May 25, 2018

Psalm 121 – A Promise from God’s Word

Adventurous I’m not. But, God gave me a daughter who loves travel and adventure. I’ll never forget the day Lauren called to tell me she and her friends wanted to plan a multi-country tour through Asia, staying in hostels and other places this mama would not set foot.

How I wanted to join in on her joy and excitement, but I couldn’t. My mind immediately traveled to terrorist attacks. Scenes from the movie, Taken. Food poisoning. Plane crashes. Any of you mamas been there?

And, to add fuel to my fire, a week before her departure date, pain Lauren had been experiencing elevated to the point it necessitated a doctor visit. Her doctor sent her to a surgeon who told her she needed to have her gall bladder removed as soon as possible. Because of the months of planning invested in this trip, he gave her permission to travel and scheduled her surgery two days after her return. They prescribed medicine that would give her two days to fly back in the event of a gall bladder emergency. Not words an already fearful and nervous mama wanted to hear.

Fear consumed my heart. I turned to the only One I knew would bring me peace. God led me to His Word.

THIS word.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
   he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
   both now and forevermore.

God’s promise to me …

God will watch over Lauren’s coming and going.

Through this psalm, God reminded me of His character. He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Just as God did for Israel, He will do for Lauren. For centuries, God watched over the coming and going of His chosen people. He did the very same for Jesus and His disciples. I knew He was asking me to trust Him to do the same for my girl. Every plane flight. Every border crossing. Every train. Every hostel. Every meal. Every interaction. He would be there with her. I could trust Him.

Each day, I rehearsed His promises. I prayed them over Lauren and her friends.

Instead of crying out in fear, I called upon Him in faith.

I truly felt anxious for nothing because I prayed about everything.

I believed that HE was watching over her coming and going because He is El Roi, the God Who Sees.

He had His eye upon her. He had His eye on me.

He was near.

He was in control.

She was safe.

I pray this message speaks to your heart today. Maybe you’re sending a child off to college or a far away trip. Maybe you’re stepping into a new place in life. Maybe you or someone you love has received a diagnosis that terrifies you. Maybe you’re in a storm where the waves are crashing over you, overwhelming you. Maybe fear holds you captive.

Sweet friend, turn to your Abba Father. Turn to Psalm 121. Speak it. Pray it. Believe it. Rest in it.

Leave a comment today and share a promise that YOU cling to in times like this. Let’s fill this comment section with Scriptures that will bless and encourage us in these difficult, fearful, lonely, scary places.

Thanking God for each one of you today. May you know His love, presence and provision is the most sweet and intimate ways.

P.S. The winner of our last giveaway was Katria! Please check your email for more info.

Blessings,

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April 30, 2018

6 Steps to Studying God’s Word (plus a Giveaway)

I’ll never forget the first time someone taught me how to read God’s Word. Not just read it and move on, but read it and really hear God speak to me. It transformed how I read God’s Word. Not all in one day, of course, but over time. I thought I’d share that process with you today.

Let’s use Psalm 62:5-8 for our reading today:

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
    He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
    Pour out your heart to him,
    for God is our refuge (NLT).

Step One

PRAY and invite God into your time with Him … to open the eyes of your heart to receive what He wants to teach YOU as you open His living and active Word.

Step Two

READ the passage. Read it through a few times.

Step Three

LIST the facts … not details, not your thoughts … just the facts. Who is speaking? What is the subject? Where does the scene take place? When did it happen? Who are the characters? What is the author saying? Try not to paraphrase. Use actual words from the passage itself.

Application step for Psalm 62:5-8:

David is the author.

The subject is the character of God.

Wait quietly before God.

Our hope is in God.

God is our rock. Our salvation.

Victory and honor come from God.

God is our refuge. Our rock.

Pour out our hearts to God.

***This is an example. Your list may not look like mine, and that’s okay.

Step Four

ASK what the verse/passage means. Go back to your facts and look for the spiritual lesson or principle the author conveys through the facts. There may be more than one. It’s more of a general lesson, not necessarily a personal application for you (that comes next). Is there a command to obey? A promise to claim? A warning to heed? An example to follow or not to follow? What do the facts reveal about God’s people? About God’s character? About the culture? About Jesus or the Holy Spirit?

Application step for Psalm 62:5-8:

We need to be still before God and listen and wait.

We find hope in God’s many magnificent names. Rock. Salvation. Fortress. Refuge.

Because of God’s character, we will not be shaken. He is our safe place and protects us from the enemy.

Victory is found in God and God alone.

God wants us to pray and trust Him with our circumstances … fears, trials, doubts, worries.

***Again, this is my example. You may find other spiritual lessons. I’d love to hear yours in the comments.

Step Five

ASK what the verse/passage mean to you personally. Return to step three, take your statements and turn them into questions. What you hear may be for you or for a friend or family member. Sit with your questions and invite God to speak into your heart what HE has for you?

Application step for Psalm 62:5-8:

Do I take time to be still before God? If not, why not?

Where do I turn when I’m weary, overwhelmed, fearful?

Do I let my circumstances shake me to the core, or do I turn to and trust in God?

Where do I place my hope?

Do I know the names of God and what they mean?

Do I entrust God with my heart and my fears, trials and concerns? If not, to whom do I go and does that work for me?

Step Six

RESPOND to what you hear from God. You may not always have a response. Sometimes God is deepening your walk with Him by teaching you more about His character, His people, His history. There may not be a personal action step. But, oftentimes, God will have a personal response for you. He will invite you to take an action step. To put into practice what you have learned.

Application step for Psalm 62:5-8:

If you don’t hear anything, but you sense God is at work, write a prayer. Below is a combination of ways you can incorporate this passage into a prayer.

Heavenly Father, I know You are speaking to my heart, but I’m not quite clear on what You want me to do. Give me ears to hear and a heart to respond. Help me to be still more. Teach me more of Your names, what they teach me about You, and what they mean for me. I am overwhelmed, Lord, but I don’t want to be. I want to trust You more. Teach me how to do that. Direct my steps. My circumstances have me on unsteady ground. I’m afraid of the future. Lord, come to me. Settle me. Set my feet upon YOU, MY ROCK and my FORTRESS. Protect me from my enemy.”

And, if you hear God speaking directly into your circumstances, record the verse, date it and journal what you hear. Ask God to give you the courage to take the steps He is asking you to take or to have the faith to believe what He has told you.

Sweet friend, I pray this has been helpful.

GIVEAWAY – now closed – congrats Katria!

Since we studied several of God’s names today, I thought it would be fun to give away a copy of “I Know His Name,” my Bible study book that studies the names of God. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts on what you learned today. We’ll choose one winner from the comments (U.S. addresses only please).

And, if you have other ways to study God’s Word, please share. We would love to hear your thoughts!

If you are reading this in email, click here to comment on the blog.

P.S. Last week’s winner of the Enough bracelet from Sharon Jaynes is Joyce S.

Blessings to you,

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April 24, 2018

When Love Hurts (Guest Post)

Today, I’ve invited my friend Sharon Jaynes to share some encouragement from her new book, Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence. Sharon has the gift of storytelling. I absolutely love her books because she has the most amazing way of bringing biblical truths alive in ways that make them easier to understand. Whether she’s making me laugh or bringing me to tears, I learn much from Sharon. This devotional is one of my favorites because through her story she provides a practical process to follow when the evil one comes in hard and fast to steal, kill and destroy. Be sure to read through to the end, Sharon has a beautiful giveaway below that you won’t want to miss!

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Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence by Sharon Jaynes.

“Mommy, Mommy,” Steven cried. “Don’t let them hurt me!”

My son, Steven, was about 3 years old when he contracted a severe case of the flu. His slumped body snuggled listlessly like an old, worn rag doll.

When I carried him into the medical clinic, the doctor quickly diagnosed dehydration and immediately sent us to the hospital.

My heart ripped apart as the nurses strapped my little boy onto a table and began placing IVs in his tiny arms.

“Mommy, Mommy,” Steven cried. “Make them stop! They’re hurting me.”

“No, honey,” I tried to assure him. “They’re going to make you all better.”

“Mommy, help me!”

Steven cried. I cried. The nurses cried.

I could only imagine what was going through Steven’s little mind. Why are these people hurting me? Why doesn’t Mommy make them stop? She must not love me. She’s not protecting me. If she loved me she wouldn’t let them do this. She must not care about me.

Standing in the corner watching my little boy cry, I wondered if that’s how God feels when I’m going through a painful situation that’s for my ultimate good. I cried out, “God, why are You letting this happen? Don’t You love me? Don’t You care about what’s happening to me? Why don’t You make it stop?

It was a picture I wouldn’t soon forget.

I envisioned God speaking to me in my pain. You don’t understand the reason for the pain. You might think I’ve deserted you, but I will never leave you. You might think I don’t love you, but I love you to the height of heaven and the depth of the sea. You might think I don’t care about what’s happening to you, but I am orchestrating your days and care about every hair on your head. My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts. Yes, I do care about you and what’s happening to you. In the end, this will make you better.

C.S. Lewis, who watched his beloved wife die of cancer, put it this way: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Because God loves us, He desires our conformity more than our comfort. Allowing troubles, trials and pain is one way our loving God makes that so. No one likes getting stuck with a sharp needle, but if the needle brings healing or prevents greater suffering, it’s just what we need. Faith in Jesus Christ does not guarantee an easy life but a perfect eternity.

I don’t know what difficulties you’re facing today. It could be the toughest time of your life. But I do know that during tough times, the devil will tell you (falsely) God doesn’t love you, doesn’t care about you or isn’t doing anything to help you. Don’t listen to him. Satan is a liar—an opportunist who looks for vulnerable times to convince you to question God’s power, provision and promises.

Here’s my process when those lies wiggle their way into my thoughts:

Realize the enemy’s true identity: He’s the father of lies.

Recognize the lie: God doesn’t love me.

Reject the lie!

Replace the lie with truth: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

When we feel like a little kid, thinking our heavenly Father’s standing in the corner not doing anything, we can know He is. Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17b, NIV).

No matter what you’re facing today, remember this:

God loves you.
God is good.
God wants what’s best for you.
God is always at work on your behalf.
You can trust Him.

And that’s the truth.

Heavenly Father, sometimes life is just hard. I’ll be honest, sometimes I feel like You’re standing in the corner watching and not working. However, I know deep down that’s not true. Thank You for never leaving nor forsaking me. You always work for my good even when I can’t see it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Giveaway now closed. Congrats Joyce S., please check your email for details!

Share this post with 5 or more people, then leave a comment that says, “I did it!” We will randomly pick one comment to win an Enough bracelet made by the ladies of Fashion and Compassion. U.S. addresses only please. Winner will be announced on the blog on Monday, April 30.

If you are reading this in email, click HERE to join us on the blog.

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About the book

Do the voices in your head tell you that you are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or just not enough, period?  If so, it’s time to stop listening to the lies that sabotage your confidence and start embracing the truth of your true identity in Christ. Order Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence and receive 24 printable Truth cards FREE. Click here for details.

Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence by Sharon Jaynes.

Sharon Jaynes is an international speaker and best-selling author of 21 books. For those who know her best, she is a simple southern girl who loves sweet tea, warm beaches, and helping women live fully and free as a child of God and co-heir with Christ.

 

 

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This post previously appeared as a Proverbs 31 Ministries devotion.