If I Stay Silent

I feel inadequate as a writer. Not for the mechanics of writing but as a voice speaking out. I look back on previous devotions and see I need to take my own advice! It’s frustrating. Part of me thinks I need to be more “spiritual” or “victorious” to share a message with others. But, I suspect readers relate more to my struggles than to my victories. No one has it all together and shouldn’t give the impression they do. However, this struggle doesn’t go away. Recently, I was doing my daily SOAP https://discoveronething.wordpress.com/whats-soap/ reading and this verse stood out. “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 Queen Esther had the opportunity to speak up for her people and possibly save them from destruction, but she was afraid. There was a good chance she would die if she approached the king without being summoned. Her uncle Mordecai gave her the advice in verse 14, telling her if she kept silent, God would bring deliverance from another place. The truth of that verse hit me. “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise…from another place.” I realized I can stay silent, but if I do, God will use someone else to share His message. I’m the one who misses out if I don’t share. God will find a messenger. He will accomplish His purposes on earth. For Him...

Winning is Helping Others

“What’s wrong with me?” “Why can’t I be like her?” “I’ll never be that gifted.” “If only I was like….” Comparison and jealousy are the problems: not my perceived lack of gifts. All good things come from God. When there is love, it flows from Him. Where there are gifts, they’re from Him. We don’t create our gifts. Our talents and abilities don’t originate with us. Yes, we nurture and practice them. We choose to grow them or hide them, but we did not create the seed. All of our gifts come from God. We are the caretakers. He is the Master. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 What can we take credit for? Nothing. What will we answer for? How well we invested what He gave us. Did we hide our gifts or use them? Multiply them or let them grow stagnant? Any boasting goes to Him. All glory goes to Him. The call is to see Him in the gifts of others, not competition. See His hand and glory. Jealousy is questioning God and how He chooses to show His glory. We’re all on the same team, running in the same direction. Winning is helping others. Winning is when God is glorified. Self-exaltation is defeat. Leaving others behind, shutting them out, resenting their gifts, not loving others, and putting self first are in opposition to God. “…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows...

To Do or To Be, That is the Question

I like having a “To Do” list. Following the list instead of getting overwhelmed thinking about all there is to do is encouraging. I check things off as I go and see my progress. And a completed list feels good! But is a “To Do” list the most important? There are lots of tasks that demand my attention. Vacuum the house, do laundry, go to the bank, buy groceries, and the list can go on forever. What about my “To Be” list? Do I think about that? When I wake up in the morning, my to do list is already in my head. Do I wake up thinking about what I’m to be? If I made a “To Be” list for today, what would it look like? To Be: Be patient on the road, in the grocery aisle, waiting in line. Be loving to those who wait on me today, to those who crowd the aisles, to those who “interrupt” my tasks. Be kind and gentle with each person who crosses my path even when they irritate me or block my way. Be self-controlled not over indulging with food and drink, not giving in to temper fits, not being lazy. Be joyful walking in praise and thanksgiving to my Father who has given me this day of life. Be faithful to Him. Putting Him first. Listening to and following His Spirit. Be prayerful. Praying without ceasing. Don’t forget to put on compassion and humility! What if by following my “To Be” list, I can’t accomplish all that is on my “To Do” list? “Seek first the kingdom of God...

Letting Go of Striving

I’ve been in a dark place of defeat, failure, and doubts with a weight bearing down on me. Crushed in spirit. Doubting, disliking who I am. Focusing on my sin nature, the “old self.” What’s changed? I’m focusing on who I am in Christ, on the “new” self. I’m crucified with Christ. That old self no longer lives. I’m free to rise above, to ignore, the pull of the flesh. I’m free to act on what I know is true and not on what my flesh desires. I’m a new creation, walking by faith. If I lose faith, the old nature rears its ugly head. If I think I can indulge the flesh “just a little,” I deceive myself and the flesh pulls me down. Lies bind me hand and foot. But those bonds are an illusion, working only as long as I’m depending on “my” goodness or ability instead of the power of Christ in me. Christ in me is my hope of glory. Walking in the Spirit, I won’t fulfill the desires of the flesh. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. Walking in my effort, wanting my flesh to be “good,” fearing I’m a failure and incapable of loving or serving God, I fall on my face. Defeat, depression, and doubt trap me. Believing I’m doomed to be conquered by my sinful nature, I yield to the temptations of selfishness and pride, and I struggle to genuinely love others. My spirit loves God. I want to love others. I hate selfish, ugly thoughts. I hate acting rudely or missing opportunities to show grace. Christ lives...

Ditch the Labels

        You are irreplaceable. One in a hundred billion. * The only you. Unique in design. “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139:13-15 (NASB)   Designed by the Master Designer. Embroidered by God who lovingly chose each color. Your exclusive design and life experiences cannot be duplicated.   So let’s stop using labels to put people in groups.   A label only tells us one small part of who a person is. I’m an introvert but still different from every other introvert. I’m a white female but that doesn’t fully define who I am. I’m American but that doesn’t reveal my soul. Because I vote a certain way doesn’t mean I’m like all others who vote that way. To say someone is OCD, autistic, ugly or beautiful doesn’t tell me who he or she is. We are individuals. One of a kind souls wrapped in bodies unlike any other. Each of us is a wonderful miracle. Assigning you a label doesn’t mean I know you. To know each other we must communicate, listen, understand and love. We need to look for the exquisite colors He put in each soul. Some of us hide them well: we need to be willing to take as long as we need to see. Father, please help...

In the Face of My Enemies

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5 Who are my enemies? I don’t have the kind of enemies King David faced every day. I don’t go into physical battle to fight other nations. I doubt my son will ever wage war against me, as David’s son did. But I do have enemies. My biggest enemy is the enemy we all have: Satan. Our accuser, the father of lies, the evil one. He’s the one who wants to steal from us, kill  and destroy us. I also face the enemies in my own heart: my pride, selfishness, apathy, jealousy, self-protective bent, and desire for comfort to name a few. Sometimes when I am struggling with these “enemies,” I have a hard time writing or sharing spiritual truth. I find it difficult to write out scriptural insights because my enemies accuse me and tell me I’m not worthy. As I was reading Psalm 23:5 one morning, it struck me that God wants to prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. When I come to Him in the morning to read the Bible, pray and write my thoughts, He has promised to spread a table before me, to give me truth and insight into His word even in the presence of my enemies of pride, selfishness and sin. Even in the presence of the accuser, the devil. When I come to Him with an open heart and mind, confessing my sin and seeking Him, He will give me truth. He will feed...

How To Change Your Life

“Maybe this will be the one,” I thought. “The event that will change my life.” I used to search for the conference, Bible study or sermon that would change my life. If I could attend a certain conference or spend the weekend listening to these amazing sermons, I believed I would come away a changed woman and would live for God the rest of my life. I’ve learned my life is not changed by a weekend, a particular Bible study written by a popular author, a mission trip or any other short-term event. Yes, these are all positive influences in my life and they take me one more step toward my goals, but when I return home, I find I’m still a woman who struggles with selfishness, jealousy, laziness, apathy and pride. I’ve learned it’s what I do every day that changes my heart and my life. “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:32) is an often-quoted Bible verse, but it’s an incomplete quote. “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him; ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” John 8:31-32 How do we know the truth? By abiding in His word. Strong’s Bible Concordance defines the original word as “to stay, abide, continue, dwell…remain.” Someone who wants to follow Jesus will continue in His word. Abiding involves reading and/or studying His word regularly. The promise is if we abide in, live in, continue in His word, then we will know the...

Mama Bear Love

“That brings out the mama bear in me,” a friend exclaimed. Most parents love their children with a love so powerful it’s scary. New parents are blown away by love when they see their newborn baby. It’s been said that becoming a parent is like having your heart walking around outside your body. Such fierce love causes parents to struggle with their children growing up in a world filled with danger, evil, and potential pain. We make it our goal to control our child’s life. We take on the impossible task of guaranteeing our child’s safety. Adding to our fear is the realization our child has the freedom to choose, and we can’t control their choices. When our child is forty-five, we’ll still want their safety, well-being and happiness. Once a parent, always a parent. Recently, our twenty-four year old son mentioned a health issue he has and indicated he has no plans to have it taken care of. I couldn’t sleep that night. I started imagining all the possible results. In my mind, he was headed to an early grave because he left this issue untreated. The next morning, I read about Abraham, Sarah and Hagar in Genesis 21. God promised Abraham and Sarah a son, even though Sarah was well past childbearing years. Sarah decided to help God by offering her servant, Hagar, to Abraham so he could have a son by her. Her plan was to then raise this son as Abraham’s heir. Hagar had a son but it didn’t work out the way Sarah thought it would. A few years later, God fulfilled His promise...

One Last Tear

My mom’s breath began to slow. It was 10 seconds between breaths, then 20, and then 30. There was one last breath. I realized that the first sound I heard on this earth, my mom’s heartbeat, was about to stop. Sobbing, my two sisters and I clung to our mom as a tear rolled down her cheek. Then her spirit was gone. In an instant, her body became an empty shell. As I gripped her hand, it became as lifeless as an empty glove. One last tear was shed. Did she cry for her daughters who were hurting? Did she cry at having to say goodbye? Maybe it was a happy tear as the veil was torn away and she saw glory. My sisters and I believe she shed a tear for us. She loved us well and with all her heart. In that moment, it was clear that this body we live in is just temporary housing. When her spirit left, the body was just an empty tent left behind. She wasn’t there anymore. It had been a difficult ten weeks. From the time my mom first fell and broke her hip, she faced one setback after another. She finally was put on hospice and we sat by her side for a week as her body slowly weakened. Here are some thoughts I meditated on as I sat there: Dying is hard. Regret is devastating. Moments are fleeting. Opportunities pass. There’s a last time for everything on earth. Seize the moment. Love well. Make eye contact while you can. Say I love you often. A person’s tent is...

Who Am I?

Often I forget life is not about me. I’m not the source of strength or truth in my life. I can’t produce one good thing in my own strength. My breath is a gift of grace from God. I can’t hold onto it or guarantee I will take another one. As I take a deep breath…that act is grace. Do I have hope? That is a gift. Do I have a moment of peace? Also a gift. Every second I spend with a loved one and look into their precious face is a gift. ALL good things come from our Creator Father. The ability to enjoy His gifts comes from Him. Life and death are gifts from Him. Life because it allows us to know Him. Death because it allows us to be with Him forever. I need reminders of who I am. I’m a receiver of His good gifts. I am… A branch not the vine. A creation not the Creator. A pencil not the source of truth A reflection not the light. A servant not the master. A voice not the message. One part not the body. Gifted not the gift. A messenger not the message. A channel not the source. Forgiven not sinless. In process not perfect. En route not at my destination. A singer not the song. A child. A follower. A believer. A vessel. Forgiven, loved, trusting. He is… The Creator. The Light. The Hope. The Master. The Message. The Author. The Giver of every good gift. He alone is worthy of praise, honor and glory. All that I am, I owe to Him....