Week of January 7

Living Different

Mirror, Mirror

Day 1 - Cory’s message on Sunday detailed two scriptures that command us to live different by not just listening, but doing. Read the first passage, James 1:22-25. Reflect on how the mirror analogy is used as a physical description to challenge our spiritual nature. When we look into a mirror, our image is reflected back. If our face is covered with grime or our hair is a mess the mirror will reflect that. If we choose to walk away without cleaning our face or combing our hair, we might want to believe we are “looking good”, but just because we are no longer looking in the mirror does not mean the grime and messy hair are not there; we are deceiving ourselves. The same is true when we look at scripture and think, “Oh, that is truth! That is wise! Amen!” as we close the book and go about living as we did before. James boldly states that without becoming “doers of the word” all our receiving, reading, researching, and reflecting on the Word of God is useless. Ouch! Filling our head with knowledge of the Bible is nothing unless we act on it and allow it to change us. What has God already told you to do in his Word that you haven’t started doing yet? What has He revealed about certain attitudes or behaviors that you haven’t addressed? Reflect on the ways you deceive yourself. We all do it. We all have our ways of looking the other way when it comes to our own stuff. Write down an action step to take this week to transition from listening to doing. Share this next step with someone who will keep you accountable. 

Day 2:  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing (James 1:25). James invitation here is to continually place our trust in God’s perfect law, the law of freedom. But laws are often seen as being restrictive, not freeing or what not to do. Do you view God’s perfect law as hoops to jump through to appease Him or to prove your love? Or do you view it as God providing us instructions on how best to live? The law of liberty provides direction on the best way for us to live, giving us a path for knowing and loving God more deeply, and to becoming more like Him. The perfect law of God is an expression of God’s character, of who He is, and how much He cares for us and His desire for us to live fully and freely. Reflect on that lasts sentence. Do you believe that? Can you sense His presence with you now, urging you to trust Him? Write down what you hear. 

Day 3: We are all headed somewhere and becoming someone. The things I do (and don’t do) determine where I will go and who I will become. Cory used a U-Haul as an example of how simply making an outward circumstantial change seldom results in an inner heart transformation. We carry our personal “stuff” with us; we just end up unpacking it in a new spot. To experience true life change we must not just listen (or know), we must do. Allow God’s Word to affect how we live and who we are. For example, I can know that the 25mph speed limit in my neighborhood is for my own safety and the safety of others, but unless I change how fast I drive in my neighborhood, the speed limit is rendered useless to me (and to my neighbors!). What attitude, belief, habit, or behavior, have I not allowed God’s word to effect change in me and how I’m living? What is something specific I can do to move from simply knowing to doing?  

Day 4:  All of us have experiences where in the middle of doing something or NOT doing something, we realized we were making a mistake. Think about a current struggle or hurt you’re dealing with. Did anyone try to warn you where you were heading? Was the situation driven by taking advice from an untrustworthy person? Or possibly a poor judgment made in the moment where you pretended the likely outcome might not happen? What rationalizations, justifications, or minimizing did you tell yourself? Think back to the ways we deceive ourselves from Day 1. What steps will you take to change these patterns and behaviors? How will you make sure you are seeing and telling yourself the truth? Spend some time with God asking Him for insights into your current situation. Share what you hear with your spouse or accountability partner. 

Day 5: The Leaning Tower of Pisa drops 1/20th of an inch closer to the ground each year because of two reasons. The 179-foot tower was built on marshy ground (pisa translation) and the foundation is only 10 feet deep. Pisa is a real-life example of what happens when you build a structure on a shaky foundation compared to firm ground. What are you building on that will lead to a leaning tower? Maybe you don’t even notice it, but inch by inch you are moving away from where you want to go and who you want to become. Read Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus is talking about how two different people chose to build their foundation for life. Both heard the words Christ spoke. Both built similar houses nearby each other. But one withstood a very severe storm and the other crumbled. Jesus is telling us by following His teachings “by living this way” (not by simply hearing), we will be equipped to weather the storms that will come. What are you building on? What attitudes, behaviors, or habits are establishing a shaky foundation in your life? What steps will you take to begin building on the teachings of Jesus? Pray for God to show you how His words can become part of your life today. Then do what you hear.  

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