T.G.I.F. – TODAY GOD IS FIRST – TUESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2019

Dissolving Partnerships

So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the Lord. – Genesis 13:18

Abraham took a totally different approach to solving this problem. He told Lot to choose which land he wanted. Imagine, Abraham could have been dooming himself and his family if he was unable to find adequate land and water for them. He gave up his rights in the matter, and Lot took full advantage. “Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar” (Gen. 13:10). So Lot left and took up residence in the valley later to be known as Sodom and Gomorrah. Sometimes what seems good on the front end turns out to be disastrous later. Such would be the case for Lot and his family.

As for Abraham, he made a choice. He decided to take life’s high road — a choice that didn’t necessarily mean his life circumstances would benefit him. He was willing to leave that outcome to God. He made the decision based on an eternal measuring stick. Interestingly, the place where Abraham moved was called Mamre. In Hebrew, the name Mamre means “strength.” How can choosing the weakest position become “strength”? Jesus must have asked the same question of His Father when faced with the proposition of going to the cross. How can the cross be a place of strength? The devil thought he had won, but the cross is what freed the captives for eternity. The Bible tells us that when we are weak, then we are really strong. To willingly choose the way of the cross becomes our strength.

GIRLFRIENDS IN GOD – TUESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2019

January 1, 2019
More Than a New Year’s Resolution
 Wendy Speake

 

Today’s Truth
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).

Friend to Friend
My Christmas guests have left. My husband and our sons are celebrating the New Year with a camping trip in the dessert. I am home, undressing the tree and packaging our nativity set away for the next 11 months. These are my first quiet moments in weeks, with only the familiar sound of tissue paper crinkling as the soundtrack to my thoughts. During the hustle and bustle of guests and going, little space remained for this sort of pondering. But today, here in the quiet, I have 2019 on my mind.

Resolution.

I was thinking of sitting down and writing down a few resolutions today. However, I’m afraid that resolution is too small a word for all that’s on my heart. It lacks power, because resolutions are rooted in my resolve to do better. And I often fail at better. No matter how hard I try to read the Bible more consistently and drink more water and say no to sweets and limit the amount of time I spend on Facebook and increase the amount of time I spend on the treadmill… I rarely make it past January 10th transformed. Though I am desperate to be transformed. No, I don’t need another New Year’s resolution that will leave me unchanged. What I need is a revolution. That’s the word.

Revolution.

It came to me clearly as the Christmas bell I was carefully wrapping and laying in a box. I don’t need another resolution… and I don’t need more resolve. What I need is more of Jesus. Not a resolution that I make, but a revolution that He makes… in me. Christ in me, revolting against me in this world. His power revolutionizing my weakness. His transforming purpose prevailing over all my plans in the new year. What I need in 2019 is a total Jesus-revolution, way down deep in my fibers. Down in my habits too; my eating and my drinking and my shopping and the time I spend on social media. I need Jesus’ strength revolting against all of the areas of my life where I’ve been too weak for far too long!

My weakness stops me from turning resolutions into a reformed life. But the revolution power of Christ reforms and transforms me day-by-day-by-day, for 365 days as I learn to seek Him first.

I’m reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”. That’s what I’m doing at the start of 2019, and I’m inviting you to do the same. Boast in the One who has the power to completely revolutionize your life this year.

Do you struggle with sugar addiction and food fixation? Resolving again to eat more veggies and less cookies won’t do it! We need a Jesus-revolution in our lives to transform our eating (and drinking too). We need more whole foods, yes. But what we really need is to ingest more of Him and His Word. We need to turn to Him more than we turn into the Starbucks drive-through. We need to run to Jesus, more than we run into our pantries. We need Jesus to crowd out all of the habits and all of our addictions that we’ve resolved to stop for years and years.

Here at the start of 2019, let’s revolt against all of the things we’ve been running to for comfort, when we could have been (should have been) running to the Comforter. Let’s revolt against our tendency to self-medicate with online shopping and run instead to the Great Physician. Do you see what I’m saying? We can make resolutions to stop spending and stop eating and start working out, but we’re simply too weak and lack the resolve to make it work. We don’t need another resolution, we need a revolution of Christ’s power in us as we begin a new year, eagerly anticipating radical transformation!

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, More of You is what I need… more of You and less of me muscling through this life of faith another year. I am weak, but You are strong. That’s why I don’t need more resolve this new year, I simply need more of You.
In Jesus’s revolutionizing Name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn 
What do you struggle with most? Do you struggle with sugar addiction? Year after year, do you make the same old resolutions to get to the gym and eat healthier? Or maybe you’re addicted to your phone, always scrolling through social media. Or maybe it’s shopping, retail therapy. Are you tired of the conviction and ready for transformation? A Jesus-revolution is just what you need this year!

More from the Girlfriends
If you struggle with addiction, whether with sugar, shopping, or social media, join Wendy Speake for her fifth annual 40 Day Sugar Fast, starting January 8th. You’ll start by giving God your sugar for forty days, but soon you’ll discover it’s about so much more. God never asked us for a sugar-sacrifice, He wants a living sacrifice. As we lay down all the temporary things that we think we need, He shows us that what we need is Him! Every year thousands of women sign up for forty days of fasting from sugar and feasting together on Christ and His satisfying word. Waistlines decrease as faith lives increase! It’s an incredible time of physical and spiritual transformation, and it all begins January 8th. Sign up today.

Seeking God?
GirlfriendsInGod.com

 

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TODAY – TUESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2019

Amy Carroll January 1, 2019

How to Prioritize Prayer in Your Crazy Busy Life
AMY CARROLL

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

Although I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve come to adore adopting a single word each year to guide me toward spiritual growth.

Last January as I sought God for my new word, I sensed Him leading me to the word “pray.” Terror is too mild a word to describe the way I felt about that particular directive.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve made daily prayer a practice for decades, but I knew it was still a weak link in my spiritual life. Bible study is one of my great loves, and I adore getting out to serve. But during my prayer times, my mind wanders, my faith wavers and I never feel as if I cover all the needs. Guilt and a sense of falling short typically describe my prayer life.

Have you struggled with prayer too? If you’re like me, maybe you know prayer is important, but it’s hard to wrap your mind around such a powerful, invisible force. It’s challenging to prioritize time for something so intangible with results that demand  waiting.

As I surrendered and embraced “pray” with a trembling heart at the beginning of 2018, I pictured success as reading stacks of books from the 1700s. I imagined developing callouses on my knees from hours on them in the dark of early morning. But those images left me resistant instead of motivated. Truthfully, I couldn’t fathom fitting those assignments into my current schedule. Surely this was going to be the worst word-of-the-year ever.

I’m excited to report that’s not how God worked at all. Yes, He challenged me to grow in ways that required intention. He asked me to set more time aside for prayer, but He brought some beautiful, simple tools into my life that have allowed me to find peace and even joy in prayer. God directed me to:

  • Instagram, where I found a pre-prayer journal routine that settles my thoughts and quiets my mind.
  • A book that led me to pray one God-inspired verse for each of my sons every day.
  • A calendar with daily out-of-the-box prompts that leads me to pray for areas I wouldn’t have thought to cover.
  • A friend who encouraged me to set reminders throughout the day on my phone to pray for people I want to intercede for every week.
  • A group in the First 5 app where I write out my prayers based on that day’s Scripture.
  • A mentor who modeled on-the-spot prayer for those with a request: the best guarantee for follow-through instead of forgetting. Voila! Guilt free.

In a gentle yet persistent way, God brought Colossians 4:2 alive in my life in 2018: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Now my one word “pray” is an invitation for ongoing conversation with God.

As a rule-follower and reforming perfectionist, I used to look for formulas and how-to’s. Now, instead of limiting myself to a set number of minutes of prayer in a prescribed routine, the simple tools above allow prayer to permeate my thoughts. They’ve created a watchfulness in me that lasts throughout the day. I’m constantly looking for opportunities to pray, which leads to true devotion to the practice and thankfulness as I watch God at work. There are so many moments that beg for prayer!

If you long for talk with God that changes things, prayer is not as hard as you might think. Ask Him to send some simple tools your way, and let the dialogue begin.

Lord, I want to develop devotion to prayer because I long for a never-ending conversation with You. Please teach me to pray by showing me truths in Your Word and giving me the determination to use the tools You send my way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 17:6, “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.” (NIV)

Romans 12:12,“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Tired of trying to pray perfectly? Amy Carroll’s book, Breaking Up with Perfect: Kiss Perfection Good-Bye and Embrace the Joy God Has in Store for You, blazes a path to deeper relationship with God through ending our own pursuit of perfection.

CONNECT:
Visit Amy’s blog today where she’ll share how to access the prayer tools she mentioned in today’s devotion.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Is prayer hard or easy for you? If it’s easy, praise God for giving you that gift and consider how you might share it with those around you.

If you’re like Amy and prayer is a challenge, what obstacles do you face in developing a deeper prayer life?

Do some research to find tools to develop your devotion to prayer. Share what has worked for you in the comments.

© 2019 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org