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

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

Week Five, Day Seven:

 

Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:10 (HCSB)

 

When we make a conscious decision not to partake in lawlessness, gossip, lude living and other outward expressions of rebellion to God, a separation is made between those willing to engage in such behaviors and those not. Isolation, slander and even physical harm can result from stirred and convicted hearts of those witnessing righteous lives. This very thing was proven true through the account of Jesus Christ’s righteous life, brutal death on a Cross and glorious victory from the grave on the third day (Isaiah 53:5). May this be an encouragement to hold the legal, moral and ethical ground in the name of Jesus Christ; for regardless of the suffering endured here on this earth, we too will be lifted up in His proper time (1 Peter 5:6-7). For, as Matthew 5:10 clearly states, those persecuted for doing good and righteous things will be satisfied by access, through Jesus Christ, to God Himself in heaven. Although it is not always easy to “take the higher road”, may these words of Jesus in Matthew 5:10 charge your spirit to focus not on the words and actions of this world, but rather on the approval and acceptance of God Himself. Even in the hardest and most dark of circumstances, we can still stand for righteousness in the name of Jesus Christ. Consider how might the Lord desire to use you this day to take a stand for good and righteous living regarding the valley through which you are currently traveling.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, what a terribly hard road this is to travel. Teach me to do good and love pure things—including the conversations, texts shared and even online sites I visit. Convict me of things I need to give up to You and apologize to You for. I want to find my satisfaction in You rather than another source. Help (name)__________ to be drawn to You in the midst of this storm and abuse. You have heard the things said. You know all things. Please, please realign our focus to You and living righteously in order to bring glory to Your name. You are faithful to sustain us and give us a place to stand up under the pressures all around. Thank You for this truth Jesus. In Your name I pray, amen.

 

**Week Five in review: Please write down the most meaningful verse from this past week below. As you do, please take the time to thank God for His Word. How beautiful to meditate on the very words of Jesus Christ! I have sincerely enjoyed studying the Beatitudes over this past week. I hope that they have blessed your heart as well.

 

**Optional Service Project (Acts 20:35): A Steaming Basket. Whenever something good happens, find someone to thank. A simple basket of assorted coffees, teas, ciders, hot cocoas, rehydration drinks, waters and flavors, etc. would be a real blessing to someone who has made an impact on you this past week to press further into your pursuit of Jesus Christ.

 

HOMESCHOOLING in COVID…Play Dough Activity to Illustrate PRESSING INTO GOD

Activities to Illustrate Bible Lessons

 

Press into God (Play Dough)

 

  1. Give each child some play dough to play with.

 

  1. Give them various things to press their play dough into to create impressions.

When we hang around people who are not acting nice, we run the risk of becoming like them. When we listen to music that is not saying good things, we run the risk of believing the naughty things that they say.

 

  1. Discuss with the children that we are like play dough.

The Bible encourages us to spend time with people who want to make God happy through being nice to others and using kind words. The same is true for the shows we watch on television or our computer or even the music we listen to. Just like this play dough, we too can be impressioned by the things we are around.

 

  1. Take your play dough and press it into a new mold.

By pressing into God by reading our Bible, going to church and asking questions about God, we will learn how to be like Him. By doing this, when people look at our lives and the things we choose to be involved in, they will be pointed to God. What a cool thing! Just by living our lives to please God, we can help point others to knowing God.

 

Verses from the Holy Bible to affirm what is being taught:

 

“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)

 

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,” Colossians 2:8-9 (NASB)

 

 

HOMESCHOOLING in COVID…Play dough activity to illustrate FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness lesson with playdough

  1. Give each child a lump of play dough. Let them play with the play dough as you give the lesson.

 

  1. List many things that we do that do not make God happy (not sharing, gossiping, lying, cheating, etc.). With each thing stated, roll a little ball out of play dough and stick it together.

When we tell God that we do not want to do things His way, but rather our own way, we make Him sad. We don’t want to make God sad! When we choose to hurt other people, not tell the truth and forget that we are very loved and important to God, we are missing out on God’s best for us!

 

  1. Have the children look at the pile of lumps from the play dough.

When God looks at us, this is what we look like to Him, before we ask for His forgiveness. We look like a big pile of yuck! But, thank God, the same God who knows our hearts, our thoughts and minds the most is the same God who wants to clean us from the filthy things we do, say and think. How great is that?! J

 

  1. When we ask for God to forgive us, He squishes and blots out each and every one of our hurts. He does not remember them any more.

Take your hand and squish your play dough lump pile until it is flat. Remove your hand for the children to look for the lumps. Ask them what they see instead of lumps. Some may not see anything initially, but encourage them to come closer to look.

 

When the Lord forgives us, not only has our disobedience been wiped away, but He leaves His mark on us (reference the lines from your own hand print on the play dough). It is not by our own goodness that we have been forgiven, but because of the fact that Jesus Christ took the big timeout for us (dying on the cross of Calvary) so that we would not have to. What an amazing God we serve!

 

“It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25 (HCSB)

 

“And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” Hebrews 8:12 (NLT)

 

“And just as it is appointed for people to die once–and after this, judgment–so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” Hebrews 9:27-28 (HCSB)

God Is There: A Battle Cry Amidst the Battle of The Mind

In the cool of the morning, in the quiet of the night, God is there.

As fears become behemoths and worries turn into dragons, God is there. As death tolls continue to globally rise and fears of every sniffle hinting at potential doom which suffocate your thoughts, God is there. As families try to find joy amidst blaring sirens announcing curfews and food shortages being a global reality, God is ever present.

He encourages us to thrown our fears, our concerns, our disappointments and our deepest regrets before His awesome throne of grace. Not only to bring our troubles, but to personally come—with boldness—into the Lord Jesus’ presence because of His undying compassion and love for you (Hebrews 4:16). Do you hear that?

Right where you are at this very second, the God who made you—loves YOU. He loves your parents who are aging and potentially locked into their retirement facility out of an abundance of caution against this modern day plague. He loves your children as they do not grasp the severity of this super bug as they still eat food off the ground or rub their eyes without washing their hands. God is sovereign over all–over ALL–here me tired soul and battered spirit–God is above it all and intimately in control of it all.

 

16 For 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. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16-17 (NASB)

When times of deepest sorrow and numbing grief seem to steal your very voice, the Lord Jesus is there…ready to be your comfort (Isaiah 57:15). The Lord Jesus is ready to minister to your grieving heart (Psalm 147:3). He is ready to save you in the midst of your broken and crushed heart (Psalm 34:18).

Today in the midst of heavy layers of grief and sorrow, may you be encouraged of the love God has for each of you. So much love in fact that He sent His one and only Son to ransom and redeem each soul who would trust His Son, Jesus Christ as their master and only way to wipe the filthy thoughts, words and actions from each personal life.

If you have never made a commitment to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and do not have the peace of eternal security with God and assurance of heaven nailed down in your heart, I invite you to do so this very moment.

Simply pray, Lord Jesus, I have made a mess of my life. I cannot fix all the broken pieces, but I know You take broken things and make them whole. I ask for Your forgiveness of my failings and ask for You to come live in my heart as the ruler and Lord of my life. I believe You lived a perfect life. I believe that You lived a perfect life free from failures and that You died upon the cross to pay for my wrongdoings. I believe that You rose from the dead on the third day and that all who believe in You as Lord and Savior will get to live with You in heaven forever. Thank You for loving me enough to do all that. I accept You into my heart this day (write the date down here)_____________. In my Lord and Savior Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Sorrow Into Seeds: A Story About Trusting God In Times of Great Transition

The day Lucy-Lu had been dreading continued to draw near. With each completion of yet another day of summer, their family’s moving date was growing closer all the time. Lucy-Lu’s daddy was a military officer. And although she loved that they had been able to travel around the world with him throughout her young life as a family, it was challenging—well, very challenging to continue to pick up and begin in a new place every 12-24 months. Oh sure, the adventures of living in the nation’s capitol, riding camels in the desert of the Middle East and speak of Jesus in outdoor evangelism trips to the park in Florida with Backyard Bible Club were all amazing. But, deep down, she longed for a time when she wouldn’t have to say good-bye to precious friends or feel the discomfort of cold sores or a hurt tummy caused by all the changing pieces anymore.

 

One day Lucy-Lu came to talk with her mama, Christy about the move. Lucy-Lu had expressed just how much she didn’t want to move, but this time it was different. She shared that each night, tears rolled down her little girl face and that she cried herself to sleep. Her mama almost didn’t know what to do. This move was affecting all of the family in different ways, yet all very much profound.

 

Then, Christy put the dishes aside and took Lucy-Lu into her arms and she prayed with her. She thanked God for this time of learning to trust God when it was hard because Christians are called to “rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5-16-18 NIV). Christy had silently prayed for wisdom as she hugged her precious baby girl and the Holy Spirit reminded her that God is in the business of turning our sorrow into seeds.

 

As Christy shared that the upcoming double move was proving challenging for her as well, Lucy-Lu snuggled in close to her mama and listened very closely. “You see, baby girl, when we follow Jesus, we want to go where He sends us—no matter where in the big world that is. Why? Because people all over this big world must hear about Jesus Christ as their risen savior. Does that make sense?” Lucy-Lu silently nodded her head. She had buried her face so deep into her mama’s side, all that could be seen was her sparkly golden hair. Her mama continued.

 

“And each time we experience hardship in this life, we have an opportunity to trust Jesus as we step out into the unknown. Is it scary, sure it is. But, Jesus Christ told us not only would we have scary things in life, but that we would have victory through such hard thing in Him. (“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 NIV). Sometimes, we don’t really know what we believe about this or until difficult times come into our lives and our testimony is watered by our tears.

“But, even then, look to God—He has not changed. The Bible says that even when I didn’t know you were crying yourself to sleep every night leading up to this move, God did. (“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 NLT). I remember going through some really difficult times when I was a little girl and feeling like my whole world was turned upside down. But, you know Who never changed? God. (“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT)

 

Lucy-Lu, remember, God never promised that we would never have difficulty in this life. Rather, God promised to never waste our difficulty. The Bible assures us that God uses all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His will (Romans 8:28). Thus, God can take our sad times—and remember, it’s OK TO FEEL SAD—and turn them into something beautiful for the advancement of the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. So, in that, it’s like our sorrow is turned into seeds for the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

 

Lucy-Lu just listened with fixed eyes. Her tired soul and hurting heart needed each word. Christy saw this in her little girl’s eyes and reached for her Bible. “Here now, let me show you a passage in the Bible that really helped me as we were leaving the Middle East a few years ago.” Lucy-Lu watched her mama flip the thin pages of her green covered Bible. She loved the sound of the pages turning. “Ah, there is it. Listen to this, baby girl, it’s from the book of Psalms, chapter 92 verses 12-15.

 

“The righteous man will [a]flourish like the palm tree,
He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still [b]yield fruit in old age;
They shall be [c]full of sap and very green,
15 To [d]declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”—(Psalm 92:12-15)

 

You see, sweet girl, when daddy had to travel to Lebanon for a year without us, it was very scary to me. We were all moving out of Qatar, but in different directions. I was very scared and cried many, many tears. I didn’t think I could do it. I was convinced of it! But,” (she smiled and spoke gently as she continued) “you know what? God knew I could WITH HIM. God sees our fears and tears and turns them into something beautiful. In that time, I learned that trust in difficult and scary times and worship God through it. Did you know that?”

 

“In fact,” her mama said with a smile. “Let’s worship Him right now as we wait for the answers to come from Him. May we worship Jesus Christ as we wait for His perfect and sovereign timing.” And with that, Christy began to sing “It Is Well” with her daughter and rocked her within her arms as they worshipped the God who was leading them to a new place. And as they praised the God of the Bible, they felt a renewed sense of peace and acceptance as they submitted anew to the Lord Jesus’ leading for their family with this next PCS.

 

Jesus Christ said to His disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)

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)

 

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To All The Mamas and Papas Who DARE To Raise This Next Generation for Jesus Christ: This One Is For You

To the mamas and the papas who dare to raise this next generation as the Lord Jesus Christ commands us to, this one goes out to you.

In a time in history where the children of our own country are not valued, but rather mass celebration in government as well as neon pink display on the side of the World Trade Center at the declaration of legislation to allow the death of children seconds post-womb, may you be encouraged that you are a champion of life.

Late-term abortion is not a matter of a “woman’s choice”—to what–commit murder? It’s a matter of removing God so far out of the equation that we deny even the preservation of our own kind–humanity–and loose sight of the beautiful fact that each breathing human both inside and outside of the womb is fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14).

” 14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14 (NASB)

 

Christian parents, it’s time to get involved and teach our children what is right…and not wait for the media or even “scientists”–regardless of what letters may or may not be behind their names–to define when life begins…or more to the pointat what point a life has worth…Praise God that the Bible is very clear on this issue. ALL pagan religions of the time of Abraham practiced murder of their own children as sacrifices to their gods–and this is why when God asked Abraham to give up Isaac as a burnt offering (his only legitimate son), Abraham was thrown for a major loop. Yet, in obedience, Abraham intended to go through with the murder of his own son…but God stopped his hand and his son was spared (Genesis 22:1-19).

Why does that matter and why should you care? Well, simply put, God was testing Abraham…did he love God more than even the gift of legitimate lineage through his son Isaac…his actions and God’s later praise showed that Abraham chose correctly…fear God above the reproach of humanity (Matthew 10:26-33) and through the lineage of Abraham we meet another man, the God-Man, Jesus Christ by name, who would fulfill the covenant of Genesis 12:1-3.

26“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27“What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.30“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31“So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

      32“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 10:26-33 (NASB)

 

The Abrahamic Covenant we just spoke of:

” 1Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to a land which I will show you;

 2And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; 
         

3And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Genesis 12:1-3 (NASB)

Abram (later known as Abraham) was promised a people (descendants), a land and that through his lineage would come one–The One–who would be a blessing to all people All people of all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s seed…through confessing our own screws up and believing that Jesus Christ is in fact the one and only Son of God and raised from the dead to redeem any and all who would put all their faith, trust and belief in Him (Romans 10:9-10).

 

If you have had an abortion—KNOW YOU ARE LOVED.

If you are considering an abortion–KNOW YOU ARE LOVED.

But, may you also remember, the one inside your womb–is ALSO LOVED by the God who made you both.

There is forgiveness of such acts…for God sees all rebellion against His holiness on an equal playing field—and the price of all types of sin is death, but the free offer of eternal life is through Jesus Christ the Risen Messiah (Romans 6:23).

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NASB)

Thus, if you are on the fence about making the choice to CHAMPION LIFE or chop up a baby human, may I encourage you in the strongest and warmest of ways, SIDE WITH GOD and CHAMPION LIFE. 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NASB)