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
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.
Do you get your strength from others, your own self-image, or lifting weights – or from Christ in you?
Work on strengthening your walk with God by reading your Bible daily – even if it’s just a little bit.
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.
Today 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.
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?
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.
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.
“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?
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.”
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.”
Now, 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.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
~ Proverbs 11:2
I would not normally call myself a prideful person. That being said, I have several qualities that I have been told are rooted in pride. Such as being shy, easily embarrassed, etc. Most recently, my pride (that I don’t like to admit) came full surface during a phone call…
I was in the middle of a work project, when the phone rang. I glanced at the number and thought it looked like the number from the peewee football coach who had called me the week before. I touched answer and said hello while removing the computer headset I was wearing. So of course, I missed the introduction where he said who it was – which wasn’t an issue, because I already knew.
At least that’s what I thought… Except he wasn’t talking about football, but like we were friends. So I thought maybe it was the head of the peewee football league who is friends with my husband… but that didn’t make any sense, since we still weren’t talking about football…
Next idea – it had to be my small group leader… except I have his number in my phone, and it didn’t show up on the caller ID.
Keep in mind, through out this drawn out process, the person on the other end is still talking and I’m giving generic answers (yes, thank you, great, etc.) trying to figure out who they are and why they are calling me. (Hint: I don’t get phone calls from strange guys very often.)
Sure, I could have said, “I’m sorry, who is this again?” But I thought that would be rude, not to mention completely embarrassing at this point. So I didn’t.
Finally, we wrap up our conversation – or he does, since I’m still not sure what to say or who I’m talking to. And I decide it must have been my pastor. So I text my husband to confirm. Yes, he says, that was our pastor.
Then my wonderful Mr. Amazing tells me that he text our pastor to let him know that I didn’t know who he was – mortification complete (to clarify: not the biblical mortification we’ve been learning about in Sunday school where you turn from or die to your sins, the embarrassing kind).
But then he text me something else – he said, our pastor wasn’t sure if I didn’t know who it was or if I just didn’t like him.
My pride made me come across as unwelcoming. Not very humble or loving if you ask me. I’ve been mulling over this for close to a week now, and I have to wonder how often I come across as cold and unfeeling, just because I let my pride dictate my words and actions. I can’t say that I will overcome 30 years of deep-rooted shyness in the next month, but I do know that it is something that I need to be working on – that I need to give to God and let Him help me work through.
Sometimes, our sins have consequences we don’t think about.
Do you have any sins that you never realized how they effected others?