Faith That Works, Part 4 August 13-28

Day 15

Day 15 gets to the core of why we have suffering of various sorts, because the bonds we are able to build with others who have suffered are at the heart of the healing that God provides. Healing our bodies is nice, but healing our souls is the issue.

Devotional Point 4 today:

Your deepest ministry will come out of your deepest hurt—and your deepest life message will come out of your deepest pain.

Scripture 4 today:

“And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Reflection 4 today:

Paul is probably one of the first people in recorded history to see the positive side of the terrible deadly things he was being exposed to every day.  We can’t really offer any empathetic understanding of this, as we have never and probably won’t ever face anything similar. However, the one part about it is most amazing is that Paul was completely focused on advancing the gospel that was the only issue that matter to him. In the same way that our ministry will come out of our hurt, instead of hiding the hurt which the church has mostly taught us to do, we need to bring it to the front and bond with the people who need us the most.

Question for the day:

1. Why do you think God lets bad things happen to believers? Has your answer changed after thinking through this devotional? At one level, it is to advance the gospel. However on a deeper level it is the foundation of deep spiritual bonds that he wants for all of us.

2. In what painful experience did God’s strength help you to patiently endure? I have patiently and word through the deep parental alienation abuse of my daughter by both my ex, my direct family,  and the social services system.

3. How can you explain God’s support during that painful experience in your testimony? At the core of it are the deep spiritual bonds that occur when you are able to share this difficulty with someone else.

Other Notes: Tomorrow we will be diving into a 4-day devotional called “when God orders your steps”. All about time and time management, crucial topics for all of us today…

Day 14

Day 14 of a Faith that works brings us right to a big part of why we are here, to be the agents of God’s comfort to the troubles of the world we live in. People who have been through the same type of troubles form spiritual bonds that allows the love of God to change and transform, let’s be part of that…

Devotional Point 4 today:

Don’t waste your pain. Let God use it for your greatest ministry.

Scripture 4 today:

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Reflection 4 today:

One thing for sure about today is that if the Sun rises there will be troubles. The only two questions are which troubles and the level of intensity of those troubles. Unfortunately for the past 50 years in the church there has been a cultural undercurrent to say that if you have troubles then clearly you are doing something wrong. But the truth is that troubles are an indication that you are clearly doing something right, generally because you are ruffling the feathers of the Prince of this world. We are being comforted through our troubles from two sources: God’s word directly and the experience of comfort through other Christians.

Question for the day:

1. Think about the greatest pain you’ve suffered. Do you believe God can use it for good in your life and the lives of others? Why or why not? My single greatest pain was having my daughter taken away from me, I have been able to reach out and help and comfort several people who have suffered parental alienation. It is a debilitating thing that you can’t really understand unless you are in it.

2. Why does sharing your struggles rather than your strengths often connect you more deeply to someone? People have a very strong need to identify with other people who have overcome difficult circumstances. Feeling that bond can grow a person’s faith in a very big way.

3. How do you want God to use you in ministry? Have you asked him to use your suffering to bring other people to redemption? He is using it now going forward

Day 13

Day 13 of a Faith That Works, where we are looking at the process of bearing one another’s burdens. Why do so many Christians try to decide the legitimacy of someone else’s burdens when we are commanded to “bear them”???

Devotional Point 4 today:

The deeper the pain, the fewer words you use.

Scripture 4 today:

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Reflection 4 today:

The “law of Christ“ is all about loving one another. Paul brings this verse to us as a subset of Psalm 55:22, where we are commanded to cast your burdens on the Lord. However, he takes it to the next stage by commanding us to bear each other’s burdens in the same way that he took the burden of our sin on the cross. we are not here to scrutinise the legitimacy of the burdens that other people carry, as is so often the case in the church. We are simply to find a way to help them bear those burdens, not decide if they should be dealt with as we might prescribe.

Question for the day:

1. Why do you think people often need your presence more than your words of wisdom when they are in pain? Today, there is no shortage of content for people to figure out what to do about a particular situation. People need people more than ever before, this is the difficulty of life during the pandemic, because it was much more difficult to do this.

2. How has suffering changed your relationships? How has it drawn you closer to or pushed you further away from people? Mostly the people in various churches we have been part of have engaged in helping me realise the legitimacy of my burdens and how I might deal with them in the future. Almost no one has ever wanted to share my burdens.

3. Why is it sometimes easier to close yourself off when you are grieving rather than to make yourself vulnerable in your relationships? It is probably an experience thing, you learn fairly quickly in the church that no one usually cares about what your burdens are.

Day 12

Day 12 dives into the issue of deep life-threatening pain, the kind for which we see no way out, and how God can and does really use that to bring us closer to Himself. He wants your heart, that’s all…

Devotional Point 4 today:

Pain has a way of drawing you close to God.

Scripture 4 today:

“In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:9-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Reflection 4 today:

Most of the commentators on these scriptures do not agree on what it was that took Paul to the brink of death, but the only important thing is that something happened to bring him to that point. And having been brought to that point, he gave up all hope of being able to “fix” himself, and move his reliance to God for the solution and the implementation of the solution. We have to see God give us the way out and take us through the way out, He wants both things for us, and He wants us to know that this is how He works…

Question for the day:

1. What or who do you most often run to when you experience something painful? Usually just myself, I had always benn able to work it out, whatever the it was…

2. How does God’s Word help you with your pain? he has a solution to all the pain, it is written out for us

3. In what ways can God turn your pain into something good in your life or someone else’s life? How have you seen him do this already in your life? I have now seen him do this a hundred times, and live to see it again today…

Day 11

Here on Day 11 we get into the real meat of how you get through the very normal and natural 6 vices that come with the “old man”. it takes no work to be bitter, angry, unloving, and nasty. The things that make that happen are  what we were born with, changing that is what 2 Corinthians 5:17 is all about, being transformed. And we need to remember that what is not transformed is transferred. Want to stop transferring all the crap in your life to others? Then be transformed…

Devotional Point 4 today:

You will never have to forgive anybody more than God has already forgiven you.

Scripture 4 today:

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:32‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Reflection 4 today:

The 6 vices mentioned here require no effort our our part, the 3 virtues however, take a whole lot of work… What’s the work part? So it starts with the context of each situation in our lives, where we are able to examine and pray through the specific places where God has forgiven us far more than we might be required to do. Then it is praying through the specifics of exactly what He needs to do to change our view/attitude on this issue, then praying through the specific changes with the specific people and celebrating the outcome…

Question for the day:

1. When speaking with someone about a subject you both don’t agree on, what is your goal? What does the Bible say your goal should be (Colossians 4:6)? Mine is now understanding of exactly what the other person is saying and the validity of the point. Understanding that can lead to insight…

2. Is it difficult for you to admit your weaknesses? Why or why not? It always is difficult because it damages our pride, something that needs damaging

3. Why do you think God wants you to learn that you can’t do everything on your own? Because that is the way it is, I just can’t do it all on my own…

Day 10

What a great thing to have a weekend to recharge. And the message today, Day 10 is all about how to get recharged, give it to God…

Devotional Point 4 today:

You’ve got to give your hurt to God. Drop it and let him carry it for you.

Scripture 4 today:

“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭11:25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Reflection 4 today:

We obtained the full grace of forgiveness for all of our sins the moment we accepted Christ as our personal saviour. However that has never stop any of us from continuing on sinning in a variety of ways. Most of those ways are between us and God, but occasionally we wander over to the land of the living and hurt and offend people there. And others do the same to us. So the requirement is that we forgive anyone who may appear to have hurt us in some way.  Jesus ordered this for us because he knows that unforgiveness will put a barrier between us and the answers to our prayers.

Question for the day:

1. What makes you want to hold on to your hurt and anger instead of releasing it to God? First and foremost, most of us have backgrounds of family hurt and anger that is maintained over many generations. That’s what we grew up with so that’s what we do…

2. When you’re hurt, who is the first person you talk to about it? What do you think would change if you talked with God first about your hurt? I have to talk to God first and foremost about the hurt I am feeling on a number of levels. Anything else is it waste of time.

3. How does the freedom that comes from surrendering your hurt to God help you pursue your purpose? Once you are able to do this effectively, you are able to experience God’s power in a number of areas and that’s one of those things that keeps you coming back.

Day 9

Day 9 of a Faith that works digs into my personal soul in a big way, the issue of unjustifiable hurt, which then leads to justifiable bitterness, but bitterness that has no place in the Kingdom, fortunately He delivers us…

Devotional Point 4 today

Let go of your hurt. Surrender it to God…

Scripture 4 today:

“A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but the resentment caused by a fool is even heavier.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Reflection 4 today:

Before the Internet, avoiding fools was somewhat easier than it is today, as today they have a platform 24/7 that they naturally exploit. The wrong thing to do is to engage with them on any level, because no matter what happens they will say or do something that provokes you. Whether it provokes you a little or a lot is irrelevant, the important point is that you just need to stay out of it. The difficult thing is that the hurtful things they say can cause you to harbour bitterness about that. So, don’t go near it, but if you have to surrender to God.

Question for the day:

1. What hurt do you need to surrender to God today? I need to keep surrendering the hurt caused by my mother, brother, and ex-wife who illegally took my daughter away from me a.m. and have abused her endlessly do you think that I am a bad person and should not even be her father.

2. Has bitterness been perpetuated in your family? If so, what will it take to break that cycle in your generation? My family are the poster children for bitterness, it has been going on for several generations, I think that God has delivered me from it and given me the opportunity to show that breaking the bitterness cycle is possible.

3. Why do you experience freedom when you surrender your hurt to God? When you let God break the cycle, you know that it’s not to do with you and you can relax in his power and authority

Day 8

Day 8 Where we are looking at the whole concept of anger. Not that we shouldn’t be angry at the things that deserve being angry about, but making sure that it doesn’t give the devil a foothold to cause us to be distracted.

Devotional Point 4 today:

…make the choice to speak life and love instead…

Scripture 4 today:

“and do not give the devil a foothold.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Reflection 4 today:

If you give the devil or even a sniff of an opportunity to get a foothold in your life he will take it 100% of the time. we could read some of these verses on anger in conclude that all anger is bad. There are hundreds of self-help gurus who will gladly take a lot of money from you to teach you how to never be angry. However, that is not the point. There are a lot of things for us as Christians to be angry about, to not be angry is as much of a sin as being angry and giving the devil a foothold. Fortunately, we have the holy spirit to give us guidance about what and how to feel and say on every subject.

Question for the day:

1. How does knowing Satan is at work behind the scenes change how you approach a disagreement? Once you understand his game plan, it is much easier to deal with him and what he is trying to do to each of us

2. Why do you think Satan uses your emotions to instigate conflict? Very definitely, it isn’t that we should deny your emotions, they just need to be subjected to the guidance of the holy spirit to figure out the best way forward to honour God.

3. How do the words you speak and the way you say them influence tense conversations? They can definitely inspire anger from the listener, so we need to be very careful about what we say and how we say it…

Day 7

Day 7 of the Faith devotional gets right to the point, the way forward for all of us in all things is humility. The world around you will teach you just the opposite, which is pride. Satan wants you to take pride in everything you do, to show that you don’t need God for anything. Good luck with that… My notes for today:

Devotional Point 4 today:

Humble yourself, and then give yourself completely to God.

Scripture 4 today:

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” ‭‭James‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Reflection 4 today:

Humility is a choice, just like its opposite, pride is also a choice. These are choices that we will battle against every day, at least on the days when the Sun comes up. The grace we need in this battle between these two opposition forces is at a very spiritual level. So, it is most especially played out when we choose to “submit“ ourselves to God. This submitting is not some one-time event, rather a constant stream of events every hour of every day. Then, with the fuel of God’s grace behind us, we can quite easily make the choices to resist the devil, and then he will flee from us.

Question for the day:

1. Think of a recent conflict in your life where you wish you responded with more humility. How do you think it might have turned out differently? I don’t usually have to go far to think of examples here. However, I can definitely say that it is getting better by the day.

2. Think of a practical example of what it looks like to surrender yourself to God. Most of my life I have thought it was very important to clarify my “right-ness“ in any argument, that is no longer the case.

3. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. What does that tell you about his character? God has an amazing amount of patience, way more than we can imagine or contemplate.

Day 6

It is Day 6 of a Faith that Works, in a world where you don’t see much faith… Time to look at how you are trying to get to what will make you happy, just ask God, he has got this for you…

Devotional Point 4 today:

If you have a need, don’t look first to your spouse or your friend to fill it. Go to God first.

Scripture 4 today:

“You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” ‭‭James‬ ‭4:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Reflection 4 today:

We as humans have a series of “wants” that exist on a bunch of levels. The more you grow as a Christian the more those “wants” change, and that is because you begin to want what God wants, and that grows into something entirely different than what you originally thought you wanted or needed. So the back-handed command will get you to a place that you did not realise you were going to, the place where you want what God wants. However, when you start arriving at that place you can’t really imagine being anywhere else…

Question for the day:

1. What are some of the needs you’ve been looking to your spouse to fill that have led to disappointment? What about your best friend? Your co-workers? I grew up in an abusive love-less family environment, so I have sought love from everyone I have been with, a love that they had very little capacity to deliver…

2. What need have you wanted God to meet in your life? How have your prayers reflected your trust in him to provide for that need? He has brought a huge understanding of love to me, and it has changed everything.

3. Why do you think God wants you to pray about your need when he already knows what you need? he wants each of us to get to the place where we really and deeply want what He wants…

Day 5

Moving into a very misunderstood area of Faith today, Romans 8:28. Get in any difficulty and the church will throw that straight at you with no empathy whatsoever. Chin up mate… Well it is a little more difficult than that when things go mortally wrong… My notes for today:

Devotional Point 4 today:

…he is working his plan in history…

Scripture 4 today:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Reflection 4 today:

Sometimes we all need to know that we are not some evolutionary coincidence, God does have a plan, a really good plan. Many times I have had a great deal of difficulty grasping this. Times like when my little girl was taken away from me for no good reason, times like losing everything in divorce, and many others. Only with perspective can I see that God did really have a plan, God really did make it work for good. I am a very different person, long way to go, but still very different today. Looking forward to the next stages of “diffferent”…

Question for the day:

1. How does knowing God is in control help you to trust him better? When things go drastically wrong, it is the only way out…

2. Think of a time when God took a bad decision and made something good out of it? Tom many to count…

3. What’s one fear of the future you want to hand over to God today? The ability to overcome my pride.

Day 4

Bright and beautiful August Monday here in England, just getting ready for a great week!!! Are you going to have a great week? I hope so, and today’s devotional is there to help you make the most of it by learning not to worry… My notes for today:

Devotional Point 4 today:
…Plan for tomorrow but live for today…

Scripture 4 today:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew‬ ‭6:34‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Reflection 4 today:
Worry, both individually and corporately is an integral part of our life, even if it is not us doing the worrying. Today is really the only thing we can do something about, even if a big part of today is doing the preparation work for either a project or component of a project for some future date. This is a direct command by Jesus, of of His 49 commands, but it is directed to “His people” only. Non-Christian? You should worry… Bringing things to Jesus first in prayer needs to become a reflex action for all of us, it is at the core of how to have faith in this world we live in…

Question for the day:
1. What is one thing you can’t control that has been stressing you out? Worry takes a lot of energy! How can you redirect that energy to work toward something meaningful today? This is usually from worrying whether or not people I depend on will do what they say they are going to do. I can only bring these to God in prayer…
2. How do you get God’s grace to help you face today? (Read Ephesians 2:8.) Pray it through all the time…
3. In what ways does intentional planning help you make the most of today? It breaks down into smaller components what needs to be done so that you can work through things…

Day 3

We have all been through some pretty trying times in the past year and a half, the world globally was turned upside down. Hardly anyone asks “what can I learn from this?” But that is exactly what the wisest among us do, what can I learn, and what is different now? Only fools would laugh at God and say “nothing’s changed”, we are going back to the way things were before… My notes from today, Day 3:

Devotional Point 4 today:
…there are many things you can’t control, there are many things you can control…

Scripture 4 today:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Reflection 4 today:
For the things we can control, we need the wisdom to use the right talents for the right projects at the right time. Activity in and of itself is rarely bad or wrong. But activity that gets us to where God wants us to be is what we need more of. It is a good thing that the asking process is not filled with Quid-pro-quos, or we would never get any. The only condition is to start from a position of weakness, of needing wisdom because we really don’t know what to do about something. But if we allow this, that is where God can form a deep pattern in our lives…

Question for the day:
1. If you knew you would succeed, what would you commit to doing in faith? Like everyone, I’d be all-in…
2. In what ways has the pandemic derailed your planning? What step can you take today to get your plans back on track? The pandemic totally changed everything for us. Not so much getting plans back on track as executing new plans…
3. What do you think God wants you to accomplish during difficult seasons? He wants me to stay faithful and focused on Him and build out a personal minitry of helping others build their faith…

Day 2

Awesome new series from Rick Warren on Faith, Part 4. My notes today, pull this devotional down from the YouVersion Bible app and join in…

Devotional Point 4 today:
…listen first before you judge…

Scripture 4 today:
““Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” ‭‭John‬ ‭7:51‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Reflection 4 today:
An American commedienne Joan Rivers, wrote a book called “Enter Talking”, which I think typifies the state of what is being passed off as dialogue globally. But that is what has to set us as Christians apart form the world, we listen first. We have been taught to confuse convictions with understanding. We will certainly not understand God fully until we get to heaven which is why we need to listen so closely now. Jesus did a lot more listening than talking, There are about 173 questions recorded in the NT of Jesus, but He is recorded as asking twoice that number of others, possibly a good model for us?

Question for the day:
– Why do you think some people believe they can do a better job at judging others than God? This can only come from stupidity and ignorance of the scriotures
– How does listening to your loved ones before judging them help you to truly understand them? The is always a lot more to it than we can see…
– What is one thing you can practice doing during conversations so that you can become a better listener? Focus on how much deeper then feel about something than what they are actually saying…

Day 1

Devotional Point 4 today:

…you tend to judge others on what you dislike in yourself…

Scripture 4 today:

““Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Reflection 4 today:

In the previous 2 verses, Jesus gives specific directions: do thgis, don’t do that… But here Jesus asks Why??? It is so intuitively obvious to any reader that He is backhandedly saying don’t do this, but He deeply and genuinely asks why… Pretty good question really, one we need to get in front of for ourselves. When you look into your soul you need to ask the question of why would you do this? Something so obvious that it needs no explanation, yet we do it anyway…

Questions for the day:

1. What sin do you tend to see most clearly and readily in others? What does that tell you about the sin in your own life? My biggest struggle is with my own pride…

2. Reserve time this week for self-evaluation. What did you discover that surprised you? The sin of pride with me never seems to want to die…

3. When you feel the urge to judge someone, what should that remind you to do instead? Judge myself first…

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