Proverbs 14:4 --- “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” This verse is so short, but holds so much meaning to me. When we think about a large dream or goal we have, we will usually prepare a plan, envision it, and work towards it. Now, in this plan, we typically do not plan out the hardships that are going to come along the way, because we hope for everything to go smoothly. But, the reality is that hardships are going to come up. We are going to run into troubles and things are not going to always go as planned. This is where we must keep working toward our goal though, no matter how hard it gets. If it was easy, everyone would do it. There will be messes to clean up, just like when you have oxen in a stable, but without these oxen, we will never be able to have a large harvest.
Luke 4: 9-12 --- “Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
Testing God is something that we as Christians, are not supposed to do. Oftentimes, Christians can be faced with the same situation in which Jesus was in this moment, in which non-believers can try to convince us to test our faith. However, this is why it is so important to know what the Bible says, specifically in this instance as it reads, “you must not test the Lord your God”. God is not a genie. He does not just grant our wishes and that’s that. Our God lays out a path for us and through prayer and devotion, we can follow that path, which in turn, leads us to living a fulfilling life. We cannot expect to do things against God’s word and will, and expect Him to pull us out of every situation, as we knowingly go against His way. Do not test God or let others influence you to do so. Live your life for God and follow the scripture in which He has provided us with, in order to follow His path.
Jeremiah 24:7 --- “I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.”
God knows everything about us from the hairs on our head to our path in life, as He is our creator. Even though He already knows everything about us, He still wants to have a relationship with us, in which we seek to know Him. However, as humans, we will never be able to fully know God’s ways, as it states in Isaiah 55:9 “...My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” But, with the Holy Spirit and the comfort that God gives us, we can have full assurance in His ways and the situations in our life. Even though we may not understand the circumstances, we can know that God loves us and that He knows the bigger picture of our life and our path in which He created. This is why it is so important to always trust in His ways and know that even if we cannot know His ways completely, we can have assurance that they are the right plan.
Psalm 25: 4-5 --- “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.”
In our modern world, success is often defined as reaching a high goal or status, in terms of materialistic things. This is not to say that it is this way with everyone or everything, however, if some see a CEO of a company that lives a lavish lifestyle, they will correlate this person with succeeding. While it is successful to be a CEO of a company, the most important success that we as Christians can ever have, has nothing to do with materialistic items, but rather, everything to do with Christ.
Success should be defined as walking in the way of Jesus and spreading His word to others. The highest success we have should not be defined by the awards we win, the house or car we have, or by the job title that we have, but rather, what we do for God and His Kingdom. Success is pleasing God with our ways and following the path in which He has laid out for our life. What are you doing in your life to be successful for the Lord?
Hebrews 12: 1-2 --- “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
As Christians, our ultimate goal in life is to reach eternal life at the end of our path and our biggest focus while on our path, should be to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. If you were to run in a regular race, you are most likely going to run into obstacles on the way. You may experience exhaustion, stress of performance, things that get in our way, etc. Our path to eternal life is the exact same way. If we don’t keep our eyes on the end goal, it is so easy to wander off on a different trail or to get so consumed by the exhaustion and stress. It is extremely easy to let everyday distractions consume our thoughts, but this is why it is so important to always remember the end destination of eternal life. Do not worry about how you’re going to find your own path, because God already has your path laid out. Keep your eyes on Him and He will lead you to where you need to be.
Romans 1:20 --- “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
Many people do not realize how much God truly tries to speak to us in our life. He wants a relationship with us and He wants to communicate with us, as long as we let Him and we are willing to accept His words. God’s voice can come in so many different forms, including one of the most recognized one, which is His word. He can also speak to us through other Christians, especially our pastors and leaders. One of the ways that I find so amazing though, is how He speaks to us through His creations. We are surrounded by His work and most people would be surprised to know just how much He truly does try to get our attention.
I used to be one of those people who wondered how people would say God spoke to them, but once I started to open my heart, my mind, and my eyes, I began to realize an abundance of ways He was trying to reach me. Once you start having an appreciation for the things He has done in your life, you will start to feel more connected to these things and even closer to our Heavenly Father. Set aside some time today to really pay attention… read your Bible with no distraction, sit outside and be aware of all that is around you. Give Him the time that He deserves and He will speak to you.
Proverbs 17:9 --- “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”
Forgiveness can sometimes seem like a hard thing to do, especially depending on particular situations. However, forgiveness is also something that plays such a large role in so many things, especially relationships. When you choose to not forgive someone, you are ultimately choosing to not want better. Just as the verse says, ‘Love prospers when fault is forgiven’... could you imagine if God chose to not forgive us whenever we make Him upset or ignore His word? We would undeniably be lost. If you want to be like Jesus in your life, you need to forgive. It is a part of showing and spreading His love to others and if you want your relationships in your life to blossom, forgiveness needs to be a top priority. No matter how bad the situation may be, think of the one thing you are most ashamed of and know that if you have asked and prayed about it, that God has forgiven you. If He can forgive you, you can show that forgiveness as well.
1 Kings 15:11; 25-26 --- “Asa did what was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father.”; “Now Nadab the son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father and in his sin which he made Israel sin.”
In this particular story, there are two very different kings who ruled two very different ways. However, there is one thing in common between the two: they both ruled how their father’s ruled.
As parents, you can be one of the biggest examples to your children on how to live their life. They see you when you display your discipleship to the Lord, they see you when you serve others, and they see how you treat others. I am not a parent, however this same principle applies to influencing your family. If you want your family to grow closer to the Lord, the best way that you can help make that happen is by displaying your stewardship to Him. We should be an example of what to do when you're completely lost, we should be an example of how to show gratitude in our life, and we should be an example of how much more our life can bloom if we dedicate ourselves to the Lord. By living your life, you can lead your family to experience the true example of living… and that is for Christ.
Hebrews 13: 1-2 --- “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Showing love and kindness has been a theme that I have been bringing up quite a lot recently, however I believe that it is much needed. Just as I mentioned in last week’s devotion, loving your neighbor is one of the greatest commands that Jesus gave and it should be something that we should strive to do everyday. I feel like public places can be a place where people show the most hostility, because these places are full of people you do not know. It seems easier to get mad at someone who you do not know, because you will not have to deal with their hostility towards you for more than a couple of minutes. However, just as the verse says above, we should not be showing hostility to even strangers, but rather, hospitality. You do not know what someone has gone through that day, you do not know their story, and even if, we should not be focusing on how they are acting, but instead we should be more concerned with how we conduct ourselves.
John 14:21 --- He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."
One of the first things I ever remember learning as a young child was the ten commandments. They were in every classroom on the walls and we often recited them in order to better remember them. I did not know it at the time, but these commandments and other commandments that Jesus gives in the word, are a direct link to how to love our Heavenly Father. In the verse above, it states how the one who “keeps them is the one who loves Me”. Therefore, love and the commandments go hand in hand. Jesus points out in the book of Matthew how the first greatest command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and that the second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself. This means that when we choose to show kindness, forgiveness, and love for someone else, we are not just doing it for our own good, but rather we are showing love to God by obeying his command. Start to think of ideas how you can better obey the Lord that way you can grow your love for Him, while also growing your spiritual relationship.
Psalm 112: 6-7 --- “Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.”
In the current times that we are in, so many people and nations are filled with fear. Fear of what may come next, fear of certain outcomes, and fear in general of everything going on. However, as christians, we are not to have a spirit of fear, “but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Yes, things can be scary if we spend too much time thinking about them and letting them consume our thoughts, but as Christians, our hope is to be placed in the Lord. We must remember that God has already planned out our days and most of all, we must remember that God is always in control. How much more could we spread God’s word and love if we put our time and energy into bettering our relationship with Him, rather than things of this world? #liveBEYOND the fear and remember to trust in God and His plan.
Ephesians 4: 7-8 --- “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”
I feel like so many people wonder what their gift is in life in order to better serve the Lord. I know I wondered about this for many years and a small dream turned into something for me to do just that. When I first had my small dream of BEYOND, I of course envisioned it to be a God-centered business, but I never envisioned it to be what it is today. I went after something that I was passionate about and it turned into a gift to better serve the Lord.
This is personally, how I believe that everyone should go about recognizing that they have a gift. You don’t need to seek out a new passion or hobby in order to serve the Lord with your works. I believe that God has given everyone dreams and abilities that they are good that we can use for His good. Your ability may not even be a God-centered thing, but have you ever thought about how you yourself are the tool to spreading kindness and the love of Jesus maybe through your work? You don’t have to talk to everyone constantly about christianity, but by simply displaying good stewardship in your everyday life, you are using your gift to serve the Lord.
Galatians 6: 9-10 --- “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
When we continually do good and we do not see anything coming from it, it can sometimes make us want to give up and we start to wonder “what’s the point”? I am here to tell you, there is a point. Jesus did more good than any of us, but before he experienced his raising up again, he endured the hardest pain and suffering. Everything he went through was for something better to come of it.
When we are doing good in our life, we must not question whether or not anyone actually cares, what people think of it, or how we can benefit from it. We must do good because it is our part of our duty as believers to spread kindness. The time for us to ‘reap our harvest’ will come if we continue to do good in our life, so do not focus on that aspect, for the Lord knows the right timing. Simply focus on what is right and how you can help others...everything else will come as a result.
Proverbs 11:12 --- “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”
Being judgmental is a major downfall that unfortunately, a lot of us humans can have. It is something that can be overcome and that we must work at in order to stray ourselves away from it. If you want to be someone of understanding, then you must not belittle someone else, just as the verse says. Every single person walks through a different path than you and we must remember this. “Everyone has untold stories of pain and sadness that make them love and live a little differently than you do. Stop judging, instead try to understand.”
So before you go to judge someone for a decision they make or a path that they take in life, remember to think before you speak, and most of all, if you have worries about them or their choices, then the best thing that you can do is pray.
Proverbs 27:1 --- “Do not talk much about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day will bring.”
Let's be honest: we ultimately cannot control our tomorrow. We can make plans for the future and sometimes, those plans do go accordingly, but sometimes they do not. This is why it is so important to never take your tomorrow for granted. This has happened to too many people and when you truly think about it, it can be discouraging. However, there is a big piece of hope that we can always hold on to and that is that God holds tomorrow in His hands. Our tomorrow may not be what we expect and we may never see it coming, but we can have peace in the fact that no matter what happens, no matter how big nor how small it may be, God is still in control of your day and situation. Learn to let go of your plans sometimes and learn to give God full control when things do not go as you had wished.
Proverbs 6:6-11 --- “Go to the ant, O lazy person. Watch and think about her ways, and be wise. She has no leader, head or ruler, but she gets her food ready in the summer, and gathers her food at the right time. How long will you lie down, O lazy person? When will you rise up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little rest, a little folding of the hands to rest, and being poor will come upon you like a robber, and your need like a man ready to fight.”
Ants have always been known as hard workers and by simply reading the verse above, you can know why. Laziness is something that is most definitely needed at times, but when it comes to preparing or working in your life in order to be successful, we need to follow the ant in the verse. She does not need someone to tell her what to do, but rather she does it because it needs to get done and she does not want to become poor. This scenario can be played out in our life in more ways than one. In your spiritual life, you should not wait for the pastor to tell you to read your Bible, you should do it because you want to prepare to live your life in the most Godly way as possible and you should do it because you want to have everlasting life in Heaven. In your personal life, you should not wait for someone to tell you to change your path in life or to work harder, you should do it because you want to live a successful life that you can be proud of and continually grow in.
Do not let laziness be something that takes over your life and dictates your every move. Take action within your life and work hard, #goBEYOND because your hard work WILL be rewarded.
Proverbs 13:12 --- “Hope that is put off makes the heart sick, but a desire that comes into being is a tree of life.”
Everyone has dreams in life that they hope to reach one day or achieve...I know I do! Some people may have small dreams, while others have huge dreams that most likely seem impossible to some people. However, I am here to tell you to chase that dream that you have. Your dream may seem impossible to some, but let us also not forget the kind of God that we serve. Just as the verse says, “hope that is put off makes the heart sick”. Don’t you want to be able to say that you chased your dream and ended up in a different place or with a different result, because that is where God wanted you to be rather than saying that you’ll never know because you gave up on it? Sure some of our dreams may not play out exactly like we hoped, but that is where it comes down to knowing that God is in control of your life and He will put you on the path you are to be on. So if you go after your dream and it happens, then you should most definitely be proud and give God the glory, but if you give up on this huge dream you have, how will you ever know whether it was meant to be in your life or not? Never give up on your dreams and always pray to God to lead you to the right path within your life.
Proverbs 29:1 --- “Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.”
Criticism is something that can be a touchy thing and rightfully so, I am sure no one is surprised by this. It can be hard to admit you are wrong in situations and to accept instruction from someone when you know that you have done wrong. However, criticism is something that is needed and actually a good thing for us. If we are closed off to criticism then we are never opening ourselves up to grow. Think about it… criticism from your parents when you are younger can seem annoying, but once you look back at it or start accepting it, you realize that they are giving it to you for a reason. They are giving it to you so you can learn and continue to grow.
Some people’s criticism may not always be correct, but we cannot be closed off to it, because if we are, then we are going to miss the opportunity for good criticism that could greatly benefit us.
Proverbs 17:22 --- “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”
I am sure you have all heard the quote “laughter is the best medicine” and in a way, it is right. I am the kind of person that I always try to find the positive in every situation and while there is most definitely time for grieving, sometimes finding even the smallest positive thing in every situation can really bring spirits up. Choosing to be a positive person does not mean that you don’t focus on the serious things, but rather it means that you choose to ALSO focus on the bits of positive that come with it. You go through hard and sorrowful times, and you can admit sadness and disappointment, but you ultimately do not let it define you. Never be ashamed of being a ‘positive polly’, because this is an important thing for people’s mental and spiritual health especially. By doing this, you can also be of good help or ‘medicine’ to people who may be stuck in their broken spirit.
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