Monday, January 31, 2022

14 Days of Love: The Introduction


Dear Blog Readers,

February is approaching, which means a very special holiday is approaching too!

Valentine's Day is celebrated on Feb. 14 by lovers and friends with chocolate, candies, roses, greeting cards and romantic dinners.

But here on my "God is Love" blog, we're going to celebrate this holiday with "14 Days of Love".

It's a Contemporary Romance story promo series featuring some of my author friends!

Each day from Feb. 1 to Feb. 14, you can expect to see a spotlight featuring a sweet romance story here on my blog. All of my author friends participating in this celebration have agreed to give away one, signed paperback copy of their featured book to the winner of the book giveaway contest that you can enter via the Rafflecopter widget located at the end of each daily post!

Exciting times, right?

I hope that this "14 Days of Love" series will encourage your heart.

God bless you!

Love,

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

Devotionals for the Heart: Don't let life challenges deter your faith in God


Drunken Faith
A devotional by Shirley A. Denson

“As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. ‘Must you come here drunk?’ he demanded. ‘Throw away your wine!’ ‘Oh no, sir!’ she replied. ‘I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.’”—1 Samuel 1:12-16 NLT

Have you ever been in a challenging season of your life, and to add insult to injury, had your actions questioned?

This is the exact season that Hannah finds herself in! Life was definitely “life-ing,” and things were coming at her from almost every direction. Can you imagine? She’s barren. The other woman is tormenting her about it. When she decides to pray about it, the priest thinks she’s drunk because he didn’t understand what was going on.

Despite the challenges that faced Hannah, she didn’t let what was going on deter her faith. The reality of the situation is that she was barren. The reality of the situation is that Peninnah kept giving birth and repeatedly reminded her of, and tormented her about, her barrenness. The reality of the situation is that her praying was misinterpreted as drunkenness by Eli. However, the truth of the matter is that once the misinterpretation was cleared up, the same priest pronounced a blessing that unlocked her barren womb. No matter what your reality may be, God’s truth always trumps that.

Many of you, like Hannah, may be going through arduous situations. Everyone else around you seems to be thriving, and living their best life. But you, on the other hand, seem like you’re stuck in a monotonous cycle of unproductivity. It may seem like nothing your try produces. Also, it could appear that you’re being overlooked while everyone else is being promoted. On top of it all, the enemy constantly torments you with feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.

In spite of how you feel, do like Hannah—allow your faith to cause you to look crazy, if need be. If it’s starting a business, writing a book, launching a podcast…whatever! Who’s to say that it won’t push you into the presence of people that can go to God on your behalf and get the answer you’ve been waiting for? Hannah didn’t know that she looked drunk to Eli. All she knew was that prayer would be the only way to change her situation.

Hannah had survived years of torture and torment, all to have it erased in one moment of drunken faith. Her womb was unlocked, and she was finally able to give birth. As a result of the child birthed out to her drunken faith, Hannah honored God by dedicating the child back to Him. When your drunken faith produces, and it will, don’t forget to honor God for the thing(s) He’s done.

Let’s Pray: Lord, thank for even counting me worthy to endure this trial. I don’t understand it all, but I trust Your Sovereignty in it all. Even when the odds seem unsurmountable, and my faith seems questionable, give me the strength to keep going until I see the manifestation of what You promised. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Shirley A. Denson is a native of Statesboro, GA. 


She found out at a young age that she had a creative mind and a way with words. Later on in life, she learned to cultivate her passion for writing as a budding author.

Shirley is very passionate about writing. Each book that she releases will be a product of God stirring and cultivating the gift He’s entrusted her with. She has won numerous writing awards/certificates, and is a published poet and blogger.

For the past six years, Shirley has worked as a professional ghostwriter, editor, and author. It is her joy and goal that through print, she might impact lives and leave the imprint of the King.

Visit her website to stay in the loop about her new book releases, current projects, and to read her blog posts.

~*~
Connect with Shirley:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SayWhatEnterprises
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/saywhatenterprises/
Website: https://www.saywhatent.com

Friday, January 28, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Life lessons learned on faith and new beginnings


Faith in New Beginnings
A devotional by Wendy Wilson Spooner

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” 
–Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)

New beginnings usually feel marvelous, like a new year, which we have just begun.

We start going to the gym with a somewhat great attitude, and so it begins.

Grand new beginnings are an excellent way to start over. But what about the small ones? There’s nothing like waking up in the morning to see everything bathed in the light of the sun, which reminds us of Jesus Christ (God’s Son), who is the Light of the world (John 8:12). This new beginning alone can feel magical. Especially if the day before was a rough one.

This past year was a difficult one for me. 2020 was awful for everyone, but 2021 continued on its merry way for me, in a similar fashion. I found myself crying and pleading with God many times to give me direction. He sent me either comfort or peace when He didn’t send me an exact solution, but I got one or the other whenever I dropped to my knees.

Sometimes life will knock the wind out of you to the extent when you can’t breathe. Such as when a loved one dies, or divorce rocks your family, or when a child is struggling, and you don’t know what to do. The feeling can be like lying at the bottom of a deep pit with a ladder in view (Jesus Christ as your way up and out of the pit). But you only have the strength to pray for the will to crawl to Him.

Each of us gains the strength to overcome in our own time and in our own way. With Jesus by our side, it will be the perfect timing for every one of us. Leaning on Him and His Word (The Holy Bible) is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus is the only way to the path of renewal.

The most important thing to remember is that the direction you are moving in is more important than where you are at the moment.

Set aside some time to think about where you want to be and what it will take for you to get there. Jesus, our example to follow, often headed into the wilderness to pray. We need to do something similar occasionally to reset our thoughts and God-given spirits.

We should use time to our advantage. If we reflect daily on the attributes of Jesus and set goals one step at a time to become more like Him, then we’ll find peace and fortitude in the long journey through this mortal existence.

And if we take advantage of new beginnings, the large and the small with Jesus by our side, we can make progress that we could never make on our own. Maybe more than we dreamed of.

This year, I’m working on seeing time as my ally instead of my enemy. I’ve set a goal to strike from my thoughts and speech the words, “I don’t have enough time,” and just believe I do.

Because that’s what faith is. Faith in new beginnings, faith in Christ, and faith that He stands by our side as we start over, time and time again.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, help us to come to You, and to believe we can do all things with You. Bless us with faith to begin again whenever we need to. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

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


Her love of what we can learn from history compels her to write the true stories she unearths because she’s found that truth is indeed much more exciting and inspiring than fiction.

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

As an award-winning family history writer, Wendy’s debut novel, Once Upon an Irish Summer, released April 3, 2020. This book is a dual timeline historical fiction novel about a young, gifted artist suffering from debilitating grief, who finds healing and inspiration in her Irish ancestry, and goes on to paint a masterpiece.

The sequel, Celtic Winter: Eliza’s Story, released November 5, 2021. The storyline goes back in time to the little sister left behind in Ireland to keep her family alive, woven with present-day Beth’s continuing story as she races the clock with the young man she loves to find the only person who could save his mother’s life.

When Wendy is not researching or writing, she hikes, paints, loves being a church youth leader, binges on epic Bollywood movies, and hangs out with her greatest loves—her family.

~*~
Connect with Wendy:
Website: https://wendywilsonspooner.com/
Blog: https://wendywilsonspooner.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorWendyWilsonSpooner/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendyspooner/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Wendy_W_Spooner

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Thankful Thursdays: When God answers the prayers you didn't pray


When God Answers
A Thankful Thursday post by Alexis A. Goring

“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”
– Isaiah 65:24 (NIV)

It’s Thursday and I’m thankful that God always answers my prayers—spoken and unspoken—in ways I do and oftentimes do not expect.

Last week Friday was one of those nights when my issues were hitting me, hard. I went to bed feeling burdened and I woke up on Saturday morning with a lot of pain still weighing heavy on my heart. It built up within me to the point when I started venting to God. My venting session turned into anger and despair. It got to the point where I doubted that God cared about anything I was going through because I couldn’t sense His working in any aspect of all of the issues that were causing me deep pain and sorrow. 

I knew better than to tell God that He doesn’t care about me because the Bible clearly says He does (John 3:16, Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 6:26, 1 Peter 5:7). However, my pain had pushed me to the point of almost believing that He didn’t care and He wasn’t there for me. 

The silence I felt on God’s end of the communication line was deafening…until He spoke!

No, I didn’t hear the audible voice of God from Heaven. But I did hear His Words spoken through people who care about me. Only a few hours after my venting session, one of my church friends texted me asking if she and one of our Bible study members could visit me that afternoon to pray for me.

Now I’m used to church people visiting people who they care about to pray for them when they’re sick or struggling in a crisis. But I never had experienced a church friend randomly calling me to ask if they can visit to pray for me. But don’t you know it wasn’t random? I soon found out that God was in the details.

When I asked the friend—we’ll call her Essence—why she wanted to pray for me in person, she said “Because that’s what the Father would have us do.” She was referring to God as our Heavenly Father. I agreed to the visit. An hour later, Essence and our friend D showed up. They greeted me and encouraged me with Scripture. They read the passage from the Bible from Mark 4:35-41 (scripture), which is about the time when Jesus Christ calmed the raging storm with His Words.

Scripture says that Jesus and His disciples were in a boat on the water when a fierce storm arose. Waves broke over their boat to the point where it was nearly swamped. His disciples woke Jesus and said “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (verse 38). Jesus rose and rebuke the wind saying “Quiet! Be still!” And immediately, the wind died down and all around them became “completely calm” (verse 39). Jesus then turned to His disciples and asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (verse 40)

Essence then read quotes related to this Scripture from a Christian writer. She then added her own exhortation about why we as believers need to, as soon as we wake up in the morning, put on the full Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) so that we can stand strong against the devil’s schemes. She reminded me specifically to raise up my “shield of faith” to stop the darts from the enemy (the devil and his demons).

Essence and D then took turns praying for me and all of my family members. They reminded me that I am loved then gave me a hug before leaving.

Immediately after they left, I prepared space for my first virtual paint night led by a ministry leader’s wife from our church home. And guess what the theme of this faith-based paint night was? She spoke on how God doesn’t mean for anyone to go through life alone. We are meant to journey together. Always use wisdom and discretion about who you open up to but know that there are safe places for you to share your heart and our paint night, she said, is one.

Even the painting that we all created taught us a spiritual lesson. We painted mountains at sunset and our host (we’ll call her Valerie), told us that God can move mountains in our life, if we only just believe.

After the sunset that Saturday, God had fully filled me with His Love through the people He sent to love on me and He also taught me a lesson for this life on Earth. God taught me that no matter what I deal with, no matter how deep the pain goes, no matter how alone I feel, I need to remember that I am never alone. There’s song by Cheri Keaggy that says we are not without hope or love because we have Jesus Christ who is always present in our life and completely there for us. The song is called “Not With Jesus”. You can listen to it here.

So in the quiet of the evening, after paint night was over, I spoke to God again. This time, it wasn’t a venting session nor was it a lament about all of my sorrows and pain. It was a time I spent thanking Him for answering my prayers that I barely could pray (asking God to show me that He cares) and asking Him to forgive me for believing even for a minute that He doesn’t care about me. I thanked Him for always being there for me and asked Him to help me always remember this day, especially when the storms of life overwhelm me because in this life we will have trouble but the good news is God is greater than all of our troubles (John 16:33). 

Jesus has gone before us. He has overcome the world and He wants to help us be overcomers of this world too.

In closing, I’d like for you to watch this full episode from Better Together TV. It’s called “Overcoming Anger with God”. You can watch it here.
 


Be encouraged, dear friends. The Creator (God) of the Universe LOVES YOU and He is NOT going anywhere!

With love,

Alexis A. Goring
Founder of “God is Love” blog

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Worthiness


A Worthy Heart

A devotional by Tessa Huckstep

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” –Ephesians 1:7 (KJV)

We all have struggled with self-worth at some point in our lives.

Some of us work strenuously to obtain it, others quietly shove the desire down, feeling it is sinful and selfish. But in each human heart is the desperate longing to be worthy.

This elusive idea of worth is a deep and God-given desire of our human hearts. We long to be worthy. We long to possess value.

If we are all striving toward self-worth, why do so few of us reach this level of worthiness and even fewer can maintain it?

It all began with the Fall of humankind, as detailed in The Holy Bible. Read Genesis 3 for the full story featuring Adam, Eve and the serpent (Satan in disguise) who deceived them and led them to sin. After Adam and Eve had sinned, worthiness for humanity became unattainable. Many of us who follow Jesus Christ work tirelessly in church ministries, hoping others will see us as “good Christians”. But when you see people like us, do you see a captivating and worthy heart, or do you see a tired heart pleading for others to tell them their worth?

Striving is not the answer to our quest of discovering self-worth. Striving is our own human way of attempting to attain worthiness on our own. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but in your journey of seeking self-worth, you will never achieve anything through your own effort. Worth is not based upon your appearance or performance.

Picture an auction in your mind’s eye. People crowd the aisles of items for auction and the auctioneer continues to shout the bids. You watch as the next item is brought forward, a large blank painting. The blood drains from your face as the scenes of your life flicker across the painting—every failure, every mistake, every heartache—the very essence of who you are.

You duck your head in shame as the auctioneer asks for a bid. No one would want this ugly, useless, unvaluable painting.

“I’ll take that one.” A Man shouts from the back. The astonished crowd parts and the Man who had spoken is gazing knowingly into your eyes.

“How much, sir?” The auctioneer asks.

The Man did not hesitate. “My Son.”

What determines an object’s price is not how pretty or accomplished it is. What determines price is how much the buyer is willing to pay. And you, dear reader, are worth the precious and infinite blood of Jesus Christ.

When God’s Son (Jesus Christ) died on the cross, He knew that with each fallen drop of his life-giving blood, your sins—your every failure and mistake—were being placed upon Himself. That is what redemption is all about. Our filthiness and unworthiness were placed upon Christ and His own worthiness and righteousness was placed upon us. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, God (our Heavenly Father) now sees His Son’s worthiness in us.

All throughout Ephesians, the apostle Paul uses the phrase “in Christ”. You will not find worth in striving to be better. You will find your worth in Christ. Everything else is just a cheap imitation.

How then do we get this knowledge of redemption from our head to our hearts? Are you already striving to make this supernatural occurrence take place within you, planning to read your Bible more and pray more? Take a moment and stop. God says you have a worthy heart. You may not feel that you have a worthy heart, but belief is not an emotion. Belief is a choice—emotions will come later. Dear reader, are you going to choose to believe what God says about you? Are you going to start this journey of recognizing your self-worth by renewing your mind?

If your answer is “yes”, then I encourage you to open The Bible and read through Ephesians Chapter 1. As you read, underline everything God says of the Ephesian believers and make it your own. Take this passage and meditate over it. Renewing your mind will take time, but I promise the results are worth it.

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord, thank You for taking our unworthiness upon Yourself and offering us Your rightful worthiness. Please help us to release our tendencies to strive toward worthiness and find our worth in You alone. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Tessa Huckstep grew up in rural Illinois to Christian parents and has known Jesus personally since the age of five. 


She is currently attending community college and majoring in elementary education. In the future, she plans to teach in the public school, hoping to bring the love of God with her.

God’s dream of Tessa becoming a writer was revealed to her at the age of sixteen and she hasn’t been able to stop since. Though she has not yet been published, Tessa enjoys writing historical romance novels and speculative fiction.

Tessa believes God loves stories, and through her writing, she wants to reveal the happily ever after God dreams of for each of his daughters—one where Jesus is the knight in shining armor.

Tessa loves all things Georgian/Regency, needlework, and dainty teacups of every size. When she isn’t writing or studying for exams, Tessa can be found in the kitchen with more flour in her hair and on the floor than in the mixing bowl, though the mess is always half the fun!

~*~
Connect with Tessa:
Blog: https://beautifulbeloved937002841.wordpress.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beloved.bookworm/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/101227159

Monday, January 24, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: When you are under construction, built by God


God’s Construction Project
A devotional by Glynis Becker

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

I have a fascination with construction projects. 

We live in a rural area, so we don’t see anything in the way of skyscrapers or really tall buildings, but watching the process of creating a road where once there was only dirt or seeing a shopping center rise from a plot of land is pretty amazing.

Do you know what I’m most amazed by, though? When a project completely changes the landscape.

A few years ago in our area, a hill that had been used for waterslides was leveled to make way for something new. Construction equipment moved tons and tons of dirt and completely flattened the land for an enormous building. The amount of work—through resources and manpower and equipment and time—that goes into a project of that scale is unbelievable to me. Anyone new to town would never be able to guess that there used to be a huge hill there.

God is also in the construction business. He wants to transform our hearts, our lives, our wills, into something He can use. We need to allow Him to do whatever work needs to be done. Sometimes that involves sledgehammers tearing down walls we’ve created through sin and idolatry. Sometimes He helps build bridges to reconciliation and healing for ourselves and others.

I love hearing people’s stories of how God has brought them out of addictions or the occult. Those dramatic witnesses are huge construction projects and important for the collective story of what the power of Christ can do here and now. But what if you and I have stories that are more like remodels than from-the-ground-up projects? Those are certainly important too. 

What if one day I realize I no longer feel a need to gossip? Or that the way I relate to my family or friends has become a lot more grace-filled? Those might not make headlines, but they are important steps to a better life for ourselves and a better world for everyone. 

Those small steps of transformation often lay the groundwork for something greater. Each time we see God’s handiwork in our lives, it becomes an opportunity for us to be of better use to Him in the world.

It’s a new year, which naturally brings a time of self-reflection and opportunity. What sort of changes would you like to work with God to bring about this year? Do you need an attitude shift or a major overhaul? Pray about it. Be humble about it. He is faithful and He is good.

Remember: There are no DIY (“do-it-yourself”) projects around here! These changes only work if God is the one in charge!

Let’s Pray: Father God, help me be humble enough to ask for Your help this year and always. Show me where I need a change. Give me the strength to let You build me or break me, whatever is the best for Your kingdom. You are the Great Builder and only through You can I do anything. In Jesus’s precious name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Glynis Becker writes devotions and inspirational fiction, hoping someday to have a published novel on her resume. 


She has co-written several screenplays, including the film Sinking Sand, available on DVD and digital streaming.

Glynis, whose childhood was spent all over the country as an Air Force brat, has called South Dakota home for many years, along with her husband and two college-age children.

When she’s not writing or reading, she is watching more television than she should and crocheting.

~*~
Connect with Glynis:

Friday, January 21, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Life Lessons Learned from A Labor of Love


Protecting Your House

A devotional by Erin M. Handley

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” 
–Psalm 18:2 (ESV)

“We must protect this house!”

These are the words that are chanted by teams in unison. Sometimes on football fields, sometimes in summer camps, and sometimes in large groups that exist within various work environments. These are the very words I remembered when I made the decision to be a better steward of my God-given gifts.

I made the time to decorate one of the rooms in my home. It was a well-deserved, labor of love to that room. It took time. Moving furniture. Cleaning the room. Painting. Collecting the d├ęcor items. In total, it took a little over five months to plan and collect the items for the project, and a week to execute the vision.

In the beginning, I knew I wanted to give the room a new look so I could utilize that space for a specific purpose. I wanted the room to reflect the quality of work I desire to produce in that room. Additionally, I wanted the room to reflect the quality of life I envision – the life I want to create for myself. My decision to take action to decorate this room was made after the realization that for many years, this room went unused, untouched, and unnoticed. This room was neglected.

I had been given the gift of having a place to call home. Not simply a place to reside, but a place to be able to find security and refuge when things outside are too tumultuous. And here I was neglecting a part of the gift. I failed to protect the gift by not appreciating the home in its entirety. So, I used the opportunity to decorate this room in my home as a gift to my home, to the room, and to myself. I did so in efforts to be a better steward of the gift of the very thing I am able to call my own.

In the end, the tedious, tiring, labor of love is exactly what I envisioned some time ago. Sometimes I still sit in awe of the space I created for myself. The time and attention devoted to this space created a final product that surpassed my expectations even though it is exactly what I envisioned. But it all started with the act of giving attention to the part of the gift that was going unnoticed.

In the same way many of us utilize and care for each room in our homes, are we giving the same love and attention to the separate parts of the gift we were given that collectively help deepen our relationship with the Lord?

The home represents the security you find in Him. Your relationship with God is based on how you utilize each room within that home. It may be your room of service and how you show love and grace to others as a reflection of how He showed love and grace to you. Maybe it is your Word room where you seek His words in the scriptures to increase your spiritual gift that is the Word of Knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8). Maybe it is your room of praise and worship where you sit in awe of his magnificent existence. Or maybe it is your prayer room where you simply take the opportunity to communicate with the Lord.

Be sure to pay attention to each room within your gift. Clean it. Purge the things that no longer serve a purpose to that gift. Use it. Take advantage of the opportunity to have it bestowed to you. And at the end of it all, be a good steward of the entire gift, not simply the rooms that make us comfortable. Don’t neglect a single room in your place of refuge. You must protect the home you find in Him. That home houses each individual gift that draws you closer to Him.

Let’s Pray: Lord, we thank You for a place to call home. Whether it is an apartment, a house, a condo, a mobile home, or even if we find ourselves in a transitional living situation, you always give us the opportunity to make a physical space into a home. We are thankful for the physical space where we reside. We are also thankful for the home of comfort we find in You! In You we seek shelter, security, and peace. Your unwavering love for us teaches us to be good stewards of the gifts you have given us. It also reminds us that in order to be a good steward of a gift, we have to use it. We won’t forget it. We won’t neglect it. We will protect it. We will love and nurture the gift just as you love and nurture us. We love You, and we thank You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

With an ever-growing desire to continually learn the Word of God and present teachings based on Biblical principles, Erin M. Handley is committed to her calling of teaching and inspiring others to ‘be more by doing more’. With this in mind, Erin mentors young women and appreciates seeing the growth and change in the lives she impacts. 


While she sincerely enjoys mentoring and speaking to young people, she is most passionate about educating and empowering women from various stages of life about Biblical Womanhood and how to live out those principles in today’s world.

For over 15 years, Erin has worked with youth and adolescents in the fields of mental and behavioral health, education, and ministry. When reflecting on her experiences in ministry and non-ministry settings, her most memorable encounters have been those that allowed her the opportunity to teach the Word of God in a way that is most relatable to the audience she served in that moment. She has enjoyed writing since her youth, but only recently felt the call to share her writing with the world.

With an undergraduate degree in English and a graduate degree in Ministry and Pastoral Counseling, Erin M. Handley has been fortunate to be able to leverage her gifts and her passions throughout her career in Education. 

Aside from reading, writing, and mentoring, Erin enjoys dancing, interior design, cooking, and most other activities which allow her to utilize her creativity.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Mirrors


The Only Mirror That Matters
A devotional by Sarah Cole

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”–1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

As a kid, I loved going to the State Fair.

Unlike my friends, it wasn't cotton candy or carnival rides that thrilled me; I was crazy about the house of mirrors. While my parents ate cheese curds and watched the crowds go by, I stood in amazement as my head and body morphed into something out of a poorly written sci-fi movie. It was wildly entertaining, but it didn't reflect the real me.

When I hit puberty, I spent countless hours in front of the bathroom mirror trying to find the right combination of clothing, hairstyles, and makeup to gain the acceptance I craved. My dad called it "preening". Dozens of outfits later, I hoped my new look would give me favor with the "in'' crowd. Sadly, I was mistaken.

Unlike our Heavenly Father, humans are fickle, aren't they? The right appearance or performance this week doesn’t guarantee the acceptance our souls crave the next.

The good news is that in God's eyes our worth is a settled issue, and we don’t have to do anything to earn it. In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul tells us that in Christ we are chosen, blameless, predestined, redeemed, and forgiven (Ephesians 1:4-8). Isn’t this great news? When we rest in His perfect love, we can enjoy our lives and celebrate our identity as children of the King.

But Satan doesn’t give up without a fight. He holds up a variety of mirrors to lure us away from God's unconditional love, hoping we'll look to the world instead for fleeting acceptance.

The mirror of popular culture shines brightly on every magazine rack. Each glossy page bombards us with beauty we can only dream of having. Pop star icons, entrepreneurs, and politicians whose powerful careers we can't compete with take up our thoughts. This peddles Satan's lie that beauty and performance define our worth. But it leaves out the fact that addiction, promiscuity, and broken lives run rampant among the rich and famous people in this world.

The mirror of social media needs no introduction. Gazing into it too often can lead us to become envious or competitive and can keep us from enjoying real relationships. The enemy whispers the lie that our friends have happier, more successful lives based on a snapshot in time. Yet these posts don't reveal the entire picture—just as someone's appearance doesn't tell us who they really are! God created us each to be unique masterpieces, so there is no need for comparison. When He created each of us, He broke the mold.

Finally, there's the rear-view mirror! I imagine that if we ask anyone on the street if they have a regret or two, the answer would be “yes.” However, in God's eyes, it doesn't matter how much we think we've messed up. We’re all on a level playing field when it comes to making mistakes and as humans, we can’t escape them. Thankfully, God forgives and forgets them all. He is a God of grace, and His mercies are new each morning.

When God’s Son (Jesus Christ) died, He not only paid our sin penalty in full; He also broke the curse of sin and death, and His resurrection makes it possible for us to dwell in His presence forever. We can stop striving for acceptance because we are already perfect in His eyes.

So, in the pursuit of what truly defines us, God's Word (The Holy Bible) is the only mirror that isn't distorted. When we look into God’s mirror, His ageless truths reflect to us our true worth as one of His dearly loved children!

Let’s Pray:
Dear Father God, thank You for the acceptance You lavish on us. You have created us each to be a masterpiece, unique in our calling and giftedness. As we follow You, help us to give ourselves grace, and honor you in all that we do. In Jesus’s Name we pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Sarah Cole’s interest in writing began in grade school when her poem was published in the local paper. As she got older, her mother’s chronic illness inspired her to design a line of greeting cards. 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 Guideposts (magazine) Mysterious Ways. She believes her adversity was worth the lessons God taught her.

During this year (2022) and the next (2023), Sarah’s devotionals will be published in The Secret Place by Judson Press, as well as David C. Cook’s Devotions and The Quiet Hour. To this day, she smiles, pinches herself and gives God all the glory.

When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys watching cooking shows, designing cards and mugs, and taking day trips.

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

Monday, January 17, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: When you learn how to wait on the Lord


Worth The Wait
A devotional by Angela Anderson

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
 — John 11:32 (NIV)

The phone kept ringing. Finally, my call was answered – but it was voicemail again. That was the third person on my “favorites” contact list who I tried to reach. I was on the verge of tears, and I desperately needed to speak with someone. I just wanted to hear a comforting voice, but no one was coming to my rescue. My heart sank as my fourth call went straight to voicemail. Why weren’t any of my friends available when I needed them the most?

I imagine Martha and Mary felt the same way when they made a SOS call to their Best Friend (Jesus Christ), and there was no immediate answer. You can open a Bible and read John 11 for the full story. Here’s the short story: Their brother Lazarus was deathly ill, and they knew Jesus could make him well. The situation was critical and there was no time to waste. Yet Jesus casually stayed where He was for two more days before starting on His journey to see Lazarus! When Jesus finally arrived on the scene, Lazarus had been dead for four days!

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she ran to meet Him. She greeted Jesus with these words: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Later in the same chapter, Martha’s sister Mary also confronted Jesus with those same words (John 11:32).

Have you ever cried out to God in distress, but your prayer seemed to be lost in a black hole?

Have you ever wondered where was God when you were going through the darkest moments of your life? Martha and Mary were crushed with disappointment. They felt as though the friend who they depended on did not show up when they needed Him the most. But Jesus did show up and when He did, He was filled with compassion. He felt their pain and immediately responded to their sorrow. According to John 11:33, “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

Jesus asked to be led to the tomb where Lazarus lay dead, then He did something beyond anything they could have ever imagined: He raised Lazarus from the dead!

God also wants to do something amazing for us in the middle of a tragedy or disappointment.

We may be expecting something immediate, but sometimes God’s delay is intentional. As John 11:15a reads: “And for your sake, I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.”

God postpones His arrival to our situation in order to strengthen our faith, so that when He appears with all power and might, there will be no other option than to believe that it is God coming to our rescue.

The uncertainty in the waiting is hurtful, but He feels our pain and knows our hurt. When we cannot feel His presence, God is ever so present! Although there may be a delay, it does not mean there is a denial. God will show up, and when He does, it be worth the wait.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, You are wonderful and amazing in so many ways. Thank you for coming to our rescue in the past and for promising to be there in the future. May we trust and believe that You are with us, no matter how we feel or what we may expect. You have proven to be a faithful God. Strengthen us as we wait on You. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

~*~
Note from Alexis: Angela’s devotional message today reminds me of the song “I Don’t Mind Waiting” by Juanita Bynum. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Angela Anderson was born in Brooklyn, NY, and raised in NJ. She found her love for writing when she was in elementary school. She continued writing through high school, college, and into adulthood.


Angela is the author of a devotional book titled, Just When I Thought I Knew God, and a children's book that is not yet published.

In 2021, Angela started writing articles for an online magazine called Christian Women Living, where she focuses on writing messages for mothers and sharing advice on parenting. In addition to this, Angela wrote a devotional that is featured in a book published by Proverbs 31 Ministries. The book title is Hope When Your Heart is Heavy.

Angela has a passion for inspiring and impacting others through her writing as well as speaking. She is the co-founder of Anchor Moms, a ministry to cure loneliness in Motherhood. Currently, this ministry meets via a group on Facebook.

Angela has been married to the love of her life, Duane Anderson, for 17 years. Together, they have two sons: Thomas (age 9) and Ryan (age 4). Angela’s favorite pastime is journaling, and she also enjoys spending quality time with her family. Her personal mission is to empower others to achieve their goals and dreams.

~*~
Connect with Angela:
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/angela.thomasanderson
Facebook fan page for her devotional book, Just When I Thought I Knew God:
https://www.facebook.com/jwitikg/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/angelanderson1104/

Friday, January 14, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: New You


New Year, New Creation
A devotional by Karen Marstaller

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
 – Isaiah 43:18-19a (ESV)

Whenever a new year rolls around, our hopes rise.

We want things to be different, to be better than last year, and so we dive into our self-driven improvements. Our resolutions sound remarkably like those from years past: lose weight, eat more vegetables, exercise more. We’ve all made them, and some of us have become healthier people because of them. But God’s way of making something new looks a little different from our way. He always focuses on our hearts.

When Jesus Christ came to earth, His aim was the cross, to die as the perfect sacrifice for our sinful selves. But there was more, so much more that He came to do. He showed us how to live life abundantly (John 10:10)! In all of Christ’s teachings, He points us to joyful, fulfilling life under the tender care of our Father in Heaven.

An archaic word “lovingkindness” accurately describes God’s perfect love for us. Not only is our Heavenly Father supportive, caring, and nurturing, He is also kind. His vast love for us is seen in His kindness. Sometimes His actions in our lives are revealed in circumstances that don’t always seem like kindness, but God wants our hearts to be transformed. He’s doing a “new thing” as Isaiah wrote, and sometimes His kindness is revealed in what may seem like a terrible ordeal.

Several years ago, my back suddenly “went out” just a couple of days before Christmas. Lying flat for the holidays was not on my agenda. Within days I was on a walker. School started back in January, and I wasn’t at my post. My classroom was given to a marvelous substitute, so my students were fine, but I wasn’t. In fact, anything but "fine" described the situation.

Staring at the ceiling didn’t do any good, so I started praying. That’s when I began to understand my Heavenly Father a little better. The time reading His Word and praying for people who needed His touch (which included me) brought me closer to Him and deepened my relationship with Him. During those days of solitude, I learned how kind He is. He taught me how to trust Him as my Father, something I’d never experienced.

The next few months were sometimes grueling, yet I look back now and realize how much He changed me. Yes, I had to go through physical therapy, and yes, I had to learn how to walk all over again. Same dilapidated body. Completely new heart.

God’s tender care and concern for us never changes, but He’s always ready to do something different in order to lead us into closer relationship with Him. We can trust His character, even when our vision narrows to a slice of blank ceiling above our heads, looking up from a place of pain and weakness. He’s right there with us, helping us to put an end to the bitterness, the Blame Game, or the countless “What if?” scenarios our minds tend to focus on when we’re hurting.

In Matthew 9:13, Jesus exhibited God’s lovingkindness when He told the religious leaders of His day to learn what it means to exhibit mercy in their ministry and not just legalistic sacrifice. The Pharisees were great proclaimers of sacrificial laws, but they missed Christ’s point. Jesus wants to create new hearts, and new attitudes in us. He wants to do whatever it takes. Sometimes a “new thing” to draw us closer to Him.

This year, my New Year’s resolutions look a little different from my usual ones. I’m asking my Heavenly Father to help me lose judgmental attitudes, to take in only the pure food of His Word the Bible, and to exercise His brand of lovingkindness in the relationships He has placed in my life. Lofty goals, for sure, but I’m not going in my own strength. The Lord of the Universe is doing something new in His time.

Let’s Pray: Dear Jesus, help us to let You do Your cleansing work in our hearts. Show us how You want us to live out this New Year 2022. Thank You, Lord. In Your Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Note from Alexis: Karen’s devotional message, especially the part about God working on our hearts, reminded me of Donnie McClurkin's song “Create in Me A Clean Heart”. Listen to it here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Karen Marstaller is a retired high school teacher who spent most of her career challenging creative students to write. Her heart is for her readers. 


She writes to encourage them, to make them laugh, to show them that life is a beautiful journey, and regardless of their past, to show them that there is joy ahead if they will just keep looking.

Karen and her husband live in central Texas in a sweet little home that they completely remodeled. They enjoy spending time with their family, which includes seven precious grandchildren.

Most of all, Karen writes in obedience to the command to love your neighbor, to offer a cup of water to those who are dying of thirst, and to comfort others with the comfort she has received.

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

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: What to do when you face mountains in life


When Faced with Mountains
A devotional by Jessica B. Turner

“God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” –Habakkuk 3:19 (ESV)

Do you ever feel as if you finally arrive at the top of the mountain only to realize what lies ahead is an even bigger, taller mountain to climb?

That is how I felt most of last year. When I could barely breathe after experiencing a loss through miscarriage, I was being asked to face yet another trial. And then another. Trials that I would have never imagined walking into, much less surviving.

If I’m being completely honest, there was a time during those hardships when I questioned if God really was there. I felt broken and empty. Betrayed and humiliated.

But then I remembered this scripture (Habakkuk 3:19). It had become my anchor since it was given to me the summer before. It was shared as a response to my story in which I compared obstacles in life to mountains. For months it served as a simple reminder that God is where my strength lies when things seem too big to face. That strength is often all I need to get through another day. I had forgotten that truth despite its impact in my life in the past. But once I remembered, I buried it within my heart to never forget again. When we fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, He enables us to encounter any mountain with the grace of a deer.

Can you picture it? Your struggle, your illness, your broken relationship—whatever your mountain in this season is. Picture it and then remember that the same God who created the sunset that takes your breath away is the same God that has vowed to give you the strength to face any obstacle this life may throw your way.

But even greater than that, He will invite us into a transformation that can only come through climbing that mountain. A foundation in endurance leading to a molding of character and the birth of a hope that this world cannot take away from us.

How encouraging is that? Not only are we climbing our mountains with the God of the universe by our side, we are doing it with the anticipation of a story only He can orchestrate. Good that only He can bring about. That alone is often the source of the strength I need to get through another day, another hour, another minute.

Don’t try to climb alone, my friend. We weren’t created to do so. He is waiting for you to call out. He is waiting to lift you up so you can take one more step.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, I thank you for who You are. That You are a God who is so powerful and mighty yet so in love with me that you will come to my aid at a moment’s call. I am that important to you. I am your beloved. Help me remember that as I face life’s mountains. Remind me that You are my source of strength and that there is great hope on the other side of my trial. I love you and I trust you. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Jessica B. Turner is a wife, mom, and LSU graduate with a degree in veterinary medicine.


After practicing small animal medicine for six years, she traded in her stethoscope to become an online wellness coach, motivational speaker, and writer with a passion for mental health advocacy. This major life change was sparked after Jessica struggled with postpartum depression soon after she birthed her twin girls.

Along with Jessica’s career change came the discovery of who Jesus Christ really is and how He was the missing piece for her to be able to move forward from past trauma that she had suppressed for decades.

Jesus walked alongside Jessica as she underwent a transformation like none other. God transformed Jessica’s life from a broken mom who struggled with depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and PTSD from witnessing an attempted suicide, to using her experiences to make her a powerful vessel for Him. To this day, God enables Jessica to touch the lives of others through her often unfiltered, yet inviting, form of storytelling.

Throughout this process of refinement, Jessica has shared her life story with the world through her social media platforms, in-person events, blog posts, and podcasts. She values the gift of transparency and has discovered that what so many people need to know is that they are not alone. Jessica has walked in their shoes, and she wants the world to know that Jesus is walking with them as well.

~*~
Connect with Jessica:
Website: www.jessicabturner.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessicabturner/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessicabturner/

Monday, January 10, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we should set our goals with God


Goals with God
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” 
–Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

I love the feel of a new year.

It’s like a blank slate just waiting to be filled with hopes and dreams, experiences and adventures. Anything seems possible while the door closes on the previous year’s journey, no matter what happened along the way. Usually, I have a new planner waiting for my activities and experiences to be reported. I also have a crisp, clean journal inviting my stories to be written and my experiences to be chronicled.

During the week between Christmas and New Year I always set aside time to take an inventory of the year about to close—a “year in review” of sorts. I relive highlights of the year—happy times and hard times—as I observe all the ways God showed up along my journey. I find Him in the mountaintop moments where I experienced rich joy in His presence. I also encounter Him in the deepest valleys where I had to cling to Him for comfort so my grief would not consume me. This review reminds me that I serve a loving and faithful God who promises never to leave me nor forsake me. He is my constant companion.

My “year in review” also serves as the perfect launching pad to look at the “year in view” – the new year on the horizon. As I stand on the threshold of a new year, I sometimes feel like the Israelites when they sent out the scouts to the Promised Land. On one hand I am hopeful, anticipating great things from the God who assures me in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has good plans for me, plans not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future.

But on the other hand, I can feel the imposing presence of giants lurking in the shadows, a reminder of the adversary who is always looking for a way to devour me and distract me from what God has planned. I don’t allow my thoughts to linger there too long before I fix my mind on Jesus Christ who has already defeated the devil. Therefore, I begin to prayerfully pen plans and goals, dreams and expectations for the year ahead.

It’s exciting, albeit slightly daunting, to see on paper the many things I hope to accomplish in the coming months. I find peace in the reminder that while I make my plans, I serve a God who will order my steps into His perfect will for my tomorrows and for eternity. I can then step confidently into all He has for me.

While God invites us to review the past, He doesn’t want us to dwell in it. While He encourages us to set goals and pursue dreams for the future, He also reminds us to not worry about tomorrow. Those “steps” that God orders on the path to pursuing our plans happen in the present. The present is where we encounter God daily. He meets with us in the everyday moments of our lives, attending to every last detail. He desires daily, intimate relationship with us. Our spirit will thrive when we seek Him with greater intensity than we chase our dreams.

As much contemplating and planning as I do at the onset of a new year, when I come to the year in review, I'm always sure to see sweet little surprises my Savior gifted me with along the way. I try not to box God into my plans. Instead, I leave them open to His creativity along the way. He has unlimited resources and unexpected methods of making things happens for our good and His glory. And I don’t want to miss a single one.

Let’s Pray: Creator God, thank You for being my faithful guide and constant companion on my journey through life. I am so grateful You are accessible in my every moment, joining me in the joy on the mountain tops and accompanying me as I trudge through the valleys. I marvel at Your creativity as You unfold your plans and purpose for my life in surprising and unexpected ways. I appreciate Your patience and faithfulness as I stumble in the steps I take in efforts to walk in your will. I am grateful that Your gentle hand is ever present to pick me when I fall far from Your plans, and set me back on the path You've placed before me. While I prayerfully pen my plans for this new season, help me to stay out of Your way. Teach me how to surrender any expectations of outcomes to Your ways, Your will and Your timing. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

~*~
Author Bio:

Cyndi Staudt is a Jesus-loving, adrenaline junkie devoted to living her life for Jesus 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 life "souled out" to the One whose love has no limits.

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

Friday, January 7, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: How to build this new year with God


Build This New Year with God
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.”– Numbers 32:23 (ESV)

The Bible verse above is a small portion of a larger dialogue about destiny and duty.

The Chapter 32 of the book of Numbers tells the story of the nomadic preparation that the Hebrews took so they could cross over into Canaan, their Promised Land.

While conferring with his tribal leaders, Moses is engaged by two of his generals from the tribes of Gad and Reuben. They and their families raised cattle. They felt that the land East of Canaan was more suited for their lifestyle than the land West of the Jordan River.

Moses refused to consider their appeal. He thought that they were resisting God’s providence. He feared that their desire might bring divine retribution upon the wandering tribes, again. But they persisted. Gad and Reuben had a vision, a purpose, a plan and an overarching goal. They would do their part to ensure the safe settlement of the Promised Land, then, with God’s blessings, they would go back to their families and the land that they had chosen.

To this Moses consented. The conquest of this territory would require focus, time and perseverance. They would return to their havens of choice, only after conquering the larger context. They had to finish what should have been done 40 years before.

William Lloyd Alan, a biblical expositor, said that “Mission is bound up in God’s reciprocity.” Similarly, Albert Pike said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others remains and is immortal.”

Like the leaders of the tribes of Gad and Reuben, we stand just inside of a new frontier. The New Year 2022 is a promised land. We have 358 days left to persevere and pursue our visions. This year is awaiting our encroachment, settlement and cultivation.

Do you have a compelling vision, purpose, plan, and goal for 2022 and beyond? Cross your Jordan River. Do the work, well! Help someone else pursue their goal while not forgetting your own. Launch your arrows of initiative. If you miss your target, at least you tried. Missing the target should make you try harder to do differently and better in your next attempt.

I read a story about an aging carpenter who was ready to retire. He informed his employer of his plans to hang up his hammer. The employer asked a huge favor. “Build just one more house before you retire.” The carpenter agreed but his heart was not in it. He cut corners and used inferior materials that he never would have considered previously.

Upon completion and the final inspection of the home, the boss gave the keys to the carpenter saying “This house is my gift to you for all of your years of dutiful work and quality construction.”

It became evident, at least to himself, that he would now live in a home that he had not built well. His sins of omission, cutting corners, taking shortcuts, crossing boundaries or lapses of integrity would live as monuments in his home.

That is what Numbers 32:23 means. It means that our diligence or slackness in the development of our characters, reputations and relationships will become evident at home, at work and in the community. What kind of life are you building? Are you using premium or inferior materials? Are you finishing the tasks?

Last year we did some remodeling in our home. I wanted French doors as the entry way to one of the rooms. I ordered them, but we hung other doors until the doors that I ordered arrived. When they arrived, I was busy so I put them in the garage. Now, almost a year later, every time that I or my wife park our cars in the garage, my coveted and acquired French doors stand unfinished in the garage. My vision remains unfinished because I have not done the work to finish and hang them. My unfinished business indicts me. That is what our text means.

If you are not happy in your life right now, it is probably because unfinished business or silent whispers are indicting you. You can’t change what you did that got you here, but you can change what you do going forward.

Build your engagement of living this year wisely with the best habits, choices, and investments of time. Remember that your life today is the result of your decisions and actions in bygone days. Your future will be the fruit of what you choose now. Get started and finish what you start!

Let’s Pray: Dear God, bless these readers as they conquer each day of this New Year 2022. Give them visions, goals, purpose, energetic hope and follow through. Forgive their sins and shortcomings. Renew their spirits and make them confident and successful overcomers! 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, January 5, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Remember that your help comes from God


Look Up!
A devotional by Patricia Russell

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, 
from whence cometh my help. 
My help cometh from the Lord, 
which made heaven and earth.”
–Psalm 121:1-2 (KJV)

Most celebrations have a point and time when the gathering is asked to be quiet, while acknowledgements and honors are given to the guest of honor.

Today, I would love for us to take a moment and celebrate the faithfulness of the most important Guest of Honor. Let’s raise a toast to the Creator of the Universe. He is the God who created the heavens and the earth. He is the one who watches over us when we sleep. He is the one who never slumbers nor sleeps. He is the one who promises us a hope and a future.

We’re starting a new year.

We’ve never walked this way before. There are things that will happen that we never expected and never saw coming. However, because of God’s unchanging character, I’m going to plant my feet firm in faith in Him. It is my hope and my prayer that you and I will draw closer to Him.

The past few years have pushed us into His face. We’ve held onto Him like young children who don’t want to leave their parent’s grasp. Many times, I’ve found myself looking up, like Abraham did when God told him to count the stars. When Abraham began counting and got into the thousands (I wonder if he reached that far) he must have felt quite overwhelmed and wondered, “How is this going to ever happen?”

The questions of how, considering he was not only old but did not have a child at the time, must have stunned him. This same question of “How will it happen?” or “How is it going to ever work out?” has crossed our lips year after year but I would like to encourage us right at this year’s beginning to make our first thought be to simply look up.

Why look up? Up is where our help lies. Up is where the stars cannot be all counted. Looking up we see the span of the sky and all the beauty spread far beyond what our eyes can even see. Looking up means the possibilities are endless because of God.

Camping is not my first choice of vacationing. My husband, on the other hand, has this fascination with the great outdoors and often shares memories of lying outside, looking up at the stars and for hours on end enjoying the spectacle of twinkling beings. His imagination runs wild with creativity. If this sounds a little childlike, it’s intentional. Let’s not lose the wonder this year in looking up and seeing the possibilities that can yet happen.

I encourage you to consciously shut down the sounds and voices that will want you to look down. Intentionally close the screens that provide constant updates of changes of threats in weather, finances or food. Daily look up as the psalmist states because up is where your help comes from. Up is where our Heavenly Father is. Up is where one day we will be going. Up is where we look to count stars and see the possibilities that our minds and hearts cannot conceive.

Psalm 121:3-7 (KJV) continues by saying:

“He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. 
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.”

Let’s Pray: Father God, thank You for this new year. Thank You that we can look up in hope and confidence that you have the whole world in your hands. Thank You that my faith rests in You alone. Help me when I am tempted to fear, to look up and to rest in the truth of your promises that You will never leave me nor forsake me. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

~*~
Note from Alexis: Patricia’s devotional message today reminds me of the song “My Help” performed by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. They literally put all of Psalm 121 to modern music! Listen to their song here.

~*~
Author Bio:

Patricia is an encourager. She passionately uses her giftings as an author, speaker, pastor, recording artist, worship leader and coach. 


Stronger Resilience: Stories to Empower the Mind, Body & Spirit (a book that she wrote) was an Amazon Bestseller in October 2020.

Patricia sings! She has released two CDs titled Draw Me Nearer and Lord I Trust You.

She also travels to speak to audiences internationally.

When she is not ministering to save souls in God’s Kingdom, Patricia enjoys reading, writing and connecting like-minded people who can sharpen each other in the journey to their dreams and goals.

As a two-time breast cancer overcomer, her desire is to coach others to live life to the fullest by understanding their gifting from God and using it. 

Monday, January 3, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Why Praying Friends Are the Best Kind


A Praying Friend
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” 
–Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

The words roll off my tongue as if on auto-reply: “I’ll pray for you.”

Yet what better thing can we do for a friend in need than stop what we are doing, bend our souls to the Risen One, and offer up heartfelt prayer?

I didn’t always think this way. I used to think the best way I could love my friends was listen to them—or even better, offer them advice (often unsolicited). I’d stay on the phone late into the night as my friends and I would talk about boys, school woes, and family drama. “Being there for them” was how I’d describe it.

Later, I might choose to love a friend by walking her dog or entertaining her newborn, raving about her performance at work, or cooking dinner for her when she had a cold.

Yet over the years, I’ve realized the very best thing I can do is pray. Yes, I still listen (and yes, sometimes I still offer unsolicited advice, though Little Miss Know-It-All over here is trying very hard to keep that at a minimum!). And yes, I still do favors, buy trinkets, cook meals, or whatever else might help.

But prayer is often my first response—and, I’ve come to understand, it’s the biggest gift of all.

See, a praying friend is a Godly friend, a forever friend. A praying friend is the best there is.

This is because a friend who prays for you knows the bond you share isn’t just in this world but also the “real” world: the eternal kingdom ruled by God the Father, the kingdom that has no end and transcends death, lasting for eternity. A praying friend knows the One who’s really in control of all things we worry about is God, and there’s no better way to deal with those worries than to bring them to God, to lay them all down at His feet and ask Him for help.

In James 5, the apostle tells us to fan the flame of faithful prayer always. As he writes, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:13-16 NIV).

Elsewhere we get the same encouragement. Ephesians 6:18 urges us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” And in 1 Timothy 2:1, we’re encouraged that “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.”

And, of course, there’s Jesus—our model of how we should live and love others. In John 17:6-26 we are shown how Jesus prayed fervently for his friends.

His example is a powerful display of true, God-honoring friendship, the kind of friendship that points to the Father.

If you’re not sure how to pray for your friends, it’s okay! God doesn’t need fancy language. An earnest heart is enough. Start however it feels natural to you. Perhaps begin by listing your friends by name, creating a picture of them one by one in your mind, and asking God to bless them. You might know the needs of your friends, such as a health issue or a work conflict, and you ask for God’s hand upon those circumstances, or you might find that as you pray for your friend, a need they haven’t even expressed to you comes to the surface. Even just saying their name in your head as you lift the thought of them toward God can be a prayer.

Another way you can pray is to write their names in the margin of the Bible passage you are currently reading, and let God’s Word take care of the rest.

Others like to journal their prayers for others, appreciating the focus and tangible action of the practice. You can pray for people by text and social media, too. There are so many ways!

Whatever you do, trust that God hears you, and know that the Holy Spirit is weaving a mighty cord of heavenly love among you and those you love.

Happy New Year, friends! Share below how you like to pray for your friends or other loved ones.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of friendship. Help me to love my friends the way Jesus loved His: with prayer, with sacrificial love, and always pointing to You. In Your holy name I pray, Amen.

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Note from Alexis: Jessica’s devotional message today reminds me of the song “My Friend” by Crystal Lewis. Listen to it here.

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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.


Jessica 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’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.

She has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast

You can also connect with Jessica on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Happy New Year 2022!


May God bless you abundantly (John 10:10) in this new year and beyond!

Keep looking to Him and trusting Him to guide you (Proverbs 3:5-6).

He loves you with ALL of His Heart.