By Kim White
In my box of written treasures, I still have a paper from my son’s kindergarten year that makes me smile every time I see it. The teacher asked, “How does your mom show that she loves you?” My son replied, “She makes me tacos.” Be honest, you thought it was going to be a sweet, touching answer?!
His answer revealed not only that he loved tacos, but also that he felt loved by my actions.
One morning, while reading my Bible on the lanai, a surprising summer breeze made its way to my chair and I felt truly loved by God. His action was very personal and loving to me. There was a time I wouldn't have been as aware of His actions or presence, and truthfully, I still miss so much. However, I am very grateful for a book study entitled, A Thankful Heart, by Carole Lewis. During that study we each had a notebook to write down the things we were thankful for each day. The goal was to be more aware and thankful to God for His many gifts and acts bestowed on us all day long.
I remember the day I watched a leaf fall to the ground with such grace, as if showing off in a freestyle dance. I stood there amazed at our God! This was not my normal practice, but, oh, how I realized that I desired and needed to slow down to see God at work and to give thanks to Him.
This small snapshot in time doesn't do justice to what Scripture has to say about being thankful.
This small snapshot in time doesn't do justice to what Scripture has to say about being thankful.
1 Chronicles 16:34 tells us
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever.”
Why do we give thanks? Because we serve an incredible God who is worthy of all our thanks and praise!
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to “give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus".
It is the Lord living in us that enables us to see that which is praiseworthy. For in every moment of life there is reason to give thanks!
Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
The thanksgiving of our heart is received by our Lord as we live out our love for Him through our words and actions of obedience.
Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
At the most fundamental level, prayer is communication between us and God. Thanksgiving is letting Him know how much we enjoyed and felt loved by His works.
In all circumstances, whatever we do, let our heart of thanksgiving overflow in prayer and life!
The beautiful thing about expressing thanksgiving is that the more we practice being thankful, the more we see His activity, the more we draw near and trust Him. In His perfect love, even the act and command of being thankful unto our Lord is also for the good of His children.
I remember when our children were quite young, we would begin our prayer time with them by asking, “What did you do today?” Often we would guide them in their recall, and remind them that every good thing is from God (James 1:17) and we want to thank Him for it. Our two-, four- and five-year old daughters began thanking God for everything from the park and their friends to their toys and ice cream.
Today, I challenge you to look beyond what’s next on your to-do list and open your eyes wide, with childlike wonder and excitement for life and really see God, His works and gifts, and give thanks...
By Beth Calhoun
My husband and I were riding a motorcycle through the mountains surrounding Seattle, Washington where I saw road signs: “Chain-Up Area” (See “Chained Up.” He is Your Life. August 28, 2018). These signs reminded me that because of the unfathomable love that the Lord has for me, He warns me about something that I may be thinking, about to do or already doing that is not His very best for me and possibly harmful. If I heed the warnings, I will experience victory and not face negative consequences. However, what if I ignore the warnings and keep driving full speed ahead? What if I continually choose to do something I know is wrong? If I ignore repeated warnings from the Lord, I will soon be struggling as though putting on chains and living in bondage because I am trying to hide something. This lifestyle is not the abundant life for which Jesus died for me.
I felt a heaviness in my heart while thinking about the damaging consequences of ignoring the warnings of the Chain-Up Area. I wondered, in what areas have I ignored the warnings? Do I have chains on? Do you have chains on? Chains of busyness; chains of an eating disorder; chains of infidelity; chains of insecurity; chains of slothfulness; chains of gossip; chains of debt; chains of apathy, chains of...
Thankfully, the heaviness was short lived and the love of the Lord washed over me as there was another sign on the other side of the mountain:
CHAIN-OFF AREA AHEAD
God’s love is unconditional and His grace so amazing that through His perfect love for us and our trust and love for Him that ANY chain can be removed! The Chain-Off Area is available for each of us! Even if we repeatedly ignored His warnings and willingly made poor decisions, His powerful and perfect love can and will set us free! His plan for us is to live a life of freedom and abundance in which to constantly praise Him.
If we are struggling with a secret and have invisible chains, there is hope! “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:5 NIV). Because of Jesus Christ leading a perfect and sinless life and laying down His life for us, we are able to walk in victory.
Directions to the Chain-Off Area:
1. Acknowledge that we have chains on and ask for forgiveness.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).
2. Memorize Scripture. Write out verses and put them ever
“I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9 NIV).
3. Confide in a safe and trusted spouse, friend, pastor and/or seek professional help.
“Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 NIV).
4. Seek the Lord.
“…seek the LORD your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 4:29 NIV).
5. Remember there is no condemnation.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who
are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1 NIV).
6. Accept that you can be free!
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 NIV).
No quick-fix-chain-removal formula exists. We can only walk in victory one second at a time. Those seconds of victories will become minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and then years. Taking one moment at a time, will lead us to long-term victory and an abundant life.
Lord, thank You for Your perfect love that casts out fear, thank You for Your unconditional love that sets a captive free, thank You for giving Your life so that I may walk in freedom, thank You for the victory that I can have in YOU. Thank You for Your amazing grace that allows me to walk in freedom in order to live a CHAINS-OFF LIFE!
by Julie Fuller
Don’t you just love the funny things our kids say when they misunderstand something? One of my boys was around four and we were at a zoo, as we walked up to the baboon exhibit he asked me with a very serious tone to his voice, “Mommy, are those good boons or bad boons?” He could not understand my uncontrollable laughter; he really did want to know.
You see baboons are not the friendliest looking members of the primate family. I mean chimpanzees seem to have a perpetual grin, but not baboons. They have long snouts, sharp fangs and their hair stands on end like it’s about to attack. Oh and they have a killer death stare (you need to google it and see for yourself). But really there is no such thing as a good or bad baboon, they are just baboons, looking and behaving exactly as the Creator created them. But that doesn’t mean it would be wise to get inside a cage with one of them, I stuck my hand in a monkey cage ONCE and almost lost a thumb.
As I recalled this story it made me think of
1 Corinthians 10:23, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful. Everything is permissible but not everything builds up” (HCSB).
There are no morally “good boons” or “bad boons” but there are harmful “boons”. Much of the activity we fill our day with is neither morally good nor bad.
But as followers of Christ, we want to bring Him glory in everything we do.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (ESV).
If we are not careful, we can fill our days with things that keep us too busy to do the things that bring God glory. So how do we know what will bring him glory?
We have to start by asking the Lord, “What do I know that He has called me to do?” Often times this is answered by the people He places in your life and the way He has gifted you. For example, for me I have 3 things I am certain that God has called me to do, and they are in the order of importance.
***Ladies, I leave you with a challenge this week
By Kim White
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.
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.