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Through "The Basics with Beth," Beth Jones is teaching the basics of God's Word to help you live a life you love and love the life you live! 

Devo

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Monday through Friday: Fresh, fun and empowering Bible basics to build your faith and impact your life in practical ways. Whether it's a short Bible-based devotional, a funny image to brighten your day or to post on your social meda, a link to our podcast or a nugget of truth -- you will be strengthened, inspired and challenged in the basics of your faith.

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JUST LIKE JESUS

Jennifer Cole

In last week’s devo, we talked about rejection...which all of us at some point or another have faced. You are not alone! (I encourage you to go back and read last week’s devo, in case you missed it!) Today, let’s dive further into this subject because the fact of the matter is that in our Christian lives, some rejection is inevitable! Jesus confirmed this basic truth in verses like this one: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12 NIV).

It’s true that because of our union with Jesus Christ, we are totally accepted by God. At the same time, because of our alliance with Jesus, we will experience rejection by others. People will mock, insult and distance themselves from us because of our faith in Jesus.

>>Because of our identification with Him, we will face persecution and rejection. When this happens, Jesus told us to be happy about it. It’s confirmation that you’re a Christian!

Wait a second...you might be thinking...He wants us to be happy about it? Yes! Take a look at this passage in Matthew: “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way” (Matthew 5:10-12 NLT).

So, as Christians, we will at some point in our lives experience things like being “looked down on” because of our faith in Jesus Christ, or we might lose friends, be ignored, laughed at, talked about or rejected and overlooked. When Jesus, Savior of the world, was on earth, they did all of that to Him -- so as we identify our lives with Him, it makes sense that this world would throw some rejection at us as well.

Here’s the deal...no matter how good your intentions are and how gracious your approach, you will at some point or another be misunderstood, and people may reject you and your faith in Christ. You are in good company! Jesus, the disciples and prophets of old, and Christians all around the world are experiencing rejection too, for His Name’s sake...and Jesus knows it. That’s why the Lord comforts us with promises like: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

Now, as a quick point of clarification here, let’s be sure persecution and rejection is coming because of our genuine Christian testimony, not due to any kind of obnoxious or self-righteous kind of behavior! Let’s be “true blue,” walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk, real deal, gen-u-ine Christians who live out our faith through our actions and who share our faith with truth, grace and wisdom.

Friends, keep growing your knowledge of His Word and in your faith...and rest assured that He’s always got your back, even when rejection or persecution knocks at your door. He has given you everything you need to rise above it and to keep living out your amazing, faith-filled, overcoming, blessed and joyous Christian life!

Say This: “Father, thank You that You never leave me nor forsake me. I know that even when I face rejection or persecution because of my faith, You are always with me and You’ve given me everything I need to walk out this faith-filled journey. Lord, help my Christian testimony to be strong, bold, genuine and effective for reaching more and more people for Christ! When rejection comes, I will choose to rejoice and to keep my eyes on You -- and I will keep pressing forward in following You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

YOU. ARE. ACCEPTED.

Jennifer Cole

Ever felt unworthy? Unloved? Overlooked, dismissed, despised or rejected? You are not alone. Truth is, everyone has felt rejected -- even the most secure, confident, “together” person you know! Somewhere, sometime in their lives they have felt the pain of being rejected and not accepted.

Sometimes feelings of rejection come from small things...and other times it might be something big that created a larger scar on the inside of you. Maybe you’ve been mistreated by people you thought you could trust. Maybe you’ve felt rejected by people because of your appearance, skin color, gender or economic status. Perhaps you’ve felt disappointed by a job promotion you didn’t get, or a broken engagement that broke your heart. And certainly...in any of our lives, the social media factor can really amp up the feelings of rejection...whether because of comparison or bullying or feeling invisible. No matter the source of rejection, it hurts.

>> But friends, I encourage you today to lift your eyes up to Him! God wants to free you from a spirit of rejection.

God sent Jesus to this earth to free us...from our sins, from rejection, from anything that would hold us back. Jesus knew what it meant to be rejected -- He was despised and rejected here on earth! We see this in Isaiah 53: “He was despised and rejected - a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down...He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed...And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins (Isaiah 53:3-5,11 NLT).

Jesus didn’t deserve it, but on the cross He was rejected so that through Him, we could be accepted. It’s so important that we frame our worldview based on His acceptance, not on the rejection we may have experienced from others. He wants to free you from a spirit of rejection. That is possible when you displace rejection with a fresh awareness and understanding of His love and acceptance for you!

This is the very reason Jesus came! Because of sin, we were separated from God — we were rejected. Sin would have kept us permanently separated from God. Because God loves us, He sent Jesus to take the rejection in our place — He took our sins upon Himself and become our substitute. On the cross, Jesus took the punishment we deserved...He was rejected so that we could be accepted.

Living from a place of God’s acceptance is so critical to your ongoing, vibrant connection with the Living God. You see, it is the enemy’s plan to create distance and separation between you and God. He wants you to feel inferior and unacceptable to God. The last thing the devil wants is for you to recognize and experience God’s acceptance through Jesus Christ.

So, if you’ve been living with a spirit of rejection -- feeling rejected by others, by the world, or by God -- spend some time with the Lord today and pray the prayer below out loud. Ask for His help in opening your heart to the freedom and fullness of His acceptance of you...and watch that acceptance flood every area of your life. After all, if God is for you, who can be against you? (Romans 8:31) And He’s for YOU!!

Say This: “Father, thank You for sending Jesus to make the ultimate sacrifice on the cross, so that through Him I am accepted! Lord, I ask You to heal me from a spirit of rejection. Heal me from hurts, big and little, recent and in the distant past. Thank You for flooding my heart with Your acceptance -- may Your approval become the strong foundation that I stand upon with confidence each day of my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

3 FACES OF GRACE

Jennifer Cole

Last week, we looked at how multi-faceted God’s grace is and if you missed it, I encourage you to go back and check it out! Today, let’s look at some important types of grace and how they’ll help you in life. The Bible describes at least three different categories of grace: saving grace, standing grace and serving grace. Let’s dig into each of them.

Saving grace is the grace God gives to sinners to influence their hearts and turn them to Christ. We cannot be saved apart from God’s grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).

Think about your own salvation. Do you remember how God graced you in such a way that you were able to have faith to believe? God’s saving grace allows us to have faith to believe and be saved. It’s truly a gift!

Standing grace is the grace God gives us to stand in faith and live the Christian life. We need God’s grace to live. Romans 5:1-2 tells us: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (NIV). It’s through faith that we stand in grace.

>>God’s standing grace gives us His ability to live in a place of rest and to have faith, to know, to grow, to think, to give, to be and to do all the things God wants for us.

It’s possible that some may be unfamiliar with the term “standing grace,” but it is this very grace that we are talking about when we seek the Lord for grace for the pace! When God gives us standing grace, He gives us His power, energy and ability for various areas of our lives.

Serving grace is the grace God gives us to serve Him. He gives us grace gifts, talents, passions and callings that are unique to each one of us. God has graced or gifted each of us in a special way so we can serve Him in a powerful and fruitful manner. Whether your serving grace is in the area of leadership, hospitality, teaching, mercy, giving or some other area, God enables and equips you for serving by His grace.

The Apostle Paul understood serving grace when he said, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us” (Romans 12:6 NIV). He also said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV). Notice that Paul said that it was the grace of God within him that allowed him to work and serve God. Each one of us has been endowed with serving grace that also helps us function in the grace for the pace!

When we truly receive God’s abundant provision of grace -- saving grace, standing grace, and serving grace -- along with His gift of righteousness, we can reign in life. Just read this incredible promise found in Romans 5:17: “For if, by the trespass of one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (NIV).

>>Through His grace, we are empowered to overcome every bit of stress and overload that is thrown our way.

Reigning in life...being saved, standing and serving the Lord...overcoming stress or overload...these are all terms I want for my life -- how about you? Be encouraged today, friends, and ask the Lord for a fresh deposit of grace!

Say This: “Father, thank You for saving grace, standing grace and serving grace. Help me to experience all of those in my life! Thank You for Your great love in providing these incredible provisions of grace in my life. Lord, I ask for a fresh deposit of grace today and I thank You for it! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

YOUR NEW FAVORITE BOOTS

Jennifer Cole

Overloaded, stressed and busy -- life is moving at a rapid pace these days! How are you handling it? Are you feeling fried, or energized? With so many demands, choices and obligations, not to mention all of the technology coming at us from every side, it can become overwhelming.

But...here’s the secret to not getting run over by the crazy fast pace of life...we simply need to tap into God’s grace for the pace! Simply put, grace for the pace is when God Almighty gives us a supernatural deposit or endowment of inner strength, energy, gifting, ability, know-how, understanding, knowledge and favor which first leads us to salvation and then helps us stand in victory and serve God.

Grace is His free gift to man. What a gift -- that God Almighty would impart His grace to us and that grace would supernaturally help us succeed in whatever we face! When we truly receive God’s grace for the pace, we receive His ability to function at the pace life requires of us.

>>God’s grace helps us with the stressed and overloaded pace we often face. We need God’s grace for the pace!

I once heard it said that people think the term “grace” is like a pair of fluffy bunny slippers...nice and soft, but not really of any practical value in everyday life. But, what grace truly is like is a pair of combat boots! God’s grace (“combat boots” in this analogy) equips you to walk through whatever terrain you’ll face that day. It makes you more resilient, protected and equipped! Don’t walk through the gravel and sharp rocks up ahead without your combat boots on!

You see, if you have grace...life will start to feel like a well-greased machine. There’s a flow. There’s supernatural ease. You know when to say yes, and when to say no. Whatever you need to know, be, or do -- God wants to grace you in such a way that you have His supernatural ability in that area. Grace is huge! Can you see how wonderful God’s grace is?

On the flip side of the coin, without grace you will eventually burn out and resent the very things you once loved. Without grace you’ll do what you have to do, but eventually you’ll start to feel like a “flat-liner” in life and experience a sense of detachment.

Without grace, you function but there’s no unction. You survive, but you do not thrive. You may be skilled, but you are not fulfilled. You live and die, but never know why. Are you getting the picture here? Without God’s grace for the pace, we can end up with sorrow and regret, when it’s all said and done.

So...don’t let that be your story! God’s mercies are new every morning. He doesn’t ever run short on His supply of grace -- ask Him for grace for the pace in your life! His grace will help you navigate the twists and turns of life, and despite any challenges, to remaining standing. Check out what Romans 5:2 says about grace: “Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God” (AMPC).

Isn’t that encouraging? God, through supernatural deposits of His grace into your life, will equip you with everything you need to stand and succeed in life. Keep tapping into His grace each and every day, and you’ll experience just how powerful -- and absolutely essential -- His grace is for your daily life!

Say This: “Father, thank You for Your grace! Lord, I ask You for more deposits of grace for the pace into my life, please. Help me to tap into Your grace each and every day, so I can carry out all of the wonderful plans You have for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

BORROW MORE VESSELS

Jennifer Cole

Last week we looked at 2 Kings 4 and learned how God can supernaturally multiply what you DO have to help you with what you DON’T yet have! (I encourage you to read last week’s devo if you haven’t had a chance yet!) Today, let’s look at that story again -- but dive into a different aspect of it. Let’s uncover a very profound yet very basic truth about how miracles come to pass.

Let’s take a look again at this story, found in 2 Kings 4:1-7:

“A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.’

So Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?’ And she said, ‘Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.’ Then he said, ‘
Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.’

So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her,
‘There is not another vessel.’ So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.’” (NKJV)

What stands out to me as a pattern in this story is this: (1) God gives direction or guidance, (2) the woman DOES something, and (3) the miracles occur. I think sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the trap of thinking that if we just ask God for what we need or desire, He’ll instantly make it appear. While for sure God does give us a “suddenly” answer at times, most often I’ve seen it follow the 3-step pattern we see in the story above.

Notice the first instruction -- go borrow empty vessels from all your neighbors. What would that have been like for her? Going from neighbor’s home to neighbor’s home, asking to borrow their empty vessels. How would she explain why she needed them? And then there’s the logistics of it all...hauling those vessels to her home, going out to borrow some more, hauling those home...you get the idea!

But, how important her efforts were! As she began pouring out the little bit of oil she had God touched it and it began to multiply and fill her vessels! The oil stopped miraculously multiplying when the last vessel was filled. What if she had only put in the effort to gather one or two vessels? Or gave in to the snide remarks the neighbors may have been making, or gave heed to thoughts of doubt about what on earth she was doing? Thank goodness she put in the effort to gather many vessels!

>>The miracle she experienced was directly aligned with the size of her faith AND actions, combined!

And, we don’t just see it there...let’s now talk about what happened after those vessels were filled. She then had to go sell them -- the oil itself wasn’t going to pay the debt. The widow had to go sell the oil, so that she’d have enough money to pay the debt and then some funds for her and her sons to live on.

What if she had given up at this point? What if she was feeling tired, discouraged, in doubt, scared...or any other such emotion? Perhaps she didn’t have any “sales” experience. Maybe it took all she could to muster up the courage to go sell in the marketplace, to figure out how much to charge and how to complete a sale. Not to mention the logistics again...getting all of those vessels to the marketplace...and what about explaining to customers where that oil came from!

But again, she remained strong in faith that God was going to help her sell it all, and she combined that with her actions of actively selling all of the oil until it was gone. She did what God showed her to do...all through His power and might but combining that with her elbow-grease...and then she saw the full miracle come to pass.

Friends, I encourage you today to look at what miracles you’re seeking the Lord for...and ask Him to show you what actions you can take to help carry out the miracles He has in store for you. We have a vital role to play in seeing miracles through to full fruition...so let’s not be passive about it! Definitely don’t quit, don’t stop short, don’t doubt. Seeing a miracle come to pass in your life is worth every single minute of effort that we can supply!

Say This: “Father, thank You that You love me and it’s Your will that my life be blessed, both for my household’s benefit and to bless others. Thank You for Your miracle-working power in my life! I seek You today, asking You to please show me the steps I can take to help participate in Your bringing my miracle to completion. I’m ready to put in the effort and watch You work multiplying, above-and-beyond miracles in my life! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”