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Devotional: Casting Your Cares (Day 5)

1415692_17326232Day 5 of 7 Devotionals I wrote for the Spring 2013 Issue of Heart Magazine. Scroll down for the previous days.

Day 5

Casting Your Cares

1 Peter 5:6-8

If there is one great lie I believe Satan tempts us with it is this: God doesn’t care for you. Especially when we enter seasons of great struggle and difficulty, it’s far too easy to believe that lie and doubt God’s love and care for us.

There is also a temptation to lay our burdens down elsewhere- on a person, filling that void with a possession or addiction, succumbing to the lusts of our flesh or whatever idols we struggle with. But Truth tells us to throw our heavy loads and struggles onto the Lord for God to take care of. When we cast them upon him, He promises to sustain us.

Our lives are to be marked by being sober and vigilant so we can recognize the Enemy when we see him as he seeks to destroy all oneness with God. All of this requires humility on our part to recognize that God is God. He is good. He cares deeply for us. He’s intimately involved in all that we do. And he can be trusted no matter how great the storms of life beat against us.

Know the Enemy’s schemes. Submit to God. Embrace his love for you.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:6-8

Devotional: All for Good (Day 4)


1212536_open_bible Day 4

All For Good

Romans 8:28-30

By the time I entered college I knew I loved people and writing. I also loved learning about God’s word. So I majored in English, minored in Psychology and got my Master’s in Religion. During all that time of intense study, I often wondered how all the pieces would fit together exactly. Some days were really hard in trusting God’s plan. Now being almost eight years out of school, it’s been humbling to see how God was truly preparing me. I’m able to see some of the fruit of that discipline and how all the “knowledge” I gained then is being applied in my daily life now.

The apostle Paul says that those who love and obey God have many promises and one of those is that all things will work together for their good. This is not a promise that our lives will be free of pain and suffering and trial, but a promise that in all the things God allows into our lives, they will ultimately work for good. Why? Because we are in his hands. It is his working and his working is good.

By his grace, God has called us and chosen us for his purposes and plans. And if we are his, he will see us through to the end to our complete conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. In whatever circumstances and situations that come into your life, lean into God’s plan that he is working for the good even when you may not feel it.

Your life and ministry to others really does matter.

Devotional: Spread the Light (Day 3)

1412403_58877221Day 3 of Seven Devotionals I wrote for Heart Magazine’s Spring 2013 Issue. Scroll down on the blog to see Days 1 & 2.

Day 3

Spread the Light

Col 1:13-14

At the beginning of our church’s Christmas Eve service last year, everyone was given a candle and at the end of the message, our pastor lit the first candle to a man up front. In the dark auditorium, that man passed his light on to the next person and so on. Watching our entire church fill up with pure, radiant light was a powerful expression of how God uses people to pass on His light.

Because of our hope in Christ and the forgiveness we know, we have a responsibility and privilege to share the gospel and carry that hope to others. If you’ve been discouraged in sharing your faith and building and investing into the lives of others, remember that it’s God’s work and power through you to give you the boldness and desire.

If you ask for that boldness, God will grant it to you in unexpected and amazing ways. And being obedient to his command to go and make disciples becomes an exciting adventure. Believe it or not, the more you share His love with other people, the more contagious it is and your own faith is strengthened.

You are the Light of the world. Give your light away to one person today.

Devotional: Taste His Goodness (Day 2)

1223429_16136294Day 2 of 7 Devotionals I wrote for the Spring 2013 Issue of Heart Magazine. Click here for Day 1.

Day 2

Taste His Goodness

Psalm 34:8-14

You’ve probably heard stories in the news about people waiting in line for the latest gadget or toy on Black Friday and all of the sudden a fight breaks out. Anger, impatience and the desire for more strips away any good that is present. And it doesn’t take long to realize that within our culture and within our own hearts apart from Christ, we’re always left wanting. We are never truly satisfied.

The good news is that in Christ, we who follow and fear him lack nothing (vs. 9). We have everything we need because we know that he is good. We have experienced his goodness in our lives and know that there is nothing else better in life than knowing God alone. But following him and fearing him is by no means an arrival. It’s a process throughout our faith journey.

Fearing the Lord and tasting his goodness requires humility and trusting his teaching and discipline in our lives. It requires submission to his spirit and a willingness to sit at the feet of the Good Shepherd and learn. While you may have trouble finding peace in other people or your own heart, you will always find righteousness, peace, and goodness in our God.

Depend on his goodness in times of discord. Turn from evil and pursue righteousness in your life.

Devotional: Free to Ask

Screen shot 2013-02-19 at 1.17.29 PM

Screenshot- PDF Cover of Heart Mag Spring Issue

I recently wrote 7 days of devotions for Heart Magazine and I wanted to share them on my blog for the next seven week days.

A few months ago through Twitter and my Facebook writing page, I’d asked readers to share their favorite Bible verse. Not only was it so encouraging but there were so many great verses that I based all the devotions off of the verses shared.

If you were able to participate maybe you will see yours!

If you’d like a print form of these devotions and the entire Spring Issue of Heart Magazine, let me know in the comments. The editor is awesome and will send you the issue for free.

Day 1

Free to Ask

Ephesians 3:20-21

My four-year-old son is never shy to ask for the things he desires: a new train, a visit to the park, a play date with his best friend, or help getting dressed. I’m doubtful that he ever thinks, Will Mommy really give me what I need and want?

Yet, as a child of God, I’m quick to think this way toward God. Is it true God that you can do above and beyond what I think, ask or imagine? Will you really give me the desires of my heart?

The truth is that the incredible work that God is willing to do in our lives is not for the sake of our own doing or glory. In His love, He cares about our wants and desires but the end goal in those desires is His glory and fame in this world. It is about His power at work within us.

The apostle Paul encourages us that through our faith in Christ, we can approach God with freedom and confidence knowing He will answer according to his will. We don’t have to be afraid of his answers or wonder if he has our best interest at heart. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And even if his will means suffering, God’s love is present and we can anticipate great things just like a little child.

So go ahead. Ask him anything. He is listening.

The Winner of The Quiet Place Devotional!

Thank you to those of you who entered to win the new devotional book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, The Quiet Place. After using the random sequence generator on random.org, the final winner came to Christen Frederickson!

Congratulations Christen! I know you will enjoy it!

Devotional Book Giveaway: The Quiet Place

I don’t know about you, but I can never have enough devotional books. I love reading them alongside my time in God’s word. And I love that you can gain so many nuggets of truth in so little time.

This week, Moody Books sent me The Quiet Place devotional by bestselling author Nancy Leigh DeMoss for a book giveaway. I’ve always known about Nancy through my mom who absolutely loves her teaching on the Revive Our Hearts radio program. When I first heard her teach several years ago, I was hooked. She has a contagious passion to see women transformed by the word of God.

In The Quiet Place, Nancy adapts the core themes of her teaching into 366 days of Bible study and practical application. If you’re struggling with having a consistent quiet time or you just need something to spice up your time with the Lord, I highly recommend diving into The Quiet Place for encouragement and refreshment for your soul.

Nancy has authored fifteen books, including Lies Women BelieveA Place of Quiet Rest, and Seeking Him. More than 2,000,000 copies have been sold, and they continue to transform women’s hearts and lives.

If you’d like to enter to win this devotional or consider it as a gift to someone else (Valentine’s Day is approaching!), please leave a comment. The winner will be announced next Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Sweet Stillness and Future Grace

This morning I woke up to thunder, sleet, and snow. And every time winter rolls around in Dallas and if we’re lucky to have snow on the ground, I’m always reminded to be still. More specifically, to be still about the future and God’s plans for my life.

And on a morning where I planned to go to my exercise class at the gym, I’m now sipping on a cappuccino, watching my son make snowballs and footprints in the snow (he’s always the first child to rise), and thinking about what my morning will look like cozied up inside.

I love how snow also reminds me that I’m not in control.

Part of today’s devotional in Jesus Calling further confirms these truths:

The closer you live to me, the safer you are. Circumstances around you are undulating, and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance. Fix your eyes on me, the one who never changes. By the time those waves reach you, they will have shrunk to proportions of My design. I am always beside you, helping you face today’s waves. The future is a phantom, seeking to spook you. Laugh at the future!  Stay close to me. – Jesus Calling, January 15

I don’t know about you, but I think way too much about the future. Where will God lead me and my husband? What plans does he have for my children? Will he take care of all my needs? How will I handle the really difficult days yet to come?

I also think of my daily responsibilities. What about all the laundry piled up on my couch? All the dishes yet to be washed? Meals needing to be made? Love needing to be given? Appointments to set? Emails to answer? Articles to write? Relationships to invest? Gospel needing to be shared?

The daily list goes on.

For today, I just want to be fully where I am and not worry so much about what’s ahead. To stay close to Jesus and hear His sweet, still voice. To love on my children well and be the person God is calling me to be today.

And to know that even in my failures and shortcomings that are possible any day of the week, He is still with me. His grace is always here to draw upon. His grace helps me hand over my future, grandiose plans and surrender them to His will.

Every time I look out our french doors and see the blanket of snow covering our backyard, I’ll be reminded of those awesome truths.

In what ways have you experienced God’s stillness and grace in your life? Do you trust that He is with you?

No Matter What, You Are Loved by God

Yesterday morning my four year old John scooted our bench over to the kitchen countertop so he could stand on it. He wanted to spread his own peanut butter on his toast, which happened to be a first.

“I’m going to make Daddy’s for him too. He will love me for it and give me a kiss on the cheek!”

I thought how sweet that was for him to do and I figured I’d turn his little comment into a teaching opportunity.

“Well John, did you know that you don’t have to do anything to make Daddy love you more? He loves you just for you, no matter what,” I replied.

“Oh,” he said thinking about it.

He continued spreading in between the crust and topped it off with some banana slices and honey, just the way Daddy likes his peanut butter toast.

Then I could only naturally think about God’s love for us.

God loved us while we were still sinners and loves all sinners presently. He doesn’t need us to prove anything to him. And contrary to popular opinion, there is nothing we can do to earn his love.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

I admit that at times I have a hard time accepting these truths about His love. Sometimes I feel that if I’ve screwed up and failed to be the person God has called me to be, that my behavior changes God’s view of me.

Or sometimes I feel I have to “do” more: read more of my Bible, pray more, do more ministry,  go to church more, walk in the Spirit more, give more… you get the point. Those are all blessings and necessities that come with following Christ- not a checklist or legalistic duty. God uses all those means as gifts and tools to help me love him more and know him more fully. But they don’t for one second change the way He loves me.

The truth that God’s love is a gift of undeserving grace is mind boggling and so incredibly freeing. It’s like the image of grace you’ve probably sung about in David Crowder’s, “How He Loves” song:

And we are His portion and He is our prize,  Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,  If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. 

I don’t know about you but in 2013, I want to know His love more deeply because I haven’t even swam close to the deep end when it comes to understanding his unending grace, love, and redemption. There is so much more my heart has yet to be filled with. And as I get more situated in to this new year, I’m excited about the new truths God has yet to reveal.

Well John got to enjoy his toast with his Daddy and heard words of gratitude for his hard work. Even though later in the day John disobeyed, fought with his sister, and had a few fits, Daddy corrected him and disciplined him and showed him love.

And even as a young child, I think John is able to understand that he’s still loved no matter what he does.

7 Years of Marriage, Newtown & Faith for the Future

Well today marks seven years that I’ve been married to my husband Jeremiah. It’s crazy how much life can change in just seven years and honestly it really doesn’t feel like that many years have passed by.

I’m grateful for the gift of marriage. God continues to use marriage to sanctify me, show me my sin, and teach me selflessness. Daily, I’m humbled that God gave me such a loving, hard-working, godly, selfless leader to follow, who I proudly call my husband. Just like any other couple, we’ve had our share of struggles and trials but God has been faithful through every step and we give him glory for all that he has done.

We are committed to one another till death do us part and we will continue to do what it takes to keep our marriage from merely surviving to thriving. And we have learned over seven years that this is hard work.

Just last night, we were watching the CNN vigil for the community of Newtown, Connecticut. We heard President Obama’s thoughtful speech and watched the slideshow of photos of the children and adults whose lives were taken from this world on Friday.

And I wept in Jeremiah’s arms. Tears were all I had. Tears for those precious children and for our nation as a whole. I thanked God that I had someone to grieve with. My heart ached and I longed for Jesus’ return. I asked the “why’s?” and dealt with the anger.

And today, on our anniversary, that ache is still very present. I’m celebrating these past years with my husband but I’m also praying that God would heal our nation and comfort grieving Newtown. I’m praying that the next seven years Jeremiah and I will have a fervency in our faith like we’ve never had before.

There is work to be done and it starts with us. It starts with the church, whom God uses as a means to bring light into the darkness. And I have needed this wake-up call out of mediocrity and waiting for others to start the conversation.

I want to love louder and unashamedly share the gospel.

There is no other choice and as Obama had said in that speech, “we can do better” as a nation. But I also know that the church can do better too and that it starts with me.

My prayer is that the next seven years will be less about “us and our marriage” and more about Christ and his kingdom and how he can use us to make a difference. Time is running out in reaching this world with the hope that is found in Christ.

And I think more than anything that is where the real ache inside me is coming from.

Until then I hope you will join me and take a look at your own faith and life and how God might use your time, talent, and treasure to make an impact in this world. I promise to do my best to encourage and spur you on as we seek God’s will together as broken, feeble people yet nonetheless people who have been radically changed by Christ.

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