Bless the Broken Road

Before GPS and smartphones, it used to be a lot easier to start a road trip only to find out you’d been driving for a while—a long while—in the wrong direction. If life is a highway, then all of us have taken a wrong turn and lost our way at some point. Most of us have experienced life without GPS. Just sort of taking one turn after the next without much direction from God or anyone.

Stop for a moment. Look at your surroundings. Ask yourself, “Is this where I wanted to go?” Am I loving this person the way I said I would? Am I raising this family the way I dreamed? Is this the wish God has for me? Am I on the right path? As you prayerfully look at your life, read these lyrics from Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts.

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
And others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

You know what makes country music work? It’s about real life. We all lose our way. We hit potholes and take pit stops. Yet, God’s plan prevails, and He works all things for the good of those who love Him. Nothing is too broken for Him. Somehow He can take a rusty junker and rebuild a bullet-proof marriage if we’ll let Him. He can take our pain and turn it into purpose. When we lean on Him, He makes our broken roads straight. In our weakness, He is strong. What’s your broken road? God can bless it.

Pray: God, I want to trust You with all my brokenness. I trust You with my relationships. Show me how to go the right way. Amen.

Discipling and Disciplining

There is a strange dichotomy in the language of the contemporary church. Much is said and written about the important function of discipling new Christians, while at the same time the function of church discipline has almost vanished. Today, discipline is a word used to refer to the instruction and nurture of the believer. It does not usually carry the connotation of ecclesiastical censure or punishment.

In one sense, this modern version of discipling is linked to the New Testament model. The term disciple in the New Testament means “learner.” The disciples of Jesus were students who enrolled in Jesus’ peripatetic rabbinic school. They addressed Him as “Rabbi” or “Teacher.” To follow Jesus involved literally walking around behind Him as He instructed them (the word peripatetic comes from the Greek word peripateo, which means “to walk”).

The New Testament community was forbearing and patient with its members, embracing a love that covered a multitude of sins. But in the New Testament, church discipleship also involved discipline. Part of apostolic nurture was seen in rebuke and admonition. The church had various levels or degrees of such discipline, ranging from the mild rebuke to the ultimate step of excommunication.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Do you accept discipline as well as discipling from your local church body? Ask God to make you more receptive to His discipline.

Listening – Hearing what God has to say

Everyone that has ever prayed to God has wanted a clear answer to some request or question. Often those answers are not what we expect or when we expect them. The key to finding and understanding those answers is making time to listen to God. We have to be very intentional when we listen so we actually hear what God is saying. The Bible talks about how Jesus found time away from everyone else to just be with God.

Spiritual quiet time often is mixed in with prayer and reading the Bible. That means finding a quiet place where you can settle your heart. It means turning off all the things that compete for your attention. When we focus solely on connecting with God and hearing what He wants to share is when we receive direction, hope and answers.

There is no set time or formula for doing this or for guaranteeing results. It is about determining where you can best hear God and connect with His spirit. But also realize that God can answer you and reveal himself through many different ways including other believers, worship and your circumstances.

Once you are in the habit of listening and find what works best, you should take note of three things: (1) The time of day it is best for you to do this. (2) The place you are most productive meeting God. (3) The activities such as prayer, Bible reading, music and other things that get you most focused on God. As you learn what works best in these three areas, you need to commit to doing this in a way that is most likely to be honored by God.

Doctrine: The Ten Commandments: “You Shall Not Steal”

Businessman Mike Herman tells of his lifelong attempt to catch a souvenir baseball at professional baseball games. A foul ball, a home-run ball or even a batting-practice ball—anything would do. One day, at a batting practice for the St. Louis Cardinals, he got to know James, a 5-year-old boy who was also trying to get a ball. James tried hard to pronounce the players’ names as he politely asked them for a ball. Herman describes the scene: “Before I knew it, my mission became getting a ball for James.

For about 20 minutes, I told him the names of the players who had a ball near the fence we stood behind, and the players turned and smiled as James tried to say their names. Still, no ball. Finally I told James he could have my ball if I caught one (I had been unsuccessful in catching a ball for almost 28 years, so that felt like a safe promise). I wouldn’t be telling this story if you didn’t know what happened five minutes later. I caught a ball, and yes, I gave it to James. I wonder how often God waits to give us something until we are willing to give it away?”

Covered By The LORD

There are benefits, advantages and promises directly correlated to one’s absolute trust in God. God loves each and every one of His children and just like a parent or guardian displays love and protection for their child, God abounds even more than that in our lives, because He has the resources, wisdom, knowledge and power to do more than we can ask, think or imagine. We are covered by the LORD regarding all aspects of our lives. Nothing about you is insignificant and as a child of covenant you are covered in God’s:

Love, Grace, Mercy, Increase, Promotion
Lovingkindness, Joy, Peace, Gifts
Protection, Healing, Son-Jesus Christ, Redemption
Forgiveness, Future, Fulfilled Calling for your life, Care
Peace, Favor, Timing, Relationship
Promises, Blessings, Rewards, Plan and so much more!

The Lord completely covers us when we trust him completely and know without a doubt that He is our refuge, strength, promise keeper and protection. In life it is easy to pick up the futile acts of worry, anxiety, fear and doubt but when we completely trust God no matter what is going on in us and around us worry, fear, anxiety and doubt will be forced to leave because our faith in God is greater than any circumstance. We are truly covered by the LORD.

God knows who we are, what He has created and what we are equipped to accomplish. God is completely aware of our inabilities and He possesses all ability to cover us in every area of our lives. When you read God’s word let it sink in as a direct promise to you, because that is exactly what it is. God has covered ALL in your life but we are commanded not to worry, not to fear and Trust God no matter what it looks like. In the natural it may be tough but spiritually and with God’s grace you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13).

Life is full of challenges, choices, changes and characters but remain encouraged today by Psalm 91 that you are completely covered by the LORD in all things regarding you. To God be the Glory!

God Guides You Part One

Purposely aligning with God’s word is vital for any believer to be guided in Christ, Jesus. In order to be led by Christ, we must first and foremost follow Christ and not focus on what others are doing. Intentionally positioning yourself under God’s directive leadership is the only way to know you are in the right place to receive his guidance in every aspect of your life. God guides us through his written word, the Bible, the Holy Spirit and with many other divine resources that will indeed capture one’s attention, but we must be receptive and ready when God’s guidance is introduced.

Jesus is to be LORD over all, and when one deliberately journeys through life, choosing to intentionally live independently from Jesus, it leads towards a definite danger zone absent from God’s divine covering whilst enduring uncomfortable consequences.

It is important to spend time studying and meditating on God’s word, because the Bible is our instructional reference guide regarding any circumstance we face in life. Wisdom, repentance, trust, faith and application of God’s word opens up the divine directive pathway God can work with as he guides his children according to his plan and purpose.

God’s way is not popular with the world, and Satan’s lies appear alluring, but don’t be deceived by the mirage of believing it is better to go through life Your way and not God’s way. Don’t be discouraged as you take a stand to follow Christ’s guidance, and teasing, mocking and harassing ensue. Also be encouraged today that as you begin following God’s guidance some relationships will come to an end. You must guard your heart and put on the full armor of God as you allow God to guide you into your destiny.

Today make sure your heart is receptive, repentant and ready to receive God’s loving guidance. God is our divine guide and when we align with him we are in the best position to thrive. It’s time for children of covenant to heed, listen and follow God’s plan and thank God in advance for continually guiding his children!

Changed

Being changed by Christ means understanding who you really are in Him. You are His disciple. Over the next four days, you will read from God’s Word about what a disciple is and explore the various things disciples do.

A great example of a disciple can be found in the early church as they worked towards carrying out the Great Commission of spreading the good news of Christ into all the nations.

Jesus’ parable of the vine and branches offers us a perfect picture of what being a disciple of Christ should look like.

As a disciple of Christ you will find a need and meet it, find a hurt and heal it, and Jesus will ask you to do a lot of things that won’t fit neatly into a point on a page.

As a disciple of Christ, it’s important that you publicly stand with Him in celebrating your new life, which is why baptism is a great first step for a new follower of Christ. Over the next three days, you will explore what the Bible has to say about the importance of baptism.

There is spiritual power in baptism. This spiritual power is experienced in the fact that you are publicly standing with Christ. You are being baptized into Christ’s death and you are also being raised into new life.

Baptism is a symbol of your being changed by Christ. If you have never been baptized, let these verses serve as encouragement to you in taking that very important next step.

Being changed means reading and studying His Word regularly. Over the next seven days, you are going to explore verses related to understanding what the Bible is, where it came from, the power of the Bible, the reliability of the Bible, and the importance of mastering the text and being mastered by it.

God’s Word is eternal and has and will continue to withstand the test of time. It is absolute and we must submit to His Word in the way the writer of Psalm 119 explains.

Where did the Bible come from and how do we use it? Paul answers these questions in 2 Timothy 3:10-17.

We know the Bible is reliable because it passes the internal test in answering the question do the writers of the Bible claim their writings are true? It also passes the external test in answering the question what does outside evidence say about the Bible? Finally, it passes the bibliographic test by answering the question how well were the original documents translated to today? Today’s scriptures give answers to these questions.

God calls us to master the Bible and to be mastered by the Bible. As a follower of Christ, we must read the Bible regularly so that we can learn what it says, understand what it says, and do what it says. More importantly, we must allow His Word to transform and change us.

In order for God’s Word to change us into what God desires us to be, we must read His word regularly. Today, you will learn what the Bible says about the importance of reading and studying His Word on a regular basis.

There are four things the Word of God brings us: power, healing, direction, and freedom.

Being changed means understanding who God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are and how they interact in your life. This week you will read passages that will help you understand more about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Today you will read about God being your spiritual father.

Not only does the Bible show us that God is our spiritual father, but it also illustrates three characteristics of His fatherhood: He is a patient father, a forgiving father, and an intimate father.

Jesus is Immanuel meaning God with us. God came in the form of His son Jesus to live among us so that He could ultimately provide us eternal life by dying on the cross. Today you will explore what the Bible says about Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.

Jesus is Immanuel, and as Immanuel the Bible tells us that He comforts the afflicted and He afflicts the comfortable.

God sent the Holy Spirit to be our counselor. Being our counselor also means that the Holy Spirit serves as our intercessor, our advocate, comforter, and helper.

The Bible says there are three things the Holy Spirit does for you: He comforts you, counsels you, and convicts you.

You are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit gives you the power to share Christ boldly, gives you power when you are weak, gives you power to have hope in a hopeless world, and gives you power to experience all the fullness of God.

Being changed means you connect with God through prayer. Our relationship with God is like any other relationship we have. We must spend time and connect with God and we do this through prayer. Over the next seven days you will spend time reading what God’s Word has to say about the importance and the power of prayer.

How should we talk to God? The Bible shows us that we should talk to God with gut-level honesty and talk to Him about everything that matters to you.

How should we talk to God? The Bible also says we should talk to God continually and that we should listen for His response.

Not sure how to pray or where to start? Start with Jesus’ example that He shared with His disciples, which is known as The Lord’s Prayer.

What matters to God when you pray? The Bible says your relationships and motives matter.

What matters to God when you pray? The Bible says the way you live matters, your faith matters, and God’s will matters.

Jesus encouraged us to pray without giving up. He illustrated this through the parable of the persistent widow.

Being changed means supporting and regularly attending your local church. Over the next seven days, you will read what the Bible says about what the church is and how you should support the local church through serving and tithing.

The church is not just a building. We are the church and each one of us is called to be ministers.

God has called you to meet the needs in your church.

God has given you both talents and spiritual gifts to use in serving His church and in ministering to others.

We support the local church through the tithe. All throughout the Bible God asks us to give Him a tithe, which is 10 percent of our earnings. In fact, the only time God ask us to test Him in the Bible is related to the tithe in Malachi 3.

Not only does God ask for our tithe, but He also desires us to be cheerful givers beyond the tithe.

During His ministry, Jesus often discussed the importance of tithing and giving generously.

Being changed means engaging in Biblical community. God did not design us to do life on our own, which is why it is vital that we engage in Biblical community with other believers. You will conclude this reading plan over the next six days by reading about the importance of Biblical community from God’s Word.

You’ll never do all God wants you to do without the right people around you. You need people in your life that are with you heart and soul. A great example of this can be seen with Jonathan and the armor-bearer.

One of the benefits of Biblical community is being around other believers that help you grow both spiritually and relationally.

Biblical community comes in many forms, the most common of which is within your local church in the form of regular church attendance and in small groups.

One of the greatest benefits of being in Biblical community with other followers of Christ is having people that support you during difficult times.

Biblical community can occur within a group of believers or between two people. In fact, some of the strongest forms of Biblical community happen between just two people. It’s important that we have believers in our life that can mentor and counsel us, as well as keep us accountable.

On this final day, you will read about the life change that has taken place inside of you as a result of your accepting Christ as your Savior. You have been forever changed as a result of your decision to follow Christ. The old is gone, and the new has come!