Beyond Faith 101

12
Oct

Proverbs: A Five Day Devotional

Do you need a little wisdom today? Hear directly from God through the words of Solomon. Dive into the book of Proverbs for the next five days!!!

Day One:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

I used to say: “When I get old, I’ll just age gracefully.” Now that I’m 45, I’m starting to feel the need to fight it for all it’s worth!! Funny how time changes the way we feel about some things. So, what really makes a woman praiseworthy? According to this Proverbs, it is a woman who “fears the Lord.”

Interesting remark from a man that had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 King 11:3). That’s a lot of estrogen!!!

I imagine as King Solomon grew older, so did his needs. Fading with the beauty of his wives was his youthful lust for physical contact. Instead, in his maturity, he would now long for true companionship more than anything. Thus, as he interacted with the many women in his life, those who most likely stood out were the women who were virtuous, loyal, and feared God. These are the women that Solomon would find comfort in; and thus, his revelation about a person’s inner beauty became obvious.

Today, let’s remember at the core of a Proverbs 31 woman is her fear of the Lord and that for that she is worthy of praise!

 

Day Two:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Do you often find yourself trying to figure life out all by yourself? It’s easy to fall into this mindset. We often assume God must be terribly busy with something extremely important and that what we are facing is probably incredibly small in comparison. Surely, we can fix the problem. Sometimes the answer just seems to be dangling out there in front of us.

But this verse from Proverbs teaches that we must trust God and not rely only on our understanding of the problem. God uses all kinds of situations to bring about the display of His glory. He so delicately sets up the circumstances that we could never imagine in our wildest dreams how it all fits together in His overall plan.

And when we overstep and try to resolve the issue without Him, well, we all know it usually doesn’t turn out so well.

For today, let’s practice tying down that free spirit of ours and allow the One who sees how all the parts fit together to guide us.  

 

Day Three:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

Ever heard the saying: “You need to use that head of yours for something other than a coat rack.” At our house, my husband has used that phrase over and over to emphasize to our son that he needs to use his brain (aka, good sense) when making decisions. Especially, important ones!

As a society, we focus a lot on the power of our brain, but in the Bible, the heart is discussed more often. Why? I think the Lord answers that question in Proverbs 4:23.

Our spiritual heart contains multiple spaces in which we store experiences, memories, and emotions. It is our brain that helps us interpret these things, but the heart is the source from which they come. The heart can at times greatly influence the decisions we make either good or bad. From it can come actions of generosity, unconditional love, empathy, and compassion. Yet, from this same heart comes bitterness, backbiting, and anger.

When we find ourselves in a frustrating, fearful, or unloving state of mind, we need to turn back to our heart to find out what has caused these emotions to bubble to the surface. Once we can identify the deeply rooted source of our emotions, we need to acknowledge it and ask God to do a little spiritual surgery.

Are you guarding your heart? What steps can you take to make sure that you are not allowing certain things to take root in your heart and cause sinful emotions to build up?

 

Day Four:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

Proverbs 9:10 is probably one of my favorite Proverbs. Having gone through a period where I rediscovered my faith on a deeper level, it is my life verse. It is a great verse to emphasize to those in Christianity that appear to be going through the motions why they need to develop their relationship with Jesus further.

In essence, this proverb is telling us that we can “know of” God and have a deep reverence for Him, but still not “know” Jesus. And since we know that Jesus is the truth, the way, and life (John 14:6), just knowing of God doesn’t bring us into the authentic relationship that is necessary to either be saved from our sins or live the life Jesus came to bring us.

By entering into a relationship with Jesus, we gain an understanding of God and His ways that we cannot come to any other way.

Today, meditate on this verse. Consider whether you or someone you care about has knowledge of the Holy One. Use this verse to help others understand the difference between “knowing of” and “knowing.”

 

Day Five:

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Coming from a nursing background, I can tell you this verse from Proverbs is TRUE. I cannot tell you how many patients I have cared for over the years that had a positive attitude and carried on through their diagnosis without issue, even when it ended in death. However, I have also witnessed numerous patients with a negative attitude tragically suffer through their illness day after day.

Even in the most dire of circumstances, Jesus can bring joy to our hearts. An infusion of joy makes life bearable. Joy is also considered one of the nine fruits of the Spirit. If we are allowing Jesus to rule in our life, we should have an abundance of joy to offset the times of grief and despair we all go through.

On the other hand, allowing a crushed spirit to remain within us only leads to a desperate existence.

But how do we get our joy back when we suffer some less than joyous moments in life? As tough as it is sometimes, there are some steps we can take to start turning the tide back to a life filled with joy:

  1. Keep your focus on Jesus!
  2. Count your blessings. (I know that sounds cliché, but we seriously forget how much He does for us until we purposely remember).
  3. Stay in the Word (so you can fine scriptures like Proverbs 17:22 to refresh you).
  4. Pray, pray, and pray. (Jesus would love to talk with you about what’s bothering you).

Today I pray that if you are going through something depressing, disappointing, frustrating, or just plain chaotic, that you will reach for the One that can bring joy back to your heart! It’s the best medicine there is.

 

Blessings to you and yours!

 

31
Jul

Standing without Stopping

Are you standing in the will of God?

That simple question for many is extremely complex. What is God asking you to do, and are you willing to step out?

Over the years, I have battled that question myself. But this week, a dear friend text me these words: “You are positioned for God’s purpose. You are prepared for God’s plan. Stopping is NOT an option.”

How the last part of that statement rang out – stopping is NOT an option!

There are many Bible characters that come to mind when I think on this topic, but none more than Joshua. Joshua was Moses’ second in command, assisting him to lead the people of Israel to the Promise Land.

He had witnessed the many miracles performed by God, which brought them to the edge of this bountiful land. And he had seen firsthand the lack of faith throughout the people. But Joshua knew his God was faithful and that His power was great. After all, God had answered Joshua’s request to make the sun stand still in the heat of battle (Joshua 10:12).

Now, he stood alone with instructions by the Lord to take the people into the land promised them:

After Moses, the servant of the Lord, had died, the Lord spoke to Nun’s son Joshua, announcing to him, “My servant Moses is dead. Now get ready to cross the Jordan River—you and all the people—to the land that I’m giving the Israelis. I’m giving you every place where the sole of your foot falls, just as I promised Moses. Your territorial border will extend from the wilderness to the Lebanon Mountains, to the river—that great River Euphrates—all the land of the Hittites—as far as the Mediterranean Sea where the sun sets. No one will be victorious against you for the rest of your life. I’ll be with you just like I was with Moses—I’ll neither fail you nor abandon you. Joshua 1:1-5

I can only imagine the thoughts that went through Joshua’s mind, if even for a split second. “Are you sure I am the person for the job God? Will the people obey? Once we are there, what next?” But then I imagine this thought pushed its way to the forefront of Joshua’s mind as he took his first step forward–stopping is NOT an option.

How about us? How do we get to the point that we know that we know we are standing in God’s will? I believe there are two things that must happen:

  1. We must believe with all of our heart, God can do what He says He can do!

Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” John 11:40

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

  1. We must be willing to do whatever He asks!

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. James 2:17

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

What is God asking you to do? Have you determined that stopping is NOT an option when it comes to both seeking and standing in the will of God?

One of the areas that God has placed on my heart is missions. During the year, I go out with the church to do Servant Evangelism projects. But once a year I also go to Nicaragua. This year is no exception! Our team is leaving THIS Saturday, August 6th, to travel down to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. Will you pray for our team? And will you pray for the hearts and minds that we will touch during our time there?

We know great things will happen if we stand in the will of God during this trip! We have seen them happen trip after trip! BTW, I will be posting photos to my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LoveEchoedBack/, if you want to follow along!

But back to our overall discussion!

What is that thing that God has asked you to do? Does it line up with the scriptures? Will it bring Him glory? Chances are if you answered “yes” to the last two questions, you are indeed standing in God’s will.

Remember, stopping is NOT an option! Step forward into God’s will and know that I will be praying for you!

While I am away, drop me a line here! Tell me what you feel God is asking you to do and how you feel about it. “Talk” to you in two weeks!


Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

26
Jun

Will the Real God Please Stand Up?!

I have to tell you; I have often wondered why people in Biblical times, and even now in modern times, believed in the possibility of more than one god existing. It isn’t surprising though, because society has always look to “something else” and changed what that “something else” is to chase what they think will make them happy.

What I really think they are saying is: “You can believe what you want, but don’t mess with me. I like my god, the one I think I control.” Ironic, isn’t it?

And then, there are those who think one higher being exists, some will even label this being God. However, they also reason that you can get to him many ways. I think I feel for this person the most, because the logic he/she is following starts out in the right direction, but then strays completely off course.

So why am I so sure there is only one true God?

Creation proclaims Him. As I sit back and look at some of the most beautiful things in creation – various landscapes, rainbows, and those little people we call babies – I am convinced chaos did not bring them forth.

God Himself makes it known in Scripture. Just one example of this is in Isaiah:

I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. Isa. 45:5-6 NIV

Yes, the God of the Bible is who I believe in. Interestingly, as science moves on to higher levels of discovery, and architectural finds continue to unearth more and more ruins, the Bible is only more justified in its claims of the one true God.

God and I are connected through Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV

Not only did He leave a very detailed record for me to study, but my connection with Him is unmistakable. It is not a head issue for me, it’s a heart issue. Once Jesus comes into your heart, there is no denying His presence nor that of the Father’s.

So how can you and I help those around us know the one true God?

First, we must be clear on what we believe. The foundational belief of Christianity is that Jesus is the one true son of the living God. He lived, He died, and He rose again to offer salvation for all mankind. Those who are true followers of Christ are convinced He is the reflection of the one true God.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Esp. 4:4-6 NIV

Second, we have to know what makes Christianity different from other religions. No other religion teaches that God reached down to humanity. They instead teach the need for humanity to reach up to God. But John makes it clear that God made the connection for us.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17 NIV

Third, we must be both lifelong students and daily reflections of Him. We will not be able to articulate what makes God stand out above other so called gods if we don’t have a direct and active relationship with Him ourselves. If we know little about what is written in the Bible, we will not have enough to go on. And if I say I believe God is kind and compassionate, I should be kind and compassionate as well. Knowledge linked with action is powerful.

One of my favorite quotes by C.S. Lewis is this:

I believe in Christianity as I believe in the rising sun; not because I see it, but by it I can see all else.

Today, let’s work toward telling others about the one true God! Remember, be clear on what you believe and be able to present that to others, know the key difference between Christianity and other religions, and strive to be both a lifelong student as well as a daily reflection Him.

What experiences have you had with others that believe in a different version of God than the God of the Bible?


Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.