How Stirring the Pot Will Make You A Ring Leader

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 12-13 GW; Acts 24 GW

Become a ring leader.

Tertullus, an attorney speaking to Felix, is accusing Paul of causing trouble.  Spreading the news of Jesus stirred the pot in Jewish tradition.  Steeped in over 600 laws, Jews couldn’t keep them without regular sacrifice and ritual. Paul, previously a religious leader, says their animal sacrifices are no longer necessary.  Jesus fulfilled the law once and for all on the cross.  No one likes having their world turned upside down, especially the Pharisees whose identity was in their position.

Following Jesus means choosing a new identity.  Instead of finding worth in things of the world, your worth is in who God says you are.  Life Community Church, a church plant near and dear to my heart, starts its service off with this reminder:

My Identity

I am a child of God.

Redeemed by Christ.

Loved, pursued, and chosen.

Equipped with the words of life.

Commissioned here and now.

Gifted by the Holy Spirit.

Forgiven and free.

Know your identity.

Understanding your identity leads to new life.  Once Paul understood what a relationship with Jesus means, he left his old lifestyle.  Instead of persecuting and killing Christ-followers, he uplifted and encouraged them.  Stirring the pot means challenging people to take steps of faith towards a new life grounded in the promises of Jesus.

 Recently, in a writing class I’m taking, we evaluated personal essays.  My submission was about “Pilot Pete,” a man whose faith impacted my life at a pivotal moment.  Because of my post, the class talked about God, which stirred the pot. Not everyone in the class believes in a higher power. Becoming a ring leader means talking about your relationship with Jesus to others.  You don’t have to know every scripture in the Bible to share with others what God does and is doing in your life.  All you have to do is tell the truth.  Tell others what God means to you and why.

Become a ring leader.  Give people something to think about today.  Share your God story with them.

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Lord, thank You for giving us a story.  Forgive us for not sharing Your works in our life more.  Give us opportunities today to stir the pot by telling our tale.  As we tell others about You, help them gain a new perspective about You and themselves.  Help us ground ourselves in our identity in Christ.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Who can you share your God story with today?

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.

How Serving Where You Are Will Make You Fulfill God’s Will for Your Life

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 11 GW; Acts 23 GW

Love where you live.

Nehemiah’s completion of the wall around Jerusalem meant people could come back and live in the city.  Casting lots is a way to discern God’s will.  Some people moved back; others didn’t.  God is intentional about where He places us.  Part of our purpose is because of our location.

In eighth grade, my history teacher was Mr. Stamler.  One assignment impacted my life more than any other during my public school years.  We traced our family history.  My family came from Ireland, through Staten Island, and settled in Pennsylvania.  I will never forget my teacher’s words when he reviewed my submission. 

“You never know where life will take you.”

Mr. Stamler is right.  God places us in families and locations so we can fulfill our life mission.  Wherever you are is part of your purpose.  Who God surrounds you with are the people He wants you to love for Him.  Whether in the city or country, we all have friends and family who need God’s love.  

Plant seeds of love.

Your garden is your neighborhood—acts of kindness breed love.  Taking care of your neighbor’s pet, bringing in the mail, keeping a watchful eye when they are away are opportunities to serve your neighbors.  Making a meal for someone who is in one of life’s valleys shares God’s love.  One way I plant seeds of love is through prayer, walking through my neighborhood, praying for those who live around me.  Wherever you are, God wants you to share His love.

Begin praying today for your neighborhood.  Ask God to illuminate ways you can plant seeds of love in your world.  No one else can do what you can do.  God placed you where you are for a purpose.  Spreading God’s love to the world around is a universal commandment.  No matter who they are, God loves them.  We’re to love them as well.

Love where you live.  Share God’s love with your neighbors.  Watch as your garden begins to grow.

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Lord, thank You for giving us purpose.  Forgive us for not noticing the people around us.  Help us today; love our neighbors well.  Give us a vision of how we can serve them for You.  In all things, the glory is Yours.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

Who in your neighborhood can you share God’s love with today?

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.

How “Getting Up” Will Make You Take the First Steps to Finding Purpose

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 10 GW; Acts 22 GW

Purpose requires movement.

When Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, the first thing God told him to do was “Get up! Go…”  Not until Paul made the journey to the city would he find out his next purpose.  So many times, we’re waiting for God’s will in our lives, but what we really must do is get moving.  Our purpose unfolds as we do the things we know to do. 

‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the one who has God’s approval, and to hear him speak to you. You will be his witness and will tell everyone what you have seen and heard.  What are you waiting for now? Get up! Be baptized, and have your sins washed away as you call on his name.’ (Acts 20: 14-16 GW)

Paul found his purpose when he went to Damascus.  After Ananias gives him his orders, once again, Paul must “Get up!”  God doesn’t reveal the next part of our journey until we complete the first part of the trip.  Once we’ve arrived at one destination, God gives us another.

Start walking.

When you meet Jesus, the journey is beginning.  From the womb to the tomb, God has your path marked for you.  But you only get to see the part in front of you, not the entire trip.  Curves in the road keep us from seeing too far ahead.  If we knew what was around the next bend, we might not take the journey.  Walking with God means trusting; He knows what’s coming, already preparing us for whatever it is.  

Whatever you are going through today is preparing you for tomorrow.  The actions God is calling you to take now, whether forgiving an offense, praying for an enemy, or trusting for provision, are readying you for the next curve in the road.  Nothing surprises God; He reveals your purpose as you follow Him.

Get up and go!  Do what you know to do.  God’s purpose unfolds as you follow Him.

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Lord, thank You for planning our paths for us.  Forgive us for not following You.  Help us stay on the journey as we take steps to follow You.  Give us clear direction for what You want us to do today.  Prepare us for what lies ahead.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What step does God want you to take today?

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.

How God’s Might Will Make You Awe Inspired

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 8-9 GW; Acts 21 GW

God is awesome.

Sunrise, sunset, God makes the world rotate.  However, He doesn’t take orders from us.  And God is clear; consequences to our actions are a reality.  

If you drink too much alcohol, you suffer a hangover.  Spending more money than you make causes debt.   Driving faster than the speed limit causes accidents and tickets.  We make choices that have consequences and cause pain. The decisions we make are our responsibility, not God’s.  When we suffer the outcomes of our actions, we blame God.  But God isn’t the villain; we are.

All my life, I’ve described the Bible as an instruction manual.  Within the book’s pages, God gives us directions on how to live.  When we begin to apply God’s principles to our lives, miraculous things start to happen.  However, we all have blind spots, areas we can’t see our disobedience.  Most of our hardships come from poor decisions on our part, not divine acts.  

Walk the walk.

God’s might becomes apparent when we start walking the walk.  When I began managing my finances according to Biblical principles, I became debt-free.  God didn’t send me a big check in the mail; instead, He taught me self-control day by day.  Learning how to handle money requires discipline.  God’s power in me gave me the tools I needed to make better decisions.  Promptings from God’s Spirit helped me recognize when I was heading in the wrong direction.

People tend to think God’s might come in big gestures, like parting the Red Sea or calming the storm.  And sometimes, God does do those things.  But most of the time, God’s power in our daily lives comes from small acts of obedience, choosing God’s path instead of our own.  Freedom comes in knowing you did God’s bidding, especially when it goes against our human nature and desires.

Just like the sunrises and sets, God’s might in our lives is daily.  Each breath we take is a gift from above.  Life itself is miraculous.  But we lose sight of God’s greatness because of our hardships, situations that are often of our own making.  

Walk the walk.  Discover God’s awesomeness. 

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Lord, thank You for Your daily presence in our lives.  Forgive us for blaming You for our poor choices.  Help us take responsibility for our actions.  As we do, give us the tools we need to become obedient to Your will for our lives.  Show us how awesome You indeed are as we follow You closely.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

Which poor decision are you blaming God for today?

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.

How Wolves Will Make You Cling to God

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 7 GW; Acts 20 GW

God protects from wolves.

Paul, preparing to leave for Jerusalem, is speaking to the spiritual leaders from Ephesus. Having completed his mission, Paul knows he’s not responsible for their spiritual growth. Paul taught them how to seek God; now, it’s their time to do so without him.  Unlike today, when Paul left Miletus, contact with the Ephesians became limited.  We send instantaneous texts to one another; they wrote letters whose delivery took days, weeks, and months.  Paul knew the wolves were ready to attack.

Nothing has changed; the moment we step into the world, the wolves are ready to attack.  Sometimes, I’m not off my knees before the devil sends an ambush.  One morning, not too long ago, I finished my Bible reading, barely closing the book; a dart from the enemy pierced my heart, sending me into tears.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)

God has your back.

The devil might prowl, but God protects.  Clinging to God’s promises will help you survive the skirmishes.  Our main difference today, we have instant access to the scriptures.  Instead of scrolls, we have phones.  Downloading Youversion’s free app is the simplest way to connect with God when you need Him.  Highlight God’s armor for easy access:

Put on the whole armor of God…the belt of truth…breastplate of righteousness…shoes for your feet…shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:11-18 ESV)

Wear the armor of God; the wolves can’t touch you.  When they begin their attack, you’ll instantly recognize it.  Sometimes, we don’t realize we’re in the line of fire.  But when we bury ourselves in Christ, we’re always protected.  

Prepare for the attacks; they never stop.  Clothe yourself in Christ.  Let God do the fighting for you.

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Lord, thank You for Your protection.  Forgive us for trying to fight the battle without You.  As the fiery darts attack us today, let our shields of faith protect us.  Help us put on Your armor today and every day.  Give us victory in the battle.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

How have the wolves attacked you lately?

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.

How Setting Priorities Will Make You Serve God Well

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 6 GW; Acts 19 GW; Psalms 59 GW

Priorities keep you on task.

Knowing what your purpose is helps you set priorities.  Nehemiah knew his job was rebuilding the wall.  After praying about the job, God paved the way for Nehemiah to do it.  One step at a time, God opened doors for Nehemiah, leading him to where we find him today; building an impenetrable wall around Jerusalem.  Because of his journey, Nehemiah knew he was in God’s will.  Therefore, when people tried to pull him away from his task, Nehemiah didn’t fall for their trickery.

Right now, I’m in the process of praying over next year.  Seeking God’s will for my life means spending time in prayer.  First I ask God what area He wants to develop in me.  Transparency is the word I felt impressed upon my spirit. Then I spend time in the scriptures, looking for a guiding verse:

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  (James 5:16 NIV) 

Become intentional.

Narrowing down my focus to one word allows me to become more intentional.  As a writer, transparency is necessary to tell the whole story.  However, uncovering our sinful nature isn’t easy for anyone.  But because I have a guiding word and scripture, as I move through next year, my challenge to myself is becoming more transparent in all situations.  When someone tries to get me off task, like they did Nehemiah, I know my priorities.  Understanding the project leads to serving God well.

Seek God’s will for your life through quiet reflection.  Ask Him what He wants to develop in you, then wait for an answer.  Once you feel convicted in your spirit about the direction God wants you to go, commit to it for 365 days.  Find a scripture to help guide you through the year.  Watch as God grows you in ways you never imagined.

Developing priorities help you serve God well.

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Lord, thank You for giving us divine tasks.  Forgive us for not seeking You first when we start a new journey.  As we come to You today, provide us with direction for our lives.  Help us know where You want us to go.  Give us the priorities You have for us; let us serve You well with them.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

What area of your life does God want to grow?

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.

How Fighting For Others Will Make You Utilize God’s Power

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 4-5 GW; Acts 18 GW

Tap into the source.

Surrounded by enemies, families stood prepared to defend their homes.  Rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem required sacrifice.  People opposed came prepared for battle.  Nehemiah, looking at God’s faithful servants, inspires them with his speech:

“Don’t be afraid of our enemies. Remember how great and awe-inspiring the Lord is. Fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” (Nehemiah 4:14 GW)

When preparing for battle, remember God’s power.  Before tapping into any other defense, tap into the ultimate Defender.  Our Hero doesn’t lose; God always wins.  When we utilize God’s strength, victory is ours.

Fight for your loved ones.  Whatever issues they are facing, battle for them in prayer.  Drop to your knees and connect with your Creator.  Ask God to do the heavy lifting.  Let Him know you’re available and willing to serve.  Pray for God to direct you in the brawl, showing you clearly what your role is.  

Confident, not Hesitant.

Tapping into God’s strength will make you confident.  Knowing God’s will for you gives you purpose and vision.  Understanding, God is in your corner creates security.  For me, praying “Confident, not Hesitant” reminds me of God’s power in my life.  When faced with a daunting divine task, knowing God is in my corner gives me courage.

We’ll do things for others we won’t do for ourselves.  When a friend’s granddaughter entered this world, she immediately quit smoking.  Her new grandbaby gave her a reason to stop the life-threatening habit.  Parents do things for their kids they wouldn’t otherwise do. Doing for others gives us reasons to do things we wouldn’t.

Access God’s power through prayer.  Seek His divine insight for the battle ahead.  Pray “Confident, not Hesitant,” knowing God has your back.

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Lord, thank You for Your mighty power.  Forgive us for not tapping into such an essential resource.  Today, as we fight for our loved ones, equip us for the battle.  Defend us to our enemies.  As we pray, “Confident, not Hesitant,” fill us with Your strength.  Let us march boldly into battle, knowing victory is Yours.  In all things, the glory is Yours.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Who needs you to battle for them today?

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.

How Praying For Others Will Make You Peaceful

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Psalms 122 GW; Nehemiah 3 GW; Acts 17 GW

Prayer brings peace.

When life throws me a curveball, prayer brings me peace.  While writing this devotional, Ron is beginning a long day of driving for work.  Days of travel for my husband are anxiety-ridden for me.  PTSD from my days on the road conjures all kinds of images in my head, none of them pleasant.

Acknowledging my fears and anxieties, seeking God in prayer, having others pray for me brings me God’s peace.  God is in control, not the devil; one thing is for sure, Satan always loses.

Whatever anxiety you are feeling for your loved ones, take it to God in prayer.  Ask God to clear the path for your family and friends, allowing for smooth journeys.   Seeking God’s divine intervention for your loved ones does bring His heavenly peace.

Calm, not Anxious.

“Calm, not Anxious” is my three-word prayer for days like today.  Simple, easy to remember, and practical, the mantra from “Three Word Prayers for Everyday Living” helps me quickly refocus on God. In all things, God is sovereign; He knows what the day holds.  God doesn’t want me anxious; He wants me to trust Him.

Connecting with God allows me to give Him my burdens.  God reminds me, He loves Ron more than I ever could.  I struggle to understand how God could love Ron more than me, but He does.  As God calms my spirit, I’m able to trust Him, knowing God is always with me, no matter what.

God is with you.  He understands your anxieties for your loved ones.  God doesn’t want you to worry; He wants you to pray.  Give Him your fears, ask God to take care of your loved ones.  Trust God to take care of those most precious to you.  Ask God to “Make it go well” for them, then allow His peace to flood your spirit.

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Lord, thank You for calming our anxious hearts.  Forgive us for thinking we know better than You.  As we move through our day, let Your peace reign in our Spirit.  Quickly answer when we pray, “Calm, not Anxious.”  Protect our loved ones, make it go well for them.  All glory is Yours.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

Who do you need to give to God today?

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.

How Fasting Will Make You Draw Closer to God

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 1-2 GW; Acts 16 GW; Psalms 66 GW

Fasting eliminates distractions.

Recently, I completed a ten-day fast of breakfast and lunch.  Like Nehemiah, a situation in life drove me to my knees.  Realizing I needed divine intervention, I began a fast to help me connect with God more profoundly.  Every hunger pang caused me to pray, drawing me closer to God, trusting Him to move in my circumstances.

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” (Joel 2:12 NIV)

Fasting helps align your heart with God’s.  Heartbreaking situations appear hopeless.  By bringing God into the situation, hope comes with Him.  Nothing is impossible for God, but if we don’t seek Him, we can’t tap into His power.  Fasting helps us access the source faster.

One of my regular activities is backing up my writing.  My laptop has two different USB ports, 2.0 and 3.0.  If I plug the memory key into the 3.0 port, information transfers faster than the 2.0.  Fasting is the same concept.  Praying plugs us into God’s power, but fasting speeds up the connection between our heart and God’s.  Our hunger pangs intensify the conversation.

Speed up the connection.

During a time of prayer and fasting, by eliminating distractions, we connect more intimately with God.  Often, the prayer language consists of heart-wrenching groans and sighs.  Typically, the depth of our emotions makes words difficult.  But the connection with God doesn’t need words; He speaks the language of the heart.

Fasting food is one option.  Giving up social media, television, or anything you feel gets in the way of your relationship with God will help you connect faster.  Eliminating the thing that is distracting you most from God will help you draw closer to Him.  Pouring out your miseries to the Creator through intense prayer and fasting will develop an intimacy with Him as you’ve never experienced.

Eliminate distractions through prayer.  Draw closer to God.  Allow Him to heal your broken heart.

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Lord, thank You for answering our call.  Forgive us for not turning to You sooner.  As we begin fasting and praying, soothe our spirit.  Give us your peace that surpasses all understanding as You do Your thing.  All glory to You.  IJNIP. Amen

Question for reflection

How has fasting impacted your life?

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.

How Jesus’ Kindness Will Make You Feel Welcome

2 minute read.

Daily Reading:  Amos 8-9 GW; Acts 15 GW

Jesus is kind.

Judaizers, the name for Jewish Christians, believed Gentiles should follow the law of Moses.  The Jerusalem Council was the meeting held to address the issue.  Speaking to the council, Peter reminded them of God’s choice to offer the Holy Spirit to those who believed, Gentiles and Jews.  After Peter gives his speech, Barnabas and Paul share the miracles they’ve witnessed.  In the end, everyone concluded,  Jesus’s kindness offers salvation to everyone.

I remember, as a child visiting my Aunt Margie.  No matter what time of the day it was, she welcomed me with open arms.  Even now, I can feel her arms wrapping around me in an all-encompassing hug.  Never judging me, she always listened to whatever problem I had at the time—loving me, no matter what.  Her welcoming spirit drew me back to her home time and time again.

Jesus is welcoming you.

Jesus is the epitome of hospitality.  Arms outstretched, He’s waiting for you to come to Him.  Just like my aunt folded me into her arms, Jesus wants to do the same.  Nothing you have done or will ever do will stop Jesus from loving you.  Jesus’s message is simple, “Welcome home!”

One way people can learn about Jesus’s welcoming spirit is through us.  When we create delightful environments, people want to come to them.  Just like my aunt’s home was always a relaxing respite from my troubles, Jesus does the same.  Having a role model like my aunt helps me understand, Jesus is an even better host than her.  Where my aunt was imperfect, Jesus is perfect.  And He is the King of Hospitality.

“My Fathers house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”  (John 14:2 NIV)

Accept Jesus’ kindness.  Let Him welcome you into the family.  Feel Jesus’ arms wrap around you.

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Lord, thank You for creating a place for us in Your family.  Forgive us for turning away from You, time and time again.  Today, as we surrender our lives to You, let us feel Your presence in our life.  As we search for You, let us find You.  Help us accept Jesus’ gift.  IJNIP.  Amen

Question for reflection

How do you feel about Jesus’ love in your life?

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.