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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!

“New”…does not mean perfect

Recently we moved into a brand-new house. I have never lived in a new house and so have discovered I had a few misconceptions. You may be like me and have thought that “new” means “perfect.” I have since learned otherwise!

The first hint of non-perfection came the day we actually moved our things in…the washer and dryer didn’t fit! This was a surprise to us, to our movers, to our realtor, and even our builder! Somewhere in the building process someone had made a mistake. It happens. The builder came and made adjustments thinning out some trim work and making corrections, and now our washer and dryer are snug as a bug!

Other minor imperfections have become apparent too – such as a plate cover not quite fitting, a door not closing correctly, sink-stoppers installed incorrectly, paint spattering where it shouldn’t be. These have been small things, but have reinforced the truth that “new” does not mean “perfect.”

This brought an even more eye-opening realization that I believe can bring great comfort into our lives as believers in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” NASB

Nowhere in that verse does it say we are made instantly perfect; it says we are made new. I think many of us have the same misconception I had – that because we are made new, we should be perfect. We begin thinking we are “less of a Christian” when we compare ourselves to others.  We let Satan convince us we have failed yet again and God is going to give up on us.  That simply isn’t true though.

In Philippians 2:12, Paul challenges believers to “continue working out their salvation.”

“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;”

Paul is NOT speaking of working to earn our salvation; Jesus paid that price in full by His death on the cross. He is referencing the continual process of the work God continues doing in us as we yield to Him, continue seeking & knowing Him, trying to walk as Jesus walked. (1 John 2:5)   If we back up to Philippians 1:6, we see this.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Although salvation begins at the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, it does not end there. It is a process God continues in us as we yield to His working in our life to make us more and more like Jesus;  when Christ comes again, then we will be made perfect like Him.

This is of great relief to me, and I hope it is to you also! I am so NOT perfect. I make so many mistakes and still fail to make right choices. I disobey God. I still sin.

Satan wants me to feel hopeless when I fail and see all my flaws thinking I am supposed to be perfect just because I have been made new.  Yes, God has made me new, but not perfect yet! He is still working on me; it is a process. There is hope!

Now as I find flaws in our “new” house, I just have to smile and remember – “New does not mean perfect!” And for that I am eternally grateful!

 

1 Peter 1:3-9

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,  who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,  obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

1 John 3:1-3

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.   And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

 

 

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A Crisis in Identity… “The Name Tag Nanny”

This is one of my favorite pics from our Vacation Bible School this year!  We had water games and all our 5th & 6th graders stuck their name tags on Carrie and dubbed her “The Name Tag Nanny!”

She appeared to be having an identity crisis!  That got me to thinking…

How often do we have identity crises?  When life changes, as it often does, it may cause us to feel like our identity changes with it.  When our job changes, we may go from identifying ourselves as “employed” or a job title such as a “librarian” or “nurse”  to “unemployed” or  “retired.”  No longer does that skill or title define us.  When our family changes, we may go from “mom or dad of (insert child’s name)” to “empty-Nester” or “unknown.” Other family changes may be due to a change in marital status or a broken relationship.  Our health may change causing us to go from “able” to “dependent.”  Life brings so many changes – both natural and those caused by circumstances.  Many of these changes can bring feelings of fear and uncertainty.

But the Good News is that when we become a believer in Christ, our identity is made certain because God doesn’t change. (Hebrews 13:8)  No longer is our identity based on what we do or who we are, but on Whose we are.  We are now forgiven, accepted, redeemed, declared righteous, and so much more based on Who Jesus is.

We may know this in our heads, but how do we live this new identity out and not revert to our old ways of thinking?  God’s Word speaks to this!

Ephesians 4:23-24 says we are – “to be made new in the attitude of your minds.  And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Living out our new identity in Christ has to take root in our thinking – “our attitude of our minds.”  It must be based on Who God is – “His likeness,” not on ourselves.

Recently this has become an active part of my quiet time with God which has helped me.  As I read Scripture, I look for Who He is – a name, characteristic, or comparison.  Then I write who I am in contrast or who I am because of Who He is.  Here are just a few examples:

  • In John 4 Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman at the well and speaks of living water.  He is the Living Water…in contrast, I am the one who is thirsty, the recipient of His refreshing.
  • In John 8:12 Jesus calls Himself the Light of the World, and in Matthew 5:14-16 He says we are the light of the world.  He is the Light…because of that, I am to be His reflection and shine His light.
  • In 1 John 4 John tells us in verse 8 that “God is love.” Then he continues in verse 18 – “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”  He is love – the Fear Conqueror.  I am the one who takes refuge in Him.
  • Isaiah used this same identity clarification thinking when he calls God the Potter and we are the clay.
  • One of my favorites is found in Roman 15:13 where Paul refers to the God of hope filling us with joy, peace & hope.  He is the Filler…I am the filled.

When I focus on Who Christ is, it helps me accurately clarify who I am.

In Christ, I am God’s child!  John 1:12 – But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,”

In Christ, I have been made new!  2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

In Christ,  I live for Him! Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

His love changes everything…even my identity!  We don’t have to be a “Name Tag Nanny” wearing everyone else’s name tags when we can wear one that says we belong to Jesus!

 

 

 

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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

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