Tag Archives: Scripture

Handle With Care

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15, NIV*

Don’t you love it when God takes a verse you’ve known for years and shows you something new in it?

What does it mean to correctly handle the word of truth?

Well, if we prayerfully study the Bible, mindful of context and culture, looking for what God really says instead of for ways to justify our own opinions, we’re learning to handle it correctly. We can learn to live by its precepts and to trust God’s character. (And we need to learn how to share it appropriately as God leads, in a loving and non-aggressive manner, but that’s another blog post.)

This week I’ve seen another layer of meaning. Although it may be blindingly obvious to everyone else, my Wednesday posts are where I share what God is teaching me, so here goes:

To correctly handle the word of truth, we have to believe it.

Not just believe intellectually that it’s the inspired, inerrant Word of God, but believe the promises God whispers to our hearts and spirits.

Believe God instead of believing the lies.

If I’m feeling scared, am I going to believe the fear and its many whispered lies about inadequacy and failure, or believe the truth? God is with me. In Christ I can do all things. And if I fail, He can do something with the pieces and He will still love me.

Feeling down, will I believe what that insinuates about my worth or will I receive the truth that God delights in me?

Last week’s post was about not believing the lies. And I’ve posted before about not believing our feelings. I don’t think I’ve clearly seen until now that not only do the feelings often lie, but that we have a choice over which source we’ll believe.

Promise-keeping God, thank You for Your written Word. Help us recognize Your truth, and help us to use that truth in defence against the lies of the enemy, of the culture around us, and our own feelings and misunderstandings. Help us believe You, not just in our minds, but in our hearts and spirits. Help us act on the truth You give, so that others can see the difference You make.

 “You Shine” by Brian Doerksen asks why we should be afraid or discouraged when God is Who He is.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Believing the Truth

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV*

Tuesday morning, yesterday now, I curled up with my Bible and journal, tea at hand, reminding the Lord that I still didn’t have anything for today’s post.

Since He nudged me into blogging in 2008, He’s given me a devotional thought to share each week. Sometimes it comes early, sometimes it’s pretty close to the finish line, but He provides every time.

I don’t fret about it anymore, although I do like a few days’ breathing space in case something else in my schedule goes boink. So no stress on that account, but something else was bothering me this time.

When I tried to read the day’s psalm, my spirit felt tight, shrink-wrapped. Instead of pushing on, I stopped to pray. “Lord, there’s some kind of blockage. I feel… well… like You’re holding out on me.”

Everything seemed to hush.


I knew that lie! It’s so old, it goes back to the Garden of Eden.

Truth defeats the lie, so I asked God to give me a verse to counter it. I knew He wasn’t holding out on me, because He’s not like that. He gives good gifts. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17, NIV*)  That was my answer, although I didn’t remember the reference.

And if we ask Him for bread, He won’t give us a stone.

“Recognize the lie—defeat it with truth.” I’m hearing that a lot lately. It’s one of the things God is working on in me, but it’s also something to share today. I’m not the only one learning this particular lesson.

God who is holy, faithful and true, You know we’ve accepted lies and they’ve diminished us. Some of them are so rooted-in that we think they’re true. Shine the light of Your Word into our darkest places, reveal the deceit, and help us to replace it with Your truth. Teach us how to believe and rely on Your Word.

Jonny Diaz’ song, “More Beautiful You,” counters one type of lies we face. The line “Don’t buy the lies” applies to them all…

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Thought Life

Thinking about my motivations for pleasing God and the need to rein in my scattered thoughts has made me watchful for what others are saying on the subject of our thought life.

Here are some that spoke to me. Just click the links to reach the full posts—they’re well worth reading.

At LovingMinistry.Daily, Dimitra’s post, “Know Who You Are” talks about finding our identity and our purpose in Christ and not in the places we too often look.

Jennifer Slattery’s post, “Who Are You Thinking of Right Now?” looks at the self-focus that often takes over our thoughts. She asks,

How often do I think of myself? My comfort, my desires, my dreams, my plans?

And what would happen–what might God be able to do–if I lay it ALL aside?

At Other Food: Daily Devos, Violet Nesdoly advises us to “Turn the Dial to ‘Spirit’” and she’s talking about living with our minds set on the Holy Spirit rather than on our natural selves—and about using Scripture to keep our minds on the right track.

And check out Renee Swope’sAre My Thoughts For Me or Against Me?” This excerpt from her book A Confident Heart includes some practical scripture-based thoughts “to replace the lie that has filled your heart with doubt.” Renee Swope offers a whole page of free resources related to A Confident Heart. They’re worth reading, and the book looks really helpful.

Because He’s Near

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5, NIV*

Some people go all melodramatic when they’re hurt. Some lash out. Others need to be alone to deal with the pain… or to stoke a martyr complex.

I tend to fall into the “poor me” category. Saturday morning I went to Curves (I don’t happily do Saturday mornings out). After I signed in, I bent to collect my things and stood up—straight into the underside edge of the countertop.

I couldn’t stop a little yelp. The other women were sympathetic, and I could have played it up a bit. I was also tired, my head hurt, and I wanted to slink off and cry a bit.

But today’s verse slid into my mind. That word “gentleness” caught me. When I’m hurt I may exhibit “gentle” but in the beaten-down, defeated sort of way.

Somehow I knew the Holy Spirit was encouraging me to be gentle in the normal way, not the victim way, and to carry on with my workout instead of letting the hurt stop me. “The Lord is near.” That comforted me, said there was no need to look for sympathy from others or from myself. God knew, and He was with me.

In context, Philippians 4:4-7 talks about choosing prayer over anxiety and rejoicing in God’s presence. It’s not about klutzy accidents and self-pity. Or is it?

Father, I praise You for gently caring for me even in the little things of life. Help me be confident that You’ll be just as present in the bigger troubles. Help me keep a gentle, quiet spirit that’s resting in Your will—because I can trust that You are near.

This week’s song is Fee’s “Arms that Hold the Universe.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Out Through the Rubble

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28, NIV*

I got away for a much-needed spiritual retreat last weekend. Our speaker challenged us to ask God to take down the walls we’ve built, and to let His living water flow out through us instead of being dammed up.

As part of this process, she asked us meditate on Scripture. Not sure what verse to choose, I thought, “Come to Me”. Not a verse, but a fragment. Okay.

Come to Me.

It said some things that meshed with our weekend:

  • step out through the rubble of your wall;
  • you need to be with the people you’ve walled out; and
  • Jesus is waiting there to welcome you (not that He’s not with you in your self-made prison too).

It wasn’t until later I recognized the phrase as coming from Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28. But don’t they fit beautifully?

If we’re struggling to hold up a wall, we’re definitely weary and burdened. It’s hard work. And it never ends.

Trusting Jesus to be in charge gives us rest. Taking down the walls lets us be ourselves: the gifts God has for those around us.

Father, I praise You for Your grace and mercy to bring us back into relationship with You, and for Your healing and restoration in our lives. Thank You for setting us free, for equipping us to live with one another and with You. The world may look out of control, but You are sovereign. Teach us to live trusting in You, listening for and confident in Your leading.

I had trouble finding a song for this, but Francesca Battistelli’s “Free to Be Me” captures the feeling of how I want to live on the other side of the rubble.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Love Letter

Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
2 Timothy 2:7, NIV*

Paul is writing to Timothy, a young pastor with a difficult charge—and perhaps the only man Paul can trust with this particular group of people. Timothy is gifted, but he’s prone to be timid.

Paul’s been encouraging him to be strong in Christ Jesus, not to try handling things in his own strength, to teach boldly. This letter carries a sense of urgency, as if Paul’s trying to cram in every bit of advice Timothy could possibly need.

It reminds me of when I leave home for a trip and I can’t stop telling my kids “one more thing….” I don’t have my regular Bible with me as I write this, but I think the notes in it say Paul knew he was running out of time.

He didn’t want to die without passing on everything he had to this young man whom he loved like a son. So he sent this brief but full letter, written with love.

It was more than Timothy could take in with a single reading. So, “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all of this.

Isn’t that what God has done for us, with the entire Bible? And isn’t it good that He doesn’t expect us to process it all on our own?

Father, thank You for loving us with an intensity greater than Paul’s love for Timothy. Thank You for that urgency in Your desire to communicate with us. Please give us ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to receive, to trust and to love. Help us reflect on what You say, and make us receptive to the Holy Spirit’s teaching. Thank You for not leaving us to find our way alone.

A number of artists sing Robin Mark’s song “Ancient Words”. Here he is to sing it himself.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

He is Able

I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
2 Timothy 1:12b, NIV*

This is the first verse I ever memorized on my own initiative—well, I learned it as part of a hymn, and was delighted to recognize it in my Bible.

I’ve been reading the book Majesty in Motion: Creating an Encouragement Culture in all Your Relationships, and one thing that has challenged me is the need for personal confidence in God. This is area I’ve been working to grow in for a number of years, and confidence in God is the basis for enabling us to encourage others, so we won’t be threatened by their needs or our inadequacies.

This week I’ve chosen to pray and meditate on God’s strength and promises, as a way of cultivating that confidence. When I found this verse from 2 Timothy in my daily reading, something clicked.

I’d always taken the words to mean that God would keep my soul at the end. But it’s so much more: He is ready and able to look after me in the here and now. Exactly what I needed to read this week!

Father, You are so good to us. You show Your care in so many ways. Help me to believe You and to stay confident in Your care whatever the day brings. I won’t necessarily like what comes, but You can use it. And it’s not about me, it’s about You. Help me live in love and confidence in You so others will see the difference You make.

Here’s the hymn that started teaching me Scripture: “I Know Whom I Have Believed,” from Amazing Worship.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Feeling Whole

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Philippians 4:7-86-7, MSG*

Tuesday was a full day.

It was my first day filling in for a friend at her work, and that meant keeping a lot of mental balls in the air—not an easy task for someone who’s easily distracted. Between learning where to find everything and what to do with it, what I’d naively expected to be a morning slid halfway into the afternoon.

Not a big deal… except I’d planned to spend said afternoon cooking a large pot of spaghetti sauce and making apple-rice pudding for my writers’ group’s supper meeting. And writing this blog post.

Okay, cancel the sauce and open a can. Easy. Print the document I’m supposed to critique for the meeting before starting the pudding, so I don’t forget.

Open the email program to find the document. Also find urgent prayer requests I need to respond to under my hat of prayer team lead for The Word Guild. (And bless my wonderful assistant who’s already at work on this!)

So by the time the rice is cooking, I know I’m going to be late for my meeting. So much for going early to help set up. And I can’t reach our hostess on the phone.

Before you start playing tiny violins to accompany my suffering, I need to say it was a good day. Not bad, just hectic. And I’m not complaining.

We’ve all had days like this or worse.

What’s encouraging me this evening is that for once, instead of tensing up and trying to “hurry harder” I was able to remember the verses from James that talk about embracing what comes and being eager to cooperate with what God is doing, rather than fighting the tools He may want to use to shape us.

I’d read these verses recently, and I think our conversation here last Friday about using Scripture to retrain our minds made the truths stick.

When uncertainty and self-doubt asked (several times!) why I thought I could do this job, and self chimed in “I don’t want to do this anymore,” I remembered that God is quite able to help me learn and serve with a cheerful heart.

And He did. I even saw Him in the encouraging way the others treated me.

When perfectionism and fear murmured about my potential mistakes and what was left undone, it was enough to know I’m still learning and I did my best.

Time was passing, but I knew I was where God had me to be and instead of trying to mentally slow the clock (you’ve done that, right?) I trusted Him to arrange the rest of the day.

Well it all got done, even this blog post after my meeting—for which I was late and had to resist the guilt that goes with that. I’m tired, late getting to bed, but I feel good. Whole. Like I got it right even though a performance review of the day would reveal imperfect work.

It seems a tad self-focused to share this, but it’s not about me getting something right. It’s about God and discovering what relying on Him can do. We can each do that, and sometimes listening to one person’s story can encourage us about our own.

Father, thank You so much for Your grace today that enabled me to rely on You instead of on my self-defeating behaviour patterns. I’m sorry this is such a rare thing, and I pray in faith that You will finish the work You’ve begun in me—begun in each of us. Remind us of Your Word, help us to choose to believe what You say instead of what our inner critic claims to be true.

Many artists sing “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” but one of my favourite versions is by Third Day. Here’s their amazing medley: “Give/Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus/With Or Without You/Your Love Oh Lord” from their Offerings 2 CD.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

Retraining our Minds

We tend to believe our emotions or thoughts–they’re inside us, they must be true. But believing them often means not believing God.

This catches me every so often. I’ll be sure I’m right, and then I realize that this feeling or thought is directly opposed to what God says.

I may put too much stock in my own understanding (He’s working on that!) but when I bring it down to “me or God” I have to admit He’s more likely to be right!

The trick is to catch those pesky thoughts/feelings and retrain them by replacing them with God’s true Word. Different verses help different people in their circumstances, but here are a few of mine:

When I despair of ever changing: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV*

When I’m feeling down: “Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.” Isaiah 50:10b, NIV*

When I feel inadequate: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3, NIV*

What are some of the verses that help you?

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Believing God

Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:6, NIV*

God told this childless old man that the longing of his heart – the aching wound he had carried so long – would be satisfied. And Abram believed him. Pure and simple. He accepted God’s promise as truth, and trusted God to do as He said. There’s peace in that.

For me, his simple acceptance of God’s word is key. Not the particular promise he received, but the general heart attitude of believing God. Not whether he understood the hows and whys, nor what was at stake, just that he heard God and believed him.

Sometimes we hear God speak a personal word to us. We may not understand, but we need to trust His character and believe Him. Every day, whether we hear Him or not, we have His character and promises revealed in the Bible. We can believe them.

It’s the simplicity of Abram’s belief that inspires me. I’m so bad about complicating things. Instead of fretting, I need to quietly believe God. Accept Him. Let Him be the strong one, the leader. Trust Him and let Him have the wheel.

Help me, Father, to take my proper place trusting You, open to You, believing You. I’m sorry for the tangled complication I make of life – and of my own thoughts – and ask You to lead me into a simplicity of spirit that rests in You – actively trusts You – believes You the way a flower believes the sun.

Our song this week is “Lord (I Don’t Know)” by the Newsboys.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.