***Praying Psalm 46***
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
By Julia Cooke (WITHIN Devo Contributor)
“I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:1
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” Proverbs 11:13
Gossip, for me, is one of the most contemptible things a person can do. And I probably feel this way because gossip, for me, is one of the sins that I find most alluring.
Let me give you an example: just last week, I was with a group of older women who were gossiping about another woman whom we all knew. As usual, as soon as the group began to gossip, I felt my spirit rise in (obviously righteous) anger at the injustice of hearing other individuals—particularly other Christians—speaking ill of someone behind her back. So I called the women out on their gossip. For the rest of the week, I felt great, knowing I had done what was right.
How the Lord humbles. At the end of the week, I was in a conversation with a girl from my old faith community. She began to gossip about a leader in that community, and, before I knew it, I was joining her in speculating about the nasty rumor she had brought up. With a jolt, I realized what I was saying. I felt horribly guilty and ashamed.
This last incident caused me to pray in a way that I haven’t in a while. When I became a believer, God promised to make me a new creation. Here I was, still a sinner and after the same pattern of gossip that I had been prone to in my pre-Christian days, speaking in a manner that might actually be more destructive than the thoughtless words for which I had condemned the older ladies. What was I doing? Hadn’t the Lord changed me?
Paul’s call to new believers in the fourth chapter of Ephesians are words that we should etch into our hearts so deeply that we live them out every single day. For those of us who are in community together as co-laborers in Christ, Ephesians 4 is the essence of what it means to be Christ-like during ordinary life. “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” I find these words elevating and inspiring when they are on the page, yet I need to preach them to myself every day to avoid crumpling into my old nature when I am facing everyday challenges and tests of character. The saint, exhorts Paul, does not act holy only when she is feeling a “spiritual high,” but also in the midst of the common drudgery of life. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). I have a daily choice to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God, and to be renewed in the spirit of my mind.
Lord, I pray that you would continuously make me into a new creation, causing me to humble myself in order to glorify you, treating fellow believers in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, in true righteousness and holiness.
We are in one of my favorite time of the year- the time where we are intentional about being thankful. Of course, ideally we should be intentional about being thankful 365 days a year, but in this society, it's mandatory in this season ;-)
The challenge is that we as believers are in this world but not of it so in this season I’m reminded of God’s word:
“In everything give thanks, for THIS is God’s will for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18)
Not just during Thanksgiving season. Not when things are rosy. Not when things seem to be working out quite smoothly.
In EVERYTHING. (tough pill to swallow)
This is what makes us different. This is how we stand out--giving thanks when the circumstance we find ourselves in screams that it deserves better. We deserve more.
Gratitude acknowledges the place of lack without giving it a foothold. Gratitude is seen through the peace we display when chaos visits.
More than a verbal declaration and a social media post, it’s a disposition of the heart and the mind. A lifestyle.
Most importantly, gratitude is a work of the Holy Spirit. If it’s been difficult to give thanks lately, don’t be discouraged. Invite the Holy Spirit to come in as you be still before the Lord and His Word to do a work in you.
It’s the lazy soul that worries. The lazy soul that complains. It’s a disciplined soul that invites the work to be done within them so they can see, not with natural eyes, but with the Spirit, just how faithful God is. And when we see with the Spirit, our natural environment is subject to it.
Paul understood it best when he said that he found contentment no matter how and where he found himself.(Phil. 4) Why? I would like to guess that he learned how to give thanks for God’s faithfulness in it all. It became natural for Him as He saw in the Spirit.
God’s word reminds us that God cannot be anything but faithful. He can’t disown himself. (2 Tim. 2:13). Now, THAT deserves some thanksgiving because we know how unfaithful we have been and can be and will most likely be in the near future. BUT God!
So what is that very thing for you that, in your own desire, would rather complain or remind God how unfair it is? What is God asking you to give thanks for? It may not be the situation as much as it is thanking God for His grace and mercy on you to go through the season or the circumstance.
Let’s invite the Holy Spirit today and every day to help us give thanks in EVERYTHING so that we can please God. This is His will.
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (Colossians 2:6-7)
By Boyd Bailey
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them. Revelation 14:13
It is hard for some people to rest from their work. They love their work, enjoy their work, and may even worship their work. Hard, smart, and productive work is good, but worshiping work is bad. It is reckless and leads to ruin. It may be relational ruin, physical ruin, or even financial ruin. Work that is worshipped gets out of hand quickly. God is the only one who deserves worship. It is good to be proud of your pure motivation that produces quality work, but do not allow work to become an end in itself. Your true identity comes from Christ, not work.
When you work all the time you tend to drift from your moorings of faith in Christ to faith in yourself. “Can God be trusted enough for me to rest from my work?” Of course—He divinely redeems the time of your limited work and produces more lasting results. You are His workmanship in Christ Jesus—when you take the time to cease working, God accelerates His work in you. Some of His best work takes place when you don’t work. Believers rest for eternity, while unbelievers are in torment forever.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:9-10).
You can physically be away from work and still be at work mentally, so free your mind from this split-focused activity. Do not make your mind jealous over your body’s freedom from work. Give your thoughts rest from work, and you will discover your thinking is more robust and innovative when you reengage in your work. Shift your thinking to the bigger thoughts of God and His plan. Superimpose simple faith in Him over the complex issues that are assaulting your rest.
Your mind, body, and emotions are all part of your Sabbath rest. Your Sabbath rest can be a catalyst for others to reengage with God. Set the example and watch others follow. Your Sabbath rest gives others permission to do the same. It’s not always easy to get to God’s rest, but once you arrive it is well worth the effort. His rest ignites your obedience and trust. So, rest from work and rest in Him. Then watch your work become better, more productive—sustained by the Spirit.
“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the faith to rest from my work with You, so I can rest in You.
By Shana Schutte
To him who led his people through the wilderness, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:16
When was the last time that you experienced a great unfulfilled desire?
Maybe you had a particular desire to get pregnant, obtain a particular job, move to a particular state, make a particular amount of money, live without a particular physical pain, or marry a particular person. You wanted it so much that your soul felt hungry. You lay awake at night dreaming—and worrying—about what would happen if you couldn’t get your desire met and you wondered what would happen if God didn’t say yes to your prayer. You may have even wondered what this desire, ungranted, would say about His love for you.
I recently considered how we all experience these unfulfilled desires when I read Deuteronomy 8:2-3. In this passage, God is speaking about His people as they wandered in the desert.
“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
In this passage, it struck me how God used their physical longing for food to do a spiritual work in their lives. He leveraged something material to do something immaterial. Sometimes the Lord does the same with us. He will use a physical or emotional desire we long for to draw us to the only place we know we can go for relief. . . straight to Him. Sometimes God doesn’t give us what we want so He can give us what we need.
This is a magnificent truth! Remember this: during times of longing, an absence of God’s provision for what we desire is not proof of a lack of His love. In fact, it may be proof of His very active involvement in our lives.
C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Ah, yes. Not only is pain (even the kind associated with an unfulfilled longing) God’s megaphone, it’s what He uses to give us what we truly need and what will create ultimate satisfaction. It’s a way He shouts “You would not believe how much I love you!” It’s a way He proves what is in our hearts.
“He knows you’re going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.” (Deuteronomy 2:7)
Prayer: Lord, I praise you that just because you haven’t given me what I want doesn’t mean you don’t love me. Please help me so that these trials do a good work in me. Let me allow them to draw me to you and not away from you. Amen.