Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

Bold and Unstoppable

How bold are you in proclaiming your faith?

Our cat has suddenly begun crying out boldly in the middle of the night with a squall that jars everyone awake from an otherwise uneventful night. This has become an almost nightly occurrence. I finally discovered this cry comes from our bathroom which amplifies the volume. Why does she do this? Maybe she likes the acoustics and the fact that there are no other sounds during the night to drown out her late night songs. She doesn’t care that our dog (who thinks he’s her boss) is always ready and waiting for her to do something wrong so that he can chase her through the house. She is unstoppable!

Paul was a lot like my cat…bold and unstoppable. Acts 28:31 says “He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hindrance”. Prior to chapter 28, Paul had been arrested for preaching, conspired against, imprisoned, tortured, shipwrecked, and more. He had many circumstances that might deter his preaching, yet he continued without hesitation.

Paul did not back down simply because someone wanted him to stop. He was not intimidated. He did not make excuses. He continued to tell of God’s goodness and of Jesus’s resurrection boldly. His ministry thrived because he was a force that would not stop simply because of his faith.

How bold are you in proclaiming God’s goodness? Often we are our own greatest obstacle. We make excuses. We are intimidated by the opinions of others and stopped by fear and insecurity.

How can we share God boldly like Paul with so many obstacles? Ask Him to cast aside all fear of judgment and give you strength to do what He wants you to do. No hesitation. No fear. No hindrances. Believe that God loves you, and hold on to the fact that His love and approval are all you need.

Like Paul’s ministry, there will be trials, but with God we can overcome any obstacle. Step out in faith and share God boldly like Paul. Then keep singing His praises like my cat who just won’t give up even when the dog is on your tail!

Be bold! Be unstoppable! All for the kingdom of God.

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Transform

Happy New Year!! A time that we make resolutions to be healthier, more committed to relationships, more successful at our job. The list just goes on and on. But there is no greater resolution than to seek God and to allow Him to transform you, and there’s no better time than today to start.

Start by reading the Bible everyday. If you don’t have a Bible, get a Bible app and set it for daily reminders. Or set your alarm a little earlier each morning. Find a Bible study partner or group to hold you accountable and share about your transformation and what you’re learning. What better way to start your day than with scripture! According to an article in Psychology Today, it takes an average of 66 days for a new activity to become a habit. So we need all the reminders we can get!

The SOAP method is my personal favorite for Bible study. It helps me avoid the Reading Just to be Reading issue. To be honest, there are times I’ve read my Bible but then later in the day or week I had no idea what I had read. I learned nothing, felt no connection to God, and definitely was not seeking Him or transformed in any way. I think if you try this method, you’ll find it helps!

S is for SCRIPTURE – Pray over the Bible reading, then read it slowly allowing God to lead you to specific verses. Write down scriptures that capture your attention and focus your attention on that.

O is for OBSERVE – Record in your journal any thoughts or questions you have regarding the scripture.

A is for APPLY – Write down what God is saying to you. What is God’s personal message, instruction, encouragement, or correction? Take time to listen, and allow Him to get personal.

P is for PRAY – Write a personal prayer about what God has shown you. This will help you to stay focused. Again, be sure to listen. Prayer is a two way conversation. God may reveal more to you during this time if you give Him the chance.

I like to keep a journal just for my SOAP Bible Studies. I use two pages, side by side. Below is an example from my journal. No judgement please…I never expected to share haha!

Often I enjoy going back to read the insight from past studies. It amazes me the application that I’ve gleaned through this type of personal Bible study. Something I plan to start is including the date. Make it pretty if you like. Make it personal. Make it your New Year’s Resolution and allow God to transform you!

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When tragedy strikes, one of three things happens with our faith. We tend to grow closer to God and our faith grows stronger; we turn from God blaming Him for allowing this and doubting His love and power; or we get caught somewhere in the middle. Honestly I have to admit that I was lost somewhere in the middle for awhile.

After my husband’s accident, I drew close to God, leaning on Him in those difficult days when it was hard to see my husband in the man that Traumatic Brain Injury had created and to watch him struggle with changes he could not control.

Then a year later I was shocked to discover that I had Lupus, and I became lost in fear. My faith became a sort of roller coaster of highs and lows. Probably more lows than highs. I have never blamed God or felt that He had given up on me. I never stopped believing or trusting God, but I failed to seek Him which left me feeling I had to face these battles alone.

I stopped journaling, had trouble focusing on reading God’s word, and struggled to get my thoughts together at times. I was caught somewhere between fully trusting God with my life and turning my back on Him, but thankfully He never gave up on me. I always felt Him tugging at my heart wanting me to recommit to that daily walk with Him. My strength was renewed and my walk restored because of His unfailing love!

No matter what we go through, God promises to be with us. Do not be afraid, nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9). He promises to help us and give us rest. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). And He will always love us. Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you (Isaiah 43:4). These are just a few of the many wonderful and reassuring promises in God’s word. His love is never failing!

Even when you are stuck somewhere in the middle, He still loves you and wants you to find your way back to Him.

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This is Temporary

There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for awhile. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to a God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7

Things may be difficult as you’re going through trials, but this scripture promises that trials are temporary. God doesn’t send trials to break you, but instead He allows them in order to make your faith in Him stronger.

When you feel frustrated by the trials in your life, remember that there will be wonderful joy again, so lean on Him and wait expectantly for that joy. Believe that this is temporary and your faith is more precious than gold.

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You Matter

You matter! Many people struggle with feeling that no one cares, but God’s word says that you are much more valuable than the birds in Luke 12:24. “Look at the crows: they don’t sow seeds or gather a harvest; they don’t have storerooms or barns; God feeds them! You are worth so much more than birds!”

In Luke 15, Jesus used three illustrations to express how important each person is regardless of their own or even society’s opinion. He tells about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. In verse 4 Jesus says, “If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it?” He goes on to tell of the rejoicing that would follow. Even though the majority of the sheep were safe, that one lost sheep was important enough to be found and celebrated.

Then Jesus tells of a woman with ten valuable silver coins in verses 8-10. He asks if one is lost, wouldn’t she light a lamp and search the entire house until that lost coin is found? As with the lost sheep, the woman did not shrug off the loss of the coin just because she had others. Instead she searched with great effort and then rejoiced with friends when that one coin was found.

Finally, Jesus told of a son who took his inheritance and left his home and family. He wasted his money away and began living a life of poverty and shame before finally gathering the courage to go home to his father. The father did not turn his son away for making bad choices but instead welcomed him with love, compassion, and you guess it…a celebration.

The lesson in each of these stories is that you matter! Some people are judged by society as less important, but God sees the value in each and every person. Regardless of what anyone says or how you feel about yourself, the important thing is that you matter to your Creator. God the Father loves you so much that if you’ve lost your way, He will welcome you with open arms. You are valuable because He loves you!

When you see a bird, remember that God loves you and that you do matter!

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Armor of God

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

www.bible.com/116/eph.6.11.nlt

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Does it ever seem that the circumstances you face are so complicated that there is no way out? No matter which way you turn, you only see trouble.  In those moments, we have a tendency to focus on the problem rather than God and His power to conquer any obstacle.  When problems arise, we begin to question.  What are we going to do?  How are we going to overcome this?  In Exodus 14 while escaping the oppression of the Egyptians, the Israelites began to question why they were brought to the desert, what Moses had done by leading them out of Egypt, and why they even agreed to follow him.

Exodus 14:13-14 says, Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.   They were focused on the obstacles, and their thoughts and actions were controlled by fear.  How often do we find ourselves in that same situation?  Instead of focusing on the problem, who to blame, and how we can fix it, we must turn our focus to God.

As stated above in Exodus 14, sometimes we must calm our fears, be still, pray, and trust God to make a way in His perfect time.  Other times though He may tell us to “get moving”.  Exodus 14:15 says, then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.  In other words, “I’m opening the door, now you need to follow my instructions and just move on through it”.

Psalm 77:16 says, When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled!  The sea trembled at the power of God; there is no obstacle which is greater than His power!  Psalm 77:19 goes on to say, “Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters – a pathway no one knew was there!”  God was able to part the Red Sea leaving a dry path for the Israelites to cross escaping from the Egyptians, and He still has the power today to open doors for us that we may not even know are an option.

I’m sure it was terrifying for the Israelites to step out onto that ocean floor with an enormous wall of water on either side!  The door that God opens for us may be scary, but if we’ll just trust Him and move on through it, we will see the power of His deliverance.

When it seems as though the enemy is winning, God is still in control and knows exactly what to do. So instead of focusing on the problem and how we can fix it, we must not let fear control our actions.  We must choose to trust God and wait patiently for Him to make a way.  We must obey and move on through when He says it’s time.  Even when our problem seems as big as the Red Sea with no apparent solution, God has the power to make a way!

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