eph 2 8A gift for: You

A gift from: God

Time of delivery: When you believe in Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength

How: By His grace

Why: Oh, it’s nothing that YOU’ve done.  Ha!  So don’t over-think it or take any credit for this amazing gift.  He just loves you so much!

“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9

I recently celebrated a friend’s birthday. I had fun choosing all the right little gifts for her.  I knew her personality and little quirks and appreciation for the silly (yet purposeful) gadgets in life.  Heck, I enjoyed her gifts so much that I even got me a couple for myself.

Watching her slowly open each present was rewarding. There was always a story behind each gift from me, and she would even contribute to the story when she revealed her little gifts.

As much joy as I got from purchasing her, I believe I enjoyed watching her open and appreciate each item even more.

I can just imagine our Heavenly Father’s excited anticipation as He waits for us to open The Gift He has for each one of us. He knows our personalities, faults, strengths, failures, every hair on our heads, etc.  God knows the purpose for our life.  That purpose is all wrapped up in a special package that you will open on your spiritual birthday.

Once you accept your special gift of grace, Jesus is waiting to share stories with you. He can’t wait to listen to the chronicles you have to share about your new life as well.  He wants you to chat with Him daily.  He will speak to you, just be still and listen.

Remember how we saw in Ephesians 2 that it’s not because anything we’ve done? Just think about it; there are a multitude of kind and giving people in this world, they each have this same gift waiting for them, but God’s not just going to give it to them because they are so nice.  Nope, they have to put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ.  And then, on the other hand, there are folks like Paul. Paul was definitely not a kind person.  He persecuted Christians. But did God still have a gift for Him?  Yes!

Please don’t wait to open your gift until you think you’ve got it all figured out or cleaned up. God wants you as you are.  He will transform you into a beautiful new creation in Him.

Open it! I’m excited too!

(If you want to know more about how to receive this gift, click here.)

I pray God’s abundant love and much joy for y’all.

romans 12 1 2“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:1-2

Thanks, Paul, for writing my journal entry for today.

You must admit, this is jam-packed with good advice. Go back and read each sentence at a time.  Let it marinate into your thinking.  Allow it to be entwined with your marrow.  Keep your focus on Him throughout your day.  You will see a difference in your attitude, time management, and countenance.  And you won’t be the only one recognizing the difference God makes in your day.  Oh no, others will take note too.  Let God bring out the best in you.  Glory!!!

I pray God’s abundant love and much joy for y’all.

Just unfollow those who cause you to covet.  Follow Christ instead.

Just unfollow those who cause you to covet. Follow Christ instead.

When I read the “Verse of the day” this morning, it reminded me of a conversation I had this weekend with a friend about the self-image girls, young ladies, and even us “mature” ladies sometimes have due to what we see on the social media.

The verses are truly wrapped in something more grandeur when you read the chapter in its entirety, but I just wanted to share this quick conversation regarding self-image.

Okay, here’s the verse first: “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1 Peter 1:24

Somehow our conversation went towards people that our children see on social media, whether it is Instagram, Facebook, or whatever crazy means of technological media people use today. My friend’s twenty-something year old daughter had mentioned to her that when she views “so-and-sos” Instagram, she doesn’t feel good about herself.  Why?  Because those she follows on that social media are always posting pictures that are incredibly beautiful.  The lighting is always perfect, their hair and makeup are never out of place or put on wrong, and they always look happy.  Now grant it, those she is observing are stunning young women, but that’s not the true issue.

I love the point that my friend said to her daughter. It went something like this:

“When you look at those girls and feel bad about yourself, you are coveting. Coveting is a sin. God doesn’t want you to do that.  So if when you see their postings and it makes you feel insecure about yourself, just ‘unfollow’ them.  It doesn’t mean that you are not friends with them in the real world, it just means that you are removing a tempting situation from your life that is causing you to sin.”

Excellent point, momma. Just ‘unfollow’ them.

Hmmm, isn’t that one of the Ten Commandments anyhow? Check out Exodus 20:17, “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”

Here’s another good one: “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”  James 1:14-15

Ooo,ooo, and…others in this world are not the ones we should follow anyhow. We need to make sure that we are following Jesus Christ our Savior! For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21

I’ve written a few times about following Jesus, but here are three that sort of go along with today: You Choose, A friend of Jesus on Facebook, and  Jesus the Original Rock Star

Folks, let just do what Matthew 6:33 instructs us to do,But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.   I pray that you will find the Christ is all you need to be beautiful.  His love and beauty will last forever.

I pray God’s abundant love and much joy for y’all.

look up to the lord“Look at me.” “Look at me.”  If I heard this once, I’ve heard it about a hundred times.  Really, a hundred times if not more.  Recently I experienced someone else instructing my class for three days.  The gentleman was very knowledgeable in what we were studying.  I even thought at first, “He’s sarcastically funny.  He’ll be fun.”  But then…when my babies (students) were being belittled, that sarcasm got old, real fast.

We were on a three day, in-school fieldtrip. This trip is often the highlight of this grade level.  Why?  Because the classroom is outdoors and the kids get to experience  and learn survival lessons, get knee deep in the water to discover how healthy our water source is, pet and hold critters that some will most likely never encounter in their lives, and much more. Tons of fun is to be had.

Through conversation, I discovered the type of study this gentleman earned in college, where he had worked before, and the final key to the puzzle, if he had any children of his own. You see, as a teacher, I’ve learned that one can tell if a teacher has children of their own or not.  Those that do, their patience is often a little more tolerant.  I know, I was the same way.  I’ve noticed how I had changed from before having children to going back into the school system years later with school-age children.  There is just something about a parent’s tolerance.

By the end of the three days, we (my students and I) were able to giggle or smile every time we heard the instructor say “Look at me.” It was his go-to line, even when we were looking at him. (I’m smiling just thinking about it.) When we boarded the bus to return back to school, I jokingly told him that we’ve renamed him “Mr. Look at me”.  He laughed in the acknowledgement of it all and agreed.  (You’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself in life, and I’m grateful that he accepted it in that manner.)

This made me think about God. I’ve done some (not tons) of searching in the bible for if there was a time that God was constantly telling us to “look at Him”.  I brought this story up in conversation with my Sunday school girls, and said, “Here’s the difference.  The instructor was demanding us to look at him.  It was too the point that we didn’t want to.  But God doesn’t demand us to, He desires for us to look to Him.”

God has given us free-will. If He demanded us to do certain things, it would lose the value of being a relationship.  Jesus desires a relationship with us, He doesn’t demand it.

Psalm 105:4 says, “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek His face always.”  God didn’t say “Look at Me”, The Psalmist is encouraging us to look to the Lord, due to his own experience.  I desire to look to the Lord because I know that I need His strength daily; all day, every day.

Isaiah 40:26 reads, “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:  Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”  Again, we weren’t being demanded to look at God because He wanted our full attention, He wanted us to look to the heavens to illustrate a point.

Micah 7:7 states, “As for me, I look to the Lord for help.  I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.  Again, God is not instructing us to look at Him, but He allows us to see an example of someone looking to Him for help and describes the outcome of what happens when we do look to the Lord.

I pray that you will look to God for everything. Not just in times of trouble, but all day, every day. Seek His face continually.

I pray God’s abundant love and much joy for y’all.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these devotionals. Please send a private message to: soakinguptheson1@aol.com

2 tim 3 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I am so grateful that God didn’t just place us on this earth and say, “Go! Figure it all out on your own.”  No, He didn’t do that.  In a sense we often do try to figure things out on our own, and He did give us free-will, but He did (and still does) have a plan in place for us.

The bible is God’s Instruction Book for Life. It doesn’t matter what joyous or tragic circumstance you have in your life, He gives us examples, encouragement, and so much more in The Holy Bible as to how to live.

This morning I was reminded of how appreciative I was last year knowing that when I turned to His word, I would instantly be comforted. I am so grateful that it wasn’t just a Sunday relationship with me and God.  I turned to Him daily!  Still do and always will.

You see, my Sunday school co-teacher sent me a text stating how many of the teens are having questions about “Why bad things happen?” and “Where is God in it all?” She sent me Lee Strobel’s discussion from biblegateway.com regarding “why God allows things to happen”.  My mind automatically went to thinking, “I remember journaling about this same question last year.”  I sat here in my comfy chair and read through almost every journal entry from June 2013.  Ugh…let’s just say that I’m glad I didn’t have my make-up on yet for church.  Tears were streaming down my face while I revisited those entries that God had given me to write those days after my mother-in-law’s unexpected death.  Get that?  “God had given me”.

God’s breath was felt in such a strong way. His words kept our family strong during a difficult time.  I was able to reflect on what was written and understand how so many people would inform me how those journal entries assisted them through various circumstances in their lives as well.  (To God be ALL the glory!)

This morning I was able to share scripture with our Sunday school girls and give a personal testimony. Between Kalyn’s own experience with surviving cancer and my testimony of what happened in our lives, I believe that we helped make a difference in those young ladies’ lives.  At least I sure pray that they had open ears, hearts, and minds to help them stand firm in Christ and be able to share scripture with others in need.

You know…you are NOT alone! Jesus even tells us that we WILL have trials and tribulations in life: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 Can I get a “Whoop Whoop!”? He has already overcome the world.  Hold tight to Him, brothers and sisters.  He will show you glory to Him and joy to you in the end.

I pray God’s abundant love and much joy for y’all.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these devotionals. Please send a private message to: soakinguptheson1@aol.com

Ride for quite a ride!

Ride for quite a ride!

Raising an adult child is a complete walk in faith of God.

Our eldest is an adult. What?  I don’t feel that old!  This stage is at times difficult and other times effortless.

Right now I’m at the stage of knowing that we’ve raised our son on the foundations of God, appreciative of his independence from us, proud of most the decisions he’s making, but…I still want to be mommy. Are you with me?

Hunter is most likely at the stage of “Get me out of here! I’m an adult.” Okay, no most likely about it, it’s a sure thing. But, hey, I’m right there with him at times.  There are those moments when I want to say, “Please hurry up and finish your two years here so you can go away and learn to appreciate us.” Or “Does anyone need a live in son?”

Ahhh, the rollercoaster of life. Once more a ride to hang on to for dear life.  I just have to make sure I’m hanging on to Jesus the entire time.

This morning I read Proverbs 9:10, “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.   Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”  This is my prayer today as I continue to let go of those reigns of mommy, and become just a parent and hopefully a godly counsel in His life.  I pray that Hunter will always remember his foundation in Christ.  That he will respect the Lord in all that he says and does.  May he desire to know Christ more and grow in His knowledge so that his decisions will be pleasing to God.

I know…”This too shall pass.” Hunter is a great kid.  Ooops, an adult.  He is respectful to others and is responsible.  Tim and I are blessed by wonderful children that do love Jesus.  Thank You, Lord!

I just like being “mommy”.

I’m sure that just like we survived skydiving together, we will survive this stage in life.  A family that jumps together, stays together. haha

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I pray God’s abundant love and much joy for y’all.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these devotionals. Please send a private message to: soakinguptheson1@aol.com

 

be filled with joyWhy stop now? Let’s keep spreading more joy this week.

Last night I was going through some home email. When I got to the bottom of one email, I read their tagline above their signature.  It said, The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how do something well is to enjoy it.” -Pearl Buck. Ha!  There was that word again, JOY.

Mrs. Buck (June 26, 1892 -March 6, 1973), thank you for reminding me that I do have joy in my work.  Whether my work is at home being a mother and wife, or at school and church being a teacher, I truly enjoy doing what the Lord has placed in my life to do and be.

Lord, thank You for giving me the task of being a mom, wife, and a teacher. I pray that I will do my best to always serve You in these capacities.  I know that even in those times of tribulation (and they DO come), You are making me a stronger person as I rely on and trust in You, Jesus.  Heavenly Father, I know in James 1:2-4 that you tell me that when troubles of any kind come my way, to consider it an opportunity for great joy. You want me to know that when my faith is tested, my endurance has a chance to grow. Also, if I let that patience work in me, the end result will be good. I will then be mature and complete, and will be all that You want me to be.  Amen.

 Here’s a couple more verses to share regarding joy with you today:

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22-23

I pray God’s abundant love and much joy for y’all.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these devotionals. Please send a private message to: soakinguptheson1@aol.com

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had to laugh this morning, not once, but three times, at this underlying theme that God evidently has for me this week! Whether these subtle clues are directly for me or just for me to share with you, I appreciate His ingenious hints about JOY. Yep, joy.

You know how for the past two days I’ve written about joy?  Well, go ahead and add a day three.

First of all, when I read today’s reading from Jesus Calling devotional book, it was about finding joy in His Presence.

Then, when I turned to the verse-of-the-day at biblegateway.com, the verse came from Proverbs 15:23.  This verse says, “A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!”

But wait, I’m not done yet. Finally, my Sunday school co-teacher sent a text message out to all the 9th grade girl and we leaders.  It stated “If we find our worth and identity in temporary things, then our satisfactions and joy will also be temporary.  When we recognize our worth in Jesus, our satisfaction and joy is infinite because Jesus too is infinite.”

All of this happened within a five minute time frame this morning. Each reading/reminder gave me joy each time.

I dug a little deeper and read all of Proverbs 15.  Throughout this chapter, it was reiterating how joy isn’t just something we feel, but do.  It is expressed in our deeds and words, and can be spread to others. Joy is contagious!  This is one disease that I sure don’t mind catching or spreading.

Go! Go spread some joy to those around you today.

I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these devotionals. Please send a private message to: soakinguptheson1@aol.com

joy pure joyHere’s goes that word again.

Yesterday, after writing about “Ain’t nobody gonna steal my joy!”, a precious friend replied, I’m working on having Joy this week…….it’s my prayer.”   Well, sista, if you desire what I think you do, you’ll get it.

You see, in Psalm 40:8  it says, I take joy in doing Your will, my God, for Your instructions are written on my heart.”

When we do GOD’S will and not our OWN desires for our lives, we will find joy.

Now, sistas AND brothers (I know you guys read this too. This is not a “for ladies only” kind of site.  It’s a God thing.), I pray right now, on my knees (hang on…done!), that today you will stop, pray, and seek God’s will for your lives.  Not only to seek it, but truly desire it and do it.  I pray that you will be filled with so much joy today that it will be contagious. Amen and amen.

So, ain’t nobody gonna take your joy but YOU. Take that joy that comes only from God and spread it around.  (Wow, I just imagined a world full of joy.  Sweet!  We can try now, but we will definitely see it when we all get to heaven. I sure hope you’re going to be there.  Click here to help you get your ticket to heaven. Oh, boy, how I’m praying for YOU.)

I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these devotionals. Please send a private message to: soakinguptheson1@aol.com

aint nobody gonna steal my joyThe other day at school someone posted a paper in different areas of the school. On that paper it read to “Take one”.  Take what?  Well, at the bottom of the page it had words, in a tag format, for you to rip one off and take like, peace, love, joy,… I guess you could say the “Fruit of the Spirit” list, but I can’t recall all the words on the list at this moment.  Whatever they were, I loved the idea.

When I first saw it, I noticed that no one had taken any words, so I thought that it was just there for us to read. Then later in the day I become aware of some missing tags. So, I scanned the list of encouraging words again, and saw the word joy. I tore it off and said, “Ain’t nobody gonna steal my joy!”

I carried that tiny piece of paper around in my pocket all day and later tacked it to a board beside my desk. I would feel it in my pocket and then look at it on my board over the next couple of days, and again say to myself, “Ain’t nobody gonna steal my joy!” knowing that my joy comes from the Lord.

I did keep that word in my mind for a few days, and it seemed to remind me to prioritize and focus on the joy that God gives me each day.  And then, I let it happen…I allowed folks/circumstances to “steal my joy”.  Ugh!

Whether it was a “feel the pressure” type of meeting, the last class period of the day, one of my own children, or whatever/whomever, I allowed my joy to be depleted.  (Hence the dry spell of my writing over the past week.)

I’d pray and open God’s word each day, feel His love and gentle reminders, but in the back of my mind, I still had some joy missing.

I’ve kept a couple of bible-verse-of-the-day scriptures opened on my computer. One is “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”Psalm 27:14. Yes. I know!  But waiting is what I didn’t want to have to do in one situation, but I know that “This too shall pass” and that God’s got this! (Okay, Lord, I’ll wait.  I’ll try my best to wait patiently, but I will wait.)

The second verse-of-the-day was “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4.  Ahhh, one of my all time favorite bible verses.  Again…(Yes, Lord, you know what my earthly desires are, and I know You want my desire to be You alone.  Okay.  I desire You and your will for my life.)  It excites me to know that when I turn my focus and desires to Jesus, His plan is always so much better than the plan that I had mapped out in my mind for me.

And then…this morning, before I did anything else, I did my daily chat with God. This time, I was reminded about that word joy in my prayer and asked God to speak to me and through me, and to give me joy in my heart and peace of mind.  I then proceeded to read the verse-of-the-day, and guess what?  No, don’t guess, just read this for yourself: “Your help made me so happy.  Give me that joy again.  Make my spirit strong and ready to obey You.” Psalm 51:12. Hahaha, God was like, “You asked for it.”  And my reply to Him is, “Yes I did and thank You, Lord!”

Just like keeping that tiny piece of paper in my pocket, on my board for glancing at, or on my mind would keep His joy fresh and my heart happy, that’s what His word does for us when we keep it in the forefront of our minds.

I pray that you will keep God’s word in your heart and remember “Ain’t nobody gonna steal my joy” as long as God’s in control.  Give it all to Him.

To whomever left those papers on the wall at my school, if you ever read this (first of all, please don’t be critical of my grammar, you would keep yourself quite busy editing my entries, hahaha) thank you. Thank you for the gentle reminder that I need His joy in my life ever second of the day.

I pray God’s abundant love and blessings for y’all.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these devotionals. Please send a private message to: soakinguptheson1@aol.com