“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 4:10-11 NIV
As God’s creation, each of us has been blessed and have God-given gifts and abilities. Our purpose in our lives is to love the Lord, love others and to learn about and use the gifts He has given us to serve in our communities. What gifts has God given you? What can you do or provide to others in your family, your neighborhood or your faith community? If you are unsure, turn towards God in prayer and seek His will for you. Amen.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Romans 12:6-8 NIV
(This photo was taken in July of 2021 on a lake in northwestern Wisconsin)
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
Philippians 2:3-5 NLT
A way of thinking…a point of view…outlook…perspective…belief. How would you define your attitude toward God? What is His role? How much time during a typical week are we thinking about God? The Bible has many of examples of different people and their attitude towards God, it describes their beliefs and actions. There is a lot for us to learn from those people. From Genesis to Revelation, we read about those who put God at the center of their lives and those who did not. The best example of an appropriate attitude towards God is that of Jesus Christ…He took time daily to walk with God and this is what He seeks from us as well. Spend time with Jesus every day and pray about your attitude towards God. Amen.
“He has showed you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8 NIV
(This photo was taken in July of 2012 on a walk in northwestern Wisconsin)
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 1:7 NIV
If you want to start reading the Bible but are unsure where to begin…try starting with Proverbs. Guess how many chapters God has in Proverbs…the answer is 31, you can read one chapter a day and you would complete the Book of Proverbs in one month. Not only that you will be reading the words of one of the wisest people that ever lived. There is so much good to learn in Proverbs, it will help you in your daily life and grow your relationship with God. God’s Word is a gift to us…pick it up and read.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
James 3:13-18 NIV
(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington)
“Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.”
Psalm 27:11 NIV
“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.”
Psalm 143:8 NIV
Following the Lord is not a one-time check the box task…it is a daily connection and communication with God. It is putting your trust and faith in Him and His way…it is listening, learning and growing. It is about being transformed from the inside out and putting what we learn into action in our lives. It is not easy and success is not measured by worldly standards…we must remember anything is possible with God and He is with us and within us all the time. Praise be to God. Amen.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.”
Proverbs 16:3 NIV
(This photo was taken in July of 2021 at Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado)
“Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.”
Psalm 119:105 NIV
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Colossians 3:16 NIV
Let God’s Word be your guide in life. The world is filled with brokenness and suffering and none of us is immune. God knows what is happening in the world and in your life…His Word is a gift to us…pick it up, read it, memorize it and let it be a light for your path. Amen.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV
(This photo was taken in July of 2021 in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado)
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14 NIV
One of the most difficult things for many of us is being different from our surroundings. When our foundation for being different is rooted in God and the Fruits of the Spirit we can be sure we are standing on solid ground. None of us is equipped to judge the actions and behaviors of others. When we are confused or lack understanding that is a time to pray, listen and learn. It is hard to be different yet God created each of us to be unique so that together we could build community and use our gifts to strengthen the body of Christ. I pray we all seek to learn how God wants us to use our gifts each day. Amen.
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV
(This photo was taken in October of 2018 at one of the Covered Bridges of Madison County near Winterset, Iowa)
“Lord, those who know you will trust in you.
You have never deserted those who look to you.”
Psalm 9:10 NIRV
Firm belief…confidence…faith…count on…believe in…truth…certainty…love. The darkness and evil of the world are constantly working to turn us away from God and God is constantly speaking to us. Seek Him, seek His will, believe He has good things planned for you and be patient. Amen.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
(This photo was taken in July of 2022 on a lake in northwestern Wisconsin)
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV
Personality…nature…disposition…temperament…mentality…essence…identity…spirit. Our character is defined by who we are, how we relate and interact with others. This is at the core of who we are as a person. For some, their true character is only revealed to a few other people as they have fear and a lack of trust in others due to previous wounds and painful past experiences. The other reason fear exists in revealing our true character is our concern regarding acceptance. With the proliferation of social media sites, judgement or what is know as ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ has inappropriately become the measuring stick of defining who someone is…talk about judging a book by its cover!
We can begin to get knowledge and a better understanding of our character by spending time with Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord and by accepting who we are according to God. Additionally, we can encourage and help build up others by taking time to listen and discuss the things that make us different. I pray we all examine who we are more than what we do and we lay our fears and worries at the foot of the cross. Amen.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”
2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV
(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Glacier National Park in Montana)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”
John 1:1-9 NIV
When we are discouraged and defeated it may be because we are clinging to the things of this world and therefore, we are living in darkness. Comparing ourselves to others, believing our worth and our value comes from something or someone other than God. If we are struggling to see, we need to remember the Light of the World…Jesus Christ…our Savior and Lord. Let Him lead you and guide you…read God’s Word about His birth, His life, His death and His resurrection and remember He did it all for you. Amen.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12 NIV
(This photo was taken in April of 2016 at a lake in central Minnesota)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13 NIV
We can be conquerors of sin…we can overcome obstacles…we can be blessed with wisdom to find our way. If we are willing to cast our worries and burdens on Him and trust His love for us anything is possible. There is nothing that can separate us from God’s love and God’s plan for us. Believe and you will receive. Amen.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
Romans 8:37 NIV
(This photo was taken in August of 2016 at Sapphire Point near Dillon, Colorado)