Posted in Spiritual

Top 8 YouVersion Plans

In the past 36 weeks, I have completed 42 plans on the YouVersion Bible App.

My thoughts:

  • I love having a devotional so easily accessible.
  • I appreciate the connected Scripture with each plan.
  • I enjoy being able to find weekly devotionals that are pointed toward a specific area, struggle, or interest in my life. Each week brings new challenges, so it’s nice to have a devotional plan to give wisdom and Scripture that is applicable day-to-day.

However, my current struggle is sifting through all the hundreds of plans to find the “good” ones… the plans that are Scripturally sound and not just “fluff stuff.”

So… I thought I’d hop on the blog today to share with YOU my 8 favorite plans I have come across on the YouVersion App so far.

These cover many different topics, and each bring a unique style!

Happy Reading, Praying, and Studying!

http://bible.com/r/3Kp

A touching story about waiting. About finding God’s mercies to be BRAND new every single day. Can I get an “amen”?

http://bible.com/r/ow

Since hub and I are part of our local church ministry team, I found this devotional super enlightening and challenging! Helps put everything into perspective. I highly recommend it! Although it does focus a lot on being in music ministry, it has many applicable truths to all areas of ministry!

http://bible.com/r/UN

Such an incredible picture of Jesus, challenging us to daily become more like Him! Hub actually read this plan before I did. Was I ever glad I followed his lead!

http://bible.com/r/3Lq

These prayers helped me to feel more fulfilled in the mundane, day-to-day work, yet also challenged me to be THAT much better. I was convicted about how little I tend to pray for my role in the workplace.

http://bible.com/r/LY

This devotional has a unique approach to studying the Spirit, how to live in the Spirit, etc. It is packed with Scripture. Each day you will come away with a truth to focus on and correct. You will come back wanting more!

http://bible.com/r/318

Sometimes we just need reminders about friendships in different seasons of life. How to be a friend who speaks TRUTH. How to deepen relationships, etc.

http://bible.com/r/30V

Such an INCREDIBLE plan! I encourage even those dating or engaged to check this plan out. I sure wish I would’ve seen it back then! Wow! Powerful and convicting stuff! Some of this applies to having problems or misconceptions in/about marriage. But, I focused instead on how this whole plan speaks of having a “gospel-centered marriage.” We all can improve in that area!

http://bible.com/r/3ez

This devotional plan will take you outside your little bubble of Christianity. Such a unique approach to show that God’s kingdom is immense, alive, and well!

 

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Posted in Spiritual

Taking my thoughts captive.

Your thought life is where the rubber meets the road. All of life. Your goals, plans, dreams, wishes, desires — all of it is up in your head.

That’s just the way it goes.

And, let me tell you… the Bible has a LOT to say about the mind, temptation, our thoughts, and so on! Today, though, I’m focusing on one small passage of Scripture that is packed with power. This has confronted, convicted, and challenged me — leaving me desiring correction and change.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 ~

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Me. Myself. I. Taking EVERY thought I have and bringing it under the Lordship, Authority, and correction of Jesus Christ.

Depending on what version you read, it will either say “we take captive every thought” or we “we bring every thought into captivity.”

I love the idea of both. So, let’s focus on those two words right here. Take and Bring.

A little grammar always comes in handy. So, here’s the part where I indulge my inner English buff and tell you that these two words are verbs. And, no – they are not “linking” or “being” verbs – they are “ACTION” verbs. Do you follow me so far?

Take and Bring — those are two things that I can do. They are actions. They don’t happen by themselves. Someone has to DO them.

According to the dictionary…

Take. (1) Lay hold of (something) with one’s hands; reach for and hold. (2) Remove (someone or something) from a particular place.

Bring. (1) Cause (someone or something) to come to a place. (2) Make (someone or something) move in a particular direction or way.

This Scripture is saying that I must TAKE my thoughts. Me. Myself. I. I must actually TAKE my thoughts. I must lay hold of them. I must take ownership of them.

And then I must BRING them. Me. Myself. I. I must actually BRING my thoughts. Cause my thoughts. Move my thoughts. To obey Christ. To dwell on Christlike ideas, etc.

Me. I have to do this. No one else can do it for me.

I have to take ownership of my thought life.

I strongly feel as if, in my own life and Spiritual walk with Christ, this is an area of immaturity. And, somehow, I don’t feel as if I am alone in this battle.

Rick Thomas puts it this way:

Plan A for the devil is to keep all people from believing in Christ.

Plan B for the devil is to keep all Christians from maturing in Christ.

If the devil can’t get me to NOT be a Christian, he’s going to try to get me to be a shallow one.

And, I am NOT ok with that! I refuse to be a mediocre, mundane, and moderate Christian.

This – the area of my thoughts – is a place where God is putting his finger on & saying, “I’ve commanded you to be better. I’ve given you my Spirit. I have promised ‘everything you need for life and godliness’ (2 Peter 1:3).”

 

So, what exactly does it look like to bring my thoughts and move them under the authority of Jesus Christ? What exactly does it look like to captivate my thoughts?

That’s what we are going to delve into now.

First of all. . .

We must be aware that this – taking our thoughts captive – is a BATTLE. It is a war. The Bible is clear that we fight not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of evil (paraphrased from Ephesians 6:12). You need to accept the fact that, as a child of God, you are in a war. Taking EVERY single thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ is a huge undertaking. The devil wants your soul, and the easiest place for him to enter is in the mind. The devil won’t make this easy.

Secondly. . . 

You must suit up. You must put on your armor: Salvation, the Spirit, Truth, Faith, the Gospel, Righteousness, and Peace. You can’t leave off any part. This is a battle that you can’t fight on your own. Take it seriously. Get your priorities straight. Jesus first. Everything else behind Him. Prepare yourself. Spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Next. . .

Take anything in your life that diverts your thoughts towards things that are not Christlike, deal with it, and get rid of its hold on you. This might look like confessing sin. This might look like getting an accountability partner. This might look like creating a healthy and needed balance in your life, realizing that just because something is good doesn’t mean it is best. This might look like cutting out some Netflix shows that you’d be better off without. This might look like waging a war on materialism in your life and budgeting your money more carefully. This might look like fighting worry and anxiety, instead of succumbing to it. This might look like ending a relationship. This might look like getting rid of some friends whose influence are toxic to your relationship with God.

It will look different for each one of us. We know ourselves and our struggles and our areas of temptation. We KNOW what we need to REMOVE from our lives to enable us to take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.

If you are unsure of what you need to do, I guarantee if you pray and simply say, “God, I’m serious about this. About taking my thoughts captive to obey you. About bringing my thought life under your authority. What do I need to cut out and remove from my life in order to purify my relationship with you?” If you pray something like that with sincerity of heart, God is going to use His Spirit to speak to you, to show you what eliminations you need to undertake.

Lastly. . . 

In order to take control of your thought life, you must implement good habits. Dig deeper in the Word of God. Don’t read because you have to; read because you need to. We can NOT live without God’s truth, people. We have to be people of the Word if we are going to be over-comers! Establish friendships with people who not only encourage your walk with Christ, but they speak truth into it, even if it hurts and you don’t want to hear it. Think and focus on what’s pure, what’s true, what’s right, what’s lovely, what’s admirable, what’s excellent, and what’s worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). Create new habits that are good for you physically, mentally, and emotionally – nature walks/hikes, photography, writing, reading, coloring, relaxing. Self-care is vital. And, don’t forget that impure, ungodly, or inferior thoughts will try to creep in – they’ll try, trust me. And when they do, make a CHOICE right then and there – before they implant and take over – to throw them out and set your mind on things ABOVE (Colossians 3:2). Be on guard. The devil is sneaky.

Remember. . .

EVERY thought captive to obey Jesus. Not just part of our thoughts or a few of them. This is an “all or nothing” thing. And, yes. It seems like a ginormous task. It is. However, God wouldn’t tell us to do something that wasn’t possible. If God says, “Take your thoughts captive,” it means He is going to give us the grace to do it. If we just ask. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” I don’t know about you, but I know that my heart is God’s – – – so I commit my thought life to being under His authority as well. It just makes perfect sense. 

 

Pursuing Christ – Abandoning Self.

 

Photo by Victoria Bilsborough on Unsplash

Posted in Spiritual

Called to Virtue: The Pursuit

To the woman who’s reading this,

          First of all, I just love you. You are so beautiful. You have a unique personality and many gifts. You have a story behind your face. Hurts and failures. Joys and victories. I’m cheering you on. My heart wants so much good for each one of you. I’m reminded of where I was in life – not many years ago. My teenage years. And where I am now. A young, married wife just trying to learn and grow. Wow. I just look back on all the lessons I have learned – and some that I am still trying to learn… and I realize that my pursuit of Virtue should have been my top priority constantly. It is so easy to become distracted, I know. However, I encourage you to give everything to God now, not to wait until a more “convenient” time. Being a Christian and pursuing Christlikeness is where it’s “at” and where it counts. I pray something God says through me & this post today will speak to you, and that God will help us on our pursuit to become Virtuous Women.

 

To start out, you must first define Virtue.

According to a couple different dictionaries, Virtue is…

  • Behavior showing high moral standards.
  • Conformity to a standard of right
  • Moral excellence, righteousness, or goodness

 

Secondly, we must look to a Biblical example of Virtue, the “Proverbs 31 Woman.”

Proverbs 31: 11 – 31

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (She is far more precious than jewels.) The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no lack of gain. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters/women have done virtuously, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.

I don’t know about you… but reading that passage overwhelms me. Here’s exactly what I think…

To become a virtuous woman seems just downright impossible.

But… Is it, really?

Check out these verses.

2 Peter 1: 3 & 5

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue… giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue.

 

You and I are C A L L E D to be women of virtue.

Overwhelming? Maybe. Doable? Definitely.

I am a FIRM believer that God doesn’t call you to something that is impossible.

Is becoming a virtuous woman overwhelming? Maybe. But, is it doable? Definitely!

 

 

Next, you have to study the “Proverbs 31 Woman.” Here’s the list I came up with.

 

Point 1. Qualities of a Virtuous Woman

  • Trustworthy.
    • Not fake. Not a flirt. Not a facade.
  • Good-hearted.
    • Wishing the best for others. Seeking the highest good of those around, even if it’s uncomfortable or unrewarded here on earth.
  • Willing and hard worker.
    • Looking for opportunities to be helpful. Not slacking from work that needs done.
  • Makes her family her priority.
    • Takes care of them. First.
  • Treats her friends fairly.
    • Doesn’t seek to exclude.
  • Planner
    • Looks ahead and doesn’t forget about the future.
  • She knows her worth and value.
  • Consistent.
  • She treats those less than herself with care and love.
  • She prepares and grows in the easy times to withstand the hard times.
  • Resourceful.
  • Strong, but smart.
  • Carefree, not careless.
  • A speaker of truth that is covered in wisdom and kindness.
  • Not lazy.
  • Praiseworthy.
  • Good reputation, inside and outside the home.
  • Cares more about what God thinks that what the world thinks.
    • Charm is deceitful. Beauty is vain. Those things don’t last or matter.

 

(Side note: Wow! That’s a lot. I know. Yikes. But, the great thing is that God has promised to stay right beside us and lead and guide – Every Step of the Way!)

So, OK. We read the list of qualities. It’s not enough, though, to just observe and study the “Proverbs 31 Woman.” We have to move past that into actually “becoming” and “pursuing” the Virtuous Woman we are each called to be.

 

Point 2. How to become like the Virtuous Woman

You must have…

  • Intelligent Perspective.
    • Life is SO much more than just right now and just about you.
    • Don’t forget about your future self. Who you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years.
    • Inside matters more than the outside.
  • Intimate Prayer.
    • Talking to God.
      • On the daily. On the double.
      • If you don’t talk to someone, you don’t get to know them. And, in turn, they don’t get to know you. Don’t let this happen with God.
    • Pouring out your soul.
      • Your thoughts. Your struggles. Your sins. Your feelings. Your nothings and every-things.
    • Listening for God.
      • Taking time to be still.
        • Get over the awkwardness and enjoy His presence.
      • He WILL speak. Through His Word. Through the pastor. Through mentors. Through your conscience. Through your parents. Through music. Through quiet. Through peace.
  • Incredible Patience.
    • It doesn’t happen in a day.
    • It doesn’t happen all at once.
    • It’s more about the direction you are going than where you are.
      • Don’t be afraid of failure. Don’t expect perfection. Be prepared to mess up. More than once.
  • Intentional Pursuit.
    • Leaving the past behind. Reaching forward to what is ahead.
    • Letting others be who they are and where they are. You can’t dictate someone else’s J O U R N E Y. You must focus, instead, on Y O U R current growth and journey! (To the unmarried ladies: This means letting your future husband – whoever and wherever he is – stay somewhere out there in your future, where he rightfully belongs.)

If I could sum it all up for you, here’s what I’d say…

 

In order to become a woman of virtue, it’s gotta be…

†††

“Christ Comes First… the rest follows.”

 

 

(I presented this to the young ladies in our youth group. I made a slideshow presentation. If that interests you, feel free to comment/contact me. I’d love for it to be useful to others, as well!)

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Posted in Spiritual

Pray with purpose.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you begin praying?

Do you ever wonder if you’re making a difference?

Or does it ever seem that your prayer list is forever long and you don’t know how you’ll pray for each request?

I’ve felt this way more times than I care to admit. However, today I am reminding myself AND you that prayer DOES make a difference. We should not be discouraged! And, we can NEVER give up or stop.

On the flip side, I have also been convicted that I need to start praying more specifically. To start praying with more purpose. To start praying more boldly.

Because of these things, I have complied the following prayer list. You don’t have to use it. I just felt led to post it. It’s a list to help us focus our prayers. To pray specifically. To pray with purpose. To pray believing.

______________

Lord, help me today as I pray to remember. . .

  • That You are listening.
  • That You are the ultimate Giver and Healer.
  • That You answer each prayer, even if it’s with a “no” or a “wait.”
  • That You know me, those I am praying for, and every single situation better than I do.
  • That You have my best interest at heart.
  • That You are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

 

Lord, I pray for my husband. . .

  • His heart
    • That he would guard his heart. Keep it. With all diligence.
    • That You would work on his heart and grow any areas that need improvement.
    • That he would share his heart with me, his wife.
  • His mind
    • That he would think only on good & righteous things.
    • That he would fight against temptations of the mind & keep from falling.
  • His eyes
    • That he would see my needs, as his wife, and seek to be my helpmeet.
    • That he would look to You for guidance and direction for our home.
    • That he would look away from any unholy, ungodly, or impure person or image.
    • That he would read Your Word and glean much from it.
  • His hands
    • That You would bless his work and help him to find fulfillment in what he does.
    • That You would help him as he provides for our home.
  • His feet
    • That he would walk where You lead.
    • That he would stay away from places that lead to sin and temptation.
  • His mouth
    • That he would praise You and pray to You.
    • That he would encourage me.
    • That he would refrain from evil speaking (i.e. gossip, vulgar words, dirty jokes).
  • His body
    • That he would stay healthy.
    • That he would be safe – day in and day out – wherever he may go.

 

Lord, I pray for my parents. . .

  • That their love for one another would grow.
  • That their jobs and/or places of ministry would be fruitful.
  • That their burdens and trials would grow them, not make them bitter.
  • That they would be encouraged and have true, unhindered joy.
  • That you would keep them safe and keep them from falling.

 

Lord, I pray for my siblings. . .

  • That their walk with You would be full of growth.
  • That their marriages would stay strong.
  • That their relationships would remain pure and beneficial.
  • That their children would obey them and appreciate all that they do for them.
  • That their jobs and/or places of ministry would be fruitful.
  • That they would be encouraged and have true, unhindered joy.
  • That the battles they face would only make them stronger, not bitter.
  • That you would keep them safe and keep them from falling.

 

Lord, I pray for my church. . .

  • That the devil would not have right-of-way in our place of worship.
  • That my pastor would preach the Word clearly and that we (those attending) would listen.
  • That my pastor & his family would be encouraged in their place of ministry. That they would feel loved and appreciated.
  • That the church people would bind together in a sweet, unified way and grow together in love, grace, and truth.
  • That those in leadership positions (i.e. Sunday school teachers, music leaders, youth leaders, children’s workers, etc.) would listen to Your leading, speak the truth, lead with discretion, and remain encouraged.
  • That the needs of the church (spiritual, physical, financial, emotional, etc.) would be met in the way You see fit.
  • That our financial needs would be met.
  • That our missionaries would remain encouraged and effective.
  • That we would grow and evangelize the lost.

 

Lord, I pray for my friends. . .

  • That their focus would be on You, not their battles and hardships.
  • That they would seek You above all else. Every day.
  • That You would bless their work and/or area of ministry.
  • That they would listen to Your voice, above all else.
  • That they would speak truth into my life, if necessary.
  • That You would keep them safe and keep them from falling.

 

Lord, I pray for my country. . .

  • That our focus would return to You and Your principles.
  • That our President and Vice President would lead with wisdom.
  • That our Congressional leaders and all those in office would make wise decisions.
  • That we would fight for the unborn.
  • That we would remain safe from evil forces within and without.

 

Lord, I pray for myself. . .

  • My heart
    • That I would keep it with all diligence.
    • That I would love You first, always.
  • My mind
    • That I would think only on what is good, pure, and wholesome.
    • That I would say “no” to temptation.
    • That I would give my battles to You and not try to fight them on my own.
  • My eyes
    • That I would see my husband’s needs and seek to be his helpmeet.
    • That I would look away from any unholy, ungodly, or impure person, image, movie, show, etc.
    • That I would look for ways to show love to the world around me.
    • That I would read Your Word and glean much from it.
  • My hands
    • That you would bless my work – inside and outside the home. That I would find/have fulfillment in what I do.
    • Keep me busy doing Your will and following after You.
  • My feet
    • That I would walk where You lead.
    • That I would stay away from places that lead to sin and temptation.
    • That I would share Your love and Your Word to those You send my way.
  • My mouth
    • That I would praise You and pray to You – more than I ever have before.
    • That I would refrain from evil speaking (i.e. gossip, vulgar words, dirty jokes).
    • That I would encourage my husband – seek to lift him up, not tear him down.
    • That I would speak truth to all I come into contact with.
  • My body
    • That I would stay healthy.
    • That I would be safe – day in and day out – wherever I may go.

_____________

Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash

Posted in Spiritual

Prone to wander.

To the wanderer. To the one who is low in spirit. To the one who is confused. To the one who is weary.

To you. To me.

It’s so easy to lose our way. It’s so easy to get lost. It’s so easy to just give up. Or, at least, want to stop trying.

Life is too much, too heavy some days. We get caught up in our work, our busy schedules, our “to-do” lists, our frustrations, our disappoints, and our pain.

We start questioning God. We start forgetting the progress we have made. We start floundering. We start questioning. We start dwelling in the past.

We wander from our Heavenly Father. We wander from spending time in His Word. We wander from our core beliefs. We wander from our family and their love for us. We wander from our friends who want the best for us. We wander from our dreams and plans.

Before long, we find ourselves far from where we used to be, far from where we want to be, and far from where we meant to be.

We don’t normally mean to wander. We don’t purposely set out to do the wrong thing. We don’t mean to settle for good instead of best.

Stop. Take a deep breath.

It’s not too late, my friend.

God doesn’t give up on you. On me. Our God is a God of Reckless Love.

The LORD’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The LORD is all I have, and so I put my hope in him.

~Lamentations 3:22-24 GNB

God’s desire is to hold you close, to bring you home. To show you NEW mercies, NEW truths. He sent His Son, Jesus. . . because He wants you to live the life you were meant to live. An abundant, overflowing life. Here’s the words that Jesus, himself, said.

The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life — life in all it’s fullness.

~John 10:10 GNS

If you are wandering today. If you are lost. If you are trapped. Trapped in sin, trapped in bitterness, trapped in disbelief, trapped in busyness, trapped in hurt, trapped in fear, trapped in confusion.

Don’t stay there.

Don’t let the devil control you or convince you. The devil doesn’t have your best interest in mind. He wants you to wander; he doesn’t want you to be settled. Wandering leads nowhere good. The devil, in all actuality, wants you to spend an eternity away from God and His magnificent heaven. It’s not worth it. You don’t have to stay lost.

God’s plan for you is perfect. God’s plan for you does NOT entail wandering away from Him.

All of us need to wake up to the reality that if we are lost, if we are wandering, we are NOT in harmony with our Savior. Heaven is for the found, not the lost.

Do you need finding today? Do you need to come back home?

It’s never too late.

God is waiting for you with His open arms. He is faithful, even when we are not.

Come back home to stay.

 

 

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

~Robert Robinson

 

Photo by Markus Gempeler on Unsplash

Posted in Spiritual

Chrestotes.

I am a Follower of Jesus.

Jesus calls me to live in Him and His truth. Jesus calls me to show the world that He is the message of Hope. Jesus calls me to a life of fruitfulness. As a Follower of my Jesus, my life should showcase the Fruits of the Spirit to those around me.

Here are a couple scriptures to think about. . .

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:5b

Without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:8

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

What are the fruits that I should be bearing/showing if I want to be a Follower of Jesus?

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness (Integrity), Faithfulness, Meekness (Humility), and Self-Control.

I live in the real world. So do you. When I think about this Checklist titled “Fruits of the Spirit,” I cringe just a little bit. That’s a lot. Some days, especially, it feels overwhelming. I get so busy, so frustrated, so impatient, so snippy, so tired.

As Followers of Jesus we WANT to follow His Word, so – you might be thinking  – “How can I make this Fruit-Bearing seem more manageable?”      I am so glad you asked! 😉

Let’s take them one at a time, shall we?

Chrestotes

Chrestotes is the Greek word for kindness.

So, what exactly is kindness?

If you check any dictionary, it will state something like this for kindness: “The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”

I found a great definition for kindness from Tim Keller @ J.D. Greer Ministries (https://jdgreear.com/blog/kellers-definitions-of-the-fruit-in-galatians-5/).

(Warning: It’s pretty radical, but it got me to thinking. . .)

What Kindness Is

Practical kindness with vulnerability out of deep inner security

What Kindness Isn’t

Envy. Unable to rejoice in other’s joy.

What Kindness Morphs Into

Manipulative good deeds. Self-congratulation and self-righteousness.

If our world needs anything these days, it would be kindness.

I must admit for myself that I get so wrapped up in my own world & schedule that I forget to be kind. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t go around being “mean” or “rude.” I definitely don’t put much effort into being “kind,” however.

I don’t for a moment think that mediocre kindness is what Christ has called us – His Followers – to.

It’s time I start being more aware of the world around me. It’s time I start realizing that I might be the only picture of Jesus some people see. It’s time I start owning up to being a Follower of Jesus.

I should be bearing the Fruit of Kindness at a much quicker rate than I am currently.

I must not mask kindness by doing things just for praise. That’s not true kindness.

I must not be kind just to make myself feel better. That is selfish.

Instead . . .

I must be secure in who I am & what I have in order to treat others with genuine kindness in my thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

I must guard my heart from selfishness and discontentment. Instead of envying others, I should work to rejoice in their blessings and triumphs!

I must look for ways to practice kindness. Every day.

Now, listen — In part of my desire to blog about authentic living, I promise that I practice what I write about. The past two weeks my Bible Study ladies & I practiced thankfulness, this week we are practicing kindness. Each day we are endeavoring to go out of our way – and purposefully look for – an opportunity to bless someone with an act of kindness. We then keep each other accountable by sharing in our group chat!

Most of my acts of kindness this week have been small. Doesn’t matter. Purposefully looking for a way to be kind to others has helped me be more aware of the needs around me and the opportunities I usually pass up.

People sometimes need a smile, a note, a hug, a helping hand, a visit, a gift. . . a friend!

Sometimes this looks like putting my husband’s laundry away. Sometimes this looks like helping a coworker out with a task that needs accomplished. Sometimes this looks like gathering all the carts in the parking lot for the cashier at the Dollar Tree who looks incredibly busy and flustered.

Find a way to be kind. Get out of your comfort zone.

I challenge you to join me in this endeavor! One purposeful act of kindness a day – for at least a week.

I truly think that working on showing kindness each day will help us toward the end goal.

What is that end goal, again?

Following Jesus and His teachings. Living a Spirit-filled life. Bearing fruit.

Kindness is a lifestyle, friends.

May we work on kindness, practice kindness, and become kindness.

Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash

Posted in Spiritual

Take the first step.

Sometimes, it is just about taking the first step. The step of obedience. The step of trust. The step of faith.

Joshua 3:13-17:

13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;

15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest),

16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

Background:

Moses chose Joshua to replace him as the leader of the Israelites after he passed away. As Joshua faced this new door of opportunity and leadership, God assured him of the following: “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). What a promise! Now, after wandering in the wilderness for forty years, God’s people were ready to follow Joshua into the Promised Land. They were ready to conquer in the name of the LORD. They were ready to see and retrieve the wonderful land that God had promised to give them.

Point 1: Consecrate your life

First things first, though, they were commanded to purify themselves. According to the commentary in my Life Application Study Bible, “The consecration ceremony pictured the importance of approaching God with a pure heart.”

Application:

What about you? Have you consecrated or given your life completely to Christ’s control? Are you bearing Christ’s name wherever you go? Have you obeyed God before you take the next step, before you expect Him to answer your prayers or give you a blessing? Are you walking in all the light God has shown you (1 John 1:7) before you claim the promise in Romans 8:28 that “ALL things work together for good to those who LOVE God”? You can’t live for yourself and expect to reap the benefits of being God’s child.

Point 2: Listen to God’s voice

Next, Joshua commanded the people to – before commencing battle – come together and listen to what God had to say (Joshua 3:9).

Application:

When was the last time you TOOK the time to stop and listen to what God has to say to you before you rushed into a decision, gave an opinion, etc.? According to my Bible’s commentary, “Before making your schedule, take time to focus on what God wants from ALL your activities.” Wow! God should rule and reign in your daily choices and activities.

Point 3: Take the first step

Then, God gave His people “specific instructions” (Joshua 3:13) on how they were supposed to start their journey to overtaking their enemies, which happened to be crossing over the Jordan River, currently in flooding season. The priests who were carrying the ark of the covenant were supposed to STEP into the water. When their soles – bottoms of their feet – NOT just tiptoes – were in the water — then, and ONLY then, would God perform His miracle. He was going to PART the huge Jordan river. Say, what?! Yes, for the second time in their history, God was showing His people who was boss. He controls the winds, the waves, and even the weather… Everything!

Application:

What difficult task has God ordered you to do? What step has God commanded you to take? What situation is facing you that has you shaking in your boots? Sometimes it is just about taking the first step. Surrender your life to God’s control. Choose serving God over everyone and anything else. Read the Bible. Listen to what God has to say to you, and then. . . OBEY. Do whatever God wants you to do. It might be something simple. It might be something complex. Either way, you MUST take that first step. If the priests had decided they were going to stand on the bank of the Jordan River until God parted the waters, they would STILL be standing there. They had to step into the raging river before God performed the miracle – before He stopped the waters. It might seem foggy in your life right now. That first step might be incredibly scary. HOWEVER – don’t let that stop you! Don’t “tiptoe” into what God tells you to do – plunge into the river. Trust that God is with you. Obey quickly and fully. Then, the waters will be part, the skies will become clear, and the presence of God will surround you.

The first step is the hardest. If you never take it, though, you’ll never know what miracles God was going to perform in your life. Take that first step of faith.

Resources:

Life Application Study Bible, New American Standard Bible – Updated Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.

Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash