By Kandice Adams
I am not always an awesome parent. I am going to be honest and say that there are many days when my only goal is that everyone makes it out alive.
Today, I am praying life over my three children who, ironically, I believe are trying to be the death of me.
My 20-year-old wants another year in El Salvador, and I want her stateside.
My 15-year-old wants to live in squalor; I am declaring his dwellings uninhabitable… oh, and he is currently sporting a rather large afro, sigh.
And the little one, well, today she is six going on 26, and believes she knows what’s best for her life… and my life too.
For those of you with babies, this may seem at the very least, exaggerated, but don’t judge me too quickly.
I’ve been where you are, and today I want to share with you (and remind myself of!) a few simple tips on raising a child of the King, so that when you have a day like I am having, you are able to just stop and take a breath and remind yourself that it is just a part of the journey.
Give more hugs than rebukes
There is a Chinese proverb that states the reason that people shout when they are angry is because their hearts are far away from one another and they must shout to be heard. Try to intentionally keep your heart near your child’s (try to remember where she is) so that your love and compassion is heard through your words. And give twice as many hugs as rebukes (Proverbs 15:1-33, I Cor 13:4).
Fight the battles that need fighting
There are many lessons that they will find out on their own, whether they hear them from you or not. Perhaps the shoes don’t go with the blouse, but we will foster a stronger relationship by allowing them to make more of their own choices when we can. If the decision they are making doesn’t go against God’s direction for our lives, let it be, and be supportive. If you are anticipating a battle, stand back and ask yourself, is this a battle that I need to fight (Eph. 6:4)?
Love them with the love of Christ
I know that this seems obvious, but before you pass this one, take a moment and really take it in. We know that we love our kids, but we spend a lot of time attempting to create them in the image that we would have them to be because let’s face it, we want them to be better than us. Instead of simply loving them, I challenge you to love them with the love of Christ. Accept them as they are, for who they are, not for what they do or don’t do (John 15:9, Romans 15:7).
Above all things, mommas, remember that God’s got this. It is true that we have been entrusted with the most important job in the Kingdom: growing Christ followers. But remember that we are not expected to do this alone, so let go and place every worry, and every care, at His feet, every day, as you continue this important work for the Kingdom. And when things get challenging, remind yourself that the journey is as important as the destination and if we trust Him, He will get us all there in one piece.
Word of the Day:
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 NIV
Father, thank you for these beautiful children that you have placed in my care. Even on the difficult days, the love that I feel for them goes deeper than anything I could ever explain, yet I know that you love them more-- with a greater, deeper, more encompassing love. Thank you for loving them more than I ever could. Today I ask that you guide my steps as I walk before them and please guide my hand as I raise them for your Kingdom, in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
By Emily Goss
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Mark 16: 6-7
It might be safe to say that we have all felt like a monumental screw up at times. We’ve all done things we are ashamed of and hurt people we love. We’ve mistakenly spoken too soon or doubted the Word of God.
This is where we find Peter. We don’t know for sure, but I’m thinking Peter was feeling pretty lousy about himself and his situation. You see, if you flip just 2 chapters back from our main verse for the day, you will see the heading “Peter denies knowing Jesus.” Oh and a little further back and you’ll see that he got so angry that he cut off a Roman soldier’s ear when they were taking Jesus to be crucified.
You’ve probably (hopefully) never cut off anyone’s ear or denied Jesus before the rooster crowed 3 times. But, if you’re like me, I bet you’ve bought into the lie that you’re too far-gone. That maybe there is a situation or sin in your life that you feel is past the point of no return. That you’ve been running too far and long in the opposite direction of God’s best for you.
I think in all of us there is this place hidden in the back of our hearts and minds that wonders: Am I worth pursuing?
Maybe you feel like the screw-ups outweigh the good days. Maybe you’ve doubted. Maybe you’ve been angry. Maybe you’ve questioned. But let me tell you...
You are worth pursuing.
Peter’s story shows not only the extravagant grace of Jesus, but the lengths to which He would go to show his love. He knew Peter needed an extra special word. He knew he felt isolated and abandoned on top of just downright regretting his choices.
But Jesus specifically singled out Peter and had the angel say “tell the disciples AND Peter.” In other words; “Make sure Peter knows! Make sure Peter knows that I did what I said I would do. Make sure Peter knows that I haven’t forgotten or abandoned him. Make sure Peter knows that I’m not finished with him yet. Make sure Peter knows I’m alive!”
God gives many examples through scripture of his pursuit of certain individuals. In Luke 15, we see three different parables that reference something or someone that is lost. We see the great extent to which the father will go to welcome back his lost son, then we see a woman who loses one of ten coins and rejoices when she finds the lost one. And, we see the party that is thrown over finding one lost sheep. This is the extravagant love of our Savior; all of these parables show that he would stop at nothing to restore relationship with us.
You are worth pursuing.
God desires for you to know he hasn’t forgotten you or abandoned you. He has a plan, and it involves you, and He gave His son Jesus on a cross so that you would know it.
So today, let’s take joy and hope in the fact that Jesus not only pursued Peter even in his darkest hours but us as well.
When we run, He pursues us. When we fall, He is there. When we get all the accolades, He pursues us, and when we fail miserably, He is there.
Word of the Day:
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10
Jesus, thank you for the reminders through scripture of your pursuit of me. Thank you that I am not alone or forgotten. Thank you that you have a plan that is beyond my imagination. Give me faith to trust you and take joy in your presence today. Amen.
By Kandice Adams
We have all done it. Power walking up and down the grocery aisles, hungry, throwing everything in the cart but what we intended.
Unfortunately for me, the items frequently tossed into the basket tend to be the ones that taste really good but are of no benefit to the body.
I start out with good intentions, but because I am ravenous, I become easily tempted and distracted, thus grabbing quick and easy things that I believe will satisfy me.
Recently I was having one of those grocery runs and each item that I tossed into the cart seemed to mock me.
You are what you eat.
Then I was reminded of how things had been during the month of March, when I fasted.
I would go to the grocery store, juice in hand, and with a very controlled approach, peruse the aisles. I was very precise about my selections, picking only choice fruits and vegetables. I wasn’t starving because I had been sipping on my fruit juice along the way.
Just ripe Bananas.
All excellent, beneficial things went into my basket. And I was satisfied and content.
I couldn’t help but notice the difference in the two occasions when I stopped to consider how I am feeding my spirit woman.
Is my spirit woman starving because of the lack of time I spend with the Lord, and am I haphazardly tossing things into my “basket” that are detrimental to my spiritual growth?
Copious amounts of alcohol to dull a pain.
Unhealthy friendships to lessen the loneliness.
Ungodly relationships to improve self-worth.
Ladies, we are what we eat.
Our spirit bodies are not different from our physical bodies.
If we want a healthy relationship with the Lord, we must eat of the bread of Heaven by spending time in His Word. It is there that we learn to overcome pain.
If we want to produce the fruits of the spirit, we must tap into the organic fruit of the vine of Christ through prayer. It is in the relationship we have in Christ that we find our worth.
If we want to quench our thirst, we must drink from the living water, the Spirit of God who is always with us.
Moms, this means that we need to stop waiting until we are starving thus falling for what is easy and tastes good but only satisfies us temporarily.
Today, I challenge you to listen closely to your spirit woman, and instead of running carelessly through the grocery aisle, throwing unintended, unbeneficial things into the “basket”, lets look to our Father to sustain us. Allow the Lover of your soul to feed you what you so desperately crave: His presence, His attention, and His love as you fill your soul with Him through prayer and His Word.
Word of the Day:
“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” John 6:35
Lord, thank you for the Spirit who makes me aware of my desperate need for your presence. Help me to learn to seek you during the day, instead of waiting until I am spiritually starving. Help me to crave you so I am not easily distracted by things that are detrimental to my relationship with you, in Jesus name, amen.
(Day 2 of our 8-day study, “The Struggle”, on the armor of God)
"Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work." - Oswald Chambers
By Kandice Adams
As we close our series on the Armor of God, the best way to end any study, or devotional time with Him, is through prayer. But do you ever find yourself wondering if your prayers are capable of changing things in your everyday life, let alone effect enough to fight off the thwarts of the devil?
You aren’t alone. Until early this year, it seemed that most weeks in the midst of the hustle and bustle, I left prayer as a last resort, after I had tried everything else… after I had attempted every other “actionable” solution.
It was then that I truly learned that prayer is designed to be more than mere passive words recited from us to our Father. In fact, prayer is the action; and more than we realize, it is the actionable solution that transforms us amid our circumstances.
As Jesus is our example, the following are several places in the scripture where He separated Himself to spend time in the Father’s presence, and by doing so modeled the attitude of worship so that we might have the same intimate relationship with God the Father.
Prayer humbles us.
We find in Luke 22:42 that Jesus approached the Father in prayer with a heavy heart because of the knowledge of the crucifixion to come, but instead of making demands, He humbled himself and said, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
Though often we approach Him with our minds made up and wanting absolute control over the people and situations around us, the very nature of prayer is a spiritual acknowledgement that we are not in control-- He is. It changes our posture to one of submission and humility which honors God (2 Chronicles 7:14; Micah 6:8). It is in our humility that our hearts are prepared for the manifestation of His power which works in us (James 4:10).
Prayer focuses us.
As Jesus continued in prayer, the scripture says that, “... He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground (Luke 22:43).
It is important that we acknowledge the intensity and focus that Jesus modeled before us in regards to prayer (as His sweat became like drops of blood), and it is equally important that we follow His example.
While, as moms, our brains are often filled with millions of things from grocery lists to carpool schedules, whether it is by writing our prayers in journals, praying aloud, or praying in our prayer closets, it is so important that we each find a way to really put everything aside and focus as we pray. It is only then that prayer has the ability to re-center us and realign us with the One who holds the power to change our circumstances (Hebrews 2:8). And it is when we approach His throne in prayer with quiet hearts and minds, that our perspective changes and we begin to look up at our Savior, instead of down on our circumstances.
Prayer strengthens us.
And then finally, the Word shares that He was strengthened (Luke 22:43). To be strengthened would mean that there was a point of weakness; even our Savior had moments.
Ladies, it is ok to take our weaknesses, our worries, and our cares to God because it is then that we will to learn about His character. As we seek Him for provision or protection for our families, He delivers, and we will come to know Him as our provider and as protector. And when we seek Him not knowing how to pray because our hearts our overwhelmed, and His spirit intercedes on our behalf through wordless groans (Romans 8:26), it is then we come to know Him as the lover of our souls.
When we continue to see Him work on our behalf, responding to our petitions through prayer, our faith is strengthened, and we are transformed into becoming more like Christ.
Today, let’s cherish and recognize the value, the opportunity, and the privilege we have in approaching God in prayer, and let’s use it proactively for the building of the His Kingdom.
Prayer is the action; and more than we realize, it is the actionable solution that transforms us amid our circumstances.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6
1.) Study the scriptures above and ask God to reveal weak areas in your prayer life, and then ask Him how and what to pray for.
2.) Ask your what are some ways you can practically improve my prayer life so that it is more of a focused priority?
Father, we come before you praising you and glorifying you for being God. We praise you for always being available for us to seek your wisdom and guidance. Today Lord, I ask that you chasten my spirit that I will remember to pray as often as you have deemed necessary, and I ask that you remind me that prayer is the greater work, which is important work for the Kingdom, in Jesus’ name, amen.
(Day 7 of our 8-day study, #thestruggle, on the Armor of God)
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. “ -Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”
By Katie Gibson
In any battle, it’s good to know your opponent.
Our enemy, Satan, is described several times throughout scripture:
He’s a murderer (John 8:44)
He’s a thief (John 10:10)
He’s a master of disguise (2 Corinthians 11:14)
He is an accuser (Revelation 12:10)
He is powerful (2 Corinthians 4:4)
I think we can all agree that those are some pretty intense descriptions right there.
But the key attribute we’re going to focus on today is found in John 8:44, which tells us, “…He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Or to put it in modern, musical lyrics, if his lips are moving then he’s lyin’ lyin’ lyin.
Sorry… I couldn’t help myself (grin).
But back to the point—if there is great advantage to knowing the enemy, and we know that Satan is the Father of Lies, then it seems pretty crucial that we are armed with a weapon capable of fighting back, right?
The good news is that, on top of all the defensive armor we’ve studied so far, we’ve also been provided with a single, offensive weapon, designed to take down our enemy—the sword of the Spirit.
Ephesians 6:17 says, “…and take the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
The Word of God is truth (John 17:17, Psalm 119:160).
The unknown author of Hebrews also describes the word of God as a sword:
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
“even to dividing soul and spirit… it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”
Now isn’t that interesting.
What he’s telling us is the Word of God draws the line between what we feel is truth (soul), and what really is truth (spirit).
Friends, that sneaky Father of lies has a way of prodding at our feelings, causing us to do and decide in ways contrary to God’s best.
We must learn to divide between truth and lies by engaging the sword of the Spirit.
Jesus left us an excellent example, when He was tempted in the wilderness by Satan, himself, in Matthew 4:1-11.
It is clear that Jesus spent time in the Word, and knew the scriptures inside and out. Three times Satan tempted him with twisted lies, and three times Jesus responded, wielding the truth of God’s Word, and ultimately defeating him.
We, too, can follow Jesus’ example and become expert swordswomen when we:
Meditate on the Word of God. The point is quality, not quantity. Don’t rush, but instead focus on the truths, the stories and the promises within.
Memorize key verses. Identify the area(s) Satan lies to you the most. Research truths found in scripture that counteract these lies, and memorize them.
Maneuver your Sword. Identifying a lie does no good if you do not act. When Satan comes at you with deception, it’s time to counterattack with truth by speaking them out loud.
One of the biggest lies we believe is that Satan is nothing more than a nuisance. Satan hates us, and He won’t hesitate to try to take us down little by little with his seemingly “harmless” lies.
Take the offensive by picking up the Word of God, and committing it to mind. Then you will be ready and able to wield your sword the moment the “father of lies” tries to take you down.
When we know our enemy, we can know how to defeat Him. Satan is the father of lies, and we can defeat him with the sword of the spirit—Word of God, which is truth.
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 (NIV)
1. Memorize the 3 M’s: Meditate on the Word of God; Memorize key verses; and Maneuver your sword
2. Make a plan to put these three into action. Set your alarm 5 minutes earlier to make time to read a chapter of the Word each morning. Write down key scriptures on post-it notes and place them in your car, on your mirror, over your sink—or wherever you will look at them most often!
Father, thank you for the gift of your Word. Forgive me for often undervaluing its power. Help me to be diligent to soak up your Word on a daily basis, so that I will be ready to wield its power against my enemy, the father of lies. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.