Are You Putting God In A Cage?

This is not the first time I’ve used this devotion, but I love it! It’s a good reminder for me–and maybe for you?  So I use it from time to time. I hope you enjoy it as well.

ARE YOU PUTTING GOD IN A CAGE?

James 4: 8 (NLT)

“Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.”

Friends told me this story of a rescued dog long ago, but I’ve never forgotten it. The dog’s owners decided to use cage training to housebreak their young puppy. Cage training consists of having the puppy spend time in his cage until he figures out where to go potty and where not to.

Unfortunately, the owners missed the point. They brought their young puppy home and, as expected, the puppy soon had an accident. His owners punished him by putting him in the cage. With each accident, they would punish him by keeping him the cage for longer periods. Naturally, the dog would have another accident in the cage and so the cycle went.

Eventually, the dog was in the cage for several days at a time without food or water. The owners didn’t understand why the dog had turned mean.

Dogs are great pets when they are loved and nurtured. The more time we spend with them the stronger the bond becomes. The key to any relationship is the time, attention and effort given. That holds true for relationships with animals, people, and God.

The more time and effort we put into a relationship the more we receive.

What about our relationship with God?

Do we treat Him in a way that we wouldn’t treat a dog? Do we take God out of the cage on Sundays for a few hours and then stick Him back in until the next Sunday? We may even have good intentions but…life can get so busy.

I know that happens to me more often than I care to admit. I have good intentions to spend time with God but then life happens. Before I know it, I begin to lose my patience, my joy, and my peace. That’s when I know it’s time to draw near to God and He’s always there waiting.

Don’t cheat yourself out of a loving relationship with God because you think you don’t have time. There is no right or wrong way to spend time with God. Here are a few of my favorite ways to spend time with God:

While you do your chores, listen to praise music.

Pray whenever the mood hits.

Start writing a list of what you are grateful to God for–big and little things.

Rent a Biblical movie.

Put index cards and a pen by your Bible. Write out verses that are meaningful.

Sing your favorite hymn–even if your husband doesn‘t like your singing.

Reflect on God’s goodness as you notice His beautiful handiwork.

As you fall asleep, end your day with a pray of praise and thanksgiving.

Be creative, be flexible, and enjoy your time with God. The more time you spend with him, the more peace and joy you will experience. As you reap the benefits of spending time with God, you will soon find yourself craving more time with Him. He’s here right this moment–waiting for you.

What’s one of the ways you enjoy spending time with God?

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

PAUL’S ADVICE TO WRITERS

 

1 Peter 1:13

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, be self-controlled,

set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

 

Paul may not have written these words with a writer in mind, but I think it’s great advice. We can learn much when and where we least expect it. Let’s take a look at the verse part by part.

STEP 1: Prepare your minds .Being an excellent writer takes more than sitting down at a computer and writing. First, you must be a reader, and I don’t mean one or two books every year. One of the best ways to learn to write is to read, read, and read!

Second of all, as a Christian writer, you want to be excellent at what you do. And that means being good at the craft of writing. There are lots of ways to do that, such as classes, workshops, reading books on writing, joining writing groups and critique groups. Along with learning more about the writing craft, writers need to learn more about the business of writing as well. But whatever you do, you must prepare your mind.

STEP 2: Action. You can’t stay in step 1 forever. Some people talk about wanting to be a writer. Some people study writing.  But the only way to become a writer is to write.  So even as you continue to learn all you can about writing, you must write. Writers write!

STEP 3: Be self-controlled. So much to do and so little time to do it! We live in busy times. A multitude of people, activities, and responsibilities tug at us.  You can’t say yes to everything and still have time for writing. Being a writer takes a commitment, self-control, and self-discipline and time. Lots of time. If you can’t make a complete commitment to writing , this may not be the season for you to follow the dream as wholeheartedly as you want. You can still work on steps 1 & 2 so that you will be ready for step 3 when the time is right.

STEP 4: Set your hope fully on God’s grace. How long will it take you to reach your writing goals? I have no idea, but I can assure you it will be longer than you want or expect. Whether short or long, keep your eyes focused on God and His goodness, and know that He is faithful.

Paul’s words may not have been intended for writers, but when you consider the fact he wrote a majority of the New Testament, I believe he knew what he was talking about.

 UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Thursday Thoughts (and questions)

Zechariah 4: 6

Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts.

I thought I’d try something a little different on this cold wintery Thursday here in Ohio. I have a stack of index cards with Bible verses on them. Every day I try to read a few. It’s one of the ways I renew my mind since I can’t really memorize because of my bad memory. So anyway, here’s today’s, and I’d love to hear your thoughts or answers to some, any or all of these questions:

1. Does the verse mean we shouldn’t work as hard as we can at whatever we’re doing?

2. As a writer, what does that verse mean when it comes to book marketing and promoting myself?

3. Can you put the verse in your own words to better enlighten us to the meaning?

Thoughts or questions?

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Be A Super Bowl Christian!

Who doesn’t want to be a champion, especially on this Super Bowl Sunday, right?

My preacher had a great sermon today so I thought I’d share the highlights. So thanks, Tom, for inspiring this post. He entitled it SUPER BOWL CHRISTIANS. Don’t you love the title and wouldn’t we all love to be a Super Bowl Christian. Being a Super Bowl Christian might mean different things to different people but there’s a few things we all need to do if we want to become one.

DESIRE: You can’t win the game if you don’t care about it. Psalm 42: 1 says, As the deer pants for the streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God”  To be a Super Bowl Christian, we should desire a relationship with God above all else. 

DISCIPLINE: To be all that we can be, we must endure a little discipline in life, sometimes self-displine but also from others. (Just ask the Army!) Discipline is not a bad thing. Hebrews 12: 7 tells us,  “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father.” To be a Super Bowl Christian, we must accept and learn from the discipline, not be made angry, frustrated, or bitter.

DETERMINATION: This step is about focus and commitment. Lots of people start lots of things every day, but it takes determination to finish. Proverbs 24: 16 says it all, “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.”  To be a Super Bowl Christian, you’ve got to get back in the game no matter how many times you fall.

DENIAL: This is a painful one–because it’s about self-denial.Something we’re not very good at these days. We want what we want when we want it, and we don’t want to sacrifice anything to get it. .Paul tells us in Romans 12: 1, ” Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”   Each time we make a sacrifice as we run our race, we move a little closer to the goal line. To be a Super Bowl Christian, you must be willing to sacrifce.

DISTINCTION If we follow the other four steps to the best of our ability, then we will have completed the race we were given to run. We will live a life of excellence, a life pleasing to God. As Paul said in Phillipians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”. And we, too, can say we are a Super Bowl Christian.

Can you even begin to imagine what your life might be like if you practice these four steps consistently and to the best of your ability, not just in spiritual matters but in all areas of our lives?

You might finally lose that extra weight.

You might get that garage cleaned out so you can finally park your car in it.

You might finish up that high school or college degree.

To be a Super Bowl Champion means to live the life of excellence God calls each of us to live.

Any other ideas what we need to do to live a life of excellence?

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

GOD IS SOVEREIGN!

BAD NEWS-GOOD NEWS 

SESSION 2

So last session we talked about the bad news–just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we are immune to difficulties in this life. So today we’re moving forward with the good news–thought it may not seem that way at the beginning.

Do you know what sovereign means? According to Dictionary.com it means  to have supreme power or authority. Another one of the definitions I really loved is  being above all others in character, importance, excellence, etc. Between those two definitions is a fairly accurate description of God.

supreme power-yes

supreme authority-yes

above all others in character-yes

above all others in importance-yes

above all others in excellence-yes

above all others in etc…..yes

Let me just fill in the etc. part just a bit–above all others in love; in goodness; in holiness. (NOTE: Help me fill in this list. What would be some other characteristics that describe God?)

Supreme–above all others. That means God makes the final decisions about….well everything. Only God decides the who, the what, the how, the when, the why, and the where of miracles. He can choose to give us a miracle or not, no matter what we do or don’t do.

It’s HIS decision and his decision alone.

And…and here’s some GOOD NEWS… because of HIS goodness, HIS wisdom, HIS love, it is ALWAYS the right decision.

Whether we like it or not!

Whether we agree or not!

Whether it breaks our heart or not!

It’s easy to have faith when life is good, but we honor God when we choose to love him, to trust him, and to continue to serve him no matter what circumstances come against us. And when we make that choice, we begin to mature spiritually.

In Mark 14:36, Jesus said in the Garden of Gesethmene the night before his crucifixion,  “Abba”, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

YOUR TURN:  Don’t forget  to help me fill in this list. What would be some other characteristics that describe God? Next time, I promise more good news!

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

 

BELIEVERS IN THE WORD!

OK, so I’d hoped for a few more votes to get us going in our Bible study but…that didn’t happen. I almost decided not to give this Bible study group a try, but I just feel this is something God wants me to do. And if it only helps one person, then I’m OK with that. So we had one vote for BAD NEWS-GOOD NEWS and one for TOPICS.

Both votes win! How’s that for a compromise? We’re going to do TOPICS and the first topic is…BAD NEWS-GOOD NEWS. But it will be a much shorter study than I’d orginially planned, probably between 4-6 sessions. Hopefully, we’ll cover the topic well enough for us to learn something from it. So, let’s get started.

I got the suggestion of Sisters in the Word for the name of our group, but I didn’t want to leave out the men so I chose Believers in the Word. I think it’s a good name. It can mean believers (that’s us) studying the Word but it can also mean that we believe in the Word–which we do. So I like it!

BAD NEWS-GOOD NEWS (Session 1)

Today’s session focuses on the BAD NEWS. I know–that’s not all that fun but reality is reality.

Many Christians feel that once they become Christians, they deserve a life with no problems. After all God loves us so why would he let anything bad happen to us. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.  In John 16:33 Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world.”

It can’t be more clear than that. Jesus said to expect troubles. So for those Christians who believe being a Christian means living a trouble-free life or at least a tragedy-free life, think again. It’s simply not true.

Bad things can happen for lots of reasons: our own actions; someone else’s actions (after all, they have free will too); or circumstances beyond our control, such as a tsunami. I think it’s a lot easier for us to accept difficult situations when we know our own actions contributed to it. Here’s a few examples and not from my life.

I have cancer, but I chose to smoke.

I had a heart attack but I’m the one who didn’t live a healthy lifestyle.

My marriage is over but I’m the one didn’t spend enough time with my spouse.

It’s much more difficult to accept a situation when we didn’t have a part in it or at least we can’t see our part, or worse yet when we are trying to be obedient to God and things still fall apart. But not to worry, we’re all in good company.

MARY & JOSEPH–if anyone should have had an easy time, it should have been Mary and Joseph. But they didn’t!

PAUL-Paul wrote more than half the New Testament and yet he spent a lot of time in prison as he wrote it!

THE ORIGINAL DISCIPLES-they were the first to believe and know that Jesus was the Son of God, but almost all of them died for their beliefs.

JESUS!!

None of these people were unloved by God. In fact, they were great women and men of God. And Jesus was the Son of God. But it didn’t keep them from really difficult situations–even death.

Here’s a few Bible Verses to think about:

Phillipians 2:5

Let this same attitude be in you that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Peter 1:3, NIV

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life throughour knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

And my favorite…

 Romans 8:28

  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

What a wonderful promise that is!

QUESTIONS: Please answer one or more than one and leave the answer in the comments section. If you don’t see your answer right away, it means I have to approve it first, so be patient. Feel free to respond to others’ comments in a kind, loving way.

1. Share a difficult situation that you are going or did go through. Did you feel abandoned my God during that time? Angry at God? Unloved by God?

2. What did you learn from the situation?

3. Pick one of the Bible verses from today and tell what it means to you as as you go through a difficult situation.

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Isaiah 43: 19

See, I am doing a new thing…

God isn’t just about the same old–same old.

And we shouldn’t be either! We need to try new things. Sometimes, they’ll work and other times not so much. But we won’t know unless we give it a try. So in the spirit of the new year, I’m going to try something new here at Power Up With God’s Word. Instead of doing devotions as I’ve been doing, I thought it might be interesting to do an online Bible study group TOGETHER.

Did you see that word–TOGETHER?

TOGETHER meaning me and all of you. And the all of you part means I need to see some feedback. That means participating by making comments. I’d love to see some good discussion happening between all of us. Don’t be afraid to give your thoughts and opinions–even if they’re different from mine or other people.

We can learn from each other!

Anyway to get started, I’ve got three different ideas. Vote for the one you’d like–remember we’re in this TOGETHER! If I don’t get a sense that some of you are going to join me in this Bible study group…well then I won’t move forward with it.

Here’s my ideas:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FROM GOD! This study focuses on the amazing gifts God gives each of his children when we join his family.

BAD NEWS–GOOD NEWS! The bad news is that life can be really difficult. The good news God doesn’t leave us defenseless in the battles we have to fight.

TOPIC BY TOPIC–Instead of doing a long-term study like the first two, we’ll simply pick some topics and learn more about them, such as prayer or faith or love. These lessons will probably be 3-4 lessons in length.

OK–now it’s your turn. Vote for the one you’d like us to do.

And by the way if you’ve got a good idea for a name for our study group, share that with us as well!

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!