Monday, April 15, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: When springtime brings hope to your heart

The Unfolding Hope of Spring
A devotional by Joy Beless

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
—1 Peter 1:3-4a (NIV)

I love the Spring season! I love this season so much that I have my desk situated in front of the windows just so I can watch spring unfold. There is a predictability to it—knowing which trees will leaf and bloom first. Sunny yellow daffodils pop up to greet the bleak winter days. Like unfolding a letter from a dear friend whom I haven’t heard from in a while, so does my view come to life and color. What is happening in nature mirrors my soul—an awakening to a living hope, through Jesus Christ.

For Christians, resurrected life, like spring, is a gift from our risen Savior, Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead as witnessed by over 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:6) over a period of 40 days before ascending to Heaven (Acts 1:3). As followers of Jesus, we too will live with Him in resurrected bodies in Heaven one day. This gave Peter’s readers of his letter great hope during the persecution they endured as Christians. And it gives us great hope today to know that our lifetime on this earth is not all there is.

But it is possible to experience the “living hope” today that mirrors springtime and new life surrounding me. To step into the freedom we have as God’s children, forgiven and deeply loved. To receive Christ’s invitation to come and rest in Him, as a child would with a loving father. Keeping in view Christ’s teaching and scriptures that remind us of Heaven, with no tears and no pain, as we navigate life (Revelation 21:4).

I have lived through “winter” seasons of life that were difficult with grief, conflict, and no hope. Discouraging and exhausting, with seemingly unanswered prayers, the days loomed dark and gray. One such season for me was an intersection of intense caregiving and grief with other family needs. My father and aunt for different reasons both ended up in side by side rooms in a skilled nursing facility. For my aunt, she passed away after a few difficult months but for my father, it began a crisis-oriented three year journey of care. Caring for those you deeply love on a slow journey of decline while juggling your everyday responsibilities takes a toll on your own emotional, physical and spiritual health.

However, the winter seasons of life cause me to depend on Jesus in ways I never would have. Experiencing His mercy in small moments, His presence filling my soul through a song or scripture gives sustaining strength to walk through the long days of despair. Taking time to be alone with God, resting and leaning into the comfort of the Holy Spirit brought healing and hope back into my life. It was like a daffodil braving the chilly early spring days. Receiving counsel through grief healing groups and meeting with a spiritual director breathed new life and new seasons of purpose and strength. Like a barren tree in the cold, my roots of faith grew deep. I experienced God in an intimate, but quiet way to endure the season. I no longer had answers but knew I was not alone in the journey. And neither are you.

Lean into the Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised and dwells within you. Talk with God about the situations that seem hopeless. Look for that small “bud of color”, despite the circumstances.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father,

You are the source of our “living hope” when we are discouraged and disillusioned. We praise you for the miracle of resurrected life, both within our souls and one day, reunited with you in heaven. Encourage us in difficult seasons. Remind us of our “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). We thank you that this existence on Earth is not all there is. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Seasons Change” by Crystal Lewis. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Joy Beless is a worshipper of God and lover of people.

A practicing Spiritual Director, she is a speaker for retreats and conferences and facilitates guided solitude retreats at the family ranch in North Texas.

A seasoned worship leader and songwriter, she frequently weaves worship, God’s Word and spiritual practices together. She is a chapel provider for a shelter for the houseless and a certified Grief and Trauma Healing Facilitator. Serving at global retreats for Kingdom-minded women delights her soul.

She has written for Global Trellis and Missio Nexus. She connects God’s Word with the reality of our daily in all the ups and downs.

Joy is married to Roger. They live in Coppell (Texas). Joy is called "JoJo" by her nine adorable grandchildren. She enjoys the outdoors and encourages flowers to grow in the Texas heat.

Connect with Joy:

Friday, April 12, 2024

Movie Review: The Hopeful

My Review of The Hopeful (movie)

Today, I have another movie review for you and a giveaway contest at the end of this post! Momentum Influencers Network asked me to watch an early screening of a new movie they are promoting: The Hopeful.

Here’s the synopsis of The Hopeful with words from Momentum:

William Miller’s faith is in ruins. After miraculously surviving a fierce battle in the War of 1812, Miller questions why God spared him. His search for wisdom leads to an astonishing prophesy: The world is going to end!

The Hopeful unfolds as a story of a man burdened with the knowledge of Christ’s return. Miller’s message resonates with some—even as it is scorned by others. When a young woman named Ellen Harmon listens to one of his sermons she is transformed. And through her witness the message begins to take flight. The preaching grows beyond prophecy and develops into a more holistic vision for how Christians should live and worship.

We see blossoming the seeds of a new global movement of faith—the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Hopeful is the true story of a community whose lives were transformed as they learn what it means to truly wait for Jesus. This sweeping drama, set in 19th century New England, invites audiences of all ages to imagine how hope can change the world.

Now for my review:

The Hopeful is a movie that was inspired by real-life events.

Bill Lake plays the role of William Miller who survives an attack on the battlefield that should have resulted in his death. He’s astonished and curious to know why he’s still alive. So he turned to studying God’s Word (The Holy Bible) and this begins his journey of faith as the Holy Spirit leads him to all truth according to Scripture. However, he misunderstood some of his readings that convinced him Jesus Christ was going to return in 1844 to take His faithful followers home to Heaven. Passionate about his discovery but conflicted, Miller was reluctant to share this idea as well as other teachings that were more accurate. It took his wife to convince him to share it. But once he starts sharing it, the news spreads like wildfire as he travels to preach about it.

A young lady named Ellen Harmon (later married to James White and known as Ellen G. White) listened to one of Miller’s sermons and her life changes forever when she realizes that God is not only a Judge, He is Love. And it is His Love that inspires Ellen to tell the world about Him through her own writing and speaking inspired by God who gives her visions that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is known by such as the health message (practicing a plant-based diet, daily exercise and lifestyle choices that promote optimal health for the human body) and the keeping of Saturday as Sabbath (based on Exodus 20:8-11).

Tommie-Amber Pirie played the role of Ellen G. White who was an American author and co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Pirie’s acting skills are superb! She stayed in character throughout the entire film and portrayed Ellen with grit, grace and elegance.

Stephen MacDonald played the role of James White who was Ellen’s husband. I like how the producers told their love story. I also appreciated seeing how applying the health message saved his life after he suffered a stroke and enabled him to live many more years in good vitality.

Even though Miller was wrong about the date of Christ’s return (Note: The Bible says in Matthew 24:36 that only God knows when He’s sending Jesus Christ back to Earth to take His faithful followers home to Heaven), I thought it was inspiring to see how that great disappointment led to a movement that birthed the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Overall, I think this film deserves five stars! Everything about it was well-done, engaging, inspirational and educational. I hope you will see it in theaters on April 17 or April 18.

More words from Momentum:

Buy tickets to see The Hopeful in theaters only on April 17-18, 2024.

Watch the trailer for The Hopeful:

Buy tickets to see The Hopeful in theaters:

Follow The Hopeful on social media:

Watch Jean’s interview with Kyle Portbury (director of The Hopeful):

Visit the official movie page for The Hopeful:

Final Notes:

Momentum Influencers Network would like to give a $10 Amazon gift card to the winner of this giveaway contest! Please note: This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only.

Here is the Giveaway Contest link:

Disclosure: Many thanks to Hope Studios for providing a sample of the product for this review.
Opinions are 100% my own. 

#TheHopefulMIN #thehopefulmovie #MomentumInfluencerNetwork

Devotionals for the Heart: What car trouble taught me about trusting God

Car Trouble Taught Me about the Goodness of God 
A devotional by Kerry Sue Teravskis

“Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me.” 
—Psalm 69:16 (NIV)

When we’re in a season of affliction or trouble, crying out to God for help is a natural response for most people. Enduring relentless pain or scorn can be unbearable at times. Excruciating at others.

King David wrote Psalm 69, and he knew trouble. He knew hardships, running, enemies, pain, affliction, and he knew the mercy of God. It is what makes this Psalm so relatable.

There are three attributes of God’s character he calls on in this one verse: goodness, love and mercy. It reminds me of another Psalm written by King David. Psalm 23:6 (NIV) says, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

God’s goodness is beyond measure and something inexplainable with mere words. His goodness passed before Moses when he was in the cleft of the rock (see Exodus 34:6). The Lord’s goodness is so great, He had to hide Moses. Only then could Moses glimpse God’s goodness.

Have you felt the goodness of God before? Have you felt His Presence so powerful and real that you felt enveloped in His love? How did it make you feel? Overwhelmed? In awe? As if you were standing on holy ground?

There are times in my life when I have felt His goodness and I was left in awe because of it. These moments are powerful in that they left me without a doubt of His being in my life, in the here and now and in my moments of deep desperation.

On a recent trip out of state, we had five hundred miles to travel on a lonely two-lane highway for much of the time. Not more than three hours into our trip we experienced significant truck engine issues—so much so, we had to backtrack 45 miles to get help as it was the nearest town with nothing being ahead of us for many, many miles.

We were desperate, we needed saving, we needed help and we needed it fast. We needed God to show us His mercy in this situation, His guidance and His goodness. And He did. Multiple times over. Before we knew we needed a solution, it was there. Before we could worry, He had an answer.

As the day wore into evening, and we were again experiencing more engine troubles, we cried out to God for His mercy. As we drove along the desolate stretch of highway, with my husband driving, I was praying out loud for God’s mercy because we had nowhere else to turn. No town was ahead of us, no town behind us. It was pitch dark outside, late and getting later, colder and darker. We cried out for His goodness to follow us, to lead us and for His mercy to sustain us. He did just that. When we were tempted to worry, God reminded us of His goodness. When we were tempted to take our eyes off of Him and onto the desolate road in front of us, He reminded us our help was found in Him, and Him alone. When we were tempted to turn around and go back, He reminded us we needed to God forward in Him, not backwards. With the Lord’s complete guidance, we did in fact make it to our destination, intact.

As we put our trust, hope and hearts upon the Lord, we experienced His peace, His grace and His love. We were so thankful for this demonstration of God’s presence in our lives in real time and in our very real moment of desperation.

The Bible says in Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV), “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This is truth. God’s peace does guard our hearts and minds. He keeps us in peace and places protection found in His Presence around us so we cannot falter. And it is good. So good.

Are you needing His goodness, love and mercy in your situation? Why not cry out to God and allow Him to pour them over you and leave you in His perfect peace?

Let’s Pray: Father God, You are amazing and Your goodness, love and mercy are what I need, now and every day. Forgive me for when I have allowed myself to fret when I should have gone to You immediately. I am here, asking for Your goodness to follow me. Your love to chase me. And Your mercy to envelope me. I praise You for all You do. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Goodness of God” by CeCe Winans. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

As a wife and Marmee to three adult children and one brand new daughter-in-love, Kerry Sue’s life is very full. She met her husband in college and served in the mission field with him for a few years before settling down back in the United States of America to raise their family.

Kerry Sue’s family was a homeschooling family for 20 years and they enjoyed it immensely. For the last 23 years they have lived on a small farm in Northern California where they have raised many farm animals, along with growing and preserving their food. Kerry Sue’s family farm has been a great source of enjoyment and a place to host many family gatherings. She maintains an open-door policy for dear friends—old and new.

Following and serving Jesus Christ is an integral part of Kerry Sue’s life as well as her family’s.

Whether it’s singing in our church choir, teaching children or leading and lecturing at a women’s Bible study, Kerry Sue loves to demonstrate her love for Jesus by giving to Him in service. She’s been a blogger for more than eight years, a Bible study writer for two years, and a devotional writer for about one year.

Kerry Sue writes about finding God’s Sovereignty in our pain and suffering.

Connect with Kerry:

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Surrender

The Way of Surrender
A devotional by Jamie De Silvia

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”—Mark 14:36 (NIV)

I had very little church background when I gave my life to Jesus Christ on Valentine’s Day in 1988. With a great deal of curiosity and determination, I set out to learn all that I could about the One who had saved me. Oh, how I yearn to share with my 16-year-old self the insights and wisdom I've gained since then about walking with Jesus.

I would tell her not to worry so much about her sin, that Jesus went to the cross knowing she would make a million mistakes, both deliberately and unintentionally. I would assure her that our Heavenly Father is carrying her in His hands, not holding her at arm's length in disapproval. I would warn her against wasting years of her life trying to please God by performing in her own strength. I’d tell her that transformation isn’t her job—it’s the Holy Spirit inside her who will accomplish it. I would take her hand, look her in the eyes, and tell her that the answer to every problem and challenge is simply surrender.

Today, I understand what I could not comprehend on that special day 36 years ago: The most important thing for me to practice is letting go of control and putting my full trust in the Lord. It took me a long time to come to this realization because many things are easier than surrender. Worrying, performing, controlling, planning, and analyzing are all easier than surrendering. Jesus Himself showed us when He was pleading with God in the Garden of Gethsemane, how agonizing it can be to lay down your own will and accept God’s will instead.

Surrendering to the Father’s call to the cross was likely the very hardest thing that Jesus was required to do. Laying down His life and saying yes to God caused Him to feel “deeply distressed and troubled” and his soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 14:33-34). This agony was not just about dying. Jesus knew that saying yes to God meant surrendering control over the present moment and the outcome—as well as His body, His voice, His ministry, His disciples, and His life.

According to Mark 14:36 (NIV), Jesus called to “Abba, Father” because God was the only One who could help Him. He professed his faith and trust when He said, “Everything is possible for You.” He still asked for an alternate path when He whispered, “Take this cup from me.” And finally He surrendered with these words: “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Knowing how difficult this was for Jesus gives us two helpful insights. The first insight is that He understands how hard surrender is to do. Jesus knows that surrender can feel like suffering, and even He wanted to suffer less. He knows it will take a lot of practice for us to learn to let God choose the cup that we drink from, surrendering all other alternatives as He did.

The second insight is that if true surrender pushed Jesus to His limit, how much more will it push us beyond our limits? I am here to testify that we absolutely cannot do it in our own power. We need Jesus to hold our hand and provide the willingness, determination, and power to lay down control of our lives and our will.

Beloved, Jesus sees how hard it is for you to let go. He knows the fear and grief that accompany surrender. He understands your questions and concerns. Share them! Invite Him into your wrestling and then ask Him to help you say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

Let’s Pray:
Lord, I confess to wanting my own way so much of the time. Open my eyes to see the daily situations that allow me to practice yielding control. Jesus, show me the way of surrender. Teach me to trust in the Father as You did when You were here on Earth. Have Your way in me. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “I Surrender All” by CeCe Winans. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Jamie De Silvia is an author and speaker from Southern California with a passion for helping women connect with the heart of God. She hosts the “Pressing In” podcast.

She has authored two devotional books: Come Hear the Song of the Shepherd (a 30-day devotional journey through Psalm 23), and You Shall Be Praised (a 40-day devotional offering a fresh perspective on Proverbs 31).

You can find her on Instagram and Facebook daily, offering encouragement to help you draw closer to Jesus Christ.

Jamie is married with two adult daughters and a teenage son. She is also a homeschooling mom who enjoys oil painting, playing games with her family, and savoring a good chai latte.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: What the Solar Eclipse Taught Me about Life

Reflections about the Solar Eclipse
A devotional by Aubrey Taylor

“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”—Revelation 21:23 (NIV)

Many Americans have been looking forward to this day, April 8, for over a year because of the solar eclipse. This is especially true in my hometown, which happens to lie directly in the arc that cuts from Mexico to Canada, where residents can view a total solar eclipse without having to travel.

With such an exciting moment upon us, I asked God to give me a few things to reflect on today. If you live in another part of the country, or another country altogether, I pray these meditations might still bless you.

During a solar eclipse, the moon’s shadow seems to blot out the brightness of the sun. It is amazing that something so much smaller than the sun can block out such great light. This made me think: How often do I allow small things to block out the light of God? Whether they are bad things or good things, do I allow them to linger in the forefront of my mind, dimming His light and casting a shadow in my life?

Of course, there are dark seasons in our lives that seem to fall over us though we have done nothing to bring them on. During an eclipse, the sun’s light is temporarily blocked by the moon, but it does not stay that way. The moon moves on, continuing in the path laid out for it from before time. Likewise, God moves seasons of darkness in and out of our lives at their appointed times.

The most exciting part of a solar eclipse is called “totality”, which is when the moon’s shadow completely covers the sun. This darkest moment is the only time at which the sun’s corona can be seen from Earth. It seems to me that in my own darkest moments, I get to know God in special ways that I never would have if I had lived continually in light and warmth.

My husband purchased special glasses for us to use to view the eclipse. Looking directly at the sun can damage the eyes. Likewise, God is so holy, no one can look upon Him and live. Yet one day we will see Him face to face. We will see Him as He truly is! According to 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV), “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The concept of seeing through a glass darkly is the English rendering of a single Greek word; ainigma (from which we get our English word “enigma”). It means something that is obscured.

The part of the country I live in happens to be known for long, dark winters in which the sun is regularly obscured by clouds. We may go for weeks without seeing the sun. It is difficult and depressing. It can sometimes be hard to remember that the sun is even there! When I first began struggling with depression decades ago, I did not know that Jesus Christ would eventually bring me out. I had to live through a few of those seasons before I learned to trust that the darkness would end, and the Son (Jesus who is the Light of the world) would shine again.

One day, there will be no more dark clouds, no more eclipses, and no more night—there will be no sun, either! Revelation 21:23 (NIV) tells us that the New Jerusalem (God’s city), “does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”

So much anticipation and preparation has gone into this day. It has been estimated that 500,000 people will flood our area to view the eclipse today. Local hotels have been booked for months, road signs are calling for gridlock, and my family has been invited to three separate “eclipse watching parties.” Yet the spectacle will only last a few minutes. When we see Jesus Christ in Heaven, we will be in His presence forever. In light of that, let us ask God that we might view His return with still greater anticipation!

Let’s Pray: Dear Jesus, thank You for the beauty of creation, the sun and moon which give us our seasons, and the way their predictable rotation reminds us of your faithfulness. I pray that Your light will never be eclipsed in my life, and that I will learn to look forward to Your second coming with greater anticipation. In Your Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection #1: “No More Night” by David Phelps. Listen to it here.

Song of Reflection #2:
“Light of That City” by Allison Durham Speer. Listen to it here

Author Bio:

The only child of a single parent, Aubrey Taylor filled her younger years by creating characters and writing stories. This ended around age sixteen when music, friends and part-time jobs began to fill her time. After that came college, work, marriage, and children.

It wasn’t until the world was beginning to come out of the COVID pandemic that God led her back to her love for writing, coupled with a passion she’d always had for history. It was time to start a new adventure!

Along with writing devotionals, Aubrey is the author of the German-perspective 20th Century Fiction series, Gott Mit Uns. She lives in Upstate New York with her husband and three children. When she’s not writing or taking care of her home and family, she enjoys singing and dancing with friends from a German choir and a Bavarian folk dancing group. She is also a lover of Jesus Christ, The Holy Bible, history, German culture, tea, and cats!

Connect with Aubrey:
Amazon Author Page:

Friday, April 5, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: What reading a prophet's journal taught me

Life Lessons Learned from Reading a Prophet’s Journal
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“The Lord God is my strength, my source of courage, my invincible army. He has made my feet steady and sure like hinds feet. And makes me walk forward with spiritual confidence on my high places of challenge and responsibility.”—Habakkuk 3:19 (AMP)

The first time that I went to Greece, I was a young sailor.

The ship that I was assigned to pulled into a remote port that was surrounded on three sides by mountains. As the other sailors and I awaited a bus to take us to town, we noticed animals moving down the steep and rocky mountainside.

They looked small, but realizing how far away from them that we were, we realized that they had to be pretty large animals. As we watched them confidently traverse the treacherous slope, we realized that they were mountain goats. They fearlessly trod down the mountain slope because they were sure footed by nature.

I remembered reading Habakkuk and later that evening, I reread this small prophetic book of the Old Testament. Habakkuk 3:19 is really the culmination of a dialogue that the prophet had with God. The little book is like a journal that the prophet wrote to remind himself and us that God still communes, converses and confides in us.

Habakkuk was a minor prophet, not because his message was petty, but because his prophetic testimony was short. He starts his journal by complaining to God about the state of affairs in which he currently lived. Apparently his social and spiritual environment was unsafe, violent, and unstable. Law enforcement was unreliable because even the people most inclined to righteous living were marginalized by the wicked.

He did not see the hand of God and wondered where God was and if His promises of deliverance were still valid. God responds with an assurance that the trajectory of His plans exceeded Habakkuk’s perceptivity, but they were sure to happen.

The prophet responds in Habakkuk 2:1 (ESV) with a second complaint that seems a bit flippant. He wrote, “I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”

Is challenging God okay? Perhaps we’re saying, “God, I’m looking for you! What will you do?” Is that okay? I think so! In our journals, where we write our struggles, temptations, failures, successes and reflections, we can converse with God. He is eternal, yet contemporary. He was Emmanuel and His Name means, “God is with us”. The New Testament writer, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6:19 says that our bodies are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. This means that He is with us through the whispers of our consciences and the spurring in our souls.

When Habakkuk recognized that God had not left nor forsaken him, his prose was converted from complaint to a trusting testimony. Habakkuk gave glory to God for being the source of his courage and strength. Knowing this, he became brave enough to face his challenges in life. We could learn Habakkuk’s story and share his prayer and praise report too!

Let’s Pray: Thank You, God, for blessing us with the favor of your plan and purpose in our lives. As we go through today, grant us the focus of Habakkuk, to lean forward with courage rather than looking around in fear. May our faith be reflected in our being and our deeds. Let us be your hands, eyes, ears, feet and heart to the world around us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Everlasting God” by William Murphy. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Chaplain Anderson is the Director Emeritus of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries for the North American Division. In this role, he was the friend, advocate and gatekeeper for the profession of chaplaincy among Adventist pastors.

His new mission is to specialize in personal and personnel development coaching.
He journeys with and guides clients, personal and corporate, as they define their goals and grow into their full potential.

His pastoral career began in the Allegheny East Conference where he was ordained.

Subsequently, he served in the Potomac Conference at the Sligo and Seabrook churches. His professional dream was to be a chaplain in the United States Navy. He got to live that dream and achieved the rank of Commander before retiring from Naval service in 2015 with 26 years of service.

Chaplain Anderson has earned four graduate degrees: He earned his Master of Divinity Degree was earned at the seminary at Andrews University. He earned a Master’s of Education from the University of Maryland and a Master’s in Sacred Theology from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C.

Chaplain Anderson and his wife Debra have been married for 41 years. They have two healthy, saved and well-adjusted adult children who picked good spouses and delivered four grandchildren.

Adventures through traveling, reading, praying, preaching, teaching and writing are the avenues of ministry and self-care that define his now and his destiny.

You may connect with Chaplain Anderson via email at this address,

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Why change requires us to be devoted

Change Requires Devotion
A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.”—Acts 2:42 (CEB)

“What are you reading these days?” A good friend asked me during a recent phone call.

I looked at the pile of books on my coffee table, feeling ashamed that I had started so many personal development texts and was struggling to complete even one.

“I’m reading five books right now,” I replied honestly, choosing to be real to both me and my sister-in-Christ, “but I am having difficulty finishing them.”

I explained how impressed I was with the content of the books, but when it came to applying the suggested behavioral changes, I fell short. Trying to make big modifications on my own, and keeping consistent, seemed impossible.

As we talked, I remembered reading a Bible passage where thousands of people turned their lives around, changing their customary behaviors. The Apostle Luke recorded this event, known as the birth of the Church, in the New Testament book of Acts.

Acts 2 tells the story of the Apostle Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, preaching the truth of Jesus Christ to the people in Jerusalem. A few weeks prior, the same crowd had the Messiah crucified on the cross. Now, hearing the accurate account, they were feeling deep conviction of having done God wrong, and sought change.

“When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’” –Acts 2:37 (CEB)

Peter immediately gave them instruction. According to Acts 2:38 (CEB), he replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 2:41 tells us that about three thousand people accepted Peter’s message that day and were baptized! And they didn’t stop their transformation there. Our feature scripture reveals the action steps these early Christians took to radically change their lives. According to Acts 2:42 (CEB), “The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.”

They devoted themselves. The turn about from bad behavior to good habits requires a level of commitment that is all in.We see that the believers were all in with submission to the Apostles’ teachings, meeting daily in the Temple (Acts 2:46). They were all in being accountable to the community, sharing everything they owned, food and belongings, with one another (Acts 2:42 and Acts 2:44). And they were all in praying to God (Acts 2:42).

What did not happen was an attempt to go it alone. The early Church did not practice once a week and then retreat home to the same-same routine. Changing their lives required daily work and accountability to others. The result of this devotion to change was a community that came together for good rather than for bad. And God blessed them with growth—personal growth and church growth.

Are there changes in your life that you know need to happen, yet you struggle to implement them? Has a daily discipline of reading your Bible or praising God been difficult to maintain?

Let’s let the early believers teach us how to proceed from deep conviction to blessed by God by following their example of devotion: Devotion to God. Devotion to others. And devotion to practicing daily disciplines of Bible learning, generosity with one another, and prayer.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, we love You and want to please You. But we struggle to change from old habits. Fill us Your Holy Spirit to help us with Your desire for our lives. Thank You for the example we find in the Acts 2 church. Help us to be all in for Your Kingdom and Your people. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Change Me Now” by Babbie Mason. Listen here.

Author Bio:

Sharon Musgrove has a diverse background in business, fitness, and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both programs primarily served women in the homeless community. 

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She was privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she’s served, Sharon sees the great need for encouragement and connection. Within ministries served, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and building cross-cultural communities has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys nature, deep conversations, and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, divide their time between Oregon and Hawaii. They have two grown children.

Currently, Sharon is encouraging others via her inspirational blog, writing devotionals for other websites, and is working on a nonfiction book titled The Whole-Of-Us: Putting Church Back Together.

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Monday, April 1, 2024

My review of "Someone Like You" movie and a book giveaway for you

My Review of Someone Like You (movie)

Today, I have another movie review for you and a giveaway contest at the end of this post! In case you didn’t know, Great American Pure Flix is like the faith-based version of Netflix. It works the same way the difference is in the content that points you back to Jesus Christ and shows you how much The Creator of the Universe loves you!

Great American Pure Flix is a one-stop shop for faith and family-friendly movies and shows where you can confidently stream in your home with the entire family. With new premium and exclusive original entertainment choices every week, Great American Pure Flix streaming service has the largest variety of high-quality, curated, positive, encouraging, wholesome movies, series and kids' content in one service.

Great American Pure Flix VIP Ambassador program asked me via Momentum Influencers Network to review the movie they are promoting, Someone Like You.

Here’s the synopsis of Someone Like You with words from Momentum: Based on the popular novel by #1 NY Times Bestselling author Karen Kingsbury, Someone Like You is an achingly beautiful redemptive love story. Shocking news hits after young architect Dawson Gage loses his best friend, London Quinn. Now in his heartbreak, Dawson is compelled to launch an impossible search for London’s secret twin sister, twins separated as embryos. But along the way, Dawson never planned to fall in love.

Now for my review:

This beautiful movie, Someone Like You, is based on a fiction story of the same title. New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury wrote the novel and made it into a movie presented by her own company (Karen Kingsbury Productions).

Someone Like You is more than a sweet second chance romance story. It is a poignant tale of love, loss, heartbreak, family matters, redemption and how God is always in the details.

Sarah Fisher plays two separate but intertwined roles: London Quinn and Andi Allen. She did a brilliant and very convincing job of playing these twin sisters, such a brilliant work that I didn’t realize that it was Fisher playing both women until I did research to write this review! Fisher knows how to be in character in the truest since because London and Andi who never met in this movie, though twins, are very different. London likes to live on the wild side. She’s a go-getter with a daring mind and a vivacious personality. Andi is sweet, smart and shy. But both characters are very beautiful and carry a light. London’s light is her love for life and she’s vowed to never go to an actual church though the stage (theater) is like her church, while Andi’s is the light she carries as a Christian for Jesus Christ.

Jake Allyn plays Dawson Gage. He’s a very good looking architect with a heart of gold and love for Jesus Christ. He’s also a gentlemen and London’s best friend. He always treated her with respect and care. London doesn’t fully realize that Jake is in love with her. I could tell that it broke his heart to hear London’s stories about her boyfriends over the years because he realized she only sees him (Jake) as a platonic friend. It pulled at my heartstrings to see the pain in Jake’s eyes as he realized the love of his life (London) will never see him more than her buddy not her future husband. But it made me smile later on in the film when I saw how Andi was falling for Jake and seeing him much more than a “friend” and he was falling for her too—not because she looked like London but because she’s Andi and he grew to adore everything about her as a woman, friend and individual.

London and Andi never meet each other in this movie. Andi doesn’t even know she was adopted when she was an embryo. Andi spent her entire life up until a pivotal scene in the movie, believing her parents were her biological mom and dad. Before meeting Dawson and hearing the truth from her parents, Andi is living a full life with her family, friends and her boyfriend who plans to propose. But her world comes crashing down around her when she finds out everything she believed about her family was a lie. So she packs up, jumps into her vehicle and with Dawson’s help, Andi searches for the truth. This journey leads her to so much more than the answers she’s seeking; it leads her to a deeper understanding of people, life and true love.

There is tragedy in this movie but I won’t go into details so I won’t ruin the plot for you. However, I can promise you that this film has a wonderfully satisfying ending and everything comes together—tragedy and triumph—in a way that will make your heart smile.

Finally, I’d like to acknowledge what wonderful job Kingsbury and her movie production team did on this film! You cannot tell that they didn’t have help from any popular Hollywood studios. Everything about this movie—the acting, the set design, the hair/makeup/wardrobe, the writing, the plot, the entire cinematography—was remarkable! I believe this movie should win awards.

I think you’ll love this movie. But don’t take my word for it. Go see it for yourself!

More words from Momentum:

Buy tickets today to see Someone Like You in theaters starting April 2, 2024!

Families everywhere are making plans to see this beautiful love story, based on Karen’s bestselling book by the same name. Someone Like You has a message of God’s healing and hope, love and redemption. And it’s Rated PG! So, you and your kids truly can enjoy a special movie outing together!

Watch the trailer for Someone Like You:

Buy tickets to see Someone Like You in theaters:

Follow Someone Like You on social media:

Visit the official movie page for Someone Like You:

Official website for Karen Kingsbury (Author of Someone Like You):

1on1 with Sarah Fisher & Karen Kingsbury (Someone Like You) hosted by ScreenFish:

Final Notes:

Enter the giveaway contest via the Rafflecopter link below for a chance to win one signed copy of the book, Someone Like You by Karen Kingsbury. This is limited to U.S. winners only.

Here is the Giveaway Contest link:

Many thanks to Karen Kingsbury Productions for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.

#SomeoneLikeYouMIN #someonelikeyoumovie, @karenkingsbury, @someonelikeyoumovie

Devotionals for the Heart: What watching an owl taught me about God

Matching My Gaze with God
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
—Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

His eyes were round, dark, and incredibly fierce as he perched upon his trainer’s gloved arm, eyeing the crowd for any hint of danger. An adult barred owl, he’d been rescued and raised by humans since his youth. Still, while accustomed to humans, he was by no means tame. One quick move might send him soaring into the trees for refuge.

I watched the owl as the trainer spoke, telling us about his habits and ways, and I noticed something striking. As she turned her body to face one section of the crowd, the owl would swivel his head in tandem, matching the trainer’s gaze. Then, when she’d pivot to the other side, he’d do the same, checking to follow her field of view, to see what she was seeing. Every so often, if she was still for a time, he’d swivel his head and gaze directly at his trainer’s face, looking carefully as if seeking guidance or making sure everything was safe.

They reminded me of a ballerina and her partner, dancing in perfect synchronization—every movement, every breath, every step in coordination.

As I watched, it occurred to me that this owl and his trainer represent our ideal walk with the Lord. As Christians, we are God’s children and part of his heavenly family. God is our Heavenly Father and our leader. We are supposed to move in harmony with him. Colossians 1:18 tells us Christ is the head, and the church is his body. In John 15:5 (NIV), Jesus says much the same: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

But sometimes, we fight God instead of working with him or following his commands. We heed our own wishes and desires, not his. We set our sights on selfish pleasures and worldly distractions. And slowly, we begin to drift out of alignment with our Creator. We miss a step in the dance, and then another, and soon we find we’re dancing to our own song. When this happens, chaos begins. Evil gains a foothold. Temptations threaten. Discontentment brews.

God wants us to get back into alignment with Him. But He gives us free will—we must choose to follow His way. We must choose the “Jesus way” over the world’s way. But make no mistake: Only the way of Jesus Christ leads to life eternal. We serve a God of love. As 1 John 4:19 tells us, “We love because he first loved us.” Jesus said that if we love Him, we’ll follow Him. We’ll do as He asks and obey His teachings. As Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.”

Keeping Christ’s commands means walking in alignment with Him, matching our gaze with His, and setting our heart upon the things He cares about. Proverbs 4:20-27 urges, “My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

As children of the living God who reigns forever, let’s take a lesson from that barred owl. Let’s match our gaze to our Ultimate Protector, the Lord. And when we get off track or grow uncertain, let’s look to Him for clarity and direction. Amen. Thanks be to God!

Let’s Pray: Lord, this world can be incredibly confusing. So many lies and whispers tempt me and distract me from your truth. Help me align my steps with yours, match my gaze to yours, and walk in your ways and in your will forevermore as a powerful act of love and obedience. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Fix My Eyes” by for KING + COUNTRY. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning journalist, author, blogger, editor, writing coach, and devotional writer with thousands of articles to her name. 

Since 2010, she has served as the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, which has won 123 journalism awards during her tenure. Her latest book is Preparing Our Hearts: An Advent Devotional to Draw Closer to God at Christmas.

She has won more than 100 writing awards. Jessica is a seasoned speaker and frequent contributor to,, and, among many others. She has a weekly faith blog at and is part of the team at Wholly Loved Ministries, with her work included in many of their devotionals and Bible studies. Jessica also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.

Jessica holds a Master of Arts in English. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in communications/print journalism from Florida International University. Born and raised in Miami, Jessica now lives in Lexington, South Carolina, just outside Columbia. She has also lived in Ohio and in the mountains of western North Carolina. She and her husband, Matt Brodie, have a blended family of four teenage children and stepchildren.

Jessica has written several novels and is actively seeking publication through her agent Bob Hostetler of The Steve Laube Agency. Her novel The Memory Garden won the 2018 Genesis contest for Contemporary Fiction from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and her novel Tangled Roots won a third place Foundation Award in Contemporary Romance at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in 2019. She is finishing the third in the series, Hidden Seeds, now.

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Friday, March 29, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: What happens after God works a miracle?

Remembering Our Relationship with the Miracle Worker
A devotional by Tessa Huckstep

“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.”—Luke 17:15 (KJV)

Take a moment and try to recall the last miracle God performed in your life. You spent days, months and maybe years praying for this miracle. You woke up early to search the Scriptures for answers, you were in a constant state of prayer as you sought God’s will. Finally, He performed the very miracle you asked for.

I can distinctly remember more than one big miracle that God has performed in my life. After months of praying and searching for God’s will, I finally have my answer and God has done the impossible. I thank Him repeatedly in the moment. But then I get caught up in the miracle and forget about the relationship I formed with the Miracle Worker.

Our relationship with Jesus Christ is deepened through our troubles. God wants us to come to Him with our troubles. However, God does not want us to view our miracle as the ultimate goal. Miracles are simply meant to strengthen our faith and our relationship with Christ. All throughout Christ’s ministry on Earth, faith is often mentioned along with a miracle. For example, Mark 5:34 (KJV) states, “And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” Jesus directly connected the woman’s faith to the miracle He performed.

It seems natural to call out to God and draw close to Him when we need answers and our life is falling apart. When we are lonely and nothing is going the way we planned, running to God is our first thought. But when we are given our miracle, exactly what we prayed for and more, we seem to forget the purpose of our miracle and the Miracle Worker who gave it to us. The relationship we form with Jesus Christ during the season of waiting is priceless. We trusted Him with all of our hearts and expected big things to happen. Why should trust and expectations change once we receive our miracle? Shouldn’t our faith grow stronger and our relationship with Christ grow deeper because of our miracle?

Remember how you felt in the waiting and the searching. Our complete dependence on God should not be any different now than it was then. Let the miracles God works in your life strengthen your faith, not distract you from your relationship with Christ. Miracles are wonderful, but they are never our ultimate goal. Our ultimate desire should be to deepen our relationship with Christ and glorify Him.

The verse I chose for this devotional (Luke 17:15) is about a leper who was healed by Jesus Christ and came back to thank and glorify Him. The leper was grateful for his healing, but the miracle of his good health did not hinder his relationship with Christ. In contrast, the leper’s healing led him to a deeper relationship with his Healer because the leper came back to glorify Him. Allow the miracles in your life to lead you to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Return to the Miracle Worker and worship Him with all of your heart.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Lord, thank You for Your miracles! Please help us to remember that the miracles in our lives are meant to strengthen our faith and deepen our relationship with You. Help us to remember to thank and glorify You in all seasons of life. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Way Maker” by Sinach. Listen here.

Author Bio:

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

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

Tessa enjoys being active in her local church. She serves as a co-teacher for the two-to-five year old class where there is never a dull moment.

It is Tessa’s passion to be a girl after God’s own heart and through her studying of God’s Word, Tessa longs to draw closer to her Savior. Through her writing, she longs to take others with her on this journey of faith.

Tessa loves all things Regency, needlework, and dainty teacups of every size.

When she isn’t writing or studying for exams, she can be found in the kitchen with more flour in her hair and on the floor than in the bowl, though the mess is always half the fun!

Connect with Tessa:

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: What it means to offer a “sacrifice of praise”

The Transformative Power of Sacrificial Praise
A devotional by Dr. Gladys Childs

“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”—Hebrews 13:15 (ESV)

Have you ever thought about what it means to offer a “sacrifice of praise” to God? It may sound old-fashioned, but it's still one of the most relevant and meaningful things we can do in our modern lives. So, what is sacrificial praise all about?

First, a “sacrifice” is something you give up, often something valuable. In ancient times, it was usually a physical offering like an animal or grain. But here we're talking about a sacrifice of praise. This means our offering isn't tangible; it's our words, our acknowledgment of God's greatness and goodness, even when it's hard…especially when it's hard.

Offering praise as a sacrifice means acknowledging and glorifying God not just when we feel blessed and life is all sunshine and rainbows but also in the middle of our struggles, doubts, and pain. It's about trusting God and thanking Him for His presence in our lives, regardless of our circumstances. This kind of praise is precious to God because it comes from a place of faith and trust, not from our abundance or comfort.

It's easy to praise God when things go our way. However, when life throws us a curveball, our praise becomes a sacrifice. It's a declaration that our faith in God isn't based on our current situation but on who He is and His unchanging love for us. This sacrifice of praise isn't a one-time thing; it's a continuous choice to lift our voices in acknowledgment of His name and sovereignty over our lives.

So, when we talk about offering a sacrifice of praise, we're talking about a lifestyle of worship. This heart posture chooses to glorify God in every moment of our lives. It's powerful because it transforms our perspective, helps us see the beauty in our trials, and draws us closer to God's heart. And there's nothing more engaging and transformative than a life lived in continuous worship, constantly acknowledging the goodness of our God.

Digging deeper, the notion of a “sacrifice of praise” carries a profound personal dimension. It invites us into a dynamic and responsive relationship with God. This kind of sacrifice isn't about loss but transformation and connection. It's a spiritual practice that turns ordinary moments into sacred encounters.

Consider every word of gratitude, every conscious acknowledgment of God's goodness, and every song sung in worship, even amid hardship, as a thread weaving a tapestry of faith and trust. This tapestry becomes a backdrop of our lives, a visual and spiritual representation of our journey with God. It's unique to each of us because it comprises our individual experiences, struggles, joys, and moments of surrender.

Practically, a sacrifice of praise could look like choosing to speak words of thankfulness when you're tempted to complain, singing a worship song when feeling down, or simply saying, “God, I trust you” when facing uncertainty. These actions might seem small or insignificant in the moment, but they are influential acts of worship that honor God and shape our hearts.

What makes this sacrifice unique is its transformative power—not just in our relationship with God, but in how we view our circumstances and engage with the world around us. It shifts our focus from what we lack to the abundance of God's presence and provision. This shift doesn't deny the reality of our pain or struggle. Instead, it frames it within the larger story of God's faithfulness and love.

Therefore, offering a sacrifice of praise to God is not just a biblical command; it's an invitation to experience the depth of God's love and to participate in the ongoing story of redemption He is writing in our lives. It's about finding joy and peace in the assurance that no matter what we face, we are never alone, and our lives are held in the hands of a loving God.

As we draw to a close, let's embrace the richness of what it means to offer a sacrifice of praise to God. This journey isn't about ignoring the realities of life's hardships but about seeing them through the lens of faith and trust in God's unwavering presence and love. When we lift our voices in praise, even when our hearts are heavy, we step into a realm of faith, transcending our circumstances. Sacrificial praise transforms our lives, knitting us closer to the heart of God and revealing the depth of His love and faithfulness in every season. 

Let us walk boldly in this calling, making our lives a continuous offering of praise, a testament to the God whose love never fails and whose goodness shines brightest even in our darkest moments.

Let’s Pray: Lord, we offer You our praise, trusting You through our trials and joys. Strengthen us to see every moment as an opportunity to draw closer to You, making our lives a testament to Your enduring love and faithfulness. In Jesus's Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “The Sacrifice Of Praise” by William Murphy. Listen here.

Author Bio:

Dr. Gladys Childs is an author, speaker, religion professor, pastor's wife, and mom helping others be F.R.E.E. to Thrive© for the abundant life God has for them. She serves as Chaplain at Texas Wesleyan University and the Women’s Director at LifePoint Fellowship. She brings 25 years of experience and knowledge to her ministry.

Gladys is frequently called authentic, witty, and candid as she shares her journey through life’s ups and downs. Her passion is meeting people at the intersection of faith and life’s difficulties. No stranger to heartache herself, she grew up in a non-church-going family with an alcoholic mother and is a trauma survivor.

Gladys holds a Ph.D. in Foundations of Education, a Master’s in Religious Education, a Master of Divinity, and a B.A. with a double major in Counseling and Psychology. Also, she is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church.

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Monday, March 25, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Running in a race taught me to depend on God

Depending on God’s Strength
A devotional by Peg Arnold

“But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired. They walk and don’t lag behind.”
—Isaiah 40:31 (MSG)

The day of the Diva Half Marathon had arrived. I was both nervous and excited. I had never participated in a competition like this before and was ready to take on the challenge. My daughter, an experienced runner, also participated in the race. We were both eager to tackle the course set in Virginia's beautiful wine country. The route began on a dirt road that led down a hill surrounded by towering trees and then transitioned onto pavement.

The gun went off and everyone started running. I quickly realized I would not be able to keep up the pace of the crowd. After five minutes, I urged my daughter to go ahead without me. Unfortunately, not long after she left, I stepped into a hole and twisted my knee. The pain radiated through my leg every time I tried to put weight on it. I had not even reached the three-mile mark yet, and I was already worried that I wouldn't be able to finish the race. I stopped at the first aid station to see if wrapping my knee would help, but it only provided minimal relief.

Despite this challenge, I was determined to complete the race, no matter how slow I had to go or how much pain I had to endure. I knew that this would be an actual test of my strength and focus. As the other runners began to pass me, I began praying and reciting scripture to keep me going. I repeated the verse from Isaiah, which promised that those who depend on the Lord will renew their strength…walk and not be weary, run, and not faint. I also reminded myself that I could do everything through Jesus Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

These words gave me the courage and endurance to keep going, even when the pain was overwhelming. As the miles stretched on, I walked by some of the runners who had passed me. I shared my favorite scripture verses with them, and their positive responses motivated me. I was amazed at how my words encouraged them as well.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the end was in sight. The trail was lined with people cheering us on. I felt a surge of energy as I crossed the finish line. I was given a pink boa, a medal, and some chocolate. My daughter gave me a big hug. However, as I tried to walk away, my knee gave out completely and I could barely reach the car.

When I returned home, I needed crutches to walk, so I made an appointment with my doctor. After getting an MRI, I found out that I had torn my meniscus and would need to undergo treatment. In the years to follow, I would realize the actual damage to my body.

Looking back on that accomplishment and the obstacles I encountered, I gained more than a completion medal and a debilitating injury. I learned the importance of using memorized scripture to connect me with the strength of our Savior (Jesus Christ). There are times when each of us encounters unexpected difficulties. Having scripture in our hearts and minds is more than receiving a sticker or recognition. The real reward is in the power and hope we draw from these words and the hope they give us in times of trouble.

Do you have a verse or two that you recite to help you persevere in unexpected life challenges?

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord, Thank You for being our source of strength in our moments of weakness. Your power empowers us to overcome any obstacles we face. They may look like mountains to us, but nothing is too difficult for You! Help us to remember these Biblical truths and keep us moving forward. In Jesus’s Name, we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Believe for It” by CeCe Winans. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Peg Arnold, Speaker/Author/Teacher is a Drama Queen for Jesus. 

Her vibrant, interactive, and soul-stirring messages encourage all to embrace their God-given value. As a mom, wife, nana, mentor, with a master’s in counseling, she connects on a personal basis by sharing her joys and challenges of many life experiences through her dramas, messages, and witness. Whether talking with a friend over coffee or addressing hundreds of people at a conference, her passion for equipping women is contagious.

She has published devotions on YouVersion and in the Upper Room. In addition, she has contributed to two Chicken Soup for the Soul books, three anthologies, numerous articles, and blogs. Her devotional, Devotions for the Distracted Heart, received a 2022 OASIS award.

Peg desires everyone to know that their story is important and has a purpose. She grew up in Michigan and raised her family in Maryland. Later in life, Peg and her husband relocated close to their family in Colorado.

Connect with Peg:
Website: Get some freebies when you visit!
Devotions for the Distracted Heart blog:
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Friday, March 22, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: How our words can hurt or heal people

We  Can Partner with God to Administer Healing to a Hurting World
A devotional by Essie Faye Taylor

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”—Proverbs 12:18 (ESV)

Our society has a saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

This is one of the deepest lies ever told. Words hurt. Many times words hurt more deeply than any physical abrasion. As a 41 year old woman, I still vividly remember words spoken to me as a 5 year old. Those words, both positive and negative, still impact me today. They’ve impacted my self-perception, self-talk, and self-esteem for years. I know I’m not alone. This is why it’s so important for us to speak to ourselves and others with kind and loving words.

Let us be careful with our words. We can choose whether to bless or curse others with our words. Scripture declares, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21 ESV). Words become thoughts. Thoughts become actions and actions become habits. Habits reap a destiny. We have the power to alter our destiny and that of others with our words. Proverbs 12:18 emphasizes the lasting impact of the words we speak.

We can harm ourselves and others with our words. Rash words or words spoken without much thought and in haste have the power to fatally harm others. Sword thrusts cut deep with evident harmful consequences. When a sword is thrust and makes contact with flesh it rips the skin and pierces internal organs. Damage is immediate and undeniable. In some cases the damage is beyond repairable. And so it is with hurtful words. Their impact may persist for months and even years. Harmful words can even be passed from generation to generation, if not corrected.

We can heal ourselves and others with words. The writer clearly states that wise words bring healing. A word of encouragement or a kind compliment is like a balm to the hurting. Because we are created in the likeness of the Almighty God, who spoke and created the universe, we create with words. We can create healing and safe spaces with our words spoken in wisdom. We can create the change that we want to see in this world. 

Call to Action:

1. Acknowledge that the words you speak are living and have a lasting impact–good or bad.

2. Own your power to speak all things positive to yourself and others.

3. Commit to become a vessel of life and healing to yourself and others.

4. Remember, healing belongs to God’s children and we work together with God to administer healing to ourselves and others (Mark 7:27).

Remember: We can create our world with affirmations and declarations of peace, safety, and provision. God has empowered us to do so. 

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, You are the Lord our God who heals us. You are the Healer. Yet, you have called us into partnership in order to heal the world. Help us to acknowledge the power of our words. Help us to guard our tongues and to pursue peace. Help us not to use rash and hurtful words, but instead to use wise words with intention to administer healing to this hurting world. Lord, lead us into spaces of health and healing and walk alongside us as we heal by the stripes of Jesus Christ. Give us grace as we heal spiritually, mentally, emotionally, financially, and physically. We thank You for it. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Words” by Hawk Nelson. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Essie Faye Taylor is a woman of faith. She’s a bilingual author, educator, speaker, psalmist, and interpreter. 

Essie is the author of the “Finding the Love You Deserve” series for women and teens. She is deeply committed to motivating minorities, women, and youth to heal themselves, love and accept themselves, and pursue God while chasing their dreams and carving out their life’s path. 

Essie is a Chicago native where she lives with her husband Donald Taylor II.

Connect with Essie:
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Read Essie’s YouVersion Devotion Plan here:

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: How to Find Rest in the Presence of Christ

Find Rest in the Presence of Jesus Christ
A devotional by Sarah Cole

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”—Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)

Do you ever wake up desperate to step off life's merry-go-round and just be?

I certainly do. I’ve noticed that when I buy the lie that my accomplishments define me, the pressure to “be somebody” keeps me on a constant treadmill, and I lose touch with my God-given identity.

Busyness isn't just a modern epidemic. It dates back to the time when the Bible was originally written. In the Bible verse above, we see a stark contrast between Mary and Martha's approaches to Jesus Christ’s visit to their home. Martha wanted to be the perfect hostess. But her anxious and distracted mind drove her to exhaustion and frustration. Meanwhile, Mary took the time to sit at the feet of Jesus and rest in His presence.

I'll be the first to admit that, like Martha, I've allowed my “to-do list” to be in the driver's seat. If I'm not always accomplishing something, I get restless and bored, like an addict seeking a fix. But when I'm distracted, I miss out on the blessings of an intimate relationship with Jesus.

Does this ring a bell?

The truth is that no amount of success compares to the peace and fulfillment we find in Christ’s presence. The job description He gives us is less about keeping up with life's demands and more about developing a godly character so we change the world around us. And when we realize that Jesus settled our worth at the cross, we can finally stop striving to achieve it. By dying for our sins, Jesus showed us how valuable we are to Him (John 3:16-17).

At the end of our lives, people will remember us not for our resumes but by how we've lived for Christ. Saint Augustine said, "You (God) have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You." When we embrace our identity as dearly loved children of God, we can stop trying to prove ourselves because Jesus proved we're enough by saving us. The older I get, the more I want people to remember me as a woman who spent time with Jesus because the more time I spend with Him, the more I develop His compassion for people around me.

Sweet friend, if you yearn to escape the rat race, why not take out your calendar, set up a recurring appointment with Jesus, and then notice what happens to your stress level. You can't avoid life's distractions altogether, but you can keep them from pulling you away from His presence where you'll find true rest.

Let's Pray: Dear Jesus, thank You for loving me for me, not for my accomplishments. Thank You for what You accomplished by dying for my sins. When life's distractions threaten to steal my devotion to You, draw me into Your presence where your love breathes life into my soul. Help me to be still, know that You are God, and find rest in You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest)” by Kari Jobe. 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. 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’ Mysterious Ways. She believes her adversity was worth the lessons God taught her.

Sarah's devotionals have been published in David C. Cook’s The Quiet Hour and Devotions, The Secret Place by Judson Press, and Pray a Word a Day by Guideposts. Her short story will be featured in an upcoming book, Too Amazing For Coincidence, also to be published by Guideposts. To this day, Sarah smiles, pinches herself and gives God all the glory.

When she's not writing, she's enjoying her hobbies that include dog sitting, watching cooking shows and taking day trips.

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