WordoftheWeek: Strengthen

“Be strong and of good courage… do not cower.

Do not heed your fears. Take the land I have given you to possess.”

Joshua 1:6, 7

Joshua is one of my favorite books of the Bible. The third chapter in particular grips me every time. So thankful Christine shared about the Lord using Joshua to encourage her to worship Him during battles of all kinds.

Genuinely praising God amidst the crazy and chaotic takes strength.

That’s the word this week, pulled from Joshua 1: Be Strong.

4 Facts:

  1. “Be Strong” is a Verb

I’m referring to the word strengthen because in this verse, in context, “be strong” means “grow strong” or, simply “strengthen.” It’s an action word.

Strength is not something we just possess. To be strong is to exert power.  It’s to use what you have been given with might.

  1. Strengthening is Multi-Faceted

Sometimes being strong means grasping something tightly. That might involve seizing hold of it…or it may mean clinging with force to what is already in your grip.

When you exert strength, it takes effort and sustenance. You must firm up your muscles- even your Spiritual muscles.

  1. Strength Derives from Something Given

“Adopt” and “apply” are some of the first words listed in the definition of strengthen. The potential of the power and might have been given. The Lord’s promises have been made and His call has been issued.

To be strong is to apply what has been given. Flex the faith-muscle God has been growing.

  1. Being Strong Means Relying on the Lord

Another aspect of “be strong” is “be encouraged,” or, “fasten.” What is it that the Israelites were called to be strong in? What is it we’re to fasten ourselves to, take hold of, and grip with all our strength?

God’s promises. Be strong in taking hold of God’s promises.

Securely and resolutely take hold of the one who is growing you.

That’s what it is to be strong: to flex our God-given muscles in the battles we face.

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We take hold and flex in praise, in faithful following, and, as the verses that follow state, in obedience.

Will you stretch and flex from the soul with me today?

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

He’s Got the Battle If We’ve Got the Praise- The Word Works Series

If there’s anyone I know who is comfortable being uncomfortable, it’s Christine. I mean that in the best way. She’s always bravely sharing about the gritty, not-so-fun parts of life on Precepts and Life Preservers. But she also always bluntly calls us to come with her, nearer to Christ, and to the comfort He provides while stretching and convicting us. Be blessed by her words today.

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Life likes to bring along impossible battles, doesn’t it?

They span a variety of things that threaten our very faith, and our very purpose. Or at least, that’s how it feels.

Infertility. Chronic illness. Job loss. Depression. Divorce. Natural disasters. Oppression around the world.

Maybe you were like me this week, needing to get through something and you felt ill-equipped. Like it loomed over you, solid and imposing and you gathered what little battle gear you have knowing the enemy rolled its eyes at how futile your little pile of armor was.

But sometimes we need to change our definition of armor, of doing battle. After all, we have a Mighty King who thrives on conquering the impossible.

The Father has me camped out in the book of Joshua lately, and the timing is no coincidence. Joshua faces the impossible. Like, major impossibility at every turn.

He’s supposed to fill the shoes of one of the most compelling leaders ever. He’s supposed to get an entire nation of people to a new land inhabited by a people so fierce that they stop the entire bulk of Israelites in their tracks and have them considering going back to captivity. He’s supposed to devise a way to scale massive sets of walls built one atop the other while facing an army of defenders.

Impenetrable.

Impossible.

I love when the Almighty directs us to His Word and places us right where we might witness His provision span thousands of years. The same Jericho-provision given Joshua lays waiting for us right now.

We stare up at our own personal Jericho and wonder the best way to assess it, approach it, scale it, win it, own it.

What gear do I need? What kind of armor is going to make a difference? What’s my big plan, Stan?

We worry, we get ready to pass out, we become frantic, we’ll take advice from anyone, we despair, we become stubborn.

Meanwhile, He waits to complete the provision He’s already said is ours, if we’ll just follow His instruction so that we might witness His glory in all its fullness.

He waits for us to heed His instruction. And He waits for us to let Him do battle while we step into our only role.

To praise Him.

Yep. We get to praise.

Our weapon is lifting our voices and hearts.

Our armor is the victory declaration of His Provision.

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Your Promised Land that looms large? He has said it’s always been ours. We just have to step into it.

“Be strong and of good courage… do not cower. Do not heed your fears. Take the land I have given you to possess.”

Joshua 1:6, 7

And how do we take the land?

We lift victory-praise. We surround, we encircle our Jericho with shouts of His mighty faithfulness and glory. We shout with everything in us that He’s got this. We march and shout and sing and trumpet His goodness until He reaches a mighty hand beneath our battle ground and with one shake reduces it to rubble.

“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king, and its army. March around the city once, with all the armed men flanking the priests. Do this for six days. Have the seven priests carry trumpets of ram’s horns in front of the Ark of the Covenant. On the seventh day, march seven times around the city, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast, have the all the people give a long shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”
Joshua 6:2-5

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And do not for a moment think your praise will end your battle, beloved. Your praise itself does not bring your Jericho down.

Your praise is the proof that your God is about to bring your Jericho down!

“The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded all the people, ‘Shout!!! For the Lord has given you the city!”

-Joshua 6:16

He will reduce your Jericho, your battle, to rubble… to stepping stones that will take weary feet into the Promised Land.

How do we know we have this same promise?

The same hand that brought down Jericho is the same hand that shook Golgotha and rent the veil with His Son’s last breath. It’s the same hand that wrenched keys of death from our enemy and freed every captive. It’s the same hand that beckoned Christ from the tomb.

This is who faces our battles. That verse in 2 Chronicles 20:15 that says the battle is the Lord’s? It’s our truth for today, more so than ever.

Psalm 22:3 says the Lord inhabits the praises of His people.

Look at Acts 16 and see how praise created an opening for God to break shackles, open jail cells, even saved the jailer.

Psalm 149:5-9 says,

“Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them— this is the glory of all his faithful people. Praise the LORD.”

So weary friend, unsure about the looming impossible…

He excels at impossible.

And He’s got the battle if we’ve got the praise.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: In

Seriously? A word study on a preposition? Yes and more yes!

Here’s why: “in” occurs twice in this verse:

“But you, dear friends,

by building yourselves up in your most holy faith

and praying in the Holy Spirit”

Jude 1:20

But each “in” is different.

(1) The first is a definite article of speech. AKA, this “in” is just highlighting the subject: the building of holy faith.

(2) The secondin” is indeed a preposition, and it pointedly explains our position in prayer.

To be “praying in the Holy Spirit” is to be

(a) in the condition of

(b) in realm of

(c) inside of, alongside of, within

When we pray in the Holy Spirit, we pray in the position of one whose condition is defined by that same Spirit. We pray from alongside the Spirit the Lord sent to help us. As we interact with God by praying in the Holy Spirit, we connect in the terms of His realm, His kingdom, and His will. That’s what Ifeoma was talking about in her post earlier this week.

Praying in the Holy Spirit isn’t so much a long distance call as it is sitting beside our Lord and simply conversing.

This “in” preposition is the same used to describe:

  • People being baptized in water = immersed in
  • A winnowing fork in the hand of God = held by
  • Sickness in people = filled with
  • Where God resides in the heavens = dwelling in
  • Speaking in parables = formed in
  • Having the Word sown in the heart = located in

Just take the verse and fill in with these italicized examples. For instance:

“Praying immersed in the Holy Spirit.”

in prayer word

In” is a basic word, but it speaks volumes about prayer and our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

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Praying that we would be so willing to let the Holy Spirit change our heart condition, set us in place, and come alongside us as we interact with God!

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

In The Midst of Trials- The Word Works Series

 

It always seems that Ifeoma has a timely lesson on her blog, Purposeful and Meaningful. Sharing practical tips on relevant topics, Ifeoma keeps Christ at the center of her writing. Grateful to have her sharing a challenge to grow in prayer based on God’s Word.


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One fateful night, after I had spent a splendid time studying and praying, I prepared to ease into my writing by checking my messages.

You wouldn’t believe the message I got. My eyes literally widened in shock. I read the message over and over again. It is not possible, I said to myself. This can’t be true!

It was far from being good news, friend.

I was in the midst of a mess. Someone had set me up. Now I was called to my own defense.

I lost my balance. Lord, what is this? At 2 am I couldn’t bear it any more, I woke Obi up and briefed him. He began to pray about it too.

It was time for a divine intervention. I had less than 24 hours to prove I was innocent of this senseless accusation. At about 8:30 am, I let a few sisters know about what was going on and we prayed. The Word was declared over the situation. Sometimes we need other sister friends in our lives to pray along with us. We need true friends who would stand by us in faith. Remember Ruth and Naomi?

Every Christian Woman needs praying Sisters.

God’s Word works. There is tremendous power in the Name of Jesus.

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My heart found peace and quiet and I went about my routine activities believing that the Lord would vindicate me.

Friend, God did it! Amen!

By 8:30pm that same day, I received a follow-up email confirming that the perpetrators had confessed and my name was cleared. Thank God for His faithfulness.

Are you been falsely accused?

Is there a situation threatening to swallow you up?

Does it seem like everything is contending with your peace?

My prayer for you:

In the Jesus Name, there is deliverance. In the Name of Jesus, there is divine help for you. The Lord will quiet every raging storm blowing over your life in Jesus Name. The Lord will fight every battle over your life and set you free from the trap you are caught in. He alone will deliver His people and take the glory in Jesus Name.

The Word of God works in every situation.

As a believer, strengthen your faith by feeding on His Word.

“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost…”

Jude 1:20 (KJV)

Believe and act in faith.

God’s Word is a powerful weapon in the hands of those who have faith and understand the potency of His Word.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds”

 2 Corinthians 10:4 (KJV)

You my friend, are not of this world. You operate differently because the mystery of the God’s kingdom is given to you not to the world. Therefore, the world cannot understand it. To them it is foolishness to call on the Name of Jesus and to speak the Word. To us, the Word of God is everything.  For more reading… (1 Corinthians 2:4-7 and 1 John 4:4)

We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory (1 Corinthians 2:7.)

In the midst of trials don’t give up your faith. Hold on to His promise over your life and He will come through for you. In whatever situation you find yourself, lift up your voice with all your heart and call upon the name of Jesus. Wait for Him and be not discouraged. 

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

 

WordoftheWeek: Satisfy

To have enough. What a mind-boggling concept. We live our days on “more,” not “enough.”

Our time is spent seeking more time. Our appetites are never appeased for long. Our work earns what it takes to get by- but never enough to meet all of our needs and desires.

We are the unsatisfied. And often, we’re proud of that fact. Accomplishing more and gaining more earn us praise and make us successful in this world.

But Scripture says this:

“Why spend money on what is not bread,

and your labor on what does not satisfy?”

Isaiah 55:2

We prefer to seek and seek and seek. To spend and gain. It’s no surprise, though, that this prodding toward satisfaction is found in the same chapter as the well-known word from God that His way is not our way. That His way is higher than ours.

Our way, our focus on “more,” is ever-changing and expanding. But God’s is complete. Whole. Contented. Full.

His way -His self- is enough.

You can breathe that sigh of relief now.

“Praise the Lord, my soul…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Psalm 103:5

Satisfy is a beautiful word.

In this verse Michele shared in her earlier post about memorizing the mind of God, we’re reminded of what satisfaction accomplishes: renewal and praise.

Yes, that’s right. Satisfaction accomplishes something.

Without satisfaction, we’re in the loop of “more.” We’re trapped in a cycle. But satisfaction says “enough.” Calls us full, and marks the completion of something.

Satisfaction means that what was intended has been fulfilled.

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That fullness gives glory to the Lord. It shows the fullness of His plans and demonstrates His faithfulness.

When we are satisfied, we admit that the Lord is all that He says He is and give Him the ultimate praise: that there is none other and nothing more. That He is the standard, the good, and the end we seek.

Satisfaction proclaims that our God is indeed perfect.

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Another mind-boggling concept, I know. But praise Him!

For being so complex, the truth is quite simple: Why spend on that which can’t satisfy? Praise the Lord: He does satisfy. To find what is enough and complete, look no further than to Him.

This post is being shared on:
#WomenWithIntention, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

Memorizing the Mind of God- The Word Works Series

There’s always something to learn on Michele’s blog Living Our Days because Michele is a true learner. Writing frequent book reviews, commentary on Bible studies, and posts on lessons she’s learning, Michele is a sit-at-His-feet writer. Eager to plop down and dig in with her today!
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“I want to keep it handy in case I need it,” she said, matter-of-factly.

She wasn’t talking about a flashlight.

Not a package of tissues.

Not a cell phone – they hadn’t been invented in 1978.

She was talking about Isaiah 55.

I liked it,” she went on.  “So I memorized it.”

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

The words poured from her lips, because they were, indeed, handy, and although the pale yellow V.W. Rabbit continued on its way south down Route 1, I had been stopped in my tracks at the miracle of memorization.  My friend had captured for herself the treasure of thirteen verses of exquisite beauty and stunning promises — mountains and hills bursting into song and trees clapping their hands – all for the LORD’s glory and renown.

There is no way she could have known that my view of Scripture would be forever changed on that bumpy pot-holed ride, for I saw clearly that, in my friend’s mind, the Words of God were a banquet — all delightful — and she would have devoured them all given the time and opportunity.      

I decided to start in the Psalms, words of praise to fill a mouth that was unpracticed in the exaltation of a majestic God.  I knew that I was supposed to “appreciate His attributes” and “thank Him for His blessings” in prayer, but a dusty list of multi-syllabic theological adjectives caught in my throat and felt forced, unnatural.  However, borrowing the words of Psalm 103, thanksgiving pours from my heart even today, because God:

“. . . forgives all my iniquities, heals all my diseases, redeems my life from destruction, crowns me with loving kindness and tender mercies and satisfies my mouth with good things so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s”

Tired and empty, I find that Psalm 63 frames my soul’s thirst “in a dry and thirsty land where no water is, to see [His] power and His glory. . .  because His lovingkindness is better than life.”

This is more than just having good theology or thinking God’s thoughts after Him.  Memorizing Scripture forces the mind to turn over the words, to consider their order, to linger over their meaning, and to recognize patterns and parallels.  This is allowing Truth to change the folds and creases of my gray matter so that my every thought is impacted.  Could this be what my wayward heart needs in order to stand with Paul in “bring[ing] every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ?” (II Corinthians 10:5)

When I go for a walk, it is not unusual for me to carry a few 3×5 cards in my pocket so that I can review verses that I am working on, because even my pocket isn’t near enough when my thoughts need adjusting, when my outlaw heart starts hammering itself an idol out of scraps and trinkets, or when I hear the hiss of lies about the basis of God’s love for me.  When this happens, the Truth that holds me in the faith is a reset button to “set my mind” on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5), on things above (Colossians 3:2).

Like any spiritual discipline, memorization creates space in my life for God. It heightens my awareness of His scandalous grace, deepens my listening to the voice of the God who has spoken into space and time, and puts my mind into a posture of intent to obey and to follow.

Living and powerful, His thoughts sift and winnow my own,

revealing motives that I would rather not see.

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Through Scripture, I am able to absorb the intimate vocabulary of worship, the raw expressions of lament, or the wisdom of instruction that sets me on a right path – not because I’m racking up points on an “Extreme Discipleship Scorecard,” but because in the process of memorizing Scripture, I find the true meaning of learning the Truth by heart.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: Ordained

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:16 NIV

Before you write a note, decorate, put the recipe together, or otherwise complete an activity, your mind is at work shaping. Fashioning. Forming. Determining your next steps and how to fit things together.

Even if briefly, thought always comes first. Even thoughtless words or hastily finished projects require a small bit of forethought. That’s the way creating works, regardless of what we are creating.

When God made us, we also started as a thought. Before we were made physically, He knew us. But God is never hasty, hurried, or careless. Our Lord is purposeful.

God has shaped each of our lives carefully. The word “ordained” in the Psalm 139:16 is also translated “formed” and “fashioned.” To have our days ordained is to have them planned out for us with intention. Shaped for a purpose.

Take in that verse, with the word expanded, again:

“All the days you formed for a purpose for me were written in your book before one came to be.”

We know that the Lord is beyond time. We know that He has plans for us. We even know that He knows what lies ahead.

All of that is comforting; but, add this: those plans and that future are intentional.

Our days are not just foreseen by God,

but fashioned by His foresight.

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The Lord works all things together for the good of those who love them- and this process began before any of these “things” for “those” people came to be. He is never surprised, and never unprepared. Though our lives all look so different, and, as Kristine points out in her earlier post, those differences are a part of the uniqueness of His well-thought out and perfectly executed plan.

When life sneaks up on you or catches you off guard and you wonder how He can make it all work out- remember, He already has a way. He is the Way. And that- even that- is purposeful and purposed by the Lord.

Let’s count these lovingly, precisely hand-crafted days as blessings.

This post is being shared on:
#WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

 

What God’s Word Taught Me About Comparison- The Word Works Series

Gleaming with fresh perspective, Kristine’s blog and ministry More Than Yourself works lesson by lesson to shift perspective away from “me” and onto the reality of God’s design for our lives- and everyones’. She is also releasing a new book on comparison called Over It, so check out her blog for more information! Thanks for re-orienting our thoughts today, Kristine.
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My spirit longed to put words on paper for others to read.

I knew I had a book stirring inside me, but that’s about all I knew. I read. I studied. I prayed. I hoped soon God would refine the message He placed in my heart and show me how to share it.

I embarked on a new adventure in writing after many years of teaching it to junior high students. As I practiced, learned, and practiced even more, God began revealing a vulnerability I’d tucked into a deep, hidden place where I would never have to deal with it. Or so I thought.

Little by little, I worked to develop my skills and put words out there I hoped would bring others closer to God. But all the time, I was allowing myself to be distracted by what I saw other women doing. Great women. Amazing women. The more I watched them, the more self-doubt creeped in and whispered condemning words in my ear.

I had let the voice of comparison lead me down a destructive path.

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I knew at that moment – this was the message He wanted me to share – my battle with comparing.

In my early twenties I came to know Christ as my Savior. Once I allowed God to have control of my life, He instilled in me a passion for reading about the lives of women in Scripture. I connected with them.

I identified with them.

I found joy in learning from these women and teaching others about their lives. We can discover so much from their circumstances – from making connections between their experiences and our own.

But I had no idea God would show me the truth about overcoming comparison through the lives of three of these special ladies.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”

(Psalm 139:16 NIV)

The book I had welling up in my spirit began with this simple truth. I would soon uncover the way to end my need to compare through my study of these biblical women. Today, that message I felt stirring inside me is about to be released, just two years after the journey began.

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In my new book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, I lead a journey through the stories of three women in Scripture who fell into the comparison trap but learned the keys to finding freedom from comparing. Walking through their stories, we can…

Discover deep truths about the struggle with comparison.

Find contentment in our God-given uniqueness.

Realize God’s plan is more than we could ever imagine.

Has the voice of comparison caused you to question whether you measure up next to her? Are you ready to erase comparison and embrace all God has planned for you? Then I invite you to come along with me and find the answers your heart longs for – the answers that will bring us to a place where we are able to say, “I’m over it,” and mean it.

The Over It book will be available on Amazon April 5th. To purchase your copy, click here.  Proceeds from the sale of each book will benefit the More Than Yourself, Inc. scholarship program.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.