Working Hard for the…

You immediately thought money, didn’t you? You know you did. 

Working hard for…the Lord! 

On Wednesday, we’ll unpack this verse using the KJV translation. Here it is for you to meditate on or post to your Pinterest board:

“…not slothful in business, fervent in spirit; serving the Lord…”

I’ve kept it short you so you can have a couple minutes to worship before moving on to your next blog post! I love this song by Kari Jobe. I love the lyrics even more.

Do you ever find yourself lagging in serving the Lord? Why do you think we lose our zeal? How do you think we can rekindle the fiery passion that used to burn?  The video below hints at our lesson on Wednesday and how to serve with zeal, not lagging. 

Musing on Hebrews 13:20-21 God of Peace and Power!

The God of peace. I love that the author of Hebrews starts off with this. Why do you think that is? I think because all those works planned for us won’t be easy. I think they’ll come with questions and statements like:

“God, is this really what you want me to do?”

“God, what do you want me to do?” 

“God, I can’t do that.”

“This seems hard. Too hard.”

“I’m confused.”

“I’m scared.”

“This isn’t working out like I thought.”

“How can this be good or pleasing to you? You do see this, right?”

“Am I in your will? I don’t even think I know what your will is!”

“Oh for the love, Jesus, talk to me!!”

I think it’s a right-off-the-bat reminder that the God of peace is working and if he’s our God, then he’s also our peace. No matter what what questions we have or statements we declare.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to blog about this week until my good friend, Melissa Tagg wrote a guest post about Leviticus on Jenny Hale’s blog. So join me Wednesday, don’t be scared!, while we dive into Leviticus and the peace offering and what significance it has on us today. I promise to guide you to some fascinating treasure pulled from what some might consider dry places (including myself once upon a time). 

But for today…

Musing/Meditation Prompt: The God of all peace…are you at peace right now? Why or why not. Think on the amazing power it took to raise our Lord Jesus from the dead! That same power resides in you? Think of that everlasting covenant. You belong to him! Forever. God has marvelous plans for you. Think of occasions when you fulfilled some of those plans. Trust God today with them.

What would you say robs you of peace most quickly? What is one thing you can do today to change that?

Does God Help Those Who Help Themselves?


Monday we mused on
Psalm 62:8
“Trust in Him
at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for
us.” NKJV
Here it is in the
trust God all the time. Tell him all your problems, because God is our
never mishandles our heart. People do, for sure. But never God. In the Bible,
you’ll find many verses about pouring out a drink offering, pouring out water
and then pouring out your heart.
In Acts
(and Joel) it talks about the Spirit being poured out.
Philippians, Paul refers to himself as a drink offering poured out, obviously
familiar with the concept.
Today, I
want to look at a tiny little snippet in the book of 1 Samuel. Chapter 7.  The ark had been captured by the Philistines.
Then it caused all sorts of trouble for them, this is where I smile and say
duh! So they sent it away and the men of Beth Shemesh took it but they looked
inside and they died. Hello, Holy God can’t be looked on and they knew it. So
they were afraid and they sent it to Kirjath Jearim.
people of Israel mourned (for like 20 years) and lamented and sought after God
so Samuel (who was judging Israel) came to them and here’s what he said:
helps those who help themselves.”
kidding. God didn’t say that.
In fact, that particular phrase makes me slightly nauseous. I suppose it depends on the context. Do you mean God partners with
us and we have a physical part we have to do? Yes, I might buy that phrase for a dollar. We do have an ACTIVE part to play. 
If we could actually help ourselves, why would we need God? I
think that is a confusing turn of phrase, especially to new believers who might think it means if they don’t act right and do things “perfect” God won’t intervene on their behalf. They might think it’s all about “works” in our own strength and ability. And me no likey. Not everyone is a “seasoned” Christian who can break that phrase down and pick it apart for what it is. Be careful what you post on facebook! (officially sort of done with my soapbox  exhorting mature Christians to be careful with young Christians or less mature ones.)
what God (through Samuel) actually said:
you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the
foreign gods and Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him
only and…” (1 Samuel 7:3)
So we
see that the people of God wanted God to help them, to provide for them but
they were still putting other things (other gods) first. In place of Him. Many
times, it’s a struggle to rid yourself of things you really love–love more
than God. But He gives us the strength to do it. Partnership.
He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” (rest of that
So they
did. And they served God only.
assembled them at Mizpah, which means “watchtower.” It was 8 miles
north of Jerusalem. There Samuel interceded for them.
Mizpah, “they gathered together…drew water, and poured it out before the
LORD. And they fasted that day, and said there, ‘We have sinned against the
God doesn’t help those who help themselves. He helps those who
have a repentant heart. *in this context of being a believer, not the fingerprints of God as He has guided us unknowingly before salvation. God has always been working on our behalf whether we have known it or not.
out the water was symbol of repentance. It’s also a symbol of pouring out the
heart–giving it all to God. Surrendering. They also gave up food (fasting), as they’d
rather have God and His guidance than to fill their bellies.
At that
time the Philistines were on their way. The enemy was marching.
was in the middle of offering a burnt offering for the people, an atonement for
their sin.
what God did!
At that
moment, “the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that
day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel.” 1 Samuel
When we pour it out, when we repent, God gives us the strength to knock down all things
that come before Him and it moves mountains of opposition. It confuses the
enemy and gives us the victory.
doesn’t need our help. He needs our repentant hearts. Thank God for the Holy Spirit that convicts and brings us to a place of repentance!
Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name
Ebenezer, saying ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.'” 1 Samuel 7:12
means stone of help. I think it’s important for us to put up a reminder,
whether physical or symbolic, to remind us that God has helped us so far. And
He will continue to be our refuge.
The key
is to pour ourselves out like water. Daily repenting–not b/c as Christians
we’re supposed to, but because we are truly sorry and we truly mean to turn
away from our sins and those things that come before God in our lives.
year, I gave my husband a clay jar that had a 3-tiered fountain. A reminder
that he might be clay, but his life overflows into others. A reminder that God
has  helped him thus far.
What “stones” have you set up to remind  you that God has helped you so far? If you
haven’t, give it some thought. What might you use as a “stone”?

Understanding the Impact of Passover

The Old Testament isn’t a dry piece of bread. It’s moist and delicious, full of juicy details that consistently point the way to Jesus.

What does the Passover story mean for us today? I wish I had time to touch on all the details, but I don’t so here is the big picture!  Some of you already know. Keep reading, maybe you can offer extra insight or you’ll learn something new. Maybe it’s going to be a reminder of Love that made His way into our hearts and lives. 

The Lamb

Exodus 12: 3 “On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb…”

Exodus 12:5 “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year.”

God’s people are about to be delivered from Egypt–from bondage–into freedom. This is the last plague God institutes before that freedom comes.

Look at what the prophet Isaiah says, as he prophesied of another Lamb. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter…” Isaiah 53:7

John 1:29, “…Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”

1 Peter 1:19, “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

Revelation 5:12, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power, and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

Removal of Leaven
Exodus 12:8, “Then they shall eat the flesh on that night…with unleavened bread…”
Leaven represents sin and corruption in the Bible.

“…Do you not know that a little leaven spoils the whole lump. Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump…For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 6-8

Blood on the doorposts and lintels
Exodus 12:7, “And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.”

The blood applied on the door saved all who chose to enter into it. 

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in  Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness…”  Romans 3:23-26

Not only is Jesus’ blood what covers and saves us, He is also the door. He says so Himself in John 10:7-10.

Notice the blood wasn’t applied to the threshold, where people would walk upon. Why? Because the blood of Christ will not be trampled.

“How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Hebrews 10:29

God executes judgment. We are exempt.

Exodus 12:12, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt…and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt…and against the gods of Eygpt I will execute judgment; I am the LORD.”

Exodus 12:13, “Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses, where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to to destroy you…”

“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Romans 5:9

Whoever eats leaven, dies.
Exodus 12:15, “…For whoever eats leavened bread…that person shall be cut off…”
“Cut off” meaning death. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.”

Jesus entered Jerusalem at Passover time. He became the spotless sacrifice needed to save us, to give us eternal life. One sacrifice for all. No more sacrifices under the law. A new Covenant established in blood. It was His joy to endure the cross. For me. For you.
**this was a revised repost

What are your Easter plans?


Musing on Isaiah 42:16

One of my favorite
hope-filled verses. I can’t wait to unpack this on Wednesday!
Musing/Meditation prompts: Recount the times
God has led you as though you were blind, down ways you never knew before,
sometimes scary, sometimes thrilling. Think on the times God has brought you
out of darkness into glorious light, straightening out the places that seemed
crooked in your life. Praise Him for never leaving you to travel alone. Never
leaving you blind. Always doing these things for you.
you could name a street based on your life or personality, what would you name
the street?
I think my street
would be lovers’ lane. Because truly, Jesus has shown me how much a lover of my
soul he is.

How to Find Your Song

Monday we meditated
and mused on verse 6, the last verse in Psalm 13. Today, we’re going to look at
the entire Psalm written by David. It came from a dark time in his life.
I think in the dark
times, we write some of the most brilliant lyrics and compose the most
thrilling melodies.
Here is the Psalm in
the NKJV:
long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long
will You hide Your face from me?
 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long
will my enemy be exalted over me?
 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God;
my eyes,
Lest I
sleep the sleep of death;
 Lest my enemy say,
“I have
prevailed against him”;
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I
am moved.
 But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart
shall rejoice in Your salvation.
 I will sing to the Lord,
He has dealt bountifully with me.”
very dear to me said almost verbatim the words expressed in verse 1: “I
ask God to show me He’s real. But I get nothing. It’s like He’s hiding…or maybe
He doesn’t care at all.”
Have you ever felt that way? Wondering where God is, as if He’s
hiding from you, as if you’ve been forgotten.
says, “How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart
I know
from personal experience that when my heart is failing, giving myself solid
counsel–trying to find something based on scripture is difficult.
become a tangled mess. Much like my loved one, who knows deep down that God is
near. He never leaves nor forsakes us. Nothing separates us from His love. His
thoughts toward us are so many–more than the sands of the sea. All good.
But when our hearts fail, when our soul feels alone and
drowning, our thoughts stray. What we believe can become clouded if we
let it.
enemy dogs us, like David’s enemy. Surrounding us. Taunting us. Vicious.
Merciless. He uses anything and everything to tear us apart. Health,
relationships, loved ones, finances…you name it.
cries out and is in essence saying, How long? I don’t know how much more I can
take of this. Please hear me. Answer me. I need a word from you…I’m going to
die if I don’t. How much more can I handle? My heart says none.
But we can’t give up.
knew this. He needed to hear from God. The silence was enough to drive him to
his grave. He didn’t want his enemies to get the victory, but he was wearing
And then
we make it to the last verse. David remembers times past.
He has
trusted in God’s love, his mercy. He has been saved before, rescued, loved,
taken care of, blessed. And he knows that God, even though He seems hidden and
quiet, even though his enemy is all around, even though his emotions are messed
up and his soul tortured…
God will
come through.
God will
God will
God will
never leave.
God will
never give up.
God is….
And that
is reason to sing. 
Even in
the dark times.
in the dark times.
will you sing today? Favorite hymn/chorus?
will be singing this today: 

Musing on Psalm 13:6

It’s great to be
back after a refreshing spring break! I think that’s why I chose this
particular picture with spring blossoms. This week I’ve had the chance to
really feel this verse. But it’s the last verse in a rather somber Psalm by
David. And I felt that this week as well.
Wednesday, we’ll
unpack the entire Psalm. It’s short, stop hyperventilating.
Meditation/Musings: Think on all the things
that seem small or trivial in your life, but are good things. Waking up. Kids
that are healthy. Breathing without machines. A chocolate bar. Coffee. Warm
weather. Oh how good God is! Remember the big things that have happened in your
life: safety from a car wreck, a good report from the medical lab, a
disappointment that became a blessing after all. A hurt that turned into a
God is so good to
us. Truly, in all circumstances, He deals bountifully with us. He is good to
one good thing whether large or small that has happened already today–and it
might be very early for you right now! 

My Own Personal Miracle!



said to him,”‘Feed My sheep.'” John 21:17 (Jesus
talking to Peter)

Tuesday,  I received a payment–a rather
large chunk–for my critiquing services. My husband came home, handed me an
envelope. I glanced at it. Another monthly packet from Voice of the Martyrs. I’d love to tell you I open it every month
and pray diligently for those who are being persecuted for the cause of Christ,
but I’d be lying. I might breathe a small prayer as I toss it out.
But this
night, I laid it on my desk and climbed up on my bed to chat with my husband
after he came home from Karate.
me that envelope, Jess.”
of the Martyrs? What do you want with that?” I grabbed it and held it up.
he said. “I thought it was Project Rescue. What’s Voice of the
I told
him. He pulled up Project Rescue’s site. “I know you support them and on
the way home God made it clear that the amount of money you received isn’t
ours. So I thought of PR. Giving it to them.”
course I was thrilled. Any chance to sow into Project Rescue (I have a page
devoted to this amazing ministry) makes me happy. But something stuck in my gut
and I focused on the packet from VOM (Voice of the Martyrs). I opened it up and
skimmed the booklet.
Tim, this says we can donate Bibles.” A knot in my stomach formed as I
prayed in my head. Lord, where should this
money go? I was just thinking how we take Bibles for granted. We give them away
at GoodWills and there are people who weep over wanting just one. Yet we ignore
the treasures for extra sleep or hobbies…But I also love Project Rescue–girls
forced into sexual slavery.
don’t really know about this ministry,” Tim said. I understand. These days
giving your debit card number over a website can be scary. And will those
people actually receive Bibles?
I wanted
to follow my husband’s lead. I’ve always prayed and asked God to increase us so
we can sow into the kingdom. One day I’d love to see a place on my novels that
says, “A portion of proceeds go to Project Rescue.”
decided to give part to Voice of the Martyrs and sponsor 10 bibles and give the
other portion to Project Rescue.
Wednesday morning, after I dropped my daughter off at school and got my little
sickie settled on the couch, I prayed about those Bibles. And I prayed about my
neck problems, asking once again for healing and then believing that if God
didn’t heal me, His grace would be sufficient.
My phone
dinged. Email. Naturally, I told God to hold up. I mean don’t we all do that?
Oh, it’s just me. I checked my email and it was two devotionals that I’d signed
up for at Bible Gateway. Now, I’d like to tell you I read them faithfully, but
I can’t. In fact, I normally delete them without even reading them. Why did I
even sign up? I deleted the first one, but…
I felt a
need to open the second one. I can’t explain it. Just a feeling I should. *Disclaimer: Just because your phone dings during prayer doesn’t mean you should
always check it.
This was
the title. And it was the devotional about persecuted Christians. Christians
like the ones I’d just sent Bibles to–or at least I hoped that was what my
money was actually going to.
As I
read, I thought God was speaking to me about my neck. It talked about Paul’s
thorn in his flesh that God didn’t heal him of, but His grace was sufficient.
And then
I read a story about a boy, named Abdul, who drowned and died for an hour.
(Normally, I think…oh here we go when I read death stories.) But I kept
reading. The angels that carried him, told him he still had work to do and when
he opened his eyes, alive, a pastor sat praying over him.
It went on to say, “This happened twenty years ago and
ever since, Abdul’s life has been changed. Even though Abdul only completed
fifth grade in school, he is currently the pastor of a small church in a very
poor village on the island of Mindanao in the Philippine Islands
. In his own
words Abdul says, “I don’t understand God’s purposes in my suffering, but I now
know the Lord.””
Something struck me!
. I know that place. How do I know that place? I’ve never read anything
about the Philippine Islands. I poked my lips out and scrunched my brows.
you do. You skimmed it last night.
I snatched up the
Voice of the Martyrs booklet/newsletter and opened to the editor’s page.
First paragraph:
“Our newsletter editor recently met with Christians on the Philippine
island of Mindanao
, where Christians are heavily persecuted. Her trip was well
timed because the Philippine government had just signed a preliminary agreement
with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (a rebel group) to create an Islamic
region in Mindanao called Bangsamore.” It went on to tell of horrible
persecutions to the Christians. Bombs. Fear. Theft. Vandalism. Beatings.
I had just read
about this place in my devotional I never read! But there’s more!
“When our
editor asked a pastor
why he stays in Mindanao when he could have a peaceful life in another part of
the Philippines, he said, “For me it’s not really difficult. We need to feed the sheep.”
He asked only for more Bibles, as many Christians families in his village do
not have one.”
Do I believe that
the boy who drowned is this man, “Arnel” (name changed due to
anonymity and security issues) is Abdul.
I do.
Do I believe that
when we listen, God speaks–even if it’s a whisper or thought?
I do.
Do I believe that
God is sovereign and is constantly working to spread a message of hope to those
who are dying in sin and begging for just a taste of His word?
I do.
Do I believe that
when we seek God’s will, but are unsure and ask for confirmation, that He gives
it? Even through devotions and newsletters we would normally never read?
I do.
Do I believe the
money I could have kept and saved for a writer’s conference is now going to
Mindanao to spread the gospel, to feed the sheep of Jesus Christ’s pasture?
I do.
Did I mention that
on the Wednesday night after all this happened in the morning, I was teaching
on Peter’s life and discovering God’s will for your life to my new &
growing believer’s class, that we were reviewing real living and relationships
that included giving with a cheerful heart as God purposes in our hearts?
I did.
Do I believe that
this was a practical application I could share and encourage them with?
I do.
Do I believe that if
God can orchestrate something so amazing as this, then He can also orchestrate
other things in my life and make good on promises such as writing, publishing,
teaching, family concerns, physical healing (or lack of), finances…?
I do.
I do.
I do.
“So let each one give as he purposes in
his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
2 Corinthians 9:7
If you are
interested in sowing into the Kingdom and feeding God’s sheep, please visit
Voice of the Martyrs. And as always, Project Rescue!
“Like” us on facebook!

Musing on Psalm 34:8: Taste and See

This is one of my favorite verses. I love to open up God’s word, taste the promises and see Him come through in a mighty way.

It’s true. Blessed is the man who trusts in God. Maybe not in physical ways, but spiritual. God does care more about your heart and where you spend eternity than He does your physical comforts in this temporary life.

Wednesday, I’ll be sharing a most powerful personal experience. I tasted. I saw. And boy did it impact my life. I’m forever changed–and this just happened last week. Please, please come by and experience my own personal miracle. 

Musing/Meditation prompts: Think on the times you opened up and sampled His word, how new insights and wisdom as well as comfort and direction flooded your soul. Did it create a taste for the goodness of God? Count three things He’s done in the past 24 hours that were good to you? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you out if you’re stuck and can’t think of a single thing. Think about your favorite sweets. What is it about them that you love? How is God’s word and His goodness sweeter? Can you honestly say you’d rather have God’s goodness than that favorite dessert? If not, spend some time in prayer and ask God to change your heart.

This next question may sound random and not mesh with what we’re musing on, but I have a reason. It has to do with Wednesday’s post. I have more than ten Bibles in my house. It isn’t a question to make you feel guilty, it’s just to lay some ground work for Wednesday. 

How many Bibles 
do you have in your home?

Also, come by and see me at Hannah Conway’s blog! I’m giving a few tips on how to spring clean your manuscript! 

Designed to Bloom in Fire


Monday we mused on
Psalm 66:11-13.
“You brought us into the net;
You laid
affliction on our backs.
You have
caused men to ride over our heads;
We went
through fire and through water;
But You
brought us out to rich fulfillment.”
jump into context for a moment before we get to the meat of the message.
hard hearing that God brought His people into the net (or prison) and laid
afflictions (hardships) on them. Men rode over their heads? Yikes!
waaaay back in Deuteronomy God clues His people in by giving them commands. In
fact, He warns them a billion times it seems not to leave Him to worship other
gods (false gods, idols i.e. anything you put before Him) and then He gave them
clear conditions of what would happen if they did.
One of
those was allowing other nations to come in and take them captive–to net them
so to speak. Many died. But He promised, because He’s
faithful, to keep a remnant of people and that He would deliver them.
The whole point was to turn them back to Him. Away from things that they were
putting first and from ungodly practices.
Psalmist, here, is actually praising God for His wonderful works. Yes, fire and
water came. But yes! God delivered His people through and on the other side
came abundance. Rich fulfillment.
43:1-2 says,”O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for
I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will
be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When
you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames
will not consume you.”
Guess what? You’re going through the fire. And water. Probably
many times. But you won’t be burned. You won’t drown.
take a look at an interesting tree.
Rocky Mountain Lodgepole. The lodgepole “produces serontinous cones which
do not open at maturity because they’re sealed shut by a resin between the cone
and the scale.” *taken from HERE*
trees require heat with temperatures between 113-140 degrees F to melt that
resin and release the seeds.
In nature, only forest fires can produce those kind of
Jackpine, in Michigan, is similar to the Lodgepole. And there’s a bird called
the Kirtland Warbler, which is endangered, that loves to nest in them. So the
Department of Natural Resources actually light fires in these Jackpine
ecosystems so they can release seeds from their cones and thus produce more
trees, thus as more Warblers breed, they have a safe place to live.
In 2002,
“the annual census counted over 1000 singing males…” They can be
heard singing beautiful melodies up to half a mile.
To prepare the ground work, fire is necessary.
I think we’re a lot like Lodgepole pines and Jackpines. We need the fire
cranked up to open us up, to produce seed in order to grow–to bear fruit.
“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears
the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and
produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:23
When we
allow the fire to come, when God allows heated circumstances to develop us and
open us up for His glory, it will draw others to us and ultimately to Christ.
Like the Warblers. Flocking to us.
Like the
mustard seed in Matthew 13:31, which was a small seed but, when it grew, it
became a tree for birds of the air to nest in its branches. The body of Christ
is like that tree. A place for those to come and nest. Make their home.
Connect. Find comfort–the same comfort we were comforted with when we went
through the fire, when it opened us up and produced good fruit in our lives.
I think
with each Warbler, a new song is sung.
put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our
God. Many people will see this and worship him. Then they will trust
the Lord.” Psalm 40:3
We just
have to get through the fire first. And sometimes, it burns hot. Because that’s
what it takes for us to bloom and grow and produce for the Kingdom. For glory
of our King. And to bring in new birds, with new songs.
hosting at Living by Grace! Like our page on facebook and a new devotional will
pop into your feed every single day! I can use daily encouragement, how about
I’m curious, do you have a favorite bird? God’s creatures are