NIV DISCOVER GOD’S HEART DEVOTIONAL BIBLE – MONDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2018

Genesis 1–2

God’s Story

In the beginning God—the Master Artist—speaks. He calls the universe into existence—setting moons, planets, stars and galaxies in a masterful yet dizzying rhythm of orbiting and spinning. Like a painter surveying a blank canvas, his Spirit hovers over the empty earth. “Let there be light,” he declares, and light bursts through the darkness. He parts waters and calls up land. He brings about lush green plants and grasses. He decorates the sea, sky and land with fish, birds and animals. The once-barren planet dances with life.

Then the Master Artist comes in close to shape his highest work, his pièce de résistance, the creatures who will carry the honor of bearing his image: man and woman. In a gesture of intimacy, God leans in to breathe life into the nostrils of the man. Soon after, woman is called forth from his side. God sets his crowning creations in a garden he has made especially for them, giving them one command so they can fully enjoy their magnificent home.

The King’s Heart

Creation is God’s great introduction.

God had the ability to call anything into existence that he wanted. As the all-powerful, infinitely thoughtful One, the possibilities before him were endless. So what he did choose to create reveals much about his heart. Out of the overflow of his heart spills a world of beauty and goodness. Warm rays of sunlight feed the upturned leaves of the waiting plants below. Powerful displays of lightning and thunder announce the delivery of life-rain.

Creation is a masterpiece with a message. As the worker ant marches on to accomplish his daily tasks, he proclaims: “I am diligent because my Creator is diligent.” As a lion stands guard over his pride, he declares, “I am ferocious because my Creator is ferocious.” As the butterfly gently flits over flowers, he proclaims: “I am beautiful because my Creator is beautiful.” Tumbling bear cubs profess: “We are playful because our Creator is playful.”

As God creates, he keeps agreeing: “Good! . . . Good! . . . Good!” The Artist is pleased. It is good. The King’s actions trumpet forth the foundational truth of his heart, which is also the foundational truth of the universe: Creation is good because God is good. He is good, good, good.

Insight

Ephesians 1:4 tells us that God loved us before the creation of the world. That means that before the earth existed, before it took its first spin around the sun, you were on God’s mind and in his heart.

Copyright © 2014 by Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved.

Girlfriends Of God

December 10, 2018
Are You Playing This Game?
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)

Friend to Friend

In my spare time I help coach our high school volleyball team. Let me rephrase that, because I do not have spare time. Three months a year I choose to invest daily in the lives of young female athletes who play volleyball at the high school where my children attend.

One of the games we play in practice is called Queen of the Court, the goal of which is simple: gain and keep the lead. Dominate. Be the best and protect your turf at all costs. Serve more aggressively, pass more accurately, set more strategically, and hit harder than your opponents. It is a fast-paced drill of skill where only the strong survive.

My life sometimes feels like a game of Queen of the Court.

I strive, set goals, create a game plan, and execute the strategy. I long to be my best (a good thing), but at times my goal changes from wanting to experience all of God’s best for me to wanting to be THE best (not so good). Look at me, everyone! Check out my people, my position, my possessions, my trophies-of-greatness…

I have to check my heart.

Am I striving to be my best in order to make the most of what God has given me—or because I want to impress others and be at the top of the heap? Those are two very different questions.

Too often I become fixated on aggressively spiking balls on the volleyball court of my ego, my family, my church, my community, my country. (My goodness!) To make it worse, I throw on an invisible jersey and play a game of Who-Is-The-Greatest? against the people around me. Aren’t we so good at that? We think:

  1. I would be incredible at that position if the boss would just stop giving all the best assignments to other people. 
  2. If I use this decorating idea from Pinterest, my house will be the envy of every woman in the neighborhood.

We want to be seen as the best.

We want to be the best employee, work for the biggest Fortune 500 companies, and attend the largest mega church with the most popular pastor. We want to parent the smartest kids, serve on the most important committees, and dangle on the arm of a hunky husband. Our shiny pursuits and performances become our social media statuses the moment they happen.

Can I get a witness?

We boast. We brag. We strive. We show. We want. We need. As I think of these things a hush falls over my heart. Conviction. Embarrassment. Because I often wrongly perceive life as being all about ME.

We live in a world filled with people who are famous for being famous and consumed with the greatness of them-selfies. My last name might not be Kardashian, but on any given day my heart can house just as much pride in how many likes my posts and tweets get.

Let me tell you a little secret: Christian pride is just as ugly as Entertainment Tonight pride. We Jesus girls tend to drape it subtly over our modest-is-hottest shoulders and wear it with a smile. Because our sin isn’t as scandalous as tabloid sin, right?

Lord, forgive us.

We all want to be great. And that’s not a bad thing in and of itself. We need to be people of excellence. Jesus told a story, the Parable of the Talents, where He taught that each of us is responsible to wisely use what we are given (Matthew 25:14-30). God expects us to use our talents, personalities, gifts, and energy in productive ways. The problem comes in our motivation. If we are striving for excellence so that others will be oh-so-impressed, then we are acting out of pride. Instead of elevating our Lord, we are elevating ourselves.

Lord, forgive us.

The fire of conviction warms me…bends my knees.

Queen of the Court is a useful volleyball drill, but it is not a game that Christians should be playing. If I really want to have all the impact God intends for me to have, then I need to be far more concerned with the greatness of God than with the greatness of Gwen.

The. End.

Peter reminds us of this in his letter to the believers in the early church. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5b-6, NIV)

Our job: be humble before God and to others. Stop playing the greatness game.

God’s job: to lift us up as He sees fit, when He sees fit… all to elevate Himself.

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, Please help me to focus on Your greatness instead of my own. Purify my heart and be glorified in and through me today.
In Jesus’ Name, 
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
How would you split the percentage of time you focus on vain pursuits versus fame-of-Jesus pursuits? What percentage would you like that to be?

How can you use your social media accounts to point people toward the greatness of Jesus? Will you? Tell me your answer on Instagram or my blog!

More from the Girlfriends 
Today’s post is an excerpt from Gwen Smith’s book, I Want I ALL. This book includes a Bible Study Guide right in the back of the book; no extra purchase required. You will love that it’s easy to read yet contains compelling and challenging content.

There are endless opportunities for us to worry, wander, and wonder. But that’s not God’s best for us. Though we remain broken and impacted by an imperfect world, you and I can get through anything in the power and hope of Jesus. Download this FREE 7 Day I WANT IT ALL Devotional Ebook today and join Gwen Smith as she shares Biblical truth, honest struggles, and practical help.

Seeking God?
GirlfriendsInGod.com

 

NIV Devotional For Women

Myth: “He’s not a Christian, but he’s a great guy.”

2 Corinthians 6:14

I didn’t know what to say when Richard asked the question. Does Kevin go to church? Hello, I thought you were going to be happy for me! I remember thinking, I’ve finally found someone I really like, and things are going great.

Still, Richard is my partner at work, and he and his wife know everything there is to know about me. They know I grew up in church. And they also know I dated a few guys from the church singles group. But there just wasn’t any chemistry. I had always dreamed that God would have the perfect person picked out for me and deliver him right to my door. However, I was fast approaching the big 3–0, and it still hadn’t happened. In fact, I had almost given up, figuring I was destined to be single for the rest of my life, and then Kevin came along. We met at the gym. I would have married him on the spot for his calves alone. However, it was his smile that really got to me. We kept running into each other in the mornings before work, and he finally asked me to go out one weekend. We talked for hours that first night, as if we’d known each other forever. He was wonderful.

Over the next few weeks, as my relationship with Kevin grew, Richard started to ask me more questions. “Does Kevin know you’re a Christian? Have you told him about your faith?” I fended him off with a few cursory answers. “Kevin didn’t grow up in church like you and I did,” I told him. “But I think he gets it, or at least he’s pretty close.” Richard didn’t seem satisfied with my answer. Truthfully, something inside of me cringed when I said it. But I’m not going to let anything or anyone spoil my happiness. Who’s to say Kevin isn’t the man I dreamed of all along? He’ll probably become a Christian at some point in our relationship, and then everything will be perfect.

—Christy

Do you believe love stories like Isaac and Rebekah’s can happen? Two people who aren’t even from the same country brought together by God’s hand. But oh, the things we’re willing to believe in the midst of a man-drought. When the phone isn’t ringing because no one’s calling. When we spend another Valentine’s Day with the cat. There’s a “certain age,” you know, past which all of our mothers’ friends believe the odds for us finding the man of our dreams plummet. Add to the mix the complication of a Christian woman looking for a Christian man—and the situation becomes even more discouraging. We begin to convince ourselves that we somehow missed God’s best. Maybe that’s the problem. We just weren’t open before—our standards were too high. And so, now we’re not being desperate; we’re being open. Unfortunately, that’s when we begin to rationalize whatever we want to fit the ideal.

He’s not super-spiritual, but show me a man who is.

He has such great potential—he needs someone like me to encourage him.

It’s important to note that we won’t change God’s mind, even though we can list all sorts of factors in favor of our decision to marry outside of our convictions. The Bible’s warning not to marry a non-Christian is very clear (see 2 Corinthians 6:14). Think about it. How will you celebrate Christmas and Easter? Or discipline your children? Will your husband understand wanting to tithe from your joint account? Will he mind if you’re gone for part of every Sunday? How do you feel about having a quiet time alone? The issues range from minor to major.

If you’re single and lonely, God knows it. If you’re approaching a certain age, God knows how old you are. And he is not worried. The important thing is not to be married … it’s to be married to the right person. And God can bring that person unexpectedly, just as he did for Isaac and Rebekah. Feelings and emotions can be disastrously misleading in this area. That’s why we have to hold onto God’s Word, not a wish list, and let God dictate our decision whether or not to marry someone.

“He’s Mr. Almost for now, but perhaps with one change he could become Mr. Right. Before your heart rides off into the sunset … hold out for someone who has the same goal and the same faith. By not settling, you will have peace of mind in knowing you did what was right for yourself, your children and, yes, even Mr. Almost.”

—Alice Crider

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
2 Corinthians 6:14

See also

Genesis 2:24; Proverbs 4:23; Jeremiah 17:9; 1 Corinthians 2:14

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