Monday, December 30, 2013

Ever Feel as if You’re Not Good Enough for God?


Photo by Dr. Ashraf Fekry (flickr)
“I’m not sure why I’m so afraid to let you move in. Maybe it’s because sometimes I’m not a very
good person, and I’m afraid I’ll disappoint you.” 

When the woman looked again into His eyes, she almost changed her mind. I’ve never seen such kindness before! Her voice dropped to a whisper, “I do love you, Lord. I’m just not ready.”
___

Have you ever believed God is disappointed in you? Perhaps you think He’s getting weary of your constant “messing up.” Or maybe you find yourself putting off your quiet time due to a recent relapse into sinful behavior. A few of you may have resisted asking Jesus into your hearts because you think you’re not good enough.

I want to encourage you with this week’s verse. Pay special attention to the second sentence:

Ephesians 3:17 (Amplified Bible)
May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love.

What an amazing verse. Try to imagine what it would be like to be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love by the One Who loves, even when you’re at your worse. I can’t think of anything more appealing than to be secure, especially when I don’t love myself or when I’m devastated due to poor choices I’ve made.

This verse has significance for those who have never felt ready to invite Jesus to come into their hearts, as well as for those who would like to experience the security His deep abiding love provides.

Inviting Jesus to make His permanent home in your heart (life) happens when you come to the understanding that you have sinned and cannot “make it right” by performing enough good deeds. You realize and accept that only the finished work of Jesus, God Himself (dying an agonizing death for your sins), can make you “eligible” to enter heaven. In addition, Jesus’ death and resurrection allows you to live as you really want to live, rather than being a slave to your sins and bad habits.

This is also referred to as becoming “saved, “born again” and “asking Jesus to become your Lord and Savior”: (Lord: giving Him authority over your life; Savior: thanking Him for saving you from hell and the oppression of sin.) Once you’ve asked Jesus to become your Lord and Savior, then you can begin to experience a new sense of security in your relationships with God – and with others.

Jesus loved me, and you, so much that He died on the cross for sins He never committed so we could live for Him now, and one day spend eternity with Him! How beautiful is that?

Instead of setting a goal for this week, I’d like to end with a very special prayer (similar to one I prayed many years ago):

Lord, I am not the person I want to be. I am a sinner and I am unable to change without Your help. Thank You for dying for my sins. I want to be rooted in Your love so much that I become founded securely on Your love. The only way I know how to do this is by giving You my heart and life (all that I am). I want this New Year to be different; therefore, I am asking You to be my Lord and Savior, by making Your permanent home in my heart. Thank You, Jesus. There is no god like You!
___
Please feel free to share your thoughts or questions about this post (via the comment link). You can find directions on how to use the comment link on the sidebar, "The Method."

Note: This blog is for anyone who desires a deeper walk with Jesus. I have another accountability blog for women only: CoffeeWithSheryl.com. (Once on the blog, click on the Current Goals tab to see several practical links regarding specific behavior issues, including: quiet time moments, immediate goals (setting task-related goals), addictions, eating/exercising habits, being a better wife/mom, etc.)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Don't Get Caught in the Currents of the World, Walk on Water!

When I met Joshua Wesson, I was immediately impressed with his humble heart. His love for God was so evident that I asked him if he would like to write for the Memorizing Scripture Blog. After reading his post (below), I decided to share it with the ladies on the Coffee with Sheryl blog, too. I love this post. Read it at least twice; there's so much to glean!

Don't Get Caught in the Currents of the World, Walk on Water!

Photo by Bill Selak (Flickr)
Jesus told them, 'This is the only work God wants from you, that you believe in the One He sent. (John 6:29).

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves he became terrified and began to sink (Matthew 14:29).

Devotions are not words on a page. It is a lifestyle yielded before God. Have you become yielded today? Well does your schedule show it? Jesus is worthy of our affection.

If we miss His awesomeness, His glory, His beauty, His holiness, we have missed it!... He is the Son of God, our Savior; He is the only One Who was able to bear the sins of humanity and redeem us all. There is no one else who could do that; nor is there anyone else with such deep love and compassion as to desire to do that. He is so beautiful and mighty in every way. It is this Jesus I worship.

The world seeks to come between my worship to Jesus. From the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, my attention is demanded to so many other things - even Bible study or prayer can become a hindrance to the intimate work God wants to do in my heart. One of the truths about the Christian lifestyle is that we must contend for our faith, for our intimacy with Jesus. Jesus said that the works we are to do is believe (John 6). If only we set our hearts and eyes on Jesus, I assure you, you will believe.

A good illustration of this is the ocean. There is always a current seeking to pull you farther away. Most of the times you don't even realize how far you are drifting until you look at the focal point (your towel, beach chair, etc, on the shore).

Similarly, Jesus is our focal point, the ocean is the world, and unless we keep our eyes on Him we will be dragged far from where we ever wanted to go and will be diverted from our True Love.

I challenge you: walk on water.

Don't get caught up in the currents of this world. Lock eyes with Jesus, take His hand, and walk on water! Believe...

During the holidays in the midst of the business in our schedules, I encourage you to fix your eyes on Jesus. Get alone with Him, seek Him in prayer with friends, worship Him for who He is (yes, with all your heart!) in corporate worship. Give to Jesus the worth He deserves: our devotion.

Devotions are not words on a page. It is a lifestyle yielded before God. Have you had a love encounter with Jesus today, this week, when? Fix your eyes and your heart on Jesus. He alone is worthy!
_______

Please share (via the comment link) your thoughts about Joshua's post.

Note: This blog is for anyone who desires a deeper walk with Jesus. I have another accountability blog for women only: CoffeeWithSheryl.com. (Once on the blog, click on the Current Goals tab to see several practical links regarding specific behavior issues, including: quiet time moments, addictions, eating/exercising habits, being a better wife/mom, etc.)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Are You an ANP or NANP?

Photo by Rosie O'Beirne (Flickr)
When I worked as a private caregiver, family members often interviewed me to see if I was the right person to care for their mom or dad. When answering their questions about my training, I often explained, “I’m not a CNA (certified nursing assistant), or a RN (registered nurse)., but I am an ‘ANP.’” I paused to allow them to search their memory banks. Then I solved the riddle, “a nice person.”

They chuckled with relief because that’s what they were looking for: a nice person to care for their loved ones. Although I actually had Sheryl H. Boldt, ANP on my nametag, it was much more of an icebreaker than a true testimony of my personality trait. Because if it wasn’t for the work of God in my heart, I would be a NANP. (not a nice person) more often.

On the days when I don’t meditate on God’s Word (and allow His Word to indwell my innermost being and personality), I am really “wearing” the NANP name tag – which is another reason I believe in hiding God’s Word in my heart.

I love Ephesians 3:16-20! For however long it takes, I have chosen to meditate on (with the intent on memorizing) each verse, using the Amplified Bible.

My objective on focusing on these five powerful verses is not just to meditate on (and eventually memorize these verses). My greater goal is to grow in my understanding of them and, perhaps most importantly, to apply the verses in my everyday life.  If you would like to join me in meditating/memorizing these verses, but would prefer a different translation, click on the Biblegateway link on the sidebar.

Here is our first verse: Ephesians 3: 16 (Amplified)
May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].

Try to take each section and consider how it applies to your life. For instance, if we begin with just the first four words, we can glean so much:

May He grant you: Think about Who He is: (God Almighty, King of Kings, Creator of all things, etc. and etc.!). And consider how He graciously and constantly presents us with all we need to be the person He has designed us to be. Think about those few words and see what else the Holy Spirit will open up to you.

The more you practice meditating on each section, the more you will fall in love with God! Plus, you will find yourself becoming more thankful for all He has done in (and for!) you.

Prayer:
Father, thank You for all You do for me! Help me to be aware of how much I need Your mighty power to indwell my innermost being and personality to be person you have designed me to be in every area of my life.

This week’s goal:
This week, I will meditate on each section of Ephesians 3:16. I will try to remember to journal the changes I experience in my thinking and behavior as yield to His power that dwells within me.

Please share (via the comment link) your thoughts as you meditate on this week's verse!

Note: This blog is for anyone who desires a deeper walk with Jesus. I have another accountability blog for women only: CoffeeWithSheryl.com. (Once on the blog, click on the Current Goals tab to see several practical links regarding specific behavior issues, including: quiet time moments, addictions, eating/exercising habits, being a better wife/mom, etc.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Verse That Zings Me!

Photo by Bill Chesney (Flickr)
Philippians 2:3 (NASB)
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.
____
 
“Congratulations, Peggy, on your sales today.” I had to force myself to say those words, and it was even harder to be sincere with my intentions. However, I went back to my office knowing I had taken a step toward obeying God. For weeks during my quiet times, I’ve been begging God to help me regard others (including their goals and successes) more important than my own – and do it with humility, no less.

Having been extremely performance based during that season of my life, I could barely function when my name didn’t appear first on the sales board at the radio station I worked for back then. That kind of attitude was destructive to my soul, and to those around me at the office. Many year later, when I returned to radio sales, I firmly resolved to do it differently – to rejoice when others succeeded, too.

In addition, I am considering what if I treated my husband with Philippians 2:3 in mind? How would that change our marriage? Also, in what other areas of my life would hiding this verse in my heart change me?
 
I don’t know about you, but this is one of those scriptures that really zings me. Read it in the Amplified Bible (below) for a real zingy affect:
 
Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].

Prayer:
Father, I repent of my selfish ways, especially when I put my needs ahead of others. I ask You to continue working in my heart so that I will more consistently consider others needs as more important than my own.
 
This week's goal:
This week, I will meditate on (and try to memorize) Philippians 2:3. And at least one time each day, I will make a conscious effort to put someone else's need ahead of mine.
 
Does this verse challenge you?
 
  • In what ways have you acted selfishly this past week?

  • What does “humility of mind” mean to you and how does one achieve it?

Note: This blog is for anyone who desires a deeper walk with Jesus. I have another accountability blog for women only: CoffeeWithSheryl.com. (Once on the blog, click on the Current Goals tab to see several practical links regarding specific behavior issues, including: quiet time moments, addictions, eating/exercising habits, being a better wife/mom, etc.)
  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

What Would You Say?



Photo by Taston (Flickr)
Carol waved to her best Friend, then grabbed her three-year-old daughter, Shelby, and swung the little one onto her right hip. She could feel Shelby bumping up and down as she cut through the field to catch up with Jesus.

Upon reaching Him, before she even caught her breath, Carol began chatting with her Lord, “I'm glad to see you again! I have so much to tell You since the last time we talked …” 
___

Mark 9:15 (NIV)
As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.

What if you could run up to Jesus – and actually chat face-to-face?

What would you talk about? What do you think He would say to you?

This verse moved me so much, that I stopped reading about Jesus, and closed my Bible to spend a few minutes to talk with Him. It was so sweet. I could even "feel" His delight when I told Him how much I adored Him. Then I thanked Him for the sale I made the day before – and especially for my restored marriage. Now and then, I would pause to listen for His response.

I shared some of my hopes (to be an author and speaker, etc.) and important prayer requests (family members to be saved, friends to be healed, etc.) with Him. Before I had to go, I told Him again how much I loved and needed Him. All the while, I sensed He was pleased to be spending that time with me, too.

It was such an incredible time that throughout the day, I took more short breaks to chat with Jesus. Now I want to make running up to Jesus a habit.

This week's goal:
This week, I will develop the habit of running up to Jesus throughout the day to: share good news (or sad news), request His help (or thank Him when His help came through!), and to express my love for Him. In addition, I will take time to listen to what He says to me.

My prayer:
Father, help me to realize how much You delight in my running up to You. Thank You for loving me so much that You want to hear about my day and everything that matters to me. Most of all, Lord, give me ears to hear every word You speak to me.

What about you?
Envision running up to your closest Friend to share the latest news about how your job is going; or to your Shepherd, when needing protection; to your Counselor, when needing advice, your favorite Comforter, when you're hurting; or to your God, when you just want to take a minute to worship Him.

1 Peter 5:7Amplified Bible
Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

Note: This blog is for anyone who desires a deeper walk with Jesus. I have another accountability blog for women only: CoffeeWithSheryl.com. (Once on the blog, click on the Current Goals tab to see several practical links regarding specific behavior issues, including: quiet time moments, addictions, eating/exercising habits, being a better wife/mom, etc.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

I Can't Wait Until My Next Birthday!

Photo by Wendy Lloyd

“How are you going to celebrate your birthday, Grandma?”
___

I had a great birthday! My grandchildren’s phone call made it that much more special.

However, due to a Bible verse I recently read, I am looking at the question my grandchildren asked me in a different light.

Before I give you the whole verse, I want to focus on the section that caught my attention:

Deuteronomy 30:20b (NIV)
For the Lord is your life
Even when I just read the words (without giving it a whole lot of thought), I can’t help but love its grand declaration.

However, when I take it a step further and consider everything the phrase could mean for me personally, a stirring desire grows in my soul: to live as if God, Himself – the creator of the universe, the King of Kings – was actually my life (my purpose for living). That means He would become the center of all my dreams and goals (everything my life is!). Plus, He would be my motivation for obeying Him, rather than obeying for the sake of pleasing others.

If I were to allow God to teach me how to make those desires real in the way I live my life, I can only imagine how much I will have to celebrate by my next birthday.

Are you beginning to get excited, too?

If so, let’s pray and set goals to help us live as if the Lord is our life. Perhaps the first part of Deuteronomy 30:20 can help us get started: Here is the verse in its entirety:

Deuteronomy 30:20 (NIV)
And that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

My prayer:
Father, teach me how to truly love you and to listen to Your voice more intently. Help me to always hold fast to You so that You will become the focus of my life – to actually become the God of my life!

This week’s goal:
This week (and the weeks to come) I will seek God’s direction through prayer and reading His Word every day. I will aspire to listen to God’s voice more intently throughout the day when faced with specific challenges, including when I am dealing with behavior issues. I will purposely strive for Him to be my life by considering His ways over my ways, including in my relationships and when faced with life’s choices.

What about you?

  • What area(s) in your life could be changed if Jesus was Lord of your life?

  • What step(s) will you take this week to allow the Lord, your God to be your life?

Note: This blog is for anyone who desires a deeper walk with Jesus. I have another accountability blog for women only: CoffeeWithSheryl.com. (Once on the blog, click on the Current Goals tab to see several practical links regarding specific behavior issues, including: addictions, eating/exercising habits, being a better wife/mom, etc.)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Saved Marriage - Mine!

Bert sat in his chair in our living room without turning on the television. Whenever he does that, I know something is on his mind. But I wasn’t expecting, “I’m not happy in this marriage.”

The words punched me in my stomach. I was so stunned that I couldn’t answer; but my thoughts screamed, Neither am I!
-------
For years, Bert and I have been having difficulties in our marriage. However, later that evening, I picked up the book, Love & Respect, with the intent of finishing it this time. As I began to practice the principles presented in Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ book, not only did God use it to change my behavior, but our marriage changed as well.

Now Bert and I are both becoming the spouses we always wanted to be. He asked me to forgive him for the years of rejection, and I asked him to forgive my years of disrespectful behavior.

A few months later, Bert registered us to attend the Love & Respect Marriage Conference which was held this past weekend. It was fabulous!

I asked Bert what he liked most about the conference. He said “I liked the way Emerson challenged me to keep my focus on what God is calling me to do as a husband – to love you unconditionally. When Emerson acted out God (in heaven) pulling for us to succeed, it helped me to see how God is always there to help me not to react to you in an unloving way.”

My favorite moment at the conference was when Bert took my hand and led me down the aisle. We joined the other married couples to commit ourselves, before God, to love and respect our spouses unconditionally.

Did you catch it? Bert took my hand and led me – rather than me elbowing him to “please let’s do this!”

As we continue to apply what we learned from the Love & Respect book and conference, Bert and I candidly admit we have not arrived. We are a “work in progress” for sure! However, we are pleased to report: forgiving, loving and respecting each other is much easier today than when our journey first began.

My prayer:
Father, help me to lean on You and Your Word so I can continue to respect my husband, Bert, unconditionally!

Bert's prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to remember to always love Sheryl, no matter the circumstances. Guide me to have the wisdom to appreciate her and to understand her even when we disagree. Let me always love Sheryl as myself.

This week’s goal:
This week, Bert and I commit to continue showing each other unconditional love and respect with our words, actions and thoughts. And to ask God how He would like us to reach out to other couples with the love and respect message.

What about you?
  • Do you need help in the way you speak or behave toward your husband or wife?


Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Note: This blog is for anyone who desires accountabiliity regarding their walk with Jesus. I have another blog for women only: CoffeeWithSheryl.com. (Once on the blog, click on the Current Goals tab to see several practical links regarding specific behavior issues, including being a better wife/mom.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Have You “Blown It” Too?

Photo by DanielOines (Flickr)
“I’m pregnant.” Susie bit her lip to keep from crying.

Steve couldn’t say a word. He tried. He knew what needed to be said, but the unexpected news rendered him speechless. As a Christian, he really blew it this time.
___

Although the above story is fictional, we know people who have experienced that very situation. Or perhaps we ourselves can identify with that scenario, or with another difficult consequence to our actions.

The good news is we serve a gracious God. His mercy and love is abundant toward us every time we go to Him to confess our sins.

So in view of God’s great love for us, we have a decision to make:

Are we going to choose to follow God and live for Him each day with each choice? Or are we going to live casually and hope for the best?

We’ve all made bad choices. And we still do, don’t we? But I want to do better. Don’t you?

I’m looking for people who admit they “blow it, too” but who also have the desire to commit themselves fully to God – and who will help me do the same.

What can we do to help each other blow it less often? A lot less often.

By offering prayer, support and encouragement to one another, we are better equipped to fight the enemy and gain victory over sin (such as poor choices and addictions) and emotional instabilities (including procrastination).

And let’s not forget about God’s Word. If we spend time meditating on Scripture and/or committing verses to memory, we will see a dramatic improvement in overcoming double-mindedness. Plus we could become more Christlike in the way we handle relationships, choose correct priorities and how we deal with difficulties.

And best of all, we will grow in our knowledge of God’s incredible love for us – as we grow in our love for Him!

What do you think? Can we do this – together?

Prayer:
Father, You know everything about us including the disappointments we go to bed with each night regarding the choices we’ve make. I ask that we grow to know how much You love us, and that our love for You grows bigger every day. Teach us Your ways, O Lord, and give us a willing heart to respond.  Amen.

This week’s goal:
This week, I will choose a verse to meditate on (or memorize) and share it in the comment link, plus ask for support and accountability in an area I am struggling with. I will also pray and encourage those who share their struggles, too!

What about you?

  • What Bible verse will you choose this week to meditate on and/or memorize?

  • How can we help you overcome a sinful or bad habit? (Pseudonyms are acceptable!)
Note: This blog is for anyone who desires a deeper walk with Jesus. I have another blog for women only: CoffeeWithSheryl.com. (Once on the blog, click on the Current Goals tab to see several practical links regarding specific behavior issues, including: addictions, eating/exercising habits, being a better wife/mom, etc.)

Joshua 1:8 (Amplified Bible)
This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

What I Am Praying My President Will Do

Anytime I am at the end of my rope, or when I don’t know which way to turn, I am inclined to go to Someone Who knows exactly what to do every time.

And that is exactly what I am praying my president will do.


Photo by Teri Lynne Underwood (Flickr)

I try to imagine the stress President Obama is under. And whether I agree with 
his politics or not, he is my president, the leader of my country. President Obama is the highest representative of the country I love: the United States of America. That alone gives me reason to pray.

It is my hope that President Obama will recall (and gain encouragement from) the way some of the leaders in the Bible handled extreme stress:

David’s men were so angry at him that they spoke of stoning him. But David “encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”  He then “inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue this troop?”(1 Samuel 30:6, 8 Amplified Bible).

And when Jehoshaphat was facing a great army that was coming against them, he prayed as he stood before his people, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not God in Heaven? And do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In Your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand You.” And ended the prayer with, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” (2 Chronicles 20:6, 12 Amplified Bible).

David and Jehoshaphat made their choices after inquiring of the Lord.

One more thought: I can’t help but remember the many times God has used difficult times in my life to mold me to become more like Him. Therefore, I am convinced God can use anything – any trial, any occurrences – in Barrack Obama’s life to draw him to God’s love and for His purposes.

My prayer:
Father God, I pray President Obama will have the courage to do what is right and wise for all; that the leader of this wonderful country will ask You for wisdom and direction about what is best for the United States of America; that he will seek clear direction regarding when (and whether or not) the United States is to go to the defense of other nations. And, Lord, please help President Obama, during these demanding times, to grow in the revelation of Your Word. Help him to personally experience Your love, Your faithfulness, and Your purposes for him.

That is my prayer for my president. What is yours?

Monday, September 2, 2013

When I Stopped Denying I Was Scared




Photo by Demi-Brooke (Flickr)
I’m scared! I feel like I’m in trouble.


I caught myself falling into the familiar thinking pattern. but this time, I didn’t continue with that line of thinking. Instead, perhaps by a divine inspiration, I turned around and faced a different direction and said out loud:


“I do feel scared, but the truth is: I am not in trouble. No one is coming into my home to punish me.” Then, even more confidently, I continued, “God is in control of my life. I am safe because He loves me.”

With those reassuring – and true statements, I returned to the sink and continued washing the dishes (a miracle in itself during those days). But just a few minutes later, I had to repeat that scenario, and again a few minutes after that.

Thus began my journey out of chronic anxiety disorder. And now for more than ten years (and counting!), I am actually considered a stable person. At least, by most people. ;)

But I am convinced that my entry into the stable life could never have happened without my firm resolve to demolish the lies my emotions were telling me, and believing instead what was actually true. I had to be serious about taking captive every thought, making it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

On the other hand, it was also important that I didn’t deny my thoughts (or emotions). If I had simply said, “I’m not scared” it wouldn’t have made sense to me because I was experiencing real fear. However it was when I began to validate my feelings, but challenge their validity, I began to experience a real breakthrough.

It wasn’t overnight, for sure! But nevertheless I began to experience more and more rational thinking and freedom from anxiety each day. (Honest!) Even the fear of looming anxiety attacks diminished. The key is to stay consistent!

Prayer:
Father, help me to discern truth from lies in my thoughts and my emotions. I pray to grow in my confidence in You and Your love for me as I continue to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Your Word.

This week’s goal:
To take captive every thought (and emotion) and make it obedient to Christ, as I continue to spend time reading and meditating on God’s Word.

What about you?
  • Do you struggle with anxiety, believing every emotion is based on reality?

  • How can we pray for you in this area? (Feel free to use a pseudonym.)
Note: There is a special link available for ladies at CoffeeWithSheryl.com. Click on the Struggling with Depression? tab (under header) for ongoing support.

Monday, August 26, 2013

What Do You See?

It would be incredible, indeed, to have someone seek me out with a request to meet Jesus. Candidly speaking, it isn’t a regular occurrence in my life. But people did come to Philip with that very request:

John 12:20-21 (NIV)
20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival.
 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus."
Photo by Taston (Flickr)

How did people conclude that Philip knew Jesus? Did they observe Philip spending time with Him since he was one of the twelve apostles? Perhaps they heard testimonies of how his life had changed since meeting Jesus. Maybe they noticed the way he conducted his relationships and business transactions. Was Philip known as a man of his word and as one who considered others’ needs above his own? These are some of the attributes I hope to attain as I spend time with the Son of God. 

So I ask myself: Do people observe me as someone who knows Jesus? Does my behavior reflect Him after I have spent time with Him? I wonder if my countenance encourages people to ask about my Savior?

Would you consider joining with me in praying for one another as we determine to become more Christlike? Let’s ask God to help us to be the kind of people who attract others to inquire about Him.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I pray that as I spend time in Your presence and in Your Word, I will become more like You. I would be honored if You would change my heart (and life) until I become the kind of person who attracts others who want to seek You. Teach me, Lord, how to be Your representative everywhere I go.

This week’s goal:
To be transformed into a true representative and witness for Christ, as I spend time in His presence and His Word.

What do you think?
  • Do people observe you as someone who knows Jesus? 

  • Does your behavior reflect Him after you have spent time with Him? 

Monday, August 19, 2013

We Did It!

Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series, Part 13


Photo by Marcelino Rapayla, Jr. (Flickr)
1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I am using the Message Bible for this week’s quote:

1 Corinthians 13:13b
... Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

How about it?

Let’s commit to trust steadily in God! Let’s grow in our confidence that He can do absolutely anything. And that He cares about our every concern. It would mean trusting Him to take care of our children as they start a new school year and knowing He is able to speak to the hearts of our unsaved loved ones.

Let’s hope unswervingly! Let’s be unshakable in our expectations in what He says He can do in every area of our lives. It would mean hoping in spite of the doctor’s diagnosis or when the house payment is already one month late.

And finally, let’s love extravagantly! Since the greatest of these attributes is love, let’s love God and people generously. It is my prayer to love as lavishly as God loves me. And I want to consistently practice loving those around me, even when they cut me off in traffic or say unkind things about my child.

Do you feel as if you aren’t anywhere near these kinds of commitments? Me, either.

But I refuse to be discouraged. Instead, if we focus on God – how much He loves us, and all the reasons we love Him – then perhaps our ability to mature in these areas will soon become a reality.

Friends, we can learn to “1 Corinthians 13” love! But only with God’s help. Let’s pursue this, with expectations of succeeding.

We can love better because God (Who is love!) dwells within us.

Prayer:
Father, help me to trust You steadily, hope unswervingly, and most of all, love as lavishly as You love me!
 
This week’s Goal:
While memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:13, I commit to trust God steadily, hope unswervingly, and love God (and others) extravagantly. I resolve to consider how I choose to respond to others, every time, choice by choice.

We did it!
Congratulations! We have just completed memorizing and learning to obey the entire 1 Corinthians 13 chapter. Don’t worry if you didn’t get the verses down perfectly, regarding memorizing and living them out. God is faithful to complete the work He has begun in us. (Phil. 1:6)

  • How did you do?

  • Which verse(s) do you need to spend more time on?
  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Need Someone to Help You Stop the Game Playing?

Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series,
Part 12

1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.


Photo by Sharizah (Flickr)
“We are safe to reveal our true selves to God. As we dare to do so, he will surely respond.” – "Knowing and Being Known" New Life Daily Devotion, Steve Arterburn, Sept. 25, 2010

One of the safest feelings I have about God is that He fully knows me. Fully! I need the kind of security in which Someone knows me better than I know myself.

Someone I can’t hide from.

In my past, I lied to myself (and others) in order to conceal my eating disorder and other bad and sinful habits. I played so many games that eventually I didn’t know for sure who I really was.

But God never stopped knowing the real me. Therefore, even today, He reaches into my life to help me. I’m thankful He knows me so well, and always knows exactly where I am!

His desire to know and love me completely causes me to want to fully know and love Him. I look forward to the day when I shall see Him face to face!

Prayer:
Father, I can’t begin to imagine all You know about me – good and bad. But I’m glad You know everything about me. I’m grateful You still love me – in spite of knowing me so well! Lord, show me the things I need to know about myself. Then give me the grace to yield to Your discipline and guidance.

And lastly, Father, I desire to grow in my knowledge of You. Please reveal Yourself to me as I spend time in Your Word.

This Week’s Goal:
While memorizing/meditating on 1 Corinthians 13:12, I will try to allow God to show me “hidden” things about myself and seek His directions regarding them. I will also pursue a clearer knowledge of Him as I spend more time in His Word.

What about you?

  • Have you gotten so lost within yourself that you need Someone to fully know the real you? Someone to help you stop the game playing so you can become the person God intends for you to be?

  • Would you like to share how we can pray with you? (You may use a pseudonym.)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Choice by Difficult Choice


Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series, Part 11

Corinthians 13:11-13 (NIV)




Photo by Wendy Lloyd

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

 “Love demands we be mature people. Love demands we all grow up, become responsible and self-controlled. Love or God makes these demands for we cannot be fully Christ-like if we keep our childish ways.” – Shepherd’s Care Ministries Daily Devotionals

I almost named this blog, “Let’s Grow Up Together!” or something like that. I wanted to portray a title that would encourage the Body of Christ to hold each other accountable as we make choices (goals) to mature in our Christian walk.

This week’s verse encourages me to continue growing up regarding the choices I make, the way I respond to people, and the way I live my life.
This includes me being a better wife. For years I hated the way I often treated Bert with my disrespectful attitude, including giving into a lot of complaining. Recently, I made a firm commitment to show respect to my husband and expressing thanks to him for the things he does. Of course, I am not doing this perfectly. But having made that commitment, I am behaving more grownup, and less like a whining child.

I honestly believe that if we dedicate ourselves to put the ways of childhood behind us, we will see a difference in the way we live. Eventually, others will witness Christ’s work within us.

So let’s choose to stop behaving like children and become mature men and women of God. We do this choice by choice. In fact, let’s be determinedly determined, in Jesus Name, as we pursue this week’s goal!

Prayer:
Father, show me the areas of my life in which I still behave like a child. Increase my desire to grow up in You. Teach me Your ways, O God, and give me the grace to obey.

This week’s goal:
While memorizing/meditating on 1 Corinthians 13:11, I will choose to mature in Christ every day – choice by choice. (Even choice by difficult choice!)

What about you?

  • How determined are you to leave childish ways behind you? Name one or two areas in your life in which you are still behaving like a child. What concrete steps will you take to leave those ways behind you?

  • Are you willing to have God show you the areas you need to grow up in? Will you go a step further and ask a friend to hold you accountable? If so, call or email that person today.

Let me know if you would like a copy of any of these verses and what translation you prefer, by using the comment link below. I will email them to you, formatted to fit a standard index card. (Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Feeling Incomplete?

      
Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series, Parts 9 and 10


Photo by Roy Saplin (Flickr)

1 Corinthians 13:9-10 (NIV)
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.


I tried to keep the original “one verse per week” intent, but had a difficult time separating these two verses. In his commentary about these verses, Matthew Henry mentions some incredible things to look forward to in “a future life.”

“There will be no need of tongues, and prophecy, and inspired knowledge, in a future life, because then the church will be in a state of perfection, complete both in knowledge and holiness. God will be known then clearly, and in a manner by intuition, and as perfectly as the capacity of glorified minds will allow; not by such transient glimpses, and little portions, as here.” (Emphasis added.)


But I don’t have to wait. I can pursue knowing God, and even grow in holiness (becoming more like Him) today. Because I know that as I do so, I might actually experience a taste of the future life in heaven. Wow!

And notice the words I italicized in Mr. Henry’s quote. Do you ever feel incomplete? Do you long for a completeness which can only be found in Him?

The Message Bible says it well:
But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

As I continue to walk with Jesus and learn what pleases Him, I can’t wait to see how much closer I’ll be to Him a week from now. And just think what it could be like a year from now!

Let’s purpose to grow in the knowledge of God and His love for us (and in us.). And strive to mature in holiness in the way we love others.

Prayer:
Father, I pray my “incompletes” be canceled. Cancel any deceptive beliefs I have regarding You. Help me to grow in true knowledge, holiness and love (toward You and toward Your people.) I want You to complete me in every area!

This week’s goal:
To memorize 1 Corinthians 13:9 and 10, while continuing to allow God to complete me in every area – especially in the way I love Him and others. And to grow in holiness as I seek to know God better.

What about you?
  • In what areas are you incomplete as a person and as a Christ follower?

  • What are you willing to do to become more complete in Him?

Let me know if you would like a copy of any of these verses and what translation you prefer, by using the comment link below. I will email them to you, formatted to fit a standard index card. (Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email).

Sunday, July 21, 2013

His Love Is Changing Me


1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV)
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
  
Photo by Iryna Yeroshko (Flickr)
“A love that never fails! Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Has human love ever failed you? … I’m guessing your answer may be, ‘Yes it has –  more times than I like to admit!’ 1 Corinthians 13:8 promises that ‘love never fails!’ Not God’s kind of love anyway. …

“Listen to heaven’s answer: God loves you – with a love that never fails. Personally. Powerfully. Passionately. God loves you with unfailing love!” – “A Love That Never Fails,” Max Lucado - UpWords Ministries, May 30, 2013

Knowing this kind of love is reassuring. I would have given up a long time ago had it not been for God never giving up on me. And as I continue to learn how much He loves me (in spite of my rebellious ways) I am learning to see myself – and others – differently.

Since I’ve begun writing for this blog and the Coffee with Sheryl Blog, I have received lots of emails from those struggling with various sinful or bad habits. God’s constant love and mercy toward me regarding choices I’ve made in the past (and continue to make) have enabled me to be much less judgmental.

Prayer:
Father, thank You for never failing to love me, especially when I don’t deserve it. And help me to love others with that same kind of love!

This week’s goal:
While memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:8, I will recognize more fully God’s unfailing love for me and learn to extend that same kind of love toward others.

What about you?
  • Does realizing that God’s love for you will never come to an end help you see yourself – and others – differently?

I will be happy to email you these verses, formatted to fit an index card! Let me know what translation you prefer by using the comment link below. Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Believing the Best of Fellow Believers

Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series, Part 7


Photo by Kelsey (Flickr)


1 Corinthians 13:7 (NIV)
It [love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

This week, I want us to consider the way we love our fellow Christians. Or more accurately, the way we fail to love those we worship with each week, and those outside our own fellowships.


“In reference, first, to our fellow Christians, love always believes the best of them. I wish we had more of this faith abroad in all the churches, for a horrid blight falls upon some communities through suspicion and mistrust.”
“Love's Labours," a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon, September 4, 1881

Pastor Spurgeon’s words are very sobering – and very embarrassing. And sad to say, the world notices the way we turn on each other within the church. What if we were to determine this week to change that?

Let’s ask God to examine our hearts so we can see where we fail in this area. Could it be that the more we purpose to believe the best of every believer, the more we will instill a greater spirit of unity? And perhaps, actually start to resemble the body of Christ?

I really love this verse in the Amplified Bible!
1 Corinthians 13:7
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

Prayer:
Father, forgive me for my judgmental attitude, especially when it is against another believer. Remind me that “There but by the grace of God, go I.”

This week’s goal:
While memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:7, I will intentionally believe the best of my fellow Christians and ask God how to pray for them.

I welcome your comments:
  • Are you willing to stop judging other believers, and pray for your sisters and brothers in Christ instead?

  • What other ways can you help to create more unity in your church?

I will be happy to email you these verses, formatted to fit an index card! Let me know what translation you prefer by using the comment link below. Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Can I Be an Ambassador to My Enemies?

Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series, Part 6

Photo by Kelsey (Flickr)

The more time we spend on this chapter in the Bible, the more the Holy Spirit convicts me. Verse six reminds me of yet another area I need to work on. 

1 Corinthians 13:6 (NIV)
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

We can look at this verse in at least two ways that often overlap:

1) not delighting in anything evil (anything not of God)

2) not rejoicing at another’s misfortune or failure.

Matthew Henry wrote about the latter perspective in his commentary:
“It is the very height of malice to take pleasure in the misery of a fellow-creature. And is not falling into sin the greatest calamity that can befall one? How inconsistent is it with Christian charity, to rejoice at such fall!”

This is a very easy trap to fall into. I don’t want to be the kind of person who delights when even a person I’m not crazy about ends up suffering from consequences resulting from his or her past choices. Rather I want make it my goal to be God’s ambassador even to “my enemies.”

You too?  When we hear people talking about someone who has blown it, let’s defend the person being vilified by mentioning that we too have made poor choices. And then let’s invite others to join us in looking for ways to help that person overcome the consequences he or she is experiencing.

In so doing, we’ll be practicing what it means to not delight in evil. Instead, we will be allowing truth (including God’s goodness) to prevail!

Prayer:
Father, forgive me for all the times I have delighted in someone’s misfortune or failure. For now on, I pray You will use me to help bring restoration to those who are suffering from poor choices.

This week’s goal:
Recognize whenever I am enjoying someone’s misfortune. Then stop and repent. And (when possible) find a way to do something good for that person.

What about you?
  • Do you know someone who is suffering consequences from poor choices?

  • What acts of kindness can you offer that person?

Let me know if you would like a copy of any of these verses and what translation you prefer, by using the comment link below. I will email them to you, formatted to fit a standard index card. (Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email).

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dying to the Desire for Revenge


Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series, Part 5

Photo by Kelsey (Flickr)
As we grow in our ability to love others – just as God loves us – we begin to behave more becomingly. We begin to notice that we’re caring more about the needs of others than we do our own. And miracle above miracles, we start spending less time moping about how others mistreat us.

These are the challenges we will work on as we memorize and obey our next verse:

1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.


“Not taking account of wrongs means dying to the desire for revenge.”
 “Dying as a Means of Loving Part 2” A Sermon by John Piper, June 25, 1995


Most of my attitude problems stem from me wanting to be treated fairly. “Revenge” is a strong word and many of us probably wouldn’t consider ourselves to be vengeful, but we may be more guilty than we think.

Revenge could be as “innocent” as bringing up (again!) an unkind action someone performed in the past, or as cruel as shaming someone in public when we reveal personal matters. Sabotaging someone’s success or promotion is also an effective way to dishonor someone.

This week, let’s pay special attention to see whether we are improving in the way we love others.

Prayer:
Father, show me specifically how I can improve my behavior toward others. Reveal to me whenever I put my own needs above someone else’s, or when I’m tempted to hold onto memories when someone mistreats me.
 
This week’s goal:
To journal my observations on how I behave toward others, including:
  1. how often I put my own needs above someone else’s,
  2. how often I am easily angered by the actions of others, and
  3. whether or not I choose to “remember” someone’s offense against me (in lieu of forgiving them).

What about you?

  • Are you becoming better at loving others? Share your answers with us. (Pseudonyms are allowed!)
Let me know if you would like a copy of any of these verses and what translation you prefer, by using the comment link below. I will email them to you, formatted to fit a standard index card. (Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email).

Monday, June 24, 2013

Achieving Godly Outcomes in Conflicts

Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series, Part 4

Photo by ChristopherCornelius (Flickr)

The first three verses of the Love Chapter express how important it is to love. Not only do we gain nothing of value, but these verses clearly state we are nothing (a “useless nobody”Amplified) whenever we do anything without love.


This week we begin to focus on how love behaves.


1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.


“In our dealings with men, however refractory and however unkind and hurting they are, we must exercise the same patience as God exercises with us. Such patience is not the sign of weakness but the sign of strength; it is not defeatism but rather the only way to victory. (Emphasis added)


Do you desire a godly outcome in your relationships? Sometimes it is necessary to resist a knee-jerk reaction, which is almost always difficult. Isn't it?

Look at verse four in the Amplified:
Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious norboils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily

Prayer:
Father, help me to overcome my sinful reactions when I feel mistreated or misunderstood. Fill me with Your love and patience. And please give me Your perspective when life feels unfair.

This week’s goal:
To respond in love and patience whenever I feel mistreated and when others are blessed (or succeed).

What about you?
  • What part(s) of this verse challenges you the most?
For me, each segment is a challenge! And I can prove it: Visit the archives (beginning August 2011) at the Memorizing Scripture Blog where we set goals to memorize and obey“segment-by-challenging-segment.”

  • Share with us how we can pray for you. (Feel free to use a pseudonym.)

Let me know if you would like a copy of any of these verses and what translation you prefer, by using the comment link below. I will email you these verses, formatted to fit a standard index card. (Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email).

Monday, June 17, 2013

To Gain or Not to Gain?

Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series, Part 3



Photo by babasteve (Flickr)


This week let’s focus on the third verse:



1 Corinthians 13:3 (NIV)
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.




“If the motive which makes a man give his life for Christ is pride and self-display, then even martyrdom becomes valueless. It is not cynical to remember that many a deed which looks sacrificial has been the product of pride and not of devotion.”
The Letters to the Corinthians. Revised Edition. The Daily Study Bible Series by William Barclay(1975)


Let’s apply the above Bible verse and Mr. Barclay’s quote to our everyday lives.

Are you guilty of complaining about all the hard work you do for your family or employer while exclaiming the familiar, “What would they do without me?”  Let’s be even more honest: We almost associate our “sacrificial deeds” to martyrdom, don’t we?

Unfortunately, even if we give all we have to give, including all our energy and every hour of our life, there is no reward from God if we do these things with the wrong attitude.

However a great truth becomes evident when we begin to allow the love of God to be our motivator. Joy, peace – even a beautiful sense of purpose becomes ours.

And that’s a lot better than not gaining anything, isn’t it?

Photo by Cleavers (Flickr)

Prayer:
Father, help me serve others at home and at work with the same love You have for me.

This week’s goal:
To serve others at home and at work with the love God has in (and for) me.

What about you?

  • Have you noticed yourself paying more attention to actively loving others as you pursue memorizing 1 Corinthians 13?

  • What difference(s) have you noticed in the way you relate to people?
How are you doing with memorizing these verses? Are you making an SMC (Scripture Memory or Meditation Card)? Let me know (by leaving a comment below) if you want me to email you any of these verses, formatted to fit an index card.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Is God Impressed?

Photo by Logan Brumm (Flickr)
Thank you for joining me in our quest to memorize 1 Corinthians 13, one verse at a time. Don’t worry, the Memorizing Scripture Blog police will not be penalizing you if you can’t recite these verses perfectly. Our goal is to hide God’s Word in our hearts so that we can be more like Him in the way we love. I want us to enjoy this endeavor – and see how we are changed by doing it! Okay?

This week’s verse:
1 Corinthians 13:2 (NIV)
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

While reading the following quote from Matthew Henry’s Commentary, observe what little value he believes God gives our acts of faith that are done without love. (Note: a dram is equal to about 1/16 of an ounce!!)
“Moving mountains is a great achievement in the account of men; but one dram of charity is, in God’s account, of much greater worth than all the faith of this sort in the world.”
How amazing would it be for a mountain to obey my command to move – even a fraction of an inch? I would feel very powerful and maybe become awesomely impressive to some.

But God wouldn’t be impressed at all. In fact He says if I “do not have love, I am nothing!”

Even if I could, as your beloved blogger, explain “all mysteries” and answer all your questions about life’s issues – if I did it without God’s love in me, I would be a useless nobody.

Prayer:
Father, remind me this week how important it is to demonstrate Your love.

This week’s goal:
While memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:2, examine my actions to see if I am doing things out of love.

What about you?
  • What does this verse mean to you? What words or section of words stand out for you?

  • How did you do with memorizing the first verse of 1 Corinthians 13? Did you make an SMC (Scripture Memory or Meditation Card)? Let me know if you want me to email you any of these verses, formatted to fit an index card.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Growing In Love!

Hello, again! It's been a while, but I have a special reason for returning. This afternoon, I began a new challenge on my newer blog, Coffee with Sheryl, that I thought would be very appropriate for this blog. I think you will agree!

Following is the post I just published on the CwS blog:

Growing In Love!

Photo by BigDrumThump (Flickr)

Want to begin something challenging with me? Let’s begin memorizing 1 Corinthians 13, one verse at a time. And while we’re memorizing, let’s ask God to make these verses real to us – as we strive to obey and live what we’re memorizing.

By the way, no one will be quizzing you! So as you attempt to memorize one verse per week, don’t worry if you can’t recite it perfectly. The purpose is to hide God’s Word in your heart – to fall in love with Him at a whole new level.

Let’s begin!

1 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV)
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

Here's a nugget from F.B. Meyer's commentary about the word "love" found in I Cor. 13:1-13. I especially love his suggestion to substitute Jesus’ name for the word love:

"Jesus sits for His portrait in these glowing sentences, and of Him every clause is true. Substitute His name for love throughout the chapter, and say whether it is not an exact likeness."

Prayer:
Father, teach me how to really love. I pray as I begin memorizing this beautiful chapter that I grow in the knowledge of the true meaning of love. I want to recognize Your love for me (and Your love that dwells in me!) more and more.

This week’s goal:
To be intentional in actively loving others (even the unlovable), while memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:1.

Will you join me?
  • Are you a person who loves others with the love of God? Or do you resemble a clanging cymbal more?

  • If you would like a copy of this verse, please use the comment link below. I will email you this verse, formatted to fit a standard index card, in your favorite translation. (Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email).
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