Friday, October 15, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Radiance


Reflecting the Radiance of Christ
A devotional by Karen Marstaller

“Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
— Psalm 34:5 (ESV)

A couple of weeks ago, I walked into a room full of women whose faces were illuminated with their love for God. Their radiance brought back a long-forgotten memory.

It was just a tiny, dusty little west Texas town, but I was home from college when I heard that an old Bible teacher in our church was dying. Mrs. S. had always been kind to me, and for some inexplicable reason, I decided to go visit her.

Since I wasn’t a Christian at the time, it seems strange that I willingly walked into the same hospital where my mother had died just a few years earlier. The memories of that day clung to me like burs as I approached the front desk.

Pointing down the hallway, the woman in charge gave me the room number and then said, “The family can’t get here until the weekend, so I’m glad someone will be with her.” It seemed like a cryptic comment, but I shrugged it off and walked quietly to my destination.

Mrs. S’s room was large, with her bed in the middle of it. What was unusual was the light. The windows were bare, facing the mountains that surrounded the community. Sunlight poured through the plate glass, lighting everything in the room—the bed, the IV drip, the morphine dispenser, and even the gleaming floor. It enveloped the room with comfort and warmth.

Asleep for a few blessed moments, Mrs. S. wore a peaceful smile on her face. Then my eyes saw the ravages the cancer had inflicted on her. The hands that had clapped for joy, or patted discouraged shoulders, or eagerly reached for her Bible to teach young people about her Savior, lay motionless on the bed covers. Well, almost motionless. One pulsing vein was slowly doing its job. It was clearly visible; Mrs. S’s skin was translucent.

Two nurses came to check her. Gently they woke her, stroking the sparse hair that had escaped the colorful scarf she wore. Tenderly they replaced the IV bag and checked the port in her hand. Lovingly they held her fingers between their own to warm them. “Mrs. S., did you see your visitor?” one of them asked.

When she searched the room for her guest, her eyes finally focused on me, and her emaciated face radiated joy. Speech was beyond her, but I’ve always thought she recognized me and was glad to see me. She was beautiful.

Through all the years of her life, Mrs. S. had poured out her days in order to serve the Lord. Faithfully she had taught squirming, inattentive children the truth about Jesus, the Savior of the world. Tirelessly, she had loved and nurtured all the kids in her classes, always making sure we knew that we mattered.

One insignificant little town, a “wide place in the road” was where God sent Mrs. S. to share the truth about Jesus to a bunch of skeptical girls. I can’t recall a single lesson she taught in our classroom, but the lesson from her hospital bed is the one I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Mrs. S. spent her life in the presence of the Lord. She shared her love of Jesus with everyone she met. And even in her dying, her devotion to the Lord was evident everywhere I looked. It was mirrored in the faces of her caregivers. It poured into the room through wide-open windows. It even reflected off the wax on the floor.

It’s taken a long time to understand the enduring lesson from my old teacher. Because Mrs. S. had obeyed the Lord in taking on a class with my jaded, disbelieving self in it, I was given a glimpse of a life well-lived for Christ. In her room that day, God’s peace was apparent. She rested in the glorious light He allowed me to witness.

The Lord knows all our days, and has recorded every one of our names, along with the number of days He gives. And for those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior and follow Him, He gives the privilege of sharing His joy, His radiance, and His light with the people around us, just like Mrs. S. did.

In the Amplified Bible, Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious [and of great consequence] in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones [so He watches over them].”

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the teachers we’ve had who taught us about Jesus Christ. Thank You for shining Your holy light into our lives, even when we don’t know Who You are. Please teach us how to spend time with You, and to be faithful in reading Your Word, the Bible. Please give us strength to obey You all the days of our lives. Help us to become a reflection of Who You are, the only true God, King of the Universe. 

In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

During this time of quarantine, Karen enjoys reading, writing, and connecting with friends and family via phone calls, texts, emails, blogs, live-streams, and video conferencing.  


She is grateful that the Lord has provided so many ways for humankind to stay in community, even when we are all hunkering down in our homes.

Karen says, “In this unprecedented time, we know that He has prepared us for such a time as this! To God be all the glory!”

You can reach Karen by emailing her at this address: klmarstaller@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Recognition


Seeking Recognition
A devotional by Kay Pflueger

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” –1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

In my family, I am in the middle of three sisters.

My older sister was two years ahead of me in school and thus, was starting her junior year in high school when I was a freshman. Because she was older and had an established place in the ranks of high school students, I became known as “Lynn’s little sister.” I am not sure any of her friends even knew my name for the first semester of my freshman year!

Lynn was quite popular in school as a member of the dance team. She was well-liked and outgoing. The youngest, Joanie, is five years younger than me and was the cute “baby” of the family who could charm anyone and everyone. And there I was, the middle one—introverted and shy and uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt as though there was no special place for me as I was not the favored first child or the cherished last one. I was the unnoticed one in the shadows.

Recently, while I was looking for a particular book on Amazon, I stumbled across a book by Amy E. Reichert titled Two Pairs of 6” Heels and One Comfortable Shoe. This could have been the title of my autobiography! I was the comfortable shoe between two pairs of 6” heels. Oh, how I wanted so much to be noticed and to feel I had significance other than just being the middle girl. I craved recognition for my accomplishments no matter how small or insignificant they were.

Our human nature leads us to want acceptance by our peers. We want to be noticed by others, so we fill our social media feed with the “best of the best.” We only show what we think will garner “likes” and want to hide the reality of our daily lives. Satan knows we crave that recognition and tries to convince us that our worth is tied up in how many of those “likes” we receive.

However, we don’t need to do anything heroic or mind blowing or spectacular to prove our value. Our worth is defined by who we are in God. If we take to heart what the verse above says, we can accept that we are chosen by Him and are part of His royal priesthood. He loves us and has given us significance just as we are.

In Psalm 130:13-14 (ESV), David reminds us: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Remember who you are in Jesus Christ!

Let’s Pray: Why do we keep seeking significance in the opinions of others when we know that our worth is in You (God)? Turn our eyes toward you, Lord when we begin to doubt our value. Shed light on the lies that Satan is planting in our minds and fill us with your Truth. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Learning to read as a young child opened a world of adventure for Kay Pflueger. She came to realize that words can have a unique power and beauty.


Choosing to share those words in her devotional writings has become a joyful and rewarding experience for her. As a widow, she feels a special affinity towards those who are grieving or experiencing loss.

When she is not spending time with her married son and three grandchildren, she is either reading, cooking, writing, or working on pursuing her Copyediting Certification.

Kay is an avid baseball fan who looks forward every summer to following her favorite team, the Chicago Cubs.

She is an active member of Victory Lutheran Church in her hometown of San Diego, California.

Kay enjoys writing devotions to be shared on her church’s website and personal social media.

~*~
Connect with Kay:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kay.m.pflueger
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/irishsweetpea/

Monday, October 11, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Grief


God of My Closet Floor
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.” 
– Psalm 139:7-8 (NLT)

As ribbons of light peeked their way through the blinds, I was instantly aware something was amiss. The familiar fur head piece that typically wove itself around my head was missing. My Harley had never made his way onto my pillow the night before which was quite unusual for him. As my feet found the floor, he wandered his way into the bedroom.

Taking his customary post on the bathroom floor he waited patiently for me to complete my morning dental routine before heading to the kitchen to prepare his breakfast. When the next morning revealed the same odd behavior change, I made a note on my calendar and scheduled a vet visit for a few days later. Little did I know that three weeks, two ER visits and two oncology visits later my faithful feline friend would be gone.

Psalms 36:6 affirms that God cares for people and animals alike. So, I admit without reservation that the sadness and heart break I have experienced since Harley died has been like no other. It has brought me to my knees in moments of weeping where I have asked God why He didn’t just take me too. At times I have felt that I might be swallowed by the grief that consumes me. My shattered heart seems beyond repair. But God.

The Bible tells us God is everywhere but sometimes it feels like He is nowhere. It’s in those moments where we have to walk by faith and stand on the promises God has made in His Word. Promises to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Promises to be near to the broken-hearted (Psalms 34:18). Promises to collect all my tears in a bottle (Psalms 56:8). And the promise that one day God will wipe away all the tears from our eyes, and there will be no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, and no more pain (Revelation 21:4). Our feelings deceive us, but our God never does. Our feelings may fail us, But God never will. Our faith may falter but God is forever faithful.

It’s easy to feel God’s presence when serving on the mission field or in the midst of a worship night at church. When we are experiencing Holy Spirit highs or basking in God’s blessings His nearness is almost palpable. But He is no farther away and no less God when our world seems to be crumbling around us. When we receive a cancer diagnosis, need a job, our marriage falls apart or we lose a loved one, He is still nearby and sitting on His throne in complete control.

I spent time on my closet floor this morning remembering my final moments with Harley and you know what I discovered? The God of the mountain tops and mission trips is also the God of my closet floor. The God of joy in the morning is also the God of weeping in the night. The God of peace that surpasses all understanding is also the God of profound pain. The God of hope is also the God of the hurting. The God of blessing to overflow is also the God of the broken-hearted. Our house feels like a Grand Canyon of emptiness that only the fullness of God can fill.

My heart harbors a God-sized gap that only He can satisfy. Deep grief is the price of great love.

And He is the God of them both.

Let’s Pray: Gracious Father, when the trials and pressures of this world seem too much to bear, help us remember to draw near to You because when we do, You promise You will draw near to us. You have assured us we will have trouble in this world, but also remind us to have faith because You have overcome the world. In our darkest moments, You are the Light of the world. When we pass through the waters, you promise to be with us. When we go through rivers, you ensure they will not overwhelm us. When we walk through the fire you guarantee we will not be burned and the flames will not consume us. We never have to go searching for You, because You are always near. Even when we don’t see it, feel it, or believe it, You are working and moving on our behalf. You are for us and not against us and are forever on Your throne. Help us to not just read these promises in Your Word but believe them to be truth in our lives. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

*Note from Alexis: Cyndi’s devotional message reminds me of the song “Beauty for Ashes” by Crystal Lewis. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Cyndi Staudt is a Jesus-loving, adrenaline junkie who is devoted to living her life for Jesus Christ until the day she is living with Him. 


With a passion for cultivating a craving for God’s Word, her devotions and Bible studies are saturated with faith and hope to stir your soul to connect with God in deeper, more intimate ways.

Through her writing she hopes to ignite your desire to read God’s Word, invite your heart to experience God’s love, and inspire you to live your live life “souled out” to the One whose love has no limits.

~*~
Connect with Cyndi:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/souledoutcyndi/

Friday, October 8, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Failure


The Remedy for Failure
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.”
–Mark 9:18 (KJV)

There are some people in this world who do not or rarely fail at anything. I am not one of them. Failure is humbling and humiliating. It is embarrassing to the one who failed as well as those who had great expectations.

In Mark chapter nine, Jesus Christ enters a scene where a crowd had gathered around His disciples. They were contending with them because they had publicly failed to exorcise a suicidal demon from a young man. Can you imagine, or remember when you approached a task with confidence and through no fault of your own, failed? It can be frustrating and demoralizing.

I spent 20 years in the Navy as a chaplain. My first three years were with the Marine Corps. I did a great job and loved the challenge. The Chief of Chaplains personally selected me for my next assignment in Washington, D.C. I excelled in that job too. While in the second job, I became eligible for promotion to Lieutenant Commander. I thought that I would be a “shoo-in”, even though it was a competitive process. I was not selected. It happened again the next year. Just like He did in this story, Jesus showed up for me.

When He approached the crowd and asked what was happening, the crowd gave a negative report. They said that Christ’s disciples failed! In a stroke of masterful leadership, Jesus, without condemning the failure, stepped into the gap of expectation. He shifted the focus from the disciple’s failure to the faith of the father whose child was possessed.

Once the father articulated his faith filled doubt, Jesus rebuked the demon. In so doing, He demonstrated three spiritual leadership lessons:

Lesson #1:
He turned a public failure into a teachable moment.

Lesson #2: He met the needs of the father, the boy, the crowd and the disciples. Everyone left the scene, whole, with restored confidence in the power and grace of Christ.

Lesson #3: He raised the level of spiritual preparation that the disciples would have to pursue to meet future challenges.

Failure often teaches more indelible lessons than success. Easy, immediate, and frequent success can lead to an inflated sense of capability and arrogance. In this story, after Jesus healed the boy, the crowd dissipated, and Jesus came into the room where the disciples had retreated. They asked Him why they had failed. They had done what they had seen him do. What made the difference?

His answer gives a key to the ascending levels of spiritual power. The disciples were learning the basic math of spiritual leadership and power. Now, Jesus was introducing them to Algebra in preparation for the Calculus that would be required to lead His church into the geometric impact that they would have on the world.

From day one, Jesus had shown them the power of plenty that lay just beyond the surface of their efforts. Miraculous demonstrations of God’s provisions won their trust and allegiance. They gained power through their proximity to Him. Now, He was preparing them to suffer the cost of leadership and power.

Isolation, intense expectation, and condemnation often typify the atmosphere that surrounds top tier leaders. Athletes, tycoons, evangelists and other apex leaders graduate into an accelerating vortex of ever-increasing challenges and expectations. 

Fasting and prayer were the spiritual disciplines that would prepare the disciples for their future trials and victories. Fasting and prayer are the antidotes for arrogance, the fear of failure as well as the corresponding highs and lows of leadership. Lessons learned in the trenches and valleys are the vehicles that transport us to our peak performances.

Fasting and prayer drive us back to the foundries of faith where once again we are tried and purified in the fires of failure. It is there that our characters are refined and displayed. It is through increasing expectation and fatigue that strength is formed.

Fasting and prayer is where divinity introduces us to vision, providence, and possibility. Faith is the key that opens the transparent veil between what we envision and what we can grasp. Fasting and prayer is not simply deprivation, it is preparation.

Getting ready for your greatness? Do what Jesus taught his disciples to do: fast and pray.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, if we have failed, help us to learn. Strengthen us so that we can fast and pray. When we do, speak to us through our hopes and dreams. Open our eyes so that we can see what lies ahead and face it without fear. Bless us with Your guidance, wisdom, faith, and fortitude, as you did for the disciples with whom you lived. Live similarly within us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
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.

You may connect with Chaplain Anderson via email at this address, psanderson75@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we should thank God at all times


Give Thanks at All Times
A devotional by Patricia Russell

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
– Psalm 34:1 (NKJV)

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you've questioned what the Bible has to say?

I get the feeling your answer is a loud, "Yes!"  If it weren't, I would have to check your pulse. Because to be honest, I've had to question if the Word really means what it said many times, especially when life is hard, and when life takes a turn in a completely different direction than you planned.

David, the chief songwriter of the Bible book of Psalms, asked a lot of questions too. There was a time (1 Samuel 30) when his family was kidnapped, and his household ripped apart, and he must have asked God how could He let this happen.

The enemy came and ransacked his camp and took not only his wives and cattle but the possessions of his fellow fighters. David perused the damage done, and he did what any human being would do – he wept. And then he did something remarkable. Would you believe that this man did something while in the pit of despair that most of us would find deeply difficult to do? In the midst of the pain, he began to encourage himself in the Lord. This is what the scripture encourages us to do. David may have sounded something like this, "Self, it's going to be alright. Self, be encouraged. Self, bless the Lord!”

Throughout the book of Psalms, we can see where David encouraged and strengthened himself. 

Let’s read three examples:

Psalm 42:11 (NIV): “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Psalm 18:5-6 (NKJV): “In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.”

Psalm 34:1 (NKJV): "I will bless the Lord at all times. His praises shall continually be in my mouth."

So where do you gather that kind of strength to give thanks in the midst of pain and disappointment? This is not an overnight lesson, but it is learned behavior. 

Today, wherever you find yourself, make a conscious effort to bless the Lord, to give thanks in all things. Remember, this is the will of God plainly written for is to obey. Tell your will to get on board and in all things give thanks.

David had learned how to worship God for who He is. He learned to praise God in his struggles. He practiced praise and it became a habit. He was honest with his pain, and his grief and developed a pattern of looking up to God especially in his darkest hours.

There will come many times in life when there is no human being to look to for what you need so I implore you to develop this habit to bless the Lord at all times, so it becomes natural.

I encourage you to give thanks at all times and in everything (1Thessalonians 5:18). Giving thanks develops a habit of gratitude is life-changing it affects or perspective and gives us the grace and the power to truly stand in the storms of life, knowing that God will carry us through.

Let's Pray:
Dear Lord, thank you for reminding me that in the middle of the storms you are with me. You are aware of everything that is happening and I am thankful. Today and every day I am thankful for your lovingkindness which is better than life. Help me to remember this at all times, in Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

*Note from Alexis: Patricia’s devotional message today reminded me of the song “Find Rest” by Francesca Battistelli. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:


Patricia Russell is a speaker, worship leader, author, certified life coach and songwriter.


Her gifts have been shared internationally with audiences to encourage, empower and share life lessons through words and songs. She has sung on national television broadcasts and shared the stage with several respected speakers. Over her 30 years in ministry, she has been a featured artist in musical cantatas locally and the United States of America.

Patricia had the honour of leading worship at the kick-off event for the 2006 the “Just Give Me Jesus” Toronto Revival with Anne Graham Lotz who is the eldest daughter of Billy Graham, a well-known American evangelist.

Patricia serves in ministry along with her husband Rev. Wayne Russell. Together, they have served as guest hosts on a local early morning call in program called “Nite Lite Live” that formerly aired on the CTS Television Network. They have two adult children: Raquel and Benjamin.

Patricia has recorded two CD’s: “Lord I Trust You” and a live recording “Draw Me Nearer.” She is also an author. Her first book is titled Lord I Trust You: Words of Encouragement. It is meant to further encourage and share life lessons as a result of her cancer journey. She is a co-author of a #1 bestseller book titled Crushed Diamonds Still Sparkle, and she has compiled the recent #1 bestseller book titled Stronger Resilience.

~*~
Connect with Patricia:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/patrussellsings/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/patrussellsings
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patrussellonline/
Email: patrussellsings@gmail.com

Monday, October 4, 2021

My Review of the NEW movie "God's Not Dead: We the People"


My Review of God's Not Dead:We the People (movie)

Recently, I had the remarkable opportunity to view a pre-screening of the new movie, God's Not Dead: We the People. This is the fourth film in the God's Not Dead franchise and it's just as poignant and well-done as the previous installments!

Before I share my review with you, I'd like to tell you about the movie through a word 
from Momentum Influencers: “The God’s Not Dead franchise continues in God’s Not Dead: We the People as Reverend Dave (White) is called to defend a group of Christian homeschooling families. He finds himself taken aback by the interference of the government, and believing that their right to educate their own children is a freedom worth fighting for, Reverend Dave is called to Washington D.C. to testify in a landmark congressional hearing that will determine the future of religious freedom in our country for years to come. In the words of Ronald Reagan, “Freedom is a fragile thing”. Individual freedoms and liberties are at the center of this passionate and emotional story, and it runs from the heart of the country to the corridors of Washington. Who will decide what a child needs to know for generations to come? Will God be left behind?”

~*~
My Review of God's Not Dead: We the People (movie):

This movie was amazing from start to finish! 

The viewer is able to join the characters on their journey. It's like you're invited into every scene and experience all the feelings of the actors who did a great job of staying in character!

God's Not Dead: We the People tackles an issue that is close to the hearts of many Christian parents who feel led by God to homeschool their children instead of sending them to public schools. The debate and conflict around this issues was perfectly portrayed in this fiction story on film. I believe that any Christian parent who struggles with deciding what's best for their child's eduction, will appreciate this story brought to life by these wonderful actors!

Speaking of the actors, I was delighted to see that one of my favorite Contemporary Christian musicians had a lead role in this movie! Francesca Battistelli stars as a wife and mom who wants to homeschool her children. 

(Pictured above: Francesca Battistelli in character)

Just like her mother Kate Battistelli who played Anna opposite of Yul Brynner in the Broadway play The King and I, Francesca delivered a believable and well-done performance! Clearly, the acting apple doesn't fall far from the tree and singing is not Francesca's only amazing talent.

This movie included several subplots that enriched the overall story and each little picture contributed to they big picture. Speaking of pictures, the Director of Photography truly delivered! Every scene and backdrop is beautiful.

I also enjoyed seeing several of the actors from the previous movies in this series, return to the screen. It was wonderful to see how their personal stories continued in this movie.

God's Not Dead: We the People arrives in theaters tonight (Oct. 4) and will continue playing on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6. However, those are the only dates for when you can see this movie for now. So don't wait! Buy your ticket here and visit the movie's official website here for more details.

Watch the official trailer for this movie here:


Learn about the heart of the movie here:

Devotionals for the Heart: Seasons


Loving Well in Changing Seasons
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end.”
—Lamentations 3:22 (NRSV)

Have you ever experienced a love that changes?

When I was a kid, I remember being struck by how my grandmother would take care of my mom sometimes, even though my mom was a grown woman and had kids of her own.

Now, this wasn’t the same kind of caregiving my mom did for me. After all, I was a child and couldn’t cook for myself or keep house, but it was visible in the little things—the way my Gram made sure my mom had gotten herself something to drink when she came over for dinner, or the way she made her sit down because she could tell my mom was stressed out.

Gram was a natural caregiver—she took in her own mom, my great-grandma, whom we called Bubba (honest truth!), until Bubba passed away. She took in my great-aunt Ethel until Aunt Ethel passed. She took in my cousin and her young son for a while, and she faithfully cared for my grandpa until he, too, passed on.

Then Gram was suddenly alone.

Somehow, my mom convinced Gram to sell the house she’d lived in since 1952 and move three states away to live in a mother-in-law suite at my mom’s house. That’s when things really began to change. Slowly Gram, always one of the smartest women I’ve ever known, began to slip mentally. She’d forget things, and eventually the decline quickened. Eventually my grandma was the one in the hospital bed, family gathered all around her, showing her love and saying their goodbyes.

Gram went from caregiver to being cared for herself.

I’m not there yet with my mom, who is active and vibrant and still very youthful, but I know things will one day change. Just like my mom once washed me and dressed me as a little girl, one day I’ll be doing the same thing for her. And my daughter will do the same for me.

One of the most profound things about love and the expression of love is the way that it changes. It is not stagnant but fluid, evolving to serve and grow in new and sometimes unexpected ways. The love itself does not change, but it appears to change, and the way it is expressed can change.

It reminds me a bit of the love God has for us, his people. God’s love is timeless.

We cannot box it in or even begin to define it, let alone comprehend its fullness. But we sometimes see it reflected in different ways depending on the stage of life we are in. Sometimes it feels like a close, personal love, a love that walks with you in every step. Other times it’s a tougher love. The kind of love that tests us to help us understand the big picture. God did not love Abraham any less when he asked him to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18).

It likely broke Abraham’s heart to have to do what he did, take his son and lead him off to a presumed sacrifice. And God did not love Isaac any less either. God did what was hard to help Abraham understand a necessary fact—no matter how much love we have for our self or our children, nothing must be stronger than the love we have for our Heavenly Father. Nothing can stand in the way. That’s a hard lesson to learn, but God taught it in love and for a higher purpose. (And thankfully, Abraham passed the “test” and didn’t have to sacrifice Isaac after all.)

Throughout the Bible God is known by many names. He’s the same God—God Almighty, the Great I Am—but he has other special names that don’t detract or diminish his greatness or other names. These other names often express the type of love a person might be experiencing at that moment.

For example, God is known also as:

· Yahweh (Lord)

· Adonai (Master)

· Elohim (Creator)

· Abba (Father/Daddy)

· El Roi (The God who sees me)

· Jehovah Jireh (The Lord will provide)

· Jehovah Rapha (The God who heals)

· Jehovah Nissi (God as banner or protector)

· Jehovah Shalom (God of peace)


Right now, the name that is most appealing to me for God is El Roi, the God who sees me. It’s been a really hard season in my life, and while things are getting back on track, I’m often exhausted mentally and physically. But I know that God sees me right now, in the space I’m in. He understands, and he walks with me.

I love Lamentations 3:22, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end” (NRSV). The way we experience God’s love might change over the years and even over the course of a month, a week (or in my roller-coaster life, a day!). But God’s love is always the same perfect, inexplicable, steadfast gift.

As God’s people, our experience might be different, but it’s the same love.

And it’s up to us, God’s people, to model that beautiful love in the relationships we have with others. In 1 John 4:19, we’re reminded that we love because God first loved us.

Today, I hope you will think about the way you love others. Sometimes roles change, life changes, and our feelings change, whether that’s in a parent-child relationship, a husband-wife relationship, or a friendship. But that agape love remains.

Hold onto that truth, my friends. Just love.

Let’s Pray: Lord, Abba, El Roi, please help me to love people in my life well, whether I’m in a “good” period in life or not. Help my love to expand along with changing life situations and accept those changes with grace, peace, and compassion. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

*Note from Alexis: Jessica's devotional message today reminds me of the song "Seasons Change" by Crystal Lewis. Listen to it here.

~*~
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.

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

She has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.