Category Archives: Daily Devotionals

Pray without ceasing?

By Emily Rose Massey

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV).

With the invention of smartphones and these (often anti) social media apps, we can now be distracted and ignore the reality in front of our faces at any given moment of every single day. Many have lost the art of communication because there really is no need to actually talk (aloud) to people anymore. It’s all about these black letters on white background. We text instead of call. We use emojis instead of an emotional face-to-face conversation. We post “insta” updates like engagements or the birth of a new baby instead of waiting to share that news in person, especially to close friends and family members. I strongly dislike finding out important things through Facebook first, don’t you?

We can’t even sit in a twenty-minute car ride without grabbing for that block of distraction. My husband knows how guilty I am of this one! And recently, I discovered that existing behind my phone’s keyboard hadn’t just affected my relationships with other people but with God. Are we so connected to our devices that we are neglecting to connect with the Lord? How much time am I spending on my phone? I must wonder if living a communicative existence of only black letters on a white background is a huge reason my prayer life seems like it is on life support sometimes. You can’t text God. He wants to hear from His children. 

Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, He tore the veil that separated sinful man from the Holy and Righteous One; Jesus made a way for me to approach God as my Father. What a beautifully life-changing truth! When the disciples asked Christ to teach them how to pray in Matthew 6, He told them to begin with “Our Father.” Prayer is personal because the Father longs to have a personal relationship with His children. He wants us to come to Him constantly with our concerns, burdens, joys, and requests. 

Prayer is personal because the Father longs to have a personal relationship with His children.

At the end of his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul gives a simple reminder to the Thessalonians (and us) to anchor themselves in joy and thankfulness and never stop praying:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV).

Just like all our relationships in life are affected by verbal communication, we are forming our relationship with the Lord with every conversation we have with Him, and we should constantly be lifting our gaze and voices to Him. This means that as we go about our day, we should remember to stay connected to the Vine (John 15), abiding in Him, knowing that we must remain dependent upon Him for all things, and to be thankful and content for His new mercies that are available to us every single day. The distractions are endless throughout the day, and it’s so easy for our eyes and minds to become focused on lesser, temporal things. This isn’t to say that we ignore all of our daily earthly responsibilities to sit in our “prayer closet,” but we seek God in the midst of responsibilities, remembering He is the One who gives us the grace to accomplish the tasks before us. 

His sovereign hand is always guiding us as His beautiful providence unfolds in our life, and we should be careful not to get caught up in our own plans and goals that we neglect coming to Him first. Constant communication with the Lord will build and strengthen our confidence and trust in the Lord as we learn to lean upon Him in all things. Rejoicing always and remaining thankful for another day to get a chance to get to know Him through His Word and glorify His name in all that we say and do. Let us ask the Lord to help us throw off the distractions that would keep us from that glorious partnership with Him.

1 Thess 5:16, inspirational image

Let’s pray:

Father God,
There can be such a blessing that comes from technology and being able to connect with other people all over the world in a moment. But this blessing can also become a major distraction from something so much better, staying connected to You. Lord, I repent for neglecting to keep our communication a top priority and allowing an electronic device to become a hindrance to the spiritual discipline of prayer. You call us to never cease from praying, meaning that we should be continually looking to You every moment of the day. I lift my gaze to You, knowing that is where my help comes from. I lift up my voice to You, knowing that You incline Your ear to me as Your child. Thank You, Jesus, for making a way for me to have a relationship with my Heavenly Father. May I never take that relationship for granted? Help me by Your grace and the power of the Spirit to remember to keep prayer a daily, moment-by-moment lifeline to my Heavenly Father.
In Jesus’ name, amen. 

What Does It Mean to be Living Stones?By Rachael Adams

Today’s Bible Verse: “As you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:4-8

Recently, my family and I spent a day at the lake. We pulled our boat up to the shore for our kids to explore, and before long, they started skipping rocks. As I watched them having fun and enjoying nature, my eyes started to wander the shoreline. I was drawn to the beauty and variety of rocks, layered and weathered over time. If only those rocks could talk, oh the stories they could tell.

Later, I decided to learn what the Bible says about stones and found that the Bible refers to them quite often. The majority of the mentions pertain to altars built for the Lord. An altar is a memorial built to symbolize a place where God met a person or a place to offer a sacrifice. As I studied this topic, I discovered three main kinds: an altar of sacrifice, an altar of remembrance, and an altar of faith.

An Altar of Sacrifice

In my opinion, the most notable example of an altar of sacrifice was when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his long-awaited son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham obeyed by making the journey, arranging the wood, and laying his bound son on top. However, at the last second God stopped Abraham and provided a ram in Isaac’s place.

This unfathomable act foreshadows God sacrificing His one and only son Jesus, the lamb of God. In the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus offered Himself on an altar in the shape of a cross. Because of His sacrifice, we no longer have to offer sacrifices as they did in the Old Testament. However, we can offer ourselves to the Lord as living sacrifices and offer the altar of our hearts. In our lives this looks like daily laying aside our own desires to follow Him, putting all our energy and resources at His disposal, and trusting Him to guide us.

1 Peter 2:4-5, inspirational image

An Altar of Remembrance

One of my favorite examples of an altar of remembrance is from Joshua. If you’ll recall his story, he was leading the Israelites into the Promised Land and they needed to cross the Jordan River. But they needed a miracle from the Lord to do it—the river was at flood stage, making the waters turbulent and impossible to navigate. The Lord showed up and helped them cross safely.

But before they crossed all the way over into the Promised Land, God wanted them to go back into the Jordan and gather 12 stones to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. He directed them to build a memorial to commemorate the miracle. The altar was to serve as a reminder for future generations to learn what God had done for them (Joshua 4).

Reading Joshua’s story convicts me when I think about how many times I have prayed for something and God has shown up and answered my prayer and I just moved on to the next prayer. I want to remember, but how often I forget how He has shown up and provided for me.

This prompts me to consider building metaphorical memorials in our hearts to thank Him for being present and answering our pleas. What would it look like to symbolically lay down a memorial for Him to remember His faithfulness? Could we build a figurative altar of remembrance to tell our children and our children’s children what He has done in our lives?

An Altar of Faith

I only found one altar of faith in my research and it was built by King David. Israel was experiencing a plague, so David built an altar to the Lord and prayed on behalf of the land. God answered his plea and the plague stopped (2 Samuel 24). What faith he had to build the altar first in expectation that God would meet their need. As a result of his active belief, God showed up and performed the miracle.

I’m inspired by this kind of faith. There are many areas in my life I need God to show up and act on my behalf. I’m guessing the same is true for you. Could God be asking us to lay down stones in active faith first, as David did, so He will act on our behalf?

Our Altars

Like those rocks along the shoreline of the lake, we are living stones—unique and weathered. Our stories of sacrifice, remembrance, and faith layer generation upon generation showcasing God’s presence and displaying the evidence of His work in our lives.

Peter writes, “As you come to Him, the living Stone, you are like living stones being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5).

With Christ as our Cornerstone, I pray our collective stones tell a beautiful story for His glory along the shorelines of this world. Together the altars we build to Him are also building a holy priesthood for Him, so more stones can be added to the beauty of the shoreline. If only those rocks could talk, oh the stories they could tell—God’s great story that we have the privilege to play a part. What a glorious sight to behold.


Rachael Adams is a writer, speaker, podcaster, and founder of The Love Offering. Her heart’s desire is to encourage women to realize their God-given purpose to live out our faith together by loving God, loving others, and learning to love ourselves. Rachael and her husband live in Kentucky with their two children. Connect with her online at rachaelkadams.com or @rachaeladamsauthor on social media.

A Prayer to Feel God’s Nearness

By Tiffany Curtis

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The LORD watches over all who love him” – Psalms 145:18-20

Like many people out there, I live far away from my hometown and blood relatives. I grew up in northeast Ohio and now live in central Virginia, making the distance between myself and my parents, grandparents, cousins, friends, etc. about an 8-hour drive. I have one sibling who also resides in Virginia, but we live just over two hours apart. The distance between us all makes intentional communication extremely important. If we don’t make an effort to reach out to each other, we could potentially go days, weeks, even months without ever speaking to each other.

Thankfully, the technology we have today makes it easy to stay in touch with people, no matter how close or far they are. If I want to talk to my parents, I can easily call or FaceTime them. If I want to check in on a friend, I just send them a text. 

The issue then lies in the moments where I don’t just want to call or text loved ones, but to be in their presence. To have that quality time and comforting feeling that we only get when we are physically in the same place. How great would it be if our technology went one step further, and we could not only call our loved ones, but transport them into our home, car, or coffee shop whenever we needed them. 

Though we may never have the ability to do this with our friends and family here on earth, we do have a Father who is able to meet us anywhere, anytime. All we have to do is call on Him, and He hears us and is present with us. Even when it doesn’t feel like He is near, He is always watching over us, ready to be right at our side when we call on Him. 

Psalm 145:18, inspirational image

But just because He is always near, doesn’t mean we should apathetically sit and wait for Him to show up. Every relationship needs communication in order to thrive, including our relationship with God. Just like with our loved ones, we must put forth the effort to intentionally communicate with the Father. If we stay in constant communication with our friends and family, shouldn’t it be an even bigger priority for us to have this same communication with our Savior? 

Make an intentional effort to speak to the Father today and every day. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate, well-thought-out message; talk to Him about your day, your struggles, your triumphs. God desires to draw near to us just as much as we desire to feel the comfort of His presence.

As Psalms 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him.” This is His promise to us – that when we call on Him, He is near. No 8-hour drive, no connecting flights, and not just through a cell phone screen. He is right here, right now. 

Call on Him today – He is already so much nearer than you think!

Let’s Pray:

Lord Jesus,
Thank you for hearing us when we call on your name! How reassuring it is to know that we serve a God who is all-powerful, yet still hears our faintest cries. Thank you that, even when we don’t realize it, you are near to those who love you. You want a relationship with us, which is an amazing thing!

Help us to be intentional when it comes to communicating with you. It is so easy to become apathetic or negligent with our prayer lives, but prayer is our lifeline to your presence! Let us fully realize the importance of regularly talking with you. You are our greatest source of comfort and strength.

Lord, help us to feel your nearness today. No matter where we are or what we’re doing, you have given us the ability to call on you and to feel your presence. Thank you for not being a distant God, but one who desires for us to draw closer and closer as you pursue our hearts.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Photo credit: ©SalemDesign/BethanyPyle

Tiffany Curtis is the Faith Editor of Crosswalk.com. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in Business from Liberty University. Her goal is to share Christ’s love and help others grow in their faith through her work as a writer and editor.

Forgiveness.

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”   1 John 3:18 NLT

Thoughts for Today
 Has someone you cared about mistreated you? Hurt you deeply? Even though years may have passed, you might still harbor resentment and anger. And that unforgiveness is most likely affecting other relationships—maybe even your whole outlook on life. Try as you might to forget the offense, you find yourself rewinding and reviewing again and again.

You will never be able to overcome the hurt of the past and move on freely with your life until you forgive the offender.

Consider this …
Determine to be active in your pursuit to forgive. Begin to change your thought pattern about the person. Ask God to help you see this individual with eyes of love, looking beyond fault and seeing need. When you speak about the person, speak of needs and strengths—not offenses and weaknesses. Pray for this person and, if possible, take action to do something nice for him or her.

Forgiveness is not easy, especially when the hurt is deep. It helps to remember what Jesus did for us. Even though we certainly didn’t deserve forgiveness, he died on the cross to pay the price for our sin. He offers us forgiveness as a gift. Let us be willing to offer others the gift of our forgiveness.

Prayer
Father, help me to be active in my pursuit to forgive. Help me to see this person through your eyes. Help me to speak and think good and not bad about him. Help me to offer the gift of my forgiveness. In Jesus’ name …

These thoughts were drawn from … Free to Grow: Overcoming Setbacks and Disappointments by Jimmy Ray Lee, D.Min. The purpose of this group study is to help people overcome disappointments and setbacks that have arrested or are presently hindering their emotional and spiritual development. The group study will help participants understand how to be set free so that they can grow and become all that God has designed them to be. Note: This curriculum was written especially for small groups and we encourage people to use it that way. However, it can also be used effectively as a personal study for individuals or couples.

Receive. Remain. Respond.

Receive. Remain. Respond.
By Meg Bucher

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” – 1 Peter 3:15 NIV

“Did you even stop to notice what I was doing before you barged into my space, here?” I abruptly asked my daughter mid-sentence.

We often share descriptive discussions, but when she bursts into my train of thought unannounced, I struggle to keep up with the conversation. I prefer to be an active participant in these épilogues, but she often launches right in without any warning. When I ask her to start over, confessing I wasn’t listening, hurt and frustration fill her sweet face. She simply does not understand why I can’t instantly drop everything to give her my full attention.

1 Peter 3:15 encourages believers to do the diligent work of developing our faith in Christ. We do this by allowing the Lord to capture our attention, and by leaving room in our lives to listen to Him as He speaks. Our relationship deepens as we pursue Him daily in His Word and through prayer. He will also place other people perfectly in our lives to speak Truth to, love, and challenge us to step up and respond to them with love. The firm foundation of our faith prepares us to react in the way this verse commands. When we follow Christ, it’s important to be approachable, and interruptible! Only He knows what each day will hold, and He faithfully prepares us to respond when we make time to receive, and remain in, His Truth.

prepared-answer-sq

Acts 16:14 tells the story of a woman named Lydia: “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” (ESV)

Lydia responded immediately, and was baptized alongside everyone in her house! Why does it sometimes take longer for some to respond than others? Moses doubted he could fulfill what God called him to do. Peter denied Jesus. Thomas doubted. Sometimes, we fall under the mistaken impression that God’s calling to serve, especially in ministry, only looks a certain way or is attached to a specific set of talents. We’re not responsible for the way others respond to God, but for following His unique call on our lives.

The prophet Ezekiel sat for several days after the LORD called him to prophecy. He had experienced the glory of God, and it has physically drained and spiritually challenged him! He needed time to sit and digest what God had revealed to and instructed him to do. Our response to God will reflect the One abiding in us when we open our ears to hear and receive His Word. When we remain with Him, allowing His presence, wisdom, and truth to envelope and adjust our perspective to align with His, we are better able to submit our gut response for one obedient and aligned to His will for our lives.

Jesus didn’t wait until we were sinless to die for us, because it never would have happened. He has never required our perfection in exchange for His perfect sacrifice.

We are all missionaries, purposed workers for the Kingdom of God. It’s important to let our minds marinate with their Creator. He may have a quick response prepared for us today, or a slow mulling over. However He chooses to work in our lives, His timing always trumps our gut response.

Receive His Truth. Remain in His presence. Respond in Love.

Take Comfort in the Day of Your Distress

By: Lindsay Tedder

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress: He cares for those who take refuge in Him.” Nahum 1:7

After a week of pure parenting torture, I hit my limit. It was a solid week of tantrums, defiance, meltdowns, hitting, kicking, screaming, refusing to sit in a time out, teachers telling me that his behavior was poor in school that day. I reached the precipice of Mount Overwhelmed, when I had to carry him out of Christmas play practice because he was sobbing in the front row of the church.

He had hit his limit.

The next day was the worst day of parenting I have ever experienced. Everything above happened in rapid-fire sequence in a matter of minutes. My husband and I tried everything to calm the chaos, literally everything. You name it, we did it and none of it worked. When my husband took our son for a “car ride” that we hoped would turn into a nap, I broke.

I began wandering around my house aimlessly. It was a disaster. I had to step over toys strewn all over the floor in order to clean up the art supplies and activities that were on every single surface. Puzzle pieces peppered the floor in the living room. It felt like the playroom had sneezed and my house was the tissue.

I had to capitalize on my alone time and make some semblance of normalcy in my home. As I meandered from room to room, I began to stare off in the distance. I knew I wasn’t ok. This week had done me in, and I had nothing left to give. I tried to do the housework. I tried to clean up the toys, but I just couldn’t do it. I felt as if I was about to walk out the front door and never return. I knew that was not possible. I knew I could never run away, despite how desperately I didn’t want to exist in that moment.

I grabbed my Bible. I begged God to reveal the truth to me. I pleaded and petitioned. With one hand on my Bible and the other on my tear-soaked face, I flipped open to the place where my finger had naturally gravitated. Nahum. Great, I thought. This should be really good, God. Can’t wait. Despite my sarcasm, I continued to read.

I will admit, Nahum has never been on my must-read list. In fact, I don’t recall ever reading it in the past. But that sorrowful day, Nahum became my sanity, my comfort. As my fingers spread across the words on the page, I felt like my Daddy was giving me a big squeezy hug. “The Lord is good.” Yes, He is. I know that. This is a truth that I can hang on to right now. He is a “stronghold in the day of distress.” Ok, Dad. You’re talking about today, my day of distress. “He cares for those who take refuge in Him.” Ahh…I see what ya did there, God. Today, I am taking refuge in You because it is my day of distress.

The conversation swirled through my mind. After reading and processing the words, my tears began to dry up, my shoulders began to feel lighter, and my mind was able to stop racing. The Lord, who is good, became my stronghold in that day of distress.

Did you know that Nahum in Hebrew means “comfort?” Wow. It is so incredible to me that my Father knew that Nahum’s words would reach me, thousands of years later, during my day of distress. As I reflect on this day and the way my Dad stepped in and showed me such limitless love and comfort, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude, but my heart can’t help but wonder why it took me getting to the place of debilitating desperation to take refuge in Him. What could my week have looked like if on day one, I turned to Him? Why do I wait? Why do I try to figure it out by myself first? The glory of God is that He wants me to seek Him FIRST. Not as a last resort. Not when the thought of abandoning the beautiful life He gave me is at the forefront of my brain. First.

Are you in a day of distress? Seek Him. Petition Him. Beg Him to reveal truth and comfort to you. And after He does, stop taking the weight of the world on your shoulders, girlfriend. Stop feeling the need to do it yourself first. We serve a God who tells us that isn’t necessary and it’s time we believe Him.

The Corinthian Creedby Shawn McEvoy

Be on your guard, stand firm in faith, be men of courage, be strong; do everything in love. –  1 Corinthians 16:13-14

********While this devotional is geared towards men, I felt like there were a some good thoughts for everyone, not just men.***********

Today’s verse hangs on a board on the wall of my son. But years ago, long before my son was even an inkling, I came across that verse as I was sending my own father one of many letters I composed over the years to share with him the importance of salvation, and the value of life in Christ. My sister, mother, and I came to know the Lord in 1980, but it took another 17 years, seven months, and 26 days worth of praying, heart softening, and brokenness for Dan McEvoy to surrender.

And it wasn’t this letter or the above verse that pushed him into it. No, this letter I was writing simply to tell him how blessed I was to have begun dating a woman (who eventually became my wife) for whom faith came first, and I was giving God all the glory and credit and all that good stuff, and probably telling him how God delights in blessing those who trust in Him.

With the letter I enclosed a quick-and-dirty page of graphic art involving the aforementioned verse from Corinthians in some fancy font, with a clip-art picture of a sailboat, kind of as a visual aid to my letter, indicating, I suppose, what it was like for the man of God to live in this world under the Captaincy of Christ.

Well, so. After he died in 2001, I found that letter and piece of “art” in my father’s desk, looking as if it had been read and glanced at often. Something in me knew then that if I were ever to have a son, I’d commit to raising him to manhood under these same five principles:

  • Be on your guard. Be ready, be alert. Expect God to be involved, expect Satan to attack. Let the wonder of creation still catch your eye.
  • Stand firm in faith. Be unmoved because you know intimately that of which you believe in. Become biblically literate.
  • Be a man of courage. Fear is not from God (2 Timothy 1:7), so go your way boldly. The worst that can happen – even death – still ends in victory and glory for the Christian.
  • Be strong. Physically, yes, let’s take care of ourselves, and present our bodies as holy. But remember that the Lord is the strength of the strong (Ephesians 6:10), and that “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
  • Do everything in love. Here’s your motivation, because he that doesn’t love doesn’t know God (1 John 4:8), and the world shall know you by your love (John 13:35).

So when Jordan was born, and we had the dedication service at our church, that’s the verse we selected to have read. When he was about two-and-a-half, he started reciting it by memory and making up arm/hand motions to go with it. We call it our “Man-Creed.” 

But here’s the secret: these couple verses from the closing of Paul’s first letter to Corinth aren’t first-and-foremost for Jordan… they’re for me.

When I first realized that, it caught me, ironically enough, “off my guard.” I had been more than happy to tell my own father how to “be a man,” and was perfectly willing to raise my son to be one according to the Word. How, I wonder, did I intend to do so without living out the credo, making it my own?

The Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible comments upon the 1 Corinthians passage thusly: “[Paul] shows that they ought to make their hopes of salvation to depend not on Apollos or any other teacher; that it rests with themselves.” Yes, and on how I am willing to live, or better, whether I am willing to let my life be of greater worth than my words.

I don’t know about the other guys out there, but it definitely helps me to have something to live by, to recite, to write on my heart, ponder the meaning of, and connect to other scriptures as I strive to be a man after God’s own heart. And it doesn’t hurt that this creed I now try to follow is affecting its third generation in my family.

The Easy Way To Rest When You’re Exhausted

by: Asheritah Ciuciu

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

I eyed the bright numbers on the clock telling me I’d be lucky to get four hours of sleep that night. Hitting “send” on my paper, I stumbled into bed, murmuring, “Once I graduate, then I’ll be able to rest.”

But over the years that followed, that midnight promise morphed to match new seasons:

“Once I meet this work deadline, then I’ll be able to rest.”
“Once our baby sleeps through the night, then I’ll be able to rest.”
“Once the children are in school, then I’ll be able to rest.”

Those refrains pushed me out of bed every morning and kept me working late into the night, until one day I found myself at our kitchen table, head in my hands and sobbing the words “I can’t do this anymore.”

I was exhausted.

And from talking with older women, I knew they were repeating the same worn refrain, merely aged to match their own challenges:

“Once we pay off the mortgage …”
“Once the kids leave for college …”
“Once we retire from our jobs …”

Women of all ages and stages are chasing rest, but that coveted rest eludes us all.

In a moment of clarity, I realized that rest won’t arrive on the other side of “someday” because, no matter how much we get done, there’s always more left to do.

Wiping my tears, I cried out: “God, I need You. I can’t do this anymore.” And in His kindness, God reminded me that we’re not the first generation to struggle with such things, nor are we alone.

In fact, 2,000 years ago, Jesus looked at a crowd of women and men just as exhausted as you and me, and He said:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).

Jesus doesn’t tell us to wake up early and go to bed late in order to hustle our way into His Kingdom. Quite the opposite. He invites us to lay down our heavy burdens and find rest in Him.

What does that look like in real life? I developed an easy-to-remember R.E.S.T. acronym to guide me toward Jesus when I feel overwhelmed, and you can use it too:

  • R: Recite God’s goodness. The next time we find ourselves hustling, let’s pause to praise God for who He is and what He’s already doing (see Psalm 103:1-2). What can we thank Him for? Let’s start there.
  • E: Express your neediness. Then we get honest with God about our struggles and sins, casting our burdens on Him because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7)
  • S: Seek His stillness. Next, we take time to “be still, and know” that He is God (Psalm 46:10a, ESV). We quiet our hearts to listen to His still, small voice. Is there anything He wants to say to us? Are there any burdens or to-dos He’s asking us to lay down?
  • T: Trust His faithfulness. Finally, we declare our confidence that our good God, who began a good work in us, will be faithful to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)

We don’t have to wait for that elusive “someday” to experience God’s rest. The gentle and humble Jesus opens wide His arms, and He says, “Come.” Today, just as you are, come.

Is God Your Source of Encouragement?

By Victoria Riollano

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

En·cour·age- to give support, confidence, or hope to someone.

Many of us are looking to be encouraged or supported.

We look to family.
We look to pastors.
We look to our friends.
We look to self-help books.
We look to influencers.

We look to man to give us that boost that will change our lives and perspective. However, at some point your friend will decline your call, your books will get lost, and your pastor will disappoint. This is the sad reality of life. Eventually, you will have to dig deep and find your encouragement from someone who cannot fail you… EVER!

In 2017, I learned very quickly that our source of encouragement must come from the Lord. The year started off seemingly normal. However, just three weeks in, my father-in-law passed away. Following this, my husband became severely ill as well. Thus, the person who was typically my source of encouragement was grieving and in need of physical and emotional support. Even more so, many of my personal relationships with friends had started to fade. I found myself in need of someone who could encourage me. Being a military spouse far away from home only added to this frustration of needing someone to stand alongside me. Amid all the trials, I was isolated and had very little strength to continue. 

It was during this time of my life, I realized how much I relied on other people to be my source of hope and encouragement. When all was stripped away, and I had no family, friends, or the support of my husband, I realized how I had not leaned on God as much I had pretended to for so many years. This took me on a journey of asking, “What would it look like to depend on God for my encouragement?” In other words, what would happen if God was the source of my hope and joy? I learned day by day that if I could shift my perspective on who God is and allow Him to be what keeps me going, I could get through the most difficult times of my life.

Let’s reconsider the word encourage. Encourage…or IN-courage! The truth is when someone “encourages you” they are really giving you that extra needed push to walk “in courage.” They are helping you to be fearless and keep going when you want to give up. In order to move forward and be successful, you have to learn that true encouragement comes from withIN! This is where God comes in to shake things up.

He says… Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

In other words, your courage comes from knowing that He will never leave you or forsake you. Your courage comes from knowing that everything that happens will work out in the end (Romans 8:28). YOUR courage comes from knowing that no matter what you are going through the Lord has a plan (Jeremiah 29:11). Your inner courage comes from knowing that the Lord is on your side.

When we have this viewpoint, we can walk confidently in any situation. We can know full well that even when everyone and everything fails, you serve a God who sees you and who has a plan. Although God has created us to be in a community, we recognize that others do not dictate our hope. Our friends now become a resource, not our source. God is the source of our encouragement. The bible is now your personal love letter and instruction book for the midst of every trial.

It took the hardest time of my life to realize this important aspect of who God MUST be in my life. However, in learning to trust God and look Him above all else, I gained such confidence. Even more so, I was able to help my husband through his low times. The key, however, is I was able to direct Him to the Lord versus just being dependent on me. I was able to remind him that his ability to get through those hard moments will be found in God’s presence. Thus, looking to the Lord for courage and directing others to do so, puts the ball in God’s court to bring peace and support. 

Truly, there is nothing more refreshing than having God lift you up! May you be encouraged in the Lord.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

A Prayer to Have Faith in Difficult Moments

 By Victoria Riollano

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going – Hebrews 11:8

The lights started to flicker. 

Before long, the slight flickering turned into a multi-county power outage. On a chilly day in January, what started off as a small snowstorm turned into a family emergency. The first day with no power, cell services down, and or heat source was uncomfortable, to say the least. That night, my family bundled in layers and prayed that we would soon get relief from the 30-degree house. Yet, with the estimated time for power restoration being a week and downed trees covering the streets, it was certain we needed to find a place of refuge quickly. 

The next day, with the help of many neighbors, we managed to get our 13-passenger van out of our icy snow-trapped home. With no family in sight and all our friends in the same predicament, we knew we had to go, but certainly didn’t know where. All we knew was that the Lord prompted us to leave quickly to keep everyone from getting very sick. With little money and no hotel in sight, we simply drove away and trusted in the Lord.

As we traveled for hours in traffic and icy roads, I was reminded of the story of Abraham. In Genesis 12, Lord speaks to Abraham and says, “Leave your land and go to a place I will show you.” I can only imagine how unsettling it was to pick up and suddenly go. Leaving his place of comfort and having no real direction, Abraham had to trust God with every aspect of his journey. He had to trust him for the provision. He had to trust him for protection. Abraham was a perfect example of walking and changing his entire life by faith! Hebrews 11:8 says it like this,

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (NIV).

God is our refuge, inspirational image

Today, the Lord is searching for those who, like Abraham, will make a choice to follow when it’s not easy. Abraham’s obedience set the platform for many to be blessed. I believe we’ve all found ourselves in this position of having to trust God in a big way. Maybe the Lord was leading you to a new job or out of a toxic relationship? Perhaps, He asked you to go back to school or start a business. In these moments, we seem to have more questions than answers. Do we leave our place of comfort or step out on faith? Do we risk failing or trust the Lord for success? I want to encourage you with this: the Lord will never lead you somewhere to leave you stranded! There will be many times when we won’t know all the details. Yet, there is comfort in knowing that He does. We can walk in pure confidence that He will take care of us, no matter what the circumstance. 

That wintery week taught was a powerful lesson. Though the power outage was unexpected for us, it wasn’t for God. As expected, He took care of everything. He helped us to get to the only available hotel within 50 miles. He sent family, members, and church members who willingly sent money to us, without being asked. When it was all over, every day of the hotel was paid, the food for our family of nine was covered. Even the gas money needed was provided. Once again, the Lord showed that we could trust Him for our every need. Certainly, we can trust Him as we go through the unforeseen trials and the unknown places. Like Abraham, may we be brave and move when He tells us, even when we don’t know all details.

Dear Lord, 

I thank you that you never leave me or forsake me. I ask that you always remind me of your ability to protect, comfort, and lead me. Thank you for going before me in every scenario. Lord, I ask that you help me to trust you in difficult situations. Teach me to have faith when I feel out of control. I ask that you give me courage and help me to keep my eyes on you. You are my safe place and my refuge.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.