Always Thankful for This Victory!

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:57 (NLT)

I live in a house that’s over 20 years old. It had the original dishwasher until last week. When I washed the first load in the new one, I was amazed at how much cleaner things appeared to be. Not that we were eating off dried on food, but I had a few brighter cleaner storage containers, the stain was gone. And just in time as I had 12 around my table last Thursday enjoying a feast.

That’s how it is with us. We can think we are living a pretty good life, but there’s sin there. Except…Christ died..for me, for you, for all of us!

It’s life-changing, and it’s not that complicated. Christ died so that we can be cleansed of sin. He wiped away the past, and he gave us his Holy Spirit to help us avoid sin in the present. Of course, we don’t always avoid it. We live in a pretty dark world. We are lured in. Sometimes, we are just selfish and want our own way. We are spotless when we belong to Christ because Christ has already declared victory. It’s a done deal.

It took me a while to get this last part through my head. Of course, I should be sad when I sin, but I’m still forgiven. I don’t have to rely on my ability to live my life sinless even with the help of the Spirit. I have been set free. It’s not about my ability or my obedience; it’s about the gift of life offered by my savior.

How could I not be thankful for this gift?

Let’s Think This Through

How do you lean into the Holy Spirit when temptation threatens you to sin?

Do you beat yourself up when you sin or do you rest in the victory Christ has won over sin?

Here’s a challenge….take 10 minutes each day. Focus only on the amazing attributes of God and the gift of salvation. Tell God what you are thinking. He’d love to hear this from you.

Father, of all the things I’m thankful for, salvation is my number one! It is beyond amazing that you asked your Son to die for me. It’s almost unbelievable that he did. If I didn’t know how much you love me, I could never believe it.

I thank you for your Spirit that lives in me and helps me choose the right way over sin. I’m sorry that too often I depend on me rather than your Spirit. Thank you for forgiving me anyway.

It’s always so easy to be thankful in November when we are surrounded by reminders, but help us make thankfulness a daily habit.


Thanksgiving – Fine-tuning the Focus

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 (NLT)

Last night I joined several hundred other individuals from my church to praise God and celebrate what he has been doing in our lives as we completed a 10 week study where we learned to see ourselves as we were before we came to Christ and then take a look at how God is rewriting our story as we learn to follow him. The praise was wonderful. But we were primarily praising God for what he’s done.  Me-centered worship.

Psalm 100 is a daily call to acknowledge and praise God in God-centered worship. This is a psalm about being thankful for who God is. A call to come before God and acknowledge who he is and offer him praise because he is God. We embrace his “godness” all that power and love and mercy that we did nothing to earn and honestly, can never do enough to earn. An invitation to come before God, in the place he dwells and just say I see who you are, I see who I am, and I am compelled to thank you and praise you. Not for stuff, not for blessings, but because of who you are. The only response I can possibly offer when I see who God is, just pure praise and thanksgiving.

This invitation into His presence is an honor. The place God dwells today is in his people, so we just have to cry out our praise, we need to offer this praise to God, it’s how we are created. This is not just an assignment for the fourth Thursday in November; it’s a daily call to go before God and offer thanks and praise. It’s what we were built to do my friend. It is a call to refocus regularly. To see God for God and to see me as I really am.

As we prepare to celebrate the day we call Thanksgiving with feasting and family time, I plan to enjoy every moment. There is nothing wrong with spending a day with beloved family! And I adore being surrounded by mine. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a feast. But I must remember that Thanksgiving is a daily need that I have to go before God, acknowledge who he is and offer my praise and thanksgiving.

Let’s Think This Through

What benefits does thankfulness bring into our lives?

Do you look forward to celebrating God with praise and thanksgiving?

Think about the joy you find as you spend time enjoying your family on Thanksgiving or any other day of celebration. Do you see any parallels with the time you spend before God?

Father, I come before you and just bow low in acknowledgment of who you are. All your love, your grace, your creative power and your willingness to pour it out onto the human race. I am humbled, and I know that I can’t even wrap this human brain around all you are.

I offer my praise because you are worthy of it. I offer my love because you have shown me how to love. And I want to stay in your presence for a few moments and soak in who you are.

I ask your forgiveness for my failure to spend more time praising you for who you are. I know I tend to focus on what you have done for me and how you love me. While this is good, teach me to also spend time every day just seeing you for who you truly are. Teach me to worship with a God-centered focus.


When Pain Threatens to Overwhelm

I had coffee with a friend this week. She’s been walking through emotions which threaten to overwhelm. We spoke of hard things. I pulled the curtain back on some ugly bits of my life to share the faithfulness of God. We laughed because she said since I appeared to have my act together that I must have made all the right choices and suffered little pain as a result of it. In truth, some the pain in my life was not a result of my choices, but plenty of it was. I have made bad choices and experienced the consequences. Along the way, I’ve learned much from pain no matter what caused it. At that moment I thanked God for the pain that gave my story credibility.

Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving.  Psalm 69:30

Praise and thanksgiving are the after. Let’s look at the before, David cried out “Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck.” Psalm 69:1

Have you been there? So have I. Despite his pain, David pulls himself together and says I’m going to praise and honor you God because I have trust in what you are going to do.

It’s easy to cry out in the middle of our pain…if you take it away, then I will praise you, fix it and I will thank you. What is harder is to praise and be thankful while we are still up to our neck in the floodwaters of the pain. But if you read this entire psalm in context, David had walked with God long enough to know that he was faithful despite the feelings of panic threatening to overwhelm.

It is hard to trust in the middle of the struggle when there is no end in sight, but it is possible.  Paul reminds us in Romans that the pain produces results. God’s got a plan even in pain he allows into our lives.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5

And this hope will not lead to disappointment; I lean on that!

Let’s Think This Through

What does your life look like right now? Is it a time of overwhelm or a time when you have overcome?

How has the pain of your past strengthened you?

What is your story of God’s faithfulness in times of pain?

Would you consider unveiling some of the ugly in your life to walk alongside a hurting friend?

Father, I thank you for your faithfulness in times when I felt like David, drowning in my pain, that you proved your love and faithfulness to me. Like Paul, I have seen that trials do develop endurance and character as well as reinforce my faith. Thank you for the opportunity to redeem a bit of my pain by sharing it with a hurting friend. Help me remember the next time the pain threatens to overwhelm that you are a loving and faithful Father.

All verses quoted here are from the New Living version of the Bible.

Thanksgiving That Just Bubbles Over

It is November, and true to form, I have chosen Thankfulness as the word for this month. I know, you are probably being invited to list things you are grateful for all over your social media. But this is a bit different. I’m not going to ask you to make a single list. I am going to share some verses we can use to pour out our thanksgiving to God using words straight from his word. After all, that is how the first Thanksgiving was celebrated. It wasn’t all about the turkey and the pie; it was a day set apart to celebrate the provision of the father. It was Thanksgiving that just bubbled over as they saw and tasted what the Lord had done for them.

The word most often translated as Thanksgiving in the Old Testament is the word todah. This word is all about a concrete expression of our thanksgiving by offering praise and worship to our heavenly father. That, my friends, is what I have chosen to focus on this November. I hope you will join me.

Here are the verses I’d like to offer up for our focus this month. I know we are leaning heavily on the Psalms, but David just really was good at putting his praise and thanksgiving into words.

November Verses

Week 44

All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you. Psalm 145:10

Week 45

Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30

Week 46

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

Week 47

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:57

Looking Closer at This Week’s Verse

All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you.

David is reminding us that all creation will thank God with praise. Here are a couple of additional verses that help us understand.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world. Psalm 19:1-3

He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” Luke 19:40

God will be praised! We, along with all of creation were made to offer our praise and thanksgiving. I’m going to use November to sharpen my game. To make praise and worship a daily lifestyle. Want to join me?

Let’s Think This Through

When you think of what God has done in your life, what is your response?

How can you make a regular practice of praising and worshiping God?

Do you think there is value in an emphasis on Thanksgiving in November?

Father, there is so much to thank you for. I don’t want to reserve my praise and thanksgiving for Sundays, or November; I want to let it spill out every day in my relationship with you. Help me to be aware of who you are and all you have done as I attempt to live a life where worship and praise just spill out of my heart every day!


All verses here are from the New Living Translation.

Surviving the Storm

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.”  Mattew 7:24 (NLT)

Most of us are familiar with this verse. And the next “Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.

And the rain will come. We all know that. Just a year ago my husband had a surgery that did not go well, and it rocked our world. But thankfully, we had built our house on the solid rock of Christ. That is not to say we have not struggled, but we have hung on to the solid rock as the storm swirled around us.

This teaching is part of what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was talking to a large crowd of followers, and he had taught many things. But here’s what he’s really saying here, to a large crowd that had followed him out into the countryside. I can teach you all day, but unless you put my teachings into practice they aren’t doing you a bit of good! The wise won’t just hear but will do.

No doubt this was a mixed crowd. The believers, the curious onlookers waiting for a show of miracles, and those who were testing the waters trying to figure out if they could believe the stories they had heard. This whole day was filled with teaching about many familiar things, but the teaching did not feel warm and familiar, it felt challenging, it felt like taking a step out of the ordinary and walking into a life that did not look like the lives the religious leaders of the day had been modeling.

And a few days ago as we progressed from a routine office visit to the emergency room, we find ourselves again so thankful that we have built on the rock. In this same sermon, we hear “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:24

And I find myself grateful once again for the promises planted deep in my heart.

Let’s Think This Through

What storms are you facing right now? How does your faith in Christ strengthen you?

If you aren’t experiencing one of the “big ones” just now, are you reinforcing the foundation of your house?

Father, we know that storms will knock us all off our feet at some time or another. I pray that we will be prepared by the daily practice of living the life that is built on Christ. I thank you too that your word comforts as well as guides.

For those walking through a storm right now, we claim your promise. “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

I’m linking up with my friend Lily Dunbar.

Shake Off the Past and Embrace Redemption

She handed a long green strip of paper to my grandmother and already my sisters and I were jockeying to be the one who got to paste the stamps into the book. As children, we loved to browse the catalog. We focused on toys and sporting equipment while my grandmother marked items in the house-wear section like a new ironing board or a pressure cooker. All of us dreamed of the day we will fill the requisite number of books and trade the green stamps for something we wanted.

Last week I was privileged to post on my friend Tracy Herbener’s site Redeemed-Rewritten-and Redefined. If you’d like to read more, you can do so here.

Write Your Own How-To Message to Show Off Christ

Turn on the television, jump over to Facebook, Twitter, or any one of dozens of sites just like them and you are bombarded with “how-to” messages and things you must do, must have, or should never…

In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:3

Paul is talking to believers about having confidence in God’s plan for salvation, Christ and Christ only. His readers lived in a world surrounded by empty philosophies and well-crafted messages from those who would stand against Christ rather than for him. Sound familiar?

We live in a world where I sometimes feel absolutely bombarded by messages that I know run contrary to the teachings of Christ. The messages are well written and compelling, just as they were when Paul wrote to the Colossians. In Ephesians 3:10 we are told that the church has been chosen to display the wisdom hidden in Christ.

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Ephesians 3:10

We are compelled as the church to display what Christ has done in the world. To live lives that show off God’s salvation and redemption. Note that the verb here is display, not argue or discuss or even plead.  No, we display the power of Christ and his salvation by living lives that are so different, so compelling that it is clear to all who see that what Christ offers is wisdom. Christ is the only path to salvation from all the emptiness of this world that clamors for our attention.

I may reach a few people with my meager offering of words. My words are intended to encourage the Christ-follower, not change the unbeliever. But how I live my life matters to those who follow Christ and those who do not.

People are hungry for answers. If this were not true, then we would see all those how-to articles go away. So, I say we live how-to lives, lives that show off the source of all wisdom, our treasure, our Savior. #Steepedintheword… Click To Tweet

People are hungry for answers. If this were not true, then we would see all those “how-to” articles go away. So, I say we live “how-to” lives, lives that show off the source of all wisdom, our treasure, our Savior. None of us are going to get this all right every day. I’d like to challenge you to stretch out with deliberate acts that show the message of Christ. Don’t focus on what you will say, instead, focus on what you will do.

Let’s Think This Through

What measuring device are you using to sort out the messages you encounter daily?

False news has been a big concern in today’s culture. How can we as Christ-followers stand protected from the impact this news has on our lives and actions?

Consider reaching out in a display of Christ’s love this week. What is one thing you can do to “show off” Christ?

Father, you have invested in us. That’s pretty amazing to me, and I don’t want to squander the investment. I want to join together with the other members of your church to demonstrate for the world that you are a life changer.

It doesn’t take much looking to see that in a world bombarding us with messages of what to do and how to think that we are living surrounded by people seeking change. Help us live lives that show we are changed. We know that with your spirit living in us, we have the power to impact our world.

What Does Wisdom Look Like?

The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. Psalm 14:2 (NLT)

At one time, I thought knowledge would solve a lot of my problems. I loved learning and as I left high school and a difficult family life behind, my goal was to get an education and change my life. And, I did, and it did. What I did not realize at this young age was that I had already begun to look to the source of all wisdom, I just needed to grow in my faith walk to recognize that wisdom tops knowledge every time.

This is a Psalm of David. He is lamenting how foolish we humans can be. So, the point he’s making here is that we try to rely on our own power when in reality, we are powerless. The only wise path is to seek and rely on God.

As Christ-followers we intuitively know this truth. The trouble comes as we try to live it out. I think in our culture of self-reliance and independence we have been trained to fall back on what we can accomplish.  As a woman who came of age in the ’70’s “I am woman, hear me roar” was beginning to become embedded in our upbringing and echos loudly today.

Christ calls us to be counter-cultural. Our call is no different than the call on first century Christians. It might look a bit different in our current millennium, but the challenges have much in common. As I think on this truth, I realize that much of what drew other’s to Christ was the fact that the lives of Christ-followers looked different than the lives of those in their neighborhoods and cities.

Much of what drew other's to Christ was the fact that the lives of Christ-followers looked different than the lives of those in their neighborhoods and cities. #steepedintheword #averseaweek #memorizetheword Click To Tweet

The question I must ask myself today is how different my life looks from those who live around me. Can those whom I encounter as I go to the grocery, the bank, the exercise class or the park see that I am different? Don’t get me wrong here; I’m not talking about physical signs of difference. I’m speaking of character, of actions. If a good hard look at myself finds me fitting into societal expectations enough that my character does not stand apart, then I guess I need to be seeking God with a bit more enthusiasm if I hope to seen as one who is that light on a hill.

Decades later, I still love to learn. I learn new things all the time. But I have come to value wisdom above knowledge, and I am learning to seek the source of all wisdom through his word. I am challenging myself to examine God’s word and unravel my cultural perspectives as I strive to be more like Christ.

Let’s Think This Through

  1. How much do you think the culture around you influences your decisions and your actions?
  2. How do you think the life of a Christ-follower might look different than the lives around them? Think of actions, rather than words.
  3. How can you make a conscious effort to live a life that looks more like Christ and less like your culture? Focus on just 2 or 3 things for now.
  4. What role do you feel reading and thinking about God’s word plays in your path toward wisdom?

Father, Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us through your word.  Help us to live lives that speak for us, without words being needed to show the world that we are striving to follow after you.

We know that without your help, we are powerless to find wisdom. Use your word to change us. Share your wisdom with us as we read your word and think about it regularly. Provide opportunities for us to sparkle with your wisdom being lived out in our lives and draw others to your light.

The Path to Wisdom

I have been studying wisdom. In our society, we tend to think of the wise as one who possesses knowledge or intelligence. Here’s what fascinates me. The source of all wisdom is God and I believe he is all knowing and certainly has intelligence. So much so, that even thinking we might have a bit of intelligence is laughable.

Biblically, God’s wisdom is expressed through his creative and redemptive work. And then, of course, his power to keep it all humming along. But wisdom for man is expressed more as a moral measure. So, essentially, God is wise. He created us and the world we live in. He gave us laws to live within his world and our expression of wisdom is learning and living by those laws. I don’t know about you but although this makes perfect sense, it did require that I adjust my thinking a bit about wisdom.

I’ve lived much of my career in a world where knowledge was valued, or perhaps revered is a better word. Knowledge was seen both as a means to an end and as a solution to many of mankind’s problems. I still value knowledge, but I’m learning to put it in its place. So much of science is the infinite study of God’s creation, but the knowledge of the creation is often sought without the acknowledgment of the creator. That is not wisdom. I want us to be on the right track. So this month, let’s take a look at wisdom, rather than knowledge, from God’s perspective.

What God Says About Wisdom

Week 40

For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies.
Nothing you desire can compare with it. Proverbs 8:11

Week 41

The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. Psalm 14:2

Week 42

In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:3

Week 43

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” Matthew 7:24

Week 44

A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash. Proverbs 15:14

Discovering the Value of Wisdom

For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it. Proverbs 8:11

For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies.
Nothing you desire can compare with it. Proverbs 8:11

Solomon, known as the wisest man ever, sought and valued wisdom. Oh, he had riches too because he was also the richest man ever.  Hmmm…think there was a connection there? Of course, there was! God said, Solomon because you asked me for wisdom, and not riches, I’m giving you both. So, God says seek wisdom, ask me for it, and I will unfold many things for you that are worth having. This does not mean that God will make us all rich enough to have a palace full of rubies, but it does mean we will not come up lacking. The man who should know said, there is nothing we can desire that can compare with wisdom. God’s wisdom is practical. It brings joy and gives life.

God says seek wisdom, ask me for it, and I will unfold many things for you that are worth having. #steepedintheword #averseaweek #memorizetheword Click To Tweet

Father, We know that wisdom has value. But sometimes we forget that you are the source of wisdom and we turn to other places looking. Help us keep our eyes on the wisdom you have provided for us in your word. Help us to value your wisdom enough to spend time studying it. Enough to commit it to memory. Enough to put it into action.

Thank you for making wisdom so attainable. For most of us, there is nothing standing between us and your word.

All verses are from the New Living Testament unless noted elsewhere.

Facing a Challenge When You Feel Inadequate

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20 NLT

For a long time, friends who know me well have been telling me, “you need to write.” And you know, my heart is really in writing Bible studies. But I have no theological training other than what I have gleaned from God’s word on my own or sitting in church on Sunday for over 50 years. Feelings of inadequacy taunt me. You know why? Because I’m looking at my own personal skills when what I should be looking at is my skill plus God’s guidance if he’s called me to write, and I believe he has.

Why do I struggle to control those things that seem problematic in my life when I could just turn loose and God would either take care of it or remove me from the situation? #steepedintheword #averseaweek #memorizetheword Click To Tweet

When we work with God we are capable of unimaginable things. But I forget this I guess because I’m often found judging what I can accomplish based on my skills, abilities, and resources. Sound familiar to anyone? Why do I struggle to control those things that seem problematic in my life when I could just turn loose and God would either take care of it or remove me from the situation? I’m great at asking this question in hindsight!

After a career that focused on problem-solving my natural inclination is to see a problem, come up with a potential solution and put that solution into action. Not only do I feel out of control when I’m not doing this type of problem-solving, I feel like I’m not pulling my weight. But you know what, I’m not meant to pull such a heavy load, and neither are you. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t meant to sit around on our backsides sipping coffee and eating chocolate, we have work to do work that is assigned to us. When we stay in our lane, the God who raised Christ from the dead, will act from his lane, right beside us, which is where the heavy lifting occurs. We are only kidding ourselves if we think we can accomplish what God has planned for us alone.

Let’s Think This Through

So…God says we are created to do good works, things he assigned us to do.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

God will apply his mighty power to accomplish more than we can even wrap our brains around. (Ephesians 3:20)

But when the load get’s too heavy, we are probably taking on things that weren’t assigned to us. Here’s what Jesus said:

“For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28

Putting it into Action
  • What problem is burdening you right now?
  • Are you trying to solve the problem alone, or have you leaned into God for his direction and power?
  • If you have not spent time discussing the problem resolution with God, what’s stopping you? I’m not talking about presenting God with your own solution and asking him to “make it happen”, I’m talking about asking him for his solution and then leaning into that.
  • Is there anything you feel you should do, and you believe God is asking it of you, but fear is holding you back?

Father, we are so tired of trying to solve our own problems. We are also tired of feeling inadequate to do what we need to be doing. Please help us to remember that if we will give you control you will not only lighten our load but amaze us with the things we are able to accomplish with your power working in and through us. Thank you for using us to do your work. And thank you for your patience as we learn to let go of our need to control and lean into you.

There’s An App For That

I have a new memory tip for you. This week I read about a couple of apps that help with Scripture Memory. I loaded two on my phone and am trying them out. They have slightly different features and I’d like to share what I’m learning.

The first I loaded is called Scripture Typer. It helps you memorize by reminding you to review a verse and then asking you to type only the first letter of each word in the verse. You can set it to give you a signal when you miss a word. There is a pro version but I’m not sure it’s something I need. This app works on Apple products, Android products, and even Kindle.

The second I loaded is called Remember Me. You also have the option to type the first letter of each word, as you do, it reads the word out loud. Some of you may like this. For me, it’s distracting. But this app also has some features to work word puzzles with the verse. I had read that it was a free app but I use an iPhone and it cost me $2.99. That’s certainly a price I was willing to pay for the basic features. Additionally, it will read the verse to you one word at a time, but I don’t like the voice inflection which isn’t always consistent with the meaning of a word in context. This app is available for Android and Apple products. Here’s a video on how this app can be used.

For now, I’m keeping both apps. I will use Scripture Typer to test myself and reinforce my memory. It will be useful to keep me reviewing verses so that they go into long-term memory and not just short term. I will probably use an occasional game on the Remember Me app just because it’s fun.

Both apps also let you create groups and then you have accountablity for your efforts to memorize scripture.

Have you used any apps to help you memorize scripture? If so, I’d love to hear what you have used and what you think about them. Who is interested in joining a group on Scripture Typer for accountability? If you are, please let me know, I’ll start one.

If you are interested in accountability you can post below or send me an email.