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Impact with Fear: Preparing to Influence Others for the Kingdom

We are called to positively influence everyone we come into contact with for God’s Kingdom. Preparing to act even through fear comes only through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We can impact with fear.



Some of my favorite time spent with my husband is late at night, snuggling under the covers, having meaningful conversation. Recently during one of our pillow talks the Lord convicted me when we were in the middle of a conversation about a friend who doesn’t know Jesus.

We are called to positively influence everyone. We need to be prepared for this and know how to act even through fear. We can impact with fear. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #fear #GodsGuidance #guidance #HolySpirit #impact #influence

Stewardship

I’m a believer in being a good steward of the things the Lord gives us. Just as I believe in being a good steward of our home and our finances, I believe that the people in our lives are there strategically. We are called to be good stewards to them. How many days go by where we hardly think anything of that?

Both hands raised, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of overlooking people placements and just focus on me and my day. But actually, every lunch appointment, every barista, every stranger that we pass in the post office, every neighbor, all of those people are strategically in our path for that day.

Hear me: I’m not saying we should walk around stopping every stranger. I’m simply suggesting we consider this question: what would happen if we learned to be more sensitive to the guiding of the Holy Spirit? Movements? Maybe even miracles?

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9, NIV
People in our lives are there strategically. We are called to be good stewards to them. Click To Tweet

Great Commission

“Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations” Matthew 28:19. This is the Great Commission, it’s a command to us from the Lord. So why are we so stagnant in this regard? Why do we mosey around like we’ve got all the time in the world? We don’t. Job 14:5 says our days are numbered, Friend.

I listened to this speaker once who gave the most perfect visual of earth versus eternity. In his talk he had a rope. The first five inches or so were red. The rest of the rope, which seemed like miles long, was white. He said that the red part of the rope represented our time spent on earth and the white part of the rope represented the time we spend in eternity. His emphasis was on sharing Jesus because we are not given much time here on earth.

It created an urgency for me. It put things into perspective. The things I claimed to be important, couldn’t compare to the importance of this: Souls. Hearts. Eternity. We, as Christians, are to be salt and light. So what are we waiting for?

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV

Impact with Fear

As our pillow talk conversation got a little deeper, I shared with my husband that I haven’t always been able to freely talk to people about the Lord. Until about the age of seventeen, I was incredibly shy. Over the years boldness developed. That boldness came from encountering the Lord, growing my confidence in Him.

It used to be, if I came across someone with a different belief or someone who didn’t have a personal relationship with God, I just didn’t talk about Him. I know that it’s not all in the talking. But I realized the reason I didn’t talk was because of fear.

Fear is paralyzing. I was afraid of what other people would think of me. Afraid that they would be mean to me because I believed differently than them. And the worst, I was afraid that they would ask a hard question about Jesus that I wouldn’t be able to answer.

Well friends, the truth is… none of us have all the answers. I had to learn to trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit and just share what He has done in my life. And what the Lord has done in my life is far too great for me to stay silent about it. I have also learned that it is more about loving someone well instead of “convincing” them into Christianity. Love will take you farther than persuasion ever will. We can love even though we are afraid; we can impact with fear.

Holy Spirit Guidance

I encourage you, the next time you are around that table with your family, on that bike ride with your friend, bumping into that neighbor while at your mailbox, or grabbing that coffee from the barista, lean into the Holy Spirit and trust His guidance.

When you don’t know what to say or have no response to a “God question”, silently ask Him to give you the words. Trust that He will give them to you. Let Him work through your vulnerability and be willing to be bold. Let Him guide you to impact with fear. After all, you may just experience something pretty amazing.

So let us keep on coming boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16, ISV

We are called to positively influence everyone. We need to be prepared for this and know how to act even through fear. We can impact with fear. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #fear #GodsGuidance #guidance #HolySpirit #impact #influence

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All: Applying ‘In Jesus’ Name’ to Every Part of Our Lives

As new creatures in Christ, we must turn over all areas of our life to the Lord. When we do this–in ways large and small–He becomes our All in All.



And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:8, KJV

“In Jesus’ name. Amen.” We hear these words so often. Typically at the end of a spoken prayer in church, at a Bible study, or around the dinner table. But what about in the rest of our day to day life?

What if we, as believers, were to apply these words to our entire lives? After the thoughts we think about ourselves and others? After the words we speak? When choosing the music we’re going to listen to or the movie we want to watch? When we’re considering whether to marry someone or start a family? How might our lives change if we were to apply these three words: “in Jesus’ name” to all that we think, say, and do?

As new creatures in Christ, we must turn over every area of our lives to the Lord. When we do this--in ways large and small--He becomes our All in All. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #addiction #freedom #HolySpirit #new #sin #salvation

All Means All…

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV

I looked up the definition of the word “all,” and guess what it means? All! Everything. The totality of a person or thing. The whole shebang! So if we are to trust the Lord with all of our heart and acknowledge Him in all of our ways, then every single aspect of our lives should reflect who He is. If we were to truly give Him our all, wouldn’t the choices we make look like His best for us in every situation?

Sometimes our choices feel small and of very little consequence. Other times, we face big situations that require very difficult decisions. But, as we commit to inviting the Lord into every choice–small or large–we make, we begin to see how His good and perfect will applies to all that concerns us. And, we don’t have to fret about the choices before us or worry whether we’ll make the right decision. If we’ll ask Him, the Holy Spirit inside of us helps us know the right thing to do at all times.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 16:13, ESV

Small…

Here’s a small example…

My husband and I have always loved watching movies together. Pre-kids, that meant late date nights at the movie theater in comfy reclining seats, replete with an entire barrel of popcorn doused with “movie butter.” Don’t ask me what was in that stuff, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t actually butter, and I’m also positive that it tasted delicious!

These days, movie nights look a lot different. Showtime is at 8:30 p.m., in our living room, in our pj’s, on our non-reclining couch. A movie requires a full, strong cup of coffee after dinner just to stay awake, and the popcorn is a slightly healthier version.

But the setting and the movie butter aren’t all that’s changed. The content we regard as entertainment has shifted dramatically. So much of what used to captivate and thrill us now disgusts and saddens us. If a film is full of foul language, gratuitous nudity, violence, and empty, nonredemptive plots, we just won’t watch it. In other words, if I can’t say “in Jesus’ name” to my choice, I can’t press play.

The check in my spirit simply won’t allow me to sit through two hours of anything that doesn’t somehow uplift, inspire, or motivate us to live a more full, joyful life. Friends, we have to be careful about the choices we make, even in things as seemingly small as entertainment choices. Because if we aren’t careful, we can allow in “little foxes” of sin and doubt that seek to spoil our faith.

Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

Solomon 2:15, KJV

Big…

Now, choosing our entertainment is a relatively easy area to distinguish between dark and downright unholy and offerings that are good and wholesome. But there are other, bigger areas of our lives that hold much greater significance–like whom to marry, which job to take, whether to have children, how to respond to a health crisis, how to overcome an addiction, and such. In these areas, the “in Jesus’ name” litmus test applies to an even greater extent.

A number of years ago, I was struggling with a problem that falls into the big category. A drug addiction. As a relatively new believer, I had become a new creature in Christ, yet I hadn’t fully allowed all of my old, sinful habits to die. In other words, I wasn’t all in for the Lord.

Throughout high school, college, and through my 20’s, I smoked marijuana. I had wrapped so much of my identity as an artist into my identity as a pot smoker that I feared I couldn’t create anything good unless I was high as a kite. I recall many a late-night spoken word poetry and songwriting session punctuated by bong hits and coughing fits.

For years, I used this drug recreationally and never suffered a guilty conscience from inhaling ungodly amounts of smoke. Much less from flouting the law of the land! But once I asked Christ to come into my heart, I began to understand that what I was doing was wrong.

I knew that I was, in fact, sinning. Both by breaking the law and also by altering the chemical state of my brain–which was supposed to be a holy temple for the Holy Spirit. But for years, the pull and the desire to smoke weed held a very strong grip on me.

A Realization…

One day I was driving down the highway on a long road trip by myself. As I was singing the words of a new song the Lord was giving me, for some reason, my thoughts turned to the drug paraphernalia in my glove compartment.

Part of me really wanted me to do what I’d always done on road trips–pull out my trusty pipe and take a toke. But an even bigger part of me felt repulsed by the very notion. The Spirit inside of me was warring against the sinful choice I was about to make.

And in that moment, I had a realization. I wasn’t high, yet I was coming up with a new song! And in fact, I had a bunch of new songs that hadn’t come to me while I was smoking. Like a lightning bolt, the epiphany struck me: the source of the creativity inside of me was not the pot I was smoking. My creative gifts came straight from the Creator Himself. Buzzing from the excitement of this new realization, the Holy Spirit inside of me rose up, and I began to praise God.

Eventually, I did reach into the glove compartment. But it wasn’t to smoke a bowl. Instead, I grabbed the little embroidered bag that held my pipe, lighter, and weed, and I chucked it out the window. And I have never looked back. In retrospect, I guess I committed another sin that day–breaking the littering law. But I hope the Lord won’t judge me for that….or for my marijuana addiction!

Become New…

Beloved, when we allow all of the old things–our old sins, old ways, and our old choices–to pass away, we can begin to truly live a life where “all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17, KJV). Earnestly trying to apply “in Jesus’ name” to all that we do, clears the smoke in our vision. It allows us to see that so many of the things that used to please us were really chains that bound us.

Before I quit smoking pot, I thought that life wouldn’t be any fun without it. Like the ashes from my bowl, I pictured my creativity just drying up and blowing away. But I can tell you today, I feel better than ever. I’m having much more fun and I feel more creative than I ever did during those years when my entire life was shrouded in a smoky haze!

All in All…

The enemy wants us to believe that the Lord is a divine killjoy who wants us to live boring, mundane holier-than-thou kinds of lives. But friends, nothing could be further from the truth! When we walk away from all the old, sinful counterfeits, we are able to see that we serve a good God who wants to give us all things for a full, joyful, abundant life in Him.

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.

2 Peter 1:3, KJV

Beloved, if we’ll let Him–just like the old hymn says–He truly will be our “All in All.” In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Is there a small choice–“a little fox”–in your life that won’t allow you to say “in Jesus’ name” afterward? Maybe a big area of your life where you need the Lord to make all things new for you? Is He your All in All?

Earnestly trying to apply 'in Jesus' name' to all that we do, clears the smoke in our vision. It allows us to see that so many of the things that used to please us were really chains that bound us. Click To Tweet

As new creatures in Christ, we must turn over every area of our lives to the Lord. When we do this--in ways large and small--He becomes our All in All. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #addiction #freedom #HolySpirit #new #sin #salvation

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Even If: Remembering that God is Always Faithful, Able, and Mighty

Sometimes it seems that the answer to our long awaited prayer is no. It is important to remember in these times that even if it is no, God is still good.



Last night I was driving home from one of many meetings of the day. As I was driving I was listening to a local Christian station. This is something I rarely do because I generally use my phone for music. This night, though, I somehow forgot, or didn’t care enough. Looking back this was a God-ordained moment to remind me even if… He is good.

You see, while I was driving the song “Even If” by MercyMe came on. I have heard this song before, but never truly listened to it. The song is about how God is still faithful, even if –insert prayer request here– doesn’t come. I sat and listened to this song and concentrated on every word.

As I sat in the car crying my eyes out (and driving like a crazy person I’m sure), I realized how much I needed to hear it. I have been in a season of looking for healing and actively praying long and hard for it to come. This song showed me that even if the answer is no or not yet, God is still good.

Sometimes it seems that the answer to our long awaited prayer is no. It is important to remember in these times that even if it is no, God is still good. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #prayer #HolySpirit #EvenIf #capable

The Holy Spirit

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

Romans 8:26, NLT

The Holy Spirit is our connection with God. That is where the source of our prayers should come from. I believe that sometimes the answer we are looking for doesn’t come because we are not praying through the Holy Spirit. We, when using our human power, do not know what to pray. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to be a part of our prayer life.

What we can be sure of is even when we don’t know what to pray, or are praying the wrong thing, the Holy Spirit prays for us. Wow, how amazing is that? The Holy Spirit prays for us.

I read this verse, which I never read in this way before, and was overwhelmed by the love of God for us. He loves us so much that He gave us the Holy Spirit to not only guide us but to intercede for us. When we don’t know what to say the Holy Spirit prays with a prayer that is beyond words.

Even If: No

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

1 John 5:14-15, NLT

I know this verse says, “he will give us what we ask for.” That makes it sound as though we will get whatever we want. However, this verse is often misunderstood. You see, people tend to leave the prior verse out where it says “anything that pleases Him.”

Like I said before, many times we are not asking with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. This is likely the most common reason we do not get what we ask for every time.

Another reason this could be the case is that we misinterpret the response. Maybe God said yes, but it wasn’t in the way you expected. For me, this happened when my grandmother passed away. We prayed and prayed for her to be healed, but she passed away. It wasn’t that God said no. He healed her, but he did this by bringing her home. This was not what we wanted but it was a yes. A yes that pleased God.

Even If: Not Yet

‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’

Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT

Lastly, the reason we may think that God has told us no is because His answer is not yet. We have to be patient and remember that God’s timing is not our timing. His ways are far better, His thoughts are far better, and His timing is far better than our own.

Even If

So, even if healing doesn’t come, even if our relationships are crumbling, even if we don’t know what will happen next… God is faithful. He is able. And He is mighty.

So whatever your even if is, keep in mind that thought and remember the role the Holy Spirit is playing.

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

MercyMe, “Even If”
Even if healing doesn't come, even if our relationships are crumbling, even if we don't know what will happen next… God is faithful. He is able. And He is mighty. Click To Tweet

Sometimes it seems that the answer to our long awaited prayer is no. It is important to remember in these times that even if it is no, God is still good. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #prayer #HolySpirit #EvenIf #capable

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care, Holy Spirit, prayer, renew, silence, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Care: Caring for Our Whole Selves in a Godly Way

Self-care is a hot topic these days. It is difficult to assess what it looks like to take care of ourselves in a Godly way, but when we practice self-care we honor God and His incredible blessings. 



There are days when I do not feel like taking care of myself. Taking a shower doesn’t seem important, eating is not a priority, and even getting things done that will help relieve stress don’t happen. A lot of times I know that I need to be doing more to take care of myself, but I still choose to prioritize other things.

We hear so much every day about “self-care”, but what does that actually mean and what does that look like for a believer?

It is difficult to assess what taking care of ourselves in a Godly way is, but when we practice self-care we honor God and His incredible blessings. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #care #prayer #self-care #renew #scripture #devotional

Physical Care

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own

1 Corinthians 6:19, NIV

When we make the decision to be a Christian, we sacrifice our bodies. Our bodies become a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. When we look at our bodies as a temple, our perspective should change. We should crave to take care of our bodies. When we live in the mindset that our body is essentially the house of God we are forced to take care of it.

Caring for our temple comes by eating well, exercising, and having good hygiene. I am not saying that we all need to start dieting and going to the gym every single day. Trust me, I am the first to admit that I have terrible habits I need to work on. This message is as much for me as it is for you. What I am saying is that we need to all take steps to ensure that we are caring for the body that God gave and that the Holy Spirit dwells in.

Spiritual Care

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 1:35, NIV

After a long day of preaching, healing, and casting out demons, Christ knew he needed to take care of himself spiritually. In that moment He practiced solitude and went to a place to pray. Jesus needed to be filled spiritually so that He could continue preaching and feeding into others the next day.

We must do the same. Part of everyday life is pouring into others. While that takes root in many ways, there is one thing that remains the same… We can not give from an empty cup. If we are not filled spiritually, we cannot lead spiritually. We have to take time to be alone with God. We need to hear from God on a regular basis. This not only gives us the ability to fill others, but it also helps us learn to hear the voice of God.

If we do not practice solitude and take care of ourselves spiritually, we can’t hear God’s voice. Listening requires attention and quiet. When we talk to a friend we don’t constantly look at our phone or interrupt the conversation to do something else, so why do we do this when spending time with God? We have to spend time with Him in order to be healthy and care for ourselves.

Mental Care

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test what God’s will is: his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2, NIV

Our mind should not be like that of the world’s we have to renew our minds. This leads to transformation, which leads to being able to know what God’s will is. Every minute of every day our mind has the opportunity to be distracted by something of the world. Whether it be a negative thought about ourselves, an advertisement, or something on social media, there is always a distraction available.

We need to practice mental self-care by freeing our mind from those distractions. When a lie pops into our head, we can replace it with God’s truth. As we watch TV and see an advertisement with a beautiful model, we can remember that we are uniquely created. When we see people’s picture perfect life on social media, we can remember that nobody is perfect and everyone has struggles. Our minds need to be focused on things of God that we may have a healthy mind.

Godly Self-Care

Caring for ourselves is crucial. There are many things out there that teach a skewed version of self-care. We need to focus on Godly self-care. When we take care of ourselves, we take care of the gift God gave us. Not caring for ourselves is a disservice to our Creator. How can you take care of yourself today?

There's a lot of confusion and skewed versions of self-care. We need to focus on Godly self-care and nurture the gift God gave us. Not caring for ourselves is a disservice to our Creator. Click To Tweet

It is difficult to assess what taking care of ourselves in a Godly way is, but when we practice self-care we honor God and His incredible blessings. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #care #prayer #self-care #renew #scripture #devotional
Evie Shaffer

distraction, faithful, Holy Spirit, Fruit of the Spirit, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Distracted: Changing the Soil in Our Hearts to Allow God’s Good Work

The Parable of the Sower is still very applicable today. Our hearts can become distracted, blocking the good work God is trying to do in us. We must work to make Him first in our lives! 



Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! […] The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.

Mark 4:3-8 & 18-19, NLT

The Parable of the Sower is still applicable today. Our hearts become distracted, blocking the good work God is trying to do in us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #faithful #distractions #scripture #devotional

Conviction

We recently read this parable in Sunday school. I’ve known this parable since I was a little girl, but this time it hit me in such a different way. When Jesus explains the meaning of the parable to His disciples, He tells us the seed is God’s word and how His message is received in different ways. We looked at the four soils as representing people’s hearts: hard (footpath), unfaithful (rocky), distracted (thorny) and then faithful (good soil).

I’ve always felt I had a heart of good soil… I’m a believer. I’ve stayed faithful to the Lord since He disciplined me 9 years ago. I’ve produced fruit in my life by doing good deeds. I couldn’t help but feel convicted though. Upon honest self-reflection, I’ve allowed my good soil to slowly become thorny soil.

Fertile Soil

Jesus spoke in another parable that more accurately describes the condition I’ve allowed my heart to become.

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!” But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Luke 12:16-21, NLT

Dodie wrote recently about altars in our lives. We can tend to not focus on where we are, in our relationship with God because we are too busy looking back at past mountaintop experiences. This was so convicting because I knew it was true for me. I look back at the time when I was very sick and was walking so closely with the Lord. I long for that closeness again. However, He hasn’t gone anywhere! He promised that He is always with us and will never leave us.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.

John 14:16, NLT

I Have Wandered…

So then the crux of the matter is… if He’s never left me, if I’m no longer close to Him, I’m the one who has wandered. I have allowed the cares of this world to interfere in our relationship and choke out the beautiful closeness we once had. They may not even be bad things. I used the example of greed above, but in my life, even doing good things for the Kingdom has been a distraction from spending quality time growing in Him.

Foster care and adoption, homeschooling, activities for my kids, cooking healthy meals for my family, volunteering at the church, blogging for Oh Lord Help Us, dating my spouse: none of this matters if I’m letting Him slide off of the throne of my heart and life! I get so busy trying to do all things and be all things to those around me, I forget WHO I should be dwelling in, resting in, and growing in- Jesus Christ, my Savior!

Distracted Works

I know this is a common struggle for many of us women who have been serving Christ a long time. We start to lose our passion and forget He is our first love. We get distracted by new and seemingly more exciting ventures than reading our Bible and meditating, praying and fasting.

These basic spiritual disciplines are absolutely our lifeline, though! Without them, the fruit of the Spirit that were once quite prevalent in our lives, rot away. We will become unloving, joyless, unrestful, impatient, unkind, not good, unfaithful, harsh and without self-control.

As I reflect on my behavior in my heart and home the last few years, I can see it. A steady decline in my Christ-like behavior and reactions and an increase in selfish, unloving, worldly reactions. Ladies, we must fight becoming distracted. We must guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Remember, we can be holy as He is holy, but it doesn’t happen without any effort on our parts. He told us in the Word:

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?

Jeremiah 17:9, NLT

We must fight becoming distracted and guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We can be holy as He is holy, but it doesn't happen without any effort on our parts. Click To Tweet

Loyalty

If you reflect today and find your heart of once-good soil has started to become rocky or thorny or even hardened, I pray you will turn from your sin and repent. Bow down before our merciful and loving God and ask Him to take our hearts of stone and give a heart of flesh. That we will return to our first love and allow Him to once again reign supreme on the throne of our lives. As we do this together, He will continue to finish the good work He began in us, and we will see the fruit of His Holy Spirit in our lives once more!

For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Romans 5:10-11, NLT

The Parable of the Sower is still applicable today. Our hearts become distracted, blocking the good work God is trying to do in us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #faithful #distractions #scripture #devotional

Vincent Burkhead

God’s word, Holy Spirit, nourishment, soul, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Feed: Nourishing Our Spirit with The Daily Bread of The Word

Just as we need to feed our natural bodies with wholesome food, we must nourish our spirit with the daily bread of The Word of God. 



O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Psalm 34:8

Folks, I’m sorry to announce this, but I’ve become one of those kinds of people. You know, the ones who take pictures of their food…and post them on social media. I know, I know. This used to annoy me too. I would scoff when I saw pictures of friends’ meals and think, “Don’t you have anything better to do with your life than to make us jealous of all the delicious food you’re eating?!”

I happened to be in a financial wilderness season when those kinds of judgmental thoughts ran through my head. At that time, I was having trouble putting food on the table for my two young children, my husband, and myself. I didn’t have the budget to buy healthy food, much less the time to actually prepare it from scratch.

Just as we need to feed our natural bodies with wholesome food, we must nourish our spirit with the daily bread of The Word of God. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #holyspirit #nourishment #soul #wordofgod

Setting The Table…

But over the course of a few years, the Lord has brought us out of that dessert place and into a season of abundance. Through this journey, He’s been sharing with me the gift that He intended our food to be. I’m so thankful for how He has helped me heal and strengthen my body by putting things into it that are healthy and whole. And I’m simply amazed at how God has made it possible for us to thrive by eating the pure, whole things that He has provided in His creation.

Blessed by what He has given me, like a good meal, I’ve had the urge to share it with others. Thus my sort of informal food blog on social media! And the more I’m learning about food and its connection to health and wellness, I can’t help but notice all of the parallels between the natural food we put into our physical bodies and what we feed our spiritual bodies. So, now that the table is set, let’s dig into this dish, shall we?

Appetite…

God created all of us with an appetite, both physically and spiritually. So, the question becomes, what are we hungry for? When it comes to physical nourishment, if we eat a steady diet of junk food, our taste buds grow accustomed to eating things that are unnaturally sweet, rich, salty…you name it. Although these unnatural foods might taste good on the tongue, they do internal damage. Sugars destroy our teeth; chemicals clog our pores and alter the makeup of our cells. Unnatural fats harden the arteries of our heart. And no matter how much junk food we eat, we are still hungry. Still thirsty. Still not satisfied. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul warns against this kind of carnal gluttony:

Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.

Philippians 3:19

When we try to satiate our cravings with junk food, we find ourselves lethargic, overweight, and unhealthy. However, when we cut out the junk, our taste buds change. Instead of grabbing a candy bar, we reach for a piece of fresh fruit or a handful of ripe berries. And once again, we can appreciate the natural sweetness that God designed. When we’re not gorging ourselves on empty calorie foods, our appetite changes as well. We begin to crave the good, whole, pure foods that God created to fuel our natural bodies. And when we eat the right things, we feel better, get leaner, grow stronger, and have more energy. We’re more alive.

Spiritual Starvation…

And the same holds true for our inner spirit. In this fallen world, many have confused earthly pleasures with spiritual fulfillment. This brings to mind the heartbreaking story of a world-renowned chef who recently committed suicide. He hosted a very popular television show where he traveled the world in search of unique and delicious cuisine. In each episode, he found himself in some of the most beautiful places on earth, enjoying what looked to be some of the most delectable delicacies under the sun. But there was a palpable sadness, loneliness, and disillusionment to the way he approached his experiences.

Despite being replete with gourmet food and gorgeously scenic destinations, this man’s earthly journeys and culinary discoveries could not fill the emptiness in his heart. His tragic story highlights the importance of this scripture:

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Matthew 4:4

Until our spirit is filled with Christ, our appetite for things of the world will only grow but never be fulfilled. Without the Lord, and His Word, we can have all the choicest foods in the world, and still experience spiritual starvation.

Until our spirit is filled with Christ, our appetite for things of the world will only grow but never be fulfilled. Without the Lord, we can have all the choicest foods in the world and still experience spiritual starvation. Click To Tweet

Feed The Spirit…

So, if we don’t want to starve, what should we feed our spirit? First, we have to choose to leave behind the lusts of the flesh. This can be challenging in a world that constantly appeals to our sinful appetite. When we crave and binge on worldly “entertainment,” we quench an unwholesome spiritual appetite.

Shows, movies, and music that are filled with filthy language, terrifying scenes, sexual immorality, and the like, fill our spirit with sinful desires. Desires that draw us back into our flesh and pull us further away from Christ. Just as binging on junk food slowly deteriorates our physical health–eventually leading to sickness and death, indulging in sinful “entertainment,” steadily erodes our spiritual growth–eventually leading to spiritual death.

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:15

Filled with Daily Bread…

On the other hand, when we feed our minds and hearts a healthy diet of good things, our spirit man gets filled to overflowing. We can relish scripture, taste sweet fellowship with loving family and friends, feast on messages that encourage our faith and drink in music that helps us draw closer to the Lord.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Matthew 5:6

Beloved, when we draw our sustenance from our “daily bread”–which is the Word of God–we build up our spirit man. And just like with natural food, we can’t expect to feel full if we eat only once a week. To maintain our physical strength, we must eat multiple times throughout the day. So too with our daily bread. We must feed on the Word daily and pray continually. When we have the Bread of Life, Jesus, living in our hearts and minds, we will have the strength we need to walk this straight and narrow path of faith.

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

John 6:35

What kind of diet do you feed your body and your spirit? Have you feasted on your daily bread of the Word today?

Just as we need to feed our natural bodies with wholesome food, we must nourish our spirit with the daily bread of The Word of God. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #holyspirit #nourishment #soul #wordofgod
Leiliane Fagundes

All scripture references from The King James Version of The Bible.

friendship, Holy Spirit, listen, patience, relationships, grace, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Listen: Hearing Other’s Pain through the Power of the Holy Spirit

We often try to fix those we love instead of allowing a safe space to exist and be heard. Helping others in pain requires us to listen through the power of the Holy Spirit. 



Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

James 1:19, NLT

Making sure others feel comfortable when we interact is one of my greatest desires. I want them to feel the freedom to occupy space as their true selves. Feeling safe with someone allows for a deeper strengthening of friendship. I’m not going to say I have it all together because I don’t, but one way I ensure this result is through listening. Sincerely listening.

I’m still learning how to truly hear those around me. To hear through the Holy Spirit and not through human methods. Because, let’s face it, all the distractions, screens, noises, and even selfishness get in the way. Listening takes discipline and an immense amount of patience…

We try to fix those we love instead of allowing a safe space to exist and be heard. Helping others in pain requires us to listen through the Holy Spirit. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #listen #devotional #scripture #holyspirit #friendship #relationships

Selfishness

Many times in my life I’ve been told I’m a great listener, which you think would cause great pride inside. In reality, I selfishly carry it around like a burden… I’m easy to talk to because I’m silent. When do I get to speak??

See, selfish. On the outside, I sit silently, making eye contact and nodding. While on the inside, I am screaming to be heard; creating comebacks, forming opinions, preparing the right words to say. This is NOT active listening; NOT listening as God commands us to listen.

We all have this innate desire to be heard, to be allowed space to exist. But God asks us to lay ourselves down to allow His Spirit room to breathe. To give us supernatural patience to hear; truly hear. He is the very best part of us, and He is the very answer for loving those who are hurting…

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Philippians 2:3-4, NLT

Deeply Listen

Undistracted, uninterrupted, completely attuned… Not everyone is a natural at this and not everyone can pick this habit up quickly. I definitely struggle. I still find myself interrupting my friends. -sigh- I know how much I can’t stand to be interrupted.

Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.

Proverbs 18:2, NLT

Half listening, then interjecting to fix a problem with human words is foolish. Our attempts to ‘be there’ for our friends is sometimes overshadowed by our want to ‘fix them. To make their life ‘right’ and easy. It’s honorable, we think it’s out of love, but it’s not helpful. It’s not Spirit-led.

Some of my closest friends have come by way of just listening. Not trying to have all the answers, not trying to have the perfect words, but saying ‘My heart hurts with yours.’ There’s a tenderness when a friend will silently and intently listen to your words; deeply listen. This exemplifies God as He bends down from Heaven to listen to our cries (Psalm 116:1-6).

Language Between

I cannot tell you the countless times I’ve skimmed over deep pain in my heart, only to have a friend hear it’s depth and speak truth to it. There’s language between the verbal words and the silence. Silence can give just as much, sometimes more, information than hearing. Hearing the entire language of hurt prepares our hearts and minds to speak from a posture of wisdom.

Our inability to shut our mouths does a disservice to those who are hurting. In our attempts to break awkward silences and fill the space with noise, we block potential Holy Spirit work. Whether the work is in us, in the other person, or both. Leaving space for the Spirit to move, may give us discernment, as the listener, to hear the words that haven’t been spoken. To understand the words under the words.

Trust

When we actively and truly listen, we prove our love. Not just our love for the other individual, but our love for God. Not waiting for a chance to be heard, but laying down our selfishness. Selfless listening, Holy Spirit listening is powerful. Allowing the other person space to exist to be who they are in that moment cultivates confidence; trust.

And from this trust, we have a unique ability to point the pain to our Savior. Because there’s no amount of pain, human circumstance, or issue that has not already been healed through the blood of Jesus.

Selfless listening, Holy Spirit listening is powerful. When we actively and truly listen, we prove our love. Not just our love for the other individual, but our love for God. Click To Tweet

We try to fix those we love instead of allowing a safe space to exist and be heard. Helping others in pain requires us to listen through the Holy Spirit. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #listen #devotional #scripture #holyspirit #friendship #relationships

Romello Williams

cleansing, forgiveness, Oh Lord Help Us, spiritual growth, women of faith, Christian mentoring

Cleansing: The Lord Desires to Repair Us Physically and Spiritually

As temples of the Holy Spirit, we need the Lord’s full cleansing. We can stay clean by filling ourselves only with things that nourish our spirit.



If you’re like me, there are problems in your life that you have tried to ignore or tolerate for far too long. We can struggle along with these problems; we can limp through half-hearted attempts at a resolution. Often we ping and pong back and forth between hope and despair that our problems will ever fully be resolved. But if we’ll let Him, the Lord brings us to a point where we finally cry, “Mercy!” That is the point when we choose to face and deal with the problem once and for all. It’s a hard place. But it’s such an important place to get to. It’s where we relinquish our control over the problem and fully put it into God’s hands. Ultimately, it’s the place where we find His physical and spiritual cleansing.

As temples of the Holy Spirit, we need the Lord's full cleansing. We can stay clean by filling ourselves only with things that nourish our spirit. | Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Christian Mentoring | Scripture Study

The roots of the problem…

I’ve gotten to this place in my physical health, and the things I’m learning apply to my spiritual health as well. For years, I have struggled with stomach problems. The earliest roots of the problem wind their way back to my preteen and teenage years when I experienced an onslaught of emotional trauma. Over the course of my adolescence, my parents divorced; my dad died of a massive heart attack, and I bounced from one home to another, eventually living with six different foster families by the time I graduated high school.

Throughout all those emotionally unsettling years, my stomach was very upset. Seemingly out of nowhere, I became lactose intolerant; I had severe acid reflux and heartburn. And throughout the years, the problems gradually intensified. I was diagnosed with IBS. More and more foods began to bother me, causing severe abdominal cramping, skin rashes, headaches… You name the gastrointestinal symptom, I’ve had it. Now, before this post starts to sound like a script for all the possible side effects on your average pharmaceutical commercial, let’s take this analogy in a spiritual direction!

I need a cleansing…

I need an overhaul, a cleansing. I’m tired of limping through life, just coping with this problem that has plagued me for decades. And I’m not willing to settle for a partial solution, some band aid prescription that will just tame the symptoms temporarily. I want to get down to the root causes of what’s going on in my system and work to repair and heal all that I can. So, this the point where I turn it over to the Lord.

I know that He can help me to heal, and He’s provided everything I need to heal in His creation. It’s just a matter of my committing to the process and being unwilling to accept anything less that than a full recovery. As such, I’m beginning a six week dietary cleanse, a detox, a resetting of my gut, with the expected end of healing. So, here’s the spiritual tie in. Hopefully it provides some “food for thought.”

What we put into ourselves matters…

With food, when we’re hungry, we can reach for the cookies, or we can opt for a nutrient dense snack. And the effects in our body will reflect the choices we make. When it comes to our soul and spirit, what we feed ourselves matters too. In every moment, there are choices we can make. When I wake up, do I reach for my Bible and journal and get still before the Lord? Or do I grab for my cell phone with my calendar and my to do list? The first choice feeds my spirit with the fortification I will inevitably need throughout the day. The second choice fills me with stress and anxiety over all that I need to accomplish.

When I have a brief span of peace and quiet in the afternoon, do I intentionally reach for an inspirational book or encouraging blog post? Or do I absentmindedly scroll through social media, comparing my life to everyone else’s and feeling like I don’t measure up? When I’m tired at the end of a long day, do I reach for the remote and binge watch some reality tv show where other people are pursuing their creative dreams? Or do I work on a song I’m writing or watch a sermon from a speaker or pastor I like? All of these little choices matter because they have immediate and cumulative effects in my mind, my soul, and my spirit. What am I feeding my spirit?

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV

Filling my temple…

If I’m filling my temple full of worldly wisdom, carnal desires, and earthly comparison…I’m bringing things into the temple that are not holy and acceptable to the Lord. When I renew my mind with the Word of God, nourish my soul with uplifting music, and keep my mind on things above rather than on things below, I’m filling my temple with things that are life-giving. I’m building my temple up rather than tearing it down. And if what we put into ourselves matters, we know that what comes out will reflect what we have put in.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Luke 6:45, KJV

Removing the blockages…

I’ve learned something very interesting in my health journey: Even if I’m eating very healthy foods, if I still have underlying issues in my gut, I can’t even absorb the good nutrients that I’m trying to get from the healthy food I’m eating. So, until I fully heal my gut, no matter how healthy I’m trying to be, I will still suffer from the same symptoms.

The spiritual side of this coin looks very similar. Even if we are trying to put the right things into our spirit man, if we still have underlying sin–unforgiveness, resentment, anger, envy–the sermons from church and scriptures from the Bible can’t fully sink in. We must remove the blockages in our spirit that prevent the Truth from fully penetrating our heart.

Just as a detox diet or a cleanse is meant to clear out the garbage lingering in our physical system, when we realize we have unaddressed sin, we have to turn our temple over to the Lord for His complete cleansing. Click To Tweet

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9, KJV

Keeping the temple clean…

And once He has cleansed us, we have to be vigilant to keep our temples clean. So, when I finish this six week reset of my gut microbiome, the goal isn’t to then go out and gorge myself on all the junk food I’ve been craving. The point is to identify and eliminate the foods that hurt me and to only reintroduce the foods that are healthy and nourishing to my system.

And so it goes with our faith walk. We need to pay close attention to the things we’re watching, the relationships we’re maintaining, and the thoughts we’re thinking. If they have been toxic to our faith, we have to identify and eliminate the things that don’t serve us. And once we are fully cleansed, we are better equipped to handle the more difficult things in life because we’re approaching them with a clean heart. Let’s follow the Word’s prescription for the kind of pure, clean diet we need to feed our spirit:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Philippians 4:8, KJV

What kind of diet have you been feeding your spirit lately? Are there things that you need to be cleansed of?

As temples of the Holy Spirit, we need the Lord's full cleansing. We can stay clean by filling ourselves only with things that nourish our spirit. | Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Christian Mentoring | Scripture Study

Kumiko SHIMIZU

Heard: Embodying Godly Virtues While Speaking Truth

Everyone has an opinion, and not all opinions exist from truth. It can be difficult to embody Godly virtues while trying to be heard.



My 30th birthday is fast approaching. Yes, yes… I’ve heard it all… “You’re so young!” “You’re just a baby!” “Wait, what!? You’re not 30 yet?” I have been the subject of these phrases a lot, lately. At first I laughed, then I felt a bit fired up and defensive, but now I’m feeling encouraged!

Being perceived as “young” has a few negative connotations. Some have a hard time taking stock in what you say. Some categorize you into your “generation name” (I will spare my opinions on that). Some, just simply do not show much respect toward those younger.

My attitude about my age was encouraged when I read through the entire book of Job. Please do this if you haven’t in a while or ever. I also encourage you to switch between NIV and MSG versions, as both can help you understand the intense conversations between Job and his friends.

Encouraged reading Job? Job is depressing and what in the world does that have anything to do with age?

The back and forth between the three friends had me all sorts of confused! Rightfully so. These men were “old” and “wise”, right? Should I side with the friends? Should I side with Job? I had lost all sense of “hope”, then this fiery young fella, Elihu, rises up and lays in to them all! Who the heck is Elihu? He was not the subject of any Sunday school lessons. What makes him worthy of 6 chapters in the book of Job?

“You have my attention Elihu!”

Heard: Show Respect

Elihu is the youngest of the men gathered, and he acknowledges that fact first. He also makes it known that because of his youth, he has held his tongue while the old guys banter.

I’m a young man, and you are all old and experienced. That’s why I kept quiet and held back from joining the discussion.

Job 32:6, MSG

I hung on your words while you spoke, listened carefully to your arguments. While you searched for the right words, I was all ears.

Job 32:11, MSG

This is one of the best character traits we see in Elihu. He is the embodiment of respecting your elders. He showed respect, thus, his words were received. Elihu waited his turn; not interrupting those he did not side with. He did not belittle their opinions by making fun or laughing at them. He waited patiently, really listening to their words.

Heard: Confidence Through Truth

I kept thinking, ‘Experience will tell. The longer you live, the wiser you become. But I see I was wrong—it’s God’s Spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty One, that makes wise human insight possible.

Job 32:7-8, MSG

Elihu was not afraid to speak his feelings to his elders because he knew his words were true; truth, Spirit prompted from the innermost of his heart. The same should be true, when we write or speak against anyone’s personal opinions and feelings. We must make sure we do it from a position of knowledge. Whether it’s in God’s word, or extensive research on the matter. Above all, our argument should not be from a place of anger or animosity.

Everyone has an opinion, and not all opinions exist from truth. It can be difficult to embody Godly virtues while trying to be heard.

Heard: Be Reasonable

Elihu was extremely passionate about what he was saying. However, in the midst of the intensity, he was also reasonable.

My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know. The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Answer me then, if you can; stand up and argue your case before me. I am the same as you in God’s sight;

Job 33:3-6, NIV

He was reasonable enough to acknowledge that he was fired up, but that he should not be held in a higher regard than any other. Particularly, he recognized that his words were not his own, but from the Spirit of God.

 

Everyone has an opinion, and not all opinions exist from truth. It can be difficult to embody Godly virtues while trying to be heard.

Heard: All-Inclusive

Hear my words, you wise men; listen to me, you men of learning. For the ear tests words as the tongue tastes food. Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.

Job 34:2-4, NIV

I believe this is one of the most important characteristics to learn from Elihu. Elihu included everyone listening, in his argument. He truly invited all of the men to enter in to his speech. To learn, together, the power of God. Elihu spoke from the ground with the others, not from a lofty, high above pedestal. In other words, he spoke from a posture of equality, not from a know-it-all angle.

Heard: What God Speaks

When God finally spoke, he scolds Job, all three of his friends, but makes no mention of Elihu. I believe Elihu ushered in the Spirit of God while he was speaking. Although he was the youngest of the men, he was the most impactful. He spoke with passionate truth, humility, and love for God.

Elihu has me encouraged for the future. Yes, I may be the youngest of most of those I hang around, but I believe, if I can embody the characteristics of Elihu, I can make a lasting impact. How humbled I would be, if the Lord chose me to usher in his Spirit so those with closed hearts would hear and know His truth!

What about you? Have you ever heard of Elihu? Do you find these characteristics helpful when approaching an intense subject with differing opinions?


If you have found this inspiring, share the encouragement…

Above all, our argument should not be from a place of anger or animosity. Click To Tweet

Everyone has an opinion, and not all opinions exist from truth. It can be difficult to embody Godly virtues while trying to be heard.