Let us begin

Lately, there are a number of songs that talk about going back in time to tell yourself what you know now. A chance to tell yourself to walk away from a toxic relationship or to take the job you turned down. While this perspective seems appealing, I am not sure I would take it if given the opportunity.

Yes, there are decisions I made in my past that I regret. People I hurt because of my selfishness or insecurity. I made some pretty foolish decisions when I was eighteen, some that continue to impact me thirty years later. It has become part of who I am and who I am not.

I know as a believer, that God has had a plan for my life since before I was born. I know there were times in my life that the very prayers of someone kept me from danger. I also know that there were times when I chose to do something that was not God-honoring, sometimes I chose to do that deliberately. While I cannot go back and fix it, I know that I can learn from it.

Psalm 18:30-32 says, As for God, his way is perfect; The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure (NIV).

Of the regrets that I can name, the ones that cause the most sadness to me are the ones I knew better than to do, but I did it anyway. In a way, I think that is the definition of regret, I knew better that to do it, but I did it anyway. My poor decisions, my failures, even the losses I experienced, were part of the path that led me to Christ.

When I came to see that all these choices I had made were never going to bring me the happiness, the contentment, the grace, mercy, or forgiveness I needed– that is when I cried out to God. And that is when He answered me. Not with fire, thunder, or lightning but with tenderness. With the very grace and love I needed.

Child, I have been waiting for you to call my name. I have wanted to pick you up, dust you off, mend your brokenness, and wipe your tears. But you never called out to me until now.

God is not a belligerent dictator, He is a gentleman. He will not come where He is not invited. But oh, Best Beloved, when God is invited into your life and heart. Wow. I learned that day, that He has the power to take my regrets and turn them into blessings. He did that day, He still does today.

Mother Teresa once said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin.” That was the lesson I learned from God the day He came into my life. I would not be able to go back and change the life I had lived before that day. I would not be able to tell the future, to know fully what would happen tomorrow. But while it was still called today, I could experience His grace. His mercy and learn the lesson that the past is in the past for a reason.

Now, the enemy is going to try and attack any way and any chance he can, to stop me from growing in Christ, to keep my story from being used to encourage others. It is what he does. He wants to bring up the regrets and the failures and tell me that I cannot possibly be used by God for God’s purposes and glory. But that is a lie.

God is in the business of taking people’s messes and turning them into messages. Scripture is full of story after story that show His redemptive power. Some of my favorite stories include the woman at the well in John 4 and the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Each time Jesus met the woman, their story was anything but a fairytale. But instead of taking them to task and in one case stoning her for her sins, Jesus turned the story on its head. He told the woman at the well that there was a way to get Living Water, to never thirst again. She had made a mess of thirsting for love from men who would never satisfy her thirst for eternal healing,

The woman in John 8 was seeking love in the wrong places and had made a complete mess of things. Jesus, who by all authority had the right to cast the first stone, as the only person there who was without sin, did nothing. He gave the woman another chance. A chance to change her mess into a message of grace. Of mercy and forgiveness.

Best Beloved, let us leave the past where it belongs- behind us. The future is somewhere on the horizon. Today is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:4).

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No void here

I received a text from my son last night. He was “checking in” as my family calls it. He is working at a camp during the off season and will work through his third summer there, as well.

He wrote about the Bible study he and a friend attend and how they were going through the book of Ephesians.

Also I found that bed time prayer you used to pray a lot. The armor of God. It’s in Ephesians six, the men’s group my friend, David and I go to went over that which was cool. Do you remember exactly what the prayer was?

Oh Best Beloved, my mom heart is so full of joy. I smiled immediately, took a deep breath and exhaled. All of the prayers I had prayed over my sons from their childhood had not been lost. I began texting back the words of Scripture I spoke over them. Some of the verses I had started praying when they were two and three years old. I gave the references for the verses so my son could study them as well.

As I wrote out the prayer, I found that it took a bit to recall the words. At the ages of nineteen and twenty, I am not tucking the boys into bed anymore. It’s actually been years since I have been in their rooms for bedtime prayers due to work schedules and such.

I heard a nearly silent whisper in my ear, Prayer transcends time and space. Yes, yes, and amen. I began to pray the words over my oldest son who is at college. He is now at the age where he must choose to make the faith he was brought up hearing his own. He may not choose to walk with Christ. I am praying he will, asking God to call his heart to Him.

My second son, the “adventure son”, is walking with God right now, but that doesn’t mean my prayers are finished. It is now that my prayers must dig into the foundation. The enemy wants to stop us all from growing our relationship with Christ. I am praying he will grow his roots deep into the bedrock. Jeremiah 17:7-8 is a verse I found that describes his heart well.

Best Beloved, I don’t know your story or the story of a child or loved one in your life. I do know that God is infinite and He does not change. His word is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and he desires all of us- everyone to come to salvation through Christ Jesus (2 Peter 3:9). So keep praying for your loved ones. God is listening.

I have included the verses I prayed over my sons below in case you need a starting point. I did pray the verses in Ephesians out of order, but that doesn’t make them any less powerful. Scripture is clear that God’s Word does not come back void (Isaiah 55:11). Let us pray for it to be true in the lives and souls of those you love.

Blessings, oxoxo

(Ephesians 6:13-17) “I pray that you would have the helmet ⛑ of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, that your feet🦶would be fitted to spread the gospel of peace ☮️, that you would have the shield 🛡 of faith to protect you from the fiery darts 🎯 from the evil one, and the sword 🗡 of the spirit that is the Word of God, and that above all else, you stand until the last day when you hear, ‘Well done good and faithful servant,’ (Luke 19:17).

I pray that whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy you would think on these things tonight while you sleep. (Philippians 4:8).

God is who He says that He is (Exodus 3:6); God can do what God says He can do (lots of verses explain what God can do – including Deuteronomy 3:24); I am who God says that I am (Romans 7:17); I can do all things through Christ, (Philippians 4:13); God’s Word is alive and active in me, (Hebrews 4:12) because I am believing God.*** from Beth Moore’s study “Believing God”)***

In love I am- blessed, accepted, adopted, chosen, redeemed, and forgiven ( Ephesians 1:3-8).”

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In power /empower- a cautionary tale

There is a movement growing in society that tells women that they have power to tap into and use to “rise up”, “overcome”, “stand up”, “take over”, “breakthrough”, and “take charge.” I have seen book after book title calling for women to be strong, to rise up, etc. each one calling them out to be someone or do something. As I read these titles I have started to wonder, is this a new version of the prosperity gospel?

I am absolutely for women realizing their value and embracing the talents and skills they were given. I am also for women realizing they have a unique role in God’s Kingdom.

As women, we were created in God’s image for His purposes and His glory. Nothing more and nothing less. Some of the most precious women in my life are strong, capable, and wise. Yet, in their wisdom they have recognized they don’t have to fulfill their roles by trying to become a man.

The women I know, love, and respect are single parents, entrepreneurs, executives, social workers, counselors, teachers, writers, as well as wives, mothers, even grandmothers. They seek balance for their lives in who they spend time with during the week, where they attend church on the weekends. They have homes where you may sit down to a table set with china or stand near a countertop with paper plates and take out pizza. Each of them are striving to seek God’s plan in their lives and over their personal desires.

God’s perfect plan for all of us as women was to complete man, not because he was lacking, but because God gave man different skills and gifts and when ours are added to man’s we reflect the full image of God, of Christ. I am praying for wisdom of my own, that God will lead me. My personality is strong, even aggressive, and I am more apt to make a fist than to make amends. This is who I am.

At the very same time, when I come to God with my heart, what is rumbling within me, I know He can restore me and put balance back into my life so that when I am seeking strength I am also acting out of mercy, out of grace.

The women of the Bible who are often held up as an example are Mary, Jesus’ mother of course, but also Ruth, Sarah, and Mary Magdalene. If we look into each woman’s story we will find someone who is strong, but gentle. Capable, but willing to be secondary to the story God has written.

In the desire of womankind to rise up and be seen and heard in new ways, my concern is we will try to complete the picture God created without including the other half. As a mother of two young men and “auntie” to many more, I pray for their souls and hearts. I pray they will embrace the heart of the woman they marry and celebrate her gifts and talents, but I also pray for their spouse to do the same for them.

God, in His perfect wisdom, said it best, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. . .Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh (Genesis 2:18, 22-24).

I pray that as women seek to be empowered they will also seek to be filled by the Heavenly Father’s power. We will never complete God’s purposes for which we were created if we try it any other way.

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Subtlety

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God call the light “day” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening and there was morning– the first day (Genesis 1:3-5).

Living on a farm, instead of living in the suburbs, has afforded me many blessings. One of the sweetest blessings of being in open country is to watch the sun rise and set from the comfort of my property. Our farmhouse is situated on the land so that the majority of the windows face east and west. Every morning I can watch the sun rise behind the barn and the sun set at the end of the driveway.

The sunrise is my favorite of the two events, truth be told. There is a freshness in the moments. The birds have been heralding daybreak for almost an hour. The dogs are barking their warning to all squirrels that they are on patrol. The whole day is before me, with promise and hope for what may come.

Yet, there are those who barely notice the sunrise, let alone the sunset. Instead, the morning is something a person curses, mutters about, or it triggers complaints because of the brightness of the sun while driving. Often, I will hear the comment that sunrises and sunsets are all the same.

But they are not. Every morning is new. Every sunrise, every sunset. They have subtle differences between yesterday and today and tomorrow. The pinks and blues God uses to paint the sky vary, even from minute to minute. The weather and the seasons also impact the hues. God, who is infinite, has infinite creativity as well.

For the past ten years I have been photographing sunrises and sunsets. I have watched how each day the sun’s rays quietly break through the darkness. The first light of day is almost indistinguishable and then as the moments continue, the light gains strength. Like a child stretching from a nap, the light reaches and touches places untouched during the night. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?”– the LORD’s declaration (Jeremiah 23:24).

(sunset from March 10, 2019)

In our busy world, the running to and fro, here and there, hearing God’s voice can become very difficult. Even a trained ear can miss it from time to time. I believe the sunrises and sunsets are a call to our souls. As we rise, we see that He is with us, as we rest, He is saying, “I will be with you.”

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their message has gone out to all the earth, and their word to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun. . . It rises from one end of the heavens and circles to their other end; nothing is hidden from its heat (Psalm 19:1-4,6).

(Sunrise from March 11, 2019)

I do not know the schedules of everyone, whether a person is awake when the sun rises or sets, but I do know that God’s desire to reach us, to touch us where we need healing, to speak to us where we need wisdom, to listen to us when we need our Father’s ear. He longs for our attention and to let us know His love for us I believe this is one of the reasons we have two definite times in our day.

Best Beloved, God is calling to you. He created us for relationship. The very God who needs nothing to be complete, still desires a relationship with our finite, fallible selves. He is calling to us throughout the day, but most clearly in the morning and the evening. Will you answer His call to your soul today?

Blessings,

oxox

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First and ten

I grew up in a family that spent a lot of time around the football (American) field. My dad was a high school coach; my earliest memories are of climbing around on the bleachers during the games. I attended almost every home game for my high school team during my teen years, then returned to watch my brother play football. I love the game. One of the cheers I remember from those days was simply, First and ten, do it again!!

This the best definition I have found for First and Ten: The term “1st and 10” says that the offensive team is at first down, which is the first of four chances the team has to get the ball past a certain number of yards. The 10 refers to the number of yards left. If the offensive team is able to gain these 10 yards within their 4 downs, they will get another first down and ten yards to run. This continues until either the team scores (by means of a touchdown or field goal), or the team fails to cover the ten yards within four downs, in which case, possession of the ball will be given to the other team.*

One of my favorite epistles is the book of James. When I need to settle down in my spirit and recenter my focus on Christ, James is the book I turn to first. While reading James 1 this morning I found cross references to Proverbs 10. As I turned to read the verses in Proverbs 10, I found the same themes repeated. Choices of righteousness over worldly successes. The fleeting experience of life when the focus is only on the here and now.

Yes, I know Scripture is going to draw across verses and books; to show us as believers and seekers that God is the same from the beginning of time through now. The “randomness” of a chapter in Proverbs reflecting the same perspective of the half brother of Jesus during the persecution of the first century Church is anything but randomness.

Reading the verses of each chapter back to back I let the words echo a bit more in my heart and spirit. Oh how my God is so good to me. Just as in football, I found a yearning to continue going forward. A desire to drive on, push through, and keep advancing in the Holy Spirit– seeking my God above all the things that pull at my attention. From the sense of urgency the world wants to put on me to measure up, to slim down, to buy, to believe the glitterati that only the here and now matter.

Best Beloved, I long for your hearts to know the peace that comes from seeking God first, knowing His love and His plans are always best. Set aside ten to fifteen minutes today and read through the verses I’ve included below. Let them pour over you, soaking into your hearts and minds. May we find our souls chanting First and ten, do it again!

Blessings,

xoxox

*author unknown
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Purging Sizes

About seven years ago I changed my food choices and in the process lost close to forty pounds. I felt fantastic, great energy, all the things people are told will happen when a person loses weight.

I suddenly had to find clothes that I fit in, all of my “old” clothes were too big. As I looked at my closet, I decided to take a drastic step and I purged all of the clothes that were too big. I figured if I didn’t have the old clothes then I would have to stay at the new size. A person cannot go back to what they had if it isn’t there, right?

Well, as you have probably guessed, that isn’t how things went at all. I have had many of the clothes I used to wear in boxes while we restore our home. I didn’t realize I had gained, sure I noticed some things, but, my lifestyle had changed. I no longer stood at the front of the class, I was working in the customer service field.

As I tried on some of my “teacher” clothes recently, I regretted my decision to purge. My idea wasn’t a poor choice, it was however, extreme. I was not ready to get rid of all of those clothes. I may have donated them eventually, but forcing myself was wrong.

The new believer can feel the same way. We need to get rid of all of the things that used to be part of the old life to fully walk free in Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24). Trying to get rid of it all at once is a set up for failure. The more that a new believer focuses on the long list of “things Christians shouldn’t do anymore,” instead of learning about the grace that saved them, the more their new faith becomes a new shackle (Galatians 3:23-29).

When we accept Christ into our lives as our Savior, we will naturally start to peel away the old layers as we learn the new way to walk. The sizes we wore will eventually no longer fit us. In the meantime, Best Beloved, let us extend grace to each other and walk with each other as we learn what it means to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen (2 Peter 3:18).

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Empty hands

When I became a believer I found the stories I had heard during Sunday School. I wanted to see them with new eyes, a new heart. So many times we dismiss the stories of Noah and the Ark, Daniel in the lion’s den, Moses in the basket or David and Goliath. They come across as cute stories, cartoonish ways to tell kids to be good or to be strong. Yet, why would they be in the Bible if there were not more to the stories?

As I read and studied the Old Testament passages, I found ordinary men who were living in extraordinary times. Noah watched as his neighbors and community continued to turn away from God and turned toward their wants, their desires, and ultimately their self destruction. He held no power in his hands, no crown of authority sat on his head, but Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God (Genesis 6:8-10).

He was just a regular man, but he walked with God and that is what made the difference. He listened to God’s direction, was obedient (Genesis 6:22), and through Noah, God saved mankind from total devastation. Noah’s hands were empty until God put purpose into them.

Daniel found favor with Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, during the Jewish captivity (Daniel 1:3-6). He was just a teenager, approximately seventeen, yet he rose within the ranks of Nebuchadnezzar’s council, eventually becoming second in the country (Daniel 2:48-49). Daniel was not anyone particularly skilled in governing, but he sought the face of God and His wisdom alone (Daniel 2:20-23).

During the reign of Darius, the Mede, the members in the king’s council saw Daniel being favored. The satraps jealousy grew and through a series for events, Daniel found himself thrown into a den of ravenous lions. The king himself said to Daniel as the den was sealed, May the God, whom you continually serve, rescue you! (Daniel 6:16b). It was Daniel’s trust in God, his consistent decision to seek God’s face and wisdom even when it was outlawed (Daniel 6:6-11).

Daniel’s hands were empty, but open to the Heavenly Father, seeking God’s protection. God answered. The next day when Darius arrived at the den, he found Daniel alive and unharmed.

Again and again, I found that the men and women I heard of in Sunday School were regular people who chose their faith above everything else. Moses ran from the Pharaoh’s palace, eventually he became a shepherd for his father-in-law. Only then, when his hands held nothing that gave him authority, God gave Moses the power to lead the entire Israelite nation out of bondage to their Promised Land.

It is easy to think that God cannot use me to impact His world for His glory. I am a fifty-year-old, married, mother of two. I live on a small acreage in the farm land of Nebraska. From the world’s perspective I am of little consequence. From God’s perspective, in humility and truth, I can be used to impact the eternity of however many people God places in my life.

It is my choice to turn to Him with my empty hands, allowing Him to fill them with the tools to be used to tell others about the life-changing, soul-saving, relationship we can have with Jesus Christ. This is what I choose every day.

Heavenly Father, I come to you with empty hands. My skills are not great, neither is my bank account nor the diplomas on my wall. You oh God, are great and I pray I will listen and be obedient to You when You call me. Use my voice, my hands, my life to reach out to those who are hurting, lost, and broken to see that You alone can heal them, restore them, and through You they will become a Child of God.

Amen and amen.

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Nots and knots

Walking with God and growing in my faith is something I yearn to do well. There are days when I “phone it in” and days when I roll up my sleeves. Then I have days when it seems like I am tangled in a mess, like the knots I get in yarn when I knit. These are the days when it seems that every time I turn toward something and begin to go forward, I get stuck.

I start deciding that I know the route to take, the turns to make, the place where God is leading me, so I start moving and forget that this is not a decision I should make on my own. God is with me and I need to remember to be with Him in silence to listen and prayer to seek wisdom. The more I pull ahead, the more I get left behind. It’s the same way when I am knitting.

When I am focused on my needles, my stitch count, and whether it is time to purl or time to knit, my pattern is even and my stitches are smooth. When I try to knit while watching a television program, especially one in which I am invested, my pattern starts to fall apart, I purl when I should knit, I knit too many stitches, and I end up taking it apart to rework the pattern correctly.

God knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and it is not my job to try to tell Him where I think His plans need to be corrected. Being faithful to Him and obedient to His word and direction are the only way to grow and mature in the faith I claim.

Deuteronomy 30:16 says, For I am commanding you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His commands, statutes, and ordinances, so that you may live and multiply, and the Lord your God may bless you in the land you are entering to possess (HCSB).

I have heard God answer prayers with “No,” and I have heard Him answer with “Wait.” The problem arises when I decide to change His answer to one I want to hear. Being obedient to His direction will keep me out of the tangled messes I tend to make on my own.

Best Beloved, how are you doing on your faith journey? Are you running ahead only to fall behind? Are you trying to focus on other things instead of the task at hand or the task in your hands?

Stop trying to complete the journey ahead of time. It isn’t a race against a clock, it’s a lifetime process. Listen to His voice when He says, “No,” and trust Him. He is the best at untangling our messes.

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Sticky things

The past week has been full of so many demands and unexpected things that it felt good to be stuck at home due to a blizzard over the weekend. The snow drifts made going to church impossible so I chose to rest and be still instead on Sunday morning. It was wonderful actually.

I am now into this week and I find myself facing further changes to my daily routine. Effective this Friday, my sweet hubby and I will be working for different companies for the first time since we moved to Nebraska. For nearly five years we have worked either side by side or nearby, driving into work together and then home again. I have enjoyed the time together in the truck, being silly, catching up with recent conversations we had with our sons. Monday morning will come and he will drop me off and then go to his new job. I won’t spend my lunch break with him, be able to speak with him about a work situation I need assistance to complete. It will be just me.

I know it sounds like a high school romance when the boy goes off to college, but much of our relationship is spent being near each other. It might seem silly, but I like knowing he is there. He is my person, from now until the last breath.

During the weeks leading up to his final day at work, I have been whining at God. Petulant, foolish, even ridiculous, I know. I imagine God looking at me with a smirk on His face, slightly amused, waiting for me to be done with my little tantrum. His patience with me is simply because He loves me and knows I will be fine. Much like a parent with a small child who is upset his or her yellow socks aren’t clean, God knows this will not break me. It does however bug me.

A month ago I came across a verse from Judges that I liked so I put it on a sticky note. The LORD has already given you victory! (Judges 7:15). I initially put the sticky note on my iPad keyboard so I would see it as a reminder. Eventually, it became a piece of paper that I moved every time I needed to use my iPad.

Today, when I moved the sticky note, God tapped my heart. My precious child, do you realize yet, that I have given you the victory over your situation? Even the simple thing of your husband working somewhere else? Don’t you know I will be with you? It is your time to be independent and stretch yourself. It is his time to stretch himself as well. While staying together is enjoyable, it is not allowing you to grow. That is the season you two need now. A growing season. Don’t worry, I know the truth, I know the future, and I know your hearts. Trust Me. Lean into Me. Listen to Me. Learn from Me. This time is important for the next season you two will face. I love you. Trust Me.

And that is the rub. I am not trusting God who has always held me in the palm of His hand (Isaiah 41:10, 13). Anything else I try to do will not succeed, not in an eternal way, at least. Best Beloved, I don’t know where you are right now in your walk, but don’t get stuck there. God has so much more for you to do, to see, to know, if only we will follow Him and trust Him.

Oh Father, please meet me here. The victory over separation and change is already mine. May I walk in faith again and leave doubt behind. I love you, too.

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When I rise

This morning our area awoke to more snow. The roads are covered, drivers are giving themselves extra space to slow down and stop. Some cars were not so lucky overnight and now wait for someone to come and pull them out of the ditch. Hubby and I were taught to drive in our home states, which are known for lots of snow. My social media feed is full of people posting about school closures, a desire for an adult snow day, and yes, complaining about the driving conditions. All the things I have seen posted every time it snows.

I saw this in my feed this morning as well:

I chuckled when I read it, the person who posted it is someone who finds joy in practically everything. I knew she would be the one who found joy in the snow, too. What about those who do not choose joy? They are still facing the same situation as those who do. A lack of joy does not make the snow go away, in fact it can make it more difficult to deal with it.

That is the thing about situations out of our control. We can choose to find something joyous about it, we can be unhappy – even angry about it, but that does not change it. In the beginning of James’ epistle, he writes, Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing, (James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭HCSB‬‬).

Before the rebuttal begins, let me put this into perspective. James is writing to the believers of the first century church who were scattered due to the severe persecution (the Dispersion or Diaspora -vs.1). He was not telling them to have a party or watch a funny play, he was speaking to something deeper. The reality that the joy we as believers are to experience comes from the Holy Spirit. It comes from the deepest part of our souls, where we find encouragement because we belong to Christ.

Eugene H. Peterson put it this way in the Message:

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way (James 1:2-4).

The struggles and challenges we face will be with us this side of Heaven until we are called home. We can face them with joy or without joy. Snow eventually melts and springtime comes again. The battles we are fighting are not being fought alone, we are in Christ and He is in us. None of what we are seeing, fighting, or wrestling with will last forever. There will come a time when it is all over. The decision that does need to be made now is, how will you face it, Best Beloved?

The snow is still on the ground. Will you choose joy today?

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Mathematics

Years ago I was involved with a Bible study led by a wonderful woman and friend who had a powerful prayer life. When a challenge would arise that warranted extra prayer I would teasingly say, “Maggie, when you pray I know your words reach Heaven and don’t bounce off the ceiling.”

She would immediately counter, “My prayers are no different than yours. God hears me just the same as he hears you.” I would smile like I agreed, but deep down I did harbor a bit of doubt. Maggie just seemed to have an immediate line to God’s ear. God’s love seems like that sometimes. It appears that there are those who have received an extra portion from Him and we are here in our hand-me-down clothes of righteousness, while they get to go wear the newest designs.

Many of my friends and family members have large families, with anywhere from four to eight children. Some of the families are a blend of biological and adopted children, but if you asked the parents, who they loved more, they would answer they loved everyone equally.

A wise mom once responded to a skeptical observer that the love for her children was not divided among them, it was multiplied. This, Precious One, is the way God sees us. We are not lined up according to what we have done well and what we have failed to do today. We are instead circled within our Heavenly Father’s arms and His love is given to us freely, without conditions, without a checklist of accomplishments. It is given to us through His amazing, everlasting grace and mercy.

John 3:16 often gets dismissed because it is so often referenced; yet there is wisdom in the frequent references. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. It does not say, For God so loved Kathy most, then Becky, then Sue, and finally, with the leftovers He loved Gretchen.

Scripture is clear, God’s love was not divided, it was multiplied.

Over and over, again and again. His love is immeasurable and it covers all of us. Whether your prayers seem like they are hitting the ceiling or the very ear of God. Because you are precious in My sight and honored, and I love you, I will give people in exchange for you and nations instead of your life, (Isaiah‬ ‭43:4‬ ‭HCSB‬‬).

Scripture is full of God’s amazing love for us from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. The whole of Creation from creation, to fall, to the wilderness, to the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ all the way through His return — each part and piece represents the love God has for us. Before we decide it’s being given to us out of pity or as a participation award, remember Romans 5:8, But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-10 continues another thread of this wonderful tapestry; But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You have been saved by grace! . . .For you are saved by grace through faith, and this in not from yourselves; it is God’s gift–not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

Does that sound like a God who would give us leftovers of His love?’

Best Beloved, I do not know how you feel about the love God has for you. It may be the very comforter that wraps you at night, it may be the thing you think God “has” to give you because He is, after all, God. Please hear my heart, Dear Ones. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you so much that He has sought you out. He has come to redeem you. He has come to restore you. He has come to prepare you for the ultimate “Love Feast” that will come when we stand before Him in Heaven one day.

So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. The whole building, being put together by Him, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord. You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:20-22).

Say it with me, Precious Ones, I am a child of God and I am loved by the God who multiplies His amazing love.

Amen.

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