Archive for Devotions

Rejoice In The Midst

My week got off to a pretty bad start. It seemed like life was just closing in and I was stressed out and overwhelmed. What’s worse, I knew it was all self-inflicted. My priorities were messed up and I was only hurting myself.

Early in the week, I came up with the following statement that really helped me.

Slow down. Breath deep. Repeat after me:

God’s got this.

His timing is perfect, His ways are best, and He. Loves. Me.

My number one priority is to know and love God, because He first loved me.

It didn’t actually solve a problem, it just helped me to calm down.

It was the reminder I needed. It’s probably the reminder I need each and every day. But it was just a start. It helped me refocus, but I was so emotionally raw that I just sat on that. I couldn’t move on or move forward. In fact, this blog post has sat on my computer partly written for three days because that was a far as I could get. It calmed my soul, but I was missing the strength to move forward.

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

God's TimingNehemiah 8:10 says, “…do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

That’s what I was missing.

Have you ever been there?

I wasn’t looking to the joy of the Lord for strength, I was looking to the situations and circumstances that surrounded me. I was an emotional wreck, because my joy wasn’t dependent on God, but on man. And it wreaked havoc on me like you would not believe. The condemnation I was heaping on myself was insane. At one point I had even convinced myself that I had no place as a Christian blogger because I was such a mess.

And then God reminded me of something He showed me just a week ago in Matthew 14:22-23.

We are never out of God’s reach. It doesn’t matter what time it is, where we are, or what we are going through, God can reach us. Just like Jesus made it to the disciples at 4am (ish), walking on the water to the middle of the lake in the middle of a storm.

If He can do that, He can get to us in the middle of our mess.

We just have to focus on Him, instead of the storm swirling all around us. We have to rejoice that He is with us, and trust Him to get us through it.

Faith, hope, and love.

We have to have faith that He is with us. Hope in His strength, sovereignty, and salvation. And focus on the love He has for us.

When we get our priorities and our focus realigned, God can fill us to overflowing with His joy. And even if our situations and circumstances haven’t changed, we can rejoice with Him.

I Shall Live

You may or may not have heard of Beth Moore’s Siesta Scripture Memory Team, but I’m taking part in it this year and loving it. The basis behind it is that you memorize two verses a month (on the first and fifteenth). Psalm 118:17 is my second verse for this month, and while I know I’ve read the entire Bible, I don’t remember really seeing this verse before yesterday, but it has hit me hard.

“I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”
~ Psalm 118:17
(ESV – emphasis mine)

This verse stirs me in a way I can barely express through words. Before Jesus, we were dead in our transgressions, separated from God, but because of Him, we shall live. He has given us a new life (Romans 6:4), and the old has passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Because of Christ, we can live not only in eternity, but we can live a full life here on earth bringing glory to our Savior. We can share about His mighty works. And not only that, but He can live through us and in us through the person of the Holy Spirit.

 John 10:10 says, “A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I (Jesus) came to give you life–life that is full and good.”

Jesus came to give us life. Not just air to breathe, but one where we actively live a life according to what He has called us to. Colossians 3:1 says, “You were raised from death with Christ. So live for what is in heaven, where Christ is sitting at the righthand of God.”

Jesus didn’t just give us life, He gave us something to live for.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

 Live

A Lack of Trust

Do you ever have issues trusting other people?

I was reading through Philemon the other day and was astounded at Paul’s confidence that Philemon would honor his wishes. I kept thinking, if I were Philemon, would I be quick to forgive the runaway slave, or would I punish him more because he got one of my friends involved? (Not that I believe in slavery, but if I were wronged and the person who wronged me went to a friend, would I be quick to forgive?)

As I re-read the passage, I stopped at the verses where Paul thanks God for Philemon. He had reason to have confidence in Philemon, because he had heard about his love for God and all the saints. Those who love are quick to forgive. They hold no record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5).

A Lesson from PhilemonBut not all of us are like that.

Not all of us are quick to forgive, and often we do hold a record of wrongs.

Even with Paul’s confidence in Philemon, and the testimony of his love, I still find myself wondering how that story ended. How did Philemon receive Onesimus? Did he welcome him as a beloved brother in Christ? Did he send him back to Paul? Did he punish him for running away? We don’t know how the story ends, but it still speaks to my heart.

The overpowering question is, does it matter?

Does it matter how the story ends?

If Paul did the right thing, does it matter if Philemon was obedient. Obviously it would have mattered to Onesimus, but what if it wasn’t a person involved? Does the trustworthiness of someone else matter when it comes to doing the right thing?

Should we let our lack of trust in others keep us from offering help where we can?

Often times we justify not aiding others, because we don’t have faith in them as people. We doubt their sincerity or motives. Yet I’m convicted that the right thing is still the right thing, even if we don’t share the confidence Paul had in Philemon. Who knows, maybe our ability to love others could lead them to Christ.

And maybe, just maybe, Paul’s confidence wasn’t in Philemon at all, but in our great God.

Maybe it’s not about whether we trust people or not, but whether we believe God can use all things for His glory.

Will I still be tempted to doubt people? Probably. But it’s whether we allow that doubt to control our actions that matters.

Where does your strength come from?

On Monday, our Bible study was about the prayer for strength in Acts 4 (read it here). So today, I wanted to share a devotion about finding your true strength in Christ. This is the first devotional in the Teen Devotionals… for Guys! series my husband co-authors.

You can find more resources about finding your true strength in Christ on his website here.

“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…”

– 2 Timothy 4:17

How would you define strength?

Words often associated with it are power, courage, and muscles. If you put all three together – you’ve got one strong individual.

But where do those things come from?

We can get our power from how others see us. It can come from our popularity, our knowledge of a certain subject, or our position on the football team. But God would rather us get our power from Him.

Acts 1:8 says: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…”

Likewise, our courage usually comes from our own self-image. We’re more likely to talk to girls when we feel good about our appearance. We’re more likely to stand up for ourselves when we believe in ourselves. And we’re more likely to do something dangerous when we think it will make us look better to others. Yet again, as Christians, our courage should come from Christ.

1 Corinthians 16:13 says: “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” When our faith is in the Lord, He gives us the courage we need for all things.

And our muscles? Well, most of us would agree that they come from working out – lifting weights, exercising, etc. But what about our spiritual muscles?

Through the apostle Paul, God said: “… be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Eph. 6:10). Physical strength isn’t wrong, but there is more to strength than that.

Real strength – true strength – comes from Christ living in us and through us.

We can’t be strong on our own, no matter how tough we think we are.

Reflection

Do you get your strength from others, your own self-image, or lifting weights – or from Christ in you?

Application Step

Work on strengthening your walk with God by reading your Bible daily – even if it’s just a little bit.

Prayer

Lord, I live in a world where the source of strength can come from all different kinds of things – from others, from our actions and even from within ourselves – and I have believed the same. Yet I know that You are the only source of true strength. Help me to be strong in You and draw my strength from You alone.

 

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The above post is an excerpt from the Teen Devotionals… for Guys! series.

If you are looking for teen devotionals, you can get them free via e-mail at the links below:

Teen Guy Devotionals

Teen Girl Devotionals

Also available on Amazon

21GuyDevos

 

{Teen Devotional} Living by Faith

devobooksToday I wanted to share one of the devotions I write for teen girls with you. This one was actually written a couple of years ago, and I was amazed at how much I have grown in Christ since writing it, however, it’s still spot on.

You can sign up to get this devotion and others like it delivered to your inbox daily or weekly for free here.

Living by Faith

 

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

~ Galatians 2:20

 

Wow! Did you read that verse?

Those are the words Paul wrote to the Galatians, can you echo his words with your own?

Do you live by faith in the Son of God… do I?

Normally I would say absolutely, but the first part of the verse implies a much deeper meaning. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” That’s a powerful statement. Paul literally gave up all of his personal dreams (and belongings) to live for Christ, and Christ alone. I can fully admit that I haven’t done that.

You see, I get up each morning and decide what I want to do, what I want to wear, what I want to eat, and what I think is important to get done that day. Yes, I try to make sure that I spend time reading my Bible and pray that I accomplish what God wants me to do during the day… but I’m still living for me.

I know that Jesus gave up His life for me, yet I still live for myself.

I don’t spend my day focusing on He has done, but on me and my own little world.

Can you relate to that?

I don’t think that to live for Christ we all have to sell everything we own, and travel the world preaching Christ to the nations. Sure, some people are called by God to do that, but others Jesus commanded to stay where they were and share His love with those around them (Mark 5:18-20).

I think it’s harder to do that.

To stay in the same life we have always been living, but to change what we are living for. It’s harder to break habits when we are in the same situation – but that is exactly what God has called many of us to do.

 

Reflection

So what about you? Are you continuing to live for yourself, or are you living by faith in Christ and allowing Him to live through you?

Application Step

Write Galatians 2:20 on a note card and spend the next week memorizing it. Read it aloud first thing each morning, and then to yourself several times throughout the day – and pay attention to whether or not you are actually living it.

Prayer

Father God, I have been living for myself. I want to live for You, I really do, but my flesh gets in the way. I want the words that Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20 to be my own, but I need Your help with that. Help me to live my life by faith in Your Son, so much so that I no longer live, but that He lives in me. It is in His name that I pray, amen.

 

 

For more help finding your true beauty in Christ, visit: www.FindYourTrueBeauty.com

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Deeper in Christ

“If we aren’t changed by Christ, how can He use us to change the world?”

That’s the question that has stuck with me ever since my pastor’s sermon on Sunday. I want God to use me to do great things for Him, but before He can do that, I first have to let Him do great things within me.

Can you relate?

How can God

The sermon my pastor preached this past weekend, was more about what it meant to prosper in God’s eyes. Here’s the definition I left with:

“To prosper in God’s eyes means to be ready to answer when He calls. To be prepared to do His will. To be waiting to take part in the plans He has for us, and ready to join Him in doing His work.”

Prospering is not about being plentiful, it’s about having what we need to serve God.

And part of what we need is more of Him.

I’ve been reading The Prayer that Changes Everything by Stormie Omartian. And the focus of the book is on praising God and getting to know who He is. I didn’t even get past the first page before I started highlighting. She was writing about entering into a close relationship with God, a “really close” relationship. And she posed the question, “How close is really close exactly?” Here’s her answer:

“It’s close enough to know Him intimately. Close enough to communicate your whole heart to Him on an ongoing basis. Close enough to be able to direct your attention away from yourself completely and place it on Him entirely. Close enough to understand who He really is and then allow that knowledge of Him to define who you really are. It’s loving Him with all your heart and letting Him love you with all of His.”

I want that kind of a relationship with God, don’t you? 

My theme this year is “Called by Christ” and it has transformed my life in just a couple of short weeks. But one thing is painfully clear, part of the reason He has called me to stay where I am right now, is because I need to know Him more. I need more of Him in my life, if I want to be used by Him on a grand scale. Failing to be equipped by Him will lead to catastrophe later.

I’m not saying that you have to clean yourself up to be used by God, that’s not it at all! In fact, I know that He is using me right where I am right now. He is using me in the lives of my family, the women in my Bible study, and even in the women I meet online. He uses every Christian in some way. However, He also knows what He has equipped us to handle. If we aren’t ready for a big ministry, He won’t send us into one.

I know the saying goes that God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. But there is still a process to becoming qualified. You can’t teach God’s Word if you aren’t IN God’s Word. You can’t minister to others if you don’t let God minister to you. God’s love can’t pour out of you, if you don’t let it pour into you.

That’s where I am.

I’m basking in the love of my Savior. Deepening my relationship with Him, and letting Him pour out of me onto the people He has placed in my life right where I am.

I think that is one of the very first ways that God prospers us. He prospers us by taking us deeper into our relationships with Him.

Deeper in Christ.

That alone is amazing, but He doesn’t stop there.

He loves us to the point that it can’t help but spill out onto those around us and He calls us to be ambassadors for Him.

When He transforms us through our relationship with Him, He works through us for His own glory, but in order to be used by Him, we first have to come to Him.

So I want to close by asking you a question:

Where are you today?

Are you being transformed by Christ? Are you letting Him pour into you so that His love can overflow onto others? Or are you working to serve Him with all that you have, and depending on your own strength to bring Him glory?

 

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

~ 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)

Called to Stay

For those of you who don’t know, my theme for 2015 is “Called by Christ.” I know God has called me to be His. I am His child, and I am more excited about serving Him than I have ever been. However, the biggest calling He has placed in my heart right now is the call to wait.

The call to remain where I am right now. 

1 Corinthians 7:20 says, Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.” 

Called to StayNow, I don’t know if you have ever been excited about something, but sitting and doing nothing, isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do in that situation.

The sermon my pastor preached on Sunday was on the book of Jeremiah. How God had a plan to prosper His people, but not for 70 years after He told them about His plan. That’s a long time. I’m hoping above all hope that God doesn’t want me to wait 70 years before He reveals His plans for my ministry to me, I’d be over 100 years old! However, I know that His timing is perfect.

One thing I am thankful for is knowing His plan for my life.

I won’t be trying out 1,000 new things this year, or striving for something and failing, because I know that I am right where God wants me to be.

I have security in that. 

I think part of the reason He is calling me to stay where I am is because I’m not ready for more. I have been struggling to balance my current workload, family life, and ministry goals for a while now. The end of 2014 was rough for me. And while I thought cutting back was the answer, God has prompted me that what I really need to do is sink into Him.

He can’t use me for great things if I don’t rely on Him and trust His calling and will. 

So for now, He has called me to stay. Not to step back, not move forward, but to stay right where I am, and lean into Him.

What is God calling you to do?

 

 

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