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A Grateful Heart

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4

My family and I sat around the living room the other night. Witten was in my arms with his little head against my cheek. Ann Elizabeth sat next to me on the love seat. Olivia and Thomas sat together on the couch. The girls had their devotionals out and were starting to read. As I looked around at that scene that you can see most nights in my living room, I was overcome by thankfulness. I realized in that one moment just how truly blessed I am.

I’m not always that way, however. I become discouraged easily. There never seems to be enough money to go around. We need a bigger house. Everyone keeps making messes in our house. It’s as if they think we live here or something 😝!

And then there are some battles I face each day that are too personal to put on this page. Things I deal with that can get the best of me if I allow them to,and I’ll just be honest. I’ve let them get the best of me far too often. This morning, though, as I read my devotional, God spoke clearly to me through Scripture. The Quest

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

No matter what we’re going through or what we’re facing, if we’re a child of the King, then we will not be crushed. We will not be destroyed. Life may not be easy, but in the end, we have the victory.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Life may look real grim right now. The diagnosis from the doctor might be saying death. The checkbook may look bleak. Your marriage might be in shambles. But that’s not the end of the story. Child of God, you need to get on your knees and trust in the Savior. Trust He’s going to bring you through whatever He brought you to. And even if He doesn’t do things the way you think He should, He is still on the throne. He is still the Almighty God and still worthy of our praise.

James 1:1-2 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

Not only is God working through you in those trials, but your trials are a witness to those around you. The world is watching us. They see how we react when faced with adversity. Let God use that test for a testimony. Let your light shine no matter what you’re facing.

I’m choosing today to have a grateful heart no matter what I’m facing. I’m choosing to use whatever God brings me to for His glory. I’m trusting His plan for my life.

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It’s All About His Grace

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

I grew up in the church with Christian parents, but grace wasn’t emphasized very loudly in my life. I learned a set of rules, a ton of do’s and don’t’s for my life, and let me tell you, I worked really hard at trying to live up to that. After all, I did want to make it to heaven. I couldn’t mess up. I had to walk the line. And I sure would judge you if you weren’t walking the line.

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

So eventually I messed up, and I messed up big time. My world was crushed in that one moment of weakness. Everything I had “worked” so hard for was gone. I felt like it didn’t matter anymore. God could never possibly love me again, right? But I was so wrong.

It took me almost five years to understand how wrong I was. It wasn’t until I faced the idea that I might lose my daughter that I realized how out of control of this life I am. When I first got the diagnosis that I would never bring my firstborn to term or even to life outside the womb, I knew that nothing I did short of turning to my Savior was going to change anything.

Galatians 2:16 says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, for by the works of the law no faith shall be justified.”

In other words, it’s all about a relationship with Jesus. You can’t do enough “stuff” to win your way to heaven. There’s a song by Jason Gray called “More Like Falling in Love” and the chorus goes like this:

It’s gotta be more like falling in love

Than something to believe in

More like losing my heart

Than giving my allegiance

Caught up, called out

Come take a look at me now

It’s like I’m falling

It’s like I’m falling in love

You can listen to the rest of the song here.

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That song speaks so clearly in my heart and through the years, I have learned that this journey is about a relationship with Jesus. It’s not about a set of rules or things we shouldn’t do. The amazing thing is that through a real relationship with Jesus, you don’t want to do those things anymore! You are changed through His grace and mercy into who He designed you to be and He gives us the power to overcome temptation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to go live your life however you want to. I’m saying that you can’t live a life for Jesus if you aren’t truly following and trusting Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Trust me, you won’t stay the same if you are in a real, true relationship with Jesus. However, if you’re trying to live by a set of rules, you will fail miserably.

If you’re out there and this idea of grace is foreign to you, let me introduce you to my Savior. Come fall in love with Him today.

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Leave an Inheritance

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

If you watch TV at all, you’ll likely see a commercial or two about being prepared for the future. And if you’re like most of us, you have life insurance and a retirement account. You’ve taken the time to invest in your future and maybe even your children’s financially, but what about spiritually.

One of the things I pray for each day for my children is their futures. Some days this prayer can become mundane and monotonous because it’s something I pray for each day. However, this morning it really hit me just how important these prayers are for my children.

I always pray that their feet will go where God sends them. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” I want my children to be directed of the Lord. I want them to do what He calls them to do. I want Him to cover their lives with His precious blood, so that they follow the calling of the Holy Spirit.

I also pray for their future spouses. Now, I have two girls and a boy, so this calls for different prayers because God calls men and women to different roles. That doesn’t make anyone superior. That makes the roles Biblical. I pray that my children and their spouses have the wisdom to follow the roles God has clearly laid out in the Bible.

Ephesians 5:22-28 says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be Holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.”

Children are a gift from God. I have been entrusted in taking care of them and leading them to Jesus. Part of that responsibility includes praying for my children and their futures. I want to leave a godly inheritance. I want to so cover my children in prayer that they can’t run from the love of Jesus.

I pray that you take time today to pray for your own children. Even if God hasn’t given you biological children, pray for the children around you. Maybe it’s the kids in the classes you teach at church, maybe you’re a school teacher, maybe they’re your nieces or nephews, or maybe just the neighbor next door. Our children need our prayers. Lift them up today.

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Put on His Armor

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

First of all, I want to apologize for not writing in awhile. Life has been crazy and hectic. We have fought the flu and stomach bug as well as random fevers and sickness. I missed several days of work last week, and I still can’t seem to completely shake all of this, which leads me to today’s verse.

We live in a world plagued by sickness and evil. Everyday we are faced with obstacles. And if we aren’t putting on the armor of God, then we aren’t equipped for battle.

If you read on into the next verse (Eph. 6:12), it says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

These battles we fight and these obstacles we face are not just things life throws at us. There is a spiritual warfare going on all around us. We must be prepared each and every day.

Verse 14 tells us to gird our waists with the truth. Are you reading your Bible and filling your heart with the truth of God? Are you studying Scripture and memorizing His words? That’s where our truth comes from. We can’t rely on preachers to fill us up. We have to search the Scriptures for ourselves and understand God’s words and hide them in our hearts (Psalm 119:11).

Verse 14 also tells us to put on the breastplate of righteousness. Are you walking in God’s ways? Have you been made righteous through the blood of Jesus? Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Verse 15 tells us to shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Are you feet standing firm in what you believe? Do you really believe that Jesus brings peace into your heart? Philippians 4:7 says, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” We have to be standing firm in this truth everyday.

Verse 16 tells us to take the shield of faith to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Are we really believing God will do what He says? We have to stand strong in our faith. We have to fill our hearts with His words so we can stand against the devil’s false accusations.

Verse 17 tells us to take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. Romans 10:9 says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? If not, today is the day!

Every day we need to get up and spend time with Jesus. We need to arm ourselves for the day ahead.

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Who We Are in Christ

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Lately I have been doing the Beth Moore Bible study The Quest, as well as reading Kyle Idleman’s book, Not a Fan. It’s so amazing to me how God speaks to me in so many different ways. Both of the chapters I read from each of these books today talked about our identity in Christ.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been told things about yourself your entire life. A lot of the times, they weren’t things that helped to shape you into a confident, self-loving person. If you read my blog yesterday, you know that I went through an abusive relationship. I was with this person for almost twelve years! There was a lot of emotional and mental abuse. I’ve been called every name in the book. And let me just tell you, after awhile, you start to believe those lies.

But God says, no. He says, “That is not who I created you to be.” And you have to make a decision. Are you going to believe the truth of God’s Word or are you going to believe the lies that you have been fed? This isn’t an easy decision to make because sometimes we are so broken down that we can’t even lift our heads to hear His Word. That’s why it is so important for us to spend time with Him everyday. You have to immerse yourself in Scripture and begin to stand on the truth of who God says you are.

Colossians 2:10 says, “And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”

Romans 8:2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

1 Corinthians 2:16 says, “For who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

1 John 4:4 says, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Ephesians 2:19 says, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

Begin to read His Word and believe what He says about you. You are more than a conquer (Romans 8:37). You are the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13). You have to choose to believe God’s truth.

He has made us new. Walk in His victory and freedom today!

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Why We Need Christian Friends

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

Several years ago I went through something extremely life changing. I left my abusive husband to start a better life for my girls and me. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done because of the stronghold he had on my life. I left, but I felt completely ashamed. I felt like none of my Christian friends even understood, and I was no longer welcomed at my church because it was his family church. The only friends who I had left were the ones who didn’t encourage me to live my life for Christ. I spent the next few years rejecting everything I knew and living a life of sin.

However, at the end of 2015, I got remarried to a wonderful man who loves me and my children and suddenly we both knew we needed to turn our lives around. We began going back to church, and we turned our backs on a lot of things, including friends who weren’t the best influences in our lives. As our relationship grew, so did our relationship with Christ. What’s so amazing is that He always gives us the things we need.

We are now the youth leaders at our church where we have lots of friends and people who love us. He has also put two special ladies in my path at work that I can always go to. They pray for me and encourage me and keep me on the straight and narrow. It’s so important to have friends that encourage us in our faith. There are three reasons below why I feel this is so important.

1. To pray for us

Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” We all need people to pray for us. I know the prayers of others have kept me safe so many times. But we also need people to agree with us in prayer. We need friends who will stop what they’re doing and pray right there.

2. To encourage us

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” Have you ever had those days where you just feel so discouraged? Those are the days we need godly friends. We don’t need people to gossip with or complain with. We need people who are going to tell us the truth even when it might hurt and put our feet back where they belong.

3. To follow Jesus’ lead

In Luke 10:1, Jesus sends out seventy followers to minister in His name. He doesn’t send them out separately though, he sends them out in pairs. He knows this is a cruel world that we live in, and He knows we need one another. We need others grounded in the faith.

Do you have a godly friend that helps you in your walk with Christ? We aren’t meant to walk this world alone. Find a church home and get plugged in if you don’t already have one.

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