Life is marked by change. Eighteen months ago, my husband and I purged our earthly belongings and moved aboard a sailboat. This was no midlife crisis. We did it because God said “go.”

Transitioning from house to boat was my husband’s dream come true. He grew up in a waterfront home and drove a speedboat when he was six years old. He later built a small sailboat and then owned a 27-foot Catalina. As for me—well, I grew up on the Alberta prairies. The first time I rowed a boat, I did it backwards. I don’t even like cold showers.

Moving onto a sailboat was far beyond my comfort zone. Fear might have overwhelmed me except for one thing: understanding God’s character.

A lifetime of walking with the Lord through sunshine and shadow has taught me a few things about what He’s like: He’s faithful. He always has our best interest in mind. He never leaves our side. He surrounds us like a shield with His lovingkindness. He provides. He brings joy.

Change is inevitable. Sometimes it comes in a nanosecond with no warning whatsoever. Other times we see it approach and have time to prepare. Regardless, it often brings uncertainty, and uncertainty breeds fear.

Next time change knocks on your door, refuse to let fear stop you from opening it. Instead, focus on the truth about who God is. Thank Him that change brings opportunities to know Him more intimately.

Eighteen months after making our significant change, I have no regrets. I’ve experienced more joy and peace—and opportunities to give thanks when things don’t go as expected—than in the past two decades. Walking in the truth of who God is made the difference for me, and it can do the same for you.

Grace Fox is the author of nine books including Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation (Harvest House Publishers). She regularly speaks at women’s events across North America. As a career global worker, she also trains church leaders and national missionaries in Nepal and the Middle East. www.gracefox.com.

 

 

 

 

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She’s the woman we all love to hate, and she used to really bug me. The woman Proverbs 31 praises so highly—she’s just too perfect. She meets everyone’s needs with a smile and looks great doing it. And she gets up early, well before sunrise, and gets right to work. Ugh.

Through the years I’ve tried to follow her example. I had my couponing-and-three-store-menu-planning phase, my make-crafts-and-sell-them phase, and I’ve even had more than one let’s-get-up-before-the-sun-and-get-this-day-going phase. But eventually I learned I was trying to copy this much-maligned woman’s activities rather than her character.

What the Proverbs 31 woman actually models for us is a godly life. She’s a wife and mother, a homemaker and an entrepreneur, but she could just as easily be a college student, a single mom, a grandmother. She’s faithful, diligent, industrious, generous, compassionate, kind, and wise—all virtues the book of Proverbs advises women and men to develop. Why? Because they honor God and make life work.

When we fear (respect and honor) the Lord, we begin to understand the world and ourselves as His, which is true knowledge. Taking what we know to be true and applying it correctly is living with godly wisdom. That’s what the book of Proverbs is all about, and that’s what the Proverbs 31 woman is good at.

Turns out there’s no reason to dislike her after all!

 

Diane Stortz

Diane Stortz

Diane Stortz writes best-selling books for children and adults. Her goal is making God’s wonders known to the next generation. Her newest book, from which this post is taken, is Encountering God’s Heart for You: 365 Devotions from Genesis to Revelation, available for pre-order now. Diane and her husband have two married daughters and five young grandchildren—all boys! www.DianeStortz.com

Encountering God's Heart for You by Diane Stortz

Encountering God’s Heart for You by Diane Stortz

 

 

 

 

 

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When you are experiencing JOY, what is your response? Do you do a happy dance? Jump for joy? High five someone near?  Throw a party?

The Bible clearly connects joy with celebration. Here are a few verses:

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19 explains this word meaning of joy as  a delight or to play.

When was the last time you jumped up and down in delight and glee over something God had done for you? Do you celebrate with God when He pulls you up out of despair and rescues you from stress and anxiety?

Or picture the glee of a child on a swing, jumping off the diving board, tossing a twirling baton or making designs in the nigh sky with a sparkler. Is that how you feel about your relationship with God?

Today, express yourself with the joy of a child and truly celebrate God — in a way more exuberant that you cheer for your favorite sports team!

I would love to add to your glee and delight by having you join me for Discovering Joy in Philippians online Bible Study beginning Sept 18. It’s free! (That’s cause for delight!)

And make Discovering Joy a party– invite your friends, your church group, your gal pals from work, or be a friendly neighbor and invite those living near you to join you.

The Discovering the Bible series is the result of team effort: Jean E Jones write the Bible study, Karla Dornacher is the artist who creates beautiful coloring pages and book marks, and Pam writes the devotionals to help apply what you are learning to your real life.

 

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Seated at the table with seven other women attending the women’s retreat where I was speaking, I enjoyed visiting with these young moms. Each one introduced herself and then we started talking about the gift of hospitality. Sarah spoke up and motioned to the woman beside her.

“Natalie has the most amazing gift of hospitality. Her husband must have had it in mind when he built their huge house. She just makes everyone feel welcome.”

The women nodded their agreement. Then another friend of hers offered, “Natalie’s house is so inviting, you’d never guess it’s 6,500 square feet.”

Everyone nodded their agreement again.

Then Ginny spoke up. “It was so funny the other day. My young son, Kyle, and I were driving home from Natalie’s house after he had played there that day, and somehow we got on the subject of who was rich. I asked him, ‘Who do you think is rich?’ and I mentioned several friends, including Natalie. For each one, he said they weren’t rich.

Then I mentioned my sister-in-law who is definitely not rich and she has a 1,400 square-foot home. But Kyle said she was rich!

“When I asked him why he thought that, he replied, ‘Because she has a Play Station.’”

We all laughed. Talk about a perspective of priorities. To Kyle, whatever was important to him made a person rich.

And aren’t we all like that? Each of us has different priorities and a definition of wealth. Which just means we each can feel wealthy in whatever circumstance we are. There will always be someone with more money–and with less. How blessed we are if we’re content with what we have.

Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller

Heart Wisdom by Kathy Collard Miller

Heart Wisdom by Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller is the author of over 55 books including Heart Wisdom in her Daughters of the King Bible Study Series, a women’s study on Proverbs. She has spoken in 35 states and 8 foreign countries. www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

 

 

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In writing our first in the series of Discovering the Bible: Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience, we dug into the familiar passage of Psalm 1. Immediately, my heart began a consistent prayer, Lord, make me a strong Psalm 1 tree! The first time I read that psalm, evn as a child, I knew I wanted to be one of those trees that no storm, no wind, no natural disaster could topple– but reflecting on the Psalm now, more than 50 years later, I see through life experience, just HOW MUCH we need God to help us become that strong, stable, Psalm 1 tree– and live a life He can bless!

 

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV) 

So when writing Discovering Joy in Philippians, God reminded me that joy in HIM is the pathway to strength in life. My assignment was to help others, as they studied Philippians, to connect to God in a personal and powerful way, so that through God’s Word, their lives could also be fortified by the Almighty.

In Nehemiah 8:10, we see a straightforward statement:

The JOY of the Lord is your strength (Neh 8:10)

Elliot’s commentary shares, “This beautiful sentence is, literally, delight in Jehovah is a strong refuge.”

In my personal study notes, after looking up key words, I have:

The JOY (gladness and rejoicing) of the Lord (Yahweh) is your strength (place of safety, protection, defense, a fortress, refuge and stronghold)

The Israelites in this story, were being led by Nehemiah and the priest Ezra, to rebuild the wall to protect the temple after being in exile (for their disobedience). Nehemiah give them meaningful work that honored God, Ezr gave them meaningful worship and call ed them to stand and listen to the Word of God.

The people realized they had drifted from God, and so were in grief and mourning. But their wise leaders knew that after repentance, staying in a state of shame, guilt and despair would be counter productive to finishing the wall and to their future calling to walk out being God’s chosen, anointed, people. So Ezra commanded them to stop grieving and celebrate!

In celebration and worship of God, we too can find strength!

 

Today, follow the footsteps of strength, do one or more of the following:

  • Repent of your disobedience, drifting, or defiance of God or God’s Word
  • Listen to the Word (on audio, on You Tube, in church, on radio or podcast. )
  • Worship God through song and celebration. 

In doing these, you will discover a strength building in your life too.

I would like the honor of helping build strength into your life through an online study of Discovering Joy in Philippians (Sept 18-Dec 4)

Register for the FREE study today. 

Pam Farrel is Co-Director of Love-Wise, with her husband, Bill, who she has been JOYously married to for 40 years. She is also author of 48 books, and an international speaker. She enjoys time with her far-flung family, and kayaking to get her mail from her live aboard boat in Southern Ca.

 

 

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