Tag Archives: power

One Word Devotionals

Your minutes matter—especially when life gets busy. That’s why I’m starting a new series called One Word Devotionals. You can read each devotional in about three minutes. Honest—I timed it.

I hope you’ll join me for the first in this series—a journey through the book of James.  Starting tomorrow, I’ll post a short devotional each morning on this practical epistle written by the half-brother of Jesus. These reflections are designed to help you meditate on a very small portion of Scripture.

Why One Word? Meditation on a single facet of Scripture helps you focus on a specific truth. It’s a good way to fill your mind with God’s Word.  Plus, it helps you frontload your prayers with a burst of power for the rest of your day.

If you were with me for the 21 Day Experiment in John, you know I’m a “word nerd.” I like to explore the Scriptures in the original Greek. It’s a good way to unpack every morsel of truth in God’s Word.

It’s often challenging to keep our faith—and our cool—when the stresses of life hit. Maybe you need a “little faith-fix” as you approach the holiday season.  I know I do. The book of James is filled with lots of practical wisdom. That’s why some call it “The Proverbs of the New Testament.” Just the book to help us focus on what really matters!

Sometimes, all the craziness in the world today threatens to wreck our calm. Plus, the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season can cause us to lose focus. Let’s reflect on what James has to teach us as we anticipate the birthday of Jesus.

The five short chapters in the book of James pack a wallop!  Over the years, the powerful truth in this little book has ignited several life-changing moments for me.  So I can’t wait to dive in again!

God’s Word never returns void. Never leaves us empty. So…are you ready?  Tomorrow, we’ll begin our Journey through James.  Expect to be changed.

I encourage you to stay alert. Be sure to watch for signs of God at work all around you.  And remember, Jesus loves to surprise us with Christmas miracles!


Stick Together-Day 15

I am fascinated by bottlenose dolphins, the most intelligent creatures in the ocean.  Dolphins are easily trained. They can reason, solve problems, think abstractly, and even recognize themselves in a mirror!  Dolphins can also swim up to 35 miles an hour. They’re incredibly strong and can use their snout as a high speed battering ram. No wonder they have virtually no natural predators.

Welcome to 21 Days of Strength. Let’s see if we can learn a few lessons about strength from these powerful and magnificent creatures.

Stories abound of dolphins protecting humans against sharks. My dad happens to be one of the few living World War II submarine veterans. While on long, hot tours in the South Pacific, the sailors hoped to see dolphins swimming close by so they could dive off the sub for a refreshing swim–sure to be safe from sharks.

Sharks steer clear of dolphins for another reason.  Dolphins don’t travel alone. They find safety in numbers by sticking together in groups or “pods.”  Like dolphins, our teammates can help us gain strength in prayer. This, in turn, helps us defeat our spiritual enemies.

Jesus said it this way:  “If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven (Matthew 18:19).  The Greek word translated “agree” is symphone, which comes from two words which mean together and voice.  So when believers gather for prayer, they are like a “symphony” of powerful prayer.

This principle is reinforced by a former Marine who saw lots of combat duty in Iraq. He shared a lesson I’ll never forget. “When danger hits,” he explained, “I’m trained to run toward the danger. But my second response is to look around for my men.” “So you can protect them?” I asked. “No,” he said firmly. “I look around for my men because I know I cannot do this mission by myself.”  Even the marines know they need to stick together to be strong.

Are you connected with other members of the body of Christ?  In prayer, in Bible study, in fellowship, and in service to others?  Our mission–the Great Commission–is too important, and too dangerous, to be accomplished alone.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Romans 12:5-6).


Strengthened by God’s Word-Day 10

Welcome to 21 Days of Strength!  We’re at just about the half-way mark.  I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for words of wisdom on how to “do life” in Christ.  How to gain new strength for the journey ahead. My friend Donna always has just the perfect word of encouragement.  Hope you’ll be strengthened by her practical and powerful tips.

GUEST BLOG:  Donna Elyea

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making t bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Recently I had an emotionally straining week as I encountered some hard and new-to-me challenges. On one beautiful afternoon I realized I just needed to get out in the sunshine for some physical exercise and to clear my mind of discouraging thoughts. A friend had just commented that “nature is God’s best missionary.” I experienced the truth of that statement as I set out for a walk with hints of Spring showing themselves all around me.

 As I walked, I felt God restoring me and one specific Scripture came to my mind. I began to rhythmically recite it over and over again as I strode along, “Greater is He who is living in me than he who is in the world.” I drilled this thought into my spirit as my mind was renewed with every step. I think I recited that verse for at least a mile and a half of my walk that afternoon until it had become part of me.

 I returned home feeling rejuvenated by hope and stronger in both mind and body. I needed God’s Word to wash over me and, as it did, I felt cleansed of troubled thoughts, refreshed, and encouraged by His Holy Spirit speaking this verse into me.

 Isaiah 55: 11 tells us that God’s word will accomplish His purposes. I certainly love the way God has used His Word to wash over me, renew my mind, and thus strengthen me from the inside out!


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 19

“Jesus, are you willing to heal me?”  The man was desperate.  He was covered with leprosy–a terminal case.  His condition was hopeless.  Lepers were untouchables, so he was ostracized.   An outcast.  Jesus was his last ditch effort.  Face in the dirt, he crushed any remnant of pride…and begged.  His plea was simple. Just ten words: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus answers in half as many words and performs a miracle.  “I am willing.  Be clean!” (Luke 5:12, 13 NIV).

Let’s meditate on this passage in a different Bible version:  While he was in one of the towns, Jesus came upon a man who was a mass of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he prostrated himself before him and begged, “If you want to, Lord, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, placed it on the leper, saying, “Certainly I want to. Be clean!”  (Luke 5:12-13 PHILLIPS).

Notice this version uses the word “want.” The Greek word, thelo, is translated “want, will, desire,” or even “wish.”  Thelo also indicates a “pressing on to action.”  Jesus not only wanted to and was willing to heal the guy. He took action!

In an instant, Jesus changed the man’s condition from hopeless to hopeful!  The leper’s plea can be considered a type of prayer. The word deomai, translated “beg,” describes a specific, urgent prayer.  The leper’s answer came swiftly.  His desperate cry for healing was consistent with the will of God for that man in that moment.

Alignment with God’s will is the key to powerful prayer, as Jesus taught His disciples in The Lord’s Prayer: Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name.  Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10). This is a strong petition. It’s an imperative—more of a demand than a request—and better translated:  “Kingdom come! Your will be done on earth as in heaven!”

God’s will is done perfectly in heaven–so heaven becomes the template for our earthly prayers. It’s almost as if Jesus wants us to shake our fist and shout as we decree that God’s will be done on an earth still crawling with enemies.

So how do we know God’s will? My short answer is this: Read His Word.  Saturate your heart daily. Grow so close to your Good Shepherd that you know His will, obey His will, pray His will.  And when we pray according to God’s will, our hope springs to life.


30 Days of Thankful: Day 17

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV).

I don’t know about you but I am beginning to notice some changes during our 30 Days of Thankful. The changes aren’t huge ones—more like a shift in the atmosphere. But they’re real nonetheless.

For example, yesterday I noticed a softening in a very difficult extended family member’s attitude. And a friend who I’ve been reaching out to for years is becoming more tender to the gospel. Just the other day, I experienced an unexplainable feeling of hope in a long-standing problem that had begun to feel hopeless. I wonder if you’ve noticed some changes, too?

As I become more thankful, I’m more aware of God’s blessings all around me.  And no wonder, since the words in the New Testament for thank and bless are practically the same. Both can be used to translate the Greek word eulogeo, which means “to speak well of or to give praise.”  More thanksgiving naturally leads to a greater sensitivity to my blessings.

But the vagueness of praying for God to “bless” my food, my friends, or my family was a problem until I learned a simple tip from our friend John DeVries, founder of Mission India.

In his wonderful book, Why Pray?  DeVries recommends praying for blessings by focusing on five areas which correspond with the letters for B-L-E-S-S:

B – Body – For physical health, safety, strength

L – Labors – For the success and prospering of their work

E – Emotions – For emotional health, peace and joy to replace fear and anxiety

S – Social life – For social relationships, family to have love and unity

S – Spiritual life – For each to know Jesus personally and grow in their spiritual lives

I set my cell phone each day to remind me to pray for several special people. And I pray the BLESS prayer when someone comes to mind and I’m not sure how to specifically pray for them.  Why not take a minute right now to B-L-E-S-S a friend, a family member, a government leader, or even the ruler of a nation.  And while you’re at it, be thankful in advance for what God will do in response to your prayer.