Devotion

 

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Photo by T. Johnson

One of the best ways, really the only way, for us as women to understand our value and purpose in the world, is to read God’s word. We need to know the truth God speaks to us and when we don’t dedicate time to be in God’s word, we can struggle, stumble, and become frustrated. We may feel pulled between our feelings and the world’s solutions. We need God’s truth!

The BeLOVED devotion page was created to encourage you to study and reflect on God’s word. The content will mirror the messages shared in the blog and will invite you to dig deeper, challenge you to apply scripture to your life situations, and equip you to share God’s truth with others.

I recognize many of you already attend a regular Bible study or practice a daily quiet time (a time dedicated to reading the Bible and prayer). But, I hope you still take a few minutes to read the devotion, journal your thoughts, and share your comments.

Enjoy!




~ NEW POST ~

Unknown Future (3/16/20)

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Photo by M. Spiske

In the book of Judges, chapters 6 and 7, we find an interesting story about a man named Gideon. Gideon was called by the Lord to fight for his people. In these circumstances, Gideon learned to trust in God for an unknown future.

Take a few minutes to read Judges 6 and 7, a link is provided below, and respond to the Application and Reflection questions that follow.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges+6+-+7&version=NIV

Application:

Reflecting on what you’ve read, answer the following questions.

  1. Based on verses 6:13-16, what where the questions Gideon asked the Lord?
  2. According to verses 6:20-23, what caused Gideon to fear for his life?
  3. Why did the people of the town want to kill Gideon? What was the outcome of this event?
  4. Define the test(s) Gideon asked the Lord to perform (6:36-40) and describe God’s test of Gideon (7:1-8).

Reflection:
Grab your journal and consider the following.

  1. Reflect on a time in your life when you tested God, perhaps challenged Him to demonstrate His love for you. What was the result of this test? What did you learn about God? What did you learn about yourself?
  2. Have you ever walked through a time when feared griped your mind? If yes, how did you move past the fear to freedom? What did you learn from that event that you can use in the future or share with a friend that is experiencing a similar situation?
  3. In verses 7:13-25, God works miraculously in Gideon’s life to fulfill His plan. Take a few minutes to reflect on how God uses the fearful, overwhelming circumstances in your life to grow and refine you.


I Was Blind But Now… (11/11/19)

John shares a story of Jesus healing a man born blind. The Pharisees wanted to know

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Photo by M. Rodeheaver

more about the event because Jesus did this miracle on the Sabbath. They hoped to trap Jesus but instead they were confronted with the truth of their own blindness.

Take a few minutes to read John 9, a link is provided below, and respond to the Application and Reflection questions that follow.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+9&version=NIV

Application:
Reflecting on what you’ve read, answer the following questions.

1. Based on verses 9:1-5, what or who caused the man’s blindness?

2. Why were the Pharisees so interested in the man’s healing?

3. Review verses 26-34 and summarize in your own words the man’s discussion with the Pharisees. What do these verses teach you about the motivation of the religious leaders?

Reflection:
Grab your journal and consider the following.

Verses 35-41 discuss spiritual blindness. According to Got Questions – Your Questions, Biblical Answers, spiritual blindness is defined as,

…a grievous condition experienced by those who do not believe in God, Jesus Christ, and His Word.

1. In verse 39, Jesus states what seems to be a confusing statement.

Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

What is Jesus telling the once blind man and how does this apply to your life?

2. Review verse 41, how you can still be blind even when you have sight.

3. Reflecting on these verses, is there any spiritual blind spots in your life? If yes, what will be the one-step you will take to receive healing?



A Meaningful Life (9/30/2019)

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Photo by C. Steinwender

Solomon, in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, writes about trying to navigate life alone.

Take a few minutes to read Ecclesiastes 4:1-12 and respond to the Application and Reflection questions that follow.

Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness

(1) Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed – and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors – and they have no comforter. (2) And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. (3) But better than both is the one who has never been born, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.

(4) And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (5) Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves. (6) Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

(7) Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: (8) There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless – a miserable business!

(9) Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: (10) If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. (11) Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? (12) Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:1-12 New International Version (NIV)

Application:
Take a few minutes to reflect on what you’ve read and answer the following questions.

1. Based on verses 4:1-3, describe Solomon’s perspective on life.

2. What is the source of all toil and achievement? Why is “one person’s envy of another” an issue?

3. Review verses 9-12 and summarize Solomon’s teachings.

Reflection:

Grab your journal and consider the following.

Verses 7-8, challenge us to re-think what is truly important.

In these verses, Solomon tells us there is a man that has no family. He works hard but has no one to share the abundance of his wealth. The man finally has to ask himself, why am I doing this? He comes to the decision that his life is meaningless.

(7) Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: (8) There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless – a miserable business!

NIV

1. As you think about your life and reflect on these verses, are there areas of your life that feel meaningless? Perhaps your job no longer feeds your soul or a relationship that has lost its nurturing support. Where are you running dry?

 

2. What steps do you need to take to restore or enhance meaning in the area(s) you identified?

 

3. Reflecting on verse 12, how will Jesus help restore meaning and value to your life?

 



Broken Pieces Made Whole (9/2/2019)

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Photo by Unsplash

Luke shares a compelling story about a woman’s encounter with Jesus resulting in a transformed heart, life, and future.

Take a few minutes to re-read Luke’s account of her story and respond to the Application and Reflection questions that follow. (Note: you may want to read this story in a few different Bible translations to get a better understanding of God’s impact on the unnamed woman’s life.)

(36) One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house [in the region of Galilee] and reclined at the table. (37) Now there was a woman in the city who was [known as] a sinner; and when she found out that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume; (38) and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began wetting His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and [respectfully] kissed His feet [as an act signifying both affection and submission] and anointed them with the perfume. (39) Now when [Simon] the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, that she is a [notorious] sinner [an outcast, devoted to sin].”

(40) Jesus, answering, said to the Pharisee, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Teacher, say it.” (41) “A certain moneylender had two debtors: one owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. (42) When they had no means of repaying [the debts], he freely forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” (43) Simon answered, “The one, I take it, for whom he forgave more.” Jesus said to him, “You have decided correctly.” (44) Then turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house [but you failed to extend to Me the usual courtesies shown to a guest]; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair [demonstrating her love]. (45) You gave Me no [welcoming] kiss, but from the moment I came in, she has not ceased to kiss My feet. (46) You did not [even] anoint My head with [ordinary] oil, but she has anointed My feet with [costly and rare] perfume. (47) Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (48) Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (49) Those who were reclining at the table with Him began saying among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (50) Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith [in Me] has saved you; go in peace [free from the distress experienced because of sin].”

Amplified Bible (AMP)

Application:
Take a few minutes to reflect on what you’ve read and answer the following questions.

1. Based on verses 7:37-39, describe the woman’s action towards Jesus.
2. What was Simon’s response to Jesus’ reaction to the woman?
3. In verse 7:40 Luke writes, “Jesus, answering, said to the Pharisee [Simon] …”, yet it is clear in verse 7:39 that Simon was actually talking to himself, “… he said to himself….” How does Jesus know what Simon is thinking? What impact does this have on your relationship with Jesus?
4. Consider verses 7:44 – 46 and compare the actions of Simon to the unnamed woman.

Simon’s Actions:                                             Unnamed Woman’s Actions:

 

 

5. What was Jesus final communication to the woman? Why was she finally free of her sin?

Reflection:
Grab your journal and consider the following.

This unnamed woman attended a dinner, an uninvited guest, overcoming the stigma of her past, to have a needed encounter with Jesus.

The outcast, she pushed through the crowd to touch Jesus, weep at his feet, and pour out a costly gift of rare perfume to demonstrate her remorse.

An act of repentance.

Jesus response – forgiveness.

She was free!

1. In the quietness of your own heart, what keeps you from pushing your way to Jesus and sitting at His feet?
2. Do you ever feel like you don’t belong, an outcast – socially, intellectually, and emotionally? If yes, how does this story encourage you?
3. Explain in your own words the meaning of Luke 7:47, “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” How can you apply this verse in your life?

 



Guest Devotion by Stacia Cruz

Fully Known (8/12/19)

Today’s devotion focuses on the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Read John 4:1-26, 39-42 (New International Version – NIV) and then reflect on the Application questions and Prayer.

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman

(1) Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— (2) although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. (3) So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

(4) Now he had to go through Samaria. (5) So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. (6) Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. (7) When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (8) (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

(9) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

(10) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

(11) “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? (12) Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

(13) Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, (14) but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

(15) The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

(16) He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
(17) “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. (18) The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

(19) “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. (20) Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

(21) “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. (22) You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. (23) Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. (24) God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

(25) The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
(26) Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Many Samaritans Believe

(39) Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” (40) So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. (41) And because of his words many more became believers.
(42) They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Application:

1. How do you find it comforting that God is all-knowing?
2. The woman at the well was moved to tell others about Him. Who is someone who you are wanting to know the good news about God?
3. How can you live differently today knowing that you are fully known and loved by God?

Prayer:

Write a prayer to God confessing to Him your sins and temptations. Thank Him for forgiving you and freeing you from shame. Ask Him to help you claim the truth that there is nothing about you hidden from Him. Praise God for His unfailing love.



Adam and Eve – Wandering Costs (8/5/2019)

In the blog Follow the Light, you had an opportunity to read about what it means to live a life that follows the light. In this devotion, we will explorer two people who lived with the light, had direct contact and communication with God, yet they wandered.

In Genesis, we are introduced to God’s creation of the first man and woman – Adam and Eve. They were placed in a perfect environment, a garden, with God the Creator moving amongst them.

They lived in the presence of God. Yet even in this perfect environment, they disobeyed, turning their faces from God’s truth, His light, to follow their own paths. They wandered from His perfect will for them.

Take a few minutes and read the verses taken from Genesis, chapters 2 and 3, below, and respond to the Application and Reflection questions.

Genesis 2:7-9, 16-18, and 20b-22 (New Living Translation)

(7) Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
(8) Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. (9) The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

(16) And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; (17) but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
(18) The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

(20b) But for Adam no suitable helper was found. (21) So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. (22) Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Genesis 3:1-6 and 22-23 (New Living Translation)

(1) Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
(2) The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, (3) but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
(4) “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. (5) “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
(6) When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

(22) And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” (23) So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.

Application:

Take a few minutes to reflect on what you’ve read and answer the following questions.

  1. What was the one command God gave to the Adam in Gen 2:16?
  2. What would be the outcome if Adam disobeyed this command?
  3. Is the death referenced in Gen 2:16 a literal or spiritual death? Explain.
  4. Why was Eve created?
  5. Was Eve deceived or disobedient when she ate the forbidden fruit?
  6. We know Adam and Eve were ultimately cast from the garden. However, as you read Gen 3:6, do you think their disobedience tainted all male and female relationships? If yes, how?

Reflection:

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Photo by A. Burden

Grab your journal and consider the following.

Eve was taught the truth, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”, yet she was lured by lust, her pride, and personal desires to disobey the truth. She intentionally left the light to follow her own path.

  1. Take a few minutes to reflect on your life. Has there ever been a time that you knowingly disobeyed God?
  2. What were the consequences of your disobedience?
  3. Did your disobedience teach you anything about God’s character, His love, and grace?
  4. What safeguards have you put in place to help you avoid disobedience in the future?
  5. How are you using your disobedience and restoration to glorify God?

 



Esther and Queen Vashti (7/22/19)

We’ve had a chance to learn about two interesting women in the blogs posted on 7/15/19 and 7/22/19, Esther and Queen Vashti. Take a few minutes and read Esther 1:1-22, below, and reflect on the Application and What if questions.

Esther 1: 1 – 22 (New Living Translation)

The King’s Banquet
(1) These events happened in the days of King Xerxes, who reigned over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. (2) At that time Xerxes ruled his empire from his royal throne at the fortress of Susa. (3) In the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. He invited all the military officers of Persia and Media as well as the princes and nobles of the provinces. (4) The celebration lasted 180 days—a tremendous display of the opulent wealth of his empire and the pomp and splendor of his majesty.

(5) When it was all over, the king gave a banquet for all the people, from the greatest to the least, who were in the fortress of Susa. It lasted for seven days and was held in the courtyard of the palace garden. (6) The courtyard was beautifully decorated with white cotton curtains and blue hangings, which were fastened with white linen cords and purple ribbons to silver rings embedded in marble pillars. Gold and silver couches stood on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl, and other costly stones.

(7) Drinks were served in gold goblets of many designs, and there was an abundance of royal wine, reflecting the king’s generosity. (8) By edict of the king, no limits were placed on the drinking, for the king had instructed all his palace officials to serve each man as much as he wanted.

(9) At the same time, Queen Vashti gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.

Queen Vashti Deposed

(10) On the seventh day of the feast, when King Xerxes was in high spirits because of the wine, he told the seven eunuchs who attended him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas — (11) to bring Queen Vashti to him with the royal crown on her head. He wanted the nobles and all the other men to gaze on her beauty, for she was a very beautiful woman. (12) But when they conveyed the king’s order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. This made the king furious, and he burned with anger.

(13) He immediately consulted with his wise advisers, who knew all the Persian laws and customs, for he always asked their advice. (14) The names of these men were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan—seven nobles of Persia and Media. They met with the king regularly and held the highest positions in the empire.

(15) “What must be done to Queen Vashti?” the king demanded. “What penalty does the law provide for a queen who refuses to obey the king’s orders, properly sent through his eunuchs?”

(16) Memucan answered the king and his nobles, “Queen Vashti has wronged not only the king but also every noble and citizen throughout your empire. (17) Women everywhere will begin to despise their husbands when they learn that Queen Vashti has refused to appear before the king. (18) Before this day is out, the wives of all the king’s nobles throughout Persia and Media will hear what the queen did and will start treating their husbands the same way. There will be no end to their contempt and anger.

(19) “So if it please the king, we suggest that you issue a written decree, a law of the Persians and Medes that cannot be revoked. It should order that Queen Vashti be forever banished from the presence of King Xerxes, and that the king should choose another queen more worthy than she. (20) When this decree is published throughout the king’s vast empire, husbands everywhere, whatever their rank, will receive proper respect from their wives!”

(21) The king and his nobles thought this made good sense, so he followed Memucan’s counsel. (22) He sent letters to all parts of the empire, to each province in its own script and language, proclaiming that every man should be the ruler of his own home and should say whatever he pleases.


Application:

Take a few minutes to reflect on Esther 1:1-22 and answer the following questions.

1. As you read the text, what was King Xerxes’ motivation for throwing the elaborate parties for both the dignitaries and his province?
2. Why was Queen Vashti’s response to the king so controversial and met with such anger and immediate action from the king and his advisors?
3. Based on what you’ve read and your understanding of the culture at that time, why do you think Queen Vashti refused to attend the party?


What if…

Grab your journal and consider the following.

1. What if you were in a position where you had to decide to stand for God or progress your own agenda and success?
2. What if you were being advised to go after success, take revenge, or take advantage of those weaker than you?
3. What if you were falsely accused and lost everything because you stood firm for your beliefs?
4. What if the future was uncertain, a clear path was not available?
5. What if the loss left you angry, fearful, frustrated, and with a gnawing feeling of desperation?

What if…

 



Psalm 121 (7/8/19)

This week’s devotion is Psalm 121. This Psalm reminds us that our assurance and hope comes from the creator of the universe, God.

Psalm 121 A Song of Ascents (New International Version)

(1) I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from? (2)  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (3)  He will not let your foot slip he who watches over you will not slumber; (4) indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. (5) The Lord watches over you the Lord is your shade at your right hand; (6) the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. (7) The Lord will keep you from all harm he will watch over your life; (8) the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.


Application:

Take a few minutes to reflect on Psalm 121 and answer the following questions.

  • Based on Psalm 121, where does our help come from?
  • What help does God promise to provide?
  •  How does this knowledge impact a situation, trial, event you are currently facing?

What if…

Grab your journal and consider the following.

What if today you decided to believe that God will provide for every need, heal each pain, and address every insecurity?

What if you let the curveball, life-altering event, or unannounced longing draw you closer to your Father?

What if today you relinquished personal power and control to the God that loves you?

What if you trusted him that you are His BeLoved, His daughter, His child?

What if…

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