Confession: I’m Not a Fan of Devotions

Soul H2O Launch Team

My love-hate relationship with devotions started in college. It was my first time immersed in a Christianese culture. I didn’t know much about Jesus, and I didn’t care about the Gospel. I just wanted to be a good person and prove myself worthy to the God I didn’t understand.

In waltzed a dorm-mate one day, announcing she was about to do her “devos.” The word weirded me out.

Since those early days and eventually getting to know Jesus as my Savior, devotions still aren’t my thing.

For me, many devotionals are frustrating because they: 

  • Preach Christian psychology or self-help instead of the Scripture I need
  • Tackle huge topics that get me thinking, but offer no resolution or practical application
  • Are super wordy, in which case just give me a whole book
  • Build day by day, and I’m not that regimented
  • Are bulky, funky, hard covers that I’m too lazy to haul around with me for daily time
  • Tempt me to worship the devotional habit instead of worshipping God

My list says a lot about me and my shortcomings.

But it also speaks volumes about one of the rare devotionals I enjoy!

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I love this devotional book- it’s the exception to most of my “anti-devotional” issues.

Soul H2O, by Sherry Stahl, is a Biblical, digestible, concise companion for straight-up Bible studying and for ordinary life.

Each devotion is 1-2 short pages. The book is soft cover, and it fits in purses, backpacks, and my car’s glovebox. You don’t have to read it every day to keep up.

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Best of all, each devotion is simple. Instead of overwhelming me, Sherry’s words just refresh. They function like the title suggests: to quench thirst for good news from the Lord.

For example, devotional #4 refers to taking “every thought captive” to Christ.

Sherry then goes on to exhort: “Choose today which thoughts you’ll play on the record player of your mind.” The devotion centers on how our thoughts repeat. The thought is simple, Biblical, and gave me practical encouragement to walk with the Lord that day.

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Each of the devotions begins with a Bible verse. Short paragraphs with brief relatable anecdotes and simple life-applicable points about the verse follow. Sherry concludes with a brief prayer and references for additional verses if you’d like to study the Word yourself.

What I appreciate most about Soul H2O is its focus:

Instead of being about big life changes and heavy topics, Soul H2O offers basic life sustenance.

Such a simple blessing, but so important. That’s why this devotion has so blessed me. It’s a cool drink to refresh my Spirit and remind me of the simple vitality the Lord offers us day by day.

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All that to say, I’m grateful to have been part of Sherry’s launch team. It is a joy to recommend Soul H2O to you. Whether you love devotionals or can’t stand them, this one is for you. Soul H2O will refresh your spirit, make you smile, and bring you to praise.

To find a copy of Soul H2O, visit Sherry’s website here.

** I received this book free from the publisher, Word Alive Press, when I joined Sherry’s launch team. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

His Word Works in Me- The Word Works Series

The final post in The Word Works Series! I’m so thankful!

Over the past two months, some amazing, gracious guest bloggers have written to encourage, exhort, and testify to the power of God’s Word at work in their lives.

God Himself testifies to the abilities of His Word.

For example, Scripture tells us that the Bible:

I can testify to the work of God through His Word, too.

So many stories to choose from…let me just tell you about 3 ways the Lord’s Word has worked in my heart and my life.

The Word Has Worked in Me:

  1. By Anchoring Me in the Truth

No matter how much time I pour into reading Scripture and participating in fellowship, I am forgetful. Charles Spurgeon explains that Christ told us to have communion in remembrance of Him because we need to be reminded to remember Him! Spurgeon encourages us to “tie a heavenly forget-me-not around our hearts for Jesus.”

Deuteronomy 11:18 echoes:

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”

After really regretting that I did not remember to turn to God throughout several days, I was convicted to take this charge more literally.

I began writing a verse on a small slip of paper each morning. That little note from the Lord is tucked into my pocket for the day. It comes out every time my cell phone or my wallet does.

That way, the Word is bound to me the same way my clothes or my other daily possessions are.

The result?

I am anchored, bound, held, by the truth.

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When I pull my phone out to communicate with someone, I’m reminded to listen to the Lord first. If I reach in to spend, His Word has a say. I have His word to think on when I’m sitting, waiting. As I go about my day, His Word is accessible enough to constantly comfort, challenge, and correct me.

It’s a little bit harder to accidentally stray from the truth when the truth is literally on my person.

I value that anchor which fixes me in my place- before the Lord!

  1. By Drawing Me Nearer to the Lord

Why is it that when we’re angry or hurting or doubting, or even happy, we don’t just reach for the Bible? It seems like reaching for the Bible, for most us, is something we tend to do just because we know we should.

How ironic that we often feel we’re not hearing from God or like the truth is unclear! Humbly and sincerely turning our hearts to the Word results in us drawing near to our Lord. This brings us nearer to Him, where His words are audible more clearly. This is where He speaks directly.

2 Peter 1:3 tells us that:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

A godly life is a life connected and obedient to God! One of the greatest gifts He has given us- and one of the most powerful- is His divine revelation recorded in Scripture.

As an avid reader, the Bible is a very personal gift to me from God and one I easily enjoy.

Not so for everybody. If just reading through Scripture is tough for you, consider:

  • Praying through Scripture
  • Listening to it on audio CDs or the web
  • Participating in Bible Studies that walk directly through Bible passages
  • Studying with a partner so that you hear it spoken
  • Posting verses around your spaces
  • Memorizing verses
  1. By Making Faith Personal to Me

Fact: Scripture can seem impersonal. God can too. Part of sin is distance- between us and our God. Christ bridges that gap for us. But often we still feel the expansive gulf beneath our feet when we step out in faith along the narrow way.

The narrow path opens at my feet and promises safe passage. I see that it is my path, ordained by the Lord. He has gone before me, as His Word describes.

I try to remember as I open the Word that God didn’t just give it as a rule book or to speak to people long ago. He speaks through it today. To me.

When I get into the Word, believing it to be alive and active, His word grips me.

In His Word He has anticipated my questions, doubts, and needs. Just like He did with those He spoke to back then.

Have you visited His Word and listened? The time with Him is precious.

Get into His Word, get near to Him. As so many can testify- and God Himself says- there is no better, no more secure a place to be.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #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.