Taste and See

Devotional by Lauren Webb

Scripture for Today: Psalm 34:8 (NIV), “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”

Happy birthday to you….

The room was frozen with expectation. My youngest sat in her high chair. A beautiful smash cake decorated with pink flowers sat before her.  Cameras poised mid-air, ready to catch the moment by smiling grandparents. Hailee sat surveying the room over the cake presented to her, glancing from the cake to the adults circling like paparazzi. She sat ridged glaring suspiciously. She was having no part of it.

Finally, I took a healthy swipe of icing and ran it across her lips like lipstick. She was so mad. But as soon as her face started to scrunch up in protest the icing found its mark. Her eye grew round with delight. As she licked her lips she began to squeal with excitement. I’ve never seen her move as fast as she did to get another bite.

8Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.

There is an urging of sorts here in this section of Scripture; a call for us as believers to join in. Just like the birthday cake. There is a delighted expectation from God for us to just lick our lips. David is asking us to taste in the Lord’s goodness. The goodness of God includes the beauty and awesomeness of His being as well as the bounty and benefit of His providence and grace.

This can be the hard part of our faith walk when we struggle in life. When our kids are struggling, our husbands lose their jobs, relationships fail, or when our bodies seem to betray us. But, this Psalm is not a conviction out of victory but a testimony from experience. David was on the run. He finds himself away from family and friends and hiding among his enemies, the Philistines. In an effort to save his life he pretends to be someone he is not, a mad man. It is from this place that David urges those around him to see and taste the goodness of God. It boils down to one thing.

To taste is to trust.

Often times I want the emotions to dictate my response. But in truth to trust in His goodness requires intentional practice. It means taking small bites in willingness to be aware of our own poverty. Not poverty of one who has no possessions but of one who recognizes they are without resources to affect their own deliverance or secure their own wellbeing and so is dependent upon God.

It is through this dependence upon Him that we recognize what a generous and loving God He is. We must relish in all of His gifts realizing the sweetness of His provisions. We must also view Him as beautiful. When we delight in His infinite and powerful being we find contentment.

To taste and see that the Lord is good means to take notice of it and take comfort in it. For He is good and when we find comfort in Him we are truly blessed. My prayer for you my sister in Christ is that you will be convinced of His goodness and be encouraged in the worst of times to always trust in Him.


  1. Take Note of God’s Goodness: This week take time to write down all the ways you have experienced His goodness in your life. Nothing is too small to recognize. The more we practice this, the easier and more habit-forming it becomes. Be brave and share a few with someone.
  2. Take Comfort In It: So often our prayers become about what we need. This is good for us to do, but we also need to practice taking comfort in who God is. Tell Him in your prayers what you think of Him. Delight in His character, grant Him reverence in His judgment.

The Cost

Devotional by Lauren Webb

Scripture for Today: Luke 9:57-62 (NIV), “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

The coffee shop on Main pulsated with conversation. I finally found a small tabletop wedged in the corner. Like most parents of young teens, I found myself in a season of waiting and chauffeuring. The time allowed me to think about where God was calling me to serve His people. The issue was not salvation by service, but instead the expectation of service from those whom God has dealt with lovingly, and He has been so good to me. I found myself seeking His wisdom through today’s Scripture.

Here we are given three different people who either offered themselves up to follow Christ or were called to serve in His kingdom. The first proclaimed that he would follow Christ wherever He was to go. This is good, isn’t it? This is the resolution we as Christ followers should proclaim. Revelation 14:4 tells us that this type of follower is marked as first fruits to God and the Lamb. Isn’t that our greatest desire?

So why then does Christ seem to give a stern and cautionary response?

Our answer lies in the expectation of the follower. Jesus’ popularity was swelling, and they were on their way to Jerusalem, where the crowd believed Jesus would appear in His glory. This follower jumped in quickly and wanted religion to provide secular advantages. The empty promises of the prosperity gospel warped the expectation of what God would do for him. Jesus warned him that if he could not submit to harsh conditions or live in the contempt of others, then he should not pretend to follow God.

The second person did not shout out; rather, this person was called by the Savior: “Follow Me.” This time, however, he wasn’t quick. Instead, he hesitated. He asked to go and bury his father. This is a good thing in our minds, isn’t it? Aren’t we supposed to honor our father and mother? We not only can justify this request, but in fact, we are sympathetic to the man.

However, most commentaries suggest that this man was not in the midst of funeral arraignments. In reality, the request was simply for more time to get things in order. Jesus told him to allow the spiritually dead to bury the physically dead.

The Kingdom (big K) of God does not wait for man’s kingdom (little k) to be ready first.

The third person volunteered to follow after Christ but asked to say goodbye to his family first. We get this one, don’t we? It feels morally sound; it feels good. This request can also be found in Scripture as acceptable, in the account of Elisha being called to service in I Kings 19:19-21. He was allowed time to permanently leave one vocation to follow another. So Christ’s rebuke feels harsh. Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Ouch! This pierces my heart deeply.

However, we can’t compare a prophet’s ministry with Christ’s ministry. The gospel takes precedence.

We need to think about this more like Lot’s wife as she looked back on her former life in Sodom. She was not permitted to move forward. We also cannot look back on our old lives, our old shame, and our old pasts. If we do so, our plow lines will be crooked. Plowing to break up the soil is essential to sowing the seeds of the kingdom of God. When we don’t lay down our past, we aren’t living in the new. This in essence says we don’t believe we needed the Savior.

I realized my coffee was cold.

Let’s do the hard work, ladies. As women in ministry, we have been all three of these followers. In fact, we struggle through them in a continuing cycle. We keep reliving our past failures, causing our plow lines to falter. We feel we must get our personal lives in order before jumping into volunteering or teaching. We desire worldly blessings and affirmation through the work we do. The impossibility of it is overwhelming. Yet, Jesus changes everything. Feel the weight of the disciples’ hearts as they realize this same thing.

“They were even more astonished, saying to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Looking at them, Jesus said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:26-27)

Take heart, my sisters in Christ, and take stock in your heart. Lay your struggles down at His feet, admitting when you need His help to overcome. His call will not fit into our expectations, His call will not wait for us to get it all right, and His call will not allow us to remain the same.

Jesus changes everything.

Prayer Challenge: Pray this week, asking God to reveal how He wants you to follow Him in His work. Ask for one truth in Scripture that will help you focus on laying down any burdens that hinder you in this work.

Practical Practice: Interview someone in your life that serves well. Ask them how they know that God is calling them to this work. Ask which fruit of the Spirit is being strengthened through this service. Ask them to pray for you as you seek to serve God faithfully.

He Will Do It!

Devotional by Lauren Webb

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 1:7-9, “…so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The house was quiet because the girls were outside playing. We could see them through the back windows as my husband and I paced the length of the kitchen in silence. I folded my arms across my chest, gently swaying as if holding a sleeping baby.

Whit took a deep sigh, interlocked his fingers and wrapped them around the back of his neck. He looked like a runner trying to cool down. We were on opposite sides of the kitchen island.

A single phone lay between us on the counter. It finally lit up with the phone call we were waiting for. He placed both hands on the counter and let it ring a few times. He looked at me long and hard, and then reached for the phone.

“Hello, this is Whit.”

I knew from the look on his face as he listened that he had the job if he wanted it. Now the hard part came. Do we take it?

As Christians, we face these same defining moments as we seek to follow God’s lead. Where do we attend church? How does God want me to use my talents, treasures, testimonies, and time to honor Him? What am I actively doing to disciple those around me? Do I blog, teach, volunteer, lead, serve…what has He designed for me? For those who find themselves leading an active ministry, you ask yourself, “Is this an effective discipleship practice? Or is there a change needed?”

Our crossroads shouldn’t catch us by surprise. In fact, we should expect them but treat them with reverence.

The hard part isn’t coming to the moment; the hard part is how to handle the moment.

Isaiah 50:10-11 tells us that being obedient is like being in the dark. You can’t see where you are going. We can’t see the end game of God’s plan for this particular earthly crossroad, but we are to trust Him to move us in the right direction. There is effort on our part to not light our own torch and set our own path. In fact, He warns us against going on our own.

We have to ask ourselves: is this His plan or mine?

It’s hard to discern sometimes.

Here is the good news. He is faithful.

I Corinthians 1:7-9 tells us that He will equip us with everything we need, strengthen us for the work ahead and hold us fast to Him. He who began a good work in us, and carried us on this far, would not leave it unfinished. Those that wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ will be kept by Him and confirmed to the end. Those who are so kept will be blameless in the day of Christ, not upon the principle of strict justice, but by gracious absolution.

How amazing to have such a purpose as this! What a gracious privilege, for ourselves and others, to be kept by the power of Christ from the power of our own corruption and Satan’s temptation, that we may appear without blame in the great day!

The faithfulness of God comes in to support our hopes! He who hath called us into the fellowship of his Son is faithful, and will do it1 Thess. 5:24.

So be encouraged, dear sisters in Christ, when crossroads come. Because Christ is faithful, stay in the Word of God daily and seek wise counsel as you work to be the obedient servant. For your reward does not come in isolation, but in fellowship with the One who called you and will keep you to the end.

He is faithful.


Look up each verse in the list below and write it out in your journal or notepad. Then answer the following three questions:

  1. What does this passage say about God and His character?
  2. How does this passage point to the gospel?
  3. What specific steps can you take this week to apply this passage?

Day 1: I Thessalonians 3:13

Day 2: Psalm 89:33

Day 3: I Thessalonians 5:24

Day 4: Philippians 1:6

Day 5: Numbers 23:19

Ask the Question

Devotional by Lauren Webb

Scripture for Today: Mark 12:33-34 (NIV), “…and to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices. When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God. And no one dared to question him any longer.”

Old University Hall smelled faintly of musty air and lemon polish. The wooden seats creaked as attendees shifted back and forth, waiting for the debate. The topic was a hot button issue with emotions running high.

The panel included top theologians, professors, and ministers with multiple books in circulation on the subject. Speakers reviewed notes, while people from multiple denominations filled the audience, hoping to hear wisdom or have their point proven.

In the balcony, two men who were not previously acquainted ended up sharing the only space left. They sat on the floor shoulder to shoulder. Like most forced encounters, it was a little awkward, and they spent some time delicately finding out where the other stood on the issue.

Then one man said, “You tell me about the Jesus you know, and I’ll tell you about the Jesus I know.”

I remember thinking how brave this was, and yet how presumptuous. Here we were in a great Christian institution, obviously drawn to a Christian theological issue. The conversation grabbed my interest and brought Mark 12 to mind.

If you haven’t read Mark 12:28-34 recently, take some time now. The section of Scripture I usually focus on is Jesus’ first two answers. Where there is a commanding principle in the soul, there is then a disposition in everything we do. Simply put, if we love God, we will love people.

However, it is the third statement Jesus makes that causes my breath to catch.

Here we find a debate in full swing. Both sides (Pharisees and Sadducees) were included in the top religious minds of the time. They were the authority on matters of the law. To say they despised one another would be an understatement.

However, one man (in verse 28) must have been different, for it seems he did not ask Jesus about the most important command in order to stir up trouble, to prove his own worth, or to sway the argument to his side. This man seems to ask Jesus for the sake of getting to know Him better. It was from this disposition that Christ saw he answered wisely.

Christ’s response was piercing: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

It is terrifying to think about being so close, but still not a part of the very real and very present kingdom of God. He was missing one thing. He did not know who he was talking to. He didn’t know the real Jesus. He didn’t know that Jesus was both God and his Savior.

There are people I dearly love who are like this scribe in Mark 12. They have the right words, and they attend all the right programming. But they do not know the real Jesus.

Wherever you serve right now—whether in student ministry, connection ministry, preschool ministry, or you’re a Bible study leader, make sure you ask those in your care who Jesus is to them. Do it from a place of love and unbiased assumptions, but always ask the question.

There is great hope for those who make good use of the light they have and go as far as that will carry them. God’s grace will lead them on to His eternal kingdom and salvation. But we have a deep responsibility to share with those around us who we know the real Jesus to be.

What became of the scribe or the man in the balcony we do not know, but we are hopeful that they willingly took the hint to really examine who they have put their trust in. Our prayer is that both men found that the greatest command of the Old Testament is also the greatest command of the gospel.

And because this is our commanding principle in the soul, there is then a disposition in everything we do. So, always be sure to ask the question.

Prayer Challenge: Ask God to give you three people to pray for who need to know the real HIM. Write their names down. Pray for them every day. Ask God for the opportunity to share with them who He is and how wonderful His love is.

Practice Challenge: Find three friends to practice sharing about who Jesus is to you. Tell them up front you need to practice getting it out. Get some feedback. Where can you be clearer? How can you be more open with body language and facial expressions?

5 Relationships Worth Investing In

By Shawna Goldstein, GGN Networking Director

“The righteous choose their friends carefully…” Proverbs 12:26

Who do you need in your life?

Jesus. He’s the best friend you could ever have and the only way to have a relationship with the Father.

A confidant. Imagine life is this big uphill climb. Look around. There are people in front of you, farther up the hill, and people below you, closer to the bottom. Then look side to side. Who is there right next to you? Who is running this race at about the same speed that you can share life with?

We all need a confidant who we can tell our struggles, concerns, questions, and fears and they will get it because they are right there too. Pause and pray that God would show you who this person is and help you to take steps to initiate a deeper relationship. Do they know they can count on you no matter what? Are you a safe place for them to share their struggles? Have you been vulnerable, so they know they can be open and honest with you too?

A mentee. Look down that hill. Who is a bit below you, maybe newer in their faith journey or younger in their stage of life? Who has God strategically put in your path that you can encourage, build up, and pour into? You don’t have to approach them and say, “Can I mentor you?” Just pursue a friendship with them, earn their trust, and through sharing life, be a source of wisdom and encouragement for them.


A mentor. Do you see them, further up that hill, straining for the top? That woman who you admire, who you’d love to be like someday. She is bold, brave, confident, and in love with the Lord. She is everything you want to be.

Ask her to coffee and offer to pay! Tell her what you see in her and ask her how she’s gotten that way. What is God teaching her? How is she growing? What has made her who she is? Reach out to this woman when you need godly advice and encouragement. Learn from her. Be her disciple as she follows Christ.

A not-yet-believer. You are the light of the world. God has placed people in your life for a reason. Who doesn’t know Him yet that you can be praying for and intentionally building a relationship with in order to share Christ?

Pray over these relationships. Be intentional. Be an initiator. And remember that everything lasts for a season, so although we should always have these kinds of relationships, the people who fill those roles may change over time.

Each friendship will make a lasting impact on your heart as you do on theirs. And as relationships change, remember that Jesus always stays the same. He is your constant, the anchor of hope for your soul.

One Decision at a Time

Devotional by Lauren Webb

Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:22-25 (NIV), “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” 

The red and white checked table cloth fell in a pattern under my hand. I absently ran my fingers over the design while I tried to rein control over my emotions. I hated crying in public.

The Corner Market Café was filled during a busy afternoon lunch. The faint clink of dishes and sweet southern voices made a comforting canopy over our table. I glanced up at my dearest friend and mentor. Her hands went still as she thought deeply.

She then took a deep enough breath for me to see her chest move.  If she were a poker player, this would be her tell. I knew I wanted to hear the wisdom she was about to offer.

I found myself in a place of inactivity, spiritually. I was praying for direction and seeking wisdom through study and wise counsel, but God had been very quiet. It had come to a point that I felt disobedient.

I didn’t know where to serve, and there seemed to be a lack of fruit in my walk of faith. I would in turn try to generate the direction to go, but it felt inauthentic. I just didn’t know what God was calling me to do.

She finally said, “The way I think about keeping in step with the Spirit is this. I am responsible for making the next decision God sends me, then He is in charge of everything else.”

It was as if a weight lifted from my chest.

So often we make the mistake of reading the above Scripture as a checklist or resume. We forget that the list of attributes above is not our responsibility to manufacture or jewels to adorn ourselves with.

They will only be shown as inauthentic when done out of self-motivation. These are the attributes of the Holy Spirit. They belong to God, and when we walk with Him, His fruit is shown through us. However, our divine selection does not dull our human responsibility.

Our job is to walk with Him and keep in step with Him—one decision at a time. Through each decision we make to honor Christ, He in turn produces something new in us.

Our job is simple: to walk in line with Him by making the very next decision in honor of Him, and trusting Him with everything else.

Spend Time in Scripture Challenge:

Take the Scripture assigned for each day and write it out, read it out loud, memorize it, and share it with someone on your path of life.

Day One – Matthew 7:15-20

Day Two – Ephesians 5:9

Day Three – Colossians 3:12-15

Day Four – Galatians 6:8

Day Five – Romans 8:1

Making Disciples

Devotional by Lauren Webb

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:37-39 (NIV), “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The air conditioner was running at full tilt, and the hum filled the room. The day was hot—too hot for the new baby to sit outside. All three of us pulled our chairs up to the large windows to keep a careful eye on the scene below.

The water’s reflection glistened in the high sun as five girls jumped in and played. However, my youngest daughter, Hailee, was hovering over the edge of the pool, clutching her purple life jacket to her chest. My mother voiced what we were all thinking. “I thought Hailee knew how to swim?”

She did.

She had seven years of swim lessons under her belt. She was strong, and she knew how to keep herself and others safe around water. But on this day, she was timidly weighing her options on how to proceed. I watched as she struggled with putting on the life jacket, choosing her goggles, and entering the water. She knew what to do, but something was slowing her down.

There can be similarities in being a disciple-maker who makes disciple-makers. The struggles don’t stem from a lack of confidence in Christ’s faithfulness. Rather, they seem to be logistical.

I find myself on the precipice of the moment, wondering how to enter the flow of conversation. Do I jump right in and make a splash? Do I ease my way in slowly, testing the temperature first? Do I need floatation equipment to help, like theology 101 or apologetic resources? I find myself timidly weighing all my options on how to proceed.

This is not a new struggle for many. Even Paul wrote to Timothy, encouraging him to preach the Word.

“Stick to the truth you have been taught” was Paul’s charge. Paul reminded Timothy that he already had the deposit of salvation, the Holy Spirit, to help him. He wanted the church to know they already had everything they needed to swim.

We have what we need for gospel conversations. Christ Jesus grants us all through His victory, and nothing can separate us from His love. Because of Jesus, we are already conquerors. The power is in the gospel; it’s not our delivery, ability, or strategies.

I wonder if my Father in heaven has ever watched me like I was watching Hailee—a small smile on His face, issuing the same encouragement: Just go for it girl, just go for it.

Reflection Questions:

Prayer Challenge: Write out each verse listed below. Then using the Scripture, write a prayer for three things: confidence to share the gospel, opportunity to talk about your faith, and peace that God is pleased with your obedience.

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58: Pray for confidence in this victory, opportunity, and discernment to do His work, and peace that your labor is never in vain.
  2. Galatians 2:20: Pray for confidence to live by faith so others around you may know this same faith, opportunity to share how God loves you, and peace that Christ’s sacrifice equips you to live a new life through Him.
  3. Ephesians 5:1-2: Pray for confidence that we are dearly loved children, opportunity to be a fragrant offering through sharing the gospel, and peace to live a life of love.

4 Ways to Better Understand the Bible

Blog Post by Gabbi Hartzell

The B-I-B-L-E. Yes, that’s the book I’m “supposed” to read. (I hope you’re singing that in your head like I am right now).

For some reason, reading Scripture can often feel intimidating and overwhelming, so allow me to share what I have learned throughout my own faith journey in regards to reading Scripture.


After my own on-again/off-again experience with Scripture reading, I have concluded with one major thing — start with Jesus. We can be tempted to start at the beginning of the Bible, after all, that does make logical sense. But if you haven’t read the Bible much and are wanting to jump into it now, you may fall off the wagon at Leviticus if you start at the beginning. So do yourself a favor and start with our Savior.


The real answer is…however long you can! For real though. How long you sit with the Holy Spirit and read Scripture is usually dictated by our schedules. And as women, we’re busy!

The length of time isn’t important. It’s the quality and consistency with which you do it!

Now, I will say…when it comes to the New Testament letters (not the Gospels or Revelation but basically everything else in the NT), it’s an incredible practice to read through a letter out loud and in its entirety at least once. Why? Because this is the way they were written. Take a letter, 1 Corinthians or Romans or another, and sit down and read that entire letter out loud. After that, go back through and look at smaller chunks of it.


First and foremost, each of our calendars looks different. Some work different shifts during the day and night. Others have kids hanging off of them at all times. Some are juggling multiple jobs or hats or roles.

So, with that being said, read when you can!

Just make sure you’re reading it every day. Consistency is key. But I will say, what I have learned in my own walk with Jesus, is that my day goes better when I spend time with Him first. It’s hard to do, and it’s not always my “first” thing to do in the morning. Sometimes it’s my third or fourth (because we got kids to feed, dress, and get out the door).

But every time I begin my work without spending time with Jesus first, I notice that I am more easily overwhelmed with my tasks, am more easily frustrated with myself and others. That’s why I have found it to be important to not only “start with Jesus” with where I read in the Bible, but to actually “start with Jesus” in my daily life.


We read Scripture for one reason — to know God. Not out of obligation and not out of desperation (though we will inevitably come to Him for those reasons). But reading the Bible is important because it’s the story of how our God created us and came to rescue us. It provides a roadmap for how we live our day-to-day lives. It gives encouragement and wisdom.

But the most important thing is that it allows us to know our God Whom we serve. And if we are going to follow Jesus, represent Him on this earth, and speak on His behalf, we better know Who He is and what He says.


Now this…this is the reason so many of us get tripped up and frustrated with reading the Bible. This is also where many of us get things wrong and misrepresent the Jesus we claim to follow. We speak words we read yet don’t understand. I have been there so many times and still am there.

So, I want to give you 4 tools that I love to use and always come back to when wanting to better understand Scripture.

1. The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Helper.Before you begin your daily reading, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you’re getting ready to read and give you insight. As you begin to rely on the Holy Spirit more, the Helper will do what the Helper does — help.

2. Commentaries

You don’t have to be a pastor or theologian to use a commentary. Any regular person can find them anywhere! Including free versions online! I also recommend finding commentaries written by diverse people — not just commentaries from Americans, but from other countries.

3. Podcasts

Podcasts are free resources with rich content! My absolute favorite podcast that helps shed light on understanding Scripture is The Bible Project podcast. It has been pivotal in my growth as a Jesus follower, and I guarantee it will be in yours, as well!

4. Classes

Now I know what you’re thinking — you don’t have time to take a class and you don’t want to go to seminary. I understand! This option is not for everyone! But if you want to get a lot more in-depth with your study and understanding, you can do this WITHOUT GOING TO SEMINARY!

There are some amazing online classes you can take and some are FREE! Dallas Theological Seminary offers a few of their seminary classes for free and completely online, N.T. Wright Online offers classes on several different topics and letters of Scripture (you do have to pay for these classes), and another option is The Bible Project! They have some courses online and some are actually free!

I hope these words help you and inspire you to turn to the Bible more often, and with excitement and confidence. There is so much wisdom, freedom, and awe-inspiring truths about God waiting within those pages to be revealed to you. So regardless of which tools you utilize and when you set aside the time each day to read, all I ask is that you take a page from Nike’s book and “just do it”.

Scripture, Our Invitation to Relationship

Devotional by Lauren Webb

Scripture for Today: Joshua 1:8 (NIV), “This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.”

Recently, I gifted my husband a pair of sunglasses. He loves to fish, so these sunglasses have special shades that soften the glare of the sun on the water while not diminishing the colors of the day. Shadows would not be darkened beyond view; the sparkle of water droplets reflecting the sun still catching the eye.

It struck me that this is how we the western church view Scripture if we are not careful.

We place the shade of our culture over our eyes; filtering the Word of God through this vantage point. We soften shadows of His wrath while delighting ourselves with the sparkle of promised blessings. The vibrant colors reflect a route to the acquisition of favors or the satisfaction of our desires.

As we read Joshua 1:8, there can be two problematic approaches when viewed through these cultural shades. One, we skip the first portion that holds instructions:

This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it.

Through our cultural lenses, these instructions require work, time, and maybe even a schedule change. We quickly dismiss this as unrealistic expectations. Reading the Bible every day, praying to God for guidance and direction, meditation on His Word all require something unnatural in us.

It is equal parts illuminated intellect and a renovation of our affections towards Him which is uncomfortable and messy. He has offered grace and will provide the faith required but we have been given a charge of responsibility to be in His Word every day. We want to skip this part and jump straight into the blessing:

For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.

This is really what we want to hear. That God will provide the desires and satisfactions we hope for in this world.

The second problematic approach to Joshua 1:8 is a contract versus covenant expectation.

The incorrect assumption is that God will provide grace through His Word and then we reciprocate with faith in what He says. We want the checks and balances sheet clean. If we check off all the boxes of good Christian living such as reading our Bible and attending church regularly then our view of success will occur.

Paul strongly wrote against this theology in Ephesians 2:8-10, “For you are saved by grace through faith and this is not from yourselves; It is God’s gift –not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Chris Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

 Both faith and grace are gifts from God. The focus of our salvation is Christ, not ourselves. Joshua 1:8 cannot be view as a contract. If we X then God will Y.

However, if we remove our cultural sunglasses and read the Scriptures for what they say, we find God’s words to Joshua mean so much more. This Scripture was never about the acquisition of favors or the satisfaction of desires but a promise of communion and relationship with the Father.

To never depart from His instructions, reciting them day and night, is to have a relationship with God. To fully observe and obey is an act of love between the Creator and created. A good relationship will require time, energy, effort, and definitely a schedule change. But, to be with Him and Him with you is a promised relationship that provides both success and prosperity in whatever you do in the Kingdom of God.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Use Philippians 1:9-11 to pray for your relationship with Christ to grow in love, discernment, knowledge, and fruit. Ask God to help you set up tangible practices to be in His word every day.
  2. God knows what’s in man’s heart and mind. He knows our weaknesses and struggles. He wants us to draw near to Him through His Scriptures so that through the knowledge of Him we will find our true identity. Ask Him for help in reading His word. He is always faithful to those who seek Him.
  3. God has plans and works for each of us who call on His name. Our expectations of what that looks like can get in the way of our obedience. What are some practices that could be set in place to safeguard our walks in faith?

How to be a Copycat: 4 Practices Worth Imitating

Blog Post by Jean Thomason

Children are imitators, especially little children.

They watch every move and copy our attitude and actions. Children are mirrors of our lives. That should terrify us! In a positive way, it should make us more aware of our own words and actions.

Did you ever play COPYCAT? I did—a lot!

I am the oldest of four children and my father was a traveling salesman. We went on road trips often and there was no TV, no DVD player, no cell phone, no hand-held electronic anything in the car. We played games. “I spy ” for miles, “copycat” until our mama begged us for the “quiet game.”

As “Miss PattyCake”, I even have a “Copycat” song! And, I always refer to the verse, Ephesians 5:1 (AMP): “Therefore become imitators of God (copy Him and follow His example), as well-beloved children (imitate their father);”

“Imitator” is a big word for a little person, and often the best way to explain a word is to show them.

“Here—imitate this, do what I do . . . be a copycat.”

Jesus did this all the time. He told stories, used illustrations, and probably played games with children.

The next time you are trying to teach your children some­thing new, something they should copy, you can use a game! Remember the famous words of Mary Poppins, “In every job that must be done there is an element of FUN. You find the fun and SNAP, the job’s a game.”

You can even sing this game; here is Miss PattyCake’s “Copycat” song:

This and that, copycat,

Whatever I do you do it, too.

It’s a little game where we do the same . . .

Okay—here we go!

Pat your head, swing your arms around,

Shake your shoulders, up and down.

Pat your tummy, count to three

Clap together and sing with me!

Children love to play games, especially if music is in­volved. So sing this game, and ask your chil­dren to copy you.  Then you copy Jesus. What did Jesus do? Jesus went about doing good. He walked in love. Now you and your children are living the very next verse!

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”  Eph. 5:2 (MESSAGE)

See? It’s all about being a copycat. How do we copy God? We look at the life of Jesus. Read what Jesus did, and you’ll learn that He mostly just loved people. He went about doing good and helping others. Let’s copy that!

Practices Worth Imitating:

  • Practice Gratitude. Give thanks in all things (Colossians 3:16–17).
  • Practice Prayer. Talk to God out loud. . . . Ask, seek, knock (Matthew 7:7).
  • Practice Serving. Do service projects with your kids because “faith without deeds is dead,” (James 2:26).
  • Practice Bible Memory. Learn scripture together, sing the Word, “I have hidden your word in my heart” (Psalm 119:11).