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Saturday, November 21, 2009
The True Source of Comfort - Dana Rongione
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4
The past several months have been stressful. Due to the economic crisis, my husband was laid off and it has been extremely difficult to make ends meet. At first, I wasn't worried. After all, God had always met our needs. I knew He would not only give my husband a new job, but that He would give him a better job. I was determined to trust God no matter what.
As the months passed, however, my faith began to dwindle. I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster, trying to trust in God but often wondering if He still cared. I began turning to other things for comfort. I talked with friends, immersed myself in good books. I would go on daily hikes trying to take my mind off my troubles—then I turned to food.
I’d always heard of comfort food but, until recently, I had never really understood why it was called that. I understand now. In my deepest despair, I wanted nothing more than to drown myself in a tub of ice cream. Chocolate in all shapes and sizes were frequent forms of comfort. I became dependent on sodas and energy drinks for a “boost” to get me through the day. The problem was, the more I indulged in these comfort foods, the more I craved them. I couldn't get enough. I wasn't hungry but I wanted to eat, and the only things I craved were things that were bad for me. I tried to stop, but I I needed the comfort.
Then one day the Lord reminded me that He is the Comforter. He assured me if I needed comfort, He could do a much better job than a candy bar. That reminder helped me get my eating habits back on track. I still indulge every now and then, but I'm not dependent on those foods for comfort. I've found Jesus offers all the comfort I need. The best part is, just like the comfort foods, the more time I spend with Jesus, the more I want to spend, and that's a craving I don't have to resist!
Do you have a need for comfort? Turn to Him. He will comfort you.
Dana Rongione is a full-time Christian freelance writer and writing coach. She is the author of numerous devotions, articles, stories, songs, poems, and books. Dana is the creator of “Creating a World of Your Own: Your Guide to Writing Fiction,
” an 8-week e-class designed to educate and inspire beginning writers. Her devotional site, “A Word Fitly Spoken
,” is intended to uplift and encourage believers in all walks of life.
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Saturday, July 4, 2009
Life’s Hurricanes - Danny Woodall
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” Matthew 7:24-25
Located a few miles east of Galveston, Texas, Crystal Beach is a collection of beach cabins on one side of the road, and a couple of businesses on the other. In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed almost every cabin. My wife's cousin sent us pictures of their beach cabin; it was a pile of rumble. The cabin, once sturdy, had withstood storms off the gulf. To rebuild they will have to follow strict regulations. The aerial views of Crystal Beach showed the trail of destruction caused by the hurricane, an awesome reminder of the Sermon on the Mount.
Building my life on the solid foundation of Christ, involves more than singing religious songs or quoting memory verses. It’s putting the teachings of Christ into action. Riding around with a truckload of building material will not help the people of Crystal Beach to rebuild, anymore than a brief feel-good moment will helps me when I have to deal with the storms of life. Both take time and effort.
The rebuilding process at Crystal Beach consists of laying a strong foundation, unloading the material, and putting it together. The manual labor was grueling and the bodies of men were put to the test, but by rebuilding on solid ground the reassurance of safety was in sight.
Building our life around Christ involves action. On Wednesday night, my wife and I sometimes sit with Barbara—a doctor by profession, she brings a notebook with her Bible. My Bible is full of notes scribbled on church bulletins and offering envelopes, not as organized as the doctor’s, but still helpful. There are nuggets in the Sunday and Wednesday night messages. Then I try to work these truths into my day-to-day living. I’m still working on the slow to anger part.
The teachings of the Bible provide a strong framework to build my life on. Both men were builders, and both heard the words of Jesus, but only one heeded His words.
Build your life on the solid rock of Christ and you will be able to withstand the storms of life. Saved by grace, but fortified by God’s Word and obedience.
Danny Woodall lives in Port Neches, TX. He and his wife have three children. He has a monthly column in the Christian Online Magazine, and has written for LifeWay’s Essential Connections and Bible Express magazines. This past year he contributed to Daily Devotions for Writers. He and his wife, Arlene, work with the fourth grade Sunday school.
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Thursday, June 25, 2009
Spirits Can Be Restored - Susan Dollyhigh
“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5
An empty old Georgian style house with magnificent columns in front sits on my street. Passing by this old house, I think how beautiful it must have been when it was first built and in times past. Neglected for many years, the white paint is fading and peeling. The house has even been vandalized inside and out. Having been empty for so long, it’s hard to know how much damage has actually been done. How much would it cost to restore this old house? I wondered. Can it even be saved?
How I wish someone would move in and fix up that old place! I know it has the potential to be so beautiful. That dilapidated old structure is a lot like many of us. We come into this world so beautifully created by our Maker. Then someone we trust hurts us; emotionally, physically or both. We may shut down emotionally because it hurts too much to feel. We may not care about our appearance. Beautiful spirits broken and sometimes even destroyed. After our “spiritual house” sits empty for so long, others may start to wonder if we can ever be restored. What will it take to restore us? How much will it cost? Can we even be saved?
The answer to this question is simply, “yes.” If we allow Jesus into our hearts, He can heal the scars caused by abuse and repair the broken spirit. And, unlike that old house on my street that would probably cost so much to restore, the cost of Jesus’ restoration is free. And Jesus’ work is always beautiful; after all, He is the Master Carpenter.
Invite Him in—let Him restore.
Prayer: Father, thank you for being the Lord who heals us. Help us to feel your healing touch today.
Susan Shelton Dollyhigh is a free-lance writer and columnist who recently won the Women in Faith Shine the Light Contest and recently won 3 awards the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference. She and her husband have two children and one grandchild and reside in Mount Airy, North Carolina.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I Want New Flooring - Loree Lough
"The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up." 1 Samuel 2:7
The floors in my house are about as low they can get, and oh, what I wouldn’t give to lift them all up . . . and toss them into the nearest dumpster!
Built in the early ‘70s, every room in my house reflected the styles of my least favorite decade. Picture a dull-black slate foyer, faded indoor-outdoor carpeting on the sun porch, scratched white kitchen tile, lackluster oak in the living room . . . connected with cheesy aluminum strips held in place by clunky screws that scrape the soles of my shoes, snag my socks, and draw blood when I’m barefooted.
Every time I see the Lumber Liquidators commercial on TV, I drool. The very sight of Brazilian cherry hardwood makes me sigh. One seamless material, flowing from room to room. I didn’t get that giddy the first time I fell in love!
It won’t surprise you that I recently asked my husband, “When the income tax refund gets here, how ‘bout we spend it on new flooring?” Imagine my surprise when he said, “In this economy? Are you out of your ever-lovin’ mind? There is absolutely nothing wrong with these floors!”
Sez you, I wanted to counter.
But I didn’t, because ours has always been an old-fashioned marriage. He’s the boss, especially when it comes to finances. He’s the guy who pinched pennies until Lincoln cried, who held dollar bills so tightly Washington winced. But the result is an itty bitty Rainy Day Fund that helps me sleep peacefully at night and, considering what he endured to make it possible, I don’t have a problem with letting him make the money decisions.
God has always given my husband the confidence and common sense to lead our family wisely – to provide for us properly. I just had to learn to trust that his frugal ways would be best for us in the long run. And they were. His trust in God to provide adequately for his family has always been successful. They (God and my hubby) protect us like that.
So I guess I’ll just keep on imagining the day when I’ll head for the coffeemaker in the early morning hours, a blissful smile on my face as I glide across an expanse of smooth new flooring that flows like a gleaming river from room to room.
Well, a girl can dream of walking on walnut . . . if she’s walking with the Lord!
At last count, Loree Lough had 68 books, 59 short stories and more than 2,500 articles in print. She's written fiction and non-fiction for kids and adults (with one novel optioned for a TV movie). Her work has earned dozens of awards and at least as many five-star reviews, and several of her novellas have appeared in collections that made it onto Christian Booksellers Association bestseller lists. Her next novel, “Love Finds You in Paradise, Pennsylvania,” is in stores now and two more Summerside Press novels, “Love Finds You in North Pole, Alaska” and “Love Finds You in Folly Beach, North Carolina,” will be available in the fall of '09 and the spring of 2010. Loree lives in Maryland with her husband and a rescue dog named Cash.
Publisher: Summerside Press
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Facing Your Fear -- Sandra Schomaker
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalms 4:8
Our church recently took a group on a mission trip to Honduras.
My interest was piqued as soon as I heard about the trip. When I found out where Honduras was located in Central America, I knew we would be flying across the Gulf of Mexico. I was afraid of flying over the water. It goes back to watching the movie Jaws and possessing an overactive imagination. I didn’t know if I could force myself to board the plane.
After a bit of soul-searching and prayer, I decided to trust God and sign up.
Though I ignored the fear, it never went away and the taunts of well-meaning friends didn’t help. If the plane crashed into the gulf, we’d all go to Heaven at the same time, they quipped. As nice as that sounded it still wasn’t comforting.
I took a window seat and watched as the plane left the ground in Houston. Fear tried to seep in but a good book and a lot of prayer helped to occupy my mind. I only allowed myself an occasional peek out the window. There was nothing but blue—blue sky, blue water—an unending sea of blue. When I saw the beautiful curves of the Honduras shoreline, a thin line of white sand leading directly into a green mountain landscape, I relaxed. God had given me a gift by allowing me to concentrate on other things as we flew over the ocean and, when the plane soared over the shoreline, I realized He’d nudged me to show me He’d kept His word.
I had the window seat on the flight back. I watched a movie, glancing out occasionally. When I saw the Texas shoreline, I felt God saying to me, “See, I got you here safely. I can take care of you.” God wasn’t accusing me because I had this overwhelming fear. He comforted me instead, allowing me to see that He was able make me dwell in safety as the scripture said.
Fear lives in the mind but grows in the heart. When I turned my thoughts to Christ, He cleaned the worry from my mind.
If you have fears that are keeping you from doing important things, like serving God, pray about them. When you face them, let God work in your heart and mind. You’ll find that God is bigger than all our fears.
Sandra Schomaker worked as a computer programmer for several years before deciding to pursue writing novels. She prefers to write historical fiction, both for women and children. She enjoys learning new things about the past through researching for novels, especially those set in Ohio, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Her three grown stepchildren live nearby.
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Saturday, April 25, 2009
Freight Train of Blessings -- Danny Woodall
"Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table." Psalms 128:1-3
It is late at night and I hurry home to get the children in bed, in the morning there is work and school. I go down a dark street to save a few miles, turn the corner, and see the flashing red lights and hear the dinging bells of a railroad crossing. In the shadows I see a freight train rolling across the street.
The little voices from the back seat asked, “How long Daddy?”
My wife whispers “Didn’t have to come this way.”
“We could count the cars,” I said. But the kids already knew how to count. Then it hit me. Why not count our blessings. Give the numbers a meaning. We assigned a blessing to each car and before we knew it, the train had passed so we could continue our trek home. Over five years later, my youngest son still reminds me to count our blessings when we’re stopped by a train.
I learned a lesson that night. Why should it take a freight train to get me to stop and count my blessings? After all God had done for the Israelites, they forgot Him. Was I in danger of becoming like them?
Talk about being run over with a train, I was. This temporary inconvenience helped me realize I needed to use my blessings to draw closer to God rather than letting my blessings separate me from the Father.
My job provides well for my family which is a source of my love and comfort. Still, there isn’t a cosmic law that says God has to bless us. He does so because He loves us.
Give God the glory. Turn to Him and He will bless you. Don’t wait for the rumble of a freight train to count your blessings.
Learn the lesson of the freight train.Danny Woodall lives in Port Neches, TX. He and his wife have three children. He has a monthly column in the Christian Online Magazine, and has written for LifeWay’s Essential Connections and Bible Express magazines. This past year he contributed to Daily Devotions for Writers. He and his wife, Arlene, work with the fourth grade Sunday school.
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Monday, March 23, 2009
Set Aside for a Season - Leah Mix
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Have you ever been in a “holding pattern” in your journey through life? It is emotionally draining to wait, not knowing if or when you will be able to get moving down a normal path again. Did you find it painfully uncomfortable?
This is where I am right now. God has chosen to allow me to “sit out” of any social gatherings, as I have developed a severe reaction to fragrances. I can have a mild form of the sniffles, or a go-to-the-hospital-by-ambulance-episode, that has proven to be life threatening. Needless to say, for this social butterfly and church worker bee, this malady has clipped my wings, drastically. The recent holidays, Thanksgiving through New Years have been a real adjustment, especially sitting out most festive events.
Living in my bubble I call my home, I have had to relearn my use of time. Books and crafts can only fill so many hours, and I have to admit discouragement and doubt try to creep in. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit revealed the truth of His Word again, making it clear this is part of God’s perfect plan for me. It is for this season in my life and it is for my good and His glory.
Isn’t it refreshing when a truth you have heard in the past, seeds itself deep within your spirit and gets you going again on a path, even if the path is only one step at a time. He purposely doesn’t show us more than we need to know. That’s where faith comes in.
If you, like me, are currently going through a “holding pattern,” ask God to reveal His “today plan” to you. You may be surprised at what He’ll have you doing. To be sure, I am.
God will never lay out your whole life’s plan for you to see and then let you walk down a path that is unhindered by obstacles. No, He is much too creative for that. Chances are, you will see your neighbors and others in a whole new way, for it may be them He is using to bring you to Himself. One thing is for certain; you can count on the fact that each day will be a series of faith-filled steps with a promise. “I know the plans I have … to prosper you … to give you a future and a hope.” Leah Mix has been married to her wonderful husband, Gary, for 39 years. A transplant from Upstate New York to Florida, Leah experienced culture shock, but now loves her home and wouldn't want to live anywhere else. She found out that when God plants you, He will make you happy blooming there. Leah is the mother of two and grandmother of five. Writing is a new venture for Leah, but has been a dream for years. She is excited about the future because she has found, God is good - all the time.
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Friday, January 9, 2009
Doing a Number on my Slumber -- He Said
“I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.”
There’s a new man in our bed and he’s interrupting my sleep.
I like to sleep. So much so that when I was in grade school, I’d wake up, get dressed and then, while my parents were in other parts of the house, I’d crawl into their bed. I can’t imagine why I did this. I guess I had my reasons. One reason may have been that I wanted to go back to sleep and I figured they wouldn’t look for me in their bed. Kids are smart this way.
Other mornings I’d get up, get dressed and then fall asleep on the kitchen floor in front of the heat vent. Obviously, the prospect of spending another day in our public school system was not enough motivation to get me out the door and on the way to the bus stop. I think the word my teachers used to describe this lack of enthusiasm was, “laziness.”
I’m still lazy. I ride when I should walk, sit rather than stand and lie down whenever possible. I don't work out. It has that word
in it. So you can see why I might be upset that there would be a new man in my bed. His presence next to my pillow has come between me and the best part of the day.
This new man is my son. He’s home from college and, having adapted to the educational process much better than his dad, he’s recovering from his lack of sleep. Apparently he studied hard last semester. He sleeps all day long. Sometimes he doesn’t wake up until the nightly news comes on. When this happens he goes out; often after I’ve gone to bed.
But he returns, in a virtual sort of way, a few hours later, chirping, beeping and texting my wife. As the faint glow of the cell phone’s screen falls across her face, I see her punching buttons, asking my son where he is and when he’ll be home. She worries about our boy. I worry about my sleep.
Sometimes I think I should worry about my son, too, but then I remember that relaxation and restoration were such a vital part of God’s plan for our lives that He set aside a whole day in the week just for resting and twelve hours of darkness for sleeping. Seems to me that it would be a sin to go against what is obviously God’s will for our lives.
Besides, by the time my head hits the pillow I’ve already prayed for my son’s protection, asking God to hem him in, surround him with angels and keep his foot from falling. Once that’s done, I know that if anything happens to my boy then it’s under the watchful eyes of God.
And that’s comfort enough for me.
Labels: Eddie, trust
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep - She Said
"I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me."Psalm 3:5Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
What child hasn’t prayed that prayer? I prayed it as a child and I taught my children these same words, but I’d never really thought about its meaning.
Lately, I’ve not slept well. The nights have been laced with the amplified ticking of the clock, restlessness, and nightmares. Time drops into slow motion and long sighs echo through the house. The night becomes a prison of torture.
A few nights ago I dropped my feet over the edge of the bed and slipped on my fuzzy house shoes, then headed to the living room. The laptop illuminated the desk as I pulled up an on-line Bible. Might as well spend time with God. Who better to talk with, right?
Scrolling through the Old Testament, I stopped in Psalms. I lie down and sleep…
I laughed out loud. “That a joke, God?” I whispered.I wake again.
“I’d have to sleep first, Lord.”... because the LORD sustains me.
And I stopped. Pondered. Then jotted down the scripture. Odd I’ve carried the scripture in my purse for weeks, seeming vain enough to think it was meant for me. Reading it each night and praying with a child-like prayer that my nights would be restful.
Tonight, as I sit in the Vanderbilt Hospital, my thoughts drift back to that verse. My mother-in-law scheduled for surgery and the prognosis unsure, as we fretted over the hours to come I said, "I've got the perfect scripture for you. God gave it to me the other night when I couldn't sleep. 'I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.'"
She smiled and patted my hand. "That's good. I'll remember it."
When we worry, He waits, preparing us. His provisions may seem odd, His timing off, but when we find ourselves at a loss we also find his Words of comfort. I thought God whispered that verse to me for my benefit, but I was wrong. He gave it for me to give away.
....If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take...
I don't know what the outcome of the surgery will be, but this much I know. When she wakes, she'll be in peace--that's the promise from God.Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles are friends and co-founders of ChristianDevotions.us. They co-write the popular He Said, She Said devotions and host BlogtalkRadio's Christian Devotions Speak UP! along with Marianne Jordan.
Labels: Cindy, trust
Friday, December 5, 2008
Deceived -- She Said
"And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
"1 Timothy 2:14
She slipped her fingers into the crevice of a rock, then shoved the toe of her boot against the slate wall. Up would not be far enough. Not from him. His haunting words echoed in her head. If you love me you’ll…..you’ll do it just this once.
Even as her marriage collapsed she’d believed he loved her. But he had not. He’d only loved that part of her he could see, touch and hurt.
She pulled herself onto a flat rock and rested on her knees, chest heaving. Her lungs screamed for air. Regardless of the difficulty, moving up and moving on was worth the climb. She could not remain with him. Would not be deceived, again.
She clambered over the last cluster of boulders and stood on the mountain peak. Before her lay a valley spilling west, stretching toward the horizon. Clouds hung above mountain peaks. A cold wind kissed her cheeks. Eyes watered. She blew into her hands.
How she loved this place. But it wouldn’t last. God was good but not that good. Like her ex, God’s promises were fragile, elusive and not to be trusted. As man and woman they’d been joined in Holy matrimony with God as the head. Husband and wife. Pastor and partner.
But God’s love had not kept them bound together.
She’d been deceived, as Eve had been deceived. Not even the beauty of Creation had kept Eve from questioning God’s goodness. Was God enough? Eve thought not.
Once deceived fear takes over. She looked across the valley toward the blueness of heaven, wondering if God was enough for her, now. Would He leave her, too? Were His promises of love and provision a lie?
In the aftermath of Eve’s fall women live with the wounds of betrayal. We refuse to trust the men in our lives to keep us secure so we’ve exchanged God’s liberty for a prison we can control. We manipulate relationships, organize our lives and use our beauty to get our way.
Our way! What a lie. There is no “our way,” only God’s way.
To put your trust in anyone other than God is to sin. I've learned. The Father will never--has never deceived me.
Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles
are friends and co-founders of
co-write the popular He Said, She Said
devotions and host BlogtalkRadio's
Christian Devotions Speak UP! along
with Marianne Jordan.
Labels: Cindy, trust
Monday, November 24, 2008
In the Right Place at the Right Time - Irene Brand
“Who knows but that you have come to the royal position for such a time as this?
”Esther 4:12b NIV
When my husband, Rod, and I planned a vacation to Ireland, September 2001, we didn’t know that we would be overseas on one of the blackest days in the history of the United States. Yet as God placed Esther in a Persian harem for a purpose, so He used us in the aftermath of 911.
We were eating lunch in an Irish village when we heard the tragic news. Occasionally, I have questioned the truth of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” My doubts were never greater than they were that day.
Subsequent situations convinced me that God had a purpose for us to be in Ireland at that time. Several of our tour group turned to us in the crisis. That night at dinner, although it hadn’t been done at prior meals, the tour guide asked Rod to pray. Ireland declared a national day of mourning, emphasized by a minute of complete silence. When our group gathered for that tribute, the guide looked at us, and said, “Does anyone want to say anything?” My husband and I prayed audibly, as did a retired Methodist missionary who traveled with us. My husband started singing, “God Bless America,” and the others, through their tears, joined the singing.
During the remainder of our visit, we comforted those who were concerned about their families at home. Others sought us out to talk about things of the faith. And even the guide who was not a Christian questioned us concerning our beliefs. Without doubt God placed us in Ireland at that time so that we could encourage some of our fellow travelers, whose faith was weak or nonexistent. While we were helping others, our faith was also strengthened. Our experiences confirmed that God will use us as His chosen vessels when we’re obedient to His leading.
Whenever incidents come into your life causing you to question the wisdom of God, remember that He’s also called you to be His witnesses “to the uttermost part of the earth.”
(Acts 1:8b KJV)
Irene Brand began writing inspirational novels in 1984. Forty-five books and over 2 million copies in print, Irene still holds to her grass roots, of faith, family and friends.
Irene and her husband live in rural West Virginia. Her newest book,Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska
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Saturday, November 22, 2008
The Battle is the Lord's -- Cathy Bryant
"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
“I can do it by myself,” came the sweet voice of my piano student. With valiant effort, she started the song again, counting out the rhythm. It wasn’t perfectly done, but she was trying her best to do it without me counting for her.
I couldn’t help but ponder the numerous times during the daily struggles of life I’ve told God that I could do it by myself.
For months I had been fighting a battle. I was determined to stand strong in the Lord, to put on His armor, and to meet the battle head on. All good things in and of themselves, but it seemed that every time I went to the battle front, I returned bruised and broken. “Why, God?” I cried out. “What am I doing wrong?”
Then through His Word, the answer came. This wasn’t my battle, and it wasn’t to be my loss or my victory. This was a battle that God would fight for me; it was to be His victory. Only then would I know how powerful and Almighty my God truly is.
Being His child means letting go, moving past ourselves and our personal strength and will. It means that we strive not for independence, but total dependence on Him. How can we learn who He really is if we’re focused on doing it ourselves?
Only when we truly recognize who He is can we learn to trust Him completely to fight our battles for us. It helps me to remember His omnipotence and His prior deliverance. As much as I dislike it, it also means confessing my own weakness and inability. When I try to take over a battle that He has promised to fight for me, I am in effect trying to play God.
My prayerful battle cry is that we will see Him as the One who fights for us, and that we won’t be afraid or discouraged. The challenge is to take our positions, stand firm, and watch as God delivers us. Remember—we do not fight alone. In fact, sometimes our part of the battle is to simply “be still.”Cathy Bryant lives in a small Texas town with one amazing husband, two spoiled cats, and a garden-full of flowers, hummingbirds and butterflies. Her desire is to turn her God-given abilities and opportunities into an offering back to Him, in order to make Him known. She is currently working on learning more about the craft of writing and is testing her writing wings. You can visit her at http://www.wordvessel.blogspot.com/
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The Enemy -- Shelby Rawson
”You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
” Isaiah 41:10
“The enemy of your soul will keep trying until he finds a way,” I heard him say. The enemy of my soul will keep trying until he finds a way to dismantle my faith, bind me with shame and dissolve my knowledge of freedom. It is the enemy who claws at my heart, making false threats and accusations, whispering lifelong lies to my depths.
The phone rang. That piercing sound which has often aroused fear calls on me to answer. Much like experiences of my past, this call blew my sails of fear unexpectedly and pushed me into a faith-refusing current. I hung up the phone and cried for an hour until my phone rang again. The call ended and more tears began their descent down the familiar curve of my face. Each tear seemed to know the well-worn paths… abandonment, betrayal, fear, hurt and shame.
The women who called me that day had no idea they were breathing salt into my deepest wounds. Needless to say, my reaction caught them by surprise. Neither intended to hurt me. And while my logic grasped those facts, my memories held fast to their own facts. My past proved to me that friends will readily betray, abandon, and malign me. Relationally, my experiences hadn’t caused growth in me – they formed scars. The thing about scars is that the flesh tightens around them leaving a mark, making the statement, “Hurt lives here. No longer will this place yield to growth.”
My Father’s Word tells me He will “not cast [me] off” and not to be dismayed for He is there to help and uphold me. Fear not, Shelby. I hear Him whisper. I hear Him proclaim to the far corners of my past. Just like that day, many of my days are plagued by distracted ears. Ears that listen to the voices without instead of the Voice within. God was with me when the phone rang that day and every other day. He was there as fear overpowered me and faith escaped me. Call on Me. I clung to that which I loathed. I called on my experience. And I answered with things of this world.
The enemy of my soul will keep trying to find a way to destroy my faith in a loving and holy God. In every situation, I am faced with opportunities. Will I look to my past, or His presence? Will I respond in fear, or faith? This is what I know. Faith roars in the face of fear. And I am on the side of that roaring Lion – not the lion who prowls waiting to devour. Oh Lord, let me roar as the Lion blows wind in my sails.
Shelby Rawson is a mom and the co-author of Daddy Do You Love Me: a Daughter’s Journey of Faith and Restoration (New Leaf Press, 2006).
Labels: shelbyrawson, trust
Monday, November 3, 2008
He is Whom I Trust -- Loree Lough
"He is my loving God and my fortress,my stronghold and my deliverer,my shield, in whom I take refuge....." Psalm 144:2
Just about everybody knows.....I’m crazy about wolves. My favorite sanctuary spans acres of tree-lined hills where nearly fifty wolves, rescued from abuse and neglect, were brought to live with as much dignity as can be achieved.
You’d think my first stop, during visits, would be the cubs. While they’re cute and more photogenic than The Gerber Baby, the creatures that lure me closest are the lone wolves.
Each wolf pack is led by strong, capable Alpha males and females. At any time, at least two lone wolves pace the outskirts—wishing for welcome that will never come. They crave inclusion among four-legged counterparts, but it’s simply not tolerated. Meals consist of what’s left after the others are full. Affectionate pats from caretakers are allowed.....if the actions go unnoticed. Mostly, they skulk away, starving for food and friendship.
Loners can’t join ‘wolfie’ games. Can’t nestle for comfort when thunder clashes, for warmth when cold winds blow. Living this way—always watching, never participating—teaches them a powerful lesson:
No one can be trusted. Not your father or your sibling, not your mother. You’re on your own, and trying to change pack hierarchy might would be costly.
How like us—who’ve suffered the death of loved ones, divorce, job loss—the lone wolves are. And how unlike us.....Each visit, I watch helplessly as loners dash in to steal biscuit crumbs and meat scraps. Though they rarely succeed.....
.....they keep trying!
They don’t trust their own kind, and that lack of trust drives them deep into the forest. It drives us into hiding, too, though we call our forests ‘work’, ‘alcohol’, ‘drugs’, the Internet. We hide from spouses, neglect our kids. Stop doing good deeds, give up walking the dog.
We’re afraid to ask for help, even from God!
If only we’d remember that, in times of greatest need, we’re cradled in His loving hands. “He is there, to protect and shelter us, no matter how dark the nights or how stormy the seas of our lives. “Again I will put my trust in Him.”
Yes, my heart aches for the sanctuary’s lone wolves, unable to trust their own kind. But those I pity most are the lone wolves of the wilderness, for they’ll never know the kindness of human caretakers.
The Lord is our caretaker, and His promises is that we never have to live that way. Isn’t that a miracle? Isn’t it a blessing! He will provide perfect peace.....if we trust Him.
I wish all lone wolves had access to The Father’s word. Maybe then, their hearts would calm and their spirits could rest, knowing “.....he is my goodness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield.....and he is whom I trust......” Perhaps then, they’d never feel that death is preferable to a trust-less life of isolation.
The Irish have a saying, quoted when visitors depart: “I pray you’ll never miss a sunset or a rainbow because you’re looking down.”
I pray your days will be filled with the joy that’s sure to come…
.....when you put your trust in God.
Loree Lough is a successful Christian
Romance writer and teacher, having authored over
60 books, her newest release, Love Finds
You in Paradise, Pennsylviana
bookstores in the spring of 2009.
Visit Loree at www.loreelough.com
Labels: loreelough, trust
Monday, October 27, 2008
An Unlikely Path -- Cathy Bryant
Listen to An Unlikely Path-
by Cathy BryantWhen Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter
. Exodus 13:17a
“I’ll follow you,” I call out through the rolled-down car window. But after a few minutes I wonder what I was thinking. In frustration I mutter: “There has to be a better way. Where is he taking me? Is he lost?”
Within a short time I have my cell phone to my ear. “Shouldn’t we have taken that last exit?”
I wish I could say that my walk with the Lord was better than that, but when I look at my “following” through discerning eyes, I am often ashamed.
I am quick to say “I’ll follow you.” But when it comes to actually following, I often question if God knows what He’s doing. I sometimes find it difficult to trust that His way is best. Sadly I sometimes even try to go my own way, thinking that it surely must be a better way to go. And in this fast-paced world we live in, I’m always looking for the shortest and quickest route possible.
The very first thing God did when Pharaoh let the children of Israel leave Egypt was to take them on a path that didn’t make sense—a path that was dangerous. He took the long way, instead of the short way. Then He had them camp in a place where they were vulnerable. They were backed up next to the Red Sea, and the Egyptian soldiers were hot on their heels! God did this to reveal His glory and power to the Israelites and to let the Egyptians know that He was God.
God hasn’t changed. He still leads his children in ways that seem to make no sense. Sometimes He intentionally places us in potentially dangerous and vulnerable positions. He does it to see if we trust Him, to show us His awesome and amazing power, and so other people can see Him at work in our lives.
If the path you’re on seems bewildering, learn to trust that God knows what He’s doing. Offer Him praise for working in your life in magnificent ways. Thank Him that He’s willing to use you to make His glory known.Cathy Bryant lives in a small Texas town with one amazing husband, two spoiled cats, and a garden-full of flowers, hummingbirds and butterflies. Her desire is to turn her God-given abilities and opportunities into an offering back to Him, in order to make Him known. She is currently working on learning more about the craft of writing and is testing her writing wings. You can visit her at www.wordvessel.blogspot.com.
Labels: cahtybryant, trust
Christian Devotions SPEAK UP!
Join us this week on Christian Devotions SPEAK UP! when host Scott McCausey interviews Chaplain Eric Dollyhigh. Eric is a graduate of Texas A&M University where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness. He is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, earning a degree in Pastoral Ministry and Bible Exposition. He has been married to Amy for four years and enjoys their ten-month old son, Drew. Upon his graduation, he took a job as Assistant Chaplain of Interstate Battery. Interstate Battery is a Christian-operated company whose mission statement is unique: To glorify God as we supply our customers worldwide with top quality, value-priced batteries, related electrical power-source products and distribution services. Eric's work exemplifies this statement. One of the duties Eric performs is teaching Bible studies for Interstate team members. He also organizes ministry luncheons, heads a prison ministry and leads the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program for Interstate. The Chaplains' Department not only serves the Interstate employees, but organizes mission trips, raises support for Christian camps, and creates commercials to promote God's love.
To learn more about Interstate Battery and its company philosophy.
Devotions SPEAK UP! is a live call-in show. Call-in
Number: (347) 884-9367. If you know someone
who would be a great guest on the show contact Scott
Coming up on Christian
Devotions SPEAK UP!
April 27, Brad Stine, Christian Comedian
May 11 - Curt and Marybeth Whalen, Authors
May 18 - Live from Ridgecrest
May 25 - Phil Beavers, Vice President of Institutional Advancement
Tuesday evenings from 6:00 PM. to 7:00 PM.
Catch Christian Devotions Ministry at these events in 2010:
January 19, 2010, Writers Panel Discussion, Blue Mountain College, Mississippi
February 26-27, 2010 - Write2Ignite! Christian Children's Writers Conference, North Greenville University in Greenville, South Carolina. Terri Kelly/DevoKids
March 17, 2010 - The Western North Carolina Christian Writer's Fellowship, Waynesville, NC
March 24 - MOPS, at Mud Creek Baptist Church, Hendersonville, NC - Terri Kelly
March 26 - St. James School, Ormond Beach, FL - Terri Kelly
April 16, 17, 18, 2010 - FCC Annual Women's Spring Retreat, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
May 12-15, 2010 - Colorado Christian Writers Conference, YMCA Estes Park Center
North West of Denver
May 16-20, 2010 - The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Lifeway Conference Center, Ridgecrest, North Carolina
June 9-12, 2010 - Write
To Publish Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill., a Chicago suburb
June 11-12, 2010 - Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, Elizabethtown, KY, - Andrea Merrell, Associate Editor
August 12-14, 2010 - The Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, 200 Manor Avenue, Langhorne, PA 19047
If you would like more information on when and where we'll be appearing or if you would like the staff of Christian Devotion Ministry to speak to your group
contact us at: email@example.com
Faith & FINANCES: In God We Trust, A Journey to Financial Dependence - turning the hearts of a nation back toward God one paycheck at a time. Learn more!