Monday, July 22, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: God is with us and faithful in all the seasons of life



God is Faithful

A devotional by Peg Arnold

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”—Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)


The last day of our Hawaiian vacation had arrived, and we still wanted to go snorkeling. Our friends described a beautiful bay less than a mile up the beach. They offered to let us borrow their equipment. Immediately, we changed into our suits, gathered our things, and headed out on our adventure!

It was a perfect morning. The sun glistened on the water as the white foamed waves rhythmically rolled into the shore. We marveled at the beauty as we walked along the beach. The sandy terrain gradually transitioned into a rocky landscape, where the ocean waves crashed forcefully against the lava-rock-lined shore.

Navigating our way became increasingly challenging as we encountered slippery rocks covered with algae. At one point, we had to climb to an elevated, narrow pass to avoid the jagged rocks. Suddenly, everything changed. Even though the trail appeared solid, the sand gave way when I stepped on it, sifting through the rocks. Immediately, I tumbled three feet down onto sharp, jagged lava boulders.

My snorkeling gear bag flew out from my hands, and I found my bottom wedged between two large, jagged boulders. Every inch of me hurt. My husband, alarmed, rushed to my side. Very concerned, he asked, "Are you OK?" Struggling to catch my breath and assess my injuries, I moaned, "I don't know, I think so."

It was a harrowing experience, and it took considerable effort and time for my husband to reach me. It was not an easy task to rescue me from the rocks and assist me back to the safety of the sandy shore. He supported me as I limped, then rested, limped, then rested all the way back to the beach house. I couldn't put much weight on my bleeding foot, and every move shot pain through my body.

Upon returning to the yard, my husband assessed my wounds, gently washing away the sand and blood. As we reflected on the ordeal, there were mixed emotions of disappointment at missing out on snorkeling yet gratitude that my injuries weren't more severe. Following a call to our friends for assistance, we contemplated a visit to the emergency room but ultimately decided against it. I would need to rest and prepare to leave the next day.

This experience left a profound impact. It reminded me how suddenly our lives can be tipped upside down, from one moment of joy, plans, and anticipation to being thrown into a storm filled with fear and uncertainty. It brought to mind the comforting words written throughout the Bible book of Isaiah. Words to us from Jesus Christ saying, “I will be with you.” Life can change in a second without notice, throwing us into a season of loss, grief, pain, or uncertainty, but God continually promises to be with us. He is faithful!

My accident in Hawaii is minor compared to many other devastating events. We had to cancel our plans for the rest of that day, and when flying home, I needed assistance to and from the gate. When I returned home, I did see my doctor to confirm there were no broken bones or infections from the wounds. My body has since healed, but the scars are still visible.

Healing from loss and tragedy takes much longer, and the scars can alter what “normal” used to look like. But God is faithful! Even though we feel like we are drowning, or the fire is consuming us, He is there protecting us, promising strength and comfort. God will never leave us.

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness in every surprise, challenge, and step in unfamiliar territory. You warned us that we would encounter troubles in this life but promised that You would not leave us. Thank You for Your promises of comfort and strength in the valleys. Help us to rely on You and identify Your blessings in the storms. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection #1: “When You Walk Through the Water” by Allison Durham Speer. Listen to it here.

Song of Reflection #2: “He’s Always Been Faithful” by TaRanda Greene performed with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Peg Arnold, Speaker/Author/Teacher is a Drama Queen for Jesus. 


Her vibrant, interactive, and soul-stirring messages encourage all to embrace their God-given value. As a mom, wife, nana, mentor, with a master’s in counseling, she connects on a personal basis by sharing her joys and challenges of many life experiences through her dramas, messages, and witness. Whether talking with a friend over coffee or addressing hundreds of people at a conference, her passion for equipping women is contagious.

She has published devotions on YouVersion and in the Upper Room. In addition, she has contributed to two Chicken Soup for the Soul books, three anthologies, numerous articles, and blogs. Her devotional, Devotions for the Distracted Heart, received a 2022 OASIS award.

Peg desires everyone to know that their story is important and has a purpose. She grew up in Michigan and raised her family in Maryland. Later in life, Peg and her husband relocated close to their family in Colorado.

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Connect with Peg:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/arnoldpeg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pegarnoldwow
Website: https://pegarnold.org/ Get some freebies when you visit!
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC51V_iWr0RfGAQvQnWVXEoA
Devotions for the Distracted Heart blog: https://pegarnold.wordpress.com/
YouVersion: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/22261-devotions-for-the-distracted-heart
Holiday YouVersion: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/28680-holiday-devotions-for-the-distracted-heart
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/wonderofwomen/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/peg-arnold-wow

Friday, July 19, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: How to stay humble when God gives us good gifts


Boast in the Lord

A devotional by Hannah Benson

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
—2 Corinthians 10:17 (ESV)

It can be so tempting for me, if my circumstances are pleasant and blessed, to boast in my circumstances. Now, boasting in my circumstances doesn’t necessarily mean talking about how great I am or saying the words, “Look at me!”

But it could mean boasting in my mind even if words of pride never leave my lips. It could mean relishing a position I’ve been given so much that I start to look down on others, thinking I’m better than they are.

God loves to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11), gifts we don’t deserve but that He chooses to give us anyway. Why then should we adopt a mindset of pride and a false belief that we deserve these gifts?

Instead of boasting in the gifts the Lord has given us, we are admonished by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians to “boast in the Lord.” God doesn’t want us to boast in His gifts, in the created things that He gives us. If our sense of pride is found in what changes, be it our circumstances or things of this world, then we shall be sorely disappointed when our circumstances change or things of this world fail us. If we put our security in anything other than the Lord, then it most certainly will crumble. Instead, our sense of security and identity needs to be found in Jesus Christ.

I love making a difference or doing something important. Since I was very young, I wanted to live a purposeful, meaningful life for Jesus. Whenever God chooses to bless me with an amazing opportunity, I can often be tempted to think better of myself than I ought, falsely believing that I am “better” than someone else or that I deserved such an opportunity. I can also struggle with trying to find my worth in those created things, those opportunities, or gifts from God.

I’ve always loved acting and prayed for an opportunity to use that gift. When I was 14 years old, God provided an opportunity when a Biblical theater group started in my area. Through that group, I’ve grown so much as a person in the last seven years and have had the opportunity to combine acting and sharing the love of Jesus with others through my interactions with fellow cast and crew members and through the story told on the stage.

I don’t deserve God’s good gifts and blessed opportunities, such as my wonderful experiences as an actress. However, because of His grace and mercy, God chooses to bless me as He blesses others in different ways. I’ve come to know that identity is not meant to be found in anything other than the Creator Himself. Please don’t find your identity in the things of this world. Instead, find your security in the Lord. If you find yourself starting to boast in the things of this world, turn it around and start boasting in the Lord, declaring His goodness and faithfulness.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Father God, please forgive me for boasting in the things of this world and for finding my security in created things rather than You, my Creator. Please help me to sing Your praises and bring glory to Your holy name all my days. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “All My Boast is in Jesus” by Keith & Kristyn Getty, Matt Boswell, and Matt Papa. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Hannah Benson is a Jesus-follower who’s passionate about sharing the love of Christ with others. 


From the time she could hold a pen, she was writing. But it wasn’t until she was sixteen that she began to follow God’s calling to pursue writing seriously. Hannah is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). In addition to fiction, she also writes devotionals and has been published on other websites. Her prayer is that her readers leave deeply encouraged and more in love with Jesus.

When not writing, Hannah also enjoys being involved with local theater companies, with a primary focus on Biblical theater. She wants to show the love of Jesus through the creative arts.

You can read more of Hannah’s writings on her blog or on her Instagram where she strives to write content that leaves others feeling encouraged.

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Connect with Hannah:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Hannah-Lynn-Writer/100073790792576/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hannahlbensonwrites/

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: God will always keep all of His promises


God is Faithful to Keep His Promises
A devotional by Sarah Cole

“And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”—Hebrews 11:11-12 (NIV)

Do you ever feel like a kid beneath the Christmas tree, anxious to open God’s gifts right now?

The week before Christmas, I would help my father wrap gifts while my mother stood in the kitchen making chocolate fudge candy. Dad crooned to Bing Crosby as he transformed boring brown boxes into colorful masterpieces. I sat beneath the tree, desperate to see their contents.

We are a society caught between wanting everything now and yet having to wait for it. We wait for our morning coffee to heat up, rush hour to clear up, the weather to warm up, and our bodies to shape up. But the more significant challenge is waiting for God to fulfill our deepest longings.

If you’ve been waiting for what feels like an eternity, find solace in knowing God’s delay is rooted in His perfect judgment and goodness. His plan may be mysterious, but His love for you is not. True contentment comes not from having everything we want but from recognizing that Jesus Christ is enough—He is our ultimate source of joy and our reason for living.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) is a powerful reminder to trust Him with all our hearts, acknowledging His perfect timing and wisdom. This Bible verse tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Feeling entitled robs us of joy and peace and fuels a never-ending struggle to align life with our wishes. I don’t know about you, but I find that exhausting!

If you’re tired of waiting and tempted to seize control, you’re not alone. Even heroes of the faith, like Abraham, took matters into their own hands when they thought God wasn’t moving fast enough (Genesis 16:1-4).

Trusting God means knowing at this moment you are precisely where you’re supposed to be. Like Sarah, who had unwavering faith amid uncertainty, you can trust Him to fulfill His promises, even if they seem far-fetched.

Friend, as hard as it is to wait, let God use this season to prepare you for your promised land. Take time to enjoy the gift of today because tomorrow’s gifts aren’t meant to be opened yet.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Heavenly Father,
When my waiting season feels heavy, equip me to enjoy today as I trust You with my tomorrows. When doubts fill my mind, remind me that Your plans for me will unfold perfectly, as I trust Your timing above mine. I’m grateful You love me enough to ensure all the pieces fall into place. When I can’t see the complete picture, I’m confident that the day I open Your gifts, I will be ready to enjoy them. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Promises” (feat. Joe L Barnes & Naomi Raine) | Maverick City Music | TRIBL. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Sarah Cole’s interest in writing began in grade school when her poem was published in the local paper. Since then, she has written for her college newspaper and two community newspapers where she wrote restaurant reviews and articles for their ‘best of’ spread. 


Her experience as an administrator in the marketing field gave her the opportunity to write ads for a local business journal.

After a 20-year detour and a three-year season of adversity, God reignited her passion to write. Two divine appointments later, the short story she wrote about her father appeared in the St. Paul Almanac, and a short story about her cocker spaniel Gigi was published in Mysterious Ways by Guideposts. She believes her adversity was worth the lessons God taught her.

Sarah's devotionals have been published in David C. Cook’s The Quiet Hour and Devotions, The Secret Place by Judson Press, and Pray a Word a Day by Guideposts. Her short story will be featured in an upcoming book, Too Amazing For Coincidence, also to be published by Guideposts. To this day, Sarah smiles, pinches herself and gives God all the glory.

When she's not writing, she's enjoying her hobbies that include dog sitting, watching cooking shows and taking day trips.

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Connect with Sarah:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smittyc65
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SarahCo45835279
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.cole.52

Monday, July 15, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Sharing our faith in God with the youth is vital


Passing It On: Sharing our Faith Stories
A devotional by Joy Beless

“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”
—Psalm 78:4 (ESV)

All through the summer in the USA, families gather for weddings, graduations, and July 4th celebrations. Our adult children and grandchildren come together at our family’s ranch to celebrate Independence Day for the USA. None of us live in the same city. We gather our great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, then we all join in the fun! As we stand side-by-side in the kitchen, on the fishing dock or snuggle with the kids for a bedtime story, it’s a perfect time to share stories of faith.

I remember being a child standing next to my grandmother in the kitchen on the same family ranch, sipping a cold Dr. Pepper on a hot Texas summer afternoon and listening to my grandmother telling stories of faith. She told me about the faithfulness of God during the bleak war-time years, making dresses out of up-cycled fabric, and how God provided for my grandfather to work labor jobs that paid a dollar a day. I heard plenty of stories about taking other people in for a time and the common experience of having extra people around the meal table. No matter how much work needed to be done, on Sundays my grandparents stopped the task on hand, cleaned up and went to church with all of us.

My parents carried on the tradition of sharing their own stories of faith. My father’s conversion story after a near-death experience always held a captive audience. He was a leather-faced rancher who seemed bigger than life. Saturday nights, my mother could be found with her Bible in her lap preparing for Sunday School the next morning. In the good and the hard times, living out God’s Word was central to their life stories.

I feel the same urgency to not waste spontaneous opportunities to weave in stories of faith spoken of in Psalm 78 and remember the “glorious deeds of the Lord and his might and wonders” (Psalm 78:4 ESV). Where have I seen God at work in miraculous ways over the last several months? How have I sensed God’s presence in difficult times or in waiting for answered prayer? As we say bedtime prayers over our children’s and grandchildren’s concerns, what can I ask them to pray for me? How can I remind these sweet souls that God hears their prayers too?

Worship and singing hymns is yet another way of passing down our faith and giving the younger generation an anchor to hold on to in rough waters. I remember hearing my parents sing hymns as they went about their day. I want my grandchildren to also know the songs that we’ve sung for generations, such as “Blessed Assurance” by Fannie Crosby and Phoebe Knapp.

May our faith stories that fueled our faith, fuel the faith of future generations and inspire their young minds with curiosity that encourages them to seek God and know Him. In a time of anxious questioning of so much, may our family’s conversations invite an assurance of God’s love for each of us, especially for the younger generation. May that assurance bring hope to their lives and their own stories of trusting in God. May they have a desire to know God’s Word and believe it is as relevant for them as it was for their grandparents and great-grandparents.

When my grandchildren come to visit, I think I’ll pick up a can of Dr. Pepper and pour it over cold ice while I listen to the fizz. As we sip and laugh, I want to ask them how they’re doing. Perhaps I will share a story from my childhood with the hindsight of a Sovereign God who never fails.

Let’s Pray:
Father God, thank You that You are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I’m grateful that You love our children and grandchildren more than we do. Give us discernment and wisdom to share the truth about you through our faith stories. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Find Us Faithful” by Steve Green. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Joy Beless is a worshipper of God and lover of people. 


A practicing Spiritual Director, she is a speaker for retreats and conferences and facilitates guided solitude retreats at the family ranch in North Texas.

A seasoned worship leader and songwriter, she frequently weaves worship, God’s Word and spiritual practices together. She is a chapel provider for a shelter for the houseless and a certified Grief and Trauma Healing Facilitator. Serving at global retreats for Kingdom-minded women delights her soul.

She has written for Global Trellis and Missio Nexus. She connects God’s Word with the reality of our daily in all the ups and downs.

Joy is married to Roger. They live in Coppell (Texas). Joy is called "JoJo" by her nine adorable grandchildren. She enjoys the outdoors and encourages flowers to grow in the Texas heat.

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Connect with Joy:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joy.beless
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joy.beless/
Website: www.joybeless.org

Friday, July 12, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: How to let the joy of the Lord be your strength


Embracing Joy When It Seems Impossible
A devotional by Dr. LaVonda McCullough

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”—Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV)

Have you ever faced a setback or disappointment in your life?

The journey to joy can be long and complicated, but with time, effort, and patience, you will achieve it. We all seek true joy in our lives, yet sometimes it feels elusive. Joy and contentment stem from knowing our purpose and living it out. However, life’s challenges can obscure that sense of joy. I have learned that overcoming obstacles is essential to discovering true joy.

Facing emotional hurdles can be a challenge when looked at from a personal perspective. It is when we look from God’s point of view that we are able to encounter peace and put trust in God. Our complicated feelings are normal and shouldn’t be suppressed, but embraced while we cast our cares upon Jesus Christ knowing that He can and will help us navigate our paths.

Keeping the faith when our daughter faced health issues and the school accused me of poor parenting, tested my faith once again. This hurdle, although temporary, did not define my worth or ability to parent effectively, but it caused my faith to waver.
I cried, “Where are you God?” I vowed to remain focused on believing God for a miraculous healing of my daughter. I worked hard to maintain a positive outlook and stand strong. With this renewed faith, I soon began to recognize the difference between happiness and joy.

God changed the situation and restored her health. My daughter’s kidney failure was healed, and all bloodwork soon balanced. She returned to school with little disruption from the routine. This experience served as a witness to God’s healing power.

Understanding Joy

Joy isn't dictated by external circumstances; it’s a state of being that comes from within. Achieving joy involves transforming your mind. Learn to relax, avoid worrying about the future, and be kind to yourself. Realize that you are valuable and important. Forgive yourself for past mistakes, keep a gratitude journal, and focus on the good in your life.

Living a Joy-Filled Life

A joy-filled life is one of peace, positivity, and faith. If I had continued to focus on the numerous doctor’s appointments and the hours spent doing iron transfusions, my mind would have stayed in a negative state with hope for a future. However, when I started using affirmations from the Bible, it boosted my confidence and growth spiritually. While family, friends, and career can bring happiness, the peace of God surpasses all. Balancing these aspects of your life will improve your life.

Finding joy also involves knowing your true identity that is found in Jesus Christ. In difficult times, build your faith and trust in God. Trusting Him doesn’t mean you won’t face hardships, but it assures you that He is always with you. Don’t let your faith waver. Turn to God in prayer.

Be patient and gracious with yourself. Don’t give up when things get tough. The joy you seek is just beyond these obstacles. By persevering, you will find that joy is indeed attainable. Life is a journey. Take care of your health and practice self-care to withstand the emotional hurdles that come your way. Embrace joy, keep your faith, and know that you can overcome any challenge that life presents.

“The joy of the Lord is our strength” Bible promise is brought to fullness when we accept God’s provision of righteousness by grace that reunites us so we can enjoy His presence. Joy should be pursued at all costs in developing an intimate relationship with God. What appears on the surface and what we see with your visual eyes can be the enemy distracting us from God’s best in our life. If we hold fast to the truths that are given to us in the Bible, we will have strength that reaches the depths of or souls.

Let’s Pray: Gracious Lord, thank you for being a faithful God who never leaves nor forsakes us. I praise you for strengthening me when I feel weak. Please help me to focus on You and not allow distractions to remove Your peace. May the joy of salvation rule within my heart today and forever. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Joy of the Lord” (feat. Katie Torwalt, Dante Bowe & Naomi Raine) - Maverick City Music | TRIBL. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Dr. LaVonda McCullough is a Christian Life Coach, author, speaker and pastor who specializes in women empowerment with Christian-based approach. 


Since 2012, LaVonda has coached countless women into compete freedom, teaching them to enhance their spiritual practice. Through one-on-one Coaching, Bible Study, Prayer Walks and retreats (Joyful Journey RefresHER retreat) she teaches women how to reach the divine power within and discover their purpose.

With the foundation of her personal practice the discipline of a Daily Quiet Time, she works closely with those she coaches to develop their own intimate relationship with God. Always using a spirit-led approach, she focusing on the whole person: mind, body, and soul. LaVonda values providing a safe, loving and nurturing environment that allows those she works with to tap into the divine and commune with God themselves.

LaVonda has a deep understanding of healing through intimate relationship with God due to her personal experiences with shame, trauma, loss, and depression.

She is passionate about helping people find freedom and joy in their journey through the cultivation of spiritual practice.

Originally from North Carolina, LaVonda has traveled throughout Europe and Africa speaking about healing through the power of prayer. She has lived in Germany since 2012, where shares her life with her husband of 33 years.

LaVonda and her husband have three children.

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Connect with LaVonda:
Website: https://www.lavondamccullough.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lavondamccullough/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lavondamcculloughauthor
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.de/joyfuljourneymi/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lavonda-mccullough

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Learning to focus on joy in when life is hard


Growing in the Cracks of Life
A devotional by Kathleen Rouser

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”—James 1:2-4 (WEB)

The presence of icicle pansies tends to brighten my day.

The delicate yellow, cream, and purple flowers are always lovely to see. They provide a pop of color in late fall, early spring, and sometimes through the summer. Even though they’re annuals, they’re hardy! Last year, about five icicle pansy plants had seeded themselves into the cracks of our patio.

I didn’t plant, fertilize or water them, but there they were popping up from hardpacked soil, between large slabs of concrete. The back of the house receives the morning and intense early afternoon sun. It’s exposed to the cold rain and wind. Yet, these little flowers flourished, even when they were stepped on or picked.

After a storm, I’d peek outside as I wondered about their fate. But when they dried, they perked right up, still beautiful. At some point, during the summer, I started giving them a drink each time I watered the potted flowers around them, and I marveled at how well they’d done without my help.

The first chapter of the Bible book of James reminds us that it’s the testing of our faith that produces patience and endurance, fruits that blossom with gaining spiritual maturity—much like beautiful flowers that grow well in the harshest circumstances. Testing puts our faith walk with God on the line.

Quite a few years ago, I had a tough time. It began with losing a very wanted baby through miscarriage, having to move my elderly mom away from me and closer to my sister, experiencing postpartum depression, being diagnosed with anemia, and feeling brokenhearted when my mother passed away. Soon after her death, I was diagnosed with chronic Epstein-Barr virus, which is like a prolonged mono, and my husband (Jack) fell off the roof of our house!

Completely worn out, I wasn’t sure how I’d ever take care of my husband while he recovered. The long road began with a month in the hospital for Jack, with surgeries and recovery from multiple head-to-toe fractures. While he was in a wheelchair for the next five months, learning to walk again, and then continuing rehab, God continued to intervene at every turn.

People from hundreds of miles away prayed for him and many friends also supplied us with delicious meals for us to eat until my kids missed my cooking enough to beg me to make my special recipes for them again. At the hospital, my husband chose thankfulness, despite the overwhelming pain. He even wrote thank you notes to the cafeteria staff at the hospital! We saw answered prayer and miracles almost every day. In the midst of the valley, God lifted us to the mountaintop and held us there in His arms.

We grew closer to the Lord and to each other. This fearful Christian (me), who hadn’t grown much spiritually in eighteen years, was forced to grow in my faith as tests and trials pressed in around me. For me, it was the beginning of a new stage of growth in my faith journey with Jesus Christ. I may not have chosen these trials, but God knew what He was doing as He allowed each one.

The end game God has in mind is to conform us to the image of His Son (Jesus), but will we choose to cooperate with Him? Romans 8:28-29 (WEB) says, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

I once read a book that challenged me to thank God for my trials. And I did so begrudgingly for more recent testing I’ve endured. Yet, that somehow set me free and allowed God to do a new work in me. There wasn’t instant joy by any means, but perhaps that’s what it means to “Count it all joy.” If I can look at each trial—big or small—as something that God wants to use for my good and His glory, then thankfulness and even joy may flourish.

Like the pansies in the cracks of the patio, we too can grow to be hardier and our roots deeper into our faith despite the hard circumstances around us.

Let’s Pray: Father in Heaven, help me to see that You lovingly allow the difficulties, whether big or little, into my life that I might shine brighter for You. Please give me a more thankful heart that leads to Your special kind of joy. Help me to conform into the image of Your Son. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Count It All Joy” by BeBe and CeCe Winans. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and a multi-published author of historical Christian romance. She is a longtime member in good standing of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). 


Kathleen has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She’s in the grip of God’s grace and is a fan of the three C’s: cats, coffee, and chocolate.

Kathleen is mother of three children. She is also a former homeschool instructor, mild-mannered dental assistant, and new Community Bible Study Children and Youth Director. Kathy lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of many years, and two sweet cats who found a home in their empty nest.

As an author, she is represented by Linda S. Glaz of the Linda S. Glaz Literary Agency.

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Connect with Kathleen:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kerouser
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/kathleenerouser
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathleenRouser
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rouserkathy/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kerouser/_saved
Website: https://kathleenrouser.com
Mewe: https://mewe.com/i/kathleenrouser

Monday, July 8, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: A different way to view the trials we face in life


When We View Our Trials Through a Different Lens
A devotional by Aubrey Taylor

“You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you!”—Psalm 40:5 (ESV)

Here in the Western Hemisphere, it is common for a Christian to read Romans 8:28 and consider how it applies to their own life. Many of us would be surprised to realize that in other parts of the world, Christians read this promise through a very different lens. Romans 8:28 (NKJV) tells us that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

North American and European culture focuses heavily on the individual, yet there are many cultures that see everything in terms of the whole—family, community, and tribe. One might call these cultures collectivist. We often forget that the authors of the Bible lived in a collectivist culture too. This stands out in Psalm 40:5 (ESV), with King David’s use of the word us when he said, “You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us.”

This changes the way I read Romans 8:28. Perhaps when Paul says that God is working all things for the good of those who love Him, he means that God is working all things for the good of all who love Him.

From watching the lives of those who have gone before us in the faith, we know that good does not necessarily mean a favorable outcome in this life. In the past, there have been generations that have seen nothing but struggle. They died, and the promise was realized in another generation. Hebrews 11:35-40 tells us of the things believers have suffered throughout the ages. It helps to remember this part that says they “did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us” (Hebrews 11:39-40 ESV). Their suffering opened the way for future generations to believe, be saved, and encouraged through their trials.

Throughout the Biblical narrative, we can see the way all of Israel’s sufferings eventually led to the birth of Jesus Christ. Yet even this was during a time of the heavy-handed Roman occupation of Judea and the entire known world. Salvation from Rome did not come during Christ’s lifetime. After Jesus died, was resurrected three days later and ascended into Heaven, His Church on Earth began to grow and flourish. However, that resulted in Roman rule becoming more oppressive and persecution of Christians began. In this difficult time, God was not so much interested in the good of the individual, but the good of a far greater number of people—future generations that would believe in Him.

If you are suffering today, take heart. If you have had a loved one pass from this life without receiving what God has promised, don’t let your faith be shaken. Though God is certainly interested in our individual lives, our personal struggles, and our very tears (Psalm 56:8), these are not the only things He has in mind. Our suffering may be intended for something greater—the good of many.

Now with this in mind, would you join me in praying that God would help us to see our suffering through a different lens?

Let’s Pray:
Dear Lord Jesus, thank You that Your plan is being worked out in the most intricate and beautiful way. I know my story weaves in with countless others throughout time—even those that have not been written yet. When I suffer, please remind me that my struggles will be used for good in ways I do not even know. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Blessings” by Laura Story. Listen to it here.

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Author Bio:

The only child of a single parent, Aubrey Taylor filled her younger years by creating characters and writing stories. This ended around age sixteen when music, friends and part-time jobs began to fill her time. After that came college, work, marriage, and children. 


It wasn’t until the world was beginning to come out of the COVID pandemic that God led her back to her love for writing, coupled with a passion she’d always had for history. It was time to start a new adventure!

Along with writing devotionals, Aubrey is the author of the German-perspective 20th Century Fiction series, Gott Mit Uns. She lives in Upstate New York with her husband and three children. When she’s not writing or taking care of her home and family, she enjoys singing and dancing with friends from a German choir and a Bavarian folk dancing group. She is also a lover of Jesus Christ, The Holy Bible, history, German culture, tea, and cats!

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Connect with Aubrey:
Website: https://www.aubreytaylorbooks.com
Blog: https://www.aubreytaylorbooks.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aubreytaylorbooks/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/aubtaybooks
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aubreytaylorbooks/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21846520.Aubrey_Taylor
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/aubrey-taylor
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Aubrey-Taylor/author/B0973KWXV8