“Do you know your spiritual gifts?” July 9

 

Do You Know Your Spiritual Gifts?

 

All believers receive spiritual gifts at the time of salvation. Do you know your spiritual gifts and are you using them for God’s glory?

 

Do you know your spiritual gifts?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 13 & 14
Psalm 81.1-5
Proverbs 20.22-23
Acts 15.22-41

 

Acts 15.22-41:

Different Gifts & Strengths

 

In Acts 15.37-41 Paul and Barnabas disagreed over whether or not to take John Mark with them on their second missionary journey—so much so that they split up and go two separate ways.

God gifts us all differently and sometimes we will disagree on things even in areas of ministry. I imagine Paul as being very practical. John Mark had deserted them on the previous journey and he wanted someone he knew would be dependable.

thumbs up

Barnabas, however, was an encourager. In fact, Barnabas was not his real name. His name was Joses, but he was such an encourager that the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas which means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4.36). God used their differences to further spread the gospel as two missionary teams went out with their different styles and callings.

All believers receive a spiritual gift or, perhaps, we might call it a gifting as it is often a blend of spiritual gifts in varying amounts (1 Pet. 4.10, 1 Cor. 12). We receive it at the time of our conversion. This spiritual gifting is unique to us and different from our natural talents, although they sometimes work together. Spiritual gifts are not given to make us look good or to use for our own spiritual gain, but for the benefit of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12.7).  Continue reading

“Parenting, Pruning & Praying for Our Nation” July 4

 

Happy 4th of July!!!

Happy 4th of July

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
Psalm 33.12

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions,and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.
1 Timothy 2.1-3

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 3 & 4
Psalm 79.5-10
Proverbs 20.10-12
Acts 12.1-25

 

Parenting, Pruning & Praying for Our Nation -

 

Parenting, Pruning & Praying for Our Nation


How do you view what is going on in our country? Do you believe God is chastising or pruning our nation or us as individuals? How are you responding? Are you praying or merely complaining?

And from our Proverbs reading, by what are your children known? Do you see tendencies that, if not dealt with biblically, will produce attitudes and actions that are not pleasing to God?

 

Proverbs 20.10-12:

Even a Child is Known by His Deeds

 

pouting child

Verse 11, “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.”

Jesus said you will know a tree by its fruit and Matthew Henry says, about this verse, “even a young tree by its first fruits, a child by his childish things.”

What sinful attitudes and behaviors do you see in your children?

We need to seek God and His wisdom about those tendencies. We cannot allow them to be selfish, to throw tantrums or to be cruel and unkind, thinking they will just outgrow it.  Continue reading

“1st National Bank of God & the Desires of Your Heart” July 3

 

1st National Bank of God & the Desires of Your Heart - Is prayer like going to the First National Bank of God? Do you have a blank check with God? Should you expect God to give you anything you want? If not, what does it mean that God gives you the desires of your heart?Is prayer like going to the First National Bank of God? Do you have a blank check with God? Should you expect God to give you anything you want? If not, what does it mean that God gives you the desires of your heart?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 1 & 2
Psalm 79.1-4
Proverbs 20.8-9
Acts 11.1-30

 

First National Bank of God & the Desires of Your Heart

 

2 Chronicles 1 & 2:

A Blank Check with God

 

2 Chronicles begins with the reign of Solomon. One of his first orders of business was to build the temple that his father David wanted to build.

1st National Bank of God & the Desires of Your Heart - Is prayer like going to the First National Bank of God? Do you have a blank check with God? Should you expect God to give you anything you want? If not, what does it mean that God gives you the desires of your heart?Also, in chapter 1 God appeared to him and said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” Wow! Can you imagine a blank check on the First National Bank of God? Of course, we know that Solomon asked for wisdom which God gave him in abundance to say the least! People came from far and wide to see and hear it for themselves! But because his prayer was for something pleasing to God, God blessed him with riches and honor, as well.

But what if Solomon’s request had contradicted God’s will? Would God still have answered? And is God bound to always answer our prayers?

In reality, as believers, we have the same “blank check” with God. John 15.7 says:

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

The question is, Continue reading

“4 Questions to Ask When Faced with Decisions” July 2

 

4 Questions to Ask When Faced with Decisions -

When you are faced with decisions, try asking yourself these four questions to help gain insight?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 28 & 29
Psalm 78.67-72
Proverbs 20.6-7
Acts 10.24-48

 

4 Questions to Ask When Faced with Decisions

 

1 Chronicles 28 & 29:

Decisions, Decisions … 

 

Chapter 28.19, “‘All this,’ said David, ‘the LORD made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans.'”

Did you notice what David said, “He made me understand in writing …” I’m an on-again off-again journaler, but I see tremendous value in keeping a spiritual journal. I’m not referring to a diary like we usually think of them and I’m not talking about a place to vent and, in effect, sin on paper. I’m talking about a place where we write out prayers, key verses or devotional thoughts and keep a record of our walk with God.

Another way to use a journal in conjunction with our devotional time is when seeking wisdom for a decision. Try writing out your questions and concerns and asking yourself four questions (these are adapted from The Heart of a Woman Who Prays: Drawing Near to the God Who Loves You by Elizabeth George):

Why would I do it?
Why would I not do it?
Why should I do it?
Why should I not do it?

The first two reveal our motives. For example, would I do it because someone else expects it or because of what people may think of me (fear of man, Prov. 29.25)? Would I not do it because of a fear of failure or a lack of trust in God?

The last two get to why God would have us do or not do something. For example, is there a commandment involved? Is God’s glory or my testimony at stake?

This can sometimes be a very helpful process, but we need to remember that something we write out, even in our quiet time, is not the same as God’s inspired Word in Scripture. It is, however, one way God can speak to our hearts and reveal His wisdom to us.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 78.67-72:

From Sheepfolds and Fishing Boats

 

Verses 70-71:

70 He also chose David His servant,
And took him from the sheepfolds;
71 From following the ewes that had young He brought him,
To shepherd Jacob His people,
And Israel His inheritance.

This reminded me of what Jesus told two fishermen, Peter and Andrew, in Matthew 4.19, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” God takes who we are and uses it for His glory!  Continue reading

“Is Prayer Your Last Resort?” June 16

 

Is Prayer Your Last Resort? - Are you a person of prayer? Do you pray at the first sign of a problem? Or do you first exhaust all your other options? Is prayer only a last resort?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 19, 20 & 21
Psalm 74.9-17
Proverbs 19.1-2
Acts 2.1-21

 

Is Prayer Your Last Resort?

 

2 Kings 19, 20 & 21:

 

What a great example Hezekiah was of how to respond when the odds seem stacked against us. Chapter 19, verses 14-19:

14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said. “O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, 18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. 19 Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone.

As I’ve mentioned before, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He still rises up on behalf of His people. But too often instead of going first to the Lord in prayer, we exhaust all our own solutions and go to Him as a last resort! I know I’m guilty.

Notice, too, Hezekiah’s prayer wasn’t focused primarily on himself, or even the people. Instead, he prayed that God would answer, “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone.”

When you pray is it all about you or is God’s glory the ultimate goal? I know I fall far short in this area.

While it’s not wrong to pray for relief from difficult circumstances, to be healed when we or our loved ones are sick, or for God to make it right when we’ve been wronged, we shouldn’t neglect to ask God to help us bring Him glory no matter what the outcome.

 

While it’s not wrong to pray for relief from difficult circumstances, to be healed when we or our loved ones are sick, or for God to make it right when we’ve been wronged, we shouldn’t neglect to ask God to help us bring Him glory no matter what the outcome. 

 

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

While Waiting on God

Psalm 74.9-17:

 

Waiting, Clock, Woman

Here the psalmist wonders aloud where God is and why He hasn’t answered. But he reminds himself of God’s mighty works in the past, as he continues to wait on Him.

Another great example for us of how to respond when God’s answer seems slow in coming. Instead of doubting His love and goodness, we should meditate on His attributes and allow the Word of God to strengthen our faith and trust in Him.


Avoiding Hasty Decisions

Proverbs 19.1-2:

 

Verse 2, “Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who hastens with his feet.”

Fools make hasty decisions, while the wise man seeks information and understanding.  Continue reading

“5 Reactions to the Claims of Christ” May 23

 

5 Reactions to the Claims of Christ - During Jesus' earthly ministry there were many different reactions to the claims of Christ. Some were convinced, some contrary, some confused, and others hostile. Not much has changed today. Where are you and what is your attitude toward Christ? Do you say you believe without putting "feet" to your faith? Do you believe He exists without trusting Him personally? Are you convinced He is who He said He was and live your live accordingly? Do questions about other religions or science confuse you? Or do you believe something else? Even as professing believers we can fall into some of these attitudes. We can trust God for our salvation, but be contrary about obedience in certain areas or refuse to trust the Bible wholeheartedly. Or we can be confused because He isn't working in our lives the way we want. We can believe He isn't answering our prayers. Could it be that we have a wrong understanding about God and how He works in our lives? I hope you'll read today's post and evaluate where you are.During Jesus’ earthly ministry there were many different reactions to the claims of Christ. Some were convinced, some contrary, some confused, and others hostile. Not much has changed today.

Where are you and what is your attitude toward Christ? Do you say you believe without putting “feet” to your faith? Do you believe He exists without trusting Him personally? Are you convinced He is who He said He was and live your live accordingly? Do questions about other religions or science confuse you? Or do you believe something else?

Even as professing believers we can fall into some of these attitudes. We can trust God for our salvation, but be contrary about obedience in certain areas or refuse to trust the Bible wholeheartedly. Or we can be confused because He isn’t working in our lives the way we want. We can believe He isn’t answering our prayers. Could it be that we have a wrong understanding about God and how He works in our lives? I hope you’ll read today’s post and evaluate where you are.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 17 & 18
Psalm 66.16-20
Proverbs 16.31-32
John 7.28-53

 

5 Reactions to the Claims of Christ

 

John 7.28-53:

Where are you?

 

John MacArthur points out in his Daily Bible that this passage “catalogues the different reactions of people to Jesus’ claims.” We still see the same categories today.

First, those who are “convinced” of the truthfulness of His claims—faithful believers.

Verses 40-41a, “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, ‘Truly this is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.'”

Part of the meaning of the words “faith” and “faithful” includes the idea of “unquestioning belief or loyalty.” The convinced are loyal to Christ.

doubt questioningSecond, the “contrary,” those who find something wrong with everything.

Verses 41b-42, “But some said, ‘Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?'”

“Contrary” people are still around. “All the pastor wants is your money.” “Churches are full of hypocrites.” “The Bible was just written by a bunch of men.” And the list goes on.

Third, the “hostile,” we’ve all met them. They don’t just not believe or not agree with you, they are prepared to go on the attack where the things of God are concerned.

Verse 44, “Now some of them wanted to take Him …”

There is a move today in our country, and it’s growing stronger, to make speaking biblical truth a crime. There are those, for instance, who would love to see anyone who speaks out against homosexuality or abortion arrested for what they call hate crimes.

Fourth, are the “confused.”

Verses 45-46, “Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why have you not brought Him?’ The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this Man!'”

These men had been sent to arrest him, but when they went they didn’t know what to do because they saw something about him they didn’t understand. The Pharisees challenged them by saying, “Are you also deceived?”

Many people are confused today. They’ve seen just enough truth to think there might be something to it, but have not made the choice to believe. Often these people fear man more than God. They may be afraid to speak up or seek out the truth because of what people will think.

Proverbs 29.25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”

Or they’ve heard questions about other religions:

“Don’t all roads lead to God?”
“How could all those Muslims be wrong?”

Or tried to use human reasoning:

“How is it fair that an evil person could get saved on his deathbed?”
“How can the miracles in the Bible be true?”
“But science says …”
“Why would the Bible condemn someone who’s gay when they say they’re born that way?”

There is a fifth group, too, the “religious authorities,” we might call them the “religious establishment.” These people are often more concerned about maintaining their position and authority than in being a true follower of Christ or in seeking biblical truth. These people respond in the complete opposite way from John the Baptist, who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3.30).

Many in the religious establishment today are busy trying to stay “relevant.” For years some have ignored the first few chapters of Genesis in favor of a more “enlightened, scientific” view of creation. Others have “evolved” in their views about homosexuality and other politically incorrect issues. Still others refuse to discuss these subjects at all, preferring to teach more palatable things, some lifted out of context like false advertising claims.

Sadly, they can have a profound effect on others. They may put pressure on friends and family members not to leave their religious “tradition,” even though their church has actually left them and biblical truth.  Continue reading

“Why do you follow Jesus?” May 19

 

Why Do You Follow Jesus? - Recently I heard of someone who said he was willing to come to church to "see what God has to offer him." That's understandable for an unbeliever who is just beginning to explore the claims of Christ. But sadly, many professing believers seem to follow Him for much the same reason.Recently I heard of someone who said he was willing to come to church to “see what God has to offer him.” That’s understandable for an unbeliever who is just beginning to explore the claims of Christ. But sadly, many professing believers seem to follow Him for much the same reason.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 9 & 10
Psalm 65.1-8
Proverbs 16.20-21
John 6.1-21

 

Why do you follow Jesus?

 

John 6.1-21:

What’s in it for Me?

 

Verse 2, “Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.”

They didn’t follow Him because they saw their need for spiritual change, but for what He could do for them. Sadly, that hasn’t changed for many people.

God does bless those who love Him, but that should never be our primary motive for serving Him. We are to live our lives to please God out of our desire to bring glory and honor to His name, not with a what’s-in-it-for-me attitude.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Samuel 9 & 10:

Don’t Be Unequally Yoked

 

Chapters 9 & 10 give us a glimpse of David’s heart—first as he showed kindness to Mephibosheth as a way of honoring his covenant with Jonathan and in chapter 10 as he sent representatives to comfort Hanun at the time of his father’s death.

Sadly, David’s gesture toward Hanun was not only rejected, but met with ridicule by Hanun when he shamed and humiliated David’s ambassadors. Should we be surprised when our gestures of peace and kindness are met with rejection? Those in the world often find it hard to believe we don’t have ulterior motives, because of what’s in their own hearts.  Continue reading

Journal Prompts for your Prayer or Scripture Journaling

 

Journal Prompts for your Prayer or Scripture JournalingIn his book How to Keep a Spiritual Journal, Ron Klug said:

“I consider the time spent writing in my journal as Sabbath time – a time of rest and solitude, a time to come apart to be with God and to reflect on his Word, to search for his will, and to record the insights I receive. My journal has been the channel of many blessings” (p.17).

 

Journal Prompts for your Prayer or Scripture Journaling

 

Throughout the centuries, some of the greatest men and women of God have kept journals. But journaling isn’t just for spiritual giants. It’s for you and me.

If you find it hard to concentrate in your quiet time, a journal can help you focus on God and His Word.

Recording Scripture in a journal can help you remember and meditate on God’s promises.

If you have a desire to leave a record of your spiritual journey for your children or others, a journal is a great place to do so.

A journal can be a great place to capture ideas and pray for God’s timing and will.

It’s, also, a good place to record prayer lists, concerns and answers.

 

So What About You …

 

Do you keep a spiritual journal? Maybe you call it something else: a prayer journal, a Bible study notebook, or a Scripture journal.

Maybe you’ve thought about keeping a journal. You hear other people talk about it, but you think it would take too much time.

Maybe you hated writing in school and you can’t believe you’re even thinking about writing in a journal.

But a journal can be anything you want it to be. It can be handwritten or in an electronic format. Computers and tablets have dozens of apps and programs to fit every personality.

You can write a paragraph or a page, record a verse or a passage of Scripture, a prayer need or a prayer list. You can write everyday or only occasionally.

 

Here are Some Prompts to Try Out as You Journal or Experiment with Journal Keeping:

 

Start with the simple word “Yesterday …” then record the events of the day. At times this may lead into prayer for people or situations.

Continue reading

“The Christian Two-Step” May 12

 

Christian Two-Step - The Christian two-step: one step forward, two steps back. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.The Christian two-step: one step forward, two steps back. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 26 & 27
Psalm 60.6-12
Proverbs 16.4-5
John 2.1-25

 

The Christian Two-Step

 

1 Samuel 26 & 27:

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

 

In yesterday’s reading, Saul was repentant and had given up trying to kill David. But now in chapter 26 he’s at it again. David, on the other hand, in spite of God’s continuing faithfulness, started to believe the worse. Instead of being encouraged, he decided that sooner or later Saul will probably kill him. So he resorts to his own foolish solution, going into enemy territory where he knows Saul won’t go. But as the story unfolds we’ll see that this only leads to more problems. One step forward, two steps back.

Have you ever felt like that’s the story of your life? I know I have. We may know intellectually that God’s way is the right way, but when it goes against our feelings, feelings often win out. We could call it the Christian two-step!

We know Matthew 5.23-24 says we aren’t to hypocritically worship God, while we ignore unresolved issues with family and our brothers and sisters-in-Christ. But instead of seeking reconciliation, we avoid people, move to a different church, gossip, or pretend things are fine.

We know we’re playing with fire when we flirt with a co-worker or scan the internet for that old “friend,” but we’re so tired of feeling unappreciated and it seems so harmless, and besides, we think, “I can handle it!”

We’re heard our share of teaching about confronting a sinning brother or sister, but it’s just too hard! And besides, “Who am I to judge?”

We hear a good sermon on discipleship or prayer or growing in the Word and we decide, “I’m going to read my Bible more,” or “I’m going to spend more time praying,” or “I’m going to finish that Bible study I started.” Then the alarm goes off and another 30 minutes of sleep wins out.

One-step forward, two steps back.

 

Dancing to a New Beat

 

Like David, when the struggles keep coming or when we think we’ve failed God again, we’re often tempted to give up and think things will never change or we’re never going to get it.

But it doesn’t matter how many times we have fallen or how difficult the circumstances, Continue reading

“When You Let God Down” May 4

 

When You Let God Down - The Disciples still didn't get it! While Jesus was preparing Himself for the reality of the cross they were squabbling about their future positions in the kingdom, bragging about how they would never let Him down, and sleeping when He asked them to pray. Do you ever feel like you have let God down? You promised to never again fall into some old habit. You promised you'd be faithful to the end. Instead, you found yourself arguing with your husband, yelling at your kids, missing your quiet time, and giving up in discouragement.The Disciples still didn’t get it! While Jesus was preparing Himself for the reality of the cross they were squabbling about their future positions in the kingdom, bragging about how they would never let Him down, and sleeping when He asked them to pray.

Do you ever feel like you have let God down? You promised to never again fall into some old habit. You promised you’d be faithful to the end. Instead, you found yourself arguing with your husband, yelling at your kids, missing your quiet time, and giving up in discouragement.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 10 & 11
Psalm 55.16-23
Proverbs 15.18-20
Luke 22.24-46

 

When You Let God Down

 

Luke 22.24-46:

Squabbling, Bragging, & Sleeping

 

Do you ever feel you’ve messed up too badly for God to use you? Maybe it’s your “before Christ” past that haunts you. Maybe it’s something you did as a Christian. Sometimes it’s easier to accept God’s grace for those B.C. (before Christ) sins than those we commit as believers.

Here in Luke 22 as the events leading up to the crucifixion unfold, Jesus spends His last hours with His disciples. He has spent three years teaching and preparing them.

Yet now, with the reality of the cross looming, they were squabbling over their future positions in the kingdom (v. 24), bragging about how they would never let Him down (v. 33) and falling asleep when He asked them to pray (vv. 45-46). But just as He does with us when we fail, He lovingly corrected them, warned them of the dangers to come, and prayed for them that ultimately they would come out the other side.

 

Do you feel like you have let Him down? Run to Him not away from Him. Pray and ask for His forgiveness. Remember that He is praying for you and receive His forgiveness and help to change. It is for this that Christ died!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

1 Samuel 10 & 11:

By the Way … Bless Me!

 

prayer womanNow Israel has her king and God has confirmed His choice through military victory, but that doesn’t mean it was God’s best for the nation. I believe there are times when God allows political events to bring about His holy, just and righteous purposes. Often, if not always, those purposes include revealing the hearts of the people involved. The Israelites wanted to be like all the other nations. They didn’t want God to be their King. Instead, they wanted Him to bless their choice to live like everyone else.

How like us they were! Too often, instead of seeking God’s will in a given situation through prayer and wise counsel, we make our own choices and then, almost as an afterthought, we ask Him to bless our decision. I wonder how different things would be if we got on His agenda, instead of always expecting Him to come bless ours! Continue reading