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Devotional Encouragement

Peace in the Midst of a Storm

Let’s be honest. Life is filled with ups and downs. Oftentimes there are more downs than ups, and it’s important to remember where our hope lies.

Our hope is in the Lord—and sometimes the things that seem so important really aren’t. Other times there are pretty big and scary things we have to face.

No matter what the issue, my faith and trust in the Lord help me to deal with whatever I’m facing. My go-to verses to remind me of this are Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and He will guide you.

I’ll admit I have trust issues, but when it comes to the Lord, I completely trust Him. Knowing He is in control and that He loves me and wants the best for me is literally the only way I make it through some days.

He wants the best for you, too. Isn’t that great news? I claim this verse often. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

God’s peace is incredible.

I hope these verses encourage and remind you that He is on your side. He is there for you and He loves you.

Kimberly Rose Johnson, an award-winning author, married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly, has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul. She holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University, Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Sign up for Kimberly’s newsletter at: https://kimberlyrjohnson.com/.

 

 

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Devotional

A Tap Says Notice me!

A Tap Says Notice me! While sitting at my kitchen table, I often feel a tap on my arm. Looking down, I find my white kitty touching me with his paw. Sometimes he lets out a pitiful mew as his blue eyes gaze with longing.

Sir Edmond usually wants me to feed him, but sometimes he’s pleading for his morning brush-down. Or he might initiate a game. He hovers around me as I do household chores, and he curls up nearby when I sit down to write.

I think he’s discovered I’m his best source for food, comfort, and play. I hear people say cats aren’t affectionate, but I know better.

In much the same way, people get confused about God. Perhaps they see him as an angry judge who lies in wait for them to sin, or someone so distant he doesn’t care. However, I crave his love, grace, and mercy.

“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good, I have made the Lord God my refuge” (Psalm 73: 28 NAS).

My days flow more smoothly when I stay close to the Father. Just like my kitty, I often “tap” my Father when I need love, wisdom, or an eternal perspective.

 

 

Cynthia L. Simmons
Cynthia L. Simmons

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former home-school mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She served as past president of Christian Authors Guild, directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference, and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio. Her author website is www.clsimmons.com.

Pursuing Gold
Pursuing Gold
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Devotional

A Time for Singing

Winters in Michigan, where I grew up, were long, cold, and dreary. Gray skies, leafless trees, and a colorless landscape made the winter months feel endless. Occasionally, the sun would peek out in March with a patch of blue sky that gave hope to a frigid existence.

Then came April. As daylight lingered a little longer and snow melted away, the sky became brighter and creation began to wake up.

I love that we celebrate Easter in the spring because it’s a celebration of new life. Just as brown grass turns to green, flowers sprout from the earth, and tree branches blossom with new foliage, the resurrection of Jesus gives new life to those who are spiritually dead. And the new life that Jesus gives to those who believe in him lasts through all eternity.

Even more than the blue skies and colorful flowers, what I loved most about spring was the melody of birds singing praises to their Creator from early morning until evening. This Easter, as we celebrate our new life in Jesus, may we join our feathered friends by praising the One who is worthy of our song.

Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land (Song of Solomon 2:12 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).

Mothers in Waiting
Mothers in Waiting

 

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Devotional

Practicing Patience

Practicing Patience

By Susan G Mathis

My husband has Parkinsons disease, so I am learning to employ a good deal of patience—the very thing I taught in my children’s picture book, Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya: Love is Patience —while we adjust to the challenges of such a terrible disease. God is never finished teaching us patience, so to that end, for all of us who need a bit of encouragement as we learn patience now or in the future, here are a few inspiring quotes that may help:

“God’s way of answering the Christian’s prayer for more patience, experience, hope, and love often is to put him into the furnace of affliction,” Richard Cecil. Yup, I think surgery might be my furnace at the moment.

“We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world,” Helen Keller. What a woman she must have been!

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting,” Joyce Meyer. Very true. I’ll remember that when I have physical therapy. Smiles.

“Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses, and disappointments; but let us have patience, and we soon shall see them in their proper figures,” Joseph Addison. Hmmm. Got to ponder this one.

“I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience, and to respect the fury of nature,” Paulo Coelho. Interesting.

“Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character,” Heraclitus.

When all is said and done, may you and I be found with a new measure of patience and stronger, more godly character that will bless others, especially God.

 

Dear Lord, Help us learn patience more and more each day. In Jesus name, Amen

 

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is the vice president of Christian Authors Network and the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and former Editor of 12 Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

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Devotional

Spiritual Needs

Spiritual Needs 

By Susan G Mathis

It’s always good to revisit your spiritual needs—individually and as a couple—and discuss how each of you can help meet those needs. As we grow and mature, our needs often change, so it’s good to adjust to them accordingly.

First, if you haven’t already, find a church and commit to attend regularly. Next, be sure to pray together. For some, this isn’t easy, but start by saying a prayer before meals. Then you can learn to pray at other times and for other things—for safety on a trip, for God’s will, and for His plan for your marriage. If you’ve let either of these fall by the wayside, reignite your commitment to prayer and fellowship.

Third, plan to grow spiritually together. If you aren’t in one, find a Bible study or small group with other couples with whom you can “do life” together. If your church doesn’t have a group, start one!

Fourth, find another couple and ask them to mentor you. Meet with that couple every few weeks or monthly. Be honest, transparent, and inquisitive. Ask them how to deal with issues you’re encountering. Seek their advice on struggles you may have. And be accountable to them for your walk together as well as individually.

Fifth, but possibly the most important, maintain your covenant commitment to God and to each other. Choose, daily, to maintain and develop your walk with God through faithfully growing in His ways. It’s not always easy, but who expects that everything should be easy?

Finally, realize that, as you grow and mature spiritually, these needs will continue to change. Life is ever changing, and so is your spiritual life.

 

Dear Lord, It’s easy to get so busy we forget grow together spiritually. Help us draw closer together by making You the very center of our lives. In Jesus name, Amen

 

Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness  and Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved.

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is the vice president of Christian Authors Network and the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and former Editor of 12 Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

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Devotional

Sunday Reflection: Humility: The Missing Virtue

In our society, it is easy to conclude that humility is a missing virtue. People elbow others to scramble up the ladder of sucess. Others proclaim themselves to be the god or godess of their own lives– while others would never say it out loud– but their actions show a disreguard for their Creator.

But humility isn’t just missing in our times, we can look back to the Old Testement and see there were seasons that even the nation of Israel failed to honor God as their Lord and Leader. Whenever they sought to humbly follow God’s lead, things went well for them. Their economy flourished, their enemies backed off, their personal well-being improved and they lived in peace. However, whenever they arrogantly decided they had the right to devise their own way of living, God cared enough for their being that a progressive set of steps were set in motion to get them to return to humility.

God sent setbacks to motivate them, then prophets to warn them, and finally calamity to discipline them. Isaiah is one of those prophets who was attempting to get the attention of the nation. In chapter 5, verses 18-23, he presented a number of characteristics that help us recognize humility by describing what we ought to avoid:

  • The humble accept what is true. “Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit,
    and wickedness as with cart ropes.” (v. 18) What a graphic picture of a person who has a cart or trailer loaded with deceitful schemes who is defiantly looking for a way to put them into practice. Rather than dumping the load and replacing it with worthwhile goods, he is defiantly looking for a market for the products that will help no one.
  • The humble are patient. “[Woe] to those who say, “Let God hurry; let him hasten his work
    so we may see it.” (v; 19) Many people confuse God’s historic patience with inability. They think, since He isn’t doing it right now, He can’t do it. The humble realize it is never a question of power. It is simply a matter of timing.
  • The humble call good things good. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” This is the age old argument between God’s ways and man’s ways. Ever since the fall of mankind, people have loved the darkness and have searched for ways to justify whatever they want to do. Humility says, “I didn’t create life so I must accept it the way it is. I don’t have the right to redefine life but I do have the privilege of enjoying the good things God has made.”
  • The humble are willing to learn. “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (v. 21)
  • The humble love sobriety and self-control. “Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks.” (v. 22)

It seems almost too simple to be a problem. If you were ask people, “Do you want to do what is true, be a patient person, love what is good, be willing to learn and possess self-control?” You would expect most people to say, “Yes.” In action, however, most of us have done the opposite.

In humility, we must accept that we are no different today. We too need to choose to be humble. Today we need to be determined to wait on God. Today we need to be willing to learn. Today we need to bow to God’s will and God’s ways. Today, we need to choose the positive actions of

A Couples’ Journey with God
Harvest House

those who are humble.

 

Pam and Bill on beach
Pam and Bill Farrel

Pam Farrel is a woman redeemed by God, a woman who knows that apart from the power of the Creator, she would be a “hot mess”. She is grateful that God gives her the privelege to write and speak to encourage and equip people to live “Love-Wise” . She is also grateful for Bill, her husband of 38 years, with whom she wrote the devotional today’s blog comes from: A Couples’ Journey With God. (Harvest House)

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Devotional

Lessons from Little Ones

Lessons from Little Ones

By Susan G Mathis

Children have so much to teach us. Last week I spent time with four young families. One had a newborn who slept peacefully in my arms while I gooed and giggled over every infant face she made. She was content. I want to be content too.

Another family had four busy little ones ages 3-7. The twin three year olds presented me with “gifts” of scribbled drawings that I just can’t throw away. I want to give others more gifts—gifts of myself—even if they are a bit scribbly.

The third family has a six month old, a five year old, and a seven year old. The five year old is a bug-crazy boy who just had to show me his “pet” fly. The six month old worked and worked to roll over and grab a plastic bowling pin, and we all were in awe when she accomplished her feat. And the seven year old read a book to me, and I marveled at the miracle of reading. I want to always be in awe of the wonder of life like these sweet kids.

Then I got to Skype with my grandchildren, the most precious part of my week. They are curious, funny, busy, energetic, inquisitive, and always learning. We laugh and talk and read books and blow kisses. We connect and reconnect on a deep and loving level. And it fills my soul in ways that nothing else can.

Each one of these children is a special and unique gift to me, and each one reminds me to step back from cooking and cleaning and pay bills and all the grownup busyness of life and to take time to be inspired at the beauty of Pikes Peak or create a story or dream or really enjoy moments with loved ones. Time with children not only helps me to reorient to what really matters but also enjoy my days so much more.

Contentment. Giving. Wonder. Learning. Growth. Love. These are what each child teaches me, and I want to apply all of them to my relationships with God and others. Good lessons, kids.

 

Dear Lord, Help us to be like little children, content, growing, loving and learning more about You everyday. In Jesus name, Amen

 

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is the vice president of Christian Authors Network and the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and former Editor of 12 Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

 

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Devotional

Just Being

Just Being

By Susan G Mathis

Just being. Just being together. What a sweet gift it is to just be together! What a sweet gift we can give to others in this busy world.

Sometimes just being means sitting alone, quietly praying or thinking or dreaming. At other times, just being together means holding the hand of the one you love, resting in the knowledge that you are loved.

Sometimes just being together means enjoying a rowdy Skype visit filled with little girl laughter and love and joy. Sometimes it means taking time to call your elderly mother to hear about her day. And sometimes it means resting in the healing process God has for you.

Our crazy world is so busy, busy, busy. It consumes our thoughts and actions far too much. We push ourselves to go a hundred miles an hour so that we can everything done, and we nearly crash and burn. Stress fills our lives and the beauty of just being gets lost in the shuffle.

So what will it take to change us? For me took thumb surgery and complications that forced me slow down. And it’s taken a little girl to remind me to just be.

Johnny Diaz has a great song called, “Breathe” that has blessed me during this time. He suggests that we rest at God’s feet and take some time to fill our lives with the One who gave us breath in the first place. He implores us to “lay down what’s good and find what’s best.” What good counsel this is!

 

Dear Lord, In this crazy, busy world, help us to slow down and just be. In Jesus name, Amen

 

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is the vice president of Christian Authors Network and the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and former Editor of 12 Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

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Sunday Reflection: A Great Mother

Jesus had a great mother.

She said “Yes!” to the angel when it was explained that the Spirit would overshadow her and she would conceive. (She was a very young mother)

“I am the Lord’s servant…May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).
She endured social ridicule because she was seen as a woman who became pregnant while still engaged. (People didn’t get the emaculate conception yet)

She rode a donkey in travel the days leading up to his birth. (This would be a sacrifice even if she was not expecting)

“You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)

She had to go hunting for a son who was busy doing his father’s business in the temple. (There were no Amber Alerts to help her find her bright and bold missing son)

43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:43-49)

She followed Christ as he ministered. (It is hard on we moms to switch roles from being the leader of our child to one where the grown child leads us)

She took her broken heaert to the foot of the cross and watched her kind, perfect son be crucified by an ungrateful mob and the immoral ruling soldiers and leaders.

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother” (John 19:25)

She waited, in hope, for three days, to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to rise again.  She went to the tomb to annoint his body. (She hoped for the best, prepared for the worst. Waiting as a mother is a very hard thing– but waiting for an “overcoming death” miracle must be the hardest of all).

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; (John 16) 

She had a weeks with her son, then she most liekly watched him glorified and enter heaven– never to return in her lifetime. (A mom laways misses a grown child, but a child in heaven when you are still one earth is one of the most difficult duties a mother can endure.)

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:9)

I had a great mom too. She followed Christ’s example in that she sacrifced much to keep her three children safe when her husband would drink too much, rage too long, and embarrass with his behaviors too often.

Chances are you have a great mom too. And even if she is not all that great, she is great for one very important reason– she gave you life! 

So call her! Thank her! Send her flowers!

Happy Mother’s Day

Pam Farrel is a grateful daughter, author of 45 books she happily wrote late at night and early in the morning to buy groceries for her three athlete sons who ate bags and bags of graoceries– but have grown into great godly sons who call their mother for Mother’s Day. Pam is the author of several parenting books including 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make. 

Farrel family
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Devotional

Sunday Reflection: A Heart after God

It is all about the heart:

“the LORD looks at the heart. (1 Sam. 16:7)

David was called “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam 13:14)

And we pray with the Psalmist,  “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

A few of the Psalms in my Discovering Hope in the Psalms Bible study captures the kind of heart God is looking for:

God is looking for thirsty hearts.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2)

This word picture is of a deer searching, longing, desperate for living water to quench her/ his dying thirst. To me it is much like the kind of person Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the mount that God wants to bless: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6)

God is looking for contrite hearts.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)

Broken in this verse means to “shatter into tiny pieces”. And contrite is to “crush to bits” I like to picture this as the tiny pieces of stained glass that in the hands of an artist becomes a magnificent work of art, more beautiful and valuable after it has been broken. In my life, many of my mentors have served as the artisans that God has used to put my life back together.

God is looking for grateful hearts

Enter his gates with thanksgiving   and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations
(Psalm 100:4- 5)

People with grateful hearts, seek out spending time with others who want to thank and praise the goodness of God.  All the many mentors of my life have taught me to be grateful, thankful, appreciative of every moment of time someone has shared with me, sacrificed for me, so I could learn to know God better.

Pam Farrel
Heart for God

Maybe today, thank God for drawing your heart to Him, and thank those who helped you along the way to have a heart that is fully God’s.

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 45 books, most recently Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experieince, and she is one very grateful and thankful woman– who prays she will always keep a whole heart for God. www.Love-Wise.com