"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
A few weeks ago, my family and I packed a few overnight bags and headed for a weekend getaway an hour away from our home, a staycation if you will. It was much needed as I have been feeling the strain of going back to work for the first time since Asher was born. Balancing the duties of home and work are proving to be more of a challenge than I expected. A weekend away was exactly what I needed.
During the day, while Brandon was working, Asher and I would explore the area around us. We waded in the bay water as we tried to catch fish, and built sandcastles that were instantly washed away by the roaring waves. We walked the streets of vendors, ate overpriced food, and just enjoyed each other's company. Something we had not done in several months.
One of our adventures led us to the pier where we stumbled upon the cutest little Discovery Center. Inside we found tanks of colorful fish, the softest sand that you could play with, and Asher's favorite, a center filled with microscopes where one could observe plankton to the heart's content. But what caught my eye was a little diorama showcasing two little houses on the bay. In front of one of the houses was a set of mangrove trees, various vegetation and an oyster bed. The second house only had sand in front of it. A button on the display said, "push". Naturally, I pushed the button, and watched as a rush of water surged toward each of the houses. The one with the oyster beds and vegetation stayed dry, the water never reached the house. The vegetation served as a barrier, a means of protection, against the flood waters. On the other hand, the house with just the sand sustained severe damage as there was nothing to stop the flow of water.
Asher, being completely enthralled with the contraption, continued to push the button, drowning that poor house over and over again. It was in that moment that God spoke to my heart, "Sarah, you are the house that is being pummeled with water because you have removed the safeguards that I put in place to protect you." You see, I have a tendency to shut down when I am feeling overwhelmed. Reading my Bible daily, chatting continuously with God throughout the day and meeting with my sisters in Christ take a back burner as I allow the worries of my heart and mind to take over. Those three things I just listed are my means of protection from the very one who is out to destroy me. John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Nothing will stop Satan from pushing the drown button over and over again. Oh, but God! He is greater! He is for me, and for you! His desire is for us to have life to the full. This is why He prepares the battlefield before me by setting up safeguards. It is my job to keep them in place. As I do, priorties fall into place, my heart aligns with Jesus's heart and I am protected from the schemes of the evil one.
….The LORD is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does
Over two years ago, when Hurricane Irma was about to destroy Florida, my husband and I were away from home, our five grown children, their spouses, our 8 grandchildren, our extended family, friends and our two dogs. We were not in danger, BUT everyone else was in the direct path of a Category 5 hurricane. I was helpless and definitely not in control! I was trying to praise the Lord and walk by faith; however, I found myself thinking, “You are a good, good Father BUT our family is in trouble. Father, I know that you can keep our children safe, BUT there are so many dangerous situations. Lord, You are sovereign BUT how could you allow us to be so far from home when You knew this hurricane was coming?”
I was struggling to trust Him completely through this storm and by adding the word but to my thoughts - that little three-letter word - I was questioning and doubting His goodness and making excuses for my fears. My focus was on the situation and NOT on the Lord Almighty. I was forgetting that “…the LORD is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does” (Psalm 145:13, NIV).
We can make excuses or possibly blame others for our actions when things don’t go the way we want them to go - OR we can be more like the three Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach and Abdnego in Daniel 3. These young men were facing a life or death situation. They only had control over how they were going to respond to the situation., They had been promoted by King Nebuchadnezzar to oversee the affairs in the province of Babylon. When the king commanded everyone to worship the golden image that he had made, the young men were willing to be thrown into a fiery furnace rather than bow down to a golden image. They proclaimed “…the God we serve is able to deliver us from the blazing furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know…that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17 & 18, NIV). In the face of certain death, they were willing to completely trust and cling to the Lord God Almighty. Whether God delivered them from the fiery furnace or allowed them to die, they were still going to trust Him.
The king had the boys bound and thrown into the fiery furnace. He did not see them burning, he saw them walking around freely AND they were no longer alone! The king saw four men walking in the fire and the fourth looked like the Son of God (Daniel 3:25). The one true Living God entered that fire, protected those boys and caused the king to be astonished and admit that their Lord was the Most High God!
What an amazing example for us! When we are faced with a terrible situation, God will either deliver us from it or He will walk with us through it - no buts about it! Either way, He is always trustworthy!
Prayers that Avail Much
“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Several years ago, a dear friend looked me in the eye and said with a puzzled look on her face, “You don’t have ‘Prayers that avail much.’” I was shocked and a bit hurt by her comment and by her estimation of my prayers.
“What do you mean my prayers don’t avail much,” I replied. My friend began to laugh. She explained, “That is the title of a book on prayer,” she said, “Prayers That Avail Much.”
Shortly after our conversation, I received a gift from my friend: the commemorative gift edition of volumes 1, 2, and 3 of “Prayers That Avail Much.” My friend wrote on the inside cover, “Finally! You have prayers that avail much!”
Of course, this became a joke between the two of us and would always bring a grin or giggle between us when we thought about it.
I am so thankful that the Lord’s brother, James, felt inspired to write these words in his epistle: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16 NKJ)
The New Living Translation reads, “The earnest (sincere) prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
The Message reads, “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”
And then James points out in the verses following, “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! (18) Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.” (James 5:17-18 NLT)
These verses encourage me. Elijah was a prophet of God Most High and his prayers were powerful enough to call down fire from heaven in a spiritual battle with the prophets of Baal to prove who the real God was. And yet, James tells us, that as believers in Christ, we too can pray powerful prayers.
James echoes Jesus’ teaching to his disciples that we should pray, “You can ask for anything in my Name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. (14) Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” (John 14:13-14 NLT)
Jesus invites us to pray. We can pray as Jesus did; as Elijah did. We can intercede for others, pray for ourselves, pray for our world because we have a good Heavenly Father who invites us to entreat Him in prayer in the power of His Holy Spirit and in the holy name of His Son, Jesus. Your prayers really can avail much!
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Earlier this year I had a plan. I had been listening to some old teachings from Millie Dienert and was working at turning them into a small group Bible study. My bedroom floor was covered with Bibles, color-coded spiral notebooks and transcripts of her teachings. Every spare moment that I had was spent organizing thoughts and researching biblical truths from scripture. I had personally gleaned so much from listening to Millie that I was eager to share her lessons with a new generation of women.
However, as the weeks went on, I found myself unable to focus. My “free time” was becoming less and less and I couldn’t understand why God wasn’t helping me complete this task, so I prayed for Him to direct me on the path that He wanted me to take. It wasn’t long after that when God spoke up in a big way. I had been reading a parenting book for a women’s ministry that I belong to for young moms and God used that book to make me realize a critical truth: That though I was doing something good, it was taking my focus off of my greater work… being a mother.
You see, while in my pursuit of accomplishing what I believed was a good thing, I began to view the busyness of motherhood as an inconvenience. I wanted more time to work on what I wanted to do and I became irritated when I was interrupted. God was merciful to gently remind me that motherhood is not an inconvenience; it is not an interruption from good work, it is my God-given work, the work He planned in advance for me to do.
This realization helped me to refocus and it removed the anxiety that I was causing myself from trying to accomplish something that wasn’t meant for me at this specific season of my life. I learned that the good things that we want to do for God may not necessarily be a part of His plan for us or perhaps they may simply not be a part of His plan for right now.
In 1 Chronicles 17, King David proclaimed that he wanted to build a temple for God. He had good intentions and was motivated by his love for the Lord, but God said no. David was not the one who would build the temple, his son Solomon would. When David learned that it would be his son who would accomplish this great task, instead of being discouraged, David praised God for blessing his lineage. Though David wouldn’t construct a temple of gold, he would build a foundation of faith in his son's heart. Like David, our legacy of faith, our greatest accomplishments for the Lord may not be the things that we do, but instead be the people that we raise.
As mission minded disciples of Christ, we may face discouraging moments when we discover that our good plans are not God’s plans, but as mission minded moms, we have an opportunity to continue Christ’s work in our homes everyday by faithfully raising our children to know Him.
1 Chronicles 17
1 Chronicles 28
1 kings 2:2-3
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, 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.