12/9/2022 2 Comments
Leaving Our Comfort Zones
Only two years have passed, and now I can see that moments like the one I experienced with my family opened the doors for the moments I am living now, like hiking 6 miles up a mountain in the Alaskan wilderness, a far cry from the “hill-like” mountain we climbed together.
Our hike required a heightened awareness of my surroundings, including my children. The same is true when I think about the fact that Jesus is coming back. I cannot think of a phrase that more powerfully calls us to wake up than that. This phrase calls us to repentance, to growth, to commitment to see others come to know Him, and to a deep joy at what is to come. These four words draw us, comfort us, and challenge us. The call to wake up, though, indicates that, in some ways, we are asleep. How easy is it to steer clear of the very challenges that will draw us closer to Him and to our purpose?
Romans 13:11 says “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Looking into the surrounding verses, we see the actions Paul intended for us to take include “putting off the deeds of darkness (Rom 13:12)” and “clothing ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14).” Likewise, the church in Sardis was warned to wake up and repent, and that if they did not, He would come like a thief (Rev. 3:2-3). Revelation 16:15 mirrors these two sections of Scripture so well: “Look, I come like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
Scripture upon scripture prods us to stay awake while the world around us increasingly tries to lull us back to sleep. I’ve been connected to this idea of awakening since 2020, when I chose the word “awake” for my word of the year. That year’s experiences, like the hike above, woke me up to fears I was mingling with faith and to things I couldn’t have learned about my children or myself without experiencing some turbulence. If we allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep, we won’t make it where He wants to take us.
Being awake is life giving, but not without its fair share of challenges. I know well the desire to check out for a moment of “peace.” But what if we didn’t? What if we didn’t check out but rather stayed awake and kept moving forward? As we start this time of fasting and prayer, let’s seek Him and what He wants to awaken in our lives.
Memory Verse: “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
8/31/2022 0 Comments
An Uncommon Love
We see this mix of both truth and love in Paul’s letter to the Colossians. He extended words of deep and meaningful praise and encouragement, but Paul also exhorted the Colossians toward truth, with the expressed goal that “they might be encouraged in heart and united in love” (Col. 2:2a). When Paul loved, he fought for people to have all the richness offered by a life with the Lord. He reminded them of the truth, warned against things that would draw them away, and pointed them toward Christ and unity. Paul’s love wasn’t fluff, and ours shouldn’t be either.
The Colossians were a group of faithful believers that still had some kinks to work out, just like us. As part of the body of Christ, we have the same ability as Paul to strengthen one another and our relationships. If the truth will set us free, then we must be willing to share it with one another. Love does not exist without truth. While this “truth in love” style of living isn’t common in our culture, the Father has given us the truest definition of love through His Son, Jesus, and it is by this uncommon love that we will be recognized as His.
When we love others, sometimes we have to tell people hard things so that we can grow together. I have wasted a lot of time storing up hurts that were never intended. Maybe you can relate. I can know intent but still hold onto the hurt I felt over some issue like little bricks to make a wall between us. As I’ve sought the Lord in how to handle my relationships, He challenged me to get honest with the people around me and stop trying to cover over things out of love and let love truly cover over all. The world tells us that we should forgive and move on, but that can lead us down a path of further struggle and pain if we never actually address our hurts. The Father, however, shows us a better way, combining grace and truth.
So next time you face a sticky situation with a friend or loved one, seek to handle it immediately so anger doesn’t build and the relationship doesn’t break, because one of the greatest acts of love is telling the truth.
Memory Verse: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
8/30/2022 0 Comments
A Fully Surrendered Life
After seventeen years of trying my absolute best to follow Jesus, I met the Holy Spirit in a life-altering way, and my entire world changed. I quickly learned that He had work for me every single day, moment by moment. Simple obedience became my entire life. I realized that I had been stifling His voice for years. As Covid 19 hit, I would wait on His command to do even simple things such as make online grocery orders, and while many weren’t getting large portions of their orders, mine was always full. I was both shocked and hooked…my anxiety completely gone because of full faith in His ways. While, in the past, I thought I could plan certain things easily, I now realized the value and subsequent fruit brought about from seeking His input.
When I read that Israel sampled Gibeon’s provisions and didn’t inquire of the Lord (Jos. 9:14), my heart broke because I know that is how I lived for so long. They leaned on their understanding of what they were hearing and seeing instead on the complete knowledge of the Father. They saw worn clothing and moldy bread and made the decision themselves that these people were truly from far away (Jos 9:12-13). The Lord could have revealed who the Gibeonites were if He had been consulted, and this story would have ended quite differently. The Gibeonites would have been destroyed completely. Instead, the Israelites were deceived and bound to them (Jos 9:15). This treaty with a people that would’ve been destroyed ultimately led to a famine in the time of David due to Saul’s later destruction of the Gibeonites (2 Sam 21:1).
I wonder if they ever wondered what might have been if they had sought the Lord instead of trusting in man. Did they wish they could have gone back and done it differently? In our lives, our confidence comes when we seek Him in all things and move according to His will. There is no greater life than living fully surrendered to Jesus.
Does the idea that He wants access to everything (our finances, our parenting, our marriage, and even how we spend our time) sound scary? I would have said ‘yes’ to that question for years, but let me encourage you: He is a good Father. He is not bound by time or space, and his knowledge is not limited. He is trustworthy, and He is truly found by those who seek Him with all their hearts.
As we continue to read His great book, we will come to know His heart for us more and more, and our faith and trust will grow. While that journey will likely last a lifetime, let’s start living in that trust now. If we think we know how to handle a situation, let’s check with Him anyway. When what we see leads us to only one conclusion, let’s ask Him for His input anyway. He is the only one that truly sees all aspects. Trust Him with me, and let’s live the full life that Jesus says He came to give!
Memory Verse: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
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