DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley of Achor” Week Three COMPLETE

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley of Achor” week three

Theme of Week Three: God Will Revive Me

 

Week Three, Day One:

 

11For 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.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

 

When sin entered the world, suffering was on its heels. The plans of God were never for us to suffer or experience heartache. In fact, Adam and Eve experienced perfect communion with God—and even walked together in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8)! Sin has infested all aspects of this world, and suffering is one of its first fruits. When we find ourselves and those we love battling hardships and deception, may we recognize it for what it is—the products of a broken world. The perfect rescue, the ultimate salvation from the spiral of destructive living—is found in Jesus Christ alone.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, thank You that suffering was not intended for any of our lives. Thank You for providing a way out of the suffering that brings tears to our eyes and anxiety to our hearts. Thank You for the hope and future that I have in You. Thank You that You have a hope and future for (name)_________ as well. In this very day, please help this ascending truth to soak into (name)________ heart. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

 

 

Week Three, Day Two:

 

“ 6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NASB)

 

Humility can be the furthest thing from our minds as we are looking for something, apart from a current tragedy, to occupy our thoughts. Yet, as we live out 1 Peter 5:6-7, and humble ourselves under the awesome and mighty hand of God, we will find comfort. It is there, under His hand that we will experience shelter for our soul. It is there, under submission to His just leadership, that we will discover lasting hope. And it is there, that we are encouraged to throw our troubles at the feet of God—because He cares for us.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, thank You for the protection of Your mighty hand. LORD God, You are so powerful, the Bible tells us that You have measured the waters of the oceans in the palm of Your hand (Isaiah 40:12). What an incredible fortress, we can find under the protection of Your hand. Please help (name)_______ to experience Your protection. Help (name)_________ to awaken to the reality that (name)_______ can truly bring all sorrows and grieves before You as 1 Peter 5:7 assures us, because You sincerely care. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

 

 

 

Week Three, Day Three:

 

“The One who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns darkness into dawn and darkens day into night, who summons the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the earth– Yahweh is His name.” Amos 5:8 (HCSB)

 

The famous constellations of the Pleiades and Orion are referenced here in the book of Amos to serve as a powerful reminder. How truly sobering to consider that these awe inspiring creations, that silently circle our globe, were made by an even more awesome Creator. When silent storms rage on in our personal lives or of those we cherish, may we not simply look to the stars for guidance, but rather look to the very One who made the stars—Yahweh the LORD is His name.

 

 

Prayer for today:

Dear LORD, You are God and there is no other (Isaiah 43:10). You have demonstrated Your reign and rule over Your creation. Thank You for not only taking interest in humanity as a whole, but for caring individually for me. Thank You for caring for (name)________. Thank You that no challenge is too great for You to clean up. Allow these famous constellations to be a forever reminder to (name)________ that You are God and You have power over all created and uncreated things. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

 

 

 

Week Three, Day Four:

 

“This is My Servant; I strengthen Him, this is My Chosen One; I delight in Him. I have put My Spirit on Him; He will bring justice to the nations.” Isaiah 42:1 (HCSB)

 

Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of this prophesy in Matthew 12:17-21. May our hearts come to the unshakeable reality that salvation is found through Jesus Christ alone. He is the one and only Son of God; second part of the triune Godhead. He was the atonement for the failures of all mankind. And after He rose from the dead on the third day, Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit, the third part of the trinity. The Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of every believer. Through Jesus, we are promised that no matter our circumstances, we are truly overcomers, if we anchor our hearts in the everlasting security of Jesus Christ.

 

Prayer for today:

Lord Jesus, I come to You with sincere need. The Bible assures me that the Holy Spirit is the advocate for the soul (John 15:26). Please bring justice to the situation unfolding in (name)__________ life. I am out of ideas of where to go from here. Help me to give You the details and prayerfully follow Your lead. In Your name I pray, amen.

 

 

Week Three, Day Five:

 

14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens — Jesus the Son of God — let us hold fast to the confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. 16Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.” Hebrews 4:14-16 (HCSB)

 

 

As Solomon so beautifully put it, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). How encouraging to recall that civilizations of centuries past and present societies alike have all faced the same temptations and shortcomings. Even more encouraging, is the reality that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is able to sympathize with our weaknesses and shortcomings. He was tempted and tested with every kind of sin this world can offer—yet never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Amazing. It is then by Jesus’ perfect life, that we all are able to boldly come before God’s throne in prayer, to receive mercy and find grace for the shortcomings that have stained our lives.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You that any life can be power washed by Your ultimate act of love on the cross (Isaiah 53:5). You paid the penalty that each and every person on this spinning globe deserves. Thank You that no one—no matter how heinous the crime or depraved the situation—no one is beyond Your redemption. Thank You for redeeming my life. Thank You for offering redemption to (name)____________ as well.

 

 

 

Week Three, Day Six:

 

25My life is down in the dust; give me life through Your word. 26I told You about my life, and You listened to me; teach me Your statutes.” Psalm 119:25-26

 

 

How wonderful to recall that we can receive words of life through the Bible (Psalm 119:25). When we feel lifeless due to deepest sorrow and agonizing pain, how beautiful to remember that we can come before the Lord, just as the psalmist did, and pour out our hearts before a listening God. In the midst of chaos and grief, may we pray for a teachable spirit, as the psalmist indeed did, in order to better align our will to His perfect will.

 

Prayer for today:

O LORD, this is hard. This is excruciatingly hard. I do not know what else to do at this point. I feel like I am down in the dirt. I do not know what next step is best. Thank You for listening to me share what’s on my heart. Thank You for listening to (name)_________. Please teach me Your ways. Please teach me what would best please You in (name)__________ current circumstances. I thank You that we are heard by You, an all-knowing and all-loving God. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

 

 

Week Three, Day Seven:

 

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants and My blessing on your offspring.” Isaiah 44:3 (HCSB)

 

In this life, each soul experiences seasons that much resembles deserts. The realities of sandstorms in this already dry and desolate environment further highlight the irreplaceable value of water to sustain life. How beautiful that Jesus Christ Himself assures us that He is the “living water” to quench the thirst of our souls (John 7:38). When we claim the words of the Bible for our own life, our souls will experience refreshment that comes from the Spirit of the Living God on all who call upon the name of the LORD.

 

Prayer for today:

Lord Jesus, please teach me to need You in the midst of this pain. Teach me to need You to the point that I sincerely see my dependence upon Your guidance and favor as water for my own body. Thank You that we are never left in the desert, but that You pour out Your refreshment to each one in need. Help (name)_________ heart to experience Your living water within the tired and dry seasons. Help me to be faithful in lifting up (name)__________ to You by name. You can refresh any situation—even (name)___________. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

 

 

**Week Three 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 great is His love for us! How grateful I am that I do not have to go through this excruciating time alone—and girlfriend, you do not have to go alone either. Thank the Lord for His ever-present love.

 

 

**Optional Service Project (Acts 20:35): Bless someone else by making them a meal and dropping it off at their door. Now, it doesn’t have to be a seven coarse meal, but it is best if it is indeed made by you. There is something about working for the betterment of another that has a way of lifting our spirits. As you make your meal, pray for the Lord to bless them and reveal His will in their lives. Now, if you really do not feel confident in your cooking, dropping off a meal is great, too…just remember to pray over the person who will be receiving the meal.

 

 

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley of Achor” Check Point before Week Three

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

Check Point before Week Three

 

Check Point: The Heartache of Hello

 

Within a new season of trauma or intense stress, there are many things that change rapidly to alter our surroundings from comfortable to chaotic. In this time, we are forced to not only give up things and routines that have been familiar to us, but we also have to acknowledge the arrival of something new—something unwelcome and foreign into our lives. If you are reading this today and feel that you cannot bring yourself to meet another new doctor, read and sign yet another paper within the court case or even face another day of this present anguish—may your heart be encouraged this very page.

 

As we are willing to realize that heartache is a blessing, we can more fully grasp the fact that our work on this spinning planet is not yet done. Stop and think about that for a moment. The moment that we stop having to work hard to benefit the lives of those around us either directly or indirectly through direct acts of service and prayer, we are surrendering our calling as believers in Jesus Christ. Ladies, in times of debilitating distress, may our hearts and hands reach for the LORD. It is in Him alone that we will find our rest, our hope, our assurance and our peace in the midst of the storm. And as we prayerfully continue to walk out each day, as difficult and gut wrenching as they may be, we are bringing glory back to the LORD—which is our purpose for drawing each breath.

 

May we not allow the devil to taste the victory of our own defeat due to devastation. No, as believers in Jesus Christ, we have the ability to tap into the eternal source of life giving power. What is that power? The mighty and undisputed name of Jesus Christ. Remember, the demons know the power of Jesus Christ’s name and have to flee (Matthew 8:28-32), the angels know the powerful name of Jesus Christ and cannot stop worshipping (Revelation 7:9-12), and creation itself stands still when told to by His mighty word (Mark 4:36-41). The question is, do you sincerely understand the power that you have been entrusted with, as a follower of Jesus Christ (John 14:27, Romans 8:15 & 2 Timothy 1:7)?

 

 

Thank You, Jesus Christ, that You alone are the Mighty Healer and Eternal King (Deuteronomy 10:17, Psalm 89:27 & Revelation 1:5-8). Thank You for Your perfect knowledge and grace (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). Allow me to claim the truths found in Your Word in times of trouble and tattoo them to my heart (Psalm 119:9-16 & Psalm 119:105).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley of Achor” Week One COMPLETE

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley of Achor” Week One COMPLETE

 

Through The Valley of Achor

 

Prayers for a change in direction drive us to our knees as the calendar ticks down to the unwanted day of departure. Blessings Through The Valley of Achor will remind you that heartache and cries for mercy are woven into the tapestry of all believers. Whether military or millionaire, ditch digger or diplomat, married or single—each life reaches a point where we all fall to our knees and cry out to God. Each day we will meditate on a passage to help us bloom in seasons of great transition and perceived gloom. This book is a devotional for the days that hurt and an encouragement that with God you will make it through (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

 

 

 

 

 

INTRO

 

OUR STORY THROUGH THE VALLEY OF ACHOR (Hosea 2:14-16)

 

After six years of marriage, two precious children and a steady expectancy of the unexpected in our “soldier-diplomat” lifestyle, I had grown a bit comfortable as to what life would look like for us. I was now united to my best friend in marriage. God had worked miracles to ensure our union (read Mirrors to Windows: Change your view to see God’s true romance to see the full account unfold). Phil and I had traveled much of North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Europe together during our first year of marriage for his profession. God had then honored our prayers for children. God even allowed my husband to be brought back from war in order to be present for our son’s birth—nearly unheard of within the military community. After the birth of our son, we were able to spend time with Phil’s parents before his mama went home to be with Jesus. We had so much to be grateful for. Although we moved every twelve to twenty-four months, I knew that Phil would always be with me to see our family through. He was a man of God and a man of sincere prayer. God had really blessed my children and me. Then, we stepped into a new terrain within our marriage and family. We experienced, more fully, what the Valley of Achor (meaning trouble) really was.

 

With four years in the Middle East and three years previous bouncing across the U.S. and the Arab World as a whole, our roots never sank too deep into any one place. In terms of the heart, since the age of six, my roots and strong standing were in Jesus Christ, my Lord and personal Savior. How blessed I was to have married a man, who also from a very young age, had submitted to Christ. My husband shared my same heart for global adventure and reaching those in need of the eternal security that Jesus Christ brings to the soul.

 

For our six years of marriage and the year prior during our courtship, Phil had always been the cool-headed one in our relationship; the logical, the planner. Well, in short, this is not the type of person he married! If there was something to fret about, more times than not, I was first in line to fill the role. If there was something to rejoice about, more times that not, I was the one waving the biggest pom-pom. And in the midst of it all, we knew that the Lord would see us through all the silliness and sorrow in between.

 

Although I saw military family after military family deeply challenged by the separation that comes with deployment, I was certain that the Lord would not allow me and my family to walk through the hellish experience of being a “married-single parent” as so many do while their loved one is deployed for a year or longer. When we got the news of Phil’s next U.S. Embassy assignment—coupled with the fact that we could not accompany due to safety concerns—I felt as though a horrible joke had just been played on me. In many ways, it was as though I was flashed back to the heartbreaks from my own past. As a young girl, I had always told myself that my family was safe from destruction—but had been proven wrong as divorce gripped the family of my youth. Yet, God provided in the midst of that heartache and used it for His ultimate glory.

 

Fast forward to the present, I was now married to the man I loved, the mama of two precious toddlers whom we loved and completely reeling all over again as I faced a new earthquake within my family. The very man God had led me to marry was now being ripped away from our children and me for an extended time due to his professional dealings with foreign governments. I silently asked the Lord in earnest, “Haven’t I gone through enough?!” [Perhaps, you too can relate to similar internal questions as the earthquakes within your own story disrupt your perceptions of security and what it means to be “safe”.] I could not bring myself to be angry with God—I just could not. I knew, even at that moment—as was true during my youth—that God is good (Nahum 1:7). So, my anger, rage and feelings of betrayal were then directed towards the very one I love most on this earth; my husband.

 

Ladies, allow me to assure you, the devil hates marriage. The Bible often references a marriage to most closely reflect the relationship of Jesus Christ and His body of believers, called the Church or the Bride of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12, 1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 5:25-27 & Revelation 19:7). Thus, Christian marriages are often attacked as a way of sidelining those looked up to by singles—be they believers in Jesus Christ or not. May we pray for our marriages both while residing under the same roof as well as for periods when we are separated geographically by zip codes and even distant time zones. Take stock in this truth Ladies, the God of perfect love is bigger than our suffering and aching hearts (Romans 8:38-39)! I can testify that this has been the case for us and it now can be the case for you, too.

 

This study is unique in the fact that it has been written in response to the nudging the Lord has put upon my own heart—to counsel my own heart for not only the year apart from the man I love most in the world—but then the return of our family to the Middle East in response to the Lord’s leading. I would love to say that my children were spared of the stress, the chaos and the heartache that has been associated with this traumatic season of saying good-bye, hello and good-bye again to Daddy for an extended time and later friends, but that simply has not been the truth. If you too, are a parent who has felt that you have “missed the mark” to represent Jesus Christ under the current pressure you are living in, may I encourage you this very day. God is bigger than our problems, bigger than our blow-ups, and bigger than our deepest pain (2 Peter 1). Listen to me now, do not give up! You are not a quitter. You were made for so much more than this heartache and turmoil. Keep pressing into the Lord; you may not be able to see the end in sight yet, but rest assured, the best is yet to come!

 

Begin by confessing your shortcomings to the Lord (1 John 1:9-10) and ask for His help in walking through this Valley of Trouble with Him (Psalm 23). This will actually make you stronger and more stouthearted through the reading and meditation on the Word of God; the Holy Bible (Psalm 119:50) and daily bringing your requests and sincere heart before the Lord in prayer (Philippians 4:6).

 

The Word of God is where our hearts can be encouraged and redirected back to the Lord in times of chaos and great turmoil (Psalm 119:105, Proverbs 6:23 & 2 Peter 1:19). Hold fast to the biblical knowledge that with Jesus Christ, He will faithfully lead you out.

 

 

“The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,

He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

 

Planted in the house of the Lord,

They will flourish in the courts of our God.

 

They will still yield fruit in old age;

They shall be full of sap and very green,

 

To declare that the Lord is upright;

He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

 

Psalm 92:12-15 (NASB)

 

To my LORD Jesus Christ, Who has been faithful to walk my precious family through each mountaintop and valley of this great adventure. May praise and hope in Jesus Christ alone be gleaned from these pages.

 

Christ is the answer

 

 

Theme of Week One: God Hears Me

 

Week One, Day One:

 

“The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (HCSB)

 

There are times in our lives when we cry out to God, with nothing left to say. Our hopes seem dashed. Our prayers appear unanswered. And, deep down, we may even fear that God simply could not fix the situation at this point anyway. On days like this, soak in the truth of God’s Word. The words of Psalm 34:18 beautifully reminds us, that not just today, but each day, the LORD is near and saves those who are crushed. What a comfort to recall that in such seasons of our lives, regardless of the duration, the LORD is near and indeed saves.

 

Prayer for the day:

Dear LORD, help (name)_____. You see the pain. You see the complexity of the situation. Thank you that Your Holy Bible is trustworthy and true. Please give (name)______ the assurance that this very day, You are providing comfort and presence in this incredibly difficult time. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Week One, Day Two:

 

“For the High and Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy says this:” I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed.” Isaiah 57:15 (HCSB)

 

Royalty dwells in palaces with elegance and lighthearted living. Yet, praise God that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, wanted to have fellowship with each of us. The Bible assures us that each life is so treasured to God that even while we were still involved in crazy living, Jesus paid our ransom (1 John 4:9). Rest in the reality today that your life is so precious to God that He stepped out of His royal living in order to revive each heart that becomes oppressed by sorrow, guilt and pain.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, thank You for caring for each of our lives. Thank you for caring for (name) _________ life. Thank You that Your Word, the Holy Bible, assures us that we are never alone in our sorrows. It is You, the High and Exalted One who revives our hearts. Help (name) _______ to claim this truth for today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Week One, Day Three:

“The God of old is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He drives out the enemy before you and commands, “Destroy!” Deuteronomy 33:27 (HCSB)

 

Have you ever just needed someone to back you up? When we belong to Jesus Christ, as we call upon His name, we are tapping into the eternal power of God. The same God that created the world (1 John 1:1), delivered the Israelites from the hands of Pharaoh (Exodus 14:29-31) and raised Jesus Christ from the dead (Matthew 28:5-7) is the same God you can call upon this very day. As we learn to find comfort and refuge underneath the powerful arms of Almighty God, we will see that it is God who will destroy our problems, in His perfect timing.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, thank You for being all knowing and all powerful. Thank You for not only seeing the problems in (name) _______ life, but also destroying these problems, in Your perfect timing. Help me to claim this truth for today. You are trustworthy and Your timing is perfect. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Week One, Day Four:

 

“Be a rock of refuge for me, where I can always go. Give the command to save me, for You are my rock and fortress.” Psalm 71:3 (HCSB)

 

When the diagnosis is worse than expected, call on the LORD to be your rock. When the relationship appears forever shattered, call on the LORD to be your fortress. When you no longer feel in control of your life and wonder if there is a point to continue on, call on the name of the LORD to be your rock and fortress. Regardless of our situations, no matter how deep the pain, there is always hope in Jesus Christ. Take a deep breath today and hold fast to this prayer of Psalm 71:3. This verse is a plea for God’s help. Make it your own today—God is waiting for your permission to intervene in the story. In faith, put the name of the one in trouble on the rock of Jesus today.

 

***Have a picture of a rock sketch here.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, please be the safe house of refuge for (name) ___________. Thank You that at Your word, rescue is realized within any situation. Help (name) ________ to grant You the permission to intervene into this situation today. Please be the rock for (name) ______ in a special way this day. Thank you, LORD. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Week One, Day Five:

 

2Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry! 3For my soul has had enough troubles, And my life has drawn near to Sheol.” Psalm 88:2-3 (NASB)

 

There are seasons in life that simply leave us numb. Yet, no matter how mad we get, no matter how many nasty words we speak, the outcome does not change. When we feel overwhelmed by helplessness and inadequacy, may we cry out to the LORD in an unvarnished way. The God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, has broad shoulders. Bring your pain—the situations that have numbed your heart—to the LORD today. He is ready to rescue you in the midst of it all (1 Peter 5:7).

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, help (name) ________ with feelings of being numb and overwhelmed. Thank You, Jesus, that we can come to You with honesty and know that You care about even the smallest details of our lives. Help this truth to be made clear to (name) ______ today. In Your name I pray, amen.

 

 

Week One, Day Six:

 

“I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.” Psalm 17:6 (NASB)

 

In sports, there is a moment when only the best of the best can save the play or win the game. The psalmist is making a similar plea. He acknowledges that God is the one who has always come through for him. May we take time today to speak this truth to the Lord from our own personal stories. Not only will it bless the Lord, but it will be a sincere encouragement to our own hearts as we recall the various ways God has saved the day in the past. If you are new to the faith, know that God is ready to do the same for you that He has been in the business of doing for all of humanity since inception—saving the day—with the perfect play.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, thank You that I can approach You with my needs. Thank You that (name)_______ can approach You with needs as well. Please minister to (name)_______ heart today. Help (name)______ to lay the heavy burdens down because You really do care for (name)________. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

Week One, Day Seven:
“O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion.” Daniel 9:18 (NASB)

 

This prayer in Daniel is one that echoes that all are helpless to restore what is needed—apart from the Lord’s help. With humility to God’s greatness and openly stated need, Daniel earnestly presented his requests to the Lord. In the midst of our own chaos, may we be a Christian people who are marked by this trait of running to God with both humility to God’s awesome power and acknowledgement that He indeed is more than able to come through in any situation.

 

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Lord, hope is found in You alone. Please minister to (name)_______ as the battle wages on today. Thank You that you see the destruction and will bring rescue to the situation, through Your great compassion, at Your perfect time. Help (name)_________ to cling to You in a new way today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

**Week One 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. There is such a depth of strength that we are able to tap into by praying the Lord’s promises back to Him. He is faithful to sustain us in all our sorrows. Thank the Lord for His faithfulness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

** Optional Service Project (Acts 20:35): This week, find someone to bless with a small assortment of flowers simply because Jesus loves them. It could be a neighbor, co-worker, friend at church, etc. In doing this, pray for this individual to feel the love of God in a new way this week.

 

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)

GPS Coordinates to a Brick Wall: Who We Follow MATTERS

“1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NASB)

 

 

Perhaps you are like me and pretty much all of the needed elements of “successful living” now all fit onto a glowing rectangle known as a “smart phone”. Yet, allow me to overstate the need to trust in something, or more accurately, Someone above technology. This afternoon, as I sat idle in our vehicle before a brick wall and mature trees, the G.P.S. was determined to route me through these solid elements in order to access the road on the other side. Since we have just moved to the Washington, D.C. area, our children and I were heading out to explore a new place. And as we went it became a great opportunity for discussion on who we should ultimately trust regarding God and the world around us.

 

 

“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 16:25 (NASB)

 

 

I held up the phone so that our children could see the blue mapping line from the back seat. “See kids, the GPS thinks there is a road here. It says I should be able to drive straight through this parking lot to that road just beyond. But, what do you see with your eyes that stands in the way of us doing that?”

 

Our son and daughter turned their heads to look and quickly stated, “A brick wall and lots of trees.”

 

“That’s correct!” I responded enthusiastically. “You see, the world around us is much like this GPS. And far too often people just want to know what the news media, or Hollywood, or a certain group of people is doing to determine what the right way is. Yet, what would happen if I were to follow these GPS instructions? We would crash into a literal brick wall, hurt the vehicle, and most serious and damaging—it might hurt one of us! And that’s not good leading or a good idea!”

 

The bottom line is, the world doesn’t care if you get hurt. It may sound harsh, but it just simply doesn’t. But you know Who does for you—sooooo much? Jesus Christ does. So much so in fact that He died for you, on a cross, to pay for the rebellious things you have said, done and even thought. How amazing it that?! Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except by Me.” Finding peace with God only comes through accepting Jesus Christ to be Who He says He is: the Son of God. And on the third day He rose from the grave to offer rescue and ransom to any and all who would trust in Him alone.

 

Thus, if we really want to know what He thinks about something, we have to open up our Bibles to see it and read it for ourselves. It’s not enough to receive affirmation of an idea or lifestyle from someone who claims to be a Christian. No. May we be most concerned about what Jesus Christ Himself would say about an issue, topic or relationship status. We must put on our “Bible glasses” and ask ourselves, “Is that really what the Bible would say about this or that topic?” This is called discernment—this is what the apostle Paul affirmed and exhorted in the believing Jews of Berea. These believers were not persuaded by passionate speeches or convincing words if they could not find the message in the Torah, Talmud, etc. Now, to be clear, there is nothing wrong with passionate presentations. Billy Graham was a passionate speaker. I am convinced the Apostle Paul was a passionate speaker. My own Grandpa Ricci was an evangelist in Northern California—and he too was a passionate speaker. What matters is that the person is accurate in their passion about the right things.

 

 

May I encourage each one reading tonight? The Bible is very clear that the ways that seem right to a person will only lead to destruction (Proverbs 16:25). But, if we are willing to surrender our life, our plans, our fears, our dreams, our hopes, our ambitions and our wildest dreams to the Lord—He will do great things. May we learn to trust His leading, affirmed in the Holy Bible, rather than the latest fashion, hottest idea or newest philosophy. Remember, put on your “Bible glasses” and ask yourself honestly, “What would the Lord Jesus Christ think about this?” And if you don’t know what He would think about a given topic, then take the time to open up a Bible (I love the New American Standard Version or the New Living Translation) and search for it. Remember, you are not called to live the Christian life alone—no way!

 

 

Ladies, remember, it’s not shameful—it’s strengthening—to know what the Bible actually says about this or that. Don’t allow the devil to make you feel “stupid” or “embarrassed” for asking. No, that’s how we grow and that’s how we learn and it honors the Lord that we desire to live lives that honor Him. And remember to pray for the Lord Jesus to lead and guide you as you search for truth—because He will—He has and is doing it in my life—and He desires to do it for you as well. The LORD says:

 

 

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8 (NASB)

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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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”.