Day 16 - January 21
God Gives Us the Ability to Succeed
God created each of us with ambition and a desire for significance, yet it is often that drive that blinds us to our need for him.
The ancient Israelites had this same problem. In this passage Moses reminds the people that they are not self-sufficient. He warns them to guard against allowing their prosperity to become a barrier between them and God.
Like the Israelites, we allow our successes to give us the impression that our life is complete without God. But this passage reminds us that all of our abilities—our reasoning powers, our talents, our “business sense,” even our physical strength—are gifts from God. We need to give credit where credit is due. God has given us many opportunities to use our talents for his service, and we need to live our lives being thankful for his goodness to us.
Think about the talents you have. This passage says these gifts are meant to bring you to an appreciation of God’s goodness and, ultimately, to the recognition that he has already been very kind and generous to you.
Day 15 - January 20
An Attitude of Gratitude
Living a life of gratitude means having a heart that is sensitive to God’s presence in our everyday lives.
Take some time each day to thank God for who He is and for something He has done for you. You can thank Him always for everything—great or small—but being specific about something each day that is especially meaningful to you will be a blessing to you and to God.
For example, it can be as simple as, “Father, thank You for helping me make good decisions today,” or “Lord, thank You for sending Jesus to save us.” Take a moment to do this silently in your heart or voice your thankfulness out loud.
Not only does it please God when we thank Him, it’ll make you feel better and change your outlook on everything from the kind of day you’re having to how you see your relationships. Start by making a list of what you’re thankful for…see how long you can make your list. Maybe even take some time to write down the reasons you are thankful for the people you’ll be with this week and then share it with them.
Day 14 - January 19
Is Fear Holding You Back?
What keeps you from developing your full potential? Fear. What keeps you from becoming all God wants you to be? Fear. What keeps you from building a legacy that will last into eternity? Fear.
There are three kinds of fear that will keep you from developing your talents and accomplishing your purpose.
1. Self-doubt. It keeps people locked in a prison and unable to develop their potential. This is actually the fear of failure. But failure is not fatal! In fact, the fear of failure is far worse than failure itself. Don’t let self-doubt keep you down. It's better to attempt to do something great and fail than attempt to do nothing and succeed.
2. Self-consciousness. If you worry about what other people think, nothing will ever get done in your life. You just have to do what God tells you to do. That’s all you’re accountable for.
3. Self-pity. There were two disciples that had spectacular failures. Peter and Judas both denied Jesus in clutch time, but they responded to their failure in very different ways. Judas went out and had a pity party and hung himself. Peter, on the other hand, wept bitterly, grieved about it, repented, asked God to forgive him, picked himself up, and went back to serving God. And 40 days later, Peter spoke to the whole city of Jerusalem on Pentecost, and 3,000 people became believers and the Church was born. Of all the people God could have used to start the church, he used the guy with the biggest failure. That means there’s room for you in the family of God!
Day 13 - January 18
Don’t Let Gossip Destroy Your Relationships
We tend to think of gossip as one of those “little” sins. But when God talks about gossip, he puts it on the list with things like sexual immorality and murder. Why? Because it is so destructive to relationships. Gossip can tear apart friendships, families, and churches.
Gossip is talking about a situation to somebody who is neither a part of the solution nor a part of the problem. If we’re honest with ourselves, what we’re doing is making ourselves feel a little more important at somebody else’s expense. We’re talking about their hurts and their problems to make us feel like we’re morally superior to them. That’s the danger and the hurt of gossip.
Some of you have been deeply hurt by gossip and things that have been said around the office or a broken confidence between a friend or family member. Here’s what God has to say to you: “Pray for the person who gossiped against you so that you can be released from the hurt in your life.” Or maybe you’ve been the one gossiping.
When you keep confidences, it enables you to connect to others in productive, healthy, and genuine ways.
“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.”
Are you the kind of person that can keep people’s confidences so they can trust you?
Day 12 - January 17
Your Mouth Is a Power Tool. Use It Carefully
Sometimes our words are like a sledgehammer. We swing away without thinking, and all of a sudden we look around, and all we’ve got is a pile of relational rubble. When you thoughtlessly sling your words around and tear people down, your relationships are going to suffer.
One of the reasons we’re not constructive with our words is we don’t realize how powerful this tool is—our mouth and the words that God has given to us. We say things without thinking. And people remember them. Certain things people said to you in a careless way—even as far back as grade school or college or when you first started working—you still remember today. That’s how powerful words are. So when it comes to your mouth, you’ve got to think of it as a power tool and be very careful with it.
Stop saying, “I didn’t really mean to say that” or “It’s just that blood sugar dip before lunch.” Realize that what you say impacts everybody around you. Instead, let your first thoughts be, “What does that person need? How can I use a word of encouragement to build him up? What can I say to make a difference in their life?”
Day 11 - January 16
Depend On God’s Wisdom, Not Yours
Have you ever had a feeling that something was so very, very right, and then when you did it, it ended up being so very, very wrong?
Feelings lie. They lie to you all the time! There’s an old country song that says, “How can it be wrong when it feels so right?” Are you kidding me? There are a lot of things that are wrong that feel so right at the moment.
After six months in a relationship, you wonder, “What was I thinking?” Just a few months into a job, you think, “How in the world did I get messed up in this?” A quick decision that seemed harmless at the time leaves you broken and scarred years later.
If you really want God’s blessing on your life, you have to depend on God’s wisdom and not what your feelings say or what your gut says. Trust in the Lord and not on your own understanding.
So, how do you get God’s wisdom?
You pray. You talk to God, and you let him talk to you by reading the Bible. That’s how you get God’s wisdom.
God doesn’t want you to make dumb mistakes. He doesn’t want you to hit dead ends or go through failure after failure in your life. God wants you to succeed. He wants you to make wise decisions with your time and your money and your relationships.
If you want to be blessed, you’ve got to get God’s wisdom. If you want God’s wisdom, then you’ve got to get in God’s Word.
Day 10 - January 15
Jesus: A New Beginning
God made all things new for us after Jesus’ death, and that is such good news. Who doesn’t love a new beginning?
God was not satisfied to leave man in this degenerate condition, and because of His great love for us He made a way through Jesus; His death, burial, and resurrection opened the door for man to now have a new beginning.
When we become born again, God gives us a new heart (see Hebrews 8:10), and we are warned in the book of Proverbs to guard our hearts (see Proverbs 4:23). We only get a new heart once, but the Apostle Paul admonishes us in the New Testament to renew our minds and therein lies the key to remaining a new man. If we keep our thought life synchronized with God’s words and ways we will be stable in holding our position as the new creation.
Day 9 - January 14
Live like Jesus - With God's Help
How do Christians live? Like Jesus. Why do Christians live that way? Because they know and love Jesus, their savior and leader. What if people say they know and love Jesus but don’t live like him? Then, according to this passage, their claims are empty.
In your own power and ability, you’ll never be able to live like Jesus. Don’t even try. But when you do become his follower, follow him. In other words, live like him.
With God’s power at work in you, such a lifestyle is possible. When you accept God’s help, the changes you’ll notice will prove that something supernatural has happened in your life.
Day 8 - January 13
Have a Conversation with Your Creator
It took me a while, but I finally figured out that this marriage thing is about communication. I discovered that on the days that I had deep, soul-communication with my wife — not “Hi. How are you? I love you. See you later” — that’s when our relationship would grow.
The same is true with God. On the days when you have deep, significant talks with God, your relationship grows. It’s that simple.
When you really love somebody, you don’t just want to spend time with them. You want to talk with them. Remember when you first fell in love as a teenager and your parents got upset because you were always on the phone? You talked and talked and talked because you were getting to know that person. Communication is how you get to know others.
What do you talk about if you want to express love to God? Anything that you’d talk to your best friend about: your hopes, your fears, your dreams, your anxieties, the things you’re embarrassed about, the things you’re proud of, the things you’re ashamed of, your goals, your ambitions, your hurts, your cares — every part of your life.
If you don’t feel close to God because your Christian life has become routine, dull, joyless, and lifeless, there’s a simple remedy: Start talking to God again.
Prayer is not some duty that you have to do. It’s a privilege. You get to talk to the Creator of the universe! He’s waiting on you to have a conversation with him so that your relationship can grow.
Day 7 - January 12
God’s Grace is for Everybody
No matter who you are and no matter what you’ve done, God loves you, and he wants you to come home to him. He wants to shower his grace on you. He wants to throw a party for you when you return. All of us can come to God in the same way: through faith in the grace of God through his Son, Jesus Christ. And God's grace is for everybody!
Does “everybody” include short people? Yes. Does it mean rich people and poor people? Yes. Does it include politicians and blue-collar workers? Yes. Does it include people from every ethnic background? Yes. Does that mean people from every country in the world? Yes!
It means everybody. Everybody! God’s grace is available to you.
You can’t understand what it means to have a relationship with God without understanding grace. Without grace, you don’t have any relationship with God. It is the heart of Christianity. It is the heart of following Christ and being a believer. Remember: No matter what you’ve done and no matter who you are, God’s grace is available to you.
Day 6 - January 11
Love: The Driving Force
Love is the driving force of the story of Jesus.
God came down to earth, became human, lived among us and modeled love each day. He showed us that our daily life is not separate from our faith. Our whole life—every thought and action—can show love in our world.
Love—knowing you're loved—is what every person desires. We all want to feel valuable and know we matter.
Though we may not always feel loved by those around us, the truth is, God loves us unconditionally. He doesn't love us because of anything we do or don't do; He just loves us. We can't buy His love or get rid of it. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (see Romans 8:38-39).
Once that truth is rooted deep inside us, we can begin to see ourselves the way God does and love ourselves in a healthy way. And then out of that, His love can flow through us to others. God’s love changes us. It softens our hearts and allows us to see other people the way God sees them. When we understand God’s love, we really do begin to live differently.
Day 5 - January 10
Jesus: The Final Sacrifice
This passage is educational for spiritual explorers in that it provides a brief essay on the mechanics of the Jewish sacrificial system. The writer uses these images, which were very familiar to his original readers, to describe why Jesus’ sacrifice for sin on the cross eliminates the need for such sacrifices.
The old Jewish sacrificial system was unable to cleanse the human conscience (verses 8–10). For one thing, under that system the way into God’s presence was barred to his people. Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place in the temple, and then only once a year. Something more than ritual was required to unite the people with their God.
That something was the blood of Christ. Jesus offered his own blood as the sacrifice for sin (verse 12). When we accept Jesus’ actions on our behalf, our sins are washed away and our consciences are cleared. When we’ve experienced true forgiveness, we’re free from the weight of guilt in our lives and ready to serve God.
Day 4 - January 9
Seeking The Truth
Wanting to be sure about the things we believe is not evidence of a lack of faith. As a matter of fact, Paul tells us to test everything. We can’t just assume that everything we hear is God’s truth. In that sense, Paul encourages all people—from spiritual explorers at the very beginning of their journey to veteran Christ-followers—to continually search for truth.
We live in a world full of deception and spiritual counterfeits. Many new ideas and fraudulent philosophies have come and gone over the centuries, but God’s revelation in the Bible doesn’t change. As always, God’s Word is the ultimate test of the validity of any new teaching.
Day 3 - January 8
A New Identity
After Saul’s dramatic conversion, he spoke repeatedly about his new beliefs. The crux of his message concerned Jesus’ true identity. Saul’s first words to the outside world were simple: Jesus is the Son of God.
Note the significance of this transformation. Saul became a new person with a new name, Paul, after his encounter with Jesus. Saul had known about Jesus and was convinced that he had lived. What radically changed was Saul’s belief about who Jesus was.
A personal encounter with Jesus will be at the heart of any change that occurs in your life. Merely knowing facts about Jesus won’t save you. But when you look to him for salvation and make the same acknowledgment Saul did, you will most certainly find eternal life (see John 3:18).
Day 2 - January 7
Jesus Rose from the Dead
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate it in their presence.
Was the resurrection of Jesus just a spiritual event? Jesus answers with a resounding No!
The disciples actually saw Jesus’ physical body—the one that had been nailed to the cross. That body had been changed in his resurrection, but it still bore the marks of his sacrifice. If his was not a physical resurrection, he could not have had his disciples touch him. He would not have claimed to have “flesh and bones” (verse 39). And he would not have been able to eat a piece of fish.
Some people claim that Jesus rose spiritually but not bodily. That ignores the fact that Jesus’ tomb was empty and that his disciples and others saw him, talked with him, and touched him.
One of the most important doctrines of Christianity is believing that Jesus rose from the dead. Romans 10:9 says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”.
Day 1 - January 6
The Name of God
The God of the Bible is a personal God. That means he is not just a force, not just something, but someone. The Bible makes this clear by the titles it uses to describe him. Here God reveals himself to Moses and says that he should be identified as “I AM WHO I AM,” or simply “I AM.” This name emphasizes God’s timelessness—he’s the one who always has been and always will be.
In the next verse God uses a proper name, translated “LORD.” The letters that form this word in the original Hebrew language are YHWH. “I AM” in Hebrew is very similar to the letters YHWH. It’s clear God wanted Moses to understand the close relation of these names in sound and meaning.
Throughout the Bible, God uses many words and phrases to refer to himself as he tries to help us understand his multifaceted nature. And when we come to the second part of the Bible—the New Testament—and read about Jesus, we find out something astounding. Jesus refers back to the time before Abraham was born, saying, “I am!” (John 8:56–58). He was with God right from the beginning!
These devotionals and many more are available for free at bible.com and in the Youversion Bible App.
All scripture from NIV translation unless otherwise noted.