Revive Me #43–Be On The Alert

Revive Me, Week 43–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Be On The Alert

We can’t finish a series on growing stronger in the Lord without focusing on the one who wants to pull us away from the Lord.  Recently a Christian gentleman came back to God after years of worldly living.  In genuine humility, he shared an interesting perspective.  He said, “I try to be very aware of the devil’s attempts to pull me back.  For instance, when a job advancement opportunity comes along, instead of assuming that God must be blessing me, now I consider it carefully.   Could it be Satan at work?  Would the new job and responsibilities take up more of my time, keeping me from making visits and serving God?”  This tender-hearted brother wants to make sure he stays strong in the fold.  He has been the prodigal and never wants to go back.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

(1 Peter 5:8)

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”

(1 Cor. 16:13)

“Be on the alert” means to be watchful and stay awake.  Keep your eyes open.  The Bible goes on to show us why that’s necessary:

  • Satan wants to enter the heart of the individual- John 13:2; Acts 5:3
  • He tries to take advantage of us- 2 Cor. 2:11
  • He tempts married couples- 1 Cor. 7:5
  • He tries to hinder the work of the saints- 1 Thess. 2:18
  • He’s the tempter who deceives the whole world- Matt. 4:3; Rev. 12:9

Paul said he wasn’t “ignorant of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11) and we shouldn’t be, either.

Suggestions for the week:

  1.  The world portrays the devil as a cartoonish joke.  Spend time looking up verses that show Satan’s activities.  Be re-convinced that our adversary is no laughing matter.
  2. Look up and write down all the names the Bible uses for the devil.
  3. What does Eph. 6:10-20 teach you about our enemy?  How can we protect yourself against him?

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Revive Me #42–Lift Your Eyes

Revive Me, Week 42–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Lift Your Eyes

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

(Psalm 121)

This psalm has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember.  It’s a beautiful reminder of God’s care.  When you’re hurting, lift your eyes to the One who wants to help you.  When you’re afraid of what lies ahead, remember your Protector.

How easy it is to feel alone!  How quickly I become overwhelmed.  “I will lift up my eyes.”  God is there.  He is helping, keeping, shading, and preserving ME.  The God of heaven and earth watches over ME.

“We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chron. 20:12).

Sometimes I need a reminder to lift my eyes.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Memorize Psalm 121.
  2.  Read Psalm 123:1 and Isa. 40:26.
  3.  Think of examples of those in the Bible who looked up in their distress.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.


Revive Me #41–Know the Lord

Revive Me, Week 41–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Know the Lord

Jesus said the “great and foremost commandment” is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).  If we love the Lord, we will obey His commandments (John 14:15) and our actions will be saturated by that love (1 John 3:18).  But how can we love Him if we don’t know Him?  How can our children love Him if they don’t know Him?

To know the Lord, spend time in the gospel of John.  John shows us who Jesus is:

  • He is the Word (read 1:1)
  • He is the Life (read 1:3,4)
  • He is the Light (read 1:6-9)

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (1:10).  To know Christ, then, is to receive Him.

  1.  To know the Lord, receive Him as the Word (12:48-50).

He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.  For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.  I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

2.  To know the Lord, receive Him as the Life (11:25,26).

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?'”

3.  To know the Lord, receive Him as the Light (8:12).

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

Spend time in John this week and get reacquainted with your Lord.  Get to know Him as:

  • the Miracle Worker, when He turned the water to wine (ch. 2)
  • the Healer, when He cured the nobleman’s son, the paralytic, and the blind man (ch. 4,5,9)
  • the Provider, when He fed the 5,000 (ch. 6)
  • the Bread of Life (6:36) and the Living Water (7:37,38)
  • the Supreme Being, when He walked on water and stopped the wind (ch. 6)
  • the Compassionate One, when He wept for those He loved (ch. 11)
  • the Conqueror of Death, when He raised Lazarus and Himself from the grave (ch. 11,20)
  • the Humble Servant, when He washed His disciples feet (ch. 13)
  • the Interceder, when He prayed to the Father on our behalf (ch. 17)
  • the Sacrificial Lamb, when He gave His life for all mankind (ch. 19)

To know Him is to love Him!

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Read through the gospel of John this week.
  2.  List each of the descriptions of Jesus above (Miracle Worker, Healer, etc.) and write down why that should grow your love for Him and how that knowledge impacts you personally.
  3.  Focus on making sure your children/ grandchildren know the Lord.  Share those amazing accounts with them this week in your devotional times.
  4.  So many around us have never met the Lord.  Introduce a neighbor, friend, or coworker to Jesus this week by sharing something you read in John.
  5.  Choose one verse in John to memorize this week.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.


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Revive Me #40–Take the 5 Star Challenge

Revive Me, Week 40– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Take the 5-Star Challenge

The challenge comes from a quote and may change your life.  It’s simple yet powerful.  You can do it by yourself.  You can do it with your family.  You can do it with your ladies’ Bible class.  You can create your own special team to do it with.

It will grow you.  It will make an impact on those around you.  If you want to make a difference in the world, this challenge is how you can.

Here it is:

“God’s Word…read it through, write it down, pray it in, work it out, pass it on.”

(Smith Wigglesworth)

See how simple?  And yet we know the Word is powerful and penetrating (Heb. 4:12).  It’s so powerful it can keep young people on the path of purity (Psalm 119:9).  It’s profitable (2 Tim. 3:16).  It blesses those who hear and obey it (Lk. 11:28).  It can make a difference in this dark world because the unfolding of it gives light (Psalm 119:130).  It saves (James 1:21).

Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Daniel 12:3

Suggestions for the Week (how the challenge will work):

  1.   Ask others to take this challenge with you.  Decide if you all want to do the same texts or each choose your own.
  2. Option A)
  • Monday- Read it
  • Tuesday- Write it
  • Wednesday- Pray it
  • Thursday- Work it
  • Friday- Pass it.

Option B)

  • Monday-Friday- Do all 5 each day

3.   Continue it at least until the end of the year (12 weeks).  Discuss with your team on Jan. 1st if/ how it made an impact.  Compare notes.

4.    Suggested text:  Psalm 119

           Psalm 119 has 176 verses.  This equals 15 verses a week for the next 12 weeks.  That is     3 verses a day (Monday through Friday).  This passage covers multiple ways in which the Word of God can change our lives and the lives of those around us.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.


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Revive Me #39– Be Content

Revive Me, Week 39–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Be Content

Discontentment keeps us from being satisfied.

  • The job you were thankful to land is no longer good enough.
  • Stay-at-home moms resent being stuck at home.
  • Moms who work outside the home grumble about never having enough time to get things done at home.
  • Preachers’ wives and elders’ wives resent the demands on their time or the time their husband gives to others.
  • Bible class teachers resent being stuck in the same classroom for years.

What once were viewed as blessings or opportunities to serve can become sources of disgruntlement!  Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we are God’s people and that should satisfy us (Psa. 65:4; Prov. 19:23).

Discontentment blinds us to the blessings found in Christ.

  • Hope and glory (Eph. 1:18)
  • Grace (2 Cor. 9:8)
  • Strength (Eph. 3:16)
  • Love and fullness (Eph. 3:17-19)
  • Might (Eph. 1:19)
  • Peace (Phil. 4:7)

Those who are focused on self find the flaws and see only inadequacies.  Even these blessings are no longer good enough.  Contentment reflects a heart that focuses on God’s blessings and trusts Him with the rest.

Discontentment is a sign of a weakened spiritual state.  In the passages that command us to be content, we see a direct correlation between our level of contentment and our relationship with God.

  • Heb. 13:5- Make sure your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He himself has said, “I will never desert you nor will I forsake you.”  Contentment is based on God’s promise to be with us.  He will never turn His back on us, and that should be enough.
  • Phil. 4:11- I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  How could Paul do that?  By relying on Christ’s strength (v. 13).  Discontentment happens when we try to rely on our own strength.
  • 1 Tim. 6:6ff- Godliness with contentment is great gain…If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.  Paul goes on to write that those who long for more have wandered away from the faith.

Be content.  Who are you most drawn to…those who find fault and are never satisfied or those who are grateful and content?  When we choose to be content, we lift up the cross and draw others to Christ (John 12:32).  When we give in to discontentment, we keep the world from seeing the blessings of being in Christ (Rom. 10:12).

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities

Who heals all your diseases

Who redeems your life from destruction

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies

Who satisfies you with good things.

–Psalm 103:2-5

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  List the blessings found in these verses:  Rom. 15:13; Eph. 1:7,8; 2:7; 3:20; Psa. 119:165
  2.  If discontentment has taken root in your heart, determine the cause.  Have you become self-absorbed?  Have you allowed bitterness to color your thinking?  Are you caught up in the world’s mindset of always wanting more?
  3.  Read Rom. 12:2.  How is this verse tied to contentment?
  4.  As a parent or grandparent, focus this week on teaching contentment.  Be mindful of ways you might be inadvertently encouraging discontentment.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.


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Revive Me #38–Don’t Let Satan

Revive Me, Week 38– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Don’t Let Satan

Have you ever mishandled a situation and ended up hurting someone’s feelings?

Have you ever given bad advice that turned a minor incident into full-out drama?

Have you ever felt inadequate to the task or overwhelmed by your responsibilities?

Have you ever felt too immature?  Have you ever wondered when you’ll gain the wisdom that’s supposed to come with age and experience?

And have you ever had one of those weekends where you felt ALL of those things at once?

If you’re anything like me, perhaps you then start wanting to retreat.  That’s it…I quit.  I’m obviously not the right person for the job.  What was I thinking?  When those types of thoughts start swirling around, we need to remember the source.  How does the song go?  “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.  Don’t let Satan…..”

Of course we’re going to make mistakes and demonstrate immaturity or lack of wisdom.  When those less than stellar moments happen back to back, it can be tempting to walk away.  We might think we’re doing it for the greater good (“Someone else can do a better job”) but we need to remember that sometimes it takes humbling events to catch our attention and cause growth.  Just do better next time.  Learn from it.  Pray for wisdom and spiritual maturity.  When we feel frustrated and idiotic, we have a choice.  We can allow Satan to blow out our light or we can trust God to help us do better next time.

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers (1 Tim. 4:10).

Suggestions for the Week:

1.  If you’ve messed up somehow, do what you can to remedy the situation.  Do you need to ask for forgiveness?  Do you need to consider the big picture?  Do you need to help clean up a mess you’re partly responsible for?

2.  Pray for patience with yourself.  Pray for wisdom.

3.  Don’t indulge in a pity party.

4.  Open the Word.  Study passages that have to do with spiritual maturity and determine to apply them to your life.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.


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Revive Me #37- Fight for Relationships

Revive Me, Week 37– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Fight for Relationships

Perhaps you’ve seen some status posts or memes that convey a “that’s their problem” mentality.  They’ll say things like:

Sometimes you have to move on without certain people.  If they’re meant to be in your life, they’ll catch up.

I’m tired of fighting.  For once I want to be fought for.

Life is short.  Only surround yourself with people who get you.

Relationships are worth fighting for but not if only one is fighting.

These comments are sad, aren’t they?  They reveal a short-sightedness that comes from thinking like the world.  Relationships are worth fighting for.  They’re important to God and should be to us as well.  I’m not talking about relationships that are unwholesome (1 Cor. 15:33).  I’m talking about:

  • Being willing to swallow our pride to work through hurt feelings with a sister in Christ
  • Drumming up the courage to form friendships with our neighbors
  • Continuing to be kind to those who have been thoughtless or mean
  • Honoring our parents even if they’ve let us down
  • Putting our spouse’s needs before our own, every day
  • Giving ourselves, offering our time, opening our hearts to our church family without burning out or getting huffy if we don’t feel our efforts are being reciprocated

God wants us to fight for good relationships.  He wants US to make the first move to show others we care.  Read Romans 12:9-21.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Break down Rom. 12:9-21 phrase by phrase.  List a practical way to demonstrate each command.
  2.  Is there a strained relationship in your life?  Have you done your part to work through it?  Pray about it and reach out again.
  3.  Check your heart.  Is pride keeping you from making things right with someone?  Have you been lazy in your efforts to show love?
  4.  Begin to form a new relationship this week.  Choose a neighbor, an elderly person or nursing home resident, a new Christian, etc.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.


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Revive Me #36- Hug Like You Mean It

Revive Me, Week 36– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Hug Like You Mean It

“Let go of whatever it was that turned you into a tentative hugger, and hug like you mean it.”

I’ve been doing too much mindless hugging lately.  When my husband walks in the door, I often hug him but my mind might be elsewhere.  I can be in the middle of hugging a member of my church family but my eyes will be searching for that person I need to talk to.  And I don’t even want to think about how many hugs from my sons I didn’t really focus on.

A couple of things have caused me to think about this:

  1.  The brevity of life (James 4:13-17).  I’ve recently heard of a couple of sudden, unexpected deaths.  I imagine their loved ones are recalling their last interactions with the departed.  They probably want nothing more than to hold them one more time.  When you wish you could hug someone but you can’t, you know the value of a simple hug.  I also know of some who have a loved one entering hospice care.  Surely every hug from now on will be more meaningful, more precious.
  2. The power of a good hug.  I’ve been the recipient of a couple of heartfelt hugs lately, the kind that make me pause and think, “Oh, this is a real hug.”  Real hugs leave me feeling bolstered and loved, as if I just received a gift.  They make me smile say, “thank you!”  They convince me to be more deliberate with my own hugging.

“A hug delights and warms and charms.  That must be why God gave us arms.”

Non-huggers may be cringing at this post.  That’s okay.  You have your own form of greeting and encouraging (a hearty handshake?).  The point of this Revive Me challenge is to remind us to be “all there” when we engage with others.  Smile warmly, look others in the eye, and hug for real.  For some, it may be just the boost they need to keep on keeping on.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Hug the stuffing out of your family members this week.  Give your husband extra doses.  Cherish every child-hug.  And especially hug the elderly in your family.
  2.  Determine to give up distracted greetings.  Give one-on-one attention to each person you meet at worship.
  3.  Go out of your way to hug the unhuggable (not the ones who don’t like hugs…that wouldn’t be very nice).  Look for the insecure, angry, or rebellious.  Help them understand God’s compassion by offering a warm hug.
  4.  Never let a gathering go by where you don’t hug the widows and widowers.  For some of them, it may be the only contact they enjoy during the week.
  5.  Just for fun, do some research into the science of hugging to learn some of the health benefits.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.



Revive Me #35–Help Others Stay Faithful

Revive Me, Week 35– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Help Others Stay Faithful

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another,

because love covers a multitude of sins.”

(1 Peter 4:8)

In a lesson for women entitled, “When My Love for Man Grows Weak,” I shared this verse and said, “Sincere love for one another is what keeps our relationships intact despite our shortcomings.  But yesterday I heard a different application.  Brett Petrillo, our youth minister, said that when we show love to a brother or sister, we are keeping them from going wayward.  That really caught my attention!  The point of his whole lesson was that when we all work together we can accomplish much.  If one of us demonstrates love to a fellow Christian, that’s good.  But if we ALL do our part to actively love that same Christian, he or she will be less likely to wander off into the world.

Doesn’t that add an even greater motivation to love others?  And it makes perfect sense.  If we’re loving like we should, we will be patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4).  We will gently warn those who seem to be drifting and will help bear their burdens as they struggle (Gal. 6:1,2).  We will be with them through their bad times (Prov. 17:17).  We will give of ourselves (1 John 4:10,11).  And from our text (1 Pet. 4:8), the next verses tell us how to show that love that covers a multitude of sins.  “Be hospitable to one another” (v. 9).  “Serve one another” (v. 10).

What better way to grow closer to the Lord than to do our part to help others stay close to Him as well?

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  There are members of your congregation who might be growing weary in their work, who feel lonely or left out, or who feel like the odd-man-out because they’re single or divorced.  Choose one of those individuals or couples and have them into your home this week.  Focus on them.  Let them know you’re paying attention.  Pray with them.
  2.  Keep your eyes open when you meet with the saints.  Seek out those you don’t get to speak to as often.  Ask how they’re doing in a way that invites specific answers.  Listen to them and hug them.
  3.  Send a few “for no reason” cards to let brand new Christians, teens, or struggling members know you care.
  4.  Who hasn’t been to worship in a while?  Call them and let them know you miss them.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.


Photo credit: May Busch

Revive Me #34–Pray for the People of God

Revive Me, Week 34– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Pray for the People of God

I’m at Polishing the Pulpit this week and was able to attend a powerful lecture by John Moore (of Dripping Springs, TX) on the subject of prayer.  He said if our prayer life is like the apostle Paul’s, then:

  1.  We will place a high value on prayer- Eph. 6:18
  2.  We will speak and talk about prayer with others- Phil. 1:3-11
  3.  We will be constant in prayer- 1 Thess. 3:9-13
  4.  We will extol the nature of God (“extol” means “to speak in a positive way about enthusiastically”)- 2 Thess. 1:3-12
  5.  We will center ourselves upon the Christ of God- Col. 1:13-20
  6.  We will concern ourselves with the people of God (see verses below)

It is this last point that I want to share with you.  Brother Moore pointed out the different ways in which Paul prayed for God’s people.

Let us concern ourselves with the people of God.  Let us pray that…

  • They will be filled (Col. 1:9)
  • They will walk worthy, pleasing God and bearing fruit (Col. 1:9,10)
  • They will increase in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10)
  • They will be strengthened with all power (Col. 1:11)
  • They will give thanks (Col. 1:12)
  • They will not do anything wrong (2 Cor. 13:7)
  • Their faith will be perfected (2 Cor. 13:9)
  • They will have wisdom that they may know hope and the greatness of God’s power (Eph. 1:18-22)

As Brother Moore said, “Satan doesn’t want Christians to see these things!”  Imagine the impact we can have on strengthening the Lord’s church if we all began praying these same things.  Oh how we need to unite and stand strong in our current culture!

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Pray these things for God’s people every day.
  2.  Pray these things for your family every day.
  3.  Look up the Scripture references and read Paul’s original prayers.


(Photo borrowed from Bear Valley Bible Institute collection)