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.

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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.

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(Photo borrowed from Bear Valley Bible Institute collection)

Revive Me #33– Grow Through Change

Revive Me, Week 33– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Grow Through Change

In my personal life I’m in the midst of four major changes.  Change is a natural part of life.  I know this fact but I’m a chicken.  I wrestle with fear, insecurity, and just saying goodbye to what used to be.  While I may be the only chicken, I know I’m not the only one facing change.

Our Nation Changes.  From the leadership to the values it upholds, our nation is not the same as it used to be.  I imagine we have more changes to come.

Our Church Families Change.  The kingdom will stand (Dan. 2:44) but the makeup of each body fluctuates.  Neal and I were just discussing all the changes that have occurred in the ten years we’ve been here.  Several members have gone on to their reward, various leaders have come and gone, and dear families have moved away.

Our Homes Change.  Children come into the home and then before you know it, children leave the home.  Aging parents or others may need to live in your home.

Even Our Bodies Change.  Aging.  Enough said.

While the items I mentioned aren’t all negative, they are definitely changes.  How can we face them gracefully?

  • Remember the One who never changes.  “For I am the Lord; I do not change” (Mal. 3:6).  His promises stand regardless of shifting circumstances (2 Pet. 1:1-4).  His love for us is constant (Rom. 8:37-39).
  • Turn the changes into a challenge.  Who doesn’t love a good challenge?  It can be invigorating and life-giving.  When fear threatens, remember that growth comes from being stretched.  Facing challenges builds strength and confidence through Jesus Christ our Lord (Phil. 4:13).
  • See the Blessings.  Those who have experienced change will probably tell you that some good came about as a result (James 1:2-4).
  • See the Opportunities.  Times of change can be the perfect time to try new things, to test yourself, to walk through open doors that you’ve been hesitant to before.  God has work for us always (Eph. 2:10).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  To prepare for changes in our nation, pray for courage.  We all need to stand up for what’s right and shine for Christ regardless of threats, persecution, or personal cost.
  2.  For changes in the church family, pay attention to who could use some love.  New members?  Recent widows?  Help those who are most affected cope by being their source of encouragement.
  3.  In your own family, thank God for any who might be in your care now.  It is always a blessing.  Open your heart to those who may need your care.  Don’t be hesitant to let go and let God (*pointing to myself big time here).
  4. Concerning your body, keep up with time.  Work to keep it in good condition so you can serve to the best of your ability.  Exercise more, make better food choices, drink plenty of water, and don’t become crotchety.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #32–Light Up Your World

Revive Me, Week 32– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Light Up the World

This year’s theme at Higher Ground was “A Dark World Needs Bright Lights,” but it’s easy to get discouraged when we think in terms of the whole world.  It’s big, dark, and seemingly determined to reject God.  There are some simple ways, though, that we can light up our world.  We can make a difference in all the places we are this week…our homes and our communities.  And imagine the difference it can make when  we’re all lighting up our own little corners together!

We can light up our world by smiling.  Such a simple thing, really, but what an impact!  I have to remind myself that my face doesn’t naturally fall into a joyful expression.  Instead, it looks rather annoyed, or “long,” as someone recently pointed out.  But I know many who are smiling every time I see them.  It lifts me up, and makes me want to smile in return.  I imagine all who come in contact with them are blessed, simply because the joy in their heart is reflected on their face (Phil. 4:4; Psa. 16:9; Prov. 10:28).   I can smile more.  Surely I can do that.

We can light up our world by having a positive outlook.   You probably know someone like this.  Their life isn’t easy, but you wouldn’t know it from their words.  They talk (and post) about the good in life, and the Source of their blessings.  They keep looking up.  Their trust in God permeates their attitude and demeanor.  Because of their serenity, others are drawn to them, and want to know the secret to their peaceful confidence.  How are they living brightly?  Their lack of pessimism and complaint stands out, and points the way to Christ (Phil. 2:14; 4:11).  If being optimistic helps others see Jesus, what does my grumbling do?  I need to remember that.

We can light up our world by encouraging others to see the Word.  I’m thankful for the people in my life who do this.  Their posts contain Scripture.  They turn their life experiences into  teaching opportunities.  They remind us why we’re here, what the Bible has to say, and how we can make it real.  With all of the worldly messages swirling around us, I am especially grateful for those who combat it with glimpses into the eternal, hope-giving Word.  We can never get enough of that.  They shine by turning simple, daily rituals into opportunities to plant the Seed (Mark 16:15; Psa. 96:3; Rom. 1:16).   What if each day I look for at least one way to share the Word.  Will it make a difference?  Oh yes.  God’s Word is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12).  All I have to do is remember to help others see it.

None of the three ways I’ve mentioned involve money or a great deal of time.  There’s no fear of embarrassment or persecution, usually.   It’s just letting God’s love shine through the darkness in simple ways.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Smile.  Smile at your spouse and your children.  Smile in the checkout lines.  Smile in traffic.  Smile instead of scowl.
  2. No complaining, grumbling, mumbling, or sharing aggravations in the office, at the ball field, or on social media.  Just don’t do it, at least for this week.  Remember, your goal is to light up your world not sound like your world.
  3. Share, post, or tweet each day something about God’s Word.
  4. Become a name-dropper.  God’s name, that is.  In your casual conversations, look for ways to insert ways that God blesses, protects, and strengthens.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #31– Get the Message

Revive Me, Week 31– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Get the Message

About 6 weeks ago, I bought a little bracelet and I’ve been wearing it nearly every day since.  Just yesterday morning in Bible class, I discovered that it has something written on the underside.  It says, “Never forget how much you are loved.”  I was so surprised and couldn’t believe I never saw it before then.  All this time that bracelet has been right there on my wrist yet I had no idea that sweet message was waiting for me.  Now I like the bracelet even more!

I wonder how many other things I’ve missed out on because I wasn’t paying attention?

  • Bible study.  I always have a Bible nearby.  I try to read it daily.  But am I paying attention?  Am I examining it closely and focusing on the details?  Am I seeing God’s message?
  • Relationships.  I have family and friends all around me.  But am I paying attention to them?  Do I see their cues, hear their hints?  Have I been so distracted by my own schedule or constantly checking messages that I’ve been missing the needs of those most dear to me?  Have I missed out on some friendships because I’ve been blind to efforts to reach out to me?
  • Blessings.  They’re everywhere, everyday.  But have I taken them for granted?  Have I even seen the blessings, big and small, that God sends me so that I will get His message, “Never forget how much you are loved”?

“Oh taste and se that the Lord is good” (Psa. 34:8).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Study the Bible intentionally.  Look closely.  Examine each word.  See how sweet and dear God’s message is for you!
  2.  Notice every thoughtful gesture by the people around you.  Acknowledge them.  Recognize it as yet another proof of God’s love and care for you.
  3. See the blessings, physical and spiritual.  Help others see them.  Ask God to help you keep your eyes open to them.
  4. Put your phone, laptop, iPad, whatever away.  Instead of looking down at your device, look around and SEE people.  Smile, connect, and see their messages.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #30–Love the Unlovable

Revive Me, Week 30– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Love the Unlovable

I spent the past week with 50 teen girls at a Christian Bible camp.  During one lesson, they were asked to come up with a specific way they would be willing to shine their light.  One young lady wrote, “I will love the unlovable.”

The 50 girls were from different states and had different backgrounds.  They didn’t all grow up in sweet Christian homes.  They weren’t all at the same level of spiritual maturity.  And yet by the middle of the week, there was a unity taking place that was beautiful to behold.  They were reaching out to each other.  They were (mostly) patient with each other.  They were drawing in the shy, the awkward, and the scared.  They even managed to soften the one or two with a chip on their shoulder.  By the end of the week, as we sang in a big circle holding hands, they were family.

Most of us encounter many people each day.  We know we are commanded to love them (Mark 12:31) but not all of them will be easy to love.  Some will be prickly or grouchy or mean.  Some will look unapproachable.  Some will simply reject any attempt to reach out to them.  While we won’t be thrown into a camp situation where it will be easier to grow to love others, we must still determine to love the unlovable.  The outgoing, warm, friendly, happy people around us are probably receiving love and good attention.  It’s the ones who are edgy, odd, or giving off “leave me alone” vibes who most need us to show them the love of Christ.

“Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

(1 John 3:18)

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

(1 John 4:8)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Pay close attention to outsiders.  Reach out to them in a specific way.
  2.  Show warmth in your smile and your words to those who are not nice.  They need it the most.  Remember, “hurt people hurt people.”
  3.  If you are afraid, ask God to give you courage.
  4.  Don’t give up if your first attempts to reach out are rejected or even ridiculed.  And definitely don’t react in a hurt or indignant way.  That’s what they expect.  Instead, smile and try again at first opportunity.
  5. Pray for those who are unlovable.
  6. Instead of mentally tagging others with harsh labels, identify them as lost souls or lonely and outcast.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #28–Show God’s Peace

Revive Me, Week 28– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Show God’s Peace

What a week!  Do you find yourself thinking that more and more?  We live in a world of violence, tensions, unrest, and anger.  People are shaking their heads and asking, “What is this world coming to?”  Christians know the answer to that question.  We need to be ready to share it.  But first, how will those in the world know to come to us?  They need to see God’s peace in us.

Many are wringing their hands in fear and frustration.  We need to be folding our hands in prayer.  We need to be extending our hands to give and help.

The faces around us are anxious.  Our brows need to be smooth and our expressions should reflect the calm in our hearts.

The words swirling everywhere on the news and social media are angry and provoking.  Our words need to be healing and life-giving.

The world needs to see something different in us.  Yes, we are indeed surrounded by violence and injustice.  But we are filled with the peace of God.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Your, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3)

Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psa. 119:165).

“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace” (Psa. 29:11).

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6,7).

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

Let’s show the world this God-given peace!  They may be ready for the security that comes from serving the One who is in control.  

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.  The Lord be with you all” (2 Thess. 3:16).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  If you are struggling with fear and anxiety, pray for peace.  Your trust in God during these unstable times will draw others.
  2.  Read 2 Thess. 3:16 again.  How does the Lord want to give you peace?
  3.  Do the Bible-marking on True Peace.
  4.  Center your family devotionals this week around the topic of peace.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #27–Be Patient

Revive Me, Week 27– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Be Patient

We do not live in a patient world.  A few minutes in rush hour traffic, a long line at Walmart, or just waiting to get off a plane proves that most people do not appreciate delays or inconveniences.  Tempers flare and snarky comments fly!

A couple of days ago I witnessed a woman’s short fuse.  She couldn’t figure out how to use the security chip card reader at the store.  As she became flustered, she grew louder.  “Why do I have to enter my PIN again?!!!  I already did it once!!!”  Her cheeks turned red.  She pointed her finger and growled, “If this thing charges me twice…..When I get home, I’m going to check and see if I’ve been overcharged.  Then you’ll REALLY hear from me!”  When the transaction was finally complete, she yanked her card out of the machine and stormed off.  The next customer in line was asked, “How are you going today, sir?”  With an impassive face, he answered, “Fine.  You?”  He didn’t shake his head, raise his eyebrows, or ask, “What was that all about?”

We’re so used to petulant behavior that those types of transactions don’t surprise us or phase us anymore.

Patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”  I can appear patient on the outside while being impatient on the inside.  True patience is not getting peeved in the first place.

  • Do you handle delays, setbacks, and inconveniences graciously or grouchily?
  • Does your family witness your impatience?  What kind of example are you setting for them?
  • How do you treat those who move slower than you do?
  • Are you an eye roller?
  • Are you more patient with your own weaknesses than you are the weaknesses of others?

The world expects poor behavior in imperfect situations.  Let’s surprise them with a genuine smile, kind words, and grace.  Let’s be patient.

“Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools” (Ecc. 7:9).

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute” (Prov. 15:18).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Study Biblical examples of those who were “patient when wronged” (2 Tim. 2:24).  How did they handle the difficult situation?  Why do you think they were able to do that?
  2.  Do a heart check.  Are you impatient?  What sets you off?  With whom do you act impatient?  Do you need to seek forgiveness?  How will you repent?
  3.  Spend more time with those who are patient and gentle and less time (if possible) with those who are quick to express dissatisfaction.
  4.  Be looking for the upcoming Bible-marking topic on patience at comefillyourcup.com.

Read it.  Memorize it. Live it.

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Revive Me #26-Consider How You’ll Be Remembered

Revive Me, Week 26-  A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

(*We are halfway through the year!  I hope you are feeling strengthened in your faith as we grow together in the Lord!)

Consider How You’ll Be Remembered

Last night a remarkable Christian woman died in her sleep.  What made Neva Morgan remarkable?  Well, many things, but one thing in particular stands out for me, and that is her faithfulness.

Neva’s husband wasn’t a Christian but she wanted to make sure her children were brought up in the Lord.  That meant that she alone was responsible for taking her children to Bible class and worship.  Neva didn’t drive so she had to ask someone each week to pick them all up.  She knew this was a huge inconvenience for others and many times considered staying home to avoid the hassle.  It also wasn’t easy trying to make her children behave in worship since she didn’t have her husband with her to help.  A lesser woman would’ve allowed these challenges to weaken her resolve, but Neva was determined to put God first no matter the cost.  She knew her husband needed to see how important her faith was, that obedience to her Lord trumped everything else.

Neva’s perseverance paid off.  Several years later her husband obeyed the gospel!  Imagine her joy!  What if she had given in to the temptation to stay home from worship?  What if she had compromised in order to keep the peace?  Where would her children be today?  Would her husband have ever become a Christian?

Neva experienced other challenges in her life.  She faced them with the strength of Christ (Phil. 4:13).

As a result of Neva’s faithfulness, she has left a beautiful legacy.  Her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will always have her story as an example of obedience and trust.  Her perseverance molded her into a sweet soul who was easy to love. Those who knew her wanted to be like her.  I know I did.

What kind of legacy are you building?  Neva’s life reminds me to be heaven-minded (Col. 3:1,2).  When I die, I want to be remembered for my faithfulness to Christ no matter what.  I want my children to be able to view my life as one that glorified God.  I want them to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am resting from my labors in the bosom of my Lord.

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord…that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them” (Rev. 14:13).

Suggestions for the Week:

1.  Is anything challenging your faithfulness?  Determine that no inconvenience, discomfort, or hard thing will keep you from putting God first.

2.  Study the life of one who persevered through difficult times (like Job, Abraham, Hannah, or Paul).  Perhaps use this as the topic for your family devotionals.

3.  Consider your weekly schedule.  In what ways are you showing your children/ grandchildren that you are a faithful child of God?

4.  Write down how you think you will be remembered.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Neva is in the middle with her daughter-in-law on the right.

Revive Me #25- Cherish the People in Your Life

Revive Me, Week 25–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Cherish the People God Put in Your Life

Tomorrow morning our very dear friends, Bob and Sheryl Turner, are moving to Louisiana (pause for weep-fest here).  We’ve been working with them and enjoying their friendship for the past eight years.  As soon as I found out Sheryl was moving, I realized how much she has impacted my life.  I have learned so much from her:

  • How to be hospitable
  • How to lovingly and graciously take care of an aging parent
  • How to serve
  • How to work hard
  • How to give
  • How to be compassionate
  • How to see the needs of others
  • How to do crafts without breaking out in hives

I began trying to cram in as much as possible…lunch together, meaningful conversations, questions, expressions of appreciation.  Now we’re at the end.  I keep thinking of all the things I meant to do and wonder if I’ve said enough about how much I love and appreciate this precious friend.

Why do we wait until it’s time to say goodbye to express love and appreciation?  God has put special individuals in our lives so we can learn from them and be encouraged.  I want to be more invested in the people around me–my family, my Christian brothers and sisters, my neighbors.  Regret comes from neglecting golden opportunities to show love, to live in the moment, and to simply enjoy the unique traits and gifts of the people around us.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Rom. 12:10-12

Look around at the people God has put in your life.  Are you making time with them a priority?  Are you learning from them?  Are you encouraging them?  Are you serving together with them?

I thank God for Sheryl Turner.  I will continue to follow (stalk) her as she and Bob begin the next chapter of their life.  And I know I will continue learning from her.  May I find someone to encourage as she has encouraged me.  May I daily make the most of time with special people God has put in my life.

Suggestions for the week:

  1.  Think about some individuals you’re thankful for but haven’t expressed that thanks.  Tell them to their face how much you love and appreciate them.
  2.  Pick someone to teach this week.  Do you have a skill you can share with a daughter-in-law, a new member, a neighbor?
  3.  Pick someone to serve this week.  Can you think of anyone who could use a cheery visit?  Can you offer to help someone paint their house or work in their yard?
  4.  Cherish the relationships in your life, even the ones that cause a certain amount of stress.  Growth, patience, and compassion can come from appreciating the time and work it takes to build bonds.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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