How priceless is Your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Have you ever been on the Pinterest website or saw something that you thought you could make? Certainly, anyone could follow 5-easy-steps to accomplish this fabulous craft or recipe! Right?!?
A few years ago, I saw a cute reindeer-pretzel snack that was perfect for a church event. After I purchased all the ingredients, a few friends gathered and we started an assembly line. After many unsuccessful attempts of following the directions and then improvising, we finally surrendered. Someone suggested that we post pictures of our mangled and not-so-cute reindeer on the “Pinterest Fail” page! Compared to the Pinterest-perfect picture, they were definitely a “fail” and although tasty, they never made it to the church event.
Have you tried something much more serious in life than a craft or recipe that you considered to be a failure? Or are you facing a challenging season right now with issues beyond your capabilities? Regardless of what or how things happened or are happening - YOU are NOT a failure. If ever you hear words in your head, “I am a failure,” know for a fact that those words are NOT from the LORD God Almighty, but from the enemy - the liar and the father of lies (John 8:44) and you can replace those thoughts by thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8, NIV).
When thinking of failing, Psalm 36:7 is a great verse to cling to: “How priceless is Your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings” (NIV).
God’s love is UNFAILING! His love is constant, everlasting, inexhaustible, sure and infallible.* His love never disappoints or is without hope. Also, His love is PRICELESS - so precious that the value cannot be determined as the value is beyond any price (*Merriam-Webster Dictionary). There is nothing that we can do to make God love us more than He does; AND there is nothing that we can do to make God love us less than He does. He loves us. He created us. Sometimes, we may need to remind ourselves that His love is not based on what we do, but that we are His. His love for us is priceless and everlasting.
This week we celebrate Resurrection Sunday. We celebrate how Jesus Christ, perfect and sinless, willingly laid down His life; He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus is the spotless lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) Jesus showed His priceless and unfailing love when He was nailed to the cross. May we walk in this Truth.
Listening For His Voice
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
I vividly recall being in the shoe department of a retail store when I heard a child call out, “Mommy, where are you?” In a peaceful, reassuring voice the child’s mom replied, “I’m right here, follow my voice.” The mom continued to guide the child with encouragement until the reunion was obvious to those within earshot. “Mommmmmy!”, said it all.
I have replayed this scene, in my mind, many times. It always makes me think of my relationship with the heavenly Father. As His child, I desire to hear His voice speak to my heart and guide me.
One of the first verses I memorized was James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (ESV). Some translations say to “Come near to God.” My desire is to come running into my Father’s outstretched hands, but I must be honest, I don’t always do that. Even this morning, as I sat down to read my Bible, my mind was all over the place. The rapid, random thoughts brought me to the point of anxiousness. I was trying in my flesh to make order of my thoughts. Finally, I drew near...
I followed the example the Lord made known to the prophet, Jeremiah, “Call to Me and I will answer you” (Jeremiah 33:3, ESV). I called out in prayer for Him to help me concentrate. As I started praying, He quieted my soul. Was there something magical about it? No! But, by faith, I chose to believe He would do what He said He would do. I called. He answered! The author, Evelyn Christenson, of “What Happens When Women Pray”, would have called my prayer an “SOS” prayer. I definitely needed help!
Thankfully, with my mind quieted by the Lord, I could now draw near by approaching Him in The Word. It is here that He speaks to our hearts. I have heard some people say, “I wish He would speak to me when I read my Bible!”Our Lord longs to speak to each one of us through His Word...even more than we want to hear from Him!
On the inside cover of my Bible, I have written a few quotes from Andrew Murray’s book, “ The Inner Chamber and the Inner Life.” These words are a wonderful reminder to me as I open the Word of God.
“The Word of God is a living Word. It carries a divine quickening power in it.”“These words are full of the life of God. God is in them, and makes His presence and power known to them who seek Him in them.”
Lord, today, may we each choose to draw near to You. And may we hear You speak to our hearts through Your living Word.
“The disciples were amazed. ‘Who is this man?’ they asked. ‘Even the winds and the waves obey Him!” Matthew 8:27
Our grandson has never required much sleep. He is an early riser and nap-taking isn’t a favorite activity. He doesn’t particularly like bedtime either. But now, at three years old, he and his mommy and daddy have a bedtime routine which works for him, though it wasn’t easy getting to this point.
Once when he was two, his mom was beyond worn out trying to get him to sleep. They had read several stories together; they had said bedtime prayers. She had stayed with him in his room for a time until she decided that he would have to get to sleep on his own. He didn’t like this idea and fussed about it. His whimpering turned into full blown wails. My daughter thought he would tire himself out with all of the crying and sat downstairs listening to his cries. She had made up her mind; he would just have to cry himself to sleep.
After a while, she noticed a pause in his sobbing. A shaky little voice uttered, “Mommy, I’m sad!” My daughter jumped off the sofa and bounded up the stairs, grabbing her son in her arms to soothe and comfort him. What the constant crying could not provoke, those simple words produced in her mother’s heart a need to ease his self-inflicted trauma and console her “sad” little boy.
What is it about a hurting heart’s cry and expression of sadness that can grip our emotions and ignite our desire to help? If we as imperfect parents, and human beings for that matter, can feel such compassion, why do we doubt the compassion of God?
We may question, doubt or suspect our Heavenly Father of not caring. Our whimpers of not trusting turn into wails of unbelief. We see this in Jesus’ disciples when they faced a physical storm on the Sea of Galilee (Luke 8:22-25; Matthew 8:23-27). They were fighting for their lives as waves tumbled over the sides of their boat, threatening to topple them and throw them into the sea. Where was their companion, Jesus? He was sleeping peacefully in the midst of the tumult. They awoke him with shouts that they were about to die.
In my imagination, the thoughts of the terrified disciples went something like this: “Jesus, Jesus, don’t you even care that we are about to perish? Why aren’t you doing something?” Their fear beckoned answers. Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves and the storm stopped.
“Where is your faith?” Jesus asked them. And they marveled that even the wind and the waves obeyed Jesus.
Their fears of harm had compelled them to wake their Master. He quickly came to the rescue; He calmed the storm. The water was again peaceful, as were the disciples’ hearts.
When we call out, God always hears us. When we feel afraid or sad or overwhelmed, we need to remember that we are not alone. We are the children of the God who can calm any storm and who rushes to take us into His arms.
I Am Committed to You
“Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.”
My son woke up one morning in a cranky mood. He was having one of those “I woke up on the wrong side of the bed” kind of days. Nothing was satisfying him. I tried everything to appease my little human. I put on his favorite TV show and provided him with his favorite snack, Cheetos, even though it was nine o’clock in the morning. I was desperate to say the least. When those things did not work, I tried to ignore the behavior. I acted like it was any other “normal” day when he had woken up in a good mood, ready to conquer the day with a smile on his face. Needless to say, that method did not work either. I was nearly at my wits end. Could I really endure an entire day like this?
Finally, I scooped him up in my arms and set him on the counter so that we were eye to eye and said, “Look, I am in this thing with you. I am committed to you. Whatever today holds, I am here. I got this.” I would love to report that this exchange completely changed my little man’s heart and mind, but it did not. He continued to have an off day, but I remained committed to him. Whatever he needed to get through the day, I was going to do it. I love him without conditions. This is my job as his mom.
After tucking my little one into bed that night, I began to think about the day’s events. I realized that I am not much different from my son. I wake up some days in a foul mood. My heart is unsettled, and I would just rather throw myself on the floor and throw a fit than to face the day. That’s when Jesus comes in, scoops me up and looks into my eyes and says, “Sarah, I am committed to you. I love you unconditionally. I’ve got this.”
If you are a child of God, He does the same for you. You may be facing a huge trial right now. You or your husband may have lost your job. Your child might be rebelling. You might be overwhelmed with depression or anxiety. Maybe your parents have gotten sick, and you are now the fulltime caregiver. Whatever the circumstance that is troubling your heart, know that God is committed to you. He is right there with you. Hebrews 13:5 reminds us of this truth, “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.” It does not matter what you are going through. At this very moment, God is with you. He is not going anywhere.
Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.” During the unsettling times in life, fall back on these incredible words of God. We do not have to be afraid because the Creator of the Universe is our God. He will strengthen us when we want to give up. Not with feeble human strength, but with His strength that does not grow tired or weary. He will hold onto us with His hands when we feel unsteady or uncertain. God loves us with an everlasting love. He is committed to us; He is for us. You can rest in this truth knowing He is committed to you.
Sprint Through the Storm
God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.”
Recently, we had a bad thunderstorm come through our city in the middle of the night. I was awakened by the rain hitting the side of our house and then I heard the loud thunder. The first thing I thought about was whether or not the thunder was going to wake up our three sleeping children. After a couple more rumbles of thunder, I could hear my 4 year old son’s footsteps coming down the stairs and straight towards our bedroom. He has a huge fear of thunder, so I knew he was upset to be awakened by it. The first thing he did when he got into our room was come to my side of the bed and wrap his arms tightly around my neck. He stood there for almost a minute, holding on for dear life. He then scooted onto the bed, never letting go of his grip. After a couple minutes, the thunder stopped and we journeyed back up to his bed, where he quickly fell back to sleep.
My husband, who is the worship pastor at our church, told this story to our congregation, during our time of worship a couple of weeks ago. He said that as he thought about how our son didn’t hesitate to run to us in his time of great fear, he realized how many times he doesn’t run to God when he deals with fear or trials. That is something that I know to be true in my life as well. When I get upset, become filled with fear, or feel out of control, I know my first steps are not always headed towards God. Rather than run straight to Him, sometimes my first instinct is to call my husband, vent to my mom, or even to look on Google for an answer to my problem; which, by the way, can actually be a very bad idea that fills me with more fear.
Talking to our friends and family, when we’re going through a difficult time, is not a bad thing, but it can become an unhealthy habit when it is what we depend on most for help. We should be looking to God and His Word for our main source of comfort and wisdom. He should be the first one we run to! Psalm 46:1 reminds us of this beautiful truth: “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.” I am so thankful that no matter what our circumstance may be, God is always there. We should not just be going to Him as our last ditch effort, we should be sprinting with everything we have straight into His arms, holding on as tight as we can and never letting go.
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, make their home in central Arkansas. They have five grown children and are grandparents to wonderful grandchildren. 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.