Cheri's Blog

Follow John’s Lead

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Welcome back. One thing about today’s devotional is that it stems from several places in Scripture. (There are several verses. I’m sorry!) I have provided them here for you so it shouldn’t be difficult. I certainly don’t want to leave them out. It is so important that we know where these verses live and today’s lesson is no different. 

I’m glad you are here. I pray you benefit from this plan as greatly as I have.

Day 2: Follow John’s Lead

Scripture

Luke 1:15

for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

Malachi 4:4-5

“Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. 5″Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 6″He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”…

Isaiah 40:2-3

2″Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD’S hand Double for all her sins.”

3 A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. 4″Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley;…  

Matthew 3:5-6

Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John 1:22-23

So they said to him (the Pharisees), “Who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet: “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ 

John 1:29

“Behold, The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” 

John 1:31

the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.”…

 

Devotional Material

We have time for one Biblical example in this plan on discouragement. Know there are others who needed God to restore their hope and their joy–their very life. God has been there time and time again to do the work and show Himself faithful.

In these moments we are going to take a look at John the Baptist, the cousin of the Son of God. Possessing the Holy Spirit from the womb, this guy was SOLID!

The Old Testament prophesied that before the Messiah came Elijah would return, and God would send someone to prepare the way. When John the Baptist arrives on the scene with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, he goes out into the wilderness looking very much like Elijah, sporting a leather belt and eating locusts as Scripture promised.

Fast forward through John’s ministry. John recognized Jesus as the Son of God and calls it out on the banks of the Jordan. Then before the crowds, John declared that the reason he came baptizing with water was to reveal this very man.

Once Jesus is out in public ministry, the crowds began to leave John and head over to the Jesus wagon. Naturally, John’s groupies are upset by this disruption, disturbing their awesome follower numbers. But John gets it! He understood His purpose. It wasn’t to have the most likes, high baptism numbers, or the greatest ministry success. Instead, it was to be overshadowed by this guy. Harold the new guy and get out of the way! That was his mission. But don’t stop ministering, John, in spite of the lessening crowds, the dropping numbers, and the discouragement it naturally arouses. Don’t stop speaking the truth regardless of the cost.

John lands in a dark, miserable prison for his faithfulness. Prison was not on the agenda. Preaching? Yes. Heralding the new guy? Absolutely. Preparing the Way was his calling, not wasting away in a dungeon.

Life wasn’t turning out as he planned. It begins to have an effect on him. Here he was doing everything God had asked of Him. He frankly couldn’t do anymore. For that, he’s in a dungeon. John begins to question very foundational premises that once rooted His life and mission.

What about you?

Have you ever found yourself in a different place in life than you planned? It’s not working out like you’d hoped or envisioned? Maybe you too, have experienced two handfuls of hardship for your faithfulness, and it’s causing you to question your own foundational premises.

Keep reading. Follow John’s lead. He takes his questions to Jesus. What you and I are going to see is that this makes all the difference.

Today, you and I can do the same.

Can’t wait to meet you tomorrow.

With much affection,

 

 

 

Where Can We Find Help

Hi. If you are new here, let me invite you in. I’m Cheri Strange and I am delighted you are here. This is one of my favorite reading plans. It speaks to me in my need. I pray it will meet you in yours.

Let me give you the rundown of how these plans work on the blog. Often I will make an introduction and then let you know I post the Scripture first and then begin the devotional material for the day. The only reason I would deviate is if I wanted to embed the passage into the material, but you will receive it either way.

Now let’s get to it. May God richly bless the study of His Word.

Day 1: Where Can We Find Help?

Scripture

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Palm 121:1-3

 

Devotional Material

There are seasons of real discouragement that firm, passionate Christians experience.

I know enough to recognize you and I are not that different. Oh, the circumstances will vary. The particular difficulties will fluctuate. But it’s the same internal sense. Sometimes we can be in a season of gloomy despondency. We can almost feel a heaviness like a smothering blanket settling across our hearts.

It could stem from relationships. The gravity of discord between those closest to us weighs on us, festering daily so that we cannot escape.

There may be a particular burden. A worry. That situation that just won’t work out or refuses to go away.

Your job or the lack of securing one could be the culprit. Or there might be tension within your family.

There’s also that sense, although you have been faithful to God’s call on your life, you remain here while life is happening around you. Maybe things have not turned out like you thought they should or believed they would.

It is possible, you’ve been diligently doing your thing morning after morning. Truth be told, you are weary, on the verge of giving up. Life wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Where can we go? What can we do when we find ourselves…here? Sometimes our lives filled with serving the Lord and loving Jesus–doing what we know to do– can involve such heaviness and dark places. It can cause a person to want to quit.

Hold on!

First of all, please know, you have permission to be in this uncomfortable emotional and mental spot. We don’t want to stay here, but there is nothing wrong with you in terms of being lesser in the Kingdom for finding yourself here. Scripture will make this crystal clear. So take heart. It’s okay, as long as we go to the right place for help when we find ourselves in a season of discouragement like this.

Where can you and I go for help? Psalm 121:2-3 tells us:

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Right now, would you invite the presence of the Lord into your quiet space?

He keeps you. He will meet you in the middle of your discouragement and not let your feet be moved.

With much affection,

 

 

 

The Dungeon Experience

Day 5: God Can Restore the One Having a Dungeon Experience

You have just about made it. It’s the final day. But it’s probably my favorite. I love it because it’s unexpected and yet so needed. I pray God speaks clearly to you today in whatever capacity you need to hear from Him. It has been a blessing to travel this path with you. God can, indeed restore what needs to be restored. He is your faithful God.

Many blessings as you read today about His restoration through our dungeon experiences.

Scripture

Matt 11:2–6; 7-15

Isaiah 35:3-6

Devotional: God Can Restore the One Having a Dungeon Experience

Have you ever trusted in a product or service later to find out you had been duped? You buy bottled water for its purity only to discover it’s from a tap in Milwaukee. Or you wear an armband promising better balance along with intellectual clarity, sounder sleep and agelessness. You want to believe it’s all true, but reality tells a different story.

That’s what happened in the case of the Piltman Man, the archeological finding that promised to provide the “the missing link” for evolution. In the middle of the twentieth century, this landmark discovery was found to be a complete hoax. The skull that was celebrated as a human mediary between ape and man actually originated from an orangutan. It had all been a farce to perpetuate the authenticity of a desired outcome.

John the Baptist finds himself in a dungeon, fearing just such a predicament. Everything that was once transparent and absolute becomes clouded. The herald of the Savior questions his own calling and judgment. Did he make a mistake? Because sitting in a dungeon is not how he calculated fulfilling his purpose.

To settle matters, John sent his disciples to Jesus. He wanted to know if he’d been duped by a con-artist or if Jesus was the Savior he announced.

John was locked up in a dark, flea-infested, stench-filled dungeon indefinitely. It’s the kind of place you and I have likely only read about. But we can sympathize with how he acquiesced into questioning everything he’d ever known and believed. What is important to note is the response from Jesus. In essence, he calls upon John to compare what the Scriptures declare the Messiah will do with reality. Yes! John got it right even though he couldn’t see through the darkness of his own experiences.

Sometimes life takes turns and swivels we never expected. We can have our own dismal dungeon experiences of life. I have a friend today whose life took an unexpected turn. She left town with the children, quit her job and returned few calls. I don’t know details, but that woman is having a dungeon experience of epic proportions.

Of this I am certain: if God can restore John the Baptist, shaken in the dungeon about the very identity of Jesus, He can restore my friend in her catastrophe.

Whenever you find yourself in a dungeon experience, your God will restore you.

 

Cheri

If you would like to go to the beginning of the plan, click here.  

Check this plan out on YouVersion (or Bible.com) here. 

 

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God Restores the Fearful

Day 4: God Restores the Fearful

So far, you and I have learned how tenderly God cares for His people. Maybe you are hurting due to your own missteps, or maybe it’s just the natural consquences of living in a fallen world. We can know, so far, He is faithful. And He is continuing to show us how far-reaching He goes to demonstrate his love and care. Today’s study is not different. It’s exactly what I need. God restores the fearful.

Let’s get on with the day.

Scripture

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:22-27

Devotional: God Restores the Fearful

Last year a man hid in our bushes awaiting someone unaware to abduct. Fortunately, we were aware. We learned he had been hiding in a nearby field for weeks. The perpetrator had made two unsuccessful attempts at snagging women the previous weeks, and had a previous criminal record, so a personal description was established. But our guard dog had died and my spouse moved to another city for the year. When a real Boogie Man is at the end of your driveway a different level of alarm presents itself than when it’s a hypothetical beckoning to lock your doors!

Scripture speaks to fear and calls us out of it. Simply stated, you and I are commanded not to fear. It’s not a suggestion and my situation is not an exception. Neither is yours. The Bible never tells us, however, that there is nothing legitimate of which to remain afraid.

Hands down, I could be the poster child for fear! My fears have spanned my years and could fill a closet for variety. They have invaded my sleep and left me breathless. Some of my fears are more irrational like avoiding the dentist for my routine teeth cleaning; but I also understand what it’s like to fear for your life and the lives of your children.

The disciples found themselves in a life and death situation, terrified and helpless. Doing exactly what Jesus had asked them to do, these experienced fishermen were losing the battle between man and the sea. It began to look like all hope for survival was gone.

That’s when they saw Him! Instead of providing hope and comfort, the sighting of Jesus walking across the waves escalated into paralyzing shrieks of fright! It had to be a ghost!

Instantly Jesus met them in their urgent need. Jesus saw them. He spoke to them, and literally went out to them. When cries were heard, Scripture tells us it was Jesus who immediately offered them His courage, assuring them of who He was, and that they need not be afraid.

It’s the same for you and me. Jesus sees you in your fear or in what is paralyzing you. In the middle of your hurricane-like situation, let His Word speak volumes over you. He knows it’s scary. But your Savior stands ready to give you His courage to restore you out of fear to trust Him through your storm.

Cheri

Click here to read Day Five.

If you would like to go to the beginning of the plan, click here.  

Check this plan out on YouVersion (or Bible.com) here. 

 

Other popular reading plans

 


after reading Increase your Bloom Ability read can God restore me
after reading the fight for radiance read can God restore meafter reading waiting well read can God restore me

God Restores the Heartbroken

Day Three: God Restores the Heartbroken

Welcome to Day 3. It’s one of my favorites because it demonstrates such tenderness from God. In the midst of hurt and loss, it can feel like normalcy will never return. And perhaps it won’t. We would at least like the gaping wounds the loss or destruction has created would heal to a degree we can move forward again. So we end up asking this big question: Can God do it? Can he heal and restore the heartbroken? And is He willing to do it in me?

Let’s see what He has to tell us in the Bible. Again, I will fit the verses into the devotional.

Scripture

Ruth 1:1-5; 20-21

Psalm 34:18; 147:3

Isaiah 61:1

Joel 2:24-26

Devotional: God Restores the Heartbroken

My sweet friend has a life story no one would guess and none would envy. Tragedy began early with the death of her brother in a drowning accident. The loss was bitter for her family, but this would only mark the beginning of tragedies to come. After she married, her husband experienced a massive heart attack leaving her alone with three small children. She soon buried her parents. But in the middle of heartache, God graciously introduced her to a gentle soul who, too, had experienced suffering. They married and together raised the children.

My friend has experienced heart-wrenching calamity resembling that of Naomi’s in Scripture.

Ruth 1:1-5

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

After the son married, his wife experienced an aneurysm while pregnant. The baby, alone, survived. The son remarried, still in his twenties, but passed away all too soon. If that were not enough, his second wife became ill and died, leaving this grandson an orphan. When the grandson grew up, his car was struck by a drunk driver, instantly killing the young man.

Ruth 1:20-21

She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” 

Both realities beg the question: How does one live through such heartbreak without bitterness or psychotic depression? I didn’t know my friend during those years, but I can imagine she responded much like Naomi. The emptiness would be unbearable. Choosing to get up in the morning or stop crying or feel again become legitimate struggles. There are no psychological quick fixes or human solutions for how to push through cavernous wounds loss creates. But we can be certain God is close to the brokenhearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit, and He heals them.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;a
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound Isaiah 61:1

I asked my friend how she got through all the loss and brokenness. She said, “I don’t know exactly. I just know, God was with me every step.” I couldn’t get out the door for her battery of blessings she needed me to know. “I am so blessed!” she said. How could she say such a ludicrous thing after all she had been through? It was as if I had opened a pipe plugging Niagara Falls. “Let me tell you…The Lord has seen me through everything…!” And I sat down to an afternoon of wonder and awe.

I don’t know what you need in your life, but I know God is faithful to His Word.

He can replenish what the locusts have eaten.

The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
 I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you. Joel 2:24-26

He will be with the brokenhearted every step of the way.

Cheri

Click here to read Day Four.

If you would like to go to the beginning of the plan, click here.  

Check this plan out on YouVersion (or Bible.com) here. 

 

Other popular reading plans

 


after reading Increase your Bloom Ability read can God restore me
after reading the fight for radiance read can God restore meafter reading waiting well read can God restore me