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- NOVEMBER 26 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. (1 Peter 1:7 NLT) How do you respond when you’re facing a trial? While some people resist having their faith tested, they often overlook how trials make us stronger. A faith that has been tested is a faith that can be trusted. We see this truth lived out when King Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful man in his era and King of Babylon, conquered the tribe of Judah. This evil king captured Judah’s best and brightest young men. The king commissioned a gold statue that was ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and invited every government leader, advisor, judge, and magistrate to come to the dedication. When everyone heard the sound of music, they were commanded to bow down and worship the golden statue. Anyone who didn’t would be thrown into a blazing furnace. So when the music started, everyone bowed low, except for three faith-filled teenagers who continued standing tall. So the king had the furnace heated up to seven times its normal temperature and threw them in. These brave young men didn’t bend. They didn’t bow. And because of God, they didn’t burn. By the grace of God, the boys didn’t die, and they didn’t even smell like smoke. God reveals his power in many places, but you’ll know his presence best in the fire. Just as these believers were not in the fire alone, neither are you. If you are facing a challenge today, remember that God is with you and he is building your faith. A faith that is tested is a faith that can be trusted. Power Lift I choose to thank you today, Lord, for the trials in my life. I don’t like them and how they make me feel, but I trust that you are using them to make me stronger. Groeschel, Craig. Daily Power: 365 Days of Fuel for Your Soul. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017. Print.
- NOVEMBER 25 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. (1 Cor. 13:12 NLT) If you’ve ever played with Photoshop or used some of those apps that make your pictures look funny, then you know appearances are not always accurate. You may look around at church and think everyone else has it together, or that you’re the only one who feels unworthy and inadequate. If you’re like me, sometimes you look in the mirror and really struggle with the person looking back. Usually this happens when you’ve blown it, or hurt someone you love, or compared yourself to someone else and come up short. You think, “How could God ever love me when I’m such a big mess?” But he does. Too often, we work hard to hide the burden we’re carrying and end up feeling even more alone. But God doesn’t want us feeling this way, doubting his love for us and falling prey to our Enemy. We don’t have to live perfectly or have our act together all the time. That’s the very reason God sent Jesus to us—not to bring religion to the world, but to set us free from the law, and to give us something better: a relationship with him. Sometimes the hardest part of starting over is seeing yourself the way God sees you—as his beloved child. Power Lift Father, today I want to let go of the old ways I tend to see myself. Help me to accept the truth about how much you love me. Groeschel, Craig. Daily Power: 365 Days of Fuel for Your Soul. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017. Print.
- NOVEMBER 24 “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7 ESV) When I asked one of my kids to do a chore, it was obvious this chore wasn’t their top priority or passion at the moment. My slightly grumpy child obliged, obeying out of necessity, but only putting in partial effort. That’s when I slipped into fatherly lecture mode, teaching about the importance of putting your heart into what you do. I’ve learned that whenever your heart isn’t right with God, whatever you do will be a struggle. Perhaps that’s why Jesus told us that before we give a gift at the altar, we should make sure we are right with other people (see Matt. 5:23–24). Jesus also quoted Isaiah and said that some people would honor him with their lips but their hearts were far from him (see Matt. 15:8). Any time we obey God but demand that he give us our desired results, we are not obeying with the right heart. We don’t obey God so he will bless us. We obey him because we love him. I’m convinced that there are times God doesn’t change our situations because he is trying to change our hearts. Take a moment to examine your heart. Are you struggling with being thankful and praising God for what he’s given you? Where is your true devotion? Are you seeking God with true purity of heart? If not, it’s time to change. Because more than anything else, God wants your heart. Power Lift Jesus, I surrender my attitude and motives and want to make sure my heart is right with you. Forgive me for my sins and restore my focus on loving you. Groeschel, Craig. Daily Power: 365 Days of Fuel for Your Soul. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017. Print.
- NOVEMBER 23 Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Col. 2:6–7) As a pastor, I’ve learned that the holidays are not always joyful times of celebration for everyone. Many people become depressed around this time of year as they watch others enjoying special times with family and friends. They feel lonelier than ever and more acutely aware of how isolated they are from others around them. Many feel burdened by ongoing struggles with their health, finances, or relationships. Others grieve the loss of loved ones who are noticeably absent at this special time when people usually come together. While I try to be as compassionate and understanding as possible, I also try to remind them there’s still much for which to be thankful. That’s how the Thanksgiving holiday started. The early pilgrims in our country struggled way beyond what they imagined in this new, untamed land. Without the assistance of Native Americans willing to share food and teach them how to survive, the first colonists likely would have died. Out of their hardship, those early settlers recognized how much God had blessed them and provided for them. After all, most of them had traveled to the New World to experience the kind of religious freedom they were denied back home. What better way to exercise their new freedom than to worship and praise God for sustaining them? No matter what you may be going through, look for the ways God continues to demonstrate his love, care, and faithfulness to you. Power Lift Lord, for all the hard times you’ve brought me through this year, I thank you. You are always with me and always protect and provide for me. Groeschel, Craig. Daily Power: 365 Days of Fuel for Your Soul. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017. Print.
- NOVEMBER 22 “The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” (Ex. 15:2) When my buddy started cycling passionately, I thought it looked like fun and great exercise. So I borrowed a nice street bike, grabbed a helmet, the right shoes, a water bottle, and most of the outfit. (I couldn’t make myself wear the biker shorts on my first ride.) Knowing my friend would ride up to a hundred miles at a time, I didn’t want to overdo it on my first trip out. So I charted a nice, easy fifty-mile ride. Twenty-five miles from my house and twenty-five miles back. Easy enough, right? I had almost made the halfway point when I seriously thought I might die. Instead of dying, though, I just parked my bike on the side of the road and puked out approximately the last seven meals I’d eaten. Then I called a friend on my cell phone to pick me up and drive me home. And that was the end of my cycling career. Many of us start out with enthusiasm, only to flounder within a short period of time. That’s why the gym is packed early in the year. But it’s easy to find a parking spot in November. As the end of the year approaches, take a quick glimpse in the rearview mirror of your year. When you launched into this year, hopefully you set some goals, some markers to achieve. If you dropped something important to you along the way, there is still time to pick it back up. Power Lift I’ve let certain areas of my life slip, God, and I want to do better. Give me the strength and stamina to persevere and to accomplish the little habits that produce big results. Groeschel, Craig. Daily Power: 365 Days of Fuel for Your Soul. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017. Print.
- NOVEMBER 21 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18) Like many families who enjoy a big meal at Thanksgiving, we started a tradition when the kids were little to go around the table and have each person tell what they are especially thankful for. Over the years it has been both fun and encouraging to see the list grow from items like toys, cats, and pumpkin pie to jobs, relationships, and family. Now that our children are growing up and starting families of their own, I hope this tradition continues. I can’t wait to hear what my grandkids will thank God for! At this time of year, we’re supposed to be mindful of all our blessings and be especially thankful. While I love this traditional time to pause and thank God, to make sure we’re not taking all that we’ve been given for granted, I also encourage you to make it an ongoing practice. Thanksgiving is truly a holiday that should be celebrated throughout the year. Today let God see your spirit of gratitude as you recognize all that he’s given you during this past year. Let your praise for him be an ongoing part of your relationship with him every day. Power Lift When I stop and count my blessings, Lord, I’m amazed at all you give me. My heart overflows with gratitude for my family, friends, home, and all the little daily things I sometimes take for granted. Thank you, God! Groeschel, Craig. Daily Power: 365 Days of Fuel for Your Soul. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017. Print.
- NOVEMBER 20 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Eccl. 3:1) Planning holidays sometimes feels like air traffic control at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Now that two of my children are married, even planning family dinners has gotten more complicated. They obviously want to spend time with their spouse’s family as well as ours. As the rest of my children become adults and move away for school and work, we also need to factor in their schedules and geographical distances. It’s not as simple as when they were little and we could invite Grandma and Grandpa over, maybe include some aunts, uncles, and cousins, and be done. When you toss in some ugly weather, last-minute flu bugs, and unexpected airport delays, it gets even crazier. We do our best to manage all the variables and get everyone together for an enjoyable, memorable family celebration. But life remains constantly unpredictable. Despite our best efforts to plan and adjust, we’re forced to rely on God. He’s the only one who’s truly in control and knows what’s going to happen. So often we assume we can manage our time, our schedules, and our expectations each day, each month, each season. But only God knows the best time for everything and everyone. We can plan all we want as long as we remember that God’s timing trumps everything. Today let God guide your plans according to his timing and not your own. Power Lift Dear God, I yield my schedule to you today. You give me life and breath. I know that your timing is better than anything I can plan. Groeschel, Craig. Daily Power: 365 Days of Fuel for Your Soul. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017. Print.
- NOVEMBER 19 The LORD has heard my supplication, the LORD receives my prayer. (Ps. 6:9 NASB) A couple of years ago, I started journaling in a five-year journal that Amy gave me. Honestly, this process of journaling was a spiritual game-changer for me. From a purely practical perspective, it works because I’m allotted only five lines on one page per day. This takes the pressure off so I don’t feel like I have to write a chapter every day. The shorter format ensures that I’m consistent. One of the best parts for me is seeing the same day from the previous year and what I wrote back then. When I write about what happened today, I also get to see what happened the same day last year, and the year before, and the year before that. It’s fascinating to see what was weighing on my heart in years past. A problem to solve. An issue to address. A person to coach. A challenge with a child. A hurdle to overcome. When I see my thoughts on a problem I was facing back then, I can honestly say that God has resolved almost every issue that seemed big at the time. This perspective totally changes whatever I’m facing right now. I remind myself that God was faithful in the past to work things out. God will be faithful in the present. And one year from now I will look back on this challenge and thank God for whatever he did. In the moment, I don’t know what he will do or how he will do it, but I know he will prove himself faithful. Power Lift Lord, sometimes I get so caught up in the daily grind of life’s demands that I lose my perspective on the many ways you answer my prayers and bless me. Thank you for being so faithful and consistent and for loving me so well. Groeschel, Craig. Daily Power: 365 Days of Fuel for Your Soul. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017. Print.
- NOVEMBER 18 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1Tim. 6:6–8) One of my friends serves in an international ministry that provides clean water, food, and medicine to people in underdeveloped areas around the globe. These places are sometimes called “third-world” countries, implying how far behind our “first-world” locales they are in terms of infrastructure and human services—things we usually take for granted. Like having a roof that doesn’t leak, water that doesn’t cause diseases, and more food in our fridge than many people see in a year. When my friend returns to the US after serving in places like Haiti, Kenya, or Kosovo, he often experiences culture shock. He told me he’s always stunned at how many people here get upset by the smallest things: sitting in traffic, waiting at the dentist’s office, drinking a half-caff latte without soy milk. These are all what many people call first-world problems, issues that are trivial and somewhat inconsequential when compared to the life-or-death struggles so many families face daily in other parts of the world. We entered this life without any possessions, and we will exit it the same way. God wants us to be good stewards of all we’re given, not good organizers of larger storage units. So often we take for granted the big things in our lives and complain about the little discomforts and inconveniences. Today notice how many blessings you take for granted—fresh food, warm clothes, clean water, and people who love you. Power Lift All good gifts come from you, Lord. I’m so overwhelmed by the many ways you bless me. Help me notice all my blessings and take nothing for granted, giving to those in need around me. Groeschel, Craig. Daily Power: 365 Days of Fuel for Your Soul. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017. Print.