Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission from Agnes Amos-Coleman, who just writes the best devos for us! Thank you Agnes!
My friends, I don’t know about you but there are times in my journey of faith when the journey just gets hard and I think, it is extremely difficult to make it through the day as a Christ follower. It is during these times that the word of God in James 1:2-3 provides strength “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance”.
As we grow in Christ, our
faith will be tested. However, these tests will make us better and stronger
people but most importantly, we will be a living testimony for others to
see. Most people will never set foot in
church but our enduring faith is what will draw them to the God we serve.
Living out a faith that
endures daily means walking in an intentional mindset that:
Trust in God to help
us persevere – It is impossible to walk this journey of faith without the help of
the Holy Spirit. With His help, we can
make the right choices in our words, action and deeds when the journey gets
Chooses to identify
with Christ – No matter the pressure from our personal and business relationships,
we must never give up.
Values the eternal
perspective – We must fix our eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of our faith. We are sojourners here on earth where
everything is temporary. However, as we
look toward eternity, our affliction here pales in comparison to the reward
that awaits us.
Christ follower, pray that
God will give you a faith that endures till the end. If you are currently not a
Christ follower, the blood that Jesus shed on the Cross of Calvary is for you –
come and experience Him today.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission from our dear friend June Titus! Thanks so much for sharing your stories with us, June!
And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, and to record, and to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel: I Chronicles 16: 4
What sort of gift does a family give to aging folks who seemingly have no needs of the usual birthday or holiday gifts? When my parents were living, this question always came up with me. Now that my husband and I are “aging folks,” our family most likely asks the same questions, especially since we are newly weds with a blended family.
This past Christmas we were pleasantly surprised with one of the most unique gifts either of us had ever received: a calendar. This was not just any calendar; it was a beautifully done calendar chronicling our family life since we had begun dating some years ago. There were pictures of when we had been together at events with my husband’s family, and at events with my family. As well, there were dates recorded for everyone’s birthdays (including the pets), anniversaries, and holidays. There is plenty of room to chronicle our events throughout the year. It can serve as a mini-diary for us. We can record social events, vacations, luncheon dates, and when we entertain family or friends.
In this fast-moving society sometimes we forget the need to record the events of our lives. Suddenly the day is upon us and we are not prepared. Did we send a birthday card? When were our friends here for dinner? What time are we supposed to meet someone? This calendar allows us to pencil in a planned event, and then to change it to ink after the fact. The older I get, to more important that becomes.
One of the many reasons I love reading the Bible is that it chronicles the lives of the Family of God. In the pages of scripture I learn about the beginning, all thepeople in between, like Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Elisha, Jonah, John theBaptist . . . Then I read about our Savior—His birth, His life, His death on theCross for me, His resurrection and ascension. And—put this on your calendar—His coming again!
But no, we do not know the date of his coming. Yes, we believe His promise. He will return. I was looking at some puffy clouds in the sky today, clouds that reminded me that He will return the way He ascended to Heaven. It is a good thing that we do not know the Day of His return. If we did—if we could put it on our calendar, we would not do as He bid us—to go into the world about us and share the Good News of our redemption. We would not have our priorities straight.
For the special days on our calendar we prepare. Is it a celebration, a trip, a matter of sending a gift? One the other hand, to prepare for Christ’s return is a daily preparation. We prepare our mind by studying about Him in the Word of God and getting to know Him; we prepare our hearts by becoming more and more like the one we have met in His Word; we prepare our lives by our faithfulness and diligence in leaving no opportunity to slip by to honor Him and share Him with our world. We prepare for that Day by praying, “Thy Kingdom come . . .” and “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
As we enjoy looking at the pictures in our calendar—a record of our lives together, it is a beautiful reminder of the things recorded in God’s Word, and the anticipation of Christ’s return.
 Matthew 25: 12-13 Acts 1: 6-11  Matthew 6; 10 Revelations 22: 20
Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission by Rachel Erickson. Just read this one!!
My husband and I and our four kids live overseas in Indonesia as missionaries. Yesterday I was in the kitchen making breakfast when my husband asked for some papaya leaf tea. It is a tea we brew whenever we start to feel a sickness coming on. So I go to our papaya tree, pick a leaf, soak it in bleach water for 20 minutes, rinse it off, boil it for 20 minutes, drain it, pour it in a cup, mix it with some chocolate powder and stir it. Ta-da! Done. I set it on the counter for him. Later I noticed that he never drank it.
I got all upset and blew some steam as I declared my frustration to the entire family. There are many healthy ways I could have done this but I chose the “yell and spew” method.
After awhile, I sat down to do my devotions and was reading in Acts 1:24 where the eleven disciples were praying to God to show them what man should be the twelfth. Their prayer started out with this sentence-“Lord, you know everyone’s heart.”
I stopped. Those are powerful words. Everyone’s heart including mine. God knows my heart. And He knows all the angry words I proclaimed earlier. What is it with me? I seem to keep falling into the same ruts. And the ruts are deeply lined with one word- “Me. Me. Me.”
I sat there and recalled example after example where I clearly only thought of myself. Where I was pushing my agenda, declaring my thoughts and not giving consideration for anyone else.
I wish there was a plug to pull or a tab to open to deflate “self”. It’s big and bulky and takes over the room. Often it’s hard to see what else is around me because this large air-filled mass is floating by.
Oh. A kind word spoken in the corner. A struggling attempt by another to share their opinion. A forgotten soul alone at the table. I missed it all. Just pushing “me” into the room head first yelling, “Don’t miss me everybody. Don’t forget to stop and listen to my opinion. And make sure you work hard to do things my way. Because when it all comes down to it, I matter more than you.”
Seriously? Enough of that! Who died and left me in charge? Yeah, no one. It’s time to deflate this ego. Let the air out of this massive head. Stop walking into a room head first, or mouth first. I have importance, but I am not the most important. My opinion matters, but it’s not the only one that should be heard.
Removing this ego stacked air allows me more room for things like understanding and compassion, gentleness, and forgiveness. And a shift of perspective. It changes my inward focus upward. Instead of demanding attention on me, I can draw attention to Him. My inflated self- proclaiming mass can become an arrow pointing to the one that truly matters, the One who gives me importance.
The One, the only One, who is truly worth it.
My name is Rachel Erickson. My husband and I and our four children have been missionaries in Indonesia since 2007. We are Hostel parents for an International school in the area. My loves include cooking, gardening, reading, writing, all things family, and telling everyone that will listen what God is teaching me!
Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission by Maria Drayton, who has generously shared her writing with us many times before! I’m grateful, Maria.
Expectation. Sometimes I like to reflect over my life and remember times when the Lord showed up for me. The days that He would answer my prayers quickly and I would just sit in amazement of His ability. His ability to reach into my life and make His presence known. Nowadays, I don’t have to look back too far to see His hand in my life. Typically, if I look-I find Him. Things weren’t always this way. The days and nights of fighting back tears and heartache have not been removed from my mind or heart. What has changed, is my mindset. I expect good things. I expect Him.
Do not conform to the pattern 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.
I remember mornings of waking up and never feeling as if I had even slept. The spirit of depression so heavy that even in the morning I was exhausted. I knew my thoughts were not right but I didn’t know how to stop them. How many times have we been told to renew our minds? But no one ever told me how to change how I think. I had to make a decision and choose to believe scripture instead of my own thoughts.
Here are some scriptures that I posted around my home and memorized that help to renew my mind:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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.
We do have a present enemy. And he resides in our minds! 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
This is an ongoing process and I still have yet to arrive at a completely renewed mind but now my days start with expectation. Not expectation in me, not expectation in my job, not expectation for my husband, I am expecting the Lord! Now when I start my days they are full of excitement and hope instead of dreading the day’s events.
It’s infectious too! When we start expecting Him and expecting good things; others also are affected. I even bought my son a sign for his bathroom a few weeks ago that said, “Today only happens once; make it amazing!”
Now I don’t want to say every day is a great day but what I will say is now every day is a God day!
Heavenly Father, thank you for this day and everything in it. You alone have given me the ability to handle everything that comes my way today. I welcome You into my workplace, into my home and most importantly into my heart. I’m looking for You today and I’m waiting expectantly for Your arrival.
This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it!
Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission by Bhreagh Rowe. An awesome marriage devotional!
I think the biggest thing I struggle with is feeling like a crazy person. I literally feel like I am the only person in the world who cries every time I see a baby born on TV, or when Sassy comes over that hill in Homeward Bound or loses it on every time my 4 year old hits that stupid fork on the table and makes another dent. What about when the paper boy throws the paper at the end of my driveway and I can’t NOT not drive over it because its right in my way, or that one dad at my kid’s school who literally takes the stroller out to push his 3 year old the 40 feet to the door. I know, I’m crazy.
There are very few times that I have felt normal or accepted and almost everyone of those times included a cup of tea, a cozy blanket, a comfy couch, a good cry and that one(or two) people who just get me and what I am going through. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times this has happened in my adult life but nevertheless when it happens, it’s beautiful.
Being a mom and wife was the life goal but when the wife and the mom thing fell into my lap I had this feeling of “k, cool, what next?”. I didn’t feel that instant fireworks and crazy attraction to my husband when we first meant and when they placed that little slippery baby into my hands I was more concerned about the pain of what was going on down “there” then those sweet blue eyes. All this to say, it didn’t come easy, naturally or without a lot of bumps and when I say bumps I mean like Everest sized mountains.
So, here I am almost 7 years into wifing and I’m just finally starting to figure a few things out I am not really sure if there was a defining moment that caused this change but I do know there was a big old slap in the face.
There are four people in my marriage, God, me, Daniel and Iris. I know I know, your like “Bhreagh, that’s kinda weird” and 3 years ago I would be like “I know right”.
Whose Iris you may asked? Well Iris is our counsellor, our “don’t pull that crap with me I’m gonna call you out and tell you how it really is” kinda counsellor.
Yes, we have a marriage counsellor.
Iris told me at one of our very first sessions that I wasn’t that great of a wife or a mom and that Daniel was a bit of a jerk (I mean it’s paraphrased a bit but you get the idea right?).
She was totally right.
Our marriage SUCKED before Iris. I mean, we made it look good and all but really we were struggling. We were struggling because we didn’t connect well with each other, we were struggling because we were stressed, we were in competition with each other, we had no mentors or role models, we had hurts, we suffered alone and then we decided to have a few kids cause, why not right?
Remember when I said I always feel like a crazy person? Well during those first 3 (or 4 – 5) years of marriage we went at it alone. We would fight and feel like we were the only people to fight, we struggled and felt like we were the only people who struggled, we were bad parents and felt like the only people who ever made bad parenting choices. We felt like crazy people because no one sat us down on the couch, made us feel like the normal people we are and offered some tissue to go with that cup of tea.
I’m scratching the surface here but do you see where I am going with this right?
Marriage is hard.
Being a family is hard.
Parenting is (SO) hard.
Iris saved us. Well, my husband who was wise enough to seek God, connect us with Iris and then made me go saved us. Iris made me feel crazy because I was. She made me face the hard stuff that was making me crazy and then, with a whole lot of tea and tissues, sat us on her couch and helped us learn the way. Without her even knowing, she opened a huge door for our marriage and family, pushed us through (while we were completely unwilling to go ourselves) and saved us.
So friend, come sit on our couch, I have lots of different types of tea and I am usually out of tissues but have rolls and rolls of toilet paper that you can use to wipe the tears or wipe the face of your spouse after you throw the tea at him in anger (disclaimer – I have never thrown tea at him but there was a tambourine incident) and hear this;
You are a little crazy.
But there is absolutely nothing that you have gone through, you have done, or you have experienced in your marriage and family that will shock or surprise me.
I know your thinking there is something but trust me, I did it or I get it.
We are all imperfect human beings trying to live, love and co-exist with another imperfect human being who, more than likely, is the COMPLETE opposite of you all while raising little humans who yell, scream and freak out out whenever I take that stupid fork away from him. We find ourselves in this big pressure cooker of life and if we don’t stop, sit on that couch and get ourselves some tools for the tool belt it will explode.
So find yourself an Iris.
Then find yourself a good cup of tea, a roll of toilet paper and a comfy couch to breathe out the crazy and breathe in the grace.
Friend, I really hope we can sit on the couch together someday and laugh at all the crazy but for now just know that you don’t have to do crazy alone.
Editor’s note: This is a guest submission by Ann Grace. She has shared her story before – most recently here. Today’s devotional may be hard to get through as it’s very emotional, but powerful. Thank you, Ann.
Is it even possible to be joyful in the midst of feeling abandoned? My life has been filled with my share of feeling abandoned and lonely but these days, I’m once again experiencing it again. My husband of 1 year has left us. No contact. No “I love you”.
Nothing. It’s been almost two weeks of pure grief not knowing whether he will come back or file for divorce. I’m angry. I’m confused and just plain heartbroken. You know, I look back and can say that being widowed at 31 was easier than this! During these hard days, I’m finding rest in my Savior’s arms. I never thought in a million years that I’d have to experience such grief again. The sad part is watching our 5 children relive their “Dad” leaving them. Oh, how my heart aches for their lack of understanding in this fragile situation. Is there joy to experience in this valley of the shadow of death?
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6–9
After reading this scripture, I’m comforted to know that joy and grief go hand in and. A great example that came to my mind is of my own experiences of child birth. Right now, I am 7 months pregnant and am dreading in some way the day I have to actually go through labor but am joyful knowing that it will all be worth it once I see the beautiful boy the Lord has blessed me with. I can’t see the it now, but I rest knowing it’s coming!
Whatever situation you are in, I know its tough. It’s hard to stay focused on the Lord and trust Him with all your heart… It’s hard to feel comforted by what feels like an “invisible God” when you just need desperately a strong embrace… I know its easier to be upset and fall into a pity party for ourselves but God doesn’t want us to stay there. Of course, He’s not shocked by our emotions and reactions in our trials but we must remember that dwelling on them no longer produces joy. Joy doesn’t have to be smiles and laughter though…It’s ok to have tears, righteous anger and passionate conversations with our Savior. In fact, our Lord wants us to come boldly to His throne and tell Him how we feel and what we are struggling with. But, then He wants us to surrender them ALL, not some, not most, but ALL at His feet. Geez, that’s the hard part. I should know, but I’m telling you, fear and worry will only grow if we choose to hold on to them. They will destroy us! As believers in Christ, we must remember that the Lord is in control of our lives and He promises to carry our burdens on His shoulders while giving us rest. And boy do I need rest!
“ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
I pray that we surrender our lives to our Heavenly Father today and let him be our Savior. You may not know how to let go of your fears and pain but simply praying and asking the Lord’s help is the first step. It may take some time to actually change our habits of wanting to worry but don’t give up! The Lord is faithful and He will not abandon us. Hevwill be our husband, lover and father if we let Him.
He will hold us close and carry us when all we hear is silence.
Psalm 68:5 ESV “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” So when you feel beat down and abandoned, trust Christ with your heart and life and He will, in His perfect timing, make everything new.
“And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’” Revelation 21:5 ESV
Editor’s Note: I thought I would just jump back right into posting devo’s! I have closed submissions for the time being – and you’ll be getting a fresh devotional to read every Monday morning for this fall!
This is a guest submission by Heather Ream. This is somewhat of a follow-up to Heather’s previous post about her mom here. Thank you for sharing, Heather!
My mom has been living in a nursing home now for a little over a year. Most of the time, she’s stable. I’m blessed to be able to write that. Praise you, Lord. Most of the time, she’s stable.
Sometimes, she has a short series of days that culminate with a episode of psychosis. First, she’ll refuse all medication. The staff cannot force her to take her pills, and only some of her medicine is available in an injectible form. Next, she might suffer with insomnia that night and may or may not sleep. By the next morning, she will refuse food or a change of clothes. She will adamantly proclaim that she is dying along with a list of other delusional thoughts.
Eventually, when the staff has done all they can, the doctor will be called and Mom will be given an injection of a strong, calming drug. It’s only then that she will be able to sleep, and the cycle will be broken…this time.
I usually receive a phone call from a nurse early on the second day informing me of what’s happened. Each one of them is compassionate, and they carefully explain to me everything they did to try to help or cajole my mother. Often, they are embarrassed and frustrated they couldn’t do more. However, this is our reality. My mom has a serious mental illness compounded by dementia.
After Mom’s had a tough run of days, my next visit usually consists of straightening her room and putting everything back in order. Her room is cleaned regularly, but it is impossible to keep up with the chaos when Mom’s having a crisis.
Last week, after her most recent difficult day, my husband and I brought her a burger and fries to enjoy while I started the cleanup. Socks and clothes were strewn around her bed and underneath it. Her shoes lay in a jumbled mess. A patriotic sign had fallen off the wall and landed in the corner.
But the medicine had finally done its job. She finished her meal without complaint and let me change her into pajamas. The nurse and I helped her into bed, and she fell asleep almost immediately. After I tidied her room, I wet a washcloth with warm water and wiped the sleepies out of her eyes – another task she had refused the nurses.
Another storm, another mess that needed to be cleaned up. The tears came as I thought of us, our roles reversed. How many times had my mother wiped my face or hands as I slept soundly, after a meal? How many mismatched socks did she gather from my bedroom floor, careful not to wake me during her early morning chore time before work?
Am I really helping her, Lord? Is this all that’s left? My heart is breaking, I prayed. I thought of our Jesus, chiding the disciples in the boat as the storm raged around them.
“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” he asked. (Mark 4:40, NIV)
My heart swelled as I remembered all the Lord had done for my family the past year. True, this was a hard day. But tomorrow would be easier.
As I stroked my mother’s hair back into place with my hand, I contemplated the countless Godly mothers all over the world, all throughout history. They were the dear ones who had cleaned up innumerable storms the same way my mother had done for her children. I thought of us, the daughters, once their students and now the experts. What a beautiful gift, to be numbered among those multitudes.
Storms will always come, my friends, but have faith! Sometimes, what seems like a deluge is merely a torrential downpour of love, from our Heavenly parent.
It has been a whirlwind few months, and I thank you for being patient with me during my recovery and all these changes. (To be honest, everything was a lot harder than I expected!)
My husband has been with our family for a full six months, and that hasn’t happened in over three years. Thank you for understanding my need to also soak up this time together.
I have new ideas for this year, and you’ll probably notice some changes soon! Now that I’m a mom of two, I’m trying to be intentional about being efficient. I want to have good time management for ALL my priorities. 😊 A couple of things right off the bat: formatting for the posts will be a little different (simpler) and I will not be accepting submissions year round (more efficient). I’ll always post and update the become a diva page when they are open 😊
I am also striving to make the devotionals easily visible and accessible for everyone. I think we have amazing writers and content and I don’t want you to miss it! I’ve been trying to figure out the best ways to share on social media. I might need to try a few things out, but I’m going to start by adding the devotionals to Instagram (and Facebook) stories. I hope you’ll check those out! Follow the devotional_diva IG here and Facebook here. I’m most active on those platforms, and appreciate your follow!!
Stay tuned for new posts, and until then, if you’ve got a story or devotional to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with me 🙂
This is the final devotional in our Diva Christmas Series 2018, “The Best Christmas Ever!” I can’t believe it either, but Christmas is one week away! Here is my contribution to the series, which I truly hope provided some enjoyment and intimacy with God this season for you.
If you’re craving more Christmas devotionals, feel free to use our search bar for the past 4 years of Christmas devotionals!
A little background info on our Diva Christmas Series: Every year I’ve been editor, I like to celebrate the Christmas season with a special series and theme. This is year 5!! This year’s theme is “The Best Christmas Ever.” Submissions are closed, but if you’d like to read more about the series, here is my post announcing the series!
This is my final post until next year — post baby and post international move!
I love how everyone had their own interpretation of “the best Christmas ever.” This series turned out better than I could have imagined. Every year in the late summer or fall I pray for God to give me the idea for the year’s Christmas series. It never comes right away, but He always delivers.
I’d hoped that everyone would get the idea I was introducing with this year’s series…Gifts do not necessarily a best Christmas make, but the togetherness, the generosity, the feelings.
In fact, I think the best word for what I’m describing is not an English word. What comes to mind is “hygge,” a Danish word and custom. Here’s a great explanation of hygge from Oxford Dictionaries:
“A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)”
That is Christmastime, isn’t it?
The best Christmas I ever had was in 2012. It was the first Christmas in a long time that I wasn’t dealing with depression. I had been living in Chicago with my husband at our first military duty station for about 6 months. I finally found the right solutions to crawl out of my pit of depression and anxiety. For me that meant the right medication and therapy, but God placed other significant events in my life that year that healed me as well. Christmas 2012 was my turning page, and it was magic.
I went home to Iowa for a couple weeks during November 2012 for my sister-in-law’s wedding. Sadly my husband wasn’t able to go along. All of our family and friends, I think, noticed the huge difference in me. I felt good.
I remember being on the phone with my husband and mentioning that I thought I wanted to get a white Christmas tree — it would actually be our first tree together and I was so excited.
He was able to come back to Iowa for Thanksgiving, and we went home to Chicago together after that.
We listened to Christmas music on the drive home, and I was ready to get our house decorated! I made many plans in my head, including where to start looking for my dream white Christmas tree.
We arrived home, and after greeting our kitties, I saw the most perfect white Christmas tree I could have ever imagined sitting the corner of our living room.
Christmas was here. We were a new family. Together, we would decorate this tree and, maybe in a few years, decorate it with our kids. We would make new memories around this tree — and be done with bad memories. The tree was a new beginning for me, and my husband loved me enough to surprise me with it.
That Christmas season truly was my best ever. Full of new memories and traditions (and that hygge feeling!).