May 9, 2017 Ruth 3; Psalm 64; 1 Corinthians 9

These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.

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This Is WAR | Tara Wiley

S~ Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of the enemy.” Psalm 64:1 (NLT)

O~ David is dealing with threats and conspiracies all around. Negative voices are distracting him and causing fear. He comes to God and remembers that He is the defender who will rescue him – so he can rejoice as he takes refuge in God! (verse 10).

I can relate to the constant murmurs and threats David faced in this Psalm, and I love his strategy for overcoming: focus on God – speak to Him, worship Him, and trust Him to defend.

A~ I spent some time in Nehemiah this morning, using the story as an allegory for the spiritual warfare raging over my thought patterns. I am determined to undo the lifelong pattern of being motivated by guilt and condemnation! This is not God’s way! The thoughts and taunts, the negative patterns I have given into for decades, strike when I wake up in the morning, and linger when I crawl into bed at night. I had no idea just how pervasive this was until I read through several years’ worth of journals over the course of a few days. The theme of guilt was overwhelming. Constant. Independent of what I had done or not done, whether I was in a season of fruitfulness or in full-on rebellion. I had attained so much victory over my thought life in so many areas, I mistakenly thought I had overcome this pattern of guilt-motivation as well. It was painfully eye-opening to see that same theme played out in my most recent journals. I’m not there yet. Retraining my thought life is going to require a full on WAR for my mind.

In Nehemiah 4:23, the leader describes, “Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.”

My victory over the murmuring enemy of guilt in my mind will require a full dressing of spiritual weaponry against the schemes of the enemy who has held me captive for far too long. I cannot back down, not even for a moment. I cannot lay aside my weapons of warfare – weapons with divine power to demolish strongholds and every argument and pretension set up against the knowledge of God. I will take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ and HIS GRACE! (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). I cannot wait to see Him accomplish what David describes in Ps. 64:7-9:

“But God will shoot them (my enemy, the Liar and Deceiver, and his voices of guilt and condemnation) with his arrows; they will suddenly be struck down.

He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin;

All who see them will shake their heads in scorn.

All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done.”

P~ Lord, I am excited to see You finish what You have started in me over the past few weeks. I am leaning in towards a new depth of victory over my thought life! I have learned so much already from You regarding the way I think, and can’t wait to step into the next level of victory against the enemies’ murmuring lies. I am looking forward to being an example for all to see and give You glory!

Oh, What Trust! | Kelley Deases

S~ In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:14 (NIV)

O~ Paul, here, is making his defense for the calling he has received and what that entails, both for him and for the church.  He states that he saw Jesus in a personal encounter (perhaps his road to Damascus experience) and was thereafter compelled to share the reality of who Jesus is and His plan to bring all people into a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Due to this call, Paul reminds the church in Corinth of his need for financial support to carry on in his mission day after day, month after month, year and after.

A~ I have never had to really trust God for my next meal and my day-to-day living expenses.  But I help to sponsor on an ongoing basis three missionaries who do.  One is a young man, just out of college himself, who has such a heart for seeing college kids come to Christ that he lives mainly on raised financial support from sponsors so he can “make disciples” at Iowa State University.  Another young lady has much the same calling, but it has brought her all the way to Rome, Italy, where the universities and most of the country have grown quite cold and apathetic to the things of Christ.  Also, we support a family through Family Life who travel and speak in the mission field of the United States with the goal of strengthening and equipping marriages and families with Biblical truth.

Could I really trust God that much to say I would devote my life to sharing His message, believing for people to come alongside to keep me fed and clothed?  I admit, the thought of it terrifies me.  But, for this moment, I will remain steadfast and ever more generous to those He has placed in my path who need just such support, so that I may play a small part in winning hearts and minds to the Kingdom.

P~  Father, I pray right now that You will bless Joe and Lauren and the Colletti family as they have stepped out in faith that Your hand would provide.  Renew their fervor and may they receive even more so they can do even more, all for Your Name’s sake.

We’re in Strict Training | Vicki Burns

S~ Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. :25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. I Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)

O~ Anyone who plans to compete, trains. Training is a process by which we are taught skills that we need for a certain effort. Let’s face it. Training, especially “strict training,” is hard work. It is a strenuous effort and as a rule, I tend to avoid such. I even pride myself in finding creative ways to make my life easier. So it is no wonder I might bristle at going into a competition and strict training. That means a lot of distractions have to be cleared from my life. I have to clear my calendar (ouch!) to practice and exercise. I have to change my diet and eat only what is good for me (double ouch!). That means drinking lots of water. I must embrace the fact that my life will have to be different. It will be focused now and I will be determined and ruthless in order to meet my goal. Outside influences must all fall away as I prioritize my life around this one thing… ”to run as to win.” I need only make the decision to enter this race and prepare to run it to win it! Then I choose to submit all to “strict training” and just do it! The stakes are high, a “crown that will last forever!”

A~ I’m not sure there has ever been a time in history where it has been more challenging to focus. There are distractions everywhere!…especially when I sit down to get in the Word! We have phones that boss us around with alarms, buzzers that beep, sing and whistle in a constant barrage of assault on our effort to focus. Then there are the distractions we intentionally, albeit mistakenly, plan into our schedules. And it all has to be attended to now! How often do we schedule time to reprioritize our life? In the end, what really IS important? Maybe we should reassess our priorities. Imagine the simplicity of centering our entire life around one thing! (enter deep, long sigh of relief.) There is actually time to quiet our spirit, hear ourselves think, see what is around us and do what matters most. And what is that? Sitting with the Lord long enough to hear His heart and maybe even His direction for all the other things surrounding us. Surely we all have other things, people and responsibilities. However, without the direction of the Lord in them we are “like a man running aimlessly…”or fighting like a man beating the air.” I Cor. 9:26

So here’s our paradox: As we prioritize time with God in His Word and prayer then we also are running a focused, God-directed race in which all other needs are met. The Word of God works. It imparts to us a heart of wisdom for all our life.

P~ I thank You Lord that You show Yourself to those who seek You. May we use our free will to seek You with all our heart so we may find You. We run to You. Show me the weights of sin that cling. Grant me grace to overcome. Help me run this race to win the forever crown and set my priorities thus. In Jesus name, Amen!

A Purpose Driven Life | Joni Tyner

S~ So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.   1 Corinthians 9:26 (NLT)

O~ Paul is reminding the Corinthians that everything they do matters.  Our lives should not be just going through the motions with no purpose.  ( In the NIV version, it says, “do not fight like a boxer beating the air.”)

A~ I’m going to write this verse and post it in strategic places in my house, car, life.  Maybe I’ll try and figure out how to put it on my phone as a screensaver.   I think it was a game changer the day I realized that God created Joni to live out a purpose only she could do.   There is not a single other person on this earth that is the exact replica of me.  If I am lazy or neglectful and don’t fulfill this assignment, there is a hole in that piece of the Kingdom.  It is that way for every single believer.  This completely motivates me to think that to strategically live out this verse to the very best of my ability.  It is always for building His Kingdom, not for accomplishing my own personal agenda.  A professional boxer would never practice for a big fight by hitting the air—STUPID AND POINTLESS!!!   Similarly, my days shouldn’t be filled with meaningless activity.

P~ Dear Lord, please help me constantly be cognizant of what You created me to do.  Instill a passion within me to do life with excellence—I pray every step, every retail visit, conversation, social media post, etc… all of it—is done with intentional reflection to point others to You.  Help me be Your hands and feet.

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