Welcome to Daily Steps!
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.
Psalm 32:1-2 “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (NLT)
The Beginning of Better
Human history is filled with powerful stories about what happens when an individual or a group of people hit their “enough is enough” moment. Usually, it happens after a long time of enduring the consequences of too much of a good thing. In other words, something that was once perceived as beneficial — whether it actually was or not — goes really south and eventually reaches the boiling point. It is at that point when change is sparked…when the powder keg of freedom from sin is finally lit. While there are things, habits, or relationships that may not be good for us from the start, the self-induced chains that sneak up on us most often are those things that once had harmless or even beneficial beginnings. As long as there are things to be enjoyed and productivity to be pursued, Satan will always try to lure us to pursue something good until it spoils… until it festers… until it drags us away in chains and takes us to a place that is so far removed from where we want to be that we can’t even remember how we got there. James 1:14 says, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.” God will continue to provide tremendous blessings to us, but as long as we’re alive, the temptation to love or pursue something more than Jesus will always rear its ugly head.
Sometimes we know that a good thing has turned sour long before we do anything about it. Two people in the Bible who articulated what it’s like to deal with having too much of a good thing are King Solomon and the Apostle Paul. While there is much to glean from their writings on the subject, they each handled the problem very differently. Solomon allowed the blessings of God to become his idol until it was too late, finally seeking repentance at the end of His life. The gifts of marriage, financial comfort, and physical indulgence completely engulfed his every waking hour, eventually making him numb to anything meaningful, including the Lord’s presence. In Ecclesiastes 1:14, he gives us the theme of the book: “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Time and time again, he reminds us that the pleasures of life, the knowledge of the world, and even the work we perform, all have bottomless pits. There is no point at which we can experience complete satisfaction in anything other than God. Ecclesiastes is a cautionary lament from an old man who allowed himself to become so ensnared by good things that he wasted many years of his life wallowing in regret and feeling the pain of self-induced consequences.
Paul’s life on the other hand gives us a healthier roadmap to wholeness, beginning with repentance, moving into a lament over sin, and finally being restored and utterly satisfied. Although he wasn’t a king like Solomon with limitless power and money, Paul had tasted what it was like to have extreme success and power and still come up empty. As a paid mercenary for the Jewish leadership council in Jerusalem, Paul had a blank check when it came to persecuting Christians... and he was passionate about it too. He also earned plenty of cash doing what he loved. But then Jesus stepped into the picture and everything changed. After experiencing great conviction and then walking through a time of grief and restoration in the company of other believers, Paul emerged like a butterfly out of the cocoon of authentic repentance. As a result, Paul’s life looked very different from Solomon's. Philippians 4:11-13 says, “I’m not telling you this because I’m in need, for I have learned to be satisfied in any circumstance. I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.”
Pastor and writer Tim Keller said, “Repentance out of mere fear is really sorrow for the consequences of sin, sorrow over the danger of sin — it bends the will away from sin, but the heart still clings. But repentance out of conviction over mercy is really sorrow over sin, sorrow over the grievousness of sin — it melts the heart away from sin. It makes the sin itself disgusting to us, so it loses its attractive power over us. We say, ‘This disgusting thing is an affront to the one who died for me. I’m continuing to stab him with it!’” If the Holy Spirit is quietly whispering to you that you’ve reached your “enough is enough” point with some habit, enjoyment, behavior, ambition, or relationship, then wholeness and balance are waiting for you on the other side of the repentance process. The beginning of a better everything, which means wholeness, balance, and deep satisfaction, is offered to you freely and completely. Psalm 32:1-2 describes not only the incredible relief but also the amazing gift of freedom and joy from true repentance. No matter what we need to repent for when we take a single -- even feeble -- step toward Jesus, He moves heaven and earth to take major steps on our behalf.
Daily Bible Readings
As you contemplate these passages throughout the week, make time to pray before you read them and then again, afterward. In each reading, ask God to show you what the verses mean specifically to you. God’s Word is alive, so even if you’re familiar with these Scriptures, approach them with an expectant heart and an open mind. God wants to spend time with you.
Monday - Read Proverbs 28:13 and 1 John 1:8-9. The human heart wasn’t designed to be a labyrinth of secrets. Rather, it was created to be a throne room for God Himself. As such, any sin we are allowing to linger in our hearts will take up space that our Heavenly Father longs to fill up with His goodness, beauty, peace, truth, hope, and love. It takes great courage to sit quietly before the Holy Spirit and invite Him to search your heart. But your courage will always be met with unconditional love and acceptance, even if it comes with His correction. Spend some time as the Psalmist did, examining your motives in the light of God’s expectations knowing that everything you’re willing to surrender to Him will open the door to ... a better way.
Tuesday - Read Psalm 51:10-13 and Acts 3:19. As you read these verses today, spend time meditating on the Holy Spirit’s cleansing presence in your heart and mind. Allow Him to move effortlessly through the depths of your being and envision His purifying and restoring touch on any tainted thoughts in your mind or any dark corners of your heart. Lift up praises to Jesus for being the Lamb of the world who’s sacrifice cleanses you, heals you, and unites you in fellowship with Him for eternity.
Wednesday - Read Lamentations 3:22-23. In what ways are you experiencing God’s mercies today? How are they new or different from yesterday? If you’re in a place of struggle to accept His forgiveness and move forward into wholeness ask God to help you recognize and receive His mercies.
Thursday - Read Matthew 6:19-24 twice, first in the ESV, and then in The Message version. Now, in whichever version you prefer, go back and read it a third time, but instead of money/treasure being the topic, substitute whatever thing, person, or habit you currently have too much of — or desire too much of. After reading, spend time with the Lord in prayer and journaling about the state of your heart. If God whispers anything to you write it down.
Friday - Every waking moment of our lives is designed to glorify Jesus. While that’s impossible to do within our own power, the Holy Spirit enables us to grow more and more in that direction with each step of faith and obedience. Read Colossians 3:1-8 and consider any areas of your “old life” that have come back or you have been unable to defeat. What line in the sand do you need to draw today with God’s help? Write down your next step in that direction and what you can do in the coming week to take action.
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to live life a better way... Jesus' way.
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