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Godprints

Because our fingerprints identify us, and God has placed His identifying marks all over our world and lives to point us to Him!

Watching Them Walk Away…

Foster Care…it’s about touching lives, and that goes both ways!

You may have heard the saying about people who come into our lives leaving footprints, causing us to be forever changed.  Our family was blessed by just such a person – a child in foster care.
Here we are at the end of May – Foster Care Awareness Month; so I wanted to share a little of our story.  I’ve never been a foster parent, but have recently had the blessing of being a foster grandparent and have discovered there are small ways we can all become a part of loving these children with the love of Jesus!
Photos complimentary of http://www.pexels.com; not our “A”

About two years ago a little red-headed bundle of joy and challenges came into our lives as our daughter felt God’s call to become a foster parent.  For almost two years she became “Mom”; we became grandparents, and our other kids became an aunt & uncles! She became ours, and we became hers. Her caseworker had thought she would be moved toward adoption with our daughter.

But God had different plans. We had to say goodbye; we had to watch her walk away.  She has gone back to live with a biological family member, and we are so happy for them and her.  Our little “A” will always be a part of us though; there are no regrets.  While we had her, we loved her well, and she fell in love with Jesus!  We are forever grateful for the time we had her and the “footprints” she left on each of our lives.

We saw the challenges of fostering our daughter dealt with, and we saw the disappointments, but we also saw the difference it made in a child’s life.  She was safe; she was loved in a time that she needed someone to be there for her. Many invested into her life, and she impacted many around her as well.

The statistics of how many children are in “the system” is overwhelming, heart-rending – over 400,000 each day in the United States.

I don’t tell our story so much out of grief  & sorrow, although that has been a part of the process. I share it out of sincere gratefulness.  This child was truly a gift of God to us, and we believe the work He began in her will continue no matter where He may lead her. (Phil. 1:6)

Not all of us may be called to foster care like our daughter has been for a time.  But just because we may not be called to take these children into our homes, does not mean we cannot reach out and help in other ways.

“Children are a gift from God” the Psalmist says in Psalm 127:3

James in verse 1:27 goes on to say,  “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” NAS

The Greek word translated “visit” here is episkeptomai.  In this context it means more than “to look or examine”, it means “to look after”, “to care for.”  Like I said before, we may not be in a position to foster or adopt ourselves, but there are other ways we can actively “look after” or “care for” these children who for a time are…the fatherless – “family-less”.

I may not be able to care for our “A” anymore, but what can I do for others in similar situations, even if it is just for a season?  I believe there is a call to the Church, a call to us as God’s family to love these in some way.

No ministry of love is too small…even the small ways can go a long way in sharing God’s love.

Ten Ways to Help Children in Foster Care:

1.    PRAY!  God can do what we can’t; prayer for these children, families & caseworkers is important.

2.    Help make others aware of the great need for Foster & Forever homes for children – through conversations, Social Media, blog, an Orphan/Foster Ministry at your church, etc.

3.    Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer.  CASA will train you to be the “eyes & ears for the court” as you get to know the child and others involved in the case.  You can make a difference by speaking up for a child and being a consistent presence during this time in their lives; case workers and others change during the time a child is in foster care, but as a CASA volunteer you can be a constant reminder that they matter and are loved.  CASA work is flexible and can be done even with a full time job or other responsibilities.  CASA is also a great resource for other ways to help such as sponsoring a foster child for holidays to provide Christmas gifts, Easter baskets, etc.

4.    Become Foster certified and offer respite care.  Sometimes foster parents just need a break or may have a family emergency and need overnight care for their foster children; this is such a wonderful service to provide for them.

5.    Become certified to babysit.  In most states a foster child cannot be left with just anyone; a sitter must at least have had a background check and be CPR certified.

6.    Cook a meal for a Foster family.  Find out the children’s favorites; make them feel special!  Most foster parents are overloaded with responsibilities that are involved with caring for the children; this would be a welcomed relief.

7.    Check with your local Child Protective Services Agency to see if you can help with “First-night” bags for children coming into Foster Care or other needs.

8.    Send encouraging notes to caseworkers or drop by some treats at their office.  These folks are majorly overworked and a bit of encouragement could go a long way!  See if there are ways you can assist in helping them minister to the families they serve.

9.    Be “on call” for a foster family or caseworker.  Let them call you to run errands to pick up beginner items for a family or assist by being a shopping partner to offer extra hands.  Volunteer to help with homework or housework.  In this way you can also become a mentor sharing your life with the foster family as well as the foster child.  Invest yourself.

10.  “Adopt” a foster family and become like a foster grandparent, aunt/uncle, friend, etc. to the child.  Not all foster parents have an extended family support group of their own; we can partner with them by spending regular time visiting and helping out.  Read to or with the child, play games, listen, etc. Small deeds of love shout they matter!  Find out the child’s birthday and help celebrate with them. Have fun with them like you would other children in your own extended family.

 


These are just a few of the many ways anyone can invest in the life of a foster child, or for that matter, any child!  Satan wants us to think the small things don’t matter and we have nothing to offer if we can’t do what we think of as the “BIG” things.

And again…let’s be diligent to PRAY!

 

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  Ephesians 6:18

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Steering Clear of “Muddles”

I had an interesting combination for breakfast this morning…coffee & cereal…mixed together!

I am one of those that begins my day functioning on coffee-milk.  When I finally get hungry and my coffee is gone, I pour cereal into my cup to eat.  This morning, however, I didn’t take the time to make sure my cup was empty before pouring in the cereal – thereby combining my cereal with the last of my coffee!

Fortunately the combination was not too bad, but sometimes a mixed up life can bring a lot of strife!  It caused me to think.  How many times in my life do I not slow down between my activities of life to adjust, finish one thing so that I can move on to focus on another, and I end up with a mixed-up MUDDLE?!  You may be thinking that is my combination of two words – mud & puddle, but it actually is a word in its own right & means – “an untidy or disorganized state.”  I personally think whomever created the word still had a mud puddle pictured in their mind!

As females we are terrible about juggling umpteen “to-dos” on our list at the same time, and then we are left with a muddle.  So how can we prevent this or at least keep the puddles somewhat clearer?

I think it takes slowing down & refocusing multiple times during the day.  Jesus tells us to come to Him.

Matthew 11:28 “‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.'”

This rest is a state of peace in the midst of busyness.  It brings refreshing, a clearer state of mind.

So when we feel like our mind or life has become “muddled” – stop, be still, refocus on the eternal by coming into the presence of Jesus.  He will clear our thinking & give us peace!

“Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” – Colossians 3:2 NLT

 

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Obey in the Little Things

Are we willing to obey God in the little things?  What about when He doesn’t give us all the facts?  The disciples obeyed.  The man with the water obeyed.  Never think what God asks us to do is too small or too menial – let’s just trust & obey.  What we may see as small, God says is important.

This week let’s be looking around our home or church for what would be considered “small” jobs or things others may think are “beneath them” that need to be done and let’s do them!  As we do, let’s remember as The Church we are the Body of Christ and all are important as we work together.

Countdown to Easter – Worship

As Easter approaches, it’s a perfect time to become & stay more Christ-focused. Writing Scripture has become such a pleasure in my time with God in addition to reading it. So for the next several days as we turn towards meditating on Jesus’ last days on this earth in flesh, let’s read through and see what God has to say to us.

Mary poured out her love on Jesus. Not everyone understood, but she poured out her heart nonetheless. She gave what she could, when she could. She demonstrated an act of pure worship.

How will we demonstrate our worship & love for Jesus this Easter season? What can we selflessly give to Him…time, possessions, talents? What’s our greatest treasure we can pour out for His glory?

Today as we see the color PURPLE let it remind us of Jesus, the King of Kings, and cause us to pause and WORSHIP!

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Kids Ask Great Questions!

I love that children are not hindered from asking frank questions!  As adults I think we sometimes become lax and don’t take the time to really think about things or aren’t bold enough to admit there are things we don’t know, or are unsure of, or just need to do a little research and brushing up!

This morning a sweet mom friend of mine sent me a question from her elementary age son.

He asked:

“Does Satan feel tortured/tormented in Hell or is exempt from that because it’s his realm?”

Okay…my first thoughts were Satan is not in Hell yet, but when he gets there he will be tormented.  I don’t always trust my thoughts though; so I wanted to make sure and go to God’s Word.  (References below are in the New Living Translation – easier for a child to understand.)

Answer – Part 1: 

Satan is not yet in Hell, but roams the earth until the end of time. The world is his realm for a time. God allows him to have authority in the world because of sin (We as humans lost that right in the garden…kind of like we turned over our deed to the earth and rights & authority God meant for us to have.) Satan is still subject to God in all things; he does not have any authority unless given to him by God. Ex: He had to ask permission to sift Peter and Job.

Job 1:6-7 “One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.” Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”

John 12:31 “The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out.”

2 Cor. 4:4 ”Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

1 Peter 5:8 “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

1 John 5:18-19 “We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. 19 We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.”

*** (My personal favorite and would recommend as a great memory verse!)  –  1 John 4:4 “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

Part 2: Satan will not rule hell; He will be tortured/tormented there like anyone else there.

Matthew 25:41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.”

Revelation 20:10 “Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

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So…some things to think about.  I love to be reminded that yes, we are to be alert & aware of Satan’s activity, but greater is He (Jesus) that lives within us as believers than he that is in the world (Satan). Satan is NOT equal to Jesus.  Satan is a fallen creature (angel – Ezekiel 28; Isaiah 14); Jesus is God the Creator. (John 1; Colossians 1) Be encouraged…God has already won the battle for us!

Be aware….but don’t despair!

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My Word for 2017…”This”

It’s already the end of week two of January 2017 and usually about the time New Year’s resolutions begin falling to the wayside.

Instead of a New Year’s resolution though…I like to use a “word” for the year, and this year the winner is…“This.”

You may have expected a word like “peace”, “gratitude” or “perseverance.”  I am a stubborn learner though, so God gave me the word “this” – “this day”, “this project”, “this time”, “this child”, “this person”, “this ________”… whatever fits in the blank.

He is continually teaching me that even though I may like to make plans and think that I am in control…I am NOT!  And although I find my brain spinning with all sorts of plans, projects, and possibilities, I can really only manage one thing at a time.  When I choose not to heed this wisdom, I am missing out on the “this” right in front of me.

How many times have I been in a conversation with someone and caught myself glancing past them and thinking of other things rather than what they are saying?  How embarrassing and shameful!  I cheat myself and them of a moment shared together connecting.  How many moments do we miss tuning in to those around us – our spouse, our kids, our coworkers, our friends, or the stranger on the street because we are too busy or just preoccupied with something else?  How many surprises of grace straight from the Almighty’s hand do we overlook due to worries and our own agendas?

“This” calls for being flexible, it calls for an awareness of the present & His presence, and it calls for open hands that allow for God’s surprises.  “This” calls for being willing to change at a moments notice.  Change is never really easy; I tend to like things to stay the same.  One favorite motto of mine  is – “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!”  But “this” calls me to be willing to step out of my planned schedule, my lists and my calendar.  It calls me to live in a new awareness of the moment…”this” moment.

No, I still love to plan and be prepared.  I enjoy looking back and looking forward; there is a time and place for both.  I also believe if you don’t aim for something, you never hit the target because you don’t have one. But  I also understand that my pride and my selfishness can cause me to lose sight of the “gift” of the “present”.  I am slowly learning to be aware of the “this” in life.  No matter how small or how brief, “this” matters.  I don’t want to be so wrapped up in “that” or “those” that I miss – “THIS” that God has put right before me “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:4)

Psalm 27:1 – “Don’t boast about tomorrow, for morning-fogyou don’t know what a day might bring. (HCSB)

James 4:13-14 –  Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.”  How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”  (NLT)

 

Christmas Came

It’s the day after Christmas, no more gifts to unwrap; there’s leftovers in the fridge and everyone needs a nap!  This may be how it is around your house too!  The kids have gone and the house is quiet again; it may feel like a bit of letdown after all the celebrations.

That’s why I wanted to share this last of the countdown to Christmas devotions here…to keep us looking forward!  Christmas was just the beginning, not the end!

You see, the Christmas story doesn’t end at the cradle, nor did it end at the cross…it ends with a crown!

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A Son – John 3:16

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

img_9717Okay…the photo called for a son, but when you have two…how do you choose?!

One of the greatest joys of Christmas now that all our kids are grown is their coming home!  There’s not much better than having all four of them (and all new additions) under one roof!!!

This makes me wonder how incredible the  joy God the Father must have been when Jesus, His Son, rose from the dead and then went home!
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2

You see, the Christmas story doesn’t end at the cradle, nor did it end at the cross…it ends with a crown!

 

Our verse today is probably the most well known in the Bible, and in it we find the brief summary of the entire Bible…all 66 books!

God sent His Son Jesus as the Savior that we might have eternal life!

Jesus not only died on the cross that He might go home to the Father in Heaven, He died so that He can take us with Him for the grandest homecoming ever!

Jesus spoke so much about the Kingdom of Heaven and His return.

Matthew 25 records two parables (stories with a spiritual lesson) about His Second Coming of when He will come to take all of those who have believed (trusted) in Him home to Heaven, and then says the following in verses 31-33:
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.”

This Christmas let every son (or daughter) remind us of all that God’s Son has done for us and that that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Homecoming…what time for celebration!!!  Let’s keep looking ahead to the Son’s return and our Homecoming in Heaven!

All 25 Christmas countdown devotions

Finding the “HUSH” of Christmas

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”   John 1:1

The Greek word translated here as “word” is “logos” which relates to reasoning.  Our English word “logic” has it’s origin here too.  Let that sink in a moment.  Jesus is the Word.  He is reasoning.  He is meaning.  He is logic.  Jesus makes life make sense!  And truly – Jesus is the reason for the season!

A word is not just a bunch of random letters.  Each word has order and gives meaning.  What in your life right now is bringing meaning to your existence?  This was one of the greatest things that changed in my life when Jesus came into my life; my life now has meaning and purpose…it makes sense!

A word whether spoken or read shares a thought; it references something beyond the letters.  The letters – V, R, R, E, I – have no meaning in and of themselves, but when they are arranged as – RIVER, they bring to mind a picture of water running through a channel.  Even though God reveals Himself throughout creation, He wanted to make sure we understood Who He is…so He sent His Son, Jesus, as The Word – Who was in the beginning with Him and is God Himself.   We can know Him.

There are words all around us everyday – from the cereal box or newspaper to stop signs and billboards.  Let each one cause us to think of Jesus, The Word, and seek to know Him better by understanding all the meaning He brings to life.

word-hushMy photo for the Christmas Photo Challenge is of  the word “HUSH” on a plaque a special friend gave me one Christmas.  “HUSH”  may seem like an odd word to be hanging around your house, but I had used it as an acronym for a Christmas devotion message I shared at our church’s ladies’ Christmas brunch.

  • H – Is for “Him”.  When we put Him (Jesus) first in our lives, He gives us that sweet “hush” of peace  that all is well.  It is also to remind us that He is the One that initiated it ALL!  Just as in John 1:1 – He was in the beginning.  All things were created by Him and for Him. The hope of salvation all began with Him.
  • U- Is for “Us”.   It is up to us to receive or reject His sweet  “HUSH” of His peace.  God chose to love us unconditionally.  It is our choice to love Him back.  Love isn’t love without a choice.
  • SH – Is for “Seek Him”.  Once we have accepted His gift of salvation, His gift of eternal life, it is only the beginning of this journey with Jesus.  We must daily continue seeking Him, seeking His face & His presence.  (Psalm 27:8)  “Sh” is that sound made to a baby as they are rocked to sleep.  It is that calming presence that speaks “all is well.”

So the “Hush of Christmas” is that sweet peace found in His presence even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this crazy world.  With Jesus, we can truly say – “It is well with my soul.”

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This is the sixth of the twenty-five Christmas “Journey with Jesus” countdown devotions I’m writing and putting on my site – CreativeBibleStudy.com if you’d like to read the others.   Each day snap a photo of each item for a visual and use as a photo challenge on Social Media, or with your family, small group, friends or just for yourself.  It’s a fun way to enjoy the presence of Christ each and every day as we look towards celebrating His first & His second coming into this world!

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Journey with Jesus this Christmas

A few years ago I put together a Countdown to Christmas Photo Challenge with Bible verses as a tool to help us keep Jesus lifted above the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  christmas-countdown

This year I’m doing it again, but also adding devotions for each photo and wanted to invite you to join me on this Christmas Jesus Journey!

Let each item point your gaze to Jesus each day and meditate on the verse.  I’ll be adding the devotions to Creative Bible Study Facebook Page and also to our Creative Bible Study site if you’d like to follow there.

Feel free to share with others either personally or on social media! We’d love for you to tag Creative Bible Study so we get to see yours too!

Let’s shine His light and lift Jesus high that others may find the Blessed Hope that is only found in our precious Savior!

Here’s my photo for the day with the Dec. 1st Christmas devotion:

 

Dec. 1st – a Road – John 14:6

 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

country-roadI took a picture of a road down in the country where my ancestors lived.  It is a quiet gravel road with the trees almost touching above having sprinkled their leaves across it’s dirt path.

There are many types of roads that take us to different destinations.   Some are paved and crowded with cars speeding by; while others are quiet and peaceful but can become muddy when it rains. Roads are a lot like life.

Think about all the roads you will go down today; each one leads to a different destination.   Sometimes we may get wrong directions and go down a wrong road never reaching the destination we desire.

In the Old Testament God spoke through the prophets and they pointed to the coming of the Messiah, a Savior.  He gave directions.  God knew we would still make wrong turns though; that’s why from the beginning of time Jesus planned to come to earth in human flesh to not only show us the way, but to be the Way.

Here in John 14:6, Jesus says He is the way, the only way, to God the Father.  Today as you travel, cross, or see different roads, let them cause you to ponder on the Spiritual road you are traveling in life.  Are you trusting Jesus as your Savior, as your way back to God the Father Who is in Heaven?  If not, let today be the beginning of your journey with Him! Turn back to God and invite Jesus to be your Savior and Way.

If you already are a follower of Christ, then today be joyful and overflowing with gratitude so that you can share with others this Good News of the Way that leads to true life!  Invite others to join you on this Jesus Journey!

Merry CHRISTmas season to you and yours!

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