Week 7: 2 Thessalonians 1:11

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith (2 Thess. 1:11, NIV).

It always stops me in my tracks, when I read “By His power, He may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” Many of us have unmet desires we are waiting on. God can give us these desires, but it is up to God if they are fulfilled and when that fulfillment happens.

Let’s focus on the Lord, and give Him our heart’s desires!

Truth be told, it is about surrendering our desires to God and keeping our focus on Him. Our focus needs to be on drawing nearer to our King Jesus, not the dreams.

In the waiting and wondering period, we are learning to trust that God is working on our behalf. As we draw nearer, God is changing us from the inside – out. Look at what Philippians 2:13 teaches us – For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him (NLT).

The right kind of desires are given to us by God, and fulfilled by God in His timing!

Keep coming back to Jesus – our Redeemer. When we keep coming back to Jesus as our Redeemer, we will not be disappointed. We will be reminded of the abundant hope we have been given. Jesus Christ came for you and me.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst (1 Tim. 1:15).

Called by God

While the God of the Universe gives us other desires, He gave us the ultimate desire for Him. God is the One who calls; what we are called to is God’s own kingdom and glory (Reformation Study Bible). We have been moved from a place of condemnation because of our sins (see John 3:16-17) and ushered into the presence of God (see Hebrews 4:14-16). It is a complete change in our destination.

Not only has He chosen to save us, we can enjoy His sweet presence – today!

Cleansed by Jesus

Through Jesus Christ, we have been saved and made new. His love for us is what made the difference in our lives. Jesus Christ is what matters in our lives, which is why we celebrate our Redeemer. He came for us, and is away. He is worthy of our praise and the One who makes us worthy.

Because of Jesus Christ, we can stand in His presence and enjoy our heavenly Father. We have been reconciled to God and He will make us worthy and cause us to grow in all areas of our lives. Now, that’s worthy celebrating!

Both past election and present growth are crucial. They are already children of God; they are to live lives governed by this reality. Thereby, Jesus’ name will be glorified and they in turn will be glorified in him. All of this is accomplished through grace (Asbury Commentary).

Good Gifts {{Week 8}}

Most of us are given good examples of how God can love. While this is not true for everyone, I think God gives each of us some sort of example of how loving and caring God can be. In humanity, we are given but a glimpse. We all fall short of His glory of heavenly defined love. Today, let’s talk about the love of our gracious God!

The Scriptures – Matthew 7:9-11; Psalm 84:11

Would any of you give your hungry child a stone, if the child asked for some bread? Would you give your child a snake if the child asked for a fish? As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give good things to people who ask (Matthew 7:9-11, CEV).

Our Lord and our God, you are like the sun and also like a shield. You treat us with kindness and with honor, never denying any good thing to those who live right (Psalm 84:11).

Devotion

For me I have a mom who raised me on her own, but she is continually giving good gifts. She shows me a glimpse of His love and readiness – often. Tonight, I was feeling utterly sick but determined to go to church. My mom graciously stopped everything she was doing, to take me to church. This is my glimpse.

God gives us good gifts. Unbelievable gifts. Have you read these words in Ephesians 3:20?

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us. . . (AMP)

I don’t know what you are going through, today, my friend. But I promise you, God is ready to do some mind-blowing things in your midst. His Word teaches us about the kind of gifts God gives. He gives us the gifts we need. He doesn’t see our need for one thing, and give us a useless gift. God is much better than that! God gives us exactly what we need at the moment we need it. He invented loved, so He knows how to give it.

For myself, I need to come and recognize God as my Eternal Father who is always doing a good work in my life. He promises to not abandon me, no matter what circumstances arise in my life. No matter how sick I get, God is always going to be there for me. No matter what happens, He will be there for me. The same can be true for each of us.

From the moment we begin to trust in Jesus Christ, as our Savior, we are never ever left alone. We are finally home, when we begin to tune into Jesus. He is the best Companion and Gift Giver there is! And, He keeps His Word. His love is true, regardless of emotions and circumstances. His love endures forever, just as Psalm 136 teaches us!

Lord God, You promise to give me gifts – good gifts – and I need You to help me to see the gifts You are giving me. Far too often I look for the physical gifts of blessings, causing me to miss too much of Your good work. Thank You for Your blessings. Help my heart to grasp the amazing love and good gifts You have for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

See Philippians 1:6; Deuteronomy 31:6; Romans 8:31; Exodus 14:14; 1 John 3:1

~ Stacey

Loving Like Jesus {{Week 6}}

Short note: There is an error in this week’s journal. The Scripture reference for our memory verse is actually… Matthew 5:46.

Welcome to today’s blog, where we will be digging into day 36 of our study! To me, it is mind-boggling to see how far I have come. In the beginning of the study, I struggled to get to each day’s reading plan. Have you all faced the same sort of problem? Maybe not this time, but another time? But the last few weeks, I have absolutely fell in love with the way Jesus is teaching and revealing Himself to us – through the book of Matthew. It’s like I can’t get enough. And, I don’t want my study time to end when this study concludes in a few weeks. I want to keep going, keep seeking, keep growing through what I read here in Matthew.

The Scriptures – Matthew 5:43-44; Proverbs 25:21-22

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor. (Leviticus 19:18) Hate your enemy.’ But here is what I tell you. Love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you (Matthew 5:43-44, NIRV).

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat. If he is thirsty, give him water to drink. By doing these things, you will pile up burning coals on his head. And the Lord will reward you (Proverbs 25:21-22).

Devotion

This passage shows us how much different God’s ways are. He does things much differently than you and I would, in any given situation. The situations with our enemies, are no exception. Jesus instructs us to love, not hate, our enemies!

While the world teaches us to conspire and get revenge, Jesus is the One urging us to take a different approach. Instead of hurting them, we need to love them. This is where God is glorified in our situation.

When tempted to show less love, remember the depths of your Savior’s love.

For each of us, the temptation to show less love is very real. It could be easy to limit the amount of love we are willing to show them, but no argument is good enough to justify disobeying God.

The Scriptures give us a brightly shining example of this kind of love. It is found in Jesus Christ. It is found in the love of our Father. While we were still enemies of God, He came and redeemed us. He redeemed us, even when there wasn’t anything “right” or “good” about us. This reveals how deep the love of God goes. We caused Him tremendous pain and heartache. We even did more than that, but we have experienced the tender hearted mercy of God. While it is difficult to fathom, God came to earth, carried our sins, and paid the ultimate price we couldn’t ever pay. This is the God we serve. He laid everything down, so we might enjoy a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ!

Jesus is why we can love our enemies.

This is the hope we hold onto, as believers in Jesus. This is why we can love those who seem impossible to love. While it is difficult to love those who do us harm, it is made possible because of Jesus Christ!

Lord Jesus, Help us to remember our need to love others – even when they try to hurt us. Keep pointing us back to the wonderful work of the cross and Your powerful resurrection. You are the One who pours out new life and reconciliation into our lives! Amen.

The Call to Surrender {{Week 5}}

Welcome, friends!

I invite you to get out your study journal and Bible, if you have it nearby. If you haven’t had the privilege of ordering your study journal yet, you can do so here (Please Note: It’s an affiliate link).

The Scriptures – Matthew 5:38-39; Proverbs 20:22, 24:29

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye must be put out for an eye. A tooth must be knocked out for a tooth.’ (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21) But here is what I tell you. Do not fight against an evil person. Suppose someone slaps you on your right cheek. Turn your other cheek to them also (Matthew 5:38-39, NIRV).

Don’t say, “I’ll get even with you for the wrong you did to me!” Wait for the Lord, and he will make things right for you (Proverbs 20:22).

Don’t say, “I’ll do to them what they have done to me. I’ll get even with them for what they did (Proverbs 24:29).”

Devotion

Have you found passages you struggle to really understand in the Sermon on the Mount yet (Matthew 5-7)?

For myself, this is one of those Scriptures I wrestle to understand. There is just something about this passage. We are faced with what we really believe in moments like these. Vengeance versus grace.

Today, I am reminded of the strength shown when we made decisions against our pride’s preferences. It takes a strong believer in Christ, to allow an evil person to have what looks like the upper-hand (at least momentarily).

We must take our faith and put it into action, as we read passages like these. It takes faith to put this passage into action. It is not for the faint of heart. Why? It requires us to fully surrender everything to Christ. It requires us to leave everything we are and possess at the foot of the cross. It requires us to deny ourselves and to take up our own cross, just as Jesus taught us to do (see Matthew 16:24-26).

In these moments, we are faced with what we truly believe about Jesus Christ and the call to surrender everything to follow Him.

In moments such as this one in our Matthew passage, we have to remember who it is we are living for. The One who has given us His full armor. Custom built armor for our very difficult circumstances. When we wear the armor of God, we can fight well through the love of Christ.

His armor and protection is exactly why I can make different choices, when met with attacks and suffering. It is only because of Christ, that I can have the strength to not retaliate. It is only because of Christ, that I can overcome evil with good – rather than adding even more evil to the world.

We each must make the choice to follow Jesus one baby step, at a time. It is only as we follow Jesus, that we can conquer evil – and through His love and grace.

Christ is far greater than anything or anyone we could meet or face, and we need to keep allowing Him to be the Greater in our lives.

Lord God, Help me to carry my cross. I pray You would remove the anger and strife in my spirit. Remove all desires to be ‘right’ or issue ‘pay back’. Help me to let You be far greater! Keep helping me, my Father. I need You to do what only You can do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Forgiving Jesus’ Way {{Week 4}}

Welcome, friends!

I invite you to get out your study journal and Bible, if you have it nearby. If you haven’t had the privilege of ordering your study journal yet, you can do so here (Please Note: It’s an affiliate link).

The Scriptures – Matthew 5:23-24; Mark 11:25

Suppose you are offering your gift at the altar. And you remember that your brother or sister has something against you. Leave your gift in front of the altar. First go and make peace with them. Then come back and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24, NIRV).

And when you stand praying, forgive anyone you have anything against. Then your Father in heaven will forgive your sins (Mark 11:25-26).

Devotion

We are taught the seriousness of forgiveness in our relationship with one another. In order to be forgiven by our heavenly Father for all we have done, we need to be willing to forgive one another.

Often times, we don’t take our relationships and conflicts as vital as we ought to. Many times, we allow other things to get in the way. Our pride and grudges just happen to be two possible reasons. Whatever the reasons, we need to remain willing to forgive and work toward reconciliation.

There will be occasions where the other person isn’t willing. Keep forgiving and demonstrating love toward them, because of what Jesus has done for you.

Remember how we got here in the first place – “We love, because He first loved us (see 1 John 4:19).” He loved us, even when we wronged Him and were deserving of punishment – yet He chose to extend grace and bear the weight of our punishment from sin. Jesus Christ, He went to the cross on our behalf. Though He knew no sin, He bore our transgressions (see Is. 53:4). Because of Christ’s great love and sacrifice, we have gone from being enemies of God to children of God.

God chose to forgive us, even when we were undeserving and didn’t even realize the wrongs we committed. Shouldn’t this make us desire to forgive others, when they have wronged us? It all starts with the cross and empty tomb!

This is the God we serve. He is all powerful, and makes Himself readily available to us. God is well pleased, when we make the necessary steps to forgive others. God has never delighted in our determination to be unforgiving for that what person has said or done. Jesus died on the cross, for them too. Jesus is all powerful, and stands ready to be our Savior, Shepherd, and Helper.

“In that grace we stand (see Romans 5:2).”

His grace is what equips us to forgive. Keep seeking Jesus, especially to help you forgive those around you. You don’t have to do this alone. God has sent you a Helper – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s job is to lead you. Let Him lead you!

Lord God, Thank You for Your unexplainable and amazing love that You have demonstrated toward me. Teach me about Your kind of forgiveness. I need You to mend my broken relationships. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.