Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Called to be Faithful

1 Peter 4:8-10
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 

God has not called me to be successful. He called me to be faithful. -Mother Teresa

I have a t-shirt with a saying printed on it: God Has a Plan So I Have a Purpose. I think about that a lot. As my children grew into teenagers and then adults, I fretted over what my purpose was. I'd held onto the role of mom for years and knew at that point in my life, my focus was raising the kids to be kind and caring adults. With them rounding the corner to adulthood, I found myself at loose ends. Of course, I had purpose as Tim's wife and in my job at the school library, and I was still a mom, but something in my heart searched for more. Like many people, I read The Purpose Driven Life. I found some good information, but not enough.

I prayed and asked God for clarity, and guess what? He let me know I'd been overthinking my purpose. Yes, there are specific things God calls me to do, but the most important thing He wants me to do is to be faithful and love Him.

God calls me and anyone who believes in Him to love Him and love people. The other day the radio blared out Danny Goeke's song, Love God Love People. He talks about checking the boxes and trying to do more, but instead it comes down to caring for God and people.

Peter reminds his readers the most important thing they can do is be faithful stewards of God's grace. Show grace to everyone and be faithful to God.

In our broken world, our purpose is to remain faithful and to love.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Let Him Fight

Exodus 14:13-14
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Of all the sports available to watch, I enjoy baseball the most. Tim and I and our family are big Reds fans. Growing up, I watched the Big Red Machine, and I remember the team through the years having some great seasons and some, let's just say, that didn't go as well. 

A few years ago, Tim talked about his desire to work at Great American Ballpark. In 2018, that dream came true. He's an usher in the sun/moon deck in the outfield. He often comes home with fun stories about the interesting fans he meets and what the team is up to. This year, we have a lot of rookies who are playing well and entertaining the fans with the hope of winning. Through his job, Tim has made friends with some fans who have caught home run balls. One of them snagged a Jake Fraley ball, and Jake signed it for him. When he showed it to Tim, Fraley had signed his name and written the verse, Exodus 14:14, on the ball.

When we searched out the verse, we found the familiar story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. God separated them from the Egyptians, who were chasing them by parting the sea and providing dry land for them to cross to safety. Moses told the Israelites to trust in God and let Him fight for them. Of course they grumbled, but finally they listened. They were a stubborn bunch.

That sounds too familiar to me. God has assured me He is fighting for me, and I know He is, yet fear and anxiety often sneak into the cracks. I might grumble and question, then finally I stop and listen. God stills me and assures me He has my back. Why do I question when there is no need? I pray my faith grows stronger as I seek to trust Him more.

Seek Him and trust in His care. 


 

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Constant Consistency

 Every year without fail, the double lilies, my mom gave me, burst into bloom.
I can count on them to show their pretty heads at the end of June.

Every summer as I watch the flowers bloom, 
I'm reminded of the constant consistency of Jesus. 
Regardless of the circumstances or seasons
Jesus remains the same.

He shows up for us every day, loves us every day, and longs for us 
to part of His kingdom every day.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. -Hebrews 13:8

If you're looking for someone to trust, who won't let you down, seek Jesus.


Saturday, June 17, 2023

Grow Through It

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Every flower must grow through dirt. 

I've grown zinnias everywhere we've lived. The tall green stems topped with an array of color danced in my flowerbeds all summeruntil we moved to the condo. The little plot where the lavender and black-eyed Susans thrive isn't good for zinnias. I'd given up trying to grow them from seed until a new spot opened on the other side of the porch. The HOA had removed a pine tree and left a gaping hole in the landscape. When the neighbor gave me several packets of flower seeds, I stirred the dirt, laid down some potting soil, and sprinkled the seeds with the hope of growth.

In about a week, little seedlings pushed through the dirt. Those tiny green sprouts brought me joy. Not all the seeds made an appearance, but the ones who did will show the colors of summer. I'm eager to see how they grow and bloom.

Like the seedlings, sometimes we have to push through the dirt to grow. The soil may represent a difficult time in our lives when our hearts are tested by sorrow, despair, or uncertainty. Or maybe we're in the wrong soil, like the zinnias. The dirt in the little flowerbed didn't allow for growth, but the other side had the nourishment the plants needed.

Maybe we're in the wrong place because we aren't listening to God. What if I've allowed myself to stop listening to the Holy Spirit, which means I've cut off my life's supply of grace and hope?

Regardless of where I am in life, I will continue to grow through as I go through. Whether I'm pushing through the soil or finding myself in the wrong spot, I need to seek Jesus and listen to the Spirit of God so my faith will produce perseverance and perseverance will bring me to maturity.

Have you planted your heart in God's soil?

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Three Little Words

1 Thessalonians 1:3
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith, hope, lovethree little words with huge impact.

On my journey as a writer, I meet a lot of interesting people. Some of my favorites are the folks who have dwelled on this earth for many years. On a recent trip to meet a group of senior citizens, (yes, I am one, too) I chatted with a couple of women in their nineties. Their sweet smiles and friendly voices drew me in. We talked about crocheting, knitting, and books. One lovely lady invited me to their crochet group. They had no idea the impact they had on me. I wasn't feeling well and had awakened that morning in a grumpy mood. Yet, these women, older than me, most likely with aches and pains of age, cheered me up.

Through their faith, love, and hope they gave me a reason to examine my heart. I thought I had come to brighten their day, but the opposite took place. They gave me more reasons to be thankful and praise God.

The church in Thessalonica was young, barely a year old, but they already had faith, love, and hope. Apostle Paul, the author of Thessalonians, acknowledged the faith they held onto in their work to increase the church, the love they showed others in the community, and the hope they held onto as they endured opposition. The Thessalonians knew Jesus promised to return in His glory. Until that time, they labored with love and worked in faith.

As a believer in Jesus, I know He will return for His followers. One of these days, the trumpets will sound and the angels will rejoice when we see Jesus. In the meantime, I'll work in faith and labor in love, as I hold on to hope.

Are you ready to meet Jesus?

So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. -Matthew 24:44

*This devotion was inspired by Aaron Adams' sermon on Sunday. Thank you Aaron.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Contemporary Fiction Book Review: With Every Memory by Janine Rosche

Is the Life She Can't Remember One She'd Rather Forget

One year after her family was in a tragic car accident that killed her teenage son, Lori Mendenhall returns home with a traumatic brain injury that has stolen the last eight years of memories from her. She is shocked to find that the life she was leading before the accident is unrecognizable. Her once-loving husband, Michael, is a distant workaholic she isn't sure she can trust and her once-bubbly daughter, Avery, has spent the last year hidden away in her room.

For Avery, life stopped when she lost her twin. Now, if she wants to graduate high school, she'll have to accept help from Xander Dixon, her brother's best friend and the boy who relentlessly teased her for years. And if Lori wants to reconnect with her husband, she'll have to grapple with information her brain is trying to keep secret. With every memory that returns, she can't help but wonder if the life she can't remember is one she'd rather forget.

My Thoughts:
The author added a trigger warning to the book: "This novel contains difficult and potentially triggering topics, such as death of a child, sexual assault, adultery, and divorce."

This isn't a sweet candy-coated novel. It's a deeply emotional story of people who fail each other, even as they love with a fierceness. Rosche states that she tries to handle the trigger topics with sensitivity while showing the reality of the trauma. I believe she has done this. The book goes back and forth between two points of view: Avery, the eighteen-year-old daughter, and Lori, the mom, who has lost her memory due to traumatic brain injury. My favorite part of the story is Avery's point of view. She recounts the family's struggles as a teenager who has lost so much and is barely swimming above water. The story kept me reading because Rosche went so deep emotionally. She tapped into family dynamics and didn't miss a beat of the ups and downs. The beautiful part of the story is the grace and forgiveness she has woven in. Although not preachy at all, the reader knows there is faith and hope at the heart. If you enjoy realistic fiction that pulls at the heartstrings, you may want to give With Every Memory a try. I received a complimentary copy and my opinions are my own.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

He's Not Done

Psalm 33:11
But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.

In church Sunday, we sang My Testimony by Elevation Worship. One of the phrases in the song says something like this, "if I'm not dead, then you aren't done."

As songs often do, this one got me to thinking. I pondered about God's plan and how I fit in. I have a t-shirt that says, "He has a plan, and I have a purpose."

The phrases from the song and the shirt remind me that no matter how old I am, I have a purpose in God's plan. That thought can be applied to how young, whether by age, or by new life in Christ, a person is. He wants us to be part of His work in this world.

My mom lived to be ninety-five, my Grammy ninety-two, and my dad eighty-seven. I remember talking to mom on visits as she grew closer to the end of her life. Due to her arthritis, she couldn't do as much as she used to, but she continued to address and send cards for her Sunday school class even when she couldn't attend. The cards her hands touched and prepared blessed the sick, elderly, shut-in and whoever the class reached out to. Grammy taught piano to students until the day she passed, and she prayed. She lifted every family member, friend, and acquaintance to the Lord in prayer every day. Dad encouraged his grandkids and until he couldn't anymore, he fixed everything for everybody. All three of them allowed God to continue to work through their lives and touch others in His name.

I have been blessed by many children and young people who love Jesus. I'm thankful for every one of them. Not to mention the folks who are young in Christ and share an enthusiasm that reminds me not to take my faith for granted.

No matter how long I live, I want to continue to follow God's plan for my life.

Don't give up, instead ask Jesus what you can do.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

No Fear of Bad News

It's hard not to fear bad news. 
As a person who's been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, 
I understand that ungrounded fear 
dredges itself up in the mind and plays tricks on me. 
Yet, because I trust in the Lord those fears reveal themselves as lies.

It's hard at times to turn my anxiety over to God, 
but I know in my heart I trust Him with everything in my life.

We're all a work in progress, as the saying goes.
Keep trusting and laying your fear at Jesus feet.


 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

An Adventure of Obedience

Psalm 128:1
Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him.

Obedience to God is an act of faith.

For as long as I’ve walked with God on my writing journey, He’s only asked one thing of me—to be obedient. With every word I’ve typed, class I’ve taken, conference I’ve attended, He has opened doors for me to walk through. Mind you, I didn’t have to step through any of them. The free will He gives us to choose our own adventure could have kept me from the journey He planned. And at times, I know I stepped off the path, but He waited patiently for me to turn around and seek Him again. You see, I had a dream to be a writer, and I prayed about my desire. I had no idea where the journey would take me, but I knew God walked with me.

He’s my writing partner. The One who knows my every thought and prayer. He understands my heart’s desire and He’s given me the tools to follow my dream. I know this because He’s the one who placed the dream on my heart from the beginning.

Scott and Lori Conley had a dream to provide food to children, offer scholarships for camp, and provide pillows to kindergartners. They prayed about the possibility of beginning a ministry to empower children and provide for their unmet needs. Lori and Scott got the program off the ground with much prayer, and Empower Youth soared. Since then Lori has made her way to heaven, Scott remarried, and the dream has continued. Even though Lori is in her heavenly home, Scott has remained obedient to God’s call.

We don’t know where our passions might lead. I pray my words encourage and bring hope. I know Empower Youth feeds the hungry both physically and spiritually.

My question now is, do you have a dream, a desire, a passion you want to pursue? Is it something God has placed on your heart? Pray, read the Bible for guidance, and seek people who will encourage you and give you wisdom, and be obedient.

Have faith in the One who created you for your adventure.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Life Strategy

 

On a walk with Tim and Rosie, I spied Virginia bluebells all over the woods. 
Their bright blue flower brightened the spring day and reminded
me of all the beauty God has created and 
how His hand in my life changed me.

The day I chose to walk with God, I made the best decision of my life. 
With God by my side, I navigate rough waters with faith
because God never fails to be my refuge and guide. 
With Him, I'm braver than I ever could be without him. 

His love and grace is game changing.


Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Faith Over Fear

When David faced Goliath, 
he focused on how big God is
not the size of Goliath.

Face giants with faith in the One who overcomes
instead of the fear the enemy dangles in our faces.


 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

He Broke the Record

2 Peter 1:5-8
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The crowd cheered.

Our grandson, Aiden, a senior on the varsity basketball team, broke his own record. A few weeks previous, he set the record for the most three-point shots in a game at his school. He made eight three-point shots (baskets made beyond the arc.) Impressive. Then a few games later, he hit nine three-point shots and smashed his own record.

How did this young man do it? Practice, self-control, and knowledge of the game played a big part. He stayed after practice and challenged himself to make as many baskets in a row as he could. His perseverance paid off. Even in his excitement to break his record, his ability to be a good teammate shined throughout the game. After the game, his team gathered around him, hugged him, and congratulated him. They showed him how much they valued him.

Peter writes to make every effort to pursue faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, affection, and love. Those are all qualities I strive toward in everything I do. They all help me live a productive life for God. Sometimes it takes more work than others. Self-control is a tricky one for me, especially with sweets, but I continue to try. Jesus set the perfect example as He ministered to everyone who would listen. God asks me to grow in knowledge of Him every day. And I’m so thankful He gave us the Bible to read and study. I strive to be a better person, as I live my life as a believer and follower of Christ.

Seek ways to grow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Snow like Wool

I can't resist sharing a photo of the snow we got on Sunday.

In Psalm 147, the psalmist mentions that God spreads the snow like wool. 
I can imagine shepherds pulling wool, sheered from their sheep, over them at night to protect themselves from the cold.

Could it be that God covers the land with snow as a reminder of His provision?
It's a comfort to know God is always with us.
He loves us.



 

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Faith

Jesus was born in a humble manger to a young woman who trusted God.

When I think of the miracle of Christmas, 
my faith grows and my love for Jesus increases.
I'm thankful Mary loved God and trusted His plan.


 

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Hope

I am so thankful we have hope in Jesus.
When the world seems bleak, the Lord of Lords offers hope of new life
and hope of peace and freedom in this life.

He is the hope of the world!




 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Life is Not a Checklist

1 Thessalonians 1:3
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

I like lists and calendars. Something about the orderly way they help me organize my life gives me satisfaction. I use a program called Scrivener that helps me organize my writing, and I create Excel sheets to help me keep track of editing. Notebooks with check-off lists and the calendar on my phone help me show up where I’m supposed to. Without my notes, there's a great chance I'd forget something important.

Calendar

As much as I like lists and organization, I can't live my life by checking off boxes. Organization works wonders for a project, like writing a book, but not so much for life. Living life is more about prompts, nudges, crossroads, inspiration, and endurance. Life in Christ includes hope, conviction, the nudges from the Holy Spirit, opportunities to serve, and unexpected joy. If I only stick to my to do lists, I’ll miss out on the blessings.

How about a list infused with hope and joy!

  • If you're a parent, take time to play with your kids. If your children are teens or adults, hang out with them. Enjoy making memories.
  • If you're married, date your spouse and be attentive.
  • If you're single enjoy the adventure God's given you. 
  • If you work outside the home, stop and ask your co-worker how their day is going.
  • Take the walk, pet the dog, smell the flowers, smile at the folks God puts in your path.
  • Sing out loud in church or in the car and worship freely.

My point--God has plans for me. If my head is focused on a check list all the time, I'm going to miss out. Instead I want to live like the Thessalonians who were faithful, and prompted by love and inspired by hope.

Be flexible when it comes to living a life mapped out by God. He has unexpected surprises, if we pay attention.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

What the World Needs Now

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

While faith and hope may be more personal, love is meant to be shared.

Growing up in the sixties and seventies I listened to a lot of music, mostly pop and soft rock. Songs like What the World Needs Now and Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Jackie DeShannon, and I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing by the New Seekers focused on spreading love in the world. In my bedroom as I belted out the songs, in front of the mirror and into my hairbrush, I believed I could be an instrument in sharing love with everyone. As you might guess, I was a bit na├»ve. I didn’t understand what loving the whole world entailed, until I understood how much Jesus loved me.

Most of the time when I hear 1 Corinthians 13, I’m at a wedding where the pastor reads the passage and talks about what it means to love. The other day I was reading 1 Corinthians 13 and I came to the last verse. Often verse thirteen is skimmed over. Instead of flying past it, I paused and read each word.

Faith, hope, and love remain. Three of the most important words in my vocabulary stand out as three of the most important ideas in this passage. My faith in Jesus is personal. Through my experiences and His grace, my faith has become the springboard for my relationship with Him. My hope in Jesus is also personal, without the hope of heaven and the hope of brighter days ahead, I’d bewell, hopeless. Love is different. According to verse thirteen, love is the greatest of all three, and I believe that’s because love is to be shared. For people to understand my faith and my hope in Jesus, they need to see the love He spills over me as I in turn pour love over others.  What better way to share my faith and hope than to model and live the love mapped out in chapter thirteen.

Share Jesus love with a world who still needs Him.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

A Simple Way

It's not hard to be kind. A smile, an encouraging word, 
a moment listening, a gift of food or money.

God calls us to be kind and to love one another.
He asks us not to judge, but to love. 


 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Where Is My Faith

Luke 8:22-24
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

Rain pounded the canvas top of the Jeep.

I traveled down Interstate 75 to visit my daughter in Kentucky. When I left home a gray sky hovered overhead. The lack of sunshine made the drive easier for me because bright sun hurts my eyes, and I knew I’d be on the road for a while. About halfway through the trip, the skies opened and the rain poured. Torrential rain on the interstate with semis scares me, but instead of panicking, I put the Jeep in four-wheel drive and slowed my speed.

The rain poured for about twenty minutes. As I maneuvered the Jeep through the rain, Star 93.3 played three songs that calmed me. I Am Not Alone by Kari Jobe, Praise You in This Storm, and Brighter Days by Blessing Offor made me want to raise my hands in praise, but I didn’t dare take my hands off the wheel.

Isn’t it just like Jesus to provide comfort and hope in the midst of the storm? He’d invited his disciples to the boat and then fell asleep. He may have known the storm was coming, but He also knew God had His back. When the disciples panicked, what did He say? “Where is your faith?”

I had to ask myself that question as I drove through the storm. I have to ask myself that question when I walk through the valley, the sunshine, or the fog. My faith is in Jesus who loves me, but at times I forget and try to take control, or panic, or run from Him. Yet every time He draws me back to Him, and I thank Him.

I thank God for his peace, His understanding of me and my fears, and I praise Him for his plan of salvation that secures my faith. I am not alone, I can praise Him in the storms, and I know there will be brighter days because I have faith in the One who loves me more than I understand.

Have faith in the One who loves you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Sorrows to Dancing


You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.

    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.
-Psalm 30:11-12

Sometimes when I hear a tune, I can't stop my feet from moving; 
Not because I'm a dancer, but because God has placed a song on my heart.

Praise God He can turn my sorrows into dancing with his love and joy!