December 14 Hebrews 12,13; Jude

These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.

Printable reading plan: Life Journal Reading Plan

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Focus | Robin Laney

S~ Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (AMP)

O~ Life offers innumerable distractions; daily duties, financial struggles, relationship issues, physical limitations, and so many others. We must not take our focus off of Jesus and our inspiration to remain steadfast comes from so many who followed so faithfully and the example of Christ, himself.

A~ I can get so distracted from the main thing, Jesus. Many things vie for my attentions every day. When my eyes are on me and what might be concerning me, they are most certainly not on Him and His purposes. When all I can think of is how I feel, what I think, what I need, I don’t experience His joy or His peace and I certainly can’t see what He is doing around me. In this state, I miss out on divine appointments and my heart feels closed off. It’s such a hard place to be and whenever I get stuck there I long to be free. The only way out, for me, is to listen to the Holy Spirit who is constantly steering my mind and heart back towards Jesus. Sometimes I listen and sometimes I choose to stay stuck in my misery, convincing myself that my troubles warrant all of my attention. It’s only when I consider His sacrifice that it becomes clear how my trials pale in comparison and how my focus on self causes me to grow weary and lose heart, the opposite of what He desires for me.

P~ Lord, I know myself well enough to know that I will continue to get distracted. Please keep my focus on You!

No Root of Bitterness | Trisha Baker

S~ See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. – Hebrews 12: 15 (NIV)

O~ A bitter root is caused by taking on an offense that is not ours to take on. Very often we come in contact with people who are struggling with something in their lives that has nothing to do with us. But during this moment of interaction, what they are struggling with comes out in the words they say. Even though we are not the source of the struggle, it can be very easy to take these words to heart because they hurt. But if we allow these words to take root, then we too will begin to take on their struggle and hurt others also.

A~ When a friend says something that cuts to the deep, it can be so easy to allow ourselves to become hurt and bitter against that friend. We must though look at where those words are coming from. For me, the one way I have to do this is to pray about it. When words are spoken to me that cause hurt in my heart, it can be so easy to allow that hurt to take root and to grumble and complain about that person. The problem with this is, then that root causes me to look at this person and others through a lens of hurt and bitterness, and then I say words of hurt to another friend and they take my words to heart and they begin to look at me through a lens of hurt and this horrible cycle goes on and on. So many people are hurt this way, when this could have been stopped in the beginning by me taking the hurt to Jesus instead of my heart. I have to take the words that hurt me to him. I first have to ask the Lord if I have in fact done something to cause hurt in the other person, and if so make amends with that person. But if I have not done anything to cause this hurt, but rather the words spoken to me are spoken out of a heart of hurt that is overflowing with hurt to others, I have to ask Him to not let those words take root in my heart. I pray for that person to have their heart healed. We need each other, and we need to pray for each other on a regular basis, and we need to take inventory of our own heart to ensure it is not overflowing with hurt which will hurt others.

P~ Father God, please help me every day to give all of my hurts to you. Help me to discern words that are meant for me, and words that are said to me but not for me. Help me to take all of my hurts and pains to you. Help me to not allow the root of bitterness take root, which when it does has the potential to cause pain to those I love. I thank you Father for your discernment and wisdom regarding my heart. I ask you that you give me grace today and that I give grace to others. Thank you for today and all of the blessings it will bring.

In your precious name, Amen.

Jesus is Constant | Deanna George

S~ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

O~ Jesus is the same. He does not waiver. He does not change the rules, the expectations, or the truths. Jesus is consistent, reliable, and dependable.

A~ In a world where people act depending on how they feel or what they want, it can be so hard to navigate the truth from the lies. Our emotions interfere with our brain, and it can cloud the truth to fit our wants and desires. Thankfully we can turn to Jesus for the truth. He does not change from day to day. The Bible does not change from day to day. I know Jesus is ready and available to help me, show me the the truth, and love me. He is the stability in the unstable world we live in. God was there during the Old Testament days, the New Testament days, and is here today, and will be the same God for generations to come.

P~ Lord Jesus, thank you for being the same every day since creation. It is so comforting to know that you remain constant. This gives me hope on days that my emotions try to rule the day. Help me to turn to you, instead of relying  on my emotions. Draw me to you for answers, encouragement, and guidance.

It’s a sacrifice! | Nikki Metzger

S~ Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name. Hebrews 13:15 (NIV)

O~ Because I confess Jesus as Lord, continual praise of Him should flow from my mouth.  The author calls it a sacrifice of praise.  To me, sacrifice always includes a choice.  I have a choice in the praise or not the praise.  A sacrifice is giving it all.  So maybe a sacrifice of praise is choosing praise over fear or complaining.

A~ Middle school has hit our house like a ton of bricks, even though we are almost a semester in.  Everybody is struggling, if we had a dog, the dog would probably be struggling.  And through this struggling, I think I’ve become less vocal about saying the name of Jesus in everyday life.

As I’ve said His Name less, I think over time, I’m also offering praise to Him less too.  It’s easier for me to stop talking about Jesus so much because my kids complain that He is all I talk about.  Because of my kids’ complaints, am I taking the easier road to say His Name less?  It would be a sacrifice to praise Him more and more, vocally, out loud, so my whole family can hear.

P~ Father, I want the fruit of my lips to be a continual sacrifice of praise to You.  This is outloud, isn’t it?  Govern me by Your love!  I don’t want my sacrifice of praise to You be something that hinders the kids from You.  I pray this in Jesus’ Name!

Doubters | Kelley Deases

S~ Be merciful to those who doubt, …  Jude v. 22 (NIV)

O~ The world Jude describes is a lot like the one we live in today. People doing what is right in their own eyes. Following their instincts rather than following the Spirit. But what should our response be to a world gone crazy and headed for destruction? Stand firm in the faith and have compassion on the wayward and those who doubt the truth we know.

A~ Reading this today underscores the conversation we shared at our Bible study the other day. We spoke of the challenges of standing firm on God’s truth in a a culture which says, “Do whatever you want. Be with whomever you want. What’s truth for you may not be truth for me.” But we kept circling back to love. Speak the truth in LOVE. Love on people who are confused about who God made them to be. People do not get argued into heaven, judged into heaven, or shamed into heaven. They are simply loved into heaven, if we can take the time to invest in a life and thereby help save it.

P~ Father, Give me someone this season who needs to know You, but has their doubts. Use me to show mercy and point them to You.

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