Believing We Are Right…But Still Being So Very Wrong

Editor’s Note: She’s back again, our veteran writer with my favorite name! Maggie Meadows Cooper!


While home on quarantine, I have had the privilege (and let’s be real…sometimes headache) of homeschooling my sweet babies. One is in preschool, preparing for the start of Kindergarten in the Fall. We have been working on addition and subtraction with numbers 1-10, and she had been doing great…when the problems were written down on paper. But after practicing a bit, I decided to ask her some problems out loud and see how she did. So I asked expectantly, “Ok baby, what is one plus one!?” And she answered, “Eleven!”

Hmmm…a conversation ensued explaining that I could see how she got that answer, but it wasn’t correct because we had to add quantities, blah, blah blah, teacher talk, blah, blah, blah. So I tried again… “Ok baby, what is one plus two!?” Her immediate answer? “Twelve!” 

So we didn’t quite get it. But the Lord did open my eyes to a sweet lesson.

Proverbs 21:2 says, “People may be right in their own eyes, 

but the Lord examines their heart.” 

Y’all, my preschooler thought her answer made perfect sense. She could explain it and stood by it boldly. In her eyes, she was so very right, but in truth, she was still so very wrong. How can that be?

Because she took two pieces of information and stuck them together, without thought to the heart of the problem.

And y’all, we can believe we are right with a wrong heart, all day long.

We can appear to be Godly, when the truth is that our hearts are not pure in our intentions.

We can serve others, simply to receive the world’s applause and get a good photo op for Instagram.

We can give of our money and time, simply to get a pat on the back.

We can quote or post scripture without having any idea what it really means.

We can react with a comment or give advice on social media based on feelings, rather than waiting and responding with Truth.

Hard to hear, right? But the beauty lies in the fact that God does know our hearts. The whole of our hearts. He knows the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. 

And even though our flesh wins sometimes, even though our selfishness can try to take over, if we know and love Jesus, He will draw us back to Him and His purposes if we let Him.

Here are three ways we can get back on the right track when these times come:

  1. Invite the Lord to check our motives.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting…” Psalm 139:23-24

  1. Check our words and actions with scripture.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,…” 2 Timothy 3:16

  1. Don’t forget that the Lord’s ways are better than our own…even if they don’t make sense.

“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

My sweet friends, this world gives us so many opportunities to put our actions and opinions on display. But we must use discernment in these times. Many prayers for all of us to live a life pleasing to the Lord and shine His light in all we do, in word and deed.


Maggie Meadows Cooper is a real-life wife and mom who messes up every day and needs Jesus to save her. She loves Auburn football (War Eagle!), real Coca-cola, and all things chocolate! She is the author of the children’s book Bumper, writes for Blogs by Christian Women, serves as a Parent Coordinator in the Opelika City Schools, and leads the FBCO Teen Moms group. She lives in Opelika, AL with her husband and three children. You can follow her at beautifulinyourheart.blogspot.com

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Bleeding in the Midst of a Calling


Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Ann Grace. A great devotional for you today.


Have you ever had to comfort someone after a hard fall or loss? Well, I have had my fair share of “mommy moments” where I kissed a bloody booboo or wiped the tears off a child’s face. Funny thing is though, that even in the midst of my children’s intense pain, they still managed to get back up! They didn’t let the pain or the fear of failure paralyze them to stay down or quit.


About 5 years ago, I experienced a calling of widowhood to which I failed miserably.


The overwhelming urge to find true love again led me to make a series of selfish, unwise choices in whom I choose to re-marry and become a father to my children. The wreckage left behind from my lack of wisdom have now left me broken and bloody. And the saddest part of it all is that my children have taken the blunt of the consequences from this unwanted messy divorce.

I can honestly say that the Lord has allowed me to be slayed in many ways and He has taken from me the very gifts he once gave me. And yet, there remains hope! The Lord has redeemed me and promises to hold me ever so close through this bloody battle in life that will one day work for my good and His glory.


…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you
pass through the waters, I will be with you; and throught the rivers, they shall not overwhelm
you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume
you.” Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV


He continues to call me for a higher purpose in this life. And no matter how many tears I shed, I will not fear man or failure, heartache or grief, but rejoice knowing that one day, the Lord
will destroy evil and wipe away all the tears from my eyes for good! How amazing is that?! I think the Apostle Paul said it best,


“…Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of
Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I
will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in
my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Philippians 1:18-21 ESV

So don’t look at what you see in your momentary afflictions or failures, but take heart knowing that our misery and pain will produce an eternal reward if we endure. In the midst of your bleedings, let Christ redeem you. Let Him give you the wisdom and strength to endure joyfully and love unconditionally while fulfilling your ever changing calling with excellence no matter how difficult life gets. Whether that’s being a stay at home mom, daughter, sister, friend, working women, single or married, widowed or divorced, always strive to honor Christ in all you do. Because the truth be told, our actions, especially after intense trials and tribulations whether
self-induced or not, are what others see and ultimately define us as true followers of Christ.


Ann: I am not a blogger, professional writer, photographer or foodie. I’m simply a mother of five (soon to be six) who has walked a road of grief after losing a husband and baby. I continue to encounter a Lord who is faithful. My desire is for others to know Him like I do and let Him be glorified in all I do say and do.

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Onomatopoeia

Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by June E. Titus. Thanks so much for this encouragement, June!

Psalm 86: 1 (Read entire chapter),

O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.

I love words. Especially intriguing to me are words that sound like what they mean—“onomatopoeic” words. “Ennui” could be one of those words. It aptly describes a recent blah-ish period in my spiritual life. The word sounds—well, blah. Many excuses could be listed to attempt justification of those spiritual doldrums. But, to quote late nineteenth/early twentieth century evangelist, Billy Sunday, “An excuse is a skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” Like a sausage.

Jog a dull spirit by a sermon or some special issue may work for a moment, but the next moment it is forgotten. Boredom sets in. God Himself is the only one sufficient to extract such a dullard from the hole of their own making. (Psalm 40: 2-3a)

He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.

How God pulls me out of my self-dug hole filled with boredom, blahs, and ennui:

· Don’t depend on sermons, good works, Bible study groups, to throw in a rope to climb out of the hole. Rather, get a proper perspective of the holy, sovereign creator, who loved me so much He became the Incarnate Son of God to die in my place and make me the child of the King of kings. That’s the rope; I grasp it in faith. Then I am ready to hear sermons, do good works, and go to my Bible study.

· Get back into God’s Word—not just a daily verse in a devotional with an encouraging half page. Read a portion each day, learn the lesson it has for me. Not my neighbor. Me.

· Pray. Ritual prayers are only as meaningful as the heart and mental conception behind it. Table grace, bedtime “now-I-lay-me-down-to-sleep,” or even the Lord’s Prayer, are meaningless if I do not think of what I am praying. I need protracted prayer: time spent talking to “Our Father” as a child who has a reverent awe of His majesty, yet can sit at His feet and communicate the desires of my heart. I can tell Him how much I love and need Him. I can take my prayer concerns and the concerns I have for others. I need patient prayer–to keep at it when I can’t see the end God has designed, but faithfully persist. I need specific prayer that names not only names, but names needs and concerns attached to those names.

· Do good for others. Believe it or not, I am not in this world alone with my pocket full of blahs. To help pull another from his hole, I must crawl out of mine.

· Don’t allow temporal distractions derail a spiritual journey. When I pray the line in The Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation,” I have to understand that God’s train is right on track, but there may be stops along the way to tempt me to get off the train and wander about. The distractions may not be harmful in and of themselves, but in my human frailty, I can veer off on my own and spend unredeemable time in an irresponsible manner. Derailed.

Funny thing: Some of the opposites to ennui are words like cheer, delight, and enjoyment. The temporary kicks resulting from mundane activities may only rebound on the unprepared traveler. On the other hand, to serve God with a whole heart is to enjoy life—delight in every mile of the way—living in His presence. The opposite feeling from ennui is “BAM!” I am looking to get a “bam” out of my walk with Jesus.


June Titus is a retired nurse and poet and mother and grandmother, living with her husband 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.

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Shadows: A Mother’s Day Devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Sheila Lloyd! Welcome back Sheila. I hope that this devotional can be an encouragement to you all today.

Shadows lengthen on a mid-October lawn reminding me of Autumn afternoons of my childhood and adolescence in a veritable garden of love, where kindness and tenderness cast long shadows on walls of growing maturity. The gift, not only of being loved but actually enjoyed, of not just feeling protected but also supported and celebrated, engendered confidence to fly high pursuing dreams. And when the wild blue yonder conjured up storms that tore the parachute, my parents were soft piles of hay ensuring a safe landing. Chastisement was given at times, but not in a way to squelch the dream or the spirit, just as a constructive tweak to the rigging in preparation for the next flight.

The older I get, the more I am acutely aware of the lavishness of such endearment and security.  And now that my parents have joined the ranks of what the Bible calls, “the great cloud of witnesses,” I have keenly wrestled with the loss. Heaven’s gain has left and earthly void, and I long to hear their voices of reassurance once again especially on those days when the parachute has become mangled.

However, the Lord–who was always their number one Source of Strength for flight–has been teaching me of His Presence.  He reminds this eaglet that He will never leave me nor forsake me. His voice will never fade away–unless I have run purposely out of earshot.

A humbling realization struck me last week at my piano. Singing of the charity of God, I realized my parents’ adoration for me had only been a mere shadow of my Heavenly Father’s…their encouragement, gentleness, and faithfulness a drop in the bucket compared to the waterfall from the Almighty.

I am also aware that for my fellow humans, my testimony of parental support has most likely not been the common experience.  For far too many, the sentiments of acceptance, security, encouragement and even love were completely absent, and for that I am deeply sorrowful.  And yet, the reality of God’s unconditional affection for every single human being is infinitely greater than what my mere words might convey!

A glance in the mirror reminds that I am certainly no eaglet any longer! The baton is passed. I cannot travel back in time to that yard under the huge oak trees and the welcomed safety of my parents’ embrace. Nor can I bring them back to walk several more years–or even one more moment–on this terrestrial ball with me, much as I might think I need them. Who I truly need is Jesus, and his enduring love looms larger than any evening shadow.

As I grasp the baton and run toward the next bend in the race, I acknowledge that I have been granted the gift as well as the responsibility of parenthood–and so hope to have instilled in my children the same adoration, security, encouragement, celebration and delight that were bestowed upon me. These human qualities are just shadows, boys. Look up and beyond them to the Source of Light–Your Creator, Your Redeemer, Your unfailing and unfading Lord.


Sheila Lloyd is learning to live in freedom through Jesus Christ! Her vocational life has included teaching private piano lessons, writing, acting in and producing musical dramas, spearheading women’s retreats and other ministry outreach events, composing music, leading worship across the country, teaching Bible studies and mentoring. Shelia has two grown sons, one of whom has special needs. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Brian, since 1990.  The couple experienced growth on the cutting edge of faith as Brian suffered a massive rehabilitating stroke in 2014. They published a book sharing God‘s powerful hand in the situation titled, It’s OK! I Had a Stroke. It was released on Amazon and Barnes and Noble May 2019. Website here. The couple currently shepherds a storefront church in Woodstock, VA.

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You Are Chosen Not Forgotten

Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Tracy Acosta. I really hope these devotionals are an encouragement to you at this time. Thanks, Tracy!

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15 (NIV)

When our own family rejects us, we will always have a daddy in heaven who is madly in love with us, our Almighty God.

“We’ve already had you baptized when you were a baby! You ought to stay in this religion for the rest of your life but you chose to disrespect us, to disobey us, to betray us as your parents. From now on, you are no longer my daughter!” My heart was crushed to pieces with a river of tears in my eyes as I received these words from my own mother, the moment I decided to be baptized as a born again Christian.

My life was in a deep and dark valley. Weeks, months and even years have passed and I never had even a single chance to talk to my mother again. I was also working overseas which added to the difficulty of keeping in touch with her.

I decided to be baptized out of obedience to God. The tug of the Holy Spirit within me grew stronger each day when I’d tend to delay my baptism because I couldn’t imagine the depth of my family’s raging reaction.

However, God walked with me through this valley day after day, telling me “Trust me my child, I got you on this.” God is always faithful, He never forgets His promise of divine provision and strength especially during the storms of life. Matthew 6:8 says, “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (ESV). God knew that my own mother will disown me for obeying Him that even before I went through this hardship, He has already provided me with a loving and anointed spiritual mother. Me and her are of different nationalities but God graciously used her to cover me with His unfailing love, comfort and encouragement every single day.

When we thought that the people closest to our hearts have forgotten us because we chose to obey God, our Father in heaven who knows exactly what we’re going through will never forget us. In fact it is a season of being set apart for the Lord, it is an opportunity for Him to do a marvelous work in your life, for Him to change you from within, to make you the mighty and anointed woman that He wants you to be.

No experience of rejection is wasted (especially from our own family). Remember the story of Joseph when he told his brothers “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (ESV). Simply because He has chosen you. You are God’s anointed and beloved daughter.


Tracy Acosta is from the Philippines but is living and working at a resort hotel in Japan. She is in the early stage of her pursuit in becoming a Christian writer. Aside from writing, she also enjoys listening to worship songs and reading encouraging books from Christian authors. She loves to drink milk and honey combo as a sweet alternative and whenever she sees sunflowers, her heart would dance with joy. 

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Supporting Others In the Time of Coronavirus

First off, I hope that you were able to enjoy Easter! This is the first devotional I’m posting in 2020, for our spring session of devo’s.

I felt like I should write something on here about coronavirus, just because it’s something so huge and impactful. I mean, everyone on the planet is affected. But I kind of struggled with what to even say.

We live in Washington state, so we have been in a hot spot for the coronavirus for awhile. We’ve been healthy so far. I’m not that impacted, relatively speaking. I’m a stay at home mom anyways, and yeah, I have to try to educate my 4 year old more, but it’s not a burden on me. My husband works on a Navy ship, and he is deemed essential.

But we are financially secure, and I never ran out of supplies due to some planning ahead by me and also an accidental amazon order on toilet paper in January. Largely, we have been okay. Of course I worry about my husband working in such close quarters with others but mostly I’m just grateful. I know we are really really lucky.

Others are not so lucky. I say lucky because in this situation I think that’s really what it comes down to.

I know so many of our readers must be suffering, and if you’re lucky too, you know someone really suffering. This virus has done so much.

I didn’t even know what to write here – but I realized, none of us really know what we’re doing. This is totally unprecedented. SO many of us are out of work and money, sick, have lost a loved one, or are just worried about this whole thing. It’s crazy. And new to all of us.

I want to support all of our readers – I’m not really sure what I can do. And maybe you’re struggling with how to support a friend. I don’t know the right answers here.

But I think that’s okay? I think it’s okay that we are all just kind of trying our best here.

Let’s just love each other in ways that feel right. That will be unique for everyone. We are all new at this together.

Can we just be together? Does just being help?

I hope it does. I am with you, dear readers

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Merry Messy Holiday | The Reason for the Season

Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Ann Grace (please see her last Diva post for more on her journey). This is the finale of Diva Christmas 2019 – the reason for the season! Merry Christmas.

I woke up this morning excited to start this new day only to find myself struggling to
complete each tasks with a merry heart. You see, as I prepared to change my flannel sheets, I
looked at the various patterns to chose from only to be struck with tears as I saw the sheets with
vintage truck carrying a Christmas tree. Why was this such a trigger of emotions, you may ask?
Because those same sheets reminded me of Christmas with my little one. And this year, I have no
idea as to whether or not I will be reunited with him this holiday season due to this horrible
custody battle.
Have you ever been asked to wait patiently? Suffer joyfully? Or better yet, to trust the
Lord in the midst of so much uncertainty? In life’s messy moments that seem to only flourish
with the holidays, sometimes I am tempted to complain about all the trials and heartache I am
facing. I mean, lets face it. We say we “trust” God with our impossible Aunt Kay or something as
serious as a terminal illness, but, then find another reason to worry that just keeps us from being
merry! I can’t help but think about Jesus being ask to wait patiently for his big “reveal” only to
know that he would have to die for a bunch of sinners who will laugh at him and eventually kill
him unjustly. Jesus was a man acquainted with grief.
“He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:3-5 ESV
Can you imagine grief as your constant companion? The truth remains that we live in a
fallen world and one thing we can count on as believers in Christ are trials and persecution.
James 1:2-4 ESV
Are you merrily trusting this day in God’s perfect timing for a situation in your life?
Maybe it’s waiting for a tear filled prayer to be answered? Or a supernatural healing that only
God can do? And then there’s the constant pleading with God to bring repentance and salvation
to your spouse or loved one… 2 Peter 3:9 ESV
I still can’t guarantee that the Lord will ever bring me back my baby taken away from me
unjustly or give me a front row seat when swift justice and redemption occurs, but, I can say
beyond a shadow of a doubt that we serve a mighty God who loves us and our little ones more
than we could ever! And He will be our comfort, strength and hope this holiday season. He is
faithful and knows what is best for us even when it doesn’t make any sense! He can see what we
can’t. And if that means we are destined for a future of trials and tribulations in order to refine us
into someone more like Him, then, it is worth it!
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being
renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal
weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the
things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are
unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV

As we prepare to celebrate our Savior’s birth this year, be solemnly reminded that unjust
suffering was apart of God’s plan for JESUS. And if we are called of Jesus Christ, we will also
face suffering like never before in these last days. But, take heart as Christ will keep us in His
hands! If we remain faithful and endure til the end, one day very soon, we will rule with Him!
Wishing you and your family a MERRY holiday season!

I am not a blogger, professional writer, photographer or foodie. I’m simply a mother of five (soon to be six) who has walked a road of grief after losing a husband and baby. I continue to encounter a Lord who is faithful. My desire is for others to know Him like I do and let Him be glorified in all I do say and do.

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Silent Night | reason for the season

Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Sheila Ingle. This is the 5th post of Diva Christmas 2019 – reason for the season!

Legend has it that we enjoy singing Silent Night, Holy Night because of a broken church organ.

In the village of Oberndorf, near Salzburg, Austria, was the small Church of St. Nicholas. Some stories say that mice or rust was the cause of the ruined organ, but there would be no music at the Christmas Eve service. It was 1818.

Knowing that music was an important part of worship, Parish Priest Josef Mohr took a longer way home on the icy night. The slower path took him up over a hill overlooking the village, and he remembered a poem he had written a couple of years earlier. Looking down over the quiet, snow-covered countryside, he visualized the scene when the angels announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds.

The next morning, he took the poem to the organist Franz Xaver Gruber. This talented musician created the melodious melody that could be sung to a guitar.

On Christmas Eve at the Midnight Mass, the little Oberndorf congregation heard Gruber and Mohr sing their new composition in German to the accompaniment of Gruber’s guitar. They quickly picked up on this new song celebrating the birth of Jesus.

The organ builder arrived the next month, heard the song, and shared it in other villages, as he went about his work. In 1834, King Frederick William IV of Prussia heard it. He then ordered his cathedral choir to sing it every Christmas eve. By 1863, the carol had arrived in America.

What an amazing history.

The simple words of this song even helped halt a battle.

The year was 1914, and soldiers on both sides of the battlefield somewhere in France were enduring a dark and frozen Christmas Eve night. World War I, the Great War, as it was called, eventually took the lives of more than 10 million people. But it is doubtless that the mostly-young men of that Christmas Eve were contemplating much more beyond their longings for home and warmth and family.

When soldiers on the German line placed candles on small Christmas trees and raised them above their trenches it touched the hearts of their enemies. These men — thousands of them on both sides — spontaneously began to sing the carols of Christmas.

Londoner Graham Williams described it. “First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”

What began in those moments became the legendary Christmas truce. Weapons were put down; men gathered in No-Man’s Land, and they agreed on a truce to celebrate Christmas. A miracle, if you will, where British, Belgian, and French soldiers put down their weapons to fellowship with their enemies.

No shots were fired. Men on both sides buried their dead, took off their helmets, and held memorial services. Turning, they headed for their respective trenches. A voice broke the stillness with the opening words of “Silent Night, Holy Night” in French. From not far away, another voice, this time in German, joined in. Soon both sides sang about the “heavenly peace” that was far away.

It has the style of a lullaby. In fact, this is the carol I sang to our son Scott on his first few Christmases, as I rocked him to sleep. The words are tender and quiet, and the peaceful tune would send him to dream land quickly. As I held Scott, I couldn’t help but think about Mary and how she felt when she held Jesus for the first time.

Round yon Virgin, mother and Child,
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

There is no question about Who is in the manger. He is “Holy Infant,” Jesus! His birth is God’s gift to us, because “Christ, the Savior is born.” The world is changed in an instant, because He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” This is Christmas. The “sweet, little Jesus boy” has brought peace to you and me. As the words declare, “Jesus, Lord at thy birth!”

Shall we sing this beautiful carol with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir?

Merry Christmas!


South Carolinian Sheila Ingle is the author of five books about unknown heroines who lived in SC. She blends history and fiction to create memorable women. You can read more about her at sheilaingle.com, @sheilaingle, Facebook Sheila Ingle Author.

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Nouns and Verbs | an eternal reason for the season

NOUNS AND VERBS, AN ETERNAL REASON FOR THE SEASON

Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by June E. Titus. Here’s a great devotional to end this week’s Diva Christmas 2019 – reason for the season!

Here are some of the phrases we hear as we approach the Christmas season: “So, what do you hope to get under your tree this Christmas?” “I hope the family can get together for Christmas.” “I hope this Christmas is better than last year!” Reminds me of “The Griswold Family Christmas” . . . not the kind of Christmas most of us really want as part of our celebration. We sold live Christmas trees from our farm in the North Carolina mountains. They were shipped all over the eastern part of the United States. To many people, it isn’t Christmas without a tree. To some people Christmas is an industry

Those superficial comments about the Season above and the holiday industry never get to the heart of the reason for the season. The reason is Jesus. Pure and Simple. Indeed it goes deeper than our hopes for favorable gifts, family, or fun.

Our Christmas hope is a noun rather than a verb.

  • Hope as a verb: expectation that something will be the way we think it should happen.
  • Hope as a noun: expectation based on a promise and a reality—Hope based on what has been “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”[1]

But more. There is a “reason for the hope that is in you.”[2] The reason goes back, yes, not only to the manger when our Savior was born, but also to the cross when He “suffered once for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous.”[3]

And even more. Jesus not only died, but He “rose again,” and will return for us and we “will always be with the Lord.”[4] Eternal Hope—that is a reason for the season.

But shall we go even deeper? Hope is one part of it. Hope is our “noun.” It is what we grasp hold and cling to. What was Jesus’ reason to give us that hope? His reason is a verb. He loved us and gave Himself for us, a “fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”[5]

So then, what is our verb? Is it to wish for some gift or experience to make us feel good at the Christmas season? Is it decorating our place, putting up a tree, cooking a big family meal? There is nothing wrong with these things in proper perspective. When we get a whiff of the pine or balsam, or smell the aroma of that turkey and pecan pie, we might think about the true fragrance of His sacrifice to God. Why? It was His love for us.

We, too, are to be a fragrant reflection of His love—a verb, demonstrating His love in our hearts to others. Eternal love—His for us—ours for Him and others.

Now that is a reason we can celebrate at the Christmas season and every day.


June Windle Bare

June Titus is a retired nurse and poet and mother and grandmother, living with her husband 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.

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Unlocking Christmas | The Reason for the Season

This is a guest story by Devotional Diva founder Renee Fisher! Here’s the third installment of Diva Christmas 2019 – the reason for the season!

One Christmas, I spoke on the 3 Keys to Unlocking Christmas at a woman’s tea. I started with my favorite phrase from my book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me.

“Thereis freedom from your past hurts, present circumstances, and future fears.”

There.
Is.
Freedom.
From.
Your past hurts.
Present circumstances.
And future fears.

Saying that out loud still haunts me today.

Past

The key that unlocks the past is forgiveness.

You and I may not have a perfect past. It may not be filled with magic like a Disney movie, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it.

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 (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).

Every time you replace an ugly lie or half-truth with the Truth of the Gospel — you help turn that key even faster to unlocking any bitterness, hurt, grudges, or unforgiveness from the past. Take that first step today and learn how to forgive others including yourself!

Present

The key that unlocks the present is faith.

I waited 12 years, 10 months, and 24 days from the day I knew God promised me the best Christmas gift ever to the day Marc proposed down on one knee in Coronado.

We recently celebrated our 8 year anniversary in the North East seeing the fall leaves change, and I was so blessed to check off another botanical garden off my bucket list of seeing a garden in every state.

But what did I do while I was waiting on my big dreams? I learned how to practice my faith muscles by getting involved in my church, the community, and starting a business. I wrote like mad through each and every health problem. Through each low valley and high mountaintop experience.

The present may be filled with many roadblocks, bumps in the road, and all sorts of pot holes — but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have faith in the journey. My Type A personality took many years to learn that progress (the journey) is more important than perfection (the destination).

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV).

Future

The key that unlocks the future is grace.

The Good News (Jesus) is the key to the future, which is grace. By grace we’re saved.

An encouraging verse to unlock the future says,

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:4-10, NIV).

If you have not yet accepted God’s gift of grace, I encourage you to pray this prayer with me today:

Dear Jesus,

I confess that I have been blaming myself for too long. I cannot be good enough to get into heaven or earn your grace. I need your free gift. Please forgive me of my sins so that I can accept your Holy Spirit into my heart. Wash me clean. Set me free. Give me a bright future full of hope and grace. Thank you for loving me! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Good news! If you prayed that prayer — God now calls you His friend (John 15:15).

I just found out today that at least one of the women prayed to receive Christ at the women’s Christmas tea — Praise the Lord!

It is my prayer that you and your loved ones will have a Merry Christmas.
May you use the 3 keys to unlock your best Christmas yet!

Renee Fisher is an author, coach, and consultant who owns and operates a full-service creative agency for self-publishing. She is passionate about defending dreams and spurring others forward to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). #DreamDefender Renee is a BIG fan of glitter and gardens. She is a graduate of Biola University and lives in Austin, Texas with her handsome husband and their fur child named “Starfish.” Connect at ReneeFisher.com.

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