Conntecting the Dots

It Takes Two

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalm 40:2 (NLT)

Jesus will help us when we call on Him. He’ll give us wisdom, strength, courage—whatever we need to move forward, change, or overcome. But here’s the thing; we need to do our part too.

He’ll help us conquer a besetting sin, but we need to run when temptation comes knocking.

He’ll give us courage, but we need to fill our minds with courage-building truth.

He’ll help us accomplish a task, but we need to stop procrastinating.

Jesus will steady us, but we need to “walk along.”

Action Step: Have you been waiting for Jesus to help you with something? What’s your role in seeing this happen?

“Father God, give me the where-with-all to walk along the path set before me. I trust You to steady me as I go. Amen.”

#bgbg2  #JesusHelpsMe

Love in Action

God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world

so that we might have eternal life through him.

1 John 4:9 (NLT)

We feel good when our spouse or kids or grandkids tell us that they love us. We feel even better when their actions convey their sentiments, right? They could verbally reassure us of their love a thousand times a day, but we’d doubt their sincerity if they never offered a helping hand or lent a listening ear.

God knows our need to see love in action. That’s why He did far more than merely express His love for us in words. He showed how much He loved us by sending Jesus into the world to live among mankind and die on our behalf. Demonstrating His love proved costly, but He knew that was the only way we’d believe His sincerity.

I think about the people I profess to love—my family, friends, and neighbors—and I’m asking God for creative ways to show them that I care. It’s easy to say, “I love you,” but love without action isn’t really love at all.

Action Step: Identify one practical way to demonstrate love to a neighbor today.

“Father, thank You for demonstrating Your love for me through Your actions. Help me do the same for those around me even when it’s costly. Amen.”

#bgbg2  #LoveInAction  #devotions

Live Like You’re Free

We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:6-7 (NLT)

In Christian lingo, we speak about chains hindering us from living victorious lives. Unforgiveness is one. Every link grows stronger when our minds replay an offense.

Fear is another. The fear of inadequacy keeps us tethered and unable to go beyond our comfort zone. The fear of rejection hinders us from the freedom that comes if we’re honest about our past hurts or present struggles. 

Pride, envy, jealousy, misplaced priorities—they’re all unwanted chains. But Jesus came to snap the. Are you living from that truth today? Are you free?

Action Step: Create a paper chain. Label each link with the sin that’s holding you captive. Now break the chain and throw it away to symbolize your freedom in Christ.

Father, thank You for the freedom that is mine through Christ. Help me live out that truth from this day forward. Amen.

Zach Williams sings a song that reminds us of Jesus’s power to snap the chains that hold us captive to sin.

No Matter How Much We Know, Jesus Knows More

The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop the weeping! She isn’t dead; she is only asleep.” But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died.

(Luke 8:52,53 NLT)

Jairus’s friends and family had gathered to mourn because they knew his 12-year-old daughter had died. Trouble was, their knowledge of the situation was incomplete.

Jesus tried to help them see the whole picture: “She’s not dead; she’s only sleeping.” His words fell flat. The people were convinced that they knew more, and they mocked Him.

How often do we look at our circumstances, assume we know everything there is to know about them, and fall into discouragement? Remember that Jesus knows more. He sees the big picture, and His perspective always brings hope.

Take Action: Ask yourself, “How would my outlook change if I knew what Jesus knows about a challenge I’m facing?”

Father, keep me mindful that my understanding of my circumstances is incomplete. Give me Your perspective. Amen.

#JesusKnows #Hope

 

How Does God View You?

Friends, I have a favor to ask. Next week I will attend a writers conference and plan to pitch a proposal for a new devotional. These devotions are between 140-160 words. They’re short and to the point, written as a sip of cold water for thirsty souls. Today’s devotion below offers you a sample.

Sometimes we’re so busy we can barely breathe. Other times we face circumstances that leave us gasping for air. We have barely enough brain power to focus on matters at hand let alone anything else. In times like this, we’re tempted to forego our time in the Word, but that’s when we need it most. We can’t handle a big gulp, but we can handle a small sip.

After reading today’s devotion, would you mind telling me your thoughts? Do you prefer reading short devotions like this or longer? Would you buy a book with 90 meditations similar to this? Would you consider buying it for a friend? I value your input. You can post directly here or email me with your thoughts. grace@gracefox.com

How Does God View You?

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.  (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

The way we see ourselves often differs vastly from God’s view of us. We look at our past with its failures. He sees our future filled with promise and hope.

We see our inadequacies. He sees our potential. 

We see our flaws. He sees us as a great work of art.

God poured His best creative energies into making you a unique wonder, and He put His signature on you when He gave you the Holy Spirit. Face the day with confidence and joy knowing you are God’s masterpiece and He’s proud of you.

Action Step: Identify one lie you’ve believed about yourself. Contrast that with God’s truth.

“Father, please bring my thoughts into alignment with Yours. Help me see myself through Your eyes. Amen.”

#IAmAMasterpiece  #bgbg2

Staying Healthy for God’s Glory

… Give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God. Romans 6:13 (NLT)

If you’ve followed my blogs for awhile, you’ll know about my wellness journey. For those who are new, I lost about 60 pounds over two years and have kept it off. People ask me how I did it, and I credit “First Place 4 Health” with playing a significant role. This ministry teaches about nutrition and exercise, but moreso it emphasizes giving Jesus the place He deserves in our lives so we can experience wellness in every part of our person—emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual.

I struggled with my weight for years. Food enslaved me. If I ate at a buffet restaurant, I’d heap my plate full two or three times because I “had to get my money’s worth.” If attending a social event with appetizers and snacks, I’d hang out near the food table so I could refill my plate easily. If I ran into writer’s block in my office, I’d eat chocolate or chips in secret (as though doing so would somehow jumpstart creativity). 

Overeating combined with lack of exercise led to obesity. Then came knee pain and leg injuries that resulted in a loss of mobility for three months.

“First Place 4 Health” became a life saver for me, especially through its weekly Bible studies. I’m part of a Wednesday morning online study with about ten other women. Each week we discuss topics related to nutrition and exercise for about a half hour, and then we delve into our Bible study lesson for a half hour. The program also requires that we recite our weekly Bible memory verse, track our food intake, and send our weekly weight to our group leader for accountability.

I consider this program as my lifeline, and this is especially so since Gene and I moved to the sailboat. The transition threw me off my nicely ordered routine. For starters, I’ve had to restructure my exercise routine to fit the gym’s open hours and Gene’s commute schedule. We have only one car, so if he leaves early for work, then I can’t get to the gym—unless I walk there. That means crossing a busy freeway. At first I thought that was impossible, but I’ve been scouting options and I found a crosswalk. I think I can do this. It’ll take at least 30 minutes each direction, maybe more.

I’m having to think of ways to “up” the number of steps I walk every day. Our former house was quite large. My office was at one end, and the kitchen was at the other. I gained a lot of steps simply by walking back and forth during the natural course of a day. But that doesn’t happen in a boat where my desk is four steps from the kitchen. Now I have to be more intentional about leaving the boat to walk, and that interrupts my nicely ordered writing routine.

I’m also having to rethink my meal routine. Back at the house, Gene and I ate our larger meal at noon and a lighter meal at six o’clock. Now, because of his commute, he packs a lunch. For him to eat the larger meal at noon, I have to consciously plan menus so ensure leftovers. Also, he arrives home after seven o’clock three days a week. That means we eat around 8 o’clock. We enjoy connecting over our meal at day’s end, but that’s just too late for my metabolism. Something’s gotta change.

As I look back over the past five years or so, I see God’s direct involvement in connecting me with “First Place 4 Health” so I could regain wellness in preparation for living aboard a sailboat. He knew this transition was coming, and He knew I’d have to be healthy to do it. Now we’re here, living among people who need to hear about God’s love for them. For me to fully participate in His purposes, I need to stay healthy, and that means making whatever changes are necessary.

Health is a priceless gift, but it takes intentional effort to maintain. If we’re to use our bodies as tools for God’s glory, then we need to make that effort. I’ve found it so very worthwhile—I’m healthier and stronger than I’ve been in twenty years and able to do what God’s called me to do during this season of my life. But, through this transition, I see how easily I could slip back into excuses and bad habits. Heaven forbid I go there again. And so I ask for His help to stay on track every day. Every. Day. One choice at a time.

So—what’s your greatest health challenge, and what’s one step you can take to ensure your body is used for God’s glory?

BTW, the Bible study I recently wrote was done in partnership with “First Place 4 Health.” If all goes as planned, it will be released in July. You can use in conjunction with a “FP4H” small group or not—the choice is yours. It will be available both on the FP4H website but also through my website. This eleven week study titled “Forever Changed” will also contain healthy recipes and grocery lists.

#bbg2 #FirstPlace4Health  #FP4H

God Gives Second Chances

I once interviewed a former police officer who told me how he’d tried to solve his financial difficulties by robbing banks. His actions led to prison time and divorce. He eventually hit rock bottom and committed his life to Christ. Now he’s helping at-risk teenagers realize the importance of making wise choices before they, too, land in prison.

A woman told me that, following her divorce, she fell into utter despair. That’s when she gave her life to Christ. So did her ex. They later remarried, and their relationship thrived as never before.

Another woman told me of struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs. In desperation, she attended a Celebrate Recovery program and committed her life to Jesus. She’s been clean for nearly a decade and uses her experience to encourage others with similar addictions.

Our God gives second chances. Acts 7:30-36 tells of Moses murdering an Egyptian and fleeing into the wilderness to avoid paying the consequences. Forty years later, God gave him a task. He said, “You can be sure that I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries. So I have come to rescue them. Now go, for I will send you to Egypt.”

Verse 35 is priceless: “And so God sent back the same man his people had previously rejected by demanding, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’ Through the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush, Moses was sent to be their ruler and savior. And by means of many miraculous signs and wonders, he led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and back and forth through the wilderness for forty years.”

When we seek God’s forgiveness for wrong attitudes and behaviors, He cleanses us from our sin. He sees us not for who we were and the mistakes we made; He sees us for who we are in Christ and what we can become.

He doesn’t reject us when we stumble and fall. Rather, He picks us up and dusts us off, and puts us back in the race.

Granted, we might bear consequences for negative choices we’ve made in the past, but God’s grace enables us to deal with them. He often uses those for His glory in ways we’d ever imagine.

Has God given you a second chance? Tell us about it!

#bgbg2  #hope  #GodGivesSecondChances

Finding Courage and Hope When Nothing’s Going Right

The word “all” is teeny but don’t overlook its might. Here are several verses that will instill courage and hope when you’re tempted to say, “Nothing’s going right.”

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.” (Matthew 19:26 Amplified)

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NASB)

I know that You can do all things, and that no thought or purpose of Yours can be restrained or thwarted. (Job 42:2 Amplified)

I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will. (Isaiah 46:10 Holman)

I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4 NLT)

Give God your cares—all of them. Trust Him with all your heart. He will always be faithful.

Speaking God’s Love Language

Jesus replied, “All those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and live with them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not do what I say.” (John 14:23-24 NLT)

 

Gary Chapman is credited for developing the concept of the five love languages. They are: quality time, physical touch, affirming words, gifts, and acts of service.

One of my love languages is acts of service. This means I express love to others by doing things for them—baking their favorite cookies, babysitting, cleaning their house, etc. It also means I feel most loved when others do things for me.

My husband has nailed this in our relationship. He serves me by crossing the US border to pick up books that my publisher has shipped, importing them, and bringing them to my office. He fixes my computer and printer glitches, helps with doing the laundry, washes dishes, and more.

On the flipside, his love languages are quality time and physical touch. He feels most loved when I sit with him to watch a movie or do an activity with him. Riding motorcycle together makes him feel loved because we’re touching as we spend time together.

If you haven’t yet figured out your love language, I encourage you to take this quiz. http://www.5lovelanguages.com

So—what’s God’s love language? In other words, what makes Him feel most loved?

It’s said that God’s love language is obedience. He feels most loved by us when we do what He says. What does that look like?

He tells us to forgive rather than hold a grudge against someone who’s hurt us, and we do it.

He tells us to speak life-giving words rather than criticism and gossip, and we do it.

He tells us to live a life of moral purity, and we do it.

We don’t just nod and agree to do what He says; we actually put His commands into action. We apply them even when they go against our natural desires.

“If you love me, obey my commandments,” said Jesus (John 14:15). What’s one thing you can do today to show your love for the Father?

#bgbg2 #ShowLoveForGod

Nothing Can Stop God’s Power

“The LORD did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means ‘the LORD who bursts through’). 2 Samuel 5:20 NLT

 

Scripture tells us that the Philistines gathered all their forces to attack and capture David upon learning he’d been anointed king of Israel. David heard about their plan, so he hid in a stronghold. There he prayed, “God, should I fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?”

God answered, “Yes—fight them. And I’ll certainly hand them over to you.”

So David went into battle, and sure enough, experienced victory over his enemies. He described the win using visual terms: “the Lord burst through my enemies like a raging flood.”

I witnessed a raging flood about 20 years ago. Torrential rain fell for nearly a week, and a nearby river soon overflowed its banks. Residents tried to save their property by packing sandbags along the shore, but their efforts were useless. Nothing could stop the water’s force—it submerged homes, fields, cars, and roads, and washed out the bridge that my husband used to get to work every day. Such was the divine power David witnessed on his behalf when he fought the Philistines.

God burst through the enemies like a raging flood. Nothing could stop His power.

What battle are you facing? Is it one that God has asked you to fight? Then be confident that He will accomplish the victory. He’ll burst through the enemy like a raging flood, and nothing will stop Him.

How have you seen God accomplish mighty victories on your behalf?

#bgbg2   #GodAlwaysWins  #NoFear