FOR YOU ARE GOOD

Journal Entry by Warren Mortomore

S - Scripture - 2 Chronicles 7:3 (NKJV)
‘For He is good, For His mercy endures forever’

O - Observation
As Solomon finishes praying the people bowed their faces to the ground and worshipped and praised the Lord by declaring who He was – He was good – His mercy, his faithful love endures forever and ever.

A - Application
There are many times when serving and following Jesus, that we go through things – hardships that we don’t understand. Pastor Bill Johnson from Bethel puts it beautifully – “when we face things we don’t understand, we go back to what we do understand, and what we do understand is that God is good – He is good” So there are times in my life in good and bad that I have to stop, lift my hands, lift my voice in praise to Jesus, and declare what I know to be true, You are good, you only do good and your loving-kindness, mercy, and love endure for ever, and abound to me, right where I am at.

P - Prayer
I stop right now and praise you, I bow before you in worship, and declare you are good and you do only good. Thankyou for your goodness, and your faithful love that abounds to me everyday.
 

NEVER INVISIBLE…

Journal Entry by Gary and Christine Skinner

S – Scripture Psalm 94:9 (The Passion Translation) 
“God isn’t hard of hearing… God isn’t blind…  He’s watching all you do”

O - Observation
God is omniscient… He knows everything… there is no hiding from Him!

A - Application
“You’d better wise up! Why would you act like God doesn’t exist?” Psalm 94: 8. As parents we watched our boys play soccer (real football). More than once we observed the opposition were employing illegal tactics, playing too rough and the referee seemed blindsided, but… no matter how much pain we felt as parents we couldn’t intervene. It just seemed so unfair!

Sometimes, we may think God’s not taking note of what we do or is being done to us. But… He can, and does hear and see so let’s avoid being RED carded and play within His rules… even if it doesn’t seem fair.

P - Prayer
Father God, You Are listening and watching over us today. May the life we lead, our words and actions bring glory to Your name… that the world may know You exist, and You care.
 

STIRRING

Journal Entry by Esther Lawson

S - Scripture  Ezra 1:1 (NLT)
‬‬In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom


O - Observation
The book of Ezra begins in this way. This seems like a fairly ordinary verse but the phrase ‘He (God) stirred the heart of Cyrus’ caught my attention. As I read, I saw the phrase repeated in Ezra 1:5 ‘Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord’. The proclamation mentioned in verse 1 released the Jews to go and rebuild the Temple. In chapter 2, there is a list of those who returned after being given considerable gifts of silver, gold and livestock by those remaining behind including the King


A - Application
Without going to deep into the history, the long and short of it is this: good things happen when we listen to the God-stirrings within our hearts. When we act on what He has told us, promised us, whispered to us and stirred within us we become agents of change. Easier said than done sometimes. Knowing what God is saying to us requires that we be close to Him, to know Him. In Psalm 27:8 we find this verse ‘My heart has heard you say “Come and talk with me.” My heart responds, “Lord, I am coming”.’ I love this verse. It’s a reminder of a simple, wooing and uncomplicated faith.


P - Prayer
God, thank you that you always want to speak to us. Help us to respond like the psalmist ‘Lord I am coming’ so that we can hear your voice. Attune our hearts to your voice and help us to be obedient to the stirring of our hearts for your purpose and glory. Amen. 
 

HELP - GOD!

Journal Entry by Geoff Allen

S – Scripture: Romans 10:14-17 (Msg)
But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?

O - Observation
How can people call out to God if no one has told them about him? We go through a lot of things in our lives and it doesn’t matter if we are new Christians or one of those that have been around for a while.  We all have a story to tell about the faithfulness and love of God.  It was brought new to me again this morning how I felt when I first realised the depth of God’s love for me and in that great love - he would sacrifice his son for me. 

A - Application
I believe that God gives us opportunities to share His love to people in our world (workplace, friends, school, neighbours, etc) and yes it may be challenging, but if you are obedient what joy that can bring.  Sometimes we blow it, but that’s ok; sharing with love and compassion about the love of God is life changing.  I would love to hear your stories. God wants to work in us and through us every day and I have found that it’s usually when it’s not convenient for me that opportunities arrive but find that rather than a distraction they are moments God had in his planner and Oh! how wonderful it is to be active about his business.

P - Prayer
Lord let me walk close enough to you to hear your voice and recognize the opportunities you give me to change lives and play my part in your plans and purposes.

FACTS & FAITH

Journal Entry by Paul Davila

S – Scripture: Romans 4:16-25 (NIV)

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.



O - Observation

Reading this account of Abraham really drives home the point of why he is and was held in such great esteem with the Jewish people and rightly so. He was an extraordinary man.
The line that stood out to me today was verse 19 where it says that “he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead…. And Sarah’s womb was also dead”.
They were a hundred-year-old man and a very old woman with a promise from God yet to be fulfilled.
How easy it would have been to just “accept the facts” and move on. To give up on what would have been a crazy idea. Just the thought of these two old people having a child would have seemed ludicrous and impossible.
But these verses also tell us that:
- His faith didn’t weaken or waiver regarding the promise of God.
- His faith was strengthened.
- He gave glory to God.
- He was fully persuaded of God’s power to do what He had promised.

A - Application

My take home from this amazing passage is this:
“Faith doesn’t deny the facts – it just overrides them”.
Abraham did not deny the fact that he and his wife were old. He knew that naturally speaking, what they wanted was near impossible, however he did not let this reality govern his future.
He held on to the promise and let that be the final say on the matter.
This is so encouraging, and it teaches me/us today that having faith doesn’t mean we deny facts.
Whether it be a bad medical report, or a relationship gone sour, a work crisis or any harsh reality we may be facing.
Denying there is no problem when there genuinely is, is not the solution.
Neither is just accepting that things could never change.
The key lies in believing and trusting in God’s promises over and above the situation we find ourselves in.


P - Prayer
Lord thank you for the example that Abraham gave us. Would you help me today to learn and practice this truth in my day to day life. Help me to acknowledge the facts/realities of life but let me not be governed by them. Let faith in your promises be my ultimate guide.

NO GOOD THING

Journal Entry by Warren Mortomore

S – Scripture: Psalm 84:11 (NKJV)

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those that walk uprightly”

O - Observation
The Psalmist declares in this Psalm his longing and thirsting for God. That blessed are those who dwell in your house – they will ever be praising you. Then the Psalmist make this declaration, a prophetic declaration, on the basis of who God is, and that He hears our prayers. ‘No good thing will God withhold from them that follow Him, walk uprightly before Him’

A - Application
As I follow after God – As I walk in paths with integrity – I will not lack for He will provide all I need.  This is one of many scriptures that we are to memorize and speak over our lives and family. ‘No good thing will He, God withhold from me as I walk uprightly before Him.’ Speak that now over your life – ‘No good thing!’ 

P - Prayer
I speak your word over my life and over the lives of our church who will read this today, You are not a stingy God – You are our Father – Our provider – Our helper, Our God and No Good Thing will You withhold – for that is what your word says, from them that follow after you, thirst after you, walk in your ways. 

A WAY OUT OF NO WAY

Journal Entry by Cristian Tobar

S – Scripture: Psalms 81:6-7 (NLT)
“Now I will take the load from your shoulders; I will free your hands from their heavy tasks. You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you; I answered out of the thundercloud and tested your faith when there was no water at Meribah. Interlude'

O - Observation
In these verses we see God bringing to remembrance what He has done for His people when they were in slavery in Egypt. He lifted the burdens from their shoulders, from the hard labour that was placed upon them.  He removed them from the oppression of slavery. He heard their cry and delivered them. He even continued to show His favour as He tested their faith at Meribah, where there were quarrels about whether God was with them or not.

A - Application
As I reflect on these verses I am reminded of what God has done in my life, in retrospect, I can see His goodness, His favour, His deliverance. At the time it looked like there was no way, yet He made a way out of no way. I’m also reminded of God’s redemptive story through His son Jesus, that through the power of the Cross, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, when Satan thought he had the victory, God made a way to reconcile man to God. Now, like the Israelites were encouraged in the first 4 verses of this Psalm to sing praises to God for their deliverance, how much more am I to sing praises to God for the work done through Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour.

P - Prayer
Father thank you for the reminder today that you are there through life’s challenges and struggles. You faithfully make a way for us. Thank you that you made a way through Jesus to bring us back to you. May I always celebrate and praise you for your goodness towards us.

A PATIENT REFUGE 

Journal Entry by Brenda Jones

S – Scripture: 1 Kings 19:13, NLT
When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

O - Observation
Chapter 19 displays a beautiful picture of the refuge Elijah found in the Lord at a time he felt depressed & worn out. God has been with Elijah all along, from the high on Mt Carmel with the prophets of Baal & along the journey to Mt Sinai as he fled in fear from Jezebel. But it is the physical care afforded to Elijah that brings great comfort. Patience to allow Elijah time to rest; the supply of his basic need of food & water to strengthen him; a 40 day journey of contemplation; & not 1, but 2 opportunities for Elijah to pour out his heartache before the Lord. And all the while, God was there, patiently allowing Elijah to feel his pain & find the peace of the Lord’s presence as seen in verse 13, when he was ready to receive God’s response.

A - Application
The waiting times can be wrought with pain and desperation. They are times where depression can bring a deep sense of overwhelm, failure & inadequacy as Elijah displayed here. But I feel such a peace in what I can learn from Elijah’s experience:

1. I can trust God. He hasn’t failed me, or those who have faithfully gone before me. When the fear of opposition comes my way I can stand tall in His promises. But when my human weakness fails me, & I find myself in a place of fear & running away from all He’s called me to, I can rest assured He doesn’t condemn me. But rather is full of grace & mercy, restoring my brokenness & guiding me back to His plans & purposes for my life.

2. God is so patient & loving. He knows my needs when I am burnt out & have not even the energy to talk with Him. He doesn’t leave my side, even when I don’t recognise His hand & providence in my life. And His gentle hand brings me rest, strength, reflection & a listening ear during these times, to return me to the place of His presence.

P - Prayer
Thank You Lord that You are a patient refuge that we can run to in our times of distress. But that even when the pain of our situations can seem insurmountable, that You hold & lead us gently by Your mighty hand back to the place of Your presence. It is only in all You are, that I can find the strength to continue in all You have planned for me. Amen

MY SOUL THIRSTS FOR YOU  

Journal Entry by Dave Semeri

S – Scripture: Psalm 63:1 (NIV)

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”

O - Observation
Wow ! I want what he’s having lol .. King David is in the wilderness, no water, food or shelter but he wholeheartedly sought God (my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you) so instead of just focusing on the fact he needed  water and to be out of the desert, he recognised that it was God himself that can only satisfy him. 

A - Application
Through the circumstances that I find myself in whether of my own making or otherwise, I need to push through “desert“ like times (dry and weary) and constantly seeking God’s amazing love for me and acknowledge that only God alone can  satisfy .

P - Prayer
Thank you Lord for who you are. I will continually sing and Praise your name for evermore ...

IS GOD BIGGER THAN YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES?

Journal Entry by Geoff Allen

S – Scripture: Psalm 74:16-17 (TPT)
You own the day and the night.  Sunlight and starlight call you Creator.  The four corners of the earth were formed by your hands, and every changing season owes its beauty to you.

O - Observation
Sometimes I forget how big God is and focus on where I am at or what I am going through, the circumstances that I find myself in whether of my own making or otherwise. (sound familiar)


A - Application
To change focus I read God’s word daily and see what he has to say to me, after all His word is alive and is just as applicable today as the day it was written.  I allow time to invest in my faith.  For me first thing in the morning works, I sit in my arm chair while the house is quiet and its still dark outside and do my daily readings; and do it with a view of getting something out of it,  Allowing yourself to focus on the greatness of God and His promises to you as your heavenly father is powerful.  I like David’s advice to Solomon when he was dying” ….but you; be strong; show what you’re made of! Do what God tells you.  Walk in the paths he shows you;  Follow the life-map absolutely, keep an eye out for the signposts, His course for life set out in the revelation to Moses; then you’ll get on well in whatever you do and wherever you go.”(1 Kings 2:1-4 MSG)

Sometimes we have to be strong and courageous and stand in the promises of God.


P - Prayer
Help me not to be overwhelmed by the circumstances I find myself in, but rather be strong and courageous and stand in your promises for me recognizing that you are bigger than anything I am facing.

DON’T BE IN SUCH A HURRY YOU MISS THE GIFT!

Journal Entry by Grant Schofield

S – Scripture: Acts 1:4-5 - NIV
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

O - Observation
In this verse Luke (the author of Acts) is referring to a previous verse he wrote in Luke 24:9. He is reminding all the disciples of the command Jesus had given them. To not leave, but wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit to come upon you.


A - Application
There are so many times that I will not sit and wait. I will attempt to do things in my own strength. I assume that I know what is right and proceed down a particular path, only to find that the path is harder than expected or that it’s completely wrong and I’ve wasted all this time and energy on something I didn’t need to. This scripture reminds me that I need to be patient in waiting for the Holy Spirit’s prompting. That my decision will never come close to the Fathers and that when I’m led by the Holy Spirit I’m in the best hands possible.


P - Prayer
Lord, don’t let me be so concerned with living where I am and missing the gift of the Holy Spirit. Let me be diligent in the season of waiting and allow me to learn and be transformed through the Holy Spirit as my Guide and Helper. Amen

THE DISCIPLES ARE JUST LIKE US

Journal Entry by Chris Watling

S – Scripture: John 18:17 - NIV
“You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.  He replied, “I am not.”

O - Observation
Often I make fun of the disciples but they are so like me, Their responses and their actions are not far from my own. Sometimes I scoff at the fact that they are with Jesus and they should respond better than the way they do, but I do the same. He is near to me, He has sent his spirit to guide and teach me, yet often my response is the same.

Peter responded in fear here. He did not do it deliberately or with evil in his heart but despite his best intentions, he failed. Maybe he didn't fully trust who Jesus was at that point of his journey or maybe he allowed the circumstances of the current situation, which probably would have been overwhelming, to rule his words and actions. From this test, Peter learned a lot and became the courageous leader that he needed to be to push the church forward.

A - Application
Trust: Sometimes fear can strike when circumstances don’t look like I think they should, so I need to trust Jesus and what he wants for my life. To know that He is in control and He wants the best for me. I need to allow the Holy Spirit to transform my heart
Humility: Don't be proud, he knows if I'm going to fail but don’t give up keep going.
If I fail, use Peters example of how he became a different person after this incident. He was full of courage and knew who he was in God and what he was destined for.


P - Prayer
Jesus, please give me courage and wisdom to know when fear is ruling my decisions rather than your love and hope. Please help me to remember that you want the best for me and that I can trust you.

JESUS IS FOR ALL

Journal Entry by Ethan Mortomore

S – Scripture: 1 Timothy 1:15 - ESV
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”


O - Observation
Paul, In his writing to Timothy in chapter 1, seeks to encourage him to stay on the path Paul has set him on, warning him against false teaching and teachers; as Timothy helps the church in Ephesus. Paul then goes on to write that Jesus came to save sinners, who He is the worst of all (“Public Proof Number One as the message translation puts it). He never shies away from his past, but rather uses it to glorify Christ and how Jesus is using him in spreading the gospel. Christ came for Sinners is trustworthy and of full acceptance, for Christ came to save and transform all.


A - Application
Our response, as would have been Timothy’s, is to be encouraged by Paul’s words, and challenged to go after those who do not yet know Christ as their Saviour. We may not have the false teachings today that the first century church faced in regards to the gospel, however we live in a time where anything and everything seeks to grab our attention and sway our beliefs. Christ did not come to simply make our lives comfortable, but He died so that all may live eternally. Our commission as the Church is to spread the Gospel and Jesus’ love and sacrifice for all; regardless of who they are, or our past.


P - Prayer
Jesus we thank you for pursuing us, and showing us mercy, when we did nothing to deserve it. May we ever be about your business and spreading the good news of the Gospel to all; to be the church in and outside of a Sunday. May we not let our past hold us back from the future you have called us too. We thank you, and we love you. Amen

DOUBTER’S WILL COME

Journal Entry by Lester Salanoa

S – 2 Peter 3:3-5 (NIV)
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.

O – Observation
Peter writes to encourage the believers of the early Church to hold steadfast as there was an incredible amount of doubt and unbelief whether God was capable of following through with what was foretold – keep in mind this was a people that had witnessed the miracles of God first hand.


A – Application
The first thing that comes to mind is that for us to fend off these doubters, we each need know and understand personally who God ‘IS’ as well as our purpose and the direction where we are headed. Once we understand with clarity of our calling, we can then walk with an unwavering level of confidence (Philippians 1:6) that can only come from a closeness with our creator and the ‘WHY’ we’ve been created. This passage is as relevant today as it was over two thousand years ago as there will always be opposition, sometimes by those who are close to us.


P – Prayer
Father, your word says that as we draw near to you, you will draw near to us – I pray that we will never grow comfortable in having you near that we lose our confidence but that we hunger for more of you and less of things with no eternal value.

GUARDRAILS

Journal Entry by Tony Gebran

S – Scripture: Exodus 33:15-16 (NLT)
"Then Moses said, "If you don't personally go with us, don't make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me and on your people-if you don't go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth."

O - Observation
What are the things in our lives that will set us apart from all those around us? 

What are the decisions/choices in my life that will honour God regardless of the cost?

How will I conduct my life when no one is watching?

A - Application
This has been a challenge from the very start of my walk with Christ, and the 2 scriptures that have stood out for me is Matthew 25:14 parable of the talents.

The first being faithful in the small things in our lives doing the little things that may seem irrelevant but I know God places importance on them.

The second being Micah 6:8 that he has shown you O man what is good and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly to love mercy and to walk humbly before our God.

These two scriptures continue  to keep me in the race and guide how I need to walk and pay attention to the things that matter to God. They form a guard rail on my thoughts, actions and deeds!! It's your presence in my life that sets me apart and affects all my decisions..

P - Prayer
Lord my prayer today is that you continue to pour out your Grace and Mercy into my life and of those around me. May I be continually challenged to return to you with interest what you have invested into our lives. You have set us apart to serve and honour you and I ask that as I walk daily with you, you would direct and guide the steps of my life. I love you Jesus.

TRUE WORSHIPERS

Journal Entry by John and Jann Rice

S – Scripture: John 4:19-26  (TPT)
The woman said, you must be a prophet! So tell me this: Why do our fathers worship God here on this nearby mountain, but your people teach that Jerusalem is the place to worship. Which is right? . Jesus responded, Believe me, dear woman, the time has come when you won’t worship the Father on a mountain nor in Jerusalem, but in your heart.  Your people don’t really know the One they worship, we Jews worship out of our experience, for it’s from the Jews that salvation is made available.  From here on, worshiping the Father will not be a matter of the right place but with the right heart. For God is a Spirit, and he longs to have sincere worshipers who will worship and adore him in the realm of the Spirit and Truth. The woman said, this is all so confusing, but I know that the Anointed One is coming --- the true Messiah. And when he comes, he will tell us everything we need to know. Jesus said to her, “you don’t have to wait any longer, the Anointed One is here speaking with you -- I am the One you’re looking for. “

O - Observation
Jesus makes it clear that following religious traditions for location of worship misses the mark. But rather the Father requires true worshipers to have a right heart to worship and adore Him in Spirit and Truth. The woman at the well knew that the Messiah would come, Jesus declares, you don’t have to wait, I am the One you’re looking for.

A - Application
Whatever our background, our Heavenly Father delights in His children coming before Him in genuine, honest, Spirit filled worship to Honour and Adore Him through the finished work of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit releasing us to be true Worshipers in Spirit and Truth.

P - Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father I thank you for Jesus, that you sent Him so we could become your children, and know how to respond to you, with genuine heart filled love and worship, thank you for placing us in a Church Family that has a heart for Worship that we will encourage the lost to find the joy of your Salvation.  Amen.

CAN SOMEONE SPEAK INTO YOUR LIFE? 

Journal Entry by Geoff Allen

S – Scripture: Proverbs 10:21 (NLT)
The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.

O - Observation
I cannot impress enough the importance of having godly people in your life who can speak into yours. When going through testing and downright difficult times I have been so encouraged by words from godly people, their words have given me the strength that I felt I lacked to go on.   To me it has been a matter of survival.

A - Application
I know I have and continue to build relationships with godly people, ones that can speak into my life and even bring correction.  My encouragement is that no matter what stage in your walk of faith you are at.  Whether you are at a high point in your life, a low one or somewhere in between you and I need to make building these relationships a life priority. There is a personal investment in this and so worthy of pursuing.

P - Prayer
Let the words I speak be an encouragement to many.

LIVING PARADOXICALLY

Journal Entry by Jared Lawson

S – Scripture: Luke 9:23-24 (ESV)
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

O - Observation
When I read this passage of scripture a question came to mind - how do I lose my life? What does that look like? 

As I thought about it most of my self-focussed living (living to save my life) is based in a search for meaning, control and security. It is based in a fear that God isn’t good for the promises he’s given through his word. However, this passage says that I need to live a life that denies myself and my efforts to save my life. What is freeing is that as I choose to deny myself I know that God will take care of me - both in life and in death.

A - Application
What has always shocked me when reading the word is how much God tells us that if we take care of others, especially the poor, we are taking care of him (Proverbs 19:17, Matthew 25:40, Mark 9:37). When we lose our life for God, we lose it for the present and eternal cause of others. This may look like losing: time, finances, energy, career advancement or even your present life on earth. This is a scary concept but the comfort lies in knowing that God tells us that as we lose our life we save it.

P - Prayer
Heavenly Father, I thank you that you are the God that cares for everyone. You know what our world needs. Help us, through you, to be the solution to the problems of this world as we lean on your promises. May we be a self-denying people and remember that as we take care of others, we take care of you. In Jesus name, Amen.

LOVE LESS

Journal Entry by Jenni James

S – Scripture:  Luke 14: 26 (NLIV)
If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes and even his own life- he cannot be My disciple.

O - Observation
This verse has always been confronting to me, after all, the word ‘hate’ seems so intense! According to our Bible in One Year Devotional by Nicky Gumble ‘hate’ is actually a Semitic idiom that means to ‘love less’. Therefore, what is really being said is that we are to love Jesus above all others and so by default that means loving our family and even our own life less than Him. Interestingly this verse comes after the story of the Master inviting people to his banquet to which they all provide excuses to which they cannot attend. Every person had an excuse as to why they could not come and spend time with the Master, they all had a ‘reason’ as to why they could not prioritise sitting at the banquet. It sounds so similar to us doesn’t it, there is always something going on that could potentially stop us from prioritising Jesus. 
To be very honest I have struggled with understanding how to love Jesus more than my family, this became very apparent when I first had my kids. How do you possibly put anyone before these little bundles of gorgeousness?? However, I had an experience that turned all of that around for me. It was probably a year or so after being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I was in a mess, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I was very depressed at not being able to function with any ounce of success, and as I lay awake in the middle of the night with no one there to help me or talk to me I suddenly got it…. my lifeline was Jesus. When no one else was there He was, when I had no one else to talk to, He was there, when everything was stripped away all I had left was Jesus. The love I felt for Him was intense. Everything else in my life could potentially come and go but Jesus. This is why I can love him more than anyone else because He is good, He is love, He never leaves us or forsakes us even when our world is falling apart, He is always, always there.  

A - Application
After my light bulb moment, I realised that every day is a choice to keep loving Jesus more and to keep placing Him first in my life. I think that is true of all of us, we all need to keep making that choice because it is so easy to get swept away in the business of life or to choose to make other things a priority like the people who did not attend the banquet. What does placing Jesus first mean for me? It means loving Him, spending time with Him, understanding Him, being guided and directed by Him, knowing His word, worshipping Him both personally and communally, communicating with Him! 

P - Prayer
Jesus, help me to choose to keep you above all others in my life again and again and again. Help me not to become distracted by other people or by other activities that take me away from you. Jesus I love you above any other. Amen .

PUTTING INTO PRACTICE

Journal Entry by Warren Mortomore

S – Scripture:  Luke 11:28 (NLT)
Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.’  (NLT)

O - Observation
Jesus is saying, even more blessed than the blessing of our parents or human relationships is the blessing that comes when we hear his word, and then put it into practice – keep it!

A - Application
What am I reading, what am I hearing from His word on a daily basis – and what I am I doing with it, how am I living it, am I putting it into practice?  James backs up the words of Jesus to us in his letter (James 1:22-26) not to be just hearers only, but doers, otherwise we deceive ourselves and will not receive his blessings (1:25).  I am not to compare myself with others, what are they doing – but what His word tells me to do

P - Prayer
Help me Lord to hear from you and to live out what your are showing and telling me to do. I want to put into practice that which you are saying to me through your word.