When I was a teenager, I visited a bottle company that made glass bottles. One of the fascinating facts I discovered is that glass is made by melting sand. Now don’t expect to go to the beach and start a glass company. The temperature of the furnace reaches as hot as 3090 degrees Fahrenheit!
During our tour, we were shown the glowing furnace where the sand was melted. Our guide told us that the furnace never stops burning. In order to enter in, a special suit must be worn for maintenance of the furnace.
Let’s switch gears. Have you ever been in your own furnace? A real life one when your circumstances don’t make sense and you feel afraid? As Christians, we should expect them. We face small ones off and on throughout life; and sometimes, we may find ourselves in a much bigger one. Listen to what the Psalmist said about them:
Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all (Psalm 34:19).
Don’t be surprised if you find yourselves surrounded by flames. Afflictions are “many” to those who walk righteously. The Christian never suffers in vain. There is purpose and wisdom behind each one. We read:
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another” (Isaiah 48:10-11).
Who does the refining? God. For what purpose? His own sake, so that we are humbled and made holy. The furnace has a way of conforming us to the image of Christ. The goal of every believer.
Nevertheless, the furnace of the Christian is a scary place to be. The flames threaten to overpower, consume, devour and snuff the life out of us. When we are in the midst of these, they seem so powerful and mighty. They seem to have authority over us.
We may even wonder why God would allow His little lambs to experience such intense troubles. Or, where is God in the midst of these flames? We’re filled with all the “what ifs?” What if the flame devours? What if it cripples? Or worse, what if it never ends? The flames of the furnace feel like a big ugly giant holding us captive. But despite our fears in the flames, do you know that we are not to fear? Sounds incomprehensible, huh? How and why must we remain calm in such difficulties?
I’ll tell you why and perhaps it will be the key to showing you how. The flames cannot touch God’s beloved. Sure they can rage, and that, they do mighty well. They will spit and pop their threats, attempting to provoke fear. They will even stare us down with their boasting lies about what they are going to do with us. But, they cannot touch us with even the heat of its furry.
Read Isaiah 43:2, …when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
So next time you find yourself in a fiery trial, know that not one of those flames that loom over you will come to pass concerning you. Find God’s promises in the Word, and douse the flames by the truth of God’s word concerning you. And remember, not a hair will be singed.
I am not a 365-daily devotional enthusiast. They always seem to cut short right when it begins to get good, obviously because of the limited one page space. I’m an avid reader so I like long meaty, indepth topics.
However, there is one devotional worth mentioning. I discovered it two-and-a-half years ago, called Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman. I ordered it on a whim and haven’t put it down since. If you want encouragement for your daily life, get this devotional. I find myself reading more than the allotted day.
One of my favorites is December 1. You can see a portion of it below:
A prominent believer once told of his mother, who was a very anxious and troubled Christian. He would often talk with her for hours, trying to convince her of the sinfulness of worrying, but to no avail…Then one morning his mother came to breakfast with a smile adorning her face. He asked her what had happened, and she began describing a dream she had in the night. In her dream, she was walking along a highway with a large crowd of people, all of whom seemed very tired and burdened. The people were all carrying little black bundles, and she noticed that more bundles were dropped, the people stooped down to pick them up and carry them. Like everyone else in her dream, she also carried her needless load, being weighted down with the Devil’s bundles. After a while, she looked up and saw a Man whose face was loving and bright as He moved through the crowd, comforting the people. Finally, He came to her, and she realized it was her Savior…He smiled sadly and said, “My dear child, these bundles you carry are not from me, and you have no need of them. They are the Devil’s burdens, and they are wearing out your life. You need to drop them and simply refuse to touch them with even one of your fingers. Then you will find your path easy, and you will feel as if ‘I carried you on eagles’ wings’ (Ex. 19:4).”
Does this describe you? I know it has me. This is a wonderful reminder that if we are weighted (stressed, worrying, fretting, anxious) about anything in our lives, we have picked up a bundle that we were never meant to carry.
Lord, forgive us for not resting in Your strength. For it’s only when we let go that we will find rest, in You.
I’ll admit it. I struggle with trust. Trusting God with every single miniscule area of my life. Not because God isn’t who the Bible describes Him: Faithful, constant, enduring. Rather it’s my own faithlessness that troubles me.
I recently created a Bible Study Our Faithful Faithful God, which we discover God’s faithfulness to His people Israel, despite their lack of, and how it correlates with our lives.
Do you struggle with trusting God? At all times? Declaring God’s faithfulness is easy when life is bliss. When nothing threatens our peace. Our health is good. Our children are well. When everything is peachy pie.
But what about when, like the disciples, your boat is being tossed by the stormy waves and the cold salty sea is pouring into it? The 12 discovered a new unfamiliar way of handling storms-the real ones and the ones life throws at us.
Matthew 8 tells of the disciples following Jesus into a nearby boat. When they were some ways out, the peace they were enjoying at being with Jesus, flew the coop. A great storm arose and tossed their boat. The waves crashed into the boat as it tossed back and forth on the sea. They were terrified!
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt helpless and out of control? The results of whatever you are facing have nothing to do with you manipulating the outcome? You’ve done all you can do and there’s nothing left? All you can do is throw your hands up and see what the outcome is. These are some of the hardest trying times in our lives. When we are on the boat, in the middle of the sea, in a great storm, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
You know the root of the disciples’ tormenting fear, and of ours in these moments. The fact they were no longer in control. There was nothing they could do to stop the raging.
So, what was Jesus doing in all this commotion? Matthew 8:24 says, “Jesus was asleep.” Isn’t that comforting? It is for me, and let me tell you why. If my Savior was afraid of such a furious storm, if He coward in the corner, or fretted about the destiny of His life and the disciples, it would prove He was just a weak simple man. No different from you and me.
But because He slept, proving He was not touched by the threat of the storm, He truly is my Savior. If He can face the storms, without fear, then we too can face the storms in our own lives, because He is with us.
Oh, but it gets better. Listen to his response to the disciples, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (v. 26). Jesus was apparently neither of these. He questions them in a way that suggests they should not be either.
There are two conclusions we derive from His response here:
1) Question One: When Jesus asked, “Why the fear?” We come to understand that the storm was not worth fearing. The great wind that tossed the boat. The water that was flooding in. None of it was worthy of worry.
The disciples obviously saw these as threats upon their lives. Who wouldn’t? (Other than Jesus of course) Ultimately they were fearing the end result: death.
They were pleading with Jesus to save them. Didn’t He care about their lives? Why was He sleeping at a time like this? Not even the threat of death was to be feared.
Conclusion: Jesus simply wasn’t moved; therefore, any circumstance we face in life, is never means to fear.
2) Question Two: Jesus finished the question up with, “O you of little faith?”
Where did they fail to place their focus? God, of course. The One who holds our days in His hands. The One who knows everything that is to come in our lives and only allows what He sees is needed.
Their fearful response reflected the focus of their faith. It was in their own power to save, and they knew they couldn’t do anything about it now.
Conclusion: There is a rest that comes when we put our faith/trust in God alone.
So the next time you find yourselves on a boat, in the middle of the sea, and a raging storm at your back, rest, you have nothing to fear.
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7).
Did you know the human heart pumps blood to every cell of the body in under 60 seconds? If the heart is removed from the body, it will continue to beat, if provided sufficient oxygen. The heart has long been seen as an important organ of the body.
In ancient Egypt, mummification required removing the organs of the body; However, the heart was either placed back into the body or into a vessel nearby. The heart is seen as the hub of emotions. It's how we experience life-the good and the bad.
With this said, it's important we keep guard over it. It's the place that we hide our innermost thoughts, the window God sees our true motives from, and the place that everything that comes out of our mouth or shown in our conduct stems from. We read, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” (Proverbs 23:7).
Our outward conduct is the expression of the heart. Have you ever not liked someone you just met based on unjustifiable feelings? You barely know them but you've already decided, for whatever reason, you'd rather not get to know them any further. There's something in our heart that is not right. Perhaps this person makes us feel insecure, unimportant, maybe they have strengths you wished you had. It's nothing they've done, but rather the imbalance in our own heart.
As a result, more times than none, we will focus on the shortcomings we see in the other person, rather than look at the wrong in our own.
It's important we keep check of our own heart. I've been trying to engrave in my children, during their tattling campaigns, to stop and look what they are doing wrong. Instead of coming to me over every little problem, (like when my 6-year-old feels I need to know every time his sister looks at him) I direct my children to examine what they can do to change themselves and therefore nip the problem in the bud. Stop focusing on the other person is my point.
"Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life" (Proverbs 4:23). This verse stresses the extreme importance of our attentiveness to our heart. ALL DILIGENCE. The writer knows that if our heart is in the right place, the rest of us will be in the right place too.
Oh Lord help us to examine ourselves. Show us areas that need change that we cannot see in ourselves.
In the allegory, Pilgrim's Progress, Christian and his fellow traveler Hopeful, are captured by Giant Despair and thrown into his dungeon at Doubting Castle. They lay for four days and night without food or water. When Giant Despair visits, he beats them severely. The giant urges the travelers to end their pain by ending their own lives, but the giant’s advice is not taken.
The giant is enraged and threatens them again, which is too much for Christian. His companion, Hopeful, points out to Christian the previous troubles he had faced and how he made it through each one. The two pray through the night. At daybreak, Christian exclaims, “What a fool am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty? I have a key in my bosom called Promise that will (I am persuaded) open and lock in Doubting Castle.”
The story goes on, “That’s good news,” says Hopeful. “Good brother, pluck it out of bosom and try.” The key fits perfectly and releases the two from Giant Despair’s imprisonment.
Despair often feels like a giant. A big, ruthless, powerful giant that clutches its victims feeling like you will never escape. Despair threatens nothing will change about your circumstance. Despair is synonyms with depression, despondency, hopelessness, and gives the impression there is no light. It feels like a blanket over your spirit, preventing it from breathing freely. Its grip can be tight.
Do you know what despairs goal in our life is? To cause us to lose hope. If our hope is gone, we have nothing to live for. Nothing to hope in. No promise for the future. No expectation for our desperate situation.
Despair whispers in our ears that God has failed us.
He doesn’t care.
Just give up.
Let go of all hope.
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)
What things have you been praying about and you’re still waiting to be fulfilled? We expect results now. If things don’t change right away, doubt sets in. We ask, “God, where are you?” “Don’t you hear my prayers?” So we stop praying. Stop hoping. Stop expecting.
We're like Christian, imprisoned by our own disbelief. Shackled by our own doubts, while all along, we hold the key to freedom in our own pocket.
When Christian finally pulled the key out of his pocket, Hopeful responded, “That’s good news.” You see, the key Christian held were the promises of God. The truth of God’s word. The hope we cling tightly to as we travel to the Celestial City.
Romans 5:5 says, “Now hope does not disappoint.” When despair tries to imprison, we need to remember, our hope…continual…patient...enduring…hope, will never disappoint us. We may have to wait, for God’s ways are not ours, but the outcome will satisfy. We will not be left standing abandoned or confused, like one who puts their trust in an idol or in man’s strength. We serve a living God who hears and answers prayers, who does not put to shame those who faithfully wait for Him.
So, dear Christian, keep your eyes straight ahead. Trusting and hoping in the God who is alive and oversees every portion of your life. He has not forgotten. He hears every prayer. He sees every tear. Hold tightly to His promises. He will not disappoint you.
Are you a good waiter? Not the restaurant type. But the kind that patiently goes with the flow, when things aren’t flowing quickly enough. I remember being pregnant with my first child, and thinking will she ever get here?! I had a baby inside me and I wanted to hold her…now! Nine months seemed like an eternity. Around that time, I found out that an elephant’s gestational time is 22-months. That’s almost two years! Now that’s a long wait.
I think we can all agree that waiting is no fun. But waiting is obviously a part of human existence we cannot get away from. I like to think of it as a tool used to shape us into better people, so much so, God seems to use that particular tool quite a bit. I’ve learned in life, anything good takes time. It’s never a smooth, quick process.
Let’s narrow the focus to waiting on God. I touched a little bit on this subject in a previous post. But lately, this subject has been on the forefront of my mind. I’ve been reading a book about the subject by Andrew Murray, Waiting on God. In one chapter Andrew suggests looking at nature to understand how God works. Every living thing is maintained by God Himself. The birds, fish, young lions, all wait upon God and are taken care of in due season. We are no different. We are God’s creation and must also wait upon Him for every need. We only need to wait for Him. Andrew says, “God only asks of us to yield, to consent, to wait upon Him, and He will do it all.”
I love the fact, “He will do it all.” I would underline “all” 100 times if I could. Oh how we underestimate God’s ability to do so many things in our lives or the lives of those we love. If we were completely honest, we don’t think He will act. Whether it’s because we think He doesn’t care, or the situation seems so far gone that nothing can help. We simply don’t believe, so what do we do? We begin to act in God’s place. We pray, God move this mountain, and the mountain stays put, so we pray again, God please move this mountain, and we see nothing change. If God doesn’t answer our prayers quickly enough, we take matters into our own hands. We try to move the mountain on our own. Imagine someone mustering up all their strength and attempting to push a literal mountain out of the way. This imagery is silly and unrealistic. It could never happen successfully. But this is what we do when we tackle issues that only God has the power to handle. The Psalmist said, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;” (Psalm 37:7).
L.B. Cowman, in her devotional, Streams in the Desert, writes, “In times of uncertainty-wait. If you have any doubt-wait, never forcing yourself into action. If you sense any restraint in your spirit, do not go against it-wait until the way is clear.” I can’t tell you the many times I’ve done this-acted hastily because I felt if I didn’t do something nothing would happen. Each time I’ve had to learn a difficult lesson.
If God is having you wait, then wait. Don’t be eager to do something He has not willed. And when you feel that need to get up and try pushing against that mountain, remember that imagery, and give it over to God again. You will not be disappointed (Isaiah 49:23).
I can't believe our summer break is coming to an end. As you know I began homeschooling my three oldest last school year, which was quite an adventure juggling three different grade levels. We had good days and bad days. Bad days often consisted of bad attitudes, arguing, and lack of motivation from the kids. On those bad days, I can't deny it, I contemplate putting them in school.
And then we would have a good day. Good days might consist of the excitement of hearing my kindergartner read for the first time, my eleven-year-old actually getting through her subjects before the public school kids are getting of the school bus , or my second grader telling me something he learned from a book that I didn't even know.
But my favorite part of homeschool, and what I feel is the most important part is I get to spend time with my children and help shape them to love God and love others genuinely. Not to say that people who send their kids to school can't do this too. In fact, my children went to school before this time, and we still taught them about the Lord. But this is where I feel God has put us and them at this time in our lives.
With that said, summer has been a nice break from the business of homeschooling. But there is this little...I did say little, excitement about starting back up. New books, school supplies, and the smell of new crayons has contributed to that.
Holly has been taking photos with my camera. Here is a little display of her photography work.
What have I been up to, you ask? When we moved to Kentucky last year, what I noticed most was the farmlands. There are fields and fields of corn, soy, wheat, and tobacco here. And everyone has their own vegetable garden as well. And if you don't have a garden, no big deal, you can always buy some off the Amish, or visit the farmer's market Wed and Saturday to get fresh produce. By the way, the peaches here are fantastic!!! And I never used to care for peaches.
I had to fit in with the culture here, so (with a lot of convincing) I had James help me start our own vegetable garden, and planting of two apple trees and one peach tree. Although he doesn't claim any ownership ;) Gardening is not his thing.
I have one problem, which can actually be a good problem, is we have so many grape and cherry tomatoes! Too much too keep up with. They are literally rotting on the vines because we are not picking and eating them quick enough. So I came up with an idea. Why not pick in bunches and cook them down to store for later use. I know most of you were thinking, duh!
My first project was to make a tomato sauce. Here are some pictures. I started with all of them in the pot, and then decided to blend some so I placed some in my vitamix and blended before reading them. I then placed salt, paste, garlic, basil, and onion....and a little sugar. I boiled and then simmered for about 30 minutes. Then jarred it. It was a fun project.
I have really grown to love and discover the treasure I have in God’s word. That can sound mechanical coming from a Christian. What Christian doesn’t admit to loving God’s word? I used to see the Bible as something we read regularly to gain insight about how to live our lives. And Indeed it is! But I’ve also come to see how personal His word can be to each of us, almost as if you or I were on His mind as He gave each word.
I love what David says, “Your word I have treasured in my heart.” Treasure is highly valuable. If I were digging in my back yard, or my two boys for that matter, and they came across a buried box filled with costly jewels, it would change my family’s life. My husband might quit his job and take a different adventure in his career. My children would insist, without my objection, on an in-ground pool. We would top it off with a looooong vacation. Discovered treasure changes things because there is value in it.
Now if my boys never dug, that treasure never would be discovered. We would be ignorant of the wealth that became ours when we bought the house.
How often do we do that with scripture? We look at it as words on a page that were written long ago. Peter wrote, describing God’s word, “the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). The life, power, and strength, that was written thousands of years ago, when God inspired it in the heart of man, is the same powerful words He has given to us in our generation. Scripture does not weaken over time.
Think of His word as a seed. Our heart, the ground it is planted in. Take His word and plant it deeply within the soil of your heart. Our faith to believe is like the water and sunshine that beckons it to come forth.
I think of scriptures the Lord has given me, mostly through difficulties or desperate times; those very promises are what sustained me. They gave me strength to trust God, even when the circumstances said otherwise. One thing I’ve discovered, as I’ve gotten older, is how much I really am not in control, He is.
When the Lord speaks to us, He often gives a scripture (promise) from His word. Perhaps a verse brought to our remembrance, or a scripture that stands out to us in a whole chapter. I think of it as the words “leaping off the page at me.” When this happens, I underline or rewrite the word elsewhere as a reminder. I often need reminding of what God has spoken to me when my faith seems week. And then I wait…and wait….and wait...
Living in Kentucky, we are surrounded by farmland. When wheat seeds are planted, they come up like small blades of grass. And then they seem to stop growing. My first year here, I wondered if something was wrong. Was there not enough rain? Too cold? Were the farmers concerned? My mind wanted to figure out what was wrong. I laugh about how I couldn’t just rest and wait to see what happens. I don’t have to know every detail; I now remind myself. Recently, the wheat was harvested. It did not die prematurely, the ground was not too dry, the temperature not too cold. It just took time.
Remember that as you wait on God’s promises to be fulfilled. He is Sovereign over every circumstances in our lives. His thoughts are not our thoughts nor His ways, ours. He is not slack in keeping His promises to you.
I was introduced to bread making about 13 years ago, when I met my mother-in-law. Not only did she make her bread but grinded her own wheat too! I even remember the first Christmas, with them, walking in to see the younger kids making ginger bread cookies from scratch! I've been hooked on homemade baking ever sense.
Making "good" homemade bread has been hit or miss with me. Sometime It's a winner and goes quickly, other times it turns out dry and crumbly, but like a good mother I slather jelly on top and the kids don't know any different :)
Today was a good day.
Once you've had the real thing, everything else taste like cardboard.
I was feeling ambitious, so I made cinnamon rolls too.
I used the leftover dough from my bread. I sprinkled butter, sucanat sugar and cinnamon and then rolled.
They were delicious!
Welcome to my newest Blog!
You will find a tab for Bible Studies I've created that you can use for your personal study or group study.
I love God's Word. It is full of promises for His children to cling to. It is a treasure to those that find it.
Since I was a little girl, I have loved to read books and write stories. Now that I've grown up, I have hoped God would use that gift He has put in me for His glory only.
I am so thankful to Him for doing just that!
Hi, and Welcome to my site. Let me introduce myself. I'm Naomi. Here you will find encouraging devotionals as well as other happenings in my life. Want to know more, follow me to my About me page.