Reading these words in Psalm 116:7 (KJV), “the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee,” reminded me of conversations with two of my strongest Christian friends. On the same day, both spoke of being mad at God.

One said a relative felt angry because of what she considered the undeserved suffering that came into the life of her young child. “Why didn’t God do something?”

The other friend spoke of a huge disappointment she had experienced. “Why didn’t God stop this?”

Both friends felt God had not dealt bountifully with them. He hadn’t done what they asked and expected. He seemed absent and left them struggling with an unanswered why.

Asking why puts us in good company.

Moses “returned to the Lord and said, O Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people?  Why is it You have sent me?” (Exodus 5:22 NKJV).

Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan!” (Joshua 7:7 NKJV).

The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon saying “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor! Gideon said to Him, O my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (Judges 6:12-13 NKJV).

On the cross, about the ninth hour Jesus “cried out with a loud voice, saying…My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 NKJV).

Asking why is a normal response to hurt and heartbreak. It’s not a problem as long as we’re content without an explanation and willing to leave the matter in God’s almighty hands.

Along life’s journey we experience disappointment, loneliness, physical decline, stressed relationships, grief. Is God still good? The Bible repeatedly says he is. In the NIV, Psalm 116:7 reads, “the Lord has been good to you.”

How do we respond in hard places? We choose to believe in the dark what we found easy to believe in the light.

“For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations” (Psalm 100:5 KJV).

Even when we don’t understand, we can rely on fact. God always deals bountifully with his children.

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

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It was so hot even the bees were dropping like flies.

In our desert area of Southern California, we get used to the soaring summer heat and I thought the insects would too, but we kept finding dead bees by our front door. We thought, “Can’t do anything about it and it can’t be anything too serious,” so we just ignored the strange phenomenon. Until we also noticed a dark spot on the wall near the ceiling—a wall close to the front door.

We called out pest control and they checked the attic. The truth was revealed. Bees had taken up residence in our attic, having gained entrance through a small hole in the roof. The honey from the hive had started leaking into the wall.

And the dead bees on our walkway? That was how bees clean out the hive. They push their dead comrades out and they tumble to the ground. The mystery was solved and serious damage to our house was averted.

The same thing happens with temptation. Even though there are signs we are being tempted, we don’t consider them serious and ignore them. Then we give into the temptation and the sin takes up residence. Maybe too late, we realize the benign signs are actually warnings. We need to clean out the “hive” by removing the sources of temptation.

God loves us so much that He warns us. “But people are tempted when their own evil desire leads them away and traps them. This desire leads to sin, and then the sin grows and brings death” (James 1:14-15 NCR).

Your faithful God reaches out to you to warn you because He wants only the best for you. See His loving hand?

Kathy Collard Miller is a speaker and author of over fifty books including At the Heart of Friendship: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. She has spoken in over thirty states and eight foreign countries. Kathy and husband Larry live in Southern California and have two children and two grandchildren. Visit her: www.KathyCollardMiller.com; www.Facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor; @KathyCMiller. Instagram: @KathyCollardMiller

 

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Stop-and-Go Devotional by Diane Stortz

Stop-and-Go Devotional by Diane Stortz

Stop-and-Go Devotional: 52 Devotions for Busy Families
by Diane Stortz 
Publisher: Tommy Nelson
Release Date: February 12, 2019
ISBN#: 978-1-4003-1758-5
 

About the book:
Stop-and-Go Devotional provides short, active devotions based on Bible stories, designed for busy families with preschoolers and primary-grade children. Each short devotion consists of an action-filled Bible story (Stop and Read), an age-appropriate devotional thought with questions and a brief prayer (Think and Talk), plus an easy and fun follow-up activity, a thought to remember, and a supporting Bible verse (Green Means Go!).

 

About the author: 

Diane Stortz writes best-selling books for children and adults. Her goal: making God’s wonders known to the next generation. She and her husband, Ed, have two married daughters and five young grandchildren—all boys! Visit her website at DianeStortz.com.

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The enemy I battle most is Discouragement. I know better than to give that rascal a toehold in my life. But it slips in subtly, whispering hopelessness, just like long ago. Remember how the Israelites responded to Moses when he came to lead them out of bondage in Egypt.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country…‘Therefore, say to the Israelites:

I am the Lord and

I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.

I will free you from being slaves to them, and

I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.

I will take you as my own people, and

I will be your God….

I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

I will give it to you as a possession.

I am the Lord.’

“Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage” (Exodus 6:1, 6-9 NIV).

Despite those I wills, discouragement ruled.

But the Lord didn’t change his plan. After a series of plagues, his people left Egypt for the land he’d promised, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Moses sent scouts to explore the land, and it was everything they could have dreamed. But only Joshua and Caleb believed they could move forward and inhabit the land. The other ten gave a negative report about giants in the land, discouraging the hearts of the people and filling them with fear. Instead of taking possession of their inheritance, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years, until all of the men twenty years of age and older had died because they didn’t wholly follow the Lord (Numbers 32:11).

What a sad story illustrating the power of discouragement.

All the more reason to guard our mind and heart against this mighty weapon wielded by the enemy of our souls.

Remember the Lord’s promise to Joshua when he assumed leadership, “…Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

 

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With Valentine’s Day season upon us, you might wonder how spell L.O.V.E.  In our  book, The First Five Years, we explain how to create a memorable romantic encounter for your spouse no matter how many years you are married. (And we will adapt this for those who are single and dating).  Keep this acrostic for LOVE in mind as you make plans to wow the one you love:

 

Listen

Observe

Vary

Extract

 

Listen

Your spouse will drop hints about the things he or she loves and you can use these hints to create more romance and sizzle in your relationship. For example, if you listen to Bill and me in a casual lunch conversation, you would  discern  that Bill loves things like: Football, fishing, cooking, joke telling, and the Bible.  If you listen to Pam you’d discover she loves travel, biking, swimming, tennis, laughing, and helping women—and the spa!

It doesn’t take much imagination then to know that if I (Pam) give Bill a day of ocean fishing or if he gave me a day at the spa, we would be more interested in each other at the end of that day. But it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Kayaking is on both our lists, so we have a goal to have a kayak date in every state we travel to for business. Walking and biking are also on both of our lists, so an evening stroll, or a leisurely cycle around a lake near us is apt to also put us in the mood. Bill and I keep a running list of “loves” we discover about one another while listening.

Observe

On the TV show Sherlock (and in the classic books with this character),  Sherlock Holmes wows the audience by his keen detective skills of observation. You can become a detective and easily observe what will bless and ignite your spouse:

  • What raises stress in your partner?—then make a plan to lower it
  • What lifts the spirit?—then make a plan to repeat it
  • What calms the atmosphere?—then recreate it
  • What things are collectible?—then add to it
  • When he or she sighs and relaxes?—then repeat it
  • What draws him/her to you?—then protect it

 Vary

            For married couples, when it comes to intimacy, don’t get in a rut.  Vary the romance. In our book, Red Hot Monogamy, inspired by Song of Songs, we give over 200 Red Hot Romance ideas. The King and the Bride in song of Songs model for couples simple romantic inspirations. And they make time together a priority, “My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away,” {Song pf Songs 2:10)

One of the easiest ways to vary the experience is to keep the five senses in mind. Vary the places you date, mix the style from dressy to down to earth. Or try adding new sounds/music, scents, textures, or tastes.  If you go to dinner each Thursday, next week eat it on the rooftop, or on a blanket at the park. If you usually work out as a couple, then make the next date a payoff- get some new athletic wear and try out a new activity.

Extract

To extract love, take an old idea and give it a new spin. Personalize it, shake it up, add to it. For example, because we are relationship communicators, we are usually pretty busy around Valentine’s Day. Often we have to be at the NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) conference. No offense to those in Christian radio, but the NRB isn’t the most romantic place to be around on Valentine’s Day. We have decided, however, to make it romantic the years we need to be there. One year, Bill scanned the covers of all the books we have written and made a series of greeting cards with personal love messages that used the titles as a part of a pun, like “It has been “Pure Pleasure” being marriage to you”.  Every hour all day, he gave me a card with a new message and tiny gift.

 

L.O.V.E: Listen, observe, vary and extract to create a love to look forward to living. It is possible to keep love as red hot as those candy hearts you munch on each Valentine’s Day—it just takes a little creativity and some L.O.V.E.

 

Pam and Bill Farrel are relationship specialists, international speakers and best selling authors of Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti, Red Hot Monogamy and The First Five Years: Make the Love Investment (www.Love-Wise.com) When they are not traveling to speak on marriage or family, you will find them at home on their live aboard boat in Southern California.

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