Category: Devotionals

Deeper reflections that focus on God and preview posts that link to devotional blogs,

Is It Your Turn?

Is It Your Turn?

Is it Your Turn? A Devotional Post for The Glorious Table

I’m writing over at The Glorious Table today about Leadership. Here’s a preview:

 love January. For me, this is the time when hope bubbles up in every conversation. As the new year begins, we get to not only start a new page in our planners, we get to throw away the battered pages from the past year and open a brand-new calendar. Empty spaces on each day whisper of new opportunities.

Are you training a new business partner? Is it your turn to prepare the next generation for ministry? Is it time to start obeying that nudge and courageously step up and start leading somewhere? What’s holding you back?

There is something about the first page of a new planner that sparks hope for me. I believe strongly in fresh starts and new opportunities. Over the years, I’ve developed a conviction that one of the most generous gifts we can extend to each other is the space to use our spiritual gifts, strengths, talents, and skills in our individual passion areas.

It takes courage to pursue a fresh start with a ministry or step onto a new career path. Having a mentor to look to and learn from is invaluable. A mentor can help build our confidence as well as guide us with years of experience.

As important as it is for the less experienced person to have a mentor, it’s just as valuable for the mentor to invest in someone. Our time on earth will eventually end, but that doesn’t mean our ministry won’t go on. And our ministry will grow when we can train people to work alongside us rather than trying to manage everything ourselves. Read the rest over at The Glorious Table

One Word 2020: Pursue

One Word 2020: Pursue

One Word 2020 Pursue

I’ve participated in choosing One Word for several years now, and I have found that each year has challenged me to consider different aspects of my relationship with God and to take a deeper look at my choices with intentionality. Past words Growth, Still, Ready, and Inquire have created filters for the seasons that have helped to block out the white noise and keep my focus on God.

Each year I’ve used the process outlined by the oneword.org Pick a Word outline. And with prayer and a few weeks of intentional listening, the word would become clear. This year was different. In the planning for the Coaches’ Wives retreat in partnership with the Illini Land FCA we met to decide on programming direction.

Liz texted me and said “I feel like we need to name this retreat Pursue” and I knew in my gut she was right. The group chose Colossians 3:17 NASB which says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” as the theme verse, so Purse fit, but Liz was honing in on this word for more than one reason. Colossians 3:17 is the last verse in a section of with the heading Put On the New Self even though these headings were added much later, they summarize the sections well.

Colossians 3:1-17 is a call to righteous living. It begins this way “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”

Psalm 63:8 TPT

Our retreat will focus on encouraging coaches’ wives to courageously step into their full calling and to pursue living out their strengths, gifts, talents, and skills. Additionally, we will encourage wives to look to the Bible and learn from the Lord from other people’s stories.

Pursuing these disciplines isn’t a one-time thing. It’s sometimes daunting when we remember we will never finish learning about God. Our Creator is more complex than we can even begin to put into words. However, as we pursue understanding more of his character and heart we will naturally align ours with his and pursue the things that delights him. These are all good things and they will invite us to flourish in the totality of who God has created us to individually be.

As I reflected on the word Pursue and all the applications for the retreat I knew that this word was just as much for me as for the retreat. 2020 is going to be a busy year, the discipline of pursuing God to keep my soul close to his heart feels like the perfect focus for this season.

What Does This Look Like?

I think that we sometimes step into seasons expecting that since we are committing more intentional time focusing on God that things should somehow be easier. But, that’s not always the case. Not that this means life will be miserable, but I think we can consider stories like the Israelites in Joshua and the lives of the disciples and know that life will not automatically become filled with riches and glory. In fact, if you find yourself in the presence of someone demanding those things you need to walk away as quickly as possible. But that’s a side note.

In Joshua 1 Moses has just buried Moses at the top of Mt. Siani and Joshua is the new leader of the Israelites. They have wandered in the desert for 40 years and are ready to take the land they were promised by God.

God speaks directly to Joshua and says these words which are recorded in Joshua 1:1-11:

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide:  “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.  I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.  Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.  No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (emphasis mine)

Pursuing the Lord Begins with Listening

Joshua spent years in God’s presence watching and listening as he served Moses. He saw every miracle Moses performed at God’s direction. Still, when Joshua took command God began by telling him THREE times to be strong and courageous.

God knew what was ahead for the Israelites. He knew how hard the years ahead would be, but he also knew success was possible with obedience. That obedience would require the Israelites to take courageous steps of faith previous generations weren’t willing to take.

“Be careful to obey the law”, is the other thing God says to Joshua. We now live under the New Testament laws, which doesn’t cancel out all of the Old Testament laws, but Jesus’ death does allow us to live under a new covenant (Luke 22:20).

We aren’t only supposed to be careful to obey the law, we are to meditate on it daily. We should know God’s boundaries so well that when anyone twists God’s words for their benefit we identify it quickly and redirect our focus back to God.

Matthew 6:24 NIV says  “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” While someone may be tempted to take this verse legalistically and say point out that Jesus was only referring to money, the Exodus 20:3 begins lists the first of the ten commandments which is “You shall have no other gods before me.”

It is vital that as we pursue God we seek the truth even when it’s not the popular opinion. Joshua and Caleb were the only two who believed the Israelites could take the Promised Land the first time, had the other then spies listened the nation wouldn’t have wandered in the desert for forty years.

Mary’s Willingness for the Greater Good

Mary’s Willingness for the Greater Good

I’m writing over at The Glorious Table today! Here’s a preview

Every time I read about Mary’s conversation with the angel who was sent to tell her she was chosen to carry the Savior of humanity, I’m amazed. Her simple surrender in Luke 1:38, “I am the Lord’s servant . . . May your word to me be fulfilled,” transformed the world.

We don’t know if Mary understood the weight of the burden she would carry in the months to come, let alone the next three decades. All we know is she said yes, and Jesus entered the world as her son.

How is a strong faith like Mary’s—one wherein she was willing to surrender her body and life and the trajectory of her future to an unknown plan—formed? I imagine she spent hours praying and learning about God, strengthing her personal relationship with him.

From the very beginning, God invited man into relationship with him  (Genesis 1:26-29). It is through relationship that we establish and strengthen trust and faith. This is how God created us.

Our relationships with friends, family members, and our spouses require our time and attention. Friends don’t come to us out of the blue and ask us for advice. They get to know us, learn to trust our heart and our intentions, and when they believe we have their best interests at heart, they come to us and ask for our input in hard situations.

When we are dating someone, we don’t enter into a commitment immediately. We get to know them. We see how they treat their family members and friends. We observe how they respond in hard situations and what they do in their spare time. When we do commit, we trust they will stay faithful to us in marriage because over time their character has revealed that they are loyal and true.

Our children don’t automatically obey us the first time we tell them to do something. They learn to obey when we teach them through repetition. They understand that we love them, that we set boundaries to protect them because we love them. Even so, sometimes they will disobey our rules and injure themselves. Our loving response assures them that the relationship is still intact, regardless of the consequences of their disobedience.

Read the rest over at The Glorious Table

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