Monday, February 17, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Hope


All-Day Hope

A devotional by Malinda Fugate

Key Scripture:
Psalm 25 and Psalm 26:2-3 (NIV)

“My hope is in you all day long” wrote David in Psalm 25:5. When we begin our day with this scripture, our optimism might overflow. We can step confidently into whatever could happen in the next 24 hours. Bring it on, world!

Then the world does indeed bring it. Coffee gets spilled, arrival to work is late, and financial obligations resume their continual nagging. Our kids have a crisis, our spouse has needs, and our friends call for assistance.

The demands of the day begin to outnumber available minutes and regret over that spilled coffee sets in as energy levels hit new lows. Some days, the big punches roll in: sickness, tragedy, conflict, chronic pain, deferred dreams, or devastating news headlines. By dinner, the hope of the morning has dissipated into survival mode, and at that moment when bedtime pillows and blankets offer comfort, the biggest miracle might be remembering the bright words of the morning psalm. David possibly couldn’t have imagined this day when he penned those verses.

Yet, David’s God-inspired poetry was composed in the midst of attack and escape, times of joy as well as tribulation. His very life was on the line when he found hope in the Lord. How is this possible? How could hope truly last through an entire day that feels like a raging battle?

God doesn’t hand us a dose of hope and then walk away. He doesn’t expect us to get by on a ration of good feelings. Instead, the Lord is with us every step of the way, renewing that hope with every challenge that attempts to knock us off our feet. His very presence within us provides a never-ending supply of hope all day long.

Those challenges that at first appear to oppress us are actually a classroom where God is strengthening us daily. A closer look at Psalm 25:5 reveals a thoughtful beginning: “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior.” Then we reflect on how our hope is in Him all day long. He guides and instructs us, teaching us His right ways. Each day we grow a little stronger, a little smarter, and filled with a little more of His wisdom. 

Psalm 25:8 reminds us that “good and upright is the Lord,” while Psalm 25:20 reminds us that He guards our life, rescues us, and offers refuge. Because of His faithfulness, we can trust and rely on Him.

This process of His teaching and our reliance generates lasting hope in a cycle that sustains not just our day, but our weeks, months, and years as well.

In Psalm 26:2-3 (NIV), David continues this theme. He says, “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.”

Scripture is full of promises of hope for God’s children, but we would be missing out on great blessings if we overlook the Source of that hope. It’s more than just a positive outlook for the future; it is grace for every moment of our present.

The daily walk alongside the Lord, our Teacher, as He guides us in truth inspires a hope greater than any damage the world’s troubles can inflict. This hope surely will sustain us all day long, no matter what the day might bring.

~*~
Author Bio:

Malinda Fugate writes from the heart.

Though she serves full time as the Children’s Education Director at a church in Southern California, she is also a crafter of words published in books, including The Other Three Sixteens (May 2020 release with Ambassador International), Bible Time for Active Kids, which is an activities-based devotional that is available for purchase on Amazon, and The Pen and the Sword: Connecting With the Word of God, which is an interactive creative writing journal.

Malinda earned a communications degree with a theatre emphasis from Azusa Pacific University, then worked behind the scenes at the Los Angeles Salem radio stations, including The Fish and KKLA.

Her writing includes children's faith resources, commercial copywriting, and various faith-based stage and screenplays. Malinda lives by the beach with her pup, Yoshi.

When she's not writing or working at church, she might be creating art, reading, or exploring the many adventures to be found in the Los Angeles area.

~*~
Connect with Malinda:
Website: www.malindafugate.com
Blog: https://malindafugate.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/malthestar/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/malthewriter/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/malthewriter/

Friday, February 14, 2020

A message, song and e-card for your heart on Valentine's Day 2020!

Dearest of Hearts,

Happy Valentine's Day!

Always remember that YOU are LOVED by the Creator of the Universe (GOD)!

Listen to this song and receive your e-card below. 

God bless you!

Love,

Alexis A. Goring
Founder of "God is Love" blog

~*~

A song for your heart:




~*~

And an e-card to celebrate this special day:


Devotionals for the Heart: Life and Leadership Counsel from a Chaplain


Counsel About Life and Leadership
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson


“Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” – 2 Samuel 23:1-3 (KJV)

The story of David is instructive about life and leadership. From the story in 1 Samuel 16 about how David was selected and anointed to be King of Israel we can see what he was not. He was not the eldest, nor was he favored by his father among his brothers. In fact, because he was the youngest and was tending sheep in the field, he was not even called in to the assembly meeting with the prophet.

When Samuel saw the first born, Eliab, he thought to himself “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But God said no. Why? Because “…man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV). After looking at all of Jesse’s boys, Samuel said, “Is this all you have?” As if to forestall the prophet, Jesse said there is one more, but he is tending the sheep.

As important as sheep were in the agriculture economy of that era, being a shepherd was not a vaunted role. It was a lonely, solitary and wandering job. The shepherds smelled like the sheep.

Nevertheless, David was summoned. Perhaps he had time to hastily bathe and freshen up before coming into the presence of the prophet. Maybe not. If not, can you see the brothers, whom God had not embraced grimace a bit at his odiferous and dirty presence when he came into the tent.

It does not appear that Samuel was offended by the affect of the shepherd boy. Rather, it is recorded that David’s appearance was tanned, he had beautiful eyes and was handsome. According to 1 Samuel 16:12 (ESV), “And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him for this is he.” Samuel ratified David as God’s choice to succeed Saul.

Perhaps David could be characterized as a young man with some bravado. After all, he had killed a lion and a bear, in his youth. We know that the young shepherd, David who became the King, also became a man of rapacious passion. He killed many men and loved many women. Yet, through it all he was chosen by God to be a leader because he had some positive character traits.

In 2 Samuel 9 is the story of the reflective King. After conquering the enemies at the borders and establishing protective garrisons throughout the kingdom, David, now the King, demonstrates the depth and breadth of his character. He asked, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Johnathan’s sake?”

He found Mephibosheth, Johnathan’s crippled son. In spite of his pre-existing condition and inability to work, David honored Mephibosheth’s humanity and promised him security, healthcare and reasonable subsistence for the rest of his life. Hmmm.

Though brutal in combat, his core values for life were kindness, loyalty, grace and generosity. These were the characteristics that made him “a man after God’s own heart” and endeared the nation to him, despite his flaws.

At the end of his life, the king who still enjoyed the company of young women summed up the essence of life and leadership. As happens with most people, knowledge is taught and wisdom is gained experientially through trial and error. David codifies his wisdom in 14 prescient and timeless words: “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3, KJV).

The English Standard Version (ESV) says it in more cogent and contemporary language. “When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth…”

As we watch and study leaders and those aspiring to leadership, apply this singular principle. Evaluate the politicians by their characters rather than their gravitas. Look behind the policies, charisma and debating skills. Look for character. Does it align with God’s character and revealed will?

People and nations who ally themselves with righteous leaders prosper.

Take my advice: Seize your responsibility as a citizen and chose leaders who are just and stand right before God.

~*~
Author Bio:

Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.



Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.

He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Author Interview with Courtnaye Richard about her devotional book

Dear Sweet Blogging Friends,

Today, you're in for a special treat!

My blogging friend Courtnaye Richard is here to talk about her NEW book! It's a book filled with weekly devotionals! One devotional for each week of an entire year. The devotionals are not dated, so can read this book any year!

Courtnaye also wants to give away one signed paperback copy of her book! Read the details about that and find out how you can have a chance to win toward the end of this blog post.

God bless you!

~*~

Interview with Courtnaye Richard about her book, Inside Out with Courtnaye: 52 Week Devotional: Growing from the Inside Out One Week at a Time

Alexis: Congrats on your new book, Courtnaye! Let’s talk about it.

Courtnaye: Thanks so much Alexis and sure thing!

Alexis: Is this your first devotional book?

Courtnaye: Yep! This is my first devotional.

Alexis: Why did you choose to write a total of 52 devotionals? Explain the significance.

Courtnaye: Honestly, it just came out of nowhere! I was about to write on something else, but then the Lord impressed upon my heart to write a weekly devotional book vs. a daily one. I believe the significance that resonated with me was that we’re all busy, right? Well, at least most of us. So I felt led by the Holy Spirit to write short, weekly devotionals. The goal was instead of a daily devotional, a weekly one just gives us an alternative in the busy culture that we’re currently living in. And not that I’m knocking a “daily” devotional (I have many). However, this was just the direction the Lord was leading me.

Alexis: How did you determine your book’s format and layout (one devotional for each week of the year, then each of the selections such as the Study Guide and God’s Word for You, that are listed within each devotional)?

Courtnaye: It was actually my husband’s idea. Of course, I wanted to do something different than other devotionals that I’ve purchased and seen on bookshelves in stores. So, his suggestion was well-received. Moving forward, the determination was really guided by prayer after that. I prayed about the layout and its monthly topics, and began writing them out. I also wanted women to dive in deeper for personal reflection through the study guide, but also provide monthly topics and scriptures that they could not only do personally, but also use it for monthly small group meetings.

Alexis: What does it mean to “grow from the inside out” and how will your book help readers grow in that way?

Courtnaye: Growing from the inside out is all about loving God from the heart and living the life of Christianity in biblical and practical ways. It’s also about allowing Jesus to change you spiritually, personally, mentally, and emotionally. When we take time praying, reading and studying the Word, we grow. We mature. For the readers, I want them to understand that what we do when no one is watching and as we spend devoted time with God, in return, that inward change will eventually be noticed on the outside for others to glean and grow from as well. It’s the inner work that makes a huge difference in our lives, but also in the lives of those whom we influence for Christ.

Alexis: Tell about your life as a blogger. How and why did you start your blog? Why did you give your blog the name, Inside Out with Courtnaye? What do you want your audience to learn from your posts?

Courtnaye: I’ve been blogging since 2011. I absolutely love writing! With that being said, I was looking for a way to reach more women with the gospel and to help them grow spiritually, personally, and vocationally through the gift of writing. It wasn’t until one day, my husband said, “Why don’t you start blogging?” And I was like, “What? What is that, actually?” That started my research! When I learned all about it, that’s when it all began.

I had no idea that the Lord would use a weekly blog to reach thousands of women across the globe for His glory. He did it! I’m still amazed! I named the blog “Inside Out with Courtnaye” because we’re growing together. We’re in this Christian walk together, as sisters. I’m doing it with you. So, what I want my audience to learn from my posts is to let God change them from the inside out (from the heart and lifestyle). Allow Him to change them through the power of prayer, His Word, the Holy Spirit, godly mentorship, and wholesome fellowship. I love the Bible verse found in Philippians 2:13 (NLT) which says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

Alexis: Your book title borrows from the name of your blog. Is this like an extension of your blog posts? Why or why not?

Courtnaye: It is actually (chuckling). You know, the Lord inspired me to write each weekly devotional like a blog post. That was His divine instruction. I thought it was for my other book that I’m working on, but I had no idea that He was referring to a brand new project, which is the 52 Week Devotional. Our thoughts and ways are definitely not like His (see Isaiah 55:8). And I’m good with that! Hence, that’s where the title came from. It was derived from my blog in every way!

Alexis:
What is the mission of your blog and how does it carry over into the main message of your devotional book? 


Courtnaye: I would say that the mission is to grow. Let God change you from the inside out. No holding back. Surrender your life to His way and His will. God knows our hearts. Psalm 4:23 (NIV) says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” And it’s so true! Love and evil stems from it. So allowing the Lord to transform us from the inside out, stems from the heart, followed by Christ-like action. My blog and devotional both blend in perfect harmony right there.

Alexis:
Do you have a writing mentor? If so, how did he or she help you become such a good author?

Courtnaye: I’d have to say that my writing mentor is the Holy Spirit. I am truly inspired by the Lord. I actually pray and ask the Holy Spirit to take over my hands as I write. The Bible was God-inspired. Men simply penned it. So when I write my blog or books, I write as I am inspired by the Lord. I literally say, “Lord, you know where your daughters and aspiring daughters are, help me to write what they need to read.” And from there, I trust and lean on Him as I write each post or chapter.

Alexis:
If you could sell your devotional book with just one sentence, what would you say?

Courtnaye: Grab it today from www.courtnayerichard.com or www.amazon.com, because it will definitely begin changing your life one week at a time!

Alexis: Now for the fun and quick questions…Coffee or tea?

Courtnaye: Definitely coffee!

Alexis: Bagels or waffles?

Courtnaye: Waffles.

Alexis: Kindle of paperback?

Courtnaye: Paperback (I like my pen and highlighter). ;-)

Alexis: Who is your favorite author?

Courtnaye: Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Alexis:
What is your favorite book?

Courtnaye:
My favorite book is the The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian.

Alexis: What is your favorite season?

Courtnaye:
Winter, definitely (boots and blankets)!

Alexis: Thanks for the interview Courtnaye! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Courtnaye:
Absolutely and thank you Alexis! Let God change you from the inside out, sister! Jesus is coming back soon!

~*~
Author Bio:
Courtnaye is the founder of Inside Out with Courtnaye, a ministry that helps women grow in their walk with Christ from the heart and equips them to fulfill their God-given purpose. 

She is also the author of the book, IDENTIFIED: Knowing Who You Are in Christ and Moving Forward in Your Purpose.

Courtnaye is married with three beautiful children and is a contributing writer for ibelieve.com, Women’s Ministry Tools, speaker of a host of women’s conferences. Her blog reaches thousands of women across the globe. 

She resides in the beautiful Texas Hill Country (outside of Austin, Texas).

~*~
Blurb for Courtnaye's devotional book:


Behold all things are made new! In this 52-week devotional, get ready to grow in your Christian walk one week at a time with influential blogger, author, mentor, and conference speaker, Courtnaye Richard.

Each week, you will be encouraged, challenged, instructed, and equipped through real life topics and practices such as...

  • Spending focused time with God
  • Working well with others in church and at work
  • Trusting God even when you can't see
  • Controlling your emotions from the inside out
  • Setting boundaries in life
  • Self-care principles for Christian women
  • Pressing through fear in life and endeavors
  • And so many more topics
Courtnaye has created this brief, life-changing weekly women's devotional complete with monthly themes, scripture, practical insight, transparency, and a BONUS study guide! 

Choose to do it alone or use it for a small group. It's time to grow from the Inside Out, this week and beyond!


~*~
Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Greetings


Joyful Greetings
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove


“This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!”
– James 1:1 (NLT)

I absolutely love vacationing on the Hawaiian Islands! Sunshine, warm ocean breezes and vibrant blue waters are a soothing balm to my to frazzled mainland soul. Conversely, the zesty pineapple and sweet mango revive my taste buds during winter’s lull in fresh produce at home. It is a sensory feast that contrasts the gray days of home.

While I delight in all the tangibles, it’s the Hawaiian “Spirit of Aloha” that I desire most. This spirit of aloha is a lifestyle of love and unity. The Hawaiian word “Aloha” is associated with “Hello” and “Goodbye,” but also means love, kindness, compassion and grace. So when greeted with, “Aloha,” it is more than an acknowledgment that we see each other. The heart behind the word says, “Friend, together we share the bounty of this earth. I am grateful it is this way. May there be friendship and love between us!”

I want in on that.

It turns out, the early church also had a single word of greeting that included in its meaning, not only love, but the good news of Jesus Christ! This word, “Greetings,” in the Greek, is “chairein,” actually meaning “rejoice!”

My favorite use of this word occurs in James 1:1 (NLT) (italics are mine): “This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to the “twelve tribes” —Jewish believers scattered abroad. Greetings!”

Rejoice!

There are two amazing things about “Rejoice” as a greeting here. First, James describes himself as being a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ ... and he is happy about that! James is writing to Jewish refugees and suggesting joy!

The context of the Jewish people in those days was that they went from being slaves in Egypt to slaves of the Roman Empire (with some rescuing in between). They were accustomed to living in slavery and were desperate for freedom. Not only that, but their own Jewish laws kept them in a state of works-oriented, religious slavery. Ouch and double ouch ouch! 


I relate to living in slavery to the expectations of the culture I reside in. I relate to being tethered to the works mentality and the lies that I must produce to be of value. That’s why I desperately want escape...to Hawaii...or frankly, any other culture but the one I feel stuck in!

Secondly, James continues, post-greeting, to encourage believers by suggesting they should consider the trials they continue to encounter as “opportunity for joy.” Wait, what?

According to James 1:2-4 (NLT), he says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

How on earth can I be rejoicing when I feel cut to the bone?

James reminds that while we reside physically in a world that hurts us, God is using that hurt to heal us. When we allow God to work in us, we’re making headway in His Kingdom, rather than squirreling in a cage. Not just for Heaven’s sake, but here on Earth too.

Jesus Christ came to set us free from the law and from living a single life to living an infinite one! To live in Jesus’s name is to live life His way ... happily tethered to good deeds and in love with all life. Unified with God and unified with man. That sounds like paradise! I think I feel the sun and taste pineapple on my lips! 


Apparently, I forgot the culture my faith brought me.

What if we change our greeting? What if we lead with a salutation that is encouraging, both to ourselves and our neighbors? A salutation that reminds the truth of the Spirit of God? Would you see rainbows on your dreary days?

Let me be the first. Friend, rejoice!

~*~
Author Bio:

Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior.

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel, and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: For the Lonely on Valentine's Day


Rejected Love

A devotional by Wade Webster


And the LORD said to Samuel: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.” 
–1 Samuel 8:7 (NIV)

The season of love is upon us. At least that's what Valentine's Day means to many folks. But for some of us it's just another day, or one we'd rather skip altogether.

I remember vividly the day of April 14, 2015. I had to have my wife sign our tax forms for what would be the last time we filed jointly. She had moved out over a year prior to this. I was doing my best to pursue her to no avail. Divorce was imminent even though there were no biblical grounds for it. I did the best I could to offer my love to her. I couldn't force her to accept it.

A month and a half earlier I gave a eulogy at my mom's funeral for my six siblings. It was excruciating. I had to hold off my remorse while I traveled from Texas back to Michigan. Then while I prepared my talk. I finally found a moment of semi-solitude in the church during the viewing before the funeral service. The tears and anguish flowed for the woman who gave me life and then devoted her life to her seven kids and her husband who passed on eleven years before her.

I went for a stroll in my neighborhood that evening after I talked to my wife. Grief was mounting again from this loss. This loss that seemed so unfair and unnecessary. Fortunately, I was next to a wooden fence when the grief wave struck. I leaned into the barrier and let the tears flow. They tasted just like the ones at my mom's funeral.

I knew God was with me, as he always is. When I walked a half a block away a thought struck me so I asked God a question. “Is this what you feel like when somebody rejects you?”

The prophet Samuel felt this same rejection when the Hebrews requested a king to replace him. The sting was personal until God assured him that it wasn't directed at Samuel but God himself. When we tell others about the amazing gift God offers through his Son, Jesus Christ, don't take it personally when they reject it. It's not you they're rejecting. They're rejecting God.

For those of you who have a special someone in your life, enjoy this time of love like there's no tomorrow, because there might not be one. Also keep in mind those of us traveling alone at this time in our lives. We long for love, too.

The sting of rejection and loss can be unbearable at times. Give us some encouragement by letting us know we're still important to you. Give us some of your time. Pray for us to draw closer to God during this test in our lives.

~*~
Author Bio: 

Wade Webster lives with is best friend (Jesus Christ) in Plano, Texas. 

His main source of income comes from driving trucks. 

He has a part-time job painting houses on the side...and the front and back and inside. 

He's the author of a book titled 100 Prayers of a Writer.

Connect with him via his official website, wadewebster.com

Friday, February 7, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Perfection


So, Your Family Isn’t Perfect?
A devotional by Wendy Wilson Spooner

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” –Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

Sometimes families are difficult. For some of us, it’s all the time. But Christ asks us to learn to forgive. And families are the perfect place to practice forgiveness.

It’s easy to watch happy families surrounding us and forget that we each have familial secrets and challenges.

When we think about Christ’s family—his mother, Mary, his divine Father and his earthly father, Joseph, it’s easy to see perfection. But our Savior’s earthly ancestry was anything but perfect.

Christ descends through King David, who slew Goliath and started out pretty flawless. David was descended from Boaz and Ruth—widowed Ruth who moved to Bethlehem with her beloved Mother-in-law and then married her second husband, Boaz.

Boaz was the son of Rahab, who was a Canaanite and harlot. But Rahab hid the Israelite spies and was spared when the city of Jericho fell. Rahab was saved because of her faith, and her family was spared because of her good deeds.

Rahab’s husband was Salmon, descended from Judah the son of Jacob. But Salmon was not descended from Judah’s wife but through the line of Tamar, who was the widow of both Judah’s eldest and second sons. Judah should have offered his third eldest son to take Tamar to wife. But he did not. So, Tamar dressed as a veiled prostitute, and not knowing, Judah hired her. After this encounter, Tamar gave birth to twins.

It’s through this line that Jesus Christ descends from King David and Bathsheba. Bathsheba, whose husband King David arranged to be killed in battle. David, who wrote Psalms to the Lord and was promised the Messiah would be born through his lines. David, who forfeited his exaltation because he coveted another man’s wife.

Bathsheba had no choice but to marry King David after her husband was killed. She then became the mother of wise King Solomon—an influencer of Kings.

Jesus’ earthly ancestry was full of people who committed great sins and made mistakes. But he also had ancestors who experienced terrific pain through no fault of their own, like Ruth and Bathsheba.

If you find yourself discouraged that your family is problematic and inadequate, well, so was our Savior’s family. But because of Him, we can learn to forgive and be reconciled to God—to be saved, because He’s already forgiven us of our sins and asks us to do the same.

And He’s here to help us, especially when it’s painfully hard.

If Christ could forgive those who spit on him, whipped him, betrayed him, and crucified him, surely, there is hope for us to forgive difficult family members. And we can learn to do this by leaning on Jesus.

Because of Him, even in imperfect families, we can experience moments of perfection.

And so, your family isn’t perfect? Well, no one’s is. And that’s ok. Because what we learn from and amid imperfection, will one day lead to our perfection in Jesus Christ.

~*~
Author Bio:

Wendy is a professional Genetic Genealogist by day, a writer by night, and an artist in between.


Her first book, Once Upon an Irish Summer, is a YA crossover historical fiction novel, the first in a trilogy, traditionally published by Ambassador International, set to release on 
April 3, 2020 in five countries.

Wendy’s love of history compels her to write the true stories she unearths during her research, and she’s found that truth is indeed, stranger, and way more exciting than fiction. 

Wendy writes about family, faith, grief, art, and overcoming the obstacles in life by coming to know who we really are—a child of God, and, the descendant of incredible people who paved the way for us to have the lives we have now—even if they really struggled. She believes in learning from ancestors, honoring them, and then standing on their shoulders to become someone even better.

Wendy is an award-winning author of professional articles and poems, who turned to novel writing to share what she knows with more people.

To learn more about Wendy, her interests, and writing, visit her website at WendyWilsonSpooner.com.

~*~
Connect with Wendy:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wendy.w.spooner
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Wendy_W_Spooner
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendyspooner/

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Grace


What Grace Is Not
A devotional by Allison M. Wilson


Key Scripture: Romans 6:23, Proverbs 6:16-19, Proverbs 27:17 (NASB)

There’s a movement in the world of believers, which is greatly troubling. It’s a passive acknowledgment that there is sin in our lives, but it’s not a “big” one, so it really doesn’t need to be addressed. As if there is some hierarchy to sin which makes one worse than another, we ignore the “little” sins. The “little white lie” to spare someone’s feelings, or the gossip which is couched as concern and prayer requests. Sometimes even the “big” ones are covered over in the name of grace.

God says sin, not based on the level in our human minds, is all bad. Take Romans 6:23, for example. Scripture says, “For the wages of sin is death…” which seems like pretty strong language. There isn’t anything here that says one sin is better or worse than another. Is there such a place in the Scriptures?

Well, we see in Proverbs 6:16-19, there are six things the Lord hates, and seven which are an abomination to Him. Perhaps these are the “biggies” we should avoid? But, what about the Ten Commandments? Those must be important since He gave them to Moses on tablets to keep with the Ark of the Covenant while they wandered around the wilderness for four decades.

What did Jesus say about those ten, though? He said things like, if you even hate your brother, it’s as if you have committed murder in your heart. Or, if you look lustfully at someone, it’s as if you have committed adultery. So, even those first ten He gave aren’t the full depths of what sin is. How are we supposed to know what is a “big” sin and what is a “little” sin? Where is the line?

The reality is that there is NO line. All sin is bad. Period. My little white lie put Jesus on the cross just as much as a serial killer’s murdering did. Jesus died for ALL sin. He didn’t die a smaller amount for what we humans want to trivialize. He died a horrible death, endured suffering of which we cannot even fathom, to take the sins of the world away. When we ignore sin in our own lives, we ignore what He did for us.

What is Jesus calling out in you today? Is there something in your life you know, in your Spirit, is not right, yet, you’ve allowed the enemy to deceive you into believing it’s not a huge deal? Is there something He’s asked you to speak up about in someone else’s life, yet you’ve avoided it, because it’s too uncomfortable a conversation? 


I’m not saying you are the Holy Spirit, and should be going around pointing out everyone’s wrongs. However, we, believers, have stayed silent about too many harmful behaviors within the body of Christ, and then we wonder why we’re the walking wounded. Too many are enslaved by behaviors that are killing their spirits, and we sit silent in fear. Has Christ called on you to be the iron to sharpen another’s iron? (Proverbs 27:17)

You’ve likely heard the following phrases. Hurting people hurt people. Damaged people do damage. Another phrase God’s been developing in me lately is that healed people heal people. If the enemy has you in bondage to a sin, you are less likely to be able to help someone else who needs freedom.

Grace doesn’t ignore sin. It says sin is there, but there’s a Savior Who has conquered the consequences of it for you…DEATH. Grace is Jesus taking on my sin, before I even knew what sin was, and putting it to death so I might live sin free. Oh, what amazing grace that is!

Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus, I do not want to make Your sacrifice less than it was. I want the sinless life You died to give me. Show me the places where sin still has a hold on me, and give me the strength, through the power of Your death and resurrection, to put it away from me. Thank You for loving me when I was so unlovable. In the holy name of Christ, I pray, Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

A very early reader and lover of the written word, Allison M. Wilson has been writing since the age of 8 with the heart to impart stories and God's truth.




She has judged countless contests for the last 25 years, reviewed for several online publications, professionally edited, and written articles and devotionals.

Wife, mother, writer, editor, teacher, mentor, and mompreneur, God keeps her busy while living in east central Florida with her family.

~*~
Connect with Allison:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allisonmwilson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/amwilson

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Celebrate Lit blog tour for "God Hears Her" (book) by Our Daily Bread


Welcome to my blog's stop on the Celebrate Lit blog tour for God Hears Her (book) by 
Our Daily Bread!

Read my review of this devotional book below and enjoy your time with her today! 

Remember to enter the fun giveaway contest toward the end of this blog post.

~*~

About the Book

Book:  God Hears Her
Author: Our Daily Bread
Genre: Non-fiction / Christian / Devotional
Release Date: September, 2017
Tour Dates: February 1 – 14

God Hears HerWhen you’re having one of those days, you just want to know that someone is on your side. You have more than just someone  . . . you have your Heavenly Father! He is with you. He is for you. He hears your heart’s cry. And He will reassure you of this through the beautifully designed, hardcover devotional collection, God Hears Her. The personal stories, Scripture passages, and inspirational quotes pulled from Our Daily Bread devotionals will lift you up and remind you that God is bigger than the trials you face.
Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Our Daily Bread Publishing – Our Daily Bread Publishing is a division of Our Daily Bread Ministries. Founded in 1938, the ministry has grown from a small group of dedicated radio listeners to millions of people around the world who use our Bible-based resources, including the beloved Our Daily Bread devotional. Our Daily Bread Ministries is a non-denominational, non-profit organization with staff and volunteers in over 37 offices working together to distribute more than 60 million resources in 150 countries. Regardless of whether it’s a radio or television broadcast, DVD, podcast, book, mobile app, or website, we provide materials to help people grow in their relationship with God.

~*~
My Review of God Hears Her:


This book is a delightful read! 

I enjoyed thumbing through these pages because each page was filled with a devotional for that day, starting in January and ending in December. There are not years dated in this book so the reader can read these daily devotionals anytime of any year.

The devotionals are short and to the point. They start with a Bible verse, pack a powerful punch and end with the writer's first name. I liked it how the publisher only included the first name of each devotional writer because it gave the book a personal touch, making it feel like each devotional was a short and sweet letter sent to you by a dear friend.

This book makes a wonderful gift that will encourage the heart, inspire the soul and educate the mind. I'd recommend it for anyone: new believers, seasoned believers and those who may have lost their relationship with their First Love (Jesus Christ).

God Hears Her is a beautiful reminder that there is a God who cares and He's there for you. But not only is He there for you, He hears and answers your prayers!

A truly beautiful read well-worth five stars!

*Celebrate Lit provided me (Alexis A. Goring) with a complimentary copy of "God Hears Her" (book). My opinions in this book review are my own.

~*~

More from Our Daily Bread

‘Feels Like Home’ Winter Recipes
As the weather turns colder, it becomes the time to pull out those tried and true winter-time recipes. You know, the ones that make us (or even keep us) warm on the inside. This is the time for the food that just feels like home.
Kirsten Holmberg and Elisa Morgan from the God Hears Her blog have shared some of their families personal recipes. These are the ones that are good for everyone. Feel free to try them yourself, bookmark them for later, or share them with a friend.

Kirsten Holmberg
In the winter, I’m partial to any slow-cooker soup or stew because I love coming home to it in the evening. My favorite is a Vegetarian Chili with some Italian influences:

2 bell peppers, diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
2 lb zucchini halved and sliced
1 lb fresh mushrooms, halved
1 large onion, diced
3 cans diced tomatoes (fire roasted or herbed for the most flavor)
1 can tomato sauce
1 small can black olives, sliced (or fresh in any amount desired)
1 can cannellini beans
2.5 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
½ cup water

Toss it all in a slow cooker for a few hours on high, or all day on low. Or, put it on the stove instead and simmer until the veggies are cooked through and the flavors blended (about 45 minutes). Parmesan cheese on top for an extra zing.

Elisa Morgan
A Cranberry Nut Bread recipe handed down by my mom, Paige Lee:

2 cup flour
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ scant tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
Sift above ingredients together twice. To the juice and grated rind of 1 large orange, add 2 tbs of melted shortening and enough boiling water to make ¾ cup. Mix with dry ingredients and add…
1 beaten egg
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup halved fresh cranberries

Bake in greased loaf pan for 75 minutes at 350 degrees.
If you double the recipe, bake a little less time and use 3 loaf pans. It also makes good muffins and can be frozen.

~*~

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, February 1
deb’s Book Review, February 1
Texas Book-aholic, February 3
Mary Hake, February 3
God is Love, February 4
Emily Yager, February 4
Genesis 5020, February 5
A Diva’s Heart, February 5
Lighthouse Academy, February 6
amandainpa, February 6
Andrea Christenson, February 8
CarpeDiem, February 9
Older & Smarter?, February 10
She Lives to Read, February 10
Godly Book Reviews, February 12
Artistic Nobody, February 13
Back Porch Reads, February 13
Kat’s Corner Books, February 14

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Giveaway

To celebrate their tour, Our Daily Bread is giving away the grand prize package of a God Hears Her hardcover, God Hears Her leather-like, God Hears Her journal, God Hears Her CD, God Hears Her pen, and God Hears Her Scripture & Encouragement cards!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter:

Monday, February 3, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Identity


I am God’s daughter
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

When my daughter was five, she was desperate to dye her dark-brown hair a vivid golden blond, swap her chocolate-colored eyes out for blue, and lighten her olive skin to a fair peach. (She also wanted to change her name, but that’s another story entirely.) In my mind, she should have been immune to these things, but already, the games had begun.

You know, the comparison games. The games many of us start to play as preteens and sometimes never stop.

“Why can’t I have curly hair like her?”

“Why can’t I have straight hair?”

“Why can’t I be curvy?”

“Why can’t I be less curvy?”

What is wrong with us? We’re all so desperate to fix these supposed flaws we believe we have, think if we can just change this or disguise that or get rid of X, Y, Z, or Q then everything will be perfect. Perhaps we think we can alter our identity, change our path.

At the root of all this is a misguided perception that somehow, someway, we don’t measure up to some ideal standard. Somehow, we fall short. Somehow, we are not good enough.

However, one look at Scripture tells us this is all an awful lie.

When God created the universe, He made the heavens and the waters over the earth, the plants and the trees, and said it was all good (Genesis 1:10, 12). He made the day, the night, and the stars above, and said it was good (18). He made the fish, the birds, and all the animals and said it was good (21, 25).

But when He made humans? That was exceptionally special.

Genesis 1:27 says God created human beings “in His own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them” (NLT).

That to God wasn’t just “good”—it was “very good” (31).

We know this is true. So why do we think negative thoughts about ourselves and how we were made? Why do we think we were born with the “wrong” hair color?

Why did God make me short, or have broad shoulders or hips?

Why I born deaf, or with a heart condition, or nearsighted?

No matter how God made us, we can rest assured it was by design. God didn’t “mess up somehow” or “make a silly mistake” when He made us. Every bit of God’s design for us was intentional.

And He made every single one of us in His image.

That is profound!

Not only are we made in His image, but we are also known completely by Him—and loved exactly how we are. Scripture is filled with those reminders.

Psalm 139-13-16 says, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 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” (NLT).

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (NLT).

This same God—THE God, the One and the Only, the Alpha and the Omega—knit us, formed us, planned our future, and loves us completely and wholly.

And God doesn’t scrimp! I’m His daughter, and I know: He doesn’t make junk.

It’s time we remembered how very much He loves us and how perfectly created we are… just the way we are.

We need to love ourselves just as God loves us.

~*~
Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.

She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministries team.

Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Rest


Spiritual Rest
A devotional by Temeka Borden

“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.” – Genesis 2:2 (KJV)

God worked and then He rested. Yes, God rested! It’s right there in the Scriptures for us, clearly inked in black and white. Let me tell you something about me: I love to work. I love getting things done. I am a goal setter and a goal crusher (with the help of the Lord) but I also understand the importance of rest, especially these days.

I distinctly remember a conversation I had with a former colleague years ago. She was a go-getter, and I was always impressed by her strong work ethic, her ability to train others well, her organization and leadership skills, and the quality of work she produced. In this conversation, she explained to me the importance of taking advantage of my vacation days. She explained to me the importance of rest, and she explained how one is much more productive when he or she is rested. I have found this to be so true.

I also remember working late one evening and thinking to myself, “I’m just going to do this one thing, and then I’ll go home.” That one thing turned into another “one more thing” and another “one more thing” and another “one more thing.” I ended up texting my manager who was traveling and telling her I was staying late because I still had some things I wanted to finish up. That’s when she told me to stop and reminded me that the work will always be there. She then told me to go home. I listened, packed up my stuff, and went home, and I was glad I did because I was very productive the next day.

At times, we get so caught up with the “Let’s get it done” attitude that we neglect our rest—spiritual, mental, and physical.

Remember, it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to say no at times. It’s okay to get your rest. In fact, you should get your rest, and if we don’t learn the importance of saying no to ourselves and to others, then we can easily become exhausted.

Now, let’s talk about this in a spiritual sense.

I understand that I can better feed others when my soul has been fed.

Recently, I announced to my social media audience that I was taking a sabbatical with regard to my live Biblical teachings. I have experienced quite a lot over an extended period of time, and in a couple of videos, I described how my ministry was under “spiritual attack.” I also stated that I had been feeding my readers and viewers (spiritually) for quite a while and that I needed someone pouring into me at the moment.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m still on my spiritual job, but I am at a point where God has me listening more than teaching and posting right now. I have been watching and listening to various Biblical messages almost daily and allowing my spirit to be fed, nurtured, and refreshed. Trust me, it is making a difference. These sermons and inspirational messages are serving as excellent reminders of who I am in Christ and reminding me of the power that resides within me. I am reminded that God has a handle on things, I am an overcomer in Christ, and that as Philippians 4:13 (KJV) says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

I’m writing all of this to say the following: Take the time to take care of yourself. Now, I believe in being a hard worker, especially in a spiritual sense, and I’m reminded of Colossians 3:23 (KJV), where it states the following: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” In other words, work like you’re working for the Lord because if you think about it, with anything we do, it is an opportunity to be a light for God.

In summary, work hard but rest hard too. Be willing to humble yourself and listen! Listen to God and listen to others as God speaks to you through them. Doing so strengthens your spirit and better positions you to serve others.

As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

~*~
Author Bio:
Temeka Borden, better known by her pen name “Positivity Inspires,” is an author, speaker, minister, PharmD, multi-state licensed pharmacist, founder and owner of Positivity Inspires, LLC, and most importantly, a servant of the Lord. 

She was introduced to Christ at a very early age and was raised in the church. Her ministry focuses on encouraging Christians to love God first, to love all people, to continually strengthen their bond with Christ, and to study His Word, and live His Word daily.

Dr. Borden has been blessed with a variety of gifts, and she has gained much professional experience in a variety of settings. She also has served in administrative roles in the professional and church settings. 

In addition to obtaining her PharmD, she also obtained her bachelor's degree in biology (minor in English), and she is working on her third degree. What's more, as stated in her words, “I completed a specialty pharmacy residency that prepared me for the workforce and made me a force to be reckoned with.” She is a long-distance runner, a drummer, a singer, and she has a strong “fashion sense.” She also can read and type at almost supersonic speed in some instances.

Dr. Borden loves to learn and is constantly looking for new ways to challenge herself.

She loves God and she loves people. She is “crazy about her family,” and she adores her friends. She strongly encourages others to show kindness, respect, and love to everyone. She loves and welcomes diversity and flourishes in culturally diverse environments.

Dr. Borden loves to laugh and loves to make other people laugh. She also is passionate about giving back to the community. Her favorite sayings are “Speak Up!” and “Watch God Work!”