Are You Living for the Approval of God or Man?

As we daily read Scripture, may we not simply read historically, but may we allow the Word of God to read us.

“Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;…..” John 12:42

Ask yourself: Do believe in Him (do I believe a truth in the Word) BUT for fear (because of FEAR), I do not confess it so that I will not be rejected in some way? 

For them it was the fear that they would be put out of the synagogue, which would have been a very uncomfortable, unfortunate change that would have affected their whole lives. But we face those very same fears, don’t we? Fears of where we may be rejected and not fit in anymore or may stand out or be called radical or even legalistic or hateful. And so we don’t confess the truth that we believe.  

But then the next verse reveals what is truly underneath that fear, whether they (or we) realized it or not. The whole story, the truth was:

“..for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” John 12:42, 43 

Notice how scripture deals with the very intentions of their hearts.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

May we allow Him to do the same with our hearts. Allow His Word to judge your thoughts and the intentions of your heart, even in your current area of fear.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.” 
Psalm 139:23

May we search our hearts and repent (turn the other direction) where necessary and then “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). May we believe, confess, and be bold about His truth, no matter what.

 “..we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:2b-4

Spend some time before the Lord and truly ask the question:

What am I not obeying or not speaking truth on because of the fear of man? And if I continue down that road, then I confess that I am choosing to love the approval of man rather than the approval of God. May it never be!

 “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high.” Proverbs 29:25 Amplified Bible

Hi Friends,

 I believe that this is where the Lord wants to encourage us today, because I sat down to write about something else and never actually got there. Instead, we have this really good, and I trust timely, word. We’ll see if next week we get to where I was planning to go.

But first, let me share some news updates: 

Some of you may be aware that our daughter, Anna, was pregnant with twins and one did not have a heartbeat right after Thanksgiving. She is now 28 weeks along, and the doctor is so pleased with how well this other little one is doing. Things are going better than he expected. Praise God! The next milestone is to get to 32 weeks. And of course, the ultimate prayer is that this little girl is born completely healthy and whole. Thank you once again for your prayers.

And I want to share this with you:

I had the honor of being on Kohlie Browning’s Still With You podcast and being a part of launching her second season. It aired last Friday. Here is the link. “Episode 24: Treasuring God’s Word with Traci Shinnick” from Still With You by Kohlie Browning on Apple Podcasts  You can also listen on Spotify by searching for the podcast Still With You by Kohlie Browning. I will shamelessly keep sharing it because somehow God and Kohlie managed to include all my heart messages in one podcast. And things were shared and said that were needed encouragement even to my own heart when I listened.

So I have a lot of faith that God can use this to not only encourage people to be in His Word, but also to walk in obedience, say yes, just show up, and go do the easy/hard. Please take the time to listen and please share with someone who may need this encouragement!

Thank you in advance!

Talking into a microphone was a scary step of obedience. But it has been a delight to see the fruit of that step this week. I’m so thankful for Kohlie and her steps of obedience, the prayers that she sows into her podcast ministry, and the way she has followed the Lord’s leading as she fulfills her ministry (2 Timothy 4:5). Please go check it out.  

See you here next week! I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you all. I pray that you all have an excellent day and choose boldness. 


Photo by Payton Tuttle on Unsplash

What Are We to Do With the Scripture?

“If we are alert enough to hear God’s voice we must not content ourselves with merely ‘believing’ it. How can any man believe a command? Commands are to be obeyed, and until we have obeyed them we have done exactly nothing at all about them. And to have heard them and not obeyed them is infinitely worse than never to have heard them at all, especially in the light of Christ’s soon return and the judgment to come.” A.W. Tozer from The Keys to the Deeper Life

My heart’s desire for this year is to read the Word with the purpose to obey. I don’t want to settle for head knowledge or even the inspiration of those beautiful moments which I love when the Holy Spirit opens up the Scripture and teaches my heart deep truths. I want to grab hold and challenge myself to really, truly believe what I’m taught there in my time in His Living and powerful Word (Hebrews 4:16) and to believe unto obedience. I want to walk it out daily in my real life.

I challenge you to do the same, to take Him at His Word and respond with quick, immediate obedience. Let’s rise up and do this in complete dependence upon, and faith in, Jesus’ divine enablement, allowing the daily confrontation of the Word to search us and reveal if we are truly believing and living according to His truth.

We all know that practical application is the purpose of our time in the scripture, but we so often, I fear, become complacent and content with simply knowing it or just checking it off the day’s to-do list. May we not ever allow Scripture to lose its profundity or its right to rule our lives. May we not, in our busyness, avoid the call for holiness, godliness, and righteousness, all of which are to be walked out in dependence upon His divine power.

Let’s CHOOSE (it’s a choice) to depend upon Him this day and each day afterwards and pray to “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9, 10).


Here’s a link to a chronological Bible reading plan if you are still looking for one. It truly is amazing how checking off a box (or filling in a circle) helps with accountability. Try it!

I so appreciate you all! Thank you for being here. I’d love to hear how you are doing two weeks into this new year!



Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Where Will You Find True Life Change?

“You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require [of necessity and on the authority of Your Word].” Psalm 27:8 Amplified Bible

The change that we are all looking for as we enter this new year is found in 
dependence upon, 
submission and obedience to, 
and faith in
Christ alone. 

True life change will not be found in encouraging conferences once a year or a sermon once a week or even small groups, though all of these are valuable tools and resources. 

What people need is the DAILY confrontation of the Word and Presence of God.

We need to daily be in the Scriptures, allowing His Word to search and train us and grow our faith. “ comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). To be equipped for every good work, we need to be in the inspired Word of God that is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

Here is one of my life verses:
 “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” Ezra 7:10 ESV

I am challenged by this progression: study, do, teach. 

First, we must “set our heart to study His Word”. Then we must actually “do it”— to do what it says and not be hearers only, who delude ourselves (James 1:22). And then teach it.

May we not be truth hoarders and keep it all to ourselves. Sharing it (and not just picking and choosing what is easy to share) is part of the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Matthew 28:19, 20.

May we know truth, obey it, and share with others what we have learned.

(If you still need a Scripture daily reading plan, you can download and print my favorite by clicking here)

Make the Most of Your Time

It’s a new week, a new day, 

…and we are just hours away from a new month and new year!

All with lots of time to do what needs to be done. 

Though that statement never feels true, it is truth. God has provided all that we need, to do all that He calls us to do, and that includes the time we need.

So how are we going to use that precious commodity this year in ways that fulfill our callings?

Timothy was given these instruction in 2 Timothy 4, and may we hear the charge as well:

Preach the word
Be ready in season and out of season
With complete patience and teaching.


Because the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth. And they will wander off into myths.

But as for you,

Be sober-minded always, 
Endure suffering,
Do the work of an evangelist,
Fulfill your ministry.
(2 Timothy 4:1-5)

Friend, what is your ministry? How will you protect yourself and those you love from wandering from the truth of Christ? What is He calling you to? And what does it look like to fulfill it? What steps need to be taken? What groundwork needs to be laid (even within you personally)?

A.W. Tozer wrote in The Knowledge of the Holy:
“The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them. It is impossible to keep moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is.” 

May our plans for the new year have TIME with the All-mighty at the top of the list, rediscovering His majesty, holiness, divine power, and His enablement for us to fulfill our calling and to walk in a manner worthy of that calling (Ephesians 4:1).

Awaken. Rise up! And “fulfill your ministry”.

What are your first steps forward? Make plans today. And may those plans include being in His Word daily, reading, listening, and praying.

Time with Him, THE place to start your days this year.

What are you praying and believing for? 

May it be a year of fulfillment!

Email me and let me know if there is any way I can be of help.
And click to download  

My Favorite Reading Plan,

and you can start with us tomorrow.

Happy New Year!

With love,

When God’s Plans Look Different Than Yours

The angel said to Mary,“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’” Luke 1:28

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

After an already exhausting, seemingly ill-timed journey, there was no place for them. 

With weary body and emotions, I wonder if she questioned God. Life was not going as she had always dreamed. She was a pregnant, misunderstood (I’m sure) young woman, with no home to give birth to her child. 

O favored one?! I assume she wondered at times, “Is this what favor looks like?” And yet, yes, here she was a part of an extraordinary plan of God that was unfolding just as an all-knowing God (Who can be trusted), who loved them, had planned. 

No, it did not look like anyone on earth would have expected or would have planned it. But God…

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.” 
Isaiah 55:9

God certainly could have had a special place waiting to receive Mary and Joseph upon their arrival. In fact, that would be reasonable and rational to expect, but He had different plans. He was fulfilling perfect plans in His perfect love for us all. And He can be trusted, to love us well and take care of us and to be in control. His plans are greater, higher, and not always like ours. 

May we find encouragement here. All of us who have experienced, are experiencing, or will experience the plan of God unfold in ways that are incomprehensible to us, may we trust in His perfect love and be held in His peace.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

Listening section:

-Lord, in what instances have I reacted and erupted in unbelief because you have not worked in the reasonable and rational ways that I have would have expected? I repent, and I choose to trust You in these areas and find peace.

-Where have I determined that I must not be on the right path because things aren’t unfolding the way I would have planned or I am being misunderstood or rejected, but it is absolutely where You are leading me?

-Would You, even now, show me how You see the circumstances that I don’t understand.

-Choose, resolve (make a decision) to trust Him. Write it out in the form of a prayer, and allow Him to speak into it.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

“‘for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’” Luke 2:11-14

With love, Traci

Do Not be a Forgetful Hearer

God is always growing us. He is always speaking to our hearts and calling us deeper into His Word, His truth, His ways, and to KNOW Him. He opens our minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45), and we are taught by the Holy Spirit Himself (John 16:13).

How are we safeguarding those lessons so that we take them to heart and put them into action? The Word says that we deceive ourselves if we are hearers of the Word only (James 1:22-25).

It’s not those who hear and have a head knowledge of the truth and the ways of God who are compared to the wise man whose house is built on the rock not falling in the midst of the storms, it’s those who act on that knowledge (Matthew 7:24-27). It’s those who obey.

What He is teaching, what He wants to say, and the assignments are just too important for us to rush by and forget. Let’s have a plan in place to record what He is teaching, a journal or notebook, for this next year. Then, furthermore, let’s set aside specific times to go back and re-read what is written and ask ourselves, “Am I living accordingly, like I really believe this truth? Am I obeying what I know to be truth, what He has spoken to my heart, what He has taught me in His Word?” Or will we find that we have been lulled into thinking that we are walking in obedience to scripture just because we are familiar with it?

Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to search our heart and our motives (Psalm 139:23, 24), and make the necessary adjustments. May we not find ourselves building on sand, having only heard His Words but not doing them, not living accordingly.

He is intentionally pouring truth into your heart and life, for a purpose. Will you believe Him and act upon it? Or will you become a forgetful hearer?

“..prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” James 1:22 NASB

This is the time of year that I intentionally read back through my journal, underlining, marking, and color coding as I go. It’s a great exercise that reminds me not only of the faithfulness of the Lord, but of all the many things He has spoken and taught me in His Word, in our time together, and through the life experiences of the year.

Here is a little of what that looks like for me in case you find it helpful:

-I number the pages as I go. This not only alerts me that I’ve re-read that page, but also gives me a way to reference back to it if needed. For instance, if the same subject shows up 5 pages later, I can just jot a note of the page # to cross-reference those entries.

-I use colored brackets (or lines drawn down the length of the page) to highlight items. For example, any teaching I want to highlight I use the color blue and will write the subject of that teaching in blue at the top of the page. If it’s an area where God started speaking as I was journaling something out, I use orange to highlight that portion.

-Just as I mark key words in my bible, I mark key words in my journal. There are subjects that are repeated that I want to easily spot. That way I can see the particular instructions or insights I wrote down throughout the year on a subject (and maybe even go back and make a list of what I learned about each later).

I would love to hear how you ensure that you don’t forget the lessons He’s taught you.

I pray that you are enjoying this Christmas season!

May we not neglect or lose anything that He is teaching our hearts. And may we resolve to act upon it.

With love,


Do You Need a Fresh Start?

Looking back and looking forward.

As we approach the end of another year, it’s often easier to contemplate the losses, the disappointments, where we have failed in our plans for this past year, where we wish we had done better, and the resolutions we wish we’d kept, knowing that we would be in a different place and have different results if only we had followed through. But let’s choose to reflect on the wins instead.

You and I have had extraordinary WINS this year!

Let’s choose to remember His faithfulness (Lamentations 3:21-26), to thank Him for all that He has done and is presently doing, and rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord, always, I say again, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4), a present tense, imperative verb, which means it’s a command to continually and habitually rejoice. This is another remedy for our worry and anxiety.

What has He taught you?
Where has He grown you and your faith?
What have you learned even from suffering, hardship, or failure?
Where have you trusted Him and found Him faithful?
Where have you seen positive life change?

This is a great time to review your journal to be reminded.
And worship Him. With a grateful heart, rejoice in the wins of the year and be spurred on
to trust Him more,
to believe that He is able,
to choose to obey Him,
and to make a fresh start today.

Move forward.

Listening section:
-Lord, remind me of the wins this year. Where do You know that I have grown and maybe I have failed to recognize it? Where have You and I gone deeper? And remind me of how I have seen you at work this year.

-Spend some time praising Him for each and every win. And thank Him in advance for all the many wins to come.

-Dream with Him and allow Him to drop future wins into your heart. What is on His heart for this next year? And how can you make plans to cooperate, to believe, to show up, to be prepared, and be used?

To Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (Ephesians 3:20) and is able to keep us from stumbling and to make us stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (Jude 1:24,25).

I pray that you are enjoying this Christmas season and taking the time to reflect and to look ahead, with thanksgiving, and are turning every fear and worry into a prayer, “everything by prayer” (Philippians 4:6, 7).

With love,

Traci Shinnick

Press into these questions with the Lord. You don’t have answers? Good. Hear His. Just put pen to paper and starting with the truth that you have no idea how to answer, write the questions in ways that make sense to you. And just ask Him. Listen to how He answers. I’d love to hear some of your insights. Click on the title and leave a comment or email me at I can also make sure these devotionals go right to your inbox when I post if you’ll email me and let me know that you’d like that or you can subscribe right here: Sign me up! 

To download and print a Chronological Bible Reading Plan for 2019, clink on this link: My Favorite Reading Plan   This is the one that I have personally used for almost 20 years. It can be folded and used as a bookmark to mark off as you go. The Psalms show up every 7th day and make for an easy catch up day if you find yourself behind, and you can also check off as you read ahead.

How To Deal with Anxiety and Worry

You and I need not be anxious about anything. 

Will we choose this path of peace? Are we truly able to make this choice?

As we head into a new year and set our hearts afresh to read His Word and to know His truth, may we determine to read with the purpose of TRULY believing and obeying, so that we may stand strong when the storms come. It’s those who hear and act upon the word, who will stand and not be shaken (Luke 6:46,47).

And the Word gives this clear instruction to obey: “ not be anxious about anything,..”

How is that possible? BY PRAYER.

Making our requests known to God with thanksgiving (rather than being anxious about all the many details of life) will guard our heart and our mind in Christ Jesus with the peace of God (Philippians 4:6, 7).

The Greek word for “guard” in this scripture is actually “a military term picturing soldiers standing on guard duty and refers to the guarding of the city gate from within as a control on all who went out… The heart is the center of each person, from which thoughts and affection flow.1

We may think of this peace of God as guarding what enters our heart and mind or what goes on there, but the idea here is actually a guard on what goes out, what erupts from our heart and mind. Ponder that. Can’t we all readily recognize how we have been influenced (and have possibly influenced those around us) by eruptions of unbelief that, because of our lack of prayer, we’ve not controlled?

The solution to our anxiety is “everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” This is in stark contrast to the default of everything by worry, which is so easy to fall into.  Worry strangely gives us a false sense of control, making us feel like we are DOING something about the situation. But living in a habitual constant state of worry and being anxious is not only being disobedient to the Word, but is also forfeiting the peace that we are promised.

How often do we indulge ourselves in anxiety and worry and the what if’s, when the Word instructs us to not be anxious and to take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5)May we choose to obey the Word, to be “an effectual doer” and not “a forgetful hearer” (James 1:25).

Let’s resolve (decide firmly on a course of action):
I will not be anxious, I will trust, I will believe, and I will obey:
I will PRAY about everything, and give thanks, “…that which ought never to be absent from any of our devotions- namely, the grateful acknowledgment of past mercies, as distinguished from the earnest seeking of future.”1

One closing thought from Oswald Chambers:
“We imagine that a little anxiety and worry are an indication of how really wise we are; it is much more an indication of how really wicked we are. Fretting springs from a determination to get our own way. Our Lord never worried and He was never anxious, because He was not “out” to realize His own ideas; He was “out” to realize God’s ideas. Fretting is wicked if you are a child of God. Have you been bolstering up that stupid soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God? Put all “supposing” on one side and dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about that thing. All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.” My Utmost for His Highest, 1935, Devotion for July 4.

Spend some time with the Lord, ask, hear His answers, allow Him to speak to your heart, and write it down:
-Lord, where I have given into the default of anxiety and worry? Remind me to pray in my moments of anxiety. I confess that I too often fall into this sin, and I name it for what it is, as it stands in opposition to the instruction of Your Word. And I repent.

-Remind me, even in this moment, of all that I need to practice thankfulness for. You are such a good Father working miracles all around me all the time. Open my eyes to see.

-I resolve that when I begin to feel worried or anxious, I WILL PRAY. I will talk to You about it, the One Who has solutions, and I will do so with thanksgiving, reminding myself of all Your faithfulness and Your great ability to do anything and everything.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2

“…but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7).


Lord, raise up an army of praying BELIEVERS!

1Rogers, Cleon L. The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament. 1998 Zodervan


Just imagine with me how this world would be affected if we continually, habitually, immediately prayed about all the rising concerns. We would ALL pray more! And MORE would be accomplished in the Name of Jesus as a result!

Let’s rise up and start a prayer movement, how bout it!

Blessings to you all,

Traci Shinnick