Gratitude, thankful, shepherd, God’s Word, scripture, Psalm 23, provision, presence, perception, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Psalm 23: Trading Our Perception with the Truth of Our Good Shepherd

We respond to Scripture based on how we perceive our current circumstances of life. That is one of the beauties of God’s Word; it becomes new each day just as our circumstances and moods do. It’s a lifelong process to take God at His word and not allow perception to filter out the truth. Psalm 23 is an easy passage to help us trade our perception with God’s truth.



Psalm 23

A dear sister recently told me she is not a fan of Psalm 23. I got the impression she felt bad about admitting it since it’s part of the Bible, but her reasoning made perfect sense.

After a little inquiry, I learned it was the chapter she was forced to read and recite when she got in trouble as a child. So it’s not hard to see how one of the most well-known passages in Scripture became tarnished in her mind. Let’s dig into Psalm 23 together and see what it says and how it may challenge our perception.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

Psalm 23:1

We respond to Scripture based on the perception of our circumstances in life. Psalm 23 is an easy passage to help us trade our perception, with God's truth. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #provision #GodsWord #scripture #perception #Psalm23

Our Perception

Two specific thoughts come to my mind after reading verse one:

  1. Do I view God as my personal Shepherd, or is He too busy with more important tasks?
  2. What do I perceive I am lacking?

In this passage, God presents Himself as a caretaker. He is seen as a provider, a leader, and One who is responsible for care. Because of that fact, David’s response is: there is nothing I lack. The first part of verse one speaks to God’s character. I wonder what causes us to feel He is holding out on us? Lately, a bit of careful reflection will quickly illuminate I have everything I need.

For example, a few weeks ago our kitchen was wrecked after a weekend of grilling out with neighbors and running around town. No one wanted to clean up the mess. My man is an excellent helper around the house, but he was working late and I needed to clean up before I had room to cook. Has anyone else encountered this yucky phenomenon?

Anyway, as I dove into the mountain I asked God to help me see the positive instead of feeling sorry for myself that no one was helping me. The Father quickly reminded me of the sweet time we had spent with our neighbors and the laundry list of blessings which made it possible. And He showed me what a joy it is to have a family and a home to share. Before I knew it, I was actually smiling while washing dishes. But don’t spread that around.

God’s Provision

He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths.

Psalm 23:2-3

Three more reflections appear to me here:

  1. Green pastures mean God knows where the food is.
  2. Quiet waters represent that God knows we are like sheep.
  3. Comfort is always going to be greater on God’s path.

Sometimes, our perception tells us something looks really tantalizing, or maybe even righteous. Yet the Father, in His omniscience, knows what will nourish us completely. If sheep are steered to rushing waters they will stick their head in and be swept downstream. God understands what His children need and how best to provide for them.

That means, if we truly accept that He knows best and does provide for us, then we must dare to challenge beliefs that set themselves against God’s goodness to us. Sheep may lack water and be willing to go toward a stream to quench their thirst, but they may be pulled under rushing waters. The Good Shepherd will always lead us to quiet waters, even if it means we have to walk away from a seemingly sure thing.

His purposes are better than ours, and therefore His paths are better than ours.

Jeremy Pierre, Author & Dean of Students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Sometimes, our perception tells us something looks really tantalizing, or maybe even righteous. Yet the Father, in His omniscience, knows what will nourish us completely. Click To Tweet

God’s Presence

Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

Two big things stand out:

  1. There’s no question of if we will go through dark times; it’s merely a question of when.
  2. Yet God is present in the darkness.

In verse 4, David is allowing his understanding of God’s nearness and comfort to guide his perception of a truly agonizing situation. There are times in life when we feel such thick darkness we can practically taste it. Normally that causes fear. But God is with you. He is with me. Darkness and death cannot separate us from the love of God, so in reality, it can do no infinite harm. It may trifle with our body, but it cannot touch the souls of the children of God. We are secure through Christ Jesus.

God’s Attention

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in house of the Lord as long as I live.

Psalm 23:5-6

Two observations:

  1. God hosted David on the battlefield in the face of his biggest threat.
  2. David has the assurance of complete rest in God’s steadfast love.

In this last stanza, David shifts the descriptive symbols used for God. He went from describing God as Shepherd in verses 1-4 to a Host in verses 5-6. God lavishes us with His individual attention and exclusive exaltation. He can do that because He’s God! And because the things that concern us concern the Father.

A Few Questions

  • How would it change your life to believe God “leaves the 99” to find you (Luke 15:4)?
  • What is the thing you feel you’re lacking or desiring that you don’t have?
  • Do you believe you can continually leave your desires at the feet of Jesus because He cares for you (Philippians 4:6-7) and will fulfill His purpose for you (Psalm 138:8)?

I hope this encourages your heart and has sparked some rich thoughts about our Good Shepherd and Host. My journal is filled to the brim as I read the beautiful Word of God. It is all at once penetrating and comforting my soul.

We respond to Scripture based on the perception of our circumstances in life. Psalm 23 is an easy passage to help us trade our perception, with God's truth. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #provision #GodsWord #scripture #perception #Psalm23

All scripture is referenced from the HCSB version of the Bible.
unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
Gratitude, thankful, faithfulness, faithful, God’s promises, Jesus, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

His Faithfulness: Jesus is Our Confidence in God’s Promises

Faith means having confidence in someone else’s ability without proof. To be faithful means your allegiance is solid and persistent; true to your word. God gave us proof of His faithfulness to us by sending Jesus. 



An Incomplete Gift

For my mom’s most recent decade birthday (you know, 30/40/50…) I wanted to paint her an imitation of “365 Days of Happiness.” I purchased four rectangular canvases, acrylics, brushes, and sponges, then got to work. First, I coated each canvas with an ombré style base color to represent the four seasons. Once the background was dry I sketched the tree which stretches throughout the four pieces. Then I painted the tree and leaves on the middle two canvases.

At the time, my husband and I were working opposite schedules with all three of our children in school. In other words, I bit off more than I could chew and only ended up delivering two of the four canvases on my mom’s special day. I told her I would complete the final two prints by Christmas.

That didn’t happen.

Here we are, more than four and a half years later. So much life has transpired. I would say my faithfulness meter sank after the third year came and went without the completion of my masterpiece. Or perhaps it declined when we moved out of state. The two remaining partially completed canvases have moved with me twice now, and each time I come across them it is a glaring reminder of my failure to deliver on both the actual artwork and my word.

To be faithful means your allegiance is solid and persistent; true to your word. God gave us proof of His faithfulness to us by sending Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #faithful #faithfulness #Jesus #promises

Being Compelled

Recently one of my pals referenced something a mutual friend of ours says to her three-year-old son: We can try again tomorrow. Those five little words have sprung to mind often since I read them. It reminds me of this reassuring passage:

…his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! I say, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:22b-24, CSB

Regardless of current circumstances, God is a proven refuge, a sure fortress. As the year comes to a close, it feels natural to look back at how the Lord has worked through, sustained, and grown me. I am able to see how God is teaching me to view my failures and my sin properly, not through morbid self-introspection—which is just another form of pride, but with humility. He who began a good work will complete it. And I know I am safe and secure in His capable arms. No failure or sorrow or tragedy can pluck me from His hand. I am His own…and He is mine. God’s faithfulness is inexhaustible!

…if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

2 Timothy 2:13, CSB

I get stuck in the sinful pattern of living for myself, unsuccessfully searching for tips, tricks, and methods to be faithful. Yet Jesus calls me to once again look at His example and to allow His love to be the method that compels me to a life of faithfulness.

For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, CSB

Restoring Faithfulness

It’s easy to look at failure through the lens of finality. But Jesus totally disrupted that when He rose from the grave! Letting failure take center stage emphasizes self, not Almighty God. Sin is super sneaky, planting seeds of cynicism and self-justification.

But we are free to try again.

Only when we do so, may it not be in our own strength, but through the proven power of Christ Jesus.

The question no longer is: Can I do it? Am I able? Can I overcome my moodiness, my laziness, my sensuality, my grudges, and resentments? The only question is: Is Jesus Christ able?

Lion and Lamb by Brennan Manning

In the spirit of Advent, and a discipline that comes straight from the Spirit of God, I completed the paintings. When I looked the original up online to reference which colors to use, the site noted that the picture is on the cover of—get this—“INSPIRED Faith: 365 Days a Year.” I laughed out loud that it had faith in the title! I took it as an affirmation from God that now is indeed the time to follow through. Then I ordered the devotional to accompany the paintings!

The Purpose

While I have no idea how my mom will react, the hope of her appreciation is not what constrained me to finish the artwork. It was confidence in and gratitude for the God who started a good work in me. Joy, anxiety, growth, misfortune, disappointment, and resolution can all occur between the beginning of something grand and its completion.

But God never stops pursuing or working out His purpose in us.

For a moment in history He turned His face away, but He had compassion with everlasting love and sent us a Redeemer (Isaiah 54:8). Regardless of how others will receive it, it is never too late to exhibit faithfulness. The purpose of demonstrating dependability is to be Christ-like, not to show off some personal impressive skills. Clearly. It took me almost five years to deliver on a promise! Still, in a small way, I am able to replicate Christ’s devotion to the Father and to us by producing what I said I would.

I’m so glad Jehovah didn’t give us an incomplete gift. Praise be to God for keeping His promise and raising Jesus to ensure our freedom! His faithfulness is a protective shield (Psalm 91:4). Hallelujah!

Praise be to God for keeping His promise and raising Jesus to ensure our freedom! His faithfulness is a protective shield. Hallelujah! Click To Tweet

To be faithful means your allegiance is solid and persistent; true to your word. God gave us proof of His faithfulness to us by sending Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #faithful #faithfulness #Jesus #promises

unsplash-logoScott Webb
fear, faith, trust, anxiety, fear not, hope, overwhelmed, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Fear Not: God’s Power and Love Frees Us to Lament

Fixating on heartache invites anxiety. But God commands us to fear not. Understanding His power and love frees us to lament in hope.



Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4, ESV

A great deal of life seems to play out in the valley of the shadow of death. As a matter of fact, I am currently in a season of darkness. Why not throw in the towel? How can I continue to take joy in the God of my salvation, when following Him places me on the front lines of battle?

Hope, for one; but not as an afterthought. Because flippantly telling someone to have hope in the midst of a trial is like telling an exasperated man “patience is a virtue.” Yes, thank you; I am aware…

Fixating on heartache invites anxiety. But God commands us to fear not. Understanding His power and love frees us to lament in hope. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #fear #faith #trust #overwhelmed #FearNot #hope #anxiety

Fear not…

It would be easy to fixate on my current heartache, but that gives birth to anxiety. However, God’s word has a lot to say in response to fear. Over and over in Scripture, we are told to fear not. But it isn’t dismissive in nature like, why can’t you keep it together? I’m God, remember? No; He commands: fear not, and then tells us why we don’t have to be afraid.

FEAR NOT:

  • I am with you
  • I am the One who helps you
  • I have redeemed you
  • I am your shield
  • I hear you
  • I am working righteousness in you
  • I fight for you
  • I go with you into battle to give you victory
  • I am with you wherever you go
  • I give victory
  • Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord

Lament…

Notwithstanding, neither can I ignore or control the incapacitating sorrow weighing down my soul. I must lament. Because the act of lamenting faces me toward God. While in His presence I am able to share honestly all that grieves and worries me.

Within His capable arms, I can say: This is too much! I feel overwhelmed! Remind me of your faithfulness. Open my eyes to see where You are working this for Your glory and our good. Fight for us! Protect us. Help me to stand firm on Your promises.

When we act like we can handle our suffering on our own, we commit idolatry — acting like we are God, capable in ourselves. Lamenting is relearning our humanity. Lamenting is admitting that we can’t handle it, knowing we need God’s power, mercy, and grace. If we could handle our sufferings, we wouldn’t need Jesus, his cross, his power, and his resurrection. Lamenting is how we grieve as those who have hope.

J.A. Medders, Redeemer Church Tomball, TX
Neither can I ignore or control the incapacitating sorrow weighing down my soul. I must lament. Because the act of lamenting faces me toward God. Click To Tweet

Limitless…

Relearning my humanity leads to understanding my limits. Finally, it is there I remember I belong to a limitless God. Furthermore, I can only dream of what God has prepared for the future. But even now, in His mercy, I am seeing collateral blessings rise up out of this dark valley. So I find as I rely on our limitless God, hope is catching like wildfire…

Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort…For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

2 Corinthians 1:7-10, ESV

Fixating on heartache invites anxiety. But God commands us to fear not. Understanding His power and love frees us to lament in hope. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #fear #faith #trust #overwhelmed #FearNot #hope #anxiety

unsplash-logoAdrien Olichon
Fear, judgment, afraid, priorities, value, assurance, hope, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Healthy Fear: Identifying Values and Mirroring the Messiah’s Love

Anxiety, worry, and stress all result from an underlying pulse of unhealthy fear. No one is immune and control is an illusion. What are you tempted to fear most, and what does it say about the things you value? How can we tell between healthy fear and an unhealthy one?



Things We Love

What are some important things in your life? You can probably rattle off a few pretty quickly. My thoughts immediately go to my kids, turning in my grad papers on time, and protecting Thursday night quality time with my man.

Now, I did not say the most important thing—just the stuff that instantly springs to mind. Likely, there is nothing bad about these priorities individually. However, depending on the level of passion we display to protect them, healthy fear can be thrown out of balance before we realize it. As a result, we begin to worry.

Anxiety, worry, and stress all result from unhealthy fear. How can we tell between healthy fear and unhealthy? What does it say about the things we value? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #afraid #assurance #fear #hope #judgment #priorities #value

Unhealthy Fear

It was recently brought to my attention which unhealthy fear sits at the top of my list. It is not a phenomenon. Actually, it’s quite common.

How was I enlightened? Well, among three categories (money and possessions — people and their judgments — death, pain, and punishment) I had to answer which one I am most tempted to fear. Before reading into each classification I assumed it would end up being pain. While that certainly is not appealing, the prospect of pain is surprisingly low on my list of daily anxieties.

A few weeks ago, I would have confidently said I don’t care what others think about me because I know who I am in Christ.

Turns out, I have a persnickety care meter.

Actions Speak Loudly

It is not what we say, but what we do that defines us. For instance, I say I like to go camping—which is very true—but I haven’t been in three years. I like the idea of hiking and being out in nature is extremely soothing and grounding. Yet despite my ultra-hip metal REI coffee mug, no one would classify me as an outdoorsy chick.

When I started thinking about what controls my routine thoughts, it wasn’t fear of getting into an accident or the ravages of cancer. Now, I don’t want to diminish the suffering those circumstances bring. It is simply to say they do not linger at the forefront of my worries. In relation to pain, I have a healthy fear of the Lord. Suffering is an inevitable part of life, but not a thing to live in fear of. I trust to have grace for what will come.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16, ESV

What Fear Reveals

Remarkably (to me anyway), fear of people and their judgments crossed my finish line with flying colors. Oddly enough, I sense it the most with strangers.

When I’m in my car I’ll feel myself getting anxious over what another driver might be thinking when I take the right-of-way. I wonder if other motorists get frustrated with me when I fail to go as fast as they clearly want to on a two-lane road. In check-out lines, I tend to hang back so the person in front of me doesn’t feel rushed by my presence. Also, I act overly cordial, even giving apologetic smiles to other patients in waiting rooms when my number is called. But why?

I consider myself to be polite, but I will be honest. I know my overt friendliness toward people, whom I will likely never see again, is for the sake of my own comfort. My fear is betraying me. It has a spotlight on what I crave. It’s screaming what is important to me: My reputation and the respect and adoration of people.

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

Proverbs 29:25, ESV

Calming Fear

How do we find a healthy fear balance? We have heard to “Love God and love others.” Amen. But those are thirty thousand-foot directions. God knows we will wrestle with fear. He repeatedly says in His Word, “Do not fear,” “Do not be afraid,” “Do not be anxious.” These are not empty words to get us to be quiet or chill out. God is not annoyed by our anxieties like we may be with one another.

I’ve been guilty of saying something meant to soothe, but I delivered it with a self-serving motive. “Just turn your lamp on and go back to bed. You’ll be okay.” (Please don’t wake me up again.) “You know it’ll work out…” (I don’t want to step into your pain.)

History is proof that human beings are fickle in the help department. At best, they’re unreliable sources of protection. Yahweh, on the other hand, has always proven trustworthy.

God Speaks to Fear

When God tells us not to be afraid or anxious, He always follows up with promises, assurances, direction, and hope.

  • I am with you
  • I will strengthen you
  • I will uphold you
  • I care for you
  • I will give you peace
  • I will guard your heart
  • I have redeemed you
  • I will never leave you or forsake you
  • I will rescue you
  • I will fight for you
  • I provide for you
  • I am the First and the Last
  • I sustain you
  • I will help you
  • I keep you safe
  • I will deliver you

Take some time to meditate on these passages. [Deuteronomy 3:22, 31:6; Psalm 34:7, 55:22, 118:6-7; Proverbs 29:25; Isaiah 35:4, 41:10, 13-14, 43:1; Luke 12:22-26; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Revelation 1:17-18]

When God tells us not to be afraid or anxious, He always follows up with promises, assurances, direction, and hope. Click To Tweet

The Way Ahead

There is only one path forward to effectively vanquish unhealthy fear. First, we seek to know the character and power of Jehovah. Then we practice living the way Jesus modeled for us. His love enables us.

We love because He first love us.

1 John 4:19, ESV

My fears say I want and expect to be loved by everyone, including people who don’t know me. Jesus was not loved by everyone, even the people who had heard about His stellar reputation. Many were more suspicious of His healing power than accepting of it. His hometown even rejected Him. As His follower, why do I assume I will be treated better than the Son of God?

Healthy Fear

Let us ask the Father of mercies to do a work through His Spirit to create the kind of love in us that mirrors His own. This is not easily won, and we can turn methods of “loving others” into ploys to extract more love for ourselves—I’ve done it—so be alert!

If you struggle with fear of man, practice loving others more than you love yourself. That doesn’t mean befriending everyone, but the things they think—perceived or known—will not hold the same weight they once did. This way won’t be free of heartache, of course. Being dismissed is painful. But it will no longer have the ability to derail your allegiance to Jesus Christ.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.

Matthew 10:28, ESV

If we have a healthy fear of Almighty God, the One who loves us and sent His Son to die for us, what is there to fear more? Our hope and our safety have already been secured in Jesus.

If we have a healthy fear of Almighty God, the One who loves us and sent His Son to die for us, what is there to fear more? Our hope and our safety have already been secured in Jesus. Click To Tweet

Anxiety, worry, and stress all result from unhealthy fear. How can we tell between healthy fear and unhealthy? What does it say about the things we value? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #afraid #assurance #fear #hope #judgment #priorities #value

unsplash-logoStaffan Kjellvestad
controversial, God’s character, God’s Word, knowledge, teacher, teaching, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Teacher: Being Taught by Someone Who is Trustworthy

Books on controversial subjects are plentiful. Some may be legitimately helpful when it comes to being knowledgable, but how do we know what’s right? David said, “I will not let anything worthless guide me” (Ps. 101:3a, CSB). Who or what should be our teacher?



Interpretation

Last week a mom asked me for advice. Her teenager has been voicing opinions in favor of gender/sexual orientation. She asked how she could talk about it beyond just saying “Because it’s in the Bible.” I said, “When someone wants to use the Bible for personal approval, there are a bunch of Biblical passages that can be taken out of context.”

For instance, I was recently approached by a woman who asked me if I wanted to learn more about God, the mother… ??? There is an entire handbook of denominations that believe different things about the Bible.

Books on controversial subjects are plentiful. Some may be helpful in knowledge gaining, but how do we know what's right? Who or what should be our teacher? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #controversial #GodsCharacter #GodsWord #knowledge #teacher #teaching

The Issues Change

The weight of hot button issues fluctuates throughout each generation, varying in the attention they receive.

A little over one hundred years ago women weren’t allowed to wear pants or vote. Drinking alcoholic beverages was seriously frowned upon in Southern Baptist churches until the last few decades. However, now it has become somewhat of an acceptable trend…which isn’t necessarily a great victory.

Zeroing In

When it comes to any search for truth, the most important thing is to know the Lord. The Spirit of God disciples the hearts of those who seek Him.

I’m not saying we should never discuss specific topics or read books other than the Bible. But the highest counsel comes from God and His Word. The best way to trust the Lord is to understand His character and trust His teaching.

The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Psalm 33:11, CSB

Finding His Character

I understand how frustrating it can be when someone tells you to “get to know the Lord.” Like, wow. I’ve never heard that one before. Great idea! (Sarcasm? Is that you?) HOW? was the battle cry of my heart for so long. If I wasn’t reading it on my own, the Bible was read to me since I was in the womb. Yet for so long I felt I was missing something staring me in the face.

One of my favorite pictures of God’s character is His interaction with Simon Peter. Peter was a zealous, devoted, and fierce disciple—and he was fearfully disloyal when it mattered most. The third time Peter denied being associated with Jesus, Luke records, “Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Luke 22:61a). I love how Brennan Manning wrote of this account.

In that look the reality of recognition was disclosed…The Man whom he had confessed as the Christ, the Son of the living God, looked into his eyes, saw the transparent terror there, watched him act out the dreadful drama of his security addiction, and loved him.

Brennan Manning, The Gentle Revolutionaries

Making a Teacher

Jesus saw and knew Peter was afraid. He understood the depths of Peter’s heart and though he had walked with the Christ for three years, he chose self-preservation over allegiance to his Teacher.

What’s more, soon after Jesus’s resurrection He had a conversation with Peter (see John 21:15-19). Jesus asked Peter repeatedly if he loved Him and instructed Peter to shepherd His sheep. Only God, who intimately knows the hearts of humankind, could offer such an assignment to someone who had recently denied knowing Him. Jesus looked at Peter and saw him. Then Jesus gave him another opportunity to be a bold teacher for the sake of the gospel of salvation.

Every time Jesus says, “Do you love Me,” and Peter says, “Yes I do,” Jesus doesn’t say, “Well gosh, if you did, what happened six weeks ago, Bub?” He’s not asking that question. What does He say? He gives him work to do. “Do you love Me? I have work for you to do. I need you to feed my sheep, I need you to tend my lambs. I have work for you to do. I have new, good, beautiful things for you to make, and I want you to start paying attention to Me more than you are paying attention to your shame.”

Author Curt Thompson, MD, shared in an interview with ACT29

A Good Teacher

I am currently taking some seminary classes, so I read a lot of books. Most of them are great teachers. But I cannot tell you how much richer the content is now that I have a better understanding of who God is! God’s character is faithfulness. It is love and justice. His very nature is righteousness, and He teaches those qualities to His children!

But the one who boasts should boast in this: that he understands and knows Me—that I am the Lord, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things. This is the Lord’s declaration.

Jeremiah 9:24, CSB
God's character is faithfulness. It is love and justice. His very nature is righteousness, and He teaches those qualities to His children! Click To Tweet

Enduring Pursuit

Regardless of the issues you are facing or will face, there is help. There is counsel in the Word of God. So much advice is flung at us. From books to social media and more. How do we know what is right? By knowing the Teacher, the Creator of heaven and earth.

It’s not an overnight realization either. It will take our entire lifetime. But when you think about it, isn’t it wonderful? What an adventure—we can always learn more about our Maker and be taught by the One who knows all things.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 124:8, CSB

Books on controversial subjects are plentiful. Some may be helpful in knowledge gaining, but how do we know what's right? Who or what should be our teacher? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #controversial #GodsCharacter #GodsWord #knowledge #teacher #teaching

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
glory, God’s character, important, righteousness, significance, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Significance: Finding True Meaning from the God Who Created You

The search for significance is nearly as old as time. In this quest, the lines can become blurred and the goal of becoming Christ-like may morph into making ourselves like the Most High. The shift is subtle and may begin with good intentions. What do you do when you realize you’ve been going at it all wrong?



From childhood I have been comforted by the power and security of the Lord, specifically, that spoken of in the Psalms. Reading, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 145:8, ESV) has been a precious assurance of the goodness and nearness of God to me.

The search for significance is nearly as old as time. The lines can blur and the goal of becoming Christ-like morphs into making ourselves more important. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #glory #GodsCharacter #important #significant

Learned Significance

This past spring I took a systematic theology class. Part of the requirements directed me to read Psalm 145 and Isaiah 40 four times a week for several weeks. On the first day, I smiled at Isaiah 40:1 where I had written “store up comfort” next to it. It references a devotion from Streams in the Desert (January 11) which talks about the costliness and necessity of suffering. It is not for the purpose of our own comfort, but that we may learn how to comfort others.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ESV

Significance Questioned

However, as I read aloud from Isaiah 40 I came to a halt at the end of verse 17.

All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are accounted by Him as less than nothing and emptiness.

Isaiah 40:17, ESV

It struck me: “they” signifies me. Suddenly my sense of significance was challenged. My thoughts raced to verses that speak of my value to God, but even those did not hold the same soothing power as they once had in my mind. For instance, when I thought of Psalm 139:14, I realized I had not previously focused on key parts of that verse:

I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:14 , ESV

Praise belongs to God and His works are wonderful. Being created is glorious, but it is only glorious because of the powerful Creator. What I had known since birth was that God is great. I grew up in a Christian home with two parents who loved each other and taught me the Word. That was grace. I became a Christian when I was young—also grace, and I married a follower of Jesus. More grace. To be more specific, it was all undeserved grace. I thought of another familiar verse:

Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who has made us, and we are His.

Psalm 100:3, ESV

Significance Misled

The version I learned growing up says “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;” (NASB). Cringing, my eyes were opened to the fact that I had been viewing myself in an us-versus-them category. I had placed so much significance on my decision to choose God that it was completely unbalanced.

After all, Jesus said in John 15:16: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” Could it be that all this time I had read Scripture from a vantage point of deservedness? For years I had been content with saying I am a child of God; relishing His protection, blessings, and by His grace, learning to take joy in my suffering. My understanding of the grace I had received turned out to be laced with entitlement. Gross.

Seemed Pointlessness

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV

I had somehow bypassed this exhortation Paul sent to the church at Ephesus so, when I read through passages like Isaiah 40, it hadn’t previously occurred to me that I needed to read it addressed to myself. God used the class to boldly expose my creatureliness to me in such a way that I was unable to turn away.

By the end of it, reading through Psalm 145 and Isaiah 40 proved to be an anchor while hearing and reading about God’s sovereignty, human freedom, God’s attributes, and His purposes. Initially, I thought, how can the nations be “less than nothing and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17), yet “He gives power to the faint” (verse 29)? For days I wrestled with the seeming pointlessness of it all. Humankind appeared to be like the “Whos in Who-ville” floating on a speck.

Goodness Evidenced

Nonetheless, I knew of God’s total and infinite goodness…at least to me. To name a few evidences, I had experienced God’s goodness in the restoration of my marriage, in the death and new life of my son, and in the extraordinary rescue of my daughter. In the depths of the aforementioned situations, I had little to no control beyond prayer. They taught me to rely on God and to be able to say with conviction, “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).

I also felt a measure of invincibility, which is not completely untrue as a child of God when viewed correctly, for nothing can pluck me from God’s hand (John 10:28). Unfortunately, I took too much credit and my view of God’s supremacy was skewed.

Blind Contentedness

Until recently, I turned a blind eye when it came to understanding God’s very real and very present wrath towards evil because I could not explain it. Like so many others, I was satisfied to focus on God’s nearness and grace to me and just nod my head like a robot at His transcendence.

That is to say, I didn’t care to search for understanding (for what might I find?!), so I quickly placed any questions in the “God has a plan because He’s God” category. I politely closed that door and ran back to my significance blanket. After all, God is great, right?! But I was at a standstill. I knew more now, and I now knew better, but I didn’t like it because I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

God’s Sovereignty

The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.

Psalm 145:9, ESV

This verse, in particular, did not line up in my mind with God bringing “princes to nothing,” and that He makes “the rulers of the earth as emptiness” (Isaiah 40:23), and “all the wicked He will destroy” (Psalm 145:20). My soul had never been so perplexed! I asked God, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him” (Psalm 8:4)?

I discovered a spirit of pride in myself I thought had been extinguished. I’d resigned to seeking answers about God’s authority because I was afraid it may threaten my personal significance. Instead, I dwelt on being chosen and loved, but was blind to my fearful unbelief. True worship is not offering praise from a spirit of resignation and superiority. Alternatively, praising God for who He is and what He has done is glorifying when it is done in truth.

True Significance

Yes; God is infinite and we are finite. God has need of nothing. He is not lonely. He does not need praise or love from us, whereas we do need His love and we are very much alone without Him. But the reality of God’s autonomy (or lack of need) does not mean we are unimportant and meaningless. One of the books I read helped me grasp this: The answer to my nothingness lies in the comparison, not in the value and significance God has placed on creation.

We are in fact very meaningful because God has created us and He has determined that we would be meaningful to Him. That is the final definition of genuine significance.

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, by Wayne Grudem

I journaled this toward the end of my class: You absolutely matter to God because He chose for you to be meaningful to Him. But you are not the point. You are not the center; God is. So then, your significance lies in the fact that He determined to make you and to delight in you; and for that to honor Himself.

You and I have the privilege to meditate on the glorious splendor of God’s majesty and His wondrous works every single day (Psalm 145:5). To Him, there is no comparison. God is the only One who can promise to save the ones who love Him (Psalm 145:20). He numbers and names the stars (Isaiah 40:26; Psalm 147:4). The Lord is good to all, yet He is also righteous in all His ways (Psalm 145:9, 17). So, let us say with John:

He must increase, but I must decrease.

John 3:30, ESV
You are not the center; God is. So then, your significance lies in the fact that He determined to make you and to delight in you; and for that to honor Himself. Click To Tweet

The search for significance is nearly as old as time. The lines can blur and the goal of becoming Christ-like morphs into making ourselves more important. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #glory #GodsCharacter #important #significant

unsplash-logoIvan Di
Faithful, focus, godliness, God’s Word, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Now: How Are We to Practice Godliness in a Life of Tension?

In 2 Timothy, Paul talks about what will occur in the last days, or end times. Has every generation before now read this passage and thought, Is this now? I sure do. In a life of tension, how do we keep practicing godliness?



But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

2 Timothy 3:1-5a, ESV

In 2 Timothy, Paul talks about the last days. Has every generation before read this and thought, Is this now? How are we we keep practicing godliness? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #faithful #focus #godliness #GodsWord #life

Focusing on Godliness

It is hard to imagine things worse than they are right now. And who, aside from the Father, determines the length of “last days” as to how long they will go on? Technically speaking, any day after Jesus ascended to the Father could be considered the last of them. It is similar to the morbid saying that we begin to die as soon as we are born.

Nevertheless, what feels more pressing in this current reality is how much the church has allowed itself to be deceived. Yet would that not also have been the case in Martin Luther’s day? So, instead of focusing on the potential of these times being the “last,” let us draw our attention to the instruction given, and seek to do the opposite of the aforementioned verses.

  • Be others focused
  • Do not love money, or what it affords
  • Practice humility
  • Be gentle and kind to those around you
  • Show honor to parents
  • Be grateful
  • Diligently pursue holiness
  • Be compassionate and loving
  • Practice forgiveness
  • Seek reconciliation
  • Do not gossip; rather, be self-controlled
  • Be peaceable, loving what is good
  • Be trustworthy
  • Love God, and recognize Him as the giver of good things
  • Worship the Creator of pleasure rather than pleasure itself
  • Practice spiritual disciplines which can lead to true godliness, not merely the look of it

Helpful Warning

I am thankful for the monumental heads-up Jesus gave when He said we would have trouble in this world. Still more, I am grateful for the promise which followed—He has already overcome the world and has won the victory (John 16:33)!

Surely Paul would have taken this to heart as he encountered his own various trials. The brutal honesty in which Paul communicated the life of a Christ follower is refreshing. He could have stopped at simply disclosing the tribulations he endured for the sake of the Gospel, but he continually gave God the glory for rescuing him again and again.

My persecutions and sufferings that happened to me…which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.

2 Timothy 3:11, ESV

Faithfulness Now

In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he encouraged Timothy to pay attention! He charged Timothy to persevere in what he was learning and to keep a close eye on what he was teaching the people around him.

Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 Timothy 4:16, CSB

In the second letter to Timothy, Paul reiterated his instructions.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:14-15, ESV

The Word of God gives wisdom for salvation, both individually, and for the people who hear. Even more, since Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), studying and applying its instructions is sufficient to understand how to live a godly life. There is no higher authority! What a provision of grace! But this grace is not just for ourselves. As we pursue godliness, our lives testify of faith in Jesus Christ which leads to salvation.

Chasing Fairytales

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

2 Timothy 4:3-4, ESV

These verses are palpable in today’s society. The time has come. It is now. All the more, the truth of the gospel humbles and comforts me! How often do I go searching for someone or something that will tell me what I want to hear? Justify me. Validate me. Tickle my ears. It is a slow decline over time, one where daily meditation on God’s Word is gradually abandoned. Advice is sought elsewhere, even a wicked way of thinking within myself.

Solomon talked about this trap in Proverbs: it looks like a sparkly fairytale, but it ends in death (Proverbs 16:25). Therefore, every suggestion, whether from our own minds or others, must be weighed against the Word of God. Does it align with His character? Is the purpose to bring Him glory or myself? Will following the advice move me toward godliness or away from it? Where does it focus my affections?

How often do we go searching for someone or something that will tell me what I want to hear? However, every suggestion, whether from our own minds or others, must be weighed against the Word of God. Click To Tweet

Worthy Pursuit

The main pursuit of sinners is self—looking out for #1. If the interests of the world are adopted (such as whatever the current American dream is) then the pathway to God has been deserted. The quest is no longer holiness but an evil adventure of heartily approving of the ways of the world. Avoid this way! Why? Because delighting in the instructions of the Lord have incomparable purpose and joy; not just for the life to come, but now!

The life of success spoken of in the Bible does not look anything like the prosperity gospel being peddled to the masses today. Unlike the godly person, the wicked do not prosper in everything they do (Psalm 1:3-4). Even when we cannot see it, God knows, because the Lord knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19). With that assurance, we can make peace with the constant tension of living a life for the glory of God.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?

Romans 8:31-32, ESV

Now, children of the King, press on! 

In 2 Timothy, Paul talks about the last days. Has every generation before read this and thought, Is this now? How are we we keep practicing godliness? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #faithful #focus #godliness #GodsWord #life

unsplash-logoShashank Rana
God’s Word, love, God’s love, salvation, holiness, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Foundation: Distinguishing God’s Word As the Final Authority

Giving Scripture the last word lays a solid foundation in our lives that cannot be moved. We must be alert to follow God’s Word and encourage each other in it daily so we do not become deceived (Hebrews 3:13).



One of the many conversations in our home right now is learning how to spot false gospels. In many circles today, the message of the cross has been altered to make it more polished, palatable, and attractive. But when the gospel is watered down, it is no longer the gospel. And it is alarmingly easy to veer off course. For example, take the phrase “God gives you what you need.” Think about that.

Giving Scripture the last word lays a solid, immovable foundation in our lives. We must be alert to follow God's Word so we do not become deceived. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #salvation #godslove #godsword

Pause for A Moment…

Where did your mind go when you read that? Perhaps you thought of the meme you’ve seen floating around that guarantees God will never give you more than you can handle. That is not in the Bible. I looked. The only pledge that comes close is 1 Corinthians 10:13 where we are promised not to be tempted beyond what we can bear, and that God provides a way of escape so we can endure. Or perhaps you thought of Philippians 4:19 which says God will supply all of our needs.

I don’t know about you, but I can quickly become discouraged by phrases that have been taken out of context or have had the gospel stripped from them. Without understanding who God is, and what assurances He has shown throughout Scripture, what does God gives you what you need even mean?

When I heard someone say that several years ago I smirked and thought, I know that’s what the Bible says, but it doesn’t feel true in my life. I felt forgotten, overlooked, and cast aside by God. However disappointed I was with myself, I believed I was living the life I had created. But that was a lie. I wasn’t relying on truth. My feelings were my final authority; not the sure foundation of God’s Word.

Without Love

This past weekend, my husband Sean and I were able to attend a free marriage enrichment seminar offered through his work. We had a wonderful time away together and I am very grateful! But my point in mentioning it has to do with the curriculum we went through.

I was familiar with the original material, but the version taught at the seminar had been, as the instructor called it, “de-Jesus-ed.” The only note I took the whole weekend was in response to this statement—”We all need love.” I wrote:

Why [do we need love]? How do people without the God of Creation, who is LOVE, find an answer to that question?

I know we need love because I believe what the Word of God says. Because I know Him, I believe the need for love is also satisfied in Him. Without the hope of Christ, people are left to the exhausting and futile task of manufacturing love.

I imagine many perceive the gospel to be ethereal. Spiritual but elusive; like an ungraspable vapor. Yet we have been given the Word of God to instruct, guide, and embolden us to stand firm, to live lives worthy of the gospel! But we have to open it up and read it! And as David did, we must ask for help over and over again…

Help me understand Your instruction, and I will obey it and follow it with all my heart.

Psalm 119:34, HCSB

Costly Message

In the midst of a texting conversation between me, Sean, and our two teenage daughters, Sean sent Galatians 5:13 and Psalm 5:3 as ways to pray for change in the hearts of their friends, and for God to work in their school. He challenged the girls not to pray flippantly with empty words, writing: “Don’t drop BS to the void. Speak God’s Word back to Him with hope.” Then he shared some of Jesus’s words from the gospel of Matthew.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.

Matthew 7:21, HCSB

I admit I have read this passage before and thought that seems harsh. Strict? Yes. Unreasonable? No. Why? Because He is God, and there is only one way to Him, and that is through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

God is bigger than me. He is bigger than you. God is the Savior of the whole world, and salvation is freely given. But it costs everything because it cost Jesus everything. Every single day, as a follower of Jesus, I must die to what I think is best for me or fair. Daily the Father calls me to admit the ways I choose my own self-exalting, ethereal ideas above what He has clearly put forth in His Word. In His mercy, He shows me His way is best for me.

What is Needed

His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.

2 Peter 1:3-4, HCSB

God has absolutely lavished His love on us in Jesus! Through the life of Christ God has given us all that is needed for this life. In Jesus, we have what is needed to live godly lives because we have the gift of God’s Word and His indwelling Spirit for those who believe.

Final Caution

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the mass majority of you know on some level that Jesus loves you. It is a comforting and powerful statement. For years I lived off of that phrase alone. Even if [fill in the blank] doesn’t love me well, I know Jesus does. Then last summer I read how raising a foundation on this methodology can be deceptive.

This approach subtly turns Jesus into the One who meets my needs and fills my emptiness—as I define them. It turns God’s love into something that only serves me. Repentance for our rebellion and sin against God is minimized or even ignored while God’s love for us is maximized. We turn Jesus into someone whose goal in life is to make us feel good about ourselves…[Jesus] is the Holy One who comes to cleanse us, fill us, and change us…He loves us too much to merely make us happy. He comes to make us holy.

How People Change, by Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp

God’s love does fulfill every single one of our needs! The best way to fully believe that with conviction, is to read and pray His words. Then we can be confident that though sin does separate us from God, He made a way for us to become holy. Praise Jesus!

Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14, HCSB

God's love does fulfill every single one of our needs! To fully believe that with conviction is to read and pray His words. Sin does separate us from God but He made a way for us to become holy. Praise Jesus! Click To Tweet

Giving Scripture the last word lays a solid, immovable foundation in our lives. We must be alert to follow God's Word so we do not become deceived. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #salvation #godslove #godsword

Has Fakira

Bible, God’s Word, meditation, prayer, scripture, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Tools: Reading, Meditating On, and Praying God’s Word

Have you ever opened up about something to a fellow Jesus follower, and without skipping a beat they ask, “Are you reading your Bible? Have you been praying?” The thing is, they’re not wrong to ask that. But there is so much more to it. What tools do we have? 



We were on our way to pick up a friend when my son asked, “How do I stop myself from being so angry when people make fun of me? I break pencils to calm down, but I know that’s not the best thing to do. And really, I don’t want to get to the place where I’m so mad that…” He trailed off and I inserted, “…that you want to start breaking other things.” He hung his head and said sadly, “Yeah. Pretty much.” I immediately told him I was proud of him for being bold enough to ask me that question. And I told him it is brave to be vulnerable, and it is wise to ask for help.

Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Proverbs 11:14, NASB

Confided in a fellow Jesus follower and they immediately ask if you are reading your Bible and praying? They're not wrong but there is so much more to it... Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #prayer #meditation #Bible

Gathering Tools

I told my son, “The church will say ‘read your Bible and pray’ as an answer to every single one of your problems. And that is the answer, my love. But it goes beyond; there are more layers.”

What if we are reading the Bible? What if we are praying, but we still face the same giants every day with no victory in sight? I went on to tell him, “It sounds like good advice to read your Bible and pray because it is good! But it’s helpful to know how to read it to where you’re able to understand it. It’s also helpful to know how to pray! I’ll share with you some of the tools I’ve been learning so you can dig a little deeper and find some peace.”

Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.

Psalm 4:4, NKJV

Meditate on What?

Meditation is totally trending these days. Perhaps you’ve seen these hashtags in your Instagram feed…

  • #meditate
  • #mindright
  • #reflection

Meditation has been described as thoughtlessness for the purpose of achieving calmness over mind and body. Thoughtlessness. Emptying the mind. I admit I spent some time in the past, practicing this concept. I can report to you that I was unsuccessful. Honestly, thoughtlessness doesn’t even happen in my sleep! My goal was to de-stress; but Sis, the only truly proven stress relief in my life is meditating on the words of God.

How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2, CSB

Here’s the Tea

Dr. Donald S. Whitney likened reading Scripture to the process of steeping tea (another trending topic!). The more a verse or passage is poured over and soaked in, the richer its color and flavor. Dr. Whitney was using the analogy in relation to Bible reading, but I believe it applies to meditating on Scripture as well. You may be asking the same thing I was: What’s the difference between reading and meditating on what you read from the Bible?

Biblical meditation is the process of taking time to reflect and dwell on passages in God’s Word. There are many ways to do this, but my favorite is to read it out loud with as much inflection as I can muster. I’ve found meditating on the truths of Scripture leads to a better understanding of the Bible and what God is communicating to His people. It’s created an opportunity for me to retain what I read and has enabled a deeper knowing—much more so than merely reading and moving on with my day. Consequently, it has amped the way I talk to God.

Praying on Purpose

There have been times in the past when my communication with God seemed selfish. The only time I would go to Him was when I needed something. I started to feel guilty for treating God like a magic genie. Sadly, instead of allowing the conviction to incite change, I stopped going to Him for anything at all. I told myself the lie that if His will was going to be done eventually anyway, He certainly didn’t need me bombarding Him with requests all the time.

I have also experienced the feeling of having mediocre prayers. They had all the right churchy phrases in them like “thank You for Your grace,” “pour out Your Spirit on us,” and “be glorified.” And those are not bad things to say in prayer; yet when I spoke them, they lacked an intimate knowing of my Maker. Nor did they mirror an understanding of being known by my Father.

I felt the disconnect. It was like having a piece of the puzzle, but no finished picture for direction. I didn’t recognize the Bible as sufficient guidance for rich communion with God. Now, by His amazing grace, I am learning to utilize specific verses from the Bible as a basis for prayer. When I don’t have words, Scripture provides them.

The Bible speaks the language of the Spirit who originally breathed out all the words of Scripture. Praying the Bible has helped to illuminate God’s intentions, love, purposes, and faithfulness. It has also created an ability to recall God’s Word in times of rejoicing and sorrow, which has ushered in a peace and joy I had not previously known or understood!

That’s Delightful

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4, ESV

This verse completely changed my understanding of what it means to get my heart’s desires. If we are taking delight in the Lord, our motivation will be to bring glory to Him. Then our desires align with His! As we go through our days, whether in seasons of rejoicing or sorrow, I pray we will practice reading, meditating on, and praying the Bible. 

The Bible speaks the language of the Spirit who originally breathed out all the words of Scripture. Praying the Bible helps to illuminate God's intentions, love, purposes, and faithfulness. Click To Tweet

Confided in a fellow Jesus follower and they immediately ask if you are reading your Bible and praying? They're not wrong but there is so much more to it... Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #prayer #meditation #Bible

Neven Krcmarek

knowledge, wisdom, understanding, God's Word, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Knowledge: Trusting the Omniscience of God to Preserve Your Life

Knowledge can be powerful, but to what end? Understanding may bring advancement, yet at times those tidbits of information leave us wishing we could un-know it



Recently I read a case study about a woman who struggled with paralyzing fear. Both she and her fiancee were followers of Christ, but her betrothed had been sexually immoral before he became a Christian. She was concerned about STDs so they both underwent testing. He came back clean, but she learned she would have difficulty conceiving children. That knowledge sent her spiraling into a deep depression. She went from one fear to another based on the information she received.

Knowledge can be powerful, but to what end? Understanding may bring advancement, but those tidbits of information can leave us wishing we could un-know it. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #knowledge #wisdom #understanding #Godsword

Ignorance is Bliss

On my way to the auto shop the same day I read the case study, I was keenly aware of the thin tread and unwelcome screw lodged in my back driver-side tire. Wincing each time I hit a bump, I tried to navigate the winter roadways with the expertise of a racecar driver.

Then it donned on me: A week ago I had no idea my vehicle was less than safe to drive so I drove around town without worry. God was just as faithful to get me from A to B, but like the woman I read about, I did not experience any anxiety until I had knowledge of the incapacity. There are definite perks to not knowing some things. Once known, what can we do with it?

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.

Psalm 143:10-11, NIV

Knowledge is Power?

In the beginning, Adam and Eve knew only goodness and purity. There was not one iota of doubt, fear, or anxiety. They trusted God completely, loved one another fully, and enjoyed creation without hindrance. Their only need was God’s presence. Then an opportunity arose.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

Genesis 3:1, ESV

Eve responded by quoting what God told her and Adam, saying God had commanded them not to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden — not even touch it — or they would die. Then the serpent offered a different viewpoint. He fed her more information than she had to begin with.

But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’

Genesis 3:4-5, ESV

FOMO

Eve likely thought what all of us have undoubtedly considered at one time or another: What if God is holding out on me? Are you familiar with this acronym — FOMO? It means fear of missing out. Eve had a choice in that moment… Trust her Maker or pursue selfish curiosity. God had given her and Adam one no in an entire world of yeses. “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

So of course, being the children that they were, that’s exactly what they did…Instead of embracing God’s good gifts, the man and woman doubted God’s generosity toward them. Doubted that an entire world of goodness was enough. Instead, they turned their eyes to the one thing that had been withheld…As much as the man and woman clearly defied God’s boundary, they also rejected everything He had already provided for them. They saw all that He offered them and decided that it was not good enough. And in doing so they turned from His goodness to seek goodness elsewhere. But all they discovered was evil.

Hannah Anderson, All That’s Good

It’s Simple

I want to be clear: knowledge is not evil. Pursuing education, practicing memorization, reading, and studying can be positive avenues to gain wisdom. But let the pursuit of knowledge have the purpose of conforming us more and more into Christ-likeness. And as a friend shared with me, it’s okay to be simple…

God will give us the understanding we need when we need it.

The unfolding of your words give light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

Psalm 119:130, ESV

Some knowledge strikes fear in our hearts.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:18, ESV

This verse is not meant to shame, but to encourage us. Pray to be perfected in love!

Some knowledge plants pride in our hearts.

This is what the LORD says: ‘The wise person should not boast in his wisdom; the strong should not boast in his strength; the wealthy should not boast in his wealth. But the one who boasts should boast in this: that he understands and knows me — that I am the LORD, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things.’ This is the LORD’s declaration.

Jeremiah 9:23-24, CSB

Revealed

We can never exhaust our knowledge of God. He faithfully reveals His character through His Word, His people, and through His creation. He knows all things, and as a result of His overflowing delight, He has given us the gift of His Spirit to preserve and grow us into His likeness.

Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God[…] Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God.

1 Corinthians 2:10, 12, CSB

Sisters, may we trust what has been freely given and revealed to us, and only ever seek the knowledge that draws us closer to Christ.

We can never exhaust our knowledge of God. He faithfully reveals His character through His Word, His people, and through His creation. Click To Tweet

Knowledge can be powerful, but to what end? Understanding may bring advancement, but those tidbits of information can leave us wishing we could un-know it. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #knowledge #wisdom #understanding #Godsword

Sharon McCutcheon