Friday, September 30, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we need to rely on God's Holy Spirit

Relying on Flesh Instead of the Spirit
A devotional by Monique M. Anderson

“I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don't do what you want.” –Galatians 5:16-17 (CSB)

This was the second time she told me. It took two mentions before I listened and moved on the word God told her to say to me. My close friend told me months prior that God wanted me to attend her church. I had visited her church several times over the years and never felt a pull to join. Therefore, hearing this didn't excite me. I didn't “feel” led.

After the second time, I sought God for myself. I said, “Lord, if you truly want me to attend this church, please tell me for yourself.” Hours later I found myself on the church's YouTube channel watching a sermon series. I don't remember what led me to it. However, I would receive my confirmation here.

The series was called "Time to Make a Change". It’s about transforming into who God wants you to be. Before watching these sermons, God told me I was in a training season to prepare me for what He wants me to do for His Kingdom. I had no idea joining this church was a part of that call from God.

The Holy Spirit fire hit me while I watched part two of the series. Something the pastor said shot through me like lightning. I started speaking in my heavenly language and heard God say, "This is where you will continue your training."

The tears and the tongues would not stop flowing. God has spoken. What else could I do but obey? So, I started attending my friend’s church.

When I started my walk with Jesus Christ years ago, the Lord told me He wanted me to disciple new believers. Back then, I didn't even know what the word “disciple” meant. It would be years before that work would begin.

After a few months of attending the new church, I started to waver. Lord, where is my training? I didn't see it nor “feel” it. I stood in the middle of service one day, questioning the Holy Spirit-filled confirmation I had months prior.

The following week, I received the answers I was seeking. The church announced they needed volunteers to join the prayer team to disciple newly saved believers. I almost fell off my chair. I thought about the question God asked me years prior, “Will you disciple new believers?” I thought about my Holy Spirit-filled confirmation, “You will continue your training here.”

It all started coming together. Everything fuzzy and out of focus was beginning to come into focus. This is where I would train to disciple those who had just given their life to Christ. To think I almost missed it because I didn't “feel” it.

I was looking for things to feel right to affirm what my friend said. I was looking for my flesh to confirm what the Spirit was doing. We often look for a feeling to verify whether or not we've made the right decision or are heading in the right direction. However, when situations are spirit-led and filled, we cannot look to our flesh to confirm anything.

When the Holy Spirit guides you into something new, it may not feel right or make sense to you. For example, I was looking for a new church home, and because I had visited this church several times and it never “felt” right, it didn't make sense to me that it would be a place for me to join. I didn’t realize at the time that’s where God was calling me to be.

I allowed a feeling to lead me to disobedience. It took my friend two times to get me to heed God's instructions. Delayed obedience is still disobedience.

Coming to this church didn't feel right. It didn't make sense. I had tried it out before, so what would be different this time? Well, this time, I am in a different life season. I am in a season where it is “time to make a change”.

The scripture above describes the tension between the flesh and the spirit perfectly. They are both constantly at odds. I encourage you to seek God's confirmation if you feel that your flesh is telling you one thing but the Holy Spirit is telling you another.

We cannot rely on our feelings when God tries to do something new. Believing the feeling can lead you to disobedience. Instead, seek God, repent, then obey.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, forgive us for believing our feelings more than the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Forgive us for seeking confirmation outside of You and Your will. Father God, we desire You and You alone for direction and all of the instructions we need as we journey through this life. You are our only reliable source! We thank You, and we love You, Lord. 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, September 28, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: When living for God requires you to be broken

Only Broken Seeds Grow
A devotional by Tessa Huckstep

“How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.”
–1 Corinthians 15:36 (NIV) 

Nothing can grow, flourish, or bring forth fruit and beauty unless death has first occurred.

Once a seed has been planted, it must break open. The seed must die in order to fulfill its purpose. It must submit to be broken before a sapling can emerge.

The acorn is a wonderfully useful little seed that can provide food for little forest critters. But an oak tree—emerging from an acorn buried in the ground—is one of God’s magnificent creations. An oak tree is capable of not only feeding countless animals, but also provides shelter. The acorn must submit to what its ultimate purpose is—reproduction.

This truth of life through death is a spiritual truth as well as an agricultural truth. Christ bore the cross and died so that we might be born again—that we might have new life, eternal life. Romans 6:4 (KJV) states, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Jesus Christ died a common criminal’s death upon the cross.

Christ’s ministry on Earth only lasted three years. He only had twelve disciples, and He did not travel far from His hometown. To some, Christ may have appeared insignificant, but when He submitted to the Father to be broken and buried, big things happened! Christ rose from the grave and death only three days later in victory, bringing those who believed on Him newness of life.

But submitting to the cross does not end with Christ. Matthew 16:24 (KJV) states, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Christ is calling us to death. Only a true follower will ‘deny himself, and take up his cross’. This moment in the Christian’s life is pivotal.

What does it look like to deny ourselves? How can we take up our cross and follow Jesus? The answer to these questions looks different for every believer, but maybe it would make it simpler if I asked you different questions. Such as: What do you run to when you are feeling bored, disappointed, and in need of a break? What are your goals for the future? What is that one thing that you would be absolutely devastated if you lost? Maybe this can help you narrow where we find pleasure and safety. These things are often not ‘bad’ things, but if they take the place of Christ, He is asking you to lay them down at His feet.

It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? We wonder how we could possibly let go of the things that can make us happy. Will we really feel full and complete if we hand everything over to God? I think the apostle Paul answered this question best in Philippians 1:21(KJV), “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul found life when laying down his own plans and agendas.

I cannot tell you exactly what will happen when you deny whatever it is you are desperately holding on to instead of Christ. All I can tell you is that God is true to His Word. God will come through for you. You will not truly live your life until you submit fully to Christ. A life apart from Christ—a life doing things our own way—is not really life at all. We are just a little seed, full of potential, but not willing to deny ourselves to be greatly used of God.

Deny Yourself. Take up your cross. Submit to be buried and broken. Cling to Christ. Remember, dear reader, only broken seeds grow.

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord, thank You for the Cross and Your sacrifice so that we might have life more abundantly. Please give us the courage to deny ourselves and cling only to You in times of need. Lead us to fulfill Your ultimate purpose for our lives. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Crucified with Christ” by Phillips, Craig and Dean. 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:

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Devotional Book Spotlight and Giveaway hosted by Rachael Adams

The Inspiration Behind “A Little Goes a Long Way”
A guest post by Rachael Adams

During a dinner conversation with new friends at a writer’s conference, I had an epiphany moment. I was sharing my background and ministry with my mealtime companions as we were getting to know one another. I told them about hosting The Love Offering podcast, where I interview others about how they are living out the greatest commandment. Trying to get to know me better, one woman asked if I ever hosted a solo show. After a brief pause, I responded. “No. I haven’t done a solo show because I doubt what I have to offer.”

How ironic, right? I host The Love Offering podcast and yet I question my own contributions.

Once I returned home, I continued wrestling with this tension in my heart. I wondered if other women were struggling in this area too, so I polled my podcast listeners about how much they felt they had to offer God and others. On a scale of one to ten, with one being nothing and ten being a lot, the average answer was a three. When asked if they believed their contribution mattered, 83% responded no. I had hypothesized this would be the case, however, these findings were even more startling than I presumed.

Would your response be similar? Do you question whether your contributions matter, too?

We want our lives to count, but feel minuscule like our ordinary, everyday moments will never amount to anything. We take stock of the families we were born into, the towns we grew up in, and the positions we serve in, then determine that they are of little value. If we aren’t careful, we can start to believe that who we are, where we are, and what we are doing doesn’t really matter.

But friend, nothing could be further from the truth. Despite living in a culture where bigger is seen as better, I've discovered that a significant life is actually simpler than we think. A quick prayer between errands, a meal shared with family, or a short text to a friend means something in God’s kingdom. We can affect others while standing in the check-out line or sitting on the game-field sidelines, while walking the dog or talking to a colleague at work.

Contrary to how you may feel, every little thing you do can go a long way in God’s hands. Through my devotional A Little Goes a Long Way: 52 Days to a Significant Life, I hope to help you believe that when you partner with God, He can use even the most minute things to affect eternity in ways beyond what you can imagine.

If you are longing for significance and questioning whether your contributions matter, I’d love to help you realize how important what you do is and how significant you truly are. It isn’t about doing more but trusting in the value of all the little you are already doing. Grab your copy of A Little Goes a Long Way and watch God take your everyday actions and transform them for His eternal purposes. A significant life is simpler (and smaller) than you think.

Author Bio:

Author of A Little Goes a Long Way and host of The Love Offering podcast Rachael Adams hopes to help women realize their God-given purpose and significance.

She and her husband, Bryan, run a family business and farm in Kentucky with their two children, Will and Kate, and two dogs.

Her work has been featured on Crosswalk, iBelieve, Today Parenting, and YouVersion. 
Connect with her by visiting, by searching @rachaeladamsauthor on social media, and by tuning in to The Love Offering podcast every Tuesday on your favorite listening platform.

Blurb for A Little Goes a Long Way:

A significant life is more simple than you think.

In a culture where bigger is seen as better, it’s easy to wonder if your quick prayer between errands or the short note you text a friend means anything in God's kingdom.

Contrary to how you may feel, every little thing you do can go a long way in God's hands. 

Partnering with God unlocks the eternal significance of the smallest act. In fifty-two devotions, Rachael Adams exemplifies this empowering truth and shares personal stories of how God values each deed, practical actions for lasting impact, and encouraging prayers that reveal how much your contributions matter.

Watch God take your everyday actions and transform them for his eternal purposes.

Buy Rachael's book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christian Book, and Walmart

Connect with Rachael:

Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

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Monday, September 26, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Be a light for Jesus Christ in this dark world

God Makes Order Out of Chaos
A devotional by Glynis Becker

“Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” 
–Genesis 1:31a (NLT)

I would describe myself as mid-level organized. 

I like things in their place, but I tend toward clutter.

My desk is usually spread with papers, but I like to tidy things into piles at the end of the day. Once everything reaches a certain level of chaos, then I feel the need to put it all right, but until them I’m fine. I would love to be a person with a lovely, detailed, color-coded planner that organizes my life into categories or have a clean cabinet with crisp, neat folders of all my important papers. But at my age, I am doubtful that this will ever happen.

Fortunately, when my life gets too messy, I have a God who is a master of making order out of chaos. In the very beginning of the Bible, and the beginning of time itself, God spoke the world into existence from nothing (Genesis 1:1-2). If I believe that He did that, then I can certainly believe that He can redeem whatever mess is in my life.

I’m always struck when I read the account of creation at how orderly it is. God spoke and He created light and darkness (Genesis 1:3-4). Then He made the sky (Genesis 1:7), followed by the seas and land (Genesis 1:9). He goes on to make the stars, sun, and moon (Genesis 1:14). Next are sea creatures and birds (Genesis 1:21), then all the animals (Genesis 1:24). Finally, He breathes into the dust and creates human beings in His image (Genesis 1:27, Genesis 2:7). He carefully placed each item exactly where it should be and gave it a purpose.

So my question to myself is: Am I trusting that God has placed me where I am at this moment, with the joys and the messes and the hardships and the trials? And if I trust that He has, then will He create something organized out of that chaos? I have to believe that He will.

Don’t misunderstand. This doesn’t mean that our circumstances are guaranteed to change or that our lives are going to always be smooth sailing. We live in a broken world and no matter what we do, life will probably be hard. But that doesn’t mean God isn’t working in the background to create something beautiful out of that circumstance, or that we are necessarily doing something wrong.

I will choose today to trust that God is a not a God of disarray, but as the One who placed each star exactly where it’s supposed to shine, He put me here in this time and place to be a light in the darkness. 

Let’s shine together, friends!

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing creation, which includes each of us. Please forgive us for how we have cluttered it up with sin and darkness. Help us turn to You to bring order into the chaos and remind us that You are always working circumstances for our good. We love You and praise You in Jesus’s Name. 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:

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Choosing Joy and Trusting Jesus in the Journey

Count It All Joy
A devotional by Dr. Jessica B. Turner

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.” –1 Peter 1:6 (NLT)

I made the mistake of holding on to the first part of this verse during a time of uncertainty in my life. “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead.” I made it my anchor, convinced that my situation would end in great joy! After all, God said it so it must be true! So when it didn’t, I was devastated. I felt as if God’s promise of joy was for everyone else except me.

Only problem was I left out half of the verse. Just so happened to be the part that is harder to embrace: “Even though you must endure trials for a little while.” No one wants to think about the hard times. We want to believe that God will shelter us from any and all pain, but God’s Word promises that there will be trials in our lives. It’s not an “if” or “maybe” kind of thing. It’s a “must”. But why? Why must suffering be a part of our stories as believers? Because it’s necessary for us to become more like Christ. 

Let’s look at a few Bible verses about this truth:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” –Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)

“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” –1 Peter 5:10 (NLT)

Yet, even in knowing that we are called to bear such hardship, it can be extremely difficult to focus on the desired outcome when you are in the middle of it. We are often discouraged and vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. Satan knows that if he can get us to believe that God has forsaken us that he has won. Therefore, it’s even more important for us to hold tight to God’s Word (The Holy Bible) which reminds us that God never leaves us. He already knows every inch of our pain, and He has already prepared every detail of our upcoming joy. It’s in discovering this confidence that we can choose joy before our circumstances create it.

Looking back at that time in my life where I felt this scripture let me down, I can clearly see God never veered from His promise. He was with me every step of the way during my trials, and it was during that time where I felt the closest to Him. As a result, I experienced a level of intimacy I would have never experienced. I also received the joy I was hoping for that day but in His perfect timing.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, You are so gracious to make it clear that we will face trials and sufferings on this side of Heaven. Help us to hold on to the fruits that You promise with spring forth from such hardships. Help us to count it a blessing knowing we are becoming more and more like Your Son, Jesus Christ. Open our eyes to the pure joy that only You can provide knowing that it is simply a glimpse of what is to come once reunited with You in Heaven. I love You and I trust You. In Jesus’s Name, I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Pieces” by Meredith Andrews. 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, September 12, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: When God won't heal you on this side of Heaven

Healed Through Jesus
A devotional by Cyndi Staudt

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” 
–Matthew 4:23 (NIV)

Huddled over the tiny casket at the front of the room were the family members still in shock at the nightmare unfolding before them. How could their sweet toddler be gone? 

We had cried out to God, fasted, and prayed around the clock, yet God had chosen not to heal their sweet child this side of Heaven. At a complete loss on what to say and how to support them through this journey of grief, I fought to find words to express to God how I was feeling. If I was honest, I was probably a little angry with God. At the very least, disappointed. This was a good family, faithful in their walk with Jesus, always serving and giving to others selflessly. They didn’t deserve this.

I didn’t feel like praying but knew I needed to. I wanted to turn away from God in a toddler-like tantrum, but I knew that wasn’t going to help. In a gentle whisper, the Holy Spirit encouraged me to come back to what I knew about God and sit there for a while. As I reflected on the character of God and was reminded of the immutable nature of God my breathing began to slow and my thoughts began to quiet. And in the stillness, He soothed my hurting heart and spoke sweet truths to my spirit until I could crawl to my knees and come to Him with all my raw emotions in prayer.

It can be hard to understand how and when God chooses to heal His children (or not), regardless of their age. I would be willing to bet most of us have prayed for someone’s healing at one time or another only to have it delayed or, perhaps, withheld completely. Maybe we have believed for a restored relationship that remained forever dismantled. Or watched a loved one’s mental capacity be stripped away until they were virtually unrecognizable. We know that God can heal, but it doesn’t always mean He does. And this can be a hard truth to wrestle with. We want to make sense of it all. Find a logical conclusion. Unfortunately, one is rarely available.

It can test our faith when we pray and believe God for healing and it doesn’t happen. But we must be careful not to let doubt creep into our minds and hearts. When healing is delayed or doesn’t come at all we must trust that God is still able, faithful, loving, and gracious. He promises perfect health to us. Sometimes that comes in this life while other times it comes in the next. We must believe that God is still on His throne, He is still sovereign, and He is still in the business of doing miracles whether we receive the answers, outcomes, and miracles we are seeking or not.

Friends, let’s not lose sight of the truths we know about God. When we are faced with what seems like insurmountable or unfair circumstances, we are called to continue to seek God and come before Him in prayer.

There are also practical things we can do while we are continuing to seek Him and cry out to Him. We can seek medical advice, counseling, or assistance as the situation calls for. We are to pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on us. That way no matter what the outcome, we know that we have done everything we can, then we leave the results up to God. 

Whatever God decides to do, we need to trust Him and praise Him in the process, knowing one day we will all find ourselves forever healed in Jesus.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father,

We know that Your ways are not our ways and Your timing is not our timing. Help us to remember this when we are confused and wondering why our prayers are not being answered in the ways and timetable we had hoped or imagined. Let the Holy Spirit within us remind us of what we know to be true about You even when what we see and feel tries to tell us otherwise. Give us eyes to see You in the midst of our circumstances and ears to hear You through the noise of our lives so we never lose sight of Who you are. We thank You for all You do for us and for Your grace to see us through the highs and lows of life. In Jesus’ s Name we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Light of that City” by Allison Speer. 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, September 9, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Living Water that only Jesus Christ can give

God’s Living Water
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.” –John 7:37 (ESV)

With a massive drought still overshadowing our country, our city has instituted water rationing in order to ensure a sufficient water supply. It has been a shift in our thinking, but one that was timely and necessary.

In our yard, my husband has faithfully watered the trees and shrubs on the new schedule, and he’s been able to keep our patio plants green and flourishing, even with less water than usual. Our yard looks healthy.

Inside, my handful of houseplants haven’t been nearly so well-tended. In fact, one of them died and the other two are looking bad.

After months of eye surgeries, I’m finally able to see again, so today I really looked at the frail, dying plants. Appalled at their condition, I took them down from the shelf over the sink, tossed the dead one, and then trimmed the other two and watered them well.

Within minutes, some of the root tendrils began to change from milky green to a much more robust and healthy color. The leaves are still limp, but they will wait for their roots to grow plump with the much-needed water.

It’s like that in my life, too. From the outside, most people seem to think I’ve got it all together. But nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing that keeps me together isn’t a thing—it’s the person of Jesus Christ.

The last few months have been especially hard. As my eyesight rapidly diminished, there were quite a few things that dropped by the wayside: Reading, studying God’s Word (The Holy Bible), driving, cooking, writing. Considering that these are the major activities of my life, each loss became almost insurmountable. Using reading glasses and a magnifying glass, needing a driver, depending on family and friends to feed us, and composing thoughts in my head before ever daring to try to put them on a computer screen were all a true paradigm shift.

Praying, listening to worship music, and repeating my meager store of memorized scripture verses all helped, as did all the sweet cards, phone calls, and visits from dear friends and family. But it wasn’t long before I felt as dried up and lifeless as my poor plants on the windowsill. Through it all, God sustained me with His presence and His promises. He says He will never leave us, and He never broke His promise.

Now, with fresh eyesight, thanks to a godly doctor, generous organ donors, and the Great Physician, I’m rediscovering the beauty and nourishment of God’s Word. Unhindered now, the words leap from the pages to my heart, and from there they spread to my thoughts and actions.

Jesus tells us He is the Living Water (John 7:37 ESV). We are the thirsty ones, and He promises to give us His water that will, in turn, well up in us as rivers of water—living water—sustaining water for our journey through this life. His water isn’t just a surface dousing. It’s inner growth and health that fills us thoroughly and completely.

Just as houseplants bring fresh and healthy air into a room, so Jesus Christ as the Living Water is always available to share with those around us. The Lord is gracious like that.

The Apostle John tells us about the things he saw in Heaven in the Revelation. One of the scenes 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). For all eternity, we will worship at the throne of our God and Savior with His living water flowing joyously all around us.

God’s Word is like that river in Heaven—perfectly clear and perfectly pure. But even more amazing is that we don’t have to wait until we go there to have this never-ending source of true life. Jesus, our Living Water, promises to be right here with us, and His promises are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Even in the droughts that come into our lives, Jesus opens our eyes again and again as He refreshes and restores our withered hearts. As a result, our roots will sink deeper into His freshness and give us good health. He is faithful and true to me and you!

Let’s Pray: Dear Holy, Heavenly Father, we thank You and praise You for all the times we go through hard things because You are always with us through them. You have plans for us that we can’t understand and sometimes it’s awfully hard to see Your hand in them. Please help us to wait patiently with our hope in You shining in our eyes. Thank You for Your faithfulness in reviving our anxious, weary hearts with Jesus, our Living Water. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“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, September 7, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Preparation

Does God Prepare You for Everything?
A devotional by Patricia Russell

“The shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story expressed astonishment, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and often thought about them.” –Luke 2:17-19 (TLB)

Can you remember a time in your life when you told the Lord you would do anything that He wanted you to do and when that time came you said yes with all your heart? However, days after accepting His will, you felt somewhat unprepared for all that the task required. You suddenly felt nervous about what was next. Sometimes when we don’t have a picture of the way things are going to roll out piece by piece there can be that feeling of being unprepared.

Specifically thinking about Mary, Jesus Christ’s mother, I believe she could relate to this question. Mary was a faithful and highly favored servant of God. Yet, when she received the instruction and news from Angel Gabriel saying she was chosen to carry the son of God in her womb and she accepted God’s will, I don’t know if she was prepared for all that life would entail in accepting this sacred assignment.

Mary heard the angel’s prophecy that she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:31-32). She acknowledged it. She said she was honored to receive the call, but have you ever wondered if she was really prepared for all that would unfold in each stage of this special child’s life? If you were to ask the average mother if she was prepared for the events that occurred in their child’s life, you would get a resounding “no.” And yet, mothers must take a breath and walk-through tears of sadness, laughter, pondering, lying awake at night, watching the phone during the day, praying, pondering, beseeching the Lord and all the while, never being fully prepared to face everything that happens in their child’s life.

How do you accept God’s call completely without preparation? Maybe the better question is, “Why would you?” My answer to this would be, “You accept it on the basis of trust.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV) tells us to: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Also in Psalm 37:5 (KJV) we are advised to, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” And in Joshua 1:9 (NIV), the command goes forth to be “strong and courageous”. All of these passages and many more are reminders to us that while we do not know what tomorrow will bring, as long as we are walking and talking with Jesus, not only are we safe, but we will get our next step directives. God will give us what we need when we need it. We can walk confidently knowing that he has us.

We are not God. We don’t have knowledge of what our tomorrows look like. Even though she was carrying the son of God, Mary had to do what we all must do to accept God’s call by faith. Believing He will give us the same wisdom and grace that Jesus grew in, to carry it out and grow along the journey. Mary was not prepared for all the feelings she would experience during and after the birth of Jesus. She really was not prepared for the attacks on both her and her son’s character. She was not prepared for the miracles, the criticism, and the challenges they would encounter along the way. And even though she was told he would die; she could not have been prepared for the emotional rollercoaster she would experience. 

Neither will we be prepared for all that we will face during our lifetime. So, we trust God. We trust He knows what is happening and He will give us the direction and guidance to make it through every experience and come through as a winner.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, many days life looks and feels uncertain, but we thank You for Your Word again that reminds us that You will direct our paths as we trust You. There are days when I feel unprepared, so help me to rely on Your Word and not my feelings. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection:
“Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)” by Amy Grant. 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, September 5, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: A lesson on how to love everyone and yourself

Love Yourself, Too
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

I first saw the words on a T-shirt 12 years ago: “Three priorities in life: Number one, God. Number two, others. Number three, self.”

I was new on the job as editor of a Christian newspaper, the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the job I’m still blessed to hold today, and after an entire career spent in the secular journalism and marketing industry, I welcomed this priority list. To me, it encapsulated exactly where my heart and mind needed to be. I was done putting myself first in a culture that seems hardwired to drive us to do just that. God must always come first, and after that, I needed to be concerned with the well-being, care, and love for other people.

Self came last.

But I might have taken those words a little too literally—so literally that self-care not only took the back burner but went off the stove entirely.

That phase, the start of my job at the Advocate, soon also kicked off one of the hardest periods in my life. My marriage unraveled, and soon I became a single mom of two very young kids. I was existing on four hours of sleep a night, lost so much weight my size-small pants were swimming on me, and soon became plagued both by migraines and by horrible stomach pain that started around noon and didn’t stop until nearly midnight every single day. It was a miserable time.

Eventually, life evened out and became steadier. I remarried and was no longer a single mom, and I began getting more sleep. My stomachaches finally subsided, and my migraines dwindled. I began spending regular time in God’s Word (The Holy Bible), learning to sit and simply be still, basking in God’s presence. My finances got under control.

And I finally learned that thing that had eluded me my entire life: I started to actually like myself. To enjoy time with myself. I appreciated who God had designed, flaws and all, and owned my quirks and talents. I strived to be the woman God wanted me to be, and it was liberating.

While I still value that priority list—God first, others second, self last—I’ve come to understand that perhaps the self isn’t actually meant to be last at all. God didn’t actually say put ourselves last. In fact, Jesus’s exact words from the Sermon on the Mount were, “Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12 NIV). He also said the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:39).

He didn’t say love your neighbor more than yourself, he said love your neighbor as yourself. Care for your neighbor as though you were caring for yourself.

In order to do that well, I think we need to love ourselves too. It shouldn’t be neighbor over self, or self over neighbor—it’s equal. We are all together in this. When I feed my neighbor, I should be feeding myself, and vice versa. When I extended a kind word to my neighbor, I should be extending that same kind word back to myself. When I love on those in my inner circle, those who feel like an extension of myself, such as my spouse or kids, I should be loving my neighbor in the same way.

Sometimes we get our priorities skewed, but God should always come first. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that Jesus commanded us to love others as well as ourselves. Think on that. Pray on that. What does this mean to you?

If you are struggling with self-care, feeling exhausted, feeling burned out or depressed or down on yourself, ravaged with guilt or beating yourself up, remember to extend yourself the same kindness, love, appreciation, and forgiveness you do others. You’re part of the equation, too.

Let’s Pray: Lord God, thank You for the blessing of life. Thank You for the people around me. Help me to love myself and love others in a way that honors and glorifies You, pointing to You always. 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

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

Friday, September 2, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: A life lesson learned from Esau and Jacob

Life Lessons From A Bowl of Soup

A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.) Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.” 
–Genesis 25:29-34 (NIV)

This week as I watched young students in my neighborhood climbing off of their school bus and walking home, I was transported back in time. When school started, my mother would change how and what she would fix for our dinner.

During the fall she would make soups, chili and stews. I loved her tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Her beef stew or her oxtail stew were always thick and hearty. Smelling the food she fixed as we entered the house was always comforting to me. No matter how good or bad the day at school had been, taking in the delicious aroma and eating Mom’s stew was life-giving.

The story of Jacob and Esau is a cautionary tale about the power that nostalgia and fatigue—physical, emotional, or spiritual—can have on our decision making.

When Esau came home, exhausted and depleted from an unsuccessful hunt, he smelled the red stew that Jacob was cooking. It energized him and his hunger drove him to demand nourishment immediately. Perhaps he was reminded of celebratory meals that his mother had made. His only thought was to eat, lest he die.

With nutrition and the strength it gave, he could fight another day, but he wanted it, now! Entitlement paired with desperation creates an atmosphere ripe for disaster.

Jacob seized the moment to extort from Esau his most valuable, but devalued asset: his birthright. In the ancient times of this story the birthright was more than money and possessions. It included positional power and judicial authority as head of the family. Esau easily vowed to surrender his future claim upon the wealth, power and influence for the next several generations. He gave up a bright future for the price of immediate satiation of his appetite for food. He paid his entire future for one bowl of lentil stew. Foolish? Yes!

But, when I think about it, I am driven to ponder how many facets of our birthright we sacrifice when we make decisions like Esau. He was hungry, angry, alone in despair and tired. He cared more about his immediate hunger and thirst than about his future, his legacy and lore.

Home Economists recommend that we not grocery shop when we are hungry because we will be undisciplined in the decisions that we make in the aisles of the store. Impulsivity is the wingman of anger, so hasty and angry decision making should always be avoided. Details are clouded when our eyelids are heavy from fatigue and our minds are numbed by fatigue. Mirages beckon and boulders glisten when we are depleted. After rest, we see the aridity of our fantasy and the glitter we perceived, after all, was not gold.

Nostalgia can deceitfully seduce us into former states and zones of comfort. So, whenever we are approaching big decisions, it is helpful to be clear eyed, well rested, focused and unhurried by our passions, fantasies of grandeur and appetites.

As you start your day, be mindful. Gauge your appetite, energy and emotions. Are you full, enthusiastic and fulfilled? Who is on your team? Can you rely on them? If you answered no to any of these, I invite you to pause and pray for discernment and grace for the day. With those tools, you will avoid Esau’s bowl and preserve your birthright for another day.

Let’s Pray: Eternal God, as we start this day, I pray that You will give to each reader enough of whatever they need and some of their desires. May they go into this day rested, connected, full and fulfilled. Lead them by the path of righteousness. Deliver them from evil and into the realm of Your will. 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,