"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:19
When my daughter was a baby, my parents gave us a puppy from their dog’s litter. We named her Chloe and loved this little white dog with black eyes and little black nose. One afternoon, when Chloe was 7, I let her outside. Normally, she stayed in the back yard - but this day, she got out of the fence and barked at the door. I should have let her in at that moment; however, I was putting my two-year-old son down for a nap and decided to let her in as soon as he fell asleep. That was a choice I have always regretted! Before he fell asleep, our neighbor rang the doorbell and informed me that a school bus hit Chloe. We rushed outside and in the middle of the street was our lifeless Chloe. I was hit with grief and guilt!! We stood crying on the side of the street. As we were getting ready to pick her up, a kitten suddenly appeared and approached each of my sobbing children. They were devastated over Chloe - but with this playful kitten, their tears soon dried up and they started laughing. As I watched this happening, I believed that the Lord provided this kitten at the exact moment we needed in order to offer us comfort. Over the years, this situation has reminded me that no matter the circumstance, He is the God who provides. Whatever our need, whatever we are facing - He knows. He cares. He will provide.
Throughout Scripture, there are countless ways that God provided. In Genesis 22, out of obedience to the Lord, Abraham was preparing to sacrifice his son, when he “saw a ram caught by its thorns…and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. ‘So Abraham called that place Jehova Jireh, the LORD Will Provide’” (Genesis 22:13,14). The Lord creatively used ravens to bring food to Elijah in the wilderness when there was a famine (1 Kings 17: 2-16). When Jonah was running from God out of disobedience, the Lord provided a large fish to save him (Jonah 1). And out of His unconditional love for us, the Lord provided His perfect Son to pay the penalty for our sin (John 3:16). Jesus is the ultimate gift and only provision for eternal hope, joy and life!!
The God of Abraham is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow and He Will Provide! He will provide through a divorce, unplanned pregnancy, death, accident, job loss, illness, financial crisis, difficulty with a parent, child or grandchild, deployment, depression…. The situations are endless - however, He remains the same. Rather than half-heartedly saying, “I know that God can provide,” we can confidently say, that the Lord Will Provide because that is Who He is! He Will Provide in His timing and for His good and pleasing will. He may provide at the very last moment, when everything looks hopeless, but He will always provide!
By the way, because no one claimed that kitten, we kept him and named him Jireh!
“ Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
I Thessalonians 5:18 says,
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
Wow, that is not always the easiest thing the Lord commands us to do. Most of us have walked through some really difficult things that bring us, at its worst to deep grief and anguish, and at best, to feeling bewildered or confused as to why it happened.
If we are not careful, we can find ourselves living under the assumption that life should be easy and trouble free because we follow Jesus. But that is the exact opposite of what Jesus told his disciples, the men who gave up everything to follow him. In fact, he said, “in this life, you will have trouble." That word trouble in the original language means, anguish, affliction, trouble, and persecution. And yet God’s Word still tells us to “be thankful in everything."
Thankfulness is about faith and trust, Colossians 2:7 says, “ Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
There are truths in God’s Word we learn with our heads that cannot be seared onto our hearts until we experience them.
The sudden death of my father is one of the things the Lord used to make this truth about thankfulness real for me. This is the single most difficult thing I have walked through; the grief was so overwhelming at times I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Even now, after 11 years, I write this with tears in my eyes. You see, being thankful is not the same thing as being happy about a circumstance, or denying the pain or the ugly wrongness of it.
Thankfulness is about “letting your roots grow down deep into him,” allowing the things the Lord has allowed in your life to drive you deeper into His grace and mercy, so you are able to trust Him, and your thankfulness overflows not in the circumstance but in who He is.
As we drove to my father’s funeral, the Lord met me in that car with a simple children’s song from Psalms 33**, He spoke this truth to my heart.
In You our hearts rejoice, for we are trusting in your name,
in You, our hearts rejoice
We depend on You, for we are trusting in your name,
we depend on You
Our hope is in you Lord, for we are trusting in your name,
our hope is in you Lord
I am still filled with thankfulness as I remember the tender way He accompanied me to the funeral. Reminding me I can rejoice in Him, not in the circumstance, I can depend on Him, even when I don’t understand why the Lord allowed this, and I can hope in Him because this life is not the end. He has an incredible eternity marked out for my Dad and me.
Oh, Ladies, we can give thanks in ALL THINGS because we belong to Christ. After Jesus said “in this life, you will have trouble” he said “ fear not, for I have overcome the world” and in that we can truly be thankful.
**Psalms 33 is written by Rob Biagi, I added the link if you want to take a listen.
"'I don’t know whether (Jesus) is a sinner,’ the man replied. ‘But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!’”
Next week my husband will have cataract surgery. He will have surgery on one eye and then a week later on the other. He is rather young to be having this surgery in my opinion, but because of some medications he has had to take for other health issues, the cataracts appeared quickly and his vision has suffered because of it. Ironically, he is an eye doctor, so he needs to be able to see clearly when examining the vision of others.
Recently he told me the story of a patient who had cataract surgery at the age of 95. That is rather an old age to be having surgery, but she was healthy in allother regards and the cataracts which had been there for a long time threatened to rob her of vision completely. She had needed the surgery for 20 years but had been afraid to have it done.
So, at age 95 she had the cataracts removed, and she could see again. What had once been blurs of her loved ones became clear and distinguishable faces. Her vision acuity was great again. She was amazed at the difference and very grateful for having had the surgery. And, my husband told me, she was also quite sad. She was sad that she had waited 20 years because of fear. She was sad at all of the sights she had missed in those years; at all of the family events that had just been blurs on the screen of her eyes. She deeply regretted having let fear have dominion over her life.
The disciple John tells us in his gospel that when Jesus walked on the earth, He declared that He was the Light of the world and then He healed a man who had been blind since birth (John 9). The man’s life changed instantly. The man who had been a beggar for years because of his blindness, could now see. The change was so incredible that his neighbors questioned whether he was really the blind man they had known his entire life.
The religious leaders decided to get involved in the conversation because this life-transforming miracle happened on the Sabbath, a no-no in their eyes. Their vision was fixed on their own legalism rather than on the miracle that had just occurred.
The Pharisees accused Jesus of being a sinner. They brought the formerly blind man’s parents in for questioning. They continued to deny the work of God that was right before their eyes. The now-seeing man told them as they questioned him a second time about his healing, “‘I don’t know whether (Jesus) is a sinner,’ the man replied. ‘But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!’” (John 9:25)
The healed man was thrown out of the synagogue by the religious leaders, cut off from community. Jesus found the seeing man and revealed Himself to him, telling him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” (John 9:40)
It is quite the paradox, Jesus enabled a physically blind man to see, both physically and spiritually, while the physically seeing religious leaders denied the spiritual and physical miracle right before their eyes. They were the blind ones. All of the blind man’s sightless years were swept away in a moment by the hand of God and he was also blessed by the gift of beholding God himself, and he believed.
You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
We recently moved into a newly built home and over the last few months we’ve had multiple contractors here to either repair or finish projects that were not completed before our closing. As a somewhat private person, I am not completely comfortable with welcoming all of these strangers into my home on a weekly basis. It seems like I am never quite sure of which rooms they will be entering and truthfully, there are just some rooms that I would prefer for people to stay out of. As I considered this matter, I wondered if as Christians there are “rooms” in our spiritual houses that we are not inviting Jesus into.
The room that is ‘too dirty’:
In a home with two little boys, messiness is inevitable, especially in the bathroom and sometimes a serious cleanup is required. On those days, I would want to hide the dirtiness behind the door.
Is there sin in our lives that causes us to hide ourselves from God?
When we knowingly sin, our shame can make us want to hide from the Lord. We may become distant in our prayer lives and feel like we need to veil ourselves from His sight. But, because of the cleansing power of Jesus’s death and resurrection, with a repentant heart, we can confidently ask God into our mess and experience the restoration of His amazing grace upon us.
The room that’s ‘too full’:
In Southwest Florida, houses don’t typically come with a lot of storage space, so all of our extra things often get crammed into a spare bedroom. These extra things aren’t necessarily bad and may even be neatly organized, but the room is just too full for anyone to fit into it.
Are our lives too full of good things and busy schedules that we’ve left no space for the Lord?
Sometimes our blessings can become our god. We can become so involved with what we have or with what we have to do, that we leave no space for the true God to have His way in our lives. When we invite Jesus to stand in the center of our full lives, asking for His will to be done, we can be sure that He will wisely order our days.
The room that’s ‘too personal’:
The home office allows us to keep all of our private business separated from the more public areas of the house. In fact, we may even put a lock on the door to encourage people to stay out.
Are there things in our lives that we feel are too personal to share with God?
The physical and emotional intimacy of marriage is an amazing thing, but there are difficult seasons and situations in marriage that are so deeply personal that we may prefer to keep them private. When we invite God into these personal matters we can trust that He will work for us; He created marriage and He deeply wants to preserve the beauty and holiness of it.
So, even though there are days that I’d prefer to keep some doors shut, if I don’t let the repairman in, then the work on my home will never be finished. Likewise, if I don’t invite the Lord into every area of my life, then I will never fully experience His restorative and refining work in me.
“This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, having prepared everything, to take your stand.”
My 5 year old son enjoys math and will randomly ask me different addition problems throughout the day. Recently, he was asking me what eight plus eight equals. I told him that it was sixteen and very confused, he looked at me and said, “No, I said what is eight plus eight?” I gave him the same answer, and then he questioned me again, saying, “Are you sure?” At that moment, because he kept doubting me, I started to doubt myself too, thinking maybe I told him the wrong answer. After taking a moment, I reassured him that sixteen was, in fact, the right answer.
As I sat there, finding it humorous that I let my 5 year old cause me to doubt a math fact that I had been taught my whole life, I realized how easily it is for us to be swayed in our thinking. Whether it’s our culture, the enemy, or our personal worries and unbelief, it is so easy for us to doubt the truth of God’s Word. We can easily find ourselves questioning things that we know to be true, some of which we have been taught our whole lives.
God knows that we will deal with doubt, which is why, in His wonderful grace, He reminds us all throughout the Bible to be steadfast and on guard. We can do that by daily reading His Word, memorizing Scripture, and spending time in prayer so that we will not be easily swayed by other teachings or beliefs that are thrown at us. Ephesians 6:13 says, “This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, having prepared everything, to take your stand.” When we are consistently reading the Bible and spending time in our relationship with God, it will strengthen us for when those doubts try to creep in. We will more easily be able to spot the lies in our thinking and combat them with the truth. Even Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness to deviate from the truth, but Jesus fought those lies by quoting Scripture.
It’s like the familiar story that is told about the person whose job it is to recognize counterfeit money. The way they become so good at it is by taking time to truly study what the real dollar and coin look and feel like. That way, when something counterfeit is in front of them, they can quickly realize it, because it differs from the real thing. In John 10:4-5, Jesus gives a similar illustration about sheep with their shepherd: “The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.” When we are so familiar with truth, it will be easier to flee from the lies of this world and not doubt the Word of God.
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.