Verse for the Day – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Have you ever felt like you can’t do it? You can’t live the Christian life well? It’s just too hard?

Or why not just keep going like things are—isn’t that good enough? Do we really need to try to do better? or be better? And is that even possible in a world stained by sin? Can we possibly improve ourselves, much less make a positive difference in this world?

If you’ve ever struggled with these things, those questions, then I think you are in a really good place. Does that sound strange? What?! Feeling as though I can’t do it is a good place to be? Wouldn’t it be better to feel like I am competent and able and strong and doing really well?

I introduce you today to my life verses, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Paul has been talking about a thorn in his flesh that was given to him, and he had pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from him.

“And He [the Lord] said to me [Paul], My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefor I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NKJV)

Think about that. God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. If we could do it all, if we had all it takes, why would we need Him? But when we wrestle in our Christian walk of faith, when we see this is too much, it’s too hard, it’s when we begin to realize, yes, it’s too hard! But not for Christ! He is strong, He is greater than it all, and He is able by the power of His Holy Spirit to work in you for his good pleasure, your great joy and good, and His glory.

See your inability, your weakness, not as something to discourage you, but to lead you to Christ. He does still call us to act and obey, to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), to “put off” sin and “put on” godliness (Col. 3), but He will help us. Keep calling out to Him for help.

He forgives us when we repent (1 John 1:9). He hears us when we cry. He answers us when we call. Let Him give you His strength to live each day. Sometimes it may be up and down and hard, but keep looking to Him, keep seeking Him, keep believing He is able and will lead you. Let His strength help you in your weakness.

We can’t live this life in our own strength. (We can try, we may feel we can for a bit, but it will always fail!)  When we understand and see the truth and beauty of that reality, then we are able to accept something which is so much better: we live this life in His strength, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).

PRAYER: Dear Lord, we come to You this day acknowledging our sinfulness and the things that so easily beset us and discourage us. Help us to give up ourselves and turn to You who is able to keep us from falling and is able to give us the strength that we need to obey and follow You with great joy. We are human, we surely fail, but we have You, our God who is greater than all our sin, who rejoices when we repent, who waits patiently for us, and who will supply us with all we need for life and godliness. We love and praise You this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Verse for the Day – Psalm 119:105

Yesterday I had lunch with a dear friend to celebrate a milestone birthday! During our conversation, she shared with me that she had just finished reading through the entire Bible for the first time in her life. I also had read through the Bible in a year during 2013 for the first time in my life, and it was so fun to share what we had learned. I loved listening to her takeaways, from thinking about the Babylonian captivity, seeing God as Sovereign Lord and the Lord of hosts, sharing about God who answers our cries, etc.

It was exciting to see again what time in God’s Word does for us. This verse came to mind this morning:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 (ESV)

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and focused on God’s word, law, testimonies, etc. They are beautiful and life giving and light our way. Truly His Word does provide light to our paths and is a lamp to our feet giving us much-needed direction in our daily walks of faith and life.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, please help us to prioritize time in your Word each day. It is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, showing us the way to go. Thank you for giving it to us and for the freedom we have to access it and read it here in our country. Let us not forget this gift and let us look for ways to give it to others and encourage others by it. Thank you that it is living and inspired, able to change us and guide us by the power of your Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Verse for the Day – Ephesians 2:10

The “verse for the day” project started through a series of daily emails I was sending my children. I began to then post them on my blog to keep a record and help me in doing this daily. Today, I relived for my children some of my high school experiences and introduced them to “my 9th grade self.” I thought they’d enjoy hearing about those transformational years and some of the key concepts I learned like finding my identity in Christ, not the opinions of peers, and the joy of following God and being who He designed me to be, not trying to be something I wasn’t.

Having our identity securely in Christ, we’re able to look outward to others and care for them and point them to Jesus, too. I love Ephesians 1 which tells us all that we have and are in Christ. I’ve written a little bit about those verses before here.

These memories brought me today to Ephesians 2:10:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)

“For we are His workmanship…”

This word means the result of labor and skill – can you picture that God used His skill to make you? He thought about you when He made you and designed you in a unique and wonderful way!

“…created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

We were created in Christ by His skill for good works that we should walk in them.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you that we are Yours, created by You with care and thought, made in Your image, with purpose. May we today walk in the good works that you prepared in advance for us to do. And may we know who we are in You, so they we aren’t shifted and shaken by the world, but we are standing on the Rock, stable and secure because of what You have done in and us for us in Christ. We love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Verse for the Day – 1 Peter 1:8

I’ve been thinking this week about the seen and the unseen.

It started when I woke up in a great deal of pain, which I knew was from my kidneys. I began to wonder if all the caffeine, sodas, less water, and general disregard for the right diet over the last year or so might be catching up to me. When the pain comes, suddenly it’s easy to wish I had done better in paying attention to what I knew needed care.

But the reality is, I can’t see my kidneys. When they don’t hurt, I feel normal. Sure, I know I have misshapen, diffusely calcified kidneys, but I don’t always act as though I do because I can’t see them! Only when I feel them did I start to believe and act again.

It reminded me of this verse in 1 Peter 1:8:

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,” (ESV)
 Sometimes our faith can be that way if we aren’t careful. We can’t physically see the unseen world, the battles around us, or our living God! But He is there, and that reality is more real than our own world!

Though we cannot see Him, we love Him. Though we do not now see him, we believe in Him and rejoice with joy! Can we be a people that love and rejoice in Him, even in what we cannot see?

And yet, He has given evidence of Himself as we see creation, as He reveals Himself in our conscience, and He shows Himself all around us working and acting, especially on behalf of those who love Him, believe Him, and draw near to Him.

This also reminds me of Thomas who would not believe unless he himself could see in Jesus’ hands the print of the nails and touch it, and put his hand in His side. The moment Jesus so graciously gave Thomas that opportunity, He replied in belief, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29).

PRAYER: Lord, please give us hearts and minds to believe You, the unseen but living, true God. Please increase our faith. Let us watch for You and see You, eyes on You, because just as You gave to Thomas, You are willing to reveal Yourself to us, too. May we see You and Your glory at work around us and rejoice with inexpressible joy, with a faith and love for You, even though we as yet cannot see fully. We love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Verse for the Day – Habakkuk 3:17-19

This verse has kept coming to my mind the last week, so I’ll choose it today, even though it’s not the first one I would naturally have chosen for us.
It’s a hymn of faith, a song of rejoicing by Habakkuk.
Habakkuk 3:17-19:
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. (ESV)
These verses always remind me of our dear friend who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and lived only 10 months, dying at age 44. These were the verses he quoted on his blog in the days before he could write and think clearly no more. He didn’t understand God’s plan – it felt like the description in verse 17 – and yet he chose to rejoice in God and praise Him. It was an incredible testimony of trust and faith in God when he couldn’t make sense of his circumstances.

But God knew and knows still. The high school he attended set up an endowed fund to annually give a gift to a student who would apply for this. Reading the letter we received this week from the first fellow, we saw just one way in which God used our friend’s life for His glory and others’ good. The high schooler writes, “I was a troublemaker kid in middle school, and didn’t care about God’s plan in my life. Halfway through my freshman year in high school, my dad challenged my family to read the Bible in honor of Jeff’s death. Reading God’s Word completely changed my life, and I became a true follower of Christ…”

It was reading God’s Word daily in the one year Bible that kept our friends strengthened by the power of God’s Word, too, as they walked through that season. Perhaps that’s an encouragement to us to read God’s Word daily and let His Spirit teach us.

It’s a reminder, too, though, that when circumstances are difficult, God is still at work, and we can always rejoice in Him. Perhaps our lives today don’t necessarily feel that extreme, without fig trees blossoming or food yielding, with no herd in the stalls, like these verses describe, which is why I might have passed them by. And yet, even days where we are discouraged a little could maybe feel this way.

So we are reminded with Habakkuk to nevertheless rejoice in the LORD and take joy in His salvation, no matter what comes. And I love Habakkuk’s declaration that the LORD God is his strength – this is his confidence – and will make his feet like deer’s feet – that’s stability and the ability to live in the heights, walking on high hills, even when life appears to be in the depths! The LORD God will strengthen those who trust in Him and whose confidence is in Him.

PRAYER: Lord, today, may we have confidence and faith in You, our Strength, whatever comes our way. Let us rejoice in You, the God of our salvation, as Jeff did, and see Your beauty around us and You at work, even in a dark world and when things are confusing. Help us to fix our eyes again on You, who strengthens us and gives us all that we need for each day. May we trust you more and sing a song of praise to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.