The Stirring Faith Blog

Stirring Connection

day 3 stirring connection

Day 4: Stirring Connection

Scripture

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, Hebrews 10:24

 

Devotional Material: Stirring Connection

Could we all just agree to put our phones down and look across the room?

It’s awkward, I realize.

Do you notice the people around you? Are you cognizant of their emotional state based on their body language? How do they spend their free time? Does any relative live nearby? Have you developed connections with real live people within your sphere of influence to the degree you could recognize a need?

Unmistakably, if the Gospel is anything, it’s a collective endeavor. Sometimes we find ourselves on mission independent of others by circumstances or necessity. Other times, we isolate ourselves through other means. Neither option is optimal according to Scripture. We are commissioned through the Word of God to be involved in relationships outside of our individual pursuits for Kingdom purposes.

The challenge presented by the writer of Hebrews is that we authentically connect to such a degree, we impact each other and the world around us. You and I cannot even begin until we are in a physical and mental position to notice people.

Once we center on the individuals, we are to give serious consideration to how we stir them up to love and good deeds. That’s why observation is critical. Listening should be without headphones dangling out of our ears. Phones removed. People learned. Situations studied. Only then can we better define specific needs.

We could have been charged with achieving great things for the Kingdom employing all our talents and resources, independently. But nothing is further from reality. Instead, this writer maintains we are to “provoke” or incite each other toward accomplishing the love and good deeds. This suggests substantial effort to propel one another forward on mission with God. You need me to do this for you. And I most certainly need you.

Here is where we prayerfully lay out what we’ve learned in our people-watching before God. Ask Him to help you know what to do with those entrusted to you, and to make you aware of the needs. Who might need your encouragement so that the work will be accomplished?

May the Lord begin to give you the strength to stop going it alone. I pray He grows a love in you that draws you together with others. May He then so stir your hearts and minds in a single focus, that collectively you can make an impact that is recognizable as being the Gospel.

 

 

Leave a prayer or response below so that we can participate together as we walk this journey alongside each other.

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Seize Your Hope

Day 3: Seize Your Hope

Scripture

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

Devotional Material

An unusual family structure like ours (eight kids: six adopted, two biological) brings out the obtrusive curiosity in people. They ask bold questions like, “What’s it like living with all those kids?

I respond with some variant of life being busier than you can imagine but not as chaotic as you would think. Organization is key. Still, periodically, things get a little hairy. Time is needed to reorient the bins, closets, and bedroom mayhem.

Mixed up in the piles or with the dangling hangers, I invariably uncover girls’ jeans accidentally hanging in the boys’ closet or the wrong person’s shirts shoved in the drawers. Always I’ll unearth something totally unexpected. Sooner than later I’ll exclaim, “What in the world is THIS doing HERE?

That’s sort of the way I feel about Hebrews 10:23.

  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering…

Scholars believe the author is writing to Christians living in Jerusalem just before the Romans destroyed the city. Life was burdensome. Persecutions were rampant. Their expectations of how things would turn out were not being met. It was difficult to see the light in the middle of dark circumstances.

These were not namby-pamby fence riders. These people had taken hold of the Gospel message and allowed Christ to have a firm grip on their lives. And they were challenged to seize and hold tightly to their hope in the midst of the disappointment; because God remained faithful and trustworthy.

A Perfect Fit

That’s what it’s doing there. Unlike the misplaced jeans, this is perfectly positioned.

Maybe your situation doesn’t look promising. Unmet expectations cross all generations. Half a dozen reasons declare why realism points to trusting in something other than God.

Don’t do it!” the writer cries. This is temptation talking. Seize your hope! Keep drawing near. This isn’t a kiddie ride at an amusement park. You and I are far beyond that in Christ. There are no guardrails or restraints for the thrill ride that is following Jesus. It’s just you and me holding tightly to the hope we can see through the darkness of whatever comes our way.

What might be causing you to waver? Recognize it as temptation. Stop it in its tracks. Instead, hold tightly to the hope you have in Jesus.

Seize it!

Seize it by asking God to make it impenetrable as the Holy Spirit awakens it exponentially in your heart and mind.

 

 

Leave a prayer or response below so that we can participate together as we walk this journey alongside each other.

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Draw Near

awakening hope

Day 2: Draw Near

Let us 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. Hebrews 10:22

Devotional Material

Most mornings I wake up with the weight of impossibilities and my inadequacies pushing me deep under the covers. This heaviness is often mixed with reminders of blaring realities I can see of my inabilities and lack. Being the multitasker that I am, my mind wanders quickly to the times I have failed before and mistake after misstep are filed across my mental landscape like an old movie set up for me to review as evidence that should size up my day. Nope. No way can I do what I think I’m called to do.

And I haven’t even brushed my teeth.

Call it the Enemy, perfectionism gone bad, or my own conscience, as the writer of Hebrews might agree. The bottom line is that if I just wait around allowing all that garbage to percolate I will literally waste my life, paralyzed in fear, stifled in inhibition. Unmoved.

No. We cannot fix the problem or awaken the hope within. But neither does God intend we stand there brushing our teeth in presumed failure or indifference.

What then is the solution?

Draw near.

So often we don’t draw near because we have beaten ourselves up too much before we get out of the starting gate. The work IS impossible. We ARE inadequate for the task; which is why we can’t fix it. It’s a circular disaster with a single workable strategy: take your mental mess and emotional abyss to God. You moving closer to the heart of God as He draws you to Himself. That is the only solution.

Get rid of the pretense.

He simply asks for our sincerity. This is not the time to practice some artificial ritualistic nonsense. He can see through all that drivel. Bring your whole mistake-ridden, inapt self. But offer it in candor. In our worst postures, He still presses in toward us.

Come in full confidence of Faith.

Leave the “I cant’s,” with your toothbrush.

Instead, come near in full confidence that your God hears you; that He will respond on your behalf, and will replace all of that negativity and destruction with His Truth, filling you with overflowing bountifulness of Holy Spirit imparted hope. Positioning this confidence in the forefront mentally changes the trajectory of your day to impact your world. It’s literally life-changing.

Today, would you simply draw near?

 

 

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A God of Hope

Welcome

Hey! I’m Cheri Strange, the hostess for the devotional aspect of this 21 Days of Prayer emphasis with America World. It is my pleasure to partner with this fabulous organization during this season of hope in my cyberspace. We may have met last year during the same season through What if YOU Were the Plan?

Before we get started, allow me to give you the skinny on the plan and the general structure for each day. Once we get going, I will try to provide a seamless experience for you and get out of your way. Let me first invite you to make yourself at home while you are here. Get to know one another in the comments section. Sometimes this particular road can feel lonely. I have found much-needed support and encouragement just when I needed it, so if something strikes you or an idea comes, please share it in the comments so that others who have signed up to participate with us can benefit.

Reading Plans

You are reading this plan in my Reading Plan section. All of these plans (at least a portion of them) can be found on YouVersion in some variety. Most of the time you will find the Scripture reference or the verse entirely at the beginning of the day’s reading. Under the Bible reading will be the devotional material. The only time I will deviate from that is when I feel it flows better to embed the verses within the body of the devotional material.

Most plans have bonus materials that are added periodically, so don’t forget to check that out. If you have any questions, comment below or you can contact me at info@sheyearns.com.

I am so thankful you are here and have been looking forward to your arrival for months! Let’s see what God has in store.

For His Glory,

Cheri

Day 1: A God of Hope

Scripture

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Devotional Material

When I was about ten years old, my parents managed a Christian radio station. A small operation, it often became a family endeavor. My sister hosted a contemporary hits show while I debuted my disc jockey skills hosting a weekly children’s hour.

What I remember most was the personal investment it required. The victories were ours to celebrate and the problems stuck around until they were solved. That investment included the tower.

In case you’re not familiar, radio frequencies rely on very tall towers to transmit signals. Towers are required to house red flashing lights on top to warn low flying aircraft. When these go out, replacing them is an urgent management problem.

Although a licensed pilot and a lover of flying, heights did not love the management. There was no way my dad was going to climb that tower and change the lamps. What we needed was someone outside of ourselves to bring what was darkened back to light.

Someone Outside of Ourselves

This is what the Holy Spirit does within us in terms of hope. He brings to light what we cannot do for ourselves. Even a person with a temperament that leans toward happy and joyful on any given day can’t do this. It’s simply supernatural. You can’t raise your hands high enough or believe strongly enough to obtain it. We are not capable of solving our deepest issues of belief and trust in our God. This kind of hope must be awakened by the Holy Spirit like a small broken lightbulb made new to light up the sky.

What in your life has just about burned itself out?

Maybe you’ve done everything in your power to fix it, to bring back the light, but it’s still not working.

Perhaps you are looking up at a very tall tower, wondering how you are ever going to solve this problem. It’s just too overwhelming.

Consider outsourcing this job. You’re right. You can’t fix it. And it will burn out.

You and I were not made for Lone-Rangering our God-given responsibilities. Yes, God asked you to manage it. But bringing light where there is none? That’s out of your league.

It’s time to call in the expert in all things bright and beautiful.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Back to the Beginning of Awakening Hope

Move on to Day Two

Able Still Speaks

day 2 able still speaks

Day 2: Able Still Speaks

Scripture

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. y faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. Hebrews 11:1-4

while Abel brought the best portions of the firstborn of his flock. And the LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, Genesis 4:4

Then Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Genesis 4:8

Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his own deeds were evil, while those of his brother were righteous. 1 John 3:12

 

Devotional Material

One of my daughters suffers from allergies in the fall. When she was younger, her father proposed a medical treatment to help alleviate her symptoms. But her response was downright negative. In fact, she told him she didn’t know why we would try that because it was never going to work! Since she was all of seven, dad wanted to know what tainted her thinking.

Apparently, the child had been steered away by an infomercial on television. Even though she had no medical training, zero experience, or justification for distrusting her father, she demonstrated little to no faith in the proposed remedy.

Unfortunately, the reasoning of a misguided and gullible seven year old can sound a lot like you and me when it comes to trusting God and matters of faith.

In The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan created a character named Little Faith. Little Faith has just that: little faith. Oh, he eventually makes it to heaven, but he doesn’t experience the kind of victories and successes worth retelling. Bunyan pushes the reader past settling for little faith toward become a person with great faith.

He knows possessing a meager faith will cause a person to spend too much time in the gutters fighting make-believe foes. Positively that person gets to heaven. There is grace enough. But for some reason, the confidence to believe God can accomplish what He sets in motion never materializes.

Too often, too many limp along unable to believe God beyond what we can see.

Abel still speaks today.

Why?

Abel believed God for what he could not see during his time through his circumstances.

That’s it. That’s all great faith ever requires.

But let’s be frank. Great faith will be costly. People are hurting. Children are without families. Widows are neglected. Girls are enslaved. Countless others are displaced and hungry, all without the Gospel.

The world needs Believers in Christ who will take a step toward greater and deeper faith. As it has been through the ages, so it is here and now. The world is looking for hope. And faith displayed in your life is what it looks like.

Ask God to help you recognize where you are settling for a lesser faith in Him. Then prepare to move toward a faith that hopes in what it cannot see.

What is one step you can take toward trusting God for the unseen today?

with much affection,

 

 

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

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