Are You In The Habit of Daily Bible Reading?

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Instead of focusing on one particular Scripture passage I want to talk, in general, about reading a daily devotion. In the past I wanted to read a chapter or a few verses every day, but life always seemed to get in the way. Weeks would go by and I wouldn’t open my Bible except on Sunday morning at church.

That all changed for me with a gift I received from my daughter this past Christmas. For something a little extra she gave me one of those desk calendars where each daily page has something written on it to think about that day. Well, the one she gave me has daily Bible verses. This was perfect for me.

I tried using the quarterly devotional booklets, but I’d read the verse, then read what the writer wrote about it. That was OK, however, I was not really digging into it deep enough.  With this new calendar I had my answer.

Every day starting January 1, 2017 I’ve read not only the verse on the calendar, but the whole chapter where it’s found. Since there is no one else’s interpretation of the passage written with the verse I can form my own. Before I read I pray, asking God to show me which verse or verses I should focus on that day. It’s not always the verse on the calendar that jumps out at me. I’ll read the chapter and then go back and re-read the verses that popped out. I’ve added an extra dimension to my daily reading. I write in a journal each day what the focused verses are telling me, personally. This has given me a whole new perspective to the daily reading.

There have been some days where nothing grabs me, but those days are extremely few. That’s OK. I’ve still read my Bible that day.

Since I began this daily journey, my relationship with the Lord has grown. I feel His presence more. I’m chatting with Him more throughout the day. And my detailed prayer time has blossomed.

If you want to develop the habit of daily Bible reading there are numerous resources out there to use as a trigger to get you into the habit. I just wanted to share with you today the resource that has helped me a lot.

Developing a heart-felt habit of reading Scripture daily will take a desire to want to do it. It’s not an easy habit to get into, but the initial effort it takes is worth it. After a while you will begin to feel uneasy if you don’t read your Bible each day. Daily Bible reading will change how you approach God. I have never felt closer to Him than I do now since traveling on this daily journey with Him.

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What Are You Waiting For?

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I am a procrastinator. In fact I procrastinated posting this devotional.  I wrote it last week but I’m just getting around to posting it today. I also procrastinate doing things that are out of my comfort zone. I will put things off until I absolutely have to do it or it’s convenient for me.

King Solomon gave us these words in Ecclesiastes 11:4,  “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.”

Solomon is talking about procrastination. We have the tendency to wait for the perfect time to do things, like share the Gospel with others. We might have someone in mind we want to share Christ with, but it never seems like the right time to do it.

If we are waiting for the perfect moment, forget it. We can tell ourselves all day, “I need to talk with him/her but now is not the right time.” There will never be a “right time”. We must do it now. There might not be another opportunity. We don’t want to wait until it’s too late.

Are you waiting to share the Gospel with someone who needs to hear it?  Or maybe you are seeking Christ and keep putting off asking someone about Him. DON’T PROCRASTINATE! Reach out now. Who knows, this may be the last chance you have.

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Are You Prepared For Your Toughest Battle?

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Two armies face each other for battle. One army has guns. The other army has tanks and bombs. Which army is going to win?

We are in a battle. We’re facing the army of Satan every day. Satan’s army has all sorts of fire power ; super-natural power we mere humans cannot defend against. 1 Peter 1:24 says, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers falls.”  If we are as fragile as grass and flowers how can we possibly stand up to the forces of Satan?  The answer is in 1 Peter 1:25, “but the Word of the Lord stands forever.”

In Ephesians 6 Paul lists the pieces of the armor God has given us. Then in verse 17 he states the only weapon we need, “Take the helmet of Salvation and THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD.”

Satan has no power over the Word of God. We have a mighty sword at our disposal. Nothing Satan throws at us is a match to the Word of the Lord. By giving us the Bible, God has given us the most powerful weapon to use in our battle. Satan has no comeback, no defense against the truth found in Scripture.

However, we must be trained to use this weapon. It won’t do us any good to just have the Bible in our hands. When we go up against Satan we have to know what’s in the Bible. We cannot be ignorant. The Word of God is the ultimate weapon. It is our job to learn how to use it.

How often do you read the Bible?  Have you committed any verses to memory? All of us will be attacked by Satan at many points in our lives. Now is a good time to dig into God’s Word on a regular basis so you are prepared to fight when Satan attacks.

 

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It’s Examination Time

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There is a verse in Lamentations that jumped out for me today. It’s Lamentations 3:40 – “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.”

I try to live my life the way Jesus wants me to, but I fall short. I live in my own little world, not thinking about the global picture. I’m a coward when it comes to telling someone face to face about Jesus. I’m afraid to be bold and stand up when my faith is threatened. I need to examine my ways and see where I can change.

I think this lack of boldness has effected Christians throughout the U.S. We have been silent and have sat back watching our nation slowly disintegrate. What’s happened to the Christian values this country was founded on? How long are we going to wait before we examine our ways and test them?

It is definitely time for us as individuals and as a nation to return to the Lord. God has never stopped loving us. He is faithful forever. But I’m sure we have made Him sad.

I, for one, don’t like knowing that I am causing God’s sadness. Instead He should be rejoicing over what His children are doing.

Are you willing to examine your ways and test them? Then what are you going to start doing differently to return to the Lord?

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Is Surrender Always A Negative Action?

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When we think of the word “surrender” we usually think of giving up to an enemy or have a feeling of defeat if we can’t do something the way it’s supposed to be done.

However, there is a time when surrendering is a positive action. It’s dealing with our relationship with God. In order for that relationship to grow and for us to be tuned in to God’s plan for us we first need to surrender ourselves to Him.

Look at the story of Jonah. God wanted Jonah to preach in Ninevah. But Jonah refused to go because the people of Ninevah were so evil. Instead he boarded a ship going in the opposite direction. A major storm began, threatening to tear the ship apart. The crew wondered why this was happening. Jonah realized God sent the storm because Jonah disobeyed. So Jonah told the men to throw him into the sea, which they did, and the storm stopped immediately. Jonah was then swallowed by a great fish and was inside it for three days. During that time Jonah surrendered himself to God. (see Jonah 2)

While in the fish Jonah prayed to God. At the end of his prayer he said, “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to You. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.”  Jonah 2:9

The fish spat Jonah out and he did go to Ninevah. Because of his preaching the people of Ninevah “turned from their evil ways” and cried out to God. (Jonah 3)

Surrendering to God is not admitting defeat in a negative way. It’s the beginning of a new life with God, which is so much better than a life without Him.

Are you seeking something that’s missing from your life,but you don’t know what it is? Surrender to God. He is that “something” which is missing.

Do you know God but have strayed from Him? Surrender to Him and He’ll help you get back on the right track.

Is “surrender” a negative word? It’s not when you are surrendering to God, opening yourself up to a new relationship with Him.

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struggles-3The book of Job is one I don’t think we read often, but we should. Today I read chapter 12 and found some verses I really had not noticed before. Job was living a great life. He had everything he needed or wanted. Then one day Satan wanted to test Job to see if his faith in God was real and not just based on the good life. So God let Satan do his thing and Job lost everything, family, possessions, and his own health. His friends kept asking him, “What did you do so wrong for all this to happen?” The following verses are one of his replies.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”   Job 12:7-10

Many times we can’t make sense of things when we are hit with struggles and bad times. Like Job’s friends we ask “Why?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” We cannot find a reason.

But God has a reason. Maybe the situation is to make us stronger. Perhaps we’ve closed our eyes to something and God wants to open them again. Or maybe our relationship with Him has faded and He wants us to come back to Him.

Whatever the reason, we need to remember – GOD IS IN CONTROL. He definitely has a purpose in mind when He sends things our way, either joys or struggles. Stay close to Him. Lean on Him. Put your faith and trust in Him. God is faithful and He will get you through.

Back to Job’s story. Once Satan realized that he could not shake Job’s faith in God he stopped tormenting Job. Then God restored Job’s life even better than he had before.

Are you going through a struggle right now? Do things look hopeless? Get on your knees and cry out to God. He will hear you. The struggle probably won’t go away immediately, but you will realize you are not alone. God is holding your hand and will guide you through this time of turmoil. And when you reach the other side of it you will see the faithfulness of the Lord and sunshine will return in your life.

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I don’t know about you, but the last few weeks for me were full of busyness. Now it’s time to get back to normal. The fun Christmas gatherings with family and friends are history. The new year has begun. Decorations are put away (or soon will be). Now what?

One of the gifts I received from my daughter was a desk calendar. Each page has a different Scripture verse. I have decided to not only to read the verse each day, but to also read the entire chapter where the verse is found. Today’s verse is in Psalm 46, however when I read the whole Psalm another verse popped out for me.

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”   Psalm 46:10

We live hectic lives, but we need to take time to just be still and listen to what God has to say. Sometimes it might not feel like it, but God IS in control. And there will be a time when every knee will bow before Him.

Now that 2017 has begun it is a good time to look at your relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Maybe you don’t know Him yet, but are seeking. Maybe you already have a relationship with Him, but you want it to grow stronger. Be still and listen for His words to speak to you through the Holy Spirit.

I have put my new calendar on my coffee table right next to my computer so I won’t forget to stop and focus on God for a while each day.  I want 2017 to be the year my relationship with Him grows.

How about you?  Is this a good time to either begin or continue your journey with God?Think of some way you can set out reminders so that each day you will spend some time to be still and know God.

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peaceful-sleep

 

I am working on a study of the Psalms. Today I read Psalms 4.  Verse 8 struck me: “I will lie down and sleep in peace,  for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

There are many nights I go to bed but can’t sleep because my mind won’t shut off. Worries from the day, stuff for work that needs to be done, or Satan messing with my mind, all these things have hindered my sleep.

There is one episode in my life that Satan has brought back to me frequently as I’ve tried to sleep and that was when my mother died.  She was coming up the outside stairs to enter my home when she suddenly stopped and fell backwards down the steps. She died of a head injury when she hit the cement. Many times for years afterwards Satan would have me relive that experience in my mind when I was trying to sleep, planting guilt that I didn’t do enough to save her from falling. Even though the doctor told me she had a stroke at the top of the stairs causing her fall and there would have been nothing I could have done, Satan made me think I blew it and let my mom die.

Each time I’d get that vision in my head I prayed to God to make it vanish. Each time God answered my prayer and I was able to get a restful night’s sleep. God showed me that her death was not my fault and now Satan can no longer attack me with that vision.

What keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep?  What causes your mind to race when you just want it to empty into nothingness so you can fall asleep? Your issue might be that you can’t get work out of your mind or your day was so full of anxiety it seeps into the night time hours.  Whatever keeps your mind from shutting down bring it to God. While you are lying in bed open your heart and mind to Him. Ask Him to make the thoughts and anxieties vanish so you can sleep. He will answer you and provide the rest you need.

It is comforting to know we have a God who cares so much for us in even the little things like a giving us a good night’s sleep. We don’t have to suffer. God is always available to help.

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americawhatsgoingon

I realize not everyone is happy regarding the results of the election last week. But whether you voted for him or not, Donald Trump is our new President-elect. This is a time of transition for our country. It’s a time for us to become united and give Mr. Trump a chance.

Hove you forgotten who is really in control?  It’s not us. It’s not the politicians. It’s the Lord God Almighty.

These protests taking place are not doing anyone any good. In fact, property is being damaged and people are getting hurt. Why? Because you’re not happy with who won the election? I’m sorry to say this, but these actions are ridiculous and will not change anything.

The Apostle Paul has told us what to do it we disagree with each other. We’re not to fight. We’re not to cause other people harm or destroy property. Here is what we are supposed to do:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything in prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,  present your requests to God.”   Philippians 4:6

Tell God about your anger, your frustrations. Let Him deal with them. And be thankful that we live in a country that has free and open elections.

In every election there are those who get elections and those who don’t. I’ve voted in many presidential elections and I don’t remember any resulting in such turmoil as is happening now.

Instead of putting such violent focus on the election results, we need to focus on what God stands for.  “Finally, brothers (and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”    Philippians 4:8

Put your energy into practicing righteous actions “and the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:9b

Let’s unite, America. Let’s do what we can to make America great again. One man can’t do it alone. It will take all of us working together. It’s time to show the world that America is strong, that we are a country to be reckoned with, and that we are a country united “UNDER GOD”.

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We have a big election in two days. I’m not here to tell you who or who not to vote for. That alone is your decision to make. In a couple days a new President of the United States will be elected. I’ve heard many people say they are afraid for our country no matter which candidate wins. All we can do is exercise our right to vote. Then we live our lives the best we can no matter what changes are made at the various levels of government.

America is not the Christian country it once was. Christians have faded into the woodwork and have not truly spoken out as a group for years. Therefore, things have drastically changed. This country will definitely see change, on way or another, after this election. So where does that leave us?

David answered that question in Psalm 56:4 – “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”

Government leaders come and go. The one who is ultimately in charge, now and always, is the Lord God Almighty. Wile on this earth we need to live with the worldly rules and situations that befall us. We also have the responsibility to legally try to change things that don’t follow Christian values. But most of all we must stay focused on God. We may go through experiences that are uncomfortable for us, but as David said, “What can mortal man do to me?”

We have to live in this world and we may not like it, but we need to remember that God is in control of all things. We can’t trust the government officials to look out for our best interest. However, we can trust God because He only has our best interest in His mind and heart. Life might become tougher for us in America, but we have God’s promises that He will stand by us; He’ll give us the strength and courage we need; and we have a place with Him through Jesus Christ.

Be sure to vote. Don’t be afraid. No matter who wins, put your trust in God who is the final Authority.

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