January 7 – Habits – Asking for help

Read James 1:5

Each year in the fall, I can my own applesauce. If you do this too, you know it is a process that can take an entire day. I was prepared to process about three bushels of apples this one particular day. I dumped the first pan of cooked apples in the strainer and turned the crank. Pop! The whole strainer fell apart like a cartoon contraption. Hot apples went everywhere on the table and floor.  I cleaned up the wasted apples, and managed to put the strainer back together without burning my fingers. I tried to run some apples through again but it came apart again!

I needed help!

Have you ever felt desperate for help? What do you do in situations like these? I become single-minded in my quest to problem-solve and find a solution and try to fix it on my own. Sometimes that strategy works, but often times, the problem is beyond my control.

Then what?

 “If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do – ask Him, and He will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.”

It’s a simple three- letter word, yet so hard to do – ask.

What makes this so difficult to do?

  • We don’t want to be seen as weak or incapable of doing something that others seem to handle just fine. We tell ourselves lies about being able to conquer all the challenges we encounter.
  • We don’t know what to ask for. The situation is complicated and seems hopeless so why bother asking for help?
  • We hope that ignoring the problem will just make it go away on its own. Asking for help means admitting a problem exists.

None of these are good excuses for resisting help. When we seek out help, we are actually living the way God designed us to live.

“I can do all things with the help of Christ who gives me strength…”

Paul did not say he could do it alone and neither should we. God welcomes our requests for help and will not resent our asking or think less of us. In our strong-willed, self-sufficient society, it seems that it is rarely acceptable to ask for help. This mindset is debilitating. It creates a reliance on self, not on community for which God designed us. We have unrealistic expectations of ourselves when we think we can do it all without help. In fact, God designed us to need each other. In Genesis 2:18, God said it’s not good for man to live alone and He created Eve as a helper for him. God knew that life would get rough and that we would need to rely on each other for help.

Have you been asked to help? That day when I needed help with my applesauce, I called a friend who had a strainer I could borrow. She showed up at my house within 30 minutes to help me the rest of the day. She was elated to lend a hand and meet my need. I imagine that is how it is for God who wants to help His children. He is thrilled to be asked for help!

The next time you are facing a situation that is beyond your capabilities, ask for help. When you don’t know what to do next, ask for help. Make it a habit to swallow your pride and seek the advice or help of others. Ask God to put people in your path who will respond when you need them. Ask God to use you to respond to the needs of others.

Tammy Finney

January 6 – Habits – Godly thinking

Read Philippians 4:8

After the destruction of any city, people are tasked with rebuilding the city, including the walls and gates. In history, gates were an important part of a city as, when they were open, people could freely enter and when they were closed, any unwanted company was left out. The walls and gate signified boundaries around the city to protect it.

Have you heard the saying, “What comes in, must go out”? Or maybe “Eye gate” and “ear gate”?

Think of what Jesus says in Matthew 15:17-20:

Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated?  But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and those things defile the person.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, acts of adultery, other immoral sexual acts, thefts, false testimonies, and slanderous statements. These are the things that defile the person; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the person.”

The principle here is our eyes and ears are the gate to our thinking and feeling and, when we are filling our eyes and ears with things of this world, our heart will begin to change and that is what comes out.

Ask yourself these questions:

What are you listening to? Are you filling your ears with the focus on the news and the opinions of men? Are you listening to music that is filled with worldly views?

What are you watching? Are you watching unrighteous material that could cause you to stumble?

Your ears and eyes are the gate to your thoughts and heart. If you are focusing on “whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise” … how are these things changing your worldly view to a biblical worldview?

Take note of what you spend your time listening to and watching and see how these things line up with God’s Word.

Kelly Lawson

January 5 – Habits – Physical health

Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?”1 Corinthians 6:19a

How do you maintain your car, home and bank account?

What about your body?

How can you follow God’s purposes for you when you do not take care of yourself?

This has to be a priority in our lives. Have you ever been tempted to do something with your body that wasn’t right? Maybe you have been tempted with illegal drugs, sexually, tobacco, fad diets or overeating.

How do you handle it?

The Bible tells us to not view our bodies as our own. We are not just living for ourselves, but we can live with the knowledge that the Holy Spirit of God lives in us. Our bodies are something special. Verse 19 shows us that the body is unique and a temple of the Holy Spirit.

So, when we’re tempted to do things that aren’t right, we need to step back and remember this verse and to maintain the body. Use our bodies in ways that bring glory to God. How do you do that? And how do you say no to temptation?

Honor God with our body – by taking care of it. Honor God with our heart by loving others. Honor God with our tongue by taming it.

Take care of what He has given you.

The Cleveland Clinic website suggests: “Lifestyle has a profound impact on your health.”

You are what you eat. Your body is exposed to more harmful stress due to lifestyle and environmental factors, resulting in a process called oxidation, which damages body cells. Eat a healthy diet including antioxidants to counteract oxidation. The Mediterranean Diet has been linked to decreasing your risk for breast cancer, diabetes and dementia, among others.

Those who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Are those diseases on your bucket list?

Sleep energizes you, improves your mood and your immune system. It restores your cells and helps your memory.

A support circle of people who care can positively help your health. How you manage stress is critically important for your health.

Get engaged in a healthy lifestyle!

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.”1 Corinthians 6:19-20

So, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is remarkable that God – the maker of heaven and earth – dwells in us. It is the Holy Spirit who put the beauty of God in us. We are made in God’s image.  And when we walk in the Spirit, that beauty is noticeable for all. Honor Him in everything that you do. Honor Him daily with awareness and maintenance of your amazing body. 

Tom Weckesser

January 4 – Habits – Forgiveness

Read Ephesians 4:32

Now, I would usually have considered myself to be a pretty forgiving person. It typically isn’t too difficult for me to forgive someone for something they have done against me. Visiting Israel years ago, friends hid my bag as a joke and, as a result, I was without clothes and toiletries for a couple of days. For some reason, I was able to forgive them for their joke gone wrong and move on pretty easily.

Other times, however, it’s not as easy.

I remember meeting with a ministry mentor and, expecting to get some ministerial advice, he kept asking me if I had forgiven someone in my past for the emotional abuse I received at their hands. I was quick to cast it off like “of course I have”. However, he kept circling back to it to the point where I was frustrated until he pointed out that a lot of my emotional issues were coming as a result of unforgiveness in my heart. While I had thought that I had forgiven them, I was still holding what they said and did against them and myself.

Forgiving someone means to not hold an injustice against them anymore. It’s easy for us to think of examples that don’t require complete forgiveness, but it’s really a black or white issue:

Have you forgiven them or haven’t you? Do you still hold anything against them?

Perhaps the believers is Ephesus were struggling with forgiveness because Paul tells them to forgive others just as Jesus forgave them.

Perhaps you are aware of what unforgiveness can do in your heart? How can it affect different areas of your life that you would view as unrelated to the original issue?

It wasn’t until I completely forgave this person that I was able to begin taking steps to heal and to mature in my faith as well. Looking back, I can confidentially say that I have made great strides in many areas of my life ever since I made the choice to forgive.

As you look over your life, what are you still holding onto? What do you hold against someone that is eating you from the inside out?

Are you fully aware of the impact unforgiveness is having on your life?

Are you willing to sit down with a trusted friend/family member and ask them if they see the fruit of unforgiveness in your life?

Jake Lawson

January 3 – Habits – Read the Bible

Read Matthew 4:4 and 2 Timothy 3:16

The alarm goes off at 6:15 and my day begins.  I get ready for the day and have breakfast. I turn on the TV for the day’s weather report.  The grandkids come over (who I watch before school).  I give them breakfast, we practice piano, and we read our morning devotional.  Based on our devotional, the grandkids are challenged to put their faith into action.  I say goodbye, “have a good day, be a good friend, share Jesus and I love you”.  But what is missing in this morning routine?  I have taken time to care for myself and others, but there was no personal time for God’s Word! 

Devotionals, like the ones I read to my grandchildren, and the one you are reading now, may be a great resource and a great way to start your day. Devotionals are meant to stimulate your desire to read more of the Bible. Devotionals are another’s thoughts, which may be inspiring, but are not the Word of God.  There is nothing which has a greater impact on our spiritual growth than reflection in His Word.  

In the context of Matthew 4:4, Satan has just tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread.  Satan is appealing to Jesus’ physical hunger while at the same time, tempting Jesus to meet His own needs. But Jesus replied, “It is written” … Jesus, who was the Word, (John 1:1-4) honors the Scriptures.  Jesus understood firsthand the power behind the Word of God.  Jesus then continues with His reply:

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Jesus set the example for us by using the power of God’s Word to overcome temptation.  His Word prepares us to expect temptation, to detect it and ultimately to reject it.

Second Timothy 3:16 teaches that God’s Word is His divine revelation, “All Scripture is God breathed…”  The Bible is a divine revelation that we can depend on to be infallibly true, pure and powerful.

His Word instructs us – to know God better and His plan of redemption through Jesus..

His Word reproves us – exposes sin, leading us to repentance

His Word corrects us – pointing out the evil nature of sin and its consequences, offering a solution through the Gospel message.

His Word is profitable for training in righteousness – pointing to the practical application of His Word.

Through Scripture we learn what is true, how to correct what’s wrong and then how to apply truth to our lives. I’d like to share a simple way to read and study the Scriptures for yourself, called “CLAP”.

Content – Identify the facts of the Scripture being read, don’t spiritualize.

Learn – How have you been instructed?  What have you learned from the passage?

Apply – How can you take what you’ve learned and personally respond to God’s Word? Application is about putting your faith into action.

Praise – Spend time in prayer thanking God, praising Him for what you have learned and how you’ve come to know Him better through His Word.

What steps do you need to take to make reading your Bible a daily habit?

“I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”Job 23:12

Janene Nagel

January 2 – Habits – Generosity

Read Matthew 6:21 and Luke 6:38

Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 in the United States and lived alone for most of her life while taking care of her parents. It was not until her death in 1886 when her sister – Lavinia, discovered her treasure of over 1800 poems – that they became public. She wrote about the value of generosity:

“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain…”

Generosity is a way of living, rather than a moment of giving. Generosity is who you are.  It can be the giving of time, abilities and gifts for the glory of God.

Riley Clemmons sings a meaningful song titled FOR THE GOOD:

“For the good
You work all things together.
For the good (For the good)
For the good (For the good)
Your promise stands forever.
You alone are my greatest hope,
I trust You on the broken road,
You work all things together like only You could.”

Develop a plan for giving. Some organizations try to get you to give by appealing to your feelings. Use your stewardship, your mind and decision-making skills to decide when and where to give.

We can be generous in many ways:

We can be generous with our influence by being a good example to others.

We can be generous by giving a person our total attention when they are speaking to us.

We can be generous with our words by asking questions and investing in the lives of others.

We can be generous with the subjects that we talk about such as spiritual things, and how we show gratitude and respect for others.

Our thoughts, our money, our influence, our time, our words, our actions…we sure can be generous in a lot of ways.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”Matthew 6:21

In the blink of an eye the things that you and I have devoted endless hours into building and improving can be taken from us. We can do everything we can to create a type of security in life, but actually, everything in this life is temporary. So why is it that so many of us Christians often live for this world alone? Where is our treasure? Is generosity in our hearts?

Here is an example of generosity that Jesus gave:

“Just then he looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, ‘The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!’”  Luke 21:1-4

The Bible encourages generosity in Proverbs 22:9, Hebrews 13:16 and many other verses.

Consider generosity for the good!

Tom Weckesser

January 1 – Habits – Prayer

Read Philippians 4:6

Today’s reading is an incredible verse that’s worthy of close examination so let’s break it down:

“Do not be anxious about anything…”

I would love to never be anxious about anything but that’s a lot to ask. How can I do that? I can’t do it in my own power but I believe that if I trust God He will help me, and all of us, to not be anxious. The very next verse talks about how, after we pray, the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.

“…in every situation…”

Does God mean that we should pray about even the small stuff?

I believe He does.

Should I wait until I’ve exhausted all of my time, energy and resources or should I pray right away? Over the years, I’ve been working on the habit of praying right away and I feel it works much better to go to God right away. He wants us to take all of our cares/anxiety to Him:

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7

I believe He wants to bear most of the burden:   

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”Matthew 11:28

“…with thanksgiving…”

The manner in which we are to pray is with thanksgiving. Does this mean we should be thanking God for the situation we’re praying about or thanking Him for His answer? I would say “yes” to both. I believe, based on the Bible, that God is sovereign which means He is in control of all things. So, when things happen in my life, I can either accept them as part of God’s plan or complain about them and, by complaining, basically say “Hey God, I know better than you.”

“…present your requests to God…”

When we present our requests to God, through prayer, we are coming into the presence of the God of the universe. This is incredible! I can picture myself bowing before the throne of grace and humbly asking for help and/or praising God for who He is and thanking Him for what He has done.

So why wait until you’ve exhausted yourself trying to deal with a situation? Why not go to God right away in prayer? Get into the habit of going to God right when an issue arises!

Mike Molter