Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shield of Faith

In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.
Ephesians 6:16

What is this shield of faith Paul refers to? Remember, as he was writing this letter to the Christians at Ephesus, he was chained to a Roman guard. He had plenty of time to observe Roman armor.

The shield would have been made of wood--a rectangular object about four feet high and two feet wide.

Prior to an actual face-to-face engagement with the enemy, a soldier often would encounter a barrage of flaming arrows coming from all directions. The sole purpose of this was to demoralize and confuse.

Thus, the Roman soldiers would put their shields together to protect themselves from this onslaught of arrows that had been set on fire. They needed their shields above and beyond what their breastplates could provide for protection.

The same goes for us. The devil will direct his flaming arrows toward Christians. They could be arrows of immorality, hatred, pride, envy, covetousness, doubt, worry, or any other kind of sin. They will be delivered primarily in the realm of our thoughts.

He will barrage us with his flaming arrows at strategic times, like when we decide to read the Bible or go to church. Flaming arrows will come our way during times of trial and hardship.

It is during these times that you need to hold up the shield of faith--not the shield of feelings, not the shield of emotions, but the shield of faith. You base your faith on what God has done for you, not on how you feel at a given moment.

Emotions come and go. Sometimes you feel great; and sometimes you don't feel anything. It is then that you learn to use the shield of faith.

For more relevant and biblical teaching from Pastor Greg Laurie, go to

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Prayer diary opportunity

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Praise and an Untrue Heart

A hard, but good one from Michael Youssef...

Pride is not the only thing that can keep us from praising God. An untrue heart can squelch both the desire and the ability to develop a life of praise. An untrue heart is a heart that is insincere, hypocritical, or filled with doubt. The writer of Hebrews said:

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:22).

There are some people who try to honor God with their lips while their hearts are full of anger, bitterness, or envy. However, God knows the status of our hearts and our weaknesses.

We cannot develop a life of praise alone or in our own strength. Instead, we must surrender our intellect, feelings, and will to the Lord. As we do this, God will empower us to develop a habit of praising Him--regardless of our circumstances.

In Genesis 22, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, He was asking him to surrender the object of his love. He was asking Abraham to give up something that meant more to him than anything else.

Did God want Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? No. God wanted to be certain that Abraham was willing to surrender everything to Him. Like Abraham, God wants us to surrender to Him. He wants us to praise Him. Praise is a sacrifice that costs us our pride, our plans, and our desires. True praise requires that we place everything on the altar to the Lord.

Don't let pride or an untrue heart keep you from a life of praise. Yield to the Lord, come before Him in humility, and God will give you His strength and power to live a victorious life.

Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! (Psalm 66:20).

Learn how praise can make all the difference in your life. Michael Youssef explores this topic in our free resource this month--"Empowered by Praise." Download it today.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Being Ready for Rough Times

I think everyone's a bit nervous right now... What's happening with our economy? What's going on politically? Are rough times coming? I just got an applicable email from Dr. Charles Stanley. Take a peek!

Being Ready for Rough Times
1 Peter 1:13-14

The apostle Peter knew that hard days lay ahead for his fellow believers. So he reminded them about their security as children of God: they were chosen by Him, born into a living hope, given spiritual protection during this life, and guaranteed eternity in heaven with their Father. Peter then gave them specific ways to prepare for the coming trials. His words, divinely inspired by the Lord, can guide us as well.

His first instruction relates to our minds: What we believe has a direct impact on our response to life's problems. If we trust that God is looking out for us, then we will feel less threatened by hard circumstances. But if we decide we must rely on ourselves, then we are more likely to react poorly to situations beyond our control. A negative attitude--whether from anger, fear, worry, or jealousy--can make a hard time worse. Preparation for the future starts with developing biblical thinking.

A second lesson from Peter is to be "sober in spirit"--in other words, to maintain our balance in the midst of crises (v. 13). That requires resisting quick fixes to problems and refusing to embrace ungodly ideas or philosophies. Our enemy Satan is quick to offer suggestions designed to trip us up or turn us away from God's path. With the Spirit's help, we can learn to stand firm in a crisis and steadfastly follow the Lord.

Our culture is increasingly distancing itself from Jesus Christ and opposing His followers. Are you preparing spiritually for whatever the future holds?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Obey your thirst!

Another great one, this time by Daniel Darling...

John 4:1-42

It was the final minute of a close basketball game between my high-school and our rival. We were playing at a tournament in a hot gym in a small dusty Illinois town.

My coach called timeout and the waterboy raced out to us players and offered a water bottle.

I cocked my head back and squeezed the bottle. Warm, sulfur-tasting water squirted out into my mouth. We had run out of Gatorade and so all we had was water that tasted like it came from the fish-tank in the school lobby.

But I was so thirsty, I downed half the bottle.

Have you ever been thirsty? I mean parched to the point where you would drink anything?

Well, Jesus was this thirsty when he stopped at a well in Samaria. He had just walked for two days under the hot, sticky Judean sun. Even though Jesus was God in the flesh, He was also human. He was looking forward to a tall, soothing glass of water.

But Jesus was also here for another reason. At the other side of the well was a lady who was also thirsty. She had plenty of water available at the well, but she was still thirsty.

Thirsty for approval. Thirsty for satisfaction. Thirsty for something more to her life.

She had sought happiness in a series of relationships that wouldn't satisfy. Sound familiar? Maybe you're there right now. You've bought the lie that says, "If I could just get a guy to look at me" Or "If I could just get that hot girl to go out with me."

But there is no human relationship that will satisfy your deepest longings. God designed you that way. We were created to find fulfillment and joy only in Jesus Christ.

Jesus offered something to this woman at the well. He offered her living water. Water that satisfies. By believing in Jesus Christ, God's Holy Spirit would allow her to have unconditional access to the God of the universe.

Are you thirsty? If so, obey your thirst and discover Jesus' living water.


  • Why can't I find satisfaction in life outside of God?

Daniel Darling is an author and pastor with a passion for young people. He is the author of Teen People of the Bible, a 100-day devotional for teens. Visit him at

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hearing God in a Noisy World

This devotional was written by Jim Liebelt

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will. --
Romans 12:2

Some of my friends tease me about my so-called obsession with electronic gadgets. One of my favorite purchases of recent years was my noise-canceling headphones. I use them whenever I'm traveling by airplane. These headphones actually quiet much of the noise generated by the jet engines. The manufacturer suggests that noise cancellation reduces the stress and fatigue associated with air travel. The science behind the noise cancellation is that the headphones have microphones that monitor outside noise, then process those sound waves and generate into the headphones opposite sound waves, which cancel out the unwanted noise. It really, really works! When I use the headphones, and the jet noise is quieted, I am amazed how you can still very clearly hear the voice of someone speaking to you from the next seat.

This noise cancellation technology reminds me that in our relationship with Christ and our interaction with the Scriptures, we have a noise cancellation system. When we study and apply God's Word to our lives; when we passionately pursue Jesus' Lordship daily, the noise of the world is quieted and we can hear Him clearly. Sure, you still know the noise is out there, but the level of the roar is reduced. But, when we ignore these basic disciplines, the noise of the world increases and can become deafening -- and our lives suffer because we no longer hear God's word.

Jesus didn't intend to remove us completely from the noise of the world with its temptations, hurts, injustices and evil. No, rather He intends to protect us in the midst of these dangers -- effectively canceling the world's noise -- to a point where we can hear and respond to God's Word and our lives can be lived joyfully and effectively for Him.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I am insignificant

I do like writing my own little "crumbs" on here, but there are so many good ones that so many people so much smarter than me have written that I have to share those too!! This is one is by Charles R. Swindoll. Read on!!

Read Job 40:1--5

If you take the time to analyze those words, you'll see that Job has three responses. The first is a response of humility. The second is a response of relief. And the third is a response of surrender. That's all God wanted to hear. And what an important change for Job! Without realizing it, he had become this independent, determined, self-assured apologist defending himself. Without saying so, he'd begun to appear as if he had his arms around the providence of God.

His first response is verse 4, "I am insignificant." Many of those who have been schooled in the fine points of psychology will reject this response. They will say we should be encouraged to realize how important we are, how valuable we are to God, what a significant place we fill in this world. They would counsel, "Don't think or say, 'I am insignificant.' " Before we're tempted to go there, take note that God doesn't reprove Job for saying he is insignificant or unworthy.

We'd put it this way: "I'm a lightweight." Frankly, it's true. It is an appropriate term for Job to use after being asked so many things he couldn't answer and shown so much he didn't understand. In unguarded humility the man admits, "I'm insignificant."

His second statement is, "What can I reply to You?" I see that as an expression of relief. God didn't want answers, He knew the answers. He knows all of them! He wanted Job to acknowledge, "I don't know any of the answers. And if I don't know about those things, as objective as they are, how could I ever fully understand the profound mysteries surrounding my world?" By acknowledging that, quiet relief replaced troubling resistance.

My point here---and this is terribly important: When we are broken and brought to the end of ourselves, it is not for the purpose of gaining more answers to spout off to others. It's to help us acknowledge that the Lord is God, and His plans and reasons are deeper and higher and broader than we can comprehend. Therefore, we are relieved from having to give answers or defend them.

Job's third response is a statement of surrender: "I lay my hand on my mouth," verse 4 concludes. "I dare not say more. I've said enough---actually too much---already."

Can you make these three admissions to God? If not, work on it!

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Psalms 62:1-2
"My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress. I will never be shaken."

Oh, this is so good to read! This was David talking, a king, in desperate need of rest and quiet, and strength, I am sure, but how fitting for a mom. How fitting for all of us, but for me, right now, feeling in desperate need of rest, this is good. I see the hope of rest in HIM. I see strength when I am out. How good!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Biblically correct

A good one by Charles R. Swindoll...
Read Job 27:1--23
Isn't that closing comment a great line? The wicked man may have more clothes in his closet, but he'll wind up leaving them to us. Remember the materialistic line that is framed around license plates? "He who dies with the most toys wins." The truth is, he who dies with the most toys passes them off to the righteous, and the righteous get to enjoy them! Job has come to realize this priority: wrong will occur, but it will not ultimately triumph. That brings a sense of justice.
There go those great riches! How often have we witnessed or heard about individuals who are loaded financially, but it isn't too many years before it is gone. Those riches were like an eagle---they made themselves wings. Rest assured, God keeps accurate records. He knows what He's about. Furthermore, He knows who is righteous and who is wicked.
It's easy to become confused if you watch too much of the evening news on television. Be very discerning about what you watch and what you read. If the source is not reliable, the information will be skewed. Thankfully, there are still some in our day who think straight and aren't afraid to say so. Their words remind us that evil is evil, that wrong actions will be judged, that even though the wicked may seem to be winning, they will ultimately lose! The nineteenth century American poet and essayist, James Russell Lowell, put it well:
Truth forever on the scaffold Wrong forever on the throne--- Yet that scaffold sways the future And, behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, Keeping watch above His own.
Stay on the scaffold. Keep thinking straight. Refuse to tolerate wrong! Like Job, keep forming your priorities from the Word of God. Spend less time in the papers or watching TV and more time in the Scriptures. Let God dictate your agenda and help you interpret the events of our times. Become biblically correct rather than politically correct.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Potter

"Why am I this way? Why can't I change?"
Most of us have heard that cry from troubled individuals. The first time I heard it, it came from a man who had been an alcoholic for almost a decade. He kept trying to quit; once he stayed sober for eight months, and another time for nearly a year. He always went back to the bottle.
I didn't have an answer for him. I don't think he actually asked for an answer Even if he had received one, it wouldn't have solved his problem.
All of us are les than perfect, and we know it. Probably most of us have things in our personality we've tried to change but have been unsuccessful. We may have mellowed slightly or made some adjustment, but in other areas we just don't seem to win.
Our tendency is to blame God or some other outside force that we're the way we are. Perhaps we were born that way, or our early environment made us that way. How can we change?
When we cry out to God, "Why am I this way?" I wonder if we're asking for information or subtly blaming God for making us the way we are.
We're not the first to question God. Jeremiah, an Old Testament prophet, struggled with this issue when he wrote about watching a potter at work. "I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the LORD came to me: 'O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?' declares the LORD. 'Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel'" (Jer 18:3b-6, NIV).
God's sovereignty over us is difficult for us to accept. We want free will, power of choice, and the ability to make decisions in our lives.
I don't know where the line falls between God's sovereignty and our ability to change. But we need to remember that we belong to God and are divine possessions; God created us to be who we are.
What would it be like, I asked God, if I accepted myself as I am, without reservation? What would it be like if I took the very position Jeremiah stresses? If God is the potter, and I am clay in the divine hands, whom am I to complain, or debate about it? But to acknowledge the full sovereignty of God gives us problems. We just can't quite accept that we have no rights.
I thought of what it would feel like to be a young child, feeling hungry, and waiting for food. Would I sit complacently and say, "Oh, I'll get fed," or would I surge forward, push myself to the table, and scream, "Me, me, me"? Probably the latter.
Part of it, I suppose, has to do with trust or maybe with how many times we have gone hungry. We're simply afraid to turn everything over to God. If we fully surrender, what will God do with us? Where will God take us?
I think of the old hymn sung in countless churches even today: "Thou are the potter, I am the clay. Make me and mold me after thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still" ("Have Thine Own Way, Lord," 1902).
I've sung those words, and I've meant them. They're a vow-a promise to God and to myself of total commitment.
I'm quick to make that vow until something happens in my life that I don't like. When I'm treated unfairly or unkindly, I'm a first-class complainer.
If we submit to the total sovereignty of God, we're saying, "It doesn't matter what happens in my life, it's okay. You have the right to do anything you want with me." That's not easy for most of us.
For instance, when I receive business opportunities, I ask God to make each of them happen "if it's your will." How should I react when the answer comes? Typically, if I get a yes I'm joyful and if it's a no, I feel dejected. But I'm not satisfied with that response.
I think of Job who suffered far more trauma than I could imagine happening to me. His wife urged him, "Curse God and die."
Here's his response: "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (2:10, NIV).
That's the attitude I want to have. It's actually a freeing attitude. It's leaving the results in God's hands. They're there anyway, but being a pride-filled human being, that's not easy for me to live with.
When bad things happen to good people-and I'm good people-I don't handle it very well. I don't turn my back on God or deny the faith. No, I pout and moan and tell God, "That's not fair." Then after I've groaned and moaned awhile, I finally hear myself say, "Okay, I'm yours. Whatever you want." It's an eventual surrender.
I want that "eventual surrender" to be an immediate, spontaneous reaction: "I accept your will." As difficult as that is for me, that's how I'm praying.
It's the way Jesus prayed in the garden. "Not my will, but thine be done." I don't think we pray those words unless they're preceded by a deep yearning for something that we think God isn't going to let us have. It may be a marriage partner, a special job, or a sale that will net us a fortune. We pray such a prayer after we tell God what we want, mean it with intensity, and then have it fall apart in front of us.
At such moments, we realize we are clay. The Master Potter shapes and forms us, keeps us on the wheel, trims away the excess, forms us into the vessel that pleases the Potter's experienced eye.
In the midst of that comes the pain and the natural tendency to say, "I'm only human, and I don't like this."
The Master Potter ignores our dissatisfaction and just keeps on working, shaping and reforming, doing what only the Potter does well.
You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me?" Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing?" --
ISAIAH 29:16, NIV Great Potter, forgive me for complaining,grumbling,rebelling,and help me submit to whatever you need to do to make me into a vesselthat meets your approval. Amen.
For more from Cec, please visit

Monday, November 3, 2008

No Fear

As I've mentioned before, I really really enjoy these emailed devotionals. On days when I don't make time to do too much in the way of getting my head on straight, they often hit me right where I need them to. Check this one by Laura MacCorkle out....

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
Psalm 27:5, NIV

"No Fear" was a popular slogan back in the '90s.

I remember seeing auto decals with this inscription everywhere I went. Pickup trucks, sports cars, SUVs ... you name it and you would probably see "No Fear" displayed across the back window in some kind of "edgy" font.

I didn't know exactly (and still don't) what it meant, though. Did "no fear" connote a state of mind, as in living fearlessly? Or was it a marketing gimmick for some product line? Most likely the latter (especially in this day and age).

Now I haven't fully researched it out as of this writing, but if the thought is to live without fear, then I am all for that. And so, apparently, was David in Psalm 27:1-3 ...

The LORD is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh,
When my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;
Though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.

Based on these verses, living a life of "no fear" all boils down to who or what is at the center of our lives. And this, in essence, will result in how we live. With fear or with "no fear."

In my life, I've found that the surest - and quickest - way to find out what I'm made of is during a time of crisis or trial. That's when the outside pressures of this world squeeze out what's holding me together on the inside. And it's either a stronghold that sustains or something that just causes me to crumble.

About nine years ago, I faced a time such as this when I was laid off from my job. It was the first time I had ever experienced this in my career, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Employees were let go in three waves, and I knew I was going to be in the final one.

People were upset. They were afraid. And they were angry that their worlds had been disrupted. Their sources of income were gone, and they would now have to figure out what to do next for themselves and their families. They had placed their trust in a company that had decided to unexpectedly shut down and was offering no future for any of its employees.

For some strange reason, though, I did not fully share these sentiments. I didn't know what the road ahead would hold for me, but somehow I knew that the Lord would take care of me and that he would show me what to do next. As someone who struggles with anxiety, this was out of the ordinary for me to immediately have such a peace. Surely, it passed all of my understanding.

Well, when the third round of lay-offs came, sure enough I received my pink slip. The company would officially close at the end of the calendar year, and so I was asked to help shut it down along with the other last handful of employees.

As we began notifying our business contacts of the company's demise and getting rid of files and figuring out what to do with leftover office furniture and computer equipment, news came in that a different company wanted to buy part of our dying company.

And you know what? This "hero" company wanted to employ me and about five other people who had been laid off as well! So, in about a week's time - from being laid off to accepting new jobs - the Lord had taken me from unemployed to employed. How could I have known this was going to happen?

The Lord was surely with me in this "day of trouble" and had kept me "safe in his dwelling." And he is the one who (miraculously) enabled me to live with "no fear."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Opening the Door to Calamity

A Scripture I've never really picked up on before.... Hmmmm.... Good devotional by Bayless Conley:

In 1 Kings 13:21-25, God provides us with quite an unusual story,

And he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the LORD said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water," your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.'" So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back. When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse. And there, men passed by and saw the corpse thrown on the road, and the lion standing by the corpse. Then they went and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.

Notice that the lion did something very unnatural. The guy disobeyed, the lion killed him, but the lion didn't go after the donkey. The donkey didn't run away, but the lion didn't try to kill the donkey, nor did it drag the guy off to eat him.

And to top it all off, now people start to walk by. Look, people do not walk by wild lions! But here they are: the donkey, the lion, the dead guy, and people are walking by.

What is God up to here? He is giving a snapshot, something He wants indelibly burned into their understanding: Disobedience opens the door to calamity.

If you choose to disobey God, know you have opened your life to calamity!

Visit the Answers with Bayless Conley website for more ways to Connect with God

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A line in the sand

This was forwarded to me in an email. Take just a moment and quietly watch the whole thing, without preconceptions... Watch. Think. Pray.