Soul H2O Devotions

  • 18. Recap – In The Beginning Series

    “In The Beginning God created…”    
                               Genesis 3 1:1  NIV

    In May I felt the Lord encouraging me to write a series called In The Beginning.  I had a few ideas when I started it but had no clue it would span 18 weeks and lead into another much shorter series called After The Fall.  If you haven’t been a regular reader of my Soul H2O devotions and this series you can see where it all starts with the Series Introduction with the button below.  You can find the devotions by searching my website on the blog page.  Each of the titles are mentioned in the recap.

    [imic_button colour=”btn-default” type=”enabled” link=”https://sherrystahl.com/in-the-beginning-series/” target=”_blank” extraclass=”” size=””]In The Beginning Series INTRO[/imic_button]

    Sometimes these devotions didn’t follow the regular structure of my Soul H2O devotions like this one, but I knew they had to be written as God was giving them to me.  It was such a great journey for me and I have heard from many of you readers throughout this series, more than any other devotions.  I’ve had people writing me telling me how they have grown to understand at such a deeper level how deep God’s love for them is as they began to really understand how God said they were VERY GOOD.  I hope you have experienced the same.  I pray that learning how scripture teaches that you were created as SHAMELESS, INNOCENT, IMAGE BEARERS has opened your eyes to see how valuable you are to the Father and know that He created you perfect in His sight.

    I hope that the devotions FILLED WITH PURPOSE and PRODUCTIVE confirmed to you that God has great plans for your future, that He wants you to succeed and how you are BLESSED.  I hope you felt free to take a RESTFUL break from your work, like God did.

    The clearest message I received while studying through the first few chapters in Genesis was that God’s original plan for men and women was to function as CO-WORKERS, ONE in the purposes of God as He designed that WE RULE best together.  This is what inspired the Series Logo design.

    In The Beginnng

    It has a serene green background with a man and woman reaching out together hand in hand.  In the original order of creation men and women worked together in unity like the tri-unity godhead.   As you study scripture you see that God’s plans move forward with ease when we are in unity.  Disunity blocks God from moving.

    At the end of this series we see how Adam and Eve are beginning to open themselves up to the tactics of the enemy.  Their FREE WILL causes them to be SUSCEPTIBLE to talking with the enemy, leading them down a bad path.  Just like Adam and Eve we get FORGETFUL of what God has told us in the past and that leads us into TEMPTATION, but not necessarily to sin.

    Temptation

    I’m so glad that many of you have downloaded the 10 WAYS TO BEAT TEMPTATION Mini Bible Study notes, if you haven’t they’re still there for you.   I’ve heard from quite a few of you have God has used them to help you.  The short series starting next week called After The Fall will help us to get even wiser to how the enemy works.  I ask you to pray for me as I work on this series.  I don’t really think it’s something the enemy wants me publishing!

    So, my prayer for you as you recap this series is the same as it started.  I pray you’ve been encouraged and that your eyes have been opened to the original plans God had for you, In The Beginning!

    Prayer

    Father…I pray that you would help me to see myself as you created me.  Open my eyes to the truth of how you created this world to function so I can work in unison with your plans and purposes.  Help me live to represent you well as your Image Bearer.  Let my life bring you glory.  In Jesus Name…Amen

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  • Roots & Sky – Christie Purifoy

    #PAPERBACKPIC #3

    ROOTS & SKY
    A Journey Home in Four Seasons
    AUTHOR: Christie Purifoy
    Published by Revell; a division of Baker Publishing Group Grand Rapids, MI USA

    reading diaryWhen I was a pre-teen my sister read my diary.  In it she found some incriminating evidence of a not-so-age-appropriate Judy Blume book my cousin and I were secretly reading together that led my parents to its hiding place.   Boy did I get in trouble!

    I remember being so upset that my sister read my diary, the pages where I poured out my heart and asked questions I didn’t want anyone to know I had.

    Christie’s book felt like an intimate journey through her private journals, but don’ worry, it’s completely G-rated, unlike my Judy Blume book!   I have never read such an eloquently written book.  In contrast to my private diaries, Christie’s words are poetic and have this earthy sort of rhythm.

    Christie truly is an artist with her words.

    Through the book, you enter Christie’s life at a time of great change.  She makes a profound statement when she says,

    “I had arrived at both the beginning and the end of a journey.”1 

    The truth that every new path starts at the end of an old road helps you to make the next step on your new trail.

    I love how Christie doesn’t share all the answers, but all the questions about life she was asking.  She brings the reader along in the process that led to deep personal discoveries.    I love how she took the time to notice what was going on in her life at every season and see God at work in the midst of all she faced.

    It was poetic perfection that in the midst of this new chapter for her family that a baby was born.  The birth of Elsa Spring symbolizes the newness of the times for this young family in following after their dream.  When Christie talked about how dreams start I was captivated.

    “Perhaps it begins…with birth pains.”2 

    We all want to live out our God-given dreams, but how often to we give up when difficult circumstances arise?  Too often we’re like the seed planted on the rocks that don’t take root. Through Christie’s writing you see how moving into something new that God has for your life doesn’t happen overnight.  It took time for her to feel “at home” in her dream house.

    Growth is a process.
    A beautiful journey only the strong take.

    If you sense that something new is around the corner or struggling to accept a new situation in your life, this book could be the guide to help you see the beauty of the journey.

    Christie Purifoy

    My name is Christie Purifoy. I live with my husband and four children at Maplehurst, an old, brick farmhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania.

    My book Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons was published by Revell on February 2, 2016.

    In 2010, I received a PhD in English Literature from the University of Chicago. A few years later I traded the classroom for a picket-fenced garden and an old writing desk. Today, I grow zucchini my four children refuse to eat. The zucchini-loving chickens are perfectly happy with this arrangement.

    I believe that life, in all its pain and beauty and mystery, is a journey of love. Writing keeps my eyes wide-open to this astonishing reality.

    Christie’s blog, A Spacious Place can be found on her website:
    https://www.christiepurifoy.com/

    1   Pg.14
    2   Pg. 27

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  • 17. Tempted – In The Beginning Series

    The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.
                                         Genesis 3:6  NIV

    I love comedy.  When we went to NYC I was so happy that I got to see the Saturday Night Live set.  One day I’d love to attend a taping.

    church lady

     

    In the 1980’s there was a skit called Church Chat, where Dana Carvey played a character named The Church Lady.  In these skits the Church Lady would mock celebrities on their moral failings.  When trying to get them to admit what caused them to do what they they did, she would inevitably turn her head, look in the camera and ask, “Was it…S-a-t-a-n?”  Her question exposed the truth of where our temptation comes from.

     

    In the garden of Eden Satan took on the form of a serpent.  He tempted Eve through her eyes and ears.

    With her eyes she was attracted to the beauty of the tree and its fruit.  Oh how often what we see as beautiful can create an unhealthy desire within.   Eve’s ears heard what eating the fruit could do for her and this appealed to her deepest desires for self-worth.

    Temptation happens when the enemy of our soul recognizes an unhealthy desire in us
    and then exploits it.  

    James says,

    “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.”1

    The slippery slope of sin starts with us.  Satan tempts our desires and we become bound by them.

    James goes on to say,

    “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.”2

    In The Beginning, we were able to be tempted, and nothing has changed in that regard; but what has changed since the garden is our ability to reject temptation and not let it give birth to sin.

    In Romans 7 & 8, Paul tells that we can overcome our sinful nature because we are

    “more than conquerors through him who loved us”.

    Let there be a bounce in your step as you walk through today knowing that you have what it takes to defeat temptation.  You are more than a conqueror!

    Prayer

    Father…
    Your Words says that You will give me the desires of my heart, as I delight myself in You.4  I want You to fulfill the desires of my heart, not the enemy.  Help me to spend time with You and in Your Word so the desires of my heart get in line with Your heart.  Let my desires, my motives be so pure that they leave nothing for me to be tempted with.
    In Jesus Name…Amen

    1                James 1:14
    2                James 1:15-16
    3                Romans 8:37
    4                Psalm 37:4

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    10 WAYS TO BEAT TEMPTATION

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  • 16. Innocent – In The Beginning Series

    “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
                                           Genesis 3:5  NIV

    What would it be like to be innocent of evil, clueless of sin with no one to point it out to you? Only Adam and Eve can truly answer that question but children seem to live with this blameless, unknowing quality.  I remember when my kids were very young and would invariably hear a ‘bad word’.  They would repeat it out loud, often in the most inconvenient place!  Without an understanding of the meaning they were innocent, until they were told and became accountable for their knowledge.

    For some people their knowledge of evil works overtime, alerting them to every slip up, or possible mistake they might make.  Others have hardened their hearts towards God to a point that they are oblivious to how they live in opposition to God and His laws.

    The reverse is also true of human nature.  The knowledge of what’s good causes some people to strive to live “good” or conversely they grow proud in how good they believe they are.  Genesis 3:5 makes it clear that, In The Beginning God created people Innocent of the knowledge of good and evil.

    [tweetthis]God never wanted us to bear the heavy burden of a conscience. GN 3:5[/tweetthis]

    In Matthew 19:14 Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  It’s hard for our finite minds to comprehend, but we are never more pleasing to God than when we come to Him with child-like faith, Innocently pure before Him!

    [tweetthis]We are never more pleasing to God than when we come to Him with child-like faith MT 19:14[/tweetthis]

    Prayer

    Father…I thank You for providing a way for me to be innocent again through the blood of Your son Jesus.  Let me live in the truth of my innocence and not the burden of my conscience.  Help the knowledge of my innocence in Your eyes bring a boldness to my faith that will draw me closer to You!  In Jesus Name…Amen

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  • 15. Forgetful – In The Beginning

    “The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all.  We can eat from the trees in the garden.  It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’”
    Genesis 3:2-3  The Message

    I’m intrigued by the teachings of Dr. Carolyn Leaf on the mechanics of the brain, because I just want to figure mine out.  Sometimes I have great memory recall, other times I’m so forgetful.  Unfortunately for Todd, my work desk is such a mess because I’m afraid to put things away, in case I forget to finish them and I used to take vitamins to help with memory, but I kept forgetting to take them.  Oh how I wish I were joking.

    Last week the Soul H2O devotional discussed how Adam and Eve forgot their value and who God created them to be; this week’s verse shows us how Adam and Eve forgot what God had already said (Adam didn’t speak up when the Bible says he was “beside her”1).  Eve took the bait when she got sucked into talking with the serpent.  She fell hook line and sinker for his tricks because she forgot what God originally said.  In The Beginning, “the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”2 No where did God say they couldn’t ‘touch the tree’.  When we’re forgetful about what God has said to us it makes us susceptible to believing the enemy’s mistruths.  He’s smart to just twist the truth.  We’re too wise to believe a flat out lie.

    It’s so important that we learn what God taught, In The Beginning so we can remember it when we’re tempted by the enemy to forget what God has said about: who He is, who we are and what He’s spoken to us before.  Knowing the Bible enough to catch when it’s being misused is the tool you need to guard your heard and protect your forgetful mind.

    Soak in His Word today, memorize some Scripture, talk with friends about what you’ve read; all of these activities will get His Word deeper into your spirit so you can draw from that well whenever you need it.

    Prayer

    Father…Thank You for Your Word.  It is life to me.   Help me to take the time to learn more of Your Word so I can know You better and understand Your love for me.  Let Your Word sink into my thought life so I can remember what You’ve already said and stand strong when temptation comes.  In Jesus Name…Amen

    1                Genesis 3:6
    2                Genesis 2:16-17  NIV

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    Here’s some Scripture for you to Soak In This Week

    1. Genesis 3:1-6
    2. Genesis 2:16-17
    3. Proverbs 4:23
    4. Psalm 119:11

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  • 14. Susceptible – In The Beginning Series

    “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did god really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?  The woman said to the serpent, We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden….”        Genesis 3:1-2  NIV

    arguingIn the past I’ve found myself susceptible to talking with the enemy through people who I knew would only bring a negative impact on my life.  I’m not sure if you’ve experienced a time when you could feel yourself getting drawn into a conversation and knew you should get out before you said something you didn’t want to say, but lingered too long?  Have you ever talked with someone who through the power of their words caused you to doubt yourself or God?

    eve talking to serpentIn the beginning of Genesis 3 we see Eve give in to her susceptibility to talk with the enemy.  She has a literal discussion with the devil.

    That doesn’t happen often today, and we know the enemy doesn’t have skin on, but he will use people to speak his lies to us, if we let them.

    Whenever we ‘talk to the enemy’ our thinking gets messed up. In Genesis 3, verses 1-4 the serpent’s words cause Eve to doubt God and by verse 5 he easily has her doubting who she was when he says,

    “For God knows when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.” 

    The truth is that Eve was already like god, she was created in the image of God.

    What frequently goes on in my life are conversations with the voice of the enemy in my head.  All too often when “the accuser”1 fills my brain with negative thoughts about me or my God I start to discuss them, instead of shut them down.

    Jesus was the perfect example when tempted in the desert of how to silence the enemies voice.  Jesus replied with scripture.

    take control of thoughtsIn The Beginning, we were susceptible to talking with the enemy but through the power of the Spirit we can “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”2 So exercise your authority and end the conversation.

    Prayer

    Father…Your word tells me that I can “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” and how I can “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”3 I have all the authority I need to silence the enemy.  Help me to follow through with the power you’ve given and not be susceptible to talking with the enemy any more.  In Jesus Name…Amen

    1                       Revelations 12:10
    2                       2 Corinthians 10:5
    3                 2 Corinthians 10:5

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  • 13. Created With A Free Will

    “The woman said to the serpent, We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden….”
    Genesis 3:2 NIV

    Parenting when my kids were little seemed much easier; more tiring, but easier. I loved when I could set their bedtimes, meal plans, and friends through planned playdates along with my activity choices. They followed the schedule set for them. Then the teenage years hit and I began to lose control. As a youth leader in church I saw how most youth reacted rebelliously when their parents enforced a strong control over their teenager’s will. To ensure I didn’t make this fatal error I learned to keep cutting those apron strings till my blades were dull. Allowing my kids to choose and live by the consequences of their free will has been the most difficult part of parenting for me.

    God created Adam and Eve In The Beginning, with a free will. They were able to choose who to listen to, who to follow, what to do and what to think. This freedom comes with a great deal of responsibility. Sadly, Adam and Eve exercised their liberty to listen to the enemy, make choices contrary to what God told them and cater to their selfish desires.

    Many times I’ve felt like Paul when he said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway..” In Romans 7:15,19.

    [tweetthis]I’ve often thought it would have been easier if God hadn’t given me a #freewill[/tweetthis]

    That way I wouldn’t mess up so much.

    And then I think about parenting my kids, or the other relationships in my life.

    I don’t want to make my kids do the right thing, I want them to choose for themselves to do the right thing. I don’t want them to obey me out of fear, but out of acceptance that I know what’s best, and want the best for them. I don’t want to force my husband to love me, I want him to love me in his own free will.

    So, what are you doing with your free will?   Do you let your freedom draw you closer to, or further away from God? Choose today to employ your free will to love God more. Allow the liberty you’ve been given to make right choices, following God’s Word; understanding your heavenly Father knows and wants what’s best for you. He always has, right from The Beginning!

    Prayer

    Father…I thank You for believing in me enough to give me the freedom to choose. Too often I make the wrong choices and have to suffer the consequences, but I’m so glad you don’t just leave me there. Help me to gain confidence in my ability to exercise my free will in ways that would honor You, bringing me into a deeper relationship with You. In Jesus Name…Amen

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  • 12. Shameless – In The Beginning Series

    “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
    Genesis 2:25 NIV

    On Saturday, Todd and I were taking it easy. We went out to grab a coffee for Todd and a coke for me. The drive thru line up was too long so I walked in McD’s and ordered when it hit me that I didn’t have makeup on and hadn’t even brushed my hair. I felt my head and could tell I had some major bedhead going on in the back. I finger-combed my hair and got out as quickly as I could and jumped back in the car. Todd and I were laughing about while we drove home when all of a sudden the car started to smell like an electrical fire and began making a weird sound. We had to pull into Todd’s old workplace and his friend Chris came out to check the car with Todd. Jokingly, but not joking I warned Chris not to let anyone know he saw me like that.

    Why is it that we care so much about what we look like?

    How wonderful it would have been for Adam and Eve In The Beginning, when they lived completely shameless. To experience life free of insecurities that bring about shame seems unimaginable to us in 2016. For generations, people have taken crazy steps to enhance their beauty. Never before in the history of the world have people been more unsettled about how they appear to others. A whole new industry for Anti-Aging products and services has risen out of people’s desire to find the elusive ‘fountain of youth’. Living in Eden would have been so peaceful to never have a thought or care, never worrying if you weighed too much or too little, if you were too tall or too short, too dark or too fair, my muscles too big or too small…you get the picture.

    The next time you’re faced with a situation like me; and shame starts to take over, remember how the garden was In The Beginning. Our Father wants His children to live shameless and free, understanding that in His eyes YOU are perfect, because He is perfect and YOU are made in HIS image. Decide today to walk shameless as the incredible person God’s created you to be!

    Prayer

    Father…I look forward to Heaven when everything will be as you originally intended it to be, In The Beginning. Help me to keep a garden perspective about myself, remembering that I am Your image bearer. Help me to live shameless and free walking in confidence that You’ve created me so wonderful that I reflect Your glory.  In Jesus Name…Amen

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  • 11. One – In The Beginning Series

    The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.”
                                                                          Genesis 2:23-24 NIV

    When I was a kid we often drove to Florida for March break. I remember one trip sitting in the back of the Country Squire Station Wagon with my cousin coloring with crayons, ’cause back then there weren’t portable DVD players to keep kids entertained. We stopped for lunch and without thinking, Angie and I left our crayons in the dipped spot along the window. While we ate, the hot Georgia sun melted our one source of entertainment. We got back to the car and found a lake of liquified crayons, all melted into each other. No longer distinct colors, just one color with streaks of the original colors showing.

    Just like the crayons that were melted by the Georgia sun, God designed for men and women to become one. In Genesis 2:23 Adam speaks right after God made Eve from his own rib. Adam lets it be known that he and Eve are one, created from the same bones and flesh. Adam goes on to prophesy about God’s plans for all future relationships. Adam makes clear that In The Beginning God designed men and women to become one; distinct in design, one in purpose. I love how real scripture is. It doesn’t say that when a husband and wife get together they are one, but that they become one. In God’s perfect plan men and women leave their family homes, next they’re united together (sounds like marriage to me), and then the process of them becoming one begins. It’s not just a physical union, but a complete unity in relationship.

    [tweetthis]In The Beginning there is no hint of one above or below the other. The two are one.[/tweetthis]

    Paul reemphasizes this principle as he talks about the marriage relationship in Ephesians 5:21-33 and he explains how this is also displayed through the church. Matthew Henry, who wrote the most commonly used Commentary on the Bible said this:

    Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him, not from his head to top him, nor from his feet to be trampled by him, but from under his arm to be protected by him, near to his heart to be loved by him.”1

    The imagery that God created through forming Eve out of Adam’s rib again reveals His desire for men and women, and the church to function as co-workers; moving as one flesh, so intertwined that it’s hard to tell where one starts and the other ends. All fulfilling their roles to be image-bearers of the ONE who created them!

    Prayer

    Father…I echo the words of the psalmist “your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”2 Your plans for relationships between men and women is perfect, yet so hard to live up to. Help me to do my part to become one and not live as a separate entity on my own. Help me to live in the unity you desire. In Jesus Name…Amen 

    1 An Exposition of the Old and New Testament by Matthew Henry, George Burder, Joseph Hughes (c) 2010
              https://www.amazon.ca/Exposition-Old-New-Testament/dp/1149849584/178-3407432-0628554?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=330641&linkCode=as2&redirect=true&ref_=x_gr_w_bb&tag=x_gr_w_bb_ca-20
    2 Psalm 139:14

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  • 10. CO-Workers (Part Three) – In The Beginning Series

    The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
                                                                                                   Genesis 2:18 NIV

    Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.”
                                                                                  Romans 16:3 NIV

    Last week’s devotion discussed how the Bible is full of examples where men and women fulfilled their calling as co-workers. Romans 16 talks about Priscilla and Acquilla, a power couple who were doing amazing things to spread the gospel of Christ together. I’m glad to know there are more dynamic duos making Jesus famous in our world today!

    Brian and Bobbie Houston co-founded the Hillsong Family of churches1. My daughter Shelby was an intern this year at Grace City Church2; a Hillsong Family Church where Drew and Christina Gard are the pastors. The church only started in September and already has 3 Sunday services! I believe the work has increased so quickly because this couple works in tandem.

    The Bible says, “If one can put a 1000 to flight, two can put 10,000”.3

    [tweetthis]Working together multiplies our effectiveness.[/tweetthis]

    Rich Jr. and DawnChere Wilkerson co-pastor Vous church in Miami. They’re fulfilling their mission “To bring people that are far from God close to Him”4 in profound ways. Friends of mine, Reynold and Kathy Mainse are missionaries in Uganda shaking that part of the world up. As co-founders of World Embrace; “a non-profit organization on a mission to see the world transformed by unity”5, they sign off their prayer group emails, “Pursuing John 17 together so that the world will know Jesus!”6

    So, let’s stop competing and start completing…cause there’s a lost world that needs to know about Him! Let’s partner together as co-workers and do something great, just like God planned, In The Beginning.

    Prayer

    Father…I’m thankful that you have designed men and women to work together. Couples in the Bible and couples today. Open our eyes to see how we can fulfill your calling as Image-Bearers and co-workers to reach this world for You. Let our lives make You famous. In Jesus Name…Amen 

    1 http://www.hillsong.com
    2 http://www.gracecityfl.com
    3 Deuteronomy 32:30
    4 http://www.vouschurch.com
    5 http://www.worldembrace.org
    6 Email from World Embrace Prayer

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