you for the cross and for leading me into new life.
I choose to Magnify the Lord.
"And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Luke 1:46–47).'"
We use the word magnify to explain making something appear larger. In Scripture, magnify is used to describe a change of view that allows us to see something we thought was one size, but turns out to be much larger. The ultimate use of the word “magnify” is in reference to God. Mary was saying she suddenly recognized God’s greatness in a new way.
Why is it important to magnify the Lord? When our problems seem large, God seems small. But when God is big, problems are small. Recognizing God’s limitlessness is the truth behind magnifying the Lord. It’s not that we make Him bigger. Instead, we begin to see Him for His proper size in relation to everything else. We stop and are awed by His infinite greatness and the smallness of everything else—including us.
Not only size, but perceived distance comes into play. Sometimes God seems far away. We don’t always have a sense of His nearness. However, when we magnify the Lord, we not only see His proper size and proportion, but we also realize His proximity to us and to what we're dealing with. He suddenly seems much closer than we'd thought.
And most importantly, like a magnifying glass focusing the raw energy of the sun, when we magnify the Lord, His great power becomes much more evident to us and through us. When we focus on the awesome nature of the God of the universe, everything else takes its proper place. And like Mary, as we magnify the Lord, our souls will rejoice in the glory of our Savior.
I am chosen by God and I choose to magnify the Lord. For You have proven time and time again that Your presence puts everything else in a different light. Even through the admittedly imperfect lens of my life, may others watching catch a glimpse of Your greatness.
I choose Focus.
"...And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2)."
We have all taken blurry pictures at one time or another. Usually, in our rush to capture the moment we don’t give enough time for our camera (or phone) to bring the scene into focus. We are le with an ambiguous blur, with colors and indistinct shapes hinting at what the picture was supposed to look like. In all likelihood, without the distinct lines and details of the photo we wanted, we will delete it. Why? Because no one can appreciate a picture that you can’t see. Focus is important. Details are important.
The key to persevering just like taking a good picture is focusing on the subject. For the author of Hebrews there is no more important subject to keep our focus on than Jesus. Why? Because he is the author and finisher of our faith. He can begin it and he can end it, complete it. He is the pioneer; he has gone on ahead. He is also the perfecter of faith. He himself ran the race. Every restraining hand he brushed aside. He set his face against the popular sin of unbelief and walked on in-patient perseverance, trusting the Father to work everything out for him. He set the example.
Moment by moment, day by day, week by week, year by year, if we learn to focus on him, we find strength imparted to us, because he walks with us. That is the secret. We can take comfort in knowing that he has already been where we are going. And he continues to provide all the spiritual blessings we need during the ups and downs, the joys and challenges of this earthly life.
I am chosen by God and I choose focus. Lord, teach me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. Forgive me when I try to do things on my own. May I be led by your Spirit in all I do.
I choose Surrender.
"For we, alive though we are, are continually surrendering ourselves to death for the sake of Jesus, so that in this mortal nature of ours it may also be clearly shown that Jesus lives (2 Corinthians 4:11)."
The word surrender doesn’t have very positive connotations in our society. It tends to be seen as weakness. There’s an idea that to surrender and submit is like when you’re facing an enemy you know you can’t beat and you wave your white flag as a last resort. It’s a form of relinquishing control, but one that leads to further bondage, rather than to freedom. Because we so often think of the world in terms of “for and against, us and them,” to surrender and submit has meant that we lose and someone else wins. But this does not have to be the case.
To surrender and to submit is to understand that you don’t have control over some things. It means “to give over or yield to the power or authority of a higher entity; to be subject to some kind of treatment or influence.” When we are sick, we have no problem surrendering to the power of medicine to treat our illness.
Surrendering is not a form of losing. It’s not self-diminishing so that you can in turn be dominated by something or someone. It’s simply trusting. It’s ultimately a surrender to the idea that above all, you will be cared for. The truth is you cannot control everything, and that's OK. The one who holds you is in control. God is for you, all around you, and with you.
God’s desire for our lives is that we rely on Him completely; with our marriages, our children, our health, our careers, our finances, our past and our futures. When we resist the temptation to rely on our own strength and surrender everything to God, we allow Him to build, prosper and give us rest.
I am chosen by God and I choose surrender. Lord, I am wholly yours. Forgive me for the parts of my life that I have tried to control because I was afraid to give them to you. May all that I am and all that I have bring glory to you.