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.
1 Peter 2:11-12 "My divinely loved friends, since you are resident aliens and foreigners in this world, I appeal to you to divorce yourselves from the evil desires that wage war within you. Live honorable lives as you mix with unbelievers, even though they accuse you of being evildoers. For they will see your beautiful works and have a reason to glorify God in the day He visits us." (TPT)
In the World, Not of It
No matter what you call it — taking the easy way out or going down the path of least resistance — human beings naturally gravitate toward shortcuts, timesavers, and effort-reducing detours. These nicely-phrased, non-offensive phrases are more preferred to the polarizing hard truth about all of us, which is that our brains are naturally wired to gravitate toward laziness. Sure, some of us are more intrinsically gifted with energy, motivation, and self-discipline, but the hard truth is that our brains gravitate toward routines, familiarity, and avoiding conflict — both within ourselves and with others. This is why the bestseller lists are filled with self-help books on everything from breaking bad habits to saving your marriage. Whether you want to be healthier or start a business, you'll have to fight your natural tendency to procrastinate, ignore problems, or spend too much time on the couch.
In 1 Peter 2:11-12 we as believers in Jesus are warned about a form of laziness that can be lethal to the spread of the Gospel and dampen its life-saving message for the world around us. "Live honorable lives as you mix with unbelievers, even though they accuse you of being evildoers," is a radical statement and one that requires both great effort and faith. Because living this way requires intentionality, consistency, and other-worldly love, Christians throughout the ages have tried numerous shortcuts to get around the hard work. One of the most common shortcuts is to withdraw from the world by putting up all kinds of various barriers, restrictions, and expectations. Clearly, this shortcut is not in keeping with the command in this passage to "mix with unbelievers," or Jesus' command to love your neighbor as yourself. You cannot love someone the way that Jesus asks you to if you're constantly passing judgment from afar and refusing to get involved. The polar opposite of this approach is to blend into society so much that you are virtually unidentifiable as a believer. When Christians take this shortcut, they allow truth to be defined by the culture around them, rather than what Jesus said it is.
Living honorably with the kind of love that Jesus exhibited is not possible when we opt for a shortcut. James 1:27 describes this tension of living honorably in the world but resisting the spiritual apathy and toxicity that swirls all around us. "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." Let's face it — living out both parts of that verse is just plain hard, but here's the phenomenally incredible news... When we yield to the Holy Spirit's work in our hearts and minds, then the work that God calls us to do becomes possible in His power and for His glory. Shortcuts are all about us, our protection, and our power. By contrast, Jesus is magnified when we allow Him to take care of our reputation despite the world's criticism and derision of our "honorable" choices. The Gospel shines the brightest when we allow the world to see love and acceptance in our eyes, not legalistic rules and holier-than-thou expectations. Loving others as Jesus would is never a compromise of the truth, but it's always an effort to resist ourselves.
Daily Bible Readings
This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask the Holy Spirit to make each of the passages deeply personal and applicable to you. (NOTE: We suggest you read each of these passages in several different versions of the Bible, including at least one paraphrase version.) As you contemplate these passages, make time to pray before and after you read them. Write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your soul.
Monday — Read 1 Peter 2:9 and Romans 8:16-18. When we choose to follow Jesus, something instantly happens — we become royal heirs in the court of the King of kings. While this is an analogy that many of us can't relate to as Americans, in countries that still have a monarchy it's clearly understood that anyone who is a part of the royal court is supposed to be a reflection of the king or queen. As you meditate on these verses, imagine yourself as a daughter or son in God's royal family. Spend time asking God if there's any part of your behavior or demeanor that hasn't been a reflection of Him.
Tuesday - Read Mark 10:17-27. Throughout history, humankind has faced the temptation to supplement or alter what Scripture defines as a life that is pleasing to God. Every time Jesus was questioned about this, He kept things surprisingly simple to understand. Implementation, of course, was another matter altogether. As you reflect on this passage, what shortcut did the rich young man hope to take to avoid the hard work that Jesus was calling Him to do? Read the passage again, this time imagining yourself asking Jesus what He wants you to do.
Wednesday - Read 1 Peter 2:4-5. If you are a "living stone" dependent on the life source of Jesus, then you are also interconnected with all the other living stones in the greater body of believers, especially those in your own community. Ponder this idea of interdependence as holy priests collectively serving God here on earth. Spend time praising God for the way He's designed the Body of Christ and ask Him to show you how you can "build up" His sanctuary with other believers.
Thursday - Read Hosea 6:6-7 and Romans 12:1. God never calls us to sacrifice something just for the sake of making a sacrifice. He does not delight in rituals, offerings, or self-deprivation in an effort to win His favor. When you think of all the things you've done to please God, are there any that come to mind as attempts to get something from Him in return? Are there any that fall into the category of just going through the motions? Spend time asking the Holy Spirit to search your heart and deepen your love for God without wanting anything in return. Praise Him for who He is, not only the things He's done in your life.
Friday - Read Ephesians 2:8-9 and 1 John 3:16. Describe in your own words the difference between striving to perform for God (i.e. doing something out of duty or to achieve) and participating in God’s work in your life. What are some ways that God is asking you for true sacrifice and not a performance? Surrender those back to Him in prayer and ask Him to fill you with the courage, humility, and power to take the next step.
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to be a part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth.
Want to Go Even Further?
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