“In His grace God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well”.
I love snowflakes! Not one is exactly like another. Their intricate design manifests the unfathomable creativity of our Lord. They remind me that if the Lord would create a snowflake to be incredibly unique, He delights in the uniqueness of each of us.
I also love to ski, maybe more than most Florida girls. I typically ski once a year and then I spend the rest of the year dreaming about it (no kidding, I actually have dreams about skiing). Recently, my family spent some time in Colorado. One day, while I was on a ski lift, it was snowing and I was catching the snowflakes and admiring their beauty and design. I was thanking the Lord for His creation, then I looked down at the ski slope and thought, “I love this snowflake but if I am going to ski it will take a whole lot more than just one”.
Romans 12:6 says, “In His grace God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well”. (NLT) He created each of us to be different, with unique gifts, and talents and unique ways that bring Him honor and glory. But the Lord also created us to come together in our uniqueness to accomplish His work in this world, this is the Church.
The Church isn’t the building we meet in, or the denomination we belong to. The Church consists of believers all over the world, unified by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of pointing others to Jesus. Romans 12:5-6 “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”(NLT)
We need each other! I need to be encouraged and strengthened by how the Lord is working in and through you and you need the same from me. We are also placed in a specific community, whether you are in a big city or a rural village, with unique gifts and talents that when unified with other believers will reach a lost world with the love of Christ.
As much as I love the beauty and uniqueness of a single snowflake, it is weak and fragile by itself, a breath will cause it to melt. But joined together with other snowflakes it creates an incredibly beautiful wintry world that brings joy to a girl like me.
This gives us just a glimpse of what the Church is to be. A place where uniquely gifted people come together by the power of the Holy Spirit to create a place where a lost and dying world will find life, hope and love in Jesus.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
I have always enjoyed going for walks. When my husband and I were first married, we would take long walks together on a dirt road near our home. We would walk and talk and dream about our future together.
As our family grew, our children joined us on our walks. These family walks were just a part of our lives. Now, when our grown children come home or we go to visit them, we often take walks together. I have had many conversations with loved ones while walking up and down a road or in a neighborhood or on a trail. These are precious memories for me.
In the genealogy of the human race, early in the book of Genesis, chapter 5:21-24, we meet a man named Enoch. The list of “who fathered who” is interrupted with just a few descriptive words in these verses, but the words tell us that the man Enoch walked faithfully with God.
Twice in these four verses, it is said of Enoch that he walked with God. The Ryrie Study Bible notes, “Enoch is an exception to the dismal refrain (‘and he died’) of this chapter. He walked (literally, walked about, i.e., lived) with God, and instead of letting him die, God took him (the same Hebrew word is used for the translation (taking) of Elijah in 2 Kings 2:3, 5). In other words, Enoch went directly to heaven without dying….”
I have heard it said that perhaps as God and Enoch were walking together one day God said to Enoch, “You know, we are closer to My home than yours, why don’t you just go home with Me today.”
Enoch’s walking with God symbolized the close relationship he shared with God. When you walk with someone, you travel in the same direction. Walking together gives you time to think and talk. Walking always makes me feel better; my head seems to clear; my perspective seems to broaden.
In the New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 11:5, we are told a bit more about Enoch, “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’ For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” (NLT)
The next verse, verse 6, tells us what it takes to please God: And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.(NLT)
I don’t think that faith was hard for Enoch. I think that Enoch’s faith was like taking one step at a time. When God invites us to walk with Him, it’s just like walking with anyone, you do it one step at a time. And taking one step at a time, walking with God, evidently makes God very happy.
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”
I realize we are well into 2020 now, but I was recently thinking about last year as a whole. Just like me, you probably experienced a year filled with ups and downs, the ebb and flow of life...
fun ~ frustrations, faith ~ doubts, joyful~ heartbroken, filled up spiritually ~ times of drought, thriving ~ surviving.
Sometimes we feel like we are the only ones going through difficult times, and the sweet times can seemingly be swallowed up by the most recent struggle or the apparent storm that is brewing.
During 2019 I experienced abundant joy as three new grandchildren were born into our family. There was the unanticipated blessing of two of our children and their families moving back to our home town. I received many beautiful answers from our Lord through prayer. Everyday there were so many things to be thankful for, but I admit that I didn’t take time to appreciate or thank the Lord for many of them. I am such a work in progress!
There were also things that were difficult to bear. My precious Mom went to be with the Lord. I know this is a praise, but a great loss to our lives. Two of our newest grandchildren spent time in the hospital. The prayer requests for friends and family were heavy with cancer, marriage issues and loss. Throughout the year were also the attacks of the enemy.
Do I share this to complain? No. But to say that I get it! Life isn’t always a walk in the park! There is a way, though, to look at our lives through a lens that will help us walk each day more victoriously. Through the Word of God, I would like to suggest three ways we can learn to thrive more often during the ever-changing, ups and downs of day to day life.
Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.” (NIV)
Another way to have our minds steadily thinking on Him is to intentionally look for things in which to be thankful. Each day is filled with gifts from the Lord. (James 1:17)
Lord, help us think on You and trust You more!
“A thief comes only steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”
My three-year-old son is currently obsessed with the movie Cars 3, which is a cartoon movie about race cars. One morning, he was watching one of his favorite parts from the movie. There is an “underdog” car, named Cruz, and she is racing her final laps of the big race. The car that is in the lead, named Jackson Storm, starts ridiculing Cruz and tells her she doesn’t deserve to be in the race. She gets discouraged, which causes her to slow down. From the sidelines, her trainer asks her, “Do you see what just happened?...You got into his head. He sees something in you that you don’t even see in yourself.” You see, because Jackson Storm was concerned that Cruz actually might beat him, he knew he had to try to taunt her, so she wouldn’t see what she was capable of: winning.
As I was eating breakfast at the kitchen table, watching this scene unfold, I thought to myself how this is what we can be like with Satan. We can become discouraged by all of his tactics that attempt to “steal, kill and destroy us” (John 10:10). We fail to see, however, that he attacks us because he’s threatened by us. He knows that, as believers, we have the power of Christ at work in us and he wants us to doubt God and His promises, rendering us ineffective for the Gospel. The second half of John 10:10 says, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” Satan knows that God has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants to keep us distracted and focused on evil and temporal things, like worry about the future, shame from the past, and discouragement for today. If he can keep us from seeing what amazing power we have at work within us, through Jesus Christ, then he can paralyze us and keep us from living the abundant life God has given us! In the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, she says “Aren’t you at least a little bit curious what he’s trying to keep you from experiencing?”
Today, I encourage you, instead of being discouraged by the difficult circumstances around you and the spiritual warfare you are facing, change your perspective to see that Satan is attacking you because he knows that God has good in store for you. He wants to keep you from it. So don’t let him. “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, have five children, one son-in-law, one soon to be daughter-in-law, and one wonderful grandson. Donna and Bryan have recently moved back to their home state of Arkansas after livingin southeast Alabama the past 23 years. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.