I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Romans 15:13

Over the next few months, we will enter into what is known as the "holiday" season, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am reminded that this is a season of hope; a time to focus on the hope of Christ. You’ll see the season of hope mentioned on Christmas cards, commercials, decorations over the next few months. And yet you will see many hopeless people, hear and read many hopeless stories. 

I want to give you 4 steps to getting your hopes up and then talk about the things that can get in your way!

Your Thinking Affects Hope

First--What kind of thoughts have gone through your mind today? Are they hope-filled or hope-less? I often hear these expressions: “I hope my marriage will last.” “I hope my kids will be happy.” “I hope I have enough money.” “I hope my business will be successful.” We can’t “hope” things into existence. Misplaced hope is placing hope in us, our abilities, our situation or circumstance. Or worse yet, placing our hope in others and their actions. Webster’s dictionary defines hope as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had and that things will turn out for the best, to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.”  

You won’t hear a lot about hope on the evening news or on the internet. Placing your hope in the things of this world is a mistake and will only lead to disappointment and discouragement. 

Why We Don't Get Our Hopes Up

Here are just a few of the quotes and phrases I found in researching our culture and hope. 331,000,000 hits on google about NOT getting your hopes up. Have you said or at least thought these things? Why?

Research on Hope

Hope is powerful! Some years ago, I heard a story that exemplifies how powerful hope is--

A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope! 

The first thing you need to know is I despise rodents. But after reading the account of this experiment, I even felt sorry for the rats!! That some of them would lose hope so quickly and die, and the others who had seen evidence of hope lived so much longer. Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them. 

If hope holds such power for unthinking rodents, how much greater should the effect be on our lives?

Again, where are you today, right now? I say Get Your Hopes Up and here’s why.

Biblical Examples of People Hoping In God

The Bible is full of examples of men and women who hoped in God's promises. Abraham is held up for believers as a model of hope and for good reason.

When Abraham was 75, God promised to bless him and give him many descendants, as numerous as the stars in the sky. Abraham heard these words and believed God. And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. Genesis 15:6

But despite his belief, explains, Abraham had to wait 25 years to see the fulfillment of his hope. 15 Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised. Hebrews 6:15 

Abraham trusted in God, until he saw the promise come to pass. His hopes were up because he trusted. (Can be a challenge, new and seasoned Christians,—blind faith? Yes!)

Abraham's hope wasn't in his own ability to father a child. It was rooted in a trustworthy God, and in His eternal promises.

The writer of Hebrews explains that God wants us to take encouragement from His character and hope in Him (Hebrews 6:16-18). 

6 Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.

In fact, the Scriptures describe this hope " This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. (Hebrews 6:19a).

Get Your Hopes up!

So, how did Abraham do it? How did he remain hopeful for more than two decades? Look at Abraham's relationship with God: he was a friend of God

2 Chronicles 20:7 “O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people Israel arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham?”

He was also God's servant ….my promise to Abraham, my servant.” Genesis 26:24

He was totally obedient in Genesis 22. God commanded Abraham to take his son Isaac up the mountain and offer him as burnt sacrifice. He obeyed.

Increasing Hope by Uncovering Lies

Even if you know Jesus as your Savior, you can still lose hope. We learn from Proverbs that "hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12). When our hopes are delayed, we can be overcome by a deep sense of despair, depression. (examples—family, finances)

In order to get our hopes up we must uncover the lies that the enemy tries to convince us of.

One thing that works in our favor is that Satan tells the same lies over and over again. He is not very creative… if we can begin to recognize his lies, we can be prepared for the next time he lies to us. Another thing to know is that he can also work through people. Over and over again he will lie to us.

 We are all susceptible to the lies of the enemy. Know the word…study it meditate on it….learn it. Here are just a couple of examples of lies that can get in the way of our hope!


You will never have enough. (Poverty mentality/spirit) family history, strongholds, self talk (power of words).You can’t afford it—don’t dream or plan. No point. You don’t deserve more. Or the opposite-work constantly and enough is never enough. This lie can lead to hopelessness. And a lie believed long enough can become a stronghold on our life.

Get your hopes up about your finances! 


If people really knew who you were, if they saw the real you, you would not be accepted.

I’m talking about being afraid to let people in, to let them know that we need prayer, have issues with our children or our marriage or our jobs, extended family etc. Hiding behind the mask of “everything is fine.”

Know who you are and whose you are. Read the word of God and believe it. This lie can lead to hopelessness and can keep us from close relationships. There is POWER in living an authentic, born again, Bible believing Free in Jesus life. 

Get your hopes up about who you are!


Your marriage will always be defined by struggle. Believing the lie that your marriage will always be a struggle or that you will never reach agreement can lead to hopelessness. Leads to separation and divorce or resignation not to try.

Get your hopes up about your marriage!

These are just a few of the areas where the lies of the enemy can destroy our hope. Anywhere he can creep in, he will.

4 Practical Steps

Here are four practical steps you can take every day to build a sure foundation of hope.

1.    Submit yourself to God. God is the source of our hope. Come to Him in humility and He will restore you. He will encourage you and give you the strength to face whatever comes your way.6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:6-7).

2.    Strengthen your faith. By the Word--Allow God's previously fulfilled promises to renew your hope. God has given us written record of countless ways He has provided hope for believers over time. Look to these accounts for renewal (1 Chronicles 16:11-21). Remember the fulfilled promises in your own life. When did God come through for you? When did He pull you out of a mess? This will strengthen your faith! By Holy Spirit—Romans 15:13 

3.    Trust God's timing. Belief and Patience--Sometimes God answers our prayers and fulfills our hopes quickly. At other times, for He allows us to wait. Remember, it was through faith and patience that Abraham's hope was fulfilled. Again, look back to times that His timing may have not matched your expectations, but He came through, brought you through a circumstance. Hebrews 6:11-12

4.    Thank God today. Sometimes it’s tough to be thankful as we wait for hopes to be fulfilled, being thankful enables God to perfect us in ways we are unable to see at the time. And this kind of hope "does not disappoint" 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5).

Get your hopes up, God is good. We can stand on His word and what He has done in our life. We can live a life of hope. Hope is contagious. Spread it around…..share it. You’ll find true freedom in placing your hope in Jesus Christ.

Further study and prayer:

Ask the Lord to reveal any hope-less thoughts you may have. Ask for His guidance in turning those into Hope-filled thoughts. Read and meditate on this list of scriptures.

As much as I would like to please people, I desire to please God more. Therefore, I recommit to what God has called me to do and be. It's not easy and sometimes I feel like quitting. It's amazing that in the tough times He brings encouragement in the most unusual ways. 

Could be a vision, a dream, a new understanding of His Word, or a worship song. This week, it was an "I know that I know that I know" moment and a deeper revelation as to what the enemy would like to destroy. But Satan is a defeated foe and I am and will be VICTORIOUS! 

Questions/Comments I often get from women on this subject:

• How do I do that? 

• How do I stay on course with God and not worry about pleasing people?

• Easy for you to say!

• Thank you for saying what I needed to hear.

I share these questions with you only to say that I believe this may be one of the toughest areas of a Christ follower’s life. 

Most of us, whether we like to admit it or not, have the desire to please others. We want to be accepted and we want people to like us.

In Psalm 32:8 (NLT), we read "The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”

God is telling us that He will guide us along the best pathway for our lives. He will advise us. He will watch over us. It is very clear here that He is the one to follow. 

So, why is it so difficult to follow God’s direction and not those of our family, friends, etc? 

Most everyone will have an opinion about how we should live our lives. The roles we should play in any given situation, the choices we should make and even the people we should befriend.

Do you find it challenging to shut out the voices of others and only hear God’s voice? Why?

Why is the opinion and input from other people so LOUD in our ears? How can we keep it from drowning out God’s instruction?

Join the discussion in the comment section below.

Hello and welcome to Coffee and the Word with Sherry.  I'm Sherry Poundstone and I hope you have a cup of coffee or tea and the Word.

We're going to talk this morning about wisdom from James.  The book of James is absolutely amazing for instruction on how to live our life and how to follow God's principles.  I want to start this morning with a four-line poem from an unknown author that I love.

It says, “It's easier to preach than to practice.  It's easier to say than to do.  Most sermons are heard by many, but taken to heart by the few.”

You know what? James stresses practical christian living and moral and ethical teachings. It's about how to walk out our talk and practice what we preach. I love that little poem because it says “It's easier to preach than to practice.”

I'm going to begin this morning in Chapter 1 of James.  I hope that you will follow along with me during this series on wisdom from James.  I hope that you will dig in yourself and read the book for yourself and meditate on the scriptures. It's great to listen to a teacher, to go to church, to listen to sermons, and to go to the Bible study. But, when you read on your own, just you and God and the Word, He can speak to you in much more specific ways. All right. Verse one of the Book of James. 

James a bond servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. James 1:1 (NKJV)

James 1:1 (NKJV)

This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the lord Jesus Christ. I'm writing to the twelve tribes of Jewish believers scattered abroad: Greetings.

James 1:1 (NLT)

Now I read two different translations but the same verses - the New King James version and then the New Living Translation (NLT).  The reason I do that is to really get us started on who wrote this, the reason for it and what was behind it. So this was written by James which is Jesus’ brother.  It was written to the Christian Jews who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire - the diaspora - the dispersion of the Jews beyond Israel.  So, James is introducing himself first as one such servant or slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.  So, he's saying, “This is who I am. I am a servant of God.” I love that! 

James is about servanthood and the whole book is about the relationship in which all Christians are to persevere and to be servants. I really believe that that introduction in that first verse absolutely sets the tone for what he's teaching us throughout the book.

Verse two of James says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”  Now, I love verse two. I love to read that and teach that, because people think, “How can we possibly be joyous when troubles come our way?”

Here James is telling us to consider trouble as an opportunity for joy.  That doesn't make sense to us, but becoming a Christian doesn't automatically exclude us from trouble, does it?  Wouldn't that be great? But, we still have our problems. We still have difficulties. We still have tough circumstances.

So, trials and hardships really are situations that we're going to encounter throughout life, even though we're following the Lord.

So, what are some examples of a trial? Let's just go there today.  Maybe you get to work and you find out that you can't log on to your computer. Then you find out you've been terminated or laid off, or the company is closing. These things have actually happened to my husband and I, or we've been part of having to have that happen to other people when we were in business. That's a tough time. That's a trial.

Or, you go out to get to work. You're kind of running late and your car won't start. Or, you look at your bank account and it's overdrawn, or your teenager skips school and you have no idea what's going on.  These are trials. They're tough situations and no one is making light of them. But, when I bring them up in this context, James is telling us to be joyful. So, how does that work?

Well, counting it all joy is not an emotional reaction, but it's a deliberate approach to a problem. In other words, we can look at the situation and know it's a trial, but know God is with us. Using his wisdom and Biblical principles, we can make an approach to the problem while we still maintain our joy.  Remember, joy is not happiness. It's not necessarily that you're happy about the situation, but we can maintain our joy. We can look at it from God's perspective and recognize that there could be spiritual growth coming out of it.

Now, we might not think about those things when the situation's happening. It can come later. But, we can train ourselves.  We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us so we can actually look at trials with a different approach.  We're not joyful about the trial. We're not happy about the trouble but about the possible results. 

Now, I want to read very quickly a story that I heard about a pastor years ago. I absolutely love this and I always share this when I'm teaching about the Book of James because it is powerful. I heard a story about a pastor who used to have “Count It All Joy” Parties. He would have those once in a while. He so believed this verse that when he had a trial in his life, a circumstance that was tough or a difficult situation, he would call all his friends over to his house. And, he'd say, ”I want you to come over to my house for a party.” His friends would usually ask, “Is it your birthday?” “Is it your anniversary?” He would say, “No!” His friends would then ask, “What's the situation?” He told them, “Well, I'm going through a tough time, a terrible difficulty, a crisis, whatever it might be.” So, I'm going to have a “Count It All Joy” Party.  We're going to celebrate the difficulty because I know that this difficulty is going to bring something special and valuable to my life. So, I don't know what it is, but we're going to celebrate it before it happens. I want you to come with me.

Now, I've never hosted a “Count It At Joy” Party. To tell you the truth, it's  really tough to consider it “pure joy” because sometimes these situations hurt or they can be frightening. But, it's important for us to realize that unless we go through some kind of a test, we'll never know what our faith is made of. 

That can be a benefit of a trial. When those external pressures come, what if we begin to look at the good and not always jump to the negative? What if we don’t use it as an excuse to give up or to give in? Lots of times that would be the easy way, wouldn't it? When trouble comes, God is working out something in our life that we probably cannot know at the time what it is. We have to trust that He is working on something.  He may be working on a part of us, or bringing spiritual growth or some kind of reward. Whether we understand it or not, this is what we need to keep in mind.

My challenge to you today as we go through this series of James is to read the Book of James over and over as many times as you can.  There's only five chapters. It's just not that long. As you're reading, look for themes, look for things that will apply to your life.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what He wants you to see throughout this teaching.

God bless you and I will talk with you next time!

Hey! Good morning and welcome to coffee and in the word! I hope you have access to a cup of coffee, a cup of tea and the Word.  

For this devotional I've been talking about uncovering the lies of the enemy and I really want to concentrate on uncovering the lies the enemy will tell you about your marriage.  Now, if you're married listen up! If you're not married but intend to be, listen up, because this is something that I believe the enemy really focuses on.  We'll even talk about why here in just a minute.  I want to get going by saying what I've said in the last few devotionals.  We must know the truth to recognize a lie and the truth is in God's Word, the Bible.

God created marriage. So, why would He create a marriage to struggle or to fall apart or to end? Well, He wouldn't.  That wouldn't be His purpose.  In Genesis 2:22  - you probably all know this scripture - and the rib which the lord God had taken from man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  So, listen! The devil is a liar.  Remember John 8:44?  The devil is a liar.  He's the father of all lies and marriages are destroyed by many different types of lies.  The devil is the liar, right? Now I'm not saying that people don't lie.  What i want to concentrate on is some of the lies he will tell you about your marriage.  

I believe completely in biblical marriage counseling and if you're listening to me right now and you're in a situation where you feel like you need counseling, reach out to your pastor or to a Christian counselor.  I'll probably mention more about that later.

The devil is a liar, right?  He is out to kill your marriage - to destroy your marriage, because he's out to kill, steal and destroy us.  Christian marriages have just as many conflicts and struggles as non-christian marriages, and sometimes more depending on the situation.  Everybody's different.  Every situation is different and the divorce rate within the christian community is way too high! So, let me just ask you this - and maybe this is something you can ponder.  Why would the devil even care? Why would the enemy even care about your marriage?  Why would he even give that a focus?

Well, that's because there is power between two people. A strong marriage, where Jesus is at the center, and both the husband and the wife have a personal relationship with Jesus, they're following him, they're doing everything they can to honor him, to let him be Lord of their life.  When they have the support of a Christian community there's power.  In fact that power is so strong they have the power to stand against the lies of the enemy.  That is what his focus is.  If he can destroy the marriage, he can destroy the children;  he can destroy many other things.  There's a kind of a snowball effect, right?

So know this! Don't be afraid of it. Just be aware that the enemy will come between you and your spouse however and whenever he can.  We want to be aware, not fearful. God is bigger. 

One of the things I talked about in an earlier devotional is that the enemy wants us to believe that he doesn't exist. If people don’t believe he exists, then they're not aware of what he's doing and what he's up to.  So, we aren't fearful and we know God is bigger, but we do need to be aware of the lies.  He will try to infiltrate our thoughts. God's got the best interest for your marriage, of course.  He ordained it from the beginning and he wants it to work.  He wants you to know that He came to give us life and life abundantly.  He doesn't want us to just survive in our marriage.  That's not what it's all about.  He wants us to have a joyful fulfilling, fun marriage.  He wants us to have power in that marriage.

So, I'm going to go over a few of the most common lies that Satan tells us about our marriage, and then I'll focus on just one.  As I am talking, or after this devotional is over, really begin to ask the Lord to show you if there are any lies about your marriage or about your spouse that you're believing.

One of the most common lies that he will tell you about your marriage is that your spouse should think just like you, talk just like you, like the same things you do and never disagree.  Then the enemy usually follows that with the lie that you should give up,  Another lie is that your marriage is hopeless so you may as well give up.  Another lie is that you are the only one working on this marriage.  Your spouse doesn't care and you should give up. You're married to the wrong person.  Give up because you don't love your mate anymore.  He or she has hurt you so much that you can't forgive. You can never love them again.  Give up because you can't communicate.  You can't get through to your spouse, so stop trying.  Give up because your spouse doesn't understand you or your spouse doesn't appreciate you.  That's usually followed by a very big lie which sometimes includes the idea there is someone out there who would appreciate you and who would understand you.  You should give up because your spouse will never change.  Give up. Notice that we don't ever say that “we'll never change”!  Usually the lie that he's telling us is that our spouse won't. 

So, what was the common theme in all of that? That I said “give up.” So, how do you know that something you are thinking or hearing in your head about your marriage is a lie?  Well, does it go against the word of God?  If it does, it's a lie, period end of story! So, we have to know the truth to recognize a lie and the truth is in God's Word, the Bible.

So, let's just look at the first lie that I mentioned - that your spouse should think  just like you, talk like you, like the same things, believe the very same way and never disagree.  Really is it God's plan that we're all alike? No!  God created marriage, but remember, it's two different people who are now one.  Ephesians 5:31 says, “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother, be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.”

God put us together to complement each other.  Our strengths are different. Our weaknesses are different. Our likes are different, and we're designed to work together. We do not have to be the same in personality.  We do not have to be the same in giftings.  We should, of course, agree on basic moral values, have similar life goals and all of those things. But, let's face it, we're probably not going to connect with someone who doesn't have some similarities, right? But, the whole point is that the enemy would like you to think that if your spouse doesn't believe exactly what you think or believe or do things this way or that, then there's something wrong.  You might as well give up.

Now, the lies I mentioned earlier are just a few of the most common lies that the enemy will tell you about your marriage.  So, how do we keep from believing those lies and allowing those ideas to come in and become a stronghold?  We must know the truth to recognize a lie and the truth is God's word, the Bible.  The Bible is the best marriage manual you'll ever read.  If you read the Bible from cover to cover you'll find scriptures that will teach you how to overcome anger. Isn't that important in a marriage?  Absolutely! Because we're human beings we are not always going to agree. There's going to be anger or disagreements. The Bible will teach us how to overcome strife, how to walk in love, how to walk in forgiveness.  Forgiveness is huge! The Bible will teach you how to communicate with your mate.  Society does not have the answer to any marriage issues that you have.  Movies and TV certainly don't have the answers.  They don't show you the answer in a movie.  Your friends and family do not necessarily have the answer either even though they may think they do, or you may think they do.

On a side note - whether man or woman, husband or wife, it doesn't matter.  It is dishonoring and very detrimental to your marriage to talk about your spouse's weaknesses or shortcomings with your friends or your family.  This is very detrimental! It's very dishonoring!  It's a common mistake that people make.  It's a very serious mistake. Seek wise counsel if you have an issue, but do not dishonor your spouse especially in front of friends. 

So, you may not have found the answers for your problems in the world.  You will find the answers if you turn to Jesus and the word of God.  Study the Word.  Get in that Word and stay there.  You'll find the answers.

So, your marriage right now at this moment may be very far from ideal, or it may be absolutely the best it's ever been.  It's not impossible to have that marriage that God wants you to have.  You may have given up right now.  You may be hopeless. You may be happy. You may be fulfilled. Just know that what I'm talking about here is that we need to be aware of the lies that the enemy can tell us. They can slip in easily and quickly and silently. He's very manipulative, but he's not creative. He will tell us the same lies over and over he doesn't ever come up with anything new, right? So we can just recognize what he typically does and we can be aware.

So, here's my challenge for you. As you go throughout your week over the next few days, take some time to really pray and say, “Lord is there anything about my marriage that I'm believing that's not true, that could be a lie from the enemy?” Then talk to your spouse about it.  Talk to your pastor.  Begin to pray. Get Christian counseling, if needed.  But, don't believe the lies without investigating and finding out what God has to say.

God bless you! Talk to you next time!

Hello and welcome to Coffee and the Word! I'm Sherry Poundstone, your host.  We're going to continue talking about the lies - uncovering the lies or, as I also call it, liar, liar, pants on fire.  These are lies that the enemy would love for us to believe and that are sometimes easy for us to believe. So, last session we talked a little bit about why that was important. What deception is and one of the lies that we talked about was that the enemy isn't real. If we believe that, then there's no threat and he can just go about his business, right? And then the other thing that we talked about was the lie that if people knew who you were, really, that you would not be accepted. And that's one that the enemy would like us to believe and is a really common one. 

So I want to go ahead and talk about the next one. This is very important, I think, and it kind of goes with the last one we're talking about. But the lie is this. You are your past, and it cannot be erased or overturned or you can't be redeemed, and it's like a tattoo on your skin. Here's the thing, that's a lie from the pit. 

The fact is, we can't go back or undo our mistakes or change what has happened, right? We can’t change choices we've made or mistakes that we've made. There's no point in saying, “I wish I had done this instead”, or “if only I had never done that”. Those are things that we like to say, but there's really no point to that. Some of us live with that painful guilt of a mistake that we've made or a choice we've made for years and years. You know, perhaps there are very real tangible reminders of our past mistakes. It could be something that we see everyday. Often we’re reminded of it in a tangible way.

 But, if allowed, the enemy will keep us in bondage to our former ways, or our former choices or never being able to progress because we're still living in our past. But God has made a way for us to be delivered, made free from our past, any bad choices we've made, any mistakes we've made, anything that's happened to us, whether it was our fault or not, or instigated by us. And His desire is that we live a full and healthy and joyful life and that we'd be free in him. 

So when we ask Jesus into our heart and as the Lord of our life, it's very important that we allow him to be Lord of our life. It's great to say it, but we have to let him in and be cleansed from the past.

I want to read from 1John 1:9. It says. “But if we confess our sins to Him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness so we could be free in him”. And then I want to read from Isaiah 43:18-19. “But forget all that - It is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in dry wasteland.”  Sometimes we look at our past and it looks like a dry wasteland, doesn't it? It looks like there's just no hope or nothing that can come. Nothing good could come out of it. 

And then one more - Psalm 103:12. And I love this. “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”  So if he's removed, our sins, if he's forgiven us, they are passed. We can't change what happened. We can't change what we've done or said or how we acted. But we're free and we're forgiven. 

One more scripture that goes right with that I absolutely love is Matthew 11:28 that Jesus said -  “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” The heavy burdens are his to carry for us, because he is wanting to have us in freedom, and he wants us to be free and live a joyful life. So the word says that you are not your past. Believe the word and don't believe the lie of the enemy. 

Now I always like to say what I'm talking about. I do a teaching called “Trash the Past” that's a little more in depth. And I will probably do that here on Coffee and the Word sometimes soon. But what I want to say about it, is that sometimes it's not just you that wants to keep you in your past or keep you reminded of your past. The lie from the enemy can also come from other people. They want to remind you of what you have done or not done, or things that you have allowed to happen in your life, mistakes you've made, whatever this is. Then we have to go to the Lord and we say, you know what?, “God help me!” “I need to not be influenced by these people”. Forgive them and help me to live in freedom”.

All right, so that is a lie from the enemy that is very popular. He's not creative. He doesn't make up anything new. He uses the same old stuff, but it is one that people fall for. 

I want to talk real quick today about deception, about your finances and your money and your provisions, because this is an area that the enemy will definitely try to deceive us. So, I'm going to ask you a question.  You don't have to think of it and write it down right now. But, throughout the next week or a few days, think about what he is telling you . What are you hearing him right now about your finances and your money. With COVID and the Pandemic I know so many people have been affected in very negative ways. We can't even imagine some situations. Some people are actually homeless and they never were before needing help with food - that kind of thing. What is the enemy telling you about your finances and your situation right now?  We have to know the truth, to recognize the lie and the truth of God's Word is the Bible. 

Here's some common lies about finances. 1) You will never have enough, no matter what you do. That's called a poverty mentality. And it is something that we're often raised with. I have talked to a lot of people. It's a stronghold. Maybe they were raised to think they would never have any more. So the lie is that you will never have enough. And it could come from family history, a stronghold of thinking or self talk. You know, the power of words is amazing. So that's a common lie. 

Another lie is, “You can't afford it”. Don't dream or plan. There’s no point. It’s not gonna happen. That's a lie from the pit, because that is not how God wants us to live. He doesn't want us to walk around thinking and knowing in our minds that will never have enough. That's not just not true. He's our provider and we’re thinking we can't afford it and we don't dream or plan.

And another lie that is common about finances is that you don't deserve more.  That goes along with that poverty mentality. And a lot of times this is from how we were raised or financial struggles that we've put ourselves in. Even if it was, you know, something we did. These are lies.  If we hear these thoughts, we know these are not from God. Those are from the enemy. 

You know, we talked about hearing God's voice a few sessions ago. We need to learn how to hear his voice and recognize when it's not Him talking. It could be ourselves. It could be the enemy.

Another lie that we hear is that money will buy you happiness. It will buy you peace. It will buy you position and power. You know this sounds like a cliche, but the truth is that is a very common lie. A lot of times when I'm teaching on finances and the lies are uncovered. Most of the time we're going to think, “Well, the lie is that we don't have enough.”  It can also be that because you have, a lot in the way of material things, that you have some kind of power or special knowledge or a special position. And that is just not true. So, money will not buy you happiness or peace. Well, I think we all know that and yet we often fall into the pattern of trying to acquire more when we're really looking for peace and happiness? 

So, in John 10:10, it says “The thief's purpose (and that's the enemy) is to steal and kill and to destroy.  My purpose is to give you a rich and satisfying life.” You know, God wants us to have a rich and satisfying life, and that isn't always money, but it often is. That's fine. He wants us to be fruitful and live comfortable lives. So, my sense here is that it's a real common lie. Then there is something I hear from other people sometimes - “Christians should not have money, and they should not be blessed”. That just isn't true either. 

So let me just ask you this. If you do have any of these lies that you're believing right now and you're hearing this talk coming at you, why would we believe the lie? Well, I think it's reinforced by things around us. I believe that family background and the way we grew up is a huge part of that.

Current Events - let's look at the current situation. It's how much of the world lives right now and is believing the lie. So we need to honor the Lord with what we have. That is one way that we can come out of this lie. First of all, pray and ask the Lord to point out any areas where you might be believing an untruth about your finances. We need to honor the Lord with everything that we have. 

How we behave with our finances absolutely reveals our heart toward the Lord. We want to learn how to handle our money. And the thing is, we wouldn't have any of it if it wasn't for him. There are abilities that he's given us, jobs he's given us to make the money, whatever it might be. We need to honor him. We honor him with our time, our treasure and our talent. But, today I just wanted to hit on the lies about finances. 

So, “Give freely and become more wealthy”, is what it says in Proverbs 11:24-29. “Be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper. Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. People curse those who hoard their grain, but they bless the one who sells in time of need. If you search for good, you will find favor. But if you search for evil, it will find you.” I love this verse! Verse 28 says, ”Trust in your money and down you go. But the Godly flourish like leaves in spring”. So we need to know the truth of God's word. We need to recognize any lies about our finances, that God would be telling us, and know the truth of God's word - what He says about our finances, and what he says about freedom. So, ask God. Again, ask Him to reveal any lies the devil's telling you about your money. Read scriptures on provision, on money, on giving, on honoring, and giving honor to God and what the Word tells us about that. Put it together for your specific situation because everyone's situation is different. But let's get free today. Let's get free of the lies. Let's get free from believing anything that the Lord doesn't want us to believe, anything the enemy would be trying to tell us. 

God bless you and I'll talk with you next time.

Good morning and welcome to coffee and the word. I'm Sherry Poundstone. I hope you have a cup of coffee or tea and if you're in the position to have your Word out, that's great too! And then, if you're watching this later or listening to this as a podcast as you're driving, you can maybe do it later.  

I want to just let you know that I have been absent for a while.  John and I contracted a bug. It was not COVID.  We did not have COVID but it was enough to knock me out for a while. I laid low and I just rested.  Sometimes I think God does that for me so that I will rest.  He doesn't make me sick, but he does allow me to use that sick time as rest time. 

What I want to talk to you about in this session and the next couple of sessions is lies.  I call it “Liar, liar pants on fire!” because it's about the lies and the deception that the enemy will tell us.

We hear a lot of things that are negative. Some of it might come from us, but a lot of it comes from the enemy.  He is real. We're not going to give him any more credit than he's due. But, we have to know the truth so we can recognize the lie.

Have you ever played one of those lottery scratch-off cards? You scratch and scratch and scratch to see what lies beneath.  You're hoping that it's something great, but it might be nothing. Just as we scratch off the surface of the card to reveal what’s underneath, we're going to use truth to reveal the lies and deception of the enemy.  We’ll be revealing the lies of the enemy and talking about what deception is and what the common lies are that we hear.

In order to live in freedom, we have to know what true freedom means. We have to reveal those lies so that we can understand deception and move right past it and into freedom. We will hear lies about God and about ourselves, about our relationships, and about the world we live in. We have to know the truth to recognize a lie and the truth is in God's word - the Bible.  And, you'll hear me say this a lot throughout the teaching. One thing that works in our favor is that Satan is not creative.  Man, he does the same thing all the time! He uses the same lies over and over again.

What we need to do, of course, is know the truth from the Word of God and recognize those lies immediately. So, if they come at us we're going to know immediately to cast those out.  We want to cast those thoughts out, and replace them with the Word.  We have to begin to recognize those lies so that we can be prepared for the next time that he might try to lie to us.

Another thing to know is that he can also work through people. Now, this is really important for us to understand.  People can be deceived as well as be deceivers.  It is possible that someone that's influencing us could be deceived themselves. They could actually deceive us without even knowing it.  We need to know that it can work through people. That’s another teaching, but I know that it is due to a spirit being on or in that person.  We’ll talk about that another time.  I just want you to know that if someone close to you is deceived, they can also influence you. We need to know the truth and we must know the truth to recognize a lie and the truth is in God's word the Bible.  

We're all susceptible, whether we want to think it or not, to the lies of the enemy. We have to know the Word.  We have to study it.  We have to meditate on it.  

I have several videos and “Coffee and the Word” Devotionals that will help you.  You can go back and look at some of those videos about how to study the Word and that kind of thing. Don't be afraid of that word, “study”, because that only means “read it”. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. 

A lot of us were raised to believe that we can't interpret the bible, that we can't understand it. That's just not true.  That is a lie from the pit. All right?

Let's read John 8:44. Jesus is speaking and in that verse he's speaking of the devil.  He says, “For he is a liar and the father of lies”.  Now, we've probably all heard that scripture, but I want us to really hold on to that throughout this series.  He's the father of lies.  In other words, that's who he is. 

Deception, the actual word deception that I've been using means to deceive somebody. And, it means to make that person believe a lie or something that's not true. Yeah! That sounds very simple doesn't it? And, it also sounds like a big, “Oh I could never be deceived!” Well, I would hope that we could never be deceived, but the truth is that we all are vulnerable.  We're human beings.  So, when the enemy sends deception your way, it's an attempt to deceive you into believing something that is not true at all.  Most likely his ultimate goal is to throw you off track in some way.  

Strongholds are built through deception.  A stronghold is formed when a deception becomes something that you believe to your toes.  Basically, a stronghold is an incorrect thinking pattern. It's thinking in a way that is wrong.  If you're deceived, and you hear a lie enough, or you believe that you see evidence of it, that can actually become a stronghold in your life.  We’ll talk more about that another time. But, I do want to let you know that strongholds are formed with deception. So, from the very beginning, Satan deceived Eve, didn't he? He deceived her into believing that God's Word wasn't quite true.  In Genesis 3:4, the devil told Eve that she would not surely die as God had said she would.

So we must know the truth to recognize a lie. The truth is in God's Word - the Bible.

One of the biggest lies I want to talk about today is that the devil is not still in the world - that he doesn't exist.  I have read crazy statistics lately about churches that are teaching that the devil is not real.  Look, we're not going to pay a lot of attention to him from the standpoint of talking about him over and over. But, for the purposes of this teaching, let me tell you that is one of the biggest lies that's out there.  If he's not real, then you don't need to be cautious of him. So, what he wants people to think is that he's not real - that there's no reason to be afraid.  And, I don't mean live in fear, but just aware of him. If we don't believe he's real, then we don't have to be wary of the lies that he's telling us. Right? So, many churches are not talking about him. Now, we never want to give him any more credit than he's due, or time than we have to.  But, not teaching about him because it's not “user-friendly” or popular in church is really part of the deception.  That's one of the biggest lies he's got out there - that he's not real. Satan's goal is to alienate us from God, and he's going to use anything that he can in order to do that. One of the main things he wants to do is distort the concept of God and also the concept that he is not real.

All right. So, very quickly, let's go over this.  Satan tries to make us feel as if we're not forgiven, even though we've confessed our sin.  That'll be one thing that you'll hear a little nagging voice telling you, “You know what you may have confessed, but you're not really forgiven.”  “How could you be forgiven?”. “It was so bad what you did!”  Those might be things that you hear. He also would love for us to believe that God is like a tyrant - like a policeman ready to arrest us at any turn.  He would like you to believe that God would desert us.  But, that's all deception.  We know this isn't true. If you're following Christ, you know it isn't true intellectually. But, I have heard so many people say that they just don't believe that they've really been forgiven.  That's the kind of thing he'll try to tell us.

All right.  So, he tries to paint these images about God that are not real. And, that is deception.  If we listen to it long enough and if we don't recognize that it's a lie, it can become a stronghold in our life.  He wants to get you to believe that the Bible is unproven. You're going to hear that a lot in the world right now.  Right? It's just a story. It was written by men. There is no proof.

It's a fairy tale. I've heard all kinds of things.  I won't even go into that because that would take hours. Jesus is just a story and it was applicable years ago, but it's not applicable anymore. And, on another side note - a lot of churches are teaching that the Bible isn't applicable in every way anymore. 

We must know the truth to recognize a lie and the truth is in God's word the Bible.  We have to know the truth.  We have to be in the Word.  He tells lie after lie.  That's deception.  And, sometimes the deception is so subtle that we would not even pick it up.  That is why I’m doing  this series.

The very first thing I want to say, before we get going on some specifics, is that he's going to talk to you about who you are.  Are you really a child of God? How could you possibly be a child of god?  How could you be a son or a daughter? There's hundreds of ways that he is going to talk to you about who you are.  He will try to tell you that you're not a child of god - that you're not a daughter or a son. 

Lie number one that he will tell you is that if people knew who you really were, if they saw the real you, they would not like you. You would not be accepted.  That is a major lie that the enemy has out there for us.  And, we have to know the truth. We have to be in the Word.  I call it hiding behind the “I've-got-it-all-together” mask - the I.G.I.A.T. mask. That's the mask that a lot of us hide behind.  I would say most of us have done it at some point so that we don't have to reveal anything about ourselves; so that we don't have to take any chances; so that we can be accepted; or, so we think that we would not be. It's a lie from the enemy that you wouldn't be accepted if people knew who you were or knew your past.  We don't want to look bad.  Don't get me wrong. It's okay to walk in a positive light with a positive attitude. That's what I want you to do.  That's what God wants. He wants us there.  But, I'm talking about being afraid to let people in - to let them know that we need prayer; to let them know that we have an issue with our children or our marriage; and that we need prayer for that; or we need help with that extended family.  It could be anything - job insecurity.  It could be anything.  So, hiding behind a mask is very harmful to us, of course. But, it is harmful to others and this is what I really want to point out before we end today.  If we're hiding behind that “I've-got-it-all together” mask and we never open up, people can look at us and think we're perfect or that our life is perfect - that we have no problems.  There is not a person out there that doesn't have challenges every single day. So, it can actually be detrimental to others and to our testimonies when other women, men or couples see us.  They assume that because they never see anything that's real or transparent coming out, that everything's perfect. This makes people feel inferior or like they can't open up and share.  People won’t know that you understand their issue if you’re wearing that mask. So, we do compare ourselves to others, whether we want to or not.  If we're behind that mask, others can feel inferior.  It's a lie from the pit and it's a very dangerous one.  Why would Satan care? He cares because there is power in living an authentic, born-again, Bible- believing life.  He doesn't like it when we can be free in Jesus. And, the enemy doesn't want that. He has a very good reason to try to keep us behind that mask. So, I'm going to end with this. We must know the truth to recognize a lie and the truth is in God's word,  the Bible.

All right. I'm going to end here for today.  And, when we continue, this is what I would like to challenge you to do.  Begin to pray and ask the Lord, “Are there lies about who I am and do I know who I am in you, Lord? Do I believe that I am a son or that I am a daughter? Do I believe  that my marriage is blessed - that You're right in the middle of my marriage or my family? Whatever it might be, begin to ask him.  Record in your journal or on a notepad anything that you hear, because what God will do is begin to reveal to you lies that you're believing or even just being influenced by.

God bless you and I will talk to you next time!

Hello and welcome to Coffee and the Word with Sherry!

I hope you have your word handy. I hope you have a cup of coffee or tea. I know I do!  And, let's get going! You know Coffee and the Word is a devotional that I post a couple of times a week. And, what we're after is an opportunity to help you to apply Biblical principles with practical application.  In other words, to walk it out in your life.  And, so today I want to talk about hearing god. So, we'll have two sessions.  In this first session I want to give you an overview of what the concerns are that people tell me about hearing God and just how we can set ourselves up to hear him.

So, let's talk about that, and, the phrase i want you to hang on to this session and next is this  - “listen longer and hear more”. We need to listen longer to God so that we can hear more.  Let's start with Jeremiah 33 verse 3 and it says this:

“Ask me and i will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come” - Jeremiah 33:3

I absolutely love that verse - remarkable secrets! I know i want those - especially, maybe if i'm needing some advice or some encouragement or some direction from the Lord. it's so easy for us to talk to God about what we want from him isn't it?  We can ask him and petition him. And, that's okay. We're supposed to.  He tells us to do that. But, what about listening to what he has to say? So, a lot of times we'll ask in prayer and quiet time, but we don't stop long enough to listen and really hear him.  So, are we hearing what god has to say to us?

So, a question for you today is to just kind of think back about your prayer time - your quiet time. How much of your time with god is actually spent listening to, and for his voice? So, do we rush through that part?  Do we say “Okay i'll listen later. I know he'll speak to me all day long”?  And, let me just say - interject here - yes, of course God can speak anytime. I'm talking about having some dedicated time in your prayer time that you already are doing. And, most of you I know, are really working on that - to listen - to just stop and listen. So, he is always speaking, but are we always listening?

Now it doesn't mean that you have to sit for hours every day to hear him. But, we do need to practice this. We need to practice hearing his voice by giving the time to him that he deserves.  He deserves the time and we deserve the time to hear from him. So take time to praise him, and worship him, and to seek his face, and seek his advice, his encouragement, his direction. But we have to listen.  So, we can ask a lot, but if we don't listen, what good is it going to do, right? So, there can be no intimate relationship with God without a two-way conversation. Without us listening to him, and really beginning to recognize his voice, the average Christ follower has a hard time hearing his voice because of distractions.

So, we'll talk about how to get those distractions out of the way. And, we need to learn to clearly distinguish his voice above all others.  And, instead of going through life blindly, we can have this definite conversation with him - this definite encouragement from him - teaching, advice and guidance - protection by hearing his voice and learning to recognize his voice. So there's not a single person listening or watching this that couldn't benefit from this more. So, I want to go back to Jeremiah 33: 3 and I want to read it again.

“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets. You do not know about things to come” - Jeremiah 33:3

Here's what I know.  These are remarkable secrets because only God can give us the advice, the guidance, the encouragement and sometimes the relief of a burden - whatever it might be. Only he can do that for us. You know we can try to put that off on other people. It's not going to work. No one can do these things for you except for the Lord.  So, we have to be able to hear him.  But again, I love that  - remarkable secrets!  I always think, “what are those remarkable secrets you have for me God?

I know some days I need to hear them more than others.

Jesus made some radical statements about hearing his voice in John chapter 10, verses three through five.  So, we're going to read that. He was speaking about himself as the shepherd of the sheep and the sheep as his followers.  So, let's just read that the gatekeeper opens the gate for him and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And, I just want to interject here that he calls his own sheep by name. I love that he leads them out. So he calls us by name and he leads us.

After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them and they follow him. Because they know his voice. They won't follow a stranger.  They will run from him because they don't know his voice.

So, here's what Jesus was saying here. When we know his voice we can recognize and discern those voices that are not his and we can set those aside. We cannot follow those. We can know for sure. For instance, a lot of times people say to me, “well, how do i know it's God and not me talking?  How do I know it's God and not the enemy or just my thoughts, whatever? And, so we're gonna we'll dig into that.  But that's the whole point of recognizing the voice, right? When we recognize Jesus's voice, we'll know it's him. We'll know to follow.

So it says again - it says his sheep recognizes his voice.  It didn't say his sheep “can hear” or “should hear”.  It says that they do. And so, we know that we really will know God's voice when we hear it.

A lot of times we don't have the confidence that we can.  So, we'll talk about that.  And, I want to, in this session and the next, give you some practical steps. 

So, the first thing we have to do is fix our receiver, right? We have to be able to receive. And again, a lot of times our lifestyles are so busy;  there are so many things,  so many interruptions, so many distractions, that it's very difficult for us to settle down and really have a conducive life -  conducive to hearing his voice.  

So, a lot of times people will say,  “How are you?” And, many people probably answer like “Oh, I'm busier than I can possibly be. I'm way too busy. I'm so busy. The thing is, we may be busier than ever, but that's one of the biggest reasons we need to stop and listen to his voice, right? If our schedules are crazy, and you know I understand that, we all have things going on we have a private life, we have a work life,  and there's just lots of obligations - lots of things pulling on us.  And, even through these last few months in this pandemic, you know there's been a lot of stressors and different things for us to learn.  These are things that can be distractions.  And that we can think we're too busy to actually sit and listen. But, we're not, and we really shouldn't be.

Have you ever been driving down the street, or you're cooking dinner, or you're at work doing a task, and then all of a sudden a thought comes to you out of nowhere. You think “Why did I think that”,  or “Why did i think about that person”?  It could be a solution to a problem.  It could be a great idea. It could be someone you haven't thought about for a while.  But often when that happens “out of nowhere”,  that's holy spirit.  And, we can practice what I call purposeful listening. And, that's what I want to teach you about.  We can purposely hear from God.

Psalm 46:10 says:

Be still and know that i am god. I will be honored by every nation. I'll be honored throughout the world.  

It's in the stillness - Be still and know that i'm God - not busyness. And, the stillness is when we can tune in our spiritual ears, right? And, the lord is always speaking in that still small voice. We have to listen.

So let me just give you a few practical tips in this session and then we'll talk more in the next one about that, and we'll kind of flesh that out.

Isaiah says in Isaiah 30:21 “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “this is the way you should go, whether to the right or to the left.”

Don't we all want that kind of instruction from God? Well, we have to be able to hear that. So, the first thing we have to do is remove the inner noise, you know, that's that chatter in your mind. Often thoughts of chores and tasks will create a distraction for us when we sit down to listen. So, keep a pad of paper handy - and I'm not talking about a journal, right now, but just actually a little sticky note or something. When those things come to your mind, write those down just to get them out of your head and onto the paper so that you can go back to really listening to god. So, for instance, some of us are so busy we have errands to run all the time.  We have things that we have to do to sit down and listen to god.  It’s like that's a challenge, right? - this distraction. I learned this years ago. So, if something comes into your mind like, “oh my goodness, I gotta go”.  Add that to the grocery list, then just write it down on a sticky note and set it aside.  Again, that's not your journal, that's just to get it from your head to the paper and out of the way, right? So, some people find that playing worship music softly in the background will help with the inner noise or the inside chatter that we need to calm.

The second one is to remove the outer noise and pick a quiet remote area of the house where there's less noise distraction or no noise distraction.  And, like i said in previous teachings, I know that sometimes that's a challenge. So, maybe choose a time of day when no one else is home, or before they get up, or after they go to bed - whatever works best for you. But, we want to remove the outer noise.

So, first remove the inner noise the chatter in our head as best we can and then remove the outer noise by finding a quiet place. And then,  we do need to be physically comfortable and calm.  

Listen, this is something, because remember, I used the word practice. We really have to practice at this.  So, you're probably going to try out different places in the house or a different chair, sitting on a pillow, laying on the floor, or whatever might work for you. But, get comfortable because it can be a distraction to be uncomfortable. So, we have inner noise, outer noise and something comfortable to sit on, or in and then pray. Pray and confess and repent. Praise the lord first, and then be still and listen. Keep your journal handy and a pen. Make sure that you have your phone. If you need to do it that way.  Just record real quick what God is saying, or what you're sensing now.

Before we get into the details of the next session, Ii want to say this - sometimes when we're listening to him, we kind of expect it to be in a conversation style that we would expect. But, often when we're listening to God in our prayer time and we're quiet, just a scripture might come to mind or a phrase, or the answer to a problem - something like.  That could be what you need that journal for.  Write down that scripture, even if you're not feeling like you should stop and look it up.  Just go ahead and write that down. Record whatever you're sensing - whatever you're feeling. 

We're going to talk a little bit more and flush each of these sections out in the next session. But, I want you to just get started on that.  So, my challenge to you right now is when you go to your prayer time this week, add in a little bit longer time of listening.  Get quiet before him. Practice getting rid of that inner chatter. Practice getting rid of the outer noise and the distractions. Make sure you're comfortable -  all of those things.  All right, well that's the end of this session!

Hello and welcome to Coffee and the Word with Sherry.

This session we're going to continue talking about how to study the bible with purpose.  I want to give you some actual techniques - some ideas and suggested ways to actually study the bible with a purpose and a plan. Some of us are real planners and some of us aren't. But, what i have found with Bible Study is that we have to have some kind of a plan or some kind of a structure.  It will help most of us to get in the Word,  to stay in the Word and to get the most out of it.

So, we're going to be talking about that.  Now the last time we were together, I talked a little bit about why we study the bible. Of course, that's very important, so if you haven't watched that Coffee and the Word episode on How to Study the Bible with Purpose (Part 1), be sure to go back and watch that. 

But, let's just talk a little bit about some techniques.  So if you have your coffee or tea and your Bible join me.  This is going to be a really good study and I think this will be very helpful to you.

So,  a lot of times what I do is take the word and actually pick out a book of the Bible to study. Now, it may be one I've studied many times or it may be one that I've even taught on.  It doesn't make any difference because we can always get something more from the word.

Now if you've never done this before, maybe a good place to start would be in the book of James. It's a great, great book in the Bible with lots of practical application of the word.  And, it's only five chapters long so it's probably a good one to start with.  We will plan to spend some time - several days or maybe even longer reading through the entire book at one time. So again, if it's only five chapters it's not going to take you as long to do this more than once.  Do this as much as you can. Just read through chapter 1  through 5 of James for an example.  You can choose any book but that's what our example will be.

Today as you read, look for themes that can be woven throughout the chapters or into the chapters. So, sometimes you'll get a general message from the book.  Sometimes you'll get very specific things. 

But for example in the book of James, an obvious theme is persevering through trials.  That's how it starts out and that's what James is talking to us about. So, that would be like a general theme.  

So, as you're reading the book from chapter 1 through 5, you look for those major themes.  And again, we always pray before we start because the Holy Spirit is going to pick out what we need to see and highlight for us. So, you can take notes as you're doing this on ideas that jump out at you.  You'll want to underline or highlight - whatever works. Look for life application principles so, as you're reading you're getting a general theme and then also life application principles  - things that will help you in your daily life. 

An example of a life application principle in the book of James, of course, would be making sure my faith is more important than just my words.  In other words, “walk in the talk”.  It should result in action. So, it's a good practice when you're reading through the book in this method to study the bible, to try and pull out the themes.  Pull out the practical application, the things that can apply to your life.  As you meditate on the word and read through it over and over, and even before you use any other study tools,  I really recommend doing this.  There's lots of things out there to help us as we understand, and read to understand the word. But, this gives us an opportunity for God's word to speak to us personally - personally because we're reading through. We're not using any concordance or commentaries at that moment.  We're just reading through the book.

Now, after you do that, you'll slow down and read the book, verse by verse. And, of course, you may not be able to do this all in one setting. Read each verse and meditate on it. Take as long as it takes to do it.  Take as much time as you need. But, read the book verse by verse and break down the text, looking for deeper understanding.

In Hebrews 4:12 it says:

“For the word of god is living and active”

We talked about this in our last session.  The word is alive. This is how we can change our life. This is how we can learn to draw closer to Christ.  

So, I hope you're getting excited about studying the bible in depth and with purpose. That verse that we just read is a powerful statement. “For the word of god is living and active”

Because God's word is alive, you can study the same passage several times - many, many times.  And then, one day you pick it up to read it, and you'll continue learning from it. In other words, you'll discover something new or a revelation that you didn't get before - an application to your current situation, whatever it might be. 

So, there are many tools and many techniques available for you to learn how to study the bible, or have a guideline. You can go online and find all kinds of different ones, but the one that I wanted to talk about today, besides studying the whole book at once, is something called S.O.A.P.  So, once you start to go through the book that you've chosen, verse by verse,  S.O.A.P. is a great way to journal or to write down or to take notes. Now soap is an acronym and it reads Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer.

So, the S is for scripture.  Take time to read and allow God to speak to you.  So, remember, I said to go verse by verse.  Read that first verse, even if it's just a greeting, and read that over and over.  Allow God to speak to you through that. Highlight, underline, place a mark in the margin, make a note, whatever you need to do.  Write in your journal.  The S is for scripture.  Whatever scripture stands out to you, you want to highlight. When you're done you re-read any of the verses that you've marked or highlighted and look for one theme that particularly spoke to you that day.  Then write that one down.  

However you want to do it, this is just a guideline. But, S.O.A.P.  is a great way to start. So “S” is for Scripture.

“O” is for observation. What you do is think about God's meaning to you, in the scripture.  In these verses what is he saying? What does the Holy Spirit want you to know? What are you sensing that he's talking to you or speaking to you about?  So, ask the Holy Spirit again to teach you;  to reveal Jesus to you; to highlight anything. Paraphrase that and write it down in your own words in your journal. So, you're going to have a scripture, and you write out the scripture in your journal. Then, observe. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what he wants you to see. Then, paraphrase that scripture, just for your own benefit, in your journal.

“A” is for application. Of course, this is very important because we want to apply the word. That's what we've been talking about. That's what Coffee and the word with Sherry is all about.  So, personalize what you've read by asking yourself, “How does this apply to my life right now, today?”  Perhaps it is an instruction, or it could be an encouragement for you.  It could be a revelation of a new promise God has for you.

It could be guidance. It can even be, correction in a particular area of your life. You know God can encourage us and teach us. And, he also can correct us through his Word. So, write out how this scripture can apply to you today, in your journal. So, you’ve written the verse. You've picked up the scripture. You've paraphrased it;  observed what that it says to you. And then, “A” is for Application. We apply it to our lives.

“P” is for prayer. Now, this can be as simple as asking God to help you to use this scripture, this verse or this group of verses, whatever it might be.  Or, it might be praying about a greater insight and asking for greater insight on what he might be revealing to you.

Sometimes we get just a word or something in our spirit. We might want to pray about it and then ask God to flesh that out for us.  So, remember that prayer is a two-way conversation. We always must stop and listen to what God has to say and then write it in our journal.

So, S.O.A.P. is just one method of reading the book through.  I think it's really amazing. If you read a book all the way through, and do what we talked about earlier, and then take the S.O.A.P. method as you go through each verse, this really could be very helpful to you. It's been helpful to me in the past. Now, I want to just quickly touch on some resources out there. You know, there's everything on the internet today, right? So you can find a Bible dictionary. You can find a concordance. You know there's www.biblegateway.com and many others. There are also commentaries out there. I always like to give people a heads up. This is one person's opinion or one group's opinion on a scripture. So, when you're looking at commentary, just know that. It's great to read them. I think it's great as you study, to get more in depth. But, that is someone's interpretation or opinion. 

Now, there are other Bible translations. Maybe you like the NLT -  the New Living Translation. But, you want to look at others.  That's fine. And, all of this can be done online. However, if you have a desk, and you like books, you can also buy all of these things and have them right on your desk to look through.

In our Bibles today, most of us have a concordance in the back. If it's a study bible, it's going to have notes.  All of those things are wonderful, and of great use, but, before you look at any of those things. I recommend asking the Holy Spirit to show you what he wants you to see.  We don't just study God's Word for the sake of reading it. We're going to study it for revelation, for life application, and for things to improve in our life, right? All right. So, that is something that i just wanted to mention to you. I really hope that you will give this a try.

So, my challenge for you is this next week - these next few days, whenever you have time to sit down and study, is to pick out a book of the Bible and read it all the way through. Like I suggested, as many times as you can, as many times as works for you, and then begin to study scripture by scripture. Try the S.O.A.P. plan and see if that works for you.  All right! That's it for today. I will talk to you next time.

The Bible is no ordinary book. The words within its pages are like medicine to your soul. It has the power to change your life because there is life in the Word!

Welcome to Coffee and the Word with Sherry! We're going to continue talking about our study of living a life of prayer. Now in our last session, we talked a little bit about why we pray and how we can go from having a compartmentalized prayer life, a sectioned off time of prayer to living an actual life of prayer.  Now living a life of prayer, as I mentioned in our last session, is really a continual conversation with God. It's a flow.  And, a life of prayer with that continual conversation with God is wonderful and that's our goal. But we do need to boost it daily with dedicated times of prayer. Now, a practical example might be that I cook healthy food, hopefully every day, for my husband and I.  But, we do boost our nutrition and our nutrients with vitamins and supplements so we eat healthy, but we give it a boost.  Well, the same thing goes with prayer.  We live a life of prayer but we boost our prayer life by living a life and turning it into a living life with prayer by dedicated times. So, in other words we have those times that we block off and we sit down, we listen and we talk to God.  

Now there's a difference between saying prayers (You know, the words between “Dear God” and “Amen”)  and the awareness of being in the flow of his power and provision. So, structured or dedicated prayer times can turn into that continual flow between us and the Lord. But, sometimes it does take us a little bit of time. And, we have a part to play and we need to make some effort in this area. So, I want to start by saying that our definition of prayer should be more. It's a continual interaction between the natural and the spiritual realm. It's a constant flow of communication between us and Him. In other words, living a life of prayer means we no longer again attempt to get God to do what we want, when we want and how we think he should do it.  But actually, that we're trusting him that a continual life of prayer is a continual communication with him.  

Now a lot of times... I've taught a lot of women over the years, and they have an anxiety or a fear of praying to get it right - to pray the right way;  to say the right words;  to say it in the right order, so that god will do what we think he should do and when we think he should do it. But, there really is no wrong way to pray if you're talking to God.  I am going to give you some practical tips about that dedicated prayer time and how to make it as fruitful as possible; as meaningful as possible.  But let's go back just a little bit. Again, remember what is prayer?  It's simply talking to God.  It's talking to your creator, the one who knows you more than anyone else, and then listening to what he has to say to us.  So, communication is a two-way street, right?  We talk, but we also must listen. And, sometimes that's the challenge. And, we'll be talking later in this series on how to hear God's voice.  But, right now, I just want to talk about the fact that communication is a two-way street.  Let's just keep that in mind. And, it's with our Heavenly Father, so it is a simple and uncomplicated conversation. 

I've heard again from so many women who say they feel inadequate praying. They don't know how to do it right. They don't know what to say to God. And, the thing about that is it's a conversation with your heavenly father. And so, just have a conversation with him. He is God and we are not.  We revere him.  We praise him.  And, we'll talk about that. But it's a conversation. So, dedicated prayer time is like talking to your best friend - to the one who loves you unconditionally. He  knows everything about you because he created you. So, the very first thing I like to do, and I think is very important, is to ask him to forgive me of my sins. So, ask him.  Number one, ask him to forgive you of your sins. If we read in Acts 3:19 “now repent of your sins and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped away, then thank him for sending his son to die on the cross.”

This is so important! It's not that we forget that Jesus died on the cross for us, but i think we don't acknowledge it sometimes as much as we should. So, thank him for sending his son. 

Read John 3:16 - a verse that's very familiar to everyone, but really think about what this says. 

“For God loved the world so much, that he gave his one and only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  

So, we definitely go to him, and ask him to forgive us our sins. Then we thank him for sending his son. And then, we can tell him our needs. He wants that. He wants us to turn to him for all of our needs, to be completely dependent on him for everything. He wants us to ask.

1 Peter 5:7 says:  “give all your worries and cares to god for he cares about you and then when we pray we must pray with faith and belief.”

Matthew 21:22 says: “you can pray for anything if you have faith and you will receive it.”

Now pray knowing that the answer will come. Pray knowing in your heart and in your spirit that the answer will come. And, pray with confidence. Know that that answer may not look like what you think it should look like or even be close sometimes.  But, trust him because he will answer. So, when we pray, we pray with that faith that we know an answer is coming. We want to pray with reverence. And that's what i was saying earlier about “He's God, and we're not.

We want to revere him. “Because of the lord our God, bow low before his feet, for he is holy.” - Psalm 99:5.  And, then we want to pray with worship. We want to worship him, so we revere him and we worship him.

So yes, Lord! I believe the man said, and he worshipped Jesus. That's from John 9:38. And,I love that! Yes, Lord! I believe. And then, he worshipped jesus. So, we must worship him. And, it's okay if all you say is “I worship you, Lord”, if that's coming from your heart. You don't have to sing a worship song, unless you want to. You don't have to recite scripture. Just,  “I worship you Lord. I trust you. I have faith in you.  And, I worship you, and I read you all right.

Another thing is we need to pray for each other. So, sometimes, when I go to my dedicated time of prayer, I might bring with me a list of prayer requests, or people that I want to remember in my prayer time. In jesus’ prayer in John 17, Jesus prays for himself, for his disciples, for all believers, and every generation to come. So, we need to pray for each other. 

Now, it is important that we follow this example and pray for each other the way Jesus did. Don't be afraid to say you'll pray for someone. It needn't be complicated. It doesn't need to be a long prayer. It doesn't need to sound a certain way. You don't need to use certain words or phrases to make it valid. it needn't be loud. It needn't be soft. Just pray from your heart for that other person. And, the cool thing about praying for someone is, no one can stop you from doing that. It's between you and God.  I mean, I know over the years, I've had people say, “oh don't pray for me. You know, “I don't need it”, or “I'm not the person to pray for”. That doesn't stop me because it's between me and God.

All right. So, let's talk briefly about praying in front of others, and then we'll be done for today. Sometimes I have lots of women in different Bible studies and different events and conferences say to me,  “I am embarrassed or intimidated, timid or shy. Whatever it might be. From praying in a group prayer, because they feel inadequate. So, maybe you've been in a prayer circle or a group of people praying, holding hands, and praying.  Whatever it might be, a home group setting, whatever it might be, and if you're uncomfortable praying aloud

just know this - don't compare yourself to others. And, when the Holy Spirit prompts you to

pray out loud, do it.  But, don't feel pressured.  Yes of course, you know why you pray aloud is so that your voice is going forth with your prayer. The words are going out there, and other people think it blesses the people around you. But, I know that there have been a lot of people telling me that, you know, they've been intimidated in that situation. Rest assured that God is with you. Just pray.

On the other hand, if you're not ready to pray around the group again, don't force it. 

Prayer is not a performance, and you don't get a grade from God on it. And, don't let other people pressure you into that. But there is such a benefit of praying aloud with others when the Holy Spirit prompts you, and when you feel confident. 

So let's go back real quick. A life of prayer is continual conversation with god, boosted daily by times of prayer. So, that's what i have for today. We will continue in this Living Out series. We're going to be talking about several different things - how to study the word, and then also, we'll be talking doing a session on how to hear God's voice and some of the things I've learned over the years. So, God bless you! And, i will talk with you next time!

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