Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Lessons on trusting God and taking a leap of faith

A Leap of Faith
A devotional by Mirachelle Canada

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said. 
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
—Matthew 14:27-29 (NIV)

The apostle Paul describes the vastness of God’s love for us in Ephesians 3:18 as deep and wide – much like a great chasm.

To cross such a chasm often takes a great leap of faith, and sometimes God will ask us to take that leap blindly. Unless one has a dare devil personality, most won’t line up to take this kind of leap. Leaping blindly, much like skydiving, could mean risking everything, and even result in death. Not necessarily a physical death but the death of a dream, desire, or personal goal.

Leaping blindly when God asks requires trust as well as obedience. Note that God will ask you to leap, not tell you. It will always be a choice. Most people are willing to make such a choice when they think it will lead to what they want or give them something they can physically obtain as a result. Runners will run a marathon for a medal, and even run their strongest when they can see the finish line. An artist will spend hours brushing and dabbing colors onto a blank canvas to produce a masterpiece commissioned to hang in a museum.

Rewards for our actions are wonderful and fulfilling. But, leaping in faith does not guarantee reward or success, only that God will be with you wherever you land.

One such leap is when God asks you to quit your stable job and give up your current salary to trust Him for something better. It doesn’t feel good, and it doesn’t make sense because professional advice tells us to “never quit a job before you have another lined up.”

Another leap is when God asks you to break an engagement or serious relationship. Too many chose not to trust God’s leading to walk away because they are scared to lose what they think is love. Yet, it is never in God’s plan to harm you, but to give you a future and hope (Jeremiah 29:11). Trusting God when we leap is a great act of our faith and hope in Him.

We should choose to leap blindly for God when He asks because He is great and mighty and just. The Bible provides hundreds of examples to support these attributes. One that we can glean from is the moment in Matthew 14:27-29 where Jesus calls to Peter to “take courage” and commands him to “Come”. It was a call for Peter to take an unnatural leap of faith out of a boat that results in the miracle of walking on water with God.

Is God asking you to take a leap of faith today? Could your leap lead to the miraculous too? Perhaps it will. It could also lead to greater hope, greater peace, greater faith and trust, and a deeper, more abiding love with God. You’ll never know unless you take the leap!

Let’s Pray: Dear God, show me where I need to take a leap of faith with you today in my work, home, relationships or friendships, ministry, or personal walk with you. Give me the courage to choose to leap with you into the unknown and have the faith that with you all things are made possible. Let my actions be a true testament to others of my faith and trust in you. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Mirachelle’s devotional message reminds me of the song “Walk on the Water” by Britt Nicole. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Mirachelle Canada is a writer, playwright, screenwriter, and theatre director/producer from Northern Virginia, where she teaches television production at her high school alma mater.

She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Script & Screenwriting from Regent University and is an alumnus of Act One: Hollywood Film & Television Writing Program.

Mirachelle is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, American Fiction Writers Virginia Chapter, The Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, and Your Novel Blueprint.

She is currently working on her first historical fiction novel set during WWII.

Connect with Mirachelle:

Monday, March 28, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Reasons why there's no gain without pain

No Gain Without Pain
A devotional by Glynis Becker

“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” 
–Romans 12:1 (NASB)

I want to lose ten pounds. But here’s the shocking part: I don’t want to give up any of my favorite foods. I really hate to exercise. I like to sleep. Consequently, I don’t want to get up any earlier and walk or run or stretch or sweat or anything. So guess how long it will take to lose that weight? Maybe forever.

I want to be a published writer. But writing is hard work! Most days I’d rather spend my free time watching television, reading a book someone else wrote, or scrolling social media on whatever device is closest at hand. Will my book ever get written? At that rate, it’s not likely.

I want a deeper relationship with Jesus. But I resist regular prayer time and Bible reading in favor of other, easier distractions during the time I should be spending with Him. And the end result? A stalled growth in my faith and a gap between us wide enough for temptation and sin to flood inside.

We are constantly bombarded with messages about all the things we deserve and the shortcuts we can take to get them. Whether it’s “making money with these three easy steps” or “lose weight while you sleep,” all of us can get sucked into the idea that we can gain what we want with no sacrifice on our part. But it’s not true.

Our salvation is a free gift from God. We don’t earn it. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB)

Don’t be mistaken. There is a cost. If we want to gain the fullness of what God has for us here in this life…If we want to be good ambassadors of His kingdom…If we want to share His love to its fullest extent…If we want to know Jesus, not just know about Him, then we must give up whatever we know is holding us back from doing that.

In the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27), a man asks Jesus what he could do to inherit eternal life. When He told the young man to keep the commandments, the man said he always had. Jesus then told the rich young ruler to sell his possessions and give them to the poor. Did Jesus know the one thing that held this rich man back from truly becoming a follower? Of course, and so He knew exactly what to ask for. The man walked away, saddened, because he wasn’t ready to give up his riches. I’ve always felt great compassion for this man, probably because I see myself in this story.

What is that I hold onto so tightly that if Jesus asked me to give it up, I would walk away, saddened because I just couldn’t do it?

We are only weeks away from Easter Sunday. Jesus’s sacrifice should be our model every day (not just when Easter comes around) of how, while our sacrifices may feel too hard, in the end, that surrender will be greatly rewarded. Our willingness to give up things we love—comfort foods, television, personal property, whatever He asks of us—proves to ourselves that our provision is in Christ alone.

When we know our true priorities, we can let go of anything that doesn’t line up with them. Do you and I really want to be followers of Christ? If so, ponder this: What is He asking each of us to let go of today?

I’m ready to prayerfully consider the answer to that question. Are you?

Let’s Pray: Dear Jesus, thank You for showing us what a life committed to God looks like. Please show us today what things hold us back from a life lived completely for You. We love You and praise You for your goodness, grace, and forgiveness. In Your Name I pray. Amen.

Note: Today’s devotional by Glynis reminds me of Keith & Kristyn Getty’s performance of the song "In Christ Alone”. Listen to it here.

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, March 25, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: God is still in the business of making miracles!

The Business of Miracles
A devotional by Anthea Kotlan

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."—Luke 5:4-5 (NIV)

I didn't grow up in a Christian home or attend church regularly as a child. However, after becoming a Christian at age 15, I joined a youth group and accepted an invitation to a Christian camp with the other young women.

Upon arrival, I was settling into my cabin and unpacking my suitcase. I realized I had no towel with me for the three-day weekend ahead. I mentioned this to my new friend Tera, and she stunned me with her reaction.

"Here, you can use one of mine."

Such a simple yet generous offer left me standing there stunned. This young lady had met me only minutes earlier, and now she was handing out her possessions to me as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

Generosity didn't spend much time at my house growing up. Instead, I knew far too much about scarcity and the need to guard one's possessions and avoid being taken advantage of. However, I knew at that moment there was something in the way Tera lived her life that was completely different.

In the gospel of Luke, Jesus Christ calls his first disciples. While Jesus is teaching on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, he finds fishermen washing their nets after a long night of fishing. They have completed their night shift and are undoubtedly ready to go home. But, instead, Jesus climbs into Simon's boat, continues teaching, and then tells Simon to go back out to fish again.

Simon might have felt frustrated by Jesus's request. What did Jesus, a teacher, know about fishing?

Simon wants to make sure that no one misses the truth. He doesn't think this is a good idea. He reminds Jesus that they have caught nothing all night. But Simon's worldview was about to be changed forever when he accepted Jesus's invitation.

My worldview was also transformed all those years ago at camp by the generosity of one sister in Christ. She would become one of many women who discipled me with their words and actions. I was newly following Jesus and seeing my whole world turn upside down. The Lord knew what I needed. I gained the use of a towel and a lifetime of friendship.

Simon did as Jesus asked. He sailed out into the deep waters, and Luke 5:6-11 tells us a miraculous fish catch happened next. Those freshly washed nets even broke, thanks to the abundance of the haul. Other boats had to come and assist. Everyone saw the overflowing generosity of God and how Jesus was in the business of miracles and had the power to defy the laws of nature.

This moment changed the trajectory of Simon's life. Jesus told him, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”(Matthew 4:19 ESV)

Simon would be catching souls for life in Christ. He would no longer need those broken nets due to the abundance that Jesus offered him. He was ready to leave them behind and follow Christ as a disciple.

How has Jesus invited you to experience transformation? Is He calling you into doing something that doesn't make sense in the natural? Is He asking you to trust Him in a new way? Cast that net out! Don't miss out on a transformational invitation to so much more than you can imagine.

Let's Pray:
Lord, thank you that you always make abundant provision for us when you call us to follow you as a disciple. Help us to see all the ways you are doing this every day. Help us accept your invitations and directives so that we don't miss out on all You are doing. We long to be in step with You by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus's Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Born in the highlands of Scotland, Anthea Kotlan made her way to Texas as a third grader.

After studying the new language at length and mimicking the Houston locals, she found ways to blend in. Years later she floated down the San Marcos River, attended Journalism classes, and completed an undergraduate degree in in Journalism.

After getting married to Bill, she completed a graduate degree in English at Texas A&M. Ever the multitasker, she had two daughters and carried one of them into her graduation ceremony hidden under her billowing graduation gown.

Over the years she has served as a women’s ministry leader in several churches, spoken at women’s events, taught college freshmen English, lead various Bible studies and writes whenever she can on her blog.

Anthea makes her home in Conroe with her husband Bill, a bi-vocational priest and engineer, and spends all the time she can with her two grandchildren, Ian Michael and Margaret Yael.

Connect with Anthea:

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Miracles

A Change of Heart
A devotional by Tessa Huckstep

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” –Acts 16:25 (KJV)

I think each of us has gone to God and asked him to change a big situation in our lives.

Perhaps you have personally asked Him to heal a sick family member. Maybe you have asked Him to get you out of debt. Or perhaps you have asked Him to show you His will for your life.

We pray in earnest, expecting God to answer our prayers as He answered Moses and Elijah. But then, He does not answer our prayers. Not as soon as we would like, anyway. Unfortunately, when we feel God does not care enough to change our circumstances, we turn to ourselves and our own strengths to fix our problems.

Why can we not get God’s attention as the prophets of the Old Testament or as the Apostles of the New Testament had done? We may be led to believe that God does not listen to His people as He did in the Bible. Or maybe we start believing that God is not as great as He was in Bible times. These thoughts could be the most destructive lies we could possibly believe. Maybe the issue does not lie with God, but with our expectations.

God does wonderful things in our lives. He still performs miracles and is still as wonderful as He was in the beginning. But what if God miraculously changed your situation today? Wouldn’t you be back the next day to ask for something more? The miracles are not enough, dear reader. Only the Miracle Worker is enough.

The Miracle Worker is not as interested in your outward circumstances as He is with your internal heart. God desires your heart, and your heart is the focus of His daily miraculous works—the appointed location of divine miracle activity. In fact, God prizes your heart above all else.

God is far more interested in working in your heart, rather than working in your situation. This radical miracle—a miracle of the heart—requires a certain level of submission. We must lay down our own agendas and desires. We must be willing to sacrifice our comfort for His glory. We must be willing to submit to His will and make it ready for His miracle working power.

Consider Paul and Silas in the prison after they had nearly been beaten to death for their faith. They sat in a dark and filthy prison, their hands and feet chained, but their outward circumstances did not affect their internal joy. Those men prayed and sang praises to God while in pain and imprisoned. Later in the story, God would perform an outward miracle and rescue Paul and Silas from the prison, but God had already performed the greater miracle of changing their hearts and turning them toward Himself.

So many times, when I ask for big outward change, I expect an immediate difference.

Thankfully, God is far more patient than me. God first gives me peace. Often, this peace only comes when I still my thoughts and focus on Him. I have to let go of the outward chaos and noise and focus on what is really important. I have to focus on Him. Oddly enough, it is when I am trusting fully in who He is that He begins to orchestrate my situations and works through me.

My circumstances may not change, but troubles and fears seem so small when brought to the light of Jesus. Releasing your worry and unease at His feet is the most freeing thing you will ever do. As a child of God, you no longer have to be controlled by your circumstances. You no longer have to carry your heavy burdens and worries. Give them to Jesus. His hands are always open.

What is the situation in your life that completely overwhelms you? What would it look like for God to perform a miracle in your heart? Perhaps your answers do not lie in working harder or in your own prayer ability. Maybe He is calling you to stillness.

God can give you a change of heart. Simply be still, acknowledge who He is, and ask Him to perform a miracle in the deepest parts of your being. Believe me, dear reader, God delights in entering a humble and broken heart. Let Him enter your heart today and perform the deepest of miracles. When God changes your heart, your outward circumstances will be transformed as you learn to see them through God’s perspective.

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord, thank you for always being patient, even when we do not understand. Our world is plagued with injustice and worries, but we pray that You first perform miracles in us that you may work your miracles through us. Please make our hearts always open to You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Tessa’s devotional message today reminds me of this song by Cody Carnes “Too Good To Not Believe”. Listen to it here.

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:

Monday, March 21, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Life Lessons Learned from an Anniversary Trip

Worth It All

A devotional by Angela Anderson

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” –2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV)

Last year, my husband surprised me with an anniversary gift that included a trip to San Francisco, California.

While we were there, we met another couple who suggested that we rent bikes, ride them across the Golden Gate Bridge, and then take the ferry back to San Francisco. My husband and I thought this idea was amazing, so we immediately set out to do it on the day of our anniversary.

The concierge at our hotel gave us instructions to get to the bike rental shop using public transportation. He explained that from the shop, it was a “nice bike ride” to the bridge. Neither of us were experienced bikers, but we assembled our backpacks and made sure we were prepared for the brisk weather in San Francisco.

We took the streetcar and the bus to the part of town that rented the bikes. We were told to ride to the paved bike path and follow it to the bridge. The excitement was building as we started on this journey. The weather was pleasant and as the clouds parted, we saw the beautiful bridge in the distance. I was very impressed with how flat and smooth the bike path was. After riding for about 30 minutes, the bridge was getting closer, but still seemed far off in the distance.

Suddenly, we were facing a steep inclination in the road. We both tried to pedal our way up the hill, but we had to get off our bikes and walk along side for the rest of the way up the hill. This happened several more times along the way to the bridge. I was getting tired, but I was still very much excited to complete this mission.

Finally, after surmounting yet another hill and getting turned around because of a road closure, we arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge! There was a roadway designated for those who dared to ride their bikes across the almost two-mile path. Although the bike path on the bridge was fenced in, we could still feel the vibration of the cars whizzing across the bridge. The wind gusts that threatened to toss us off our bikes were concerning, but we kept going. We looked over the railing and the view was breathtaking. The rocky landscape of trees and greenery lay perfectly across the San Francisco Bay and the rays from the sun glistened on top of the waves in the water. Before we knew it, we were at the end of the bridge, and we were looking forward to the ferry ride so that we could return to our hotel.

Once we exited the bridge on our bikes, we searched for the ferry. We found some people who were kind enough to point us in the right direction, down another bike path.

At the bottom of the hill, we saw a sign. Three more miles to the ferry in a town called Sausalito! There was no time to waste because the ferry was the last one for the day! We hurried and tried our best to pedal the uphill roads. We finally made it on the ferry with only a couple of minutes to spare. The ferry dropped us off at the pier and we rode our bikes two more miles back to our hotel. By that time, it was evening, and we were beyond exhausted.

In retrospect, I often wonder if I would have embarked on such an adventure if I had known all the details ahead of time. The view from the bridge was amazing, but I might have passed up the biking opportunity once I heard that it would take about 45 – 60 minutes to get to the bridge, then two miles to get across, three miles to the ferry, and then another two miles to get back to the hotel…not to mention the steep hills along the way, the gusty wind, and the stinging chill in the air.

Many of us want to experience something amazing but we are not willing to do what it takes to get there. God is trying to take us to a much higher level in our lives, but we want to know all the details beforehand and then determine whether it is worth all the trouble. Meanwhile, what He has in store for us is beyond our wildest dreams.

Furthermore, God is trying to get us to Heaven. Just to see His face one day outweighs any afflictions or momentary troubles that we experience on this Earth. I am so thankful that God’s plan for us is just on the other side of whatever we are going through, and it will be worth it all in the end.

Let’s Pray: Father, we are so thankful that You are such a loving God who always has our best interests at heart. Help us to remember that there is so much more for us beyond what we can see right now. We just need to trust you and believe that we will get to where you want us to be. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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 fan page for her devotional book, Just When I Thought I Knew God:

Friday, March 18, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we should love people unconditionally

Unconditional Love and Angels Unaware
A devotional by Erin M. Handley

“Do not neglect hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”–Hebrews 13:2 (NASB)

Love. It is a small yet powerful word. It is both a feeling and an action. It takes on a lot of meanings, but they are all rooted in how God loves His own. He calls His children to love others the same way He loves us: unconditionally.

Loving unconditionally can sometimes seem like a daunting task. Showing love is easy when it is mutual. When it is a shared decision between like-minded people, it rarely requires much thought.

The intention to love others is mostly instinctive when it does not feel like a burdensome task. It seems easier to love when there is a heightened level of awareness of the person or situation. It can be easier to love an individual who may be difficult to get along with when you understand the root of their contentiousness and you decide to love them beyond their flaws. 

However, in order to love unconditionally the decision must be made to show love relentlessly regardless of the person or specific situation. To love unconditionally means love is exhibited with no restrictions, no requirements, and no expectations.

The tricky thing about loving unconditionally is that sometimes we may feel like we are showing love without it being reciprocated. Committing to love others as God calls us to can sometimes seem overwhelming and tiresome. Loving unconditionally can be difficult to do when you find yourself walking away from situations feeling unappreciated or taken advantage of. It can be a hard thing to do, but doing so shows the love of Jesus Christ to those who need to see it. It is easy to talk about, but we often don’t understand what it means until we experience it firsthand.

But what about those who find themselves feeling unappreciated? They love others relentlessly without it being reciprocated. Over time, they find themselves looking for a silver lining; something to remind them of their purpose. They desire encouragement to continue loving with the heart of God even when the work can feel like it is done with no purpose.

If this resonates with you, please be encouraged by this: “Do not neglect hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 NASB).

It can seem hard to continue loving others during their darkest hours. But be encouraged by knowing that God sends His angels to you just when you need their presence. God’s Angels will not mistreat you. Angels will not devalue you. Angels will not allow you to feel unappreciated after they cross your path. You never know when you will entertain them, so make it a best practice to be hospitable to every person you meet. This is how we show the love of God.

Let’s Pray: Lord, you consistently show us what unconditional love is. You always to love us relentlessly. Because we see how you love us, we have the blueprint that guides us and shows us how to love others without limitations or conditions. Thank you for being patient with us as we are learning how to love others unconditionally. Thank you for being so forgiving as we sometimes don’t always love as fiercely as we should. Thank you for your gentle reminders to always love even the strangers who may be the angels you have sent our way. In Jesus’s Name we pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Erin’s devotional message today reminds me of this song “Angels Unaware” by Michael W. Smith. Listen to it here.

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, March 16, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Lessons learned on obeying God's speed limit

Obeying God's Speed Limit
A devotional by Sarah Cole

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 
–Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

I looked at my calendar, and a feeling of dread came over me.

Over the next 24 hours, I planned to host a dinner party, make a meal for a friend, work at my volunteer job, rush to meet a writing deadline, and prepare my house to welcome a new foster puppy.

But when I woke up the following day with a respiratory virus, I realized God used my body to do the very thing I was not willing to do: slow down and rest.

Like many women growing up in today's culture, I was raised to live in the fast lane. My mother taught me to live by a handful of words that would drive me most of my life, and my father teased her for the "shoulds," and "musts" that were commonplace in her vocabulary. But carrying these arbitrary rules into my adult life served to push me beyond the point of exhaustion. And I learned the hard way that the payoff of running on empty wasn't worth the effort.

Perhaps, like me, you've realized that moving full speed ahead to pursue the world's version of abundant life is a recipe for exhaustion and burnout. But the good news is that we don’t have to live this way. When we slow down to God's speed limit, it can feel strange to go against the grain of how our instant gotta-have-it-now society lives, but it's the way He's designed us.

When Jesus walked this earth, He didn't sit on his laurels. But He knew the value of rest, and unlike most of us, He was never in a hurry. After a full day of ministry, He set an example for us by retreating to a quiet place to pray and recharge His batteries (Luke 5:16).

We are no different. If we want to experience the abundant life Jesus promised us, we must surrender our schedules to Him and wait on Him for direction. As our Shepherd, He leads us at His speed because He knows it fits us perfectly (Psalm 23:2-4).

If you're like me and find it challenging to slow down, here are ways to incorporate much-needed rest into your life:

1. Know ahead of time what matters and what doesn't.
By doing so, you manage your to-do list before it manages you.

2. Remember to rest weekly.
When God rested on the seventh day, He set a standard for us to follow (Exodus 20:8-11). Our Omnipotent Creator never grows weary, but He knows we do.

3. Listen to your body. It's God's temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Like our cars, our bodies have an internal dashboard. If we choose to ignore its warnings and neglect our need for rest, God knows they'll break down. Depression, pain, anxiety, stress are just some examples of our body's warning system.

4. Create margin in your schedule (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Think of ways to recharge your batteries and try one a week until it becomes a habit. Some ideas are a brisk nature walk, journaling, indulging in a creative hobby you enjoy, watching a movie, taking a bubble bath with scented candles, or curling up with that book you've had your eye on.

When you look at this week's schedule, are you trying to juggle too much or feel uncomfortable unless you are always doing something? That, my friend, is the hamster wheel that keeps you in danger of burning out. But there's hope! Instead of feeling overwhelmed, ask God to help you sort out your priorities and find tangible ways to live by His speed limit.

I promise you that you'll be glad you did.

Let's Pray: Dear God, You are an amazing Father and friend, and we thank you for teaching us the value of rest. When the world tempts us to live at breakneck speed, help us slow down long enough to remember what's truly important, so our lifestyle reflects Your kingdom values. In Jesus's Name I 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:

Monday, March 14, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Reasons why we can completely trust God

Trust With Abandon
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you. He drives out the enemy before you; he cries out, “Destroy them!” 
Deuteronomy 33:27 (NLT)

Years ago, on a trip to Texas to visit my sister and her family, I learned a valuable lesson about trusting in God. We had gone to the community swimming pool to find relief from the intense summer heat. My youngest nephew, not yet knowing how to swim, seemed perfectly content wearing his swimmies on his arms playing safely in the shallow waters of the kiddie pool.

I vividly remember his face lighting up with delight when his daddy decided to pick him up and take him into the big pool. He seemed satisfied resting in the security of his daddy's arms as he carried him around the pool. But soon he was begging his dad to take him to the side so he could jump in. I watched with nervous anticipation as his father set him carefully on the pool deck, wondering if he would chicken out. On the contrary, as soon as his little feet hit the deck, he turned around and flung his little body boldly into the air, confident he would land safely in the arms of his father.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we would have that kind of total trust and faith in our Heavenly Father? Instead of being apprehensive or fearful, or dwelling too much on the past, what if we would just exercise courage and trust about plunging into the unknown, anticipating stepping into something incredible?

Those without God must forever be cautious. One mistake may wipe them out. But as believers, we should be more like Peter, confidently climbing over the side of a boat to walk upon the waves of the sea, knowing that even if we falter and take our eyes off God, He never takes His eyes or focus off of us. We should maintain what I like to call “vertical vision”, fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Moses’s declaration in Deuteronomy 33:27 is that God is our refuge, our only true security. So often we entrust our lives to other things such as money, career, a noble cause, or a lifelong dream. But these things will always fall short of providing any guarantees or anything of lasting value to our lives. Our only true refuge is the eternal God, who always holds out His arms to catch us when the shaky supports that we trust collapse and fail. No storm can destroy us when we take refuge in Him. No weapon formed against us can prosper.

Because we live for God, we can dare to be bold. We can take chances and step courageously into all God has called us to be. Like Esther in the Bible, we can risk putting our neck on the line knowing that the God who loves us enough to die for us goes before us and paves the way for our victory. We can live fearlessly, daring to believe that God has exceedingly more for us than we can ask or imagine. Whatever God has ordained for our lives He has also equipped and empowered us to fulfill. Let’s commit to aim for new heights today and not worry about falling, because the arms of our Heavenly Father are open wide and ready to catch us if we slip.

Let’s Pray: Loving Father, thank You for being my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer. Forgive me for the times when I put my faith in other things only to come running back to You when they let me down. I choose to remove fear and anxiety from my life, placing my complete trust in You to guide me and lead me into Your perfect will, or catch me when I stumble and fall. Help me to live with abandon, stepping confidently into Your will for my life. Let me dare to be bold as I live for You and seek to walk out this life You created me for. To You and You alone be the glory, in Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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 on Instagram:

Friday, March 11, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: What it means to walk and live like Jesus

Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus
A devotional by Karen Marstaller

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” 
–Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

At our favorite pancake house, one of the waitresses is in much demand.

Her station is always full. She moves easily from table to table, taking orders, dispensing coffee, and paying close attention to her customers. We love it when we’re seated in her section because she remembers we are the “with lemon, no ice” and “with ice, no lemon” couple. How she does it, I’ll never know.

There’s another reason why we enjoy eating at her table. Even though she’s been working there for a long time, she always greets us with warmth, and then waits on us as though she’s been waiting all her life to serve us. Another cup of coffee? Coming right up. A spilled glass of juice? Not a problem.

The restaurant is located near the city’s hospital district, so many of her customers are either out-patients, relatives visiting loved ones receiving care, or people waiting to hear what their doctor has to say. She is sensitive to each one and takes time in her constant hurry to speak to them, to listen to their stories, and to encourage them. People rarely leave her station as dejected as they were when they arrived, and on each ticket, she signs her name and puts a little smiley face beside it, thanking them for their patronage.

In the verse from Colossians above, the word “heartily” is used. In this connotation, the word means joyful exuberance. That’s what our waitress exhibits, even when she’s working short-handed and is in a rush. Her customers appreciate her kindness and her service, and many times they become part of the regular crowd that flocks to her.

Jesus was like that. Patiently and tirelessly, He walked the Judean hillsides and the countries surrounding them, meeting every need. Five thousand people are hungry? Bring Me what you have, and I’ll feed them. Terrified disciples on a little boat in a violent storm? Don’t worry. I’ve got this. Huge crowds of people all around Him, and yet He knew when one woman touched the hem of His garment and was healed. None of it was a disruption or a problem for Jesus. He went on each path with a single purpose—to serve each person with care and dignity. And with love.

Jesus kept moving along His earthly path, placing His hands on little children in blessing, touching a leper and making him clean, restoring sight to the blind, and even raising the dead to life. Always, wherever He went He reasoned with the religious leaders who couldn’t fathom Who He was—and still is today—the Son of God and the Son of Man. As Jesus walked through the Promised Land, He deliberately moved closer to Jerusalem, and to His death on a cross.

On the night before He was crucified, Jesus washed the dirty, sweaty feet of His twelve disciples. Kneeling before each man, the Lord Jesus Christ tenderly bathed and dried each foot. He had been waiting all their lives to show them how much He loved them, and He gave them a vivid portrayal of His love in action.

Then He sat down and taught them another lesson they needed to learn. He taught about servanthood. He told them, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15 ESV).

His message is still resonating in the hearts of all who have accepted Jesus as their Savior, even in our world today. Now we serve the risen Lord Jesus, and we want to do our work heartily, as for our Lord. You need a piano player? It would be a pleasure. You want me to teach the little kids a Bible story? Sure, which one? You want me to feed the hungry? I’ll bring a bag of groceries and a ladle.

Sometimes our work for the Lord takes us to humble places, to hurting people, or to the sick and dying. With each job He gives us, we rejoice in becoming a visible representative of Jesus’ love. We become an extension of the hands and feet of Jesus. And in doing so, we fulfill His purpose for us—to wash each other’s feet in joyful exuberance.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the privilege of serving You. We ask for Your strength to sustain us, and for Your love to fill us. Please give us Your humility to serve others as You showed us. We praise You, the Lord of Heaven and Earth. In Your Name we pray. Amen.

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:

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: What it means to be set apart by God

You Are Set Apart
A devotional by Jessica B. Turner

“And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” 
–Mark 11:13-14 (ESV) 

When I first read this scripture a few years ago, I was greatly disturbed by it. I just couldn’t comprehend Jesus Christ’s harsh response to a fig tree that was simply doing what was expected of it: not producing fruit during a season that wasn’t meant for figs.

Christ’s reaction seems so out of place, unjustified even. How could He curse something for not doing something it wasn’t even set up to do?

I believe it caused such an unsettled response in me, and still does sometimes, because I could easily relate to the fig tree. Numerous times, I’ve found myself walking through a season of drought, feeling as if I have nothing left to give. The mere thought of producing anything of value out of such a time of barrenness seems unfair and gives thought to the question, “Will I ever be able to please my Savior?” You may be asking the same thing as you read this.

But don’t fret for I have good news!

Until recently I didn’t realize that Jesus knew more than I did when it came to this particular fig tree. He understood that the presence of leaves on this tree was out of character for this time of the year, setting it apart. He also knew that the leaves should have been accompanied by fruit despite the “season” it was in.

After learning this small, yet priceless detail, the way I read this scripture has been completely transformed. Now, I can’t help but see the leaves as a symbol of our proclamation of faith. Our salvation. Our knowing of who Jesus Christ is.

As believers, we are set apart from the rest of the world, just like this tree was. But it is up to us what happens next. Do we simply accept Christ into our lives and allow ourselves to become complacent? Content with the fact that we are now planted in the kingdom of God, ready for all to see. We have the title of a Christian and may even look the part, but do we stop there?

We must be willing to go the next step. We must allow God to have access to our lives, pruning what may look good yet is an obstacle standing in the way of what God has in store. While Christ’s behavior in this scripture may appear odd, He understood that the only way His Father’s will would be done here on Earth is if there were believers willing to go through the process of transformation. A process that would require them to go from simply saying “I believe” to “I am ready to give my life to you, sharing the fruits of your presence in my life.”

So how do we do that, especially when we are in a season where it doesn’t seem possible to produce anything of value? Through sharing our stories and the role our Savior plays in them.

Feel as if you are barely hanging on by a thread? Share how you are clinging to who He is and His promises. Through doing so, you are giving the gifts of joy and hope.

On the receiving end of His grace, extend that to someone else the next time you are tempted to cast blame. Through doing so, you are giving the gifts of forgiveness and gentleness.

See someone being treated unjustly? Stand by their side and let them know they are seen and heard. Through doing so, you are giving the gifts of love and kindness.

There will be times in our lives where it easy to share the goodness of God, but we are called to spread His love and bring Him glory even when it isn’t. In fact, our greatest testimonies often come out of the seasons where we are not expected to be praising His name, yet we still do.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me so much that you gave Your one and only Son to die on the cross for me. Through His sacrifice, I am able to live a transformed life. A life that glorifies You. Help me to be set apart while advancing Your kingdom here on Earth by living in such a way that others may experience Your love through the fruits I produce. 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:


Monday, March 7, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Why believers need to wear 'Jesus Clothes'

Wearing my ‘Jesus Clothes’
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” –Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

I’m one of those people who picks out her outfits the night before. On one particular day, I’d planned to wear a sleek black tunic and gray dress pants to work. But one peek out the window that morning indicated the day would be a gloomy, wet, sopping mess. I also had a ton of tedious catch-up work to do—filing and organizing and getting financials straight for the year.

The last thing I wanted to do was wear black or gray and add to the gloom.

So I picked through my closet looking for a clean pink blouse or a bright yellow top, something cheerful I could wear to keep me motivated on such a dreary day.

It’s a simple thing, really—the notion that a bright color will knock down the blues, or a smile will make your day brighter. But even a little effort to change perspective does help. We do things all the time like that, don’t we? Fake it till you make it, the saying goes. Of course, studies now prove that the very effort you put into smiling does have a physiological effect. Somehow, pushing your mouth and cheek muscles into an upturned expression supposedly releases some sort of brain signal that really does make you happier.

But anyone who’s struggled with depression, burnout, grief, or long-term stress knows there’s no amount of smiling, no perfect shade of yellow, that can fix some things.

Still, we make the effort. We try to clothe ourselves in sunny outfits—or a winning personality, or that rote “totally fine!” when people ask how things are going. We try to shine the light even on dark days.

But reading Colossians 3 today, it’s clear that’s not the sort of clothing the apostle Paul is talking about in his letter to the early church. In Colossians 3:12-14, Paul urges, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (NIV).

These clothes Paul mentions, of course, aren’t actual garments. He’s talking about authentic, righteous living, living in the manner of someone who is filled with the love of Christ and the glory of the Holy Spirit, all pointing together to God in the highest. It’s the sort of clothing that permeates our soul, acts as a buffer against the forces of evil at work in the world, carries over into the way we express care and compassion for others around us.

We wear these clothes whether it is a rainy day or perfect sunshine, whether life is on an upswing or deep in a valley, whether we’re dealing with a cancer diagnosis or financial crisis or tremendous loneliness.

We are called to put on these garments because there are the garments of love, the garments worn by our savior Jesus Christ himself, and the garments that allow us to draw others to him and to the life-saving eternal truth of the gospel.

Life is hard sometimes. But whether it’s a rainy day or a poor night’s sleep or a tough season, it doesn’t mean we get a pass and get to succumb to doubt or disillusionment. Our hope in Christ, our hope in the gospel, is never dependent on our present circumstances. We hope in spite of our circumstances, good or bad.

Today, I challenge you to check your clothing. Are you wearing the garments of Christ? Are you cloaked in love and care for other people?

I’d love to hear, either in the comments below or in a private email, how you are doing in life right now. How are you challenging life circumstances? How are you keeping your faith today?

Let’s Pray:
Lord, help me put on the clothes of Christ—compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience—today and every day. Help me shine Your light so others know You and know Your love through me. In Your holy name I pray, Amen.

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

Jessica 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.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Learning to trust God through karate lessons

How Karate Lessons Taught Me to Trust God
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
—1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

When we lived in Okinawa, Japan, I enrolled my children in a karate class.

My son asked “Dad, why don’t you do it with us?”

So I did.

It was brutal. I was already fit and working out with the Marines. Calisthenics and running three miles, three days a week was my norm. The karate regimen, on top of that, was grueling.

There was one exercise that seemed over the top. We would kneel, then lean back until our shoulders were on the floor. We were expected to do sit ups from that position. We could not do it when we started. It was hard and painful. I can’t do it now.

We watched as those who had been in this class longer did it with ease. We watched as the Sensei would move around, checking the strength of their abdomen by jumping on their stomachs. Seeing this action shocked us and amazed us at the same time!

But we persevered. For weeks we did it. Finally, the Sensei came around to us and put his foot on our bellies. We were not ready yet. Keep stretching, he would say. After a few months he came to me. He put his foot on my belly. He nodded and walked away, leaving me feeling a little disappointed. I had begun to look forward to the day when he would jump on my stomach and I could hold him up.

Just as I relaxed, in my mind, thinking that he was not going to do it, he leapt backward and landed his entire body weight on my abdomen. I took it! He stood on my stomach and said to me, “You are a chaplain. You teach people to be wary and ready for demonic assaults, but you were not ready for me. Always be ready for an adversary. The worst attacks are those that come by surprise.”

He said, “How do you feel now?”

I replied, “Happy!”

He asked, “You are happy that I am standing on you?”

I said, “No. I am happy that I can take it.”

It was then that I knew why we worked out so hard in these karate lessons. It was because the strength comes after the exercise.

1 Peter 5:10 is like that experience. It is after some inevitable sufferings, that the strength of our character and purpose shines. Don’t be a masochist, seeking suffering. But be a warrior, hardening yourself for the battle. Because it is after the exercise that muscles grow. It is after our spiritual suffering that we are made perfect, mature in faith and practice.

It is after the challenges that we become leaders. It is after effective leadership that people become willing to follow. It is after you have proven to yourself that you can do it, that you do it best. It is after the struggle that praise springs forth.

Here are some steps I gleaned from 1 Peter 5:7-10 that can help you to maximize your spiritual growth plane and leadership.

Step One: Cast your cares on God.

a. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all thy ways and He shall direct thy paths.

b. Delight thyself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

c. Be like Jesus and you will gain testimonies. You will be a living testimony.

Step Two: Sobriety is an imperative.

d. This is not just the absence of intoxicants. It is awareness, watchfulness and preparation. I took a martial arts class some years ago. The Sensei said, “Any man who stands with his hands in his pockets is vulnerable.” Why? Because you can’t defend yourself.

e. Challenges are going to come your way. A mind that is clear and focused on the presence and the will of God in your life, is the best preparation and defense against distractions and attacks of the evil, enemy of God.

f. Some amount of suffering is assumed and expected.

Remember: When God brings you to it, he will see you through it.

Someone told me that the finger of God never points where His hand has not already made a way. Trust, obey and exercise His grace. After that is when we experience His eternal glory!

Let’s Pray: Dear God, as we move from this devotional moment, please give us a sense of readiness and a grateful enthusiasm for the blessings and challenges that we will meet today. Bless each reader with grit and fortitude. When the day is over, may each reflect upon at least one success with which they have been blessed. 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,

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Life Lessons on Trusting the God Who Sees

God Sees You
A devotional by Patricia Russell

She said, “You are the God who sees me.”

She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”

So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means

“well of the Living One who sees me”). 

–Genesis 16:13-14 (NLT)

Do you remember playing “Peek-a-boo” with babies?

Cover your eyes with your hands and slowly move them aside, squealing, "Peek a boo! I see you." Usually, this causes a smile and squeal from the baby who is now ready to play.

It's an incredible feeling to be seen. You can be in a room full of people, looking dapper, and yet feel like no one sees you. We are all moving quickly through our day and our activity, although my days have somewhat changed to a different pace since 2020. Still, ongoing emails and text messages can have us not really taking the time to acknowledge people who really want you to play that game because they want to be seen.

When you see someone, you haven't seen for a long time, often our first words are, “How are you?” I have learned the importance of taking the time to stop and wait for a response. I firmly believe that if we don't have time to wait and listen for the response, we shouldn't ask the question. Why? Because you and I have an innate desire to be seen and heard. When we really take the time to acknowledge each other's presence, it is powerful. When we wait to hear the response to the question, we are telling the other person they are valued and important. It speaks volumes when we can wait and listen for their response.

Scripture helps us to understand the importance of this when we read about the struggle between Hagar and Sarai (later to be Sarah). Hagar was Sarai's servant. Sarai made a deal with Abram (later to be Abraham) to take her servant and sleep with her in order to conceive a child that in Sarai’s mind, would fulfill the promise God made. God had promised Sarai and Abram a child. However, they felt God was taking too long. So they chose to take matters into their own hands.

Moreover, when Hagar became pregnant, she was not seen with the same compassion and appreciation in Sarai's eyes who tormented Hagar. Not being able to take it anymore, Hagar eventually ran away. Can you imagine being pregnant, talked about, scorned, and criticized because your boss asked you to become a surrogate mother on her behalf? Hagar became tired. Tired of the change of attitude. She was tired of the rejection and change of heart from Sarai. She was emotionally crushed that she was now seen as an enemy. 

This is why I love the Bible—we’re able to see these are not stories or fables but real people with real feelings like us. During her pain, God's angel called out to her and called her by name. You're not a social security number or a billing code—you are someone of value. You want to be seen and heard. God looked down with love and compassion of God let Hagar know, "I am the God who sees."

God was saying (and I paraphrase), “I see you, Hagar! I see your pain. I hear your cries of distress. I see what's been done to you, and I am completely aware. I want you to know that I am the God who sees.”

God saw Hagar in all her pain and confusion, and He also wants you and I to know this very important truth: You are not forgotten. You may have been let go from your job. Your family and friends may have turned their back on you. Maybe no one has called and checked up on you but hear your Father's Heart today as I believe He is saying, “I am the God who sees. I see you.”

Let's Pray: Thank you, God, for reminding me that you see me, you hear me, and you know me. You know the number of hairs on my head. Remind me, Lord, when I get discouraged, that You hold me in the palm of Your Hand, and You are right beside me. Thank you again. In Jesus's Name I pray. Amen.

Editorial Note: Patricia’s devotional message today reminds me of the song, “The God Who Sees” performed by Nicole C. Mullen. Listen to it 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.

Connect with Patricia: