January 1 – Life Verses – Philippians 2:3-4

Read Philippians 2:3-4

A couple years ago, Psychological Science published a study suggesting that people are becoming more individualistic.  And that’s not just an American trend, it’s a global trend.  In general, life is becoming more and more about us.

And many of you are thinking, “I didn’t need a scientific study to tell me that!  I see it every day!”

Entitled consumers.  Fascination with celebrity. Infatuation with appearance. Obsession with “likes.”

Yet, somehow, all this entitlement and narcissism and self-centeredness doesn’t sit well with us.  Deep within, we know it’s a problem.  But why?

While it’s totally consistent with our fallen nature, it’s completely contrary to our created design.  And as Christians, it’s inconsistent with our new creation.

The problem with being consumed with ourselves is that we are oblivious to the concerns for others.  We lack empathy.  When I put me first, I put others second.

Paul admonishes us to change our focus.  He said,

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Most people don’t get up in the morning and spend energy thinking about how others are doing. Most people are only concerned with their own pursuits. And that’s why many people are unhappy with their lives!

Value others. Pick your head up from your phone and see others and their needs. Change your focus.  Shift your attention away from yourself toward others. Find ways to encourage others and build them up.  In fact, Paul says that saying “no” to self and “yes” to others will bring joy into your life.

Throughout my lifetime I have missed more opportunities than I would care to count because my eyes weren’t open or directed toward the needs and the consideration of others.

Let’s agree to put others first. Let’s agree to look out for the interests of others.  Let’s agree to think of ourselves less and others more.  And let’s spread some joy.

David Lawson

 

December 31 – Life Verses – 2 Corinthians 5:21

Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we

might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21

When I think about a “life verse,” what instantly comes to mind for me is 2 Corinthians 5:21. In fact, I would describe 2 Corinthians 5 as my favorite chapter of Scripture, specifically verses 11-21.

I love verse 21 because it succinctly sums up the story of the Gospel: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). When Jesus went to the cross, He took on our sin, and in exchange He gave us His righteousness. What a trade! Our sin was charged against Jesus while His perfection and righteousness was applied to us. This is the beauty of the Gospel: that Jesus took our punishment and offers us not only forgiveness, but a way to be in a relationship with God.

That is why Paul, throughout the rest of chapter 5, encourages and challenges us to be Christ’s ambassadors! If we have been made into a “new creation” and have received this great mercy, how can we keep it to ourselves? Instead, we must realize that we who have been reconciled with God have been assigned what Paul calls the “ministry of reconciliation.” This means, simply, that we all have a job to do: to tell others about the incredible gift that Jesus has given to us, and to invite them to receive that same gift themselves.

I would consider this my life verse because it is my reminder of my duty. I am not here to serve myself. I am who I am because of Christ and Christ alone and because of that truth I have a God-given responsibility to reach others with the same message that reached me. I hope that you would consider the responsibility God has entrusted to you as well. We have been called by God to implore others to come back to Him. I love that truth because it reminds me every day of the reason I am on this earth.

Billy Starkey

December 30 – Life Verses – Isaiah 24:5-6

Read Isaiah 24:5-6

About 2 years ago, I flew on an airplane for the first time in as long as I could remember. I was with a couple of friends and am certain that of the three of us, I was the one most fearful of flying. The night before we flew out, my mom sent me a text with the verse Isaiah 26:3-4 which says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” I memorized Isaiah 26:3-4 and I remember reciting it every time my thoughts would drift towards fear and the unknown. As I fixed my mind on reciting that verse, He gave me real and unexplainable peace as we flew. To this day, reciting these two verses in my mind when I am anxious has been God’s way of helping me navigate many of life’s challenges.

Isaiah 26 is a song of praise to God for deliverance of His people from destruction. To help you understand the context of this song of praise, recorded just two chapters beforehand, Isaiah prophesies about the devastation that is to come on the earth in the last days. This includes the judgment and destruction that will come to those who have deliberately chosen to disobey or reject God by the time of His return (Isaiah 24:5-6). Though this time of judgment will bring great devastation, the Lord is to be praised because of His faithfulness to those who choose to trust and obey Him. Those who choose to trust and obey Him can have true peace of mind. Believers will not experience the punishment that nonbelievers will experience in the last days, and Isaiah is praising God for it in chapter 26.

In a world of people who experience anxious thoughts daily, believers have access to peace that goes beyond understanding through trust in God. When worries creep into our mind, we have the power through Christ to fix our mind on the truth of God’s Word by memorizing and reciting Scripture rather than dwelling on our worries. Our circumstances may not get better, but in the middle of them we can choose to focus on the eternality of God and praise Him like Isaiah did. The road to having peace of mind is found in training our mind to think on the things of God even when our circumstances are devastating.

Sidney Schar

 

December 29 – Life Verses – John 10:10

Read John 10:1-21

“Living my best life.” Have you ever heard this phrase from someone? I see it all the time as I peruse Instagram. It’s an expression that Urban Dictionary describes as, “A stupid phrase used to portray a false reality that you can wake up and choose which “life” you want to live.” If only it was that easy. Perhaps we could just say, “Hey Alexa, I want to live my best life today.” And our day would transform before our eyes? That doesn’t sound half bad. I searched for all of the posts on Instagram with this tag, #livingmybestlife, and found a pile of photos and videos of people indulging in things that make them feel “happy.” I saw people posting  their weight-loss transformations, beach vacations, experiences with friends, alcohol, and positive thinking quotes. This is what culture calls, “the best life.”

While I’m not against positivity and doing things that make you happy… is it really the best life? What happens when I wake up and it’s not the best day of my life? When I have to make a dreaded phone call, or worse yet receiving one of those feared phone calls. Life isn’t always waking up and choosing “the best life.” Sometimes… we get stuck in a life that we never dreamed could ever happen to us. We become consumed in deep indescribable realities of grief, disease, divorce, depression, anxiety, addictions, debt, loneliness, and so many other things that creep in when we least expect it.

Yet, when Jesus talks about the best life, the full life, He’s not talking about waking up in the morning and doing all the things that make us happy. He’s talking about choosing to live life His way, for Him and with Him. Even when we find ourselves in the midst of crazy chaos, Jesus offers life with Him. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full.” He’s promising the best life in the midst of the chaos of this world.

John chapter ten is full of language about peace, safety and joy found in Jesus. Jesus came so that we can have life. Realizing that Jesus came to this earth to die so that I can have life is the most sobering reality. The foot of the cross is the most humbling place to be. The place where I realize my sinfulness and embrace his holiness. His death and his resurrection made a way for me to find hope for all of life’s situations. I have found true life in Him. Safe in his pasture. Resting in His presence, even when there are wolves and thieves that are out to destroy me. Protected by Him, my shepherd. I find deep soul satisfaction as I pursue Him every day. You see, my friend, the abundant life has nothing to do with stuff. It has nothing to do with doing things to make you happy. It has nothing to do with waking up and choosing to “live your best life.” It has everything to do with giving up control and finding peace, safety, hope, forgiveness and the best life in Jesus Christ.

I wonder if we should drop the “living my best life” hashtag and lean into the best life that God has for us? There must be a conscious shift from pursuing the earthly things to pursuing the eternal things of God. The abundant life is about the reality that Jesus made a way for us to live life reconciled with Him, the best. Are you living the best life?

Rachel Snyder

December 28 – Life Verses – John 15:1-8

Read John 15:1-8

Galatians 5:16-26, Colossians 1:9-14 and James 3:13-18

I’m lacking as a gardener but my green-thumbed friend, Kristen, doesn’t seem to care. Visiting her this spring, she insisted on entrusting me with a portion of her Dahlia plants.

Nervous, yet eager to be a sensible steward of these precious, plant babies, I asked Kristen a lot of questions (I also did my fair share of Googling). I learned that Dahlia’s are high maintenance plants. Their voluminous blooms are too hefty for their spindly stalks so they have to be tied to stakes as they grow 5-6’ high.

Without connection to a stake Dahlia’s won’t produce fruit.

Without connection to Jesus; neither will I.

I remember when God seared John 15:5 into my soul as I was participating in a Bible study called Experiencing God. The Spirit began to gently unravel my stubborn independence and move me to a deeper dependence on Him.

Apart from me you can do nothing.

These words still arrest me making me humbly aware of my need to surrender and cling to the One who produces fruit in me. Often, I pray them back to Jesus as I step into the roles He has given me as I follow Him…Join me, Jesus, speak to me and though me, lead me, have your way, apart from you I can do nothing. On my not-so-great days, I barge forward forgetting my source and find myself uttering a prayer of confession…Jesus, forgive me for taking this all on myself, I didn’t pray, I didn’t wait on you.

I want to bear fruit, don’t you? I want to live a life that points to the One I cling to. As a flower expert can immediately recognize a Dahlia bloom, I want people to recognize I follow Jesus because I bear fruit that is rooted in Him…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I also want to bear abundant fruit. Did you know the more you cut Dahlia flowers the more blooms they produce? I didn’t, until I Googled it. We are the same. We can lean in to the pruning. God is a gentle gardener we can trust with the snips and setbacks. He is making us into a glorious garden.

Cling to Jesus, friends.

Dwell in Him.

Depend on Him.

Stay connected to the Vine and fruit will come.

Shelly Eberly

December 27 – Life Verses – Philippians 1:21

Read Philippians 1:21

I remember seeing some shirts for young teens in a store and one sparkle-filled, bright pink shirt caught my attention.  It had in large black letters loaded with sequins the phrase “it’s all about me!”  I can only imagine the person who would wear that and what it would be like to be a friend to him or her.

I’m sure you’ve seen shirts with the motto YOLO on them.  It stands for You Only Live Once.  It was made popular in 2011 by a rapper.  It’s kind of become like a carpe diem kind of expression that is freeing people to do whatever they want because they only live once.  Life is defined in many different ways by people.  I’ve heard people say things like: “work is life” or “Starbucks is life” or “grandkids are life” or “sports are life”.  If someone decided to fill in the blank for your life how would they describe what the aim of your life was; “___________ is life.”

That thought has been in my mind for decades as I ponder my life purpose and the verse that has guided me through the ups and downs of life.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians and in chapter 1 he was discussing the tension he felt between continuing here on earth or being with God in Heaven.  Some days I’d rather just be with Jesus in Heaven and away from the burdens of this life.  Other days I don’t want to miss what’s going on in the lives of people I love.  It’s a real tension.  And he boils it down to this one phrase…which is my life verse:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21

This verse gives us 3 really important words for life:

Perspective.  Paul starts with “For to me.”  Life in Christ is not about you anymore.  You see everything differently.  Like in a football game when the quarterback is struggling and he comes off the field, puts on the headset, and is coached by someone up in the press box who sees the game from a different perspective.  Jesus gives us access to our Father who has an elevated perspective.

Purpose.  Next Paul gives a life mission statement when he says, “to live is Christ”.  In English class we learn the word “is” means an equal sign.  Life = Christ.  The fact that through Christ we have received forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit to guide us changes everything about our life.  We have hope to break chains and cycles and we live to make Jesus famous.  I want my life purpose to be all about Christ.

Promise.  Paul finishes with the phrase, “to die is gain.”  WHAT?!?  You can only believe death is better than life if you are confident that what is to come is better than what is now.  A relationship with Jesus promises us peace with God now and His presence forever in a place called Heaven.  It’s a promise of no more pain, suffering, or loss.  Paul essentially says, “the best is yet to come!”

So today make your aim His perspective, purpose, and promise.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21

Nick Cleveland

December 26 – Life Verses – 1 John 5:11-13

Read 1 John 5:11-13

Doubt… that little voice in the back of your mind that keeps you from being settled and assured in life.  I don’t know about you but doubt had played havoc on my spiritual life for years.  Let me tell you a little of my story and how God used His Word to resolve my doubt.

I became a follower of Christ when I was in grade school.  During junior high I began having conversations with a friend at school about how long eternity would last.  As we would jokingly say “yeah, that’s a long time but add 100 more years…” it began to settle in my heart that this eternity thing was a long time.  At that point I began to question where I sat with my salvation.

Not wanting to miss what God had for me, I began a process where every day after I got off the school bus I would ask Jesus to be my savior – “just in case I hadn’t said the prayer properly the 50 times I had said it before.”  (by the way…I became quite proficient in praying the sinner’s prayer)

This went on for months and I was unsettled in my heart where I would spend eternity.  It was at that time I found a few verses that answered my question and settled my doubt.  I realized there was an amazing promise when we choose to have a relationship with Jesus.

Those verses that made a difference that day (and for the years since) are found in 1 John 5:11-13   “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

There is something powerful that happens in your heart when you are sure of something.  I love the fact that Jesus doesn’t make us wonder if our name is in the book of life, but with confidence, and without a shadow of a doubt, we can KNOW that we have eternal life! (this is where you say “Amen!”)

Randy Moomaw

Ps… It has been a few years since those awkward junior high days but God still uses these verses to remind me of my citizenship in heaven.  Why not take a few moments today to meditate on these verses… have you made that decision to follow Jesus as your Savior and Lord?  If so, this promise is for you!  I am an advocate of memorizing scripture…why not commit this one to memory?

November 30 – Life Verses – Romans 8:28

Read Romans 8:28

Little did I know when I was a young boy that memorizing scripture would end up saving my life. I mean, I memorized it to get stuff! But then the day came…I was 12 years old and in 7th grade. I found myself opening the cabinet where mom kept all of her medicine and in that moment considered taking the pill bottles and taking my own life. But something happened in that moment… a verse came to my mind… a verse I had learned a few years before:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

That day and in that moment, I remembered that God made me on purpose and for a purpose. Even though my circumstances at the time were very difficult, God would use them to help others. He would use them to shape my life. He would use them for His good! So, that day I choose to live and to live on purpose for Jesus.

I praise God for his Word and especially that verse, because I have been reminded of it many, many times throughout challenges in my life. God does not always remove us from difficult circumstances, but he promises to use those times for his good. Why? Because he created us on purpose and for a purpose!

So, what about you? What are you wrestling with right now that does not make sense? What are you or someone you care about going through that makes you wonder if life is worth living? May I give you the same encouragement that God gave me all of those years ago. My friend, God created you on purpose and for a purpose. There is hope in Jesus! There is hope for your life. Jesus, the Savior of the World, loves you and longs to use your story for His good.

Tim Boucher

November 29 – Life Verses – Romans 6:11

Read Romans 6:1-23

Do you ever look back on your life with gratitude that God didn’t give up on you? Over the last 15 years of my life, there were many different times where God maybe should have given up on me. There are many things that God has freed me from since that time and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Sin is something that 100% characterized most of my teenage years. Putting on the mask of “Pastor’s kid” on Sunday allowed me to hide a lot of darkness that was a part of my soul. I shamefully look back on the people I hurt through my raging anger and manipulation. I look back on the status of my heart and it was terrible. Sin was a dark plague in my life that had its ugly hands suffocating me. I was going nowhere quick.

And then God intervened.

After I graduated high school, I finally opened my heart up to God. I was immediately drawn to the 6th chapter of Romans with all of the talk about sin and being a slave to it and no longer needing to live under it. There are so many verses that I wish to highlight in this chapter but don’t have the space to do so.

I feel like verse 11 sums up the entire chapter when it says:

“Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

This verse sums up the last 15 years of my life and I would consider it to be my life verse. Without Jesus, we are dead to sin, we are slaves to it. I love how Paul questions why people would voluntarily live under the reign on sin in their lives when they have already been freed from it. With Jesus in our hearts, when we sin, we are choosing to live under sin’s control in our lives.

Doesn’t make sense does it?

The healing process for me is 8 years in the making and, while I still fall back into the old way of living on occasion, I pray that I would never allow it to reign in my life again. Sin is something that will never be wiped away from our lives until Jesus comes back. However, it remains a battle and it is one that I will continue to fight!

As you look inside your own heart, are you a slave to sin? What area of our life can you just not seem to give up completely to the Lord? I challenge you to read over Romans 6 and allow the many truths to jump off the page to you. Give the Holy Spirit complete access to your heart and mind. What do you need to be healed from? How are you going to choose to live outside of the reign on sin in your life?

Jake Lawson

November 28 – Life Verses – Joshua 1:8

Read Joshua 1:8

Remember the first time you ever jumped into the deep end of the pool? Maybe it took a whole summer of coaxing before you tried it.

You might not remember the exact day, but you might remember the feeling that combined mind-numbing fear with exhilaration.

I wonder if that’s what the Israelites felt as they stood on the brink of the Promised Land 3500 years ago. God had promised them a land “flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8; Numbers 13:27). But the Israelites initially succumbed to fear because of a bad report given by scouts who had checked out the land.  Their focus was only on the opposition that might be encountered.

Now after 40 years of wandering in the desert because of their disobedience and lack of faith, the Israelites were back to that critical moment again. Would they “jump in the pool” and experience the blessings of the Promised Land or not?

At this crucial juncture, God spoke to Joshua the new leader of His people who had recently replaced Moses. The Lord urged His servant to be strong and courageous. Then God gave Joshua this challenge: “Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8 – NIV).

God was saying: “Joshua, this is your key to success in your new responsibility. Don’t succumb to fear. Don’t recoil when the opposition seems overwhelming. Lean all of your weight on the revealed Word of God. Focus on its truths. And I promise you will be successful.”

I love this verse! It has been my life verse. I have found no greater security in times of uncertainty, fear and confusion than the promises God has revealed in His Word.

Now there’s a three-step process to follow if we are going to benefit from the practice outlined in this verse:

  1. Memorize – We have to commit to memory the actual words in the text of Scripture.  This takes effort.
  2. Meditate – This word means to think about something over and over like a cow chews its cud.  This takes time.
  3. Master – Then we look for ways to apply the principles and promises of God‘s Word to the experiences we face in life.  This takes practice.

Only when I follow these guidelines, does God promise His blessing in my life. It’s a sure-fire formula for “success,” whatever you may encounter in life.   It’s worked in my life!

Bob Fetterhoff