Adventures: An Advent Devotional for Women

This time of year can get busy and super crazy with all the Christmas gifts to buy, parties to attend, cookies to bake, kids Christmas performances to attend, and so much more.  Sometimes we can lose focus of the main reason we celebrate Christmas.  That’s why I have written an Advent devotion just for you!

Adventures is a great devotional for you to use this Advent season (and it’s free)! This devotion is geared toward women (but men can read it too).  There is a devotion for each day in Advent (Dec. 3-24, 2017). Each day contains a Scripture reading, devotion, worship song, and an Adventure (something you will do each day, some are fun and some are more reflective).  The worship songs are linked to a YouTube video.  Just click on the name of the song (which is in red) and it will take you to the song.  Also, the Adventure for some days is linked to a website.  Just click the red words for those days and it will take you to the site you need.

To download your free copy of this e-book, all you need to do is subscribe to my blog. You’ll see the subscription box on the right hand side of this page where the Adventures book cover image is located. Just fill in your email address and you’ll be sent the devotional link to where you can download your own copy!

I would love for you to read Adventures during Advent as you wait and prepare for the coming of our Savior.  I hope this new resource I have written will help you keep your focus on Jesus this Advent season.

5 Things to Do in Uncertain Times

Uncertainty is no fun.

In fact, it’s down right miserable.

I don’t like not knowing what is going to happen.  I like for things to be certain…things I know for sure will happen or not happen.

We have all been through something in our lives that we have no idea how it will turn out.  Maybe that’s waiting on test results that will tell you what they found on the MRI.  Maybe that’s going through treatments to get rid of cancer, but not fully knowing if the treatment will work.  Maybe that’s waiting to find that one special man to marry.  Maybe that’s waiting to see if those fertility treatments will work and you will be pregnant. Maybe that’s waiting on a job you really hope to get.  Maybe that’s hoping that the job you just took will work out.  Maybe that’s hoping your children will make wise choices.  Maybe that’s hoping that your children will grow up to be fine young people who continue to faithfully follow the Lord.

All of these things are uncertain.  We have no idea how things will turn out until it happens or it doesn’t happen.  And the agony in the uncertainty comes from the waiting.  And well, I’m just not a good waiter.  Worry and anxiety consume my body to the point that I can’t take it anymore.  I just need to know, Lord!  Please tell me for certain what is going to happen!

But as we all know, we don’t always get the answers we want in the time we want.  We have to wait through the uncertainty.

I want to share with you five things that have really helped me in those uncertain times…in those times when all I seem to be doing is waiting and worrying:

1.  Pray

Some of you may be saying, “Yes, this is a given.  Of course I’m going to pray.”  As a Christian it’s what we do.  But when we go through uncertain times, sometimes we stop praying.  We let our worry and anxious thoughts take over so that all we do is fear.  But, this is the time when we need to be praying.  We don’t need to allow Satan to keep us from going to the Lord in prayer.  We should fight off that worry and get down on our knees daily…praying with all we’ve got. God hears our prayers.

2.  Listen 

Prayer time should also include silence.  We need to listen.  That’s when we will feel God speaking to us.  I was reminded of the importance of this while reading in the book of Joshua this week.  I felt that Joshua 3:9 was God speaking directly to me, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.”  I spend a lot of time talking to the Lord, but little time listening.  God was telling me to come here and listen to Him.  It’s in the silence that we will feel God and hear and feel His peace during this uncertain time.

3.  Read the Word

Whenever I am in the middle of uncertainty, I break out my Bible and read directly from the Word of God.  I need to hear God speaking to me through His Word.  Here are some verses I find very helpful when I feel worry start to creep it’s way into my thoughts:  12 Scriptures for Uncertain Times

4.  Worship

Just this summer I went through an uncertain time.  I had to go back for a 6-month mammogram to see if the place that had raised suspicion last fall was still there or had grown. I dreaded the appointment for weeks.  And I all I seemed to do was think the worst thing possible.  It was so hard to get those thoughts out of my head.  But I had to make a choice:  was I going to let those thoughts take over or was I going to praise God through the uncertainty?  I chose to worship the Lord.  I found peace in listening to my favorite Christian praise songs.  As I sang, I allowed God to wash His peace over my body.  And it was amazing to see how He transformed my weary, worrying soul into a peaceful, calm soul.

5.  Remember all the certain things about the Lord

During those uncertain times, we tend to forget all the CERTAIN things we know about the Lord…the things that God has promised to us.  Some things that come to mind for me are these promises:  He will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:8), He will bless us (Deuteronomy 28:1-2), He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28-30), He will work all things for good (Romans 8:28), He calls us by name (Isaiah 43:1), He guides us (Proverbs 3:5-6), He comforts us (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), He gives us peace (John 14:27), and so many more.  Go ahead…get out your notebook and start listing all the things you know for certain about the Lord.  Remembering these things can bring us peace when all we can do is think about the uncertainty.

I have walked through uncertain times and it is terrifying.  But, I have found peace through it all only because of God. My prayer is that you will give God all your worries, anxieties, and fears.  Trust in Him because He cares for you.

How To Find Your Birth Verse

Do you know what your birth verse is?

I had never heard of such a thing until I saw an article about it online that led me to a website: Find Your Birth Verse

All you have to do is enter in your birth month and day and it brings up a verse from Scripture that corresponds with the day you were born.

August 1st is my birthday and my birth verse is from Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

I love the message from this book that Paul shares with us.  For those of us who believe in Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord, there is no punishment.  We are not condemned.  We are free and forgiven.  What a beautiful message this is!

While I absolutely love that verse, I decided to search every book of the Bible and look up the eighth chapter and first verse.  I wanted to see if I could find a verse that really resonated with my life and spoke to me.

And I found it….

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.    Joshua 8:1

I have struggled with fear for a majority of my life.  Even though I was raised in a Christian home and have loved and known Jesus my whole life, I don’t remember ever truly praying through my fears and quoting Scripture to help me through it until just a few years ago.  It has been a comfort to me to be able to find peace through fear in the pages of His Word.  This verse from Joshua is spot on for my life and a great reminder that I am not to be afraid.

I decided to take both of these verses, turn them into a printable image, and place where I can be reminded of them each and every day.

Joshua 8:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your birth verse?  Please leave a comment below and share your verse and what it means to you.

4 Ways to Give God the Glory and Not Yourself

gloryHave you ever been tempted to give yourself the glory for something you did, instead of giving God the glory?

Let’s play out a scenario here… You’ve just finished doing something awesome for the Lord.  Maybe it was lead a Bible study at your church, plan an outreach event for your church that brought in many people, or even led a group of people on a mission trip.  Whatever it was, it was a HUGE success!  Everyone is saying what a great job you did.  The pastor makes you stand up in front of everyone while they applaud you. “Great job!  You are awesome!”  Everyone rises to their feet and gives praise to you for a job well done.  And you love it!  You love the attention. You love that people are giving you credit for all the hard work you did.  You deserve it for sure. Doing this thing that God called you to do wasn’t easy.  Thankfully others recognize that and are giving you praise!

What is wrong with this picture?  Some of you may say nothing.  It’s okay to be recognized.  And you are right.  There is nothing wrong with being recognized.  The problem comes when we are taking the credit for what God has done.  The problem is when our hearts are in it for the wrong reasons.  The problem is when we do what God calls us to do for selfish reasons and not for what God wants us to do. The problem is when we boast of what we have done.  It is NOT right to take credit when all the glory needs to go to God.  God gave you some great gifts in order to do the thing which He called you to do.  God is using those gifts for His purposes and not yours.  You are God’s vessel.  You are being used by God to to share His name with others.  God is using you, yes, but for what He wants and NOT for what you want.

So how do I enjoy the praise, thanks, and pats on the back, without losing sight of God?

Here are four ways you can make sure you give God the glory and not yourself:

1.  Pray   Before you do anything, pray A LOT!  Ask for God’s will to be revealed to you. Ask God to give you wisdom in all you do for Him.

2.  Study Scripture   Dive into the Bible and fill yourself with His words.  Let them flow through you.   It will be helpful to know His Word and it will keep you from washing up on the shore, having forgotten all about God in what you are doing.  A great Scripture to memorize to help you with this is Psalm 115:1:

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and your faithfulness.

3.  Praise God At All Times    In everything you do, thank God.  Thank God for the good things and the bad things in your life.  Everything that happens, God can use to do His will.  Praise God at all times!

4.  Say “Go God!”  A friend of mine says this all the time, especially when she is thanked for doing something.  She says it helps keep her focused on God and what He does through her.  It keeps the emphasis off her and puts it on God, which is exactly where it should be. So the next time you are thanked for something you did for the Lord, just say “Go God!”

God has each of us where we are for a reason.  He has us there to serve HIS purpose.  He wants to do great things through us. However, we must be willing to step out of that spotlight and make sure God shines brightly and not us.  When we learn to do that, God will bless us so much more.

All praise and glory goes to our Lord!

Day Forty: The Promise to Never Fail

“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one thing has failed of all the good things the Lord your God promised concerning you; all have come to pass for you, not one of them has failed.”     Joshua 23:14

Today marks the end of our 40-day journey through Lent.  What an amazing walk through the promises of God!  Did you realize how many promises God makes with us?  And this is not the end!  I could go on for more than 40 days, too!

I enjoyed these past 40 days because it was a good reminder for me that our God is faithful. I think we all need reminders about this, especially when life gets crazy, or tragedy happens, or even when life is going great.  We all need to be reminded of the promises of God and that He will never fail.

In Joshua 23:14, Joshua is giving his farewell address.  He has faithfully led the Israelites for many, many years.  It all began under the leadership of Moses.  When Moses died, God appointed Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. He definitely had his work cut out for him but he faithfully followed the Lord through it all.

I really like Joshua.  I like his character, his style of leadership, his obedience to God, and how he encouraged others.  But before Joshua leaves this earth, he wants to give the Israelites one more reminder of God.  He tells them to remember that God never fails.  All they needed to do was look back and see how faithful God was at fulfilling all that He promised them.  He rescued them from the land of Egypt.  He provided food and water for them.  He gave them victories in battle against the enemy.  He never left them.  He guided them safely.  He provided excellent leaders to lead them.  And even though the Israelites messed up so many times and even though there were consequences to their actions, God never went back on His promises to them.  He remained faithful, despite their unfaithfulness.  Joshua reminded them that God never failed.

Are you having a difficult time remembering this promise of God to never fail?  Do you feel like God has left you or failed to follow through on His promises to you?  Sweet friends, I pray that your heart has been filled through this 40-day journey through Lent.  I pray these promises of God have revived your heart and helped you remember that God never fails.  God has not abandoned you.  He is present with you now.  And He loves you very much.

One of my favorite signs in my grandparents house when I was a kid was a sign that said “Jesus Never Fails.”  It hung above the door to their kitchen.  Every time I entered that room I was reminded of God’s promise to never fail.  This sign hangs in my mother’s house today and when I go there I love that I can continue to be reminded of this promise.

God never fails.  All you need to do is remember.  Then you will see that He is true to His Word and He loves you very much.

Tomorrow morning is a joyous day for all of us!  We know that Jesus died yesterday, but that tomorrow He will rise again.  Christ the Lord is risen!  Hallelujah!!

Thank you for joining me this Lenten season!  I pray that you will continue to follow my blog and hope that what God writes through me will bring you hope and encouragement in your faith.

Prayer:  Faithful God, thank You for all of Your promises.  Thank You for giving us so much.  Help us to remember Your promises each and every day.  Keep them fresh on our minds so that we will never feel abandoned.  Help us to be faithful to You, too.  We love you, Lord, with all our hearts.    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Journal

  1.  What promise from God strikes you the most?
  2.  What promise are you struggling with today?  Pray and ask God to help you see Him.

Save

Save

Day Thirty-Nine: The Promise to Die

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”   Matthew 16:21

Today is Good Friday.  It’s a somber day where we focus on the death of Jesus on the cross. We aren’t necessarily thinking about a resurrection.  Our pastor told us this past Sunday that many of us will celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (which we call Palm Sunday), and then we will come back the next Sunday and celebrate His resurrection.  We like to only think of and celebrate the good things that happened to Jesus.  But in doing that, we will forget some of the very important parts to the story of His resurrection.  He told us we do not need to skip over the other events that take place during this week (which is known as Holy Week). We need to remember.

In Matthew 16:21-28, Jesus is explaining to His disciples all that will happen to Him.  First, let me say what a blessing this is to these men.  Jesus is giving them a heads up. There’s going to be no surprises.  Jesus isn’t going to all of a sudden die without any explanation.  No, he’s telling the disciples, his friends, exactly what will happen.

And guess what?

They freaked out!  They didn’t want to hear any of that!

They began to shout and yell and tell Jesus He was crazy (well, not exactly in those words), but they were pretty adamant that this wasn’t going to happen.  Peter was the one who began yelling.  Verse 22 of Matthew 16 says:  “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’, he said.  ‘This shall never happen to you.'”

Now let’s stop here for just a minute.

Who would ever have the boldness to rebuke the Lord…to His face!  That would be Peter.  I guess Peter was so upset that He basically told Jesus that this wasn’t going to happen.  No way.  Not on his watch. Nobody is going to kill the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

And what does Jesus have to do?  Rebuke Peter!  He calls Him Satan!  Yikes!

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me, you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'”  Matthew 16:23

I am sure Peter slumped back in his chair after that one…embarrassed, feeling guilty for having gotten so upset about Jesus promising that He would die.  Peter had heart.  He loved Jesus deeply…to the point of blowing up at the mere mention of Jesus dying.  Peter didn’t even want to talk about it.

Aren’t we like Peter?  We like to gloss over Good Friday.  Let’s not even think about or mention His death on the cross.  It’s too sad.  It pains us to even think about it.  It grieves us to know that Jesus willingly gave up His life for us.  I know I am one who does this.  I don’t like thinking about Jesus’ death and how they whipped, beat, and tortured Him.  It breaks my heart.  He didn’t deserve to die.  He did nothing wrong.  No one should have even laid on hand on Him.  His death was not fair!

But friends, Jesus had to die.

He was born on this earth, knowing that He would die to save everyone.  It was part of the plan…from the beginning (John 1:1-5).  We need to be mindful of this day. We need to grieve on this day.  This day plays a huge part in Holy Week.  We don’t need to skip it.  We need to remember it.  Because it’s only then that we can truly be grateful for His death, giving thanks to God for sending His Son to be our sacrifice and allow us to live eternally.

Mark 15:33-34, 37 says, “At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachtani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)’…With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.  The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!'”

Wherever you are today at 3:00 pm (Jesus’ time of death), stop what you are doing and remember the death of Jesus.  You could not live in heaven with Him if it were not for the sacrifice He made.

Prayer:  Eternal God, we know it grieved You to see Your Son die this way.  But, we know there was no other way.  Thank You for this sacrifice.  Thank You for loving us so much and sending us Jesus to save us.  Help us to focus on His death today and be reminded of the sacrifice He made.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Journal

  1. What does Jesus’ death mean to you?
  2. How can you make sure to share the message of Easter with others?

Day Thirty-Eight: The Promise to Be Our Joy

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”   John 15:11

You’re never fully dressed without a smile!

Have you ever heard that before?  If you’re into musicals you would know that this is a song from Annie.  This was one of my favorite musicals as a kid (and still is one of my favorites today).  My grandmother always used to say this phrase to me, too.  She knew how much I loved this musical and she also knew that I always smiled.

I like to think I am a pretty joyful person…although, if you ask my kids they would say I’m not happy all the time!  I’m the type of person who can easily get out of bed in the morning, loves to talk, loves to smile, loves to wake my kids up in that annoying sweet voice. I love being joyful to others and I always wear a smile.  I believe smiles are contagious.  I also believe that a smile can show the love of Jesus to others.  You never know the type of day a person is having and your smile just might be the one thing that gives them joy for that day.

You want to know what the real reason behind my joy is?

Jesus.

I have known Jesus since I was a little girl.  My parents raised me in a Christian home and we went to church every week.  I gave my life to Christ when I was 12 years old.  Since that day I have strived to live a joyful life in Christ.  The more I know about Jesus, the more joyful I become.  Even at 40 years old I am still learning many things about Jesus and who He is.  My joy in the Lord continues to grow deeper and deeper into my heart.

I am reminded of the song I learned as a child called “I’ve Got the Joy Down in My Heart”.  The lyrics say:

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.  Where?

Down in my heart. Where?  Down in my heart.

I’ve the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.  Where?

Down in my heart to stay.

And I’m so happy, so very happy

I have the love of Jesus in my heart.

And I’m so happy, so very happy

I have the love of Jesus in my heart.

We sang this song many times at Sunday school and VBS when I was a child.  I always loved it and now that I have remembered it, I am sure this song will be stuck in my head for days!

In the John passage above, Jesus is in the middle of a discussion with His disciples.  He’s telling them so good stuff about Him.  Deep stuff like…He’s the vine and we are the branches, how we must abide in Him, how we should remain in His love, and how we should keep His commandments.  And then He says this verse from John 15:11:   “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

I wonder if the disciples began smiling and jumping for joy after this deep discussion?  Did they have the love of Jesus in their heart…the type of love that creates a deep joy in Christ?  I know they loved Jesus, but I’m not so sure at this point they truly understood what He was saying.  Would we have reacted the same as the disciples if we lived back then?

I am thankful that I can look in God’s Word and know the true reason of my joy.  I can read stories from His Word and know and understand that everything Jesus was saying was true and that things were going to be okay despite what lie ahead. We have a gift from the Lord…a spoken and written gift that He gave us so that we can read and know that Jesus is our joy.  When we know Jesus as our Savior then our joy is complete.

So if my joy is complete, does that mean I will be joyful all the time?  No.  There will be days where you feel anything but joy.  Days where all you want to do is not smile or talk to anyone.  But the great thing is, that the joy we have in Jesus does not disappear.  It is nestled deep inside our hearts.  So when we have days like this then we can know that Jesus is with us and we can remember His love for us.

Do you have joy down in your heart?

My prayer is that you will open your heart to that joy.  My prayer is that you will spend time getting to know our Creator, through His written Word and through time spent with Him in prayer.  My prayer is that His joy will shine brightly through you so that others can see Him.

BE JOYFUL!

Prayer:  Almighty God, thank You for sending Jesus so that our joy may be complete.  We admit there are times when we do not want to be joyful.  There is a lot of pain in this world and sometimes it’s overwhelming.  Help us to remember the deep love we have for You and may Your joy overpower the pain and sadness that lives in us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Journal

  1. What has hidden your joy recently?  What can you do to find His joy in you?
  2. How have you shown the joy of the Lord to others?