Who is Jesus? - He is the Creator

" All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." John 1:3 NKJV

When God created the world in the beginning, Jesus was there, and all things were created through Him, through the Word. Jesus is the Creator.

What does that imply for me personally? Jesus is My Creator, My Maker. Without Him I do not exist. He is the Potter and I am the clay. He designed me, He owns me. With great care, He has molded me and still keeps on molding me to be image-bearer of God according to the initial design.

Have I allowed Jesus to be My Creator? That means He should have all authority over me, He can do whatever He wants with me, He can have His way with me. This authority belongs to Him by right, and yet, He is not forcing it on me, He wants me to decide to invest Him with this authority. We serve a gentle and humble God!

Am I ready to surrender everything, my dream, my desires, my rights, my expectations, my plans, my agendas and let Jesus shape me as He desires? In the molding process, we know He will apply pressure to get the right shape and will reshape us over and over again. But we can trust in His great love for us, He will do the molding with great care. We do not know what the final product look like but we can trust in His higher ways and higher thoughts and His perfect design for us.

Prayer: Close in prayer thanking Jesus for creating you and designing you to be a perfect image bearer of the loving God. Thank Him for loving us too much to let us remain as we are and for desiring to mold us to be conform to the original design. Reflect on what it means to invest Him with the full authority to have His way in you and surrender yourself to Him.

 

Submitted by: Mia Randria

I am Mia Randria, a recently born again christian, a wife and a mom. And I need Jesus.
In my blog, I write devotionals and perspectives about Christian walk and learning from and about Jesus.

https://ineedyoujesusblog.wordpress.com/

https://ineedyoujesusblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/who-is-jesus-2-he-is-the-creator/

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Sharing Our Christian Faith

As Christians, one of our priorities is to declare and spread our beliefs, our rich heritage, and the truth. "Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!" (Psalm 96: 2-3.) The faith is not a practice designated solely for within the walls of our churches. It is meant to be lived out to the fullest.

Christ and our faith should be the most important part of our earthly lives. Not only is it our duty to share our Christian values through social media and physical one-on-one conversations. But we also must be examples to the rest of the world in our deeds and actions. We must not be hypocrites; we must actively show that we are living what we believe and teach.

Lord Jesus, You are always ever present in every place on earth, but many do not know You or do not recognize Your face. Help us spread the good news in a friendly way to everyone we meet. Amen.

 

Submitted by: John Tuttle

I'm a young guy living in the little town of Cherry Valley, Illinois. I love God, family, and friends. And I am passionate about writing, photography, and video-making. I wish to pursue a career in the media.

http://www.pixoto.com/johntuttle1

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9Ib3Zx3mfomfcVFdrhgjlA/featured

https://scriggler.com/Profile/john_tuttle_john_tuttle

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How Helping The Poor Exemplifies GodHow Helping Th

 

Throughout The Bible, there are many passages in its various books about helping the poor. God always tells us in his words that we are to go out and help those who are less fortunate in the world. The precept has proven to be one of the cornerstones of not only Christianity but many other religions. While God has been active in various religions, he has spoken to Christians directly through his many prophets and disciples.

In Proverbs 22:9, God tells us very directly that we should seek to help others if we are fortunate: “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.” The book states very directly that we should help those who have not had the good fortune we have had. Proverbs tells us again to help others who have not been as lucky as us in an earlier passage. In Proverbs 19:17, God told us: “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” God's telling us to assist others is part and parcel of what he expects us to do every day in this world. If that means someone has a drug addiction and needs assistance from Christian drug rehab facilities, that is what God expects us to do

As humans, God envisioned we would lift one another up. He never wanted us to tear each other apart. He believed the support we gave one another could make us something extraordinary. With all the discontent in the world, Acts 20:35 is even more explicit in telling us God's message to the human race: “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Jesus, who is God in human form, told us these that we need to remember that giving to others is more important than what we receive.

This whole impetus of God's grew into holiday celebrations such as Christmas, Easter and one another's birthdays. We, as humans, created these holidays to represent Jesus' message and to remind us every year that we need to make sure to give to one another. Even if people only do it for a short time, it's still better to give a little bit.  It would benefit us all to make the spirit of the holidays happen every day. This could include when someone struggles with substance abuse and needs help from Christian drug rehab facilities. If we did that, we might be able to reduce poverty and lift one another's spirits.

Submitted by: Tommy Zimmer

About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery and the entertainment industry.

https://www.eliterehabplacement.com/drug/rehab/christian/

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+22:9&version=ESV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+19:17&version=ESV

You will not be left behind

Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." John 5:8

In John chapter 5, we read a story of a sick man. It's a story we have been listening to since our Sunday school time. This man had been laying at the pool of Bethesda for a very long time. He probably spent the best part of life in despair and in a hopeless situation as he had been sick for 38 years. He was lying on a porch waiting for the moving of the water, but whenever the angel came down into the pool and stirred up the water, somebody always stepped down before him. He missed out last 38 chances to be healed. After waiting for so long and being disappointed each time, he probably gave up on himself. There was no one to help take him into the pool. He probably was tired of waiting for a miracle for himself. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he already had been in that condition for a long time, Jesus asked him if he really wanted to get well.

Expecting a miracle can be so challenging when we have waited for a quite long time being in a same condition. It’s very easy to believe that nothing will ever change; we will remain the same. We kind of find a compromise with our crisis. We give up on our lives, our dreams, and probably even we give up on God. It looks like we are just fine with our crisis. We let it go. It doesn't seem like we ever want a change, a miracle or a blessing from God.

He says to Jesus that he has no one to help him into the pool when the water is stirred. While he is trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of him. Many times we blame other people for our inability, our lack of progress and our problems. Other people goes ahead of us and we remain in the same situation. Someone else is promoted and we are often miss out on opportunities.

Dear friend, I don't know which crisis you are struggling with for a long time. You may feel like giving up, feel like compromising with it and feel like there is no hope, no one is there to help you out. You have missed out on many opportunities. Others have gone ahead of you and you remain in the same situation. It may look like you are just fine with your adversity.

Let me encourage you today. You will not be left behind. God is the one who defines your destiny. He has the answer for you. His ways are higher than our ways. In His time He will raise you up. You are probably still waiting for someone else to help you get into the pool, but the Lord himself will visit you. You were not created to drag through life constantly. He will raise you out of lack into abundance, out of sickness into healing, out of sorrows into happiness, out of curse into blessing and out of despair into His joy and peace. Hold on to your faith!

 

Submitted by: Elizabeth Livingston

I am Elizabeth Livingston. I love to share about Jesus and His Word to encourage others build their strong faith in Him in the midst of their challenges. I believe God has unique plans for each one of us and when we trust His promises for our lives, we can live a thriving life which brings Him glory. I am a wife, mother and a budding writer who wants to contribute her gifts to further God’s kingdom. I live in Trivandrum, Kerala the southern part of India.

https://elizabethlivingston.blog/2017/04/16/mrs-proverbs-31/
https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.livingston.334
https://twitter.com/wingsoffaith17

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Do You Know You Are God's Prized Possession?

 

Do you know that God considers you his prized possession?

Maybe you find that hard to believe. You may think that because of what you've done or what's been done to you that you are not special, that you are not worth much. You may have a negative self-image and you may compare yourself with others and believe they are so much better than you.

But the truth is that you are so much more than what you think you are. How do I know that? Because that's what the Bible tells me and if I want to know the truth about God and myself I go to the Bible. It's there I learn that being prized by God means that I am treasured, valued, cherished and much loved by him.

At the moment I'm reading the book of James, and rather than rush through it, I'm taking my time so I can really feed on it and digest it. It's taken me most of the week to read the first chapter, but it's been a good investment of my time. It's why today I'm writing about being God's prized possession. In James 1:18 it says "He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession." (NLT)

Why are you and I God's prized possession?
1. God lovingly created you and me. Who we are is no accident. God was deliberate about the way he made us, choosing our character, our nature, the skills and abilities we would have. No two of us are like. Each one of us is unique, specifically created by God and for God.  

"13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvellous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed."  Psalm 139:13-16 (NLT)  

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 8:6 "But for us, there is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live." (NLT)

2. Not only does God prize us, treasure us, consider us as special because he created us, he also showed how much he prizes us because he paid the highest price imaginable for you and for me. The cost was huge but God believed us worth the cost. What was the price he paid? He gave his son, Jesus, so that you and I could be his prized possession.  

Paul also wrote "Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honour God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)

God sees us just as we are. He sees the image we give to the world and he knows us from the inside. He knows our flaws, our weaknesses, our strengths and our potential. Knowing all these things, knowing us as we truly are, God still calls you and me his prized possession.

We are not to live as though we belong to any other person, whether they are a friend, parent or spouse. If we do, we open ourselves up to being mistreated, misused and abused. We don't need to spend our life trying to win the approval or acceptance of others, or trying to be who they want us to be.

We do belong to God and as his prized possession we can trust him completely. He cares for us, protects us, watches over us and wants the best for us. He wants us to become the person he created us to be. He has our best interests at heart.

So, what is the outcome of knowing we are God's prized possession?  

First, I believe it gives us a right perspective of ourselves. We have no need to compare ourselves with others, to think less or more of ourselves than we should. Not only does it change the way we think about ourselves, it also changes the way we behave. We want to bring glory to God in the things we do, to choose to do those things which are honourable, good and right rather than mistreating our bodies or doing what displeases God.

The Message paraphrase of Galatians 5:4-5 says this "Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life."

Secondly, when we believe that every single one of us is God's prized possession, it has an impact on how we interact with others. Rather than being judgmental, critical, showing favouritism, or belittling others, we will see them as God sees them. We will recognise their worth and value, we will believe in their significance, we will accept them as they are. We will love and esteem them as God does.

To Think About:
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you believe you are God's prized possession. Today rest in that incredible truth.

When you know that you are God's prized possession what difference does it make to the things you say, the way you think and your behaviour?

What difference does it make to your interactions with others when you know that they too are God's prized possession?

 

Submitted by: Vickie Cottinngham

I live in the South East of England with my husband and our two teenage children.  God has blessed me with a love for His Word, for studying it and for sharing it with others.  He has also given me a joy of writing which led me to start my devotional blog a few years ago.

http://vickicottingham.blogspot.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/vickicottingham14/

You Can Do It! We Did! Family Living and Disabilities

Are you living in a storm? Especially one of physical challenges? Wondering if you and your family can survive? We did: you can, too.
My husband, Joe, and I recently celebrated our 50th anniversary. Of those fifty years, only in the first 12 short years was our family able to live normally. Then came my first totally disabling “injury” which turned out not to be an injury at all. Rather, it was a neuro-muscular condition that healed then turned into a slow downhill slide. That slow slide picked up speed these last few years until now the limitations, all together, are quite disabling.
We worked hard to maintain a healthy family life for our boys who were ten and seven at the time. Both are now professional men with successful families of their own. Even with my limitations, we participate in our grandkids’ lives, adapting activities as necessary. Too many times, though, I’ve had to sit by and watch the fun. Our family has been great about altering plans so I can be included. Yes, our life has been difficult, but we have enjoyed it anyway.
“My” disabilities are not just my problem: they

are OUR problem. We have both had to grieve the losses; it certainly hasn’t been the life we planned.
We have both had to give-and-take a lot. Maybe Joe more than me, since much of the housework has fallen to him - not his favorite activity!
I love to read and do computer stuff to occupy my time, but I very much miss carrying out what I perceive as “my” responsibilities.
Joe misses me joining him in the outdoor activities we love. We still camp, compensating as necessary, but hiking together is no longer possible. My husband pushed my wheelchair for years, and we went some wild places. I now have a scooter, so we do still “hike” together - the accessible trails. Then Joe hikes while I stay in camp.  
There has been much compromising and cooperating through the years. We have survived - even thrived - and now have great memories of fifty plus years together!
So, it is possible to live a happy, fulfilled life in spite of life-altering physical challenges. Be proactive. Stay flexible. Be imaginative as you adapt and compensate activities. Keep spiritual lines open.
God is our bedrock, our encourager, our strengthener. He has enabled us to navigate the pain and grief. He has allowed us to see our sons succeed despite a dysfunctional family. He has brought joy in our lives. May God bless you in your stormy journey.

 

Submitted by: Carole Griffitts

Carole Griffitts and her husband live in eastern Washington. They love outdoor activities and seeing family. They have successfully lived with the limitations from her invisible disabilities for nearly forty years. Carole writes her website, Navigating the Storms, for those living with invisible disabilities and for those who care about them. She lists tips and helps for both groups. She includes links for further information. She seeks to provide encouragement and community for those who struggle. Her goal is to see interaction between visitors.

https://www.navigatingthestorms.com/

http://www.navigatingthestorms.com/storm-dwellers/relational-issues/

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Imperfect, But Valuable

‘The world is quite skilled at assaulting us with countless messages—overt and covert—about how to measure our worth.’

I couldn’t agree more with Michele Cushatt, when I read the above words on her blog post recently. Moment by moment we are told to define ourselves by:
Where we live
What we wear
What we drive
Who we hang out with
How much our net worth shows.


Unfortunately, ‘too often we listen, we buy in. And we frantically try to do what is demanded of us.’ We do our best to fit into the mold, foregoing things that matter most in the process, only to discover either the mold is not what it is cracked up to be. Or a ‘better’, ‘enhanced’ substitute has been proffered. In frustration, masked and suppressed by a renewed resolve we strive on to succeed ‘against all odds’.

Life, yours inclusive, is imperfect. In spite of all the enhancements man cooks up it can never be perfect.
But who says imperfection is not okay?
'Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.'
- Annette Funicello

You are imperfect but very valuable, even if it is to just one person on planet earth. Your achievement may seem insignificant; you may even see yourself as a failure, yet you can add value to another.

It does not take lofty pursuits and grand achievements. Value is added mostly through seemingly insignificant actions and words. Their impact is far-reaching because they are carried out and uttered in love.

The task may be menial, and seem unimportant.
The gesture may be trivial and insignificant.
Provided it is done in love, It’s the wisest investment;
Based on the greatest commandment –
Love,
Birth in us from above.

Everyone is capable of love.
A penniless beggar can offer a smile. (This can achieve much more than you know).
You can offer a listening ear to a friend even though you are broke.
It does not have to cost you a kobo to be kind.

Don’t define yourself by what you have achieved or amassed for yourself. Decide today to make your life count by adding value to others. Intentionally. That is what makes you valuable.

'Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.'
- Jesus Christ (Luke 12:15)

What are some of the ways life has been erroneously defined?

 

Submitted by: Jenom Makama

Jenom Makama is a Son-worshipper, husband and father of three, blogger and avid reader, food and people enthusiast. I inspire people to be authentic by choosing truth, through my blog.

https://jenomm.com/

https://twitter.com/jenomm

https://web.facebook.com/jenomsmusings

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Distractions: The Enemy's Toys

I have found it takes more effort to make sure I have my time with Jesus. Distractions seem endless.

I don't have a busy  life with a work schedule,  or children to care for like many of you. I have a home to manage, a husband to keep happy and a mini farm for pleasure which requires the responsibilities of caring for animals. It is a joy, not work.

However, I want more than anything, to keep the Lord first in my life in all I do. But there seems to be those days that every time I am giving my devotional time to God... "things" crop up.

Unexpected visitors, text messages that could come at any other time of the day. A phone call which isn't important. The long list of "to-dos" for the day. Before I know it, the day is almost to its end, and I have only managed light conversation with the Lord, instead of the deeperror times where all is quiet and I  become aware of His presence.

A time that is sacred, set apart for only Him and one through which I am renewed, regenerated, and reaffirmed that "All is well with my soul". A time where I  am caught up in the beauty of His presence and He speaks to me of all that is on my heart. Appealing time I  feel enveloped in Him, and never want to  leave that place.

As I take notice of the things which distract, I quickly assimilate them to gnats at a picnic. Nothing big, but just enough to take your mind off of the joyful time at hand. I then realise it is my old nemesis, the "mini-god" of this world using his pitiful annoyances to steal my time with God.

His objective? Create enough subtle distractions so I can't start my time with the Lord, because he knows as I don't fill myself with God and the things of God,  which keep my spirit fed and my soul at rest, I become vulnerable to him. Susceptible to his attempts to steal all that God wants to give.

So, now, the phone is off. A sign on my bedroom door which reads "Prayer in Progress ", and as for the unexpected visitors... they are learning to call in advance.

No day can be its best without the Creator of it orchestrating first.

Don't let the enemy play with his toys on God's time... which is all the time

Submitted by: Kristal Dollar

Https://kristal-dollar.squarespace.com

Passion for The Passion

I have to say right off, that I’m passionate about The Passion.

It all began for me at the age of nine. Our family was part of a new church plant in Miami, FL back in the 50’s. The church had invited a special speaker who was also a chalk artist. On one particular evening he spoke about the cross and Christ’s substitutionary death for us. It wasn’t just the words he spoke that penetrated the heart of a 9-year-old boy, but the drawing he made that so powerfully displayed the sufferings of Christ in this amazing demonstration of love and grace.

My Passion journey continued as this church, throughout my youth, would charter a bus each Spring and take us to the Lake Wales Passion Play in Lake Wales, Florida. This was the same organization that put on the Black Hills Passion Play in South Dakota. I’ll never forget the sights, sounds, and smells of that outdoor amphitheater as once again, in dramatic fashion, I saw and felt the impact of that demonstration of God’s love and grace. The re-enactment of the last week of the life of Christ, his mock trial, his crucifixion, and His resurrection, made an indelible and lasting mark on the life of this teenage boy.

As I grew older, I had the opportunity to participate in church and college choirs where we would perform Easter Cantatas or sing Handel's Messiah with a community choir, and once again the majesty and splendor of The Passion would overwhelm me.

One experience I will never forget was attending an Easter musical at a huge church in Orlando. Our family was ushered in and seated on a center aisle. As we took in the music and pageantry, we could not be prepared for what happened. The procession of Jesus carrying the cross, surrounded by Roman soldiers, came right down the aisle where we were seated. Tears ran down my face as I once again, was enraptured by God’s great love.

So how was it that Jesus could have suffered such agony. Yes, we know that God so loved the world and sent Him… that He bore our sins on that cross… but I continued to contemplate His sacrifice. That’s when I thought about this scripture:

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:12 NASB

I began to ponder that phrase, “... who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” Then I realized that the joy set before Him was you and I… knowing that we would place our faith in His finished work on the cross and become part of God’s forever family!


I then thought about the joy set before me… Heaven… streets of gold and that face-to-face presence with Jesus.

I asked myself the question, “What is it that I can endure… what struggle is it that I’m working through, that I can overcome by the joy that is set before me?”

I began to press in even deeper and thought about this scripture:

“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Matthew 9:36 KJV

“Who is it I see? What situation am I aware of that I can be moved passionately, like Jesus, to meet a need, to show love, to encourage?” You see, Jesus endured the cross because of what He saw and had compassion. And it wasn’t just an emotional feeling or an expression of sympathy. He was MOVED to act… to do something… and He did.

I’m convicted that this Easter, this Passion Week, we should take the opportunity, or better yet, make the opportunity to passionately serve others the way Jesus did… to make an eternal difference in someone else, who can be raised from death, to walk in a brand new life. May God help us to be passionate for others in the same way our Savior was and is for us

Submitted by: Pastor Bruce Turner has been a part of Christian Care Ministry for 13 years (14 in June), serving as a Development Manager for 12 of those years. He current works remotely from his home in Lynchburg, Virginia.

blog.mychristiancare.org

Finding Perfect Peace In A Perfect Storm

His marriage was going through a massive storm. Financially, well, let’s just say he was living by faith. Did I mention that he had just buried a teenage daughter? But every time I met him, he was smiling from ear to ear.
I was confused. I knew what he was going through. He wasn’t supposed to be smiling. If anything, he had the right to be bitter at the world. He was entitled, dare I say, to be angry at God. But he wasn’t. And that’s what  baffled me.
 

The Secret to Perfect Peace

I just had to ask. And so I did. I wanted to know his secret, the secret to perfect peace in the midst of such turmoil.
His answer?

Isaiah 26:3
You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.

I was still  perplexed. So he explained it to me as a father teaches a child the basic elements of life.

#1 Have a Steadfast Mind
 

Perfect peace comes from a steadfast mind. A mind that is always focused on the ultimate and not the immediate. A mind that is concerned about the eternal outcome and not the temporary distractions.

A steadfast mind is focused on the immutable word of God.
A steadfast mind understands that the storm is around me, not in me. Therefore my peace remains intact.
That all sounded good but I couldn’t understand how one develops that steadfast mind. He took me to step 2.
 

#2 Have Unshakable Trust in God

A steadfast mind comes from trusting in God. That trust is developed through an intimate relationship with Him. This is the crux of the matter; a relationship with God.
It is impossible not to trust God if you know Him. No matter how fierce the storm may be, it’s always comforting to know that your life is in the hands of He who is greater than any  tornado. That is why Jesus could sleep despite the  tempest that was ravaging the boat.
Trust in God is  centred on love. Not our love for Him, but His love for us. If He could love you so much as to protect you by giving up His Son, surely He can’t allow a storm to destroy you.
 

Perfect Peace Is A Reality

It is very possible to have perfect peace in a storm. No matter how fierce the  blizzard may be, have a stead fast mind. God WILL see you through. A mind and unshakeable trust will anchor your peace.
I learnt a lot from that conversation that day. I  learnt to have perfect peace in the midst of storms. It is my prayer that you too will find the peace many of us have found in Jesus. That peace is real. You too can enjoy it.
Prayer

Father in Heaven, thank you for the peace that you have made available to me through Jesus. Help me to have a steadfast mind. Help me to have unshakeable trust in you.
In Jesus Name I pray.

 

Kato Nkhoma is a seasoned teacher of the word with exceptional biblical insight. He has been pastoring full-time for over a decade and is a husband to one wife, Alakanani, and father to two wonderful children.

Kato is currently serving as a missionary in the northern part of Botswana. He has authored 2 books on Amazon and also dabbles in freelance writing.

amazon.com/author/katonkhoma
@katonkhoma
faithcontentwriter.com

Through Ocean's Deep

My friend Vera gets really passionate about the song "Oceans" by Hillsong United.  If you ever hear her talk about the song she will say something like this:

"Do you know what you are really singing and praying when you sing Oceans?

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander”

Do you know what you are really singing? “Wherever You may call me?”
That can be the place that I'm terrified to go! That's a really big prayer!"

Over the years I have asked God more than a few of those "really big prayers". 

I want to share two of them with you though. I'll talk about the first one in a second, but the second one was for a deeper love of Jesus.

The first prayer was back in October of 2014.  I was at a board meeting for work and one of our board members was delivering a devotion. He shared a question that he had recently asked himself.  You know those questions that when you hear them it feels like you got smacked in the face with a Mack truck.  That’s what happened when I heard this question: “Who are you Jesus that the slaughter of the innocent was worth it?”

Bam. Smacked in the face by the Mack truck. At the time of Jesus’ birth, He was so anticipated among His people that the King ordered the death of innocent little ones in an attempt to eradicate Jesus. He was only a baby, yet His reputation was great and His name was feared!

"Who are you Jesus that the slaughter of the innocent was worth it?"

I took a few days to really reflect on that question.  I even made a list of who Jesus has been to me.  A few of the truths on the list were my worth, my freedom, my encouragement, my authority...  On September 19, 2015 I added a couple truths to the list. He is my Rock, and my Comforter.  Those are truths that are in scripture, and I knew that. But they just weren't as real to me.

On September 19th I found out that I was having a miscarriage that had begun a couple days before.  I didn't know I was pregnant and I thought what I was going through was a result of something else. However, after a conversation with a friend I was on the phone with my doctor, and I took a pregnancy test to confirm the miscarriage and then was on the way to the ER.  I am pretty sure I have never cried so much in my life.  One minute you have one child, one minute you have two but you will never meet the second on this side of eternity. No time to celebrate the pregnancy, just sadness.  I remember cuddling with Charlie a few days later and feeling that there was someone missing from my other arm. I'm not going to lie, it was really hard emotionally.  Tears would just flow. But in the midst of all the tears, God's presence and love was undeniable.  While in the hospital, in the middle of tears and uncertainty, I felt more peace than I had ever felt in my life.

Over the days that passed God showed me 3 pictures that led me to know Him in new and deeper ways.  The first was a picture of me trying to make my way through sifting sand, and I never made my way through.  

The second was a picture of me standing on a Rock with my arms up in worship.  He was giving me a choice.  "You can do this on your own and not make it through, or lean on Me and let Me be your Solid Rock."  We all have that choice.  Are we going to struggle through sifting sand, or stand on the Rock?

The third picture He gave me was a picture of Jesus holding me like a parent would cradle their newborn child.  When I saw that, I cried (I cried a lot).  I know what it’s like to love your child, and to know that I know that I know that Jesus was holding me like His child through my pain was overwhelmingly beautiful.

"As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you."  Isaiah 66:13

When I prayed those 2 prayers earlier in the year, I never knew where they would lead. I never knew the love that God would lavish on me through times of pain.  I never knew His strength.  

But now I know He is MY Rock and MY comforter.

 

I have read over my journal over the years and one prayer keeps showing up "wherever you lead God, I'll go if it's for you."  It's a prayer that has uncertain results... a prayer that doesn't ensure protection, or safety, or an easy life.  Those are things that God never promises us.  He does promise that He is unchanging, and that He is our Comforter, He is our Rock, and He was overcome the darkness.  He is worth it!
What if God allowed you to walk through some really deep waters to have you experience a deeper knowledge of who He is?  What if those deep waters would lead you to trusting without limitation?  Would you still sing?  What if He would allow you to walk through deep waters in order to reveal Himself in a new way?  If you knew He would allow it, would you still follow?

 

Jessica Schneider is a writer who has a deep love for Christ and a desire to follow where He may lead. In hopes to encourage women in their walks with Christ, she began blogging on her site The Path I Follow. She has a passion for her readers to know that they are loved by a beautiful Creator. Jessica currently lives in Norwalk, CT with her husband Mike, and two children, Charlie and Olivia. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, walks at the beach, helping with women’s ministry at her church, and relaxing on her parent’s boat. You can learn more about Jessica and read her weekly blog posts by visiting her website or FaceBook page.

Little Leaks Can Become Big Problems

About a month ago I had to do a job on my house that was no fun.

I had to re-shingle my roof. And when I say I had to do it, it means that I was the one who physically re-shingled the roof. I did not pay someone else to do it for me, though I wish I could have done that.


Inside the house we had several locations that were leaking some in the ceiling. One spot was so bad that if it rained very much at all, there was a steady stream of water dropping down. This had been occurring for nearly a year. Some of the 'small' leaks had been occurring for over a year, and for the most part were just ignored. My wife and I talked with several companies that does roofing and each cost way more than we could even think about paying any time soon. The cost of doing it myself was about one-fourth of the cost of the lowest charging company. Definitely worth doing it myself.


I was a little nervous about doing the job myself.

The roof has several sun lights, bathroom vents, a heater vent, fireplace vent, and attic vents. That is a lot of things to work around, even though the roof is not steep at all and easy to work on.
Along with that, I have done re-shingling only two or three times in the past and those times were under the supervision of someone who was experienced, and the most recent time was about 15 years ago.
After praying a lot about it, I felt that I needed to do it myself and trust God to guide my hands in the job. Looking at the job, it originally looked like a two-day job. In the end it took two days of sunup to sundown work, plus several six to eight-hour days of work to complete the job.
I was blessed one day with about fifteen college students being there to help out. Each day I had several of my own boys and one of my girls helping out. I also had a few days of some of their friends helping out.

As we began to pull up the shingles, which should not have been difficult, we started to have problems.

The shingles were stapled down, so much harder to pull up, and then we had to go through and pull all of the staples up. A very slow painful process.
Underneath of the shingles that were pulled up, we started to have to remove may different pieces of the decking that were rotted out, several of which a worker stepped on and it broke.
With a lot of back-breaking work, the job was finished. The roof is now re-shingled and is in good repair. There are no more leaks, and we have had some very severe rains to prove that.
Now why do I tell you all of this story? What is the purpose of this posting?
Glad you asked!


Looking back over time that we have lived in this house, we have seen signs of leaks for several years. There were little wet spots in several locations whenever it rained extremely hard. Since it did not leak every time it rained, or at least did not appear to leak, the leak was ignored. I did take note of it, and knew it would be a problem some day, but did not do anything about it, just left it.

One thing to note was just because I did not see the sign of leaks when it was a light rain, did not mean it was not leaking.

It was just that the attic area was not wet enough to let it seep through to the ceiling and be shown. The attic area was still getting wet and causing damage.
The damage being done was slow, but steady. Little by little the decking was being rotted away until it would fall apart and be worthless.
How does this apply to life?
Again, glad you asked!

If I would have taken time to find the leak on the roof and make the minor repairs, the major repairing of the entire roof may not have been needed.

It was in ignoring the small problems that the major problem came up. In life, there can be small problems that creep into our lives. Little things that come up and begin to create damage in our lives. Paul tells us to not give the devil a foothold. Although this is talking about holding onto anger, it can be in many other areas in our lives.
Allowing yourself to have a little taste of sinful pleasure can lead to a greater following of that sin. Each time you tell a lie, it becomes easier to tell another one. Each time you look at something you should not look at it, it becomes easier to look at it again. Each time you say something you should not, it becomes easier to say it again.


All of these things may not look that bad in the moment of here and now, but they will cause problems later in life.

Letting little sins in your life, will make room for larger, more open sinning. In the end it will pull you away from God further and further. There can come a point when you will no longer hear from God. When that happens, you begin to no longer live for God. The 'little' problem has become a major problem. As in the case of my roof, the small leak eventually caused major damage.
Starting today, be willing to throw off the sin that can entangle you. Embrace Jesus and His ways of living. If there is any 'small' leak in your life of sin, get it taken care of immediately. Do not allow it to build up in your life and cause major destruction and destroy you.
Jesus is here today to forgive you of your sins. The Holy Spirit is here today to guide you and give you strength to turn away from all sin. They will make the needed minor repairs now if you let them.

Submitted by: Tom Arn

Tom is happily married to his wife for nearly 25 years and has been blessed with eight wonderful children. He has been writing a daily devotional blog that goes systematically through the entire Bible for several years. His desire is for you to know Jesus and His Word more.

www.insightsfromtom.com

Faith, Love & Celibacy

We all want that special person, the person God has made just for us!

We also want to be prosperous and live our best lives being successful in every area! We want it all! In order to have all we desire in life we must live in a way that leads us to all God has for us.

Everyone’s life is different, we walk different paths to get to where we are supposed to be in our journeys. We learn lessons, we gain wisdom, we figure out what we truly want out of life, well most of us. There may be some people in the midst of figuring things out, where they are supposed to be, what they want to do and in what direction their life is headed. God is there is to lead and guide us along the way even when we choose a path that may not be good for us. When we look to Him He helps us to make good choices leading us to the life He designed just for us! When looking to God for guidance we must first have Faith!

Faith comes from God, this is not something we have to come up with ourselves.

God gives us Faith to help us believe what we cannot see. My faith started off very small, I had plans, things I wanted to do and most of the time I believed I could. Along the way a lot of my plans were not working out the way I planned so I made new plans. All along I was doing what I wanted and including God in some parts but not fully. Because of my plans I made a lot of mistakes, hooked up with some people who I probably shouldn’t have been hanging out with and learned some lessons the hard way. But even after all of that I had Faith that life had to be better, I knew there was more to life than what I had experienced. At this point I looked to God to include Him fully in every area of my life and not just some parts! I figured out after being hurt many times by so called friends, boyfriends and even family that I wanted to live the life God talked about in the Bible. The life He said He has already given us!

Seeming that I was at a turning point, holding on to past hurts and experiences God first taught me how to forgive. I am not just talking about saying “Sorry” or accepting someone’s apoli-lie! I mean really forgiving someone just like God forgives us! He wipes the slate clean, let’s go of the wrong we have done once we come to Him asking for forgiveness. This was a hard one for me, I am a strong believer in Karma and although I am not revengeful I couldn’t wait for those whom I felt had wronged me to “Get Theirs!” God showed me that forgiveness was not for the people who hurt me or treated me unfairly, it was for me! I was the one holding on to hurt and bad experiences. In order to live out the better life I had in mind, the life God designed just for me I had to forgive and let go!

Although I had learned to forgive, I closed myself off to people and my heart was hardened. God knew in order to live life His Way, Not My Way, His Way, I needed an open heart!

This is when God showed me what true Love is! The God kind of love is unlike any other Love I have ever thought I experienced in my life! It is everything you would look to a significant other for, a family member for or a friend for but end up disappointed time and time again. God’s love is enormous and unending! I now look at God’s love as a very special gift! God showed me before I experienced His love I never really knew what Love was and is! I am still overwhelmed when I think of how much God Loves me! He has proven His Love for me over and over again! Because of the Love God has shown me my heart changed and I now am able to receive things from Him that someone with a hardened heart would not be able to!  Love is an action and God taught me that!

Being guided by God through this transition I remember what it is was like to live my way and the difference of the life God was showing me He had for me! I remembered, starting in middle school when I was criticized for my looks and how that had somehow carried into my adulthood. I would be easily offended if someone said something about my size, my dark skin or worst of all the label “The Big Girl Who Can Dance” UGGGGHH!! I may not have said anything at the moment because at this point I was trying to change my flesh along with how God changed my heart but those things upset me.  God showed me my true self! Who I really am! Beautiful, Confident, Bold, Smart & Talented! If anyone said something different than what God said then I knew they were liars! Now I get compliments on the very things I was criticized for! I have even had encounters with jealousy because others wanted to look the same as I do! Who Knew!?! With this change in my heart, my characteristics and my life as a whole came self Love! I got to know the woman God created me to be and boy do I love her!!!

Once I got to know and really Love myself I begin to realize my worth and how much I had short changed myself over the years.

Dating & Relationships, I was always in one or doing the other but I would always end up alone. So after I had been hurt for the last time by someone who claimed they loved me, I decided to be Celibate! Woooooh Chill, Chill, that’s not a curse word, lol, maybe foreign but if you don’t know what that is Google it. I decided me giving my body to someone that I would not wind up with in the end was pointless. I was tired of getting hurt and being lied to just so someone else could get what they wanted! What about me? I want things too! I want a husband, my life partner, the man God made just for me! And in order to get to Him I have to be ready in all areas of my life! I have to be myself, knowing who I am and what Love really is! I cannot be caught up with another man  who is not my husband just to pass time and then as a result miss my husband! It has now been 5 years, yup that’s right 5 years and I must say I am on the right track! I do not regret for one second getting in partnership with God. He has and continues to increase my life in ways that I never imagined! He has and continues to protect my heart, so I do not fear being hurt! He has put me right where I am supposed to be at this appointed time! The people who are in my life are there for a reason!

No matter what the normal thing to do is, remember there is always something better! If it is within God’s plan then it is possible! Everything I have and am working for are coming to past! My hard times are minuscule and my success is great! God knows what He is doing! I trust Him to continue to help me along this wonderful journey! Stay Tuned! This is only the beginning!

XOXO
JB

Submitted by: Jessica Blount

31 years old single woman of God,Originally from Louisiana now located in Texas began blogging in 2014. Sharing my spiritual journey and life experiences, hoping to encourage others and help them see what living for God is! Promoting positivity and doing my best to be a good example in the earth! :)  http://faithtodivinelife.com

It's Going to Be OK

If I could tell you just one thing and have you really believe me, it would be this: “It’s going to be OK.”

 

Imagine what that would mean for your fears, your busyness, your perfectionism, your grief, your depression, and your anger. Imagine what it would mean in your daily life if you knew at the center of your being, in your very bones, that no matter what happened or what circumstances appeared to indicate, that things would really, truly be all right.

We know that kind of comfort sometimes as little children.

The first shock of our own red blood issuing from a brand new hole can be tamed by a parent’s calm reassurance that it’s going to be OK. Mom can mend the rip in your favorite shirt. Jimmy will get over the measles. Dorothy really will get back to Kansas. It’ll be OK. But somewhere before adolescence we learn that it isn’t always so. We learn that if we don’t fix it ourselves, it might not get fixed at all. The “C” stays on your report card. The broken window earns you a spanking. Your parents never do get back together. We learn that we live in a fallen world which can’t always be pounded into submission with a little more elbow grease and imagination. But we keep trying. Hence the fears, the busyness, the perfectionism, the grief, the depression, the anger.

Good news, friends. It’s going to be OK. It really is.

If you believe that God has spoken in the Bible, then you must believe this truth. Whatever has happened, whatever might happen, it all comes right in the end. It doesn’t matter whether you can see the solution for your particular tragedy; there is one, and your Father has it all in hand. A hundred years from now, you will see it, too, and you will laugh at your attempts to fix what God had already promised to redeem. Cry your tears and mop up the blood, but then crawl into your Father’s lap and know His gracious promise: it’s going to be OK. Our God ensures the end from the beginning, and because He does, we can live a life of confident hope. It’s going to be all right. It really is. "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32-33) Encouraging Reading: Romans 8 Psalm 33 Psalm 139: 1-16 Rev. 21:1-5

Submitted by: Louise Holzhauer

Louise Holzhauer, M.A., LMHC, LMFT, is an experienced counselor, wife, mother and cancer survivor whose own story propelled her into counseling later in life. She is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary with Master’s degrees in Biblical Studies and Counseling, she is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the State of Florida and is qualified to supervise interns in both fields. She currently works with two churches in the Orlando area and enjoys teaching women’s Bible studies, leading small groups, reading and babysitting her granddaughters. She blogs at dearchristiancounselor.com, and you can reach her at LHolzhauer@orangewood.org.

dearchristiancounselor.com

El Roi - God who sees me

In Genesis 16, we read about Hagar, the Egyptian slave of Sarah. 

God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of nations with descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky. After waiting for many years, Sarah convinced Abraham to sleep with her maid-servant Hagar to produce an heir. When Hagar became pregnant from Abraham, her meek manner changed to arrogance. She began to despise her mistress. As a result, Sarah treated her so harshly that she fled into wilderness.

There by a spring of water, she was found by an angel of God, who told her to return home and promised her that she would have many descendants through her son Ishmael. God had heard of her misery. She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me."Gen.16:13. She obeyed the voice of God and returned back as Sarah's servant. There she raised her son and perhaps grew in her walk with God. 14 years after the birth of Ishmael, Abraham's son Isaac the promised son was born to Sarah. One day Sarah saw that Ishmael was mocking Isaac. She feared that Ishmael would also share the inheritance with Isaac. So she decided to send Hagar and her son into the wilderness.

Alone and abandoned in the wilderness, Hagar was certain that she and her son would die.

Not only were she and Ishmael out of water, but they had also been cast out of their family. As a discarded concubine, her choices were too few. We read In Gen21:17 " then the angel called from heaven " don't be afraid, God has heard the boy crying as he lies there...and Hagar suddenly saw a well of water. God once again showed up for her. This sign of God's continued hand in her life must have given her a renewed hope and reminded her of God's promises in her life.

Using a concubine to bear an heir was a common practice in ancient times.But surely Abraham must have known in his heart that this was the wrong way to gain the heir God had promised. Hagar and Ishmael became victims of his actions. For when their home became a battlefield and a choice was required, Abraham's commitment to Sarah and Isaac took priority over Hagar and Ishmael. But God saw beyond their actions and compassionately took care of Hagar and Ishmael. God sustained them and was with Ishmael until he grew up.

Life Lesson - When the circumstances of life aren't fair, when we have been mistreated, when we have no other option but to run away, we must know that we have a God who sees.

He sees what others have done to us or spoken about us. He knows our misery. He hears the sound of our agony when our hearts are crying and no one else can hear it. Just as he watched over Hagar and Ishmael, He watches over us with compassion and a plan for our future. Many times running from a situation is the first thing we think of doing. We run because we can't handle the pressure, we run because we want a fresh start, we run because those in authority are the reason we are hurting. We run because we want to go where we are unknown and can start over. Instead of running from the situation if we ask God to intervene, He will surely help us to get through it. We serve a God who not only sees but He hears and restores us.

Submitted by:   Elizabeth Livingston

How to Unlock God's Call on Your Life

God has an undeniable calling on your life.

That is true on the days when you feel like your life has deep significance and is counting for eternity, and it is equally true on the days when you feel like you never accomplish anything more significant than tackling a pile of dirty laundry.

Paul says in Ephesians 4:1: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” The calling he speaks of was not exclusive to the church at Ephesus – you and I are included that “you”. You HAVE received a calling – strong and sure – from the Lord!

A calling from God does not necessarily mean you will become a full-time minister or be sent to Africa to do missions work.

A calling from God DOES mean that the sum total of who you are – your past, present, and even your future, your experiences, your failures, your pain, your hopes and dreams – has vast value in His Kingdom. Nothing is wasted.

A calling from God also means that He has lovingly crafted plans specifically for you to accomplish great things in His kingdom, and to fully embrace your life and daily live for His glory. Right now, no matter what your circumstances might say to the contrary.

HOW CAN WE UNLOCK THAT CALL?

Paul’s answer may surprise you like it did me! He doesn’t send us to a seminar, or ask us to make a list of all our top qualities that we can offer to God. Instead, Paul urges us to unlock the call by living in a manner that is worthy of it:

1. To live UP to our potential in Christ we must first lay DOWN our rights – “Be completely humble and gentle…(Eph 4:2)”

2. Walk out life with those around us in love and patience – “Be patient, bearing with one another in love (Eph 4:2)”

3. Be peacemakers and highly value unity in the Body of Christ – “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3)

The key to unlocking God’s calling on our lives is to turn from our pride and selfishness and turn to the humble, patient, Servant King, and thus become like Him.

He also unlocked God’s call on His life by laying down His rights, walking out life with those around Him in love and patience, and valuing unity among God’s people.  In that place of submission, and only in that place, we are living lives worthy of our calling.

In that place of humility and valuing others above ourselves, we are positioned for God to use us and expand the calling. And then look out – there’s not telling what God has in store! Whatever it is, it will be specifically tailored to your incredible uniqueness, and lovingly crafted with your gifts and talents in mind. In short, it will be something only God can accomplish. Will you join me?

“Father, I pray today that by your grace you would lead each one of us into the fullness of your call on our lives. Help us to walk away from our pride and selfishness, and to embrace humility, patience, loving kindness, and peace. Cause us to live lives worthy of your calling, and may your specific call on each our of lives be completely, beautifully, and joyfully fulfilled. For Your glory, amen.”

With faith, hope, and love,

Submitted by: Christine Sakwitz

 

Christine is the author of women's Bible studies and of the blog, The Beautiful Journey.  She wholeheartedly believes that no matter what our circumstances, we can begin to fully live intentional, high-impact lives for the glory of God!

She would love to connect with you at:

www.thebeautifuljourney.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liveyourlifefullynow
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/live_fully_now/

The Other (proverbs thirty-one) Woman

Lurking in the shadows cast by the spotlight illuminating the perfect wife and mother I tried to cross-stitch into a wall hanging over twenty years ago lives the other woman.

Our family affectionately refers to this woman as the "Proverbs 32" woman.

I am the other woman.

I do realize the mother instructing her son (in this case, the wise King Solomon) in Proverbs 31 was merely summarizing the general idea of a noble wife and mother, and there was no way she expected her son to find a mere mortal who could fit the bill in every single category every single day. But when you are an over-achieving perfectionist like me, you tend to read this beautiful description of the ideal and then proceed to beat yourself up with your otherwise useless cross-stitching hoops.

See, I am not a quilter, a SAHM, a chef, or an entrepreneur. These things are wonderful, but I am not them. Nor am I a trailblazer or a visionary. I am just an overtired legal assistant with a posse of kids and a messy house. How can I measure up?

Below are just a few of the portions I struggle with: 

She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.

Does Super Wal-Mart count? Since I usually go to Aldi, shopping at Super Wal-Mart gets me excited over brand-name cereals and a produce section where they mist their vegetables. And don't even get me started on the free samples.

She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

I'm sorry, but I do not get up before dawn except for those very rare occasions when I have a plane to catch, and then I sleep in my travel clothes the night before so I can pull back my hair, grab some coffee, and make it to the airport just in time for the pre-flight safety checks. My eyes do not even open all the way until I get inside the airport with its lights cranked up to a brilliance rivaling the appearance of a comet.

If only I had a couple of those aforementioned servant girls . . .  

She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.

Okay, now there is just no way to "get up before dawn" and also be "energetic and strong." No way. Not before Starbucks.

Waiter, I'll take what she's having, please.

Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.

I guess the fact that I couldn't even finish the cross-stitched wall hanging before getting bored to tears explains a lot about why I did not make it into Chapter 31. My sister-in-law ended up finishing that project for me, and her initials stitched above mine are an ever-present reminder of my handiwork shame.

She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.

She makes her own bedspreads?? Um, the last time I tried to make anything, it didn't exactly end as planned. Years ago, I got the wild and crazy idea to make bathrobes for my four daughters for Christmas. Believe it or not, they did actually turn out pretty well, if you didn't look too closely at the arms that were so long they would have been better suited for an adult male gorilla. 

She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.

Okay, I've got this part down pat. I watch over everything. EVERYTHING. I see every sock peeled off in the living room, every coat thrown over the dining room chair, and every dirty dish left in my kids' bedrooms. 

I have been accused of having the ability to SMELL dust. (To this I say, how can you NOT smell dust when it gets so thick your husband asks if you bought a new table runner?)

But my favorite part of all is towards the end. This part resonates with me on a deep and personal level, and it ties the entire chapter up into a pretty package tied up with a ribbon and says, "Here, take this. This is for you."

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the lord will be greatly praised.

See why I love this? At the end of the day, all that really matters is whether or not my priorities are straight and my heart is right.

If I've got that down, then I am measuring up perfectly to the ideal of who I was uniquely created to be. All I have to do is trust God knew exactly what he was doing when he created me and gave me my unique family and my specific talents (or lack thereof).

Then I can step out of the shadows and into the spotlight of Chapter 31.

And my husband and children shall call me blessed.

Flaws, shortcomings, and all.

 

Submitted by: Beth Cullett
Beth is a legal assistant who is married to a Marine-turned-minister and the mother of six children ranging in ages from 13 through 26.  When she isn't helping her husband in his ministry with Celebrate Recovery, she is a subpar housekeeper, mediocre pianist, avid reader, and budding writer.

http://shakingmydust.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-other-proverbs-thirty-one-woman.html

True Beauty

All beauty is only reflection.”  I read that today in Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and it struck me as an incredibly profound but rarely verbalized truth.  Our culture worships beauty – never more so than now.  And whatever we were born lacking, we can purchase on a payment plan.  We can change shape, size, eye color and hair color.  We can dewrinkle, fluff up, pouf out, and pay to look like we kissed the back end of every bee in a hive.

This kind of beauty – the kind that comes from a bottle or a syringe or a surgery – is it true beauty?  What about the beauty of a not-so-perfect looking, exhausted mother, tenderly caring for her special needs child day after day?

What about the beauty of utterly impoverished folk in a Third World country, walking mile after mile with no shoes to gather with other villagers and worship in grateful adoration?

What about the beauty of those who suffer for righteousness, whose stories and tears we will never know this side of Heaven?

These, I propose, are the faces of true beauty.  And if “all beauty is only reflection”, as the moon is but a reflection of the glory of the sun, then of WHAT is it a reflection?  Or perhaps, of whom?

I believe the answer lies in a seemingly paradoxical ancient writing by the prophet Isaiah.  He writes prophetically of the coming Christ, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” (Is. 53:2)

Isaiah had not yet seen this God Man who, pierced and beaten, staggered under the weight of the sins of the whole world.  Under the weight of MY sin.  He hadn’t seen the weary trudging of dusty miles, the nights of no roof overhead, the aching loneliness.  He wasn’t there when this Man of no physical beauty gave life and dignity back to the woman with the issue of blood.  He didn’t get to watch as, with love in His eyes, He reached out and touched the shunned and miserable leper and made him whole.  Isaiah wasn’t there when the muscled back was laid open by a cat-o’-nine tails, only to then have a crude, heavy wooden cross placed on it.  The bleeding brow, the agony of slow suffocation…here, my friends, is beauty.  He endured that for you.  He endured that for me.  Oh, how beautiful He is!  Had Isaiah been granted just a glimpse, surely he would have asked how we could see anything BUT beauty in this consummate love and self-sacrifice.

Here is the beauty from which all other true beauty radiates.  And no matter what our past or our physical appearance, “We who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor. 3:18).

So there you have it.  As you reflect the Beautiful One, you are beautiful.  True beauty – beauty of spirit that far outlasts fleeting physical perfection.

Beautiful friend, go do some reflecting today.  The world needs to see you shine.

Written by:  Christine Sakwitz
Christine is the author of The Beautiful Journey blog, women's Bible study writer and teacher, and homeschooling mom of two critter-loving children.  She has been happily married for 23 years and is passionate about equipping and encouraging women to live full, joyful, high-impact lives.

She would love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter (Live_Fully_Now), or via email at chris@thebeautifuljourney.com.

When I am Weak

I can remember when the shocking reality hit. No matter how hard I was going to try, or work, I was never going to dance again. Being 17, grief wheeled itself within. Why’s filled my head as I tried to comprehend what my life would be like now as a wheelchair bound teen. I, the stubborn one in my family, attempted with everything within to be as strong as I could. I didn’t want to be the weak one

 

As I struggled with the battle of accepting myself the Lord began to whisper sweet reminders to my soul. My heavenly Father reminded me so kindly and gently, “But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” (NIV, 2 Cor 2:19) It is not in our strength that God’s power is shown forth. Yet it is when we are willing to admit our weakness and lean on Him for strength when He is strong. 
 

Another verse that was so precious to me is, “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (NIV, PS. 147:10-11) These two verses spoke directly to my worn soul. I was a worn Christian. I was weak, and frail. Barely able to hold onto Him anymore. Nonetheless He began to draw my sickness torn soul to himself and whisper, “Eliza, do you see that verse. I say that I do not delight in the legs of men. When I see your weak legs, it doesn’t change what I think of you. Instead, I look at the heart.”

This verse rocked my view of God and how He views weakness. God wants us to be weak, not that He brings about sickness or a loss of work to make us weak. However, God longs for a weak heart that is willing to submit to Him and Him alone.

So wherever circumstances you are walking through right now. Know that He, who can make strength from weakness is working with your life.

Written by:    Eliza Downer, a teacher by day and writer by night, can often be found hiking in nearby mountain ranges or sipping a cup of coffee. She currently resides in Colorado with her parents and 10 siblings.

Searching for Significance

Wycliffe Bible Translators has released a new free, 7-day devotional, "Searching for Significance", and it is available to download here!

We’re all searching for something in life. Whether you want to call it significance, purpose, meaning or something else, there is an innate desire in each of us for our life to matter — to have significance and purpose.

We want to explore that desire with you from a biblical perspective and dive into God’s view of your worth. That’s why we created a seven-day devotional, “Searching for Significance.” Each day we’ll explore a different part of God’s perfect plan for your life, and how he ultimately wants you to find purpose and significance through bringing him glory.

Download the devotional here.

Written by: Annie Monson

Wycliffe Bible Translators is the largest scripture translation organization in the world, with a widespread mission network internationally and in the United States. They endeavor to have begun a translation of the Bible into every language by 2025 while fostering Christian community, providing educational material and fellowship resources.