Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Hope for when our world is in chaos

When Hope Seems Lost
A devotional by Mirachelle Canada

“Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.”– Psalm 119:116 (NKJV)

The world churns in turmoil.

It’s anywhere and everywhere one can see, hear, or go. There are constant calls to do something, say something, think or believe something. Act, fight, defend, accuse! People are scattered, isolated, anxious and fearful…What can they do? What should they do?

Among them hide the once faithful eleven disciples. Their Lord and Messiah, Jesus Christ, is dead. What else can they do when all hope seems lost?

Does the opening scenario sound familiar? It should. It could describe our world today.

Surmounting problems are bombarded at us from every source. And, to the many overwhelmed and heavy burdened, hope seems lost. So, what can we do to restore hope today?

Allow me to suggest two main ideas…

Idea #1: Renew and Sustain Your Hope

Hope is never lost. Hope must be renewed. How? Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 (NIV), “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” To come to Jesus with your troubles simply means to break away, find rest in a quiet place away from others, and focus solely on Him. Give Jesus your time. Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV) says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

When you give Jesus whole-hearted time, He offers us his own yoke, which is easy and light (Matthew 11:30) because He is “gentle and humble in heart.” He promises rest for the weary soul (Matthew 11:29) and to those who have suffered loss, He will change “mourning into gladness” by giving them “comfort and joy” (Jeremiah 31:13).

Hope renewed can be sustained by staying in and praying God’s Word. Staying in The Bible keeps us close to God and He to us. Psalm 119:116 (NKJV) offers the decree, “Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.”

God will give us understanding so that we may live and remain in hope (Psalm 119:144). As you dive into the Word, write out and post your favorite scriptures where you can see them. Let scripture come alive in your dwelling place! Ignite hope into the atmosphere.

Idea #2: Offer Hope to Others

The Bible verse of 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV) encourages us with these words: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Hope is an amazing gift to give! Everyone desires hope. Without it the heart grows sick, but when it is desired, it becomes a “a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12 NIV). A tree, once planted, will grow roots. Throw a lifeline to others and plant hope in their life today!

How can we plant hope in others? Help carry another’s burden (Galatians 6:2 NIV) by willing taking up the yoke alongside with them for a while. Or set aside time to listen to their concerns without prejudice or judgement. It’s amazing what offering hope can do!

You don’t have to solve the world’s problems because Jesus Christ already did. For today, He wants to partner with you to renew hope, sustain hope, and give hope to our world in need. 

Let's Pray: Dear God, thank You for renewing and sustaining me with Your Word so that I might live unashamed of my hope. Thank You for setting me free to offer and plant hope in others according to their need. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“Believe for It” by CeCe Winans. 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, June 27, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Aroma of a Life Devoted to Jesus Christ

The Sweet Scent of a Life Devoted to Jesus Christ
A devotional by Glynis Becker

“Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?” –2 Corinthians 2:15-16 (NLT)

We have been created by God to experience life in all of its fullness.

This includes sights, sounds, and tastes unique to each natural season. I especially love the moments that we get to experience right now as the seasons of Spring and Summer bloom. I enjoy the deep rumble of the first thunderstorm, the scent of lilacs carried on a light breeze, and the juiciness of the first ripe strawberries. I love to feel the first drops of warm rain that are a welcome change from the stinging sleet of a driving spring snowstorm. There is something wonderful, too, about hearing lawn mowers power up and inhaling the pungent smell of freshly cut grass.

But one of my favorite scents of Spring and Summer is from a campfire or a fire pit.

While I’m not one to actually go camping, the ability to step outside into our backyard on a calm evening and enjoy food, music, and conversation around a crackling fire is one of my life’s pleasures. I really love that smell while I’m sitting there. However, the problem is that the next day, the clothes that I wore when I sat around the fire now smell acrid and out of place. My hair carries the remnants of those moments surrounded by smoke and ash. The fragrance that was once fresh and lovely, has now become stale and uncomfortable.

In the Bible book of Exodus, the Lord gave many instructions to the priests and people on how to worship Him. There was information about feasts, sacrifices, and many other things, including specifics on incense and how it should be created, burned, and handled. Let's read an example of this in 
Exodus 30:7-9 (NLT): “Every morning when Aaron maintains the lamps, he must burn fragrant incense on the altar. And each evening when he lights the lamps, he must again burn incense in the Lord’s presence. This must be done from generation to generation. Do not offer any unholy incense on this altar, or any burnt offerings, grain offerings, or liquid offerings.” 

As I recently sat by our fire pit and inhaled the scent of wood smoke, I wondered what the smell of that ancient incense was like. Was it sweet? Pungent? Delicate? When the Israelites smelled it, was it like a powerful trigger for them, a way to remember all the things God had done as they had wandered through the desert? Did their enemies recognize that scent and tremble with fear because they knew the Lord was present with His people? Will heaven smell like that?

Then in the New Testament, Paul speaks about those believers who live out their lives in obedience to Jesus Christ, sharing His teaching and loving those around them. In doing those things we become like the incense that once burned in the Temple. We smell sweet to God and to those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior. But to others, to those who do not believe, we smell like death. How does that make you feel?

While I don’t set out to be offensive to nonbelievers, I realize that not everyone will like what I have to say about Jesus. I’m content to smell like the day-old campfire if it means I have had one-on-one time with Jesus and I am a sweet sacrifice to Him, regardless of what others think.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, please accept my humble sacrifice. Allow me to carry the scent of life into a world that doesn’t see the Gospel the same way I do. Help me to love You and those around me more than ever before. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

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

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

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

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

Connect with Glynis:

Friday, June 24, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: God as the Good Shepherd who holds you close

Gathered by God
A devotional by Kerry Teravskis

“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”
—Isaiah 40:11 (KJV)

Newborn lambs are precious.

We’ve had a few on our farm over the years and they have a way of stealing your heart from the start. Lambs grow quickly and are adult size in no time. However, each lamb still needs attention from its mother and shepherd for many months filled with food, care, direction, shelter and love.

Lambs usually stay close to their mothers, but the proverbial green grass does beckon at times. Curiosity also sets in, especially for these playful youngsters. Isaiah 40:11 says God will gather the scattered lambs—some that are close to the Shepherd (Jesus Christ) and others that are in a nearby pasture. But the point is they will be gathered by Him.

God does not delegate the gathering; He does it Himself. Our loving Heavenly Father is walking through the pasture, looking for His lambs and collecting these sheep unto His presence.

Sheep hear the Shepherd’s voice and they follow (John 10:3-5). Our sheep—Palestina, Salome, and Shalom—usually come to us when we call. Notice I didn’t say, come running. You have probably heard sheep are stubborn, but they can also be naughty. They love to tarry, do their own thing and wander. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, gathers His lambs in His arms. He scoops up the wooly animals and places them close to His bosom.

According to Strong’s Concordance, ‘bosom’ is an old word and in Hebrew it means “hollow, to enclose, midst”. Picture the hollow of Christ’s chest—an unique spot reserved for His precious ones. The Shepherd places His gathered lambs close into His chest for they are held close to His heart. A shelter. A tender, intimate place.

What’s so unique about it?

Let’s read what Deuteronomy 33:12 KJV says: “The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.”

Dwelling between the shoulders of the Lord is a safe haven for a child of God. He or she feels His heartbeat. They feel His warm skin touching theirs. God’s voice softly sings over His child. They feel His hair brush against their cheek. The scent of Heaven tickles their nose. They feel secure in His strong yet warm and tender embrace. A child of God does not want to leave this place because it is safe, secure, and filled with love.

Beloved, can you picture yourself in Christ’s arms, receiving His love for you? Do you hear His voice whispering a love song to you? Does this promise envelop you with hope as you are reminded of His love for you? Do you know that He wants to gather you to Himself?

Will you allow yourself to remember that you are God’s beloved, His little lamb, His chosen one? 

Will you thank God for this promised gathering?

Let’s Pray: Oh, loving Shepherd and Heavenly Father. You are incredible. You gather Your sheep close to Your heart. You enclose them in Your love. You whisper, “It is well.” I thank You for enclosing me in Your bosom, protecting me and keeping me close. Please continue to draw near to me and keep me. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Kerry’s devotional message today reminds me of the song “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

As a wife and Marmee to 3 adult children and one brand new daughter-in-love, my life is very full.

My husband and I met in college and served in the mission field for a few years before settling down back in the States to raise our family.

We were a homeschooling family for 20 years and enjoyed it immensely. For the last 22 years we have lived on a small farm in Northern California where we have raised many farm animals, along with growing and preserving our own food as well. Our farm has been a great source of enjoyment and a place to host many family gatherings, and we have an open door for dear friends, old and new.

Following and serving Jesus is an integral part of my life as well as that of my family. Whether it’s singing in our church choir, teaching children or leading and lecturing at a women’s Bible study, I love to demonstrate my love for Jesus by giving to Him in service.

I’ve been a blogger for seven years, a Bible study writer for a year and have spent this last year writing devotionals about finding God’s Sovereignty in our pain and suffering.

Connect with Kerry:

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: God never meant for you to go through life alone

Not Alone
A devotional by Tessa Huckstep

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” 
–Hebrews 10:25 (KJV)

How often do you contemplate leaving your crazy life behind and living like a hermit for a few weeks?

As an introvert, I probably consider this scenario too often. Life is crazy. Socializing is exhausting. Wouldn’t I feel more renewed if I just stayed home all day on Sunday and read my Bible? I have heard lots of people say that they can get just as close to God by listening to a sermon online than they do in person.

But there is something missing when you simply watch a sermon online instead of going to church. There is something missing when you do not see and socialize with fellow believers. Actually, there is Someone missing.

As a believer, the Holy Spirit dwells inside your heart. He is part of the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit.

The God of the universe is living inside your heart! The Holy Spirit is working within your heart to help you understand Scripture and comfort your soul. However, this wonderful, amazing phenomenon does not occur in your heart alone—the Holy Spirit lives inside each and every believer.

Consider this—when a group of believers come together, the Holy Spirit within one believer can be used to comfort and encourage another believer. Yes, you can grow spiritually from reading your Bible, praying, and listening to sermons—but not to the extent that God wishes for you. It is in God’s design for people to need other people. In fact, God says it is not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18). God designed us to need people. We were made to be comforted and to comfort others.

When we neglect to ‘assemble together’ or come together in fellowship as believers, we are missing a vital part of God’s will for our lives. First, we are not being comforted and encouraged as God intended for us to be. Second, we are not comforting and encouraging others as God intended for us to do.

Sometimes, it can be hard to work up the courage to bring comfort or encouragement to someone. We often feel as if we are drowning in our own troubles and needs, which makes it feel impossible for us to reach out to others to offer strength we don’t have. The truth is, dear reader, you don’t have the strength necessary to live the Christian life. But God does. According to the apostle Paul, God offers us His strength (Philippians 4:13).

Maybe it is just a smile. Or a simple “How are you?” that you can offer. God can take little offerings such as these and completely change another believer’s day. Remember, the Holy Spirit is living inside of you. He is working through you. By encouraging another believer, you might just feel encouraged yourself!

The Holy Spirit—our gift from Heaven—longs to comfort and encourage you as well as other believers. This is why we come together as a church—not the church building, but the church people. This is why the early church leaders fought so hard to establish the church. We were not created to do the Christian life alone.

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord, thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit to offer us comfort and encouragement. Please give us Your strength that we may fulfill Your will for our daily lives. Help us to submit to the Holy Spirit that we may be used to comfort other believers. Lead us to perform the good works you have prepared for us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Tessa:

Monday, June 20, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: How to Develop Deep Intimacy with God

Recognizing God in Your Life
A devotional by Angela Anderson

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
–Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

Can you recognize God?

God reveals himself to us in so many ways as we go through the course of our lives. Sometimes distractions get in the way, but God is constantly pursuing you, waiting patiently in line for your undivided attention. He wants to achieve a deeper level of intimacy with you, no matter what it takes. I believe there are four methods that God uses to accomplish this intimacy with us:

Method #1: Providence (His divine guidance in your life)

The Bible tells us in James 1:5 that God gives us wisdom if we ask for it. There are countless times in our lives where we find ourselves at a crossroad. We wonder if we should go left, right, or just continue straight. Before we make a decision in life, whether monumental or trivial, God wants us to consult Him for direction. His promise is that He will generously give us wisdom and He will never hold it against us for asking.

When we ask for His divine guidance, it is imperative that we have faith and that we pay attention to the signals that He will send our way. These signals manifest themselves in many different forms. Sometimes God answers right away as you pause after a prayer. His voice is audible in the silence. 

Other times God will send a friend or a stranger to unknowingly utter the words that you need to hear. Maybe you will turn on the radio and the lyrics of a song at that exact moment will be your answer. You could be driving down the road and the bumper sticker on the car in front of you might display what God is trying to tell you. God’s methods to reach you are limitless!

Method #2: Provision (He is Jehovah Jireh, your Provider)

God reveals Himself in our lives through His provision. God promises to provide all our needs according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). This means that God is aware of what we need and when we need it. His timing is perfect. When our backs are against a wall, we only need to express our requests to God, thank Him in advance for His provision, and then wait on Him with great expectation for His blessings.

There is an analogy in Matthew 6:26-30 that brings the concept of God’s provision to life. Most of us have seen a bird fly through the air, perch on a limb of a tree, or land in the grass. If you watch closely, birds are so carefree as they go about their daily business. Our Heavenly Father ensures that the birds are fed every single day. Another reference is made about the flowers in a field. God allows them to grow and bloom as He arrays them with such beauty and precision.

The amount of birds and flowers on this earth are innumerable, and God takes care of them all. Yet, God deems us more valuable than birds or flowers. His love for us is everlasting and He will surely take care of us too.

Method #3: Protection (He will never leave you alone to face the trials of life)

God is our Protector. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you narrowly escaped involvement in a car accident? Maybe you were in an accident but when you look back at the aftermath, you wonder how you made it out alive. This is evidence of God protecting you from apparent danger. God is also in the business of protecting us from danger that we cannot see.

There are daily situations that are happening behind the scenes of which we are unaware. These situations remain unseen because God is constantly dispatching His angels to encamp around us (Psalm 34:7). He deactivates the traps that are set by Satan. The weapon may be formed, but it will not prosper (Isaiah 54:17)! God has this uncanny ability to orchestrate circumstances with the goal of rescuing us. He never leaves us alone. He is always right there with us.

Method #4: Plan (God has a purpose for your life)

God has a plan for you. There may be times when you may question your purpose in life but know this: You have a contribution to make to this world, and God has specifically designed an agenda for you to carry out your purpose.

God’s plans for you are filled with peace, not evil or harm. He desires to bless your future and to give you hope to stay the course (Jeremiah 29:11). Once you ask God and He reveals to you His purpose for your life, the road to fulfilling your purpose is not always an easy one. Often, the journey is long and there are bumps and potholes along the way. However, the trials that you will face are meant to shape you into the person that is required to accomplish your purpose.

Sometimes distractions get in the way, but God is constantly pursuing you, waiting patiently in line for your undivided attention. He wants to achieve a deeper level of intimacy with you, no matter what it takes, if only you would recognize Him.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank You for making Yourself available to us and presenting Yourself as a personal God to each of us. Help us to be more aware of Your presence in our lives and help us to recognize that You are all around us. 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, June 17, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: True Peace

Peace in the Middle of the Storm
A devotional by Erin M. Handley

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”– John 14:27 (NIV)

Inhale serenity. Exhale peace.

As you breathe in and close your eyes, you are able to see yourself in the place that brings you the peace you are needing in that moment. It may be somewhere in nature—in the woods, on a beach, or near a lake. Or it may be in a room that is still and free from all distractions. Being in this place allows you to center your thoughts and your emotions. While in this place you find a new sense of tranquility.

When you open your eyes, you are faced with the reality that brings anxiety, despair, and feelings of defeat. This real-life experience is what elevates the urge to ‘press pause’ on everything that is going on around you. While you are not able to control everything that happens externally, you are able to control how you think, feel, and behave in that moment. Many of us can attest that these are the moments that often require taking an internal retreat to find a moment to rest, reset, and rejuvenate. It’s also safe to say that many of us have settled with seeking the peace in the midst of the storm.

What happens when we change the narrative to this story?

In John 14:27, Jesus Christ says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” There have been many times that we are faced with what the world has given us, and we do walk away troubled and afraid. But it is important to remember that when Jesus delivered this message of encouragement to His disciples, He did not specify which disciple this message was for. He was answering a question that was posed by one of the disciples, but the response was directed to all of His disciples.

The great thing about it is that if you have accepted Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior, then you are a disciple, too! So, when the scripture says that He gives the peace to you and leaves the peace with you, then you don’t have to go and seek the peace in the midst of the storm. You already have it.

There are others who have not taken that step to accept Jesus into their heart, and that’s okay. We know it can be a daunting process when you don’t know what the process looks like. It is even more worrisome when fear and doubt force them to address that they don’t know what is required of them if (and when) they do take that step. This is another situation that can cause anxiety, despair, and feelings of defeat. This is why everyone needs to see tangible examples of the peace that already exists within their storm.

If you are a person who has not asked Jesus into your heart and would like to, say this prayer:
"Dear Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God and that You died for my sins and rose from the dead. Because of the sacrifice You made for me, I accept you as my Lord and Savior and ask that You forgive me of my sins and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I know that through You and Your works, I am a new person in you. In Your Name I pray. Amen.”

Be sure to connect with other followers of Jesus Christ who want to walk with you on your faith journey as a believer in God.

In closing, remember:
God equips all of His disciples to be the peaceful in the midst of the storm. The next time you find yourself in that difficult situation and wanting to retreat and find the peace, remember that God can calm your anxiety and give you a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). Only He can speak “Peace be still” (Mark 4:39) to that raging storm and stop it, all the while keeping you safe. Because of Jesus, it is possible to have peace in any storm. Life may be spinning out of control but you can still have peace because you have Jesus.

Let’s Pray: Lord, it is comforting to know that no matter how difficult the situations get, You will always nurture us, guide us, and comfort us. We also thank You for equipping us to do the things You have called us to do. We are thankful for the opportunities You orchestrate that are designed to lead us right back to you to seek refuge in you. It is in that refuge that we are reminded that You have equipped us to, through our relationship with You, bring the peace others are seeking in their moments of despair. This is what brings them all back to You. With the love, care, and intentionality You give us, all we can do is thank You and praise You for who You are. In Jesus’s Name we pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Erin’s devotional message today reminds me of Laura Story’s song “Perfect Peace”. 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, June 15, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: The Key to Remembering What Matters

Remembering What Matters
A devotional by Sarah Cole

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I won't forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”—Isaiah 49:15-16 (NIV)

My father introduced me to Post-it Notes when I was too young to need stationery.

He was a born salesman, and his job selling commercial office supplies for 3M company took him around the globe. I vividly remember the days he arrived home, tired from jet lag. He would walk in the door, saying, "Sarah, your Papa is home!" At the sound of his voice, I would run down the stairs as fast as my legs could carry me. My mother prepared his favorite meal and we ate the delicious dinner together. Afterward, he sat me down beside him, opened his briefcase, and showed me samples of the latest Post-it Notes in various shapes, colors, and designs.

Now that I'm older, my memory isn't what it used to be. But I don't need Post-it Notes to remember that when my cluttered mind tries to keep track of hundreds of details, I forget to seek God. There will never be enough hours in the day to juggle home, work, and church responsibilities. But if I wait until the end of the day to pray and read His Word (The Holy Bible), it's usually too late because I'm too tired to focus on anything but a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream and Netflix.

My friend Sharon doesn't share my struggle. She is one of the busiest people I know, yet she intentionally stays focused on God by posting Bible verses on sticky notes throughout her home. By reminding herself of God's promises, she has a solid foundation when storms come.

Psalm 139:1-6 (NIV) describes God's constant presence and perfect knowledge of us. Let's read: 

“You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.”

Friend, if God watches over you with such great care and knows the paths you take in intimate detail, you can trust him to take care of the things you forget. His involvement in your life goes beyond significant life decisions to the everyday challenges you face. And He doesn't need a sticky note to remember to answer your prayers, bless your family, guide your choices, and heal your loved ones. He can't forget you because He's engraved your name on His hands (Isaiah 49:16).

Before your feet hit the floor each morning, I challenge you to ask God to help you plan your day. You will notice that, in return, He'll give you the grace to accomplish more in less time, and stressful situations will be more manageable. As the Author of time and space, He knows everything about you and the demands you face.

Let's Pray:
Dear Father, as the Sovereign Ruler over all creation, You alone are worthy of my undivided attention. As my to-do list gets longer and the days seem shorter, help me stop spinning my wheels and remember Your promise that everything else will work itself out when I put You first. In Jesus's Name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Sarah’s devotional message today reminds me of the song “Make Room” by Jonathan McReynolds. Listen to it here. It also reminds me of the song "Remember Me" by Mark Schultz. Listen to it here

Author Bio:

Sarah Cole’s interest in writing began in grade school when her poem was published in the local paper. 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, June 13, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: How to claim your God-given calling

Claim Your Calling
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“Let everyone be devoted to fulfill the work God has given them to do with excellence, and their joy will be in doing what’s right and being themselves, and not in being affirmed by others.” 
–Galatians 6:4 (TPT)

In my early days as a Christian, I recall experiencing gift envy.

I knew God’s Word (The Holy Bible) assured us we were each given gifts to be used for the furthering of God’s Kingdom. But I had no idea what my God-given gifts were. Instead of seeking God, the Giver of our gifts, in my quest to discover what my gifting might be, I chose to turn my focus to what others were doing around me.

I saw a young mom serving faithfully in the MOPS ministry, as she had been doing for over 10 years, and wondered how she knew that was where God wanted her to serve. I watched enviously as my friend stepped confidently and boldly into children’s ministry even though hers were grown. I sat on the sidelines in women’s ministry when a dear sister-in-Christ dove in headfirst, while admitting she didn’t know what she was doing, but saying she felt God was calling her to get out of the boat. Each time I saw them bearing fruit for the Kingdom from their faithful service, I would find myself longingly wishing I was serving in that ministry, in that capacity. I wanted to discover where my place was in God’s Kingdom work and feel like I was accomplishing something worthwhile for His glory.

I remember my pastor at the time asking me to lead a Bible study. I reasoned, “He hears from God and must know what I’m supposed to do." So of course I said yes. And so began a several year journey of saying yes to every offer that I received to serve at church. I grew to feel like a distracted Martha, scurrying around the church trying to get everything done, yet accomplishing nothing and grumbling under my breath as I was doing it. Leading to complete burnout and total dissatisfaction, I began to question whether God could or would use me to do anything meaningful for the Kingdom.

I think I was waiting for my burning bush moment when God would miraculously appear to me and call me to His mission and purpose for my life. But I began to realize that event might not ever happen. Then again, I’ve never spent years on the backside of a mountain tending sheep like Moses in the Bible did (Exodus 3:1-14), nor did I want to. So, I knew I had to find another way to figure out what God had in store for me. Surrendering myself fully to the process, I began seeking the Lord and asking Him specifically what gifts He had given me, what He had created me for, and what purpose He had plans for me to fulfill.

Knowing I wanted to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” when I enter His glory, I committed to be obedient to His call, even before knowing His answer, whatever it might be. I said with the most sincerity in my heart possible, “Here I am, send me!” I prayed, I fasted, and I prayed some more. I took spiritual gifts assessments, sought Godly counsel, and persisted in prayer. Eventually I felt my heart and mind begin to acquiesce into a state of waiting upon the Lord, with a spirit of expectation, but contentment in His ways and timing. And that's precisely where I discovered that was where God wanted me, sitting at His feet in hopeful anticipation of hearing Him speak. I began to realize that what the call was wasn't nearly as important as seeking the One who was bestowing the call.

It reminded me of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus while her sister scurried around making practical preparations for His visit. Jesus confirmed there was only one thing worth being concerned about and Mary had chosen what is better, sitting at the feet of her Savior and hanging on His every word. In the quiet moments as I sat tenderly seeking the guidance of God, I discovered the desires He had placed in my heart. I began pursing those desires, devoted to fulfilling His call with excellence, reaping a heart full of joy and contentment. How sweet it is to leave behind the impossible need to please everyone else and sit securely in the space God purposed me for and the call He created me for.

Let’s Pray:
Gracious Father, thank you for your endless patience towards me and your persistent pursuit of my wayward heart. When I chase after misguided intentions, use the power of your Holy Spirit to gently guide me back onto the path You created me for. Help me keep my eyes focused on You and my heart turned towards the distinct calling You have placed on my life. Show me the unique qualities You placed in my innermost being that make me perfectly poised to fulfill the work You have given me to do with excellence. Grant me great joy in simply doing what's right, being myself, and seeking only Your approval. May I never grow weary in carrying out everything You call me to, knowing that Your work is never in vain and You will carry on to completion every last detail. Thank you for the incredible privilege and honor of serving Your people and being included in Your Kingdom work. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Cyndi’s devotional message today reminds me of the song “I Will Go” by Steve Green. 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, June 10, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: What Happens When God Builds The House

God’s Master Building Plan
A devotional by Karen Marstaller

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”—Proverbs 24:3-4 (ESV)

The joy and excitement of building culminates when the structure is completed, the furnishings are placed strategically, and people begin to fill and use the building. People are what make a place useful. No matter if it’s a towering monument, a vast library or a cozy bungalow, people define and establish its architectural purpose.

Wise architects, plumbers, electricians, and contractors work together to provide a suitable building, each one bringing his or her own expertise to the job. When completed, the well-built structure may last for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years.

In the same way, God gives us a blueprint for our lives. It’s found in His Word (The Holy Bible). One of His gems of wisdom is found in the book of Proverbs, which is a collection of wise sayings put together by King Solomon. Chapter 24 describes a house that is built with wisdom and understanding and is filled with all sorts of riches.

We read in 2 Corinthians 5:1 that we live in tents (houses) that are not built by human hands. The Apostle Paul was writing to the young church in Corinth, when he spoke about our body as our human house. Our tent, our humanity, is a building from God. But there’s more. This tent of ours, although it will die here on earth, is eternal. For those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, that means that we have a permanent home in Heaven.

While we’re still living in our earthly tents, we want to know how to stay strong and useful. We want to be used by God in His Kingdom’s work.

Proverbs 24:3 reminds us that wisdom builds the house (tent) and understanding establishes it. Because this building of ours needs wisdom and understanding, we turn to God’s Word again. Psalm 111:10 (ESV) tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”

The “fear” the psalmist writes about is not the cringing terror of a stray dog that has been beaten and abused. True fear of the Lord is unmeasured joy. If we revere God (fear Him) we place Him on His rightful throne in our hearts. We adore and praise Him for His excellence. We acknowledge Him as King of kings and Lord of lords because that is Who He is! And because He is all we need, we live in peace and contentment when we ask Him to be Lord of our life.

As we gain His wisdom from our right relationship with God, we also need understanding. God is and always will be God. I must come to grips that I am not God, nor will I ever be. He alone is God. If I can’t accept my humble place in the Lord’s Kingdom, I will never gain understanding, and my earthly tent will forever conflict with His plan for me.

Proverbs 24:4 (ESV) goes on to say, “by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

If we truly desire “precious and pleasant riches” in this house of ours, our quest will be met graciously and abundantly by the Lord. If we ask Him for help, He will send the Holy Spirit, our ever-present gift giver. He will fill us with the fruit of the Spirit we read about in Galatians 5:22-23. He will help us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18 ESV). He will convict us of our sin (John 16:8) and that includes our unbelief and all the many ways that we wrong each other.

Without God, we are nothing. With God, we walk in His wisdom, His understanding, and His knowledge. His presence is always with us, filling our houses with His Holy Spirit.

Glory to God!

Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we come to You to praise You for Your strength and to acknowledge our weaknesses. Please fill these earthly tents with the Light of Your Presence and help us to open the doors of our hearts to follow Your plans for us. We ask all these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Karen’s devotional message today reminds me of the song “The House That Love Built” by Babbie Mason. 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, June 8, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Mustard Seed Faith Can Change the World

The Impact of Your Mustard Seed Faith
A devotional by Jessica B. Turner

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” –Matthew 13:31-32 (NLT)

The illustration of our faith being the size of a mustard seed is one of the most popular scriptural references in the Bible. It’s not surprising because it delivers such a powerful reminder of what God can do with so little. We simply must be willing to trust Him with what we have, even when it doesn’t appear to be enough to make a difference. Afterall, He is the great multiplier!

As much as I love the message behind the size of the mustard seed and the visual it offers, that isn’t where I want to spend our time together today. What really stood out to me when reading this scripture, especially the New Living Translation, is the emphasis on what the mustard seed turns into: “it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Often, it’s the smallest steps in our faith walk that lead to the most influential changes in our lives as well as others. Small steps that make a big difference include but are not limited to: 
The first time you ever stepped foot into a church. The first time you had enough courage to pray out loud. The first time you shared your story with someone else. 

Every little act of obedience is one step closer to your life being a living, breathing example of God’s presence in your life. His refuge. His provision. His comfort. His magnificence. His power! He becomes your solid foundation, your unshakeable tree.

That is good news, my friend! But you know what is even better news? The longer you pursue a life chasing after Jesus Christ and trusting the will of the Father, the more you take on His image. This means that you become someone else’s tree!

A strong tree rooted deep God’s Word is what our mustard seed faith grows into if we are consistent in taking those seemingly insignificant steps of faith. Not only are we able to step back and watch our own spiritual growth appear before our eyes, we are able to witness its impact on everyone around us.

I don’t know about you but that encourages me to look at this scripture beyond what God is able to do in my life and more so what He is able to do in someone else’s life through my faithful obedience! Now that is a visual I can carry around in my heart when I start to question the significance of my actions. Remember: As a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, you are someone’s tree, and your example of walking by faith will lead to the people who are watching you to plant their own mustard seed of faith!

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for such a powerful reminder of what our faith can turn into, no matter how small it may seem. Help me to trust you with all my heart. Give me the strength to take that first step in faith and then another and another. Open my eyes to the growth that You are orchestrating and the impact that growth is having on others around me. Help me to be a living example of You, Jesus Christ, drawing everyone closer to a thriving relationship with You. 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 “Little is Much” by Downhere. 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, June 6, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Connecting with God in the Wilderness

Reclaiming My Connection to God in the Wilderness
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

Have you ever been so emotionally exhausted you can’t really think straight, let alone relate well to the people around you?

With some family issues and a crunch of deadlines and a million things in between, I’ve been struggling this last month. I felt like that last miniscule piece of butter I’m trying to smear on a piece of toast, only it’s hard as a rock and just won’t spread right. That’s been me—spread thin, not enough energy or time or who-knows-what to go around.

It kind of crept up on me, too. I’d been fully aware of my stress level and trying really hard to combat it with proper self-care, getting enough sleep, eating well, saying no to nonessentials, that sort of thing. But sometimes, being spread thin for long periods of time just starts to take a major toll, and that’s where I was.

So last Friday morning my husband—perceptive and sweet soul that he is—told me I was way too stressed out and he was taking me camping, just the two of us, alone in the wilderness for about four days.

Now, I enjoy camping. But I think I’ve only been a total of three times, so it’s not exactly my comfort zone. While I like it and I love nature, I have to admit I wasn’t terribly excited about sleeping in a tent and roughing it when I was already feeling so emotionally and physically raw.

But Matt persistently got us all packed and prepared. I half-heartedly helped and we hit the road early Friday headed for the great unknown, somewhere in that no-cell-phone-signal zone nestled in the mountains where South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia converge.

Today, I literally feel like a new person.

We spent several nights in a primitive campsite, sleeping beneath the stars. We had bug spray and an awesome 12-volt camp refrigerator powered by a battery station and a very cool tiny trailer that towed our ground tent and a couple of folding chairs. While our air mattress had a hole and was worthless, at least we remembered to pack pillows this time. We saw waterfalls and slugs, rhododendron and mountain laurel. We sang along to a lot of John Denver and Johnny Cash, and even saw a rattlesnake on the road (no bears this time, much to Matt’s dismay). We went to bed early, gazing up at the moonlit sky, and woke to the chirping of birds. It was absolutely glorious.

Being away from all the distractions, even distractions we love—our kids and our cats and our dog and all the responsibilities of home and work and bills and life in general—drew us closer together as a couple.

It also brought me closer to God, and reminded me of who I really am at my core: God’s girl. Daughter of the king. Precious soul, loved despite all my flaws and baggage. One among countless points of light, all joined by the Holy Spirit in love.

Over the years, especially recently, I have learned one critical lesson that serves me better than almost any other kernel of wisdom I have gleaned in life: Whenever I have an opportunity to get outside and escape the noise, to just be still in creation, I feel so much more connected to my Creator. I am more focused on His voice and His messages, on all the important things I need to be thinking about instead of the petty or distracting swirl of everyday life.

Love looks like so many different things. This weekend it looked like me and Matt, sleeping in a tent beneath the stars, getting back to nature and the simple things in life, and connecting anew with God. It looked like me falling in love again with my true self, the best version of me, when my heart and mind and body are centered and true and more aligned with God and the wonders of this world.

Today, refreshed and rejuvenated by my wilderness wandering, I’m reminded of the words of the psalmist, and the comforting knowledge that God sees me in every moment, whether I’m deep in the serene woods or stressed out and frazzled on the interstate, whether I’m joyful or grumpy, whether I’m balanced or off-kilter:

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:13-17 NIV).

It's not just me—God knows you this way, too. We are all so very, very loved. May we never forget this.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for seeing and loving me in the midst of this sometimes-crazy world and reminding me of what it truly important. Thank you for refreshing my spirit and restoring my ability to focus on Your voice and Your way. Please help me tune out the noise and focus on You even when the chaos presses in thick and close and I feel the weight of the world heavy upon my back. Help me to love others better and truly in the midst of all of this. In Your holy and precious name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Jessica's devotional message reminds me of Chris August's song "The Maker". Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism.

Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at

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, June 3, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Life Lessons Learned from the death of a friend

Present Absence
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die.” –Isaiah 57:1-2 (NLT)

The wise writer of the Hebrew wisdom book, Ecclesiastes, said that the day of our death is better than the day of our birth (Ecclesiastes 7:1). One of my friends died on May 31.

I am celebrating, even as I grieve. He is free now. We were classmates and colleagues in school and ministry for 40 years. He used to have a muscular, athletic body that had defended quarterbacks and wrestled giants but unhealthy habits led to heart failure.

He was not a perfect man. He was a rather simple man. Unremarkable. Non-confrontational. Easy to please. He was loyal. His imperfections, like our own, crippled him at times, but he knew the Lord and sought to lead others to know and love Him too.

I visited him last week. We talked frankly and honestly about life and death. He knew that his time was approaching. He told me that he was not afraid to die. He had some hopes and few regrets. There were a few things that he wished to do before dying, but if not able to do so, he was ready.

And so, it has happened. The inevitability of the mortal mutiny is now history. My friend is dead. His memory exists within the minds of everyone who knew and loved him. He is in that place between two distinct periods or eras. He is absent from the body, waiting for the resurrection that will give him a new healthy body and usher him into eternity in the presence of God.

Death is a present absence. He is gone, but forever present in our memories. For a righteous person, death is a divine gift. No more vulnerability to evil, greed, lusts, illness, dysfunction or age-related deterioration. For him and all believers, his death was the final blessing of God. Revelation 14:13 (KJV) says, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

My friend’s absence is very present around us. His body lies in storage soon to be embalmed and buried. He died believing and confidently awaiting the Resurrection Day when the dead in Christ will rise first and we who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

I am celebrating today because my friend, though fallible and mortal, was ready to die. Had he done all in life that he dreamed of? No! But he lived believing and teaching that Jesus Christ was Lord and that God raised Him from the dead. He had accepted Jesus as his Savior and lived in the confident knowledge that he was saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

He declared to his doctors that he did not fear death and was ready because death had already been swallowed in the victory of Christ’s resurrection. He died confident that one day he would awaken from the slumber of death and be reunited with Christ, his wife, sons and grandchildren. He died knowing that when he rises again his heart and entire body will be repaired and renewed to the creation standard. He was confident that his destiny was not the cessation of bodily function, the absence from his body. His destiny was post resurrection eternity in an immortal frame.

We too are destined to die. The key to life is not how or when we die. It is how what we believe guides our living. If we believe and live like my friend did, how and when we die won’t matter much, because, not even death can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

I shall grieve with his family as we prepare for the funeral. I shall celebrate my friend’s death because he was ready. Are you?

I challenge you to consider your life. If death came to you today, could you greet and embrace it fearlessly? Is your eternal destiny secure? If not, I challenge you to consider a leap of faith.

Make a commitment to order the rest of your life around the life of Christ and the grace of God. It will change you from the inside out. It won’t always be easy, but the process is simple.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, be with the person reading this devotional today. Move into their lives. Fill them with the love of Jesus and Your grace. Save them in Your Kingdom today, so that whenever their time to die arrives, they will meet it fearlessly, as did my friend. Secure them now so that they can have eternity in Your Presence. 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, June 1, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Focus

Focus Forward

A devotional by Patricia Russell

“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)

Have you ever watched a bumble bee in action? The bee sits on the flower deliberately, diligently and is completely focused on getting the pollen it needs from that flower.

Have you ever diligently planned your day out with your “To-Do List” carefully curated including timeframes to complete your tasks? For the longest while I did this, but I did it without factoring in interruptions. I made this list and went about attacking it, without turning off the phone, closing the door and staying out of my email every 10 minutes. There were interruptions which became distractions.

Can you relate to this? Do you get distracted easily? Interruptions have the goal of doing one thing and that is to take your focus off your goals and put it on something else. If I were to take a poll, I am convinced we would all have a story of how frustrating it is to get back on task after being distracted.

In the book of Hebrews, the writer asks the readers to use Jesus Christ’s life as a reference.

Despite the hostility from sinners, he endured. He stayed the course, knowing the task He came to earth to accomplish. He didn’t quit or give in. I will admit that it continues to be a daily struggle to maintain focus. However, by being aware, I’m able to put in parameters that help me to stay on task. As I deal with interruptions, the distractions keep on coming. The writer of Hebrews, very aware of what his readers (including me) were facing, reminds us that Jesus understood intimately what they were struggling with. This is what I love about Jesus. He dealt with the same pains we face. He has the authority to advise us on how to handle life.

Hebrews 12:2 is a Bible verse that I have kept front and center in my life because there have been so many times I’ve wanted to throw in the towel. I’ve been discouraged because I’m not meeting the targets. But when I look at Jesus Christ’s example of how He stayed focused while carrying out His mission on this Earth to complete the plan of salvation to save our souls, I’m encouraged.

We see Jesus literally stepping away from the crowds and going into hills to be alone. He rose early in the morning, before everyone around Him saw daylight because this was prime time for him to connect with His Father (God) in Heaven. On another occasion, Jesus received communication from his dear friends Mary and Martha, requesting He come quickly because their brother Lazarus was dying. Yet, He did not come when they needed Him. His response was “No” at the time they wanted and needed him. As a result of his choices, he was misunderstood and criticized but his priorities were in order.

Are you focused?

What are you and I allowing to distract us from the tasks that we know God has called us to attend to?

It’s time to name these distractions, confess and repent of not being about our Heavenly Father’s business. It’s time to shake off what hinders us, take a deep breath and get back on course. We can do it. God has not left us or given up on us. Get back in the race and get on track! God has given us The Holy Spirit to enable us to complete the work He’s called us to do. He has also put people in our lives to keep us accountable. So don’t give up and don’t give in!

Get back up and keep it moving.

Let’s do as the Bible verse says, “throw off everything that hinders…”, and stay focused.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Jesus who showed us about how to keep our eyes on You. Help us to put aside the distractions that delay us from completing tasks and doing what You’ve called us to do. Thank You for the comfort of The Holy Spirit and the encouragement of Your Word. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Note from Alexis: Patricia’s devotional message today reminds me of the song “Eyes On the Prize” by Sara Groves. 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: