Devotions Archives

What Is Faith?

If someone asked you this morning, “What is faith?” How would you answer that question?

The root word of ‘faith’ is PISTIS. That word is a noun.

FAITH – PISTIS means faith, belief, firm persuasion, assurance, firm conviction, faithfulness.

The root word of ‘believe’ is PISTUEO. That word is a verb.

BELIEVE – PISTUEO – to trust in and rely upon, commit to the charge of, confide in, have a mental persuasion.

What a great thought that my faith is the act whereby I lay hold of God’s resources, and I become obedient to what He has prescribed for me. I put aside all my self interest and self-reliance, and trust Him completely. It is an absolute surrender of the whole of my being and a complete dependence upon Him. It is wholly trusting and relying upon Him for all things. It is not just a mental assent to the facts and realities of His Word, but it is a deep inner commitment to the convictions which have come to me through His Word. By faith,  I have a firm conviction that I can fully commit my life to God’s charge and be assured that He knows what is best for me.

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When God’s Gifts Aren’t Wrapped How You Hoped

Written by Paul Chappell  December 23, 2016

Life has a way of handing us unexpected and unwanted packages.

A pink slip from your employer.

A bad report from the doctor.

An eviction notice from the bank.

A harsh email from a strained relationship.

Too often, the package delivered with your name on it isn’t a present you want.

The first Christmas was wrapped in an unusual set of circumstances: Joseph and Mary having to make a difficult journey in the last trimester of her pregnancy…and then to have to give birth in a stable.

But the way Jesus chose to come reveals that the “surprises” in our lives that look so foreboding to us truly are unusual packages of God’s grace.

So what do we learn from the first Christmas about what to do when life hands us unwanted packages?

Trust God’s Providence

Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem was no accident. It was the fulfillment of a prophecy concerning where Jesus would be born.

Seven hundred years before Mary and Joseph began the difficultly-timed journey to Bethlehem, God had instructed the prophet Micah to record, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

Life is full of unavoidable circumstances. We can expend our energy in futile efforts to change them. We can spend our time stewing in bitter resentment over them. Or we can trust God’s providence in the midst of them.

Although we may not see God’s hand of providence for years to come, we can trust that anything out of our control is filtered by the hand of our loving Father. He will not allow into our lives anything through which He cannot fulfill his promise in Romans 8:28.

Showcase God’s Grace

The presentation of Christ to this world was not the way we would have planned it. And I think we can safely say it is not the way Mary would have planned it either. (What mother wants to lay her newborn in a used feeding trough?)

But, with the enabling grace of God, Mary’s response to the unusual package of the manger magnified God’s grace, rather than opening it up for question.

Mary could have complained. She could have become angry toward God. “God, first You make me travel ninety miles when I’m great with child, and now this?! Couldn’t I at least have a comfortable room and clean surroundings in which to give birth? Why would You do this to me?”

Because Mary and Joseph received the incredible gift of Jesus—with no expectations of how He should be delivered or presented to the world—they deflected the attention from themselves to the manger.

And the manger became a showcase of grace where shepherds knelt in worship of God.

Wholly Surrender to God’s Will

Why did God choose Mary? The complete answer to that question is known only by God. But it is significant that Mary was willing—truly submitted—to receive this unusual, and in some ways heavy, gift.

Sure, there was great cost involved for Mary. But she yielded to the Lord, bore the cost, and cherished the gift.

God isn’t looking for the strong or searching for the famous. He gives His most precious gifts to those who will simply yield their wills to Him.

Our problem is that we see what looks to us like distasteful wrapping, and in our selfishness, we plead with God to take back His gifts.

Not so with Mary. She simply said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).

What To Do with Your Gift

What about you? Are you staggering under the load of an unusual package—one that you never would have chosen, but have no way to release?

Are you struggling to understand the unavoidable circumstances that have come into your life?

Are you disappointed in the harsh realities of failed expectations?

Tiptoe to the Bethlehem stable. Gaze on a weary young mother, required to travel far in her last month of pregnancy—only to find a barn in which to give birth. See a crude manger. But don’t look solely at these wrappings. Peer beyond, into the manger, and see the face of God!

Yes, Christmas is a gift. And sometimes God sends His greatest gifts in the most unusual packages.

Trust His providence.

Showcase His grace.

And wholly surrender to His will.

In time, you will learn that God gives the best surprises.

(This post is adapted from chapter 3 of Christmas Is a Giftavailable also on kindle.)

Satan Wants to Defeat You and Your Church Today

Have you ever thought about this? “Satan is very organized with his team of demon. He has assigned certain demons to you, your church, and your people to try to defeat your church and everything you do.”

As we begin this New Year, we must be aware of Satan’s tactics as He tries to defeat us.  He will try to deceive us by targeting our minds and the people we serve. He will use his weapons of lies.  His whole purpose is to make us doubt God and be ignorant of His will for our lives. His goal is for us to believe his lies instead of God’s truth.

You might be thinking, “You just don’t understand…there are times in my life when I feel so helpless and weak that I don’t even have enough energy to read my Bible.”

Paul must have known that his fellow Christians had those same feelings when he wrote 1 Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you want to defeat Satan…YOU MUST STAY IN GOD’s WORD! The only defense you have against Satan is God’s Word.  How do you do it?

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

  1. Present your body. The first thing to do when you wake up and set your feet on the ground is to tell the Lord, “I surrender my body to You, and I am preparing for today’s battle.
  2. Present your mind. The next thing to do is do reach for your Bible. Present your mind to God for spiritual renewal. It is only through God’s Word that we can renew our minds and transform them.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t read long chapters. As you are reading…, stop…when you get to a passage that speaks to you. Meditate on that passage. Memorize a verse that will help you in your battle for the day. I came across a wonderful app for memorizing Scripture. (Scripture Typer)

  1. Present your will. You do this by prayer. The Word of God and prayer always go together. Acts 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. Whatever you pray, always pray according to God’s will…not your own will.

Now it’s time to put on God’s armor. My husband and I got matching T-shirts for our Christmas pajamas that said, “Put on the armor of God…in smaller print below that it said…put on the whole armor”

Sometimes we go out of the house with partial armor on, and Satan attacks us in an area where we are not protected.

  • Girdle of truth: Since Satan is a liar, we must oppose him with God’s truth.
  • Breastplate of righteousness: Since Satan is our accuser and reminds of us our past sins, we must remind ourselves that we are justified through Christ’s righteousness. The breastplate covers our heart. Often Satan uses people—including Christians—to slander and accuse us, and we are tempted to fight back. But we must not allow these fiery darts to penetrate our armor.
  • Shoes of peace: Our shoes help us keep our footing…helps us from falling down. Psalms 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
  • Shield of faith: We have the promises of God to quench those fiery darts. That is why it’s so important to memorize Scriptures. When Satan hurls those darts…hold that shield up reciting a promise!
  • Helmet of Salvation: 1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. Depression and discouragement comes to all of us but…Praise the Lord…we are saved and we have the hope that soon Jesus will return and take us home.
  • Sword of the Spirit: The Word of God is our defensive weapon. A material sword must be handled with physical power, but the Spirit of God enables us to use the Word of God effectively to defeat Satan. Our Lord always said, “It is written!”

 I came across a prayer in Warren Wiersbe’s book The Strategy of Satan that is a great prayer for us to pray every day:

Father, thank You for the provision You have made for victory over Satan. Now, by faith, I put on the girdle of truth. May my life today be motivated by truth. Help me maintain integrity. By faith, I put on the breastplate of righteousness. May my heart love that which is righteous and refuse what is sinful. Thank You for the imputed righteousness of Christ. By faith, I put on the shoes of peace. Help me to stand in Christ’s victory today. Help me to be a peacemaker and not a troublemaker. By faith, I take the shield of faith. May I trust You and Your Word today and not add fuel to any of Satan’s darts. Thank You that I can go into this day without fear. By faith, I put on the helmet of salvation. May I remember today that Jesus is coming again. Help me live in future tense. Protect my mind from discouragement and despair. By faith, I take the sword of the Spirit. Help me remember Your Word and use it today. Father, by faith I have put on the armor. May this be a day of victory.

Thanksgiving Promises

WHEN YOU COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, BEGIN HERE

Thank God for His Promises to Us

By Dr. Paul Chappell | November 19, 2015

When you begin your Thanksgiving gratitude list, what do you include? Most of us probably begin with God’s gifts of salvation, family, church family, and friends. We then move to tangible gifts such as shelter, clothing, vehicle, and financial provision. If we stay at our list long enough, we add events and highlights of the past year.

I want to encourage you this year to add a new category to your list. This category represents one of the greatest reasons to be thankful—and every item on the list can be found between the covers of your Bible.

What is it? God’s promises. Through God’s promises we have comfort for today and hope for tomorrow. Regardless of what we’re facing in the moment, God’s promises provide an unending reason for gratitude.

If you want to count your blessings, begin with God’s promises! Here are ten to get you started:

1. God’s presence: I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.—Hebrews 13:5

2. God’s protection: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.—Genesis 15:1

3. God’s power: I will strengthen thee.—Isaiah 41:10

4. God’s provision: I will help thee.—Isaiah 41:10

5. God’s leading: And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.—John 10:4

6. God’s purposes: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.—Jeremiah 29:11

7. God’s rest: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.— Matthew 11:28

8. God’s cleansing: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.—1 John 1:9

9. God’s goodness: For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.—Psalm 84:11

10. God’s faithfulness: For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake.—1 Samuel 12:22

Devotion: Developing Friendships

Devotion given at Gospel Light Baptist Church, Mineral Wells, TX Ladies Brunch, 5-7-16

A survey was taken of 300 people. Included in this survey, the people were married, single, men, and women between the ages 18-82. Each person was asked to write a brief definition of a friend.

“Someone you can bare your soul to and not be afraid it will get around. Someone who has tactful truth and not afraid to tell you you’re slip is showing.”

“One who knows you well, but still loves you.”

A person who understand you, appreciates your view and is loyal to you. Someone who has common interests.”

Someone who enjoys being around you, accepts your for who you are, and it faithful to you when the chips are down.”

We will never find a perfect friend because we all have faults. I love this definition of a true Christian friend.

A friend is a trusted confident to whom I am mutually drawn as a companion and an ally, whose love for me is not dependent on my performance, and whose influence draws me closer to God.”

Four Types of Friendships

There are some friends that we would give our last dollar to, yet others we only speak briefly when we meet them at church or at the grocery store. These are our acquaintances or casual friends.

We might have 500 acquaintances each year, but have fewer than 7 friends. We can develop many acquaintances through shopping, working, and church, yet we would not call them good friends . We see these people on a regular basis…we know them by their first name… and may at different times initiate social contact with them.

  1. Acquaintances: These are friends we meet at work, friends from church, friends in our neighborhoods, and even some of our relatives.
  2. Personal friends: These are friends we have made through the years and we want to remain close to them.
  3. Mentors: These are friends who have contributed to our lives in teaching or guiding ways. These could be friends who counseled us through difficult times in our lives.
  4. Intimate friends: These are the friends to whom we can pour out our hearts. We share our deepest feelings and hopes. They meet us at our point of deepest need…we just enjoy being with them. These are the friendships that have lasted for years.

Even our Lord had intimate friends. Mark 5:37  And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.

What are some of the things we need to build good friendships?

Foremost…friends must know Christ: As Christian women, we have a different basis than non-Christians for building friendships because we have the Lord and His resources to draw on.

Of course, we want to develop friendships with those who don’t know the Lord, but our goals for developing those friendships are to lead those new friends to Christ.

Developing friendships take TIME and EFFORT: Two great pillars for building a good friendship are time and effort. Sometimes it takes months and years to develop a good friendship.

  1. LOVE: First element of building a good friendship is love.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times. Some people build friendships with others for selfish reasons. If a person has money or position, everyone wants to be that person’s friend. Make sure you build your friendship on love not on what another person might be able to do for you.

  1. ACCEPTANCE: Second element of building a friendship is acceptance. Acceptance does not always mean that you agree with everything your friend does…but praise the Lord, Jesus accepts us, even when He doesn’t agree with everything we do.

If we get judgmental with our friends, it slams the door on building good friendships. There is a difference between sharing the truth in love and judging another person’s motive.

Our world uses false foundations for developing friendships.

Possessions…What do they have?

Performance…How well do they do? Our society is very much performance oriented. The world tells us that we will be accepted if we perform well at school or in the business world.
Position…How important are they? This is based on their performance.
Appearance…How do they look? We live in a world that worships beauty and youth. The girl who is not beautiful has a far better chance of being a happy wife!  Beautiful people get used to being praised and expect it all their lives. When wrinkles come or strength declines and lose the praise of others…what do these women have left? Nothing.

Friendships built on these false foundations are based on the limitations of human love and not God’s love. They are superficial and will not last.

Think of the consequences of using these foundations.

If we begin comparing ourselves with others, we feel forced to compete and begin to feel alienated from people because we will either feel inferior or superior. When we feel inferior, we feel jealous, threatened and insecure and don’t want to be around those people. When we feel superior, we become conceited and obnoxious and no one wants to be around us.

II Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: …comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

It is interesting that the original meaning of Competitive meant  Strive Together toward a Goal.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Our friends can provoke us or stir us on to greater ambitions. In fact, it was a dear friend who inspired me to write my book.

  1. TRUE UNDERSTANDING: Third element of building a good friendship is to develop true understanding. This only can come from God Pro 2:6..the Lord giveth wisdom and understanding.

How do you develop true understanding? By listening. Learn to give advice sparingly. Pro 18:13…don’t answer a matter before you truly listen.

Listen closely to what the other person is saying. Let him know that you really hear what he is saying. Ask questions to clarify what he is saying…then summarize what you have just him say.

Think before you speak…respond very carefully. Take a moment to think about what you are about to say before you just blurt out the first thing that comes to your mind. Remember you will not be able to take back your words once they come out.

  1. SACRIFICE: Fourth element of building a good friendship is self-sacrificing. What does it mean to sacrifice…it means you are willing to give up something that is more important to you for something that is less important. Make mental notes of your friend’s struggles…send her a text or a card. Remember her birthday, anniversary, or other important dates. Be willing to reach out even if it costs you. How much time have you spent praying for a friend when she is going through a very difficult time. Phil 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

David desperately wanted a drink from well.  2 Samuel 23:15-16 And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!  16 And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.

What a sacrifice David’s friends were willing to make for him. If his David’s friends were willing to sacrifice their lives for David’s request, why would he pour out the water that he wanted so much?

First, it showed his honorable disposition and his repentance for his own weakness.
Second, to let his men know that he had said something unadvisedly.
Third, it showed a denial of his own appetite. He longed for the water of the well of Bethlehem…but, when he got it, he would not drink it, because he would not gratify his own foolish desire.

David’s example of pouring out the water  on the ground not only showed that he had rule over his own spirit, but it also showed his devotion towards God and his tenderness toward his servants. David couldn’t believe that his three brave friends would risk their lives to bring a drink of water back for him.

  1. ENCOURAGEMENT: Fifth element of building a great friendship is encouragement. Some friends drag you down. Encouraging others increases their self-esteem and causes them to have more positive outlooks on their situations. Friends either drive us to God or away from Him.

Heb 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

  1. LOYALTY: Sixth element of a building a great friendship is loyalty. Everyone wants a friend with whom he can trust. Loyalty means that you will defend your friend when someone gossips or criticizes her. A friend keeps a friend’s secrets to himself.

Proverbs 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

That verse tells us that when we cover and forgive an offense, we seek love, but if we repeat or harp about a matter, it separates even close friends. If we are a true friend, we will not gossip about our friends’ faults…we will be quick to forgive them.

Loyalty is the key element to true friendship. If we repeat something that a friend has entrusted to us, that will probably be the end of our friendship because he will never come to us in confidence again.

  1. FUN: The last element for building a great friendship is fun. We must be able to laugh and have fun…but still be serious. Find something to do that you both enjoy doing. (Host a potluck, go for dessert and coffee, take a cooking class together, roast marshmallows, watch a Christian movie) Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

Cheerfulness in our spirits influences our bodies. When we are depressed, it dries up the marrow in our bones.  Marrow is a special, spongy, fatty tissue that is found in our stem cells. These stem cells transform themselves into white and red blood cells and platelets. These blood cells and platelets are essential for our immunity and circulation.

The Secret of a Friend

Some people always seem to know,
How to make each day worthwhile;
They know how to catch the sunshine,
And how to wear it in their smile.

And they always seem to have,
A little time that they can spare;
Especially, when you need to know,
There’s someone who really cares.

They always take a sincere interest,
In all the things you say and do;
And when others turn and walk away,
They stay, and help you see it through.

They are willing to give of themselves,
In ways that never seem to end;
In our heart they have a special place,
That’s why we call them our friend.

Strongholds That Hinder Our Prayers

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

The word translated “strongholds” in this passage also means “fortresses or to make firm.” Just like military forts are established in firm places such as hilltops, Satan also attempts to establish strong forts in our minds to hold our thought life captive.

Paul defines strongholds as arguments, pretensions, or thoughts that set themselves against the knowledge of God. Any beliefs entrenched in our own thinking and are contrary to God’s revealed truth are Satan’s strongholds. It is these strongholds that hinder  our prayers.

Satan’s strongholds fill our minds with fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and failure. These are thoughts that tell us there is not hope for our current situation so why should I bother to pray…not even God can help me out of this mess. All strongholds make us doubt God and His power.

Consider these strongholds and Scriptures to counter attack these thoughts:

• My husband is hopeless. He’ll never change. 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

• I’m just a carnal person. I’ll never be free from lust. Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

• I’m getting older…I feel so useless.  Feebleness and disease are inevitable. Psalms 103:5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

STRONGHOLDS in the mind are formed three different ways…as arguments, as pretensions, and as thoughts contrary to the knowledge of God.

1. Strongholds that are arguments contrary to the knowledge of God…these are not arguments with other people, but they are battles that go on in our minds and draw conclusions by our reasonings.

2. Strongholds that are pretensions contrary to the knowledge of God…these are when we exalt our own reasoning over God’s divine revelation and depend more on our own reasonings.

3. Strongholds that are thoughts contrary to the knowledge of God. This same word is used in 2 Corinthians 2:11 and refers to Satan’s schemes…these are thoughts that we allow Satan to plant into our minds and deceive us into thinking that they are own thoughts…but they are really thoughts against God’s will.

These strongholds are formed by:

• Justifying or reasoning situations of life without looking to God for guidance.
• Drawing our own conclusions without consulting God’s Word for validation.
• Setting our rationalizations above God’s revealed will in Scripture.
• Devising schemes for handling life situations contrary to seeking God’s purposes for living.

These strongholds can hinder our prayer lives by turning us into double-minded people. We, on one hand, profess to live by the authority of God’s Word, yet at other times, we allow our lives to be directed by our own human reasonings. Our double-mindedness tries to balance our competing agendas. We pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,”

Neil Anderson says, “Double-mindedness determines to have a Plan B of human reasoning to fall back on in case the Plan A of God’s revealed will doesn’t come through. As long as we hold a Plan B in reserve, we’re not able to pray with faith and confidence for God’s Plan A to come through. Double-mindedness leads to instability and weakness and makes us unstable in our faith and ineffective in our prayers. Much is at stake when we try to embrace God’s agenda without letting go of our own.”

Our only weapon to break a stronghold is God’s Word. Jesus used the Word of God as a weapon to defeat the “schemes, devices, reasonings” of the devil in the wilderness. With each of the devil’s suggestions to Jesus, he included a reason why Jesus should act upon his suggestion. He tried to use human reasoning to build a stronghold in Jesus’ mind.

James gives us four steps to demolish strongholds in our minds:
James 4:7-8. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

First Step: Submit to God…by submitting to God’s will and acknowledging His Word in our lives, we are more able to resist the devil.

Second Step: Resist the devil…by exposing Satan’s lies with God’s Truth and exercising our authority over him with God’s Word, we are commanding Satan to move over and make way for God’s will.

Third Step: Draw near to God…by drawing nearer to God in worship and resisting the devil, two things will happen…God’s will becomes stronger to us, while Satan’s strongholds become weaker.

Fourth Step: Be spiritually cleansed…by using God’s Word in prayer to spiritually cleanse our hearts, we can confidently enter God’s Holy Place with clean hearts to pray and to worship Him.

God’s Timing Is Not Always Our Timing

Have you ever felt as if God was not answering your prayers the way you told Him to answer them and at the exact time that you told Him to answer them?

God promises to give us the desires of our hearts but not always according to our time table. We must not rush God and leave the timing with Him.

God has a plan for each one of His children, and He wants what is best for them. He always answers prayers in three ways … No … Yes… and… Not at this time. Sometimes we must wait before God gives us the desires of our hearts. It is our human nature to want to rush things up for God and do things in our own strength.

The following story is a great illustration about how a little boy tried to help the caterpillar become a butterfly.

One day a little boy was playing outdoors and found a caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. His mother agreed he could keep it if he promised to take good care of it.
The little boy got a large jar, placed plants in it for the caterpillar to eat, and put a stick in it for the caterpillar to attach itself. Every day the boy watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
One day the caterpillar climbed on the stick and started acting strangely. The boy anxiously called his mother. She watched the caterpillar for a minute and then explained to her son that the caterpillar was making a cocoon, and it was going through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly.

The boy watched the changes of the caterpillar with amazement. Thinking it was taking too long and too much of a struggle for the butterfly to emerge, the boy took a pair of scissors and snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger. The butterfly quickly came out of its cocoon, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings and had to spend the rest of its life crawling around like this, and it was never able to fly.

Sadly, the boy learned that it was necessary for the butterfly to struggle to get out of its cocoon. It was during this struggling process that the butterfly pushed fluid out of its body and into its wings. If the butterfly didn’t go through that struggle, it would never be able to fly. This boy’s intentions were good, but his helping hurt the butterfly.

Consider Joseph and how God worked in his life. Every step of the way in Joseph’s life..in the pit…in the prison, and in Potipher’s palace, God was working out His perfect will. God needed a man in place to accomplish His perfect will at His perfect time. Think about Esther! God put her in a position of influence at the exact time to save her people.

Many times we want things in our lives that might hurt us. Because God knows us and knows what is best for us at the exact time, we must be patient and wait for His perfect timing. We must give God a chance to work and to work by His exact timing.

Consequences of a Critical Spirit

The Consequences and Cure for a Critical Spirit written by Terrie Chappell April 11, 2015

I enjoy cooking, finding recipes, and sharing new meals with my family and guests who visit our home. Because of my love for cooking, I get especially excited when I have the opportunity to visit a restaurant that I have read about or seen advertised. And, if I happen to have the chance to eat at one of these restaurants, I always look to see what the critics have said about the food, décor, and overall dining experience.

Several years ago, my husband and I were in the New York area, and we went to a restaurant that came highly recommended by all food critics who had eaten there. I was eagerly anticipating the meal and couldn’t wait to share this fun experience with my husband. But, much to my disappointment, while our meal wasn’t exactly terrible, it was definitely underwhelming. I left a little disappointed in the restaurant and its critics.

A couple of years later, I was with my husband on the West Coast, and we had the opportunity to visit another restaurant that had been featured in magazines and news clips. Again, I was excited, and I sent a text to one of my daughters, letting her know that we would be able to visit. She replied that she was glad for me, but warned that the critics’ reviews weren’t very good and told me not to get my hopes up.

I tried to prepare my expectations for what was to come as we walked into the restaurant. But, we were pleasantly surprised when the food we ordered was amazing! Every bite was delightful and the entire experience—from décor to dessert—was overwhelmingly positive.

I learned a lesson that day: you can’t always trust the critics. And while it is easy to point out the faulty critics in our lives, sometimes it’s much harder to admit when we have our own critical spirit. And, it’s even harder to acknowledge when our criticism is false and hurtful.

Criticism is a problem in the lives of a lot people, but sadly, it is a struggle among many Christians, as well.

A critical spirit is wrong because it carries with it a sense of pride and superiority (Luke 18:14). Also, it is often a cover up for my own heart issues (Jeremiah 17:9).

The following are a few truths I’ve learned (and am doing my best to implement!), as I’ve studied the consequences and the cure for criticism in our lives:

1. Criticism hinders my relationship with others.
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.—Proverbs 15:1

2. Criticism hurts others.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.—Matthew 7:3–5

3. Criticism hurts me.
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.—Proverbs 11: 2

4. Criticism hinders my relationship with God.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:—Psalm 66:18

5. Criticism stops God’s blessing in my life.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.—Proverbs 28:13

Those consequences are eye opening! A critical spirit hurts every relationship in my life, including my relationship with God. So, how can I address it and change for God’s glory?

1. Search my heart.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.—Psalm 139:23–24

2. Confess my sin.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.—Proverbs 28:13

3. Change my thinking.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:—Philippians 2:5

While food restaurant critics get a pass when they are wrong, you and I will give an account to God for our critical spirit. So, let’s admit when we’ve been wrong, ask God for forgiveness, and then determine to have the mind of Christ—a mind of humility and deference.

Christmas Devotion (Surrender, Worship, and Joy)

December 9, 2015

Here is a copy of the devotion I gave for a Ladies’ Christmas Tea at Landmark Baptist Church in Red Oak, TX.

This year it seems as though we are living in more troubled times than previous years. With all that we see happening in our world, we might begin to think that times have never been this bad.

Let’s consider the world in which Mary lived. At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Romans had established a two part system of government in which Roman overseers and Jewish leaders exercised control over the people. Most Jewish people hated this kind of rule because of its tyrannical rulers, and also many Jews saw their heritage falling apart.

Mary could have been stoned to death for being engaged to one man and then showing up pregnant with another man’s child. She could also have been charged with blasphemy for telling people that the child was conceived of the Holy Ghost. She definitely had reasons to feel fearful and unhappy…yet we see in Luke 1:47-55, her focus was not on her circumstances, but it was centered on praising the LORD.

Luke 1:46 Mary says, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” Her heart must have been saturated with God’s word. She must have known many Old Testament verses such as Psalms 34:3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

Her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior. Her words showed that her whole soul was filled with the LORD’S influence.

Think of the many people around us who are fearful because they don’t know our Savior…but praise the LORD…we don’t have to experience that same fear, because we, like Mary,  have Jesus as our Savior.

Notice Mary’s humility in vs 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:

God still seeks the humble. He imparts his rich blessings to those who feel that they need Him.

Psalms 138:6 Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.

Look at the order in Mary’s attitude: Surrender, worship, and joy. Instead of saying, “How am I going to handle this pregnancy?” She had a God-centered focus.”

1. She surrendered: vs 38 Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. Mary said, “Lord, I am the Your servant..whatever Your will, I will accept. She said, “I’m not worthy of the honor You are bestowing on me… I don’t deserve it… But I’m thankful, and I rejoice in it. This should be our prayer today. Whatever Your will, Lord! I am Your servant. I give myself for Your purposes. Here’s my body…I want to be Your instrument. Use me in whatever way You want in order that Your will and purposes can be fulfilled on this earth.”

It is only after we experience repentance, surrender, and humility can we go into the presence of the LORD to worship Him.

2. She worshiped and praised the Lord : vs 46 My soul doth magnify the Lord,

How did she worship Him…by praising Him in verses 48 and 49 for things He had done for her.

verses 50–55, She not only praised God for what He had done for her, but also what He had done for others. She then praises Him for His saving work in her life and for all of mankind.

He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Mary knew that God keeps His Word and fulfills His promises. She was now experiencing the fulfillment of His promises that He had made two thousand years earlier to Abraham. Notice how Mary praises God’s attributes:

His Mercy: And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

His Power: He hath shewed strength with his arm;

His Sovereignty: He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

Although it looks like evil is triumphing, remember God has the final word. He is sovereign over the wicked and the righteous.

His Compassion and Justice: He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

Mary was saying, “Since God provided for past generations, I know that He will be faithful and provide for me and my generation.”

3. After her worship…she experienced joy. It was surrender, praise, and then joy!

vs 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Her surrender led to her worship…then her worship led to her joy. Worship and joy were inseparable.

Ladies, we should be telling others what God has done for us? Sometimes we get so focused on our problems, our pressures, and our burdens that we fail to magnify the Lord and rejoice in our Savior for the great things He has done for us.

Praise the Lord…He is always faithful. We must constantly remind each other of His promises and His faithfulness. We should share with others what He has done for us and remind each other of His attributes:

• He is holy.
• He is merciful.
• He is unchanging.
• He is all-powerful.
• He is sovereign.
• He is compassionate.
• He is just.
• He is always, always, always faithful.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let’s also celebrate God’s faithfulness. There is coming a day when He will right all of the wrongs we see around us. He will bring down those who are proud against Him and His people.

As we focus our hearts and minds on who the LORD  really is, let’s be like Mary and say, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in the God who is my Savior.”

Is Your Self-Talk Destroying You?

(In July, I taught this lesson for the Ladies at Blackstone Valley Baptist Church, Cumberland, RI)

We all struggle with thoughts of not being happy or contented. Most of the time it is because of lies that Satan has placed in our minds. My brother-in-law, a full-time Christian counselor, told me that many times his main job in counseling is to help his counselees discover the time and place where Satan placed lies in their minds and to guide them into replacing those lies with God’s truth.

There was a survey done with 5,000 middle-class single and married men and women with above average intelligence. Single people envied married people because they had children and a home. Married people envied single people because they are out enjoying life and are really happy.

Do you know how the FBI trains secret service agents to identify counterfeit money? They put them in a room with real money. For hours they study the details of the real thing…they feel it…they smell it. They become so familiar with real money that when they come across counterfeit money, they can pick it out the bad money because they have become so familiar with the good money.

That is how we must be. We must be able to distinguish between Satan’s lies and God’s truth.
Satan lies to us about our churches and living  separated lives, “God’s ways are too restrictive.”
Satan lies to us about our husbands, “We deserve better husbands than what we have.”
Satan lies to us about our sins, “Those sins aren’t really that bad.”
Satan lies to us about our circumstances. “If our husbands weren’t so cranky, we wouldn’t be so snappy.”

Remember Satan is the father of lies…and a good one.

Secular philosophy says no one can be healed unless he explores his past in detail and discovers the events of his past that make him feel the way he feels. Self-talk are those thoughts we tell ourselves that appear to us as truth…but they are really lies.

A man’s emotions are not caused by the circumstances of his past or present, but they are caused by what he tells himself about those circumstances, whether they are truth or lies.

Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

James 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Consider these self-talk lies:

Lie-I can’t do anything right. (Truth-You didn’t do one thing right, but you do many things right)
Matthew 25:23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Lie-I always make mistakes. (Truth-you made one mistake)
Proverbs 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

Lie-I have to please everyone. (Truth-You don’t have to strive for approval of everyone…God accepts you)
Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Lie-I am dumb. (Truth-God has given you intelligence)
Psalms 119:73 Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.

Lie-I don’t have any talents. (Truth-God has given you talents)
1 Corinthians 7:7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.

Lie-I don’t have any friends. (Truth-God has given you friends)
Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Lie-I don’t have enough money. (Truth-God has given you more than the rest of the world)
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Lie-The things he says to me makes me so angry. (Truth-I make myself angry by the things he says to me)
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

If we as women govern our lives by believing lies, we will never get victory. Here are a few things we should remember when we struggle with negative self-talk.

• We must not get anxious about what others might be thinking of us. It is ludicrous to think that everyone is going to like us and like everything we do.
• We must focus our thoughts on God’s promises.
• We must not fret over our imperfections and remind ourselves that we are God’s creatures and thank Him for the way He has made us.
• When we do make mistakes, don’t dwell on them. Mistakes are life’s way of teaching us.

When you make a mistake, never give up!

Acrostic for FAIL.
First
Attempt
In
Learning

Acrostic for END
Effort
Never
Dies

Acrostic for NO
Next
Opportunity

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