Christianity 201

October 25, 2020

Doing Things on Purpose for a Purpose

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:36 pm
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Today another new (unnamed) writer for you from the optimistically title blog, Everything is Going to be Okay. As usual click the header below to both read this at source, or contact the writer directly at the email address in the article. There were actually four different devotionals I considered using here, so be sure to check out this author.

Being Your Best Self

At the start of every new year, we have this tradition of saying, “New year, new me” and wanting the start of the year to signify us being better versions of ourselves. Well, it’s now  October and I don’t think that anyone saw anything that has happened in 2020 coming. However, that doesn’t mean you still can’t be your best self.

Being your best self or trying to be the best version of you sounds like a daunting challenge and not something that you can do quickly. But what I have found is that it’s a lot easier of a concept than we make it out to be because it’s really just all about the choices we are making. So, when I want to do something I’m not sure about, or I feel like I’m not doing enough, or I want to relive my past again, I ask myself one question and the answer determines what I do.

“Is this contributing to the life I want? Is this for my good?” Sometimes I also have to ask myself where is this desire coming from and if it would serve an actual purpose or just feel good for a little while. A lot of times we want to go back to what we know and who we know because it is comfortable, but we have to remember that we have already been there and there are greater places God has for us to go.

Another way we know that things are best for us is because God Himself told us what we should be focusing on in Philippians 4:8.Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

If the decisions you are making or you are thinking about making are stressing you out, or the people in your life are draining you of energy, then take a step back and reevaluate. This is your life,  it should be bringing you joy and smiles and the best way to do this is by shifting our perspective to what is good, what is praiseworthy, what is beautiful, what is right, and what sparks joy.

Being your best self doesn’t just happen on accident, it’s about intentionality and doing things on purpose and for a purpose. It’s about valuing your own time and doing little things that make you happy. It’s about choosing yourself and prioritizing the things that matter to you. You are your biggest investment, make sure that the choices you are making reflect that.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalms 119:105

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” 1 Corinthians 15:33

60 days from today it will be Christmas. Many of us have traditions and outreach programs that are connected to the place where we worship which simply won’t happen this year. As the countdown to December 25th becomes more earnest, try to think of ways that both your fellowship/congregation, and also your family can make a community impact this year (outward looking) and ways that you make the celebration of Christ’s birth become more meaningful (inward looking) in the weeks ahead.

July 15, 2016

The Rain of God

Holy Spirit Rain DownThis week we’ve been revisiting devotional blogs from last summer. This one is from Prayerful Pondering by Pat Luffman Rowland. Click the title below to read at source.

Thinking on the Rain

Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it” Isaiah 45:6 (NKJV).


A grey cloud hovers overhead. It is the promise of drink for dry ground and the uplifted faces of blooming things; the promise of water enough for birds to bathe in a forsaken fount. The grey cloud covers the sun and provides shade and a cooler day for man and animal alike.

Thunder grumbles and the rain comes, spreading its kindness over the day’s needs. The earth smells fresh and colors deepen as flowers and grass are clad with glistening drops of rain. The world seems to slow a bit and I can’t hold back a smile, for I love a rainy day!

It occurs to me that the simplest things color my life with happiness. Watching showers march upon the ground and sidewalks, seeing a bird wash insects from his wings in a new pool of water. Pondering the buds of roses about to break forth into full bloom and how their deep drink of rain will lend a hand to the process.

I think of how rain promenades on ponds, lakes, rivers, and even the sea. The larger the body of water, the more mystical a rain appears in its stroll. What sight is grander than the downpour of heaven joining waters of the yawning deep? What vision sweeter than blooming things with lifted faces catching a morning shower? What image more right than birds making use of a shallow basin with its fill of afternoon rains?

Lord, I long to linger in the splendor of how you’ve made things, to think on the beauty of nature without man’s interference. Where could I go and pay a price for something as wondrous as this? You give so generously of all you have fashioned; let me not miss it. It is a demonstration and continuing promise of Your love. I bow to you with grateful heart.

“For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God”(Hebrews 6:7 NKJV).

We’ve covered rain before at C201, check out this 2013 excerpt from Charles Spurgeon, Parallels Between Grace and Rain.

A few days ago we ran a post from and days later, I continued tracking with them. Here is the next post in the series on Peter’s confession: The Revelation of the Messiah (and What it Truly Means to be His Follower).

We don’t always make it back to every site visited the year before. If you have a particular verse you’d like to examine close up, consider Bible Exposition Commentary by Dr. Grant C. Richison. Choose a book of the Bible from the menu in the top right — it’s mostly NT books covered — and then it will prompt you to go to a particular voice.

July 14, 2016

Past Tense, Future Victory

We return today to a multiple-writer site we visited last July, Inspire A Fire. The writer for this one is April Dawn White. You can click the title below to read this, with pictures, at source.

Victory Perspective

The invisible battle of trust, is the biggest battle I face.

When I find myself wondering in my wandering, I return to these stories of God’s faithfulness. I can trust God has already won the battle on my behalf.

I love how God uses past tense grammar to describe a current or future victory.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Joshua and Jericho

See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” (Joshua 6:2, NIV)

Joshua stands before a small city fortified with tall walls. Assessing the giant walls, God said, “See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” I wish I could see the look on Joshua’s face at that moment. Queue the climatic music. Staring up at the walls, did he have a look of skepticism or determination? Before God offers an unusual battle plan, He assured Joshua, “I have delivered” this city into your hands.

Joshua entered into battle from the stance of victory.

Moses’ Commission

See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Exodus 23:20-31 (NIV)

Moses led a million march–a motley crew of former slaves, out of Egypt through the Red Sea towards freedom. God in is mighty way parted the Red Sea and the people marched right through toward freedom. Before the split, God assured Moses, “I am sending an angel ahead of you…to a place I have prepared.”

With Pharaoh and the entire Egyptian army closing in behind, Moses walked in a stance of victory on dry ground as he crossed the Red Sea.

Gideon’s Call

Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” (Judges 7:15, NIV)

A chapter before, the Lord finds Gideon hiding from the enemy. Now God has called him to fight. Before God issues an unusual battle plan (by the way, most of God’s battle strategies are unusual) He assures Gideon, “The Lord has given” the enemy into your hands.

Gideon enters into battle from a stance of victory.

We can learn from Joshua, Moses, and Gideon. These men faced insurmountable circumstances, yet they entered into battle from a stance of victory.

Before God issues an unusual battle plan, for our lives we can rest assure He has already prepared our future and delivered the victory.

What battle are you facing?  The victory is already yours. Go get it.

A song which fits this theme well is one we haven’t previously featured here. Enjoy “The Battle Belongs to The Lord” by the band Petra.

January 20, 2015

Keep Your Love Alive…And the Gospel Will Be Preached

We used a brief excerpt a year ago from the daily devotional Johnny B. Daily. Sometimes we return to a previous source only to find that they’ve stopped writing, or have lost the focus that we saw evident at an earlier stage. So it’s nice to go back and see someone faithfully writing, in this case since June, 2006.  For our return visit we find Johnny going verse-by-verse through Matthew. This is actually two posts, and our headline above is our attempt to link the two thoughts in the consecutive verses.

But first, Johnny always starts each day to his readers with these words:

God is good all the time, all the time God is good.  TOO BLESSED TO BE STRESSED!!!!

I love his passion and the personal tone with which he writes to his readers. To reach each piece below at source, click the individual titles:

Is your love cold? Is your love all about you? Matthew 24:12,13

Yesterday I visited with you about false prophets. Do not get me wrong, many preachers on the radio and TV are good God fearing Bible teaching men; just be aware of the ones that are not. Johnny, are you judging them. No, but the Bible says to test them by the word. Do this and see for yourself.

Matthew 24: 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

Jesus is telling us here that with false teachings and loose morals comes a very destructive element. What is this element? LOVE that IS NO MORE! Huh? Because of false teachings, or teaching about caring for yourself, that you will prosper and do well and loose morals we lose the love for God and the love for anything except SELF!!

Look around, where is your focus? Are you thinking only of yourself? If so, you love is not for God first; then love neighbors and family. Hmmm! Something to think about. If you are #1 then you cannot truly love.

13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

However, with Jesus there is always hope. If you endure, don’t compromise your Christian beliefs, stay true to the one true living GOD, then you shall be saved. These are Jesus’ words.

Come my friend, now, take time this very moment to pray, asking God to make you strong and a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. Love you all.

The song, “Just spreadin’ the news” should be our theme song. Matthew 24:14

Matthew 24:14 tells us that before Jesus returns, the Good News about the Kingdom, the message of salvation, would be preached throughout the world.

This was the disciples mission. This is your mission. To take the Good News to others worldwide. Are you sharing the word with others? How can you more effectively share the good news where ever you walk? A man had lots of little small crosses and he would lay one on the sidewalk of businesses he entered when the Spirit moved him. He said he has yet to exit and the cross still be there — YES, someone picked it up. A great way to stir the curiosity and move people. What way can you leave small subtle hints? Hints to stir people and get them to thinking about Jesus, about salvation, about eternity after death.

Your walk in life should be one way to share the gospel. So others look and say what does he/she have that I don’t have? Hmmm!

Jesus talked about the end times and final judgment to show his followers the urgency of spreading the Good News of salvation to everyone.

Here are Jesus’ words: 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

May your day be filled with glory from our Father in Heaven. Love you all.

I’m not sure that the original text is meant to read this way, as a conditional promise, but as we join the two verses we could say: Kindling our love for God and faithfully enduring means that the gospel will go out into the world.

Oh, and I almost forgot, Johnny ends each day’s writing with these words:

In Christ’s Love and Grace

To which we add, Amen!

March 26, 2012

A Legacy That Lives On

Our non-stop tour of the Christian internet today lands on Jonathan Stone’s blog StoneWritten.  I can’t think of a better place to begin the week than with this piece, originally titled Legacy.  (Remember, you’re encouraged to read these daily posts at their original source.*)

Everyone wants to leave a legacy. Everyone wants to be remembered for something, and to leave something in the hands of those who come after them. Teddy Roosevelt used the slogan, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Likewise, we all hope to leave some sort of lasting impact. We do not necessarily want to have to shout it out to people. We just want it to pack some punch in the end. Perhaps we would hope others would adapt Roosevelt’s slogan in describing us after we are gone. Something like, “He lived quietly and left a long shadow.”

One person from Scripture that comes to mind when thinking of legacies is Elijah. Calling fire down from Heaven is kind of an automatic qualifier for leaving a legacy (1 Kings 18:38). As if that were not enough he left earth on a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). The Old Testament ends with a promise that God would send Elijah back (Mal 4:5-6). John the Baptist is compared to Elijah (Luke 1:17). And Elijah appeared to Jesus along with Moses on the so-called Mount of Transfiguration (Matt 17:3). After that impressive resume James felt the need to remind all of us that Elijah actually was human (James 5:17).

It is hard to imagine a much more impressive legacy. However, there is one aspect of his legacy that is often overlooked. We are probably all aware that after Elijah’s fire-calling victory on Mt. Carmel he got scared and ran for his life into the wilderness. He eventually ended up in a cave on the side of Mt. Horeb. There was a wind and an earthquake and a fire, but God was not in any of those. God was in a still small voice. And after a few words were exchanged God instructed Elijah to go back and do three specific things:

The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 1 Kings 19:15-17 

So, Elijah was commanded to go and anoint three people–Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha. How long do you think it took Elijah to do those three things? Okay, okay. That is a trick question. It is a trick question because Elijah never completed the commission that God gave him to do. In fact, he only did one of the three things that God instructed him to do. That is pretty amazing coming from this prophet that left a very long shadow. I have seen a lot of different grading scales. But in every grading scale that I have ever seen thirty three percent is failing. Elijah? Failing? What gives?

The one thing that Elijah did do was anoint Elisha as prophet. They spent a lot of time together, and when Elijah was taken up into Heaven Elisha received a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. Scripture records Elisha performing exactly twice as many miracles as Elijah. And interestingly enough, Scripture also records Elisha eventually fulfilling the rest of that commission that had been given to Elijah. That is, Elisha sees that Hazael and Jehu are anointed as kings. Hmmm. What does that mean?

I often get the opportunity to speak with other ministers about their ministries. Sometimes I am speaking with elders who are seeing their ministry wind down. Sometimes I am speaking with peers who are in the middle of their ministries, and often still struggling to see their vision come to pass. Sometimes I am speaking with young ministers-in-training who are still dreaming about what God might be calling them to do. But this is not restricted to licensed ministers. For all of us have a ministry, a calling and commission from God. Each of us is trying to be faithful to fulfill those things that we understand God to have commanded us to do.

But when I look at Elijah I realize that most of the visions that I have ever heard are way too small. I have heard a lot of visions that sound big because they include some pretty big things. I have heard visions that look to impact entire nations. Visions that require enough money to run a small government. Visions that have the potential to change the destiny of entire people groups. Visions that could bring about global revival. Despite the grandeur of all of these visions it seems that all of them are limited in one critical way. That is, all of the visions assume that the vision will take place in the lifetime of the one casting the vision.

Consider Elijah. And then consider this. If the vision/purpose that you understand God to have for your life is limited to the number of days that you will walk this earth, then your vision is too small.

Elijah understood that out of the three things that God instructed him to do one of them was mission-critical. If nothing else he had to pour his vision into the prophet who would succeed him. Elijah was not the only great one in Scripture to realize this spiritual truth. Abraham needed Isaac, and the rest of his progeny, for the promise to be fulfilled. Moses needed Joshua to get the Israelites into the promised land. David needed Solomon to get the temple built. Jesus needed His disciples to establish the church. Paul needed Timothy to strengthen the foundation that he had laid.

I worry that we have gotten this almost completely backwards. We hear the three commands and put Elisha last on the list. We seek out Hazael and Jehu, when we should be pouring into Elisha. We are unwilling to accept that our life is like a mist that appears for a while and then suddenly vanishes (James 4:14). Consider your purpose today. And then ask yourself, “What changes if I realize that God intends to do none of this in my lifetime, but in the lifetime of those who I pour the vision into?”

~Jonathan Stone

*Reader mini-survey:

Just curious… Have blog posts here resulted in you making the author’s blog part of your daily or weekly routine?  My hope is that in introducing you to a wide variety of Christian devotional and Bible-teaching bloggers, some of them will resonate with you to the point you bookmark their sites and/or subscribe, making their writing a regular habit. 

And remember, while C201 is a repository of some great Christian writing, please read the blog posts at source.