DEVO

Quarterly Basics Devo | Transitions

 

2022 | THE FALL ISSUE
THE GOD OF TRANSITIONS!
When your words came, I ate them;
    they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.
Jeremiah 15:16
Hello there my friend,

I hope you are having a great start to Fall 2022!

For those of you who are new to The Basics With Beth, welcome! In today's Devo, I want to give you an update on what the Lord is up to at the BWB and I want to encourage you in the basics of your faith with a short exhortation on: "transition."
"TRANSITION"
A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT

Transition is an exciting and scary word, all at the same time! It implies movement from one thing to another. It describes a "not yet, but almost" season. Are you in "transition?"

For those of you who've had babies, you know all about transition. It's that time in the labor and delivery process when your body goes from active labor to intense labor with contractions on top of one another just prior to delivery! I remember going through "transition" as we delivered all four of our kids. It was the exhilarating feeling of "...here we go, the baby's almost here ... buckle up, hunker down, stay focused, there's no turning back now..." and also the temptation to say, "...I can't, this is too hard ... I want to quit ... get me out of this hospital and take me home now..."

In life, we all go through various seasons and loads of transitions. Both the exhilarating "Here we go" and the "I want to quit" seasons! Going from single to married, from married to parenting, from working to staying at home, from preschoolers to teenagers, from a house full of kids to an empty nest, from a small business or church to a growing one and from a full-time career to retirement. We face the old giving way to new, we face gains and losses -- and we ourselves are in the continual state of growth and transformation in Christ -- which is one transition of glory to the next! 
 
In other words, life is: transition!

The way we handle transition will determine the level of our joy and peace. If we despise and disdain transition, we will be moody, angry, aloof and living in our own pity party. If we embrace transition by faith, we will experience the peace that passes all understanding and the joy of expectation as we navigate challenging moments and ultimately the experience of life on the other side of transition.

In the past few years we have ALL faced a lot of transition!
How DID you do?
How ARE you doing?

Over the past year, my husband and I have faced numerous big and overlapping transitions. At the Lord's direction, we've been transitioning and passing the baton of Valley Family Church (the church we pioneered and have pastored for the past 30 years -- our life's work!) to the next generation of leaders - namely, our kids and staff. We sold our dream house in Michigan -- a lake house we prayed and believed God for, for 20 years -- a house we loved! With those proceeds, we purchased a smaller cottage on a nearby lake in Michigan and we built a new dream house in Florida. In the process of all of these moves, our beloved 8-year old tea cup poodle, Jonesie, passed away unexpectedly. We were devastated.
 
That's A LOT of transition within a short time frame.

Any one of those transitions could send someone over the edge, but by God's grace, we've had His peace and joy throughout the transition process. We aren't completely through all of these transitions quite yet; we still miss our sweet Jonesie, but we take one day at a time as we keep our eyes on Jesus and follow His lead.

One thing that has kept our spirits lifted up is listening to and singing these three worship songs. We have had these three songs on repeat...I hope you enjoy an oldie, a classic and a new one!

 
Of course, Jesus is our best example of navigating transition. He faced incredible seasons of transition. Leaving heaven as the God who created all things (John 1:1-3) and coming to the Earth in the form of a human baby (Hebrews 10:5-7) was a huge transition! Being the sinless, spotless, eternal God the Son who enjoyed fellowship with God the Father from eternity past (1 Peter 1:19) then sacrificing Himself to die on the cross for the sins of others (namely, you and I!) (1 Peter 3:18) and to be forsaken by His Father was a massive transition.
 
How did Jesus navigate transition? With joy!

He look ahead. He had an eternal perspective. He saw the invisible. He believed the impossible. He focused on the joy set before Him. He knew if He could get through the painful seasons of transition, He would indeed save and give birth to an eternal race of Redeemed People! 

Jesus handled "transition" by keeping His eyes on the bigger picture, the eternal joy ahead of Him -- we can do the same if we keep our eyes on Him and the joy awaiting us!
 
"And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne."
Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT

Let me pray for you:

"Father, I pray for everyone facing transition. I ask You to give them more grace from Your throne of grace to help them keep their eyes on Jesus, to trust in Your love for them, and to rest as You lead and guide them to get through every transition - with joy. In Jesus' Name! Amen."
 
 HEY, CAN WE GET YOUR HELP?
LET'S GET TO 100,000 FOLLOWERS!

 
In a short 6-months, The Basics With Beth has almost hit 100,000 followers on Pray.com (we are at 84,500 right now!) and that means thousands of people are getting the Bible basics every week!

If you've not yet started on pray.com, come join us by going to: pray.com/bethjones and help us get to 100,000 followers! Each week, we upload 2-3 podcasts and one TV program on Pray.com to feed your faith -- this includes full length sermons, short "basic thoughts" recorded in my car and a variety of interviews. (Many of you who are new to The Basics With Beth have discovered us there!) 

As the leading App for Christian content, over 10 million people are connected to Pray.com on a regular basis.

What kind of results have we seen on Pray.com?

Crazy growth! Get this ...

>> On the Pray.com App, over 12.2 million minutes of our radio podcasts and TV videos have been heard or viewed!! To put that into perspective, it would take me over 8,130 years of preaching every Sunday at Valley Family Church to reach that many minutes of sermons heard or seen!

It's hard to wrap our heads around the way God is using our digital content these days, but we are so grateful He is multiplying our messages and using The Basics With Beth Bible teachings to reach more and more people!

I thought you might enjoy seeing our recent dashboards. 

 
Left pic: This shows our video views and reach from Pray TV.
Right pic: This shows our podcast listens and reach from Pray Radio.
CLICK TO GET PRAY.COM
 
EVERYTHING IS FREE!

As you can see, we are passionate about helping people get the Bible basics! So, over this past year, we decided to make EVERY DIGITAL RESOURCE available for FREE! 
 
That means...

>> We decided to make EVERY ONLINE COURSE in The Basics University available for FREE! 

>> We decided to make our 7 Basics ebook available for FREE!

>> We decided to make all ebook translations of our Basics Bible studies, now in over 27 foreign languages, available for FREE!

>> We decided to put ALL of our podcasts on Pray.com so you could listen to them for FREE!

>> We decided to put all of our TV shows on Smart TV via Roku, Apple and Amazon Fire for FREE!

 
Why?

Because we are legitimately passionate about helping YOU (and people around the world) get the Bible basics, so you can live the life God intended and do the stuff He's ordained for you!

So, be sure to jump in and take advantage of all of the freebies! Check out these courses (below) in The Basics University.

 
THE BASICS UNIVERSITY 
ENROLL NOW AND TAKE EVERY COURSE FOR FREE!
 

HOW DO WE PAY FOR ALL OF THIS?

You may wonder, how in the world does all of this happen? How are we able to make all of our digital content FREE? Of course, as you know - in life, nothing is really free -- it costs somebody something to make it free.

In this case, it costs us time and energy to create, make and maintain that all of the freebies happen and we are happy to do it!

It costs us to money to pay for all of the work that is required to make our content easily available to you -- we pay staff; we pay for all the hosting sites we need to use (Mailchimp, Smart TV and Online Platforms, Video and Audio Editing Apps and Website Platforms, etc.); we pay for podcast services and we pay for our slot on Pray.com ... and lots of other "cost of doing business" expenses.

So, if we are making all of our digital content available for FREE, how do we pay for all of this?
 
It's sort of miraculous and we can describe it in three words: BASICS NINJA WARRIORS!

The Basics Ninja Warriors are people just like you! They are passionate about taking the gospel basics to the ends of the earth and they are the ones who partner with us to donate financial gifts to The Basics With Beth (an outreach ministry of Valley Family Church) on a regular basis. Through the generosity of our Ninja partners, we are able to make all of our digital resources available for FREE! 
 
Perhaps you'd like to partner with us to join the
Basics Ninja Warriors with a one-time or monthly gift of support?

You can help us continue taking the Bible basics to hungry hearts around the world by donating here: 
 
CLICK TO BECOME A PARTNER - A "BASICS NINJA WARRIOR"
 
WHAT IS GOD DOING? TESTIMONIES!

I remember reading this passage as a new Christian and it touched me:
 
"We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace." (Colossians 1:3-6, NLT)

The idea that the good news of Jesus that came to me "...is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives..." really spoke to me.
 
At that time, little did I know that the Lord would call me to teach His Word and to write books that would be translated into over 27 languages to help the gospel continue to go out all over the world. :) 

Once I did sense God's call to ministry to speak and write, I think this passage is the reason that I have prayed that the Lord will use my words to "produce eternal fruit." This way of thinking and praying came from this passage in Colossians 1.

Doing gospel work is a funny, faith-thing because often we don't know if what we are doing is actually producing eternal fruit? We hope so. We pray for it. We preach for it. We write for it. But, we don't have a "balance sheet" like a business person would. We can't measure heart changes like a sports score board. Sure, there are some indicators of our effectiveness, but the truth is most people don't send in testimonies or thank you letters or donations, to let us know we are helping them. (I am sometimes guilty of that too! I don't always send a thank you note to preachers who have really blessed my life. I don't always send a donation or testimony of the impact they've had on my life -- they likely won't even know until heaven!)

 
Preaching the gospel is a faith adventure like no other!

We keep going because we believe God is using our words, messages, podcasts and books to produce fruit everywhere. 

But, every once in a while we see glimpses. We see a social media post or someone sends us a photo or a testimony and our hearts are encouraged to keep on going!

 
Here are a few testimonies that have encouraged us recently and we hope you are encouraged, too!
 
Left pic: "Getting a Grip on the Basics" now in Kathmandu, Nepal
Right pic: "Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer" in neighborhoods in America
 
Left pic: "Getting a Grip on the Basics" at Bethesda Church in Louisiana
Right pic: "Getting a Grip on the Basics for Teens" at Elevate Church in Ohio
 
Left pic: "Getting a Grip on Generous Living" in Liverpool, England
Right pic: "Getting a Grip on the Basics of Serving God" at Rhema Bible Training College in Oklahoma
 
Left and Right pics: Testimonies from Pray.com listeners
 
Left and Right pics: Testimonies from Pray.com listeners
 
 
I hope you enjoyed today's update and I pray you are refreshed and strengthened in the transitions in your own life! If you are a Basics Ninja Warrior, I hope you are encouraged in the eternal fruit your prayers and financial donation are making. 

Together, let's keep preaching the gospel basics to the whole world ... we keep going because, "how shall they hear without a preacher?"

Love and blessings,
 
FALL SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS & EVENTS

If you are in the area, come join us!

September 11 & 18: Valley Family Church, Kalamazoo, MI

September 26-27: Meadowbrook Church, Ocala, FL -- Pastoral Staff Retreat

October 13-16: Faith Family Church, Sioux Falls, SD-- Women's Conference & Sunday Service

October 17-21: Pastors Wives Recharge, Phoenix, AZ

November 7-9: Communicators Collective Retreat, Mytrle Beach, NC

November 20 & 27: Valley Family Church, Kalamazoo, MI
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Quarterly Basics Devo | You Are Brave!

 

2022 | THE MAY ISSUE
"YOU ARE BRAVE!"
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7
Hello friend,

This month, for our Monthly Basic Devo, I felt impressed to let you know: you are brave! 

Yes, you are!

The devil has worked overtime the past few years trying to lock the world up in fear upon fear. The demonic spirit of fear has been running rampant seeking whom he may devour. He uses paralyzing thoughts, discouraging circumstances and panic-ridden headlines to keep people in bondage to fear.

Perhaps you saw the headline that Oprah revealed she was so fearful of Covid she stayed in her $40 million dollar mansion for one full year and is continuing to wear a mask on airplanes (or her private jet?), although the mask mandates have been lifted for over a month. To be honest, when I heard that my heart went out to her. I felt compassion for this influential woman who apparently lives in fear. (I'm not throwing stones, Oprah is a Girl-Boss extraordinaire, but even a Boss can be locked up by fear!) Of course, for her or anyone who has a compromised immune system, it's wise to exercise caution and be led by the Spirit, but being paralyzed by fear is not God's plan for Oprah -- or anyone else.

So, let's talk about it. What does God say to us about being brave and living above fear? Better yet, how does the Lord want us to dominate fear? What does God want us to know about using wisdom and living by faith to walk in a way that is free from fear? Thankfully, He has LOADED His Word with His instructions on these matters. In fact, there are over 365 passages about overcoming fear -- one passage for each day of the year!

In this month's Devo, I will share a few excerpts from my Life Basics Bible Study titled,
"BRAVE: living a fearless life" to encourage you in the reality that YOU ARE BRAVE ... here are a few excerpts from BRAVE:
 
The climbing wall was a new attraction at our annual church Halloween-alternative party. How hard could it be, I wondered? I thought I was pretty tough as I strapped into the climbing wall harness. All I have to do is grip the little rubber things, start climbing and ring the bell, right? No problem! While I was getting buckled in, I noticed my kids and dozens of other children gathered around the wall to watch Mom—aka, one of the pastors—climb the wall. Soon, I heard other moms standing by and cheering me on. It hit me, “Oh no, now I have an audience and I have to do this! I have to get to the top and ring that stupid bell!” I double-checked the harness to be sure every thread was intact and feeling confident, I began the climb. The first six steps were a cinch. I was just a little more than half-way up the wall when it hit me: fear! Suddenly, I froze. I could feel my legs shaking. I didn’t move. I just clung to the wall, gripped with fear. Looking down wasn’t good, and when I looked up at the bell it seemed to be a mile away. The next step seemed farther away than the previous ones, and the grips seemed to be getting smaller. I wrestled within myself, “I can’t do it. I don’t want to do it. I want to go home now...but, I can’t be a wimp. What do I do?” 
 
I was still frozen and basically velcroed to the climbing wall; I did not want to move. I could hear my kids down below, “C’mon Mom, you can do it.” I heard the other moms cheering. Suddenly, I heard the man holding my harness ropes from below. “I’ve got you ma’am,” he said, as he gave a gentle tug on the rope to let me know that indeed, my life was in his hands. I started to move one leg up as if I would try to take the next step, when the man holding the harness gave me a stronger tug and actually helped to lift me to the next grip. When I felt him tugging on that rope and helping to pull me up that climbing wall, I realized that someone stronger than me was holding me up. He made me feel brave! I felt a sense of peace and comfort, and I was energized to finish the climb. The man holding the rope “pulled” me up the entire way as I moved to the top. 
 
Finally, I rang the bell! I was quite happy it was over, and equally happy that I had overcome my fear to ring the bell. No one but the “harness man” and me knew the real story. It was only knowing he was holding me up that gave me the confidence and peace to finish the climb.
 
How true this is in our lives!! Sometimes when we look at the walls in front of us, it can look scary. When we realize that the Lord God Almighty loves us, has a tight grip on the rope and gently pulls us up to victory after victory, we can relax in His care, free from fear. It’s my prayer that as you go through this Life Basics Bible Study, you hear the Holy Spirit saying, “I’ve got you ma’am” or “I’ve got you sir.”
 
You Make Me Brave
 
Anxieties, phobias, worry, nervousness, being scared, freaking out, and engaged in full blown panicare not God’s plan for His children. Sometimes mental challenges, emotional issues, chemical imbalances, toxins and allergens from our diet and a host of other natural causes incite anxiety and fear. Sexual, physical, mental and spiritual abuse can keep a person bound in fear. People who live in obsessive-compulsive behavior patterns often suffer from a root of fear. Sadly, people are afraid to die and they are afraid to live. While Christian therapy and anti-anxiety drugs have their place - the Prince of Peace is still alive and well.  Jesus is the same storm-calming, disease-healing, demon-binding, miracle-working, peace-restoring Savior as He has always been. 
 
Ever made these statements? “I’m so worried...” That just worries me to death...” “I’ve always been a worry wart...” Fear, anxiety, phobias begin in our thoughts and are confirmed in our words. It’s no wonder that in one of the classic passages on worry, Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying...” If you want your fear factors to multiply, just start saying all the things you are afraid, anxious and phobic about! God wants our minds to be free from anxiety, worry and cares. If we don’t take control of our thoughts, they become imaginations; if we don’t take control of our imagination they become strongholds. You can tell if you have a stronghold of fear, anxiety or phobias in your life by listening to yourself! Do you find yourself saying things like, “I’m so scared. Well, you know me, I’m just all nerved up. That’s just the way I am!” Is that the way “you” are? Is that the way God wants you to be? God wants your life full of His peace and His love which will drive out fear, anxiety and phobias. Really! If we will give God’s Word our attention, He will replace our fears with His peace and love.
  
Peace of mind is God’s plan. He wants us to live in a state of peace and He’s provided the way for that to be a reality in our lives. Are you ready to be honest? Let’s make this our prayer as we look at the fear factors, peace and love. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24, (NKJV)
 
Our Jamaican friends have it right with their daily phrase, "No problem, mon!" -- this really ought to be the confession of faith for every Christian!
 
Did you know Proverbs 12:25 tells us about the anxiety-removing power of a "good word," "Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad." (NKJV) Maybe you could start your day with a few good words, like:

 
Today, is a good day, "no problem, mon!"
Today, the joy of the Lord is my strength!
Today, I love life and I have a thankful heart!

These simple phrases actually have life-changing power!

The power of our words cannot be overstated when it comes to being brave. Jesus said this,

 
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ (Matthew 6:25-34, NIV)
 
Notice the power of our words! Jesus said, "do not worry, saying..." meaning -- we feed the fuel of worry by saying words filled with fear and anxiety. On the other hand, we can feed peace by saying, too!

Not only are our words important, but the things we fill our mind and heart with will determine our level of peace. The more you feed on God's Word and the knowledge of God, the more grace and peace are multiplied to you. (2 Peter 1:2, NKJV) The more you keep you mind fixed on Jesus, the more He keeps you in perfect peace. 

 
BE BRAVE!
God's Word will give you courage, strength and freedom from fear! Why not get your own copy and commit 6 days to studying this bite-sized Bible study, "BRAVE: living a fearless life!"
ORDER YOUR COPY NOW
 
Have a wonderful and fearless week keeping your mind fixed on Jesus!

Be brave,
 
Hey...did you hear this recent testimony about brave believers helping courageous Ukrainian refugees?

All of our 
Getting a Grip on the Basics books that have been translated into Russian are now being used in Ukrainian refugee camps in Switzerland. Right before Easter, a pastor friend of ours serving in Switzerland emailed us requesting access to all of our "Basics" books translated into Russian. As Ukrainian refugees poured across the border into Switzerland, he said this, "Our church is very involved with the Ukrainian refugee situation and besides shelter, food, clothing, German lessons, visa assistance, we have also started a Ukrainian church service. People are getting saved and I would love to use the "Getting a Grip on the Basics" in Russian for new converts (actually they all need it). ...our Ukrainian Service that has grown to over 100 people from the initial 40 who gathered in our church cafe the day after they arrived. We have over 5000 Ukrainians who came into Zurich and they are all in a special chat group -- and next week we are going to invite them all to our Ukrainian Easter service. We have people from Russian Orthodox to Baptists and Charismatics, that’s why I said that "Getting a Grip on the Basics" will unite them in a powerful way."

Of c
ourse, we were thrilled to hear of what God is doing in his church to help these refugees and we immediately emailed him the PDF copies of all four "Basics" books in Russian! (See books covers and links below.)

As a financial and prayer partner with The Basics With Beth, you are helping us make a difference in various parts of the world! Thank you!
"GETTING A GRIP ON THE BASICS"
COLLECTION IN RUSSIAN
 
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Quarterly Basics Devo | Joy

 

2022 | THE APRIL ISSUE:
"WRITE A NEW CHAPTER OF JOY AND LAUGHTER"
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13
Hi friend,

It's April and time for another Monthly Basic Devo! This month our subject is simple: joy and laughter! Are you ready to write a new chapter of joy and laughter?

I want to share excerpt from one of my Life Basics Bible Studies titled, "UP: Writing a new chapter of joy and laughter" to encourage you in the very real and tangible experience of living in God's joy!!

So, let's go...
Excerpt... from Chapter 1: When the sky is not blue

Got the blues? Feeling bummed out? Down in the dumps? Fighting discouragement or depression?
 
You’re not alone.
 
If you’ve experienced a set back or disappointment lately, it can knock the wind out of your sails. If you’ve lost a loved one or grieving a loss, you can feel heavy-hearted. If you’ve felt isolated, overlooked or rejected, then you know what an invitation to a pity party looks like.
 
Depression is a big problem these days. Whether it’s a mild case of the blues, clinical depression or severe depression. Many people need encouragement to find happiness and joy in their lives. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re a teen or adult, male or female, single, married, or a parent; at times, everyone is tempted to get down.
 
Perhaps you wonder if things could be different for you? Is it possible to be “up” in a down world? Will your sky ever be blue again? Does God have real answers? The good news is that God cares and in His Word He has given us real answers to help us. (In addition, He’s gifted and empowered professionals to assist you as needed.)
 
How I Learned This Lesson
 
I remember a season of the blues during my junior year in college. I was a nice, “happy-go-lucky,” Christian college student with plans to become a dentist. I had just spent 12 weeks doing beach evangelism and discipleship training with a campus ministry on a summer project in New Hampshire. It was a life changing summer of stretching, sharing Christ and growing in my faith. I returned to college as a junior and was on fire, sold out, ready to serve God with my life! Coming off that summer project and into the first semester of my junior year, I had a powerful encounter with the Lord where He called me to the ministry, quickened Romans 10:13-15 to my heart and gave me a “mini-vision” of what I’d be doing someday. That fall semester was a marked time in my spiritual growth and personal destiny. I was excited about God and I wanted to spend my life doing eternal things.
 
Little did I know that the enemy would immediately try to quench my zeal and commitment to God. My “happy-go-lucky” disposition was attacked and I found myself feeling depressed, bummed out and frustrated. I didn’t quite know what it was. The only way I could describe it was that it seemed that negative thoughts were bombarding my mind and I felt blue for no specific reason. I eventually realized that many times the reason for an attack of discouragement or depression is because God has great plans for us and when the devil perceives that God is up to something and tries to short-circuit God’s plan. This went on and off for several months. I loved the Lord with all my heart. I was reading my Bible, praying and committed to serving Him, but I was living the defeated Christian life in my thoughts and emotions. I didn’t know what to do. As I sought the Lord, He began to show me what I was dealing with and His strategy for being set free from the blues. I will share some of those strategies in this Bible study.

Nugget: Some of you may be facing more severe causes and types of depression. If you’ve lost a loved one, experienced divorce or a tragedy of some kind you may be in a time of heartbreaking grief; if you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious, or if you’ve experienced some type of traumatic stress you may feel like a prisoner to the oppressive power of depression. Again, you might benefit from getting some professional and/or pastoral help to walk you through the process of healing and recovery.

Our focus in this study will be on living in the “up” side of life and choosing joy, rejoicing, laughing and dancing to help lift you out of season of weeping, mourning, sadness, discouragement and depression. We are going to focus our attention on general principles from God’s Word for experiencing the life of joy and peace. Fortunately, God knows you and your circumstances intimately and He’s sent the Holy Spirit to be your Helper, Counselor and Comforter.  As you purpose to study and obey God’s Word on this subject, expect the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you into a customized plan for freedom from depression and expect to be embraced by the One who loves you most!
Excerpt... from Chapter 4: Going to Your Happy Place
 
It was a very stressful time in our lives. We were raising four young children, building a new church building and keeping up with the demands of a growing congregation. One day I noticed that I had not laughed in a long time. I consider myself a person who laughs easily and who usually finds the humor in just about anything, but for this season it was all work and no play––all serious and no laughter. I realized that I had gotten in a bad habit of not laughing! 
 
To remedy the stress and seriousness that had overtaken my life I decided to start looking for the light side. I knew I needed to get a new vision so I searched through old boxes of photos looking for a snapshot of me laughing. When I found one, I posted that photo on our refrigerator so that I could get a new image of the person I wanted to be, again! It worked, and within a few weeks I found myself laughing and enjoying the season of life in a new fresh way. It was confirmed when a co-worker who heard me laugh one day said, “I love hearing you laugh; you have not laughed in a long time.”
 
How about you?  Have you laughed lately? We’ve all had those days, weeks, perhaps long seasons where we just wanted to tune out all the negativity around us and run to our happy place. Well, here’s good news: Jesus wants us to live in the happy place! Have you noticed that when you are full of joy, laughter and happiness in the Lord you are stronger in every way? You feel more energized. You are hopeful and motivated. The joy God gives us is our strength.
 
No wonder Nehemiah 8:10 says, "Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
 
Nehemiah told the people to rejoice in God’s goodness. He told them to celebrate, change their thinking, eat feast foods and give gifts to others. A spirit of celebration accompanies the joy of the Lord.
 
Nugget: Notice they made a choice to celebrate with joy! In verse 12 of the King James Version of the Bible says they decided to “make great mirth.” I love that! When was the last time you just decided to make great mirth? There is a lot of truth to the old song, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Joy is attractive. Joy is fun. Joy is refreshing. Often we have to stir it up and make ourselves rejoice.
 
Whether it’s small, natural things or big, spiritual things, we can "make mirth." For example, what refreshes you? What brightens your moment? In what ways can you celebrate and stir up the joy of the Lord? Is it a thirty minute walk? Coffee with a friend? A new tube of lip gloss or a fishing magazine? Is it alone time with God? Organizing a cluttered drawer? Shopping?  A massage? Singing? Prayer and God’s Presence? A funny movie? Watching the sunset? What is it for you? Make mirth!
 
Nugget: In this story in Nehemiah when the people were wrongly interpreting the Word of the Lord, they were sad and depressed. When Nehemiah, Ezra and the Levites helped them to correctly interpret what the Word of the Lord meant, it brought great joy. Maybe you should take a moment to evaluate the things you are hearing. If you are reading books, listening to sermons or songs that are causing you to be overly introspective, depressed, sad and distressed, it’s likely that those things are not in agreement with God’s Word. Unfortunately, some preachers preach the Bible as if it were bad news and as if we weren't living under a NEW Covenant of God's grace! Certainly, there are some sober truths in God’s Word, but for those walking with God in the light of His Word there is fullness of joy. Jesus said God’s Word and His plan is Good News, and in most cases, good news brings great joy!
 
I encourage you to take inventory of the things you are listening to or watching and be sure to read books, listen to music and sit under ministers who are preaching the Word in such a way that the truth you hear sets you free, and you experience the life and joy God’s Word brings! God’s Word is a delight and a cause for rejoicing in our hearts, if we will let it be. If you believe God’s Word and take Him at His Word, it is absolutely thrilling!
 
Besides all of that...Jesus is our example and guess what?

Jesus was anointed with gladness. Too many people view Jesus as this sober, somber, serious person. No, Jesus had more joy than anyone else according to these passages. Isn’t that awesome! He was not angry, sad, mad, introspective, depressed or discouraged. I can just imagine Jesus walking around with a radiant joy and spirit of gladness as He talked with and ministered to people. Gladness is a sign of spiritual maturity. The Bible says Jesus was anointed with the oil of gladness more than anyone else! Jesus was and is a happy, full-of-joy kind of person and we can be just like Him!
 
Laugh A Lot
 
Laughter is good for you! It’s just impossible to be sad, depressed, bummed, blue or in the dumps if you cultivate a life of laughter. When was the last time you had a real hearty, refreshing laugh? Did you know Proverbs 15:13 tells us, "A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." (NIV)

If you want to look younger? Laugh! Happiness and joy light up your face!
 
It gets even better with Proverbs 17:22, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." (NIV)
 
If you’re thinking of being medicated for depression, have you considered this type of medication as well? A cheerful heart IS good medicine! Take your laughter pills every day and watch what God does!
 
The Message Bible makes it clear.  “A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.” The Message
 
Everyone in medical science doesn’t agree with God’s Word on this subject. But there have been numerous people that have testified to the healing properties of laughter. Not all of these people have been Christians, but is it possible that they have tapped into something that the Lord told us in His Word thousands of years ago?
 
Nugget: Researchers tell us what we already knew instinctively about laughter and health, “We’ve long known that the ability to laugh is helpful to those coping with major illness and the stress of life’s problems. But researchers are now saying laughter can do a lot more — it can basically bring balance to all the components of the immune system, which helps us fight off diseases . . . laughter reduces levels of certain stress hormones. In doing this, laughter provides a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight compounds that swing into action in our bodies when we experience stress, anger or hostility. These stress hormones suppress the immune system, increase the number of blood platelets (which can cause obstructions in arteries) and raise blood pressure. When we’re laughing, natural killer cells that destroy tumors and viruses increase, as do Gamma-interferon (a disease-fighting protein), T-cells (a major part of the immune response) and B-cells, which make disease-destroying antibodies. . . What may surprise you even more is the fact that researchers estimate that laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike. Laughing can be a total body workout! Blood pressure is lowered, and there is an increase in vascular blood flow and in oxygenation of the blood, which further assists healing. Laughter also gives your diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles a workout. That’s why you often feel exhausted after a long bout of laughter — you’ve just had an aerobic workout!”
 
The psychological benefits of humor are amazing, according to doctors and nurses who are members of the American Association for Therapeutic Humor. People often store negative emotions, such as anger, sadness and fear, rather than expressing them. Laughter provides a way for these emotions to be harmlessly released. Laughter is cathartic. That’s why some people who are upset or stressed out go to a funny movie or a comedy club; so they can laugh the negative emotions away. These negative emotions, when held inside, can cause biochemical changes that can affect our bodies.

Norman Cousins’ 1979 book,
Anatomy of an Illness, brought the idea of laughter and healing to the forefront. He was suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative spinal disease which put him in almost constant pain. He decided to watch comedy films and laugh a lot. He discovered that as little as 10 minutes of laughter would give him 2 hours of pain-free sleep.
 
The explanation for why laughter reduces pain is not yet clear. While most people assume that it’s because of the production of endorphins (one of the body’s natural pain killers), there is still no scientific evidence to support this view. The reduced pain may also be explained by the muscle relaxation that occurs from laughter, or because humor and laughter distract us from the source of pain.

 
Here are some natural tips to help you put more laughter in your life:
 
-Figure out what makes you laugh and do it (or read it or watch it) more often. Funny movies, books and stories are a great source for priming the laughter pump.
 
-Surround yourself with funny people—be with them every chance you get.
 
-Develop your own sense of humor. Look for ways to make others laugh.  Find the light side and the bright side of every situation.
 
-Just start laughing and praising God, as a matter of choice on purpose.  You’ll be surprised by how refreshing it will be.
 
DIG DEEPER
God's Word is loaded with His will for us to "make mirth" along with all of the benefits that it brings! Let's get serious about joy and laughter. Why not commit 6 days to studying this bite-sized Bible study, "UP: Writing a New Chapter of Joy and Laughter!"
 
ORDER YOUR COPY NOW
 
As we approach this Easter season, may you experience a fresh dose of joy in knowing that Jesus went to the cross for you -- to give you the free gift of righteousness -- so you could reign in life with joy and laughter as you represent Him here on earth. That ought to make you smile!

Yours for the joy of the Lord,
 
Hey...did you hear the news? The Basics With Beth audio and video messages are now on the Pray.com app! And...you are being gifted with a FREE one-year membership to their premium Pray Plus when you use this link: https://www.pray.com/bethjones
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Quarterly Basics Devo | Women in Church Leadership

 

2022 | THE MARCH ISSUE
WOMEN IN THE CHURCH: BREAKING THROUGH THE STAINED GLASS CEILING
"The Lord gives the word [of power]; the women who bear and publish [the news] are a great host."
Psalm 68:11, AMP
Hello Friend,

This month I want to talk about women ... in leadership ... in the church! #ohmy

Perhaps you are a woman who has felt the call of God and yet you've been met with an "unwelcome mat" when it comes to using your leadership gifts in the church. Or, maybe you are the husband of a wife with a leadership gift, or the father of a daughter with a passion for the Lord -- how could/should you encourage them?

While things have gotten better for women in the church, there is still a long way to go on both sides of the coin. It starts with knowledge and understanding. How do we square religious tradition, various Scripture passages and the experience Jesus and the apostle Paul had with women leaders? How do men embrace the role of women in the church in a healthy and biblical way? How do women avoid becoming "she-men" who dominate in an unhealthy way? Let's talk about it!

Unfortunately, there is still a "stained-glass ceiling" in many churches. However, because the women who feel a call to serve God often also possess a godly grace and humility -- they don't make waves. Sadly, many of these strong, gifted women are forced to walk away from their greater calling to lead in churches and ministries where they are not welcomed to serve in leadership roles elsewhere in the culture where they are welcomed. This is a great loss for the Body of Christ.

The Church needs all hands on deck! This is no time to eliminate 50% of the gospel workforce! Isn't it time to gain new awareness by taking a fresh look at the Scriptures on this topic? This month, let's tackle the "basics" of women in ministry -- particularly, when it comes to leading in the church. This is something I have experienced up close and personally for 30 years -- and something I have written about many times.

In this MARCH MONTHLY DEVO, I am sharing excerpts from my book, "Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling: Women in Leadership in the Church" with the hope that you are encouraged and with the request that you'll share this Devo to encourage the women in your life!

Note: One of the things that prompted me to tackle this topic this month was this social media post (below) showing the former Miss Universe Ukraine and her boldness to fight for her country. She's a great example of a new wave of women rising up to fight for things that matter! May the Esthers arise!

 
 
EXCERPTS FROM...
BREAKING THROUGH THE STAINED GLASS CEILING!
“I just want you to know; we’re leaving the church.” She said it as such a matter of fact.

I was stunned and said, “Really? Why?”

At the time in 1992, my husband Jeff and I had been pioneering Kalamazoo Valley Family Church (now Valley Family Church) for about ten months when this young lady who had been faithfully serving as a lead teacher in our children’s ministry, told me she and her husband were leaving the church.

“It’s because of you,” she said.

“Me? What did I do?” I asked, as I prepared to hear what I had done to force them out.

“My husband doesn’t believe in women preachers,” and with that, she turned and walked away.

I was surprised and hurt. It was a sock in the stomach. Her remarks that day were the first of many such opinions I would hear over the years. Little did I know how controversial this topic could be!

DOES THE BIBLE SAY WOMEN CAN’T?

I was raised as a Roman Catholic; our church leaders were priests and nuns––and the option of being a nun was never on my radar. When I became a born-again Christian, and felt God’s call to the ministry, I didn’t know what that would mean since I didn’t have much experience with the evangelical world or the “controversy” over women preachers or leaders. I was in for a rude awakening.

I quickly learned some familiar phrases that I’d come to dread: “I don’t believe in women preachers; so, how can you teach the Bible?” “Why does your husband let you teach the congregation? Doesn’t the Bible say that women should be quiet in the church?” “You can teach the Bible, but only to other women—not to men—because you are supposed to be submissive and not have any authority over men.” “My friends won’t come to our church because we let women have leadership roles.” “This conference is for the pastors (men)––the wives are going shopping.”

A few comments stand out. Years ago, one man was trying to give me a compliment––I think. After I had spoken on a Sunday morning, he walked right up to me and said, “Personally, I don’t care for women preachers, but my wife watches you on TV and she loves you." I was almost encouraged.

I remember a comment card I received about a month after we moved into one of our new church buildings. It was in the middle of our Grand Opening celebration and the card had these encouraging words: "Why does she speak? She doesn’t have anything to say!" Many years ago, I received this email from a very genuine-hearted young man in our church:

I have been attending the church for a little while now. It is an amazing place to worship and I love it. But I recently invited my friend from work to come to the church with me. I told him the name and he said, ‘Oh.’ Then I asked him what was wrong with VFC. He replied with, ‘They have a woman pastor.’ I then questioned him. He told me to check out 1 Timothy 2:9-15, which talked about a woman’s conduct inside the church.  Wow. I do not understand, if it says that women should not speak in the church, then why do they? I am not at all jumping on you, because I love how you are bringing lots of people to Christ. But I do not understand and I was kind of hoping you could explain it to me and help me to understand . . . I’m probably not the first one to ask you about this, but if you could take the time out of your busy schedule to answer this for me, I’d very much appreciate it. I still want to attend the church because of the beautiful and wonderful things that are going on there, but I don’t want to disobey God at all, in any way. If I can prevent myself from disobeying Him, I will. Thank you very much.

I’ve learned that when people question or make disparaging statements about women in ministry, these comments are generally not intended to be personally hurtful––even though they hurt deeply. They are often the result of personal convictions or religious upbringing and traditions learned by sincere people who love God and His Word.

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL 

Like thousands of women over the past several centuries, I’ve had many talks and tears with the Lord about this very topic, because in my heart I just wanted to please Him. I didn’t want to disobey Him or His Word by thinking He had called me to lead and teach, when in reality He had not; nor did I want to disobey Him by not leading or teaching, when He had actually called me to do so.

To make matters more complicated, I felt strongly that the Lord wanted me to focus on leading and teaching in the church and writing books for the church. I’ve often felt conflicted about this and have asked God many times, “Why have You called me to lead and teach in the church––the very place that doesn’t believe in women like me?” I’ve even tried on numerous occasions to get the Lord to release me from being focused on the church. 

Eventually, like other women before me, I embraced what I did not understand. Although it has not always made sense, God put a deep love and burden for the church––His Church––in my heart. I am convinced that serving the church is my sweet spot. It’s my lane to run in. I’m a pioneer, a shepherd and a Bible teacher at heart. (After all, my maiden name was Beth Shepard, and as a young girl, I sometimes wondered if it described my destiny! Beth means “house of God” and Shepard is a variation on “shepherd”––so, there ya go!)

IS JESUS BUILDING HIS CHURCH WITHOUT WOMEN?

The truth is, I love the church, the global Church and local churches.  I love seeing what the Holy Spirit does in people’s lives through His Body, the church.  I love everything the church is about: worship, evangelism, teaching, discipleship, relationships, transformation, growth, outreach, influence, creativity, healing, redemption and restoration, community, team, equipping and training!

I love the way God uses His Church to bring the gospel to entire cities and regions. I’m one of those people whose adrenaline gets pumping when we talk about church planting and church growth. Any time I see an empty building in any town around the world, my first instinct is to say, “That would be a great place for a church” and in an instant I envision a church taking up residence there. Whenever I have a creative idea for reaching people with the gospel, it is always connected to the church. When I write a book, my driving motivation is always, “How will this help the church help people?” I get happy and fired up every time I read this passage about the power of His Church: 

“All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” (Ephesians 1:20-23, MSG, emphasis mine)

Over the past 30-plus years, I’ve studied the Scriptures and the various theological arguments on the subject of women in ministry, and teaching and leading in the church. I’ve spoken to other godly people about this subject. I’ve read books by Christian men I highly respected and I’ve listened to sermon messages on this topic. I’ve prayed. I’ve lived it. I’ve learned a few things.

Questions, misunderstandings and comments have led to confusion and hurt for many women who have sensed God’s hand on their lives and a strong call to serve Him with the leadership, executive, strategic, visionary and teaching gifts He’s given them. Some have given up and any dreams they’ve had have wilted and died a painful, quiet death under the stained glass. Others live in a perpetual state of disappointment knowing how much they could bring to the table in helping their husbands and their churches, if only they were given freedom to use their leadership gifts. Still others have revolted in their own version of “pastors’ wives gone wild” and have kissed the church goodbye. 
IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY

For many women, the idea of leading or teaching the Word to others is in a galaxy far, far away. Maybe you don’t feel called to pastoral ministry, teaching or preaching, but you do feel that your leadership gifts and passion for the cause of Christ could serve the church in other ways—through creative arts, worship, media, communications, executive operations, connections, spiritual development, finance, kids and student ministries, outreach, technological, legal or justice initiatives or a host of other areas––if only you were given the chance.

We’ve seen it . . . and you’ve seen it. Women—who are tremendous wives and mothers, as well as spiritually mature and anointed with wisdom, faith, leadership, executive, administrative, organizational, creative, entrepreneurial and/or teaching gifts, and have paid their “faithfulness” dues—seem to be stuck in an orbit which only includes creating the bulletin, singing in the choir, playing the piano, hosting showers, doing secretarial work or making chicken divan casseroles for funerals.

An added dilemma for high-potential, high-capacity women called to the ministry is to watch ill-equipped, immature, incompetent, and inexperienced men move up the leadership ladder in church, passing by exceptionally qualified, godly women—simply or only because they are men. Mind you -- these aren't women who want to dominate, emasculate or dismiss men -- they are women who want to use their God-given gifts to fulfill their God-given purpose.

The result of this standard operating procedure in the church is that many gifted, called, and anointed women have given-up and are using their gifts outside the church. They’ve been accepted as lawyers, brain surgeons, dentists, accountants, editors, broadcast journalists, engineers, architects, entertainers, film-makers, designers, entrepreneurs, university presidents, CEOs, governors, senators, prime ministers and presidents; but they have been banned from leadership in many churches. What a loss for the global Body of Christ and local churches everywhere.


DISMISSED, YET AGAIN!

Just when you think you might be accepted, recognized -- or at least tolerated as a woman in leadership in the church -- you are hit with rejection! Here's one of my journal entries:
 
“So, I am at this conference…I am the only women seated at the rich glossy black conference table in a room full of pastors––make that 24 male senior pastors. I scanned the room and made assumptions - average age 39; ministry experience 7 years. And then, there’s Jeff and me.
 
I could tell I wasn't invited. We were all seated snuggly at the conference and gazing in the direction of the ringleader––the church growth guru––he is handsome, strong, successful, humble and deliberate. Definitely a “who’s who” and it was obvious––this was his rodeo and we were there to learn.
 
I had been excited and so expectant until this moment. Suddenly, I felt all the eyes in the room focusing on me when the guru reminded everyone that this special session was just for senior pastors and he was sorry there just wasn't room for spouses. In other words, spouses should really not be in this room right now––especially the woman spouse that was living in my body. I tried not to turn red, I felt the blood moving up my neck and I tried to push it down, but there it went––my face was definitely red. I tried to maintain my, "It's all good people, really, I am supposed to be here…"
 
After all, I was a senior pastor...and I was a spouse. My husband wanted me to join him in this meeting. He and I had been working together as a senior pastor husband/wife team in teaching, preaching and leading––like Aquila and Priscilla in the Bible––for over two decades. Our little start up church had grown from 5 adults to thousands. We believed God authorized it. My husband validated it and I had the fruit and the scars to prove my role and this calling.
 
But, unfortunately by the definition of the nice guru and the other senior pastors in the room––I didn't qualify. One simple reason: I was a girl. That's the reason everything got funky in that conference room––girls can't be leaders––definitely not senior leaders in churches. Sure, girls can be CEOs, Supreme Court Justices, governors, senators, brain surgeons, prime ministers and astronauts, but girls cannot be church leaders.
 
I sat there feeling like any value, worth, fruit or dignity I thought I had ten minutes before I walked into that glossy conference room was being sucked right out of me. I had to sit there like some reject who was probably completely rebelling against her husband, wearing the pants and who didn't know her place in life. I hated this feeling of being dismissed, minimized, overlooked, rejected, devalued and uninvited. But, I sat there. I listened. I smiled. I pretended to take notes. Other than that, I didn't move a muscle. I went stealth. Invisible.
 
You’d think after years of pastoring and buckets of fruit, we’d be past these funky-town moments. Up until this time, I had been as excited about ministry as I was when we started, but, things like this had happened so many times over the years, I was getting weary with the demeaning treatment and questions. “Do you do anything around here?” “I don’t believe in women preachers, we’re leaving…” “How can you teach, when the Bible says women are to be silent?” “This conference is only for men…the ladies are going shopping.”
 
Geeze louize!
 
Why the heck is the church world so far behind? Why do they want to silence 50% of their potential human resources? How is it possible that––somewhere along the way––church leaders had taken two Bible verses out of their cultural context and overlooked dozens of others to make sure women had no role in the leadership of a local church?”
 
There I was in a full-blown pity party when the slack was jerked out of me and a light bulb turned on. Wait a minute?! Our struggle is not against flesh and blood! It wasn’t the church––or the men in the conference room––that wanted to minimize me and silence 50% of the population…it was the enemy!
 
The devil has wanted to shut down women from the beginning.
 
And that my sisters…fired me up with a fresh God-fidance!
 
Have you been overlooked or experienced rejection, setbacks and unfair treatment as a woman? Businesswomen? Congresswomen? Surgeon? Attorney? Teacher? Preacher? Broadcaster?
 
Take it as a backhanded compliment! “Somebody” doesn’t want you to be an influencer. So, rather than sulking, it’s time for us to quit apologizing for being leaders, but rather with a grace-fueled confidence we need to "resist the devil" and step into our calling to lead.
And, the good news is -- the devil is defeated and the Bible is full of the “Who’s Who” of women leaders -- especially in cultures where women were considered to be nothing more than property. These women disregarded “the system” and leveraged their God-given role as leaders. Let’s take a look, I want you to see your name among this group!
 
GOD’S WHO’S WHO LIST OF WOMEN LEADERS
 
Lady Wisdom
 
It’s interesting that the Book of Proverbs personifies Wisdom as a woman! She, wisdom, cries out, raises her voice, and calls! She is profitable, precious, pleasant and peaceful. She is a tree of life. Lady Wisdom is a leader! #belikeladywisdom
 
Aquila and Priscilla
 
Aquila and Priscilla worked together as a ministry team. They are the original pastoral “power-couple”––they are always mentioned as a couple.
 
“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house,” (Romans 16:3-5, NKJV).
 
Priscilla’s role was as influential as her husband’s and she is mentioned by name. It appears that they both taught the Word, pastored a church in their home, and labored with the Apostle Paul.
 
Greek Scholar, Wuest writes,
“Paul met Prisca the wife, and Aquilla, her husband, first at Corinth. They were tentmakers, and he stayed with them and made tents for a living and at the same time preached the gospel (Acts 18:1-3). The wife’s name is given first, because she was the more prominent Christian worker.”
 
Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis
 
“Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord.  Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord,” (Romans 16:12, NKJV).
 
Persis was a leading lady. Tryphena and Tryphosa, were known to be twin sisters who were recognized for their ministry.
 
Adam Clarke’s Commentary says this about these women,
 
“Two holy women, who it seems were assistants to the apostle in his work, probably by exhorting, visiting the sick, etc. Persis was another woman, who it seems excelled the preceding; for, of her it is said, she “laboured much in the Lord”. We learn from this, that Christian women, as well as men, laboured in the ministry of the word. . .
 
Junia
 
“Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was,” (Romans 16:7, NIV).
 
Junia and her husband Andronicus were apostles. Matthew Henry’s commentary brings this out,

“Concerning Andronicus and Junia, v. 7. Some take them for a man and his wife, and the original will well enough bear it; and, considering the name of the latter, this is more probable than that they should be two men, as others think, and brethren. Observe . . . (3.) They were of note among the apostles, not so much perhaps because they were persons of estate and quality in the world as because they were eminent for knowledge, and gifts, and graces, which made them famous among the apostles, who were competent judges of those things, and were endued with a spirit of discerning not only the sincerity, but the eminency, of Christians . . .”
 
Euodia and Syntyche
 
“I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life,” (Philippians 4:2-3, NKJV).
 
These women were leaders in the church at Philippi. Their influence was significant enough that Paul addressed their strife in this letter.
 
Philip’s Daughters
 
“On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.  Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied,” (Acts 21:8-9, NKJV).
 
These four girls were preachers!  They spoke as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit to give a message.
 
Adam Clarke’s Commentary says,
 
“Probably these were no more than teachers in the church: for we have already seen that this is a frequent meaning of the word prophesy; and this is undoubtedly one thing intended by the prophecy of Joel, quoted Joel 2:17-18. If Philip’s daughters might be prophetesses, why not teachers?”
 
Anna
 
“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem,” (Luke 2:36-38, NIV).
 
Anna was a prophetess, a praying woman and one who proclaimed and taught others the truth about God.
 
Lois and Eunice
 
Timothy’s mother and grandmother were strong leaders and taught the Bible to Timothy.
 
“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also,” (2 Timothy 1:5, NIV).
 
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states,
 
“To no women did the great apostle feel himself more deeply indebted than to Lois and Eunice, grandmother and mother of Timothy, whose ‘faith unfeigned’ and ceaseless instructions from the holy Scriptures (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15) gave him the most ‘beloved child’ and assistant in his ministry.  Their names have been conspicuous in Christian history for maternal love, spiritual devotion, and fidelity in teaching the Word of God.”
 
Miriam and Deborah
 
God called and anointed women to leadership in the Old Testament. It’s interesting to note that Miriam, a woman and prophetess, was the first person called to lead worship in the Old Testament. God set Miriam in leadership along with Moses and Aaron as we see in Micah. “For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam,” (Micah 6:4, NKJV).
 
Deborah served in a senior leader role. We see her story in Judges 4. She was a prophetess and judge and her reign gives us the first instance of a female-led government. In addition, we see Deborah giving direction and assignments to men. She appointed Barak to be the general of the armies as the chief ruler. Her husband Lapidoth appears to be supportive, but uninvolved in leadership. God anointed and blessed Deborah.

CONTEMPORARY LEADERS
 
The Populist Era
 
The populist and progressive eras at the turn of the 1900’s recorded more Christian women leaders, preachers and teachers. Let’s look at the roster.
 
Susanna Wesley, mother of 10 children including––hymn-writers, John and Charles Wesley, felt God’s call to do more for the Lord. She told her husband, “It came into my mind that though I am not a man nor a minister of the Gospel, and so cannot be employed in such a worthy employment as they were, yet it my heart were sincerely devoted to God, and if I were inspired with a true zeal for His glory and did really desire the salvation of souls, I might do something more than I do.” She turned her Sunday family worship time into an evening service that 200 people attended regularly.
 
Catherine Booth, the wife of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army worked in tandem with her husband. In her first published article in The Connexion Magazine, she pointed out that “women were last at the Cross and first at the sepulcher.” She went on later to say, “I believe it is impossible to estimate the extent of the Church’s loss, where prejudice and custom are allowed to render the outpouring of God’s spirit upon His handmaidens null and void.” She authored half a dozen books and when she died at 61, all of England mourned and 50,000 people filed past her coffin. 
 
Hannah Whitall Smith, was a well known Quaker and known for her devotional classic of 1875, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, which by 1950 sold over two million copies and had been translated into many languages. She and her husband Robert Pearsall Smith were prominent in founding the Keswick Movement. She preached regularly and her success was equal to her husband’s. 
 
Charles G. Finney, the revivalist gave prominence to the place of women. As a Professor of Theology at Oberlin College he insisted that Scripture did not prohibit the speaking or praying of women in mixed assemblies. 
 
I love what W.B. Godbey, a holiness preacher wrote a pamphlet in 1891 titled, “Woman Preacher.” He wrote, “It is a God-given right, blood-bought privilege, and bounden duty of the women, as well as the men, to preach the gospel.” Regarding the verse, “It is a shame for a woman to speak in the church,” Godbey said was given to keep order, not to keep women from preaching. He went on to say; “I don’t know a Scripture in all the Bible by whose perversion the devil has dragged more souls into hell than this.”  #micdrop
 
Modern History

Modern history and recent times are loaded with stories of both well-known and unknown women who blazed trails as they preached the Gospel, led nations, led worship, influenced people for Christ, started movements, overcame persecution and put a dent in eternity.
 
What about today? Yes, God is still anointing women to lead whether single or married; whether mothers, teachers, architects, governors, inventors, filmmakers, writers, pastors or ... presidents!  

So, go ahead ladies -- step into your calling with a renewed God-fidence!
HANG IN THERE

Girls, what about you? (Dads, with daughters, what about your girls? Husbands, with wives -- how is she doing?) Is the cause of Christ what you are most passionate about? Is God’s Word burning in your heart like a fire shut up in your bones? Has God wired you to be a pioneer, innovator, church planter, campus pastor, teacher, preacher or leader in the church? Are you discouraged because no one has validated your call as authentic and God-given? Do you feel pregnant with a vision and about to burst? Are you a woman who’s felt God’s call to the ministry––but you’ve experienced so much disapproval, rejection or criticism, you’ve given up? 

Are you only given limited opportunities to do what’s in your heart, but it’s usually the role no one else wants and there’s no budget to support it? Have you prayed for God to just “take away” your desire to proclaim His Word? Have you asked the Lord if He gave you the wrong gifts? Have you faced the frustration of closed-door-after-closed-door in your local church? Have you felt despised, overlooked or misunderstood? Have you been tolerated, but not accepted? Have you been dismayed by the critics? Have you been throwing “gutter balls” or living in a state of perpetual “reluctant leader” syndrome?

Perhaps you can relate to one or all of these questions. If you’ve had high hopes and extreme patience, I know that the deferral of your hope can make your heart sick. Hang in there! Don’t give up! God hasn’t forgotten about you. Don’t quit. Don’t give up!

If God is for you, who can be against you? Stay faithful! If no one is inviting you to their table, as the saying goes, "build your own table!" Do what you know to do. He will produce eternal fruit through your life and eventually others will recognize His hand upon you. The most important thing isn’t the approval of man, but the approval that comes from God.
 
Be encouraged. Be bold. Be strong. Be blessed.

Blessings,
P.S. If you've been encouraged by this MONTHLY DEVO, you can read more about this topic in greater detail in my book, "Breaking Through the Stained Glass Ceiling."
 
If you know a woman called to the ministry or a woman with leadership gifts -- or a woman who's been discouraged by the "stained-glass ceiling" -- encourage her with a copy of this book!
 
ORDER NOW
 
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Monthly Basics Devo | Grace for the Pace

 

2022 | THE FEBRUARY ISSUE: GRACE FOR YOUR PACE
"… be strong (strengthened inwardly) in the grace (spiritual blessing)
that is [to be found only] in Christ Jesus."

2 Timothy 2:1, AMPC

Hi Friends,

It's February and time for another MONTHLY BASIC DEVO!

This month, in THE FEBRUARY ISSUE, we are going to focus on GRACE BASICS -- specifically, how to experience more "grace for your pace!"

If you've felt stressed, anxious or overwhelmed by the constant barrage of conflicting news, daily pressures of work and family and the uncertainty of things to come -- I have good news! God has given you and incredible advantage for overcoming all of these things and the ability to reign in life!

Let's dig in...
BE STRONG IN GRACE!
Ever feel like a hamster on the wheel and looking for a way off?
If you’re living life with one nostril above water, keep reading!

Life is busy, right? We live in a changing world, with instant access to information, multiple plates to spin and priorities to juggle. The pace of life moves at a rapid rate. It’s likely that very few of us are able to take anything off our plate; but rather, our to-do lists keep growing! We are parents, spouses, employees, employers, friends, siblings, coworkers, teammates, and so much more. We all have many roles to play and responsibilities to fulfill. Often, we do feel like that hamster on the perpetual treadmill of life and we desperately need grace for the pace!

God's grace is a “many splendored” thing. In addition to the unmerited favor we receive through God’s saving grace; we can experience God’s standing grace where we receive an internal infusion of His strength. When we access God's grace in this way – He supernaturally infuses us with His power and ability to help us stand strong. This grace is a tangible deposit of God's strength where He expands our capacity and enables us to accomplish more than we ever could on our own. We can also live in God's serving grace to fulfill our calling and purpose. By His serving grace, He endues us with His power and ability to do what He's called us to do.
 
And here's the thing -- God's grace is a free gift and He wants every believer to receive an abundance of it in order to reign in life! Romans 5:17 tells us, "...much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." 

We can access more of God’s grace by running to His “throne of grace” to receive it. Hebrews 4:6 says, "Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]."
 
If you're facing challenges today, like – unexpected demands, a to-do list that won't quit, overwhelming responsibilities, the straw-that-wants-to-break-the-camel's-back, spiritual battles, burdens, cares and deadlines that make your load feel heavy – then take time to run to God’s throne of grace to obtain grace to help you in your time of need!

Perhaps you want to know more about this amazing benefit and gift from God...let's keep going in our study.
 
GRACE AND PEACE
Who doesn't love everything about this pic? 
If you're on the verge of a meltdown, go to God's throne of grace and obtain His grace, today! (I'm not ruling out a beach day too; but, when we can't get to the sandy beach with aqua water and blue skies...we can always run to God for His peace and grace!)

Thank God for His grace!

>> Grace is not a vague, ethereal thing. Grace is a tangible spiritual commodity that God dispenses from His throne of grace straight into your heart!

When you're living a very busy life that seems to be on-the-go more than you'd like, at times, things can get hectic. You face legitimate demands on your time, which also pulls on your emotional, mental, physical and spiritual quotient. With business meetings, appointments, family obligations, household chores, duties and every unexpected thing that comes up on your daily schedule, life is just plain busy.
If you've been running at a rapid pace, burning the candle at both ends and living with very little personal margin lately, what can you do?
 
Here are two options:
 
Option A: Have a Major Meltdown
Option B: Get Grace for the Pace

 
Sometimes Option A doesn't sound too bad. The thought of having a meltdown, a pity party or a crying like a baby sounds tempting at times, but who really wants to live like that?
 
There's a better way, Option B. Just run to the throne of God's grace and load up. God always dispenses grace to those who come and get it. When you access God's grace by faith, He will absolutely and supernaturally download His strength into your very spirit enabling you to do what you thought you couldn't. This is a real and tangible exchange! He will increase your margin and give you His ability to do what seemed humanly impossible
. His power will strengthen your inner man. When you are weak, He will give you His strength so you can reign in life!


But that's not all!!
 
Ever noticed that every epistle in the New Testament starts with some variation of these words, "Grace to you and peace from God…"?

Most of the epistles end with something like this: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you..." (YES! We find this in Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon and Hebrews—even James, and 1 and 2 Peter -- and the Book of Revelation.)
 
You get the idea that the Lord wants His people filled with grace and peace. Maybe these salutations and benedictions carry more weight than we've considered.

Let's take a look at "grace and peace" according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance.
 
What is grace? Grace—from the Greek word "charis"—is a multi-faceted word. Some of the well-known meanings of grace include: favor, loving-kindness and goodwill; the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues. When "grace" is bestowed on us, we receive God's favor and divine influence and His inner strength and ability to do all that is set before us.
 
What is peace? Peace—from the Greek word "eirene"—refers to a tranquil state, quietness and rest. It speaks of harmony between individuals and peace with God. The thing that's so remarkable about peace is that sometimes it's more noticeable when it's gone! A lack of peace is a life of turmoil, anxiety, unrest, rage and frustration. Receiving God's peace, gives us a quiet, tranquil, fearless heart full of confidence, assurance and rest in God. His peace acts like a bodyguard—it guards our minds and hearts in the midst of trouble and fear.
 
We can run to God's throne of grace to obtain "grace and peace" to help us in our time of need. His grace and peace is BETTER than a day at the beach ... and a day at the beach is better when we are living in His grace! 
ACCESSING OR FRUSTRATING THE GRACE?
Don't frustrate the grace...access more of it!
"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."
Galatians 2:21, KJV
 
Many people know of grace by the well-known acronym: God's Riches At Christ's Expense—and while this is a great definition, God's grace is much more than a cliché. As we've mentioned, The Bible describes at least three types of grace: saving grace, standing grace and serving grace.
 
Without saving grace, we cannot have faith to be saved! We need to receive God's saving grace, in order to have faith to believe in Jesus. (Eph. 2:8)
 
Without standing grace, we are weak and defeated. We need to access God's standing grace to be strong and victorious in our Christian life, as well as to endure trials, pressures, challenges, temptations and persecutions. (Rom. 5:2, 2 Cor. 12:9)
 
Without serving grace we operate in the flesh and become weary. We need to employ God's serving grace to do our part in fulfilling the callings, tasks, plans, purposes and assignments He has for our lives. (1 Peter 4:10, Rom. 12:6)
 
God is so kind, generous and favorable, He has made loads of grace available to us. The question we must ask is this: are we accessing or frustrating God's grace in our lives? Let's not frustrate the grace; let's access it!
 
Don't Frustrate the Grace: "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:21, KJV) It was God's grace, not our righteous works that gave us right standing with Him. Don't frustrate that grace! We frustrate God's grace when we DON'T believe or receive it. When we are too self-sufficient, self-assured, self-reliant we don't think we need God's grace and this short-circuits and frustrates the grace of God. Instead, believe His grace is a thing -- a supernatural, tangible thing He wants to download into your spirit! Receive it! Lean on His saving, standing and serving grace.
 
Do Access the Grace: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2, NKJV) We access God's grace by faith. We believe. We receive. By faith, we can approach His very throne of grace to find grace to help us! (Hebrews 4:16)

How's all of this for some really good news! It seems like an intangible, ethereal concept, but make no mistake -- God's grace is a tangible spiritual commodity and He wants to deposit an abundance of it to you and I, today! God is so generous and all we have to do is believe and receive.
LET'S PRAY AND ASK FOR MORE GRACE!
Be strong in the Lord and the power of His mighty grace, today!

I don't know about you, but I have found that the longer I walk with the Lord, the more I realize my daily need for the grace of God. It’s no wonder that when the Apostle Paul needed additional strength for all of the persecutions he faced as he worked day and night spreading the gospel, that the Lord told him, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV
 
Be strengthened inwardly by God's grace today! Boldly approach God’s throne of grace and access God's "grace for the pace." 
 
Say This: "Father, I come to You today to obtain grace to help in my time of need. You know all the things I am facing and I thank You that I can be strengthened inwardly by Your grace. Thank You for Your strength and ability to do all that is set before me. I ask You to load me up with extra grace and spiritual blessings. Today, I believe and I receive a fresh deposit of Your grace to reign in life! I declare, I am strong in the Lord and the power of His grace. In Jesus' Name. Amen."

 
There you go! I hope you enjoyed the February Issue of our Monthly Basic Devo. Now, you have a month's worth of Bible basic content to chew on and put into practice. I hope you will share this Devo with your friends and save it so you can refer to it all month! 

Be blessed my friend and have a great month receiving an abundance of His grace!

Love and blessings,
 
DID YOU KNOW???
I wrote a Devo for the YouVersion Bible App called, "21 Days of Grace for the Pace" and you can download it for free by clicking below! Join over 25,000 other people and complete this Devo on your phone over the next 21 days!
 
DOWNLOAD NOW
 
A BIG THANK YOU TO: AMANDA HARRISON!
The Basics With Beth Team:
(L to R) Zack Spangler, me, Amanda Harrison, Kyle Misak, Eric Jones and Tara Farrell

Amanda Harrison has been serving as the Executive Director and TV Producer for The Basics With Beth from our inception, 6 years ago! What a gifted, fun and Jesus-loving leader she is and what a joy it has been for all of us at the BWB to work with Amanda to take the Bible basics to the world!

Amanda is entering an exciting new season as she and her husband are expecting their 3rd child and she will be stepping off staff to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. We are thrilled for her and we have no doubt that all of the Bible basics seeds Amanda has helped us to create will continue to produce eternal fruit for years to come.

Join us in praying for God's very best AND more grace for Amanda and her family in their new season!
 
TODAY'S DEVO EXCERPTS TAKEN FROM THIS BOOK:
 
ORDER THIS BOOK NOW
 
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Monthly Basics Devo | Relationships

 

2022 | THE JANUARY ISSUE: RELATIONSHIPS
"Those who are loved by God, let his love continually pour from you to one another, because God is love. Everyone who loves is fathered by God and experiences an intimate knowledge of him. The one who doesn’t love has yet to know God, for God is love."
1 John 4:7-8, TPT

Hi Friends,

Happy New Year to you!

I am excited to share something NEW with you! You can see from our bright header, we're changing things up! As we launch into 2022, we are making strategic "reinventions" at The Basics With Beth, beginning with THIS Devo.

Our goal is to encourage you in your relationship with the Lord and to keep you strong and flourishing in the Bible Basics!

>> NEW FOR YOU: So, beginning today, rather than a short weekly Devo on various topics; I will send you a long and meaty monthly Devo (on the first Tuesday of each month) that is more in-depth and focused on one particular topic.

By doing it this way, I can load your Monthly Basic Devo with enough content to fill your heart for a month! (I'm not kidding!) The crazy part is that it will only take you 14-minutes to ready today's Devo -- I tested it!

Then, you'll have the rest of the month to dig in, study and apply the material! So, I encourage you to save, print, review ... and share this Devo the entire month of January. You can even use it as a part of your personal devotion and Bible study time with the Lord. I hope you will do that!

I hope you like this new format...I welcome your feedback! If you like it in this format, I will continue to do it this way for 2022. 

>> THE JANUARY ISSUE: So, let's kick off the New Year talking about relationships.
 
Are your relationships where you want them to be? Are you reaping good things in the relationship department from the seeds you have sown? How's your relationship with the Lord? Your relationship with your spouse and kids? Your parents and siblings? Your friends? What does the Lord want to do in and through your relationships this year?

Go ahead and set your 14-minute timer ... and let's start our discussion on relationships with the most important relationship of all...
YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Our church photographer snapped this photo during Valley Family Church's 30th Anniversary celebration and it makes me happy because ever since 1978 when I gave my heart to Jesus, He is the most important relationship in my life! I love to praise and exalt Him!


To think that we can have a real relationship with God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, is beyond amazing! But we don't get to know a "generic" God, we get have a real, personal, heart connection with God -- or what the Bible calls the Godhead: God as our Heavenly Father; Jesus as our Lord, Savior and Healer and the Holy Spirit as our Helper, Counselor, Comforter and so much more. I can't think of anything more satisfying than having a dynamic relationship with the Lord.

How about you? Do you feel the same way? Or, are you struggling with a sense of apathy or disconnect in your walk with the Him? No matter where you find yourself at the moment, the Lord wants a close relationship with you and there are simple things you can do to rekindle your relationship with Him. (We are talking about this topic in our January 2022 series, Heart Ablaze at Valley Family Church. Our son, Eric Jones, recently preached a message that will encourage you in your walk with the Lord -- feel free to watch it here -- "Set a Fire
.")

-----

I wrote about our relationship with the Lord in my book, "Balance: Today's Christian Women Defined and Realigned" and I wanted to share a little portion with you. We looked at four different kinds of people and their relationship with the Lord. Here's an excerpt -- updated for women and men -- that I hope encourages you to start 2022 off on the right foot with God.


#1: Seeker Sally

Seeker Sally doesn’t know God. She’s never established a real personal relationship with Jesus Christ. However, she is seeking. She is tired of the same old, same old empty life she's been living. She is ready to humble herself, repent of her sins and invite Jesus into her life as her Lord and Savior.

Do you identify with Seeker Sally? Are you ready to turn from your own ways and open your heart to God to experience His forgiveness for all of your sins? There's nothing better than being forgiven and at peace with God. Are you ready for that? It starts by surrendering to the Lord and inviting Jesus to be the Lord of your life -- you can pray a prayer like this:

“Dear God, I come to You and I realize that I am in need of a Savior. Jesus, I believe in You. I believe that God raised You from the dead, and I invite You into my life to be my Lord and Savior. Teach me Lord and help me to be the person You have called me to be. Amen.”

#2: Lukewarm Larry

Lukewarm Larry is a “lukewarm” Christian. He's not on fire for God, but he doesn’t hate the Lord either. He isn’t happy being lukewarm because in his heart he knows he is half-hearted. He knows Jesus had some important words for the half-hearted, lukewarm believers, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:15-17, NLT) 

Lukewarm Larry realizes that he needs to change. He knows it's time to make a full surrender and commitment to Jesus. Can you relate to Lukewarm Larry? Are you ready to get fired up for the Lord, once again? Let’s pray:

“Dear Father, I repent for being so lukewarm. I want to be hungry and thirsty for You. I surrender my life to You, and I ask You to revive me according to Your Word; light the fire in me Lord. I choose to seek You, I am desperate for You and I ask You to surround me with people who will help me to be the on-fire Christian You have called me to be. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

#3: Backslidden Bob

Backslidden Bob has lost his first love for the Lord. He's backslidden in his walk with God and has allowed the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, the busyness and love of other things choke God and His Word out of his life. Now, he’s tired of living a double life and he’s ready to make things right with God again.

Do you identify with Backslidden Bob? Are you ready to return to your first love? Jesus said this, “But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]. Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5, AMP)

Tell the Lord you’re ready to return to Him. Go back to doing the things you enjoyed with the Lord in the very beginning -- maybe reading your Bible more; maybe singing more worship songs or spending more time in pray. Here's a good prayer to get started: 

“Dear Father, I repent for backsliding and moving away from You, my first love. I have let other things creep in and steal Your place in my life. Jesus, You are my first love and I want to rekindle our relationship and do the things I did when I first knew You. I am asking You to help me to pray, seek You and knit my heart to You in a new and fresh way. Thank You for Your mercy and grace and for restoring me as I return to You. Help me to be the Christian You have called me to be. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

#4: Hungry Helen

Hungry Helen is so hungry for God she can barely contain her enthusiasm. Her heart is stirred up, fired up and always eager to know God in a greater way. She's not satisfied with any distance in her relationship with the Lord. She wants to be close to Him. Are you like Hungry Helen? If so, continue to seek the Lord and ask for more of Him! Let’s pray:

“Dear Father, You are my all in all. I am so hungry for You. I thirst for Your Presence, Lord. I seek You with my whole heart and I crave and require You as the necessity in my life. Speak to me through Your Word and by Your Spirit. Help me to live a life worthy of You and fully pleasing to You in every way. I choose to walk in the fear of the Lord and I trust You to reveal more of Yourself to me. Work in my life and help me to be the person You have created me to be. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR SPOUSE

This is me and Jeff, my beloved husband of 36 years. I love him and he loves me ... and we love Kalamazoo! 

---
Perhaps you've heard this story.

So, a woman died and went to heaven.
When she got to the Pearly Gates she asked St. Peter how to get into heaven.
Peter said, “It’s simple, just spell one word.”
“Great,”
she replied, “what’s the word?”
Peter answered, “Spell L-O-V-E.”
The woman proceeded to spell L-O-V-E perfectly and St. Peter welcomed her into heaven. After a few moments, Peter asked the woman to guard the Pearly Gates because he had to run an errand.
She asked him, “What should I do if someone shows up at the Gates?”
St. Peter replied, “You’ll know what to do.”
Peter left, and within a few minutes this woman’s husband showed up at the Pearly Gates.
“What are you doing here?” the woman asked him.
“I don’t know,” the man answered, “I must have died and now here I am at the Pearly Gates. How do I get in?”
“It’s easy,”
she responded, “you just have to spell one word.”
“Really?”
he said, “What’s the word?” “
Czechoslovakia”
she answered!

Ha! Doesn’t sound like a happy marriage, does it?

The truth is, marriage is God's idea and He wants you and your spouse to be happy together!

-----

I wrote a chapter on marriage in "Balance: Today's Christian Women Defined and Realigned" and described some of the challenges we all face, as well as the blessings that come when we love our spouse, God's way! Here's another excerpt that I hope encourages you in your marriage relationship.


God’s Word outlines the secret to walking in His blessings as a husband and wife. It starts by keeping Jesus at the center. Without Jesus at the center of a marriage, couples are powerless to love each other unconditionally and are held hostage by selfishness, anger, resentment, distance and eventually a cold marriage. When marriage is done God’s way, the Lord helps couples walk in love to enjoy a marriage made in heaven.  

Before we talk about how to have a marriage made in heaven, let's talk about how to avoid a marriage made by hell.


Hollywood makes a monogamous marriage look boring while it glamorizes adultery, immorality and free sex -- these things are made to look appealing, exciting and free of consequences. On a recent TV talk show, one of the guests who had committed adultery suggested that ninety percent of married men have committed or entertained the idea of adultery. That is a sad speculation. The problem is that in real life, adultery and immorality create heartbreak and pain for all parties involved. Let’s look at this.

Proverbs 11:29 says, "Those who bring trouble on their families inherit only the wind . . ." (NLT) When a husband or wife makes the bad choice of having an affair or walking away from their spouse, their choice definitely troubles their family. Without fail, in the end those who trouble their own family, inherit the wind. As time goes on, they find that their relationship with their children is empty, detached, full hurt and obligatory love. They often have nothing of lasting value to show for their lives. If they don't make the proper course corrections, they often die alone. They’ve inherited nothing! (The wonderful redeeming news is that when people who've troubled their own families experience a godly sorrow that leads to repentance, they can experience God's mercy and grace for a fresh start and His redemptive power in their family.)

We've talked about hell's plan for marriage, but what does a marriage made in heaven look like? A marriage made in heaven starts with the simple basics. Focus on mastering these basics and watch what God will do in your marriage relationship:

>> GUYS: The Bible tells men to simply, "love your wife."


"For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her ...  In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. ... So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33

What can you do to love your wife, today?

>> GIRLS: the Bible tells women to "comfort, encourage and do him good." 

"The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil. She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her." Proverbs 31:11-12 (AMP)

What will you do to "comfort, encourage and do your husband good," today?

YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR KIDS

This is our family and almost all of our kids, in-loves and grands. In this pic we have our kids, Meghan, Annie and Eric and our in-loves, Brodie, Zack and Alexa and grandbabies, Eden, Bram and Ollie -- and of course, Jeff and Jonesie-the-dog. Our son Luke and daughter-in-love Kelsey and granddaughter Flo are living in Australia and not pictured here.)

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There is no better investment to make than into your own family! Parenting is hard work -- but the rewards are huge and they compound over time. So hang in there moms and dads -- stay in it to win it and always keep your joy!

Raising kids is a joy as well as a challenge. As parents, our hearts long for nothing more than to raise kids who turn out right—kids who love God, are successful, obedient, kind, giving, joyful, happily married and on and on. We want to raise kids who are unselfish and servant-hearted—kids who feel worthwhile and valuable. We want them to be confident and articulate. It’s our goal to help our children become healthy and balanced spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. We train them up to lead successful lives in God. And we all know it doesn’t happen by accident!

Being a parent isn't for the faint of heart! 

People ask us if we have any "parenting secrets" and I am sad to say, I don't! That's because I don't think there are any magic bullets for raising kids. It's just loving, nurturing, protecting, training, teaching, forgiving and laughing everyday, for most of their life!

Fast forward a few decades and now that our kids are grown, married and becoming parents of their own, I am happy to report they have all turned out to be the great people I hoped they would be. (Of course, I am their mother and super-biased!)

As I reflect back on the years of raising our kids, I do believe that one ingredient is essential for raising a healthy family and the Bible talks about it! That ingredient is: JOY!

Listen to what Psalm 113:9 says, "He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD." 


I love that the Lord not only wants us to be "joyful mothers" (and fathers, too!) but He will help us to be joyful.

What does a joyful mom or dad look like? A joyful parent is someone who trusts in the Lord more than any circumstance they face. They laugh easily, enjoy their children, and they have a glad heart.

Joyful parents know how to nurture, discipline and train her children, and they are intentional about being joyful in the process.

What about you? When was the last time you goofed off with your kids—laughed until you cried, stuck a french fry up your nose, beat them in a burping contest, played hide and seek or told them to skip school so you and they could goof off for a day?

Being a joyful mom and dad will do more for your kids than just about anything. Your genuine joy will open their hearts to hear your words of wisdom and all the other important things you really want to share with them. So, go ahead and make joy a part of your life and family!

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When our kids were in their toddler, preschool and elementary ages, I wrote a fun little newsletter for other moms called, "Just Us Girls" -- to chat it up about motherhood -- partly for my own therapy and partly to bring a joy to other moms in the same season. Here are a few excerpts from those newsletters, I hope it brightens your day! (Sorry guys, this section is definitely focused on moms, but you can glean some good pointers, too.)


>> FOOD THREAT: "Like a good new mother, I had every good intention of feeding my children healthy, balanced meals. But then I regained consciousness. Why did I put myself through the torture? It would have been easier to prepare supper, and rather than putting the food on the table for fifteen minutes while the kids picked at it and then end up throwing the food away, I could have just skipped the “table” step and thrown the food away right after I made it. But no, I played the game.

You know the game: "Food Threat" — “You have to eat what is on your plate or else you will not be able to have a snack; you will go to bed early; you will never eat ice cream again in your entire life; and you will be grounded until you get married.” But, for some reason when your child says, “How many more bites do I have to eat?” and then goes into the gag reflex, you realize you've been outplayed and grandiose hopes of being America’s Top Chef fly out the window."


Any other moms relate?


>> TJ MAXX CHAOS: "Then there’s the trip to the outlet mall . . . I was pregnant with our fourth child when I had a lapse in judgment and took three preschoolers to TJ Maxx for a little shopping. Did I mention I was eight months pregnant? I just needed a few hours circulating with the real world, how crazy could it get?

Annie and Luke were in the shopping cart and Meghan was riding on the outside. I promised them ice cream if they all behaved and obeyed mom. We’d been in the store for thirty seconds when it began.

“Where’s Meghan?” I asked Luke, two and Annie, three and a half years old. “Meghan, Meghan!” I screamed in the store. “Oh there you are hiding in the plus-size rack. No, you don’t need that bra yet, now stay on the cart, honey. Annie and Luke, sit down, don’t stand up in the cart. No Annie, you can’t have those work boots, let’s put them back. Luke, let go of Annie’s hair. Meghan, get back on the cart, do you want ice cream? Sit down Annie. Don’t lean, oh no ...I said, sit down! Annie and Luke don’t lean . . . the cart is going to flip...oh no...”

That’s when I became a pregnant Hercules as I single-handedly gripped the flipping cart and flung it back into its upright position to ensure Meghan, Annie and Luke’s safety and survival. It was also at that time that I became a transformer: nice mommy turned into raving wild woman as 
I marched all three kids out of that store and to the car. You could have heard my lecture three states away, “I asked you to obey mommy in the store, didn’t I? Don’t you understand that I just needed a break today? I can’t believe you kids acted just like 2, 3 and 5 year olds! We are not going to get ice cream, do you hear me? No ice cream for you…”

Anyone else make an 8-months pregnant scene somewhere?


>> SEARS PHOTOS FOR DAYS: "I could tell you about the trip to Sears for the 152 photos in multiple sizes that end up in a huge envelope in a file cabinet for years, for only $24.99…but you can guess how that turned out. I am glad to report that our children aren’t scarred, but we do have some funny memories! And, I know that as a mother, you have your own fun stories!"

Investing into your kids, no matter how crazy the season may be is always worth it! What could you do to introduce joy, laughter and fun into your relationships with your kids, this month?

 
YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR PARENTS & SIBLINGS
These are my three younger sisters (Rhonda, Kelly and Michelle) and brother-in-laws (Tim, Bill and Craig.)

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Our parents split up when I was 8 years old and were divorced when I was 13. In spite of the divorce, my parents did a pretty good job of protecting us kids and they did their best to navigate a rough season. Experiencing that kind of trauma at a young age obviously affected me and my sisters in many ways -- and over the years the Lord has done so much to redeem all of our lives and our family.

These days, both of my parents are in heaven, so I will save the topic of our relationship with our parents for another Devo; but today, let's talk about our relationship with our siblings.

No matter how old we are and no matter where we fall in the "birth order" -- the relationship we have with our siblings can be such a blessing if we will sow into them.

I am the oldest of four girls. My sisters and I are all 18 months apart and we have been pretty close most of our lives. Of course, we had the teen years where we drove each other batty and all of us lived our own "selfish" lives very much unaware or unconcerned about each other. 

But as we have gotten older, we have intentionally sowed into each other's lives as much as possible. It's the little things. Making time to celebrate each other. Rearranging our schedules to attend bridal showers, weddings and baby showers for all of our kids. Being available for sister Facetime meetings, driving a few hours to hangout and sending love and memes in the Sisters text thread! 

To our surprise, as we all approach the "retirement years" -- we are spending more and more time together in our mother's favorite place, The Villages in Florida. For the past 30 years, we've all been so focused on our own families, raising our kids and fulfilling God's call on our lives, this is a season we didn't see coming! But what a blessing and a gift from God it has been to be able to spend more and more time together with all of my sisters and brother-in-laws in these golden years. We don't take it for granted. We are prioritizing each other. We make time to play golf. We meet up to have dinner and play cards. We listen to music together at the town square. Nothing fancy, just spending time together remembering our childhood, laughing about life and looking ahead to all that the Lord has in store for us in our unique seasons. 

What about you? Where are your siblings? Are there ways you could sow into them to strengthen your relationships? I sure hope so, it will be worth every seed sown. What seeds could you sow into one of our siblings, this week?
 
YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FRIENDS
God has blessed us with good friends in various circles and I wish I could post pics of all of you whom are our friends! Here's a recent pic on the golf course with two of our good friends, Pastor Paul and Sharon Paino. 
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The friends God sends into our lives are such a gift! The older we get, the more we appreciate our God-knit friendships.

In order to have friends, we must ourselves be friendly. That means being intentional in calling, communicating and carving out time for one another. I will never forget the season of pioneering the church and trying to keep up with our four preschoolers ... I was trying to survive with one nostril above water for years. In that process, I didn't make time to sow friendship seeds. As a result, I reaped a friendship famine. That was not fun. I learned a good lesson -- no matter how busy I am, or how much pressure or lack of margin I feel, I should always make time to intentionally sow friendship seeds into the relationships I care about. I took that lesson to heart and since that time, I have endeavored to sow friendship seeds into the lives of my friends.

Sowing friendship seeds can be as simple as a phone call, connecting on social media, sending a text, sharing meme's, planning a gourmet dinner and games night, inviting a few friends to a getaway weekend or whatever else comes to mind. The result will be a rich harvest of good friends.

Perhaps, you have learned the same lesson and want to sow more friendship seeds in 2022.

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I wanted to share this excerpt taken from my book, "Click: Friendship for New Reasons and New Seasons" to encourage you in your friendships. (Guys, sorry once again this section is focused on the ladies, but there are friendship truths you can glean, too!)

"The first thing God said about relationships in the Bible makes it plain! “It is not good that man should be alone.” It is not good to be lonely. It is not good to be friendless. It is not good to continually fail at relationships.
 
God wants your relationships to be blessed! Whether talking, walking, eating, hanging out, playing, praying, working, fighting and serving—the Bible is full of heartfelt, complex, personal and dynamic relationships! God is into people. He is relational. He has created us with a great capacity for friends; for giving and receiving His love to and through others.
 
Unfortunately, many people—believers and unbelievers alike—are alone! Many people are lonely. They do not have a heart connection with others. Relationship experts tell us that millions of people in America have never had one minute where they could let down and share their deepest feelings with another person. What about you? Are you one of those people? Are you fulfilled and satisfied in your relationships? Is your heart full or empty? Lonely? Alone? Is it time to believe God for some friends? Is it time to ask God to blow fresh wind into the sails of your existing friendships?
 
Jesus is our best friend -- the One who sticks closer than a brother. He’s our first love, but because He knows the value of godly relationships, He brings us together with His family in such a way that He provides divine, God-breathed, God-ordained, God-knit friendships.
 
God’s Word is loaded with wisdom on friendship. He tells us what kind of friend we should be, what type of friends to avoid and how to be a better friend. In their book, “Dealing With People You Can’t Stand”, authors Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner identify the “Ten Most Unwanted” personality types. These are the people you want to avoid and the person you don’t want to be. Let’s turn that around and see the “Ten Most Wanted” personality types according to God’s Word. Let's be these kinds of people and let's look for these types of friends:
 
#1.       Miss Aromatherapy: Friends That Refresh Our Soul
 
Candles, lotions, oils, soap, incense and bath beads—you name a scent and you can get it. There is something refreshing about scents and aromas. It’s true in friendship, too.
 
As Christians, we carry the sweet aroma of Christ and our friendships can do the same. Listen to what Proverbs 27:9 says, "Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul." (The Message)

Do you have friends who refresh your soul? Are you that type of friend for others?
 
#2.       Miss Lip Balm: Friends That Pray
 
The thing I value most in a friend is their heart to pray. A praying friend knows God. To have a praying friend and to be a praying friend is a treasure. When you have a friend that knows how to make real contact with God and pray effectual prayers that heaven answers, you are blessed. If you are that type of friend, you are a big blessing!
 
The Apostle Paul wasn't afraid to ask his friends to pray for him. What friends do you pray for? What friends pray for you? Here's what he said in Romans 15:30-32, "Will you be my prayer partners? For the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake and because of your love for me-given to you by the Holy Spirit-pray much with me for my work. 31 Pray that I will be protected in Jerusalem from those who are not Christians. Pray also that the Christians there will be willing to accept the money I am bringing them. 32 Then I will be able to come to you with a happy heart by the will of God, and we can refresh each other." TLB
 
#3.       Miss Perfect Bra: Friends That Lift You Up
 
There is something about finding the right bra; the straps stay in place, it shapes us perfectly and gives us the needed lift. We need the kind of friends who will lift us up!
 
John Maxwell describes twenty-five “People Principles” in his book, Winning With People. He identifies being the kind of friend that lifts people up, what he calls the Elevator Principle, as one huge key to great relationships. Joyce Landorf Heatherly, author of Balcony People describes the difference between balcony and basement friends. 

One of the best ways to be a balcony friend and lift people up is with our words. Here's what Proverbs 12:25 says, "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up."

Which one of your friends needs a kind word, today? Go ahead and call or send a text!
                        
#4.       Miss Chocolate Cake: Friends That Comfort
 
Are you a chocoholic? I know many women who crave chocolate. It’s a comfort food and they would walk 5 miles, in snow, up hill, both ways to get chocolate! There are times in our lives that we just need some comfort—someone to understand, empathize, encourage and comfort.
 
Thankfully, God will send us friends that comfort, encourage and refresh us. Listen to what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 7:6, "But God, Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed and the sinking, comforted and encouraged and refreshed and cheered us by the arrival of Titus." (AMP)
 
It’s amazing how the right person at the right time can be used of God to comfort, encourage, refresh and cheer us up. 
 
Who has encouraged you lately? Who have you encouraged lately?    
                                                 
#5.       Miss Double Shot Espresso: Friends That Celebrate
 
Espresso, cappuccino, mochas and lattes all have the capacity to charge your life with a celebrated burst of energy. If you need an afternoon jolt, what do you drink? Years ago some of our relatives came to visit our church. They were from a more conservative church background and our style of worship was new and different for them. After church we asked them how they liked the service. Their comment made us laugh. They said they loved the enthusiastic celebration of worship and described us as “the church on caffeine!” We took that as a compliment. We need those espresso-filled friends in our lives—the energetic, upbeat, positive, motivators—those that will celebrate with us!
 
It’s not always easy to find these types of friends—those who are genuinely happy for your success. Jealousy, envy and competition often enter friendship. It doesn’t have to be that way. Who in your life is the “shot in the arm” friend; the one that motivates and celebrates with you? Are you that type of friend?
 
I love what Song of Solomon 5:1 says, "Celebrate with me, friends! Raise your glasses — 'To life! To love!' "(The Message)
 
The lover in Song of Solomon wanted her friends to share her joy. It’s great to rejoice when good fortune and God’s blessings are overflowing in the lives of your friends. Early in my Christian life, I remember feeling left out, jealous and envious of God’s blessings in my friend’s lives. That was a sign of my immaturity. All of us have to grow in faith and in God’s love so that we eliminate jealousy and envy from our lives and we rejoice with those who rejoice! There are times when your friend is celebrating her greatest moments, while you may be facing your most difficult moments. A friend with strong character and an unselfish heart will be able to rejoice in the success and blessing of God in someone else’s life, even if their own life does not seem so blessed at the moment. That’s when we have to guard against jealousy and envy. I remember a turning point when I made the choice to truly celebrate my friends good fortune, even when I was in a season of struggle. Apparently I was maturing and it felt good to rejoice in someone else's promotion, fresh engagement or their new house -- especially when those were things I also desired. God is faithful and eventually my season to celebrate came and then my friends celebrated with me!
 
Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King are best friends. Oprah tells the story of a defining moment in their friendship. “When you are in the public eye, you need a friend you can trust.” That trust doesn’t come easily to someone like Oprah. She’s found that friend in Gayle. Oprah says, “Gayle genuinely – and I could cry when I say this – I have never met a human being more genuinely excited about my success than she is. There has never been one moment of jealousy. I don’t know – if our roles were reversed—if I could have given my entire open heart to someone I saw whose career was blasting off from the earth, and say, ‘You go, girl, go to the moon.’ I don’t know if I could do that.”
 
Describe a time in your life when you overcame the temptation to be jealous or envious of God’s blessings in a friend’s life and decided to celebrate them and their accomplishments instead?!
 
#6.       Miss Double-Dip In A Waffle Cone: Friends That Are Generous
 
When the ice cream clerk asked our kids if they wanted their ice cream in a cup, cone or waffle cone, they turned around and looked at us with that “pleeeeeeeease, can I have a waffle cone” look! Getting generous scoops of ice cream in a delicious waffle cone is one of life’s simple blessings.
 
We need friends like that in our lives and we need to be that type of friend to others. Friends who are generous.
 
We cannot give what we do not have, if we are rich in God, rich in joy, rich in peace, rich in wisdom, rich in wealth—and generous in sharing our riches—would people be attracted to us? Yes, of course! What do you have that you ought to think about giving to others?
 
In your friendships, are you generous? Do you always request separate checks or do you offer to buy lunch? Do you freely compliment others? Give of your time? Do you look for ways to give gifts, surprises, notes and other special things to your friends at appropriate and even uneventful times? Be a generous, giving friend!
 
I love what Isaiah 32:8 says, "But a generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand." (NKJV)
 
Have you devised any generous plans lately? Are you on the lookout for ways to be a blessing to your friends? Free yourself from a spirit of stinginess and the next time you go out with your girlfriends, pay the bill and surprise them!
 
#7.       Miss Salt Scrub Exfoliate: Friends That Tell You The Truth
 
These days there are a plethora of bath and body stores, spas, lotions, ointments, oils, salt scrubs, masks, peels and every body care product you could want. Those sugar and salt scrubs are great for exfoliating dry, dead skin cells.

Do you have people like this in your life?
 
We need exfoliating friends, people who will challenge us, rub us the wrong way at times and sharpen us! With friends like this, we can be the pure, aromatic and radiant people God has called us to be.
 
Don’t get mad when your friends tell you the truth. If you see your friend heading towards destruction, it takes courage to tell him or her the truth. I’ve heard more than one story of people who were unhappy with a friend who told them the truth about someone they were dating. Some people don’t want to know the truth about the person they are dating. If you observed your friend making choices that were unhealthy or ungodly, would you have the courage to rescue them by telling them the truth?
         
 Listen to what Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." (NKJV)
 
When a friend sharpens you, they help your life become more congruent to God’s Word and His will, and the result is a peace and purity that changes your very countenance.
 
#8.       Miss Cosmetic Bag: Friends That Cover And Forgive
 
What’s in your make up bag? Our foundation, blush, cover up, lipstick, eye shadow, mascara all serve one purpose—to cover up our imperfections and make us look beautiful. We need friends like that. We all need friends that forgive and forget!
 
All of us make mistakes. We say the wrong thing. We do the wrong thing. We let our flesh dominate us at times, and it’s nice to know we have friends who won’t hold our mistakes over our head and they won’t blab our faults to others.
 
Thankfully, God is patient and kind towards us. He’s merciful and forgiving. We need to give that same type of love, mercy and forgiveness to our friends. That's what Colossians 3:13 says, "You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." (NLT)                                                                
#9.       Miss Outdoor Café:  Friends That Share Your Love For God
 
I have always loved the imagery of this passage in Malachi 3:16, "Then those whose lives honored GOD got together and talked it over. GOD saw what they were doing and listened in. A book was opened in God’s presence and minutes were taken of the meeting, with the names of the GOD-fearers written down, all the names of those who honored GOD’s name." (The Message)
                                                                        
 How would you describe the last “God-talk” you had with one of your friends? The cool thing is: God recorded it! Isn’t that a great thought? I can just imagine an entire wing of God’s massive, heavenly library to be filled with the “Conversation Books” He's writing. So, let’s give Him something to write about! The next time you and your friends get together, take the initiative to move the conversation toward the things of God. Ask interesting questions to find out what God is doing in their lives.
                                               
Think about your circle of friends. Do you have a strong group of Christian friends you relate to? I encourage you to be proactive in seeking Christian friends. Make it a point to attend events where potential friendships would be—church services, small groups, Bible studies, women’s events and other environments where God can connect you to other people. The Lord wants you and I to have deep, heartfelt friendships with other believers; people who share our love for God. It’s needed. It’s healthy and we should cultivate and take pleasure in the godly friends God has put in our lives.
 
#10.      Miss Pantyhose: Friends That Stick With You
 
Pantyhose have a way of sticking to us. We need friends who will stick with us through thick or thin. Proverbs 18:24 says, "Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family." (The Message) Who are your closest, true friends?
 
Smart friends. Kindred spirit. God-knit. God-breathed friendships. Been praying for a friend? Looking for a bosom buddy? A best friend?
 
Remember Anne of Green Gables? She wondered:
 
“...do you think that I shall ever have a bosom friend...?”
 
“A—a what kind of friend?”
 
“A bosom friend—an intimate friend, you know—a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul. I’ve dreamed of meeting her all my life. I never really supposed I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true all at once that perhaps this one will, too. Do you think it’s possible?”
 
Rich friendships with bosom buddies are possible! Sow friendship seeds into those around you and watch friendships blossom!
 
EXCERPTS TAKEN FROM THESE TWO BOOKS
The sections: Your Relationship with God, Your Relationship with Your Spouse and Your Relationship with Your Kids are edited excerpts taken from my book, "Balance: Today's Christian Women Defined and Realigned." This book is available at: thebasicswithbeth.com or through Amazon.
 
The section: Your Relationship with Friends is an edited excerpt taken from my book, "Click: Enjoying Friendship for New Reasons and Seasons." This book is available at: thebasicswithbeth.com or through Amazon.
 
BONUS: ENJOY THIS VIDEO ON RELATIONSHIPS!
I think you will enjoy this message that we shared with our Valley Family Church family. We had a great time talking about friendship with our dear friends Pastors Casey and Wendy Treat at the height of the unknown about Covid-19, isolation and uncertain times. The things we discussed are still relevant and important when it comes to our relationships. Enjoy this video!
WATCH NOW
There you go! I hope you enjoyed the January Issue of our new Monthly Basic Devo. Now, you have a month's worth of Bible basic content to chew on and put into practice. I hope you will share this Devo with your friends and save it so you can refer to it all month! 

Be blessed my friend and have a great month cultivating your relationships!

Love and blessings,
 
LET'S PRAY THIS TOGETHER
"Heavenly Father, thank You for the people You have placed in my life. First and foremost is YOU! I want to know You better. Thank You for my spouse, my kids, my parents, my siblings and my friends. Help me to be the kind of friend each of these people need me to be. Lord, I also ask You to add new people to my life -- the kinds of people who will lead me to a closer relationship with You. In Jesus' Name, Amen!"
 
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How To Discern The Future God Has For You

Here’s a truth bomb for you: God is the only one who knows what the future holds. 

Thankfully, Jesus did tell us that when the Holy Spirit came upon us that He would show us what we need to know about our future. Now, this doesn’t always mean that God is going to lay out the five-year-plan for us and He isn’t going to tell us everything — but He tells us enough about what’s to come so that we can take the next right steps. 

So, let’s talk about it! (p.s. You can watch this video message on YouTube here, too.) First, we’ll hopscotch through 1 Corinthians 2 — and then I’ll tie it all together in a bow...so stay with me!  

We’re starting with chapter  2, verse 9-10: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.” 

Verse 9 is definitely talking about our eternal life to come — but not only that...even in our temporary life here on earth, are we unable to fathom the magnitude of God’s goodness towards us! The unlimited capacity of God’s love and mercy and plans for our future is beyond our comprehension, but thankfully He knows it all! 

Now it may sound like God is keeping some big secret from us, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! God wants us to have security in our future, which is why He has revealed His plans to us through His Spirit. It’s amazing, I know. Naturally, the question becomes, “But how do we receive revelation of the things to come?” God shows us clearly by His Spirit and His Word. 

We see that unfold as Paul preaches to the Church of Corinth...

How Do I Get Wisdom?
Check out what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:1: 

“When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness--timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.” 

We can all agree that the wisdom of men often fails us. Compared to God’s wisdom, the Bible says that the wisdom of men is foolishness. That’s why Paul came to the people of Corinth in a spirit of humility — to allow the awesome power of God to shine. 

So I ask you, do you want the power of God in your life? Do you want his power to be manifested? Of course you do! Who wouldn’t! We want to receive the plans and the purposes He has prepared for us. Let’s keep reading in 1:6 Corinthians...

“Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God--his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord.” 

Paul wasn’t trying to compete with the “wisdom” of the rulers...he wasn’t trying to keep up with the wisdom of the political rulers, the celebrity trends, the influencers on social media. Instead, Paul encourages us to seek and speak the wisdom of God. Stay with me…

Here we go in verses 9-11: 

“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” But God has revealed these things to us by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.” 

God has given us his Holy Spirit, so that we can know the things that have been promised to us from God! So now what do we do? 

How Do I Get Spiritual Revelation?
Here’s the dealio. Spiritual wisdom, spiritual revelation, spiritual knowledge—these things are not natural, human, strategic, logistical plans and thoughts. The future God has prepared for you is not of human design or comprehension. But how do we walk in these promises? We speak these things. Verses 13-14 in 1 Corinthians give us some hints:

When we speak these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit's words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual cannot receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 

To receive spiritual revelation, we speak words, not with man’s wisdom, but words that the Holy Spirit teaches. I know, I know. You’re likely thinking, “What words are those?” I got you... Well, Paul’s got you..look at vs. 7 again: “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.

If we jump ahead a few chapters, 1 Corinthians 14:2 gives us the key to what this all means.

“If you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be a mystery.”

If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you can access a prayer language. Sometimes people refer to your prayer language as “speaking in tongues,” “praying in the spirit” or “praying in a heavenly language.” If this is new to you, we explore how to tap into your prayer language throughout my book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” 

For those of you that do pray in the spirit, this is your call — and your reminder — to speak and pray in the Spirit! Because when we pray in the spirit, we are speaking out a mystery. This is how we the receive spiritual revelation of things to come! 

Which leads us to the final question… 

How Do I Solve the Mystery?
You and I can pray out our future — the future God has prepared when we pray in the spirit. Yes, our future is a mystery that none of us know. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, heart has not imagined...We have no idea about our future! But God knows — and He promised to reveal it to us by His Spirit. When we are praying in tongues (literally speaking mysteries), we can have confidence that we are praying out our future!

When we pray in the Spirit, we are praying out the track we will run on in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. So, if you find yourself saying, “I don’t know what to do! It’s so uncertain! Life is crazy!” then pray in tongues. That’s what you do. That’s the secret. That’s the solution. That’s the action item. Pray in the Spirit. Get in your car, go for a prayer drive, and pray in tongues. 

In fact, let me share a personal, real life experience with you:

I had a time in my life where there were some things in my heart that I knew God wanted, but I didn’t know what they were. It was concerning my future as a whole, but also in marriage and in ministry. I knew that God had things prepared, but I wasn’t walking in them. My eyes couldn’t see it, my ears couldn’t hear it and I couldn’t get my heart wrapped around it. I just knew it existed. That’s it. I had prayed in my English language, using English words many, many times. I had believed God and I had done everything I needed to. But I still sensed on the inside, “God, I want to bring to fruition this purpose of yours. These things you have prepared.” 

God led me in that season to pray in the Spirit every time I got in my car. He led me to pray it out, pray out His plans and His purposes, pray out the track that one day I would run on, pray out these mysteries. So I began to pray out the mystery of my future in tongues, in my spiritual prayer language, for two weeks, every time I got in my car. I was desperate for God’s plan for my future. And do you know what? After a few weeks, I felt a sense of release and relief. I still didn’t have every answer, but I had peace and I knew I had prayed out the thing that was heavy on my heart. 

Are you desperate for God’s plan for your future? Are you wanting discernment for your future bad enough to pray it out, however long it takes?

Then go for it! Pray whatever is pleasant, for as long as there’s an unction, and then you stop. It doesn’t matter how it sounds. It might sound like gibberish, it might sound foolish to you. And that’s ok! Because the foolishness of men is the wisdom of God. 

Today, I simply want to encourage you. The things that God has prepared for you, your future is bright and He’s given us this incredible process to pray it out in the spirit. So let’s do it. Pray in the Spirit and embrace the future God has prepared for you!

For more resources on effective prayer, check out my newest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” It’s a practical, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Bible study to help you understand the basics of prayer and “pray by the rules.”

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3 Blessings To Receive Every Day

Here’s the plain and simple facts: The Bible is true! 

And the Bible tells us that what God has blessed, no man can curse. If you are blessed, then you are blessed. It doesn’t mean that we won’t face tribulations and trials. We will go through some testing and some persecution, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t blessed! 

So what does it mean to be blessed? What is “the blessing?” So often we hear phrases like “God bless you” or “Be blessed.” But did you know God has given us a blessing in the Bible that is for us today, here and now? Take a look at this familiar passage in Numbers 6:22-26: 

And the Lord spoke to Moses saying, “Tell Aaron and his sons to bles the people of Israel with this special blessing: May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.”

Common names for this passage of scripture include “The Aaronic Prayer,” “The Priestly Blessing,” and “The Lifting of the Hands Blessing.” No matter what you call it — this blessing is still undeniably relevant today! No matter what is going on around us, God has declared that you and I are blessed. That is a big deal! Especially during times like these, unprecedented and uncertain, but we can stand firm in the knowledge and understanding that we are blessed.

Fun fact: In 1979, archaeologists in Israel were digging at the Old City and they came upon two tiny silver scrolls. On those scrolls, written in Hebrew, was the blessing from Numbers chapter 6. Archaeologists say that these scrolls are the oldest known biblical text. These scrolls precede the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls by approximately 400 years. These historic artifacts prove the veracity of the Old Testament.

So, let’s break apart the blessing, line-by-line, verse-by-verse, so that we can fully understand the magnitude of what it means to be blessed — and how we can pray and declare this blessing today. 

Right off the bat, we see that the Lord initiated this blessing! No one had to invent it or twist His arm. The Lord, of His own will and volition, wanted (and wants!) to bless His people. Here’s the good news: we are His people! We go on to see that Aaron is simply the spokesperson and the next few verses are instructions on how to administer the blessing. 

The visual image is similar to our modern benediction: God has instructed Moses to tell his brother Aaron, the high priest, to decree the blessing over the Israelite people. Aaron would have stood in front of the people, lifted his hands high, and decreed these words over them. 

As we continue to navigate our way through each piece of the passage, we see that it’s a spirit, soul, and body blessing. 

Blessing #1 : May the Lord Bless You and Keep You

This blessing is a double whammy: bless you and keep you. Let’s tackle part one, first. The Lord wants you blessed. Can we just marinate in that for just a minute? I mean, this is big. I think sometimes we forget that, no matter what season we’re in, God does not change. In Malachi 3:6, God says, “I am the Lord, I change not.” Which means, if He wants you blessed then, He wants you blessed now — and always, regardless of life season. Whether you’re in a season of joy, a season of strife, a season of struggle, or anywhere in between, God. Wants. You. Blessed. Period. No matter the trial, tribulation, or persecution, we come out of it on the other side because He always causes us to triumph in Christ.  

Now onto part two! The word “keep” in this verse really means “guard” and it’s actually the same word we see in Genesis 1 where the Lord told Adam and Eve to keep the garden and to guard and protect it. The declaration of “the Lord keep you” translates to “God will protect you, God will keep you, and God will guard you.” Can you even imagine anything more comforting than this promise? Wow. Even in the book of Job, God puts a hedge of protection around Job to keep him safe, and He will do the same for you, every time.

Blessing #2 : May the Lord Smile on You and Be Gracious to You

Look at that...another two-part blessing…whoop whoop! The decree of blessing here is that the Lord would light up because of you. Think about the way you react when a loved one visits who you haven’t seen in quite some time, or when you pick your kiddos up from school and they run into your arms, you light up! In the same way, God will have this joyous reaction when He sees you and interacts with you because you are His child

Moving right along to: May God be gracious to you. Before we talk about what it is to be gracious, let’s talk about what it’s not. Words that mean the opposite of gracious include gruff, ornery, grumpy or rude. Graciousness is the extension of grace given. Being gracious is the idea that the person who is superior (boss, professor, teacher, figure of authority) bends or stoops in kindness to an inferior. Graciousness is having the power to do something nice for someone and doing it. If you’re gracious, you have an easy going and pleasing manner. 

God knows you, He knows me, He knows we’re human. God knows we need His grace and mercy. So when we receive the blessing, “may the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you,” we see that God isn’t mad at us, He’s not gruff or grumpy toward us. He’s gracious. He is not as uptight as we have made Him out to be; God is easygoing, He’s got a pleasing manner. Don’t you love that!?

Blessing #3: May the Lord Show His Favor and Give you His Peace

Here’s the deal: Because of sin, God’s favor was turned against us. But because of Jesus, God’s favor is now upon us. God is no longer displeased with us. He accepts us! That is what this blessing is about. It’s not about “God is so mad! If you don’t repent you’re going to be in trouble!” It is about God’s unconditional, all-encompassing love for us. He is kind, He is gracious. His approval, His favor is upon you. He likes you! 

In this scripture, “peace” is the word “Shalom.” Shalom is a huge, huge word for the Jewish people. It is so inclusive. It’s a greeting word they did (and do) use to greet one another. It’s a blessing! When you say “Shalom” to someone, you’re saying “peace”, but you're also saying that you want that person blessed in their family, with their children, in their security, in their safety, in their happiness, in their healthy and wellness, in their inner harmony, wholeness, prosperity, and long life carrying with it the implication of permanence. The purpose of this last portion of the blessing is that God wants us blessed! Through and through, He wants nothing but peace and goodness and blessings upon our lives. 

If you’re in a discouraging place at the moment or you’re wondering what the future looks like or you’re filled with “what-ifs” swimming around your brain… God wants you to know in your heart that the Lord bless you and keep you. He smiles on you and is gracious to you. He shows you His favor and gives you His peace. 

This is why we celebrate God with all our hearts! Because of His great love that’s been lavished upon us in Christ, we have already been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm, including the three blessings to receive every day given to us in Numbers 6. By accepting Jesus as our Lord, we get to partake of the blessing and become the people God has blessed and whom no one else can curse. What a powerful promise to stand on! 

Are you ready to receive all the blessings God has designed for your life? Check out my newest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” It’s a practical, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Bible study to help you understand the basics of prayer and “pray by the rules” to further develop your relationship with Christ!

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How to Preach to the Dry Bones (like Ezekiel)

Hello friends,

This has been a fairly unusual season, am I right? And a long one, at that. 

But there is good news in Christ, y’all! Our best days are indeed ahead… Praise the Lord! In unprecedented times like these, we could all benefit from a word of encouragement. And that’s exactly what you’ll read in this post (and watch in Preach to the Dry Bones). We’re talking about true liberty, the liberty that Jesus has provided for us through His finished work on the cross and through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Let’s take a look at 2 Corinthians 3:17: 

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 

This is powerful stuff, friends! As many of you know, there’s a great song by Elevation Worship called “Rattle” that we’ve been singing at our home church of Valley Family Church lately. Psst: You can listen to “Rattle” here. The words to the song come from a prophetic passage in Ezekiel. The scriptures were originally inspired words for Israel, and yet, there are so many great lessons and truths for us to embrace concerning our liberty in Christ. Check out Ezekiel 37:1-6, appropriately titled “A Valley of Dry Bones.” This is Ezekiel speaking: 

“The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then He (God) asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” I replied, “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know the answer to that!”

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will continue to put breath into you and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

We all go through seasons where we can feel like dry bones; we can feel spiritually dry, emotionally dry, mentally dry, relationally dry. And so many elements can influence our feeling of dryness. There’s a lot going on in our world, a lot of uncertainty. We’re positioned to ask, “God, what does the future look like? Can the dry bones that some of us are experiencing come back to life?” We don’t have all the answers, we don’t know how it’ll all come together and shake out… but He most certainly does. We gain access to those answers through His word and through prayer. That’s why I wrote my book “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer;” to equip you with the practical, comprehensive tools you need for effective prayer. 

So what is our role in bringing dry bones back to life? How do we work toward alleviating spiritual, emotional, and mental dryness? It’s simple: We preach to the bones

Take a look at how the Bible puts it: 

  • Psalm 107:2 — Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!
  • Mark 11:23 — [Jesus said] I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.
  • Proverbs 18:21 — The power of life and death is in the tongue, and those who love to talk will reap the consequences. 

The power of words is a principle throughout the Bible. God is wanting to encourage us. He wants us to “preach to the bones.” Now the question becomes, what does that even mean? How does that work specifically in the different areas of our lives? You speak to your spiritual life, you speak to your health, you speak to your emotions, you speak to things in your life that are DRY. God’s power goes to work as you and I will put His word in our mouth and speak life to those things. 

The key here is that we’re not just putting our own thoughts into action, we’re putting God’s word in our heart and mouth. We should preach God’s word into our own lives in the areas where the enemy has tried to put fear, anxiety, and uncertainty and to create angst. 

Let’s explore a few ways to put that practice into action. 

Prophecies to Proclaim for Your Dry Bones

The Bible tells us that the path of the righteous grows brighter and brighter until the full day. Oftentimes we say, “What does the future look like? It’s so uncertain! I’m scared, I’m worried, I’m anxious!” God tells us we should preach to the bones and instead say, “Hey! Path of my life! I speak to you. I’m preaching to you, path of my life. And I’m telling you, you will grow brighter and brighter.” This is how we preach to our lives according to God's word. 

Here’s another one you can pray over your future: “I’m talking to you, my future! I’m talking to you according to God's word. With long life, God will satisfy me. I declare it, I prophesy, I preach it to the bones, Amen!” This prayer aligns with Psalm 91:16. [Jesus said] I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation. We have to speak His word into fruition! 

Proverbs 10:7 tells us that the memory of the righteous is blessed. The Bible also tells us that we have the mind of Christ. In putting those verses together, we preach to the dry bones of our memory, saying, “I’m talking to you, mind. You have the mind of Christ! I’m talking to you, brain. My memory is blessed!”

Next in line: Your health. Preach to the dry bones of your body using God’s word in Psalm 103:3 as your foundation. You can say, “Hey! Listen up, body! I’m speaking to you from the top of my head to the souls of my feet: Body, be healed in the name of Jesus! Be strong. Be whole. Sickness and disease leave. Health and healing come according to God’s word.” 

We can preach to the dry bones of our hearts and our relationships by saying, “Listen, heart. You are filled with the love of God! The love of God fills your heart and you love the Lord and you love people. When you see people, compassion, love, and kindness bubble up in you and your first inclination is to be good to people. Heart, I’m talking to you because you are filled with the love of God. I’m prophesying, I’m preaching to the dry bones.” If you feel dry in your heart toward loving people, God wants to help us with that. 

The Bible is loaded with all kinds of great scriptures, promises, and things that belong to us in Christ, to declare over our lives, but that’s not the end of the story. Let’s circle back to the passage in Ezekiel and pick up in verse 8 when God actually did all of this. He brought the bones together and gave them flesh and muscles. But…there was no breath in them; they were still lifeless. Now what? God continues to fulfill the prophecy. 

Breathing Life into Your Dry Bones

Yes, we have to preach to the dry bones. But there’s still one more step. Prophesy to the bones, but then also prophesy to the breath. What does that mean for you and I? We are called to prophesy and pray, to ask the Holy Spirit, who is the breath of God, to come upon you afresh. This looks like: “Holy Spirit, I’m prophesying, I’m speaking, I’m preaching, I’m praying. Holy Spirit fill me. Fill my heart, I feel dry, I feel jaded. God I’m discouraged, I’m disappointed, but I’m prophesying.”

Remember that verse we talked about earlier? 2 Corinthians 3:17: For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. It’s time to get filled with the Holy Spirit and declare over your life that you could experience true life and liberty in the power of God.

Getting filled with the Holy Spirit is a game changer. The most important thing of all is inviting Jesus Christ to be the Lord of your life. But the second thing that is an option, a blessing, and a gift from our Almighty God is the infilling of the Holy Spirit. This is when you and I open up our hearts and say Holy Spirit, fill me from the top of my head to the soles of my feet, I surrender to you. I want your power. I want your anointing. I want the breath of God to fill me spirit, soul and body. 

The truth is, without the breath of God, we are just a bunch of people with no breath in us. We are dry bones. There’s no results, no life. It’s no fun! But when you get filled with the Spirit, you get filled with life and energy and hope! And power begins to be a reality in your life on a regular basis. 

Let’s circle back to the passage in Ezekiel once more. In chapter 37, verse 10 Ezekiel says, “So I spoke the messages as he commanded me, and breath came into their [the dry bones] bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet - a great army.” Jesus goes on to say in Acts “Hey, disciples, I’m leaving and I’m going to the Father. I’m coming again one day, but right now, I’m going back to the father. But very soon, you will be filled, the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and fill you with power. And when he does, here's what’s going to happen: You’re going to be like a great army.” 

We’ve been talking today about what to do with our own dry bones. But we need to consider, why do we feel dry in the first place? One reason is because we’re not fully functioning in our role in the army, in our role as witnesses for Christ. But if you make a decision to say “God, I don’t want dry bones. God breathe life into me, I commit to being part of your army, Lord. I will be a witness for Christ.” God wants us to prophecy to the bones and to the breath so that we become strong people, a strong church, strong in community, strong in the Lord and filled with the Spirit of the Living God. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 

Remember: It’s not your power. It’s not my power. All we’re doing is agreeing with God’s word and following His command to prophesy to the dry bones and bring them to life. 

Yes, there will be tough days and we will face challenges, trials and tribulations, but if we are alive in Christ and filled with the Spirit, we have the advantage. Our best days are still ahead. The path of the righteous grows brighter and brighter. Amen!

For more resources on effective prayer, check out my newest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” It’s a practical, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Bible study to help you understand the basics of prayer and “pray by the rules.”

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6 Prayer Secrets From The Lord's Prayer

Hello there!

We’ve been focusing on PRAYER the past few weeks, as you can see in these posts: How to Pray for Your New Normal and 3 Prayers You Can (and should) Pray! If you’ve missed them...I’d love for you to take a look and totally believe they’ll encourage you in your prayer life! 

>> Today, we’re doing a deep dive into The Lord’s Prayer — the ever-popular scripture and prayer that many of us are familiar with! We’ll discover how and what to pray with the help of 6 prayer secrets found inside The Lord’s Prayer as taught by Jesus in Matthew 6! (We also cover this entire message on YouTube if you’d rather watch than read!) 

Before we explore each of these insightful “secrets” to prayer, let’s first look at the Lord’s Prayer in its entirety. You’ll find the complete prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. This is from the good ole fashion King James Version bible, because, for a lot of us, that’s the version we know! 

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”

As familiar as that prayer may be, you may not have particularly noticed the very first words that Jesus said: “After this manner, pray…” 

What’s so important about that? Well, so often we pray or sing this prayer simply from memory, as a rote prayer, and that’s ok…to a degree. But, the thing is, Jesus had something else in mind entirely when he told us about this prayer! 

We’re going to walk through Christ’s exact intentions for the Lord’s prayer, but first you’ve gotta check out these quotes. They’re from a range of well-known Christians who were used by the Lord as either theologians or pastors — or their moms or dads. Most importantly, they were pray-ers. These are people that prayed. They prayed often and they prayed well

Quotes from Powerful Praying People 

“She seldom gave the Lord less than a full hour a day in prayer. She was the mother of 19 children. She would take her apron and pull it up over her head for her prayer time. Her children were instructed to never interrupt their mother while she was praying.”  — Said of Susanna Wesley (mother of Charles and John Wesley)

“God does nothing but an answer to prayer.” — John Wesley (composer of famous hymns we still sing today)

“What the church needs today is not machinery, or better, not new organizations, or more or novel methods, but men and women who the Holy Spirit can use. Men and women mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through people of prayer.” — E.M. Bounds

“Heaven is full of answers to prayer, for which no one bothered to ask.” — Billy Graham

“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelism in history.” — Andrew Murray

“I would rather teach 1 man to pray than 10 men to preach. Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscles of omnipotence, to seek aid in a time of distress from a supernatural being is in the instinct of human nature. I believe in the truthfulness of this instinct.” — Charles Spurgeon

“A sinning man will stop praying. A praying man will stop sinning.” — Leonard Ravenhill (famous evangelist) 

“Pastoring a church with millions of members and having an extensive international ministry, I’m not able to do all that I’ve been called to do without spending the minimum of one hour a day in prayer. If I were just to get up and begin my day, without spending the hours I spent in prayer, I would only have my natural resources to depend on. Yet having spent time in prayer, I can trust the unlimited resources at God’s disposal.” — Dr. Paul Young (founded and pastored the largest church in the world)

My hope for you (and for me!) is that these examples fire us up to go pray! That’s also exactly why I wrote my latest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer,” to give everyone the tools and understanding needed for an effective, joyful, powerful prayer life. Now that we not only see the need for prayer, but also the undeniable benefits of spending time praying, let’s figure out what to say when we pray! 

6 Prayer Secrets Found Inside The Lord’s Prayer 

Are you thinking to yourself, “Ok, I’m going to pray because I’m supposed to pray… but what do I say?” I get it! It’s understandable to feel like you’re getting tongue tied or that you’re running out of things to talk about. But if you’ll use The Lord’s Prayer as Jesus intended it, I’ll tell you what: You’re going to love your prayer life. 

Remember when we highlighted those first few words of The Lord’s Prayer? The first portion of Matthew 6:9 says “After this manner, pray.” Here’s what’s interesting, though: this “manner” is intended to be an outline. God is telling us to use The Lord’s prayer as a template, an outline for our prayers. The six steps in the outline are essentially a table of contents for how we can pray in a personal, customized way! 

Here’s the layout and 6 "secrets" you might not have seen before: 

#1: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

  • Pray to God the Father, focus your heart on heaven, praise and worship God for who He is and for giving us the name of Jesus.

#2: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

  • Pray for God’s will to be done on earth — God’s will (as found in His Word) for the church, missionaries and pastors, your family, your friends, your coworkers and yourself...whoever God puts on your heart that day! Pray that unbelievers will come to know Jesus...we know that’s God’s will! 
  • Use the prayers found in Ephesians 1, Ephesians 3, Philippians 1 and Colossians 1 as your guide. 

#3: “Give us this day our daily bread.”

  • Pray specifically for the things you need today. “Bread” means lots of different things in the Bible! 
  • Bread = God’s Word / Healing / Wealth and Provision / Food / Jesus 

#4: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

  • Forgive anyone who has wronged you of anything. (Mark 11)
  • Note: You’re not condoning any bad behavior, you’re cutting yourself free and giving them to God and His mercy!

#5: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

  • Pray to enforce Satan’s defeat (that Jesus won!) in your life and for your family.
  • Take authority in the name of Jesus over the enemy’s attacks and thank the Lord for protecting us from evil.

#6: “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.” 

  • Pray in thanksgiving for the amazing benefits the Lord grants us...all for His glory!
  • Acknowledge this is God’s planet, God’s purpose, God’s plan and our lives are His.

This method of utilizing The Lord’s Prayer as an outline to guide and dictate your prayers will add so much richness to your prayer life! It gives you structure without taking away the ability to flow and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. If you watch this video, you’ll find more detailed ways to pray within each of these 6 steps that truly align with God’s intentions and design for The Lord’s Prayer. While you’re learning and practicing praying in this way, feel free to print out the outline and pin it to your bathroom mirror or stick it on your fridge — somewhere you will see it often. 

>> Your prayers matter!! They matter here on earth in the interim and they matter long-term as it pertains to eternity. The day is coming where we will stand before the Lord and we’re going to sing the song of His glory. 

Before we wrap up this post, check out what Revelation 5:6-8 says about prayer:

“Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: ‘Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?’ But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it. Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.’

Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”

Isn’t that the most amazing thing?! Your prayers not only affect things on Earth, but they make an impact in God’s kingdom, too. God loves our prayers! 

If you’re unsure of what to say when you pray, follow the outline that Jesus gave us. Spend real time on each of the 6 prayer secrets from The Lord’s Prayer and let the Holy Spirit lead your thoughts, your words and your praises in a customized way each time! That’s the great thing about an outline...your prayers will be unique and special each time you pray as you follow the Holy Spirit’s leading! 

If you want to learn more about effective, Spirit-led prayer, check out my newest book, “Getting a Grip on the Basics of Prayer.” It’s a practical, comprehensive, easy-to-follow Bible study to help you understand the basics of prayer and “pray by the rules” so that you see results for your benefit, for the benefit of others and for the glory of God’s kingdom!

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