Friday, April 29, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Here's why we should never be too busy for God

The Only Thing That Matters
A devotional by Monique M. Anderson

"But the Lord said to her, "My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her." –Luke 10:41-42 (NLT)

In this season of my life, I've noticed that I have been consumed with my performance.

I've been consistently asking myself questions like: Am I pleasing God? Did I do this right? Did I do this wrong? What are my next steps? How do I fix this?

I have been keeping myself busy like Martha worrying about how I am performing for God when there is only one thing He cares about: me sitting at His feet and spending time with Him. We think we are pursuing God when we do a bunch of things for Him, however we forget the only thing that concerns Him.

That one thing is simply enjoying His presence and not looking to get anything in return. You don’t always have to come looking for answers or your next steps. If He decides to reveal the details in the moments you spend with Him, that would be a bonus to your intimate time with Him. However, that should not be the goal.

The goal should be to desire the Lord above all things, even above serving Him. I am not saying that you should not serve the Lord because your love for Him allows you to serve. However, you should be before Him, fully attentive when He is before you. Sometimes our obedience to Him is just being free in His presence.

I am learning to allow myself to be free with Him. I have realized that this is the true meaning of full surrender. Not to serve Him with busyness but to serve Him with my submission. In our desire to serve with busyness, we neglect our guests as Martha did here in this verse. When I try to do "things" for Him, I'm not actually spending time with Him and allowing Him to move as He wishes.

I get consumed with the details. I like to see order, structure, and bullet points of what is to come. Without it, I feel out of whack. However, I've realized when I focus too much on figuring out the particulars then I miss the majesty of God. Flowing with Him feels so much better than worrying about the specifics. When you are not looking for all the answers, that's when He provides all the answers. He appreciates it so much more when we allow ourselves to be with Him.

When you are not so concerned with your performance, you will realize that your free-flowing time with God will outperform any task on your list. Jesus said, "There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her."

Mary discovered the one thing. She found the one thing that should be your only concern. She realized the only thing that should keep you occupied and busy. That one thing is a man named Jesus, and once He has found that special place in your heart, He cannot be taken away from you.

Let's Pray: Heavenly Father, forgive us for putting service to You above being with You. Lord, we desire to be present in Your presence. Not to gain anything in return, but to be close to You and be wrapped in The Holy Spirit. Help us focus on this one thing: our intimate time with you. Our time with you, Jesus, is precious and should not be taken for granted. Help us to slow down and appreciate the glory of God. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Monique M. Anderson is a writer, creator, wife, and bonus mom. She was born and raised in Mount Vernon, NY, where she still resides. She released her always present yet hidden talent of writing to the masses in June 2019. 

Monique always felt like God was chasing after her but was never ready to surrender. Finally, she reached a point in her life when things started going left, and she no longer felt in control. At this point, she was ready to hand over the reins to God. After forming her relationship with God, she always felt compelled to share the revelation’s that His word gave her. She felt the Holy Spirit prompting her to write but was afraid of what people might think. So, her writing started in her journal. The journal turned into a book and the book into a blog.

Her obedience provided more opportunities. In late 2021, Monique became a partner with the notable YouVersion Bible App as a Content Creator. With her first Bible plan debuting in December of 2021, she will continue to provide content for the app as long as God allows her to.

In 2021, God revealed her prophetic gift and how He wants her to use it. Monique always felt compelled to pray for others but had no idea God would use her in this way. Through this gift as a prophetic intercessor, she’s not just writing about what God can do but showing what God can do.

Since God has shown her who He created her to be, she now feels it is her life’s work to help those taking their first steps in their walk with Christ. She is doing so through her blog, prayer, and soon-to-be-published works. She is excited to extend her reach to YouTube, podcasts, and speaking engagements soon.

Her blog is the stepping stone to fulfilling the vision God gave to her – “Sharing God’s revelations so we can all better reflect his image and fulfill His purpose.”

Connect with Monique:

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: A life lesson on letting go and trusting God

Seasons of Letting Go
A devotional by Tessa Huckstep

“And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”—Genesis 22:18 (KJV)

Has God ever asked you to let go of something that was important to you?

Maybe it was a job, a relationship, or a hobby. Often these things are not bad things or sinful.

Usually, God asks us to let go of good things that have become too important to us. When we put our entire identity in something that is not God, He is not willing to allow us to continue further down the path of self-destruction. He does not want us to place our identity in something that can change or something we will undoubtedly lose. God wants you to find your identity in Him because He is the only constant, unchanging One in this world full of changes!

When I consider God asking us to let go of something important to us, I immediately think of the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. Abraham waited years to have a son and eventually, God gave him and Sarah a son—Isaac.

I believe that as the years passed, Isaac became too important to Abraham. It may have been that Abraham placed his own son in the place of God. His relationship with his son was not bad, but God wanted something better for Abraham. I think that if Abraham learned to love God better, He could learn to love Isaac better and live his life even more blessed than he currently was. But that would not happen so long as Isaac was in God’s place.

God told Abraham to sacrifice his son on an altar. Abraham obeyed and gathered the wood and took Isaac up to a mountain. Abraham was completely willing to obey God, knowing God was in control. Before Abraham sacrificed his only son, an angel appeared before him and stopped him.

Let’s read what happened at that moment in Genesis 22:11-18 (ESV) which says: But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Abraham let go of what God asked him to and everything worked out.

But what happens when no angel comes? I used to think that whenever God asked me to let go of something important to me that everything would work out perfectly—and soon. But my timing is not God’s timing. Yes, sometimes God sends angels and grand miracles when we decide to follow His will. However, He most often works through your heart. Unfortunately, a changing heart is not a completely obvious and dramatic change.

Not every season is a season of harvest, dear reader. Some seasons are seasons of letting go. They are barren seasons where you are not able plant or anticipate growth. Seasons of letting go are the seasons of winter that the soul must endure. But it is through the winter seasons that we rest and gain strength. Rest and strength may not be something we can see or measure, but how else could we endure demands and pressures of the planting and harvest seasons in our lives?

Do you feel as if God is not intervening, and you don’t see His hand in your life? Please remember, dear reader, that you are simply going through a season of letting go. Seasons do not last forever. But each and every season has a purpose. God is preparing you through this season of your life. Just because you cannot see His work, do not doubt He is molding your heart and working miracles behind the scenes. Let go of what He has asked you to and have the faith to patiently wait and believe that He is working all things out for your good.

Let’s pray: Dear Lord, thank You for these seasons of letting go. We know that You are in each and every situation we face. Help us to always keep You first in our lives. Work in our hearts and mold us to Your will. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Note from Alexis: Tessa's devotional message today reminds me of the song "I'll Trust You" by Donnie McClurkin. 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, April 25, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Our Guide

When God is Your Guide
A devotional by Glynis Becker

“And the Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night.”
–Exodus 13:21 (NASB)

I’m old enough to remember road trips taken with the help of a giant Rand McNally map, conveniently located in the large pocket on the back of the passenger’s seat. Every once in a while, Dad would have one of us kids grab the map, maneuver it over the seatback to Mom without hitting anyone in the head and have her figure out where we needed to turn or stop or simply ensure we were still on the right path.

I was not born with a great sense of direction and I’m not a particularly good navigator, even when I’m using a map. The emergence of navigation software has been a lifeline to me. I easily admit that I use it sometimes when I drive, even in a town I’ve lived in for more than thirty years. I need to know how to get where I want to go and I like that I don’t have to do all the work to think about the best way to get there.

One of the Bible’s most important stories is the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Sometimes we have a laugh at the expense of those Israelites in the desert, don’t we? I’ve seen cartoons with punchlines about how it was Moses’s wife who must have wanted to ask for directions and he refused, or the Israelites using an app that kept telling them to “re-route.” Those are funny, but the truth is there are a lot of lessons for all of us to learn in the wandering.

One thing we need to remember is to keep our eyes on Jesus. The Israelites were given a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to guide them in their travels. We may not have such physically visible guides in our lives today, but we have the Holy Spirit inside us to keep us on track. If we are conscious of listening to His promptings, take time for Bible study and worship, and intentionally pray for guidance, we will know which way to go.

Secondly, we always need to be on the lookout for milestones and divine interruptions. God knew exactly what He was doing when He led His people to Rephidim and there was no water (Exodus 17:1-7). By sending them to this place, when He might have led them somewhere else, He showed them His provision through the water He caused to pour from the rock. In that same chapter, the Israelites went to battle against the Amalekites. Through Moses and Joshua’s resolve and reliance on God, the Israelites won the battle and God proved in a visible way how He would fight for them and take care of them as they moved into the Promised Land.

In the New Testament, we see the same sort of interruptions. In John 4, Jesus and His disciples, who could have traveled from Judea to Galilee another way, decided to go through Samaria. That was no accident. How else would we have known about that beautiful moment when Jesus talks to a Samaritan woman and reveals Himself as the Messiah? What would that woman or the disciples have missed if Jesus had taken them on a more straightforward route instead?

We need to remember that instead of a map, we have a Guide (God) who doesn’t need a map to direct us to our ultimate destination (Heaven). We have a loving God who knows exactly where we need to go and when. He will set up roadblocks when we need them, and make straight paths when we need those, too. Maybe, when we think we’re wandering, Jesus is simply maneuvering us right where we need to be.

Let’s Pray:
Dear God, my Guide, please help me to keep my eyes focused on You. Help me not be afraid or anxious when I don’t know where You’re taking me. Keep me close to You so that I won’t wander off the path you have set before me. You are good and have good things in store for me. I praise You for all You are. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Glynis Becker’s devotional message today reminds me of “Thy Word” (song) by Amy Grant. 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, April 22, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Holy Week

Reflections on Holy Week
A devotional by Wendy Wilson Spooner

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.”– Matthew 28:5 (NIV)

Holy Week has become my favorite week of the year, right up there with Christmas.

This year, I have searched, pondered, and prayed to understand more of our Savior (Jesus Christ)’s life, message, and miraculous atonement.

I have long loved the fact that women were the first to hear the good news and to tell everyone that Jesus had risen! I am not a feminist. I revere good men just as I revere good women, and my life has been blessed as I’ve been surrounded by truly great men of God.

So, during my Holy Week journey, I asked myself, Am I like the two women named Mary who loved Jesus Christ and were dear friends of the Son of God? Am I His dear friend too? What does that mean?

Then on Good Friday, I went to that place of utter sorrow and anguish of what it must have been like for Mary, the mother of Jesus, to watch her son die on the Cross while people continued to mock and harm Him. I don’t think I could have taken what she did. I probably would have died right along with Him (died of a broken heart).

After much contemplation about my life, and the women who surrounded Jesus, my thoughts at the conclusion of Holy Week came to this…

It has been decades since I was a lost teenager, following the ways of the world. I was unhappy, broken, reduced to feeling like nothing, believing I was alone. Since those years, I have been steadily rising, climbing, slipping backward at times, but always ascending with my heart and mind set on our Savior, trying to become more like Him in a world intent on dragging us down into misery of life without Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Yet, we have hope because Jesus died to save us! But He didn’t stay dead, in three days He rose again and He still lives! Now, when God sees us, He sees His Son and He remembers Christ paid the penalty for our sins. All we have to do is repent of our sins, turn away from our sins and follow Jesus all the way to Heaven.

We also have hope in knowing that we are not a lost cause. Yes, we are imperfect humans but there’s grace for that because God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). And God is patient with us! The Bible says in Philippians 1:6 (TLB), “God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.”

I have hope in knowing that despite all of my imperfection, Jesus Christ considers me and everyone who follows Him, a very dear friend (John 15:15)!

I live each day to testify of Christ’s personal effect on my life as a sinner. I was a lost soul found by Jesus. I was a drifter in this fallen world but then I was changed into becoming a believer in God and a follower of Jesus Christ. Thanks to Christ’s sacrifice on that Cross, I am reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18) and will meet Him one day then live with Him forever!

As a daughter known to God, my soul is at peace as I have come to this conclusion. I fear not as I seek Jesus, just as the women at the tomb were told by the angel (Luke 24:1-10).

It is well with my soul! Listen to this beautiful hymn and remember, God loves you!

Let’s Pray: Dear God, help us to remember what You have taught us—we are never alone. Help us to realize that in our trials, it can be well with our souls if we lean on You. Most of all, help us to freely and faithfully share this good news as we continue our journey through life with You by our side. In Jesus’s 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 in April 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 in November 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:

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Life lessons on faith, love and loss of a dear puppy

Until We Meet Again
A devotional by Sarah Cole

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
–John 14:1-4 (NIV)

Tears streamed down my face as I drove past the veterinary clinic.

I said goodbye to my beloved dog Gigi a few days earlier, and her death left me wondering how I would survive.

For months, dementia made the dog I knew disappear. What remained was an imposter who wandered through the house unaware of my presence. One day I had a gut feeling she had little time left to live. God had been warning me for weeks as she became finicky, developed a cough, and no longer played fetch with her favorite ball. Her downward spiral felt like a death in the family, and my heart broke as I slowly lost pieces of the dog whom I loved more than life itself.

That evening I went upstairs to my office, and as usual, she followed me. As I got up to use the bathroom, I looked over at her and she had collapsed, her eyes gazing lifelessly back at me. I knew something tragic was happening and tried to get her to stand up, but she collapsed again, and I carried her limp body downstairs. Just then, a voice interrupted me, telling me not to seek expensive treatment and let her illness run its course. Surely that wasn’t God, I told myself.

The online veterinarian asked me for the color of Gigi’s gums. “Bubble gum pink,” I said. “Not the usual red color of gum disease.” She mentioned the words ‘blood loss’ and ‘congestive heart failure’ and told me to watch her breathing and call my vet the following morning. Until then I hadn’t entertained the thought of losing her at Christmastime, and God reminded me to savor each moment with her like it was our last.

The bond we have with our pets is a piece of Heaven and the reason it is so hard to say goodbye. Their unconditional love is just a glimpse of the overwhelming love Jesus Christ had for us when He came to rescue our lost and dying world. After He spent all night in the Garden of Gethsemane pleading with His Father to prevent His impending suffering, He went to the Cross anyway, because He loved us more than his own life, and He would rather die than spend eternity without us.

The thought of losing Gigi was unbearable, yet her quality of life had diminished, and her continued suffering was not an option. She gave me everything she had, so besides feeding her whipped cream and a McDonald’s hamburger, I would make the one decision she could not make for herself.

On the day I put her to sleep, life as I knew it was over, but I found comfort knowing that one day Jesus will tell her I am coming home. And with a twinkle in her eye, she will tear away from the pack, sprint across Heaven, and stand with Him to welcome me saying, “Mommy, what took you so long?”

Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we are forever grateful to You for sending your Son Jesus to rescue us from the power of sin and death. Help us remember that when losses shake the foundations of our lives, Christ's death and resurrection carry the promise of eternal life for us and for those we have lost. 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, April 18, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: When you wish you could start over

When You Wish You Could Choose A Different Ending 

A devotional by Angela Anderson

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” –Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

One day my oldest son came home with a book from the library.

He was so excited about this book and eager to get started because it was a book that allowed him to choose his own ending. Furthermore, this book was written from a second-person point of view so that the reader takes on the role of the main character. As the book progresses, the reader can choose the main character’s actions which determines the outcome of the plot.

My son found his favorite spot in his room and began to read the book. As time passed, he came out of his room appearing disappointed. He told me that he was not happy with the ending. Well, all he had to do was go back to the page in the book where he made the wrong choice, and then he decided to follow a different pre-written plot so that he could experience a happy ending.

Have you ever had such a bad day that you wished you could just start over? Maybe you recollected something that went wrong during the day, and you just wanted to rewind and do things a little differently. Perhaps there is a situation in your life where you regret a decision that you made. You wonder how things would be now if only you had made another choice back then. You wished it were as simple as turning back to a page in the storybook of your life and choosing a better ending.

Fortunately, God gives us another chance. He specializes in taking an unpleasant situation and creating a favorable outcome. The verse for today’s devotional thought expresses this the best: “…all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV).

This is reassuring us that our God is able to make wrong things right, crooked paths straight, barren places fertile, and old things new. God does not want us to live a life of regret, or to wonder “if only.” Instead, He wants to forgive us of our past mistakes, and then provide us with the opportunity to get our lives on track. I am so grateful that when we serve a God of love and mercy.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank you for being a God of second chances. Your grace allows us to forget our past mistakes and walk boldly into the future, knowing that You have prepared the way for the best possible outcome. Thank you for working things out for our good. We love you and we will always serve you. In Jesus’s name we 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, April 15, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Grow closer to God and reflect His Image

Broken Image

A devotional by Erin M. Handley

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
– James 1:22-25 (NIV)

It’s interesting how the human body communicates with us.

It may be something in the air that makes us cough, sneeze, or itch. Sometimes we eat something, and our stomach will always find a way to let us know that it does not agree with what was on the menu. Sometimes we wait too long to eat, and we find ourselves with what some of us refer to as a “hunger headache”. No matter how subtle or severe, our body finds a way to communicate with us. Sometimes we don’t know exactly what is wrong, but we do know that something is not right.

Some can attest to suffering from an allergy or a symptom of some type. It can be a nuisance, but it can also serve as a gentle reminder that a change has to be made in order to fix what is essentially broken. The sneezing, itching, or watery eyes can serve as a reminder that allergy medicine must be taken to prevent an allergy attack. The stomachache that is a result of eating the wrong food can be the body’s way of requesting a change in diet. The hunger headache may very well be the body’s way of saying we have to slow down to take care of ourselves by simply feeding the body.

But what happens when the symptom is ignored?

Do the seasonal allergies grow into more severe allergies? Do the stomachaches turn into ongoing stomach issues if a change in diet does not occur? What is the worst that could happen if a person chose to never eat again? Yes, this series of questions may seem to become slightly irrational, but what happens when the tendency to ignore symptoms evolves into a habit of ignoring our sins?

The body communicates when it does not agree with something in our environment. On a spiritual level, the Holy Spirit is with us to help make us more like Jesus Christ. If we are doing something that takes us further away from Christ’s image, the Holy Spirit lets us know in efforts of getting us back on track. So much like ignoring when our body tells us that it does not agree with something it has been exposed to (food, allergens, etc.), ignoring when the Holy Spirit tells us that we are not in alignment with God’s plans for us, is us making the decision to ignore our sins.

The Lord consistently sends us reminders as ways to grow closer to Him and get better at loving Him. Some things are easier to address than others, but what about when we are intentional about ignoring His Word (The Holy Bible)? James 1:22 tells us that we can’t just listen His Word; we have to actually abide by it (do what it says). If we don’t, then we prove to be the person who looks in the mirror and walks away without remembering what they just saw in the mirror. Even worse, sometimes we develop a pattern of avoiding the mirror to prevent the image we are not ready to see. If a person does not want to see what the mirror has to offer, it can often be because the person is not ready to address that, unlike the pristine mirror, the image is broken.

Don’t take for granted all the opportunities we have to look in the mirror and address what is not in agreement with God’s Word. The Holy Spirit (our mirror) will continue to be the constant reminder of who we are and who God created us to be. The Holy Spirit urges us to remember that Jesus is the Savior. Our Savior is the reflection we should aim to be in alignment with. God knows we will not always get it right, but our attempt to look in the mirror to address our flaws is what He recognizes and will ultimately bless us for.

Let’s Pray:
Lord, thank you for your subtle reminders that we sometimes need to slow down and remember that you are in control. We also thank you for your mercy. Sometimes, you elevate from the gentle reminders to reminders that are more aggressive. No matter how intense the reminder is, it is still rooted in love. If we never understood what firm love was before, we understand it once we realize you were attempting to get our attention for some time. So, we thank you for your patience. We thank you for your grace. And we thank you for loving us through our process of growth. We thank you, and we love you. All these things we pray in Jesus’s Name. 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, April 13, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Holding onto God's goodness in hard times

When All You Have Are Tears to Sow
A devotional by Jessica B. Turner

“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.”
—Psalm 126:5-6 (NLT)

It's often the hardest to hold onto God’s goodness when we are walking through hard times. Such as: The loss of a loved one. A dreaded diagnosis. An unexpected financial blow. The heartache of a divorce. There are so many reasons one may fall to their knees in despair, each being unique to the individual.

I remember feeling as if my faith wasn’t what I thought it was when walking through the grief of my miscarriage last year. I would hear all these stories of other moms experiencing the same loss and handling it with such grace. While I on the other hand, seemed to be unraveling at a rate that had me seriously questioning my foundation in God.

During my mourning, I couldn’t find the words to pray. I even struggled with borrowing the words from my favorite praise and worship songs because I couldn’t see myself in them. All I could do was cry and every tear felt like a step further away from God.

I believe that is why this scripture (listed above) made such an impression on my heart when I came across it the other day. It’s such a beautiful reminder that sometimes we don’t have the words to express how we feel or even what we need to get through the other side. All we have are our tears.

The good news is that our tears can be a form of prayer when we direct them to our Heavenly Father, remembering that He is Sovereign. He knows our heart. He sees our brokenness. He shares our suffering.

But it’s up to us to lay those tears at His feet. Knowing that every single tear is accounted for (Psalm 56:8). Every single tear serves as a seed being planted in the Heavens. Every single tear is the dawn of a joyous tomorrow.

Sometimes that “tomorrow” isn’t apparent for quite some time, but hope can be found through clinging to God’s Word (The Holy Bible) that it is coming!

One day you will be able to look back on that season where all you could do was shed tears as a form of worship and you will clearly see the harvest that has sprouted as a result.

You will experience joy unimaginable because you will see things differently. You will be excited to share what God has done in your life because you will see His hand and how it brought good from evil. Your story will become a beautiful song for all to hear. A song that will bring unshakeable hope to others who are still in their season of planting.

Your decision to trust in God, even when you can’t find the words to express what you need from Him, will show others just how faithful He truly is. They will see that a surrendered heart is all that is needed for our Heavenly Father to move on our behalf. Rest in knowing He is already making a way for a harvest, a harvest that will be accompanied by a joy that you would have never experienced if it weren’t for the faithful sowing of your tears.

And if you are in your own season of planting, remember your tears are a beautiful offering and they are enough. 

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for such a powerful reminder that our tears are never shed in vain, that they are in fact a form of prayer setting a foundation for a joyous harvest to come. Help me to hold on to that hope when I feel as if I can’t go on anymore. Surround me with your love and comfort. Breathe new life into my weary bones. Fill my heart with a new song and help me proclaim it so others can know of your goodness. I love You and I trust You. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Jessica’s devotional message today reminds me of the song “Every Single Tear” by Scott Krippayne. Listen to it here.

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, April 11, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Why Jesus Christ lived, died and rose again!

The Joy Set Before Him
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 
–Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

For the joy set before him he (Jesus Christ) endured the cross.

I’ve read this verse probably hundreds of times with my focus usually landing on the advice to fix my eyes on Jesus Christ. If I keep my “vertical vision” (as I like to call it), I could potentially walk on water or at least maintain a fairly consistent walk with Jesus. These words stood out to me on my most recent read through the verse. I was stunned as their significance settled in my spirit. At the time of Christ’s greatest struggle, His focus was on the joy set before Him. His focus was on the mission. His focus was on us. But to get to the joy set before Him, He had to be willing to drink the cup of suffering.

For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured brutal beatings and relentless ridicule. He experienced desertion and denial from His closest friends. He suffered rejection and injustice at the hands of those He came to save. Jesus accepted being spat upon and nailed to a tree. He took on the cross and all of the scorn and shame that came with it. We read in the Gospels (books of the Bible) that as they were accusing Him, Jesus stood silent before them and allowed them to hurl their insults and accusations without rebuttal. At any moment He could have called on a legion of angels to rescue Him, but He had a different rescue on His mind—ours.

There was a joy that was constantly before Him, and that joy was us.

It was this joy that strengthened Jesus and drove Him to achieve His Father’s purpose. He saw the end goal. He saw the possibilities. He kept His eyes on the prize and the prize was us. He did it all just to have a shot at spending eternity with us, hoping we would see his sacrifice and accept his incredible offer of salvation. Jesus envisioned multitudes ransomed and redeemed. He didn’t just count the hairs on our head; Jesus counted the cost for our redemption, and He concluded we were worth it. He determined the price He would have to pay was overshadowed by the purpose He came to fulfill. While we are called to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, when He was on the cross, His focus was on us.

In the words of a popular movie, Jesus knew his mission and He chose to accept it. His mission was, and always has been, restoring relationship with His people. When Jesus surrendered His will to God while in the Garden of Gethsemane where he prayed fervently to God as he agonized over the intensity of how his life would end, He saw beyond the crucifixion to the coming resurrection. With the weight of the world literally on His shoulders, Jesus conquered death and the penalty of our sin on the cross. His death would strip every principality of its power and authority, publicly shaming them while securing our freedom (Colossians 2:15). 

What was relinquished in the Garden of Eden was redeemed at The Cross. Christ’s victory on The Cross proved that wounded heels can still crush serpents and He is, and always will be, seated on His throne.

Christ’s suffering and love sacrifice secured our salvation and so much more. We have been adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High. The veil was torn from top to bottom, offering us direct access to our Heavenly Father. His sacrifice allows us to approach His throne with confidence (Hebrews 4:16), receiving an endless reservoir of grace and mercy. Our prayers can be offered with the assurance that He hears us and will answer us (1 John 5:14-15). We can walk in authority over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). Our names have been registered in Heaven and He is holding our reservation.

Friends, we were purchased at a high price for a holy purpose. Jesus chose the unimaginable and endured the unthinkable, so we could have the unbelievable. For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured, so we could enjoy eternity in His presence, where we will find fullness of joy!

Let’s Pray:
Sweet Savior, thank you so much for choosing to go through with your rescue mission, allowing us to have restored relationship with you and experience your redeeming grace. It's humbling to be reminded of all you endured just so we could have a chance to choose whether or not we wanted to accept your astounding offer of salvation. Knowing many would reject your incredible gift and all of us would fall short of your Holy standard repeatedly, You still thought we were worth the cost. Help us to never lose appreciation for Your sacrifice or gratitude for the lengths you were willing to go to rescue us. May we commit to sharing your story with others so they can come to know You and experience your unconditional love, endless grace and redeeming mercy. May we always savor the sweetness of Your salvation, experience peace in Your presence, and find joy in our journey with You! In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Cyndi’s devotional today reminds me of the song “Just for Me” by Donnie McClurkin. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

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

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

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

Connect with Cyndi on Instagram:

Friday, April 8, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Looking to Jesus Christ for Living Water

God’s River of Living Waters
A devotional by Karen Marstaller

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” –John 7:37-38 (ESV)

Water. We can’t survive without it. At this time of year, we start seeing more glasses, bottles, and cases of water in the hands of our fellow citizens. We’ve been out running, hiking, riding, or swimming, and our bodies crave a fresh sip of water. Even if all we’re doing is spring cleaning, nothing refreshes like a cool drink after taking down dusty drapes and rehanging freshly washed ones.

My childhood days living in the desert taught me that water is a rare and wonderful thing. I have always been drawn to it, always been amazed at its life-giving importance.

Water is what Jesus Christ gives, too. In John 7, the Feast of Tabernacles was coming to its week-long conclusion with one last day of celebration. The city was astir, and many people witnessed Jesus inviting them to come to Him for every spiritual need. All of us have the same need. We thirst for Living Water that comes only from God Himself. And Jesus continues to invite us to drink from this endless source of life-giving water from His Heart to ours.

In the next verse (John 7:39), John goes on to explain that the water Jesus gives is the gift of the Holy Spirit who had not yet been given to Christ’s followers. The work of the Holy Spirit is to reach down into the driest parts of us, to bring healing, to nurture us, to equip us for life, and to encourage us to always remain close to the Lord Jesus, following Him no matter what.

Whenever we are dejected or lonely, we look to the Lord for help. He hears every prayer. Whether it’s a fleeting discouragement or a total disaster in our life, the Holy Spirit, God’s gift to our weary souls, stands beside us all the way. We are never alone.

Water always seeks its own level, and this lesson became very real to me last week. I made some red gelatin, and everything was going just fine until I tried to pour it into another container. Down it slopped, onto the counter, and down the cabinet, where it pooled in a sticky mess beneath my feet. But it’s a beautiful example of the Holy Spirit’s work. He goes deep into our pain. He spreads into every crevice to encompass all the hurt and the heartaches. He surrounds us with His love and comfort, and then He strengthens us to continue what the Lord has given us to do.

And in this Easter holiday season when we think about The Cross, we remember that Jesus said, “I thirst” right before He died. (John 19:28 ESV)

The Bible teaches that Jesus suffered everything we suffer during His time on earth, and on the day of His crucifixion, as the sins of the whole world were heaped on His sinless frame, Jesus suffered the agony of physical thirst, along with the loneliness of spiritual thirst, as well. The Holy God, for a short span of time, had to turn away from His Son who had become our sin. And Jesus remained hanging there on that cross, atoning for the sins of the whole world. The Lamb of God, bearing our sins, died outside the gates of His holy city, Jerusalem.

We’re the ones who deserve that hideous death. We’re the sinful ones. But because of King Jesus, we are invited to drink from the water of life when we trust in Him as our Savior. We can run eagerly to Him and look to Him for every need.

Three days after Jesus’s death and burial, as He promised, Jesus rose again. The grave had no power over Him, He rose to take on His rightful throne in Heaven, and He gave us His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to be with us forever.

The resurrected Lord is truly Immanuel, which means, “God with us”.

In the very last chapter of the Bible, the Apostle John gives us a glimpse of Heaven’s beauty. He describes “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Revelation 22:1 ESV)

The Living Water that Jesus Christ promises is waiting for us when we reach our eternal home (Heaven). Yet He lavishly provides the Holy Spirit’s refreshing presence to guide us here on earth, too. Living Water is our gift from God. It wells up inside us every moment that we look to Jesus. It is our eternal gift, for now and forever.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Lord of Heaven and Earth, we praise You for the perfect gift of eternal Living Water, and we ask that You remind us to run to You all throughout the day. We thirst, Lord. Please fill us with Your life-giving Spirit and help us to follow You all the days of our lives. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Karen’s devotional message reminds me of the song, “You’ll Never Thirst” by Anointed. 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:

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Remembering the Resurrection

Remember the Resurrection
A devotional by Patricia Russell

“He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” – Luke 24:6-7 (NLT)

Denae was asked to clean the bathroom because friends were coming for dinner the next day, but she kept putting it off, feeling confident that she could get it done with no effort just before company arrived. The problem was that Danae tended to put off things that were important. She was often distracted and delayed in doing what her mother had asked her to do. Suddenly, the doorbell rang and she remembered what she had forgotten to do.

Does this sound familiar?

How many times have I remembered late in the day to do something because I did not write it down or put it in my calendar to remind myself? I know I’m not the only one. Writing tasks down so we can read and remember or using another hack to help us not delay getting things done is imperative. There are some things and some events that are important to remember so we don’t forget. One event that should always be remembered is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus told his disciples repeatedly the purpose of his coming to this planet (Earth). He told them about the plan he had for calling them to follow Him. He also prepared them for what would take place in the days to come concerning his death. Jesus told his disciples a very important piece of God’s plan: Although he would die and be buried, he would not remain buried. He would rise again in three days!

Although we don’t like to hear about people dying, the Bible reminds us that every one of us has a scheduled appointment with death (Hebrews 9:27). Sounds weird, I know, but it’s a fact. I personally have mixed emotions typing this as I think about some people in my life who are struggling with this inevitable “appointment” to meet their Maker. Only God our Father knows the day and the hour. While I am praying for their healing—trust me, I wholeheartedly believe without a doubt that God is able to lengthen their days—I also know I am not in control.

For the disciples to hear their Rabbi who was also their Teacher and Friend, speak about his impending death was extremely hard. But Jesus wanted to assure them that he would not remain dead and buried in the ground. He would rise again by the power of God and that would give them hope—not only for His disciples, but for all of His faithful followers who are living today!

Remember, on the third day, Jesus Christ rose from the dead! The Resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us hope for everything else He said He would do. What does this mean? You can always trust God to fulfill His promises!

Read and reread God’s promises to us in His Word (The Holy Bible). Don’t rely on your memory as Danae did. Time slipped away and she forgot about the task.

As this Easter holiday approaches, let’s not only reflect on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let’s also remember that just like Jesus said He would rise again, He will also come again (to Earth to take His faithful followers home to Heaven)!

Let’s Pray: Father God, we are forever grateful for the hope we have because Jesus rose from the dead. We would be most miserable without it. Thank you for your Word that reminds us of all the promises you have given us. Thank you for keeping your promises, Father, in Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Patricia’s devotional reminds me this song by Dallas Holm called “Rise Again”. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Patricia is an encourager. She passionately uses her gifting 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:

Monday, April 4, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Why silence is necessary to hear from God

Fighting for Silence
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
— 1 Kings 19:12-13 (NIV)

I used to be that person who needed the crazy and the chaotic. Silence felt awkward, like there was a space I had to fill.

It took a long time to realize that deep down, all my nervous energy meant something else. In truth, I feared the silence and quiet, for that led to head space, and head space led to boredom, and boredom made all my painful thoughts and melancholy moods harder to ignore.

As long as I had the crazy and chaotic intact, I didn’t need to face my bigger issues. I was too busy to worry about them… so busy, in fact, that I was running around like a fool, working my life away, spinning my wheels but going nowhere.

All that changed when I grew as a Christian. In fact, I noticed that the more time I spent in prayer, in reading the Bible, in thinking about and centering my life on God, the more I began to crave the silence. In fact, I wanted anything except the crazy and chaotic.

I had the opportunity to listen to bestselling Christian author and theologian Francis Chan give some remarks to hundreds of South Carolina men about a month ago (women were allowed, too, but it was designed to be a “men in ministry” event). Chan authored Crazy Love, and he had some powerful words about what it means to be resilient in today’s culture.

As Chan noted, it starts within—being intentional about time with God, which awakens a hunger in our hearts. Then, once we appreciate that alone time, we have to work to carve out distraction-free time.

“You have to fight for silence and figure out a rhythm, figure out quiet, self-controlled, sober-minded prayer before the Lord,” he said.

I believe he is right. I saw tremendous growth in my faith when I began to fight for silence, when I started to push away the clamor of crazy chaos and instead cling to controlled quiet.

I had to let myself feel uncomfortable in the silence, be willing to accept the melancholy of “being bored,” for this to happen, and it wasn’t easy.

But I found that God was there with me in the silence, just as he was for the prophet Elijah with a whisper in the cave (1 Kings 19:11-13). And that silence can be so necessary. For while God is always there, there is something about the centering and reflection that occurs in silence that helps me hear Him better. The silence also helps me understand myself—the true nature of my soul and my desires, feelings, and thoughts—better.

Part of loving myself as a daughter of God is learning to embrace the uncomfortable and the awkward. It’s learning to embrace the quiet.

Wherever you are today, whether surrounded by massive crowds or by yourself, I encourage you to fight for silence in the noisy world. Seek God in the quiet and the stillness. Listen for His voice even as other voices try to drown His voice out.

If you have a special way you do this, I’d love to hear in the comments below. And if you, too used to be a “crazy chaos” cultivator who has come to appreciate the opposite, I’d love to know!

Let’s Pray:
Lord, help me to quiet the clamor of the world around me and fight for the silence, a place where I can focus on You and Your perfect way and will. In Your holy and precious 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 She has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast.

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

Friday, April 1, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: God Made A Special Wardrobe Just for You!

A Spiritual Wardrobe Made Just for You
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” 
–Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG)

In my youth, I resonated with the Bible story about Joseph because of his nice wardrobe, mainly his treasured “coat of many colors” as described in Genesis 37:3. Because I envied people who had nice wardrobes, my spirit was divinely warned when I read the Bible story of Gehazi and his sin of greed (covetousness and materialism). During a time of reflection, I also imagined what the new robe of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) looked like.

As a middle child—the fourth of five—I have three older brothers and a younger sister. The thing that irritated me most, for years, about my position in the family was that I rarely got anything new. People called me “Hand Me Down Rose”. Toys, bicycles, suits, sweaters and shoes that I received were hand-me-downs. When I was a student in school, my peers would tease me about my new hand-me-downs. When I went to church on the weekends, the adults would compliment me by saying, “You finally grew into your older brother’s suit!”

I hated to see my brothers go away to school, but while they were gone, I grew! I received some new clothes and my first pair of Converse Chuck Taylors for school. My father even bought me a pair of Florsheim shoes for church.

While serving in the military, I visited Korea. A friend took me to a tailor shop and convinced me to have some suits custom made. When I received these suits, I felt that there was something marvelous about wearing a “bespoke” wardrobe.

As my biblical literacy grew, so did my faith and lifestyle. I embraced 2 Corinthians 5:17 that assured me that anyone who accepts Jesus Christ is transformed into a new being. Colossians 3:12-14 prescribes the essence of character that may have been the covering that Adam and Eve were surrounded with.

Like the tailors who have sewn elements of my wardrobe through the years, God has woven and crafted a spiritual wardrobe uniquely for you. It fits the contours of your character, background, experiences, and aspirations. Like the shoes and clothing that the Israelites wore in the wilderness, it won’t wear out or become threadbare, as long as it is worn daily, with faith, optimism and enthusiasm.

The elements of your spiritual wardrobe that God wants to give you are:

· Compassion: It is the ability to care about and for other people.

· Kindness: It is the capacity and desire to tangibly demonstrate unconditional positive regard to all people, especially those most in need.

· Humility:
Putting others first is truly the mindset that Christ has exhibited in every stage of His existence.

· Quiet strength: It reflects influence over power. It does not require pompous command. It is the power of an anointed presence.

· Discipline:
It is found in the art of knowing oneself and controlling one’s appetites, emotions and desires.

· Even-tempered: It is to be self-possessed, poised and composed, even and especially when under pressure.

· Contentment:
It is satisfaction, appreciation and gratitude for the things that we have and the fact that the circumstances we experience are all transitory.

· Forgiveness: Because we are all fallible, we will occasionally falter and fail. That is why a forgiving spirit is an essential to spiritual growth. Forgiveness is the key to the shackles of pain that bind us to the faults and failures of others in our lives.

· Love: I worked with a lady who graduated from Vanderbilt University. She almost always wore pearls. This lady told me that part of the ethos at Vanderbilt is that pearls are essential to a Vanderbilt woman’s wardrobe. Similarly, love is essential to the character of every believer. Let it shine privately and publicly as evidence of your pedigree as a Christian. John 13:35 (ESV) says, ”By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

A few years ago I met man who was wearing a really high quality suit. It was blue with a very subtle lavender stripe. I complemented the suit. In his appreciative reply, he said “I can make one just like it for you, if you want.” He is a tailor. This man was on the way to meet a client, but he took the time to show me samples and precisely measure me.

God is ready and willing to measure us and prepare a new, unique and powerful wardrobe for our character. Your tailor-fit wardrobe has already been paid in full. All you have to do is open your heart and mind for a precise fitting.

Join me in the prayer below and the Divine Tailor (God) will begin making your new wardrobe.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, would you please do for me what is promised in Colossians 3:10-14? Design my character and life. Guide me into new truths for my life and work. Display your craft in me to the world. Let love shine out of my life toward others so that all may know that I am your disciple today, tomorrow and forever. 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,