His Strength in Your Weakness

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9).  
 
I didn’t have an easy childhood. I came from a home that was broken many, many times over. But I can look back on my past today and instead of moaning about it, I can say, “I went through that, and now I can comfort others.” It has become a tool to help others. 
 
I wouldn’t want to go through that again, of course. Nor would I want anyone else to go through the same thing. But I’m thankful that God can take my past and use it for His glory today. I’m thankful that He can take that hardship and use it for His glory. He can do the same for you. 
 
Maybe at this time in your life, you’re going through some hard times, and you’re wondering why. God will use it. It’s hard to believe now. But just remember that it won’t last forever. 
 
As 1 Peter 1:6–7 says, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ). Trials don’t last forever. 
 
I’m reminded of a sign posted at the end of an airport runway that reads, “Keep moving. If you stop, you are in danger and a danger to those who are flying.” 
 
You can take that same statement and apply it to the Christian life. Keep moving. Don’t give up. Don’t abandon hope. You are going to get through that valley in your life. There will be an even greater mountaintop beyond it, with great lessons you have learned as God demonstrated His strength in your weakness. 
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 
 
Today’s Reading is 1 John 4:10


Perfect Love

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:17) 
 
As children, we all dream about happily ever after. We pine away waiting for the knight on the white horse or daydream about love that is never anything less than perfect. When you think of perfect love, who do you think of? While many of you probably said Cinderella and Prince Charming; when I think of perfect love, my thoughts turn to Adam and Eve.
 
Kind of a bad choice for “perfect love” you might say; but Adam and Eve, while best known for the single worst mistake in history, were still the first couple ever made for each other in the literal and spiritual sense. God made Eve especially for Adam. She was made for him and from him. Their relationship was God’s handiwork and despite the whole apple thing, they created quite the life together. 
 
Just like many love stories today, I have never turned a pumpkin into a carriage and my husband has never trotted in on a white horse to save me from some wicked queen. However, I have turned lemons into lemonade many days and he makes the cutest neigh when he gives our kids piggyback rides around the front lawn. We bicker from time to time. We don’t go dancing on Friday nights or awake every morning to breakfast in bed. He snores. I nag. He watches too much Sports Center and I watch too much Lifetime. But while we two are far from perfect, we love each other perfectly. God created our marriage in His perfect manner, in His perfect way … as only He can do. 
 
God tells us in 1 John 4:12 (KJV), 
 
“If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” 
 
So, even though Adam and Eve were the epitomes of imperfection, even though Adam probably forgot to take out the trash and Eve probably forgot to wash his leaf now and then, their imperfection was made perfect in their love for one another. No matter how flawed they were, their marriage was created in perfect love because the Master created it and He dwelt within the midst. 
 
Don’t stress over living up to the fairytale. Your love story, no matter how simple or how elaborate, was designed by God. He perfected it. He wrote it. He even illustrated it and signed his name on your copy. He’s the author and the finisher. (Hebrews 12:2) 
 
Happily ever after doesn’t always come with ball gowns and white horses. Most of the time, it comes with sweat pants and minivans. But that’s ok, because if it comes from God, it’s perfect and nothing less. 
 
This devotion blessed me today. What a reminder on a day such as today, Valentines Day. My husband and I have a saying we love, every love story is beautiful but ours is my favorite. Today, be reminded of the love you share with those in your life, build a life you love with Christ as the center and you will see despite what your happily ever after looks like, it’s perfect and nothing less. 
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 
 
Today’s Reading is John 13:34-35


Oh. No. She. Didn’t!

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) 
 
People use all kinds of expressions to describe being upset or offended. Such as “That flew all over me” or “Well, I never!” Another expression that comes to mind is “Oh no she didn’t.” For example … 
 
When someone takes credit for your big idea. Oh no she didn’t. 
 
When someone passes the blame on to you. Oh no she didn’t. 
 
When someone gives you a backhanded compliment. (“Your hair looks so much better since you had it cut.”) Oh. No. She. Didn’t! 
 
From little offenses to major ones, it’s easy to get our feelings hurt when we perceive someone has wronged us. Whether or not we have cause to be offended, when we take offense, our relationships can suffer. It’s as if we develop relational blind spots. 
 
As hard as it is to admit, sometimes I’m easily offended. It’s easy to blame others when we get hurt, but the truth is, we have control over our emotions. And I can choose whether to feel offended. 
 
I’ve learned to consider honestly whether I’m easily offended by asking the following questions:
  • Do you find that your feelings are frequently hurt?
  • Have people told you they feel as if they have to walk on eggshells around you?
  • Are you constantly feeling annoyed?
  • Do you frequently expect someone to apologize?
  • Are you constantly repeating the words, “You hurt my feelings”?
Much like forgiveness is a choice, not being easily offended is also a choice. 
 
There was a time when I had to make this choice at work. I was looking forward to a new hire coming on board. Unfortunately from day one, she made comments toward me that left me feeling … well, offended. 
 
As a result of both her actions and my response, we frequently butted heads, causing our team to be less cohesive than it could have been. One day, I learned that this woman had recently been injured. In that moment, I had to make a decision. Was I willing to extend grace to her despite how she had treated me? The choice was clear. 
 
So, a colleague and I scrambled to take care of some things for her, and we picked up the slack during her recovery. A short while later, my boss asked me why I had helped this woman, despite the way she had treated me. 
 
“Because love covers a multitude of sins,” I replied. This answer comes from 1 Peter 4:8. The Amplified Bible explains that this means love forgives and disregards the offenses of others. 
 
While I had every reason to be offended, the Lord impressed upon my heart that I had an opportunity to be kind. As a result, the relationship improved so that it was more professional. I extended grace to her, treating her how I would want to be treated. I worked hard to let go of the offenses and integrate the words of 1 Peter 4:8 into my life. And it worked! 
 
Jesus’ love through the cross has covered a multitude of our sins. Allow His grace to overflow out of that excess to those in your life who offend you, and choose to turn your “Oh no she didn’t!” into “Oh yes He did!” 
 
Dear Lord, I’m sorry for how I’ve offended others. I ask that You reveal to me if there’s anyone I need to make peace with. At the same time, show me when and how to let go of offenses against me. Help me learn to be a better spouse, neighbor and friend. And when someone offends me, enable me to give that person grace in the same way You’ve shown me grace. May I respond in a way that helps, rather than harms, my relationships. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 
 
Wow! This devotion blessed me so very much and I pray it too has blessed you in some way. What an incredible reminder for all of us, we can all be so easily offended from time to time but today you can choose to make a change for the good. Ask yourself, am I easily offended?  
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 
 
Today’s Reading is Philippians 2:3 


Jesus Reached Out

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Matthew 14:31) 
 
Sometimes life gets busy—classes are hard, work is exhausting, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, and a coffee date is on the day’s schedule. It gets to the point where I force myself to read the Bible for a few minutes a day and tell myself I’ll spend more time with God next week. But it doesn’t take long before I’m distracted, drowning in the day’s tasks, and forget to ask God for help of any kind. 
 
When Peter was walking on water toward Jesus, he quickly became distracted by the wind and waves. Like me, he began to sink (Matthew 14:29–30). But as soon as Peter cried out, “immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him” (vv. 30–31). 
 
I often feel as if I have to make it up to God after being so busy and distracted that I lose sight of Him. But that’s not how God works. As soon as we turn to Him for help, Jesus reaches out without hesitation. 
 
When we’re unsettled by the chaos of life, it’s easy to forget that God is standing in the middle of the storm with us. Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt?” (v. 31). No matter what we’re going through, He is there. He is here. Next to us at that moment, in this moment, ready to reach out and rescue us.
 
Lord, help me to turn to You in the midst of my busyness and life’s distractions. Thank You for always being here, ready to catch me. Amen. 
 
Today I am reminded that God is waiting for us to turn to Him so He can reach out and help. It’s not about “having” time it’s about making time, make time for what truly matters. 
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 
 
Today’s Reading is 1 John 3:18


All I Can See

He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30) 
 
Krista stood in the freezing cold on a winter day, looking at the beautiful snow-encased lighthouse along the lake. As she pulled out her phone to take pictures, her glasses fogged over. She couldn’t see a thing so she decided to point her camera toward the lighthouse and snapped three pictures at different angles. Looking at them later, she realized the camera had been set to take “selfies.” She laughed as she said, “My focus was me, me, and me. All I saw was me.” Krista’s photos got me thinking of a similar mistake: We can become so self-focused we lose sight of the bigger picture of God’s plan.
 
Jesus’s cousin John clearly knew his focus wasn’t himself. Right from the start he recognized that his position or calling was to point others to Jesus, the Son of God. “Look, the Lamb of God!” he said when he saw Jesus coming toward him and his followers (John 1:29). He continued, “The reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed” (v. 31). When John’s disciples later reported that Jesus was gaining followers, John said, “You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ . . . He must become greater; I must become less” (3:28–30).  
 
May the central focus of our lives be Jesus and loving Him with our whole heart.
 
How can I love Jesus best? Who might He want me to love? 
 
This devotion blessed me so very much. Today I am reminded that the lack of God-centeredness leads to self-centeredness. Lord, I often get centered on myself and my needs and wants. Help me to look outside of myself to You. Amen. He must become greater. 
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 
 
Today’s Reading is Ephesians 2:10 


Good Works Prepared

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10) 
 
When a burly stranger approached my wife and me on a street abroad, we shrunk back in fear. Our holiday had been going badly; we had been yelled at, cheated, and extorted from several times. Were we going to be shaken down again? To our surprise, the man just wanted to show us where to get the best view of his city. Then he gave us a chocolate bar, smiled, and left. That little gesture made our day—and saved the whole trip. It made us grateful—both to the man and to God for cheering us up. 
 
What had made the man reach out to two strangers? Had he gone around with a chocolate bar the entire day, looking to bless someone with it? 
 
It’s amazing how the smallest action can bring the biggest smile—and possibly direct someone to God. The Bible stresses the importance of doing good works (James 2:17, 24). If that sounds challenging, we have the assurance that God not only enables us to do these works, but has even “prepared [them] in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). 
 
Perhaps God has arranged for us to “bump into” someone who needs a word of encouragement today or has given us an opportunity to offer someone a helping hand. All we have to do is respond in obedience. 
 
Who can you pray for or help today? Who might God be putting in your path. 
 
This devotion blessed me so much. Lord, may I respond in obedience and share Your love with others as You have loved me. 
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 
 
Today’s Reading is Hebrews 4:12 


Shelve Them and Move On

The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. (Proverbs 15:31) 
 
I’m reminded of some wise advice a radio broadcaster friend once gave me. Early on in his career, as my friend struggled to know how to deal with both criticism and praise, he felt that God was encouraging him to shelve both. What’s the essence of what he took to heart? Learn what you can from criticism and accept praise. Then shelve both and humbly move on in God’s grace and power. 
 
Criticism and praise stir in us powerful emotions that, if left unchecked, can lead to either self-loathing or an overinflated ego. In Proverbs we read of the benefits of encouragement and wise counsel: “Good news gives health to the bones. . . .Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding” (15:30, 32). 
 
If we’re on the receiving end of a rebuke, may we choose to be sharpened by it. Proverbs states, “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise” (v. 31). And if we’re blessed with words of praise, may we be refreshed and filled with gratitude. As we walk humbly with God, He can help us learn from both criticism and praise, shelve them, and then move on in Him (v. 33). 
 
Father God, thank You for the gift of praise and criticism. As I humbly surrender to You, may I grow and be sharpened by both. Amen. 
 
This devotion blessed me, so often we are easily offended and easily angered by criticism but if we would change our perspective as today’s devotion mentions and grow and be sharpened by both praise and criticism, we would see things much differently and make a change for the better, not only in our lives but in those around us. Learn from praise and criticism, then shelve them and move on. I want to be sharpened today. 
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 
 
Today’s Reading is Psalm 143:10


Seen by God

And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? (Genesis 16:13) 
 
The slave Hagar realized that as she fled from her mistress Sarai’s unkindness. Hagar was a “nobody” in her culture, pregnant and alone, fleeing to a desert without help or hope. Seen by God, however, she was empowered, in return, to see Him. No longer a vague concept, God became real to her, so real that she gave God a name, El Roi, which means “You are the God who sees me.” She said, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). 
 
Our seeing God sees each of us too. Feeling unseen, alone, or like a nobody? God sees you and your future. In return, may we see in Him our ever-present hope, encouragement, salvation, and joy—both for today and for our future. Praise Him today for this gift of amazing sight, to see the one true and Living God. 
 
Lord, I’m just one person in a big world, but I thank You for looking from on high and seeing me—so that I may see You. Amen. 
 
After reading this devotion I am reminded of just how much God knows my name and sees me. Be encouraged today, you are seen, your not alone, God is with you wherever you go, He sees you. 
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 
 
Today’s Reading is Matthew 19:26 


Love and Peace

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:10-11) 
 
It always amazes me the way peace—powerful, unexplainable peace (Philippians 4:7)—can somehow fill our hearts even in our deepest grief. I experienced this most recently at my father’s memorial service. As a long line of sympathetic acquaintances passed by offering their condolences, I was relieved to see a good high school friend. Without a word, he simply wrapped me in a long bear hug. His quiet understanding flooded me with the first feelings of peace within grief that difficult day, a powerful reminder that I wasn’t as alone as I felt.  
 
As David describes in Psalm 16, the kind of peace and joy God brings into our lives isn’t caused by a choice to stoically stomp down the pain during hard times; it’s more like a gift we can’t help but experience when we take refuge in our good God (vv. 1–2). 
 
We could respond to the aching pain that death brings by distracting ourselves, perhaps thinking that turning to these other “gods” will keep the pain at bay. But sooner or later we’ll find that efforts to avoid our pain only bring deeper pain (v. 4). 
 
Or we could turn to God, trusting that even when we don’t understand, the life He’s already given us—even in its pain—is still beautiful and good (vv. 6–8). And we can surrender to His loving arms that tenderly carry us through our pain into a peace and joy that even death can never quench (v. 11). 
 
Father, thank You for the way Your tender touch embraces and holds us in our times of joy and pain. Help us to turn in trust to You for healing. Amen. 
 
When I initially read this devotion I hesitated to share it. I felt I didn’t want to dwell on death and sadness, I don’t even like talking about death, it causes me to think of the possibility of loosing those close to me and that pain seems unbearable but as I started to pass up this devotion The Lord touched my spirit and I felt Him encourage me to post it. I don’t know who this is meant for but I know it will not return void, maybe this devotion was meant for me, a sweet reminder that despite our pain, whatever that pain may be, God’s love carries and holds us through our pain into peace and joy. I prey you are encouraged by this devotion today. He is my refuge and strength. 
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 
 
Today’s Reading is Isaiah 43:19 


Praying and Growing

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:17) 
 
When my friend David’s wife developed Alzheimer’s disease, the changes it brought to his life made him bitter. He needed to retire early to care for her; and as the disease progressed, she required increasingly more care. 
 
“I was so angry at God,” he told me. “But the more I prayed about it, the more He showed me my heart and how I had been selfish for most of our marriage.” Tears welled in his eyes as he confessed, “She’s been sick ten years, but God has helped me see things differently. Now, everything I do out of love for her, I also do for Jesus. Caring for her has become the greatest privilege of my life.” 
 
Sometimes God answers our prayers not by giving us what we want but by challenging us to change. When the prophet Jonah was angry because God spared the wicked city of Nineveh from destruction, God caused a plant to shade him from the hot sun (Jonah 4:6). Then He made it wither. When Jonah complained, God answered, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” (vv. 7–9). Jonah, focused only on himself, insisted it was. But God challenged him to think about others and have compassion. 
 
God sometimes uses our prayers in unexpected ways to help us learn and grow. It’s a change we can welcome with open hearts because He wants to transform us with His love. 
 
Lord Jesus, thank You for helping me grow when I pray. Help me to be sensitive to what You want for my life today. Amen.  
 
When I read this devotion I was encouraged. When it said “God sometimes uses our prayers in unexpected ways to help us learn and grow” I was reminded of the many times in my life when I was quick to complain about my prayers not being answered in the exact way in which I prayed but looking back now I can see The Hand of God in every situation I was and continue to be in, even if it’s not exactly how I wanted it to work out, in the end, it was exactly what He wanted for my life to grow. God grows us as we spend time with Him. 
 
Have a beautiful and uplifting day in The Lord! 
 
Today’s Reading is Philippians 1:6