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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! 

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Filtering by Category: Perseverance

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.”

DIGGING IN THE DIRT

Jennifer Cole

Have you ever wondered why a certain area in your life just seems to be barely getting by, not bearing any fruit, or not giving as much out as you’re putting in? Why does it sometimes feel like an area of life, a relationship, a task or goal just fizzles out...despite your best efforts? And, what should you do about it?

Great insights into this can be found in the parable of the barren fig tree. Read it with me in Luke 13:6-9 NKJV: “He also spoke this parable: A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it [a]use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’”

This parable is rich with advice for us! First, it acknowledges that indeed we’ll all have those areas or situations in life where it just seems like all the effort we’re pouring into it just isn’t making a difference. But, in this parable, he doesn’t just chop down the tree after those three years of not bearing fruit...he asks for one more year.

>>The key here is that it wasn’t a year of waiting, hoping and wishing that it would produce more. Nope! It was to be a very intentional year of fertilizing it to see if it’d grow!

He decided to give the tree one more year to become fruitful, and in that year, he was committing to dig around the roots and apply fertilizer. He wanted to see if there was anything he could do, with focus and intentionality, to help give that tree every chance in the world to bear the fruit it was meant to bear.

So what is it in your life? Seek the Lord on what the “tree” might be for you...what are you ready to walk away from, cut down, give up on...but the Lord wants you to give it another year and apply some fertilizer?

Once you’ve identified the “tree” in your life, seek Him for guidance on what the right fertilizer mix is. What does that situation or area of your life need? For sure every area of your life will benefit from more of God’s Word, so double up on that potent fertilizer for your roots! But there may be some other tips and advice the Lord will guide you in to fertilize the specific tree in your life.

Then, give it a bit more time...maybe it is a year, as we saw in the parable...and see what the Lord does in that time as you apply the Word and other fertilizers to the roots of your situation. You may just find that you’re glad you didn’t chop down that tree!

I’m cheering you on, friends, as you seek the Lord on this and follow His leading...may God bless you with loads of new and fresh fruit!

Say This: “Father, help me to see what ‘tree’ in my life I’ve been ready to chop down but You’d like to instead give it some focus, prayer and Word ‘fertilizer’ and let You do more work in that area. Guide me in each step that I take and how I can best nurture that ‘tree.’ I trust You throughout the journey. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

A MILE OF OPPORTUNITY

Jennifer Cole

Sometimes I think the month of December is just like the final mile of a marathon. Didn’t we all start out 2018 full of hope and wonder of what this glorious new year could bring? We dreamed bigger dreams, we wrote out our goals, we prayed a lot...and then one day at a time, we ran on the track of life.

But as December begins, as we’re now in month 12 of 12...it has me thinking about where I’m at compared to the goals and dreams I had back in January. Truth be told, on some things I’m further ahead than I thought I’d be, while on other things it’s taken longer than I had anticipated...or even gone down an unexpected detour route. It’s okay for things to not be exactly as you thought they’d be -- the important part is to do the intentional status check to see where everything’s at.

You see, I don’t wait until New Year’s to evaluate how 2018 went because at that point, that year’s “race” is over. This is why I get great joy and energy from taking a look at things now -- at the start of December -- because we still have a mile left to go in this marathon! There’s still time to make progress, to improve our results, to tighten our laces and get re-energized, to try again, to not give up, to make a difference and maybe even surprise ourselves.

>>There’s still track left to run on this year...so let’s maximize it!!

If you’re finding yourself tired, disappointed, discouraged, apathetic or any other less-than-excited feeling as we start to round out this year...let God’s Word minister joy and energy back to your spirit! Here are some of my faves...may they put some wind back in your sails today!

Philippians 4:13 NKJV: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13, now in The Passion Translation: “And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.” (Don’t you love how that’s worded?!)

Acts 20:24 NKJV: “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

2 Timothy 4:7 NLT: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT: “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid...For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Romans 8:28 NKJV: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

God’s got your back! He wants you to be successful on all of your miles ahead! And friends, I’m in your corner, cheering you on too -- I’m believing this will be your strongest mile yet on the 2018 track, and with the Lord on your side, the best is yet to come. Love y’all!

Say This: “Father, thank You for the 11 months I’ve had so far in this year and I ask for Your grace and favor in this 12th month of 2018! I pray, Lord, that You’ll help the dreams and goals in my heart to manifest in my life. I trust that You’re working all things together for my good, and I thank You for fresh encouragement and energy so I can keep running my race with joy and strength. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

goodbye roller coaster.

Jennifer Cole

Who’s figured out already that becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that the skies are suddenly always blue, the birds are always chirping and the roses are always in full bloom? I remember learning early on in my faith journey that being a believer didn’t mean life got “magically” easier. In that season, it felt like my Christian life was on a perpetual roller coaster -- feeling up one day and down the next. I desired a consistent Christian life, but just didn’t even know if or how that would be possible.

Then one day, while on a roadtrip to Florida with my friend Michelle, God revealed to my heart His desire for my life -- His plan was for my Christian life to be consistent rather than inconsistent, to be victorious rather than defeated, and to be joy-filled and enjoyable too! And friends, God doesn’t play favorites -- what He revealed to me is true for your life too! Here’s what I learned…

It all started with Romans 12:2, which tells us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (NKJV). So, if transformation happens through the renewal of our minds...then, how do we renew our minds? We learn God’s Word! We replace things we’ve learned, read, been told...or maybe just have no awareness of...with the Truth from the Bible.

>>This is not passive, y’all -- this is active! YOU play a critical role in renewing your mind!

To renew my mind to what God’s Word said about being a victorious, overcoming and joy-filled Christian...I wrote out the following Scriptures and posted them all over the place! On my mirror, in my car, in my kitchen, you name it -- everywhere! -- so I could read them and speak them often. (There’s just something about hearing your own voice declare God’s promises for you in faith that makes it “stick!”) In doing so, the Lord was renewing my mind to what He said about me and the authority He has given me to reign in life, through Jesus Christ.

Here are a few of those Scriptures! I’d love for you to consider printing this out and posting these verses all over the place to read them daily AND say them out loud to renew your mind to these truths! 

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ…” 2 Corinthians 2:14

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19

“For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

“For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17

Wow! Can you see how marinating your mind in these Truths will change how you view your life? It’s my genuine and earnest desire that you each come to believe and personally experience every one of those verses -- so grab hold of them today. There’s just nothing better than the victorious, faith-filled, overcomer Christian life -- and God wants it to be YOURS! 

Say This: “Father, thank You so much that through Jesus’ sacrifice, I’ve been given the gift of righteousness to reign in life through Christ. Thank You that Your will for my life is that I live a victorious, overcoming, faith-filled Christian life. Thank You that You always lead me in triumph, You’ve made me more than a conqueror, You supply all my needs, and through You nothing is impossible! I believe it and receive it today, and I ask You to help me continue to renew my mind to the Truth of Your Word. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
 

have I been forgotten?

Jennifer Cole

What is it about certain seasons in life that can just make you feel a bit...lost? Ever felt like you were so far off the grid that even God had forgotten your coordinates? If you find yourself in a season like that...the basic truth that you need to hear today is that God sees YOU. He knows right where you’re at and not only are you NOT lost, you are actually right where you’re supposed to be! God is equipping you for your life’s purpose, even if your current season seems a bit boring, mundane or like you’re “lost in a field somewhere.” Let’s look at David’s life and you’ll see just what I mean…

In 1 Samuel 16, we learn a lot about David. He was the son of Jesse and one of eight brothers. The other brothers were more gifted, more handsome and of greater stature...but we know that while man looks at the outside of a person, God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). So, when God told Samuel to go to Jesse’s house and He’d show Him who the anointed one would be, Samuel reviewed each of the seven brothers first. From the outside view, they each looked like they should be the chosen one. However, God confirmed that none of those seven brothers was it. That’s when Jesse mentioned having an eighth son...who was out tending the sheep, like usual. When that eighth son, David, came to Samuel, God confirmed His anointing on David.

David’s stature, job and other external factors may not have impressed many...but it’s not the external attributes that qualified him. God qualified Him. God saw David’s heart. He saw that David was faithful in the basics -- He loved the Lord, He tended the sheep well and He was faithful in all the everyday, ordinary actions. God chose him to make a big difference in his day-and-age! Like David, each of us has a call on our lives...a divinely implanted purpose that God desires to help us live out in full. It doesn’t matter if we aren’t the smartest, prettiest or handsomest, from the best side of town and most prestigious schools...God looks at our heart and our faithfulness in the basics. So, don’t think that just because you are out in the fields “tending sheep” that God has somehow forgotten about you. 

>>In fact, the work that God is doing in your heart while you’re in the field is some of the most profound and essential work that will ever happen in your life! 

Think about David again...in the field, he learned about being a leader -- he had to figure out how to get the sheep to follow him, how to keep them safe and so on. He also spent that “field time” honing his skills -- he got quite proficient at the harp and the slingshot. Remember when Goliath entered the scene? David didn’t pick up a stone and a slingshot on that day and just hope he could use it. Nope! He had been practicing and practicing and practicing that particular weapon while in the field -- he had absolutely mastered that weapon and used it that fateful day to take down the giant.

Like David, your field time will be time well spent! Take note of the gifts and talents the Lord has given you and be intentional about honing those skills. Become the very best you can be at those skills, and trust that when it’s your “Goliath day” He will position you to move mighty mountains with those very basic skills that you were faithful to practice. You may be in a field tending sheep...but that doesn’t mean you are off God’s radar. On the contrary -- He’s positioned you exactly where you need to be right now. Be faithful in the basics and honor the field time...and your big day to put those skills to use will come!

Say This: “Father, thank You that my ‘field time’ is intentional and I am not off your radar! You know right where I am. Lord, help me to recognize the gifts you’ve given me and be faithful in honing those skills while in the field. I trust that at just the right time you’ll help me use those skills and the basics I’ve been faithful in, to make a big difference for You in this world. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”