Sometimes I’m asked “why the basics?” Why am I investing my life into helping people get the basics of faith? Why not dive into “deep” topics instead?
Here’s the truth of the matter...without knowing and applying the Bible basics in life, we’re destined to live life on the struggle bus. That’s why it’s the basics...the fundamental truths from God’s Word...that our enemy in life (the devil) works overtime to keep us from learning and putting into practice.
So what are the Bible basics? Are they trivial, non-essential things that are “beneath” us? Nope! They are the starting point...the essentials...fundamentals...they are pivotal, preliminary, quintessential, key, focal, critical, primary, cardinal and foundational. No matter how long we’ve known the Lord or how many times we’ve read our Bibles -- none of us ever “graduates” from the basics. It’s like the very foundation of your home...everything else in life rests upon how solid that basic foundation is, and continues to be!
>>Think about how important the foundation of your house is. The Bible basics are like that...they’re the very foundation for your LIFE!
The Bible basics are things like how to become a Christian...how to know for sure where you’ll spend eternity...how to know Jesus and hear His voice...how to get answers to prayers...how to use your faith to see results...how to be filled with the Holy Spirit...how to reign in life and lots of other basic things!
Let’s make the choice today to not live on the struggle bus! Rather, let’s invest in growing in our faith through hearing what the Word says on each of the fundamental Bible basics. What could our lives look like by next year, if we made an intentional effort to get to know more and more of the Bible basics...and put them into practice?
Here’s one idea...what if you took one Bible basic per month this year and dove into it? Listened to sermons and podcasts about it, read your Bible to find everything you could on that topic, read books by faith-filled authors and sought the Lord for wisdom on how to apply all of that to your life? Saturate your heart with what the Word says about that Bible basic. I have no doubt it would change your life!
How can I be sure of that? Well, the Bible is not some dusty old book...it’s a living, breathing roadmap for life...what a blessing from the Lord! We see this truth in verses like these:
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11 NKJV)
The Bible is alive and active...so, even when we read verses we’ve already read before, God will show us layers upon layers of new understanding from those verses and how we can apply it to our lives. And, because the Word always accomplishes and prospers...getting the Word into our hearts is the greatest investment we can make into our lives.
Continuing to grow in the Bible basics is how we get off the struggle bus and take our seat with Christ, to reign in life through the authority He has given us. Let’s get passionate about learning and growing in the basics...make this YOUR year to strengthen the foundation of your life!
Say This: “Father, thank You that as I invest in learning the Bible basics, You help me understand them and build my life upon them. Lord, help me to apply what I learn from Your Word into my life, and thank You for helping to stir up in me the ongoing desire to keep learning and growing as I walk through life with You! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
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Filtering by Category: Perseverance
Sometimes I’m asked “why the basics?” Why am I investing my life into helping people get the basics of faith? Why not dive into “deep” topics instead?
“If you get tired, learn to rest -- not to quit.”
I absolutely love this quote. I’m not sure who said it originally, but it’s so spot-on!
Sure, on those days when everything is going just right, we feel like we could conquer the world. You know those days...when the sun is shining and the weather is perfect, there’s no line at Starbucks, you’re not double-booked in your schedule...and maybe there’s even a mani/pedi in the books for that day. Top that off with some quality time with family or a bestie, and that’d be one amazing day! Absolutely, on that kind of day, we feel like we could keep running this marathon of life with energy and enthusiasm.
But, then the rain comes. Literally, and figuratively. Problems happen, a surprise event or even a crisis pops up, or just a series of little things all go wrong in a row. Maybe someone at work says something unkind or untrue, or some comments made on social media hurt you. Maybe it’s bigger than that...maybe you get let go from a job you planned to retire from, a life-long friend has decided to part ways or maybe a loved one passes.
Can you think back on a time in your life when you felt so tired and weary that quitting seemed like the only option? Maybe you’re facing a season like that right now. Let’s face it -- there are just so many big and little things that could happen each day that it could start to wear us down if we’re not vigilant to cast our cares to the Lord. We can start to feel tired, weary and run down.
God knew that could happen...and He gave us the heads-up that in our tiredness would also come the temptation to quit. In Galatians 6:9 He gives us guidance for just such a scenario: “...let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up” (TLB).
>>So my friends, my encouragement to you today is to acknowledge when you’re tired or weary, and to intentionally REST rather than QUIT.
Today’s NOT your day to quit! It’s your day to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s the day you turn your eyes to the Lord and allow Him to carry the weight of what you’re facing. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (NLT).
As you cast your cares upon the Lord and keep your eyes fixed on Him, He will see you through this. 1 Peter 5:7 says: “Pour out all your worries and stress upon Him and leave them there, for He always tenderly cares for you” (TPT). Casting your cares to the One who cares for you doesn’t mean that you keep carrying that heavy weight on your own shoulders! You must let Him carry your cares, so you can find rest.
If you’re feeling tired or weary today, find what brings your spirit, soul and body REST...and make resting a priority. Resting is never wasted time. It’s so vitally important that we allow God the space and time to revitalize us -- it’s never been His plan for us to run through life on empty. Find rest in Him, cast your cares to Him...and you’ll find that once you’ve rested, you can look at the challenges ahead with fresh vigor and grace for the pace! You CAN do this...you WILL do this...today make the choice to REST, don’t quit!
Say This: “Father, thank You that You are more than enough for me, in every circumstance and season. Lord, I turn to You and ask for fresh grace for the pace. Show me the best ways for me personally to get rest for my spirit, soul and body. I crave time with You to rest in Your presence, and I trust that You’ll give me all the strength I need to keep pressing forward and to not quit! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
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.”
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.”
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.”