7/18/2021 0 Comments
Fierce and Powerful Love
As with many of us, I don’t think I fully understood the concept of “unconditional love” until I became a parent myself. When I gave birth to my baby girl, I suddenly realized why my parents didn’t disown me. There was a fierce and powerful love for my child, even though she had never done anything to deserve it. I knew, no matter what she would ever do, no condition or circumstance could break it.
It’s overwhelming to think that God feels that way about me— but even deeper (Romans 8:15; 8:17; 8:21). His love is not based on my efforts or goodness, but on His mercy alone (Romans 9:16). A speeding ticket, back talk, eye rolls and defiance didn’t separate me from the love of my earthly parents. However, the Bible takes it a million steps further in saying that neither death nor life, angels or demons, the present or future, nor any powers, height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from God’s love for us (Romans 8: 38-39).
That’s a fierce and powerful love.
I bet if you’re reading this, you could classify the love you have for your own child as fierce and powerful. But I bet you also know that just loving your child hard isn’t enough. Fierce and powerful love for our children also means teaching them lessons for living a life that leads to joy and peace.
If my parents had never set boundaries and rules for speeding, there probably would have been many more speeding tickets and accidents. While their boundaries and rules seemed tough as a child, I know now that they saved me from further trials and regret. Similarly, Paul doesn’t stop in Romans 11 with just the foundations of God’s love for us. He continues in chapters 12-16 to discuss the practical applications for living our life out of that love. Paul understood that the practical applications he writes about would lead us to a life of joy and peace as we trust in God (Romans 15:13), rather than a life of trials and regret from trusting in ourselves (Romans 7:5).
God’s love is fierce and powerful. There’s nothing that could ever happen to change the way He feels about us. It is out of that love that He gives us boundaries for protection.
Love and boundaries aren’t adverse to each other, they go hand in hand. Allow His extravagant love to sink deep and saturate your soul, and know every instruction in His Word stems from Him wanting the best for your life.
Memory verse: “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39 (NIV)
5/9/2021 0 Comments
But Take Heart!
Early on in my grief journey, I scoured the Bible for any sort of example of what I was experiencing. I wanted to find answers on how I was supposed to survive the pain I was feeling. The more I read, the more I realized that God doesn’t promise us rainbows and sunshine, and worry-free life on this earth. On the surface, that may seem like a harsh reality because that’s what we are all searching for.
However, in the Bible, we see Jesus suffering and weeping over the death of His friend Lazarus (John 11:35). We see the Disciples distraught and upset with the news that Jesus would soon be leaving them (John 13: 37). We see Jesus speaking about the future trials and turmoil of this earth. He speaks about earthquakes, famine, war, hatred, persecution, and death (Matthew 24: 6-12).
The truth is that not even Jesus, God with skin on, was exempt from suffering under the weight of this fallen world. But here’s the good news: Jesus leaves us with hope! Jesus said:
I don’t know about you all, but I’m thankful for a Savior that acknowledges that this world is hard. I’m glad Jesus didn’t sugarcoat and discredit the trials that we will all face.
However, I’m even more grateful for a Savior who is our Living Hope; Who promises resurrection, peace, and life through Him. This hope has carried me through my own grief journey, and is also available to you, too. In this world we will have trouble, friend, but take heart! In Him we have hope.
Memory Verse: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33, NIV
12/13/2020 0 Comments
Planting Seeds in Storms
Bigger and bigger storms seemed to come as we tried our best to navigate her complicated, but beautiful, life on this earth for three months. We planted seeds of faith, in spite of the incessant storms.
When I think about people who have weathered storms, I think about Ruth. When her husband died she was left to take care of her mother-in-law who was also a widow. In their days, it was very difficult for widows to survive (Ruth 1:5). She had a decision to make: either leave her mother-in-law to go back to her old home (and, likewise, their false gods), OR stay with Naomi and stand firm in her newfound faith in the Lord.
Ruth chose to stand firm, be loyal, and trust in the Lord’s plan for her life. (Ruth 1:16). She planted seeds of faith in her trustworthy God, in spite of her uncertain future.
In stark contrast to Ruth, in Judges we read about Samson, who was born with great power. He was favored by God and given unbelievable strength. However, Samson planted his “seeds” in the shallow soil of his own might. He chose to trust in his own power, instead of trusting God’s. When storms showed up in Samson’s life, he got into more and more trouble. In the end, Samson returns to trusting in God and is used to bring judgment on the Philistines. However, it cost him everything.
As for Ruth, God not only gave her wisdom and strength to weather the storm, but He also placed her right in the lineage of King David and, ultimately, Jesus.
As for my husband and I, our seeds planted in faith in God helped us remain in peace, even as we laid our newborn baby to rest.
It doesn’t matter your position or status on this earth— storms will come. No one is immune to the trials of this fallen world. Your ability to weather the storms of your life doesn’t come from your will or your strength, but from trusting in God’s will and planting your seeds in a solid foundation of faith in Him. He is the trustworthy soil we can count on to stand firm. The words of the psalmist, David resonate with me when he says: “My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).
Continue to plant seeds in your life, but plant them in faith-rich soil, fertilized by endless worship to the One who can weather any storm. His will is always greater than our own and will help us to weather any storm that may come our way.
9/20/2020 0 Comments
Take Job, for example. In the first chapter of the book named after him, we watch Job lose everything: his animals, servants, andhis children. I’d say “out of control, scared, desperate, and hopeless” would apply to his situation.
While talking to Job, later in the book, the Lord references a beast called a leviathan (Job 41:15). While we don’t know much about this animal, we know it was fearsome. As parents, we may not have to deal with giant beasts with gnashing teeth, but we do have to deal with situations that scare us half to death. Like Job, one of my “beasts” was child loss.
Maybe your beast is simply feeling overwhelmed with everyday responsibilities.
Maybe your beasts also include watching your child suffer through an illness.
Maybe it’s a child who’s taken an undesirable path.
So how do we beat these beasts? For the leviathan, the Lord says that nothing on this earth was it’s equal (Genesis 41:33). Man-made items such as a sword, spear, dart, javelin, etc. were powerless against it— it seems that taking matters into our own hands won’t do the trick.
Remember Abraham? He tried defeating his “beast” of infertility by having a child with another woman (Genesis 16:4). His man-made solution only messed it up further. Fortunately for him, his blunder could not stop the Lord from fulfilling the ultimate purpose that He had for Abraham and Sarah’s lives by giving them a miracle son of their own (Genesis 17:19).
We see Job fighting his own mental beasts in chapters 3-37, before the Lord finally answers in chapter 38. He begins ministering to Job by asking Job fifteen different questions (v. 1-20). These questions weren’t meant to belittle Job, or even reprove his grief. They were questions the Lord knew Job already had the answers to, that pointed to Hispower over the beasts of this earth. This moment of reflection taught Job that the key to defeating his “beasts” was to take his mind off of his feelings, and fix his trust in the Lord.
No matter what “beast” you are facing, there is nothing outside of the Lord’s control. The Bible doesn’t give us specific answers on how to do this “mom thing,” but it does tell us to TRUST. Trust in the One who is powerful to perform miracles. Trust in the One who can restore our lives. Trust in the One who can change our feelings from out of control, scared, desperate, and hopeless to, under the Lord’s control, brave, confident, and hopeful.
Devotionals by Author
All Abby McDonald Angi Morrison Anne Say Audra Powers Breanna Faith Spearman Brenna Kurz Brittany Marlow Caroline Hultgren Courtney Filippin Dana Schaefer Danielle Biddy Debbie Burns Heather Kenny Jannetta Cox Jessica Parker Jess Ridgeway Joan Lavori Katelyn Wilson Katie Gibson Kelly Orlowski Kerri Barfield Keryn Stokes Kristen Williamson Laura Pendley Lindsay McNeely Lonette Baity Martha Rudolph Nancy Ehlinger Renee Robinson Saretta Wells Tara McGill Taylor Watkins Tierney Nashleanas Wendy Gerdes