DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor” Week Seven, Day Seven and review

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor”

Week Seven, Day Seven:

 

15Then I said, ‘Who are You, Lord? ’ “And the Lord replied: ‘I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting. 16But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of what you have seen and of what I will reveal to you. 17I will rescue you from the people and from the Gentiles. I now send you to them 18to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that by faith in Me they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified.’” Acts 26:15-18 (HCSB)

As trauma hits our lives, our view towards certain individuals or even whole people groups can become jaded. This was the interaction between Paul and Jesus Christ, as Paul was traveling near Damascus—ready to kill and persecute more followers of Jesus Christ. How beautiful and redeeming is the grace of Jesus. Paul had become jaded towards all who followed Jesus—as Paul did not yet know Jesus as the Messiah. Much like Paul, war, death and deceptive actions can all become fuel to a growing attitude of sin within our own hearts towards others. As believers in Jesus Christ, may we repent of such feelings, and ask the Lord to wash our eyes so that we may see all people through His grace and mercy once again. Praise God that such gifts were extended to our own lives—or we too would have no hope and no option for redemption. May we ask the Lord how He would choose to use us to forward His kingdom to help win such people for the name of Jesus Christ.

Prayer For Today:

LORD, I feel very convicted over some deep routed thoughts I have buried deep within my heart. Please forgive me of them now. Help me to bring honor to You through not only my words, but also through my thoughts. Thank You again for Your grace and mercy within my own life. Use me to minster to (name)___________ for Your glory. Help (name)__________ to come to realize that You are the God of love and forgiveness. Thank You that my own life is a testimony of Your radical redeeming power. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

**Week Seven in review. Which verse did the Lord use this week to really speak to you in your current situation? In what way do you feel God asking you to trust Him more? As we thank the Lord for walking with us for seven weeks amidst this season of need, may we also take the time to declare to the Lord anew our devotion to His plans and purposes for He alone is good.

**Optional Service Project: At church this week, find some extra money (the amount does not matter) to go towards the furthering of missions through the church. By helping others that are speaking to other nations about Jesus, the Lord will bless you as you allow God to use you as a vehicle to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor” Week Seven, Day Four

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor”

Week Seven, Day Four:

 

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 (HCSB)

Whatever the season of life we are in, we are to give thanks to the Lord due to His overarching glory. It is through His power that in our weakness we are made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is through His mercy that our filth and shame are washed away (Isaiah 53:5). It is through His radical redemption that we are given eternal life (John 3:16). Thus, even when we feel like we have nothing positive or hopeful left to utter, may we recall the beautiful truths of God’s Word. We can indeed rejoice in all seasons due to the surpassing hope and glory that we each inherit when we entrust our lives to Jesus Christ as our LORD. This world is not our home. And in seasons of deep anguish, it is reassuring to anchor our hearts on the truths of God’s Word. As believers in Jesus Christ, our hope is found not in the words of a doctor or the outcome of any election; our hope is found in the unshakeable rock of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3). And for this reason, with the assurance that this is not as good as it gets, we truly can rejoice.

Prayer For Today:

Dear Jesus, thank You for always being the consistent reality in my life. In the midst of the many highs and lows, thank You for walking with me through it all. Each valley provides me with a new opportunity to gain new insights into Your faithfulness. Each mountaintop provides me the time to declare Your goodness to those still below. As I am now again in the depth of the valley, please help me to look for Your faithfulness in this situation. Give me an ability to speak Your truth to (name)_________ in purity and love. Please grow me in faith and praise in this trying time. Thank You for Your love for those I cherish as well as for myself. In Your name I pray, amen.

Remembering Our Purpose As Parents Amidst Quarantine and COVID-19

“7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ[a]—the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.”

Philippians 3:7-11 (CSB)

 

As many parents scramble to find ways to entertain their children all day, amidst schools, restaurants and parks are closed—and even play dates are discouraged globally; may we, as Christians, breathe deep … in the peace that only Jesus can give.

 

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NASB)

Rather than viewing this time of quarantine with great fear, during the spread of a virus without a known cure, may we thank God for this precious time with our children and families.

 

16Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

COVID-19 will be something our children will remember for the rest of their lives and share with their own children and their children’s children. And along with the memories of hand sanitizers, deep cleanings around the home to wipe out potential germs and daddy and mommy having unexpected time off of work—all while not being advised to leave the home, the children will remember how daddy and mommy reacted. Did we, as parents, react and function out of a heart of panic or a heart filled with praise and trust in the God who holds all things together?

 

16For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16-17 (NASB)

 

This pandemic is still globally on the move. And as parents, we can still allow our children to remember this time as one spent in family prayer, Bible crafts (ideas linked below) and a home atmosphere of trust in God rather than allowing our mood and outlook to be continually swayed by the latest newsfeed.

 

 

Mamas, may I appeal to you in absolute love—don’t miss out on this blessing of these next few weeks! Rather than following the trends of either allowing the children to self-govern their unexpected days at home, may we use this time to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ at home! If you have never had a conversation about eternity with your children; what a beautiful and natural segue in the midst of a pandemic that is claiming the lives of those ranging from elderly to elementary. Life is uncertain, but the Good News of the Bible is that our hope is certain. In fact, because of the empty tomb of Jesus Christ on the third day, we have a Living Hope. 

 

3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NASB)

 

Featured on Wonderfully Made Blog. Click link to view article.

 

It’s Terminal: Living In The Midst of Certain Change For The Glory of Jesus Christ

With sweaty palms and a racing heart, you wait. With fidgeting feet and a silent, fixed gaze, you wait. That moment which you have been holding your breath for has finally arrived. The news could be exciting or all together horrifying. Yet, in the unknown places you remain—simply waiting to hear—if it’s terminal.

 

The term “terminal” is often associated with life threatening diseases, but I dare argue that such a term is also fitting in the midst of major life change. As a military wife of nearly a decade, such feelings surface deep within the soul on the cusp of yet another move. The location ahead may be thrilling. The description of life ahead may bring a smile to one’s face as many happy days can be seen ahead. Yet, even still, there comes a time when one must then say good-bye to the present reality around them.

 

For however long, the military family has prayed, toiled and bent over backwards to quickly establish roots for their children and help to soften the blow of yet another transition. Whether that move is across America or across foreign seas is irrelevant. The feeling of deep loss and ache of leaving cannot easily be pushed aside or smiled away. No, this location, these beloved friends, this current route to the grocery store or favorite park—are all now seen through the eyes of impending good-bye. And as this seeps into the hearts of friends and colleagues, the military family watches as others begin to naturally pull away—as this reality is indeed unfolding and the pain is felt on all sides.

 

Often times, it is in the darkest places that a military family will find themselves feels utterly alone—away from family and their closest confidants they wait. Time zones, zip codes and other such differences make it challenging to keep in touch with those dearly loved in previous locations. Yet, the God who made them—sees them. Right where they are—God Almighty sees them. In the midst of the sorrow of terminal change of location, friends, church and more—God has not moved. God has not changed. And praise God, He cares and His name is JESUS CHRIST.

 

“ 24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:24-34 (NASB)

 

At the end of the day, at the beginning of the day and every moment around the clock—God sees our situation and knows what is best for our life (Psalm 32:8). When the sorrow and pain of change grip your heart, cling to the truth of Scripture that Jesus Christ is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). When you feel without direction and are unsure what to do next, press into God and do His will (Psalm 119:9-16). When you feel faint with the weight of unknowns and weeping children, cry out to the God who cares and will one day dry every tear (Revelation 21:3-4). May I encourage each one reading to wait; not on a diagnosis…not on word of a next assignment…but to WAIT UPON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. For it is written:

26Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.

27Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?

28Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.

29He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.

30Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,

31Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40: 26-31 (NASB)

 

As we approach Memorial Day and remember all those who have sacrificed and served, may I challenge us all to pray for Jesus Christ to strengthen and protect military families. And the next time you interact with a service member and their family, may I suggest a little extra grace, a little extra understanding and a lot of extra prayer for those who are continually living in a place of uprooting, planting and serving within a given community—for your safety and for mine. God bless all who serve—both in uniform and those holding down “the home front”.

Preparing for Victory Day

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33 (HCSB)

 

Once at the Place of the Skull, large nails were then driven into Jesus’ hands and feet. This was the most brutal and barbaric killing instrument of that day. And it was reserved for only the worst of criminals. Yet, here was Jesus the Christ, proven to be innocent by even Pilate and Herod, and he was experiencing a criminal’s death. It could not have even been carried out upon a Roman citizen. Thus Jesus, as an innocent substitute for each and every one of the human race, bore the brutal punishment of death upon a cross (Romans 8:28). To speed up the process, at the urging of the Jews, the Roman soldiers were instructed by Pilate to break the legs of those upon the cross to cause the arms to stretch higher above the head, ushering the arrival of death quicker—seeing as the following day was the Sabbath (John 19:31-32). Yet, this was not done to the Lord Jesus Christ as He was not a victim of His circumstances, but rather He had willfully determined to go through with the brutal death of humanity in order to ransom His creations (Isaiah 53:9-11, Romans 5:18, Philippians 2:8 & 1 Peter 2:24).

 

“This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.” John 10:17-18 (HCSB)

 

While enduring the cross and continued atmosphere of satanic celebration, the soldiers divided Jesus’ clothing by casting lots (Psalm 22:18 & Matthew 5:44). Jesus had publicly cried out to His Father in heaven to “forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He had also assured the repentant thief on the cross next to Him that “today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). When all had been accomplished to fulfill the prophesies of the Old Testament of the Lord Jesus, He cried out in a loud voice “It is finished!” and gave up His spirit (John 19:30).

 

The crowd gathered below was a mixture of demonic taunting and agonizing screams of horror and pain. When it came time to break the legs of Jesus, there was no need–He had in fact already died (John 19:33). This fulfilled the prophesy of the Psalms and the prophets (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12 & Psalm 34:20). The rocks split and the veil within the Holy of Holies of the Temple split from top to bottom as a result of Jesus giving up His spirit (Matthew 27:51). The punishment for the depravity of all humanity had in fact been paid in full (Matthew 27:45-53, Mark 15:33-38, John 3:16, Galatians 3:13-14 & Titus 2:14).

 

“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  1 John 4:9-10 (HCSB)

 

Because you are loved by the God who made you, Hope took on flesh (John 3:16).

Because you hold eternal significance, Redemption bore our punishment (Isaiah 53:5).

Because you are worth it to the Creator of all things, the Lord Jesus Christ victoriously rose from the dead on the third day (Romans 10:9-10)—so that all who trust in Him will also one day rise again (Hebrews 9:27-28 & 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)!

 

Regardless of the struggles this life holds, as believers in Jesus Christ, we have the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:33).

 

Whatever you struggle with from day to day, know that our Lord can deliver you from your hardships just as He did with Mary Magdalene and countless others! Those closest to Jesus, His twelve disciples struggled with the same temptations that we face today in 2019: a love of money (Judas Iscariot), doubt (Thomas), disbelief (Philip) and among other things, an inability to stick it out in hard times (all of the twelve). So, why would Jesus choose people who would show off such poor aspects of our human nature? Simply put, because we can all relate to times of failure…and a need for a Savior.

 

And, praise God, He loved them to the end (John 13:1). God is glorified in our weakness; for when we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)! In closing, no matter the mountain ranges, no matter the unspeakable odds, no matter the loneliness, realize that you are not sealed into your grief—your worry—your pain.

 

Why? Because just as the stone was rolled away to reveal the EMPTY TOMB of our eternally victorious Savior, Jesus Christ, we too will be delivered out of our deepest places of despair and utter need. Ladies, may we be filled with praise that rises far above our circumstances to declare that there is indeed VICTORY in the name of Jesus Christ alone (Psalm 121).

 

1I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
            From where shall my help come?

      2My help comes from the LORD,
            Who made heaven and earth.

      3He will not allow your foot to slip;
            He who keeps you will not slumber.

      4Behold, He who keeps Israel
            Will neither slumber nor sleep.

      5The LORD is your keeper;
            The LORD is your shade on your right hand.

      6The sun will not smite you by day,
            Nor the moon by night.

      7The LORD will protect you from all evil;
            He will keep your soul.

      8The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
            From this time forth and forever.”

Psalm 121:1-8 (NASB)

VLOG: Christian Apologetics in light of Islam (part 3 of 5)

The Holy Spirit has laid it upon my heart to share of conversations over the past near decade with dear friends from the Islamic faith regarding Christian doctrine. In this five part series, we will explore why Jesus had to die, if there is really only one God, which apostles should we follow, what the Christian church believes regarding other creeds and how does one decide what is right and what is ultimately wrong. May the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified and draw hearts to Himself for He alone is worthy.