2 Timothy, Hebrews, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

8.20.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Personal Ways God Speaks to Us

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• For a Southerner, there is nothing more delicious than a homegrown Tomato Sandwich. White bread… a generous layer of mayonnaise… and thick, juicy slices of tomato sprinkled with a pinch of salt and pepper… heaven on a plate, my friends.

The only thing better is a homegrown Tomahto Sandwich. 

“Yeah!,” you may enthusiastically agree. “Wait—what??”

I know very few people who call a tomato a tomahto, but as long as the sandwich is put in front of me, I’ll let the mispronunciation slide. 

That’s the beautiful truth of God too, isn’t it? He speaks to us in different ways. But it’s still His voice. We may read the same verse a thousand times when suddenly, He reveals something new to us. The words didn’t change—but He uses them to change us.

It’s the truth of verses like Hebrews 4:12 (the Word of God is living and active), 2 Timothy 3:16 (all Scripture is breathed out by God), and Isaiah 55:11 (God’s Word will not return empty). He will reveal Himself through His Holy Word and as we grow in our relationship with Him, He will touch us with it in new ways. 

When it comes to our personal understanding of Scripture, as long as we aren’t reinventing God’s Word or re-writing His truth, we will all experience God in our unique way. That’s what makes this personal relationship so very special. It’s personal.

I’m reminded of the passage where Jesus had breakfast with the disciples on the beach (John 21). Peter asked Jesus about His relationship with John. It says, “When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’” (John 21:21-22 ESV). 

Jesus has a unique opportunity for each of, and He wants us to be actively engaged in our relationship with Him and focused on Him. We need to remember the words from Jeremiah 29:11a ESV, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…” 

All of our experiences with God and His Word boils down to unique plans that have the same goal—eternity with Him.

It’s not a matter of “tomato, tomahto” in the sense that we can reinvent, but accepting that God will speak to us in different ways based on where we are with spiritual maturity and what His divine plan is for our lives.

Today, as you pray, thank God for speaking to us. Thank Jesus for the opportunity to have a personal relationship with Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you read the Bible and ask Him to reveal more of God to you. Ask Him to guide you in your relationship, use you, and grow you according to His plan.

Isaiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm

8.16.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: When We Need a Good Cleaning


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Later today, two ladies are coming over to clean my house. This is something I’ve kind of struggled with. On one hand, I actually like cleaning the house, but on the other—I’m a small business owner who doesn’t have time to do it right now. Then, I also wrestle that I can’t indulge in this kind of luxury, but I can also make the argument that it is actually a necessity.
Years ago, I had this idea that working from home meant that the house would be spotless, the laundry would stay caught up, and I’d have three healthy meals every day. HA! It didn’t take me long to figure out that wasn’t happening. I wondered how I’d ever found time to go to the grocery store when I worked outside the home.
For those who work from home too, you get it. There is no leaving work. My office is across the hall from my bedroom. While the commute is short, the hours are long. It was my friend Kelly who convinced me to hire some help. She asked me, “Would you rather spend five hours cleaning or five hours building your business?”
With that kind of logic, it didn’t take me long to make the phone call. And these ladies are awesome.
It’s also not the only time we’re dependent on someone else to do the cleaning.
In Psalm 51:10 ESV, King David wrote, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” This psalm is his confession to God after his affair with Bathsheba. After admitting his sin against God, he asked God to clean him.
David knew that cleaning himself wasn’t going to be enough. He needed God to wash his sins and iniquities away. He needed God to clean his heart from impurities and set things back in order.
God offers to do the same for us. Through the prophet Isaiah, God spoke to Judah and said, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18 ESV).
What stands out to me in this passage is the phrase, “let us reason together.” What does that mean? I see it as a conversation and fellowship. When we commune with God and build a relationship with Him, He can turn our blood-stained sins to perfect white. He can clean us by the blood of Jesus and make us whole.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for His blood that washes us clean. Thank God that He is able to clean and change our hearts if we ask Him to. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you turn to God, realizing that you’re not expected to do this by yourself.

Isaiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Proverbs

8.13.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Why, God?


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This morning, I read an article that just broke my heart. A well-known Christian songwriter has renounced his faith in God. He is quoted in the article as saying, “I’m genuinely losing my faith… and it doesn’t bother me.”
The article continued to say that this man is wrestling with questions that he doesn’t feel like anyone is talking about. I agree with the author of an article in ChristianPost.com who asked the rhetorical question, “What Christian world have you been living in?” (It’s not a sarcastic question—the writer speaks with great compassion for this man.) Because the songwriter’s questions are ones that MANY are talking about.
It’s disheartening and sad. I understand questioning why God allows things to happen. I even understand drifting away from the faith because I’ve been there, done that. But I don’t understand renouncing it all together. It just makes me so sad and I’m praying this man can rediscover the awe and splendor of our Savior who has loved us with an immeasurable love that carried Him to the cross and then, conquered the finality of the grave. I pray that he can experience the overwhelming grace of a loving and forgiving God whose ways are not like ours.
As I said, I understand this man’s questions. We all wrestle with the whys of God’s ways. Yet, we have to believe in the answer God gives us in Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV, which says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
It’s like a parent and child relationship. Our children may question why we do things or set certain rules, but we have a different way of thinking. We apply experience and greater understanding to our reasons and whys.
With that in mind, our Heavenly Father sees a far bigger picture than we do. He’s okay with us not fully understanding, but just as we expect our children to acknowledge our authority—so does our God expect us to acknowledge His.
Faith is about accepting His Word, even when we don’t have all the answers. He does so it’s okay that we don’t.
Today, as you pray, please join me in praying for this man. He has been placed in a position of influence and we need people to influence others towards God, not away from Him. Thank God that His ways are higher than ours. Thank Him that even when we don’t understand, we can look to Him trusting that He has it all figured out. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you when you wrestle with the whys. Ask Him to help you lean not on your own understanding, but acknowledge Him so He can guide your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6, slightly paraphrased).

Isaiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

8.10.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: A New Logo and A New Thing


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Yesterday, we said goodbye to pink and today, we say hello to… I’m not sure what the color name is. I can tell you the HEX code, but saying, “Hello, #009c93” doesn’t sound particularly warm or inviting! It’s darker than teal but not quite green. Facebook readers voted on it. It’s pretty. And so there you go! Let’s call it “Emerald-esque.” That’ll work.
A new website will be coming soon too and after checking on my website history yesterday, this is the 900th blog under My Grace-Full Life!
All this newness is the culmination of three years at She Speaks. It’s time for me to get serious about what I’ve learned. I just want to be used by God to share my crazy random thoughts in a way that hopefully, honors Him first and helps others second.
Today, let’s go to Isaiah 43:19 KJV. It says, “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”
It’s always a great verse choice when we’re looking at change.
But this isn’t about OUR new thing. These are the Lord’s words. It’s about HIS new thing. This commentary sums it up beautifully, “The Lord always has greater things in store; he is revealed in the past, but he is always more than the past revealed” (“Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary,” by J. Alec Motyer).
God is at work in our lives. If we will surrender to Him, He will demonstrate new things that will draw us closer to Him and enable us to learn more about His character and goodness! I’m not a proponent for “prosperity preaching,” so I’m not going to say that everything new He does or allows will have a shiny red bow on top or be what we hoped for or imagined.
But just as we spoke of “purpose” yesterday—He always has one. And His purpose will always be good and beneficial, whether we understand that immediately or not.
Today, as you pray, thank God that He is at work and He is doing new things. Thank Him for what He’s doing in your life and trust that even in the worst situations, He has a plan. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see God at work in your life and ask Him to help you honor Him first in all you say and do.

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2 Peter, 2 Timothy, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, James, John, Joshua, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

8.1.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Weapon of Courage


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Yesterday, I shared about a book I started reading called, “Warfare Praying,” by Mark Bubeck.
The quote I highlighted was, “Hope and courage are vital words in spiritual warfare. Courage is not only necessary in facing our relentless foe, but it is also the believer’s purchased possession” (Introduction, page 18).
Yesterday, we used this reminder to talk about hope and today, we’re talking about courage.
My favorite verse on courage is Joshua 1:9 ESV, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
How often I need this reminder. I have a particular situation that I pray over regularly and I often have to remind myself that there is no need to be afraid.
I know that the Lord has His perfect timing (Ecclesiastes 3:11 and 2 Peter 3:8) and that through the waiting, He will strengthen me (Isaiah 40:31).
I also know that whatever we pray in God’s will, He will answer (John 14:13-14) and that for the prayers of one who is surrendered to Jesus accomplishes much (James 5:16).
God does not want us to live in fear but to live in the courageous truth of His victory.
The story is already written and we know the end—God wins!
Fearful living doesn’t have a place in the Christian life because we have the Savior of the world and the One who sits on the throne is victorious over the enemy.
Going back to Mark Bubeck’s quote, I love the way he described courage as a “believer’s purchased possession.”
That goes straight back to 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Doesn’t that just encourage your heart?
Today, as you pray, thank God for reminders to embrace courage over fear.
Thank Him that He emboldens and strengthens us by His power.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you focus on these truths and not be tempted by the lie of fear.

Isaiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

7.25.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: A Reminder From Volkswagen


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I’m writing this morning from the Embassy Suites in Concord, NC and today—She Speaks pre-conference starts.
Mom and I arrived yesterday afternoon and got settled in.
My friend Sandra, who I met my first year of She Speaks, lives within ten miles of the hotel and is attending the conference too.
She picked me up so we could go to dinner.
But I was so surprised when she texted me that she’d arrived—she was in the cutest bright red VW Bug.
First thing I said when I opened the door was, “When did you get this sassy little car?”
Sandra had always wanted one and the combined need for her husband to use her car and the news that Volkswagen won’t be making the Bugs anymore prompted her to get it.
It’s adorable and is so Sandra!
I’m happy for her that she got her dream car!
I’ve always liked VW Bugs too, but my ideal VW isn’t practical.
I would want a vintage 1963 Herbie-style bug, which would likely have to be restored and the maintenance would be insane.
If I brought that proposal to my husband, he’d say, “If we’re going to go through all that, let’s get a vintage 1964 Mustang.”
Okay.
Twist my arm.
I wouldn’t lose on that option either.
(We’re not getting another car right now, Wayne. 😉 Don’t get any ideas!)
But it does make me think of assembly lines and the way car manufacturers build multiples of cars…
Yet, few cars are ever going to drive exactly alike.
Rows and rows of cars may look the same, but depending on the driver and the road conditions—various factors have an impact on the car’s alignment and performance.
It’s easy to get lost in the idea that we are nothing more than an assembly line of humanity and there’s nothing unique about us.
But that’s not true.
Isaiah 64:8 ESV says, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
A potter may sit in front of a wheel and make pot after pot after pot in assembly-line fashion.
They make look similar.
But each one will be a unique piece of art.
Our Creator may have built us with similar features, but our minds, choices, and experiences make us truly unique.
God has lovingly and carefully molded us into unique beings.
So much so that no two fingerprints are the same.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—God’s ingenuity is mind-blowing.
Today, as you pray, thank God that He made each person unique.
Thank Him that though there may be similarities, He has given each of us our own, unique signature qualities.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you recognize the signature quality not only in yourself but in others.
Ask Him for opportunities to recognize those unique characteristics in order to encourage others.

Ezekiel, Isaiah, John, Leviticus, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Proverbs, Romans

7.20.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Joy No Matter What


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• In Proverbs 17:22 ESV, it says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
It’s easy to be joyful on the good days, but it’s this joyful spirit that can strengthen us and help us get through the difficult ones.
A joyful heart isn’t about being happy.
It’s more than that.
It’s the deep-seated faith and contentment that comes from trusting in God’s sovereignty.
In Ezekiel 24:16 ESV, God said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down.”
Further do-not-mourn instructions were given in verse 17, and in 18, we learn that Ezekiel’s wife died (“the delight of your eyes”).
Why would God tell Ezekiel not to mourn?
To Ezekiel’s credit, he obeyed God in this.
Let me clarify a few points:
1) God has asked His followers to do some difficult things and this is a prime example of Isaiah 55:8-9—God’s ways are not our ways.
2) Ezekiel can be a difficult book to read, especially since there are so many complex images and symbolism.
And 3) For the millionth time, I’m not a theologian so I’m not going to try to explain complex theology or get into the purpose of God’s no-mourning instructions.
Let’s just all agree that Ezekiel was having a very, very bad week.
Ezekiel already had the difficult responsibility of prophesying God’s judgment on the nation of Israel.
Losing his wife too and not mourning according to the normal customs was probably not easy.
But it wasn’t the first time God commanded someone not to mourn.
In Leviticus 10, Aaron’s sons died after not following the proper process in the Tabernacle.
Aaron was told not to mourn.
Mourning isn’t a bad thing…
Even though Jesus knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He wept (John 11:28-44).
This devotion is kind of going in an unexpected direction…
I didn’t intend to get into such heavy material, but the overall point is this—no matter our circumstances, we can choose to have joy in God’s plan.
Or we can wallow in bitterness and despair.
Ezekiel trusted in God and because of that trust, He was able to obey.
I’m pretty certain he wasn’t happy at that moment, and maybe he didn’t even feel joy.
We don’t always feel it, but we can always be confident of joy’s presence when we know God is working all things for His good purpose (Romans 8:28).
Today, as you pray, give thanks to God that He always has a plan and a purpose, even when we don’t see or understand.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you have joy in all circumstances.
Ask Him to help you trust, even when tempted to be bitter or overwhelmed with despair.

2 Peter, Isaiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm

7.5.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: 1000


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Today is the 1000th post on Instagram (not the 1000th prayer prompt… this is the 850th).
So in honor of that—we’re going to talk about 2 Peter 3:8.
It says, “Dear friends, don’t overlook this one fact: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”
It seems innocuous enough, but talk about a verse that can create some discussion, even debates…
Today, let’s identify two causes of debate that go with this verse and put some things in context.
First, this passage is referring to the second coming of Christ.
Peter didn’t want the reader to be discouraged or question whether God would keep His promise.
Peter used a simile here.
“With the Lord one day is LIKE a thousand years, and a thousand years LIKE one day” (Emphasis mine).
Peter used that simile to remind us that God exists outside of time.
As an eternal being, He isn’t limited to minutes on a clock.
His timetable, therefore, cannot be viewed as faulty as it’s beyond our understanding.
When God promises something, He will honor His commitment, even when it doesn’t come according to our timeline.
When we are tapping our feet, wondering what is taking Him so long, we are confusing our limited window of time with His infinite window of time.
The two can’t be compared.
It’s like a budget.
If you make $60,000 a year, your budget is going to look very different to someone who makes $600,000… or even $6,000,000.
The resources we have can create limits, but God is without limits.
The second point of debate is the debate of Creationism vs. evolution.
Many, including many Christians, use this verse as an argument for a millions-of-years-old earth.
The argument is that the universe wasn’t made in six literal days.
Here’s the flaw with that debate though: if you argue that “one day is like a thousand years for God,” as a way to support more time, your argument was just canceled out by the second part that says “a thousand years like one day.”
Personally, I believe in a literal six-day creation.
Because why not?
Just because I can’t wrap my brain around how God did it doesn’t mean I should put limits on His ability to do it.
He spoke creation into being because He is all-powerful.
Science isn’t my cup of tea but here’s one thing I know—science has never been able to disprove the Bible.
And if God’s Word says six days, I believe it.
So that verse really isn’t a good one to debate creationism vs. evolution.
The overall point though is an opportunity to be in awe of the timelessness of God.
Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
And Isaiah 40:28 says, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”
Time doesn’t limit God because He is bigger than time.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His eternal presence.
Thank Him for being timeless and for His perfect timing.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you trust in His timetable, even when you don’t understand why He waits.

Hebrews, Isaiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

6.26.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Updating the Word


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• My grandmother always followed the royal family, especially Princess Diana.
I never shared her interest until recently.
And I don’t know that you can really call it an interest as much as a curiosity…
But lately, I have found myself scrolling through the latest happenings with the royal family, and stopping to read articles when they make headlines (pretty much daily).
Recently, Meghan Markle updated her engagement ring and that’s created quite a stir (of apparently many stirs she seems to create).
I know—totally superficial and at the end of the day, who cares, right??
But I found the wording of this article to be so interesting: “A royal engagement ring is a piece of history, not a bit of jewelry to be updated when it looks old fashioned” (Fox News, Majesty Magazine editor-in-chief Ingrid Seward).
As one who is super-sentimental about family heirlooms, I tend to mostly agree with this viewpoint.
Some things simply need to be preserved and appreciated as they are…
But it made me think…
How often do we try to take the words of the Bible and update them according to what we think it should be?
People have even tried to redefine who Jesus was/is to have a more modern spin.
But the word of God ageless and Jesus does not need a makeover.
Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” and Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel of Christianity.
We don’t have that authority.
We need to recognize the timelessness of our faith, our Bible, and our Savior.
We need to adapt our lives to what the Bible says is true rather than rewriting them to apply to what we want them to say.
Today, as you pray, thank God that His word remains relevant.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you stay true to God’s word and who Jesus is.

Genesis, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Matthew, Philippians, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm, Romans

6.23.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: God Knows Our Thoughts


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I saw this meme on Facebook: “I’m grateful that thoughts don’t appear in bubbles over our heads.”
Isn’t that the truth?
Depending on the circumstances and time of day, my thought bubbles might range between, “A cup of coffee sounds good,” to “I need coffee,” all the way to, “If I don’t get coffee, I am going to hurt someone.”
As much as we want to believe (and hope) that the thoughts in our heads are private to us, that’s not the case.
And I’m not talking about the facial expressions that give us away, though my lack of a poker face has gotten me in trouble more than a few times.
Psalm 139:1-2, 4 says, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.”
On one hand, that is comforting.
It affirms that God our Father and Creator is all-knowing and personally invested in our lives.
On the other hand, that is terrifying.
Because it affirms that God our Father and Creator is all-knowing and personally invested in our lives.
And I think we can all agree that we have some thoughts, words, and actions that we wish we could hide or erase altogether, especially from God.
The idea of God being exposed to our darkest thoughts leaves us raw and vulnerable.
And though He has known us since before we were conceived (Jeremiah 1:5), we don’t like being reminded of our sin and shame.
His holy presence forces us to acknowledge our own depravity.
It’s the very reason that Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves to cover themselves in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:7).
But God…
Isn’t that such a great phrase??
I love it.
But God loves us anyway and in Isaiah 26:3, we have to remedy for how to clean up our thoughts.
It says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.”
When we keep our minds on God, there isn’t room for the stuff we would want to hide.
Then, Romans 12:2 gives us additional insight, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
When we have our minds focused on God, and we’re willing to let Him transform our thoughts, then we naturally segue into Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
And with that, we come full circle back to Psalms, to the truth about God as described in 31:19, “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!”
When we remember how good God is and how He’s given us a whole book to use and write on our hearts (Psalm 119:11), the fact that He can read our thoughts doesn’t have to be scary.
Because we have everything we need to overcome our thoughts when we simply focus our attention on Jesus.
Today, as you pray, thank God for knowing you better than anyone else does, even better than you know yourself.
And thank Him for loving you anyway.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you stay focused on God, God’s will, and ask Him to transform your thoughts accordingly.