Revive Me #52–Hold Fast

Revive Me, Week 52–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Hold Fast

As we close this year-long study of ways to strengthen our relationship with our Savior, it seems appropriate to share the Hebrews writer’s plea.

“But Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end” (3:6).

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (10:23).

These were written to Christians who were facing persecution and giving in to discouragement.  “Hold fast” comes from one Greek word which means “holding one’s course toward; bearing down for.”  It’s the same word used in Acts 27 when Paul and all the sailors had been tossed around in a storm at sea for two weeks.  They finally caught sight of dry land and verse 40 reads “they made toward shore.”  How determined were they to make it?  They had set their course and they were going to hold fast.

Will you determine to hold fast?  Will you help me hold fast?

Life is uncertain.  I know of three individuals who lost their lives unexpectedly this past holiday weekend.  I pray their loved ones will hold fast through the grief.

Life can be cruel.  We all know dear ones who can’t seem to get a break.  They barely make it through one difficulty when another comes along to weigh them down.  I pray they will hold fast through the hardships.

Life can be dangerous.  There are thrills all around and sometimes we just want a taste.  It can be so easy to give in.  I pray we will all hold fast through the temptations.

The God we serve is greater than any uncertainty, cruelty, or danger.  The God who loves us has already made it possible for us to make it Home.

  • “In this world you have trouble, but take courage.  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
  • “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
  • “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).
  • “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).

Determine now that, come what may, you will not give up or give in.  “Stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13).  That is my fervent prayer for you.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Sit down with your family and discuss scenarios (potential hardships, persecutions, etc.).  Promise to God and to each other that you will “hold fast” no matter what so you will all be together in Heaven.
  2.  Meditate on passages about faithfulness through trials.
  3.  Pray for courage and trust.
  4.  Memorize 1 Cor. 15:1,2.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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I thank God for you.

 

Revive Me #51–Spend Time on the Mountain

Revive Me, Week 51– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Spend Time on the Mountain

Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the testimony of God and then “went down to the people to tell them” (Ex. 19:20-25).  Jesus “went up on the mountain and…opened His mouth and began to teach” (Matt. 5:1,2).  He took what Moses had shared and elevated it.  He made it a matter of the heart (5:21,22, 31,32, etc.).  What Jesus taught is easy, except for when it’s hard.

The “Sermon on the Mount” is a familiar text.  And yet there are moments when I realize I haven’t spent enough time on the mountain.  Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (5:20).  The scribes and Pharisees knew the law and they looked the part.  They were seen as religious leaders.  But they had a heart problem.  They liked to tell other people what to do while not practicing it themselves (Matt. 23).

I can talk about the command to forgive but what about when someone really hurts me?  I can say gossip is wrong but what about when my loose lips blurt out something that never should’ve been shared?  What if a sister wrongs me and I go to her one-on-one and she humbly apologizes, but I still feel angry and keep thinking of more things to say to put her in her place?  What then?  Well, I need to spend more time on the mountain.

  • Be gentle, merciful, a peacemaker (5:5-9).
  • Turn the other cheek (5:39).
  • Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (5:44).
  • Don’t just love those who love you (5:46).
  • Forgive others (6:14,15).
  • Do not worry about your life (6:25).
  • Don’t judge others harshly while overlooking your own faults (7:1-5).

What Jesus taught is easy, except for when it’s hard.  Does my righteousness surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees if I’m not practicing these in my own life?

Jesus said there would be those who stand before Him and say, “Look at all the religious things I did!”  But because they ignored the will of the Father, He will say to them, “I never knew you” (7:21-23).

“When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed…[and He] came down from the mountain.”

(Matt. 7:28-8:1)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Read the Sermon on the Mount every day this week (Matthew 5-7).
  2.  Underline or highlight anything Jesus taught on the mountain that you personally struggle with.
  3. Pray for God to give you the humility to see your own “logs” and the strength to remove them (Matt. 7:1-5).

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Revive Me #50– Elevate Your Marriage

Revive Me, Week 50– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Elevate Your Marriage

I’m tired of all the marriage bashing.  Marriage is honorable (Heb. 13:4).  No one will be happy in their marriage if they are caught up in the worldly mindset of pleasing self.  But those who put godly traits into practice, like serving, yielding, and giving, will find daily joy in their marriage.  In other words, when we lower ourselves our marriages are lifted up.

How can you elevate your marriage?

Accommodate Your Spouse’s Likes and Dislikes

  • Are you paying attention?  Are you listening?  Do you remember?
  • Look for various ways to prove it.  For example, if your spouse likes a cup of coffee after work, have a fresh pot ready.  Thoughtful gesture= love affirmation.
  • Keep your eyes open for new likes and dislikes.  We all change as we age.
  • Get in the habit of asking, “Is there anything I can do for you?”  This question should be asked in various areas of life (bedroom, work, ministry, etc.).
  • Do what you can to make your spouse feel like it’s a joy to serve them (using words, gestures, facial expressions, and touches).

Value Your Unique Marriage

  • There’s only one marriage exactly like yours.  You have your own history, memories, inside jokes, and traditions.  Relish it!  Protect it!
  • Don’t take it for granted.  Regularly point out specific things you love about your special relationship.
  • Don’t let anyone bad-mouth your spouse or your marriage.  Remember, it’s honorable.

Seize the Day

  • Don’t wait for your spouse to deserve to be served.
  • Keep putting your spouse first no matter how you feel and no matter what others say.
  • Replace excuses with acts of service.
  • Serve without hoping to be served.  Let genuine love and their happiness be your motivation.
  • Start now.   What can you do today to elevate your marriage through service?

It’s ironic that the world considers these types of things to be drudgery.  Those who practice selfishness are the ones with the dull marriages.  Christians know that serving is satisfying.  There is no regret.  We will not look back one day and think, “I wish I hadn’t been so thoughtful.”  Consistent service enhances marriage.  It feels good and it’s intoxicating.

“Serve one another humbly in love” (Gal. 5:13).  Doing things God’s way brings out the best in everything.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Brainstorm ways to include unexpected acts of service into your schedule.
  2.  Spend time meditating on Scriptures concerning humility, putting others first, and agape love.  Here are some to start off with:  Phil. 2; 1 Cor. 13; Rom. 12:9-13; John 13:14-17.
  3.  Pay attention to your heart when you serve.  Are you filled with joy and satisfaction?  Or is your service done resentfully and grudgingly?

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Photo Credit: Traci Sproule

 

Revive Me #49–See God at Work

Revive Me, Week 49–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

See God at Work

I love the idea of keeping a prayer journal.  At ladies’ Bible class this past week, Anthea Carelse shared how she does hers.  I thought it was so great that I plan to do the same thing.  Instead of coming up with New Year’s resolutions, Anthea spends time creating her prayer journal for the year.  She thinks of and writes down her list of major prayer requests/ concerns.  She adds to it throughout the year.  She said that her favorite part is looking back a few weeks or months later and seeing how many she can cross off the list.  Anthea said that at the end of the year, she looks back over her prayer journal and can clearly see how most of her prayers were answered or in the process of being answered.  How faith building!

Anthea’s idea is a great one because it’s a reminder to see God at work.  When we do that, we will be more thankful for His love and attention.  We can always grow in our faith and in our gratitude.  Acknowledging answered prayers is an easy way to do that.

And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.

–1 John 5:14,15

“Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you”

(Elisabeth Elliot)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Purchase a spiral bound notebook or pretty journal and be thinking about the specific prayer requests/ concerns you’d like to write down on January 1st.
  2.  Besides building faith and growing gratitude, keeping track of God’s work in your life can also keep complaining and the martyr complex at bay.  What other benefits can you think of that will come from acknowledging answered prayers?
  3.  Read the following verses and note the conditions mentioned for answered prayer:

1 John 5:14,15-

John 15:7-

Matt. 7:7-

Psalm 37:4-

James 5:16-

Luke 18:1-

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Image cred: Huffington Post

 

 

Revive Me #48–Go to Calvary

Revive Me, Week 48–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Go to Calvary

I’m fighting distraction.  I’ve been focused on whatever my current responsibility has been.  When I could check off that assignment or event, my focus would move on to the next one.  Yesterday during the Lord’s Supper, I was about to put the fruit of the vine to my lips when it dawned on me that my mind had completely wandered all through the partaking of the bread.  I lifted my head as I realized I couldn’t recall one single sentence mentioned in either prayer that had just been offered.

Paul lifted up the cross as his central focus.  For him, nothing else mattered.  “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1,2).  I can see that I need to clear away the clutter and focus on the cross:

  • It is my power source (1 Cor. 1:18).
  • It is my motivation (Gal. 2:20).
  • It reminds me of God’s love (Rom. 5:8).
  • It strengthens me against temptation (1 Pet. 2:24,25).
  • It helps me see what’s important in life (Heb. 12:1,2).

It is so easy to get pulled away.  When I wander off on my own, I need to revisit Calvary.  The purpose of the cross was to bring me to God (1 Pet. 3:18).  Jesus gave everything for me there and that should be the reason for everything I do here.

“He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Cor. 5:15).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Read through all the gospel accounts of the death, burial, and resurrection.
  2. See how many of the rest of the New Testament books mention the cross.
  3. Sing songs about the cross this week:  “The Old Rugged Cross,” “Lead Me to Calvary,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross,” etc.
  4. Share the story of the cross with someone this week.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #47– Give Thanks

Revive Me, Week 47–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Give Thanks

“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.”

(unknown)

“Be thankful” (Col. 3:15; 4:2).  “Give thanks to Him and praise His name” (Psa. 100:4).

When?

  • In all circumstances- 1 Thess. 5:18
  • In all that you say and do- Col. 3:17
  • In every situation- Phil. 4:6
  • Always and for everything- Eph. 5:20
  • Forever- Psa. 30:12

Why?

  • For God is good and His love endures forever- 1 Chron. 16:34; Psa. 106:1
  • Because it is God’s will for you- 1 Thess. 5:18
  • For the Lord is the great God, the great King- Psa. 95:2,3
  • Because of the kingdom- Heb. 12:28
  • Because everything God created is good- 1 Tim. 4:4
  • Because of grace- 2 Cor. 4:15
  • Because of the generosity of others- 2 Cor. 9:11
  • Because it is good-Psa. 92:1
  • Because of all of the Lord’s wonderful deeds- Psa. 9:1,2
  • Because God answers- Psa. 118:21
  • Because the one who does it glorifies God- Psa. 50:23

Expressing thanks should be easy for the Christian.  We are most blessed!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, readers.  May the Lord bless you and your loved ones as you continue to live for Him.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Memorize Psalm 100
  2.  Send handmade cards expressing thanks for several individuals who may feel unappreciated, unnoticed, or taken for granted.
  3.  Makes sure your daily prayers overflow with thanksgiving.
  4. Create a list of specific things to be thankful for.  Post it in a prominent place and add to it daily.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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Revive Me #46–Live Victoriously

Revive Me, Week 46–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Live Victoriously

Have you picked up any anxious vibes lately?  We went to lunch with some friends a couple of days ago and as soon as the waitress greeted us she launched into her fears about our nation.  I’ve heard other conversations swirling around me involving words like unsafe, need protection, and division.  The fear is palpable.

Fear, doubt, insecurity, anxiety, mistrust, timidity, alarm, dread…surely these are the devil’s tools.  How will we react to them?  Will we freeze up or faith up?  Will we cry out or carry on?  Will we shudder or shoulder?  God’s people are armed with His strength.  That should make us view things differently:

  • “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4).
  • “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
  • “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10).
  • “Salvation belongs to the Lord.  Your blessing be upon Your people!” (Psa. 3:8).
  • “Stand firm in the Lord, my beloved” (Phil. 4:1).
  • “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord” (Prov. 21:31).
  • “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).

Courage!  Inspiration!  Power!  Victory!  These belong to us because we belong to God.  Oh, how the world needs to see that in us.  We are not of this world (Col. 3:1,2).  Our hope rests in Christ Jesus (1 Pet. 1:3).  Our peace cannot be taken away (John 14:27).  So let us smile more, teach more, love more, and shine more.  We can do it (Phil. 4:13)!

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;  We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Rom. 8:31-39)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Choose a verse about power or victory to memorize.
  2.  Have a song in your heart (like “Victory in Jesus” or “Faith is the Victory”).
  3.  Don’t be driven by fear.  Pray for confidence in Christ to saturate your thinking.  This should affect your choices, temptations, speech, demeanor, and relationships.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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image credit: sparkpeople.com