Daily devotionals to draw us closer to the ONE Who is devoted to us.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
By Kay Warren
“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].” Philippians 4:13(AMPC)
Growing up, my family moved a lot. My dad was a pastor, and it seemed like every few years we changed churches, homes, neighborhoods and schools. I was always the new kid.
By temperament, I’m an introvert, and regular upheaval to routine and familiarity only increased my sense of being on the outside, of not fitting in.
To make things worse, I saw myself as just an average person; there was nothing special about me. Actually, I felt average in every way — so ordinary. I wasn’t ugly, but I wasn’t beautiful. I could play the piano, but I wasn’t great. I did OK in school, but I don’t think I ever made the honor roll even though I tried hard. I had a few good friends, but I was certainly never one of the “cool” kids.
By the time I reached college, I was fairly certain that although I loved God with all my heart, He probably wouldn’t be able to use me for anything significant in His kingdom.
Then I met this guy — Rick Warren — and for some unknown reason (at least to me!), he thought I was wonderful. Shortly after, he proposed, we got engaged and within a year and a half, we were married. He was studying to be a pastor, so I transferred my dreams of being something other than ordinary in the world of academics or music to being the best pastor’s wife EVER.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that once again, I was just average. I couldn’t even tell Bible stories accurately to the toddlers in the nursery. My husband was amazing; I was ordinary.
Driving in my car one day, I turned on a Christian radio station to distract myself from the deep sadness, dissatisfaction and disappointment I felt about myself. I was seeking a message of hope or a song that would encourage me, and an old gospel song, Ordinary People, was playing. The lyrics said that God chooses and uses ordinary people — those who are willing to give Him their all. The song continued with “little becomes much when you place it in the Master’s hands.”
That moment radically altered my perception of who God was and who He had made me to be. I sobbed with relief and gratitude; my long search for identity and purpose had found an answer. It was God who had chosen me to be an average, ordinary woman. He could have made me prettier, smarter, more talented, more popular or more gifted, but He didn’t. Instead, His intention was for me to bring Him glory by giving Him my little — my averageness, my ordinariness — and then allowing Him to multiply it in ways far beyond what I had ever dreamed of.
My pursuit of being “special” was shelved. My earnest quest to be the best at something was put aside. My focus shifted to accepting and enjoying who God made me to be: an average, ordinary woman who was willing to give her all to the One whose hands lovingly formed and shaped her.
I began to entrust myself — who I am and who I’m not — to God. If He opened doors of opportunity, I would walk through them. If He didn’t, then so be it. What mattered then and what matters now, is that in all things, I am His to do with as He pleases.
I had some relearning to do; I had to adjust my perception of myself. Instead of seeing myself as inadequate or incapable — too shy, too much of an introvert, not smart enough, not gifted enough — I began to believe and apply the truth of Philippians 4:13, “I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses His strength into me.” Anything. Anything. In my strength? No! Only in His strength poured in me.
Dear God, I delight in the knowledge that You have chosen me to be who I am and that You love me exactly as I am. Every day may I be willing to give You my small offering, believing You will multiply it in ways that bring glory to Your name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
If you’ve ever been in a competition where there's a prize to win, then you know the joy of receiving a prize. It feels good. It feels very deserving. After all, the hard work that we’ve put in to participate in that competition [whatever it is for you] has been recognized. It’s been awarded and that prize is reflective of your determination, fortitude, & hard work. That prize is your pride. That prize is your sense of achievement.
Wouldn’t you say it’s against our nature to believe that we should receive a prize for something that we didn’t work hard for? Doesn’t it feel undeserving? Unfair? Wouldn’t you feel like a fraud if you were given a prize for first place in a competition where you actually came in last?
I think we would agree we would. It’s against our nature, but it’s not the reality of what we experience in Christ, our greatest Prize- our greatest Possession. We did no work to receive Him and the salvation He gives (Eph. 2:10). He, in His great love and mercy, received us first and caused our eyes to be opened to our sin so that we can rightly see His redemption. We can fully accept His forgiveness and we can freely live by His Spirit. This great Prize becomes our identity.
However, the greatest enemy of our soul, Satan, works overtime to make us believe that we must work for this great Prize to keep it. He seeks to cheapen this Prize as if man’s merit, intellect, traditions or hard work can attain it. How foolish he is!
Colossians 2:18-19 (NASB) tells us:
Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.
Paul is warning us that there are even people within the Church who falsely teach us that Christ isn’t enough. That although we have this Prize, they want us to feel as if there’s more to add to this Prize; there’s more work to make this Prize complete. This couldn’t be further from the truth ladies.
Christ is complete and knowing Him makes us complete (Col 2:10).
I pray you will know that the great Prize of Jesus Christ far surpasses anything this world can offer and it can’t be attained or maintained by our own efforts. His love draws us and His love keeps us. Our awareness pushes us closer.
Peace, love & blessings,
***For the next 22 weeks, we will be praying Psalm 119 as we look at each stanza weekly. May we hide His Word within us that we would not sin against Him***
How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the Lord.
2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all their heart.
3 They also do no unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways.
4 You have ordained Your precepts,
That we should keep them diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be established
To keep Your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be ashamed
When I look upon all Your commandments.
7 I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
8 I shall keep Your statutes;
Do not forsake me utterly!
In Jesus Name,
Every day that we wake up,
There is an enemy of our soul
who desires to sift us as wheat.
There is nothing more he wants than for us to know about You
but not KNOW You.
Father, let us guard our hearts towards the distractions that he throws at us.
We pray that we would not be
enticed by his schemes.
Schemes that tells us the more we do, the more we are loved.
Schemes that causes us to put our hands to things that have no eternal value.
Schemes that lead us to have a form of godliness, but no power.
Let us not lose the desire to spend
time in Your presence.
Let us not grow weary in waiting
on Your Word.
Let us know Your heart towards us.
You love and adore us
And You sustain us in the midst of our enemy.
Let us hold fast to the words You spoke,
"Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)
Keep us Lord.
We love you.
In Jesus’ Name,
I love Sundays. I love being in the house of the Lord. Worshipping. Hearing the Word and being challenged and encouraged to apply what I’ve learned. I always leave excited and determined to spend more time with God. Read more. Pray more. Apply His word more. I always feel ready to take on the week.
Then Monday comes.
All of a sudden, all that I anticipated on doing is thrown off by perhaps a small argument or I didn’t wake up when I wanted to so I didn’t get time to read as much or pray as much. And now I’m just feeling like blah!
Have you been there?
These are the realities of what take place when we come down from mountain top experiences.
The days of the week determine our growth more than the Sundays (or conferences, retreats, etc) we experience. And what I’m learning is we must not beat ourselves up. What we experience on Sundays is necessary but what’s even more necessary is to rely on His grace to help us walk through the week standing on His word and the new mercies He provides daily.
God isn’t looking for me to be sustained by my Sunday (mountain top) experience. He is looking for me to be sustained by Him and Him only.
So what I get into an argument? Have I consulted Him and His word to respond in love and to forgive thoroughly? (Eph. 4)
So what I woke up late? Have I still made the time to invite Him into my day and to rely on His mercy to get me through or have I thought that I am earning His approval based on how much time I’ve spent with Him?
The point is…our mountain top experiences are always great. But if we fall into a pit when we have to come back to the valley, we are relying on ourselves and not God. He sustains us every. Single. Day.
Call upon Him and not your strength.
"The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning." (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Each day we have a choice to take hold of Him. Take hold of His mercies. Take hold of His grace. Take hold of His faithfulness. Our days will reflect these decisions.
Peace, love and mercy,
By Lina Padilla (WITHIN Member)
"Despite her frailties, little faith, and self reliance, God accomplished His purpose."
-Katie Davis talking about Sarah from the Bible
If you haven't read the book Kisses from Katie, I highly suggest that you read it. It will wreck you in the best way possible.
Her faith will move you to tears and it will remind you of God's grace.
You will read it and be filled with a desire to do more, be more, and to love more the way God intended.
In Genesis 15 and 16 we read about how Abraham and Sarah received a promise of a son (and many descendants) from the Lord. Sarah heard this promise from God, believed it to an extent, and then had a better idea.
Instant gratification isn't a new phenomenon. Sarah had a servant, Hagar, and used her as a surrogate. Sarah thought this idea was better because she could control it. She was in charge of the timeline. She was calling the shots and could see the results in HER way.
But this isn't what God intended. Sarah wasn't promised to be a mother to only Hagar's kid. She was promised to be a mother to her own child and the mother of many descendants. God promised HER, her own child.
"Despite her frailties, her little faith, and her self reliance, God accomplished his purpose."
What has God promised you that you are trying to control? It sounds so cliché but His timing is perfect. His timing is right. Maybe before we can have the promise, we have to learn something. Grow. Or maybe there is something we just can't see ahead.
If you are in this place of frustration, panic, and even stress I pray that you take all of that to God. He cares for you but will you trust Him with your worries? He can take your anger and frustration because He already knows how you feel. He'll give you peace to endure the day ahead of you.
It is so hard to let go and give God the control. It's hard to let go because we can't see it in the way we understand. But try. I pray God gives you the strength and courage to choose to believe in the promises He made to you and to believe he WILL carry them out.
What God starts in us He will finish.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6)
Today, all over the world we celebrate the tenacity, resilience, brilliance, courage, beauty, grace, strength, intellect, wisdom, and every word that means “WOMAN.”
Today we celebrate YOU, woman of God!
Since the very beginning, the enemy has diligently and relentlessly sought after what God has created to glorify Him: Women.
It started in the Garden when Satan lied to Eve and made her believe that what God had created in her wasn’t enough. She needed more. She could be like God so why not strive to be Him.
In essence, Satan was tempting Eve to be something she wasn’t meant to be: God.
God had intended purposes but the enemy, in his craftiness, used a question to make her doubt.
God simply wanted her to be who He made her to be: Eve. Suitable. Right. Intended. Purposeful. Helper. Image bearer. A solution to the Lord’s declaration, “It is not good for man to be alone…” (Genesis 2: 18)
You see, it’s not new that we have been made to believe we aren't enough. It’s not new that society has made us believe we are problems instead of solutions. It started then and it continues today. And days like today are set to remind us that we must celebrate and honor what the enemy tries to destroy and confuse with deception.
Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ who reconciled us back to that rightful place where we no longer have to believe and be bound by the lies. We have the Spirit of Christ in us that allows us to see ourselves the way He’s always seen us:
ENOUGH. LOVED. FORGIVEN. REDEEMED. WHOLE. WISE. GENTLE. FIERCE. FIGHTER. PROTECTOR. LIFE GIVER.
[Verses that speak to your identity in Christ]
Women, I thank God for His intentions for us. And today, and everyday, may we believe His Word over the lies of the enemy.
You are WOMAN. You are ENOUGH.
Happy International Women’s Day!
By Shana Schutte
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
A few years ago when I was forty-six, I strapped on skis for the first time. And, last week I skied for the fourth time. Although I have improved, I still fell—a lot. I fell when I was getting off the ski lift. I fell when I was standing in the ski lift line and almost got pinned under the chair lift. (I know. It’s funny to me now, too.) I fell multiple times while I was attempting to ski on a new part of the mountain that was steeper than I was used to.
After we got home on our last day on the slopes, I was a little discouraged. My goal was not to fall down on the more difficult runs and I blew it. But then I had a revelation: I totally killed it. “This almost-fifty year old woman rocked it,” I thought. I got my journal and scribbled out three reasons to celebrate.
1. I tried. And, I not only did I try, but I challenged myself. My grandmother would say that failure is only when you don’t try—and no one gets anything they try perfect the first, second, or third time. Falling down is a part of everything in life. It’s how you learn. And hey, I tried something that lots of people over forty would never attempt!
2. I improved. I have only been on skis for a total of 20 hours and each time I have gotten a little better. When I first started just standing was a challenge. Now I’m zipping along without a worry on some runs that were previously difficult.
3. When I fell down, I got up. I didn’t pitch a fit. I just kept going.
After I finished my list, I opened my Bible and read Philippians 3:12. Something jumped off the page I hadn’t ever noticed before: Paul admitted that he wasn’t perfect. Meaning, he was still falling down. But he didn’t stop trying. He kept pressing on toward the goal.
“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death, so that I may somehow attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been perfected, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. . .”
It seems that the lessons I learned on the slopes apply to everything in life and all that God has called us to. Perfection is not possible, but persistence pays off. And for all those times that we fall down in our God-given responsibilities, in our relationships, spiritual lives, in our quiet time, in loving and forgiveness, and we feel like failures, we get back up and keep going, knowing that God is taking us from glory to glory and each day we are becoming a little more like Him. Keep pressing on. Get back up.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Prayer: Lord, help me to remember that in this life perfection is not possible, but persistence is. You will sustain me and help me to keep getting back up when I fall. I love you. Amen.
“How do YOU feel?”
“What makes YOU happy?”
“What do YOU want to do?”
“Who do YOU want to be?”
It’s no secret we live in a world that won’t let you escape from you. Everything is about you. It’s about how to make you better. How to make sure you’re living how you want to live. If you aren’t in the equation, then why bother?
Now those questions aren’t inherently bad. You are important. You do matter. You have worth.
The danger lies when “You” become your world, it leaves no room to consider and be mindful of the The One who created it all.
When “You” becomes a big part of the equation, “You”, then becomes the person you are seeking to please.
But that’s not God’s way. When we say we’ve accepted the gift of salvation, we are also declaring as Paul declared, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
He’s not called us to please ourselves and others. What we seek to please shows us where we’ve placed our worth and our significance. It will become an idol. It will consume our minds.
He’s called us to please Him (Colossians 1:9). And when we please Him, we bear fruit. We grow in spiritual understanding and wisdom. We increase in our knowledge of Him.
So who are you pleasing? Are you more concerned about “Your purpose” than God’s purpose? Are you more concerned about “Your happiness” than God’s delight? Are you more concerned bout “Your goals” than God’s will?
It’s contrary to everything the world and its ways say. And many won’t understand it. But take comfort, God will and that’s the ONLY one you are called to please.
I pray we would turn our devotion and our affection to Him—daily living to grow in Him so that we may desire even more so to Please HIM.
By Olviya Ivanov (WITHIN Member)
Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and He shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:5
Recently, I experienced a struggle that taught me to commit my plans and future to the Lord. It’s easy to say, “Just hand it over to God” when talking about our struggles and decisions, but what does it look like practically?
Over the past year, I didn’t know which direction to take in my life. A few different opportunities fell into my lap around the same time, and I felt like I was standing at a crossroad. The problem was that they all seemed like good choices. I dove into one job, thinking that it must be from God because I was able to work from home, and stay with my two young boys. A few months later, I realized that this job was not the job for me but tried to make it work because I didn’t want to give up so easily. Another job opportunity arose and I also started thinking about going back to college to get my teaching credential.
Making decisions has never been a strong suit of mine. Sometimes wordy menus at restaurants overwhelm me. Emotionally I was a mess. I became anxious, and my worry over making the right decision consumed my thoughts daily. I prayed for God to show me His direction, timing, and purpose. Through His word, God showed me the example of Joshua being deceived into making a peace treaty with the Gibeonites. Joshua and his men were deceived because they didn’t inquire of the Lord (Joshua 9:14). I realized that I didn’t inquire of God’s direction before accepting my previous job. I also learned that:
1.) The good thing may not be the right thing.
2.) The right thing, may not be the right thing for me,
I asked my friends to pray that God would show me His way. My brother in law gave me some good advice. He told me to see if my decisions led me to or away from my purpose. That took some more digging and seeking.
Through wise council, prayer, and God’s word, I was able to make a decision and receive peace in my heart, knowing that the decision was from God.
Friend, my prayer for you is that no matter what kind of decision maker you are, that you take some time to inquire of the Lord, and allow Him to lead you daily.