Day 338 Bible Reading Plan – “The Joy of Understanding”

 

The Joy of Understanding

The Joy of Understanding

I remember watching my children play when they were toddlers. One would be building with legos or some building tool and the other would get this mischievous look on their face, plotting to knock it down. It was all about power. But when those same kids learned to read for the first time, they unlocked something greater and more powerful—the joy of understanding. Truly understanding enables us to overcome battles in our mind as we put on right thinking from God’s word. And it was understanding God’s word that brought the greatest joy to the people Ezra read and taught God’s word to.

Bible Reading: Nehemiah 7-9

If you wonder if your life counts for God, today’s reading starts off with an answer to that question.

In Nehemiah 7, the exiles are returning and being numbered in a genealogy. What an incredible moment to see God’s people returning after the wall has been built. But this same list is also in Ezra 2. Sometimes we can tend to gloss or skip over the genealogies like they have no purpose. But God wanted to make sure we knew the names of these people.

According to bible.org commentary, “In Ezra, this list of names of those who returned from Babylon under Zerubbabel in 536 B.C. served to document who was a true Jew. In Nehemiah, nearly a century later (444 B.C.), the list answers the question, “Who is available to repopulate the city and to provide for temple worship?” Nehemiah uses the list to instill in the people a reminder of their personal and national identity as God’s people and to encourage them to fulfill their responsibilities in light of this identity.”

“To count for God, commit yourself to the things that matter to God.”

The Joy of Understanding—Positions

Understanding what matters to God helps us to position ourselves to live according to his word. We have joy and we have purpose. Our lives matter because they are invested for eternity in the work and purposes of God in our lives.

Nehemiah understood his calling and he was careful as he carried it out. Notice in Nehemiah 7 that he carefully picked who would serve alongside him.

Nehemiah 7:2, “2 Then I put my brother Hanani in charge of Jerusalem, along with Hananiah, commander of the fortress, because he was a faithful man who feared God more than most.”

Be careful who you place in a position to work with you. Choose people who understand God’s word and live by it.

The Joy of Understanding—Reading God’s Word Aloud

Nehemiah 8:2-3

“2 On the first day of the seventh month, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding. 3 While he was facing the square in front of the Water Gate, he read out of it from daybreak until noon before the men, the women, and those who could understand. All the people listened attentively to the book of the law. 5 Ezra opened the book in full view of all the people, since he was elevated above everyone. As he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and with their hands uplifted all the people said, “Amen, Amen!” Then they knelt low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

The Joy of Understanding—Interpreting and Studying God’s Word

7 Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, who were Levites, explained the law to the people as they stood in their places. 8 They read out of the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read. 9 Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all of them, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.

The Joy of Understanding—The Joy of the LORD is Your Strength

10 Then he said to them, “Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 And the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, since today is holy. Don’t grieve.” 12 Then all the people began to eat and drink, send portions, and have a great celebration, because they had understood the words that were explained to them.”

The Joy of Understanding—Responding to God’s Word

Friends, do we read God’s word out loud in our homes? In our churches? I am convicted by this. When my children were younger and I would try to have Bible time and read God’s word out loud and let’s just say it was challenging. Even now, we basically do our own devotional times, but reading this passage today reminds me of the importance of reading God’s word aloud.

But this scene in Nehemiah 8 was a scene of revival. People were attentive to God’s word. They sought to study and understand. They lifted their hands. And they wept. Then they cried out. And their joy was full. May God revive our hearts even now to treasure His word.

On the second day, Ezra took the heads of the families and studied the word of God. But notice that it was not just Ezra doing the studying and interpreting of God’s word. Many other Levites were doing so, as well.

The Joy of Understanding—Understanding Our History

In Nehemiah 9, the Levites give a lengthy history lesson of God’s people. When we understand where we have come from, we can understand what God has done for us. We need to remember what we came from to be able to appreciate where God has brought us.

We can get so caught up in the here and now that we lose perspective and lose understanding. But reading God’s word reminds us of what matters most so we can live with a right understanding and not waste this precious gift of life.

Scripture of the Day: Nehemiah 8:8

“They read out of the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.”

Application

  • Seek out understanding from God’s word – not from the culture.
  • Cry out for understanding.
  • Live by what you understand.
  • Revival happened because God’s people heard and obeyed God’s word.
  • May God bring revival in our land.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #338: Nehemiah 7-9

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Nehemiah 8:8

“They read out of the book of the law of God, translating and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.”

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Day 337 Bible Reading Plan – “The Choice is Up to Us”

The Choice is up to us

The Choice is Up to Us

“If”. Such a small word with such big consequences. But make no mistake—we get to choose how we will handle the truth we have heard. Sometimes we will feel powerless to choose, but feelings are not fact. The choice is up to us—choose blessings or curses. Admittedly no one would likely want to choose curses, but oftentimes we are not aware that the daily choices we make are bearing consequences of blessings or curses that could impact our life or our eternity.

Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 27-28

The overriding message of all of the book of Deuteronomy is to love and obey God. This is the way to the blessed life. But more than just seeking a blessed life, this is what we were made for. To know God and to treasure Him. But our pesky flesh can get in the way. Still, we do get to choose.

According to gotquestions.org, the blessings are listed in a chiastic structure, “a literary device in which a sequence of ideas is presented and then repeated in reverse order. The result is a “mirror” effect as the ideas are “reflected” back in a passage.”

Deuteronomy 28 lists the blessings and then the reverse – the curses. But praise God that Jesus reversed the curse! And we get to choose, friends!

How Do We Choose?—Fully

The first principle for obedience is that it is full-on obedience – not partial obedience.

Deuteronomy 27:1

“Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, “Keep every command I am giving you today.”

The Choice is Up To Us—Be in Agreement

Notice that God’s people were in agreement with God’s principles. The phrase, “And all the people will say, ‘Amen!'” was written 12 times in chapter 27 alone. Surround yourself with people who think and act biblically. Who will encourage you to obey God and His word.

The Choice is Up To Us—Faithfully and Carefully

Deuteronomy 28:1-2

“Now if you faithfully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all his commands I am giving you today, the Lord your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth. 2 All these blessings will come and overtake you, because you obey the Lord your God.”

The two Hebrew words for faithfully and carefully are Shamah and Shamar. It is this sense of being on the watch. Being attentive, diligent to listen to God’s will.

The Choice is Up To Us—Full Cheerful Obedience

As a parent, when my children don’t want to do what I have asked, it is burdensome. How much more when our loving Father Who has blessed us abundantly, finds that His people are not joyful in their relationship with Him or in serving Him?

Deuteronomy 28:47-48

“Because you didn’t serve the Lord your God with joy and a cheerful heart, even though you had an abundance of everything, 48 you will serve your enemies that the Lord will send against you, in famine, thirst, nakedness, and a lack of everything. He will place an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.”

The Choice is Up To Us—Intentionally remembering

At the beginning of our reading today, God had His people put His word on stones to remind them. Sometimes we forget to obey because we are not grounded in God’s word. How can you place God’s word more faithfully in your path to help you remember? It might not be stones, but how can you get His word to be central in your life? We can’t obey what we don’t know or follow.

Deuteronomy 27:2-3

“2 When you cross the Jordan into the land the Lord your God is giving you, set up large stones and cover them with plaster. 3 Write all the words of this law on the stones after you cross to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.”

Scripture of the Day: Deuteronomy 27:26

“Cursed is anyone who does not put the words of this law into practice. And all the people will say, ‘Amen!'”

It is not just knowing God’s word, but doing it that blesses us. We all want to be blessed, but sometimes we need to remember the consequences of doing things our way instead of God’s way. Curses motivate us to not go astray. Blessings encourage us to persevere. It will be worth it.

Application

  • We can’t obey what we don’t know or follow.
  • No matter how tempted or discouraged we might feel, We always have a choice.

𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.

Day #337: Deuteronomy 27-28

𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Deuteronomy 27:26

“Cursed is anyone who does not put the words of this law into practice. And all the people will say, ‘Amen!'”

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What’s in a Promise, part 4

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Broken promises are a doorway that leads us to higher promises made by the Lover of our souls.

Scriptures of the Day:

2 Corinthians 1:20

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”

Matthew 5:37

“Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one.”

Broken Promises

We have looked at the Source of Promises, the Purpose of Promises, and the Nature of Promises. I confess I want to get right to my last part to this series – Accessing God’s Promises (can’t wait!) – but I feel I would be remiss if I skipped over what I alluded to yesterday – Broken Promises.

I don’t really like to talk about broken promises. It hurts to contemplate both when someone betrayed our trust or when we did so, as well. I hate to see other people’s lives crushed because of one person’s decision to be unfaithful and to choose temporary pleasure instead of eternal reward. We long for the day when people’s yes is yes and there no is no. We root for people to be faithful. With man this is not possible, but with God nothing is impossible.

Christ knows our pain. He knew Judas was going to betray him, but he did not stop him from doing so. A promise He had spoken prior to this betrayal was on His mind – the redemption of our souls.

Sometimes we can sense that someone is going to break their promise with us and we try to stop them. We try to warn them of the consequences, but they still opt for the route of pain. Why?

Deceived.

The same one who deceived Judas gets into the hearts of men and women and blinds their eyes so they do not believe God’s promises. Man can tend to look at the here and now and shrink back from faith when things seem too difficult to trust in a promise that seems impossible. Seemingly yielding to what seems more pleasant, promise breakers are actually choosing a life of pain for themselves and those they have broken faith with.

The trouble with man placing his trust in our own actions is that we don’t often think it all the way through. When we do, we rationalize our way around the deception and think we will escape the principle of God at work in all of our lives – reaping what we sow. Deceived again. Notice that I say the word, “we” because apart from the grace of God, so we all are capable of being deceived and falling.

Who broke the promise? Can I trust God?

But what we might not want to readily admit is that we sometimes feel as if trust is broken between us and God when God allows pain into our lives. We stuff the thoughts down, not wanting our faith hurt. Somewhere we believed the lie that God promised us perfect lives free of discomfort. As favored children of God, we think we might have a better plan than God does for our lives.

Acknowledging our tendency to blame God for man’s sin, we still have a crisis – will God’s promises redeem the mess we are in? From the framework of the promises we make, this does not seem likely, until we examine God’s track record. Yes, friends, God’s promises are always fulfilled – but we have a role to play, too.

When we by faith take God at his word, we can still struggle with the temptation to break promises ourselves or avoid doing our part of the promises of God. Why doesn’t everyone do everything they can to gain the promises of God?

Vulnerability.

Trusting in promises is a vulnerable choice. We don’t want to feel foolish when our hopes seem to go unanswered. It might seem like a place of weakness to trust in what seems impossible, but it is, in fact, a place of strength. Our Almighty God is really the only One Who is fully trustworthy and able to make us trustworthy, too. Despite the suffering that broken promises produce, broken promises are a doorway that leads us to a higher promise made by the Lover of our souls.

Lord, heal hearts that have broken and help us to place all our trust in You, where we will never be disappointed.

 

Flourishing Friday: Bloom Where You are Planted

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Bloom where you are planted – others around you need to see you thrive.

Scriptures of the Day:

Isaiah 32:15

“This desolation will continue until new life is poured out on us from heaven. Then the desert will become an orchard and the orchard will be considered a forest.”

Isaiah 35:1

“Let the desert and dry region be happy; let the wilderness rejoice and bloom like a lily! 2 Let it richly bloom; let it rejoice and shout with delight! It is given the grandeur of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the grandeur of the LORD, the splendor of our God.”

Ok, I know.  I can be corny sometimes, but I like alliteration and every Friday has a different theme in my mind.  Today is the beautiful imagery found in the book of Isaiah.

There in the middle of the desert, where there is seemingly no nourishment around, a blossom forms and a lily thrives.  Stubbornly it stands, defying all odds.  Alone it is a witness that the harsh realities surrounding it have not snuffed out its life.

I enjoy gardening (well, sort of), and truly feel sad when one of my seeds becomes a seedling then fails to survive.  Next to another seedling that grew into a might plant, I wonder what the difference was.

Now plants can’t feel, but the analogy to me is beautiful.  The word, “Let” strikes me in the above scriptural passage, almost signifying a request or a choice.

When a plant is not thriving, sometimes we can try to transplant it to a more fertile area. The root system can be easily damaged in this procedure and the weak seedling withers. But maybe the answer was to remain.  To stay where there is seemingly no support or life and choose to add things to our environment that produce life.

Such a decision requires a choice.  Not to depend on those around us for life, but to find it within.  Not to allow toxic substances nearby to poison or embitter us, but to choose to feast on God’s truth found in His Word and let that life flow through us, instead.

Sometimes it hardly seems worth the fight.  So many around us can want us to fail, but perhaps what they need more than anything is to see us succeed; to see that God is enough.

It is not easy to choose joy and life when faced with the opposite and we can feel foolish to hope, but it is the seed of hope that becomes a reality of a longing fulfilled for those who wait on the LORD.

Lord, thank You for the grace to live an abundant life not dependent on circumstances or provision, but on You alone.  Help us to thrive for Your glory.

Truthful Tuesday: Whose Lead Do You Follow?

Whose lead do you follow

Romans 8:5

“For  those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”

We’d all like to think that we are led by the Spirit and are making decisions that are wise, but often we do not see the spiritual realm all around us, affecting our thoughts and actions.  The impact of flesh versus spirit affects our lives and those around us.

The choices we make moment by moment are filtered by our mindset which is impacted by many factors in our environment.  Evident in our choices about what we eat (ugh . . . chocoholic confessions here for me), to the clothing we wear, the words we say and the attitudes we have toward other people, we have impressions or feelings that bombard us constantly.  If we are not careful and discerning, we can allow our perception or someone else’s opinion to affect our own behavior.

One main way this flesh is played out is how we treat one another.  Rejection of others who aren’t like us is common in the world, but unfortunately, it also happens at church. People shun others or just plain old don’t like other people who are made in the image of God.  Where does this come from?  If it is not from God, then the answer is obvious, but all too often we do not stop to consider why we don’t like someone.  We might all have different personalities, but we ought to love one another so the world can see that body of Christ is indeed different.

The truth is we are more apt to be carnal than spiritual beings and when we are spiritual, we often get in the flesh and think it is us who are righteous, when Christ alone is our righteousness.

While this is a humbling truth, maybe it can provoke us to be aware of our thoughts and behaviors.  Do they honor God?  Are they of the Spirit or of the flesh?  If we could grab a hold of this reality, Christians would turn this world upside down with godly lives and choices that no longer appear hypocritical, unconditional acceptance and love instead of judgment and forming cliques.

Pleasing self or others and seeking acceptance from God’s creation does not compare with living for the audience of One.  Like Paul, we will have to battle the flesh, but staying in the battle is far better than not recognizing the battle of the flesh versus spirit in the first place.

Lord, may You increase and may we decrease.  Help us to recognize the things that are from You and the things that are not and to walk in the Spirit.

 

True Freedom – Happy 4th of July!!

Galatians 5:1

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.”

Isaiah 61:1

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;” 

Romans 8:1-2

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

Many images come to mind when I contemplate what freedom means.  Imagery of a soldier, willingly choosing to fight to keep our land free from danger; thoughts of our founding fathers, tirelessly making sure our constitution protected our rights and freedoms; and an innocent God-man, choosing to lay down His life to purchase our freedom.

Freedom is not cheap.  It is the most expensive gift someone can give and receive.  Yet after it has been received it is often quickly forgotten what sacrifice was given to provide such a gift.  We can begin to deviate from what that freedom really was intended for if we are not mindful.  Freedom FROM sin, not freedom FOR sin.  Freedom to live in freedom, but not to use that freedom to infringe on other people’s freedoms.

As we remember the hard fought for freedom in the United States of America – won on the backs of those who laid down their lives so we could become a new nation, may we never forget the chief purpose – to be able to worship freely.  They saw a bigger purpose for our nation than just the American Dream of living lavishly.  We can still be a lamp to the world if we will remember the true freedom we were meant to have in this land – freedom to worship our living God.  We cannot let this hard-fought-for freedom die so easily.

Political correctness threatens to stifle our consciences and silence true Christianity, replacing it with dead religion that offers no hope nor true freedom.  In the name of freedom we are told people should have freedom of speech, yet Christians are told they cannot pray, the ten commandments are removed and a marine is disciplined for not removing her Scripture from her desk.  In the name of freedom, people demand offensive cakes be made and sue the ones who will not make it, denying the freedom of choice and conscience that the bakers have.  In the name of freedom, people proclaim their right to murder the unborn for their convenience, while the voices of those who cannot speak for themselves are silenced forever.

Our freedom is being taken from us little by little.  Do we perceive it?

We can still be a source of light to the nations if we do not forget our heritage.  Christ is the hope of all the nations and the only One Who really sets us free.

The ultimate freedom is the freedom from sin.  Freedom from bitterness.  Freedom to choose righteousness.  Freedom to love your enemies.  Unlike the freedom this world affords, the freedom Christ purchased is forever.  May true freedom reign in our hearts and our land.  To God be the glory!

Lord, thank You for setting my heart free twenty-seven years ago – I will never be the same.  Heal our land, LORD! Capture our hearts again and revive our hearts for you, Jesus.  Have mercy on our sins and make this nation Yours!

The Options Before Us

Isaiah 1:18

“Come, let’s consider your options,” says the LORD. “Though your sins have stained you like the color red, you can become white like snow; though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet, you can become white like wool.” (NET)

Isaiah 6:5-8

“I said, ‘Too bad for me! I am destroyed, for my lips are contaminated by sin, and I live among people whose lips are contaminated by sin. My eyes have seen the king, the LORD who commands armies.’ 6 But then one of the seraphs flew toward me. In his hand was a hot coal he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Look, this coal has touched your lips. Your evil is removed; your sin is forgiven.’ 8 I heard the voice of the sovereign master say, “Whom will I send? Who will go on our behalf?” I answered, ‘Here I am, send me!'”  (NET)

I love the wording of the NET Bible version in Isaiah 1:18 – “Come, let’s consider your options” – not much of a decision there, really.  Either be covered in sin and condemned to hell, or be covered with Christ’s blood, forgiven and go to Heaven. For such an obvious choice, so many miss it.  Why?  Deception.  Ignorance.  Rebellion. Election.

The master deceiver does his job well.  Many tools lie in his arsenal – condemnation, oppression, distraction, busyness, anything to keep us from seeing our need for salvation.  But we can contribute to our own deception by remaining in ignorance.  Laziness helps our ignorance along if we expect God’s truth to be spoon fed to us rather than seeking Him.

Our rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, but we often sanitize our sins to make them acceptable.  Excuses can abound to make one avoid accountability.  This is not surprising, because our flesh’s natural disposition is to avoid doing anything that requires facing something potentially ugly in ourselves.  Why?  Our pride and self esteem might be injured.  (You probably picked up on the sarcasm there).  Or we want to be our own master, assert our independence.  Every person I have known who rebelled and craved independence regrets that decision later.  But still something in us craves “freedom” from anyone’s control, which can cramp our style and choices, even if those choices harm us and separate us from fellowship with our loving God.  Rebellion is actually insanity – What or who are we rebelling from?  The One Who offers us true unconditional acceptance – why run away from that?

Ultimately, in God’s sovereignty, He already knows who belongs to Him before we even have our eyes opened to understand that we need saving.  Where is our responsibility, then?  We are unique in all of God’s creation, in that we have reasoning and free will.  When God’s plan of salvation is shared, people have a choice – to accept this great salvation or to reject it.  Yet even in that choice it is solely the grace of God that enables us to make that choice.

Isaiah was humbled and desperate for his sins to be removed when confronted with God’s Holiness in comparison to his wretched sinful condition.  His response could only be to throw himself upon the mercy of God.  His sins atoned for, Isaiah exuberantly pronounced, “Here I am! Send me!”.  I want to have this same wonder and amazement over God’s salvation every day of every year.  May He help us to have the same zeal to help others recognize and receive the gift of eternal life.

Lord, help us to see how very vile we are apart from Your loving grace and salvation.  Thank you, dear sweet LORD, for opening my eyes to see and know You and to choose the best option of my life.  I did not deserve it, I never will – but please help me to never forget how great a salvation You have given and to live worthy of this amazing gift.  Amen.

Worshipful Wednesday: Determined Praise

Psalm 108:1

I am determined, O God!  I will sing and praise You with my whole heart.”

2 Timothy 1:12

“Because of this, in fact, I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, because I know the one in whom my faith is set and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day.”

Determination.  The mere word sparks images of situations which required a decision in the face of fear or apathy.  A child learning to ride a bike decides that they will take off the training wheels and plunges headlong on a two-wheeled vehicle, despite every part of their being that cries out against it.  In that moment, determination overcomes every argument that attempts to intervene.  How?  The costs are weighed; the benefits of triumphing over fear and riding in freedom instead of being constrained by training wheels wins.  The achievement is worth it, even if a couple of scraped knees happened along the way.

Being determined when learning something new is challenging, but perhaps not as challenging as ruling the heart when tempted to fear, doubt, or become pessimistic or bitter in the midst of life’s harrowing challenges.  It is a decision made, a setting of the will to choose to not focus on the outward seemingly impossibilities and to set our hope on God’s ability and promises.  This kind of determination cannot be half-hearted.  It cannot be void of passion.  It requires all of our heart and our being.  Our members might try to sway us from a determined stance due to fatigue or discouragement; but giving in to fleeting emotions will not grant us the sweet victory that sticking firmly with a belief or conviction will.

Knowing the One our faith is set upon is the source of all our determination.  Our hope is not futile, it is grounded on the Rock, our LORD Jesus, Whose faithfulness convinces our souls.  Our enemy and our flesh will seek to pick away at believing in God above all things, but we must remember in those moments to ask God to strengthen our feeble knees and to grant us faith.  The Nike slogan, “Just Do It” can be helpful to inspire athletes to pursue health goals, but it does not have the power to motivate long-term a consistent determination like the power of the Holy Spirit that believers can call upon.  Here lies before us today a decision: will we trust God or be tossed to and fro?  Be determined, my friends.  Choose to praise God in all seasons and experience the joy and fruit that determined praise brings.

Lord, I praise You!  I believe You are in complete control over everything and choose to trust in You!  I praise You with all my heart and pray that You will awaken Your bride to be determined to praise You and reach this world with Your love.