Prayer Challenge

I want to ask you to say this prayer out loud, if possible.

“I belong to God. I am a holy vessel because I have the Holy Spirit of the Living God. The Lord of Heaven and earth has said to me; “I declare you holy!”. I commit to start believing what He says. I AM HOLY! Remind me daily, Spirit of the Living God, to treat myself as holy, open my eyes to every scheme of The Enemy to treat me as if I'm not. You, God, are Holy. Your word is the truth. This day Father, I chose to believe you! I ask this in the mighty name of your son Jesus Christ, who died on a cross for me so that I could be a coheir to the kingdom of God. Amen”

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Verse of the Week - Galatians 1:11-13

Paul's Testimony is Amazing to Me
Here he is owning that he had a personal and intimate revelation from Jesus. He is facing a crowd and admitting how intensely he was persecuting the church.
From Spiritual Revelation to Testimony
As I read these words, I think of the many testimonies I have heard from people who have had an intensely spiritual revelation from Jesus that completely altered their lives. Sex, drugs, and addictive behavior are left behind in the dark shadows of a painful lifestyle. Their path in life changes after they decide to become followers of Jesus Christ. In the past, theses people would awake to a new day with dread and fear in their hearts. Now they wake up with the light of the Son shining from within and complete confidence that this new day will be fine no matter what happens. Honestly, only a divine intervention can explain the testimony of Paul and the countless brothers and sisters who have had similar revelations.
I Stand in Awe of the Lord

God shows us his power by transforming people who no one else would want, into his strongest servants! Saul was responsible for the deaths of many people. He imprisoned men and women because they followed Jesus and his teachings. Saul's conversion was completely unexpected. I am sure there were people familiar with Saul who saw his transformation and were at a loss to explain what had happened to him. Can you imagine being Saul's mother, father, or synagogue teacher?

"It is hard to explain what happened to me. I was blinded by this light on the way to Damascus and the Lord talked to me. He called me to follow Him even though I was killing his people. Then, I had to find my way to Damascus and find a man who could teach me about Jesus and heal my blindness. I know it sounds unbelievable, but I knew it was the Lord. I know I am giving up a lot, but I am following my call."
All of us can imagine the conversations Saul would have had with family members can't we?
Persecutor Turned Teacher
Early church members didn't trust Saul. Most thought Saul was just finding a new way to seek out Christians to persecute and kill. However, that thought was proven wrong as the newly named Paul began his ministry and taught about the life of Jesus Christ.
As I sit here reading Paul's words, I gain a sense of how miraculous his conversion truly was.
How does a Roman citizen/zealous Pharisee who is bent on seeking and destroying heretical Jews change like this? At the heart of this question is my personal belief that Saul must have loved the Lord. Yes, he channeled his belief into killing people, but I think he must have had a love of God, too. This is sheer speculation on my part, but it is based upon my own life experiences with Jesus. However, what matters more than my speculation, is that after his Damascus road experience, Paul spent the rest of his life as an obedient servant to Jesus Christ and he shared the teachings of Jesus with others every single day that he was alive.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Verse of the Week - Galatians 1:10

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people?
Good questions aren't they? As I grew to maturity as a branch on the Lord's vine, I had to be willing to let God prune some extra leaves and twigs from my actions and behaviors. One of behaviors that had to be pruned, or removed was my need to be a people pleaser. Yep, I had a terrible time learning that I could not please people first and God last. Below, is a list of lessons I have learned and strive to live by today.
  • I can only accomplish a set number of tasks in today.
  • Go to bed early and get up earlier to finish a task. I work more efficiently when I am rested. 
  • It is okay to gracefully say no. Example: Thank-you so much for thinking of me. However, I already have a full calendar at that time.  Another graceful way to turn someone down is: I am so happy that you thought of me for this job, but I already have commitment(s) for that time, day, or week. 
  • Giving of myself to gain approval - wanting others to recognize my contribution and give me a little pat on the head - is putting man above God. It isn't okay
  • Faith requires me to go ahead and step out to do what God tells me to do, even when I feel fear. 
  • There are always going to be people who don't like me and it is okay. 
Did you catch what I said about the lessons? 
I am striving, or trying, to live this way.  Am I always successful at living this way? Of course not. However, the moment I become aware that people pleasing behavior has crept back into my life, I remove it as quickly as possible through the following actions:  
First, I call on my father in heaven and ask him to remove that people pleasing sprout that has sprung up again. 
Then, I tell him I am willing to have it taken away. 
After that, I tell him that I am his to command and that I only want to do his will and not mine. The time in between each people pleasing pruning has become longer and longer as I trust my heavenly father to continue to shape me into the person he has plans for. 
If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
To be a bold witness for Jesus, I cannot worry about pleasing people. I can only please Jesus. I am his servant and that is all the approval that I need. Jesus gave me a job to do. I have to tell others about the Good News of Jesus Christ. My Jesus loves me and cares about me. God knows me intimately and sent the Holy Spirit to live in me. I don't need any more approval than that. Amen?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wrap Your Marriage in the Word of God

Before Bill and I were married we had several talks about what we wanted in our bible-based marriage. We discussed our marriage roles as set out in Ephesians 5:21-33.
  • 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
First, this verse doesn't say husbands and wives. It says one another, or fellow believers, out of reverence for Christ. I am going to be honest here. I had trouble with this idea. I am a strong personality and it took me awhile to realize I needed to rein myself in and yield the center of attention to others. It takes effort to consider other people, but that is what Jesus did. Out of my love for Jesus, I need to yield to my brothers, sisters, and my spouse.
  • 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 
I surrendered to the Lord completely. I love Jesus with all my heart. My life is his and my desire is to do his will. This was my relationship with Jesus before my marriage, too. However, I didn't want to surrender any control to my husband. I am a strong and independent woman who didn't want my husband to be telling me what to do.  However, this verse doesn't say my husband is going to boss me around, or be in control of me. Go back to verse 21 and reread what it says; submitting is yielding to each other because you both revere Jesus. Jesus is the authority of your faith and before your marriage you are both yielding to one another out of reverence for Jesus because you are fellow believers. At least you should be doing this. Bill looks at our marriage as a team and he wanted and wants an equal partner.
  • 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
These two verses were a stumbling block for me. I can submit to Christ because he is my Savior, but I did not want to apply this to my relationship with my husband, especially the part that says,"in everything." I am going to repeat that I am a strong and independent woman who doesn't want to surrender control of my decision making to my husband. My initial reaction was, "No way is he telling me what to do!" Bill and I talked about this and the analogy he used (that made and still makes sense to me) was that of partners in Team Bonham and one partner has 51% of the shares and the other partner has 49% of the shares. Both partners will talk about the major decisions and then the partner with 51% will make the decision. Yes, I had reservations about this, but I grudgingly gave my consent to this marriage model. That was 7 years ago and I can happily tell you that Bill rarely makes a final decision unless we are in total agreement. Why? because he wants me to be happy. He places my wants and needs above his own. Which brings us to verse 25.
  • 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 
  • 26 to make her holy, cleansing  her by the washing with water through the word, 
  • 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Think about what these verses says and Jesus' actions. Husbands are told to love their wives in the same way Jesus loved the church. Jesus put the wants and needs of all mankind before his own. He reconciled man and God with his death upon the cross out of love. Unconditional love and grace was given to us by Jesus' sacrifice. Jesus made the church holy and blameless when each person submits to Jesus and takes their place within the body of the church. The following verses return to how husbands should love their wives. 
  • 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 
  • 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 
  • 30 for we are members of his body.
These verses are clear as to the manner husbands should love their wives. However, I believe wives should also treat husbands in the same manner because of the opening verse, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." A marriage has to be balanced in the giving. If both spouses love, care, and feed each other just as Christ does the church, then both are giving of themselves to the other equally.
 Intimacy is being close to and concerned for each other other. Christ knows his church intimately and he cares for the church spiritually. Husbands are the spiritual leaders of the home. A godly husband reflects the light of Jesus through the indwelling Holy Spirit. These verses express an ideal standard that both spouses should try to achieve.  
  • 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
You are both on the same team. A victory for one is a victory for the other. Face each life challenge together. Support each other with unconditional love. Honestly, you cannot change each other. Get that idea out of your head. If you are single, do not go into a marriage believing you can change your spouse. You cannot change another person. All you can do is to love them as they are, just as Jesus loves you exactly where you are. More marriages end because a spouse keeps trying to change the other partner and both end up profoundly unhappy. Only God and Jesus can change someone. Pray for your partner when you are upset. Lift them up to God through Jesus and let the Lord take care of the situation. 
Note: I am not talking about abusive behavior. Do not stay in an abusive relationship. These verses say to care for your spouse as you would feed and care for your body. Abuse isn't doing this. 
  • 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.  
  • 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Wives, please do not speak to your husband disrespectfully at anytime. The husband is the head of the family. He is the spiritual leader of the family. Show your spouse the same respect that you would show Jesus. Again I am referring back to the opening verse,"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." 
Spouses must love each other as themselves and be respectful of each other. Being disrespectful to each other is destructive. It will end your chance for a happy marriage. Your spouse may "suck it up", but not forever. Sooner or later, they are going to quit trying to make you happy.  Sarcasm is another destructive way of speaking to each other. It isn't respectful or showing the reverence of Christ. 
You are going to have to communicate with your spouse. Just make sure your talks are phrased as "I messages" and not as blame. It takes practice to communicate with your spouse. It isn't going to happen overnight. However, if you are submitting to one another with the reverence of Christ, then you will be a team and learn how to be equal partners. Remember, this is why sports teams have practice - so they are working together and learning to act as one.  

Another set of scripture that Bill and I adopted as our "marriage scriptures" is this one:
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken   Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
In verse 12, the cord of three strands is the Lord, your spouse, and you. You are one cord made of three strands that is not quickly broken. Just make sure that the Lord is the first strand, your spouse is the second strand, and you are the third strand. 

I want you to know that what I have written is not professional help. I'm not a counselor. What I am is a spirit-filled, child of God who is relating how my godly husband and I have based our marriage upon the bible. Our marriage is seven years old and our "honeymoon" period has not ended. We put the Lord first, each other second, and then ourselves every day.  We have followed the biblical marriage model from the first day of our marriage and it is working for us. My hope is that you will try this biblical marriage model and strengthen your marriage too. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Verse of the Week - Galatians 1:8-9

Paul Speaks a Stern Truth
Paul didn't mince any words in telling the Galatian churches that there is only one gospel and that if anyone else is preaching a gospel, other than the one they accepted through Paul's evangelism, that the consequence is condemnation.

I know this sounds harsh, but many people want to preach a gospel that isn't the one Jesus taught and these gospels don't lead you to eternal life through Jesus Christ. False gospels lead to death and Jesus' gospel leads to eternal life. It is life and death for you and I to know the truth.
You don't have to earn your salvation.
Salvation is a free gift because Jesus already paid the price. My NIV Disciple's Study Bible states it this way on page 1490:
People still find it difficult to accept salvation as a free gift. They want to earn it, so they develop a code or ritual to justify themselves. Even more sadly, they fall prey to cults and sects which have an "aura of holiness" about them because they emphasize some kind of legal regimen which requires discipline...It is his (Jesus') crucifixion that sets us free to serve Him in love-not anything we have done, are doing, or will do. 
Brothers and sisters, don't listen to false gospels and preaching.
Know what your bible says. Don't use the excuse that man interpreted God's divinely inspired word into different versions and now it isn't God's word. That is the deceiver trying to keep you from the truth of God's word.
God's Divinely Inspired Words Have Not Been Changed
Use a parallel bible app, bible study website, and bible commentaries to learn that the original Greek and Hebrew has not been warped. For several years, I use to compare the different bible editions with Strong's Greek and Hebrew translations. God's original word has not been changed from the original, divinely inspired writings. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Rely on God and Pray Desperately

I find myself thinking about two difficult situations where I prayed desperately and my prayer was answered.

  • My late husband had been released from the hospital and two weeks later he had to be readmitted when his body and antibiotics just wouldn't get rid of his bacterial pneumonia.  He was skeletally thin, struggling for every breath, and tired of the fight. In my heart I knew I could lose him. That evening, I left the hospital and returned home. As I walked across my kitchen, I just sank to my knees and began talking to Jesus and Father God out loud and begged him to heal my husband. Words flowed out of my mouth and to the listening ear of my lord. At the end, I remember telling God that I would accept his will no matter what it was. As I rose from my knees, calmness filled me from the inside out. I had done all I could and given the situation and my husband to God. Peace filled my heart AND my husband came home, gained weight, and regained his strength. He was with me for another 8 years in spite of his terminal illness. 
  • On an especially trying day of dealing with a teenage daughter, I knew I was in danger of losing my temper. I also knew I wouldn't be able to control what I said, or did once the anger exploded into rage. Mentally I sent a desperate appeal to the Lord, "Lord, help me, oh please help me!" Instantaneously I felt as if a bucket of cool calmness had been poured over me. It flowed over me like cool water and when it reached my feet, not one spark, or ember of anger remained. In the place of the scorching anger, was a supernatural calmness that was just as great as the anger I had felt just seconds before. My desperate prayer had been answered in one amazing moment.  
The Apostle Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians 1:8-11:
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,a about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
God, Who Raises the Dead
When I faced great pressure that was beyond my ability to endure, I relied on God, who raises the dead. Yes, Jesus raised the dead and God raised Jesus from the dead! How exciting is that? If Jesus could raise the dead and God can raise Jesus from the dead, then they can take care of anything I am going to face WHEN I rely on him. 
God Did and God Will
I love how Paul says that God delivered them from peril and then says he knows God will deliver them again. Paul had that faith because God kept answering their appeals. Then Paul acknowledges that the prayers of the Corinthians had a place in their deliverance too AND Paul knows that they will give God thanks for answering their prayers. 
Three Key Points

  • When life seems darkest, rely on God, who raises the dead, to deliver me. 
  • I will rely on God and pray knowing that God, who raises the dead, has answered my prayer and will answer my prayer again.  
  • The correct response for an answered prayer is heartfelt thanks to God. Then, I will tell people what God has done for me and give him thanks again! This is how my testimony is meant to reveal the power of God in my life. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Verse of the Week - Galatians 1:6-7

Isn't Galatians so pertinent to today? 
When Paul wrote this, the problem was that Jewish Christians believed that some of the Old Testament ceremonies were still to be practiced by the followers of Jesus. They believed this despite the fact that Paul had preached that man is justified by faith in Jesus and through Jesus, faith in God. 

Today, people are still trying to pervert the gospel of Christ and change the meaning of what is written in the Bible.
I don't want to debate what the Bible says. I've read commentaries for the bible and I believe that the majority of Jesus' followers believe the bible as written.  I am grateful for my salvation and I KNOW I didn't get saved by any works that I did. 

Jesus saved my life and my life changed. 

I like how sums up salvation is by grace and through faith in their Statement of Faith:
We believe salvation is received by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Good works and obedience are results of salvation, not requirements for salvation. Due to the greatness, sufficiency, and perfection of Christ's sacrifice, all those who have truly received Christ as Savior are eternally secure in salvation, kept by God's power, secured and sealed in Christ forever (John 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 8:1, 38-39; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24). Just as salvation cannot be earned by good works, neither does it need good works to be maintained or sustained. Good works and changed lives are the inevitable results of salvation (James 2).
I especially love the use of the word inevitable in the last sentence! 
Faith in Jesus causes a changed life. At least, it truly changed mine and turned me into a joyful follower of Jesus. My heart's desire is to be a servant for the Lord and to accomplish the good works that HE sets before me. Do I hear an amen? 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Verse of the Week - Galatians 1:1-5

Remember to try and memorize in phrases and to read the notes and about these verses. 
  •  The letter is sent from Paul; he was the writer of it. And, because there were some among the Galatians who tried to lessen his character and authority, in the beginning he gives a general account both of his office and of the manner in which he was called to it. 
  • He was an apostle. He is not afraid to call himself by this title.
  • Paul acquaints the Galatians with how he was called to this office, and assures them that his commission to it was entirely divine, for he was an apostle by an extraordinary call from heaven to this office. 
  • He was an apostle by Jesus Christ, he had his instructions and commission immediately from him, and consequently from God the Father.
  • Paul adds, Who raised him from the dead, both to tell us that God the Father gave a public testimony to Christ’s being his Son and the promised Messiah, and also that,  his call to the apostleship was immediately from Christ, therefore from God the Father too.
  • Thus does the apostle, being constrained to it by his adversaries, magnify his office, which shows that though men should by no means be proud of any authority they are possessed of, yet at certain times and upon certain occasions it may become needful to assert it.
  • To whom this letter is sent—to the churches of Galatia. There were several churches at that time in this country, and it should seem that all of them were more or less corrupted 
  • v. 3. The apostle, and the brethren who were with him, wish these churches grace and peace from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the usual blessing wherewith he blesses the churches in the name of the Lord—grace and peace. 
  • Grace includes God’s good-will towards us and his good work upon us; and peace implies in it all that inward comfort, or outward prosperity, which is really needful for us; and they come from God the Father as the fountain, through Jesus Christ as the channel of conveyance. Both these the apostle wishes for these Christians. 
  •  First grace, and then peace, for there can be no true peace without grace. Having mentioned the Lord Jesus Christ, he cannot pass without enlarging upon his love
  • Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins, as a great sacrifice to make atonement for us; this the justice of God required, and to this he freely submitted for our sakes. 
  • One great end was to deliver us from this present evil world; not only to redeem us from the wrath of God, and the curse of the law, but also to recover us from the corruption that is in the world.
  • This present world is an evil world: it has become so by the sin of man, and it is so on account of the sin and sorrow with which it abounds and the many snares and temptations to which we are exposed as long as we continue in it.
  •  Jesus Christ has died to deliver us from this present evil world, not presently to remove his people out of it, but to rescue them from the power of it, to keep them from the evil of it, and in due time to possess them of another and better world. 
Commentary notes are adapted from Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary at

A New Change for 2018 - Beth Moore's Memorize Galatians Challenge

Hi there,
I was checking my FB page and saw that Beth Moore is starting a new challenge for 2018, memorize the book of Galatians. When I saw that, my first thought was,"YES!" I know it is quite the challenge. I watched Beth's video and she states that this should take about 18 months minimum and I agree. It is quite a wordy book of the bible and just studying a book in 4 weeks is tough! At least that was my experience with the book of 2nd Corinthians.
I have decided to post about 4-5 verses from Galatians each week and those will be my Verse of the Week feature for 2018.  Additionally, the Psalm of the Week feature will be dropped in 2018. However, the Psalm of the Week tab on the homepage will give you access to all of the previous posts.
This is a No-Fail Challenge - It is a Win-Win Challenge
Now, I am going to be honest with you. Memorization is tough for me and my recall has become intermittent. I am going to be happy to just study and practice reciting the verses from memory. If I don't get it memorized, I am not stressing at all because studying the bible is a win-win goal. You noticed I said, goal. Yes, it doesn't matter if you memorize the verses or not, what matters is that you try to reach that goal, but if you don't you are not failing anything. Are you with me? This is not a succeed or fail goal. This goal is a success just because you tried and studied the bible verses.

Ways to Help You Memorize and Study Bible Verses

  1. Auditory learners - Record the verses on your phone and play them back, or if you have a bible app that will read it to you, then use that. 
  2. Visual learners - Put the verses on 3x5 index cards or post it notes and put them on the dash of your car, the bathroom mirror, or other places you are going to spend time looking at them. 
  3. What works for me - Practice memorizing the verses in short phrases while making a visual picture of the words in your mind. Close your eyes while you visualize the words. 
  4. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you retain the verses.
  5. Study the verses by using a study bible with notes and a commentary. Then you will learn the background, context, and how to apply to verses to your life. I use an NIV discipleship bible and a NKJV study bible. Additionally, I use because this website has several bible commentaries, parallel bibles, Hebrew and Greek translations, and an app that you can download onto your phone. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

My Word for 2018 is Jesus, or a Christian New Year's Resolution

Hello all,
You may have noticed that I haven't posted a lot from Dec.4 to Dec. 31. I spent the holiday season focusing on family, friends, and holiday events. However, today is the beginning of a new year and it is time to begin writing again.

I read a post on "Out of the Ashes", a FB public group, that was asking the members to post one word for 2018 as they received their word through prayer. 
My word was immediately given to me - Jesus.  Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Redeemer, Jesus the Teacher, Jesus the Servant, Jesus the Fisher of Men, Jesus the Sacrificial Lamb, Jesus the Healer, Jesus the Son of God, Jesus the Lord of my Life.
Jesus is in the beginning, middle, and end of my day.
That doesn't mean I don't fall short of his example though. I do. Daily. It is so hard to walk down the narrow path of faith and think of myself as a stranger in this life. I find myself concerned with things that have no bearing on my life as a follower of Jesus.
My actions and behaviors do not always reflect the loving light of Jesus Christ. So what do I do?
  1. Ask for Jesus to help me and strengthen my ability to reflect his love and lifestyle as a servant of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit every day. 
  2. Stop beating myself up mentally when I fall short and do my best to not repeat the error. Let the error teach me and not condemn me. Condemnation is Satan trying to widen the gap between myself and Jesus. I am not letting him succeed. 
  3. Focus on what I am doing right. This simple activity will increase my spiritual connection with the Lord and keep Satan from trapping me into thoughts of condemnation. 
  4. Evaluate my activities regularly and not let myself get caught up in busyness that stops me from reading my bible, meditating on the bible, and being a servant. This isn't an excuse to skip out on what the Lord calls me to do, but a way to keep me from getting caught up in activities that don't serve Jesus in anyway. 
  5. I need to be a servant of the Lord that is actively asking people if they know Jesus and not a busy part of an organization that isn't fulfilling the needs of orphans, widows, homeless, and hurting people. Unconditional love for the unlovable is part of being a new person filled with the Holy Spirit.
  6. Read my bible regularly. All of the bible, not just part of the bible. The bible is the "Sword of the Spirit" and can teach me how to think, act, and keep my mind focused on the new woman that I am. I will grow spiritually this way and begin to find myself speaking the word in my daily life, not quoting, but speaking the word as naturally as breathing. 
Jesus is my word and my way of life for 2018. 
I will continue to be a coheir of the kingdom of God and do my best to reflect the unconditional love and light as a follower of Jesus Christ. 
The Holy Spirit is my counselor, the bible is my instructional manual, and my Jesus will strengthen me to be his servant. 

Happy New Year and may the Lord bless you and keep you through the coming year,
Sallee Bonham
A Joy Filled Woman