Not Nice or Knot Nice

Not Nice or Knot Nice

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor June Windle Bare. June is so great with metaphors — if you read her last post, Spiritual Garbage Disposal, you’ll know what I mean! This devotional might make you re-evaluate some “knots” in your life!]

My favorite necklace! How in the world can I get this knot untied? If I attempt to wear it without taking the knot loose, my neck will get sore. It will drive me nuts. And it won’t hang at the right place on my neck. The chain on this necklace is a very delicate, fine-gauge gold chain with a lovely heart pendant. My sweetie gave it to me, and I want to wear it to please him.

I work the knot out. It takes time, patience, eye strain, and a challenge to my arthritic fingers. I work at it for seemingly a life-time until” Eureka!” it comes loose.

As I look at it against my neck, I reflect on the knots and the “nots” in my relationships with other people. Why should I bother? Why encourage a relationship with others who are “not” my faith, my family, my friends? They are not my style, not the kind of necklace I want to hang around my neck. Why should I care? But those “nots” are like the many knots on a fragile chain that links people together.

I think of a woman down the street, who calls me every so often to tell me about the problems in her life and remind me I am a praying woman. She ties up my phone and my plans for so long I worry my ear will fall off. As I think of her, I try to call. No answer. I leave a nice message, but do I hope she won’t call back, and let someone else unravel her knots? But I do care.

I think of my friend who, because of aging concerns, has been sidelined. She has dropped so many of her interests in the church and her social life. Should I offer to do something with her, or just let that knot alone? I call and offer to take her to lunch and to visit another friend in worse condition than she is. She is delighted. Me too. A knot untied.

I think of a relative—well, the widow of a relative. I am the one who always initiates the call or sends the card. Why bother? She never gives me the time of day unless she wants something. Why not drop that knotty chain to the bottom of the box? No, I will try to pick that knot apart, too. I write a note, telling her of family things. I hope she writes back.

A visit, a phone call or a letter may be one way to untie the knots, but what about an e-mail, a text, an emoji as a response to someone’s Facebook posts? These efforts seem so impersonal. Why not spend a few minutes commenting on their post with a word of encouragement? This may be the only way to engage the nots and the knots. Cannot God use any reasonable means to connect us in His greater family? And then sometimes the only way—and the first way—to loosen a knot is to pray for the “nots.”

I am reminded of St. Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 12: 24-26 (NLT):

God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

I want to be “knot” nice.

June Windle BareJune is a retired nurse, poet, and widow, living in southern Georgia. Now in her eighties, she remains active in her local church. Among other church responsibilities, she teaches a Sunday school class of her peers. She writes a weekly blog on Facebook, entitled “Monday Musings.” Prior to moving to Georgia, she was a regular contributor to “The Watauga Democrat” newspaper, and “All About Women,” a monthly magazine, both in Boone, North Carolina.

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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The Little Church that Could

the little church that could

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Heidi-Marie Ferren. This is the story of Heidi’s church (“The Little Church That Could”) and I just adored it. Way back in 2014 in my “How I Became a Christian” story, I talked about my home church and reading Heidi’s story brought back so many memories for me! One is truly blessed to find a little church home like this.]

The Little Church that Could

Deuteronomy 15:11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

Miss USO, Singer, Speaker, Actress, and all of the titles we give and get in life; One would never think ‘former homeless person’ would be in that list, but it is. However, this story is not about being homeless.
It’s about our journey to a home full of gifts that only God could give through the kind and generous hands of a church. A church that brought new meaning to the term “good works.” This story begins at the end of my 7-month stint living in a car with my mother in Southern California; After my mother’s feet had turned pitch black from diabetes and we had been turned out of the hospital that feared we couldn’t pay.
I’ll never forget the ache as we drove away from Los Angeles, a place I rested the realization of all my dreams. While it felt like a failure, there was also relief. It had been so hard and we had lost so much. We left with hope and money and came back with less than zero of both.
Suddenly I felt pangs of shame; remembering the faces of church members at our going away party. I started anticipating the “I told you so’s,” and, “oh well’s,” that were in my future. We arrived home late at night to find a raccoon had clawed its way through one of the walls in the living room. There was a family of wild cats living in the crawl space, a skunk den in the bushes and a broken A/C and heater. Too exhausted to think, we pushed boxes in front of the raccoon hole, pulled out blankets from the car and huddled on the floor of a bedroom for heat until we finally fell into a restless sleep.
I awoke the next morning to a man banging on the front door calling out our names. I hid in the hallway, hoping he would leave, not ready to face the music just yet. But, he didn’t leave, he wouldn’t leave and I couldn’t bear more guilt than I was already nursing, so I meandered to the door.
It was David Gates, a deacon at the First Presbyterian Church of Rogers, Arkansas; a kind man who happened to be one of the people that planned our going away party. I opened the door with a smiling, yet heavy heart. At this point, I was just grateful to see someone who made me feel home and David was just that. He had sparkling white hair and the friendliest love filled eyes you’ve ever seen.
He was a tall man, and, like most of the folks at our church did not look his age, which was 82. He leaped at me with a hug and told me to grab mom we were going to breakfast. I stumbled to the bedroom where mom was still tangled in blankets. I tried not to startle her awake too much, since she was still heavily medicated from her pre-gangrenous foot. However, despite my efforts she sprung like a zombie from her uncomfortable slumber.
“What is it?! What?! What is it?!” “Momma, David Gates is here to take us to breakfast.”
“What?! How’d he know we were even here?” “Guess he saw the car.”
That is exactly what happened. The only part we missed was that he had been driving by for days to see if we had made it back yet.
Apparently our little church in Rogers, Arkansas, whose average congregational age was at least 70, had organized and executed a plan to get us back to square one.
David had submitted us to Rebuilding Together, a non-profit that helped repair uninhabitable homes for those who can’t afford it.
Charles Hudson had a job for me at his appraisal firm and the church needed help on Saturdays. David had four bags of groceries from the food pantry that didn’t need to be refrigerated, since our refrigerator didn’t work either.
They also wanted mom to come be the drama director again when she felt up to it. It was a tidal wave of met needs before those needs had even been uttered.
We were flabbergasted. How on earth could they have known? They hadn’t even stopped to think if our pride would be hurt, or whether, or not we wanted help.
No, they loved us and took us in the palm of their hands like family. Family like neither of us had ever known. David dropped us home a few hours later to find Ed Molitor waiting with a mattress and a chair.
A few hours after Ed left, I heard the sound of a bag drop on our porch. It was Pat and Charles Teeter hurrying off, so their kindness wouldn’t be caught. The Teeters had more zip in their 90 year-old bodies than I had at 16. Pat always filled the church with what she called her “roadside bouquets,” wildflowers she had picked from the road. She took flowers someone else might call a weed and made them magic in a vase. It turns out Pat heard I was starting work with Charles the next day and thought I’d need clean clothes. I fought hard to hold the tears back.
As I opened the bag and pulled out the first item, I saw it was a solid black turtleneck. It’s silly, but I had always wanted a black turtleneck. I never told anyone. It was silly and small, but to me, it was a giant glaring message from God…I have you. I have the smallest desires of your heart in my heart. Even in the lowest of lows I will shower you with your heart’s desires. I hear you. I remember and you are never forgotten.
My mother and I had never had one church we went to regularly before the First Presbyterian Church of Rogers. In fact, the only reason we started attending regularly was because we thought it was the prettiest church in the area to have a wedding. It’s funny how God blesses us beyond our plans. I never went through with the wedding, but I never let go of that church and thank God they never let go of me.

 

heidi-marie ferrenHeidi-Marie Ferren is an award winning writer and content creator. She has directed and written for Comedy Central Stages and is the producer, director and head writer for Defiance Theatre Company’s award winning sketch comedy series. She is a founding member of ValleHo Productions and her content has been featured on Funny or Die, YouTube and a number of streaming platforms. For six years she served United States and Allied Servicemembers and Veterans as Miss USO, performing and speaking across the globe as an ambassador and steward of gratitude. She has performed and lectured in over 1,000 venues including performances at CitiField, Nassau Coliseum, Madison Square Garden, and President Clinton’s Inauguration. As a country, jazz and gospel recording artist, Heidi’s credits include performances with Taylor Swift, Joan Jett, Patti LaBelle, Lee Greenwood and Tony Orlando. Heidi is currently in pre- production for a major feature franchise and series slated to premiere at Cannes in 2019. She is a resident writer for two production houses in Los Angeles and a songwriter for the Roundtable. Heidi has her BFA from Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts and her MFA from the University of Delaware’s Professional Theatre Training Program. She is currently recording her second album to be released early 2018 as well as preparing for the launch of her latest speaking series and book. Heidi also continues her work in support of service members through time, song and service as an Ambassador, Performer, and Volunteer.

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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Are You a Living Sacrifice?

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor Agnes Amos-Coleman. The question Agnes is posing this week is, Are You a Living Sacrifice?]

Are You a Living Sacrifice?

When I think of living sacrifice, the story of Abraham trying to sacrifice Isaac on the alter comes to mind (Genesis 22:1-13). However, I don’t think God expects us to literally lay our lives on the altar for Him.

My friends, I believe what God’s purpose for our lives when He instructed us in Romans 12:1 saying,

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship

is to:

  • Start with giving our lives to Jesus and recognize that our body, soul, and spirit belong to God
  • Acknowledge that everything we have come from Him and we are only offering Him back what He gave us in the first place. These include the use of our praise, worship, time, talent, resources, money, career and business to serve the Lord.

Christ follower, ask yourself a pointed question on whether your life is a living sacrifice or not. If not, ask the Holy Spirit to help you be a living sacrifice for Him.

If you are currently not a Christ follower, life without Jesus has no meaning -so come and experience Jesus today by giving your life to Him.

All glory to God!

 

Agnes Amos-ColemanAbout The Author
Agnes is a leader with proven business acumen in a variety of industries. She holds an executive MBA from the University of Hull, United Kingdom, and is also a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP). She is the author of God Cares for Me in Every Season: Godly Insights for Singleness, Marriage and Divorce; The Provisions of God: Insights from a Cat Named Mascot, and Weekly Insights for the Workplace: A Devotional for Christian Professionals and Transforming Business With Godly Governance: Nine Characteristics for Workplace Success.

 

 

[Closing Editor’s Note: If you have any questions about accepting Jesus into your heart, or just want to talk about Jesus, as a Christian this is my duty! 🙂 I would love to help answer any questions as best I can. My contact info is below.]

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

 

 

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Resurrection on Easter Sunday

[Editor’s  Note: This is a guest story by contributor Maria Drayton. I’m still planning on doing one post a week for now, but when Maria sent me this Easter post (and I realized, Oh man, I really don’t have an Easter post this year…) I decided to post it this week too! P.S. Have you ever wanted to know what Easter was called in Italy? Pasqua! So this Sunday, happy Resurrection, Easter, and Pasqua!]

Easter on Resurrection Sunday

1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

It’s almost that time again. The time that all the stores fill up with Easter baskets, eggs and candy. The time that the shopping begins for the perfect Easter outfit. The time that the people you haven’t seen all year show up to church. It’s funny what things become about when it comes to Easter. A national holiday that encourages everything EXCEPT what it really is.
I fell for it. I saw a sale and jumped on it. I had everything and was prepared. I had a 20% off coupon, plus a $70 gift card to use. I was ready. I chose my son to focus on this year. He has grown a lot in the year, needed a new dress shirt, pants and shoes. I saw the sale and moved in for the kill. There I stood in the middle of the boys section going back and forth.

First, it was the green shirt with the blue tie and the blue pants. But then I couldn’t find the right size pants in the navy blue. Then I switched to the blue shirt with mixed blue and gray tie with gray pants instead. But the shirt was too small. When the lady came to ask me if I needed help to find anything, I immediately said, “yes!” She went to the back to look for the right sizes of either and could not find any that would fit. I switched again to the tan pants instead.

Then I found the right size pants but the shirt didn’t look quite right. Eventually I left the store settling on the green shirt with the blue tie and the navy blue slacks (just got a bigger size). I figured he could “grow into them.” All of this over Easter Sunday. Not only did I go and make the Easter outfit purchase an event but the pants definitely didn’t fit and I had to go back again for round two.

Then it happened, a church that we often visit, proclaimed “we will not be dressing up this Easter we want everyone that comes to feel comfortable”. I thought to myself, “After all I went through for the perfect outfit for my son?!” Instead I made the decision to go to another church where “tradition” still rules.
It really didn’t hit me until after the postcard came from the church (in which I decided on) to advise that there would only be two services on Easter Sunday. One at 6am and the other at 10am. My family often went to the early service since we lived so far away- traffic generally wasn’t as bad in the early morning hours.

Then I showed it to my husband and said, “We will probably have to wake up at around 4am on Easter- I just wanted you to know.” He answered, “Maybe we don’t have to go to this church but the one we visit instead.” “What?!” I thought to myself. Maybe it was me that needed to change. After all, tradition doesn’t have to “stay” tradition.

As a child, I knew I could always count on this time of year for a new outfit from my mom. We would all walk in church with our crisp new dresses, stockings and shoes. That was the tradition, Easter Sunday meant dressing to the tee. Now here I was, being challenged in my thought of this tradition. Realizing, “Why do we need to get extra fancy?” Even as my son grew, it was filled with Easter baskets and egg hunts in addition to the church attire. I’m not even sure if my son even really knows what it’s really about at this age. I have to admit; I’ve dropped the ball. After all, Easter is about Jesus’ resurrection not about outward appearance. It’s about the offer of salvation from our very own sins through His resurrection.

Romans 3: 21-26 (NIV), “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

I’ve decided it’s not too late. This Easter Sunday, we will be visiting the other church. This “Easter” we will be dressing casually instead, giving “Easter” its proper focus. What an awesome God he truly is! Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Romans 4: 23-25 (NIV), “The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

Maria Drayton

Maria Drayton, originally from Seattle, Washington is a graduate of Washington State University and has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism through the Edward R. Murrow School of Communications. Maria currently resides in Deptford, New Jersey with her husband and son. With a passion for the Lord, she desires to bring a young, fresh, new look into intimacy with the Lord. Purchase Maria’s newly released book, “The King and I: Steps for Living in Today’s World Through Intimacy with the Lord” on her website: www.mariadrayton.com !

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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Freestyle Faith: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

freestyle faith

[Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Ronel Sidney’s new book, Freestyle Faith: Around the Table. I feel so blessed to share this excerpt with you today. I think all women know that there are things that happen to women in this world that just aren’t right (understatement), and the more we speak up the more things will change. We can change things. P.S. military friends, this one is for you, too!]

Freestyle Faith: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

No glass ceiling was ever shattered by a whiner.”–Melanie Hope

Struggling and pushing to breakthrough to uncharted territory can be daunting and painful. Women have been treated as less capable and valuable than men for years, and yet many people do not want to discuss the topic. Much like avoiding talks of racism, people think if we pretend it does not exist then we can continue life without making any waves. The problem with this idea is that not talking or fighting to change the stigma keeps us stuck in the cycle of labeling, marginalizing and holding women back from reaching their full potential.

Recently I heard someone describe breaking the glass ceiling in a broader sense of the phrase. Breaking the glass ceiling is when you embark on pushing outside the box of what you were told was normal or acceptable in society or even in your family of origin. This description really intrigued me and gave me words to describe how I had been feeling for years. Guilt, shame and striving for acceptance kept me from speaking out or even breaking out of the “box” I was told was good enough for me and my life.

It began in my last year of high school, when my father and brother sat down with a military recruiter and it was as if I did not exist. The whole conversation was about what the military could do for my brother. There was no mention of what it could provide me and my future. The stigma of women in the military has been fought for years before me; however, women are still fighting to gain recognition and acceptance among their male counterparts. I have been “voted out” of offices, told I could not attend school, and even told by my own recruiter that I would do fine in the Navy because I was “decent” looking. I am sure you can imagine my surprise at these words.

The way we treat woman in the military and society in general keeps them stuck and often silenced about the wrongdoing that occurs aboard ships, during deployments and in the world environment. It is much like when you leave home and realize the way you were raised was not exactly conducive for the reality of the outside world.

We all come to a point of fight or flight. In some ways, I wish I could run from the glass ceiling, and yet, I have been able to break through it enough times to know the pain is worth the reward. Dealing with the intangible barriers within society and the military was expected; however, the barriers I faced within the church and my family took me by surprise.  Fighting for a position or school in the military was much easier than fighting for a place at the table in the church. Being told I could attend classes with men at church but could only perform some of the duties because I am a woman infuriates me to no end. I tried to stay and wait patiently for change, but why do we do this to women?

Why do we tell women they aren’t equal to men or they are incapable of doing what a man can do in ministry?

Acceptance is easy. Fighting to break the mold can be depleting. While attending seminary, I realized the truth was that we allowed men to keep us from being equal in order to make them feel okay with our presence. How crazy is that? We are minimized because of their insecurities and inability to accept us as equals in work, home, life and ministry? Seems a bit old school.

I have come to accept that we have two choices. We can stay within whatever system minimizes us, or we can choose to do things differently. In the military, I had no choice but to fight. In ministry and the church, I decided not to fight and instead begin a new journey outside the Sunday morning meeting and the building we call church. Within my family of origin, I have also decided to reject the “rules” of acceptance in order to embark on a journey of healing and self-discovery.

The choice is yours. You get to navigate this life with God, and He will give you the power to make changes in whatever situation you face in life. I believe the hardest part of breaking the glass ceiling is choosing not to whine and instead to be a part of changing the way women are perceived in the world. Yes, there will be women who make choices we may not agree with. However, standing together and fighting for equality is a must for the next generation.

I do not have a daughter, but I pray my nieces have less of a fight ahead of them because of the battles I decided to fight. I pray they have more opportunities because of other women who choose to fight and stand up to the stigmas of our culture. Mostly, I pray that we as women can begin to see our worth and value together and not in competition with one another.

Excerpt from Freestyle Faith: Around the Table by Ronel Sidney 

freestyle faith around the table

ronel sidneyRonel Sidney was born and raised in Northern California but, has made San Diego home with her husband and son. She has a business degree and works as a contractor for the United States Navy. As the National Director of Praise and Coffee she has a passion for encouraging women to share life and faith outside religious obligation.

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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Spiritual Garbage Disposal

spiritual garbage disposal

[Editor’s note: This is a guest story by contributor June Windle Bare. Some devotionals you just “get” and I really connected with June’s metaphor of a spiritual garbage disposal! I hope you will too.]

Spiritual Garbage Disposal

I had lived seventy-six years without a garbage disposal. There wasn’t such a convenience when I was a young girl growing up in the country. Even after I was out of school and married, garbage disposals were for fancy homes. During much of that time I lived where composting satisfied the dual role of disposing of my garbage and increasing the productiveness of the soil. It works. Then I moved off the farm and into an over-fifty-five community.

My new house was nicer than where I had lived before, but my neighborhood association was not in favor of my tossing the garbage into my back yard. A problem: my new kitchen did not have a garbage disposal. After a year of smelly garbage, I had a lovely garbage disposal installed. It is wonderful. Over the last four years the disposal has saved me from lots of smelly, fermenting bags of garbage until it would be time to roll the beast to the street on Thursday mornings. It works—that is until it doesn’t.

I have a bad habit of buying fresh vegetables and then forgetting them. As I was putting away a new batch of fresh vegetables, something smelled a bit off in my veggie drawer. I dug down to the bottom. Sure enough, there was a half bag of turnip greens that should have been eaten seventeen days before, according to the “date to use by.” Ugh. I turned up my nose, tossed them into the sink, and turned on the water and the garbage disposal. Suddenly, a green swamp began bubbling up out of the drain into the sink, and the erstwhile turnip greens were going nowhere. The disposal was mounting a protest. So, for the next twenty minutes I prayed and plunged; I prayed and peered; I prayed and probed (with the motor off of course). No way was I going to call a plumber. Then as suddenly as it began, my drainage troubles were over as the green swamp in my sink went “schullesssseeep!” It was headed to the sewer. My lovely toy was back in working order.

All this reminded me of bad character traits I tend to accumulate and hold on to. I don’t want to let them go. After all, it’s just the way I am. After all, I’m eighty years old; why shouldn’t I say what I think? After all, . . . For every “Fruit of the Spirit,”  (Galatians 5: 22-23) I seem to have an opposite characteristic that creates a spiritual swamp in my life.

I might not hate someone, but I don’t like them. I might not be a sour puss, but do I reflect the joy of Jesus? Yes, I avoid conflict, but I may not share the peace of Christ with others. All right, I admit it: I am not patient, especially when it seems like it will last forever. Of course, I’m good. Don’t I refrain from doing all those naughty things the Bible says I shouldn’t? But do I do good to others? Gentle? How hard is that? Oh, you mean when I’m rude to the telemarketer on the phone, or the slowpoke in line at the grocery store. Faith? Certainly, I have faith. Oh, you mean am I faithful to my neighbor, other old biddies like me, or people I’ve said I’d hold them up to God in prayer. Humble? Don’t ask! And that Self-control thing? Sorry about that temper flareup. You get the picture.

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, “…Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” James 1:21

These bad qualities decompose and make me less, not more like Jesus. The longer I hold onto them, the rottener they are, the more difficult the disposal. Even the means of disposal gets jammed. Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy (Proverbs 28: 13)

We can’t save up our ungodly character and then suddenly think it will all go down the drain in one fell swoop. Rather we need to be in God’s presence daily—in prayer, in the word, and in fellowship and an accountability relationship with other believers. Only then will we be disposing of the ungodly character traits that linger even in our redeemed hearts

June Windle BareJune is a retired nurse, poet, and widow, living in southern Georgia. Now in her eighties, she remains active in her local church. Among other church responsibilities, she teaches a Sunday school class of her peers. She writes a weekly blog on Facebook, entitled “Monday Musings.” Prior to moving to Georgia, she was a regular contributor to “The Watauga Democrat” newspaper, and “All About Women,” a monthly magazine, both in Boone, North Carolina.

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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How to SHUT UP the Accuser + Book Giveaway (3 winners!)

[Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Becky Harling’s book Who Do You Say That I Am? Moody Publishers gave me THREE (!) copies of the book to giveaway to Devotional Diva readers! Here’s just a taste of the book — sign up for the giveaway below!]

 

HOW TO SHUT UP THE ACCUSER

Adapted from Who Do You Say That I AM? by Becky Harling (©2018).

Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.

I felt upset, confused, and angry. I was in California getting ready to speak at a women’s conference but had just received an extremely critical email. The person writing the email had lashed out with many accusations over the fact that I was sharing my story. My head was spinning. I felt Satan hurling every insult and accusation at me as I closed my computer. His messages went something like this, “You’re emotionally unstable! You shouldn’t be out there speaking and at the very least not telling your story. You’re unfit to speak.”

I cried, “Lord, how can I speak tomorrow? I’ve got nothing!”

Instantly, the Holy Spirit reminded me of how to shut up Satan. I turned on some praise music and grabbed my Bible. Thankfully, no one was home in the house where I was staying. I began praising God and quoting Scripture.

If anyone had been looking through the window, they would have thought I was nuts! There I was, with praise music blaring, marching around the house with my Bible in hand praising my way through the alphabet at the top of my lungs. . .

 

“Lord, I praise you because you have all authority, and Satan can’t thwart your plans! I praise you because you’re the Blessed Controller of all things. I praise you because you promise to deliver me from evil,

I continued until I literally felt a breakthrough. I finally relaxed, praised God that He would speak the next day, and took some time to rest.

Here’s what I know: Even though a person has received Christ as her Messiah and asked for forgiveness of sins, Satan will try to attack with feelings of guilt and shame.

Today, we’re going to take a look at shame and false guilt. And I’m going to teach you how to tell the enemy loud and clear to “Shut up!” Are you ready? You must learn this skill to help protect yourself from the taunts and torments of Satan.

EXPLORE

Read Revelation 12:10–11. What is Satan called in these verses?

As the accuser, Satan lives his life around one single purpose: accusing you. Sad, huh? But he loves nothing more than to get you twisted into fits of self-doubt and shame so that he renders you useless at proclaiming what God has done in your life. How does he do this? He has several strategies, and here are just a few:

Guilt over sin you’ve already confessed. I’ve seen this strategy employed time after time as I’ve spoken at women’s conferences, particularly in the realm of sexuality and abortion. Friend, may I

speak directly to you? No matter what you’ve done, no matter how horrible the act, if you’ve confessed your sin, Christ has forgiven you. God no longer dwells on your sin, so neither should you!

When Satan hurls accusations at you, you must stand tall and slap him with Scripture! You might say,

“Satan, shut up! In the name and power of Jesus Christ, you have no place here. I’m under the authority of Jesus Christ. My sin has been covered by the blood of the Lamb. I’ve confessed my sin, and Jesus has been faithful and just to forgive my sin and to cleanse me completely (1 John 1:9). I am chosen, holy, and dearly loved” (Col. 3:12).

Read Psalm 103:12. What does this verse teach us about God removing our sin from us?

Guilt over unmet or unrealistic expectations. No matter how hard you try, you will not keep everyone happy. Some people will have expectations of you that you simply cannot live up to. When you disappoint them, they manipulate you, and you end up feeling guilty. Here are a few examples:

Your schedule is very busy right now. Time is at a premium, and you’re trying to prioritize your husband and children. A friend feels hurt because you haven’t spent enough time with her. You feel guilty because you’re afraid you’re not being a good friend.

Your definition of being a “good mother” means always baking homemade cookies like your neighbor, but you hate baking, and every time you try, you burn the cookies. When you see what’s packed in your neighbor’s kids’ lunch boxes, you feel guilty.

Your mother feels you need to prioritize spending time with her over the Bible study you’re attending at your church. She brings it up every week informing you that she’s getting old, and if you were a “good Christian,” you would spend time with her instead. You hang up the phone as feelings of guilt wash over you.

What you’ll notice about each of those examples is that none of them contradict a biblical principle. False guilt has nothing to do with truth or what the Word of God says is sin. False guilt often challenges our personal boundaries. But it’s godly to set boundaries.

Read Mark 1:35–39. What does this story about Jesus teach you about setting boundaries?

Guilt over evil done to you. As a child, I was sexually abused. Evil was done to me. As an adult, I struggled with a pervasive sense of being unclean. What I was struggling with was a profound sense of shame. I felt guilty and embarrassed about what had been done to me. As a result of the shame I felt, I took on guilt that was not my own. It wasn’t until I worked with a counselor and pursued Christ as my Healer that God set me free from shame.

Read Ezekiel 18:20.

What does this verse teach you about taking responsibility for another person’s sin?

How does this verse release you from shame about evil committed against you?

When you feel guilty, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I disobeyed God in some area of my life?
  • Is Satan bringing up my past and something that I’ve already confessed?
  • Am I feeling guilty because I don’t measure up to someone’s expectations for me?
  • Am I feeling guilty because of evil done against me?

If your answer is yes to the first question, become a fast confessor. Turn from your sin, and get on board with God’s desires for you. If it’s any of the other three, remind yourself that you are holy and blameless.

REFLECT

 The two best weapons I know for fighting Satan when he tries to throw guilt and shame at you are: Praise and Scripture.

Read Psalm 149:6. Write this verse down.

CREATE AN EMERGENCY FAITH KIT

Many homes have an emergency kit for when family members get hurt or need first aid. Similarly, in our spiritual walks, we need an emergency kit of Scripture verses and praise songs that we can go to instinctively when Satan is attacking or we’re facing a crisis.

On a notecard, write out five verses of your choice that you will keep in your emergency kit, and write down the name of five praise songs that you will either sing or play when Satan starts with his “blah, blah, blah.” I will get you started with the first Scripture verse, and the rest you can choose on your own.

Scripture Verses

  1. Philippians 2:9–11. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

who do you say that i amBECKY HARLING holds a degree in Biblical Literature and is a sought-after speaker and Bible teacher at women’s conferences. Becky is a gifted communicator with a passion for helping women find life transformation through Jesus. She is the author of several books including Who Do You Say That I AM?, How to Listen So People Will Talk, Rewriting Your Emotional Script and The 30 Day Praise Challenge. She is host of the podcast Beyond Beautiful and can be reached at beckyharling.com. Becky and her husband, Steve, minister throughout the world in his role as president of the global ministry, Reach Beyond. They make their home in Colorado and have four grown children and eleven grandchildren.

 

GIVEAWAY TIME:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. Please sign up below and contact me if you have any issues. Since the publisher will be mailing out the THREE copies of Who Do You Say That I Am?,  this giveaway is US-only. This giveaway will end in one week on March 13th. I will contact winners then for their addresses.

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The Black Cat: Scripture vs Superstitions

the black cat

The Black Cat: Scripture vs Superstitions

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by contributor Maria Drayton. Check out her last guest story here, I Am Royalty. Today she’s tackling superstitions!]

I was almost home when I turned the corner and continued to down the street. All of a sudden a black cat darted from one side of the street to the other. At once my mind said, “Oh no! That’s bad luck!” I quickly realized the thought and rejected it. “I don’t believe in superstitions anymore!” I said back to the thought. I continued, “I believe in God’s word not in superstitions,” at this point I was actually laughing. How sly the enemy is when he comes into our minds. He operates on things that we “used” to believe. Things he hopes that we still believe. But in this case, I didn’t believe those anymore. Scripture tells us to,

“…demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(2 Corinthians 10:5)

It’s taken years for my mind to be reprogrammed by the Word of God and it is still “under construction.” It doesn’t happen overnight, like I wished it would. I remember one day I was at work and a lady saw me put my purse on the floor and she rushed over, I thought something was on fire. When she said to me, “you shouldn’t put your purse on the floor! That means you’re always going to stay broke basically money will always be leaving you.” I thought to myself, “Wow, this is a new one!” I got my purse off the floor! I figured “what’s the worst that can happen? I need everything to be working for me not against me.” I chose to believe what she had said.

It didn’t stop there, one day I caught myself saying to my son, “Don’t put the umbrella up in the house! That’s bad luck!” He looked at me like I was crazy and I didn’t “capture” that thought. That thought slipped right in and I believed it and now my son believed it too. That one I didn’t catch. Perhaps this is why the enemy came again with discreetness on this same issue. “I had already succeeded once, maybe I’ll do it again”, could’ve been his thought. It’s constant, the renewing of our mind. Daily, we must consecrate our minds to the living word of God. It’s been a lifelong journey for me.

Scripture tells us,

“Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

There are some things that are so deeply inbred in us that we don’t see it regardless of what the Word of God says. I believed the enemy for so many years. But he’s a liar, he cannot tell the truth. I believed what he said about me. I believed what he said about my circumstances. I believed what he said about my future. Now, I choose to believe what the Word of God says about me, my circumstances and my future.

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Funny how the mind works, it will hold on to old beliefs and until they are confronted, they’re still there. And these things can be so subtle that we don’t even recognize them….like the umbrella being open inside. I have to stay watchful like a lighthouse with the light of the Word of God exposing these beliefs.

“Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105) I must say what God says, using His word against thoughts that creep or flood into my mind. After I saw that black cat, I said “I am blessed!”

Mark 9:23, “Jesus said to him, “if you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

What do you believe?

 

Maria DraytonMaria Drayton, originally from Seattle, Washington is a graduate of Washington State University and has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism through the Edward R. Murrow School of Communications. Maria currently resides in Deptford, New Jersey with her husband and son. With a passion for the Lord, she desires to bring a young, fresh, new look into intimacy with the Lord. Purchase Maria’s newly released book, “The King and I: Steps for Living in Today’s World Through Intimacy with the Lord” on her website: www.mariadrayton.com !

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

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Exstresso: God’s Way to Live without Stress

exstresso

[Editors note: This is an excerpt from the book Exstresso: Taking a Coffee Break with God by Leah Whitton with Jessica Casarez. I received a copy of the book for review, and this excerpt is uesd with permission. I absolutely love this devotional! I’m not a big coffee person (in fact, I really only like espresso) but the coffee break theme of the book just makes it cute. It’s refreshing to read (and I go through a lot of devotionals!) with its STIR method which stands for Scripture, Thoughts for the Day (the devotional/story aspect) Invitation to Prayer, and Respond (questions for the reader). I chose a devotional from the second week of the book to share, aptly titled “Exstresso.” It really summed up what the whole book was about for me! Enjoy.]

Week 2, day 1

“Exstresso”

By Leah Whitton

Scripture 

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
    the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?

Psalm 118:5-6

 

Thoughts for the Day

Have you ever been stressed? I would imagine most of us have been or currently are under a lot of stress. Life is stressful and messy at times.

When you combine “ex” with “stress,” you get “ex-stress,” which means without stress. How can we live without stress?

When we call out to God, he answers us and can help us live a life with less stress. One of the Greek words in the Bible for stress is thlipsis, which means pressure, burdens, affliction, or trouble. When Stephen was preaching in Acts 7:9-14 about Joseph from the Old Testament, he used the word thlipsis to describe Joseph’s plight. If anyone had a right to be stressed, it was Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongfully accused of rape by Pharoahs’ wife, and thrown into prison and forgotten-all while being completely innocent and serving God. Joseph could have asked God: Where are you? Why have you left me?

Have you ever caught yourself asking those same questions? I know I have had times in my life where I had to go through extremely challenging, stressful, and heartbreaking situations, yet God was with me through each of those seasons.

In the year of 2001, I was pregnant with my first child. My husband and I were thrilled and anxious for our son’s arrival. On December 27, around 10:00 p.m., something was about to change. We had not anticipated any problems—we expected joy, not stress—but suddenly our situation changed. Hudson was born with an aggressive infection called Strep B. This infection was so powerful it began to shut down every working system in his little body. The doctors estimated that he only had a 50% chance of survival. So, here we were, brand new parents, not knowing what to expect, and feeling the heartache of possibly losing our newborn son.

Hudson was placed in the NICU and was not improving. He was living on a respirator and IV antibiotics. The worst of it was that I was not able to hold him or touch him because it affected his blood pressure too much. I was at the end of my rope and I remember screaming out to God saying,

“If you are really God, you will send someone here face-to-face to tell me audibly that my son will be healed and that he will come home with us.”

That evening, a young pastor who we were friends with felt a strong sense that God was telling him to drive to our hospital. He wrestled a bit (especially because of the time and the distance) and he asked God if he could just called the hospital. “No,” God said, “You must go.” Around midnight that evening, this young pastor showed up in our hospital room. He told us God had woken him up and that he was supposed to come and tell me face-to-face that my child would live and he would come home with no complications. I called out to God in my stressful time and He answered my prayer in a powerful way. God showed himself faithful. The next day, Hudson began to improve and two weeks later came home 100% healthy.

During Joseph’s distress, he called out to God. Joseph didn’t allow stress to overwhelm him, and thus “God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household.”

Joseph could have let stress swallow him up, but instead he brought his stress to God. Life will bring stress, but before letting that stress consume you, drink a good cup of God’s exstresso” (God’s grace, mercy, and love) and allow him to bring healing to every area of your life. 1 Peter tells us to “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Hold onto that scripture when you walk through stressful times. God was with us through the horrible nightmare we faced when my son was born, and he will be with you also.

Release your stress to him today and have a coffee conversation with God who is ready to carry your burdens.

 

[Closing Editor’s Note: This is a good opportunity, in light of a blog post about “stress” to say that I’m experiencing a lot of it in my life and I’m going to honor taking more time for rest and family. I’m transitioning, starting now, to a one post per-week Devotional Diva Lite schedule for the time being. Thanks for understanding!]

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime.

 

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Unwanted Growth

Unwanted Growth

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Kathryn Boyd-Trull. I don’t have an editor’s note for this devotional…it really speaks for itself. However, I’d like to thank Kathryn for sharing her powerful story with us today.]

Bad news filled my ears:

 

“…tumor in your ovary”

“ Cancer markers elevated in your blood stream…”

“ another tumor even larger on your colon…”

“ You will need surgery.”

“ We may need to take everything out.”

“ You will forever be marked and changed no matter what.”

“ This started with you wanting a child, that won’t happen.”

“ Getting the bad out of your body is the only thing that matters.”

 

But…all the rest matters to me too, God.  Remember me the one who loves you.  The one you love.

 

There is a still small voice that answers, “you will have to have it taken out but it will not kill you.”  My thoughts circle and I ask myself, “Was that God or my own wishful thinking?” Time passes with doubt, pain, and more bad news.  I remember how this all started because I could see another child in our home.  I ask the doctors, “Can we freeze some of my eggs before we take everything out?”   The answer is yes, as long as we move quickly.  I must try.  I can hear the little one running through my house.

 

More bad news, “ We are sorry, none of the eggs survived.”

 

Surgery date arrives.  Consents are signed.

“We have your permission to remove everything.  You may die.  You may end up with a colostomy bag.”

Me: “Okay, where do I sign.” I can’t see the words through my tears.

 

God, do you see this? Remember me, I am the one who loves you.

 

Silence….

 

Surgery…darkness…pain…me screaming…darkness…sleep. Repeat.

 

Why is nobody talking to me? I can feel tears running down my cheek but I can’t use my arms to wipe them away.  The pain is too much.  They must have had to remove everything.

 

God, give me courage.

 

I hear in the background, “She’s crying.  Give her more medicine.”

 

Sleep.

 

Someone is holding my hand.  This makes the darkness feel less powerful.  I open my eyes.  My husband and girls are with me.  My husband says, “Did you hear the news?”

 

“No, I have heard nothing.”

 

“No cancer.  They took out your ovary, part of your colon, the other mass, and no cancer.”

 

I go home to heal from the surgery.  The days are filled with wound care, pain, and bleeding, but my heart is filled with gratitude.  I know I won’t have any more children from my body but I have life today.

 

God, why all this?  I don’t understand?

 

He answers me as He often does with a bible verse that He repeats during my healing days.

John 11 “Jesus your beloved is sick…Yes, I won’t let it kill her.  I will use even this to bring Glory to God.” Emphasis added.

 

God whispers to my heart, “You see I never left you.  I carried you.”

 

Kathryn Boyd-Trull lives with her husband and two children in Commerce City, Colorado where she is a medical doctor and works at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.  Katy founded a non-profit, YHC Clinic, providing free medical care to homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless.

 

 

 

 

 

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