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Devotions Godly Living Stepping into 1 Corinthians Truth in Trials

Abundant God + New Study

God is the God of abundance! He makes a way, even when there seems to be no way. Lately, I have felt empty. I am house confined right now. And, it’s hard. Some days my health allows me to open our window’s blinds to see things like sunshine, birds, and small children at play. Some days, it just doesn’t allow for that. Some days, I am too tired, nauseous, or tachycardiac to do even the simplest of things like – washing dishes or eating a small meal.

Even so, I am learning God is our God of abundance. A few days ago, I was able to sit with this passage and it gave me much needed encouragement!

O God, when you led your people out from Egypt, when you marched through the dry wasteland, the earth trembled, and the heavens poured down rain before you, the God of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. You sent abundant rain, O God, to refresh the weary land. There your people finally settled, and with a bountiful harvest, O God, you provided for your needy people (Psalm 68:7-10, NLT).

No matter what we have lost due to our choice to follow our Lord Jesus, or perhaps health, relationships, etc, God will replenish. He will not leave us, so we feel the weight of what used to be. He can {and will} fill it with something increasingly better – if we will allow for Him to.

As we draw near to Him, He continues to fill us up with His presence and strength!

In the world we live in, it can be too easy to begin comparing today to yesterday. Each day is a gift. Let’s allow God – our generous God – to show up and surprise us with His marvelous works!


Our Newest Study –

It can be hard to stay encouraged while dealing with chronic illness or other trials life throws our way. It can be harder to sit and read our Bible, with all the details swirling through our heads. This is why I wanted to start a new Bible study through Gracefully Overcoming on the book of 1 Corinthians. This first segment is 6 weeks long and takes us through the first three chapters.

I invite you to join us, as we step into 1 Corinthians starting Monday, October 1st. This weekend is when I will share our “cheat sheet”, so we know where we will be going each day.

This study, my goals are pretty simple:

  • Limit our daily verses to no more than four verses. This makes it easier for those with difficult lifestyles or chronic pain to join in the joy of our study.
  • Make this a Monday through Friday study. This gives us the weekend to get caught up if we find ourselves already behind by the end of the first week. {Anyone else find themselves in these messy spots?}
  • Each week, there will be a discussion question found over on the Facebook page. As well, as the daily threads.
  • Ideally, there will be a weekly blog post {Possibly Tuesday of each week}.

Featured image by Lÿvean Imedecis.

In Him,
Stacey

Categories
Walking Into The Light (Ephesians)

When Honesty Hurts {{Week 5}}

I invite you all to join me, as we kick off week 5 of our Walking Into The Light study! This study is very rich of God’s goodness, grace, and power. Actually, that brings me to today’s topic. I want to discuss something that we might want to overlook in one area or another.

Honesty.

God calls us to be honesty. So, I encouraged you to join me by reading Ephesians 4:25-28; Psalm 15:1-2. You can even get out your journal, to be reminder of any truths God might be stiring in your spirit {{still available on Amazon for $8. Link is at the end of today’s post to find out more//purchase a copy}}.

Digging In!

In both of these passages, we are reminded that…

God wants us to live out our lives with sincere hearts.

… But, sometimes, honesty is hard. Maybe, we are good with being honest in all areas of our lives – but that pesky little one. Perhaps, it is in your health circumstance, financial situation that you don’t talk about, or how you are doing emotionally as you move in this “hustle and bustle” workload you are carrying.

The Choice

For each of us, we face the choice – How do we remain honest and carry ourselves with a sincere heart, when it is hard to do so? When the fear overtakes us, the temptation to hide our sincere hearts is present. God sees our hearts and will reveal those areas to us. He knows our hearts. In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves.

As I went through my time of study this afternoon, the Holy Spirit used a fumbling moment to reveal to me a truth. A truth I needed to hear.

Knowing God’s Insight

In Jeremiah 32:27, we are reminded that God “is the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world.” In this place, He not only reminds us who He is. God says something else. Something impactful. “Is anything too hard for Me?”

You know, I forget how big my God is. I forget that He is bigger than that embarassing thing I don’t want anyone to know that I face.

While I wrestle to be completely honest with God, myself, and others, this is what He is calling me toward.

God is not inviting us to continue in the way of deception, but He is inviting us toward real life. Community with God and His people is built around honesty. How are we chooing to lead with sincere hearts? 

The Altar Call

Imagine this is the point of service where the altar call is given. This is a time to go and sit before the Lord our God. To sit in stillness, and just be real with God. We need to get honest with the Lord. Push past the tendency to lie or deceive others. Remember, the Church is one. Let’s push the filth of deception away from our midst, and choose to live with pure lives.

When we are honest with God, ourselves, and others, God is glorified!

Circumstances may not turn out, as we expect, but God will be glorified through our every word!

Walking Into The Light: A Six Week Scripture Writing Experience ((Shop Now!))
{{As part of the Amazon Associates program, my blog is given a small earning when you use the above link for any purchase made on their website}}

Categories
Spiritual Disciplines

Choosing Jesus: The Sabbath Truth

The Sabbath Truth

Our willingness to stop and participate in Sabbath, is a choice. It doesn’t depend on how much of my check-list I have accomplished by Thursday or Friday afternoon. The choice of celebrating Sabbath, is the same choice we make on Christmas – when we anxiously await the opportunity to open the gifts given to us by those we love.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, Sabbath is an absolute gift from our God and Creator. One to be adored by all creation.

The Truth

I don’t think we can fully understand the gift rest is. We have been given by God the opportunity to take one day of the week, and simply rest in our Creator.

Through opening the gift of Sabbath, we can

  • enjoy intimacy with our Creator
  • take time to spend with those we love
  • experience renewal on a physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental level

We don’t fight the benefits that accompany rest. We fight the compulsion to see how stretched thin we can become, as we live as though we have no limits.

Sabbath is the time to remember our Creator has no limitations, and He alone has provided all we need.

Sabbath is the gift to simply rest, and enjoy His Presence – knowing He will provide. We don’t have to fret that we are “running out of time” to get things done, because He is the Author of time.

As we take these moments to celebrate all God is and seek Him on an intimate level, we can rest assured He will provide.

Why

You and your family are to remember the Sabbath Day; set it apart, and keep it holy. You have six days to do all your work,  but the seventh day is to be different; it is the Sabbath of the Eternal your God. Keep it holy by not doing any work—not you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, or any outsiders living among you. – Exodus 20:8-10, VOICE

We are called by God to remember Sabbath, because of its rich blessings given to us. God knows us far better than we could ever know ourselves. We need to rest. We cannot function without adequate rest. By not resting, we hurt only ourselves (and those we love).

God has this wonderful gift to give us – the gift of rest. What is stopping us from enjoying His rest? Is what we have on a comparable scale to what God has in His hand to offer us, through Sabbath?

Benefits

There are a few benefits of keeping Sabbath.

It is personal. We have to make the decision to keep Sabbath. Otherwise, all the benefits slip through the cracks… and we won’t experience any of it. It is an earnest heartfelt decision.

We can experience God’s Presence. His holiness. His goodness. We want more in our lives. In order to “get more,” we need to take this time to be with One who is all we need!

Let it be set apart. Get out of your routine, and just be with your Savior Jesus! That’s all we have to do. He is beckoning us to “come away with Me.” There is no expectation. All we have to do is, being willing to come. God is more than willing to spend all of your Sabbath weekend to just be with you. One-on-one. You are all He seeks.

God wants to give us the vacation we deeply seek. We just keep refusing it… Our weeks turns into months, where we have decided… I am just too busy to rest. I have X, Y, and Z still on my to-do list. Do yourself a favor. Enter God’s rest. Let yourself rest in His Presence, because God has said “It is good. It is more than okay!”

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28, NIV).

Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).’

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His (Hebrews 4:9-10, NKJV).

Questions

Through the gift of Sabbath, let’s bask in His Presence and Sacrifice through the death, resurrection, and eternal life found in His Son Jesus Christ. That is our starting place for Sabbath. He is why we can rest. Joyfully, putting away our incomplete lists of tasks to be done.

How can we enter a deeper communion (intimacy) with our Savior this Sabbath?

Activities

Set aside one day to choose and worship God, while resting. It doesn’t have to be planned out. It is YOU choosing to meet with your Creator. In Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, they offer some helpful ideas for carrying out your day of Sabbath. I want to highlight a few…

  1. Have a Sabbath box of distracting items that don’t add to your Sabbath (cell phones, etc).
  2. Begin the night before, to recognize the day as a spiritual act of worship.
  3. Experience thanksgiving for the opportunity to rest your whole being, in Christ.
Categories
Spiritual Disciplines

Choosing Jesus: Gratitude

A-Thankful-Heart

After a few weeks hiatus, this is the week we return to our “Choosing Jesus” series. This is the second spiritual discipline in our Sabbath series, which is on gratitude. It is only nature that gratitude would proceed celebration. These two disciplines really go together.

While it is November, gratitude isn’t reserved for solely this time of year. We are called to be thankful – “delight[ing] in God and his good will” year long. Delighting in God, is described as “the heartbeat of thankfulness (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook).”

We all have been around others who are either incredibly thankful or a chronic complainer. We need to consider, which kind of person we want to be.

Do we want our hearts to be filled up with bitterness or God and thanksgiving for what He is doing?.

I have refused the gift of gratitude for most of my life. Even my adult life. God is showing me a different way – “the path of life (Ps. 16:11),” where we are given the opportunity to experience God’s Presence and the joy He offers to us. It’s not anything like this world could ever afford. God’s joy is real-and-long-lasting. Our circumstances may not vanish in an instance, but we will begin to realize that we can be happy despite our circumstances.

Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. ~ Henri Nouwen

As we endure our high and low days of life, we can choose to be thankful people. Even when circumstances unforeseen enter our lives, we have much to praise God for.

Why We Can Express Gratitude

We can express thanksgiving, because of our intimate relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. We can rejoice and express thanksgiving – because:

  1. God has not left us (see Deut. 31:6; Jn. 14:18).
  2. His joy is within our reach, through His Son Jesus (see Hebrews 12:1-2).
  3. Others around us, act as a spark to help us learn what gratitude looks like (see Prov. 27:17).

It’s about delighting in Him, not how good life seems to flow.

Its Benefits

There are several benefits of developing a thankful heart. Let me try and list a few, for us all, to meditate on this Sabbath.

  1. Pleasure: God is not the only One who gets pleasure from our spirit of gratitude. We are tremendously blessed, when a light switch in our spirit is turned on – and we go from “complainer” to “the thankful person” (see Neh. 8:10; Prov. 21:19).

    This is the Holy Spirit’s work on our lives (see Gal. 5:22-23) – and a result of the Romans 12:1-2 kind of transformation God wants to do in us.

  2. Promises: It doesn’t just give us pleasure. It helps us to get God’s prospective on things in our lives. We learn God means what He says, when He promises to take care of us – and strengthen us (see 2 Chron. 16:9).
  3. Perspective: We learn not to take circumstances at a face value, because God is working on our behalf. God is changing our hearts, as we make the choice to follow Him and resolve to let His joy become our own – despite our circumstances (see Col. 3:1-2).

Question

I love this question that is listed in the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook:

How has a grateful person affected your own vision of what matters in life? How has someone who lives out of bitterness affected your life?

Activity

Finally, we come to the one thing that will help us move toward a thankful heart. This is the place where we don’t just talk about gratitude, but choose to live it out.

Take time to focus on what kinds of things help you to give thanksgiving to God. Do you know anyone who reflects a truly thankful spirit who is firmly rooted in Christ Jesus? Focus on building into your daily life a thankful heart, and watch for ways that can flow out of you onto the community He has given you.

Categories
Spiritual Disciplines

Choosing Jesus: Celebration

Choose Jesus- Celebration

“God celebrates. He invented delight, joy, and celebration.”1

This week’s spiritual discipline is “celebration”. When was the last time you actually celebrated something God has done on your behalf? When we celebrate, we become infused with joy.

God’s kind of joy.

Why We Can Celebrate –

It is a known truth that we can have troubles in this life, yet are still able to experience joy and peace that God provides.2 So what is this joy and excitement? Why is it so important? There are a few reasons why we can celebrate. Want a few to dwell on?

  • He has given us life!3
  • He has been orchestrated all the days of our lives.4
  • Nothing escapes God’s attention, not even us.5
  • He has come to seek and to save the lost.6

This is a short, but meaningful list, and I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. Do you know that God is for you?7 This is why He has come. To redeem you. To be with you.8 This is the reason why we can celebrate. When we know why, we can really jump in and join God in His goodness and joy, by opening the door to an excited spirit that’s on fire for Him. When we choose to celebrate (joy, excitement, among other forms), we become closer to our Creator than we have ever been. It will build our faith and relationship with our Savior.

If we want to get closer to God, we need to start taking notice of His goodness and celebrate the work He is doing.

Its Benefits –

When we celebrate the truths found in God’s word, it will help us to draw closer to God and remember all the good things He has done for us. We will gain a spirit of celebration. Instead of a spirit of “woe-is-me”. The celebration doesn’t remove our circumstances. We will encounter things in our lives, hard things, but we need to remember the power of God – and just how mighty He is at work in our lives. We have so much to celebrate. Even David, as the king, just couldn’t contain his excitement for what God was doing in his midst.

“David danced before the Lord with all his might… So David and all the household of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.”9

We need this kind of joy. Where we can freely express our praise to the Father without fear or any concern for what others will do or say.10 We need to quit trying to swallow our deep desire to celebrate God’s work, and let the praises arise from our spirit. We need to remember the words of Apostle Paul, where God instructs to not grieve the Holy Spirit. It grieves the Holy Spirit when we are led to praise God, yet cease to give Him that authority in our lives.11

In Calhoun’s book, he notes that we need to “set [our] eyes on God as [we] celebrate, and forget how [we] look. God delights in all kinds of worship.”12 He’s right. We do need to place everything else aside, and make the spiritual discipline of celebration become a daily priority in our lives. Let’s celebrate what God is doing, like Moses and the Israelites did in Exodus 15!13

Question –

Where are you most prone to celebrate God? Alone? With others? In worship? In music? In nature?14

Activity –

I encourage you to spend time in your spiritual-high-place, and just enjoy God’s sweet presence. Notice how He floods your spirit with joy, despite how things may be playing out in your life. Just enjoy Him. Express your joy to Him, and begin to ask how you can live a life of celebration. Unafraid celebration.

If you are accustomed to hiding your celebration, begin asking why. How has others’ disapproval affected how you express yourself in worship to God? The people closest to us, can lack understanding when we show expressions of celebration towards God. In 2 Samuel 6, David and his wife faced a disagreement as the result of her criticism of how he worshiped God.15 May we wisely remember that David is known as “a man after God’s own heart.”16 This is the kind of worship that pleases God.

A heart that praises God in the city streets oblivious to whose watching, is a heart that will praise Him in the quiet areas of their lives as well. It is a heart that seeks Him above all other pursuits. May we become people who lead our hearts into a deeper trusting relationship with our Redeemer, as we receive a flood of His Spirit’s presence in our lives.


1 Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 27.
2 See John 16:33.
3 See Genesis 1:27.
4 See Job 14:5.
5 See Hebrews 4:13.
6 Luke 19:10, ESV.
7 See Romans 8:31.
8 See 2 Corinthians 6:16-18.
9 2 Samuel 6:14-15, NRSV.
10 See Galatians 1:10.
11 See Ephesians 4:30.
12 Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, 27.
13 See Exodus 15:1-21.
14 Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, 28.
15 See 2 Samuel 6:14-22.
16 See 1 Samuel 13:14.