Advent, Christmas, Jesus, gift, salvation, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

His Warmth: God’s Gift of Eternal Life through His Son

God sent His Son to warm our hearts. His warmth is all you need to have eternal life. This gift was given to all of us. Let God’s fire warm your life.



I love a good fire on a crisp cool night. The light of the fire dancing as waves of heat move over cool skin feels elemental and natural. The smell of smokey wood burning brings a flood of childhood memories washing over me.

God sent His Son to warm our hearts. His warmth is all you need to have eternal life. This gift was given to all of us. Let God's fire warm your life. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #Advent #Christmas #Jesus #gift #salvation

Memories

My grandparents loved to go camping. We spent lots of time living out of their little camper. When I was in Girl Scouts some of my fondest memories are of the Jamboree where we would tent camp near the lake in Louisburg, NC. Now we spend time by the fire pit listening to nature, eating s’mores, talking and just being.

So, a few weeks ago while sitting by the fire, we were listening to “old school” songs. I pulled out an old Colin Raye song “What if Jesus Came Back Like That.” I remember the first time I heard this song. Lying in my dorm room listening to the CD I had gotten for a cent from BMG. Colin Raye had won Entertainer of the Year and I had recently gotten into country music. I listened to this song over and over again, intent on hearing and learning all the words. Tears streamed down my face because this song spoke to my soul.

Seeing God’s Fire

This song tore me apart. What if Jesus came back as anything other than the King? What if the homeless person on Franklin Street was how He came back? Or if he came from a drug-infested hovel? Didn’t he come so humbly before? Why would he come back differently?

He came to town on a cold dark night
A single star was his only light
The baby born that silent night
A manger for his bed

What if Jesus comes back like that
Where will he find out hearts are at
Will he let us in or turn his back

Feeling the Warmth of God’s Love

As we race toward Christmas, I think we need to stop and consider the story. A young pregnant girl engaged to a man who wasn’t the father of her child. Talk about being out in the cold…

They were on a journey across rough roads to be counted for a government who held them in contempt. They finally made it to the little town of Bethlehem but found nowhere to stay. A stable full of animals was the best they could find. And it was in this situation that Jesus was born.

Mary wasn’t in a nice soft bed, attended to by nurses and doctors who were seeing to her every comfort. Smelly, dirty, cold conditions surrounded the newborn. God, our Father, allowed His only Son to be born into such humble conditions. But, His love for us through His Son kept everyone warm.

Spreading the Warmth of God’s Love

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Matthew 25:40, NKJV

God has given us clear instructions. He is in each of us and that is why we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Those who are in crisis need our help, not our condemnation. We need to pray for them and with them. Give joyfully of our resources to help others. And take it back to the old-school question: “What Would Jesus Do?”

Jesus came to bring fire to our spirit. To be a light in the world. He came to warm us from the coldness of separation from God. We need to take Him into our lives and love Him wholeheartedly.

It rises at one end of the heavens and runs its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making wise the simple…

Psalm 19:6-7, NIV

Dear God,

I am in awe of your love. Help me to pay attention to Your warmth. Let me share it with others. You were humble enough to have your Son born in a lowly stable. Let me see you in others and remember to love others as you would. 

love,

me

God sent His Son to warm our hearts. His warmth is all you need to have eternal life. This gift was given to all of us. Let God's fire warm your life. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #Advent #Christmas #Jesus #gift #salvation

unsplash-logoKarina Carvalho
fear, vulnerable, vulnerability, let go, God’s guidance, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Let Go of Fear: Vulnerability Allows God’s Guidance

Fear is the enemy and the answer is becoming vulnerable. That seems crazy, yet God calls us to be a little crazy. Let go of fear and embrace God’s guidance. 



“I don’t know.”

Why do these three little words cause such fear and anxiety in us? I hate saying these words. They make me feel weak, vulnerable and most of all like a failure.

Fear is the enemy and the answer is becoming vulnerable. That seems crazy, yet God calls us to be a little crazy. Let go of fear and embrace God's guidance. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #fear #GodsGuidance #LetGo #vulnerability #vulnerable

It’s Okay to Struggle

As I’m writing this I’m listening to my son try to work through a hard coding problem and he is really struggling. He has worked on this problem for at least four hours. I keep hearing things like: What do you mean? Ohhh now I get it! Why won’t this thing work? Can’t you just…

But here is what I am learning by watching him struggle – he keeps struggling. Eventually, he will get it, because he doesn’t give up. As a young kid, I don’t know doesn’t fill him with fear. He is okay not knowing the answers. He accepts that as a child, as a student, he is learning. I don’t hear I don’t know followed by silence. He quickly follows up with a question, a wondering, or a workaround.

Isn’t that what God is calling us to – to be like children? He wants us to realize we don’t know it all. To ask Him for help, wonder and search for the answers in His name, and call on Him to be our guide.

Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me […] Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! It is necessary that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom they come.

Matthew 18:4-5,7 NET

Let Go of Fear

We can’t fear I don’t know. Vulnerability is not easy but we must embrace it and let God lead us. Sometimes the path to the answer is long and difficult, full of those stumbling blocks. Sometimes the struggle is the answer. That can feel difficult and leave you wondering if it was worthwhile. I find myself struggling with many uncertainties in times like this. The fear and vulnerabilities of I don’t know often creep in.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us.

Hebrews 12:1, NET

This verse is the answer to my feelings. Feelings of not wanting to say those dreaded words. Cling to those who are steadfast in God’s corner. Let them be my touchstones and have faith in the journey. It’s not a sprint. Ask questions, be vulnerable, admit when you are unsure. Don’t be a stumbling block for others, but be a witness to God’s endurance.

Be Vulnerable

A friend and I were talking recently and sharing some hard-fought truths. What struck me most was that despite being hurt and broken at times in her life, she was not bound to that in her faith. Her faith is strong and supersedes any hardships life has given her. I read a quote recently in Tim Tebow’s book Shaken: “God will never waste pain that’s offered to Him.”

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV

My friend has such a child-like spirit and asks a million questions. She is always searching for God’s answer, His will. Truly, she is a beautiful example of running the race with endurance and grace. Being vulnerable is her gift and she shares it to God’s glory. I want to be more like that.

Get to Work

Admitting our limitations gives God room to work. He is the one that makes all things possible. But I am such a sinner. I need to be vulnerable. I need to find the edge of my possibilities so that I can stop relying on myself and trust in my Creator.

Wow, that is a powerful lesson I feel God working to teach me in this season of my life. Trust in God, be vulnerable, and put fear aside.

So I am in a battle of wills over this, right now. I know in my heart that this is right and good. It is God’s will. My head keeps getting in the way though. I hold on to fear: not knowing the answers, letting God lead my life, trusting in a future that sometimes seems murky.

Admitting our limitations gives God room to work. He is the one that makes all things possible. We need to be vulnerable. To find the edge of our possibilities and fully trust in our Creator. Click To Tweet

Vulnerable Prayer

But every day I am walking upright. Praying this prayer:

Dear God,

Help me loosen the fist of fear that lives inside of me. I am so weak and can’t do it. You have to do it for me. Let me, let You be strong for me. I know that You are my answer. I feel that truth in my heart. Quiet the doubt that creeps into my head. Thank you for the encouragement you place in front of me. Thank you for not abandoning me when I waiver. You are my rock and foundation.

love,

me

If you are on the journey to vulnerability with me, bless you. It is hard. But have faith in our Creator. And remember His promise:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28, KJV

Fear is the enemy and the answer is becoming vulnerable. That seems crazy, yet God calls us to be a little crazy. Let go of fear and embrace God's guidance. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #fear #GodsGuidance #LetGo #vulnerability #vulnerable

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
friends, friendship, foundation, prayer, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Friends: Strengthening Our Friendship Foundations through Christ

We often take our friends for granted, creating a sandy foundation. We must strengthen our friendship foundations through Christ.



Have you ever considered the parable of the builder in Matthew 7:24-27 as an allegory on friendship? When you spend time with your friends, share your life with them, and depend on each other you are building on a strong rock foundation. However, if you don’t talk often or only share the good stuff, you’re building on sandy soil. I tend to have some shifting sand. I need to work on this.

We often take our friends for granted, creating a sandy foundation. We must strengthen our friendship foundations through Christ. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #friends #friendship #prayer #foundation

Friends in Sandy Soil

I love my friends. They are amazing. But sometimes I totally take them for granted. God has blessed me by putting a few wonderful people in my life and I am sure He doesn’t want me to neglect them.

As a mom, my life is always on the go, usually at 90 miles an hour. No matter how often I tell myself I need to slow down, or dream about an idyllic life of green fields, gurgling streams and slow relaxed days…it is highly unlikely to happen.

What does usually happen is I get so busy I neglect my friends for days, weeks, or months. It can be hard to find more than a few minutes to talk on the phone or send a text. Dropping by for a visit, meeting up for a cup of coffee, or taking a walk together can escape my weekly plans. For this, I feel extremely guilty.

God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken; good leaders also delight in their friendship.

Proverbs 22:11, MSG

Asking for Help

So what can I do? What should I do? First (and maybe one of the hardest things to do), give it over to God. Ask for guidance in strengthening my relationships in meaningful ways. Creating a firmer foundation is necessary. As a servant to my Father, I should be there for my friends when they are in need. And I should also be able to go to them when I am in need.

It has been a super hard week. My son and I have left for school early almost every day this week due to testing, end of the year meetings, and my need to have everything prepared before my students come through the door. That in and of itself isn’t unusual. But we have had an amazing VBS at church this week.

Our main church campus is about 5 miles from school. Rather than trek 30-45 minutes home and then back, we stayed at school. Three days I brought dinner from home and heated it up. Two days we went out to eat. While VBS was going on, I worked on end of year paperwork, finished up a class for my teacher license renewal, and graded papers.

Shoring Up the Foundation

I didn’t want to put anyone “out” so I didn’t ask for the help that I really needed. It turns out that when you try to be superwoman you can end up exhausted and crabby and overly emotional. My weekend was spent with me hiding from my family by binge watching tv shows, and praying for silence.

Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshed the soul.

Proverbs 27:9, MSG

Here is the kicker…if someone had asked me for help I would have been there for them (well maybe not last week, but in general I wouldn’t think twice). I know I need to start working on building a better definition of friendship and allowing myself to be vulnerable…or I really don’t have any real friends.

Prayer for Strength

So what do I do? I work on my friendships? Prayer is always a great place to start:

Dear God,

Help! I am so lost and can’t seem to get up from this spot. You made us to live together but I have isolated myself out of pride. Thank you for providing me the time and opportunity to reflect. I feel uncomfortable and unsure of myself. I have tried for too long to ignore my place in friendships and I worry I have destroyed more than I have built. Please give me the vulnerability to ask my friends for help when I need it. Let me humble myself and lighten my burden so I can be a light to the world for You.

love,

me

Rock Solid Foundation

God desires us to build strong foundations in all our relations to glorify Him. He tells us this time again throughout the Bible. God, Himself, desires our friendship. Isn’t that incredible! I love my God and am so happy He reaches out to me and holds me tightly.

The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14, MSG
God desires us to build strong foundations in all our relationships in order to glorify Him. Even God longs for our friendship. Click To Tweet

We often take our friends for granted, creating a sandy foundation. We must strengthen our friendship foundations through Christ. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #friends #friendship #prayer #foundation

unsplash-logoAnita Austvika
boldness, bold, fear, confidence, God’s plan, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Champion: How to Walk Through This World With Boldness

We are instructed to not live in fear, but the struggle is all too real. Only with our Champion can we walk through life with boldness.



I recently saw a posting on Facebook that said, “Fear not can be found 365 times in the Bible.” As a natural doubting Thomas, I went in search of this for myself. According to the Bible App, there are only 71 instances of “fear not” in the New English Translation. However, I found the words “don’t be afraid” 342 times. Of course, this is completely unscientific research and open to mistakes.

We are instructed to not live in fear, but the struggle is all too real. Only with our Champion can we walk through life with boldness. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #boldness #courage #fear

Fear Not

I’m pretty sure our Father is telling us something important here. He doesn’t want us walking around this world with fear in our hearts. And yet I had to add that last sentence because I am afraid I may have miscounted and someone will think poorly of me for it.

So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

Hebrews 13:6, NET

I fight this feeling of fear on a daily basis. Being a mother has only made it worse. I am afraid that others are talking behind my back or that they don’t like my kids. I am afraid my kids will get hurt, or that my husband will be in an accident. Then I am afraid when I hear noises at night. I don’t like the dark. When I get sick I’m afraid it’s worse than it is.

Now, I try to keep these feelings on a short leash and rarely ever share them with anyone (they sound crazy). But this fear also keeps me from doing God’s work. It keeps me from going up to a stranger who looks like they need help. Or from inviting an acquaintance to come with our family to church on Sunday. Fear is the weapon of the enemy.

The Struggle is Real

Earlier this week I was really struggling hard. I was overwhelmed by fear. When this happens I find strength in music. Because God speaks to me and calms my spirit with melody. In my hour of need, He put the right song on, “The Voice of Truth,” sang by Casting Crowns. I L-O-V-E this song.

Thinking about Peter stepping out of the boat and David facing Goliath gave me such encouragement. “I will listen and believe the Voice of truth.”

I can to all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13, KJV

Our Champion is By Our Side

Our Father is right here with us. He is our champion and we have no reason to be afraid. Fear isn’t a God-inspired emotion, it is from the enemy who puts a yoke on us to follow a path that isn’t ordained. For this reason, the weight is heavy and often impossible to throw off in our own strength. We need help, daily.

Another thing that helped me this week was having a stranger come up to tell me that I was doing a great job being a mom. My son and I were in Target walking through the isles and he was telling me an outrageously silly story. Afterward, I told him he was super creative and an out of the box problem thinker. The lady shopping beside of us said, “Great job mom. We need those kids to be creative thinkers and have fun doing it.”

Those words were a warm blanket to my heart. So, the next time I worry that his silly stories make him sound too juvenile or a little crazy, I’ll take that moment out and remember. God is always by our side. Sometimes, He speaks through other people.

Stepping Out of Fear

Earlier, I was considering which of my prayers I would put at the end of this devotional. They have been disjointed, sporadic, and definitely unfocused during this week of uncertainty and fear. In other words, none of them were any good to share. However, in my earlier research, I came across one that I think I will write down and speak out loud next time fear starts to lean into my life.

Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:11, NET

love, me

The Lord is the Champion of our doubts and fears. He has overcome, let all we do be done to bring Him glory! Click To Tweet

We are instructed to not live in fear, but the struggle is all too real. Only with our Champion can we walk through life with boldness. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #boldness #courage #fear

unsplash-logoTaylor Leopold
Lessons, messy, stories, redemption, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Stories: There is Always A Mess and A Lesson

What is your story? I’m sure it is messy because everyone’s is. God teaches us through real-life stories. He is there with you through the mess. That is His promise.



Imagine being nine years old. Your mother has just passed away from AIDS, which was horribly debilitating and you saw her wither away. You and your twelve brothers and sisters are placed with various people (some in foster care, some with other family members, and some with grandma).

You are placed with your grandmother. Going to school is pretty crappy because they want you to read all the time and that is super hard. The teacher keeps fussing at you to watch your language…What the !#*@ does she know???

Everyone's story is messy. God teaches us through real-life stories. He is there with you through the mess. That is His promise. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #lessons #messy #redemption #stories

Looking Deeper

This was a student of mine years ago. He taught me a valuable lesson. Everyone comes with a story. I admit the first week he was in my class, I kept hoping someone had made a mistake or that he would move out quickly to a new school.

This boy was a handful in a class that already had some handfuls. I am embarrassed to say I didn’t know his story until he had been in my class for a while. Eventually, I called his grandmother to come in for a conference because he was cursing all the time and refused to do any work.

Once she came in and told me that he was missing his mom, but she (grandma) was certainly glad not to have that burden anymore, my heart bloomed open. I recognized him for the first time. A child who was lost and hurting. Of course he didn’t care about his work. He was grieving. Of course, he was angry. He had just lost his mother and no one really cared about him.

You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.

John 8:15, ESV

Seeing Through the Mess

Over the next year and a half, this boy faced so many challenges. He was abandoned, forced to cut drugs, shoplifted to get clean clothes and shoes, went hungry more than not, and was finally put in a foster group home. And through it all I loved him. I told him so, from the moment I understood his story.

He learned to read (enough to pass the EOG). I took him and his classmates to art museums, plays, and science museums. We went to eat at restaurants and learned how to make simple meals with cheap ingredients. And I saw a smile that still makes me feel like a million bucks when I remember it. He still lives in my heart even though I don’t know what happened next in his life.

God taught me so much about seeing children, about loving them when it was hard. He taught me about perseverance and seeing past the now but into the whole story. I will forever be grateful for this precious child of God and how much he brought to my life.

How precious is your unfailing love, O God!

Psalm 36:7, NIV

Lifting the Cover

God can use our messes to help others, to teach us, and to illuminate His plan. Let me be clear, He does not create the mess. We do just fine with that on our own. Humans are great at breaking, tearing, and destroying. Our Father is great at making lemonade.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV

As you read through stories in the Bible, nowhere is there a perfect, idyllic situation. All of it starts or ends in a mess. God uses these messes to give us hope. No one is outside of His reach. Sometimes the messier the better. For instance, David (1 and 2 Samuel), Paul (Acts 9), and Peter (Luke 22:54-62).

God can use our messes to help others, to teach us, and to illuminate His plan. Click To Tweet

Redemptive Stories

We need to listen more. Hear and see those around us. I promise, God is using their stories to teach us, to grow our faith. At the same time, we need to dig into His word. Read our Bibles, daily. Find the stories that God has left there for us. Use what we learn to build our own redemptive story so we can love others more fully.

Dear God,

Thank you for showing me that everyone has a story. Help me to not judge those whose stories I do not know. I am so grateful that you can make my messes work for Your glory if I will just listen to You and feed on Your word. Father, you have given me so many examples of this throughout the Bible. Thank you for Your guide book that lights my path.

love,

me

Everyone's story is messy. God teaches us through real-life stories. He is there with you through the mess. That is His promise. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #lessons #messy #redemption #stories

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
purpose, calling, path, journey, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Call: Hearing, Obeying, and Following God’s Calling

We all have a calling from God. Your call may change, or it may remain constant. You may hear it when you are seven years old or when you are forty-three, but trust me God has a mission for your life.



Phillip is back from Africa! I was so excited and relieved to have him home. He brought back a ton of stories. Some silly, some inspiring, and many heartbreaking. He worked with children whose lives are so different from mine that I can’t even really imagine. Yet, through all their tribulations, they find joy and purpose. God moves with them and it is so evident because survival would be next to impossible without Him in their lives.

We all have a calling from God. Your call may change, or it may remain constant. No matter when we hear it, God has a mission for us all. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #calling #purpose #scripture #journey #devotional

Hearing God’s Call

As a teacher, I see students who have plenty and waste it. I see students with nothing, who horde everything. And all the experiences in between. Phillip saw kids who didn’t always know if there would be enough food. Would they be safe till tomorrow? When they grow, will there be clothes to wear? Will they have a future outside their dirt field and cinder block rooms?

He also encountered faith on a whole new level…

“Heather, we work at believing and being Christians, but we are fooling ourselves if we think we are there. I met people whose faith is so deep, it puts mine, ours to shame.”

At first, this statement put my back up. What do you mean I’m not enough? I believe. I serve. I love my neighbor. I study the Bible. I..I..I…

Oh. Maybe I have more work to do. Maybe we need to see the world through others’ lenses every now and then to give us perspective.

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

1 Corinthians 1:28-29, NIV

Obeying God’s Call

God calls us all to two things: love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your body; and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). Easy to say, easy to remember, harder to do.

I don’t know about you, but my life moves very quickly. I am always hopping from one thing to another. And I often find myself over committing and under delivering. I want so much to do, that sometimes I forget to be. To listen in the quiet for what God needs from me. I am not alone and neither are you. We don’t have to do this alone. What we need to do is lean into God the Father and listen for His calling in our lives.

Phillip has set several goals for himself since his return. Getting sponsorships for children (enough so food isn’t an issue), donations of sports equipment so they have more entertainment (smiles), supplies for the schools so they have more opportunities (a better future). At home, he wants us to start learning more Bible verses so we have a better working knowledge of God’s word.

What all of this boils down to is God’s calling in his life. God has lit a fire in him that has been born out of love. That, my friends, is mighty and powerful and so beautiful.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

John 15:16, NIV

Following God’s Call

God blessed me years ago, when I was in college, with a clear vision of my calling to teach. I fully admit that it wanes from time to time. I think things are too hard, too bogged down in politics, too focused on numbers, but then God redirects my gaze. Children who need me to love them, to teach them, to guide them are put in my way and He reminds me that I am wonderfully made for His purpose. And so are you!

Not everyone is called through children like Phillip and I have been. My daughter has received her calling through sports. At the age of seven, she told me she didn’t want to be a spy anymore. She was going to be a soccer star until she got out of college and then she was going to help people be fit and healthy. At almost 21 years old she has refined what that means, but she is on track to accomplish what she set out to do so long ago.

God calls us and if we are listening, if we are patient, that calling will be fulfilled. And in heeding God’s call, we are being obedient to Him.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14, NIV

God calls us and if we are listening, if we are patient, that calling will be fulfilled. And in heeding God's call, we are being obedient to Him. Click To Tweet

Praying to Receive God’s Call

I have recently been looking at changing some things in my life. Change is scary for me. I like routine, I like feeling comfortable. Especially when that comfort was hard fought. I am feeling a tug, but I’m not sure if the tug is from God needing me to adjust the calling, or if it is from the enemy trying to pull me away from God’s work. Right now, I am in prayer about it. Hoping God will show me His path. I want to be what He has made me to be – a light in the world that reflects His love and mercy on others.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.

2 Timothy 1:9, NIV

This morning in church I heard our pastor clearly revealing God’s voice to me:

“When you stay focused on hearing God’s answer to your big prayer, you may be missing God talking to you.”

I might be guilty of this. Once again God is asking me to slow down and listen to Him. So I’ll end with the beginning:

Hey God, it’s me. What do You want?

love, me

We all have a calling from God. Your call may change, or it may remain constant. No matter when we hear it, God has a mission for us all. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #calling #purpose #scripture #journey #devotional

Emilce Giardino

path, plans, purpose, journey, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Journey: Knowing God is With You Every Step of the Way

Starting a God-inspired journey can seem so daunting. It will take you out of your comfort zone, but God is with you every step of the way. 



I keep hearing phrases like: get out of your comfort zone, make a change, become more involved. This can be exciting, scary, and exhausting. It can also be overwhelming.

So how can we cope with this? How do we keep the exciting feeling and not get so overwhelmed we can’t move forward or lose the feeling of purpose? These are questions that I have been asking myself a lot during this season of life, when everything seems to be going at 100MPH.

Starting a God-inspired journey can seem daunting. It will take you out of your comfort zone. But the good news is God is with you every step of the way. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #journey #path #plan #purpose #devotional #scripture

First Steps

Then they said to him, ‘Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.’ The priest answered them, ‘Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD’s approval.’

Judges 18:5-6, NIV

My husband, Phillip, has taught me a lot about carrying joy and excitement for God. He has really jumped out of his comfort zone recently and done it with such gusto and verve that I have been in awe. Until recently he hasn’t been much of a “joiner” in church-related activities. Phillip would go to church. He would help with something if someone asked. But he didn’t seek out opportunities to be involved. This made it easy for me to not be involved. I could sleep in on Sundays, not volunteer, or just be a passive Christian.

Then a little over a year ago he decided to sign up to be an usher at our church. He loved helping out and knowing that his help was needed. Now, Phillip works all three services every week. He sometimes grumbles about having to get up early on Sunday morning, but once there, he is definitely in his element. I have also tried to be more involved and turn my focus towards being a more active follower of Christ.

They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God.

3 John 1:6, NIV

Preparing the Journey

But that’s not the end or even all of the beginning of Phillip’s story. He joined a men’s group that meets a few Friday mornings a month to discuss a book. Then he was asked to join a leadership training group reading another book. By the way, Phillip often has joked through the years that he has only read one book from cover to cover in his whole life….now he is reading two simultaneously.

Because of this, our home conversations are even more authentic and transparent. We talk about what he is reading, what I am reading, and how we see God’s plan playing out in our lives. It feels more like a complete life than it ever has before.

There is still more to this story. A few months ago, right before Christmas, Phillip was given the opportunity, through his work, to go on a mission trip to Liberia. Since he has taken hold of that opportunity, I have seen such joy and excitement, as well as some nervousness. But boy, have I seen God’s hand at work.

Christ-Centered

God has asked all of us to give with a generous heart. Putting this into practice has brought all of us joy, but it has also caused some stress. We have not taken anything away, just added to our plate. That means that because everything is on a time table, we have had to add extra time towards this project and take it away from other places in our lives.

As he prepares to go, he is fundraising, asking for donations and supplies to take to the orphanages he will be visiting and asking for others to pray for God’s blessing on the trip. He has had a mound of paperwork to contend with and a few rounds of shots to get. I have been his sounding board and helped him get the word out. At times it would have been easier to say…We are just too busy for this right now, maybe in a couple of years, this wil be easier. -OR-This is really expensive, maybe in a couple of years, we could financially be in a better place to support this trip.

All of this can seem tedious, overwhelming and some of it unpleasant. But every time Phillip has felt a little out of control, worried, or overwhelmed, he has centered himself in our Savior. We talk, we pray, we rest. All three have felt Christ-centered.

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

Seeing God’s Path and Following It

Through all of this journey, he has felt a pushing from God. That push has made him excited to see what’s next. Phillip prays daily to know God’s will in his life and has been so surprised to see how God has aligned his path to Him. This has pushed both of us more onto a Christ-centered path for our lives. And that has been exhilarating!

God desires to have a relationship with us. He wants us to invite Him to walk with us daily. When we do, this life has a way of opening up. It’s not always easy and rarely what we’ve planned. But it is always exciting!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV

Dear God,

Thank you for pushing us. Your hand is so firmly felt in our relationship. I feel the bonds of my marriage so firmly that I know it is You making us stronger. This opportunity feels beautiful and hard. Help us to move forward in a way that is pleasing to you. Be our guide and light the way to do what is pleasing to You and Your purpose.

love,

me

God desires to have a relationship with us and invite Him to walk with us. When we do, this life has a way of opening up. It's not always easy and rarely what we've planned. But it is always exciting! Click To Tweet

Starting a God-inspired journey can seem daunting. It will take you out of your comfort zone. But the good news is God is with you every step of the way. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #journey #path #plan #purpose #devotional #scripture

Johny Goerend

doubt, fear, vulnerable, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Vulnerable: Letting Go of Fear and Embracing God’s Guidance

Fear is the enemy and the answer is becoming vulnerable. That seems crazy, yet God calls us to be a little crazy. Let go of the fear and embrace God’s guidance. 



“I don’t know.”

Why do these three little words cause such fear and anxiety in us? I hate saying these words. They make me feel weak, vulnerable and most of all like a failure.

Fear is the enemy and the answer is becoming vulnerable. That seems crazy, yet God calls us to be a little crazy. Let go of the fear and embrace God. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #doubt #fear #vulnerability #devotional #scripture #encouragement

It’s Okay to Struggle

As I’m writing this I’m listening to my son try to work through a hard coding problem and he is really struggling. He has worked on this problem for at least four hours. I keep hearing things like: What do you mean? Ohhh now I get it! Why won’t this thing work? Can’t you just…

But here is what I am learning by watching him struggle – he keeps struggling. Eventually, he will get it, because he doesn’t give up. As a young kid, I don’t know doesn’t fill him with fear. He is okay not knowing the answers. He accepts that as a child, as a student, he is learning. I don’t hear I don’t know followed by silence. He quickly follows up with a question, a wondering, or a workaround.

Isn’t that what God is calling us to – to be like children. He wants us to realize we don’t know it all. To ask Him for help, wonder and search for the answers in His name, and call on Him to be our guide.

Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me […] Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! It is necessary that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom they come.

Matthew 18:4-5,7 NET

Let Go of the Fear

We can’t fear I don’t know. Vulnerability is not easy but we must embrace it and let God lead us. Sometimes the path to the answer is long and difficult, full of those stumbling blocks. Sometimes the struggle is the answer. That can feel difficult and leave you wondering if it was worthwhile. I find myself struggling with many uncertainties in times like this. The fear and vulnerabilities of I don’t know often creep in.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us.

Hebrews 12:1, NET

This verse is the answer to my feelings. Feelings of not wanting to say those dreaded words. Cling to those who are steadfast in God’s corner. Let them be my touchstones and have faith in the journey. It’s not a sprint. Ask questions, be vulnerable, admit when you are unsure. Don’t be a stumbling block for others, but be a witness to God’s endurance.

Be Vulnerable

A friend and I were talking recently and sharing some hard fought truths. What struck me most was that despite being hurt and broken at times in her life, she was not bound to that in her faith. Her faith is strong and supersedes any hardships life has given her. I read a quote recently in Tim Tebow’s book Shaken: “God will never waste pain that’s offered to Him.”

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV

My friend has such a child-like spirit and asks a million questions. She is always searching for God’s answer, His will. Truly, she is a beautiful example of running the race with endurance and grace. Being vulnerable is her gift and she shares it to God’s glory. I want to be more like that.

Get to Work

Admitting our limitations gives God room to work. He is the one that makes all things possible. But I am such a sinner. I need to be vulnerable. I need to find the edge of my possibilities so that I can stop relying on myself and trust in my Creator.

Wow, that is a powerful lesson I feel God working to teach me in this season of my life. Trust in God, be vulnerable, and put fear aside.

So I am in a battle of wills over this, right now. I know in my heart that this is right and good. It is God’s will. My head keeps getting in the way though. I hold on to fear: not knowing the answers, letting God lead my life, trusting in a future that sometimes seems murky.

Admitting our limitations gives God room to work. He is the one that makes all things possible. We need to be vulnerable. To find the edge of our possibilities and fully trust in our Creator. Click To Tweet

Vulnerable Prayer

But every day I am waking up right. Praying this prayer:

Dear God,

Help me loosen the fist of fear that lives inside of me. I am so weak and can’t do it. You have to do it for me. Let me, let You be strong for me. I know that You are my answer. I feel that truth in my heart. Quiet the doubt that creeps into my head. Thank you for the encouragement you place in front of me. Thank you for not abandoning me when I waiver. You are my rock and foundation.

love,

me

If you are on the journey to vulnerability with me, bless you. It is hard. But have faith in our Creator. And remember His promise:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28, KJV

Fear is the enemy and the answer is becoming vulnerable. That seems crazy, yet God calls us to be a little crazy. Let go of the fear and embrace God. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #doubt #fear #vulnerability #devotional #scripture #encouragement

unsplash-logoKatarzyna Urbanek

God's Will, resolution, testimony, love, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Resolution: Reflecting on God’s Lessons and Moving Forward

Reflecting on the year gone by can help us move toward the future God has planned for us. Our resolution should be to testify of God’s goodness and great love. 



A little over a year ago I wrote my first devotional “Love Letters: Expressing Our Desire and Commitment to God”. As I reflect on my year of writing devotionals for Oh Lord Help Us, I am reminded that love is what brought me here. My love of God, my love of writing, and my love for a friend.

Reflecting on the year gone by can help us move toward the future God has instore. Our resolution should be to testify of God's goodness and great love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Reflecting on God’s Lessons

As a teacher, I encourage my students to always consider what they have learned. In reflecting on my year, I am asking myself to do the same. I see the ebb and flow of my emotions, what is important, and a voice cracking through to be heard. Being vulnerable and allowing others to see inside has been scary, intimidating, and oh so rewarding.

God has shown me that fear is just the devil’s way of sidetracking His work through me. Fear is a human emotion that everyone feels, but trusting in God is the divine intervention that makes it possible to get to the other side of the fear.

Be strong and courageous! Do not fear of tremble before them, for the Lord your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you!

Deuteronomy 31:6, NET

Every time I wrote an article I waited for some pithy comment, some sharp retort about what I had written, or criticism about my words. I got some, well-deserved critiques from friends and family. All given in the spirit of love and understanding. It took me a beat or two.

My knee-jerk reaction was anger and frustration. Luckily, God has taught me to breathe through it, listen with a spirit of willingness, and adjust as needed. Sometimes I needed to choose different words, sometimes I needed to give further explanations and sometimes I needed to stick to my guns and say what I said.

Being vulnerable can be scary. Fear is just the devil's way of sidetracking God's work through us. Trusting in God is the divine intervention that makes it possible to get to the other side of the fear. Click To Tweet

Where God Leads

I have also learned to listen to God’s soft whisper. As Mark Batterson says in his book Whisper, “What we’ve learned from Scripture is that He often speaks in a whisper. Not to make it difficult to hear Him, but to draw us close.” Sometimes I would rather be punched in the face with His message so I don’t have to stop my life or wait. But this year I have learned to listen more intently, look for the patterns in God’s path for me, and slow down. Okay, so that last one I’m working on.

As I write down my prayers to God, I can see His hand at work in my life. I can testify to His power to move in small ways. When you see small miracles over and over, month after month, week after week, even day after day – you can’t deny the power and overwhelming love of our Father.

For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted the good word of God and the miracles of the coming age,

Hebrews 6:4-5, NET

Some days my prayers are full of gratitude and joy. Other days they are cries for help. I have begged for healing for friends and family members. I have sobbed out, as evidence from tear stained pages, for help when my children were hurting. Sometimes God sent abundant blessings and other times He carried me to the next day. He answers “yes” and He answers “no”. And sometimes He answers, “wait”. That is by far the hardest to hear.

Resolution

Once my students analyze their work and decide what it is they learned, I ask them to make a new goal. Something that pushes them to grow. So now it’s my turn. My husband laughingly asked me to write him more love letters when I shared it was time to write my next devotion.

He was being cute, but it kind of hit me when I read my first post from last year, it has been years since I wrote him a really sweet, gooey, love letter. It’s also something I feel very uncomfortable with, sharing my feelings about others. Over and over I have told you I want to be a reflection of God’s light. I’ve been trying to share my love of God more, but now I need to share the love in my heart that God has put there. I can’t horde it or feel it but not mention it. The words “I love you!” said with sincerity are super important. So my New Year’s Resolution is to say them more often.

What I am commanding you today is to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to obey his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances. Then you will live and become numerous and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are about to possess.

Deuteronomy 30:16, NET

Thank You

Dear reader, I love you! I love how supportive you have been of me on my writing journey. How you have cheered me on. I am so grateful for the stories you have shared of your own life and walk with God.

Oh Lord Help Us has been one of the greatest blessings to me. Katie and Rachael, as well as the rest of the writing staff, have been amazing. Their posts are rooted in God’s word. Our Father has been faithful through them in holding me through the bad days and celebrating with me through the joyful times.

May the New Year bring you freedom from fear, joy in abundance, and love that knows no bounds. God offers all that and so much more. I am so thankful and wait with an expectant heart for my Savior’s next plan in my life.

Dear God,

Thank You for all the wonder that You have shared with me this year. I see so clearly Your hand in my life. Sharing the testimony of this life you have blessed me with has not been easy, but so fulfilling. I cried out to you for peace and happiness. You have carried me through to the other side of my fear.

Help me to be more patient and wait for You. Be a constant reminder to me to reflect Your love. Not just in deeds but in true words. Help the words “I love you!” come easily and joyfully from my lips. Let those who hear them know that they come from You.

love,

me

Reflecting on the year gone by can help us move toward the future God has instore. Our resolution should be to testify of God's goodness and great love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Annie Spratt

Christmas, God's Love, Salvation, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Warmth: Allowing God’s Gift of Eternal Life to Burn in Our Soul

God sent His Son to warm our hearts. His warmth is all you need to have eternal life. This gift was given to all of us. Let God’s fire warm your life.



I love a good fire on a crisp cool night. The light of the fire dancing as waves of heat move over cool skin feels elemental and natural. The smell of smokey wood burning brings a flood of childhood memories washing over me.

God sent His Son to warm our hearts. His warmth is all you need to have eternal life. This gift was given to all of us. Let God's fire warm your life. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Memories

My grandparents loved to go camping. We spent lots of time living out of their little camper. When I was in Girl Scouts some of my fondest memories are of the Jamboree where we would tent camp near the lake in Louisburg, NC. Now we spend time by the fire pit listening to nature, eating s’mores, talking and just being.

So, a few weeks ago while sitting by the fire, we were listening to “old school” songs. I pulled out an old Colin Raye song “What if Jesus Came Back Like That.” I remember the first time I heard this song. Lying in my dorm room listening to the CD I had gotten for a cent from BMG. Colin Raye had won Entertainer of the Year and I had recently gotten into country music. I listened to this song over and over again, intent on hearing and learning all the words. Tears streamed down my face because this song spoke to my soul.

Seeing God’s Fire

This song tore me apart. What if Jesus came back as anything other than the King? What if the homeless person on Franklin Street was how He came back? Or if he came from a drug-infested hovel? Didn’t he come so humbly before? Why would he come back differently?

He came to town on a cold dark night
A single star was his only light
The baby born that silent night
A manger for his bed

What if Jesus comes back like that
Where will he find out hearts are at
Will he let us in or turn his back

Feeling the Warmth of God’s Love

As we race toward Christmas, I think we need to stop and consider the story. A young pregnant girl, engaged to a man who wasn’t the father of her child. Talk about being out in the cold…

They were on a journey across rough roads to be counted for a government who held them in contempt. They finally made it to the little town of Bethlehem but found nowhere to stay. A stable full of animals was the best they could find. And it was in this situation that Jesus was born.

Mary wasn’t in a nice soft bed, attended to by nurses and doctors who were seeing to her every comfort. Smelly, dirty, cold conditions surrounded the newborn. God, our Father, allowed His only Son to be born into such humble conditions. But, His love for us through His Son kept everyone warm.

Jesus came to bring a fire to our spirit. To be a light in the world. He came to warm us from the coldness of separation from God. Click To Tweet

Spreading the Warmth of God’s Love

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Matthew 25:40, NKJV

God has given us clear instructions. He is in each of us and that is why we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Those who are in crisis need our help, not our condemnation. We need to pray for them and with them. Give joyfully of our resources to help others. And take it back to the old-school question: “What Would Jesus Do?”

Jesus came to bring a fire to our spirit. To be a light in the world. He came to warm us from the coldness of separation from God. We need to take Him into our lives and love Him wholeheartedly.

It rises at one end of the heavens and runs its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making wise the simple…

Psalm 19:6-7, NIV

Dear God,

I am in awe of your love. Help me to pay attention to Your warmth. Let me share it with others. You were humble enough to have your Son born in a lowly stable. Let me see you in others and remember to love others as you would. 

love,

me

God sent His Son to warm our hearts. His warmth is all you need to have eternal life. This gift was given to all of us. Let God's fire warm your life. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional