Childhood innocence found me frolicking in the creek where the most pressing questions focused on “What’s for dinner?” and “Can so and so stay the night?” Yet, in my inner being thoughts began to percolate like:
“Who am I?”
Teenage years scuffed my innocence with the sandpaper of insolence and independence birthing such questions as, “Who are you to tell me what to do?” and “How is memorizing the Pythagorean theorem going to advance me in life?” narrowing down my inner dialogue of,
“Why am I here?”
College found my friends and I devouring obscene amounts of ice cream and chips while discussing the more profound questions of life in our superior "know it all" manner, often leaving us wondering,
“Does any of this matter?”
Before I knew it, these big questions tumbled into adulthood with me as I grappled to make sense of the madness swirling around in my head, no less the senseless chaos of the world around me.
But then the light bulb went on as I realized that we believers don't have to stumble trip thru life questioning our meaning and purpose.
Like a treasure hunter seeking treasure, the dotted line finally led me to the “X marks the spot” in Scripture with a diamond of a verse containing the answers to some of life’s biggest questions.
For we are His workmanship
Created in Christ Jesus for good works
Which God prepared beforehand
That we should walk in them.
Question: Who am I?
Whether it's the Mona Lisa or the Eiffel Tower or a starfish which come into your mind’s eye when you think about a masterpiece, the truth of this verse says we (you and I) are God’s workmanship, masterpiece, handiwork. In fact, Genesis 1:27 states we were made in His image.
When we look in the mirror, we are viewing God's handiwork. Think about the beauty and balance of two eyes and two ears, one nose and one mouth, with a heaping of hair to crown His creation.
Purposefully and lovingly created. (Psalm 139:14)
We were knit together in our mother's womb with a heart, a soul, and a mind all crafted in the likeness of God. He was so pleased with HIs creation of male and female that He proclaimed, “It was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)
Answer: God’s handiwork which He declared very good.
2. Why am I here?
What do you love to do best: sing, help others, teach, encourage, draw, etc? When used for the Kingdom, those are what we’ve been put on this earth to accomplish, good works.
A great example is the Apostle Paul whose initial intent was to shut down Christianity. (Acts 7:58 & 8:3) But following his Damascus Road radical transformation, he was wholeheartedly convinced of why he was on planet earth: to prove that Jesus is the Christ (9:22).
I love how Acts closes out his biography: he welcomed all to come and sit with him preaching and teaching the truth of God’s Kingdom unhindered. (Acts 28:29&30)
Paul knew why he was here: for good works, Kingdom work. So are we.
Answer: to do good works for the Kingdom!
Question: Does any of this matter?
It’s not an accident or mistake that you are in this period of time, in your specific family, job, church, and neighborhood. God has a plan and a purpose and placed you right where you are to do the good works He equipped you to do.
Heartache and disappointment can knock the wind out of us causing us to give up on doing good works. John 10:10, in fact, tells us that the enemy of our soul wants nothing more than to steal, kill, and destroy us and our good works.
However, it does matter. It is crucial for you to pull your weight and do those good works. Just like a tug of war match, it is essential that all our team members have an “All in” mindset.
What you do, matters. Small steps, one good work here, one intentional act of kindness there, fulfill God’s preordained plan for your very existence! Get up, friend, and lend a helping hand. We need you!
Question: Whose am I?
As I was pondering these questions, the realization that the sum of these questions, “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” as well as, “Does any of this matter?”, are answered with the clincher, “Whose am I?”
Just like the actual owner of the Mona Lisa was initially the painter who painted her, “Whose am I?” is answered when we circle back to the beginning of the verse, “We are God’s workmanship.”
When we know who’s we are we are more confident, driven, purposeful to fulfill our calling, longing to “bring one home” for the team ever mindful of whose we are.
Answer: God's <3
Does the Bible answer life’s biggest questions? Absolutely! It sets our compass to true North guiding us on the path to the abundant life promised to those who believe. (John 10:10)
Dear one, allow these answers to anchor your precious heart today. Stop the drifting and questioning and wondering. Live confidently knowing who you are, why you are here, why it matters, and whose you are based on the truths found in the diamond of a verse, Ephesians 2:10. Mine this treasure yourself, so you can shine bright for the Lover of your soul, Jesus. <3
Tammy Valdivia - Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
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So you're a Christian. A Christ follower. You love Him, worship Him, talk with Him often, serve hard... At least that was your story.
But, somewhere along the way you got lost. Maybe a bad habit took over and is in control of your life now. Maybe one bad choice after another has led you farther and farther away. Maybe your life just got too busy. That busyness may even be for the Lord. Caring for your family, serving your church and community... However it happened, you now find yourself far away from your Heavenly Father. Things may appear great on the outside, but on the inside you know things are different. The intimacy you once had with Him is gone. You don't talk to Him much anymore because you're ashamed or maybe you're just too busy. You probably even hear that gentle voice inside calling you back into relationship with Him.
I've been there too! It can be a hard place to come back from. But Scripture tells us that heaven rejoices when we return.
Listen to this song as you read!
In Luke 15:3-7 Jesus tells a parable about those who stray.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
That gentle voice calling you back is The Holy Spirit who took up residence in your soul the moment you said, "Yes!" to Jesus. You are the lost sheep, and He wants you back. Stop running! Get on your knees, repent if you need to, and thank The Lord for coming after you.
Since He’s pursuing you, stop, turn around and press into Him. Even when you don’t FEEL the desire to read His Word, pray, and praise, return in obedience and the passion will follow. It may take some time. But it will come.
Not sure what to do next? Need some practical advice for how to respond? We have all been here before. Below are a few good resources to help you get back on the right track!
Titanic No More
Who Should Teach Them?
It's Ok to Ask For Help!
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To hear our heart on why we're tackling this controversial topic this week at ByFaithShe.com, watch this quick 4 minute video before you read.
As a follower of Christ I never want to turn people away from the Good News of the Gospel. My job is to love people and lead them toward The Lord and not away from Him.
However, I am also called to stand for truth. Doing both of these things at the same time seems to be getting harder and harder with each day that passes.
The lines between right and wrong are becoming more blurry as the world pushes its agendas. But one thing remains the same. God’s Word is truth! It will not fade and it will not change!
So, let’s talk about LOVE!
Those who have given up their lives to follow Jesus Christ as their Savior as well as their Lord are called over and over again throughout Scripture to love.
I encourage you to read through each of the verses below and not just skip over them. They are powerful commands to Christians!
Here Jesus Himself tells us that the most important commands are to first,
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
And second, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus commands, “Love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
1 John 4
The entire chapter, beginning in verse 7, is dedicated to the topic of love. Here are a few quotes from this chapter:
vs.7 - let us love one another, for love comes from God.
vs.11 - since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
vs. 12 - no one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
vs. 16b - God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
vs. 19 - We love because he first loved us.
vs. 20 - Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
vs. 21 - And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Says that a friend loves at all times.
Tells us to serve one another humbly in love.
So, we very clearly see that Christ calls us to LOVE!
Unfortunately, the world has tried to change the definition of love.
The world, and now even some who claim to be Christ Followers, say that “sin is a joke” and “anything goes” and if you don't agree then you are unloving. They also say you can love Jesus and love your sin at the same time.
But, when we look back at the life Jesus lived on earth, we get a completely different picture of what love really is.
Yes, Jesus engaged people who were caught up in sin. He healed them, He protected them, He hung out with with those that, at the time, were considered the lowest of the low. He loved the sinners!
But, what you NEVER see Jesus doing is accepting peoples’ sin. He ALWAYS called out their sin, gave them opportunity to turn from it, and asked them to follow Him. This is where truth comes in!
So, let’s talk about TRUTH!
Jesus lived and died so that ALL the people of the world, would have the opportunity to turn away from their sin and toward Him. Accepting His sacrifice for us, and therefore covering our sin.
We absolutely have to love people right where they are, just like Jesus did! BUT, we would not be loving them if we let them stay there, living in that sin.
The Bible says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Loving someone,means treating them well, giving them respect, and serving them in the name of Jesus. But, loving someone equally means leading them to the truth!
So, How does love and truth go hand-in-hand
for a Jesus Girl?
1. Find out what things the Bible calls sin.
2. When you learn that something is a sin, FLEE from it, Sister!
*Sin and Holiness can not coexist!
1 Peter 1:14-15 Do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But, just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.
Jesus says that you can’t be lukewarm. You must be either hot or cold. Choose God or choose the world.
He says, whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me, scatters.
James 1:14-15 says each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death. So, what starts as a little, tiny, insignificant thing, eventually leads to sin and ultimately death!
*Girls, I am not saying this will be easy! Denying ourselves is never easy! And ,Satan will most definitely fight back with everything he has. Ephesians 6 reminds us that when we accept Jesus, we are in an ALL OUT BATTLE!
But Jesus is worth it!
Freedom from our sin is worth it!
Walking in step with The Holy Spirit is so worth it!
We are not powerful enough to battle Satan on our own.
There will be days that we try to fight with our on strength, and on those days, we will lose. But if we follow God’s battle plan, He gives us the power to overcome our sin. Let's encourage each other in our battles against our sin! I need your help and I'm here if you need mine.
3. Create meaningful relationships with and love people where they are!
“If you are a sinner, I accept and love you! Do you drink, do you curse, are you gay, have you had an abortion, are you _________?” GUESS WHAT, I HAVE MY OWN SIN.
“Just know - no matter what you struggle with? No matter what sin you may face... we are all sinners saved by grace and we will love you exactly where you are.”
4. Lead others to a life saving relationship with Jesus!
I'm not trying to change you, that's not my job. And I sure don't want to make you like me. That's not my goal. But, I would absolutely love to introduce you to the One who is changing me, for my good and His glory. And I can promise you, if you decide to give up your life to follow Him, you'll want to be just like Him!
In Acts 26 Jesus says, I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
James 5:20 says, whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover a multitude of sins.
Be the light!
My encouragement to you today is to love others,
lead them to the truth, just like Jesus did. You CAN do both!
It’s my prayer for each and every one of us that when we do sin, we won’t make light of it, we won’t flaunt it, but that we will encourage each other to turn from it and repent!
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him
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*Disclaimer: I am not a political or Biblical scholar; no way, no how, not even close! This is not a political post, but rather how I feel we are seeing Biblical prophecy fulfilled right before our eyes.
Last week I watched the press conference as President Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin, President of Russia. I’ll admit it, normally politics don’t interest me too much. I know I should show more interest in today’s current affairs, but sometimes it goes right over my head! I also noticed all the negativity and harsh comments made about the historical summit. But last weeks press conference intrigued me because I believe we are see Biblical prophecy fulfilled right before our very eyes!
Whatever your political standing is, whether or not you agree with our current President and the decisions he is making, one thing stands true for us as believers, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1) We must pray for our leaders!
As I read Scripture about the prophecy of the end times, I get so excited about Christ’s return! We know that “no man knows the day or the hour,” (Matthew 24:36) that Christ will return, but we have been given God’s Word that clearly states the things that must take place before Christ comes back for His bride!
“God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.” Revelation 1:3
I remember as a child I would hear sermons on the rapture and Jesus’ return. To be honest, it scared me! My friends and I would always say things like, “I just want to turn sixteen and drive! I hope the Lord doesn’t come back before then!” or, “I want to get married, have kids, then the Lord can come back!” Oh how immature in my faith I was! Knowing that heaven is far greater than anything this world has to offer was really hard for a young girl to wrap her mind around.
If you are interested in reading about prophecy, the book of Daniel chapters 7-12 form the framework for the book of Revelation and for the understanding of Biblical prophecy. It's really impossible to understand what's going on in Revelation without understanding the book of Daniel.
He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” Daniel 12:9-10
Another one to help us understand the end times is the book of Ezekiel, that is the most referenced Old Testament book in Revelation. This is so deep and so rich and rather impossible for me to break down in one blog post, maybe a study will be birthed!
My heart is stirring for us as believers to have a longing and excitement for Heaven. When we see historical moments occur with nations, or the United State’s support of Israel and moving of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, I want us to get so excited to see that we are one step closer to seeing Jesus face to face! I pray that we notice and are aware of God’s Word coming to life before our eyes.
As my husband and I had the honor of walking where Jesus walked last January, Scripture became so real! As we stood where Jesus would make his return through the Eastern Gate and as we stood on top of the Temple Mount in the place that Jesus will rebuild His temple...y’all, there are no words!
When wars break out or peace offerings are given, why are we surprised? We have the instruction Book that tells us who wins in the end! No matter what happens in this world, we have hope knowing that God gave us His Word, He has not forsaken us nor forgotten about us, He has given us the greatest hope...hope of His return, hope of eternity with Him! As believers, we must continue to pray for this world and our leaders. We must be burdened for those that don’t know the Lord. We have such great responsibility to live out each and every day the love of Jesus and be the example that God has called us to be.
I encourage you to dig into Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation and see how God has orchestrated every piece of history and prophecy to ultimately support Jesus’ return for His children. I am never more thankful to be a Christian and to place my hope and future in the hands of the One who created me!
So I have a question for you. Do you ever go through seasons that feel like a spiritual drought? Or maybe times your circumstances are so scary you don’t even know how to pray? You might have even walked through a season where sin has troubled your relationship with God and you can’t find the words to say to come back to Him?
I’ve been there too. There have been days that I have sat down to meet with The Lord and I feel numb. Everything in my head is jumbled and I have no idea where to even start.
One of my most recent experiences with this was several moths ago when I was in the hospital awaiting surgery and ultimately the results to what was going on inside of my body.
I had plenty of time to sit and pray and read my Bible, but every time I tried I was just numb. I didn’t know how to feel or what to pray. I decided to open my Bible and start reading through The Psalms because I knew that they were words to God, from His people, pouring their hearts out to Him. Since I could not do this for myself at that time, many of these Psalms became my prayers in the hospital that week and even after, while I was recovering.
One particular very early morning, the nurses had been coming all hours of the night, taking blood, and running tests. I was dehydrated and this was causing difficulty in taking my blood. Two nurses began working on me. I had my Bible in my lap and one nurse could see I was physically weak and exhausted. She asked me what I was reading and I pointed to a Psalm. As the other nurse worked to take blood, she began reading the Psalm out loud. I can’t remember which one it was exactly, but it was one that was crying out to God for help! As she finished reading she prayed, in Jesus name, let that needle go into that vein. And it did! Praise The Lord, Hallelujah! And even though they weren’t my words originally, what a sweet reminder that God was still in control and He heard my cry for help.
If your struggling in your circumstances today, I encourage you to look over The Book of Psalm. There are chapters praying to God over sin, in need of help, in times of danger and trouble, in need of healing, comfort, forgiveness...
And if you’re not struggling, but find yourself in a place of spiritual numbness, there are Psalms of praise, celebration, and joy!
If you can’t find the words to pray, let these words be your prayer.
Do you ever sit around and think about what happens after you die? Hang with me here, this isn’t a morbid post! I pray it’s a post that will bring joy and hope to those that have put their faith in Jesus, but also a wake up call to believers that our work here on earth is not done!
Although there are many Scriptures that talk about Heaven and Hell, the book of Revelation was instilled in me when I was in high school, so that’s where we will camp out today. I wish I could tell you that I know this book from front to back, but that’s sure not the case. Our Associate Pastor at our home church, Topper, taught our youth group every Sunday; and to this day, I am not sure I know anyone who knows Revelation better than he does. What I wouldn’t give to sit under him today, now that I am older and appreciate his wisdom on this book! I would love to one day be as knowledgable as him!
Revelation is so interesting to me! Hollywood couldn’t even attempt to make movies this good, and it’s the complete, inerrant Word of God. My husband and I went to Israel back in January and when I am asked what my favorite part was, my answer is...The Valley of Armageddon! That may seem odd to most people, but I know that’s where the very last battle will take place and that excites me!
So what is it about Revelation that is so intriguing to me? Well first off, it’s a book filled with HOPE and it’s the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing to those who listen to its words and do what it says.
There are two things I want to look at today. The present and the future. But before we do that, we need to back up and start at the beginning.
Who is writing Revelation and how did this book come to be?
The apostle John, while in exile on the island of Patmos, received a vision from Christ. He is the only one of the original twelve disciples that was not killed for his faith. John was sent to Patmos by the Romans for his witness of Christ. Isn’t God creative on how He reveals His plan? God first revealed it to Christ, who in return revealed it to John.
God always has a unique way of uncovering His plan
I don’t have time to go into great detail about the entire book...that would take many blogs, but maybe one day that will happen! So, I am jumping to the end of Revelation and sharing my favorite Scriptures with you today.
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what He has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolators and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
In these Scriptures, we can see the HOPE and FUTURE we have as believers! We also see how we must live for Jesus now! When we talk about salvation, it’s very easy for us to just think about heaven, which is great expectation! But...we have a responsibility in the here and now as believers, to build His Kingdom here on earth. How can we live for Christ now?
In verse 15, Jesus says, “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolators and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
2. How living for the future affects our present:
In verse 12, Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon!”
In verse 14, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”
As much as I love to think about Heaven and standing in the presence of my Savior, I am burdened for those that don’t have this hope. It’s not a topic we like to talk about, but Hell is a very real place. I pray that we see the importance of having Jesus as Lord of our lives, right here and now as we live our lives day to day; and in our future home in Heaven. Who do you know that will not be joining you in Heaven if they were to die today? Is it you? The By Faith She girls would love to discuss this further with you and pray with you! You can email us at email@example.com.
Remembering the things God has done in the past is an integral part of our faith building journey!
In Joshua 3, Joshua and the Israelites had just crossed the Jordan River. The Lord had worked amazing miracles to make it happen and that’s where we will pick up.
The Lord spoke to Joshua: Choose 12 men from the people, one man for each tribe, and command them: Take 12 stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night.
Then Joshua set up in Gilgal the 12 stones they had taken from the Jordan, and he said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. This is so that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God.”
Read Joshua 3 & 4 for the full story!
Our Takeaway -
Try setting up your own "Gilgal" to remind you of all that God has done in your life.
You will need:
1. Smooth Stones you can write on
2. Paint Pen
3. Bowl or Plate to contain the Stones
Fill the bowl up with the stones. Make a list of miracles, blessings, or victories that God has brought you through in your life. If you have children try to include them in this part. Then write a word or two that helps remind you of each of these times on the stones. Leave some blank stones in the bowl for future triumphs that you will want to add.
I would love to hear your ideas for remembering God's faithfulness in your life. Please share!
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
We have a three year old named Jude. Most people ask if we named him after the Beatles. Although he knows just about every word to “Hey Jude”, that was definitely not our reasoning for choosing his name. To be honest, we thought the name was unique, cute and a little trendy, but, we also love what Jude in the Bible stands for.
The book of Jude is made up of only one chapter, a total of 25 versus and he is writing to the Jewish Christians. We see in Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3 that Jude is the half brother of Jesus and James. In his book, Jude reminds the church to keep strong in their faith and to oppose heresy. We knew our Jude would grow up in a world that does everything it can to go against and construe the Gospel. So this is our prayer for our son, that he will come to a relationship with the Lord at a young age and that he will boldly stand for Christ, even when others don’t.
Jude begins by warning about the danger of false teachers. Verse 3 says, Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. Jude emphasizes here that while salvation is of the utmost importance, sound doctrine and true faith cannot be twisted or manipulated. Without correct doctrine, we can’t fully understand the truth about Jesus and salvation.
I was just talking with someone the other day who’s family member is so confused about their faith. They hear so many different opinions of “religion” and they are not sure what is truth. There is one thing that never changes and that is God’s Word. It’s inspired by God and should never be added to or taken away from. If you ever feel confused because you have different opinions thrown at you, just get into the Word. Read it and discover truth for yourself.
Jude goes on in versus 5-7 to refresh their minds about rebellion that had taken place. He talks about how even the angels joined Satan and rebelled against God (2 Peter 2:4). This is where we have to be mindful and on our guard about the authors we read and the speakers we sit under. The one thing Satan wants more than anything is to turn Christians away from God or find a way to cause division. He will use any tool he can, and he even uses topics within our own denominations to divide.
And while we are on this topic, I have to insert a side note...while devotions and Bible studies are fantastic tools to help us go deeper, please don’t ever replace them with God’s Word. I believe that even the most well-known authors will tell you that. The only thing with complete truth comes straight from Scripture. The By Faith She Girls say often that we don't want you to take our word for anything either. Please, please compare our blogs with scripture and let God's Word be your guidance.
Jude goes on to talk more about false teachers, but in versus 17-23, he calls us to action! He calls us to get our hands dirty and fight for God’s truth.
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
We are living in the last days, and we can see these verses unfolding before our eyes! In the news recently, Christians were called mentally unstable! The world does not understand because they don’t believe.
Jude gives us pretty clear instructions on how to handle someone who is twisting the Gospel or who are living in sin.
Be Merciful to those who doubt;
Mercy means to have compassion or forgiveness for someone. Jesus is our example of how we should treat those who do not believe. We should always treat them with love and kindness. Now, this is not to be confused with speaking truth. We must stand for Christ, but do so in love. Here are some Scriptures on how Jesus walked and talked and loved on unbelievers.
Mark 1:33-34; 6:30-42
Save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Witnessing to those who don’t have a relationship with Christ should be priority for Christians. We should be burdened and fearful for those that will spend eternity separated from God. “Hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” means hating the sin. We should also be able to stand firm enough in our faith that we do not fall to compromise. We must influence them for Christ and not let them influence us to sin!
Just like Jude began his book with assurance, he ends it the same way.
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Our country continues to try to force God out of our daily lives, but we know that if our faith is built on Christ, we don’t have to fear. We will one day be united with our Savior and in His presence! What a beautiful day that will be! We still have work to do now, so let's be diligent to what the Lord has called us to.
This booklet is filled with God’s Words of peace for His children. They do not promise us a perfect life without pain, but they do promise that Our Heavenly Father will walk us through each situation, each day, each step, each second of our lives. He dwelt among them in those days, and for those of us who have chosen to believe in Jesus and follow Him in these days, He dwells inside of us. Put this booklet beside your bed, in your purse, or somewhere you can grab it when doubt, fear or worry tries to creep into your heart. There is blank space to add more Fear Not verses as you come across them!
2 Timothy 1:7
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in e very situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise- In God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go.”
Be strong and courageous. Bo not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.”
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down. I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation.
Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on ever side. Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most-High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most-High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely, he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
“Be strong and courageous…The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
“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 than food, and the body more than clothes? 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? Can any one of your by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 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 – you of little faith? Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? Or What shall we drink? Or What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things!
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I am so excited to be able to announce to you the launch of By Faith Kids. By Faith Kids came about because of a desire of the By Faith She girls to teach our own children. And, we decided, why not share the love with all of you! Below you will find a free downloadable, five day Bible study, for your children.
In last weeks post, we talked about a command from God in Deuteronomy 11:18-19. It says, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; …Teach them to your children.” I gave practical tips for ways that help me fulfill the first part of this commandment and I hope will helped you too.
Today, let’s talk about how we can impart God’s Word to our children. If we continue reading Deuteronomy 11, into verses 19-20, we see God giving practical advice on how to teach our children. He says, talk about His Words all the time, in every circumstance. When you sit, and when you walk along the road. I’m guessing that could be translated today “When you sit, and when you drive through the carpool line, and to various practices…” It goes on to say, “When you lie down, and when you get up. Write them on the doorframe of your houses and on your gates. So basically, find ways to fit God’s Word into all situations and conversations with your kids. Write them out and post them where you and your kids will see them, learn them, and remember them. Be intentional by word and deed to instruct your children in devotion to God!
If, as we talked about last week, you are reading God’s Word yourself, and spending time in prayer, it will make teaching your children much easier. After all, you can’t teach something you don’t know yourself. When you learn new information in your Bible study, talk to your kids about it. And with the knowledge you are saving up from studying God’s Word on your own, you will be more prepared to naturally insert God’s wisdom in various situations and conversations with your children.
MORE Practical Tips for Helping Your Child~
1. Resources -
Find resources for your child that you would like for them to use. Something age appropriate, that will adequately teach them God’s Word. My son is eleven and he loves the teen version of The Story. It is very similar to reading the Bible chronologically, but without chapters and verses. It reads like a storybook. One thing my twelve year old daughter enjoys, is reading through one book of the Bible at a time in her Journaling Bible. As she comes to verses that stick out to her or that she’d like to memorize, she gets out her colored pens and makes beautiful creations with the verse. Every child is different and learns in a variety of ways. Give your child some options on what they will use when they spend their time with The Lord.
2. Prayer -
Encourage your child to spend time in prayer as well. A prayer journal could be a helpful tool. Some children may love journaling their prayers, while others may not enjoy writing. When my daughter was very young she had some hard questions about knowing if God was real. We gave her a journal to write down prayers so she could go back and look at them every night and mark them off once God answered them. This was a huge faith builder for her because she saw proof of God’s answers right there in her journal! A journaling page is included in the Free Printable below. You are welcome to make copies of it!
3. Model It -
If your child is young or new to spending time in the Bible, start out reading them a Bible story before bed. Then model how to pray by praying out loud with them. Talk to them about how important it is to spend time with God, learning His Words to us and talking back to Him by praying. Encourage them to pray on their own when you leave the room.
4. Timing -
Help your child decide on a time to set aside to spend with the Lord. Just like us, they are much more likely to do it if they have a set time and you help them stick to it. Our goal is to send our kids to bed 30 minutes early every night so that they have time to intentionally spend with God. After those 30 minutes are up we go up to tuck them in. Many nights they tell us what they read, ask us questions, we insert knowledge we may have about what they have read…and we pray together. This obviously is harder to make happen some nights, and there have been many nights it hasn’t happened. But, we only have a short time with our children and this is SO important. Really the most important thing we could teach them in our time with them. So even if it doesn’t happen every night, it is definitely a top priority. If you haven’t been teaching your kids God’s Word and praying with them, don’t beat yourself up. It’s never too late. Start today!
By Faith She knows that the calling to be a parent, grandparent, mentor… is not always easy, and we want to help. That’s why we have created By Faith Kids. We hope to chalk it full of resources for you to use for the little ones, or maybe not so little ones, in your life.
Recently, I did a study on The Lord’s Prayer. I learned so much, and I wanted my kids to be able to begin to understand some of the same truths that I was reading about. So, I wrote a study for them on prayer. It’s divided into five days of actual Bible study, and Laura has added fun pages all throughout. Today, By Faith She is including it here as a free downloadable! Click the link below.
Please remember what we talked about above. All children learn so differently! Although this is designed to be a five-day study, one days work may be too much for your child. Don’t stress! Help them break it up into more manageable pieces. Make it work for them! Maybe like me, you have a child who doesn’t enjoy writing. Don’t make them write the answers in, but let them just think about the answers. You’ll know if they are learning when you talk about it at the end of each day. The point here is not to have perfectly completed pages. The point is to
1. teach your child God’s Word and 2. teach your child how to spend time with God!
Once they finish this Bible study, your children should be able to use the last page as a follow-up with any other Bible study. It will help them pray through their day. By Faith She plans to release more resources for kids in the future, and we pray that these resources will benefit your family as you lead them toward Jesus.
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
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Do you know what to say? Do you know where to start? Do you have the right answers? Do you have enough time? Are they old enough to understand? Will you push them away?
These are all legitimate questions you might ask yourself when you think about teaching your kids about God. But each one of these questions comes down to one simple answer found in Deuteronomy 11:18-19. It says, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; …Teach them to your children."
No matter what questions we have, if God commands it, then we should figure out how, and do it!
We see in these verses that there are two parts to this command. 1.) We are to fix God’s words in our own hearts and minds AND 2.) We are to teach them to our children.
This week we will cover the first part of this command. After all, we can’t teach our children something we haven’t learned ourselves.
Let me put a disclaimer right here in the middle of this post. What has been mentioned above is SCRIPTURE! It is a command from God and is something all believers should be striving to do. But, what I will mention following this disclaimer, is mostly my opinion. It is only to give you some help in making these commands a reality in your life. Ideas, plans…. Make it work for you!
WHAT are you going to need?
Are you already studying the Bible? Are you memorizing God’s Word? If you are, great job! If not, lets start there. Pick a Bible study, or better yet, get a Study Bible and read through a book of the Bible at a time. Or, in my personal opinion, an even better option is to get a Chronological Bible and start at the beginning and work your way through to the end. (Check out this post Rebecca recently wrote on what makes the Chronological Bible a good way to study.) There are so many choices when it comes to studying God’s Word, pick one that works for you! You may also want a prayer journal or prayer box if you like to write out your prayers. It helps keep me focused.
WHEN will you meet with God?
You’re going to need to set a time. If you don’t set a time and somewhat stick to it, you will most likely not make it a priority. I know, believe me, I know. You have no extra time. If your life is anything like mine, every minute is usually accounted for, from sun up to sun down. Here is what I occasionally have to do with my own schedule. I have to start over. First, I pray for a couple weeks or more and ask God to make it clear what He wants me involved in. Then, I take a blank piece of paper and list what a typical week needs to look like. I START with what time I will have my Bible Study/Prayer Time. The right time for you might be first thing in the morning. It may be after you get the kids off to school, on your lunch break at work, sitting in carpool, or it may be the last thing you do at night. Whenever it works best for you, put it on your schedule and make it happen. I look at it like this, there are a million good causes out there that I could be a part of, but if I’m not first spending time with the Lord, then everything else I’m doing is in vain. I am doing it in my own strength and in my own power, which, truthfully, is just pointless. We NEED God’s words pouring into our hearts and minds often. We need to be taking our cares to Him, before we take them to our friends and Facebook.
After I’ve established the most important appointment I have, then I fill in the rest of the activities for each day of a typical week, starting with the most important things…feeding my family, work, kids school, church activities (serving, attending…), time with family, down time, kids’ bedtime, time with my husband, my bedtime…until my schedule is full. If an activity doesn’t make it on the schedule then I have to pray about either fitting it in somewhere, or more likely, letting it go for this season. Click the file below for a printable blank calendar.
WHERE will you meet with God?
Now that you know WHAT you’re going to do during your time with God, and you know WHEN you’re going to meet Him, the last thing you need to decide is WHERE. Sounds pretty simple, right? Just plop down somewhere. But if your house is anything like mine, it’s hard to find a nice quiet spot where you can sit alone with the Lord. If I’m the first one up in the morning, I grab my Bible from my nightstand and read it before I’m even out of bed. This way I don’t take the chance of waking somebody up and lessen my chances for alone time. If need be, I get up, lock my bedroom door, and find a warm spot on my big comfy chair. Having a specific place to meet the Lord helps me to be prepared. I keep anything I might need nearby so I’m not distracted by having to go hunt for a pen, my Bible, my prayer journal....
Now that we have a plan of studying God’s Word for ourselves, next week we will talk about some easy ways of teaching it to our children. We have a big surprise for you with next week’s post. We are so excited about it and hope you will be, too! Check Facebook this Friday for our big announcement, or here on the blog next Monday.
These are my tips for spending quality time with my Heavenly Father. I would love to hear yours! What works for you????
Once upon a time I ran a couple of half marathons. I remember that on the last one my stride and my rhythm were the best they had ever been. The miles whizzed past, I was on pace to shatter my previous time, and I felt fantastic. Then, at mile 8 the bottom dropped out. Totally unexpected…just boom! My brain could not get past it. My mindset went from a 10+ to a big fat 0. Every single step felt heavy, hard, and impossible. At the 10-mile marker, I texted my husband and said, “Mile 10. I want to quit. I mean it.” He shot back an encouraging text that added just enough fuel to my tank to propel me past the curb that I had contemplated sitting down on. And, with laser eyes focused on the words “Press On–Phil 3:14” written on the palm of my hand, I limped through the next three miles despite my screaming body.
I sat down on the track after the race was over and cried my eyes out. Cried and cried for 30 minutes. Why so many tears? Because I had finished. I had fought the temptation to quit and I had won.
The dictionary tells us that perseverance is a steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. That day, perseverance was defined as every step between mile 10 and mile 13.1. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But, in the end, it was also one of the most rewarding.
Here in West Tennessee, we have been ice and snow bound for six days straight and counting. The snow that I had anticipated with much glee turned into a source of frustration come day three. It didn’t take long to feel the weariness of needy children, hungry mouths, messy spaces, and drippy snow clothes. I wish I could say that I embraced these first few days and treasured up the moments that a fresh blanket of powdery white snow brings, but, regretfully, I didn’t. While present in body, I was distant in thought and spirit. I yearned for peace. I yearned for quiet. I yearned for all my people to bow to my wishes. None of it was happening.
In my last post, I shared how the Lord has called me to a season of pruning. With that post still fresh on my mind, I knew in my heart that this attitude was EXACTLY what the Lord was wanting to cut away. The Spirit was leading me in one direction while the flesh, steered by the power of emotions, wrestled for control to go in the opposite direction. This jerky action between flesh and spirit was tugging so wildly at me and I simply wanted to escape. However, because of the five inches of snow and ice, I had no place to go.
On Sunday morning, I laid down on my closet floor in the dark (the only place where I’m hidden from people) for a long time. I talked to the Lord and it felt like He was so distant–so far away. After lunch, I announced to those around me that I was going to take a walk. This is laughable to me now because if you had seen the condition of my street, you would know that only a crazy person would have decided to go for an afternoon stroll that day. But, crazy I was, so I went.
Half of my focus was directed on not slipping and landing on my rear while the other half was wrapped completely up in prayer. I confessed my grumbly spirit. I confessed the wrong attitudes in my heart. I asked for forgiveness. I asked the Lord to help me continue on. I thanked Him for every tiny gift that these snowbound days had brought because I knew, despite my attitude, there were plenty. I asked Him why–why at almost 40 years old–am I so wayward some days? Why is my walk with the Lord inside the walls of my home so woefully inconsistent? Why can’t the joy of the Lord radiate from me at all times? I see it in others. Why not in me, too?
Questions, petitions, apologies, praises, pleadings, and thanksgiving rolled off my tongue during that icy trek through my neighborhood. I poured it all out and felt the cleanse that comes after a good purge. After I finally got quiet the Lord replied:
“By perseverance the seed produces a crop.” Luke 8:15
“Persevere Rebecca,” I felt Him saying. “It’s mile 10. Keep your focus on Me and don’t quit.”
“How Lord? How?” My heart was so heavy. I felt like I had wasted two good days to connect with and love my people well. “How do I get it back?” was the question that lingered in the air.
I eventually made my way back home, and, instead of going inside, I laid down in the snow and stared at the sky. My thoughts, now finally away from a noisy house, could finally enjoy the blissful silence. And, all I could think about was how I missed the noise.
I sat up and looked at the yard stretched before me. And, something sad occurred to me–the yard was untouched.
No snow angels.
No snow forts.
No evidence that children lived at our house.
“This is how,” He said.
I went into the house and called to the kids.
“Wanna come play in the snow with me?”
That late afternoon, we trekked all through our front yard. Evidence of play was on every square foot. We pummeled dad with snow balls. We ran. We made snow angels. We laid down, buried ourselves in the snow, and said over and over how beautiful, how peaceful, the whole scene was.
Together, they got me to mile 13.1.
Since that day, our snow days have been nothing but a blessing. Looking around my living room right now, I see all the game boxes from an ongoing family board game tournament, an almost finished puzzle on the table, half-constructed Snap Circuits on the floor, and blankets on the couch for cuddling. Evidence of time well spent. Most importantly, I have stayed connected to the Lord through His Word. In it He tells us,
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower
and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth.
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
All around us this week is ice and snow. Here today and gone tomorrow. But, because of its temporary presence, the land will spring forth with fresh vegetation in just a few short months if only it can persevere through the sub-zero temperatures and inches of ice and snow. That’s how it is with us when we read God’s Word. Despite all external circumstances, it is His Word that is working under the surface, inside our hearts, to produce good fruit that will come forth in due season. It is His Word that helps us persevere. It transformed me during that walk and gave me a renewed focus and repentant heart. Nothing else can do that.
Why has the Lord called for my life to be an open blog during this season? I don’t know. It’s hard enough to do it privately, between Him and I, and keep it as our little secret. But, that’s not what He desires. He desires that I walk through this on an open stage with a willingness to share what He calls me to share–for better or worse–with those He has entrusted into our care. I can only pray that as you read about the lessons that I’m learning, seeing the changes that start on the inside make their way to the outside, then you will benefit from them, growing in your faith and your own fruitfulness as well.
Tomorrow you will wake up and face the temptation to quit whatever hard thing you are going through. For us in West Tennessee, it'll be day seven of being housebound. For you, it may be something else. Whatever it is, remember this:
“By perseverance the seed produces a crop.” Luke 8:15
Not by ease but rather by perseverance will your fruitfulness come. Persevere my dear friend. Mile 10 is so very hard. But, mile 13.1 is so very sweet. Press on.
It’s that time of year when we turn our attention to the coming New Year and all the hopes and dreams that we have for it. Will this finally be the year that you lose those extra pounds? Will it be your year to run that first 5K? Will you finally kick your sugar habit? Will you eat more healthily?
According to most polls, diet and fitness goals occupy the top spots of every New Year’s Resolutions list. They certainly have mine in the past. In fact, I’ve not only been there and done that, I have also taught Bible studies on each one. No joke! My January Bible study classes have always been full of people eager to start the journey with me.
While I recommend all of these goals and can attest to the many advantages that each one brings to your life, I find a problem with each one – the joy of achieving them is fleeting. They do not produce the lasting satisfaction that can only come from the Lord. That is why I turned all my goals into Bible studies. I knew I could not do any of it – run a single mile nor live a single day without sugar – without help from the Lord. Each goal became a spiritual journey for me and I have grown significantly in my faith with the achievement of each one.
When 2017 rolled around I decided to head in a different direction with my New Year’s goals. First, I decided to only set one goal. Just one. Second, I decided it was time to do something that I have never done before – read through the Bible. Audra had recently shared her excitement with me about her chronological Bible which contains background commentaries to help the reader better understand the text before each day’s passage. I liked the sound of that because I need all the help I can get when it comes to understanding the Bible! So, I decided to go for it.
Although it's divided into 365 days, I gave myself permission at the very beginning to take it slowly. I call it my "Read Through the Bible in Three Years Plan". No pressure to speed through it. No condemnation whenever I skip a day or two or seven. No legalism. Just pure enjoyment.
Here are a few things that I have learned:
1. God meets me on every page. He met me in Genesis, in Exodus, in Leviticus, in Numbers (Yes, even in Numbers!) and so forth. On the very day I need it, His Word has been that steady guide to my wayward path. I see Him more vividly, discern His voice more clearly, and feel His presence more tangibly. Whatever I am lacking, He provides in black and white on that very page. It never fails.
2. I’m discovering power-packed verses that I have never heard before. Consider this nugget tucked inside Deuteronomy 4:7: "What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?" What a WORD!! He is NEAR US when we pray! I cannot think of a bigger confidence booster than that! Why am I not praying every waking hour then?
3. I make so many connections! The Bible is one big, seamless story. Once you start reading it in the correct order instead of cherry-picking passages, then the people, places, and events are more understandable. Context becomes key. And, you see how God uses symbolic words and numbers repetitively throughout to emphasize a certain meaning or to weave themes together. Take the number 40 for instance. Forty represents a time of testing, trial or probation. Whenever I see the number 40 pop up, I immediately think "testing!" The pings start going off in my brain and I am understanding the text in a whole new way. I lean in, looking more intently at the verses to seek the purpose of the test and what the outcome was.
For example, when Moses was atop Mount Sinai for 40 days, the Israelites got impatient and crafted, worshipped and reveled around a golden calf. Needless to say, they failed the test miserably. Another test came when Moses sent spies into the Promised Land for a 40-day tour. Upon their return, the Israelites became full of fear when they heard the distressing report. The news of the giants and walls that lay ahead made their hearts “melt in fear.” Their imaginations got carried away. They became angry and did not trust in the Lord. Instead of anticipating all that the Lord was about to do – take down giants and tear down walls – they instantaneously gave way to fear. They failed that test miserably, too.
But, then, there’s Jesus. A man who passed the test. Led by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days. He was stretched, tried and tempted beyond human imagination and yet stood victorious on day 41. Glory!
These accounts of testing cause me to pause and ask myself, “Would I pass this test?” To be honest, I don’t think I would get a passing grade in most cases. When the Lord seems to tarry like he did at Sinai, I tend to grow hasty and want visible reassurance. So, I dance around idols with names like “control” and “comfort” that I can manipulate and fashion with my own hands. I falsely believe that they will console and guide me. They cannot.
Or, when the journey ahead seems daunting or I venture into new territory (ahem – writing a blog), I get scared. It’s the melting-with-fear, not-believing-God kind of scared. I take my eyes off the cluster of grapes and focus instead on the mythical giants. I quickly forget that this tiny grasshopper with her tiny faith has a giant God.
4. I find myself craving more. It took a while to find my rhythm so my reading was very sporadic at first. Now I find myself excited to find out what happens next. It has become my daily bread and I can't get enough. My appetite keeps growing.
5. I see myself in many of the people. I find myself battling many of the same weaknesses as Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses and many others. But because of Christ in me, I possess many of their strengths as well. It is only by studying God’s faithful, the way they did it, the lessons they learned, and the tests they failed that I, too, know how to live victoriously through Christ.
I could go on and on presenting my case on why picking up your Bible on January 1st and making a commitment to read it all the way through – no matter how long it takes you – is the best New Year’s Resolution that you can make. But, I’ll end here with the wise words that one of my greatest mentors recently said.
While dining with Kay Arthur this past fall when she came to our church for a speaking event, our Women’s Ministry director concluded the meal with one simple question. She asked Kay: “What do you see is the greatest danger in the world today?”
My mind immediately started to think of world events. Is she going to say ISIS? Radical Islam? Terrorism? The moral decline of America? The great rift in American society? All of those things flashed through my mind and are understandably great concerns of our day. That’s why, when she finally spoke, Kay’s answer both shocked me, and, most importantly, got my attention. She said:
“Yes, I see a very great and real danger. The greatest danger in the world today is that Christian women do not know the Old Testament. The Old Testament is where you get to know Who God is. And, tragically, our women do not know Him because they do not read the Old Testament anymore.”
Ouch. Guilty as charged.
I knew in her answer that the baton had been passed to the fifteen of us sitting around that table. It is now our job to get our Christian women back into the Word. Without the knowledge of Who God is, all the worries of this world will shackle us and crush our faith. He is triumphant over all and we see that time and time again in the Old Testament! And, even worse, if we don't know Him, neither will our children. So, that’s why I’m challenging you – yes, you dear sister – today to join me on a journey where we get to know Who God is on every single page of those 39 books. Will you join me?
If you’re in – really in – comment "I'm in" on our Facebook post and share this post or any other recent By Faith She post that you especially liked. By commenting and sharing, you will be entered into a drawing to receive the same Chronological Bible that the four of us read. And, you will love it! Winner will be chosen via Facebook Live on Tuesday, January 2nd.
Remember – the theme with this New Year’s Resolution is grace. Give yourself grace to read through the Bible slowly. It's not “365 days or bust” but more like “1,000 days and succeed.” Get to know Who God is. And, once you do, it will be by far the most satisfying and fulfilling thing you have ever done.
Genesis – He is the Breath of Life
Exodus – He is the Passover Lamb
Leviticus – He is the High Priest
Numbers – He is the Fire by Night
Deuteronomy – He is Israel’s God
Joshua – He is Commander of the Army of the Lord
Judges – He is Israel’s Guard
Ruth – He is the Kinsman-Redeemer
I & II Samuel – He is our Prophet/Priest/King
I & II Kings – He is Sovereign
I & II Chronicles – He is the King Who Reigns Eternally
Ezra - He is the True and Faithful Scribe
Nehemiah – He is the Rebuilder of Walls and Lives
Esther – He is our Courage & Protector of His People
Job – He is the Timeless Redeemer
Psalms – He is our Morning Song
Proverbs – He is our Wisdom
Ecclesiates – He is Our Meaning for Life
Song of Solomon – He is the Author of Faithful Love
Isaiah – He is the Suffering Servant
Jeremiah – He is the Weeping Messiah
Lamentations – He is the Cry for Israel
Ezekiel – He Calls Us From Sin
Daniel – He is the Stranger in the Fire With Us
Hosea – He is Forever Faithful
Joel – He is the Spirit’s Power
Amos – He is the Strong Arms that Carry Us
Obadiah – He is the Lord our Savior
Jonah – He is the Great Missionary
Micah – He is the Promise of Peace
Nahum – He is Our Strength and Our Shield
Habakkuk – He brings Revival
Zephaniah – He is the Warrior Who Saves
Haggai – He Restores that which is Lost
Zechariah – He is Our Fountain
Malachi – He is the Son of Righteousness Rising with Healing in His Hands
Matthew – The Messiah Who is King
Mark – The Messiah Who is Servant
Luke – The Messiah Who is Our Deliverer
John – The Messiah Who is God in Flesh
Acts – The Spirit Who Dwells in His People
Romans – The Grace of God
I & II Corinthians – The Power and Love of God
Galatians – He is Our Freedom From the Curse of Sin
Ephesians – He is the Unity of the Church
Philippians – He is the Joy of Our Lives
Colossians – He Holds the Supreme Position in All Things
I & II Thessalonians – He is our Returning King
I Timothy – He is Savior of the Worst Sinners
II Timothy – He is the Leader of the Leaders
Titus – He is the Foundation of Truth
Philemon – He is Our Mediator
Hebrews – He is Our Everlasting Courage
James – He Matures Our Faith
I & II Peter – He is Our Hope in Times of Suffering
I John – He is the Source of Fellowship
II John – He is God in the Flesh
III John – He is the Source of All Truth
Jude – He Protects Us From Stumbling
Revelation – He is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, The Alpha and the Omega, The Beginning and the End, and He is Coming Again and the One Who Makes All Things New
The Daily Bible Giveaway
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First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural, an even 50/50 split of introvert/extrovert, and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
Have you ever been in a season of weakness, confusion, and uncertainty? That’s exactly where I found myself as a young mom and pastors wife.
I had two beautiful children, a husband who loved us very much and provided a home and a great life for us. We had a wonderful church, where Dr. Charles Stanley was our amazing Bible Teaching Pastor. And yet, I was going through a very difficult time.
New health issues, paired with living in a new town, being a new mom, and trying hard to be involved as a minister’s wife were a heavy load to bear. It created fear in my heart that I had never experienced.
As I searched the pages of Scripture for help, I felt God leading me to start at the beginning of the Bible.
When I say I felt God leading me, it seemed to just be an idea that came to me while I was praying and asking God for answers.
As I began to follow this thought, I soon found it was not just an idea, but that God was leading me through His Word. Stories from the Bible, that happened thousands of years earlier, had so much similarity to my own life.
One of my favorites, that I still remind myself of often, is the story of Joshua.
Following Moses, one of Israel's great leaders, came Joshua. He was to take over the lead after Moses died. This meant having to not only give direction to God’s people, but that he would have to do some really scary things, like lead them into war! But from the very beginning God promised Joshua that He would be with him. God said that no one would be able to stand against him.
A verse that really grabbed my heart at that difficult time in my life, was Joshua 1:9. It says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Verses and stories like this began to give me courage and strength. I knew that if God was with me, I could make it through everything that was on my plate. I learned that He could take care of my kids in ways I couldn’t, and that if He had called me to be a mom, He would walk me through it. If He had called me to be a pastors wife, He would teach me how. And that even if everything fell apart, He still had a good plan and was in complete control.
I would like to say the fear and anxiety immediately disappeared. I would like to say I’ve never had to deal with any of it again. But that just wouldn’t be true. There have been many days that Satan has brought me to my knees in fear or many nights that he has wakened me with whispers of ‘what if’ scenarios. But each time I turn to the Lord in prayer and look for answers in His word, He builds my faith and shows me that He is with me and He is able!
If your looking for strength to do all that's on your plate today, or you need encouragement to deal with your own fears, below are some additional verses and stories that have brought me comfort! These real people lived extraordinary lives and did things that many times didn’t make sense. But they trusted God and followed the plan He had for each of them. By Faith They... lived the lives God called them to live. I pray for myself, as well as for you today, that we will do the same!
Check Out These By Faith Stories:
Abraham - Genesis 12-25 (Especially notice Genesis 22)
Moses - Exodus 1-14
Esther - Esther 1-10
Two great options that I recommend if you're looking for a Bible:
The Holman Christian Standard Study Bible
The Daily Bible In Chronological Order 365 Daily Readings With Devotional Insights to Guide you Through God's Word