Devotional

A Higher Love

A Higher Love

This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 1 JOHN 3:11  Most Christians, if they have been a believer for any length of time, know that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength; and the second is like it—love your neighbor as yourself. However, Jesus says in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Whoa! This loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is hard enough, but Jesus is now saying to not just love like we love, but love like Jesus loves! John, who was in the room when Jesus revealed this new command, emphasizes it again in the verse above. This love is not a brotherly love, but an agapao love—a God-like love. It is a love that

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The New is Here!

The New is Here!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.  The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17  Ever since I was a kid, I have loved a blank page and a sharpened pencil. Back then, I drew pictures and practiced my writing skills. Today I feel a wonderful thrill when I start a new journal or notebook. I like it so much that my shelves are full of half-full journals, each one with dozens of empty pages at the end. I simply can’t wait to start over. Imagine the possibilities of a fresh new book with untouched pages waiting for rich, beautiful words. I write new goals, new lists, new thoughts, and notes. I carefully copy meaningful Bible verses and then pencil in quotes that inspire me. It’s such fun to start anew. I feel the same sensation when I open a new First Place

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Prince of Peace

Prince of Peace

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6  Halloween is barely over when magazines and Pinterest boards fill with ideas for Christmas. Martha Stewart is cooking up a feast that cannot possibly be recreated without a staff of sous chefs. The recipes for cookies and cakes and pastries are endless. In my first years of marriage, I bought Good Housekeeping and tried to replicate their Christmas décor, never realizing the budget for those rooms was more than we made in a year. My scaled-down efforts always ended up deeply disappointing. One year I went all out and made a two-story gingerbread house, complete with sugar-glazed windows and electric lighting. Unfortunately, I was so exhausted when I finished that I could hardly wrap gifts or

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Persistence, Not Perfection

Persistence, Not Perfection

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. HEBREWS 10:24   Years ago, in my first session of First Place 4 Health, my leader, Joy Huber, spoke a word of encouragement to our group that has ministered to me ever since. She told us that our First Place 4 Health journey was about “persistence, not perfection.” She would continue to speak that encouragement over us that entire session. My heart’s desire was to learn everything I could about the program and follow it without fail. But in my struggles along the way, Joy’s encouraging words echoed in my mind—it’s persistence, not perfection. I am so thankful to the Lord for using Joy in such a practical way that continues to minister to me as well as to our First Place 4 Health group. Temptation will rise, faulty thinking can make us feel entrapped,

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Praise Worthy Patience

Praise Worthy Patience

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. PROVERBS 19:11 When I looked at this verse, I could easily understand that a wise person is a patient person. But what does it mean when it says, “It is to his glory to overlook an offense”? One of the dictionaries says that glory is a “highly praiseworthy asset.”  Another said that glory is “great honor and admiration won by doing something important or valuable.” God must think it is a big deal when you and I overlook offenses! How many times are we offended each day? Think about yesterday. Did someone say something rude or hurtful to you? Did someone not do something he or she promised to do? Did a friend fail to include you? Did someone cut you off in traffic? Did someone fail to thank you for a favor? All of

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Sincere Hearts

Sincere Hearts

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. HEBREWS 3:13   One of the aspects I enjoy the most about a First Place 4 Health Wellness Week is being secluded and shielded from the world for seven days. The absence of electronic devices and newspapers, having freedom to enjoy or decline programmed activities, and seeing the openness of attendees and the authenticity of the staff all combine to encourage me with its atmosphere of love and sincere concern. It is in this setting, among like-minded people, that my broken heart (broken over concern for a fractured family relationship) was healed, my spirit refreshed and my mind renewed. When I arrived at Wellness Week, I wasn’t aware of the need buried deep in the crevices of my heart. But words spoken during the outdoor worship service pricked

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Don’t Give In

Don't Give In

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you ago. Joshua 1:9   All of us know what it feels like to be discouraged; it is an experience that needs little explanation.  Life seems to spin out of control, our inner resources are depleted, and we feel like we’re running on empty.  However, what we often fail to realize when the fog rolls in, stripping us of our zest for life, is that discouragement signals the need for immediate action—for discouragement is always a call to run swiftly to the Word of God.  As much as we may want to give into feelings of defeat during times of discouragement, we must instead muster our courage and take decisive action.  It is essential that we take steps to defuse our discouragement before it turns into depression and

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Persistance, Not Perfection

Persistance, Not Perfection

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  HEBREWS 10:24 Years ago, in my first session of First Place 4 Health, my leader, Joy Huber, spoke a word of encouragement to our group that has ministered to me ever since. She told us that our First Place 4 Health journey was about “persistence, not perfection.” She would continue to speak that encouragement over us that entire session. My heart’s desire was to learn everything I could about the program and follow it without fail. But in my struggles along the way, Joy’s encouraging words echoed in my mind—it’s persistence, not perfection. I am so thankful to the Lord for using Joy in such a practical way that continues to minister to me as well as to our First Place 4 Health group. Temptation will rise, faulty thinking can make us feel entrapped, discouragement

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Pulling Weeds

Pulling Weeds

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 Long before the days of weed whackers and chemical sprays, there was only one way to get rid of the pesky weeds that threatened the survival of the fruit-bearing plants: with a hoe and lots of hard work. During the summers I spent at my grandparent’s farm in Arkansas, my grandmother, who was very protective of her vegetable garden, made sure daily weed pulling was a priority. Just cutting the tops off at the ground wasn’t enough to please Grandma. She insisted that we pulled the obnoxious plants out by the roots, which meant backbreaking work! Grandma knew that cultivation was more than sticking seeds in the ground and hoping they would thrive. Feeding what was good and destroying what

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New Way to Journal

New Way to Journal

I have started a prayer journal many times with the best of intentions only to give up after a few days. I wanted to have an effective prayer life, but it never seemed to work for me. It really bothered me, because the people I admired the most were faithful in journaling. Carole Lewis often talks about how she has kept a prayer journal for years. When she is writing a book, she often looks back into her journals to be sure that her memory is correct about some incident or person she is writing about. One day we were talking, and I expressed my frustration to her about my difficulty in keeping a journal. My handwriting is so awful that sometimes I cannot read what I wrote the day before. I told Carole I wished I could do my prayer journal on my computer and she said, “Why not?”

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