Monday, May 16, 2022

What Are You Eating?

 By: Joanne Viola

If I were asked to define “eat”, I would suggest it is to ingest or take in, chew, and then swallow.

We eat for any number of reasons – out of hunger, boredom, experimenting with a recipe, or for comfort. All may satisfy at the moment but then, in a short time, we must eat again. The food must be prepared and the table set, repeatedly.

Upon creating man, God placed them in the middle of a garden with trees and vegetation to fill their need to eat, and then instructed them:

The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,
for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

(Genesis 2:16-17, NASB)

From the beginning, God provided all that was needed for us to be satisfied. He gave it freely, and it was in abundance. It provided life, health, and wholeness. God built obedience into our relationship from the beginning.

In Isaiah 55, God offers this invitation:

You there! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat.”
(Isaiah 55:1, NASB)

God offers to us freely that which will fill us. It comes without a cost to us, yet cost Him everything.

Scripture became life and breath to Jeremiah, the daily sustenance he relied on:

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight.”
(Jeremiah 15:16, NIV)

Once discovered, he devoured God’s Word for he knew when circumstances looked difficult, hopeless, and bitter, God’s Word would yet be satisfying to his soul.

May we come to the place, the same table even, and like the psalmist declare:

“How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
(Psalm 119:103, NASB)

“If we want to grow in grace, we must grow in our knowledge of the Word … Though knowledge of the Bible does not equal spiritual maturity, you cannot be spiritually mature without knowledge of the Bible May this truth spur us on to know God’s Word fully.”

(from Colossians: Rooted in Him, page 60)

What Scripture is He serving you today?


Photo by Yuliia Tretynychenko on Unsplash


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Friendship An Abode Of Both Reward And Sorrow

 By: Paula Short

"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24 NIV


Women have a greater need for friendships than men do. Our friendships run deeper. Men like to "do things" with friends. Women want to "know things" about each other. We like to do things together too, like shopping, but we want to talk while doing it!

Girls are naturally drawn to each other. When friendships are lost, women grieve. A girl's first experience with heartache may have been over a lost "best friend" rather than a "boyfriend."

We grieve not just for the friendship but also for the secrets shared, trust, and acceptance enjoyed. No one can cause you more harm than someone you have trusted deeply. If betrayed, the pain runs deep.  

Proverbs 18:24 reminds us that we all need friends who will stick close, listen, care, and offer help when needed— In good times and bad.

"After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before." Job 42:10 NIV

In this verse, we see that Job could still pray for his friends. Pray for those who have hurt you. Can you forgive them? 

Most recall a time in school when a friend we trusted proved to have loose lips. It cut like a knife, and that is when it starts— the creation of the mask. 

The "you" you are willing to let the world see. We hide behind our masks, thinking we are better off, but we lose much. I lose the good advice of mature Christians, not to mention their prayers. If no one knows I'm struggling, I deny them the chance to minister to me and keep me accountable.  

No matter how it started and how it was reinforced, we want to look at how we can take the mask off and start to be authentic.

"Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice." Proverbs 27:9 NIV

In Scripture fragrant aroma of ointment or perfume could be interconnected to close-knit, loving, and trusted relationships and friendships.

Sometimes We don't want to risk letting people see the bad stuff. If we allow people to see just the good stuff, we will not be accepted and enjoy good friendships if we never let them see the bad.  

If you are being accepted by people because of the false front you present— then deep down, you know it is only the false front being accepted. 

Friend, it's better to have one friend than dozens of superficial acquaintances. Instead of wishing you could find one true friend, seek to become one. 

There are people who need your friendship. Ask God to reveal them to you, and then take on the challenge of being a true friend. True friendships are intentional.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Treasures in Jars of Clay

By: Melanie Moore

I'm learning that the key to connecting to my teenage sons is to do things with them that they enjoy -- to join them in their hobbies and interests. This is easy with my oldest son because we share so many similar interests like reading, antique shopping, and watching movies. However, with my youngest son, it is a little harder for me since his hobbies normally include all things adventure and danger.

I have this natural aversion to adventure and danger.... see the problem?

However, I realized that my son loves to be outdoors and loves to be active. This seemed like a great common ground to spend some time together. So, I signed us up to complete a 5K race that is only seven weeks away. In my mind, I thought this would be totally easy -- I mean, it's 3.1 miles so it can't be that hard, right?

It turns out that completing 3.1 miles without dying is actually a little harder than expected for "someone" who sits at a desk job all day and never exercises. Ahem...

As my son runs laps around me, and I jog only slightly faster than the turtle on the path beside me, I realize that maybe my body is slightly less "in shape" than I remembered. 

Perhaps God gives us examples of our own fragility so that we can remember who weak we are apart from him... We are, after all, only jars of clay.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power
belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed;

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

You see sometimes, I forget my own weakness, and I don't mean only in physical efforts like running. I plow ahead with plans in my life, relying on my own strength, and then I wonder why God doesn't make them successful. 

The limits of my own strength -- my own jar of clay -- is a reminder to me that any power I have belongs to God and not to me. 

This, my friends, is reassuring! We don't have to have all the strength in the whole world to face all that life throws at us. We simply can rely on the strength and power of God within us!

That truth allows us to say that no matter what life throws at us, we are able to stand firm in our faith. Like this beautiful passage in 2 Corinthians says, we may feel afflicted in every way -- but we are not crushed by the weight of that affliction! 

We may feel confused and perplexed, but friends, we are not driven to despair because we trust that God is in control of all things and working them for our good and for His glory. 

We may be persecuted by those around us, but we are not forsaken because we know that God is always with us!

We may be struck down, but we are not destroyed. We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ!

Isn't that amazing encouragement today? I pray it will give you strength as you face whatever curveballs life throws at you. 

As for me, I'll be slowly trotting my way to the finish line, remembering with each step that this jar of clay ain't fast.

Friday, May 13, 2022

How to Be a Warrior Princess in God's Kingdom

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 

Ephesians 6:10 NASB

We need more warriors for God's kingdom in this time of history. Ones who are willing to fight fiercely for their faith. I have no doubt that God is calling you and me to be warrior princesses for his glory in this current age.

But how do we do this? Let's break down this famous passage in Ephesians 6 for practical application. I'm taking it verse by verse from Ephesians 6:10-18 NASB.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 

Your strength as a warrior princess comes from God alone, not yourself. This is wonderful reassurance on days when you feel too weak to take a stand against the enemy. The Lord's strength will flow through you - just ask him for it.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 

You need to armor up as a warrior princess. But keep a soft heart behind that armor - one that is open to God and the people he loves. Your armor is against your enemy, Satan, and all his minions.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 

Always keep in mind that the fights you face are in the spiritual realm even more than in the physical realm. Your spiritual enemy is real and wants to defeat you in the physical realm. But you can fight back with the tools described below.

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 

The full armor of God will cover you from head to toe. But it's your job to put it on each day. You do your part in armoring up, and God will work through you more powerfully, warrior princess.

Stand firm therefore, having belted your waist with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 

Stand firm, not letting anything shake your faith. A good way to do this is to reflect on all the times God has been faithful to you in the past, so you will hang on to the hope he'll be faithful to you again. Belt your waist with the truth of his Word by reading it and meditating on it daily. Righteousness will cover your heart if you commit to following Jesus' example each day, taking up your cross and following him rather than your own will (Luke 9:23).

and having strapped on your feet the preparation of the gospel of peace; 

Peace is such a wonderful gift to give, especially in the face of conflict. If you set out to be a peacemaker, you won't be as fearful with the Prince of Peace as your leader in every fight you face.

in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 

Your faith is an incredible gift. It is a protection that the enemy Satan cannot take away from you, unless you let him. Strengthen it daily through prayer and praise.

And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 

Your salvation is already secure if you believe that Jesus died for your sins. Nothing can shake it. Remember that the Holy Spirit is your constant guide in all the battles you face, and you can gain fresh guidance from him in scripture at all times of the day or night.

With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be alert with all perseverance and every request for all the saints.

Prayer is one of the most powerful ways to fight back in the spiritual realm. Pray for your own protection, and don't forget to pray for others as a way to wage war against the enemy.

Let nothing stop you from being a warrior princess in God's kingdom, friend. You will be rewarded for the battles in which you engage! Be bold in your faith, declaring that Jesus already has the victory secured for you. Move forward knowing that God will strengthen you and uphold you with his righteous right hand while you are warring (Isaiah 41:10). Fight back with praise in the day, and rest peacefully each night, knowing God is watching over you and protecting you.

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Thursday, May 12, 2022

God's Unlimited Mercy


By: Donna Bucher

Psalm 103 is an exhortation to bless the Lord for His mercy and all twenty-two verses contain indisputable reasons aiding us in our pursuit. Until I labored at memorizing it, the fullness of the psalm's claims on God's mercy never occurred to me. Lingering over each verse, God invited me to view my suffering past, present and future through each verse of this psalm, where I encountered the limitless mercy of our God.

Psalm 103:1-7

Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from detruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.


Unlimited Redemption

The limitless mercy of our God speaks redemption in the first seven verses of the psalm in powerful language. From the forgiveness of all iniquities, healing of all diseases, to providing every nutritious item needed so our youth and strength may be renewed. But God's lavish provision ceases not with the abundance of those treasures. He redeems our lives from destruction. Ultimately crowning or encircling us with lovingkindness and tender mercies.

Psalm 103:8-14

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.


A Forgiving Mercy

The limitless mercy of our God overflows towards us in lavish forgiveness in verses 8-14. Though He has every right to judge us severely for our sin and rebelliousness, He opts instead to show mercy.

David further deepens our illumination of the limitless mercy of our God, by equating the covenant God, Yahweh with a father who fully understands the weaknesses and limitations of his beloved children.

Psalm 103:15-22

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto to children's children;
To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
Bless the LORD , ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.


An Everlasting Mercy

Continuing his exhortation to bless the LORD for His mercy, David moves us toward the enduring nature of God's mercy by comparing the fleeting nature of man's life to the everlasting character of the limitless mercy of our God in verses 15-17.

Further cementing the notion for us, David points out God's throne and kingdom are established in the heavens, ruling over both heaven and earth. Evidenced by the exhortation for angels, heavenly hosts and all creation to bless the covenant God, Yahweh for the unsearchable riches of His everlasting mercy toward all.

For as much as the limitless mercy of our God greeted me throughout Psalm 103, another theme pursued me. God's covenant Name Yahweh is used throughout the psalm, making this an intimate encounter with the God of the universe. Both the exhortation to bless the LORD for His mercy and the revelation of the depth of that mercy rests in the covenant relationship God has with His people.

Find more encouragement and FREE Resources at Serenity in Suffering!


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