Read an Excerpt
God Is in the Small Stuff
Little is much if God is in it.
A national best-selling book suggests that you shouldn't sweat the small stuff. Many people treat the small stuff in life as if no onenot even Godhas any control over what happens. They call it "fate" or talk about how they are "lucky" or "fortunate" when certain things happen or don't happen.
We're not suggesting that you should involve God in every decision you make no matter how small (for example, you don't have to ask God what you should wear in the morning). But if you're like most people, you tend to ask for God's involvement only in times of major need or crisis, and consequently you miss out on the joy and wonder of watching God work in the small stuff of your life. There's no question God is in the big events, but He delights in working in the details.
* * *
Do not despise these small beginnings,
for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin ...
Use for the Purpose Intended
The person with an unread Bible has no advantage
over the person who doesn't own one.
You would laugh if someone expressed belief in a "lucky" rabbit's foot dangling from his key chain. (Okay, maybe you wouldn't laugh, laugh, but weare pretty sure that you would snicker.) Why? Because "good luck charms" are foolishness and offer nothing but a false sense of security.
Sadly, some of us relegate our Bible to the status of "good luck charm." Somehow we get a warm, fuzzy feeling just knowing that it is propped up in the bookshelf or lying on the nightstand. But we never read it. It is just there for looks (and for luck).
But the Bible will do you absolutely no good sitting unread. Only if it is opened, read, and studied can you access all of God's wisdom and direction that the Bible contains. You need to know all that God has written for you to learn about Him (and yourself). You need to read the Bible. Move it off the shelf and into your heart.
* * *
For these commands and this teaching are
a lamp to light the way ahead of you.
In the Beginning
Either God created the heavens and the earth, or He didn't.
Unless we know where our world came from, we don't really know where it's going. And we don't know where we're going, either. That's why there's such a huge debate about how the universe began. The answer goes to the heart of our very existence.
There are only two options When it comes to the be beginning of the universe. The first option is that a personal, intelligent, all-powerful, all-knowing, self-existent Creator made the heavens and the earth in perfect balance and harmony. The second option is that everything in the universe came from nothing. It "made" itself. (To get a sense of this, next time you get into your car, imagine that it came into existence on its own without the help of a designer and manufacturer.)
There are no third or fourth options that some impersonal "force" brought the universe into existence, or that a speck of energy exploded into stars and planets and life. Either God made everything or He didn't.
* * *
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Sometimes you have to choose between following God
and impressing your friends.
Living a godly life may make you different. You may end up doing just the opposite of everyone else. Sometimes you may find that your conduct pleases God but offends your friends, or vice versa. Should you compromise and try to find an acceptable middle ground?
Jesus gave the two analogies of "salt" and "light" to show the importance of conduct. Salt is a seasoning, but it's also used as a preservative. God wants you to be like a moral preservative, bringing a virtuous and ethical flavor to your culture. God also wants you to shine into the darkness, not for your own publicity, but to bring credit to God.
Salt doesn't do any good if it stays in the shaker. A candle doesn't do any good under a bowl. So go forward today being salt and light in your world.
* * *
"You are the light of the world ...
Don't hide your light under a basket!
... let your good deeds shine out for all to see,
so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."
You Can't Prove God Exists
Don't worry about proving God's existence,
because no one can disprove it.
Sometimes we think we can prove God exists, but it just can't be done. You can't stick God under a microscope or view Him through a telescope, because God is a Spirit. No one has actually seen God (John 1:18).
On the other hand, no one can disprove God's existence. If someone says that God doesn't exist because you can't prove it in a science experiment, then you must also conclude that light doesn't exist, because you can't prove that, either.
But light does exist, because there's evidence. We can see it, feel it, and witness the effect of light on the world and in our lives. The same goes for God. We know He exists because we can see the perfect order of the universe. We can feel His presence in our hearts. And we see the evidence of God's involvement in the world and in every detail of our lives.
* * *
They can clearly see his invisible qualitieshis
eternal power and divine nature.
What It Takes
If you want results that are excellent, diligence is required.
The coach of any athletic team will tell you that you've got to practice if you want to win. In the spiritual realm, "winning" is getting to know God and having our lives transformed in the process. But just as in sports, "winning" with God requires the discipline of repeated practice.
As you are diligent in pursuing God, you'll notice gradual changes in your life. Everything won't change all at once. But don't let that discourage you. (God isn't discouraged by it. He won't cut you from the team.) Keep at it. You are working for a goal that is worthy of your best efforts.
* * *
I keep working toward that day when I will finally
be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be....
I strain to reach the end of the race
and receive the prize for which God,
through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
Philippians 3:12, 14
There's Nothing You Can Do
Thank God that your salvation does not depend on you.
In the physical world there are many ways to be saved, but first you have to be in a situation where you would eventually die without help. A guy in a lifeboat could pull you out of freezing water, or a skilled surgeon could save your life on the operating table. In either case you would be saved, and there would be nothing you could do to save yourself.
The same principle applies in the spiritual world. All of us are in a situation where we will eventually die without help, and there's nothing we can do to save ourselves. You could thrash around in the freezing water, you could try to operate on yourself, but all of your efforts would be futile.
All of our efforts won't help us spiritually, either, but God is willing to save usif we will only believe in Him.
* * *
God saved you by his special favor when you believed.
And you can't take credit for this;
it is a gift from God.
Your self-esteem should not be derived from how great
you think you are but from how much God loves you.
There is a lot of talk these days about building your "self-esteem" so you will have confidence to make it in society. But confidence placed in yourself is doomed for failure (because you'll someday learn that you aren't as great as you have been telling yourself). Instead of being confident in yourself, try placing our confidence in God, Who will never fail you.
If you belong to God, there is no one or nothing that can separate you from His love and protection. This can give you real confidence. Circumstances can be tough, but He will see you through. Even death won't defeat you.
God loves you so much that He allowed His Son to die on the cross for you. That is the kind of love in which you can place all of your confidence.
* * *
I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love.
Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't.
Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow,
and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away.
Discover the things that please God, and then make them habits.
It's only natural to want to please someone you like. You do it, not because you're obligated, but because you want to give joy to someone you care about. God likes it when you please Him, but don't do it to give Him joyGod doesn't need to have His spirits lifted. And don't try to please God in order to butter Him up like you might do to a parent or a boss in order to get something.
Pleasing God is for your enjoyment and your benefit. When you do the things and think the thoughts that please God (to find out how, check God's Word), your life takes on new meaning and purpose. Not only that, but your impact on those around you will increase as you make pleasing God a habit.
* * *
And we will receive whatever we request
because we obey him and do the things that please him.
1 John 3:22
Contentment begins when comparison stops.
It is impossible to weigh your contentment on a scale of stuff. If stuff is your measurement, you will never have enough, because there will always be someone who has more stuff than you do. You will never be content.
Neither will you be content if you are proud of the fact that you don't have a lot of stuff, because there will always be someone who is more proud of their poverty than you are.
Stuff has nothing to do with contentment, because contentment is a matter of your heart, not your wallet. Real contentment comes when you focus your heart and your mind on things above rather than things on Earth (Col. 3:2).
* * *
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.
I have learned the secret of living in every situation.
Looking at God Instead of
If you look at your circumstances through God's eyes,
then your circumstances won't obscure your view of God.
We make life a lot harder than it needs to be. This happens whenever the circumstances in our lives discourage us. When problems arise, and nothing goes right, the stress builds. We become unhappy, discouraged, and discontented. It is in those tough times that God seems distant.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Instead of trying to see God through your circumstances, take the opposite approach. Look at your circumstances through God's eyes.
God doesn't see your circumstances as insurmountable. He's not intimidated or discouraged by them. Since they aren't problems for Him, they shouldn't be for you.
The next time you find yourself looking down in despair, lift your head and start looking up. Stop worrying about your obstacles, and start thinking about the God Who can help you overcome them.
* * *
For I can do everything with the help of Christ
who gives me the strength I need.
The Insignificance of
Whenever you feel insignificant,
remember how important you are to God.
It doesn't take much effort to feel insignificant. Another personprobably someone you know pretty wellmakes a negative comment about you, or you fail to meet your own expectations, and soon you're feeling low.
Or you start comparing your mundane achievements to the people who make headlines for their great accomplishmentsespecially in your fieldand it doesn't take long for you to believe that your work or your position doesn't count for much. You wonder if anybody really cares.
Okay, we've gone low enough! That's no place for someone whom God loves and cares about more than can be imagined. Your life has value and what you do has significance because you are important to God.
* * *
"Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny,
can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.
And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.
So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to him
than a whole flock of sparrows."
It's Okay to Feel Small
When you begin to feel self-important,
remember how mighty and vast God is.
The opposite of feeling insignificant is feeling self-important, and we've got plenty of that going around. Everybody wants to be king of the world. There's only one problem with putting yourself at the center of the universe: You tend to push God out.
We're all for feeling confident. There's nothing wrong with knowing who you are, as long as you know Whose you are. You aren't some autonomous being in full control of your destiny. You belong to God, Who designed and built you as surely as He set the moon and the stars in place.
Knowing that, it seems a little silly to tell God, "Thanks for getting the ball rolling, but I can handle it from here." Instead, we should be thankful that our big God has taken our small lives and turned them into something significant.
* * *
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingersthe
moon and the stars you have set in placewhat
are mortals that you should think of us,
mere humans that you should care for us?
If you want to have a great life for yourself,
then give it away to God.
Ambition is natural. After all, you want a happy family, friendships, financial security, and good health. In other words, you want a great life. It's only natural to have such ambitions and to do everything necessary to attain your goals. But should you be ambitious just because it comes naturally?
Jesus taught about the great irony of self-ambition. He said you must lose your life in order to keep it. This paradox forces you to choose which is more important: your physical life or your eternal soul. Jesus taught that gaining everything on Earthall the things that are supposed to make you happywill still leave you emotionally bankrupt if you don't have a spiritual relationship with God.
God wants you to live with ambition and purpose, but He doesn't want your focus to be self-centered and self-directed. Let God be your priority. Let living in His Kingdom be your ambition.
* * *
"And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world
but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process?"
Do You Want to
Know God's Will?
If you want to know God's will,
spend time with Him.
One of the mysteries of life is the will of God. We desperately want to know what God wants us to do, but we're not really sure how to find out. While it's true that we'll never know all of God's will (after all, He's God), we can know a lot of what He wants us to do by spending time with Him.
Think about it on a human level. The more you get to know someone, the more you know what that person is like, and the more you know what that person likes. That's what God's will is all aboutknowing what God is like and knowing what He likes. So you could say that the only way to really know God's will is to really know God. How do you do that? By reading the Bible, His personal message to you, and by talking with Him as often as you can.
* * *
Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.
Are You God's
God's unconditional love for us
should be our motivation to love Him.
Nobody likes a fair-weather friend. You know, those people who hang around only when things are going well. You realize that their companionship and loyalty are merely an illusion if they bolt as soon as times get tough. You wouldn't want a "friend" like that.
Neither does God, but sadly, many of us treat Him that way. We give God our adoration and allegiance only when He fulfills our expectations. So, if things are going smoothly in our lives, we are glad to express our appreciation by being attentive to Him. But when difficulties arise, we are quick to blame God. We want a God Who is going to make our lives easy, so if He won't give us what we want, then we don't want to waste our time on Him.
Aren't you glad that His love for us endures no matter how we treat Him? That is true love from a true friend, and that should be how we respond to Him.
* * *
We know how much God loves us,
and we have put our trust in him.
1 John 4:16
Seek This First
Next time you write out your priorities,
make sure you put God at the top.
Whenever you set goals for yourself, it's important to prioritize them. Decide which ones are most important, and do these first. Too often we waste our time on lower shelf, easy-to-attain goals when we should be striving for the goals on the top shelf, even if they are harder to reach.
As you get to know God better, you will find that He will ask you to operate at a higher level of living. He wants you to reach for the top shelf. This has nothing to do with moving to the mountains or getting a promotion at work. What it means is that you shouldn't worry about your short-term, personal needs (they're important, but don't let them consume you). Trust God to provide for the everyday stuff, and then make God and His Kingdomwhich He is building in this world through the hearts of those who follow Himyour highest priority.
* * *
He will give you all you need from day to day
if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God
your primary concern.