Author Topic: Devotional  (Read 191 times)

Pip

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Devotional
« on: January 06, 2017, 09:37:52 pm »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-december-30-2016.html

December 30, 2016
Understanding God’s Grace
Natalia Crawford

Today’s Truth

For if by one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will rein in life through the One, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17, NKJV).

Friend to Friend

I was born to be a rule follower. It’s in my nature. I never acted out in public as a child. It has always bothered me when people talk while the teacher (or preacher) is talking. I have memories of telling my classmates to stop running in the halls in elementary school because they weren’t supposed to. Yes, that’s me. The rule following, teacher’s pet kind of gal. Right now you are probably thinking I’m trying to make myself sound like a saint. But the truth is that being this way made it very challenging for me to understand God’s grace for a very long time. As Children of God, we are called to live in freedom, and I was allowing rule following to keep me in bondage.  That is until I went to high school. I was attending the youth group at my church and I kept hearing the word “grace.” “Grace this” ”grace that” and then I realized that I had no idea what grace meant. I understood the definition of grace, and I understood what the Bible had to say about grace. But I didn’t have a revelation of it in my own life. So I decided to approach God and ask Him to give me a revelation of what Grace really is; And He did.  I want to paint you the picture God painted for me. I want you to visualize it right where you are physically and spiritually.  I was standing on a dirt field. Everything was brown and the field went far beyond where my eyes could see. Jesus was standing next to me.  Then, I noticed a shovel on the ground next to me. I picked it up and looked at Jesus. He kindly looked at me and said, “Don’t do that.”

I turned away and began to dig.  After a few moments of digging I looked at Jesus. Once again, He kindly said, “Don’t do that.”

I looked back down and continued to dig. Sweat was dripping down my forehead, and dirt was what now appeared to be my clothes.  Before I knew it, I had dug myself into a hole so deep, I couldn’t get out. I looked around and found myself surrounded by walls of dirt. I stood at the pit of it all. Understanding now why Jesus had told me not to do this, I was ashamed to look up and see if He was even still there. I had no choice. I couldn’t get out. I had literally dug myself into this mess, and I had no way out.  I slowly looked up, to find Jesus standing there. I expected to see a look of disappointment, or even anger. I expected him to say, “See what you did? I told you not to do this, and you didn’t listen to me! Now look at the mess you are in!”

Instead, He reached down into the hole, He lifted me up and out of it, and He began to dust the dirt off my clothes until I was clean again. He hugged me with the most loving and comforting embrace, with no sign of bitterness, disappointment, or anger.  THAT is grace. God’s complete love and forgiveness in our life, especially when we don’t deserve it.  That is how God explained it to me when I asked. Every time I share this so intimate and personal encounter I can’t help but cry, and usually find those I share it with crying too. I have experienced sharing it with non-believers and having the presence of God fill the room and their hearts. Why?

Because we serve a God of love and grace, and that is the message this world so desperately needs.  It is so important for us to understand God’s grace. Whether you are naturally a rule-follower or naturally a rebel, Scripture says that we are all in need of God’s grace.  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23, NKJV).  I love this scripture. I love that it says “being justified freely by His grace.” I was reading it this morning as I drank my Jasmine Green tea and the word “freely” stood out to me because it isn’t needed in order to complete the sentence. It can so easily read, “being justified by His grace.” Instead that word is there because we serve a God who “freely” wants us to be justified.  That is the freedom we are called to live in. As natural rule-followers or rebels, we live our lives righteously and then allow grace to come in when we don’t. We repent and thank God for His grace when we miss it knowing we have been covered by His grace. That is the grace I sought to understand. It was the grace I needed to understand. And when I did, I was able to live freely from the bondage of falling short, knowing He has redeemed me, and God wants you to know more than anything that He loves you and that He has redeemed you.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, I come before Your throne and I thank You for your grace. I thank You for the power of grace in our lives and for a revelation of it. I ask that You fill the hearts of every woman reading this right now with Your love. That you would give her an understanding and revelation of how you see her Father, washed white as snow. You alone had the power to redeem us, and You did out of Your love for us. We are so grateful for You our love and grace.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Today, I want you to reflect on things you haven’t forgiven yourself for. What areas of your life do you feel like you fall short in?

Do you feel like you lack as a woman, a wife, a spouse, a Christian?

I want you to uncover those areas and bring them before God. Allow His grace to take those areas of your life and call them redeemed.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2017, 09:56:52 pm »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-december-29-2016.html

December 29, 2016
Shattered Matters
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

Friend to Friend

I’ve been through hard times. I’ve asked the question why on many occasions. I’ve begrudgingly said goodbye to family and friends in order to say hello to strangers and scary new places. I know the matter of being shattered.  There was a season when Brad and I lived in four different homes, in four different states, within four years. It was a very difficult time of my life. From Ohio to Pennsylvania to New York to North Carolina, we made our way across the East Coast with three little ducklings in tow. Back then, the uncertainty of tomorrow caused me a great deal of stress. A certain muscle in my back is twitching just thinking about it.  The chaos began back in 2000.  We lived in a snuggly little town just outside Akron, Ohio and God had just nudged me into public music ministry. I sensed Him asking me to join Him on a new faith adventure, and I said, “Yes!”

So, after much praying and planning, I sifted through a list of songs I had written, connected with a producer, flew to Nashville, and recorded my first CD. Did I mention that I also had two very active little boys who were under the age of three, and that I was pregnant with our third child?

(Go ahead, laugh at me. The timing didn’t make sense to me either.)  At the same time, Brad was doing well with his company and would soon be promoted. It was also a time of rapid and rich spiritual growth for Brad. He became the leader of our adult Sunday school class at church and led admirably. I was so proud of him.  We loved our church, were plugged into ministries, and got along famously with our neighbors. We were comfortable, content, and settled. Life was good.  But it seems to me that God doesn’t necessarily always want us to be comfortable and content. (I say that tongue in cheek, of course.) Our comfort turned to chaos quickly when, just weeks before Kennedy was born, Brad accepted a job promotion that would uproot us from Akron, and transplant us in the suburbs outside Philadelphia.  Saying goodbye to our community was torture. We had blossomed into young adults in Ohio. We exchanged our sacred marriage vows there. Gave birth to our babies there. We grew in faith as a family there.  With each farewell, the weight of sadness grew heavier. When moving day arrived and all the boxes had been loaded, we hugged our neighbors one last time then drove away. As our home faded from sight, I realized that a part of my heart would always live in Ohio.  Once we got to our new house, I cried buckets of tears out of frustration, exhaustion, and sadness. Tension and stress became my new closest friends. The moment I said yes to God, so much of what had been comfortable and familiar was stripped away from my life. Of course, the timing wasn't coincidental. God allowed what was comfortable to be removed. He then led me to a place where I would have to trust Him and lean on Him in ways I never had before.  Broken became my middle name.  When we moved the only thing I could do was hunker down, spread out my motherly wings, and care for the babes in my nest. I changed diapers, chased toddlers, and cherished naptimes for almost a year. Friendships blossomed between me and other young moms, and the ladies’ Bible study at church became a vital link to both God and other women. As I studied Scripture, the Lord began to birth new songs in my heart, and although I wasn’t serving in music ministry right then, I processed my faith and life by writing songs.  Fourteen months after our transition, when the chaos had finally turned to calm, Brad hesitantly announced that it was time to move again. He would take over a territory in Syracuse, New York. Were we the punch line in someone else’s joke? We always said we wanted to live in a sunny, warm place. Now we were heading further north. Yuck. We prayed fervently about the move and felt God leading us in that direction, but I wondered if God’s compass was broken. As we packed boxes once again, questions danced around in my mind.  Had I heard Him wrong?

Why would God call me to a task and then herd me across the country like a nomad’s cow?

Starting over in New York had a strangely familiar feel. The first few months were busy and lonely. I spent much time meeting neighbors, figuring out the aisles at the new grocery stores, and finding out the best routes to take to Wal-Mart, to the post office, and to the pediatrician’s office. Finding a new church was a whole ‘nother challenge. But, in time, the matters of being shattered eventually lessened as we assimilated into the community and a wonderful church family.  The Syracuse summers were lush, but the winters were long. Though snow fell often, to the tune of 150 inches a year, God’s grace fell even more. He blessed me with deep friendships, intense Bible studies, and godly leadership from the pastors at our church. Brad and I immersed ourselves into the community, even though we anticipated that our time in New York would be brief.  Then, seventeen short months after we unpacked in Syracuse, Brad accepted a new, can’t pass it up business opportunity, and we moved to sunny Charlotte, North Carolina.  What an exhausting journey. With each move I experienced both bitter and sweet moments, but the aftertaste of the bitter moments seemed to linger a little longer than the sweet ones.  It was a difficult four years.  I’ve heard it said, “If the mountain was smooth, you couldn’t climb it.”

There’s a lot of truth to that. Through the mountain of pain I scaled in each move, God brought me closer to Him and taught me important lessons that I surely wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Lessons about trusting God with my friendships, with goodbyes, with loneliness, with my family, with anger, stress, and faith. Through it all, I’ve come to know this for sure: in all things even the hard things God is sovereign and can be trusted.  I know from personal experience that in the painful, tear-filled days, God is still good and can still be trusted. He is faithful. I’ve witnessed His strength in my weakness. I’ve felt His comfort in times of loss. And though we aren’t always kept from experiencing shattered matters, we never have to endure them alone.  He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.  (Psalm 18:16)

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord,

Thank you for always being by my side and for giving me your strength and grace when I am simply weak and broken. Please help me look to you in every shattered matter.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Psalm 34, then write out your favorite verses and commit them to memory.  CONNECT: Is there someone you know who needs to read this message?

Forward this devotion. Post it on your social media sites. Share the hope of healing. Then let’s meet on my blog to PRAY for one another today.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2017, 10:55:20 pm »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-january-26-2017.html

January 26, 2017
A Childlike Heart
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (Mark 10:15, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I recently read the story of a young family who went out to eat at a local restaurant. They were the only family with children eating. The mom sat their little boy, Erik, in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, "Hi!" He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray.

His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin as he wriggled and giggled with joy.  The mother looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man wearing baggy pants and shoes so worn that his toes poked out. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard, and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. The man sat far away, but the mother was sure he smelled bad. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists in an effort to make Erik laugh.  “Hi there, baby. Hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster," the man said to Erik.

Erik’s mom and dad exchanged looks and asked, "What do we do?"

Erik continued to laugh and answer, "Hi."

Everyone in the restaurant noticed the man who was creating a nuisance with the beautiful baby. Their meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, "Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo."

Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.  Erik’s parents were embarrassed and ate in silence. Not Erik. He was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments. The parents finally got through the meal and headed for the door. The husband went to pay the check and told his wife to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between the mother and the door. "Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik," she prayed. 

As she drew closer to the man, she turned her back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As she did, Erik leaned over her arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's "pick-me-up" position. Before the mom could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from her arms to the man's. Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head on the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and tears hovered beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled the baby and gently stroked his back.  No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. The mother and every other person in the restaurant were awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and in a firm and even commanding voice said, "You take care of this baby."

Somehow the mother managed, "I will" from a throat choked with emotion.

He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. The mom took her baby and the man said, "God bless you, ma'am. You've given me my Christmas gift."

With Erik in her arms, the mom ran for the car. Her husband was wondering why his wife was crying and holding Erik so tightly saying, "My God, my God, forgive me."

Everyone had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. The mother was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. A ragged old man had unwittingly preached the message found in Scripture, "To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children."

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2017, 10:54:15 pm »
Tuesday, January 31, 2017   

Deadly Comparison
Jennifer Dukes Lee

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”  - Galatians 6:4

During my ministry travels, I have the privilege of meeting many women, and they often share their hearts and insecurities with me. So many of those insecurities are fed by the tendency to compare.  People have been measuring themselves against one another for approximately forever sometimes with deadly consequences. Cain compared himself to Abel, with a jealous anger that ended in his brother’s murder (Gen. 4). Joseph’s brothers, moved by envy, sold him into slavery (Gen. 37). Jesus’ disciples bickered and compared themselves to one another on several occasions (Luke 9).  We have everything we need within us to overcome comparison. As Christians, we are given the invaluable gifts of the Holy Spirit within us, combined with the authority of the Scriptures that guide us toward right living.  Some important instructions are tucked into a letter that Paul wrote to the Galatians: “Pay careful attention to your own work and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else” (Gal. 6:4).

God has called us each to our own work in the office, the gym, the home, everywhere. And Paul is telling us that when we keep our eyes on our own work when we “pay careful attention” to it we won’t need to compare anymore.  This is your one beautiful life. God has invited you into it. You are not called to live the life of Judy or Katie or Megan. You are called to live your own life. Comparison creates an us versus them mentality that can rob the body of Christ of its unity and fellowship. When we see envy rise up, dear Lord, help us tamp it back down. Friendship cannot grow in the soil of comparison.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2017, 10:59:05 pm »
Monday, January 30, 2017   

Stronger Together
Holley Gerth

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”  - Ecclesiastes 4:12

While there are certainly divine illustrations to be found in Ecclesiastes 4:12, there’s also a lot of insight for how we live in community. One person is an individual. Two people make a relationship. But when we get to “three” we have community. We have become something we could not be on our own. The strands are now a strong cord.  True connections take time, commitment, and courage. While social media can make it seem like bonding is as easy as clicking a “like” button, we’re called to go deeper with each other. And that means making relationships a priority. Our seasons of life and circumstances will impact our capacity for connection, but we can all pause and ask, “What can I do to truly connect with the people I love?”

Even a little bit of time or encouragement can make a big difference.  Being intertwined means choosing to stay even when it’s hard. We live in a fallen world, and we are fallen people. That means inevitably conflicts will come, personalities will clash, and disappointments will happen. But we become stronger when we learn to stay because the strands of rope depend on each other. What happens to one happens to all of them. We’re told, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15, ESV).

We’re to share the happy and the hard of life. Community means we win together and we lose together. We cheer each other on, hold each other up, and keep Jesus at the center of it all.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2017, 11:05:15 pm »
Friday, January 27, 2017   

Profoundly Loved
Mary DeMuth

Today’s Verse Powered by the New Living Translation
“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”  - Titus 3:4–5

So many of us wrongly feel that in order to justify our existence on earth, we have to create. To perform. To be perfect. To do everything right. And if we don’t live up to our production expectations, we can slip into thinking we’re worthless. But that’s looking at creation (you) as a commodity, not as a created being. It’s assigning worth based on your value to produce, to fill holes, to accomplish a to do list.  As much as our culture reinforces this idea, it’s simply not true that we must live up to certain standards in order to earn God’s love. We simply must rest in being his children. We can revel in being a creation dearly loved by Jesus, sacrificed for, graced unconditionally.  Much our thinking is tainted by a consumer based mindset. If we view others as things to possess instead of people to be loved, it’s no wonder we’ve lacked grace for ourselves when we don’t perform up to our own legalistic standards. It may take awhile to absorb, but consider the sound of these words: You don’t have to justify the space you take up on earth any more. Jesus made a way a beautiful way for you to realize how profoundly loved you are.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2017, 08:42:52 pm »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-february-7-2017.html

February 7, 2017
The Bam-Bam Game
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV).

Friend to Friend

Dan and I have one favorite restaurant where we like to eat on our weekly date night. The food is delicious, the atmosphere is quiet, and the waitress makes us feel like we are the most important people on the planet. It is a great place to relax, catch up and make plans for the future. We go to this restaurant for us. It’s our spot.  Our grandchildren have a different spot where they love to go. It is definitely not quiet; the food is geared more to the taste of children, and finding someone who works there is often what I consider a modern day miracle. Yep you are way ahead of me. It is Chuck E. Cheese!  But I absolutely love going to Chuck E. Cheese! Let me explain. First, I score major points with our grandchildren. Second, it is easy to keep tabs on the kids at our local Chuck E. Cheese because it is small. Seriously, I can stand in the middle of the play area and see every grandchild. Third, there are so many games that every child can find at least one or two they enjoy playing. I like Chuck E. Cheese because it keeps the kids happily occupied for hours.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but there is another reason I love going to Chuck E. Cheese. I am hooked on one the games. The official name of the game is Smash A Munch, but I call it The Bam-Bam game. If you have ever been to Chuck E. Cheese you know exactly which game I’m talking about. Funny creatures pop up from random holes, and you hit them with a foam-covered bat to make them disappear. The more little creatures you hit and the faster you hit them determines how many highly coveted tickets you win.  Every time I play The Bam-Bam game, I am reminded of a spiritual truth that so many of us have so wrong. We honestly believe God plays a kind of spiritual version of The Bam-Bam Game with our lives. I’ve done it. I’ve had this perspective, thinking God sits in Heaven, holding a spiritual bat, just waiting for me to make a mistake. When I do, He laughs in delight and promptly smashes me back into the dark pit into which I have fallen.  Well, let me tell you the truth, girlfriend. That perception is a lie, straight from the pit of Hell, and smells like smoke! We need to understand who our Father truly is and how He really sees us. Grab hold of these truths!  For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:14-15, NIV).

Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to Him; we are His people, the sheep He tends (Psalm 100:3, NCV).

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16, NLT).

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1, NIV).

Here it is. The almighty God, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, Creator and Caretaker of the universe loves me and He loves you. Period.  We don’t have to try to be someone we were never created to be. We have nothing to prove to anyone. God has already settled all of that and so much more.  Jesus came to earth and died on the cross to pay for our sins past, present and future. His gift of unfathomable love covers it all. He is for us. He is with us. There is no condemnation no Bam-Bam Game in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Today, right now, celebrate the unconditional love, the unending grace, and the eternal forgiveness He freely offers.

Pip

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Re: Devotional
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2017, 09:00:34 pm »
http://www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends-in-god/girlfriends-in-god-february-28-2017.html

February 28, 2017
You’re More Than a Cleaned-Up Version of Your Old Self
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Friend to Friend

Most Christians see their conversion as a cleaned-up version of their old self, rather than as a brand new creation who did not exist before. The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The old is gone, not just spiffied up.  After high school I went to college where I met and married an awesome Christian man whom I met at a friend’s Bible study. I saw him sitting on the floor with his back against the wall and his red flannel shirt rolled up his masculine arms. He had a worn Bible in his lap and an easy smile on his face. Before the year was up, I became his wife. About four years later, I became a mom.  Life was good, except for this termite like gnawing in my gut that I just didn’t quite measure up to all the other church moms with their smiling faces. I went to Bible studies and even taught a few. However, I walked around with the fear that one day I would be found out that one day folks would figure out that I wasn’t all that I was cracked up to be. I lived under an undefined self imposed standard of approval.  Childhood echoes of “you’re so ugly” and “what’s wrong with you?” and “you did a terrible job” left me feeling congenitally flawed.

I sat in Bible study groups like someone in a hospital waiting room: hoping for the best but expecting the worst. My greatest fear was that I’d be no closer to being free of the insecurity than I was before the study began.  When I was in my mid-thirties, I sat under the teaching of an older woman in my church, Mary Marshal Young. She opened my eyes to the truths in Scripture about who I was, what I had, and where I was (my position) as a child of God. I had read those verses scattered throughout Scripture before, but when she encouraged me to cluster them altogether into one list, God began a new work in my heart.  You are a saint.  You are chosen and dearly loved.  You are holy.  These truths were right there on the pages of my Bible in black and white and a few in red. I knew it was the infallible Word of God, but I felt rather squeamish hearing them, reading them, believing them.  They didn’t feel right.  They didn’t sound right.  They made me downright uncomfortable.  At the same time I was studying about my true identity, the devil taunted me with lies. Who do you think you are?

A saint?

Are you kidding?

This stuff might be true for some people, but it certainly is not true about you.

One day God asked me an important question one that He is asking you right now. Who are you going to believe?

That’s what I’m asking you today. Who are you going to believe?

When I decided to believe God…that changed everything. I believe it will do the same for you.