“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Throughout the years, our children have been blessed with many amazing teachers in their classes at church. This past year, my four-year-old son became so attached to his teachers. He would look forward to church each Sunday, so he could see them and learn the Bible lessons they taught. One week, when we were walking into church, he found out that his teachers would not be in his class on that particular morning. My son does not deal very well with change, so right when he realized that he would have different teachers, he got tears in his eyes. Then he looked up at me and said, “Mommy can we pray?” Immediately, we prayed in the hallway and then continued walking towards his classroom.
He was able to walk into the class and still have fun with his new teachers, but that moment of prayer spoke volumes to my heart. When my son was upset and needed comfort, his immediate reaction was to pray to God for help. It made me question what my first response is to the different circumstances in my life. Unfortunately, I realized that my reaction is not always prayer. Sometimes, I jump headfirst into worry and think of all the things that could go wrong. Other times, I start trying to take control and do what I think is best. Lastly, I’m prone to throw myself a pity party for what God is allowing me to go through.
There are many verses throughout that Bible that command, not suggest, us to pray. Ephesians 6:18 tells us to, “Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request”, and we’re told in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Even though we know these verses, there are times where we can view prayer as a last-ditch effort and might find ourselves saying phrases like, “All we can do now is pray.” In reality, prayer is the most powerful and effective thing we can do. God doesn’t command us to pray so that we can get what we want, although sometimes He does answer our prayers in the way we asked Him to. He wants us to bring Him our troubles, entrust them to His care, and in doing so, draw closer to Him. When we do this, God promises us in Philippians 4:7 that, “the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Regardless of the outcome, we can experience peace, knowing His plan is for His glory and our good. So instead of worrying, trying to be in control, or pitying ourselves, which all result in more stress, let’s immediately take our requests to our Savior, which, instead, results in incomprehensible peace.
"No in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who love us." ~Romans 8:37
February was tough. Actually, that is putting it lightly. February was downright difficult, and frankly, I am wanting a redo. You see, I struggle with depression, have for most of my life. Last month it was all consuming. It took everything inside of me to push the darkness away and get out of bed. I would like to admit that I was successful every day in doing so, but that would not be telling the truth. There were days when I gave into the darkness and allowed the enemy of my soul a victory.
This past weekend, the darkness began to fade, and I could see the light coming back into my heart. As I was having my quiet time with the Lord, I asked Him what was different about today. Why was my heart lighter? His answer came in a song and a whisper. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace. The lyrics of this song flooded my heart as God gently whispered, “Sarah, my child, you forgot to find your strength in Me. You forgot your battle plan."
A year ago, God gave me a specific battle plan to fight the depression and it is found in Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)…
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
When the darkness of depression begins to creep in, I stop and pray the armor of God over myself. I literally touch each part of my body as I claim, out loud, the power of God's words in these verses. I also have scripture that goes with each piece of armor that speaks the truth about who I am in Christ, who God is in my life, captivating my thoughts, abiding in joy, and living in peace. And you know what happens when I do this? Satan has to flee. The depression has to flee. My focus is back on Christ and the day becomes easier to face. Why? Because I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. And so are you! Whatever battle you are facing today, have a specific battle plan ready so you can fight victoriously through the strength of Jesus. Hebrews 13:5 says that Jesus will never leave or forsake us. Hold on tight to that promise!
"For where your treasure is there your heart will be also"
A couple of years ago, a business opened near me that is part of a booming industry. Apparently there is a big demand for this type of business; however, to be honest, the name of this business annoys me every time I pass by it. The name is Life Storage. Based on the name, I guess it’s a storage place that people can rent so they can safely store his or her life or belongings. Surely, no one one would intentionally pack up her life in a box and put it where it wouldn't be seen, used or even remembered. If that’s the case, then maybe the business should be renamed Life Forgotten or Life Un-Lived.
I’ve learned that when I put something in a box and try storing it for a long time, the contents may get destroyed by roaches or mice. We are warned in Scripture, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV).
According to Matthew Poole’s Commentary, a treasure signifies something laid up for tomorrow, for future; something of value or riches. If we treasure things of this world, we will chase after temporary riches or success that will be destroyed or stolen. In the book of Mark, the question is asked, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36, NIV). Treasures with eternal value will endure. So, What do we treasure? For me, I look at what I think about; how I use my time; where I exert energy and spend money. My actions reveal what I really treasure; things of this world or eternal riches of the Lord.
I treasure the Lord, things of eternity and my relationship with Him. Do my actions reflect that? Do I understand how much my Heavenly Father loves me and desires to reveal more of Himself to me? If so, then I will choose to make time with Him-to sit at His feet and enjoy being in His presence? Do I pursue Him continuously throughout the day or get easily distracted by social media, straightening the house or crossing things off my to-do list? These choices reveal what or Who I treasure and where my heart is.
I also treasure the people that God has put around me. Do my actions reflect that? Am I regularly communicating with my family and friends? Am I willing to give a cup or water in Jesus’ name to someone in need (Mark 9:41, NIV)? Am I encouraging others in their walk with Jesus and sharing with them that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6, NIV)? Our relationship with the Lord and with others are investments that require love and time. These are treasures that cannot be boxed up and stored for later.
Earthly things that have no eternal value will be destroyed or stolen. Let’s ask the Lord to help us to focus intently on Jesus and the eternal treasures of heaven and like the old hymn suggests to turn our eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
I love to ride my bike! I have an adorable light blue beach bike equipped with a cup holder, a wicker basket on the handlebars and a bell. Apparently, I am not the only one who loves to ride my bike!
There was a house being built next door, and before construction started they delivered a 20 foot high mound of dirt to help build up the foundation. The mound sat there for several days beckoning my sons to find something fun to do with it, and boy did they ever. They got a great idea to try to ride a bike down from the top. Logan was the stunt man and Alex was the videographer.
They were so excited to show me their video. I sat stunned as I watched my beach bike careening down the side of this dirt mountain. The hill was so steep that when the bike reached the bottom the back tire went straight up causing my bike to land on the wicker basket attached to the front. They didn’t do this just once, there are several attempts ending with the same results.
I was so angry I started to crying. Up until that moment, they hadn’t even considered they were doing anything wrong. I asked them “What made you think it was OK to do this with my bike?” They said they didn’t think about it they just did it. Their burning desire to do something fun with that dirt pile caused them to act impulsively.
The word impulsive is defined as: acting or done without forethought. Often times impulsiveness is thought to be a negative character trait. The apostle Peter was impulsive, and yes, he did some foolish, sinful things because of it. For instance in Mark 9:2-8 when he was invited to witness Jesus’ transfiguration where Elijah and Moses also appeared with the transfigured Jesus, Peter responded “let us build you three tents.” What! Jesus just became radiant with glory, Peter heard the voice of God the Father and that’s what he comes up with? In another instance of impulsiveness gone awry, in Matthew 16:22, Jesus said He would suffer terrible things, die and be resurrected, and Peter rebuked him, saying that Jesus should never suffer these things.
But there is a beautiful side to Peter’s impulsiveness that is driven by his love and devotion to Jesus. For instance, in John 20:3-9 after hearing the report from Mary that the tomb was empty, Peter ran with the apostle John to see for themselves. John outran Peter and looked into the tomb. But when Peter arrived he went into the tomb. For Jewish people, graves were off limits; to touch one meant you were made unclean. And that is why John only looked in at first, but impulsive Peter, in pursuit of Jesus, walked right into the tomb.
And in Matthew 14 in the middle of a raging storm, Peter stepped out of a boat and walked on water to Jesus. Can you imagine what that must have been like to step out of that boat and feel the water like solid ground under your feet? Peter’s impulsiveness got him to take that first step.
I want that kind of godly impulsiveness. I want my desire to love and follow Jesus to cause me to do things that seem rash to man, but to my Lord look beautifully devoted. This is where the fun stuff happens. This is where we see miracles. This is where we learn to trust and where our faith grows. This is where we will find the the adventure the Lord is calling us to.
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.