Complain or Praise God?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Thought for the Day:  Complain or Praise God; I choose to Praise God.

God has been so good to me so why am I complaining? In the midst of change taking place in the life of my family, I have had the assurance from God that He is in the very midst of the situation. He has led my husband to a wonderful position in a great church where God is leading that family of faith in amazing ways. He has opened a door for me that I never imagined and I never saw coming. In the transition, God has sent special people to assure us along the way that God has not done these wonderful things only to let us have roadblocks that keep us from fulfilling His plan. I had a special person in my life call me just to give me that message last night. God will fulfill His plan for our family in this transition. As I prepare for the coming time, I want to go through it without complaining about the little things. I want to go through it praising God in the obvious things he is doing on a day-to-day basis. Is my complaining keeping me from seeing His plan?

What will I do differently today to show others that I recognize that God is doing special things for my family in this transition. Will I complain about the little things I need to do to make the transition happen, or will I praise God in the way He has obviously placed events in our lives to show He is with us in the transition. I choose to Praise God!

Prayer:   God, thank you for friends and the way they show Your love to us everyday. Thank you for going ahead of us making Your plan, which is bigger that ours, take place in our lives. Forgive us for our human complaining in the little things. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE WANTING TO PRAISE GOD

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Faith to See Miracles

Matthew 17:20-21

“For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

Thought for the Day:  Have faith that miracles will happen

Sometimes, as I read scriptures and readings after I have written a devotional, I delve more deeply into a thought I have for a day. Today was one of those times. I wrote about seeing miracles and that there seems to be a difference in how many miracles we see today in comparison to those seen in the days of Paul. I reflected on my words in the devotional I wrote where I had been seeing miracles in the life of my family and friends. As I looked more closely I realized that we seem to have things turned around and there is a reason we don’t see miracles. We have a mindset that miracles do not happen as much as they did 2000 years ago. We say, “If I could see miracles, I would believe” or “Miracles don’t happen anymore”. Then, the word “FAITH” appeared in my studies and it appeared a lot. The blind man had faith and believed, so he was healed. The father had faith that Jesus could heal his son, so he was healed. Jesus said so many times that it was the person’s faith that healed them.

Do we have faith to recognize the miracles when they happen? Do we have to see the miracles to have faith? I believe the reason I have recognized miracles happening in the lives of my family and friends recently has been because of faith. I believe that miracles happen everyday and that faith will help us see them. In the website I read this morning I read, “The bottom line is that we are not living in an age of faith. And faith is to miracles as cause is to effect.”*

Prayer:   God, thank you for the miracles You bring us everyday. Help us to have the faith to see them, and help us have the faith to know that You will make those miracles happen in our lives. You said it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed. Please give us that faith. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE IN SEARCH OF MIRACLES

 *Charles Pope

Seeing Miracles

Matthew 9:28-29

“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.”

Thought for the Day:  Miracles still happen, they happen everyday.

“God, I am overwhelmed!” As I have gone through the past few months there have been many, many times when I have begun to cry out emotionally, “God, I am overwhelmed!” This is not a cry that I am overwhelmed with life in these moments but it is a cry in Awe that God has done something in the life of my family and friends. In those moments I literally tear up and become emotionally out of control. One of the devotionals I read this morning commented on the difference in “Awe moments” today in comparison to those when Peter, John, and Philip shared miracles and MANY people were brought to Christ. Many came to Christ when they observed the miracles of these and other disciples. The author also spoke that we do not see the multitudes coming to Christ as they saw 2000 years ago. Those miracles might not happen today where many people see the miracles of a few, but they do happen. When we open our eyes and realize that the wonderful events that happen in our lives are from God and not just happenstance, then we see the true miracles.

Today, I am rejoicing over the “Awe” moments when I have seen God’s Miracles in the lives of my family and me, and I shout out, “I am overwhelmed” because I am seeing God “showing up and showing out.”

Prayer:   God, I am overwhelmed today at the many time You have shown yourself to me in the events of my life. Help me to be “Overwhelmed” as I witness those miracles. Help me to recognize those miracles. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE LOOKING FOR MIRACLES

Singin’ in the Rain

Psalms 30:11-12

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may praise thee and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever.

Thought for the Day:  Sing through the rain and show that God is leading you through.

“I’m Singin’ in the Rain, Just Singin’ in the Rain. What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again.” As I listened to the rain falling outside this morning in the wee hours, I began remembering the times as a young girl going out in the rain with my “little girl” umbrella. I danced and got wet, and it was wonderful. At that time in my life, I didn’t care what I looked like or what people thought. I just had fun. Then, I remembered going to a store last evening to pick up a couple of items for teaching and that I didn’t want to get wet. I didn’t want anyone to see me if I got wet. At the last moment before going into the store I thought, “I’m going to leave my umbrella in the car – if it is raining when I come out of the store, I will just run.” There it was, my childhood memory came back to me for just a moment as I thought about running in the rain. As I came out, it wasn’t raining so I didn’t get wet. But, I would have had fun if rain had been pouring down.

“Singing in the Rain!” As I reflect today on the times I had fun in the rain, I think about troubles coming occasionally and how I handle the troubles. Do I sing through them or do I make sure I am not seen as I go through them? God wants us to sing through the struggles in life and to show that we know He is with us. When we look to God during the times of trouble and pray to Him, we can rejoice in the struggles knowing that He will get us through every one of them if we lean on Him. I want to get drenched, not necessarily by the struggles, but by God’s love.

Prayer:   God, help us rejoice and dance through the rain. Help us through our struggles in such a way that we can still dance and show our faithfulness to you. “I’m singing in the rain” for You. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE STRUGGLING

O For Grace to Trust Him More

Philippians 4:6-7

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Thought for the Day:  Trust Him right now in this moment

“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er; Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O, for grace to trust Him more!” These are the words that came to me this morning as I was anxious about how to get a lot done in a very short time, especially one thing that caused me worry and concern. God has recently flung wide a door for Mark to get a new and wonderful position that is exciting for all of us. As I reflect and over the things that need to be done to first move him to another town and then to prepare things for me to move at a later time, I get very anxious and I begin to worry. “Will I be able to get a teaching position?”, “Will I be able to sell or give away enough to be able to pack?”, “Will we be able to get the house ready to sell?”, “How will I handle working and taking care of my boys without Mark?”, and “Will we be able to pay for two houses with their monthly utilities?” I awoke early this morning feeling very tired knowing I needed to go back to sleep but sleep would not find me. Mark reminds me over and over that God took care of the “Big” thing in opening that door for a new ministry position and that God will take care of the little things that seem so big right now. I know that in my heart and I know that I have to turn it over to God where He can take the lead.

So, “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er; Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! ‘O for grace right now in this moment’ to trust Him more.”

Prayer:   Our Father, thank you for loving me in a way that a father loves a child. In these days of worry and concern, please be with me every step of the way as I already know You are. Please go ahead of me, beside me, and behind me where I will always feel you near. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE FEELING ANXIOUS

Missional Opportunities – Take Them

John 20:21

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”

Thought for the Day:  God gives us many opportunities to share His love.

I love to crochet, and although I haven’t had a lot of time over the past few years I still love it fondly. My grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was young and I loved making the little afghans and yes, potholders. I began making little baby afghans when my husband and I began our adoption process for God to bring us the baby He wanted us to have. When our first baby came to us, I went to the car of the social worker, wrapped him in the blanket, and brought him into our house. He was wrapped in love within that special blanket.     After I began making the baby afghans, but before our babies came to us, I made two very special afghans for two very special young ladies in my life. Mark and I met two very precious little girls on our first trip to the Rio Bravo orphanage in Reynosa, Mexico, in 2001. Maricella and Blanca seemed to attach themselves to Mark and me from the time we stepped off the van. We shared so much time with them. We sang songs and played, and of course we did physical work around the campus. We went back to Reynosa the next year with our Mission Team and the girls were waiting, and waving as we drove into the campus. What a precious sight to see their smiling faces and then to spend time with them.

2003 brought a lot of change into our household as in the fall we awaited the coming of our first child with great anticipation. Because of that anticipation and one overseas trip, we were not able to go back to Rio Bravo, which brought us sadness in the midst of our joy about our new baby coming. I decided that since we were not able to go that I wanted to make afghans for these two little girls. I went to the store to pick out yarn colors and patterns that would be perfect for each girl. In a month’s time I made these two very special blankets and couldn’t wait to send them to “our girls.” A precious picture was brought back by our friends who made the trip showing two very special young ladies with the afghans wrapped around their shoulders. Maricella and Blanca, we are told, loved their afghans and sweet letters of thanks came back to us.  Now they are grown, and I wonder if they still have those blankets made with love.

Prayer:   God, thank you for the relationships you bring to us when we participate in mission trips and then when we share time with special people. Those blessed moments give us new perspectives, especially when we see those people wrapped in you love. Amen

Prayer Focus: THOSE IN MISSIONAL SITUATIONS

Sharing Our Story

Isaiah 35:3-4

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

Thought for the Day:  Sharing God

Recently I found myself in a situation where in conversation I felt an urge to share with a new friend part of my family history. I had been with her on several occasions but this time I truly sensed something different. I told her about my trials and losses then I shared of the gifts God had given through friends, family, precious children, and faith. I did not know why I was sharing those things at that moment, but I kept sharing.

I watched her face as I finished sharing, and noticed she was beginning to tear up. She said, “I needed to hear that today – right now. I ended an abusive relationship some time ago and I am reading an e-mail from a friend right now who is telling me about all the abusive things he is still doing.” She thanked me for sharing my story and said that it gives her hope that things will get better.  We talked a few more minutes and in that time she was able to see that she had gotten out of that abusive relationship and that now she can go on knowing God is with her. She smiled.

We never know when we awake each morning and enter our day who we will meet and who we will share our faith story. But God knows and will lead us to those who need His Word.

Prayer:  God, thank you for leading us to friends in need. Please be with those in need today and help them feel your love through the people around them. Help us Lord, to feel Your nudge to share You with them.

Prayer Focus: THOSE IN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS

God’s Unexpected Plan is Better Than Our Formulated Plan

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, o daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.

Thought for the Day:  God’s unexpected plan is better than the plan we have formulated in our minds.

Most of the time God’s way of fulfilling prophecy comes differently than we might think. I have been humbled and put in my place many times when I have realized that a wonderful plan I formulated in my mind was not the plan God had for me. Recently, Mark and I have both been overwhelmed as we have seen God’s hand work in our lives. The work and heartache we felt along the way as we formulated a plan only to see that plan washed away. Then, unexpectedly, God appeared and said, “Here it is. I know this is not what you planned – but isn’t it even better.” Many times over the past few days I have teared up and said, “God, I am overwhelmed.” This time, however, the overwhelming feeling did not come from my thoughts about all the things I needed to do. This time the overwhelming feeling was in thanks to God for doing things that I never dreamed could happen.

The devotional I read this morning was based on the scripture from Zechariah where the prophecy was given that said that the King would come humble and riding on a colt. This was not what the people wanted to hear as they cried out for someone to lead them in war. But when the time came Jesus was born in a manger, later rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and then was crucified on the cross. This unexpected entrance brought us more than a warrior would have done, it brought us forgiveness for our sins. It gave us “a better” plan. It gave us salvation and gave us peace.

Prayer:   God, thank you for doing the unexpected in our lives. Help us ask you to lead us through each day and help us to look for you in everything we do. Help us listen for Your plan in our lives, because it is always better then we can imagine.

Prayer Focus: THOSE LISTENING FOR GOD’S PLAN

My Companion

1 Peter 4:10

As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

Thought for the Day:  Pray for renewal and strength to live for Christ – Build those calluses.

I had a companion I always took everywhere I went when I was younger. During my time in college, I shared my car. During my time as a youth director, I shared my work. During my time on staff at Lake Junaluska, NC, I shared my room. My companion even suffered an injury on the front steps of Shackford Hall during that summer. And during my time of growing up, I shared almost everything. That “GUITAR” was my constant companion and helped me through a lot of wonderful and hard times. No matter where I went or where I needed support, that guitar was in my hand ready for whatever might come. As I listened to John Denver and Amy Grant, I thought I could be like them and that my guitar was going to “get me there”. My Daddy loved hearing me play and wanted to hear “This Old Guitar” and “Muhlenberg County”. I was never that good, and I depended on chord charts to get me through, but that didn’t matter, the guitar was still my companion that I depended on. Today I have lost my calluses that became apart of my chording fingers for so long and when I do play I just make it through – with some pain involved I must add.

As I look at that guitar that I do still love I have a longing to pick it up and play it as I did many years ago, but I don’t and I go on with life and the things I need to do. Is this how it is in God’s Church? There are so many who early in life find a place in Church to take part and show their passion to God. Then, in time and in the busyness of life fall away only to lose the calluses they earned through hard work and compassion. It is hard to grow back into the routine and to establish a new heart for worship and for Christ when those calluses fade away. But, it can be done. God is calling each of us to Him, either new Christians who never had the calluses to begin with or those who had extreme calluses from early life only to have lost them in time. Truthfully, we can’t do it alone. Truthfully, if we pray that God will give us those calluses again, He will do it but will do it in a more amazing way than we can imagine.

Prayer:   God, thank you for the memory today of life with calluses from times gone by. Be with us today to help us find those calluses again. Lord, God, be with us and draw us back into Your Worship and your arms, to do the work you would have us do in your Kingdom. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE WANTING TO ESTABLISH A NEW AND STRONG ROUTINE

Stress Becomes Solace

John 14:18

“I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.”

Thought for the Day:  When you are desolate, look for Christ in those around us.

I woke up and did my normal devotionals and my writing, as I normally begin each day. Then it happened. The spiritual day became a day of pure stress and anxiety. Throughout the past week, my boys and I have shared time with my husband in the place we will call home at some point in the next period of time. We had left knowing that some work was going to take place around our house to begin preparing it to sell and we had returned. On this particular day, I went outside to take some pictures of what had been done because I was not happy with one of the paint colors we had chosen. As I got to the front door, I saw movement and realized there was a painter working on our front door. As I opened the door to speak to him, he immediately began telling me that what we had planned for our front door was not going to work. Then, the saga of other “wrong” things began surfacing. My day that began with devotionals and writing had turned into “total stress”.

With Mark four hundred miles away, I was taking care of a lot on my own and felt helpless. Mark was there for support and to make a few calls, but I felt all alone for the first time in a very long time. The day proceeded to bring more and more stress, until God sent someone to me who could be supportive and could give me true advice. By the end of our conversation, this Christian man made me feel that things were not as bad as they seemed and that it was going to be okay. I have to admit that I was still overwhelmed, but at least I was able to look into someone’s eyes and feel that things were going to be fine. Mark still had to console me and to remind me that God is in the midst of this and that He has a plan.

Workers remained at our house throughout the rest of the day into the evening working to complete the task that had been put in front of them. The job was almost complete and I felt a calm by the end of the day. Throughout their time there, I finished a task inside the house that also brought me solace that I did something big to help in our transition.

Today, I woke up and did my normal devotionals and my writing. I know today will bring its challenges, but after yesterday, I know that God will be with me in everything I do…..even if things seem to fall apart. God will put those things back together in a wonderful way.

Prayer:   God, thank you for putting people in our lives who can make us feel that things are okay. Your words spoken through someone can bring us solace when there seems to be none. Help us today to see You in everyone and for others to see You in us. Amen.

Prayer Focus: THOSE PREPARING TO SELL A HOUSE