He Must Increase
Whenever trouble comes your way let it be an opportunity for joy great. For when your faith is tested your endurance has a chance to grow.
When Logan, our oldest son was little his favorite ride at Busch Gardens was the kiddie airplanes. I remember the first time he rode them by himself; he was filled with excitement as the ride went round and round and up and down. Every time he passed by I stood on my tiptoes and waving like a crazy lady, praying that he wouldn’t fall out. Fast forward 16 years and now I am sitting on a crowded airplane (a real one) with that same son, 10,000 feet in the air getting ready to parachute out. Suddenly, that ride at Busch Gardens seemed so small by comparison.
As mothers we want to protect our children from life’s difficulties and uncertainties. If he doesn’t get enough playing time in the game, we confront the coach. If her friend said something mean to her, we call the girls mom and get it worked out. If he really wants a certain teacher this year we and go to the school and make it happen. There are certainly times when we need to step in because our child is in an unsafe situation, but more times than not we do it because we want to make sure our child is happy.
John the Baptist, when questioned about Jesus’ growing ministry as his own ministry was declining said, “He must increase, I must decrease”. James 1:2-4 tells us that the troubles in life are an opportunity for our faith in the Lord to grow; as our faith grows the Lord becomes bigger and bigger to us. He increases.
In His increasing He prepares us to trust Him to do what he calls us to do. We will be able to say, “Lord I do not know what is going to happen, but I trust your sovereignty, goodness and love for me as I walk through this.” When we approach difficulty and uncertainty in this way we come out on the other side with a stronger, deeper trust in the Lord.
Walking to the edge of that airplane, counting to three and jumping out is probably the most dangerous, frightening and uncertain things Logan and I have ever done. And quite honestly jumping out of a plane has NEVER been on my bucket list but it was on Logan’s. I remember waiting to board the plane thinking I could be the coolest mom in history, or the worst mom ever depending on the outcome. We could have avoided the danger, I could have stepped in and refused to allow Logan to go sky diving, but I would have taken an incredible adventure away from him. A chance for him to face danger and uncertainty and be brave, which is an important lesson in a young mans life.
The Lord has a great adventure planned for our children, but in order for them to live it out “He must increase”. For this to happen our children occasionally experience difficulty, challenges and uncertainty. (That “trouble” James talks about so their faith will grow.) In the end, isn’t that what we ultimately want for them? For their faith to be so strong they are willing to jump into any adventure He calls them to, even if it is not one we would personally call then to? One that allows Him to increase and us to decrease. Learning to fully trust Him in the process.
Let Our Eyes Be Opened
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, they are
I love the times when I’m reading the Bible and words are jumping off the page...filling me with wonder and excitement, like a treasure hunt of sorts. Well, I had one of those days just recently while I was reading about the two blind men in Matthew 20.
When I read The Word, I typically ask the Lord what He wants to reveal to me in the passage. So on this particular day, I asked what I may be blinded by in my own life. This question of poor eyesight brought back to mind a story my husband, Bill, shared with me from his childhood.
During an eye exam at school, Bill was told that he should seek further testing on his eyesight. He had no idea that he wasn’t seeing things clearly. So when he walked out of the eye doctor’s office wearing his new glasses, he saw the white snow more vividly and the words on the street signs more clearly. He was in awe!
Now these two men in Matthew 20 were very aware of their blindness. And at the end of Matthew 20:30, “they cried out, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”’ And Jesus responded with a question: “What do you want me to do for you?” They answered, “let our eyes be opened.”
When they were crying out for mercy, could it be they were thinking about Lamentations 3:22-23: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, they are new every morning.”?
Whatever the blind men may have been thinking, Jesus knew their hearts trusted that He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. And Jesus gave them sight.
Today, is there an area in your life where you are not seeing clearly? Does one of your children need a little one on one time with you? Have you been negative with your husband recently? Is there a friend or family member you need to reconcile with?
Lord, let our eyes be open to what You want us to see! Like the beauty of new fallen snow, may we see Your mercies more vividly and Your words of guidance from The Word more clearly.
Be Still and Know
Be still and know that I am God
Our children came along quickly. When our third daughter was born, the other two were only 3 years old and 14 months old. As you can imagine and could possibly be experiencing for yourself right now; it was a crazy, busy time. But I look back and am so thankful for a mom that came alongside me and encouraged me to read the Word daily in the midst of raising little ones. At some point after that, I was challenged to memorize Scripture. Well, that was a daunting task to me at the time and still can be! One of the first verses I memorized was Psalm 46:10a “Be still and know that I am God.”
You’re probably thinking that I picked it because it’s such a short verse, and I can’t remember for sure, but there’s a good chance you would be correct!
My motivation may have been less than spiritual, but God’s intention was to use these 8 words to draw me close to Him through the years. As a young mom, I would begin a “quiet time” of reading the Word and praying by meditating on this verse. It would cause me to leave behind the distractions of life and to, instead, think on Him and praise Him.
In this verse we know that the most important word is “God.” But after that, there are two other words that must also be meditated on; “still” and “know.” Are we taking time to be “still” before Him? This is not just meant for a time of devotions, but throughout the day. In the original language, one of the synonyms for being still is to “cease.” We may find that we need to cease doing for a time or to cease thinking on _________ today. As moms, we are accustomed to “doing.” Sometimes we work at fixing things that are broken in our lives when the Lord is saying to “be still and know that I am God.”
During this time of being still, as with a breath of cool, fresh air; He guides us in a way that we haven’t been able to hear because of our busyness. I once read that we need to cease from the “busy traffic of our thoughts.” Is God calling you to be still from doing or thinking and “know that He is God”?
You may have had someone ask you “if you know that you know that you know” about a certain subject matter. They are basically asking if you are sure with every fiber of your being. To “be still and know that He is God” is to stop and think on and to acknowledge with everything in you that He is God. He is our God and Father who loves us unconditionally, knows every detail of our lives, and has everything under control. As we meditate on knowing He is God, He sweetly guides us to know Him more.
Today, whatever may be going on in your life, allow the Lord to speak deep into your soul the words of love that will cause you to trust Him more...
Be still and know that I am God!
Weekly Memory Verse
Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash
July 02nd, 2019
Recently, my husband and I rented a motorcycle to tour the beautiful and mountainous area surrounding Seattle, Washington. As we rode on the Chinook Pass and travelled the steep road to Mt. Ranier, I noticed road signs that I had never seen while living in the warm and flat lands of Florida. The signs read:
Chain-Up Area Ahead
Warnings signs were posted for travelers to pull off the road and put chains on their tires in order to safely travel during the severe snow and ice seasons.
As I contemplated those signs, the Lord reminded me that before I am about to do something that would put unhealthy chains on myself He warns me. His word says “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man and God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape so that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
My own fleshly nature and/or the enemy will tempt me in my thoughts. Ultimately, I am the one who chooses my actions. In the midst of being tempted, there is always a way of escape. The actions that I choose will either lead me to bondage in the Chain-Up Area or away from bondage and into freedom!
When I have gluttonous tendencies, buying a half gallon of my favorite ice cream “just to have on hand for company” when I really know I will eat it all myself- leads me to a Chain-Up Area. If I am not being disciplined in my spending, going shopping and spending frivolously leads me to a Chain-Up Area. If I am not being a good steward with my time, turning on the tv or getting on social media leads me to a Chain-Up Area. If I am struggling with insecurity, comparing myself to everyone around me leads me to a Chain-Up Area! And less obviously, if I am staying busy doing good things and do not have time to do the things that God has called me to do then this definitely leads me to a Chain-Up Area. My list and maybe yours is endless.
Thankfully, according to God’s word, whenever I am faced with temptation, there is going to be a way of escape. I can choose to buy a banana rather than ice cream; I can choose to ask a friend to go for a walk rather than shopping; I can choose to read a book, clean or cook rather than watch tv or get on social media. I can choose to remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) rather than compare myself to everyone around me. I can choose for Him to direct my steps (119:133) rather than tell Him what I will do. If I do not choose to take the way of escape then I am choosing to pull into the Chain-Up Area and figuratively put chains on myself. Jesus Christ died for me and for you so that we may live a full and abundant life (John 10:10) and a life of freedom in Him (Galatians 5:1). What ways of escape can you choose to take?
Oh, LORD, the next time I am faced with temptation, help me take the way of escape and totally avoid the “Chain-up Area”.
Weekly Memory Verse
Photo by Oziel Gómez on Unsplash
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.