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.

Jeremiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Proverbs, Psalm

8.15.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Hidden Dangers of Icebergs

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I’m an avid reader and my favorite genre is Christian Fiction. If it’s a series—even better. My favorite is “The Northern Lights” series by Lisa Tawn Bergren. It’s a wonderful story of Norwegian immigrants who came to America in the 1800s. (Ever since my Ancestry DNA results came back reporting that I’m 2% Norwegian, I feel even closer to the characters.)
In the 3rd book of the series, two of the characters went kayaking in Alaska. Their guide warned them of icebergs. We all know that icebergs can yield catastrophe. (Titanic, anyone??) But what is interesting in the book is that the guide wasn’t worried about the part of the icebergs that jutted from the water. He was concerned about the part of the iceberg that was underwater.
Sometimes, the greatest dangers come from things we don’t see.
Our own heart can prove to be dangerous. It’s the part of us that remains hidden. We may share parts of it with others, but there are parts of our own hearts that even we don’t know. And sometimes, we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we fail to see the whole picture. We will take our iceberg and create dangerous situations for ourselves and others—damaging and even destroying relationships.
In Proverbs 4:23 CSB, it says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”
Guarding our hearts isn’t about sealing them off, but it’s about being diligent to apply God’s truth and not our own, or the enemies lies. Because the heart is fickle, gullible, and according to Jeremiah 17:9, it is deceitful.
But, God’s Word never lies. Therefore, hiding His Word in our heart can help us guard it from the lies of the enemy (Psalm 119:11).
And when we have His Word in our heart, and we’ve accepted Christ, the Holy Spirit truly does guard us and the source of life—eternal life—is in us.
Today, as you pray, thank God for the trueness of His Word. Thank Him that it never fails and we can trust it. Ask the Holy Spirit to help guard your heart against the lies of the enemy and the world. Ask Him to help you be ever-mindful of the icebergs that would threaten your heart or relationships with others.

Jeremiah, John, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

8.8.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Refreshing Living Water

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Jeremiah 31:25 ESV says, “For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”
I love this promise. It gives peace and hope.
We joke around that part of being an adult is going around telling everyone how tired we are, but let’s face it—that’s our fault. God didn’t design us to go at this kind of pace. We’ve set it because the world expects it.
Choosing to slow down and rest is not something that comes easy for most of us and if I may be so bold—I’m at the front of that line. (My husband often says that if I have five free minutes, I’ll fill it with 30-minutes of something to do.)
This verse says nothing of water, but that’s the visual I have. Water refreshes us and cleans us. And for me, this verse is a “Woman at the Well” promise that applies to all of us.
The woman was offered a drink of Living Water and while initially skeptical, by the end of the passage, she had hope (John 4:4-42). In my mind, I picture her arrival being one of exhaustion.
• Physical exhaustion from the exertion to get water in the middle of the day.
• Mental exhaustion since she knew she was an outsider in her community due to her poor choices.
• Spiritual exhaustion because she had no hope or peace.
But after an encounter with Jesus, she was energized, her past no longer mattered, and she had the hope and peace that is only offered through the Living Water of Jesus.
We are all that woman. Deep within each person is a spiritual thirst that is only quenched and satisfied by Him. And for those who believe, He has promised replenishment and satisfaction.
Unfortunately, we spend too much time trying to accomplish this with other things.
However, that promise is there. No matter what our past, our circumstances, or where we are. Our Heavenly Father always allows a u-turn on the paths we walk. That promise is ours for the taking if we ask and trust. It may not change our situations, but it will always change our hearts.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for being the Living Water we all need. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you look to God alone for all your soul longs for. Ask Him to replenish you as only He can.

Jeremiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

7.26.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Perception vs. Reality

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• As those of you who know me can attest, there’s usually a method to my madness.
Choosing a frozen tundra picture in the middle of summer is an example.
I chose it because you could easily plant this Embassy Suites in the middle of that frozen tundra and the occupants would feel no difference.
As a third-year veteran of She Speaks, I thought I knew better than to worry about a cardigan…
I’ve been here, packed the sweater, and never used the sweater.
So I didn’t bother to pack the sweater this year.
As a result of my assumption, I had to buy a new denim jacket at the book store yesterday.
(It was necessary, but no doubt my husband will be facepalming himself when he reads that I’ve bought something else to hang in the closet).
As I type MGFL this morning, I’m wearing it over my pajamas.
I’m absolutely freezing.
It was hard to remember that the outside temperature was in the mid-80s yesterday when the hallways were filled with women trying to bundle up and stay warm.
Often—we’re the same way.
It’s easy to get lost in the assumption of our minds and convince ourselves of one thing when it’s not really a reflection of the warm reality on the outside.
That’s what it means in Jeremiah 17:9 ESV, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
We have to be aware that our perceptions aren’t necessarily our reality.
I feel like I’m in a frozen tundra but my reality is that I’m in a typical hot and humid, NC summer.
I may feel that I’m not good enough or smart enough, but the reality is that if God calls me to it, His strength will bring me through it.
I may feel that I don’t measure up to her, but the reality is that God isn’t comparing us—He just gave us different assignments.
It’s a matter of applying Biblical Truth and God’s promises above our feelings and perceptions.
Because it doesn’t matter what I feel.
What matters is what He says.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His truth.
Thank Him that He is always the reality we need to cling to.
Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you to search truth in Scripture before you believe your own assumptions.

Jeremiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

6.27.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Obedience Even When It’s Not Popular

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I am reading Whitney Capp’s book called “Sick of Me.”
In it, she said, “Christians don’t have much street [cred] in the marketplace of ideas anymore. In fact, it’s possible that we don’t even start with a neutral reputation. To many, Christianity has a negative start value. We don’t just lack credibility, we are saddled with the stench of hypocrisy.”
Sound familiar?
If it doesn’t, I have to assume you’re in denial or have zero access to news or social media.
It’s the current reality and it’s a grossly unfair assessment based on a stereotype of a few who have failed to live up to true, Christian standards.
From this current mindset, there are headlines that devalue Christian values as bigoted, hateful, and judgmental.
We have a Christian VP who has been mocked for his beliefs.
Bakers have been sued because their refusal to bake a cake is deemed “hateful and emotionally damaging.”
A few months ago, an 84-year-old California woman faced eviction from a veterans’ home because she hosted a Bible study.
In 2018, Evangelist Greg Laurie had his Harvest Crusade billboards removed because the photo showed him holding a Bible.
Don’t believe me?
Google it.
Christianity is looked at as a four-letter word in today’s culture.
It’s hard to stand up for your faith when the world attacks you for daring to do so.
I’ve certainly gotten pushback for my beliefs and it’s hard to reason with someone whose primary ammunition is to argue back with, “Nope, I’m right; you’re wrong.”
Because that’s how our culture debates these days.
At the risk of opening a political can of worms, we have election season upon us…
Just watch the way people “discuss” political issues on Facebook.
You’ll see what I mean and with that said, I’m slamming the lid on any additional political references.
All this said, let’s go to Jeremiah 20:8-9.
If anyone understands how it feels to be rejected for sharing God’s Word, it’s Jeremiah.
He was a prophet God used to warn Judah of God’s coming judgment because of the people’s disobedience.
Jeremiah is referred to as the “weeping prophet,” because he genuinely loved his people and ached for them to take God’s judgement seriously.
They did not, and Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians.
But getting back to today’s verses, Jeremiah, in a moment of despondency from his mission, wrote, “Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”
Jeremiah was not a popular man.
No one wanted to hear his message and he was mocked for it…
Until Jerusalem fell and the prophecies came to fruition.
It makes me think of Noah when he obeyed God but was mocked by everyone…
Until the rains came.
Jeremiah’s despondency was rooted in how the world treated him and while he was tempted to stop speaking out, the Word of God burned in him and he had to speak it.
It can be lonely and isolating to be a Christian, but when God gives us an assignment, He expects us to carry it out.
He will leave us unsettled until we obey His calling.
Do you relate to Jeremiah?
Do you feel God’s pull to witness to someone but hesitate because you expect rejection?
I get it, and while this is easier said than done, it boils down to this simple truth…
We need to worry less about what people think and worry more about what God thinks.
How someone treats us in this moment is temporary.
But obedience to God, even when it makes us uncomfortable and unpopular, is what has eternal significance.
Today, as you pray, thank God for faithful and obedient examples like Jeremiah and Noah.
Thank Him that these stories serve as reminders that if He will equip and empower them, He will equip and empower us.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you remember, “if God leads you to it, He will see you through it.”
Ask Him to help you worry more about obeying and pleasing God more than what others say or think.

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.

1 Peter, Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Proverbs, Psalm

6.20.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Taste (A Sensory Series)

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This is Day 4 of our week-long focus on the five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.
Day 4–Taste.
This is my favorite sense, as evidenced by the size of my thighs.
Our verse is Psalm 34:8 which says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
How on earth do you taste the Lord?
The verse is actually an invitation for unbelievers to experience God’s goodness for themselves.
Think about it…
You go to a restaurant and you’re not certain about a certain dressing, soup, or flavor.
Your server may offer to bring you a sample to taste so you can try it and discover first hand how great the flavor is.
In this Psalm, David was expressing how satisfying and wonderful the Lord is and how great his experiences with God have been…
But he didn’t want people to take his word for it.
He wanted them to see for themselves!
He wanted others to experience how satisfying, wonderful, and great God is.
Because that’s the great thing about God…
Sharing Him with others doesn’t diminish our own experience with Him or limit His accessibility to us.
Sharing Him with others actually increases all of that because we can join others in their joys, pray for each other, and ponder His greatness together!
The poetic word choice of David’s paints a picture that makes sense…
Later, Peter used the same phraseology in 1 Peter 2:3.
When we are living for Jesus, choosing to let the Holy Spirit lead us, and trusting in God’s plan—that’s when we understand how great He is.
So the question today is this—have you experienced God’s greatness?
If you have, are you inviting others to “taste and see” the Lord for themselves?
And if you have not believed, but you’re curious, the Bible says that any who seek Him, will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29, Proverbs 8:17, Jeremiah 29:13).
Today, as you pray, thank God for the gift of taste.
But most of all, thank Him that He is great and good.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be a generous sharer of how good God has been to you.

Jeremiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Proverbs

5.25.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: When the Shoe Doesn’t Fit

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• My grandmother taught me to read when I was three years old and as soon as I could read independently, I devoured fairy tale books.
It wasn’t too many years before I graduated from the Disney version of “Cinderella,” to the original by Hans Christian Anderson.
And let’s just say that cute little talking mice are not a part of that original story, which is actually kind of gruesome.
I hate to do spoilers, but… I’m going to anyway.
In the original fairy tale, when the king’s officials arrived at the home of Cinderella with the tiny slipper (which was made of fur, not glass), seeking the woman who could wear it, the step-sisters did everything in their power to make that slipper fit their own larger feet.
One of them cut off her toe.
The other cut off a chunk of her heel in an effort to make the shoe fit.
The king’s people obviously knew the bloody ruse demonstrated that these were not the women they sought, but Cinderella arrived just in time to slip her dainty foot in what was now a blood-soaked furry shoe.
So romantic, right?!
How similar are we to the step-sisters?
God designed us with a specific plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).
And yet, we look longingly at the plan He has for others.
So we do whatever we can to make the square pegs (us) fit into the round hole (our ideal situation).
We want to force the shoe to fit when it was clearly not made for us to wear.
The thing is, no matter how hard we try to squeeze ourselves into a plan that is not for us, God will not allow it if it’s not His will.
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
How much happier would we all be if we’d focus our efforts on what God has planned exclusively for us, rather than longingly looking at the plans He wrote for someone else.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His plan for you.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be content with your purpose.
And rather than look with longing at someone else’s, ask Him to give you a heart that willingly celebrates and encourages others as they live out their God-given plan.

Jeremiah, Joshua, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm

3.22.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Valley of the Shadow of Death

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Yesterday, we started a three-day review of Psalm 23.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at Psalm 23:4, which says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
It’s common knowledge that in war, those who have a higher position generally have a better advantage than those who are below.
It’s in the valley that we feel the most vulnerable and at risk.
Yet, we all experience time in the valley.
We all experience the “shadow of death,” and whether that’s literal death, or a figurative one — death of a relationship, marriage, job — those seasons in the valley leave us feeling exposed and at risk of attack.
It’s in the valley where anxiety and fear linger.
Yet David wrote that he wasn’t afraid.
He knew that no matter where the path took him, whether on higher ground or in the valley, God was his friend and walked with him.
God’s words to Joshua were true for David, “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” (Joshua 1:9).
And they are true for us too.
As another psalmist wrote, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).
We briefly covered a few things that a shepherd would include on his resume, and the ability to use a rod and staff would certainly be there too.
These are tools a shepherd would use to guide his sheep, but also defend them.
David’s reflection on these tools is reminiscent of God’s promise to guide and protect us.
A promise we can depend on too because we know God has a plan for us.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
We can take comfort in His guidance and protection, even in the valley.
Today, as you pray, thank God that He is always with us.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you focus on God’s promises of hope and His good plan, even during seasons spent in the valley.

Jeremiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm

3.18.19 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Seeking Something Better

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I’m a lifelong history nerd and the stories of early America have always been fascinating to me.
As a kid, I wondered who was the first in my family to come to America.
Where were they in relationship to all the stories of colonization and the signing of the Declaration of Independence?
As an adult, when I’ve had time to spare, I’ve researched it.
I’ve learned that my 8th great-grandfather was the first.
He left Ireland for America in 1701.
I’m here today because someone in the past was in search of something better.
And not much has changed.
Aren’t we all in search of something?
We want to find the better house, the better car, the better job, the better salary, the better ________ (fill in the blank).
The thing is, the things we seek never give us lifelong fulfillment.
The new house will eventually get old.
The new car will get rusty.
There’s only One we can seek that will offer eternal satisfaction and security.
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In Psalm 9:10, it says, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
I love a verse like this, but my favorite about seeking God comes from Jeremiah 29:13-14a, “‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord…”
Declares the Lord!
Those are HIS words!
When we purposefully and sincerely seek God, He is there!
And as the Psalm says, we can trust Him that He will never turn His back on those who have sought Him.
When my ancestor landed in America, I don’t know what he was seeking.
But I do know that in the 318 years between his arrival in America and this moment as I sit in my living room typing this, nothing has changed.
It’s still the same as the days of the David when he wrote Psalm 9 and the promise of the Lord in Jeremiah.
Those who seek the Lord can trust that they will find Him.
And those who find Him can trust Him.
And seeking Him is the greatest adventure we can ever take because it’s eternal.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His willingness to be found by anyone who seeks Him.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you seek Him in all you do, trusting that He will never leave you.