Sunday, March 26, 2023

When You Lose Something Precious

 By:Paula Short

"So Saul got up from the ground, but although his eyes were open, he could see nothing. Leading him by the hand, his companions brought him into Damascus." Acts 9:8—NET

Saul was traveling to Damascus, fixing to persecute Christians. He thought he was doing the right thing at the time.

But while he was on this venture with his companions, without warning, there came a light so bright and blinding that each man fell to his knees straight away.

As Saul coughed and sputtered from  breathing in the dust of the ground, he heard a loud voice, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

He asked who he was speaking to, and the same voice replied. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

But as Saul scrambles to his feet, he has a sickening realization. He can't see anything. It's dark— everything! He began to feel around, his stomach lurching. 

His companions took Saul by the hand and led him to Damascus. After three days of fasting and prayer, a man arrived at the house where Saul was. He laid his hands on Saul and prayed for him.

After the prayer, Saul opens his eyes and can see again. How different the world must have looked to him! Suddenly, he could see things vividly that he never had before.

I've come to see that sometimes, God takes things from our lives so we can clearly see Him. Maybe God has taken your relationship with a significant other, friend, family member, job, or home. Rest assured, God has not taken these things from you to be cruel—He's taken them because He longs for you to rely on Him to show you His faithful love.

Also, be cautious of people who insist you must have a particular conversion experience. At the center of Paul's experience was Jesus. How awesome is that!? The right way to come to faith in Jesus is whatever way God brings you. Just like he did for Paul.

Conversions come from a personal encounter with Jesus, leading to a new relationship and life in him. Faith in Jesus brings great blessings, but sometimes suffering too. God calls us to commitment, not comfort. He promises to be with us through suffering and hardship, not to spare us from them. Let Jesus be the center of your experience.

Let's Reflect

Is there anything in your life that prevents you from seeing God clearly?

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Trust His Plan

By: Grace Metzger

 For I know the plans I have for you”
—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans
for your well-being, not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 CSB

When I was a little girl that verse was spoken over me more times than I can count. My parents taught me this verse to remind me that God still had a plan for my life despite the pain I had to go through. I loved this verse and have had it memorized for as long as I can remember. However I don’t believe I ever truly took this verse to my heart. I didn’t realize that memorizing a verse is very different then believing and living a verse out.

Trust His Plan #trust #faith #Jeremiah2911

Because I didn’t truly believe in this verse when tough times came, I was quick to become overwhelmed and disappointed in my situation. I would get confused on why God was allowing this to happen. This also caused anger and disappointment in myself for having these emotions. Being angry at God or being disappointed in Him is not something that is often talked about in Christian communities. I felt I was the worst person ever for feeling like this towards God. But despite feeling like this, I didn’t know how I could begin trusting in God while I was going through these hard times.

Then I remember the story of Moses, more specifically, the part when he was still a little baby. Before his mother gave birth to Moses, the Pharaoh decreed for all baby boys to be killed. Moses' mother was able hid and protect him for three months but sadly, she was unable to protect her baby any longer. Because of this, she was forced to place her baby in a basket and let him float away. Place yourself in this mother’s shoes for a second, imagine the fear she must have had not only while pregnant but after she gave birth as well. She knew her baby’s life was in danger and she was helpless to protect him. If I was in her place I would have been angry and heartbroken having to go through this. I probably would have been yelling and screaming at God asking how He could allow me to go through this.

If you’ve read the story of Moses you know that this is not the end of his story, but simply the beginning. Moses went on to do many great things in God’s name; freeing the Israelites, receiving the Ten Commandments, and many more. Despite everything he went through in his younger years God used him and gave him a wonderful life. Moses was given a wonderful testimony.

So what does this story show us? Well God didn’t only do this for Moses. God is still using us just like this! Like we read earlier in Jeremiah, God has a plan for our life. This plan is to prosper us not to harm us. A plan to give us hope and a future! We know that even if we are in a dark moment right now, God is still in control and His plans for us are good.

For His anger lasts only a moment,
but His favor, a lifetime.
Weeping may stay overnight,
but there is joy in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 CSB

Our situations may be hard right now. But we can take heart that joy is coming! When I am having a hard time trusting in God’s, plan I open my Bible to that verse. Our problems aren’t going to last forever, but God and His love will. This verse is a great reminder that God’s plan for our life isn’t the weeping and mourning but rather the joy and hope.

My encouragement this week is whenever you are having trouble trusting that God’s plan for your life is good, read Psalms 30:5. Read it over, and over, and over again until you are able to take it to heart, even if that means reading it 50 times. Meditate on this verse and pray that God helps you trust in His plan.

Discussion questions:
1.  Has there been a time in you life where you’ve had trouble trusting in God’s plan for you?
2. What verse help you when you’re struggling with trusting His plan?

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Who Do You Fear?


By: Donna Bucher

This past week as I read through the gospel account of Jesus' last week on earth and His subsequent betrayal, trial, death, burial and resurrection, I was struck with a different kind of fear: The Fear of Man.

In all four Gospels, we read about the Apostle Peter's denial of Christ after Jesus’ arrest. Having read the account many times over the years, I often wondered how Peter, one of Christ's closest friends on earth, could have denied and forsaken Him.


But this time, the answer to that question became crystal clear: He feared man.

This thought caught me off guard because after all, Peter traveled with Christ, preached in His name, healed in His name; people knew he was a disciple of Christ.

Why attempt to deny his association after Christ's arrest?

Jesus plainly told His disciples what was to come, that He would be arrested, and delivered up to death all in fulfillment of prophecy.

What drove Peter's sudden change of loyalties?

Fear of man or "people pleasing" is a well-worn scheme of satan. Jesus warned Peter that satan would "sift him as wheat", trying his faith in Luke 22:31-32.

We all have a deep-rooted weakness for the praise and approval of others. Satan is a master at exploiting this little weakness.


This story of Peter's denial boasts a warning for us, too, for God hates people pleasing.


In Galatians1:10, the Apostle Paul addresses this issue and reminds us we cannot please God AND man.


In John12:37-44, Jesus rebukes the Jews for their unbelief, because they feared man, choosing the praise of men over the praise of God, thus blinding their eyes to the true Messiah.

So how do we defeat the fear of man and toxic desire to please people?

First and foremost, be honest with yourself and God regarding your tendency to "fear" man by seeking to please people to receive praise and acceptance.

Confess this sinful weakness to God and allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen you against this temptation.

 Secondly, consider the following steps for properly "fearing" God and protect yourself from this subtle sin.


" And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."

Colossians 3:23-24

Care More About What God Thinks. Instead of fearing the disappointment and disapproval of others, consider your relationship with God as His child. What will please or disappoint Him? 

Do What God Says to Do. People pleasers seek to do the will of others, if you fear God, you seek to do His will. Which behavior will keep you close to Him, help you become more like Him, serve Him?

Maintain Your Integrity. People pleasing is a life of duplicity, altering your demeanor, speech or actions before certain people to "fit in". People pleasing sacrifices sincerity, honesty and integrity. Choose instead to be authentic.

Obey God Publicly and Secretly. People pleasing can lure us into using God only to gain the attention of those we wish to impress. We seek to "appear" godly on social media, at work or with certain groups of people. Only to forsake God in our secret life. In the same way we need to be authentic with others we need to be authentic with God.

Value God's Reward Over Man's Empty Praise. Instead of seeking praise and applause for your efforts from men, let your motivation be to serve God with your whole heart. God will not withhold any good gift from those who live to please Him.

Seeking to please God does not release us from loving people. Jesus gave us the perfect guideline in Matthew22:37-39: ultimately, we love God with our whole being and others as we would ourselves. Loving God with our whole hearts, seeking to please Him, while loving people sacrificially, frees us from the driving need for the approval of others or fearing their rejection.

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

Reflection Questions:

In what ways do you fear man, looking for acceptance from others instead of God?

What changes can you make today to change your people pleasing ways?

Find more encouragement and FREE Resources at Serenity in Suffering!


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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

How Can We Pray For You?

By: Jenifer Metzger

Carry one another’s burdens; in this
way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2CSB

Everywhere you look, you see someone hurting. Someone dealing with health issues. Someone facing a broken relationship. Someone grieving. Someone battling an addiction. Someone lonely. Someone overwhelmed. The list goes on and on and on. People are hurting.

We are called by God to carry each other's burdens. Not in a way that they become our burdens. Just as it is easier for two people to carry something large and heavy as it distributes the weight and makes carrying the item easier, carrying each other's burdens can lighten the heavy load someone carries. We do this by lifting people to God. By being a shoulder to cry on or helping hand. And by showing love and compassion.

Sometimes, the someone who is hurting is us. We are facing a multitude of pain ourselves and desperately want someone to carry our burden. To hold our hand and lift us to God.

Today we are going to do just that.

How Can We Pray For You? #prayer #pray #prayingwoman #prayingwomen #wheretwoorthreearegathered

Again, truly I tell you, if two of you on earth
agree about any matter that you pray for, it
will be done for you by My Father in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered together
in My name, I am there among them.
Matthew 18:19-20 CSB

Comment with a prayer request you have. You can share as little detail or as much detail as you feel comfortable. You don't need to share any specifics or names you are not comfortable sharing. You can even comment "Unspoken." God knows already.

Next, go through the comments of prayer requests and lift them to God. We may not be two or three gathered together in person, but if we are two or three gathered in His name, that is what matters! Lets link arms virtually and lift the needs of others to Heaven and believe God to move on their behalf.

Now, let's pray.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Joy in the Hard Times

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo courtesy of: Preslie Hirsch

"The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

~Nehemiah 8:10b

I have a certain little cream-colored coffee mug that I just love. It has the word "Joy" forged on it in a beautiful golden script and, actually, that little mug had a little chip on the rim of it the day I bought it a few years back during the annual after-Christmas sale at Hobby Lobby. Call me crazy, but I didn’t think $1 was too much to spend for that adorable mug that just made me happy - even with its imperfection. 

Little did I know when I bought it in December of 2019 all that that little mug would see me through in the following few years. Little did I know that that little chipped mug would serve as one of the most impactful lessons and reminders during the craziness of 2020 and beyond.

I could not have guessed that day in Hobby Lobby just what all we as a country would soon be in for, nor could I have grasped just how appropriate its message and chip really would be.

Because what it has taught me as my coffee companion on many a morning since, during quarantine and then during my husband's 7 month deployment is that sometimes life is a little beat up, sometimes we are a little chipped along the way. But we can still have joy. Conversely, joy isn’t always a case of everything moving along perfectly, just as we would want it to. Sometimes joy is found not in spite of, but in the midst of, really hard seasons of life.

That can be hard to grasp sometimes, but all those years ago I believe the Lord went before me and provided me on the Christmas aisle of Hobby Lobby with a lesson I would need even before I would need it when He brought this lovely though imperfect mug across my path on that cold December day! 

Today, friend, may you find joy even now, even in the midst of whatever you may be going through in this season. The joy of the Lord really can be your strength. 💕

Reflection Questions:

1) What are you going through right now? Have you been experiencing joy in the midst of it?

2) What do you need to get alone and talk to God about in this season? How can you pour your heart out to Him and have His joy be your strength?

3) What could you do to tangibly look for His joy in your everyday moments? Maybe consider started a daily gratitude list to help you chronicle His blessings in your everyday life.