This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4b-5).

She rested on her deathbed with saddened eyes and asked her clergyman, “How do I know if I’ve been good enough?”

She had believed that Christ was the Son of God, trusted Him for salvation, confessed her hopelessness to absolve her sins, and given her life over to God. Yet, somewhere along the line, she held to a misconception that her good deeds, which were bountiful, measured her worth in God’s eyes rather than her relationship with the Savior.

A second woman lay dying. Although she struggled with the scars from her former life, she never wandered far from God, visiting him daily with her fears and joys. Because of the external blemishes, I experienced angst over where she would rest for eternity. God pinched my disbelief.

“All you see is the imperfection … I see a heart that loves me, and I’m bringing her home to be with me forever.” Peace that passed all understanding shrouded her last moments.

From John’s short epistle, one might assume the early church struggled with that same tendency to measure faith through accomplishment rather than a relationship with God. John reassures believers that those who love God will keep the commandments naturally as an extension of that belief rather than a pursuit of the commandments for the sake of pursuit.

I’m grateful for the lesson God taught me through observing the final hours in the lives of these two women. It is not our puny regimentation in spiritual exercise that enriches our spirituality, but rather a heart that stands ready to receive God, his Goodness, and His offer of salvation.

Linda Wood Rondeau, multi-published and award-winning author, is a veteran social worker. Her books examine the complexities of human relationships. Her blog, Snark and Sensibility, hosts writers of various genres. She manages a Facebook page, Having the Prime of My Life, a positive look at aging issues. Linda resides in Hagerstown with her husband of forty-plus years. Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com. Contact the author on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

 

 

 

 

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In Discovering Joy in Philippians, I share that the book of Philippians, while known as the book about JOY, is also full of great relationship information.

We see Paul’s priority of relationships in Phil 1:3-6

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Make a list of those you are thankful for and those you are in partnership with. Call them, send a card, text a thank you, post a praise on their social media wall.

Pam and Bill Farrel are authors of 48 books, international speakers, and relationship experts who minister to people through their Living Love-Wise community. 

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On Mother’s Day morning we witnessed the baptism of our baby granddaughter in a wonderful service filled with praise and worship. Though I believe every new life is a miracle, we waited a long time for this baby girl since my daughter-in-law was told she would not be able to have children. It was a very special morning for our family.

Later that afternoon, I received a call from my sister telling me that my ninety-seven-year-old mother would soon be entering heaven. I was a few states away and quickly booked a flight to my hometown. My mom’s funeral was a beautiful celebration of her life, which was defined by unconditional love. It didn’t matter if her children, grandkids, and great grandkids were born into the family, married into the family, “stepped” into the family, or were adopted into the family. She loved us all the same.

In the days that followed, as I processed my emotions, I found myself grateful for a new addition to our family, and grateful for a mother who showed me what it means to love and accept others the way Jesus did.

In life and in death, our hearts can be filled with gratitude to our heavenly Father—the one who gives life and holds us in His hands.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High
(Psalm 9:1-2 NIV).

Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award winning author of more than 100 books for children and adults. She is a lyricist for children’s piano music, contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, and presenter at writers’ conferences. Her latest book is Mothers in Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms (Harvest House).

 

 

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I don’t like to not know. I don’t like to not have an answer or an opinion. Not knowing or not being able to reply makes me feel tense. And dare I say it? I feel stupid.

What’s even sillier is that I will give an opinion even though I’m not sure I’m right—so that I can avoid saying, “I don’t know.” That’s pretty bad. Oh, my.

So it was with interest I studied Zechariah 4:5. The prophet Zechariah had been shown a vision of a lamp stand and several other things. He asked what the items meant. “So the angel who was speaking with me [Zechariah] answered and said to me, ‘Do you not know what these are?’ And I said, ‘No, my lord.'”

If I had been Zechariah, I wouldn’t have asked what the things are because that would have shown my—there’s that word again—stupidity. And then when the angel asked, “Do you not know what these are?” I would have bluffed my way into some sort of answer (said as if I’m Rocky Balboa). “Well, sure, I know what it is. Whatcha think, I’m stupid or somepin’?”

So I’m admiring Zechariah. He had the humility to admit he didn’t know and he was willing to be instructed. I need to remember him as my inspiration for admitting when I don’t know.

It’s okay even if I appear to be stupid because it doesn’t matter what other people think of me. What matters is God’s view of me, and He already knows when I don’t know. He would much rather I admit my lack of knowledge and ask to be informed. Because He’s eager to teach and guide me. What a patient God.

Kathy Collard Miller is growing in being able to say, “I don’t know.” Even though she doesn’t know a lot, God has graciously empowered her to write over fifty books, including her latest, At the Heart of Friendship: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. It’s a ten-lesson women’s study for groups or individuals. Kathy has also spoken in over thirty states in the U.S. and eight foreign countries. Visit her: www.KathyCollardMiller.com. Twitter: @KathyCMiller FB: www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor.

 

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I have found it is A LOT easier to DISCOVER JOY if you are looking for it! This summer, let’s go on a #JoyHunt

But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You. (Psalm 3:11)

I created this Radiant Joy Praise sheet so those going through Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience — or anyone who wants more joy in their lives, can keep track of the goodness of God and the #JOYMoments He gives.

Post it on your refrigerator and let the JOY radiat from your heart as you capture God’s goodness and grace~!

 

Pam Farrel is the bestselling author of Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience and Discovering Hope in the Psalms, She makes her home on a live-aboard boat slipped in So Ca. Connect to Pam and see more of her bible teaching on the Bill and Pam Farrel Facebook page.

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