Don’t forget!

“O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!” Psalm 103:2

Do you ever receive a gift, and, well, it’s not that you aren’t appreciative of it…

You just…forget about it.

It’s easy to do, especially at Christmas, when there is wrapping paper everywhere and a pile of gifts to be unwrapped. We (especially most Americans) have so much that some things just get…forgotten.

Shoved in a cabinet. Placed in a drawer. Hidden under the bed.

God’s blessings can be forgotten too, unfortunately.

Even when things are going badly – especially when things are going badly – God’s blessings are still there. We still have breath in our lungs, and a future before us. We still have something we can thank Him for, even if we have to search around for it.

Don’t worry – I have to tell myself to look under the bed and in the closet for those blessings some days, too. I hide them away from myself, and forget about them. I have to remind myself to remember.

God’s blessings are numerous and varied. He never changes, and He never forsakes us. Just because we can’t see Him and His goodness, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Don’t forget to remember. Don’t forget to search for them. Don’t forget to praise Him.

Empty bowls and full spirits

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” Matthew 5:7

My dogs have two water bowls – one outside, and one in my bathroom. Since they always run straight for the indoor bowl when they come inside, my husband jokes that they must not ever drink anything when they’re outside. (However, the water out there disappears at a pretty alarming rate, so SOMETHING is drinking it!)

One day, one of my dogs went to the bowl while I was folding clothes on my bed. It was empty, so he did what any rational, thirsty creature would. He picked the bowl up in his mouth, and put it down at my side. He was desperate for a drink! He wanted to be sure I noticed his need. He knew he didn’t have the power to fill that bowl, but I did.

Why did Jesus say we were blessed when we got hungry and thirsty for God? Because that’s when we get desperate. When we’re satisfied and satiated, we don’t go looking in the pantry. (Well, I do, but that’s a therapy session for another time.) When we realize our deficit of the Divine, we search. We open doors to Him found in His word and in worship. We don’t rest until we get what we know we so desperately need.

Dry seasons aren’t a curse. They’re a blessing – IF we use them to seek after our heavenly Father. They are a sign that we need more of Him (and we all need more of Him) and we know it. They are a catalyst to a deeper walk with our Creator.

So if you find yourself with an empty water bowl today, don’t just look at it and mope. Bring it to the feet of Jesus, and let Him fill it to overflowing. He wants to! It’s His good pleasure to draw us closer to Himself and satisfy our hunger and thirst. Don’t bemoan your longing – fill it!

Drink up!

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” Colossians 3:10

On my front porch, I have several hanging baskets full of ferns. I’ve never been a “fern person,” but they were the huge size and they were on clearance (yay!) so I brought them home and gave them a little TLC. They’ve provided my home with a burst of green color which I’ve enjoyed all summer.

Except – one of the ferns mysteriously started to dry out. I don’t know if it started getting too much direct sun as the summer waned on – I’m no expert on plant life. But I do know that I kept saying to myself, “Self, you really need to tend to that fern. It would be a shame if you lost that plant that you bought for 75% off and left a gaping hole in your fern display.”

Except – I didn’t. I just told myself I would. and every morning, I’d see that fern and really, really want to help it. And every morning I’d feed my dogs, go back inside my house, and forget about that plant until the next morning – when it would happen all over again.

And then – I went on a spiritual renewal weekend. And I realized that I could “say” I wanted to get closer to God all I wanted, but I had to put some feet to my faith. I could get up every morning and go to bed every night with the best intentions, but those intentions weren’t going to water my weary soul. Only drinking from the Living Water would fill me up and help me grow.

It is only as I learn more about my Creator, spending time in worship and the word, that I will be renewed. It’s only in putting off my old nature and putting on the mind of Christ that I will find myself drawing closer to Him.

So when I returned home, I saw that plant in a whole new light. I took off the “old nature” – stripping off the dead, dry leaves. It looked more sparse, but it also looked healthier. And then I gave it a great big drink of water. And by that afternoon, it had more vigor, vitality, and verdant green color than it had in weeks. It was working! There was hope for my fern after all.

Are you wilting today? Is your soul weary and dried out, tired from the constant heat of life’s problems? Don’t just have good intentions. Act on those thoughts. Take away the “old things” that are bringing you down. Drink deeply from the Living Water. Watch as your spirit is renewed,  refreshed, and re-invigorated. Begin to grow, and go, and give life to others. There is hope for you! Drink up!

Waiting on that call

“For I am waiting for you, O Lord. You must answer for me, O Lord my God.” Psalm 38:15

As I write this, I’m waiting on a call. This one happens to be from my daughter’s doctor about some lab results. I’ve been taking my cell phone with me everywhere for the past couple of days (including the restroom!) so that I don’t miss hearing my phone ring.

Some of you are waiting on calls, too. Maybe it’s an actual, physical call, like from a doctor, or an adoptive placement, or a family member. Or maybe it’s a call from God, in response to a cry from your heart. Either way, I’m betting you are on tenterhooks and your sense of hearing is extra perked-up in anticipation!

As much as we hate to admit it, sometimes our “listener” (as I used to say about my daughter) is broken. Sometimes, we take for granted that we have communication with the Most High God, and we relegate prayer to an afterthought. But sometimes, He allows us to go through situations where we are forced to wait, and listen, and rely on Him for an answer. Sometimes He allows us to be forced to “fine tune” our ears, listening for even the smallest pin-drop of a response.

As desperate as I am for my phone to ring with the call from that doctor, I am even more desperate to hear from my God. I am desperate to listen to His instructions, to His voice, to His call. I am desperate to hear His words of love, peace, and joy, as they wash over my soul and take away my fears and frustrations.

Call Him. Listen for His response. Wait. I promise it will be worth it, and your soul will be richer for the waiting.


When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:32


How many times, as children, did we use this phrase with our parents? How many times have our children used it with us? Sometimes, circumstances change and we just can’t deliver on what we said we would.

How many times have we used that phrase with God?

God, YOU PROMISED that you would supply all of my needs, but my lights were cut off anyway!

God, YOU PROMISED that you could heal sick bodies, but my loved one died anyway!

God, YOU PROMISED that my marriage could be forever, but my spouse walked out on me anyway!

The thing is, with God it isn’t an inability to deliver. We have to take a step back, just like with Lazarus. Yes, Jesus knew ahead of time that His friend was sick. Yes, He could very well have gone right when He heard, and healed Lazarus, and we would have had another deathbed resurrection recorded in the Gospels. But there is a bigger picture going on that we can’t always see at the time. It was a more powerful witness to God’s might to bring back a four-day-dead man, already starting to decompose, than to bring one back who had stopped breathing for a few minutes. The first is way more difficult to discredit or explain away than the second! And Jesus’ own resurrection was itself foreshadowed in the act.

In this life we will encounter difficulties and disappointments. You can count on that. But my prayer today is that instead of stomping our feet and getting angry with God, we take another look at the situation. Instead of “why did you let this happen?” we need to ask “what are You up to here?” Instead of blaming, we need to be searching for the “upper story” that He is trying to weave in our lives.

Lazarus’ death was no surprise to Jesus, and your issues are no surprise to your Creator either. Whatever you are looking at today, remember Lazarus. Remember to step back, look up, and look around, and see the bigger picture that’s taking place in your life.

Why do we worship?

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” John 4:24

I’ve been feeling a little…convicted lately in my worship.

As I’ve been going through some hard places in life, I’ve made it a point to be more thankful and less whiny in my communication with my creator. Haven’t you ever heard that we just need to praise our way to victory? I have, many times. So that’s what I thought I was doing.

But in reality, I was using my “praise” as another form of a “request.” I was thanking God hoping to cajole Him into working on my behalf, instead of just praising Him for being Him.

Lord, forgive me!

So yes, I do need to be more thankful. I need to spend more time in praise and worship as I pray. But my Lord is worthy of my adoration, whether He ever answers another prayer or not. Just like the examples in His word, whether I have plenty or little, am hungry or full, or have the love of all around me or am in a sea of isolation – He is still deserving of my praise!

He doesn’t want me to praise Him out of my wants or needs. He wants me to praise Him because I love and adore Him. We are to “worship His excellent greatness.” We are to “magnify the Lord…exalt His name forever.” We are to give honor where honor is due, and all honor is due Him!

Grateful, yes. Griping, no. But with my whole heart, out of a thankful spirit, and with no expectations of “favors?” That’s the purest form of worship we can offer.

A real shelter

“But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lord, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. For the oppressive acts of ruthless people are like a storm beating against a wall.” Isaiah 25:4

We talk about God being a strong tower, a sure foundation, and a shelter from the storm.

And He is all those things and more.

But as I watched a storm rage outside from the relative safety of my office, I thought about the different kinds of shelters. You can take shelter under a tree. You can take shelter under a lean-to. You can find safety in a ditch if need be.

But God isn’t just a shelter. He is the shelter. There is a lot of difference when it’s pouring down rain between a tree branch and a brick building. And God is that brick building. When you have that sure security of the building, you don’t huddle inside in fear while the storm rages outside. You go about your business, confident that your hair isn’t going to get mussed, your clothes won’t get soaked, and your books won’t be blown to kingdom come.

If you’re going through something today, rest in His safety and care. Don’t let worry about the storm raging around you distract you from what you have to accomplish. Know that He is with you, protecting you fully and keeping you until the sun comes out again.

I’ve been searchin’

And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

You don’t expect to read about Baby Jesus in July, do you? Well I did recently (thanks to an online devotional) and it had me wondering about something.

Just how many mangers did those shepherds look in before they found Jesus?

Maybe the angels gave them more instructions than what we read in Luke 2, but it all sounds a little vague. There’s no mention of an inn, no indication of which manger to look in.

I’m pretty sure there was more than one manger in Bethlehem, is what I’m saying.

Still, they were so excited by the news that they “hurried to the village.” And their search was rewarded with a glance at the newborn Messiah.

Maybe you’ve been searching, too. Maybe you’ve turned down some wrong alleys, or looked in someone else’s manger in your quest for the Christ. Maybe you don’t know exactly where you’ll find Him, only that something inside of you compels you to keep going.

Let me encourage you today. If a bunch of shepherds can find a baby in a feeding trough in the middle of a city, you too can find Jesus. He wants to be found. He isn’t playing hide-and-seek. Though the journey may be long and winding, He will continue to draw you unto Himself so that you can meet the Messiah.

No GPS or Google Maps required.

It’s done

“A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After he took the wine, Jesus said, ‘It’s done . . . complete.’ Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit.” John 19:30

I have a couple of friends who have been waiting on adoptive placements and, recently, they have gotten the good news: you have been chosen!

It seems that those are the first words that each of my friends who have gone through the adoption process have waited on. Those are the words that start them on the journey towards parenthood, towards adding new members to their family. They are the words that march towards the fulfillment of a dream.

But the next set of words they long to hear are even more important: It’s finalized.

Heartbreaking as it may be, no placement is forever until a judge utters those words. As friends we pray for them to receive the first call, and then we change our prayers that the second declaration will be made.

They’re the same words Jesus used as He gave His life up for us. It is finished. It is done. There are so many, many things that the Son of God could have said for His dying utterance. But He chose that simple statement, so that we could know without a doubt that He had finally done it. He had finalized His sacrifice.

Praise the Lord that wasn’t the end, as we know! But it was what He had come for. It was our atonement, taking our sins upon Himself, that drove Him every day He was on this earth.

With His last words, our adoption into God’s family is finalized. It’s the judge’s decree that we are His, and He is ours. We have found our forever family.

We have nothing more to do. It’s done. It’s finished. He has overcome, and we can share in His victory! Every obstacle we have faced or ever will face is nothing compared to His love and power.

I am thanking God today for “forever families,” whether they be in the natural or in the supernatural. I am thanking God for the peace that comes with knowing that He did enough. I am thanking God that it’s done!

A bad place for a bird nest

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” Matthew 7:24-27

A couple of months ago, the newspaper I have delivered on Sundays placed a “paper box” underneath my mailbox. I was happy, because this meant that the carrier could no longer blame my lack of a Sunday paper on roving dogs.

About two weeks ago, I noticed that a little bird mama was happy about that paper box, too. She had built a nest and laid some eggs, safely tucked away in the rear of the box. It was perfect, or so she thought: waterproof, windproof, and hidden away from predators.

Except, it seems, the predator known as the newspaper deliver person.

The first week after I noticed the nest, the driver (who had not) had shoved the Sunday paper full force into the box. The week after that, I began to receive sticky notes on my regular mail from our rural delivery person, advising me to move the nest. There were eggs inside, so I was hesitant. But my husband surmised that the bird (possibly traumatized by being trapped in her nest by a giant newspaper) had already abandoned ship.

She thought it was the perfect place to roost, and it was – until trouble came. Then, it became a death trap.

The foolish man who built his house on the sand in Jesus’ parable thought his was the perfect spot too. Beachfront property! He probably enjoyed lying in bed at night, listening to the waves crash and smelling the salty breeze.

It was the perfect place to roost – until trouble came. Then, it became a death trap.

We humans think we build our lives on the perfect foundations, too. Money, prestige, manicured lawns, and Pinterest-worthy decor all look good – until trouble comes. Then, all those things we hold dear become death traps, crushing us underneath.

Jesus urged his followers to build their lives on the one thing that will never be shaken, will never be moved, will never cease to exist – His word. When trouble comes, it will not cause us even more heartache. It will be the sure thing we can count on.

Are we like the mama bird, or the beachfront homebuilder, or are we rock solid? Take time today to take stock of your foundation – before trouble comes.


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