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Put Your Faith Where Your Action Is!

 

Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth 
Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead – (James 2:17, NIV).

Friend to Friend
I remember a time, back in 1993, when I was swept up in the whimsical world of wedding planning. Every detail mattered. I was excited to be marrying Brad Smith and I wanted our wedding day to be a magical springboard to a life filled with amazing adventures and deep years of God-centered love. From the cake choices – to the dress choices – to the music choices – to the guest list choices – to the bridal registry choices: I was all about the business of wedding prep!

The bride of Christ is purposed to be all about the Father’s business – to prep for eternity by making choices to bring Him glory throughout our days; to intentionally worship the Lord through our service. As daughters of God, we are called to connect our believing to our behaving; our convictions to our conversations; our lip-service to our life-service.

The Biblical mandate for each believer is this: put your faith where your action is. “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).

Hear me out here. Service is not the key to gaining salvation. Salvation comes by faith in Christ alone (Romans 10:9-10). Service is, however, essential for the believer as a response to her salvation. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

No matter who you are or what your platform is in life, the truth remains that whatever you do and say is being watched. Everyone emanates something. A radiant Christian woman – a radiant bride of Christ – emanates the saltiness and light of Jesus through her life; displayed through the things she does and doesn’t do. Through things she says or doesn’t say.

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16, NIV).

Today, I pray that you are spurred on to be a woman of action for Christ – no matter what the circumstances of your life or the complexities of your relationships may be. From your word choices – to your tone choices – to your television choices – to your music choices – to your service choices – to your activity choices … be all about your Father’s business. Go in His strength, and put your faith where your action is.

Let’s Pray 
Holy Father, I pray that You will help my actions to line up with Your perfect will. Help me to be Your hands and feet to those around me. Shine through my actions so others might be drawn to Your healing hope.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn 
What does your life radiate? What are your actions saying about your faith? Are you salty for Christ in what you do and say? Spend a few moments reflecting on this and then spend some time in prayer.

How can you serve someone today? Perhaps God is leading you to bless someone in your household … or someone in your church … or someone in your neighborhood.

Could you reach out to a single mom, a family member, a widow, or a hurting friend? Ask God to direct you to opportunities to put your faith into action in the lives of others.

Got some great ideas about this? I would love to hear about them! Visit my Facebook page and tell me all about it: http://www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.

More from the Girlfriends 
Trust me, friend, in no way am I trying to place the burden of “you-must-do-more-things-in-order-to-please-God” on you. I just want to encourage you to make the most of every choice and every action. If you are drained and weary and can’t imagine being able to give anyone anything right now, get alone with God. His presence and His Spirit will strengthen you for each moment.

NEED HELP in putting your actions where your faith is? Gwen’s book, Broken Into Beautiful, will take you by the hand and shows you how God delights to transform lives. Yes. Even yours!! To order the book, go to Amazonor visit the store on Gwen’s website: www.gwensmith.net.

 

Listening to God in the Little Things

 

Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back” (Isaiah 50:4-5 NIV).

Friend to Friend
One of my favorite devotion books My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  On October tenth, he wrote, “All God’s revelations are sealed until they are opened to us by obedience. You will never get them open them through philosophy or thinking.  But once you obey, a flash of light comes immediately. …Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up…God will never reveal more truth about himself until you have obeyed what you already know.”

We must never fall into the trap of thinking that God will always give us “big” things to do.  Jesus…took a towel and …began to wash the disciples’ feet…” (John 13:3-5). Through his act of servant leadership, he demonstrated the obedience we should have on a daily basis in the mundane activities of everyday life. Yes, he raised the dead, but he also washed the feet.

One evening Steve and I were on our way to dinner. Just before we arrived, I saw three teenage girls walking into another restaurant in the same area where we were going to eat.  One of the girls had been in a small group I had led for two years. I felt God nudging me to go into the restaurant and pay for their dinners.

“Steve, there’s Christine,” I said. “I believe God wants me to pay for those girls’ dinners.”

Steve, being a man who listens to God, whipped the car around and headed toward the door.

“Hi girls,” I said as I walked up to them in line.

“Hi  Mrs. Jaynes. What are you doing here?”

“May I take your order?” the cashier interrupted.

“Go ahead girls,” I urged. “You go first.”

Each girl ordered and then the cashier turned to me.  “And you ma’am.

“Oh, I’m not having anything. I just came in to pay for these girls’ dinners.”

The threesome were very surprised and very appreciative. I ran back out to our car, feeling a warm sense of listening and obeying.

The next day, Christine called. “Mrs. Jaynes,” she said “thank you so much for paying for our dinners last night. My friends were so touched. No one has ever done anything like that for any of us before. See, last night, they wanted to go out to dinner, but I told them I couldn’t afford it.  So they were going to pay for mine. Then you came in and well…thanks.

Obeying God only cost me $19.95, but the lesson to Christine, and her two friends was invaluable. Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

Obeying God begins with heeding the simply nudges. Don’t be afraid! Many people are afraid to obey those nudges because they aren’t absolutely sure it is God’s voice. I’ve decided that if the inner prompting lines up with Scripture and is consistent with God’s character and ways, then I’d rather err on the side of obedience that the side of caution.

“We all have those times when there are no flashes of light and no apparent thrill to life, where we experience nothing but the daily routine with its common everyday tasks….Don’t always expect God to give you His thrilling moments, but learn to live in those common times of the drudgery of life by the power of God….I must realize that my obedience even in the smallest detail of life has all the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it” (O. Chambers June 15). “If I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God” (O. Chambers November 2).

My prayer is that I will be able to say like the prophet Isaiah, “He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back” (Isaiah 50:4-5).

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, I’m listening. Speak to me. Nudge me. I will not be rebellious. I will not draw back.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Today, I encourage you to pay attention to any way that God might be nudging you to be His hands and feet.

Then join me on my blog page, look for this devotion’s entry, and tell me what happened. I can hardly wait. Don’t feel uncomfortable telling me. Don’t feel like you’re tooting your own horn. I just want to toot my party horn in celebration of your obedience!

More from the Girlfriends
One of my greatest passions is to become a woman who listens to God. If you would like to sharpen your God-listening skills, check out my book, Becoming a Woman who Listens to God.It is not a matter of whether or not God speaks. It is a matter of whether or not we will listen.

 

In His Eyes Part 2

Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:14-15, NIV).

Friend to Friend
God can set you free to be all He created you to be. A healthy self-image is not rooted in pride, and it does not exalt self above others. Success comes when we learn to accept God’s evaluation instead of our own and when we give Him permission to make us what He created us to be. Yesterday, we examined the first two steps we can take to understand who we are in His eyes. Today, we will look at four more steps.

Step three: Be yourself.
We should always be looking for something new to learn, an area where we can grow and changes that need to be made. Sit down with your mate or close friend and ask for a realistic evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses. Constantly search for gifts and abilities on which you can work. Don’t be afraid of change. It is a sign of life and growth. Change what needs to be changed, accept what you cannot change and quit whining about it! Don’t waste another minute trying to be someone you were never created to be. Stop questioning God’s design for your life. When an old man from the mountains of North Carolina was asked how he created such extraordinary wooden carvings of dogs, he replied, “Well, I just take my knife and a piece of wood and carve away everything that doesn’t look like a dog.” Learning to see your-self through the eyes of God is like “carving away” everything that is not part of the original design – God’s plan – and then learning how to accept what remains.

Step four: Guard your mind.
We are bombarded on all sides by the media, family and friends, co-workers and even enemies who have a certain identity they want to assign to us. We have a choice. No one makes us feel inferior without our permission. We will become what we allow our heart and mind to dwell on. An old adage says it well: “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair.” It is impossible to avoid destructive thinking entirely. We will be tempted. We will have negative thoughts and temptations, but we do not have to allow them to dwell in our minds. God has given us a “garbage disposal” for the mind.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

We once lived in Miami, Florida, a place where ships come from all over world. However, before a ship is allowed to dock, an inspection team goes aboard with one assignment. Find every bit of contamination on board that ship. If contamination of any kind is found, the ship must be quarantined until it is cleaned up and inspected again. The ship is then allowed to dock. We need to control our thought life in the same way.

Step five: Control your tongue.
Our words either build up or tear down. Scripture tells us not to curse others because they are made in the image of God. So are we. As a mom, I constantly warned our children about the danger of critical words. I wanted them to learn how to encourage others with their words as well as have a healthy picture of who they are. One day, while standing in front my bathroom mirror, I began berating myself for something I had done. I didn’t see our son who was quietly standing in our bedroom door where he could hear every word I said. “Mom, who are you talking to?” he asked. I sheepishly replied, “I was talking to myself.” He thought for a moment and then offered a convicting observation, “Boy, if I talked like that, I’d be in big trouble!” I was immediately reminded of the words in Psalm 141:3: “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Words are like seeds. What we plant will grow. If we sow destructive, critical words, we will reap a life that is negative and critical, but if we sow words of truth, we will reap a life of peace and purpose, knowing who we are in His eyes.

Step six: Be Patient
Weeds spring up overnight but it takes years for a mighty oak to grow. Today, you can take the first step toward gaining a new perspective of who you are in Christ. Our Father says it this way in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.”

Let’s Pray
Lord, I want to know You more and learn to see myself as You see me. Please help me recognize and guard against anything or anyone who would chip away at Your truth working in my life. I believe You love me and cherish me as Your daughter. Help me to walk in that value and worth and then lead others to do the same. I praise You for validating my very existence as part of Your heart’s plan. I love You, Father.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Here is your assignment for the week. Read Psalm 139 at least one time every day. In your journal, write each verse in your own words. At the end of the week, set aside time to celebrate who you are in Christ. Have a praise party – just you and God – or invite a few girlfriends to join you in celebrating how special you are to Him.

More from the Girlfriends
I pray that these devotions have helped you catch a new glimpse of just how precious you are to God. If you were never wanted or planned by human heart and mind, rest assured that you were wanted and planned by God Himself. He is with you and for you, girlfriend. He believes in you and has a plan that will prosper you and give you hope. Turn to Him. Trust Him. You are special in His eyes.

Don’t Give Up!

By: Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” – (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV).

Friend to Friend
It was the first swim meet of the year for our newly formed Middle School Aquatics team. The atmosphere on the three hour bus ride was electric with anticipation as the band of forty-eight adolescents thought of nothing but victory. However, the electricity turned into shock as our minnows filed off the bus and stared in disbelief at their muscle clad, Neptune-like opponents.

The coach checked the schedule. “Surely there’s been a mistake,” he thought. But the schedule only confirmed that, yes, this was the right place and the right time.

The two teams formed a line on the side of the pool. Whistles blew, races were begun, and races were lost. Halfway through the meet, Coach Huey realized that he had no participants for one of the events.

“OK team, who wants to swim the 500 yard free style?” the coach asked.

Several hands shot up, including Justin’s. “I’ll race coach!”

The coach looked down at the freckle faced youth and said, “Justin, this race is twenty lengths of the pool. I’ve only seen you swim eight.”

“Oh, I can do it coach. Let me try. What’s twelve more laps.”

The coach reluctantly conceded. “After all,” he thought, “It’s not the winning but the trying that builds character.”

The whistle blew and the opponents torpedoed through the water and finished the race in a mere four minutes and fifty seconds. The winners gathered on the sidelines to socialize while our group struggled to finish. After four more long minutes, the last exhausted members of our team emerged from the water. The last except for Justin.

Justin was stealing breaths as his hands slapped against the water and pushed it aside to propel his thin body forward. It appeared that he would go under at any minute, yet something seemed to keep pushing him onward.

“Why doesn’t the coach stop this child?” the parents whispered among themselves. “He looks like he’s about to drown and the race was won four minutes ago.”

But what the parents did not realize was that the real race, the race of a boy becoming a man, was just beginning.

The coach walked over to the young swimmer, knelt down and quietly spoke.

Relieved parents thought, “Oh, he’s finally going to pull that boy out before he kills himself.”

But to their surprise, the coach rose from the concrete, stepped back from the pool’s edge, and the young man continued to swim.

One teammate, inspired by his brave friend, went to the side of the pool and walked the lane as Justin pressed on. “Come on Justin, you can do it!  You can do it! Keep going! Don’t give up!”

He was joined by another, then another, until the entire team was walking the length of the pool rooting for and encouraging their fellow swimmer to finish the race set before him.

The opposing team saw what was happening and joined the chant. The students’ contagious chorus sent a chill through the room and soon the once concerned parents were on their feet cheering, shouting, and praying. The room was pulsating with energy and excitement as teammates and opponents alike pumped courage into one small swimmer.

Twelve long minutes after the starting whistle had blown, an exhausted, but smiling, Justin Rigsbee swam his final lap and struggled to pull himself out of the pool. The crowd had applauded the first swimmer, as he crossed the line, first place. But they gave Justin the greater cheer, for finishing the race. 

In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (NIV). On some days, when the swimming or running grows difficult – on those days when I want to quit, I long for friends and family who will walk the course with me cheering me on.  “Come on Sharon, you can do it!”  “Don’t give up!  You’re almost there!”

But there are days when I look around and there seems to be no one there to cheer me on. That’s when I need to look a bit closer, listen a bit more intently, and hear the still small voice of my Heavenly Father. He’s always there to pick me up when I fall, hold me when I cry, hug me when I’m feeling alone, cheer for me when I’m victorious, and love me when I’m just me. And He’s there for you too.

Our Heavenly Parent is cheering for you, my friend. He’s saying, “Keep going!  Don’t give up! You are precious to Me! You’re not alone! You can do it!”

Today, feel God’s embrace and listen closely as He speaks to your heart. I think I hear Him now…

Let’s Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, sometimes I feel like I’m not going to make it. Thank You for friends that come alongside me and cheer me on when I feel like I’m about to go under. Most of all, thank You for always being with me and cheering me on in the great race of life. I love You!
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Can you identify with Justin?  Have you ever felt like you have bitten off more than you can chew?

What helps you most in times like these?

Can you think of a friend who is struggling today who might need a word of encouragement?  You might be just the person God has chosen you to cheer her own. Why not give her a call, shoot her an e-mail, or write her a note of cheer.

Let’s honor a person who has been an encourager to you. Click over to my blog page,find today’s devo/blog, and leave the name of one person who has encouraged you in the comment box. Then tell her about it!

More from the Girlfriends
Today’s devotion was taken from my book, Becoming a Woman who Listens to God. Sometimes listening to Him means simply paying attention to the times He whispers just how much He loves you and is for you. If you would like to sharpen your listening-to-God skills, then check out Becoming a Woman who Listens to God. It is not a matter of whether or not He speaks to us. It is a matter of whether or not we will listen.

In His Eyes

Today’s Truth
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be – (Psalm 139:14-15, NIV).

Friend to Friend
It was my first day of teaching second grade. While standing at the classroom door, greeting parents and children, I felt a tug on my skirt. I looked down into the beautiful blue eyes of Sammy, one of my new students.  His mother, who was standing beside Sammy, looked at me and said, “I guess you’ve heard about Sammy.  Good luck!” As she walked away, Sammy said, “She’s right. I’m dumb and mean and can’t read or write.”

Lisa was a tall, blonde and beautiful young woman with zero self-confidence. Lisa was the family joke because she was always dropping things or falling on the stairs. “Klutz” became her nickname at home and quickly caught on in the youth group and church where her father was the pastor.

A young wife and mother sobbed out her confession that she had just ended an affair, “He made me feel important and special.” A talented singer and pianist, she vowed to never again sing or play because she was damaged goods.

I often hear and see the same prison described by women living in the grip of failure and defeat for one reason or another. I want to share some good news with you. God can set you free to be all He created you to be. A healthy self-image is not rooted in pride, and it does not exalt self above others. In Romans 12:3, Paul clearly says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” Be realistic in your opinion of yourself. Success comes when we learn to accept God’s evaluation instead of our own, when we give Him permission to make us what He created us to be and when we begin to understand who we are in His eyes. How? Let’s look at six steps we can take to understand who we are in the eyes of God.

Step one:  Check the label. 
I love a good sale, don’t you? In fact, I am tempted to think that a 75% off tag may very well be a sign from God. However, I have learned that you can save money in the long run if you check the label. Let me explain. We needed a new sofa. It had to be a certain color and style and cost a certain amount. I headed for the nearest furniture outlet, where I narrowed my selection down to two sofas. Both were on sale and both would work in our home. I saw the salesman coming. Before he could say a word, I asked, “Which one of these sofas would you tell your wife to buy?” The man immediately pointed to one of the sofas and said, “Definitely that one.” When I asked why he had chosen that particular sofa, he replied, “Check the label. The one I chose was made by a company known for its quality work. The other sofa is a cheap imitation.”

We can judge a product’s potential and value by looking at the one who created it. You are valuable simply because you were created by the hand of God. His design of you and His plan for your life is second to none.  To cower or crawl in inferiority is to say to God, “You made a mistake when you made me.” God doesn’t make mistakes, girlfriend. He never has to say “Oops!” You were created in His likeness. You are valuable to God.  God knows your name and loves you. You are His masterpiece and have been validated by God Himself.

Step two:  Embrace the plan.
While painting in the city park, an artist spotted a beggar sitting across the path from where he was working. Thinking of God’s handiwork in every human being, the artist painted the man as he imagined he could be and then called the beggar to see the painting. “Is that me?’ the beggar asked. “That is the way I see you,” replied the artist. The beggar stared at the painting. With tears in his eyes he said, “If that’s the man you see in me, then that’s the man I will be!” God created you in response to a unique plan He has for your life. As you read the Bible and obey His truth, that plan will unfold.

Tomorrow, we will look at four more steps we can take to understand who we are in Christ as we learn to recognize our value in His eyes. Don’t miss it!

Let’s Pray
Father, thank You for life and the special plan You have for me. Honestly, it is hard for me to understand and really believe that I am special to You. To think that You know me and love me just as I am really rocks my world, but I do want to see myself through Your eyes – no more and no less. Please help me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn
Read the verses of Scripture and answer the questions listed below.

Ephesians 2:10. How does this verse of Scripture emphasize the fact that you and I were created in response to God’s plan, not as an afterthought or as an accident?

Psalm 8:3-5. How do these verses line up with the way you see yourself right now? What one immediate change do you need to make in order to see yourself the way God sees you?

Jeremiah 29:11. Are you living a life plan that gives you hope and a future? Is it the right plan?