Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: How to build a deeper connection with God

Building a Deeper Connection with God
A devotional by Dr. Gladys Childs

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”—1 John 4:16 (ESV)

I’m a writer, speaker and a leader. But, to be completely honest, I am an introvert.

During the Covid pandemic, I was happy as can be staying in my house day after day. I struggle to make deeper connections with others. However, I have learned if I want to make deeper connections, I must act intentionally. Intentionality matters in relationships. This is true when it comes to our relationship with God.

Have you ever wondered how to deepen your connection with God? Well, you're not alone. Building a deeper connection with God is a journey of love, compassion, and most importantly, devotion. I believe there are four building blocks to creating that deep connection we crave.

Building Block #1: The Foundation of Love

Let’s talk about love. Not just any love, but the kind that forms the essence of our relationship with God. In 1 John 4:16 (ESV), we're reminded, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Imagine that! Abiding in love means abiding in God Himself.

But how do we live out this love in a way that draws us closer to God? By loving others. Jesus Christ said loving others is the second greatest commandment, right after loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37-39). Through acts of kindness, compassion and love, we reflect God’s love to the world then in turn, we deepen our connection with Him.

Building Block #2: The Art of Devotion

Devotion enriches your relationship with God. It's more than just routine; it's about setting aside meaningful time to be with God, to talk to Him, and to listen. Think of it as a daily coffee date with your best friend where you share your hopes, fears, and dreams.

However, it is essential to note that devotion requires consistency. It's not about the grand gestures. It is about the daily decision to seek God through prayer, reading the Bible, or simply sitting in silence, acknowledging His presence in your life. Psalm 1:2 (ESV) says, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Imagine the depth of connection you can build by delighting in God's Word day and night!

Building Block #3: Compassion is Love in Action

Compassion is love in action. It's seeing the needs of others and moving to meet them, just as Jesus did throughout His ministry. In Matthew 9:36 (ESV), we see Christ’s heart for the people: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” When we embody this kind of compassion daily, we serve those around us and grow closer to God, understanding His heart for His people.

Building Block #4: Cultivating a Deeper Connection

So, how do we put this all together and cultivate a deeper connection with God? Here are four practical steps:

Step #1: Set Aside Time: Make a daily appointment with God. It doesn't have to be long, but it should be intentional.

Step #2: Engage with Scripture: Dive into the Bible to understand God's heart. Let it be a dialogue, not a monologue.

Step #3: Live Out Love: Look for opportunities to show love and compassion to those around you. Small acts of kindness can make a big difference.

Step #4: Reflect and Respond: Reflect on God's love for you and how He's working in your life. Respond to His love by living out your faith in natural, tangible ways.

Building a deeper connection with God is a journey of love, devotion, and compassion. It's about drawing near to Him so He can draw near to us (James 4:8). Remember, this journey isn't a sprint; it's a marathon. There will be days when you feel closer to God and when He feels far away. But through it all, remember that God's love for you is steadfast, and His arms are always open wide, ready to draw you in.

Let’s Pray:
Lord, help us as we seek a deeper connection with you. Grant us strength to draw near to you as you promise to draw near to us. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Speak” by Bethany Music. 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.

Connect with Gladys:

Monday, February 26, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: How to trust God as you journey through life

Trusting God

A devotional by Peg Arnold

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”—Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

When my husband (Rick) and I arrived at a fishing camp on the Kenai River, our first sight of the Alaskan River shoreline took our breath away! It was lined with verdant green pines as the water flowed and meandered around the bend. We saw seals diving for breakfast and heard the echoes of bald eagles calling to each other from the treetops.

We would be venturing out on five different excursions for the next week. We didn't know what to expect but knew we needed to prepare for each adventure. We were responsible for dressing for the weather each day. We wore the right shoes or waders for the vessel. We brought our water, lunch, and snacks with us. We knew arriving at the dock at the right time to meet our captain and follow his instructions was important.

Whether we were on a vessel with twenty others going into the deep sea beyond the sight of shore or in a flat bottom pram with five people, once we stepped onto the boat, our lives and experiences were surrendered to our captain. Trusting him meant relying on his knowledge of the destination and the route and equipping us with the gear and bait to catch the right fish. In addition, he would stay with us until we safely returned to the shore.

I started to think about this and how it relates to my daily journey with God. In the morning, I wake up and prepare myself for the day with devotions and prayer. But when I leave that space, do I actually step off the dock into the boat and allow Jesus Christ to be my captain? Sometimes I step into the vessel but Google the destination and direct God to where He should lead me. Other times I can become impatient and grab the wheel because I want to control the course I expect to travel. Do I trust God enough to let Him take me into the deep waters where the waves toss me around and I can't see the horizon of familiarity?

There are many examples of heroes in the Bible who model complete trust in God as they step out into obedience. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is just one. She prayed as she prepared for the massive responsibility of raising the Messiah. She had to trust God to direct her every step, equip her for the journey, and trust Him to never leave her alone. Rick and I have had several times when God has directed us to step off the dock and shore of familiarity and trust God to be our captain to take us into unknown waters. Moving to Colorado from our home of 32 years was one of those times. Our job was to prepare. We had to make all the essential arrangements, pray, and trust God to know the route, then trust Him to equip us for the journey and keep us safe. This move required me to prepare my heart and mind.

Praying to God and memorizing scripture strengthen me in times of doubt or fear. During our major move, I found myself clinging to Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT), which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

I wonder if you may be standing on that dock of familiarity, but God is nudging you to step onto the boat. Or maybe you have already stepped into the unknown and are doubting whether you heard God's voice. It could be a move, a change in a relationship, a loss, a job change, or a diagnosis. Whenever God nudges us, it’s important to be prepared. The essentials we need include prayer, seeking God’s guidance, and studying His Word (The Holy Bible). Above all, we must trust that God knows the route. He will equip us and never leave us.

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord, help us trust You even when we are in unknown territory and challenged by our circumstances. Lead us to words of hope and comfort that will strengthen our faith and guide our decisions. We want the confidence and the courage to follow where You lead. In Jesus’s Name, we pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection #1: “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong UNITED (Live in Israel). Listen here.

Song of Reflection #2: “I Will Follow” by Chris Tomlin. Listen 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:
Holiday YouVersion:

Friday, February 23, 2024

Ordinary Angels (movie) review and a special giveaway just for you

My Review of Ordinary Angels (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 a new movie Ordinary Angels.

Here’s the synopsis of Ordinary Angels with words from Momentum: Based on a remarkable true story, Ordinary Angels centers on Sharon (Hilary Swank), a fierce but struggling hairdresser in small-town Kentucky who discovers a renewed sense of purpose when she meets Ed (Alan Ritchson), a widower working hard to make ends meet for his two daughters. With his youngest daughter waiting for a liver transplant, Sharon sets her mind to helping the family and will move mountains to do it. What unfolds is the inspiring tale of faith, everyday miracles, and ordinary angels.

Now for my review:

Hilary Swank played Sharon perfectly. She came across was a party girl who drowned her sorrows in booze and forgot about tomorrow. At the beginning of this story, she was all for living in the moment and being the life of every party. It takes her best friend to convince her to attend a meeting for alcoholics and that is the catalyst that changes her life because in the meeting the group facilitator challenges everyone to live for a bigger purpose. Soon after, Sharon reads a story in the newspaper at a local store that inspires her to help. The story is about a little girl who needs a liver transplant. She makes it her mission to help this little girl live. It becomes the purpose of her life and it starts when she meets the girl’s dad (Ed) at the family funeral.

Alan Ritchson played Ed. When he meets Sharon, he looks very guarded because it is as clear to him as it is to the viewers of this movie that Sharon is on the Hot Mess Express. He lovingly and very protectively steers his daughters away from her with a polite goodbye. But Sharon is determined to make a difference in his family life and it helps that the youngest of Ed’s two daughters liked Sharon from the moment they met at her mother’s funeral.

Watching the story unfold is like being on a rollercoaster that takes you through highs, lows, twists and turns but always gives you a safe landing. Ordinary Angels is based on a true story which makes the movie even more inspiring! The acting was superb. I especially loved how every time Ed needed to take his daughter to the hospital for urgent care, he made light of the situation so as to not upset her, by saying “Want to go on an adventure?” Each and every time her eyes lit up and her little angelic face shined when she enthusiastically replied, “Yeah!”

This movie had heartwarming and endearing moments but it also didn’t shy away from the hard stuff such as the pain Sharon faced privately over the years trying to reconcile with her estranged son. But despite all the trials and tribulations the characters in this movie face, the producers did a great job of bringing everything together in the end in a way that was so touching.

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 Ordinary Angels in theaters starting February 23, 2024!

Don’t miss this powerful film, based on a true story! You’ll leave feeling inspired to be an angel to people in your own community! Help us make the impossible possible. Every $1 you donate eliminates $100 in medical debt. Together with RIP Medical Debt, we aim to erase $10,000,000 in medical debt relief. The gift of debt relief is life-changing—and every dollar makes a difference. #OrdinaryAngelsMovie #KingdomStoryCompany

Watch the trailer for Ordinary Angels:

Official website for Ordinary Angels (movie):

Buy tickets to see Ordinary Angels in theaters:

Final Notes:

Enter the giveaway contest via the Rafflecopter link below for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. This is limited to U.S. winners only.

Here is the Giveaway Contest link:

Disclosure: Many thanks to Kingdom Faith Marketing Services, LLC for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.

#OrdinaryAngelsMIN #OrdinaryAngelsMovie @KingdomStoryCompany @Lionsgate

Devotionals for the Heart: Healing

God’s Healing is Certain

A devotional by Essie Faye Taylor

“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.”—Jeremiah 17:14 (ESV)

Eleven years ago I ruptured my Achilles tendon. I had never felt such excruciating pain before.

I had never been immobile until then. I had surgery to repair the rupture and the doctor ordered me to refrain from walking for six weeks. It was a nightmare because I was used to going whenever and wherever I liked without assistance. I was stuck at home for six weeks in pain and discomfort. I was prepared to experience the pain from the ruptured Achilles but I was unprepared for the pain of healing. I didn’t understand that sometimes healing pain is greater than the pain we experienced from the rupture.

In Jeremiah 17:14, the weeping prophet Jeremiah declares the certainty of God’s healing. He affirms the sovereignty of God and His undeniable power to heal and to save. When God does a thing, He does it well. When God repairs the broken pieces of our lives, we are without a doubt restored, revived, and renewed. He leaves no stone unturned. Scripture states, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (John 8:36 KJV).” When God heals and delivers you from brokenness, you are truly healed and delivered.

In Mark 16:18, Mark declares that signs shall follow the believers. Signs follow our God as well. He demonstrates His healing hand throughout the ages in scripture. He is the same God yesterday, today, and forever. In Exodus 15:26 God declares that He is our Healer. He is able and willing to heal your mind, body, soul, and spirit. God is the mender of the broken heart. He is the healer of the troubled mind. He is the Savior of the downcast soul and the repairer of the broken spirit. God can put your broken pieces back together again with His healing balm.

Jeremiah knew the reality of the healing power of God and for this, he praised Him. The good works of God deserve praise and adoration. We say thanks to God with our praise.

After months of pain and immobility, I received my healing. I had progressed from having surgery and being cooped up in my house to attending weekly physical therapy sessions and wearing a boot. I wore three different kinds of boots as my Achilles tendon healed. I was thrilled to finally be able to walk without assistance and go wherever my heart desired whenever I wanted to. My healing journey impacted my faith in a real way. I understood that many times our healing is a process. We must trust the healer and the process. I partnered with God in order to heal. I showed my faith by my works and God did the healing. I started to understand that healing is my right. However, healing demands that I act and work consistently in order to achieve my goal. This lesson challenged and strengthened my faith simultaneously.

Call to Action:

1. Acknowledge the healing power of God in your life. Have faith in God’s Word.

2. Receive the healing power of God for your wounds and hurts.

3. Walk in your healing.

4. Remember, healing belongs to God’s children (Mark 7:27).

Acknowledging God’s healing power is simply head knowledge. However, receiving the healing power of God takes heart work and the activation of faith. The activation of our faith is demonstrated by our actions. Walking in our healing takes daily discipline and trust in God’s power and provision. Healing does belong to us because we are God’s children. We must partner with God and work out our salvation and healing.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, You are the Lord our God who heals us. By the stripes of Jesus Christ, we are healed. I acknowledge that when You heal, You heal certainly. You heal deeply. You heal fully and truly. Father, I thank you for healing the broken pieces of my heart. Thank you for healing the wounds of my soul. Thank You for restoring my spirit. You alone are the Lord my God who heals. I can call to You when I am hurting and You will hear me. Help me to receive your healing for every shattered situation in my life. I believe Your Word and I trust You. In the Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Broken But I’m Healed” by Byron Cage. 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:
Amazon Author Page:
Listen to Essie’s music at
Instagram: on Instagram
Read Essie’s YouVersion Devotion Plan here:

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Trusting God to help you reach your destiny

How God Prepares Us for New Seasons
A devotional by Sarah Cole

“Faith motivated Abraham to obey God’s call and leave the familiar to discover the territory he was destined to inherit from God. So he left with only a promise and without even knowing ahead of time where he was going, Abraham stepped out in faith.” –Hebrews 11:8 TPT

Is there a sweater in your closet you no longer wear, but you’re hanging on it anyway?

My grey sequined sweater is my go-to top on chilly days. But as much as I adore it, it’s stretched and worn, and I don’t feel comfortable wearing it in public. Nevertheless, I can’t seem to part with it. Sweaters are only one example of what we need let go of to reach our spiritual potential. Unhealthy friendships, work environments, and mindsets can weigh us down and keep us stuck in unhelpful patterns. And comfort zones, like sweaters, aren’t meant to be a permanent part of our lives because God cares more about our character and building His kingdom within us.

Abraham obeyed God’s call by leaving the only land he had known behind and trusting God to help him reach his destiny. With his heart set on God’s promise to make him into a great nation, he set out on a journey toward a future he couldn’t see or understand, but Abraham knew the God who keeps His promises would protect and guide Him (Genesis 12:1-9).

In my life over the past few months, I’ve seen God unravel old mindsets and commitments that hindered my growth and wouldn't serve me well in the future. It’s been a painful and often discouraging process, and I’ve experienced grief by letting some things go, but I’m grateful God loves me enough to do what's necessary to mature me.

When I researched online about how God prepares us for new seasons, I learned He sovereignly orchestrates our discomfort to motivate us to move forward. It’s never easy or convenient, but it’s necessary if we want to experience His best. When our lives fall apart at the seams, what seems like chaos is God positioning us for the promise we have been praying for.

Eagles illustrate this principle beautifully. A mother eagle knows her babies will never learn to fly unless their nest is too uncomfortable to stay. So, with her long talons, she starts stirring up the nest by bringing up the thorns and sharp rocks, exposing them to the surface, and slowly moving away the comfortable feathers and wool. If God is stirring up your nest, you can count on Him to help you soar above it.

Leaving the familiar behind can be scary, but when we obey God’s call and reach the land of promise God has prepared for us, most likely we will look back and realize the struggle to get there was worth it.

Let’s Pray:
Dear Father God, thank You for leading me out of my comfort zone into the future you’ve promised me. Change is hard, and when I want to return to the familiar, help me trust You to equip me with everything I need for the journey ahead. I know you’ll be eagerly waiting for me when I arrive. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song for Reflection: “Seasons” by Donald Lawrence and The Tri-City Singers. 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.

Monday, February 19, 2024

My Review of "County Rescue" and a giveaway contest for you

My Review of County Rescue series (Season One)

Today, I have another 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 their new series County Rescue. I watched every episode in Season One of this captivating series and found it to be engaging, inspiring and heartwarming all at once. This is a series you won’t soon forget.

Here’s the synopsis of County Rescue with words from Momentum: EMTs are courageous, everyday heroes, but it’s challenging to qualify for this critical job. This is the story of an EMT unit who save lives while navigating their own life, love, and faith.

Now for my review:

County Rescue is a new series that will arrest your attention from the start in the first episode of Season One and will keep you on the edge of your seat with anticipation of what comes next, right up to the final scene!

Here is my breakdown of the characters and storyline …

Danielle “Dani” Miller is a likeable character because she is relatable. Dani represents people who struggle in knowing what God wants them to do for a living. She’s tried different jobs but stayed in none over a year or less. She admits that she is a quitter as soon as she is featured in the opening scene of this series. However, as the story unfolds, Dani shows that she is capable of true grit despite all of the obstacles she’s facing in her personal life such as dealing with the pain of breaking off an engagement and trying to get her parents to not only see that she is living up to her potential but also trying to get them to accept her faith in God. Her parents don’t believe her when she tells them that she heard God tell her that she is a rescuer. It is the main reason why she is applying to become a professional EMT.

I think it’s commendable that Dani is serious about her newfound faith and even more serious about obeying God, doing whatever He tells her to do no matter what anyone else says. This is important in real life too. It’s said that the only opinion that matters is not of this world. We are to follow God’s direction and not let our fellow humans deter us from doing what we know God called us to do.

Tim is a fellow rookie who wants to be a first responder but his story is different from Dani’s. He’s faced a lot of hardship and his motivation for applying for this job is so he can afford to take care of his Mom financially. He has other problems in his life that he’s not quick to admit to Dani. But it’s sweet how they go from archrivals (because the boss said he can only hire one new EMT), to true friends.

Griffin, the son of the man in charge, shows up at a time of peace to bring chaos—or at least that’s what it looks like when he first steps onto the scene. Dani and Tim immediately notice that nepotism may result in Griffin being hired without doing any real work and that means neither Dani nor Tim will become an EMT. Knowing this, they decide to form an alliance with each other so they can outperform Griffin and convince the chief to choose to hire one of them not the boss’s son.

Chief Scotty seems impossible to please at first (despite Dani and Tim’s best efforts) but as the series evolves from episode to episode it becomes clear that Scotty puts up a tough front as is required because of the nature of his job, but he’s truly a soft and kind person at heart. This characteristic comes into play toward the end of Season One in ways that I cannot share without running the plot for you.

There are several other main characters who are all professional EMTs at that station and they each play a part—especially in taking Dani and Tim under their protective and wise wings. It’s very heartwarming how even the tough-as-nails type of colleagues change enough to help the rookies learn the ropes. They each play a crucial role in the development of Dani and Tim’s character. They also give very good advice. Ashley Dalton proves to be a woman of faith from the start. It’s mentioned in the first episode that she not only interviewed Dani for the job; she’s mentoring her in her Christian faith and isn’t shy about praying for and with Dani.

I loved this series! It was a blessing to my soul. I watched the entire first season in one sitting and I cannot wait to see more episodes of this story! If you need to see content that will encourage and inspire your heart, County Rescue is for you.

More words from Momentum:

Main Call-to-Action: Watch County Rescue on Great American Pure Flix starting on Feb. 23 and Great American Family starting on Feb. 26, 2024!

Watch the trailer for County Rescue:

Great American Family (cable):

County Rescue Series Premiere:

Great American Pure Flix (streaming) website:

Watch County Rescue on Great American Pure Flix starting Feb. 23, 2024! New episodes release every Friday. Great American Pure Flix is the streaming service with a 7-day free trial. You can find Great American Family on this channel finder or by texting RESCUE to 877-999-122.

Final Notes:

Enter the giveaway contest via the Rafflecopter link below for a chance to win a 3-month subscription to Great American Pure Flix! This is limited to U.S. winners only, and only to those who have not won a subscription in the last six months.

Here is the Giveaway Contest link:

Disclosure: Many thanks to Great American Pure Flix for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own. #CountyRescueMIN #MomentumInfluencerNetwork

Devotionals for the Heart: The Church is the Beloved Bride of Jesus Christ

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

A devotional by Joy Beless

“You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride. You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes, with a single jewel of your necklace. Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride. Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices.”
—Song of Solomon 4:9-10 NLT

By now, the flowers received on Valentine’s Day are wilted and the chocolates swiftly consumed. Our culture has moved on to the next news bite. Thankfully God does not.

We are “in love” with being “in love”. Rom–coms, Contemporary Romance novels, Hallmark Channel movies, poetry and love songs describe the high and low emotions of being in love. I still enjoy a good love story and if there are happy tears in the end, even more so! However, as we journey through life, we can become jaded. Our personal stories, at times, do not reflect the too-good-to-be-true stories we binge watch on a cold evening.

I remember as a young adult, the impossible expectations I placed on my husband. We were two fallible people who made a covenant commitment to seek God and cherish each other through our marriage for better or for worse. I remember a newly married friend telling me, “It is better than you think and worse than you think.” So very true. And yet, God uses this metaphor to describe his relationship with us—a love so deep and intimate, words seem inadequate to encapsulate. We are God’s beloved Bride.

Somewhere in the messiness of life, feeling overwhelmed with responsibility, physically drained and depleted, I take great comfort in knowing Jesus Christ as the “Lover of My Soul”. In those times, I am anything but lovable to those around me. I feel isolated and functioning on autopilot. I begin to realize that God, in His infinite knowing “all there is to know” about me, intimately loves me. There is no performance requirement. Nothing to check off the list to earn this love.

God pursues me when I’m not worthy. It is a “knowing” deep in the human soul. A pouring out of all God’s goodness, acceptance and unconditional love, in spite of feeling “wretched” and unworthy. In essence, it is a lifebuoy ring that one can quickly grasp ahold of and clench to their chest—never to let go because it saves them from sinking into the depths of the ocean and drowning. Just like Jesus Christ is our lifeline. He can save us! As I enter my second half of life, I can testify that once you know this transcendental love of God that is so unlike our worldly ways of being in love because you never fall “in” or “out” of it.

To describe God’s love for us as “intimate” infers that it is mutual and goes both ways. It is an honest, personal and confidential relationship whose deepest love is steadfast and faithful (Jeremiah 31:3). God pursues each one of us and calls us by name (Isaiah 43:1). He created and knew us before we were born (Psalm 139:13). Ponder this truth. Do you believe and accept this? Not for someone else but for yourself? You can trust God with not only your words, but all of your emotions. Your heartaches, rejections, loneliness and questions can all be expressed to Jesus, the Lover of Your Soul. In return is a deep-seated, devoted, eternal relationship that is the rock of not only your salvation, but also as a cherished Bride of Jesus.

Let’s read about how Jesus sees the Church as His Bride. Song of Solomon 4:1 (NASB) says, “How beautiful you are, my darling, How beautiful you are!” In the same way we feel euphoric after reading a love letter, we also desire to respond to God’s unrelenting love for us. Lingering in this quiet sacred moment is transformative. Excitedly, we often have a need to “do” something. We want to share this feeling and truth we are basking in.

In the New Testament, Paul gives us a detailed response. Colossians 3:12-14 (NASB) reads, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so must you do also. In addition to all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”

Knowing and feeling secure in God’s intimate love, we can love others with the same love as described above. Beginning with our inner circle of family and closest friends and moving outward to those we meet throughout the day. Can you see the vision God has for us as the dearly beloved Church? The impact on our homes, workplaces, communities and nations would be radical and life-altering. But it begins within us accepting and receiving this intimate proposal to see ourselves as the beloved Bride of Christ.

In contrast, as we sweep away the wilted flower petals and the empty chocolate wrappers, we are reminded of a love that is unending, eternal. I can’t help but linger and contemplate God’s love for me and for you. God’s love for us is steadfast and intimate, unconditional and pure and it never runs out!

Let’s Pray:

Jesus, the Lover of my soul, thank You for never stopping, never abandoning and always whispering your love for me in big and small ways. Help me to live out of this deep well of love that overflows to others around me. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection #1: “Jesus Lover Of My Soul” by Hillsong Worship. Listen to it here.

Song of Reflection #2: “Lifeline” by Mandisa. 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, February 16, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Trust God

Trusting God Even When We Can’t See
A devotional by Hannah Benson

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”—Matthew 16:25 (ESV)

Trusting God is hard, especially when I really want something, and God doesn’t seem to be doing anything to give me what I want. Can you relate?

Our circumstances may testify to one thing, but God is not limited by our circumstances. In fact, I think that when our circumstances look the bleakest that this is when God shows us His power. Even as I write this, I hold hopes and dreams in my heart. Dreams not yet fully realized, dreams I don’t know if I will see ever come to fruition. But I am challenged daily to trust God even when I can’t see all the ways He is providing.

Trusting God has been a key theme for me this year. I can’t tell you how many times I struggle to have faith. I’m often tempted to look around at my circumstances and become discouraged, but I fail to remember that present circumstances do not necessarily determine the destination.

In Matthew 16:25, Jesus Christ says that whoever loses their life for His sake will find it. Does this mean that we will be a martyr for Christ? Not necessarily. But I do believe, in a practical sense, He is calling every single one of us to lay down our dreams and what we hold dear at His feet.

Are we willing to lay down everything, even if it means losing it, and give it to Jesus?

This is a challenge for me everyday as I find myself struggling to lay down what I want and surrender it to the One Who loves me most. I used to pride myself on having control of my life. I gripped God’s good gifts with an iron fists, terrified of losing anything. I’ve mentioned before that my mom was diagnosed with cancer last year. I love her so much and greatly feared losing her. During that season, for the first time in my life, I felt completely helpless because there was a situation I couldn’t change. I had to learn to surrender to God’s plan.

God calls me to lay everything, even my hopes and dreams, at His feet.

And you know what? When we lay down our hopes and dreams at the feet of Jesus and truly trust Him with everything, then we will find that in Jesus, we have everything we need. Right now, I have so many unanswered questions about the future. There are so many things I can’t change that I wish I could. I wish I could change XYZ about my finances, relationships, and so on. Can you relate? But the fact is, there are some things in our life that no matter how hard we try or wish were different, we simply can’t change and some answers we don’t need to know right now.

Through the uncertainty, God is calling me to trust Him even when I don’t have all the answers. Whenever I begin to fear the future, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness and am challenged to trust Him. What unanswered questions do you have today? Do you feel God calling you to trust Him?

Let’s Pray: Dear Father God, please help me to lay down my hopes and dreams and entrust them into Your care. I know You care about me and that my hopes and dreams are better in Your hands than in my own. Help me to trust You, Lord. In Jesus’s Name, I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Lay it Down” by Sanctus Real. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Hannah Benson is a Jesus-follower who’s passionate about sharing the love of Christ with others.

From the time she could hold a pen, she was writing. But it wasn’t until she was sixteen that she began to follow God’s calling to pursue writing seriously. Hannah is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). In addition to fiction, she also writes devotionals and has been published on other websites. Her prayer is that her readers leave deeply encouraged and more in love with Jesus.

When not writing, Hannah also enjoys being involved with local theater companies, with a primary focus on Biblical theater. She wants to show the love of Jesus through the creative arts.

You can read more of Hannah’s writings on her blog or on her Instagram where she strives to write content that leaves others feeling encouraged.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Be Deeply Rooted in Your Relationship with God

We Need to be Deeply Rooted in Our Relationship with God
A devotional by Patricia Russell

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”
—Ephesians 3:16-17 NLT

When my husband and I got married, we moved into a quaint two-bedroom apartment. My husband had already settled in there prior to our wedding so he had been able to settle in. We didn’t move in alone. We both brought suitcases with our belongings and also a pot. Not just any pot, but a pot holding a plant that would become a blessing to us and many other people.

This potted plant grew very well. It was sturdy, it was green, and it came with a caregiver who happened to be my husband. That’s right. He has the best green thumb in the family. My husband nurtured this plant. He watered it. He pruned it. He made sure it had enough sunlight and was perfectly positioned in our living room where everyone could clearly see its beauty. It had large roots, and the roots run deep. So much that eventually it needed a larger pot for it to stay grounded, firm and continue to grow straight up. The plant had to have the right potting soil, the right pot and the right place to thrive.

Our lives are very much like that plant. Some things keep us alive and help us to thrive including the environment we are exposed to. Besides being fed and clothed to protect against the natural elements, the roots of our hearts must also have the right nutrients. From a spiritual aspect, reading the word, along with prayer are the basics needed to feed our spirit man. Habits need to be formed so that there is growth. If these are in place and if the habits are consistent, we will see growth. So, let me ask you: Do you have a regular habit of reading, studying God’s Word (The Holy Bible) and spending quality time with Him in prayer? Is it marked in your calendar, set in your phone or noted in whichever way you set and check your schedule?

There is a saying that whatever isn’t scheduled doesn’t happen. We have to develop and put habits in place to use our time wisely. Scheduling this time is important in order to establish a strong foundation in our lives. Once this is set it becomes a non-negotiable for interruptions. We don’t have to be legalistic but we need to be committed to growth.

When Jesus Christ was tempted in the wilderness he fought the temptations of the devil with the Word of God. He was able to do this because He blocked time to spend with His Father (God) so they could commune and Jesus could receive downloads from God on how His day should progress.

If the plant in our apartment was ignored, if we went away and it had not been checked on, the soil would become dry and you could see the cracks in the leaves. So, to prevent that from happening, we regularly watered our plant and checked the soil and repositioned it when necessary so that it could continue to thrive. We also had to change the size of the pot because the roots were going down so deep that it needed more space to grow. When we are growing in our faith and confidence in our relationship with Jesus, there will be changes. Others will see it and comment. Even if they don’t comment (because we’re not seeking man’s approval) God will see it. He will bring people into our lives who need to glean from us so they too can become rooted in their faith.

So, if you’re feeling weak, weary and wondering about the quality of your relationship, ask the Lord to show you. You probably already know you need to check your environment. What is crowding out the roots of prayer, Bible reading, interacting with other believers in God and sharing your faith?

These are some of the areas that, if not watered, can cause our roots to become unstable. We want to be like the tree planted by the water where our roots go down deep. Check your roots.

Let’s Pray:
Heavenly Father, we love You and are so thankful that we are safe in Your love. Help us to remember this as we grow, regardless of what comes our way. Teach us how to be deeply rooted in Your Word and keep us in the center of Your will. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Rooted” by Kerrie Roberts. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Patricia is a worship leader, songwriter, speaker and compiler of her 2020 best-seller anthology Stronger Resilience: Stories to Empower the Mind, Body and Spirit, as well as “Lord I Trust You: Words of Encouragement” to encourage readers and share life lessons during her cancer journey. 

Patricia writes, speaks, and teaches on the power of God’s Word to heal and empower you to become all that you are purposed for. She has traveled internationally and shared her gifts with audiences to encourage, empower and share life lessons through word and song. Patricia has sung on national television broadcasts and shared the stage with several respected speakers including Anne Graham Lotz and Rev. E.V. Hill.

Her greatest joy is being married to her husband, Wayne, for 34 years. Together they serve the community through their local congregation as well as providing premarital and marriage coaching. They have two adult children, Raquel and Benjamin. As a two-time breast cancer overcomer, Patricia coaches’ others to develop resilience and live life to their fullest.

Patricia has released two gospel music recordings: “Draw Me Nearer” and “Lord, I Trust You”. In March 2022, she launched her podcast “Becoming Resilient” which can be downloaded wherever you get your podcasts and also seen on YouTube.

When not reading or studying, Patricia loves to eat Thai food and spend time with “Lucy” – her daughter’s Yorkie-poo who has taken up room in her heart.

Connect with Patricia:
Email Patricia:

Monday, February 12, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: The Best Help and Comfort Comes from God

Going to God for Help and Comfort
A devotional by Aubrey Taylor

“Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.”—Psalm 86:17 (ESV)

When was the last time God helped or comforted you?

It is wonderful to personally relate to a verse like the one above, to look back at where we've been and recall all that God has done. It gives us strength to push forward through what we are currently facing, knowing that the God who was faithful before will be faithful again.

Perhaps we do not see it. Perhaps we feel that God has failed us and will fail us again. But may we remember that, while He does allow evil to cross our paths, He has also made a bold promise in Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV): “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

He even promises to use those things which threaten to devastate us for good. Nothing falls outside of Romans 8:28 (ESV) which says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Do you love Him? Has He called you to Himself? God longs for you to see the way He has helped and comforted you in the past. He also wants bring good from those things which seem as though no good could possibly come out of them.

Psalm 25:3 (ESV) promises that we will not be put to shame if we wait for God: “None who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.” The ones who will be put to shame are those who are, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “undisciplined, ungoverned, unmanageable, rebellious, and disobedient”. Those who wait for God will not be put to shame—in spite of their struggles. This even provides for sins and shortcomings that happen in the course of our lives. He does not sit waiting to beat us over the head for our missteps. Instead, when our hearts are repentant and long to follow Him, God is waiting to use those things for our good.

Let today be the day we ask God to help us see how the pain in our past has worked for our good, and how He has been there to comfort us. Let’s focus on how God comforts and helps us in our day-to-day struggles, and assures us that He will be there to help in the future.

Let's Pray: Dear God, Thank You for comforting me and helping me. Please help me to see where You have done so in the past, and to believe that You will do so in the future—no matter what I face. Teach me how to see You in the mundane, day-to-day struggles of my life as well. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection #1: “My Help” by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Listen to it here.

Song of Reflection #2:
“Comforter” by CeCe Winans. 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!

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Amazon Author Page:

Friday, February 9, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Embracing God's purpose for your real life story

Embracing God's Purpose: A Journey from Overwhelm to Alignment
A devotional by Dr. LaVonda McCullough

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:9 (NIV)

As I stepped into the New Year, I eagerly embarked on a journey to accomplish all the goals I had meticulously set for myself. Picture a horse at the starting gate, ready to burst forth into the race.

However, the enthusiasm soon gave way to overwhelming challenges, and I found myself grappling with obstacles that seemed insurmountable. It was in these moments that a profound realization dawned upon me: the goals I had set were not in alignment with God’s purpose.

Godly goals, like that to a river flowing smoothly, work through us effortlessly. Attempting to forge ahead in my own strength led to exhaustion and mental distress.

God teaches us the importance of keeping Him first in all our endeavors, seeking His guidance when we feel lost. I discovered the weight on my chest and the incessant thoughts racing through my mind as I navigated each day, desperately trying to stay afloat.

The peace I anticipated with every small accomplishment remained elusive, replaced by setbacks and a constant feeling of inadequacy. In my heart, I knew this wasn't the life God desired for me. I began to question my faith and continued to perform tirelessly, believing I need to earn God's love. It was then that I encountered a fundamental truth: His love is unconditional. I had allowed my actions to transform sharing Jesus Christ into a burdensome duty rather than an act of genuine worship.

My heart ached with disappointment as I acknowledged the choices I made, decisions driven not by God's guidance but by external influences. I stood at the crossroads, realizing the need to repent and accept God's forgiveness. It was time to extend that same forgiveness to myself.

The posture of my heart was misaligned with God's purpose and plan. The burning questions lingered: How could I change? What steps did I need to take?

In a moment of reflection, I paused and offered a prayer of repentance. I confessed my sins, recognizing my weakness and surrendering my burdens to the One capable of shouldering them. I acknowledged that my strength alone was insufficient, but that God’s grace is sufficient.

This pivotal moment marked the beginning of a transformative journey. I sought solace in God's unconditional love, a love that doesn't demand perfection but embraces the imperfect. As I immersed myself in prayer and reflection, clarity began to unfold.

I understood that aligning with God's will requires a daily commitment to seeking His guidance. It involves relinquishing control and trusting in His wisdom. The burdens that once felt overwhelming were replaced with a sense of purpose and a newfound understanding of His plan for my life.

Forgiveness played a crucial role in this process as I learned to forgive others and forgive myself. God's forgiveness was what I needed for my soul, healing the wounds caused by misplaced priorities and misguided choices. The journey from overwhelm to alignment was not an instant fix but a gradual unfolding of grace.

As I embraced God's forgiveness, I learned to forgive myself. I realized that dwelling on past mistakes hindered my progress. Instead, I chose to focus on the present and the future, trusting that God's grace would guide me in making better choices.

The transformation wasn't about perfection but about surrender—surrendering my plans, my mistakes, and my inadequacies to a God who loves me unconditionally. With each surrendered moment, I felt the gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit, redirecting my path towards alignment with His divine will.

In this journey of overcoming overwhelm and realigning with God's purpose, I discovered the beauty of a life grounded in His love and forgiveness. It's a daily choice to seek Him, to trust Him, and to allow His grace to shape our steps. As we release the burden of self-reliance and embrace the freedom found in surrender, we open ourselves to a life filled with purpose, peace, and the boundless love of our Heavenly Father.

Let’s Pray:
Father God, thank You for being a loving God that is standing with arms ready to receive us when we wander off the path you desire for us to follow. Please align our will with your will so that we can come into alignment following your voice. We repent and ask for forgiveness. Help us to forgive ourselves and to renew our minds. May our hearts return to a posture of praise and thanksgiving honoring You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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

Author Bio:

LaVonda McCullough is a Christian Life Coach, author, speaker and pastor who specializes in women empowerment with Christian-based approach.

Since 2012, LaVonda has coached countless women into compete freedom, teaching them to enhance their spiritual practice. Through one-on-one Coaching, Bible Study, Prayer Walks and retreats (Joyful Journey RefresHER retreat) she teaches women how to reach the divine power within and discover their purpose.

With the foundation of her personal practice the discipline of a Daily Quiet Time, she works closely with those she coaches to develop their own intimate relationship with God. Always using a spirit-led approach, she focusing on the whole person: mind, body, and soul. LaVonda values providing a safe, loving and nurturing environment that allows those she works with to tap into the divine and commune with God themselves.

LaVonda has a deep understanding of healing through intimate relationship with God due to her personal experiences with shame, trauma, loss, and depression.

She is passionate about helping people find freedom and joy in their journey through the cultivation of spiritual practice.

Originally from North Carolina, LaVonda has traveled throughout Europe and Africa speaking about healing through the power of prayer. She has lived in Germany since 2012, where shares her life with her husband of 33 years.

LaVonda and her husband have three children.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: Tabernacle

The Holy of Holies
A devotional by Mirachelle Canada

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”—Hebrews 10:19-22 (ESV)

The Old Testament tabernacle was built by Moses at God’s command. In Exodus 29:46 (ESV), during their travels in the wilderness, the people of Israel needed a place of worship where God could “dwell among them”. Tabernacle means ‘place of dwelling.’ God literally lived within its sacred confines that were sanctified by His glory (Exodus 29:43) so His people would know His purpose for bringing them out of Egypt. It was so He could dwell among them, and that they would know the Lord their God.

The tabernacle became a significant place of worship in the lives of God’s people. It was divided into three compartments: The outer court, between the fence and the tent, where all the people had access and animal sacrifices (with the blood to atone for their sins) were performed. The priests washed their hands in a bronze laver for cleansing. The inner court, one of two separate rooms within the tent, called The Holy Place, contained an altar of incense (offered prayers), a lampstand (the light of God), and table of shewbread (the bread of presence signifying God’s covenant). And finally, separated by a veil, the inner most room, The Holy of Holies, where the high priest would enter one day a year to meet with God who dwelled in the ark of the covenant.

Eventually, God’s people rebelled and were once again separated from Him. The tabernacle was destroyed, so God had to make a way for His people to be redeemed and reconciled with Him. His ultimate plan was to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to become the sacrifice for sin by dying on a cross and redeeming us through the power of his resurrection (John 3:16-17).

Hebrews 10 says, Christ came to do God’s will (Hebrews 10:7) and “by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Likewise, “...every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:11-14). Jesus became the “tabernacle” within us, or “a place for God to dwell” within us (John 1:14).

Let’s consider our Christian life like that of the Old Testament tabernacle. Our outer court, being our outer appearance, or what people see, is an invitation to everyone. It’s the place where you live, work, and enjoy life. Our inner room, or The Holy Place, only close friends and family can enter with permission. We decide who has access, and even how much God is allowed in. The most inner, sacred place within us, the Holy of Holies, is truly where God dwells and waits to commune with us. Just like with the Israelites, He desires to dwell with us.

In our innermost being we can grant access to the high priest, Jesus Christ. In the secret place of the Most High we can abide in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1). This new covenant God established with us through His Son. Hebrews 10:19-22 assures, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Through Christ, we are made ready to enter in!

We can enter in with confidence and the power of prayer. In the Holy of Holies not only is God waiting to with meet us, but also His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus loves and advocates for us before the throne of God, and the Holy Spirit, who can transform us with love, joy, peace, etc. The more time you spend in the Holy of Holies with the “three-in-one”, the more they will reveal. And just like the tabernacle of old, you will know beyond any doubt that He is the Lord your God. So come, go into the Holy of Holies!

Let’s Pray: Dear Lord, thank You for making a way to dwell within me. I look forward to meeting with You in the Holy of Holies as I come boldly into your presence. Teach me to do your will. Show me how to spend time with You, Lord. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Holy Forever” by CeCe Winans. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Mirachelle Canada is a writer, playwright, screenwriter, and theatre director/producer currently residing in Northern Virginia. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Script & Screenwriting from Regent University and is a member of Act One: Hollywood Film & Television Writing Program, ACFW, ACFW Virginia Chapter (Treasurer), The Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, and Your Novel Blueprint. 

Mirachelle is passionate about awakening creativity and the gifts of God in everyone. Her first historical fiction novel is set during WWII, inspired by her time studying theatre education in London, England. She loves horses, cats, dogs, and all things peppermint!

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Monday, February 5, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: True Love

An Inconvenient Love
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”—Luke 6:38 NIV

Have you ever gone from discomfort to devotion?

At the risk of sounding heartless, I’ll make a bold confession: For most of my life, dogs made me really, really uncomfortable. They were fine at a distance, or if they were super old and gentle.

But most dogs are boisterous and messy, and they like to lick and slobber and jump up on you. There’s very little sensible control when it comes to dogs, at least in my experience with them.

My husband, Matt, brought a huge German Shepherd named Scout to our marriage ten years ago. Scout helped me get used to dogs and learn to love them. But while Scout was my first dog, he wasn’t really mine. He was Matt’s. I wasn’t “Mommy”, even though Scout loved me. I was part of the pack, and I belonged to Matt in his eyes, so he loved me too. But he was fully grown and trained by the time I came along. When he passed away a couple years later, I was sad, but Matt was devastated.

Then, in 2021, I decided it was time: I knew how much Matt missed having a dog, and in my heart of hearts, I knew I needed to bend and grow. I needed to understand what it was like to be a dog person as well as a cat person. So we adopted Captain, a fuzzy, floppy-tongued, six-week-old German Shepherd puppy … and just like that, my world turned upside down. That first year was one of the hardest in my life. I learned firsthand how to do everything that goes with having a puppy. I had no idea how much work it would be! But in that work, I also learned what it was like to truly know and love Captain.

We’re at a sweet spot now, almost three years in. And today, I’ve learned what it means to be a dog mom. Captain is definitely my baby. When I get home, he brings me his toys and whines in utter joy, and my heart leaps at the sight of him. When he’s scared or bored, he cuddles in my lap (I’m pretty sure he thinks he’s the size of our cats). Sometimes I wake up and have to give him a big kiss, just because.

Now, my cats are amazing… when I get home, they sidle up to greet me. They blink with their cat smiles and show how much they missed me in their own special kitty ways. “Welcome home, special human one,” they seem to proclaim majestically. But with Captain, it’s different. It’s like his whole world was wrecked when I walked out the door, and now that I’m home, life can start anew. “Everything is right in the world again because you’re here, Mom!” he tells me with his wild, enthusiastic eyes as he vigorously circles me again and again, covering every inch of my pants in dog fur.

My cats loved me and missed me, but life still went on. But for my dog, it was like a piece of him was missing the whole time I was gone. It got me thinking about how we humans love and treat each other in this world. Imagine with me a moment: What would the world be like if we all were to love each other like a dog loves us? Minus the licks and doggy slobber, I imagine it would be a lot like we all used to get along in kindergarten—curious, mostly friendly, and boundlessly enthusiastic. And yet that’s usually not the case with adults, is it?

Many times we greet loved ones with barely more than a quick “hi” before rushing on to whatever else we need to do. We avert our eyes in stores rather than make small talk with neighbors, and lie “Oh, I’m great!” when someone asks how we’re doing. And that’s just social courtesy. What about really showing love…caring for others in their sickness and hunger, sharing our basic life needs together, such as clothing or money or shelter…how does that look?

It usually looks quite different from what I believe our Savior (Jesus Christ) intended. In Matthew 10:25-37, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart and our mind and our soul, and the second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. As an example, Jesus gave us the “Good Samaritan” parable about a man who cared for a perfect stranger in an extravagant way, tending his wounds and paying for medical care. There’s nothing convenient about this kind of love. Loving this way is decidedly inconvenient.

Honestly, that’s how my dog loves. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing when I get home. If he’s asleep in the corner with his foot in his mouth, he wakes up and races for me. If he’s scratching himself or eating a treat or having some silent communication with one of our cats, he drops what he’s doing and races for me. He stops everything because I am there. Nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter what I look like or smell like, if I’ve been spending time with other dogs, or if I’ve been gone for a couple of days. It doesn’t matter if the last time he saw me I scolded him for being naughty.

He just loves me and he’s happy to see me. Do I love the people in my world that way? Sadly, sometimes I don’t. Grudges get in the way or my own selfish concerns. But what if I were to model a little bit of my dog’s kind of love? What if I treated others, those I love and those who are strangers, with the same boisterous care and enthusiasm my dog bestows on me? I imagine the world would be a much better place, the kind of place Jesus commanded us to create.

This week, let’s see what we can do to love each other better, whether our inner circle, our neighbors, or strangers we encounter. Let’s love from a place of inconvenience. That’s what Jesus would have us do.

Let’s Pray: Lord, please help me to love others with wild, boundless, extravagant care, knowing that the love I show reflects Your perfect love. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Love God Love People” by Danny Gokey. 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.