Sacred Spaces – 10/13/20

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 Minutes)

Scripture Reading & Devotional:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? —Psalm 56:3-4

If you’ve ever had a panic attack, you know it is not just the run-of-the-mill kind of fear. Are you afraid to speak in front of a group? Or afraid of financial failure? Panic attack fear is not like that. It is irrational–dark, debilitating, and very difficult to describe. Years ago, when little was known about the cause of panic attacks, I lived with this fear. One moment I would be basking on the beach of well-being and without warning be hit by the tsunami of overwhelming, crushing fear. The wave would rise up out of what I thought were peaceful waters and come breaking in, stripping away all sense of security. The panic would tear at my soul and leave me grabbing desperately for an anchor.

I was newly born again in Christ when I had my first panic attack, and I came to realize that it is possible for fear and faith to occupy the same mind–“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.” When David wrote Psalm 56, he expressed his fear and his trust in God in the same breath. As a new believer, I was just beginning to understand the depth of my sin and the power of the cross of Christ to deliver me. And as He is faithful to do with all of His children, God put me in the school of learning to trust in Him–no matter what. He began the work of growing my dependence upon Him through panic attacks that drove me to Him and His Word. These were sweet times of such joy–of being sheltered in the secret of His tabernacle (Psalm 27:5), feasting on the bread of His word, and learning depths of His covenant I never would have known without this suffering. He is true and faithful! “This I know, that God is for me” (Psalm 56:9). And when the tsunami wave of fear came rushing in, He stood with me in it, holding me firm in the anchor of His promises. “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.”

“Be gracious to me, O God” (Psalm 56:1). When I think back on the years of living with panic attacks, I am amazed at the sufficiency of God’s grace. His grace is more than enough. My life in Christ, and the glory I desire to bring Him, is not dependent upon my strength, but on His power that, in ways I cannot fully understand, is made perfect in my weakness. I will gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

May Christ’s power rest on us. We do not need to look far to find reasons to fear in our world today. But God is always teaching us to trust and depend on Him completely, to not be afraid, to remember that neither life nor death, our own weaknesses and strengths, the power of flesh and blood or the spiritual forces we cannot see–none of these can ever separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Whoever believes in Him will never perish, but have everlasting life. “What can flesh do to me?” (References: Romans 8:38-39; John 3:16; Psalm 56:4)

Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)

1. Make a chart this week. On the left side of the chart list the things that cause you to panic, worry, or fear. Then on the right side, can you list a corresponding promise in God’s Word that will anchor you and strengthen your faith in Christ? (to say with David “in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.”)
2. Meditate on the promises of God that you discover correspond to your fear; preach them to your fear-ravaged soul, and He will give you His power to glorify Him in all things, even in your fears and weaknesses.

Prayer:  Conclude with Silence (5 Minutes)

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Saturday Sabbath – 10/10/20

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 Minutes)

Scripture Reading & Devotional:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.—Romans 12:1-2

Have you ever watched God do something that was so completely and obviously out of any one’s control, that He in His kindness, alone can get credit for?

In November 2014, God graciously gave me an opportunity to donate one of my kidneys to my brother-in-law, Travis. Travis is married to my husband’s sister, so we are not related by blood. This makes me being compatible truly amazing because it is said the odds are 1 out of 100,000 people that are not related, are a match. To get the full picture of this, I imagine a large sports arena like the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas which seats 80,000. Add 20,000 more people, stick me in the middle and, wow. Kidney matching is no small thing.

Yet, God, our Great Creator, knew when He knitted Travis in his mother’s womb, and me in mine, that this day would come. His wise, sovereign hand had been working all along, bringing us together for His glory.

Throughout the detailed testing process of becoming a living donor and seeing if my kidney was compatible with Travis’s, God kept me in perfect peace as I kept my mind “stayed on” Him, looking expectantly at what He would do and trusting Him with the outcome. (Isaiah 26:3-4)

People would often ask me if I was nervous about giving one of my organs away, and in those moments the Holy Spirit would bring previously memorized Scripture to mind reminding me that God knows the number of our days, when as yet there are none of them (Psalm 139:16) and I do not need to be afraid.

During my recovery when the days seemed long and I wasn’t feeling the best, renewing my mind with God’s Word helped me fight discouragement. Travis and I would encourage each other with truth and marvel at God’s amazing works. And just as God can renew our bodies by whatever means He chooses, His Word renews our minds, giving us fresh glimpses of His faithfulness and grace.

The world tries to convince us that we should live for ourselves in the here and now, but as God gives us eyes to see Him, we begin to understand that the most sacrificial offering of all time was given by God Himself in Jesus Christ… and that leads us to worship.

There are some things that you just can’t keep to yourself. This is one of them. Psalm 105:1-2, “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.”

May He be praised.

Devo By Amy Bell

Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)

  1. What kind of decisions are you called to sacrifice according to God’s will?
  2. Are there areas of your life that have been subtly shaped or conformed to the world’s way of thinking?
  3. Are you renewing your mind with the Word of God, praying, meditating on, and memorizing to help you now?

Prayer:  Conclude with Silence (5 Minutes)

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Sacred Spaces – October 7, 2020

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 Minutes)

Scripture Reading & Devotional:

It is good to linger over the praises of Paul’s heart at the end of chapter 11.

The riches and wisdom and the knowledge of God are unfathomably deep (Romans 11:33). No matter how far down into God’s wealth or into God’s wisdom or into God’s knowledge you go, you never get beneath God. There is nothing beneath God. And there is nothing above God. And there is nothing decisive over against God between his depths and his heights.

So Paul says in verse 33b: “How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” In other words, since God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge are very deep, so that we can’t give him anything he doesn’t have, or tell him anything he doesn’t know, it is no wonder that we are often confounded, bewildered, perplexed, and amazed by the ways and the judgments of God.

Then Paul says in verse 34, “Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” Answer: Nobody. In other words, you can’t give him advice he doesn’t already know.

Then in verse 35, “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” Answer: Nobody. In other words, not only can’t you give him advice he doesn’t already know; but you can’t give to God anything that is not already his. If you could, he would owe you. But you can’t. So he doesn’t owe you anything. And never will.

Finally Paul says in verse 36, “For from him and through him and to him are all things.”

And yet the final design and effect of it all is at the end of verse 36: All things are not only from him and through him, but also “to him.” Therefore, “To him be glory forever.”

Our lives are to be lived willingly to the glory of God. Or we will serve his glory unwillingly in our damnation. We are created and called to make the beauty and greatness of God known in the world. Our reason for being is to make much of God, and bring all the nations to confess that Jesus is Lord “to the glory of God the Father.”

Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)

Prayer:  Conclude with Silence (5 Minutes)

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Sacred Spaces – October 6, 2020

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 Minutes)

Scripture Reading & Devotional:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. —John 1:12-13

These verses are about our identity as believers in Jesus. It is important to slow down enough to think about who this passage says we have become if we have trusted him.

First, we are children of God. If you’ve trusted Jesus, he’s given you the right to call God your Father. A few verses later, John says that “from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16). The one who is everything we need in himself is our Father!

But there is more about our identity in these verses. The question must be raised, how does one begin such a relationship with God? There is only one way–the passage says: through God himself.

It is not of blood; that is, you aren’t God’s child simply because you come from a line of believers, or an upstanding family. You aren’t God’s child because you have a solid reputation. It’s not about your past, or your record, or who you know.

It is not of the will of the flesh. No one can simply decide to trust Christ, completely of their own volition. We are morally incapable by ourselves.

It is not of the will of man. The world, in itself, cannot produce people who trust Jesus. Everyone was born in sin, and in sin they will stay… unless a miracle happens. This brings us to what our salvation is.

Our salvation is of God. That is, God initiated our salvation, God enabled our response, and God keeps us in him. Although we have a part to play, it is really God who does all the work.

What a confidence we have, in this! If we did not earn our salvation, we cannot lose it. If we did not choose God, he will not let us go. The reason that our relationship to God as his children is ultimately and eternally secure is that it is his doing, through and through. It is ultimately for his glory, and God is more committed to his own glory than anything else. Isn’t it wonderful, then, that the greatest joy we can ever know – a relationship with God – actually glorifies him?

We are the beneficiaries of a true miracle: God has given us the right to become his children. This really is miraculous, and we ought to pray for the eyes to see it for what it is!

Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)

  1. When are you tempted to see your salvation as being “of blood,” or “of the will of the flesh,” or “of the will of man”? How do you fight these lies with truth?
  2. How do you stir up thankfulness in your heart for the miracle God has done for you?
  3. How does the knowledge that you are God’s child affect your daily life?

Prayer:  Conclude with Silence (5 Minutes)

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Sacred Spaces – October 5, 2020

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 Minutes)

Scripture Reading & Devotional:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
Romans 8:38 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
It seems we start out believing by nature, but soon become skeptical by practice. How many “guarantees” have you experienced as no guarantee at all? We have been lied to, taken advantage of, and let down so often we don’t know what to believe. But Paul knew one thing he was sure of. He was “convinced!” He was convinced that nothing could separate him from the love of God. How many things are you convinced of? And what a difference being that sure can make. If you were convinced that you could invest $10,000 in stock and get back $1,000,000, how long would it take you to get the $10,000? Paul had that same attitude toward the love of God. He was convinced that he could invest in God’s love that will never leave him and get back a peace that passes all understanding; God’s constant provision, the fruit of the Spirit, and eternal life. Today become convinced. God loves you, and nothing will ever separate you from Him.

Devo By Ron Ovitt

Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)

Father, I believe, help my unbelief. I want to be convinced of Your love. Speak to my heart, move me, help me understand how trustworthy You are and how spectacular Your love is for me. AMEN

Prayer:  Conclude with Silence (5 Minutes)

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Saturday Sabbath – 10/3/20

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 Minutes)

Scripture Reading & Devotional:

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, —Deuteronomy 7:9

For many of us, certain verses or passages in the Bible are linked to significant moments in our lives. Deuteronomy 7:9 is one of those verses that takes me back to 1997 when the Fighter Verse program was launched for the first time at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. This verse is special because it was the first verse in a five-year cycle of verses that we memorized as a congregation. It is also special because the truth that it reveals about the Author of all the Fighter Verses that we will memorize between now and the end of 2021.

The book of Deuteronomy records the last three messages that Moses delivered to Israel. Moses, undoubtedly aware of Israel’s past mistakes, is recounting the past and urging the people not to repeat the same mistakes. Part-way into the second of these messages we come to 7:9 where Moses exhorts the people to know their God and not forget two important truths about Him. First, He is God. He is the one and only true God. All other gods are “worthless idols” (1 Chronicles 16:26).

Second, He is faithful and demonstrates His faithfulness by keeping His covenant with His people and by His steadfastness love for His people. Three verses earlier Moses reminds the people that they were chosen by God “out of all the people on the face of the earth” to be his “treasured possession” (vs 6). He chose them not because of their greatness (vs 7) but because He is faithful—“keeping the oath” that He swore to their fathers (vs 8).

What is remarkable is that Moses reiterates in verse 9 that God’s faithfulness was conditional. It would apply only to those who “love him and keep his commandments.” The years ahead proved that these chosen people on whom God had “set his love” (vs 7) failed to meet the condition. They broke God’s covenant and failed to “love him and keep his commandments.”

After about 1200 years of Israel’s recurring failures and God’s enduring faithfulness and steadfast love, God promised through the prophet Jeremiah that the day was coming when

I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”  (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

After another 600 years, the writer of the book of Hebrews recalls these words from Jeremiah and announces that through the blood of Jesus, a “new and living way” had been opened for all who “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Then the writer exhorts all who are in Christ to “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:20-23).

Nearly 20 years have passed since we memorized Deuteronomy 7:9 for the first time. We return to it each time we begin another five-year Fighter Verse cycle. And now, at the dawn of 2016 we open “Set 1” again and begin the cycle for the fifth time. If you stay with it, you will have 260 verses/passages memorized by 2021, each of which are upheld by the one and only God who is faithful and who keeps covenant and steadfast love to a thousand generations.

Whether you are among those who have been memorizing Fighter Verses for 20 years or those just getting started, “know therefore that the LORD your God is God.” And may this God grant you the grace to abide in His word (John 8:31-Set 5 #35) so that you might “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might

Question to consider: Which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?)

  1. Have you thought about how long “a thousand generations” is? Turn to Matthew 1:17 which tells us the number of generations from Abraham to Christ. It is suggested that the time from Abraham to Christ spans 2160 years. Based on these numbers, how many  generations have there been since Christ? How many more years until there will have been “a thousand generations”? How does it help us to know that God keeps covenant and steadfast love to a thousand generations?
  2. In what ways have God’s faithfulness and steadfast love been demonstrated in your own life? In what ways are you needing to trust in His faithfulness and steadfast love?
  3. Consider how you might reach out to someone who could benefit from the reminder of God’s faithfulness and steadfast love in Deuteronomy 7:9.

Prayer:  Conclude with Silence (5 Minutes)

The Our Father (slowly pray this)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.