Posts Tagged ‘Bible devotions’

Ephesians 6:
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

FAITH! FAITH! FAITH!
Our spiritual journey begins with faith when we take that first step to believe and to become God’s child, then faith continues as we grow and mature spiritually, and finally our faith becomes fulfilled on that glorious day when we reunite with our Creator.
In our last devotion, we talked about life’s problems, big and small and that with each of those real-world struggles come an UNSEEN BATTLE—the battle to steal our spiritual inheritance and legacy. That is what the enemy wants. He wants us to listen to his lies, to believe him, to believe we don’t have the power to change our circumstances. To believe that God is not God. To believe that God is not good. To believe that God doesn’t love us as much as the other people around us.

We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose to activate our faith in and through every circumstance. In Beth Moore’s study—Living Beyond Yourself—she has a phrase for each of the fruit of the spirits. For faith, the phrase is FAITH FIGHTS!

FAITH FIGHTS!
Faith is not passive.
Faith is active.
Let’s look at today’s verse again in light of the fact that FAITH FIGHTS. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Which YOU can extinguish…. YOU must do it. Faith is not passive.  Faith is active. You must be the one who activates your faith.
But how?
A good start is with our thoughts, our words, and then our actions!
Every time, those seeds of doubt enter our minds, banish them with God thoughts! A great verse and very easy to remember is “With God, all things are possible.”
Every time, you are tempted to whine about the situation, change it to an act of faith, by using positive words:” It’s tough right now, but God is still with me.”
As you practice using your thoughts and words to activate your faith, let your actions show that you are believing God’s Words and His Promises, not the enemy’s lies.
Faith Fights!
In her study, Beth also talks about prayer and that prayer can change our circumstances. She uses the illustration of a wall of doubt but with prayer that wall can be knocked out and turned into a window to allow God’s Power into our lives. Can you picture that?
I can. I kneel before a sold wall but as I pray to God. I pick up my  axe of faith and start to knock out the wall. With each prayer a little more of the wall of doubt crumbles allowing more of God’s light and power to shine on me. And before I  know it, I am bathed in the light of God’s love.

Bring on the flaming arrows, enemy—I will use them to enlarge my window of faith!
FAITH FIGHTS!

 

 

SHARING TIME: What’s one real way you can activate your faith on a daily basis?

John 16:33

“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.

LIFE IS TOUGH! And then it gets even tougher. Sometimes it seems as if our problems and troubles will never end. And the truth is they might not! Or they might not end the way we want them to.

Disappointments, worries, and problems come. Illnesses happen. Tragedies strike. That’s the reality of the fallen world we live in.

Those are the battles we fight every day in the natural world.

Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, and sometimes it becomes a wait and see what happens. But there’s another battle going on as well. This battle is much more important than whatever you are experiencing in the natural world.

It’s an UNSEEN BATTLE

The unseen battle is about stealing your faith, hope, trust,  power,  peace, joy, and all the other wonderful gifts God gives us as His heir. Paul says it this way in Ephesians 6:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

 

Paul knew what many of us forget in this modern world. Even though we can’t see the supernatural world, it’s out there and there’s an unseen battle going on. And that’s the battle that counts!

You may not be able to do much about the battle in the physical world. Sometimes, you can and you certainly should do all you can, but there are times, it is what it is and you can’t change it.

But the UNSEEN BATTLE.

God gives us the weapons we need for that battle, but it’s up to us to use them. If we don’t we’ll lose the war. So, what are the weapons for fighting the unseen battle?

Ephesians 6: 13-20

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

 

As you can see, God has not left you defenseless in the UNSEEN BATTLES, but instead has given you many weapons. They are all important, of course, but it all starts with that shield of faith which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Wow! Did you read that line? Maybe you should read it again:  that shield of faith which YOU can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Did you notice the word I put the emphasis on that time?

YOU can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one! YOU are the one that much activate your faith. YOU are the one that must use your faith.

So, how do you do that? Good question and we’ll  discuss it some more in the next devotion.

SHARING TIME:  What are ways you activate your shield of faith?

Proverbs 3: 26

for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about control lately.

If you ask me, who is in control, I would, of course, give the good Christian answer—GOD . If you ask me who is my provision, I would, of course, give the good Christian answer—GOD. If you ask me who the source if my confidence is, I would give the good Christian answer—GOD.

And I believe that but….

On the other hand, I like to think of myself as self-reliant. I started working the same week I graduated from high school in…cough…stammer…uhm 1973 . I found a job the same week and have worked since then with the exception of one quarter in college when I saved enough money to take a break.

I put myself through college along with a few grants and scholarships—no loans. ME and MY WORK. I saveD my money—bought my houses-bought my cars. ME and MY WORK

So, even though I say and believe God is in control, believe He is my provision, I’m not so sure I’ve ever depended on HIM the way HE wants. Because after all, for almost forty years, it’s been ME and MY WORK.

That is until lately.

I’ve been retired and only working part-time for the past few years. That was really awesome!  I had time to write and enough money not to worry!  And then it happened!

NO JOB! I actually didn’t freak out at first. I assumed something would come along at the last minute. But it didn’t.

The last check came and then it wasn’t ME and MY WORK anymore! Just me!  Oh, that’s right, I admit it—I forgot about God for a few anxiety-filled weeks. I worried, I grumbled to myself. I was more anxious than I’d been in years!

And it was driving me crazy!

Suddenly, my peace and joy was replaced with worry and aggravation. A lot of it and I didn’t like it. But I didn’t stop me from doing it until one day when I realized by worrying I wasn’t trusting God. I was NOT placing my confidence in God as my provider.

HE had been my provider all along but as with us fleshly humans, I forgot that for awhile…

So, now each time the worry comes back, I say a quick prayer: “I know You love me. You are all-powerful and I know you will work this out for my good.” Sometimes, it’s simpler and even quicker: “I need you or Your Will be done.”

The anxiety and worry are slowly being replaced by the peace and joy again. And that is wonderful!

We don’t, can’t, and won’t always know why things happen the way they do, but we always have a choice in how we react to them. We can choose to believe God’s promises. We can choose to believe God loves us and will take care of us. We can choose to stay in faith.

My life circumstances may still a mess, but as long as I keep my eyes on God, my faith remains steady. I now know that GOD truly is in control and my times are indeed in HIS hands.

Interestingly enough, I wrote the above devotion a few months ago before I developed complications from the Gamma Knife treatment for my brain tumors. Because of the complications, I was put on high dosages of steroids. And there would have been no way I could have worked during that time. And that would have only put me under more stress–something I certainly didn’t need.

God knew what he was doing when He decided it was time for me to retire for real.

He was in control and He knew what He was doing.

He was working my circumstances out for what was best for me–even though I couldn’t see it at the time.

That’s what TRUST and FAITH  are all about!

 

SHARING TIME: Share a time when what seemed like bad circumstances actually turned out to be the best thing for you. And allowed you to know God was working things out for you.

 

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DEVELOPING ROOTS-BIBLE STUDY

2 Timothy 3:16

 Every Holy Writing which comes from God is of profit for teaching, for training, for guiding, for education in righteousness:  

As I write this, most of the country has been experiencing a record hot summer and a drought situation as well. Now for you city folks that may not mean much, but I live in farm country and a drought means bad news for farmers.

The only plants that survive a drought are those plants whose root system is well-developed. And the same can be said for Christians facing adversity. Developing roots is the first and most important way to face adversity God’s way.

Ideally this should happen long before adversity shows its ugly face, but it’s never too late to start. How do you develop those roots?

By READING, STUDYING, AND UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE.  This is the first step in facing adversity God’s way. I grew up in a church that focused on the saving power of Jesus which is wonderful, but didn’t focus as much on Bible Study—at least, I don’t remember that part if it was there.

When I renewed my faith as an adult, my new church was much more focused on the study of God’s Word. What a revelation it was to me to discover all the wisdom just waiting for me in that precious book.

It blew me away! I couldn’t believe how much I didn’t know about God and His Ways. I’m not good at memorizing so what I do is when I come across verses that are meaningful and speak to me is I write them on an index card. I keep that pile of cards by my computer and read them often.

This puts the truth and wisdom of God inside me and renews my mind. Some days I read a few and other days I go through the pile. Knowing God’s promises and God’s ways is the first step in facing whatever adversity comes your way.

An important point to remember is not to simply read the words but to put them in action.

James 1:22

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Not only did I study the Bible, but I read a lot of books from the experts. Again so much helpful wisdom and knowledge out there. Some of the authors I read were Rick Warren, Bruce Wilkinson, John Ortburg, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Chad Young among others.

As you read, study, and understand the Bible, amazing things will happen. You will come to know and understand God in a way that no other action does.

All the other steps of facing adversity God’s way flow from this first step. Hopefully, you’ve started this step before the adversity sets in, but it’s never too late. If you haven’t started yet, I suggest you start now.

The Bible is full of wisdom to help in any situation. The more you read and study God, His words and His ways the deeper your roots will grow. And those roots will keep you strong when that hurricane called adversity hits.

SHARING TIME: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE VERSE TO HELP WITH THE BAD TIMES?

 Mark 11:24, NIV

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours

 

My last devotion was about faith and so is this one. You might be wondering if there is a reason or is it just a coincidence. Not a coincidence.

This whole year has been about developing more faith for me. I have a list too long to go into why and besides it would sound like whining—which I’m quite good at according to my husband.

But I will discuss one of the things going on in my life to make a point. I developed Bell’s Palsy in April. If you don’t know what it is, it’s usually caused by an inflammation of Cranial Nerve 7 which causes partial or complete paralysis of one side of the face. And being a Speech Pathologist that made work a bit of a challenge for me. Anyway…

For me, it was almost complete paralysis. At least one of my neurologists told me I wouldn’t have any recovery, but I refused to believe him. God makes those decisions.

At first I prayed for healing, but in the last few months I started thanking God for healing me. Outwardly, there hadn’t been any change, but I kept thanking Him for His goodness, His love, and the fact He takes care of me.

And in the last few weeks, I’m seeing progress. My smile’s not back yet, but I can eat and drink almost normally again. My speech sounds much better and I can feel facial muscles moving that weren’t moving before. So as far as I’m concerned it’s only a matter of time.

That is what eyes of faith are about. It’s about talking, thinking, and believing that God has answered your prayers even though there’s no physical evidence—yet!

Thank you, God, for your complete healing.

 

SHARING TIME: SHARE A TIME WHEN GOD HAS HEALED YOU.

My guest writer today is Caleb Jennings Breakey who shares his story with us today about God’s blessings. I asked him for a bio but…here’s what he wrote:

I’m Caleb. I create stuff, I wear Crocs, and I’m strikingly similar to Jungle Book’s Baloo. But mostly, I’m PASSIONATE about helping others tap into their spiritual purpose.

I think Caleb marches to the tune of a different drummer. And that’s a good thing, he seems like he’s a fun guy and sincere as well. His email is calebbreakey@gmail.com

When It Rains It Pours

Caleb Jennings Breakey

Deuteronomy 15:10

… because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”

 For 4 1/2 years, my wife Brittney and I have preached one thing to each other: The Chinese bamboo plant. For its first four years, the Chinese bamboo plant hardly pokes out of the soil. But during the fifth year, it springs up 90 feet in six weeks.

Over a span of six hours on May 31, 2012, God let me spring up.

• At 10 AM, I learned that I was one of three finalists in the speculative fiction category of the ACFW Genesis contest.

• At 11 AM, I received a writing-related job offer from a prestigious Bible company.

• At 4 PM, I received a two-book (non-fiction) deal from Harvest House Publishers.

• By MIDNIGHT, I was still shaking.

My first book, Following Jesus without Leaving the Church, will release Fall 2013. My second book, Falling in Love without Falling on Your Face, will release June 2014.

 I’m excited. Really excited! But here’s the thing: this is more about YOU, if you’re an artist of any kind.  NEVER give up. NEVER give in. Just do the work. And more work. The results come later. God WILL make you spring up. God WILL be with you all the way. Simply do the work, and trust.

 And always, always remember Ecclesiastes 3:22:

 “So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?”

SHARING TIME: Tell us about a time when you had a drought and then suddenly the blessings poured down on you. 

! I know June is gardening month….but when God speaks I listen.

I had a rough day yesterday. In fact, my husband and I have had a rough year. It started on Christmas day, when my step-son who is schizophrenic had an episode. In three months he was hospitalized 4 times, but thankfully he’s doing somewhat better now..

Then my husband had a triple by-pass on Feb. 1. On April 1, I developed Bell’s Palsy and from that we discovered I have two brain tumors (schwannomas). Anyway…yesterday, I met with specialized neurosurgeons who will be handling my “surgery” which is actually a type of radiation.

The good news is they can treat the tumors. The bad news is there’s still a 1 in 5 chance I could lose some, most or all of my hearing. And there’s a small chance that I could have more facial paralysis or the radiation could cause my benign tumors to become cancerous on the treated side. (They can only treat one side at a time so after treating one side, I have to wait almost a year before they will treat the other side—which could mean more hearing loss on that side.)

So, I was struggling to keep positive. Then the thought of money and how much the treatment will cost slipped into my mind.  Thanks, Devil, for that!! And I forgot to mention I don’t have a job for next school year—first time in over 30 years.

I went to the computer to read my email and had lots of different devotions to catch up on. And God is so good. These are some of the verses waiting for me:

Isaiah 19: 5-6 …

And in an instant, suddenly, you shall be visited and delivered by the Lord of Hosts.

1 Peter 5:7 C

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Psalm 4:8

In peace, I will lie down for you, Lord, alone makes me dwell in safety and confident trust.

How awesome is God who sent me these reminders and encouragements just when I needed them most!!

SHARING TIME: What’s going on in your life that’s threatening your peace and faith?

 In keeping with June being gardening month, my guest writer today talks about  nature walks and using them as a bonding tool with her child. Interesting! 

Jennifer Slattery lives in the Midwest with her husband and daughter. Visit her online at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com to read more inspiring meditations centered on Christ, living His mission, and making Him known. 

Walking with the Creator by Jennifer Slattery 

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NIV) 

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates”

This passage is more than a command. It is an invitation to draw near to our children on a heart-to-heart level as we share the deepest part of who we are—our faith. It is an invitation to connect, to explore, and to rest in our relationship in the hands of our Father.

When our daughter was young, she and I spent hours strolling through the neighborhood. Those were unhurried moments of walking hand in hand, crunching fallen leaves, and picking flowers. Everything enchanted her and evoked innumerable questions.

As she explored God’s creation, I used the opportunity to introduce her to the Creator. We talked about the different colors before us. I told her of God’s love displayed in each chirping robin and fragrant flower. Her eyes would light up with childlike wonder, and her gaze would drift to the sky.

She’s fourteen now, and while many of her friends are pulling away from their parents; she and I continue to enjoy long, leisurely strolls. They’re cherished times between her and I. Times where she unveils her heart and shares some of her deepest dreams and fears. And like when she was a toddler, it isn’t long before our conversation turns spiritual. For us, talking about God comes naturally. It’s part of our relationship’s DNA.

Twelve years ago, I had no idea what a beautiful tradition our creation walks would start. Not only have these special moments strengthened her faith; they’ve melded our hearts together as well.

SHARING TIME: How do you incorporate God into you and your family’s life?

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

 

Most of us have read this verse before. These are the characteristics we strive for as Christians, but come on…some of them are really difficult. How are we supposed to be loving when people are mean to us? How are we supposed to stay in peace when you lost your job and the mortgage is due? And really, who even wants self-control when that chocolate cake is calling your name?

And yet…we are Christians and the Bible does say that these are the outward signs that the Spirit is within us. And since we know that the Spirit is within us because the Bible tells us that.

Acts 2: 38

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

That means those fruits are in us, but why can’t we see them?

Because as with all plants, we start with a seed. Then, it’s up to us to nurture that seed allowing it to blossom and to mature. Some of us give up before we see that seed sprout by announcing to anyone who will listen that we don’t have that characteristic. How many times have you heard someone say:

“I can’t help it. I have no self-control.” Or “I’m just a worrier—that’s who I am.” Statements like this don’t nurture the seed. It’s time to begin to nurture the seeds God planted within each of  us. How do we do that?

First, believe you can be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Second, look for opportunities to use the fruit of the Spirit. And thirdly and most importantly, pray, but…

Be careful what you pray for. If you’re praying for more patience, you might just find yourself in all sorts of situations that require patience. That means God’s giving you the opportunities to develop that patience muscle.

Sometimes you’ll be successful and sometimes not.

Don’t be discouraged when you aren’t successful. Instead, understand that your awareness and that seed is beginning to sprout and before long it will blossom into fruit.

SHARING TIME: WHICH OF THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT COULD USE A LITTLE MORE NUTURING IN YOUR LIFE?

Phillipians 3: 13

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus

 

Wow! Talk about weird!! I read this verse from three different devotions today. I don’t always keep up on my reading so I may read three or four from several different days from different sources. And today three of them used this verse.

Just a coincidence you say, but I say nay. It sounds like God speaking to me. I think you may agrees after you hear what’s going on in my life.

My life is changing whether I like it or not. For more than thirty years I’ve had a job to go to in the fall, but not so this year. I may or may not have one depending on circumstances out of my control.

Along with that, I’ve developed Bell’s Palsy which affects the muscles on one side of my face. The paralysis affects my eating, drinking, and speech. And I happen to be a speech pathologist. So…I’m a speech pathologist with a speech problem.

So…even if a job becomes available for the fall, I might not accept it depending on what sort of recovery I have by then.

I love being a speech pathologist and I love the kids I work with. When school finished up this year, I fought off the sadness valiantly knowing that there were people in much worse circumstances than me but….

So, when this verse pops up three times today, I have to stop and take notice. God is trying to tell me something. And it’s something we all need to learn. The past is the past. Whether good or bad, it’s finished.

So many of us get stuck in the past, but it’s time to move forward. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus who is in front of us, not behind us.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I know God is in control and He loves me. And for now that’s all I need to know.

 SHARING TIME: Share a hint that helped you get unstuck from the past.