Standing By Our Sides

“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength . . . ” 2 Timothy 4:17

The apostle Paul knew what it was like to need someone by his side. He suffered for the sake of the gospel—for the sake of Christ—unlike anything we’ve ever known.

In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, he lists some of the trials he experienced. He spent much time in prison and also faced beatings and floggings and was even stoned. He faced danger from shipwrecks and bandits, danger from the Jews as well as the Gentiles, and also endured hunger and thirst. On top of all this, he carried a burden of concern for all the churches. Yes, I’d say Paul needed support.

Sometimes Paul received the needed support from friends and co-laborers, but sometimes he didn’t. When he wrote the above words to Timothy (in bold print), it was late in his ministry, and he was once again in prison. He told Timothy, “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.” (2 Timothy 4:16)

Thank goodness that’s not the end of the story. Thank goodness for verse 17—for the love and faithfulness of our Lord: “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength . . .”

Even though Paul had been deserted by those around him, the Lord stood by his side. And that was all he needed. In the last half of verse 17, he goes on to tell Timothy that he was delivered from the lion’s mouth and that he continued to proclaim the good news to the Gentiles. The Lord’s support was enough for Paul.

And isn’t the Lord’s support enough for us as well? Whatever we’re going through, whether anything from desertion to deprivation to depression, our God is enough. He will stand by us and give us strength. He will enable us to go on.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

*Anyone have a testimony of how the Lord has stood by you? We’d all love to hear about it!

*I hope you were blessed by this encore post from Sept. 2011 today!

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by Gruenewiese86Creative Commons License

15 Ways to Plant the Word of God in Our Lives

As believers, we need the Word of God firmly planted in our lives.

Scripture teaches that God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our paths (Psalm 119:105) and that it is a vital part of our spiritual armor in the fight against our enemy Satan and his forces of evil (Ephesians 6:17.) The Word is God-breathed and is useful in many ways, equipping us for good works (2 Timothy 3:16.) It is living and active and judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12.) No doubt about it, we need to be rooted and established in the Word of God.

Weaving the Word of God into the fabric of our lives may seem like a daunting task—after all, it IS a big book—but when we take things a step at a time and use a variety of methods, it is indeed possible. And remember, God will bless our efforts as we seek to grow closer to him and honor him with our lives.

Here are 15 ways to plant God’s Word in our hearts and minds:

  1. Read a passage of scripture every day, asking God to bless the reading of his Word.
  2. Be part of a Bible study group/small group on an ongoing basis. Study the Word.
  3. As you read the Word, underline words, phrases, and entire verses that really speak to you.
  4. Memorize scripture using a systematic plan for memorizing and reviewing. Use whatever plan and method works for you in your current stage of life.
  5. Find a translation you enjoy reading that has study notes/footnotes included.
  6. Incorporate scripture into your prayers. It’s a powerful way to pray and also reinforces the scripture in your mind.
  7. Sing the Word—either songs you create as you worship or praise songs you already know.
  8. Read books, magazines, and online content that include scripture.
  9. Listen to teaching from the Word.
  10. Read passages from the Word multiple times, emphasizing different words each time.
  11. Share what you’re learning from the Word with others in ordinary conversations,  Bible study groups, and blogs. Share scripture via social media.
  12. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring the Word to mind as you need it.
  13. Use the Word to battle Satan when he attacks or whispers lies to you.
  14. Apply what you’re learning from the Word to your life. Live the principles and wisdom you’re discovering.
  15. Become a teacher of the Word yourself in a Sunday School class or Bible study or through a writing or speaking ministry.

I hope we’ve each found something helpful here today as we seek to firmly plant God’s Word in our hearts and minds. I know God will honor our efforts and use his Word powerfully in our lives. May we bring him glory, honor, and praise!

They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.” Deuteronomy 32:47 NIV

*Which of these methods is most helpful to you in planting the Word in your life? What other ways come to mind?

*Flickr photo by Lel4nd, Creative Commons License

Spirit and Soul Refreshment for Busy Lives

Is your schedule full to overflowing? Your to-do list never caught up? I’m willing to bet most of us will have to answer one or both of those questions with a resounding yes.

Some of us even find ourselves in busier-than-normal busy seasons—busy on top of busy—due to current life situations. And I bet the month of May will increase our busy levels even more. For many of us, May ranks second only to December as the busiest month of the year.

If you are feeling pressed today, allow me to serve you up some spirit and soul refreshment straight from the Word of God. Most of us have our go-to methods of stress relief, but if drinking from God’s Word isn’t on our lists, we need to add it pronto. Nothing can give the deep spirit and soul refreshment quite like the Word of God.

So my friends, come apart to a peaceful oasis and allow me to share some passages with you today that I pray will be just the balm your weary souls may need. From God and me with love—may you be encouraged and refreshed!

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” Matthew 11:28-30

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake . . . You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:1-3, 5b-6

“‘Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.’” Deuteronomy 33:12

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

*Which of these passages encourages you most today? Do you have another passage you’d like to share?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*My photo (taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

The Lifeline

5433549942_a8c4cea1fd_zWhat do our Bibles say about us? Are they placed in handy spots or put away on bookshelves? Are they worn with use or are the pages still in pristine condition? Have we made personal notes in them or could they belong to anyone?

The poem below, which I wrote well over a decade ago, describes what I hope my daughters will one day think about me and my Bible. Does it express your heart’s desire as well?

The Lifeline

Who would have guessed that a mundane chore
Could lead to such precious discovery,
A familiar book seen in new light
Became a gem, a treasure to me.
Lifting the Bible to dust all around
I noticed its cover, worn with use,
And automatically thought of my mother.
This was her Bible—
Her Lifeline, she lovingly called it,
It told of God’s love and sustaining grace
On which she daily relied.
And as I glanced through its well-marked pages
Another lifeline came into view,
The life of my mother scattered throughout
In handwritten notes and underlined verses,
In special dates to remember.
Her spiritual journey could also be traced
Through verses of praise and anguish,
Her walk with God stamped o’er its pages,
A remembrance of what she lived.
What a gift God gave me that day—
Mom’s life, tucked inside her Lifeline.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105

*Is there a particular verse from the Bible that has served as a lifeline for you during a difficult time?

*Flickr photo by Lel4nd, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: Our Powerful God

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Do you need a reminder today of God’s great power?

Sometimes if we’re not staying in close communion with our heavenly Father, we can begin feeling like everything is up to us. And that can be a very heavy burden to bear. Instead, we need to remember that we have the all-powerful God of the universe in our corner. We can let him carry the load.

The Word of God is filled with descriptions of the power of God, but today let’s look at just a few verses about the power of the Lord’s voice. After reading these verses, we’ll never want to rely on our own power again!

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

. . . The voice of the Lord strikes
with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.

And in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’” Psalm 29:3-5; 7-9

Awe-inspiring, huh? And this is just one aspect of God’s power! I wonder if any of us are standing in need of God’s power today. Let’s call on him without delay!

*When has God shown himself all-powerful to you?

*Flickr photo by chris chabot, Creative Commons License