Friday, July 29, 2016

He Is Able (2 Timothy 1:12-14)

Today’s scripture: 2 Timothy 1:12-14

Growing up in a Baptist church, I sang a lot of old hymns. And I remember the words of one of my favorites. As I sang this song as a child, I had no idea the words came from 2 Timothy:

For I know whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able To keep that which I’ve committed Unto Him until that day. (Whittle, McGranahan, 1883)
I love the words of that old Scripture-inspired hymn because it reminds me that the God I’ve put my trust in is able. Able to keep me strong. Able to provide. Able to give comfort. Able to shower with peace. Able to help me overcome any situation.

He is greater than anything or anyone. And until the day I leave this earth, either through death or at Christ’s return, He will faithfully hold me safely and securely in His more-than-able right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Promises, Promises (2 Timothy 1:8-11)

Today’s scripture: 2 Timothy 1:8-11

I’m not sure where to begin. These four verses contain so much to encourage! But I want to focus on three great promises.

We have been saved. If you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and have committed your life to Him, you are saved. The old fleshly self has died, and you are being transformed into the new creature God has designed you to be. There is nothing you can do on your own to be saved. It is truly a gift from God. He is so gracious and so merciful that He desires all to be saved—but He’s also so loving that He gives us the choice.

We have been called with a holy calling. Each of us has been called to serve God uniquely. He has blessed us with gifts that we can use to serve Him and others. Paul was a “preacher and an apostle and a teacher.” Others of us are encouragers or are merciful or are hospitable. It doesn’t matter what your gift is as long as you use it to bring glory to our God

We will live eternally with God—Father, Son, and Spirit. Oh, this is the greatest promise of all! If you’ve given your life to Christ, you will never really die. The flesh you live in now will certainly die and decay, but your soul, the true you, will live forever in the presence of the Sovereign Lord God.

I pray you’ve accepted the gift of salvation. I pray you’re using the gifts God has blessed you with. And I pray you’re anticipating eternity with God with joy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Timid? Or Bold? (2 Timothy 1:7)

Today’s scripture: 2 Timothy 1:7

I know I have strength and power through God. I know the Holy Spirit helps me to be disciplined. And Jesus is love.

So if I have power and love and discipline, why am I still timid? Timidity does not come from the Spirit. Where does it come from?

The enemy of our souls. Be assured: Satan is not divine. He isn’t all-powerful, nor can he be everywhere at once. He is not—by any stretch—God. But he has been given a measure of power. And he does have a contingent of demons ready to do his bidding. And somehow, he does have the ability to whisper lies in our ears.

And one of his biggest lies? We don’t have what it takes to share God’s word. We aren’t smart enough or educated enough or godly enough. We’re too sinful ourselves to have the right to share the gospel.

I know I buy into that lie so very often. I tell myself I don’t have the gift of evangelism. Someone else will spread the gospel. I’ll just do my small part by encouraging and equipping those who already know Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong: We all have gifts, and some of us are gifted to preach or teach or evangelize. Those are their primary gifts. And some of us are gifted encouragers or administrators.

However, just because my primary gift isn’t evangelism doesn’t mean I’m not to seize every opportunity to share God’s amazing truth. And being fearful isn’t an excuse … because timidity isn’t from God.

If you too suffer from timidity, join me in prayer as I ask for boldness in sharing the good news of God’s plan of salvation.

And together, let’s cast out timidity and seek boldness.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Leaving a Legacy (2 Timothy 1:5-6)

Today’s scripture: 2 Timothy 1:5-6

Timothy was blessed with a wonderful legacy of faith. His mother and his grandmother were women of sincere faith, and they clearly instilled that faith in Timothy.

I have been very blessed with the same legacy. Both of my grandmothers were strong women of faith. These women loved Jesus—heart, soul, mind, and strength. They studied God’s word and prayed regularly for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. And their prayers were felt, especially by me. I have no doubt their prayers helped to bring this prodigal back to the arms of the Father.

My mom is also such a woman. Her life has been far from perfect, but she remains one of the strongest women of faith I know. She’s shown an unconditional love to her children, and I know she prays for us regularly. She prays for our health, for our protection, for our spiritual journeys.

And I pray I’m providing the same legacy for my “children.” My nieces and nephews. Other “children of my heart.” The women to whom I speak. I pray God will use me to help future generations to know Him and to become men and women of faith.

I couldn’t ask to leave a better legacy.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Constant Prayer (2 Timothy 1:1-4)

Today’s scripture: 2 Timothy 1:1-4

I’m sure I wrote something similar when I began Paul’s first letter to Timothy, but I’m writing again: I really love that love is such an integral part of everything Paul wrote. Every letter he wrote was a love letter.

In this letter, he assured his protégé Timothy of his constant and unfailing love. He called Timothy his “beloved son.” He prayed for God’s grace, mercy, and peace to flow over Timothy.

More importantly? He wrote how he constantly prayed for Timothy. And I believe that. I believe that Paul was so in tune with God that he really did “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) And as he prayed, he prayed for those he loved.

I know I don’t do the same. Oh, I do pray regularly for those I love. Pretty much every day, in fact. But without ceasing? Constantly?


The best thing I can do for those I love is to remember them in prayer. Interceding for their needs, their protection, their peace. And if I don’t, then I’m not showing love as I should.

I want to demonstrate my love by remembering them in prayer. If not constantly, then as often as I can throughout each day. And maybe, one day, constantly.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Armed and Ready (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 6:20-21

We must be on alert at all times. The enemy of our souls “
prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He’s out there just waiting to win a battle or two, and one of his tactics is to entice believers with “worldly and empty chatter.” While he is not omniscient or all-powerful or omnipresent, he does have a legion of demons just ready to do his bidding. And if he can use the lusts of the flesh against us, he will.

And he’s even infiltrated the church. People stand at pulpits each Sunday spouting false knowledge. Jesus wasn’t without sin. There are many ways to God. Pick and choose what you want from the Bible because, after all, it’s really not God’s inerrant word.

Indeed, many have “gone astray from the faith.”

The only way to combat the lies of the enemy is to be on guard. We must daily put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17). We must stand on the firm foundation of God’s inspired, inerrant word.

Are you armed and ready? Is your guard up? Or are you vulnerable to the arrows the enemy is firing your way?

Oh my friend, be prepared. For the battle will only grow more intense as we draw nearer to the end of the war—and we know who the Victor of that will be!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Money-wise (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 6:17-19

A few days ago, we read Paul’s warning that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” Today’s verses are a reminder that riches themselves aren’t evil. It’s what we do with them that can be.

If you have monetary wealth, you are blessed—as long as you keep your focus on the Supplier of your wealth. Any riches you have aren’t yours. I know you may like to think otherwise, but everything you have, including your money, is on loan to you from God. He wants you to enjoy what He’s given you, but He also expects you to bless others as you have been blessed.

I read somewhere (where and when I can’t remember) that if Christians in the United States who are in the top ten percent of earners would really tithe to ministry-minded churches, we could wipe out poverty in the U.S. And if they gave twenty percent, it would take care of the world.

I mean, really. How much do you really need? And where is your money going?

Remember, you can’t take it with you, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to stand in front of God one day and show Him my financial portfolio. And I’m positive He wouldn’t care anyway. What I want is to be able to talk about the missionaries my tithing supported or the children who were reached through a reading program that my church invested in.

Certainly, enjoy whatever riches you’ve been blessed with. But make certain you’re pleasing the Father by doing as Paul instructed: “do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Encouragement for Today! (1 Timothy 6:13-16)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 6:13-16

I am so encouraged by today’s verses! Yes, there is exhortation: Timothy is charged to keep the commandment to be Christ-like. But look at the hope in Paul’s words:

Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, will return! Only the Father knows the “proper time,” but the Son will return one day!

Jesus, our Overcomer (John 16:33), our Victor, our Redeemer, will return! (I know I'm being repetitive, but if anything is worth repeating, this is!) And as I watch this world continue its downward spiral, I can’t help but think it’s going to be soon—or so I pray.

And so, with this confidence, I can join Paul in his words of praise:

Our Lord Jesus is the “blessed and only Sovereign.”
He is the “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
He is immortal, omnipresent, omniscient, all-loving.
He is “light and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
Oh, I hope these words encourage you as they’ve encouraged me. As we keep His commandments while on earth, we can do so with the confidence that we’ll be spending eternity with our Lord and Savior, with our Abba Father.

And with Paul, I give Him praise and honor. Won’t you join us?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Challenge for Today ... and Every Day (1 Timothy 6:11)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 6:11

Paul began to wrap up his first letter to Timothy with two exhortations.

The first is a plea: “… flee from these things …” Yesterday, we talked about pursuing riches and the love of money, and these are what Timothy is to flee from—and we need to flee from them as well.

However, Paul also exhorted Timothy—and us—to “pursue” some specific things (Merriam-Webster Dictionary definitions):

being in “accord with divine or moral law and free from guilt or sin”

Godliness:  being “pious” and “devout”

Faith: “belief and trust in and loyalty to God”

Love: “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”

continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition”

Gentleness: being “honorable” and “kind”

Oh, my … Paul’s not asking for much, is he? (Too bad you can’t hear the sarcasm in my writing!) Seriously, don’t you read lists like this and think, “How in the world can I even begin to be righteous or godly or gentle?” You wonder, “I have faith, but sometimes it’s hard to persevere.”

Well, you’re right. You won’t be able to fully flee the love of money and pursue the items on that list on your own. The good news? You’re not on your own!

The Holy Spirit is in with you—within you. If you seek His strength and guidance, He’ll help you to pursue those things that will make you more and more like Christ and let Him shine through you.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mighty Dollar? Or Almighty God? (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 6:9-10

First, let me say that I don’t think the Bible is against the rich. If God has blessed someone with wealth, and that person is generous to those in need and holds his riches loosely, I believe God is pleased.

However, our “more is better” society can truly “snare” people. In order to amass greater wealth, we’ve turned into workaholics, sometimes neglecting our marriages or our children. We live and breathe by the stock market. Our financial statements dictate whether we’re happy or miserable.

We begin to read the Wall Street Journal more often than we do our Bible.

I have to admit, I’ve fallen into the “snare” myself at times. In 2001, my husband and I got caught up with the “McMansion” hype, and sold our perfectly adequate 1200 square foot home for a totally unnecessary 3071 square foot home. Now I will say it served us well when we brought my mother-in-law in to heal after a couple of falls and a couple of surgeries. And we were able to see God bless others as they’ve been able to stay here.

But we soon realized that bigger isn’t really better. Bigger just means more “stuff” … and a lot of it. When we decided to take the plunge, downsize, and move 2100 miles from California to Tennessee, we either sold or donated over 50 percent of our “stuff.” We now live in a lovely little home surrounded by trees. Yes, we still have “stuff”; after all, we need to sit on something. However, we’re making more conscious decisions when it comes to buying anything new.

So ask yourself. Have you gotten caught up in the “more is better” mentality? Have you become consumed with having “stuff”? A bigger house? A nicer car? A fatter portfolio?

Confess to the Lord your preoccupation with the “mighty dollar,” and ask Him what you can do to make Him the priority of your life.

Friday, July 15, 2016

10 years ...

10 years ago today, I wrote my very first post for this blog. It started as a chatty, "this is what I'm doing" conversation. For the last few years, however, I have focused on this week-day devotional.

I have been blessed with a small, but steady following, and I have been blessed even more with comments either posted or emailed letting me know how God has blessed some of my readers.

I am so very grateful for you and your support. If you have any thoughts to share, please email me. I would also greatly appreciate your sharing this devotional with others who may be blessed as well.

I'll continue to write as long as the Lord inspires me to do so; only our Lord knows how long that will be.

Finally, know that I pray for you. May God richly bless you as He works in and through you.

For His glory ...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

It's All Just Stuff (1 Timothy 6:7-8)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 6:7-8

This is so very true … When we leave this world, we leave everything behind. When my husband and I were getting my mother-in-law’s house ready for sale after her death, we found some treasures, but mostly, we found a lot of clutter. Much of it was thrown into a dumpster.

That may sound heartless, but really, think about your own home? Is there anything of lasting value? Now there may be a few items of sentimental value for those you leave behind, but for you … will any of it matter?

Not at all.

What we have on earth is temporary. We might find temporary pleasure in our “stuff,” but none of it matters in eternity.

So, we must hold all our earthly possessions loosely. We can be thankful for anything God blesses us with, but we can also be content with next to nothing at all.

That’s true contentment. If you can sincerely be thankful for having your basic needs met—which God promises to do—then the rest is icing.

In fact, try this: Walk through your home and start “purging” it of those unnecessary things. Start decluttering and simplifying your home … and your life. Learn to live more simply. Then not only will you learn to be content with less, you’ll also leave less for your heirs to sort through!

This is a challenge for you—and for me, as well.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Contentment ... (1 Timothy 6:6)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 6:6

Oh … contentment. Such a difficult concept for many of us, especially we who live in the United States. Our society is saturated with “bigger is better” and “supersize me” (although I understand if you saw the movie with the latter’s name, you’d never think the former, at least when it comes to food!).

We have a perfectly serviceable car, and then our neighbor gets a brand-new, bright, and shiny auto. And we want one too.

Our home is lovely and more than adequate … but then we visit a friend’s new house. It’s bigger. It has the latest and greatest countertops and hardwood floors. And suddenly, our little home just doesn’t seem … enough.

And sadly, the spouse we’ve been married to for ten years one day does something that irritates us—again—and that new coworker, who treats us with respect, looks suddenly much more interesting.

Contentment—being satisfied with what we have—can be really hard to grasp.

I struggled with it for years. Even after I recommitted my life to the Lord over 22 years ago, I still couldn’t seem to be truly content. And I’d often make myself miserable.

Then, finally, several years ago, I surrendered everything to God. I was really struggling with my health, and it shadowed everything else in my life. And so nothing seemed to bring me any joy. And when I finally said, “Take it all, Lord. Take my job, my home, my relationships, my stuff. It’s all Yours anyway.”

Now, I do sometimes wish for something else … but I find, I actually wish for less, not more. I want to simplify, declutter, value what’s really important. And even when things aren’t exactly what I’d hoped for, I can honestly say I’m usually content.

And in being so, I find joy, even in the difficult times. I still live with daily pain, and some days it’s really hard to find that contentment. But when I surrender again, God gives me peace … and contentment.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Love Even the Farthest from God (1 Timothy 6:3-5)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 6:3-5

Wow. Paul didn’t pull any punches, did he? Look at some of the words he used to describe those who “advocate a different doctrine.”

They are envious, cause strife, use abusive language … have depraved minds. They cause “constant friction” with those who they think use “godliness [as] a means of gain.”

When you read these words, can you think of anyone who is an illustration of this kind of person? I think of the “new atheist” movement, and how they actually renounce God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They accuse Christ-followers of being manipulative of others, brainwashing them to our way of thinking.

Quite a while ago, I watched a debate between two of these “new atheists” and two evangelicals, and it just about broke my heart. In all honesty, neither side won. But the anger that spewed from the atheists was heartbreaking. I can only imagine how lost they must feel. It’s one thing to say, “I don’t know if there’s a God or not, but I really don’t feel it’s relevant to me.” It’s quite another to say, “There absolutely is no God. But if there is, and He’s the God you describe, then I’d rather be in hell then spend eternity with Him.” The pain that causes words like that … I can’t imagine.

Instead of condemning those who “advocate different doctrines” or who debate “controversial” topics, what if we showed them love and grace? What if we treated them with compassion? What if we quietly and gently illustrated true godly love?

Maybe—just maybe—we could influence even those farthest from God to see His truth.

It’s worth a try. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mutual Respect ... in the Workplace? (1 Timothy 6:1-2)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 6:1-2

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, respect means "to hold someone in high or special regard." Any of us who work for others should show them respect, whether they deserve it or not. As believers, we can be Christ’s light to our employers, as we honor them in every situation.

Think about it: You work for an unbeliever, and she sees you handle difficult situations with grace or watches you make tough decisions based on biblical values. She feels your respect for her even when she very well knows she doesn’t always deserve it.

How might that influence her?

And if your employer is also a believer? Then you ought to “serve [him] all the more.” Not only is he your boss, but he’s your brother in Christ.

On the flipside, if you’re an employer, you can model respectful behavior to those who work for you. You also should respect those in authority over you, and—I know Paul doesn’t say this, but I believe it to be true—show that high or special regard for your employees.

Just imagine how your workplace would be if mutual respect existed between employer and employee? It would be rather wonderful, wouldn’t it?

Friday, July 08, 2016

Jesus in the Flesh (1 Timothy 5:24-25)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 5:24-25

Some people think that one day they’ll stand before God, and He’ll have this big scale. On one side, He’ll put all the sins they committed, and on the other side, the good they did. Then, as long as the good outweighs the bad, they’ll get into heaven.

Of course, if you study the Bible, you know this is patently untrue. Praise God, our entrance into heaven isn’t based on what good we do. It’s solely based on God’s grace (see Eph. 2:8-9).

But even if the good we do on earth doesn’t save us or get us into heaven, we’re still to do good deeds. We’re to serve God by serving others. Volunteering at the local soup kitchen. Going on short-term missions. Spending time reading to the elderly. Helping out at community outreach events. Lending an ear and a shoulder to the hurting. Encouraging spiritual siblings to grow in faith.

Serving God in these ways strengthens our faith and pleases our Father. And it also allows the world to see Jesus Christ in the flesh. People are attracted by selfless service, and our doing good deeds goes a long way to help convince the world of Christ’s love for them.

What are you doing to serve others? How are you being Jesus Christ in the flesh to your community?

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Without Bias or Partiality ... (1 Timothy 5:21-22)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 5:21-22

As much as we’d like to say we’re impartial, reality can be far different. Most of us just naturally gravitate to people with whom we have more in common. And we can tend to be biased against those who are different than we are.

We can especially be biased against those who practice sin, whether or not they are believers. We point fingers. We gossip behind backs. We self-righteously look at those pesky specks (see yesterday’s devotional).

When we do, we’re sinning just as much as they are. And although I believe sin is sin in God’s eyes, in some ways, we’re worse than they are. Because we know we’re sinning.

In today’s culture, so many aren’t being taught truth, even within churches. Congregations listen to sermons about how God wants them to be prosperous. They hear how God loves them and wants them to be happy, so they can do pretty much whatever they want—as long as it’s not illegal and it doesn’t hurt anyone.

No one is encouraged to delve into the truth of the Bible … which itself is open to “interpretation.” They’re told it’s okay to take what makes sense to them from God’s word and leave the rest behind.

Rather than judge others, wouldn’t it be better to love them and pray for them? Wouldn’t we be examples of Jesus Christ if we went to where they are and served them and shared truth from God’s word? 

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Don't Judge ... but Rebuke? (1 Timothy 5:19-20)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 5:19-20

Sometimes the Bible seems to contradict itself. We’re told to “judge not” (Matt. 7:1), yet here Paul tells Timothy to “rebuke” the brethren “who continue in sin.”

How do we reconcile this apparent inconsistency?

I believe—and again, I’m no Bible scholar—it’s a matter of the heart. It’s one thing to self-righteously point out the speck in someone’s eye while overlooking the log in our own. (See Matt. 7:2-4.) It’s something altogether different if we’re lovingly attempting to guide a brother or sister away from a habitual sin.

There’s another key in Paul’s exhortation: We’re not to “receive an accusation” without corroboration. In other words, if one person accuses someone of a sin, it may or may not be true. But if two or three—or more—make the same accusation, then we can be certain the accusation is sound.

However, I must interject here. I don’t believe Paul is talking about crime. If someone is raped or robbed or abused, and there is evidence to prove it, then that one person’s testimony is sufficient.

Paul’s heart in these verses is redemption and reconciliation. And that should be ours as well. We should desire that all our brothers and sisters live in relationship with our Lord, not letting any habitual sin prevent them from being all He’s created them to be. 

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

24/7 (1 Timothy 5:17-18)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 5:17-18

I believe one of the hardest jobs today is being a Bible-teaching, Christ-following preacher. Oh, the things they deal with … Counseling. Managing. Studying. Sermon-preparing.

They’re responsible for overseeing their local church and staff. They need to develop weekly sermons that will instruct their often-apathetic congregations. They visit shut-ins. They perform weddings … and funerals.

And if these weren’t enough, they must protect their marriages and nurture their families.

Being a pastor is, in reality, a 24/7 job. And what thanks do they get? Probably very little. Like many other service-oriented professions, pastors are just expected to do everything, and do it well. Often they’re over-worked and underpaid. They’re relatively ignored when things are going well, but if anything goes awry, fingers are pointed to them.

So why would anyone choose to be a pastor? Well, most would probably say they didn’t necessarily choose being a pastor. Most would say it chose them. In other words, they were called and anointed by God.

And even with little affirmation, they still diligently do what God’s called them to do.

What should we do? We should show our appreciation for their hard work. We should encourage them to stand firm. We should really listen to what God says through them.

At the very least, we should say “thank you” a lot more often than we do.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Caring for Family (1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8

The breakdown of family in our culture is one of our greatest tragedies. The disrespect children have for parents, parents’ neglect of children, the lack of respect for the elderly … is it any wonder that our society is spiraling downward?

Although the first two of today’s verses concern widows, the last verse deals with the entire family. We need to care for each other, provide for each other’s needs. And this doesn’t just mean financially.

We’re to love them. We’re to support them emotionally and spiritually. We’re to provide guidance and wisdom.

Are we emotionally “available” for those we love? Do we truly listen when they share their hearts with us? Do we represent Christ to them and encourage them to grow in their own relationships with Him?

Family should be our most important earthly relationship. And if we don’t put a priority on caring for them, we’re displeasing our heavenly Father.

What can you do today to show your family members how much you love them?

Friday, July 01, 2016

God's Family (1 Timothy 5:1-2)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 5:1-2

If you’re a follower of Christ, you’re part of a world-wide family. Anywhere you go, you can find a Bible-believing church, and immediately, you’re with brothers and sisters.

I’m blessed to speak for women’s events and retreats, and it never fails to bless my heart. Sometimes, I speak at events that are miles from my home. I’ve never been to these places, and the only contact I have is by phone and email with the heads of the planning committees. But when I arrive, I am invariably embraced by sisters I’ve never met. In an instant, I’m with family.

We are blessed to be a part of God’s family, and we should cherish and honor our relationships with our brothers and sisters. There is no place for gossip or maligning in our family. No pride. No dissension. No resentment. No jealousy.

Rather, we should genuinely love, support, and celebrate each other. Doing so delights our Father’s heart.