Devotion, Inspirationals

Trust in the Lord

Sometimes I have to remember exactly what it means to trust.

I not only forget what trust really means, I forget what my part I play in a trusting relationship with God.

Trust is a verb. It’s an action. It means to place a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

Think on that.

Trust is firm.
Trust is a firm belief, a conviction.
Trust is a firm belief, a conviction, in God’s reliability, his quality of being dependable.
Trust is the conviction in God’s reliability, his quality of being dependable, His truth, what He says in fact and real.
Trust is the conviction in God’s reliability, in His words being fact and real, and in His ability, His possession of the means to do something.
Trust is the conviction in God’s reliability, in His truth, in Him possessing the means to do something, and in His strength, the ability to withstand great pressure or the power to move something heavy.
Trust is the conviction in God’s reliability, truth, ability, and strength.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. See His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.

Trust that He speaks the truth and has the ability.

Isaiah 40:31 (NLT) says, “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

Hold to the conviction that God possesses the power to move what is heavy in your life and that He will withstand the great pressure for you. He will give you the ability to get through it.

Isaiah 41:10 (NLT) Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Cling to the conviction in God’s reliability, truth, ability, and strength.

God is the One Who makes me to be strong.
God is the One Who makes me to soar.
God is the One Who makes me to run.
God is the One Who makes me to walk.
God is the One Who gives me courage.
God is the One Who helps me.
God is the One Who who makes me victorious.
God is the One Who shows me the path.

I seek Him in all I do.
I trust Him with all my heart.

God’s hands are on the circumstance.
My eyes are on God.

Trust mean removing my eyes from what’s before me and placing them on God, and God only, resting assured He’s got me.

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Devotion, Inspirationals

Just call me Talitha Cumi

The tiniest, most insignificant word can change the perception of and insight into scripture.

 

Take for instance Mark 5:35-42 (cf Luke 8:49-55) the narrative of Jarius, the leader of the synagogue, coming to Jesus for help because his daughter was dying. While Jarius is making his request, he is told that his daughter is dead and nothing can be done.

Enter Jesus.

This is the point where we all get excited! We know something mind-blowing is going to happen when Jesus arrives on the scene, and of course, the narrative doesn’t disappoint. Among mocking laughter, Jesus raises Jarius’s daughter from the dead.  Who’s laughing now?

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This portion of scripture is a wonderful example of how we should trust in Jesus no matter the dire circumstances nor the scoffers surrounding us, but those are not the only mind-blowing, perspective changing lessons to learn here.

Look closely at verse 41 and 42:

“Then [Jesus] took the [girl] by the hand, and said to her, ‘Tabitha cumi,’ which is translated ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Immediately the girl arose and walked[.]”

Look at Jesus’s command to Jarius’s daughter more closely.

Talitha (Tal-ee-tha) means young girl in Aramaic.

Cumi (Coo-mee) is the Aramaic command to rise!

Jesus is literally saying, “Young girl, rise!” Because Jesus doesn’t specify where she is rising from or rising to, we may add the metaphorical (or figurative) interpretation which opens to far-reaching implications.

There are the literal interpretations to rise from the bed, from sleep, or even to rise to a standing position which have many interpretations when read figuratively; however, metaphorically, Jesus is also commanding her to rise from the grasp of death, rise to a new day, rise to new life!

Jesus is holding the girls hand when he commands her to rise. In essence, Jesus is saying “Little girl, get up! Death has no hold on you, for LIFE has your hand!” And she responds immediately. Immediately. She has to! Just as Jesus commanded “Peace, be still” and the water obeyed, Jarius’s daughter had to rise. She had no choice, for when Jesus took her by the hand there was no more room for death. She had to come alive!

When the hand of Life itself touches you, you must come alive!

I have no parents to weep over me, but I can take these words and remind myself exactly Who is by my side and Who holds my hand! I can hear Jesus command me, “Talitha, rise! Death has no hold on you. Where My Spirit is, there is freedom. You are saved by My blood, empowered by my Spirit, and guided and held by My hand – the very hand of Life! Get up!”

That is my command – to rise!

That is your command – to rise!

If death cannot hold us in the ground, it certainly can’t lay claim to us while we are walking in the land of the living.  That means we am more than our circumstances. We am more than our mistakes. We am more than our consequences because the very Breath of Life is not only holding our hands, but is also LIVING in us!

Whoop! Let’s have a Holy Ghost party up in here!

My friend, the life giving hand of Jesus isn’t just for Jarius’s daughter, and it isn’t just for me. Jesus’s life-giving hand is for you!

You are a child of the King of Kings. That means your are a daughter (Talitha) or son (Taley) to the Most High God. Whatever death has laid claim to in your life, let Jesus touch it and then RISE! Stand up! Begin living victoriously in your new life as a child of the King! You can life isn’t directed by your circumstances. Your identity isn’t found in your mistakes. You are not held down by the consequences of bad decisions because the One Who breathes Life is not lonely holding your hand, He is LIVING in you!

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Hymns, Surrendering

Surrendering All

I want to feel peace in my soul again.

I woke  at 3 a.m. this morning worrying about things that were out of my control. I tried dismissing them, telling myself that there was nothing to be done,  but I couldn’t go back to sleep. I grabbed my phone, slipped in my earbuds, and started listening to Ascend The Hill’s CD “Hymns: Take The World, But Give Me Jesus”.

Their remix of Judson W. Van DeVenter’s hymn “I Surrender All” (1896) pierced my heart. I kept pushing repeat, singing and professing the lyrics, until I had fallen asleep.

Waking this morning I was singing the chorus:

I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

Later in the day, I had a chance to look up the lyrics, and I realized the stanzas of the hymn echo the process of surrendering one’s life wholly to Christ.

1. Professing one’s love for Christ and giving everything over to Him.

All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

Even as I say these words, I know from experience that it will be a daily struggle to “freely give” all to Him. Endeavoring to live in His presence daily – reading, praying, singing – will help me let go of the stuff I don’t have control over anyway in order for Jesus to transform me.

2. I will have to take action.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

Walking away from the things that keep me from experiencing the presence of God is a choice I will have to make. These “things” are different for everyone. Those things that I choose to place over my time with God will either have to be forsaken or re-prioritized.

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3. I will have to claim Him as much as He claims me.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

Relationships require each party to give and take. Jesus gives Himself freely to me, holding nothing back. To walk freely in the Holy Spirit, I must reciprocate by giving all of myself to Jesus. If I want Him to make me entirely His, I must be willing to discard what He asks of me, so we can be truly belong to each others.
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Inspirationals

Lord of All

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Inspirationals

Preparation

Shortly after I became a follower of Christ, I had this unimaginable urgency to become prepared. During devotions, worship, Sunday school, morning service, and Wednesday service, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to become prepared. At the time I wasn’t sure what that exactly meant, and when I talked to my small group of trusted mature Christians they told me to keep seeking a more specific answer from the Lord.

That wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to know exactly what I was preparing for, so I could prepare properly.  Was I preparing for ministry? preparing for more children? preparing for financial hardship? I just wanted to know, so I could actually do the right kind of preparation.

God never told me, so I started reading my Word. 2 Timothy 4:2 tells us to “be prepared in season and out of season,” so I figured if God had the answers to every problem, then I needed to know the answers in order to be prepared for the problem. I dug into my Bible study, and over the last twenty years, I have filled up more notebooks than I can count.

What studying the Bible did for me is show me that Jesus can be trusted, the Holy Spirit will direct in the moment, and God loves me more than I can fathom.

When faced with troubling times, I could rely on what I knew of God through what I had read in the Bible. When finding out we couldn’t have children, I could rely on Psalm 37:4 which says that if I “delight myself in Lord, He will give me the desires of my heart.” So that is what I did. I delighted in Him. I gave myself totally to Him, and He directed my husband and I to an adoption agency that was perfect for us. Through adoption, two beautiful children were added to our family. It took nine years, but He was faithful.

The Holy Spirit directed us in the moment.

When my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, I meditated on Philippians 4:6-8 for six straight months. Whenever I felt “anxious about anything,” I poured out my heart to Jesus in prayer, making sure I thanked him for all the wonderful things about my mother and vocalizing my requests, and without fail God’s peace, which I cannot explain, calmed the anxious voices in my head and the nervous flutters in my stomach, setting my heart and mind under His protective care. Then I set out not only to think on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – excellent and praiseworthy,” but to speak about them also.

My mother passed away, but I knew I was going to be okay.  God loves me more than I can fathom.

When we found enlarged lymph nodes in my son’s neck, I prayed Matthew 18:18 over him like I was going into battle. I was binding sickness and decease, and in its place I was releasing health wellness. I reminded myself hourly that “God did not give [me] a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).  Over time and while monitored by his pediatrician, the lymph nodes decreased to normal size.

Jesus can be trusted. The Holy Spirit directs in the moment. God loves me more than I can fathom.

Daily reading and mediation of scripture, routine and purposeful memorization of scripture, and application of that scripture to my daily walk prepared me for those hard times. Each troubling time taught me to rely on the truth of Jesus which prepared me for the next troubling time. It taught me how to persevere. It built my character.

The strength that I now find in my relationship with the Lord was prepared over time. All of that preparation allows me to walk through my current trial, the one that is shaking my marriage to its core.

Which brings me full circle. Twenty years ago, the Lord told me to prepare because the enemy of my soul “comes to steal and kill and destroy.” He is trying to get me to give up on God, give up on Jesus, and stop listening to the Holy Spirit. Had I not dug into the Word of God, I would have given up. Because I did dig, and memorize, and persevere, I know that Jesus came to “give me life and life more abundantly” (John 10:10).

I am prepared.

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Inspirationals

Something Beats Nothing Every Time!

I can talk myself out of anything. I have almost zero will power when it comes to things that are good for me. I constantly tell myself I can do it later, and then, of course, it never gets done. That’s why I adopted the motto “Some beats none every time.”

Washing some of the dishes is better than washing none of the dishes.

Doing some house cleaning is better than doing none of the house cleaning.

Completing some of my workout is better than completing none of it.

Writing some of a blog post is better than writing none of it!

I might sound a tad pathetic and sound it might sound like I have a slacker attitude; however, according to God’s economy of gifts, talents, and work, “some beats none every time” actually works.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus offers the parable of the talents to explain just how God’s economy of gifts, talents, and work, well, works.

Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait right here.

Your back! Before I begin, we need to look at context which actually starts in Chapter 24.

In chapter 24 of Matthew, Jesus and His disciples are leaving the temple and chatting about the temple buildings. Jesus finds this as a perfect teaching opportunity. In Chapter 25 of Matthew, Jesus uses 3 parables to explain 1) the importance of being ready when Jesus returns, 2) being found responsible with what God has entrusted to you, and 3) being prepared to give an account of your life at the final judgement.  From this context, we can assume that the master represents God and the servants are those who profess to be believers.

This chapter is directed, point blank, at believers.

Anyone in an ongoing ministry, full time or volunteer, will say that one of the biggest problems is getting other believers to help. However, if believers would trust God’s economy instead of their own, there would be no shortage of workers!

Every believer is asked to something in the Kingdom.  So what is keeping many from participating? They don’t feel like they have anything to offer, or they scare themselves into thinking they will fail somehow.

What if Jesus has already told us that both of those fears are unfounded?

Look again at Matthew 25:15. Jesus says, the master “gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip” (emphasis added).

Here are a few amazing insights we gain from these two sentences:

  1. The master trusted all three of his servants regardless of their abilities. He gave the servant with the most abilities the most bags of silver, and the newbie with the least abilities received one bag. Although the last servant was inexperienced, the master still trusted him.
  2. The master knew each servant possessed the ability to do what was asked regardless of how each man felt about his own ability.  The master did not ask the servants to do anything they were not capable of doing. The master saw something in the third servant that the third servant didn’t see in himself – the ability to invest wisely.
  3. The master did not set an expectation for the servants. In this version of the parable, the master hands the servants bags and then leaves on his trip without further direction. One could argue that the master indeed set an expectation (see Luke 19:11-26); however, even in that version, the master only tells the servants to invest. He doesn’t tell them how much to gain.

The take away from these insights:

  1. Regardless of your abilities, God trusts you. He trusts you in proportion to your abilities.
  2. God sees something in you that you don’t see in yourself – the ability to help the Kingdom. Just because you can’t see it in yourself doesn’t mean it is not there.
  3. Many times we put undue pressure on ourselves that Jesus never intended. We scare ourselves into inaction.

The lack of a set expectation and the negative response to the last servant doing nothing (Matthew 25:24-30), leads to the moral of the parable is that something is better nothing every time. 

The point is that the lazy servant didn’t gain anything. The point is that the master wanted the man to invest, and he didn’t. The master wanted the man to make an effort – to TRY.

The master’s negative response to the lazy servant leads me to believe that failure as a result of even minimal effort is an option and is, therefore, a risk worth taking. I truly believe that had the servant TRIED to invest, even if he had come back with nothing, the master would have said “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.”  Why? Because he TRIED. He put forth an effort to invest and get more. (Side note: do I believe that if the man had invested the money he would have returned empty handed? No. I don’t believe he would because that’s not how God’s economy works. He would have gotten at the very least as much back as he had invested, not less.)

The point to that parable is that we try, we take the risk of failure instead of accepting failure before we start. Just TRY!

Do something because SOMETHING BEATS NOTHING EVERY TIME!

You don’t know where to start in ministry? Pick something and do it. If it doesn’t fit, try something else, but try something!

Volunteer in the nursery on Sunday or Wednesday for one month.

Cut the grass around the church for a month.

Offer your labor (car care, plumbing, painting, tutoring, budgeting, etc.) to the elderly, single parent families, or financially strapped for free (by appointment of course).

Try something! Why? Because something beats nothing every time.

It’s God’s economy.

Let me know if you liked this post by clicking the like button. I am always interested in your insights, so please leave a comment, too!

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Devotion

Studying the Bible, Part 3

Let’s get this straight right off the bat: there is no right way to study the Bible. If you are opening the Bible, reading it, thinking (meditating) about it and trying to apply it all day, and then gaining some insight from a Bible teacher, study notes, etc., then you are on the right track.

Studying the Bible is about getting it into your mind, letting it sink into your heart, and allowing it to flow out of you. If you want to use books by others to help you until you feel a little more confident, then I encourage you to do so. However, I also encourage you to set aside all the study helps and delve into the Bible by yourself and let the Holy Spirit speak to you directly through the scriptures.

Howard Hendricks once said, “There is no jewel more precious than that which you have mined yourself.” 

As you mature in your faith, you will need more in-depth study of the Bible to explore concepts, ideas, and even words. The inductive approach is ideal for such times, and let’s face it, books are expensive.

The S.O.A.P. method of studying your Bible works well with the inductive approach because it prompts observation and application. (If you are looking for other ways of studying inductively, I recommend Kay Arthur’s How to Study Your Bible. It’s an oldie but a goodie.)

Tools:
a concordance or your Bible’s chain reference
notebook
writing utensil (you can use highlighters if you’re feeling fancy)

  1. Topical/Subject/Concept Study:
    A concept study give you a well-rounded understanding of what the the Word of God has to say concerning a specific subject, topic, or concept.

    For example, your pastor asks the congregation to participate in a corporate fast. This piques your interest, and you begin a concept study.  Using your concordance or your Bible’s subject index, find the first mention of fasting in the Bible. Read the entire chapter in which it is found to gain context and then start writing.

    Scripture:      Write down the scripture that jump out at you.
    Observation: Using the who, what, when, where, how approach, jot down what the Holy Spirit shows you in those scriptures.
    Who was fasting?
    For what were they fasting?
    When were they fasting (for how long)?
    Where was the fast taking place?
    How long were the people (or person) fasting?
    Application:  Make notes about how this passage answers your questions about fasting. How can you apply the new insights to your current fast?  How does this information fit with what you already know? How do you need to adjust what you think or believe about fasting?
    Prayer:

    Because you will not be able to read every portion of scripture pertaining to fasting in one sitting, meditate during the day on what you have learn. The next day, read the next place fasting appears in the Bible and apply the same S.O.A.P. method, synthesizing what you discover with your pre-knowledge and what you learned the previous day. Keep this up until you have worked your way through every instance of fasting found in the Bible.

  2. Character StudyCharacter studies, a close reading of a person in the Bible, are useful in gaining insight into the relational side of God.

    For example, during your daily reading in Numbers 25, you come across Phinehas the priest and are surprised to find it isn’t the same Phinehas the priest in 1 Samuel 2.  You are intrigued by Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, because he is quite different than Phinehas, the son of Eli, and want to know more about him.  You begin with the concordance or your Bible’s subject index, taking note of all the scriptures, chapters, and books where the character is mentioned in the Old and New Testaments. You begin your study with the first reference (Exodus 6), reading the entire chapter for context.

    Scripture: As you read, write down the scriptures references containing notable character traits of Phinehas the zealous priest. Who was in his lineage? How did he become a priest? Why was he considered zealous? What individual character traits did he show?
    Observation: Discuss in writing why these character traits are worthy of being noted. Why is it important for Phinehas to have such character traits? How did he develop these traits (make sure to back up your claims with evidence from the passage. Always be careful not to insert your ideas into the scripture)?
    Application: Note how the character traits of Phinehas gives you insight into your relationship with Jesus. What do you need to do in response to this new information?  How can you apply what you learned about this character to your life today?
    Prayer: Thank the Holy Spirit for showing you the new information, and ask Him to bring it back to your memory throughout the day when you need it most.

    You will not be able to read through all chapters in which Phinehas is mentioned, meditate throughout the day on the insight to the relational side of God you gained from this particular character. The next day, read the next chapter in which Phinehas appears, apply the SOAP method, and synthesize with what you learned the previous day, always finding ways to implement the insight into your relationship with God.

The key to studying the Bible is setting aside the time and making it a priority. Determine in your heart that you will never give it up that time for anything else. Studying your Bible isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. Jesus will meet you there each and every time. Guaranteed.

Questions and comments are always welcomed. I’d love to hear how this series has helped you.

 

 

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