By Elaine James –
Do you remember when you were younger and used to pick a flower and pull the petals off saying “he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not—?” When you got to the last petal, you either stopped on he loves me or he loves me not. I always loved it of course when I had a boy in mind. Especially Donny Osmond and it landed on “he loves me.” LOL!
Recently I was in the mood for either a sunny easy breezy walk or a Calgon “take me away” in my, scented bubbly bath. Both would relax me. I opted for the sunny easy breezy peaceful walk. I passed a blossoming tree that smelled so beautiful. I picked a flower and playfully considered plucking each petal saying “he loves me, he loves me not.”
Memories swept over me, how my friend and I took turns with our flower hoping the last petal would stop at “he loves me.” Feeling younger again, I chuckled.
A soft whisper came into my thoughts “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”
Tears filled my eyes. I don’t have to pluck my flower, He loves me. Those words soothe my soul forever.
When I was young I looked for true love, fulfilled in a person. As I know now, nothing can compare to Jesus’ love. Maybe you are still plucking your flowers and looking for true love. Are you?
Here in Chicago, spring is when you start to feel the warm weather, see the leaves growing back, the green grass fill in, and flowers emerge. May you see heaven and nature singing His glory.
AUTHOR QUOTE: He loves you!
“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness’” (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV).
Today’s devotional is by Elaine James, author of the tract JOURNEY, certified personality trainer and graduate of Christian Leaders Authors and Speakers Seminars. She is a prayer ministry counselor, accomplished actress, and certified Christian storyteller. Her dramatic performances have made many aware of their problem with Major Mind Overload, and their need to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ. Elaine is a recycler—nothing God teaches her is wasted. www.elainejames.com
By Candace McQuain –
There is a staff member at my church who I see often and every time I do he is filled with joy, and always smiling and laughing. The man is perpetually happy and I must confess, I longed for that same unceasing joy, time and time again. Then it hit me, “Hey grumpy, you can have that to.” As a matter of fact, your God very much so wants you to have that very same joy and happiness. “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful” (Psalm 68:3 NIV). I had to make a change.
I vowed to take His word to heart and really try to be a happier, more joyful person. Unfortunately, it only lasted about 10 minutes. Why? Because I don’t live in a bubble, I live in a big world filled with little annoyances and daily struggles. So now what? Should I stalk the happy staff member and see what he does on a daily basis to ward off the joy-stealers of the world? No, of course not. It’s back to the Word I go.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12 NIV).
There it is! Without having to peer through a window or eves drop during a telephone call I can tell you right now how and why that cheerful staff member is the way he is. He is joyful in times of need. He is patient when his heart is suffering and when he raises a prayer to his Father he is faithful that it will be heard. With all of this, the sky is the limit as to what he can let roll off his back or better yet what he knows he can give to God to handle for him.
We have that same joyful hope, patience and faith available to us; it’s just a matter of how and to what degree we are going to use it. Will we continue to use it sparingly, using just enough to get us by day by day? Or will we dedicate our lives to obtaining true happiness and joy? Let’s show that big world around us that we have the power and the strength to not let it get us down.
I want my God to see His daughter smile more than frown. Laugh more than cry and simply live a life that is a joyful example of His love and kindness so that people see Him in me, and not a grumpy Christian. So as the Partridge Family put it so eloquently, “Come on get happy!”
Candace McQuain, founder of Believers Empowering Believers, is a mother of 4 beautiful children and married to the love of her life. She is very active in her church where connecting believers with other believers is her passion. She was called to leave her job of 15 years in the Aerospace industry to provide support, encouragement and knowledge to her fellow brothers and sisters who are struggling or new to their faith.
By Cami Checketts –
I love mornings! I start my day with a great workout and a positive attitude. I plan how I’m going to be healthy and happy all day. By mid-afternoon I start running out of steam, ready to scream at my boys and eat a pound of chocolate just to help me keep moving. I usually resist both temptations, but by the time the boys are in bed I’m sick of being in control of myself. I tell myself that I did pretty good today and I deserve that bowl of ice cream.
It’s so easy to lose sight of our goals when we’re exhausted and discouraged. I find this is true for me in healthy eating as well as other areas of my life.
Sundays are a day that bolsters me for a busy week. A speaker at church a few weeks ago compared this to a leaky bucket. It gets filled to the brim on Sunday with wonderful spiritual experiences, insights and a rest from our labors. But throughout the week the water slowly leaks out when we make choices that aren’t quite up to snuff. Maybe on Monday our teenager is obstinate (this happens sometimes at my house) and we lose our temper. Maybe on Tuesday a neighbor or co-worker does something that annoys us and instead of focusing on the positive, we belittle him or gossip about him.
It’s just small things but they add up and our spiritual reserves slowly leak out.
The challenge for me is to remain strong throughout my day and week. To stay firmly on the Lord’s side of the line, keep his light burning bright inside of me, and keep my eye on my goals and the happiness that living right brings. The only way I know to do this is through constant reminders: always reading my scriptures and other uplifting materials, praying, associating with enlightening people, and rejoicing in the Lord as I go through each day.
Maybe if I consistently stay strong I’ll be able to resist not only that bowl of ice cream, but that desire to be judgmental. If I ever get there I’ll let you know!
Cami Checketts is a wife, mother to four boys, exercise scientist, and author. Please refer to her blog for more information – http://camicheckettsbooks.blogspot.com.
By Sherri Holbert –
“Dear God, please make sure someone is behind me that can read this. If found on the side of the road, drag me across the finish line.” This was one of my favorite t-shirt sayings for my first half marathon, the Disney Princess Run.
It was indeed a magical experience! Tiaras, pink tutus, crystal bling and magic wands adorned the 16,000 princess runners. My tiara made me feel like Cinderella even though my running shoes had no resemblance to pretty, glass slippers!
I found humor in the t-shirt phrase at the beginning of the race. As I began to sweat and “sparkle” after a few miles, I realized that running 13.1 miles is no easy feat without the proper training plan.
During practice the key training goal is to increase your endurance through long distance runs. This isn’t about speed. The goal is simply to finish the run while incorporating some walk breaks in order to maintain strength and a slow breathing pattern. On race day I felt confident I had prepared myself to simply enjoy the journey, cross the finish line and receive my princess medallion.
Our spiritual run also requires dedicated training. We must train ourselves to spend daily time with God even when we have other deadlines on our agenda. We must devote ourselves to intimate, uninterrupted prayer time with our personal Trainer. We must commit to spiritual strength-training even when our muscles are tired. In this heavenly race, our goal is to finish while giving God our personal best.
Are you confident with your spiritual training plan? Are you committed to doing the hard work now so you can cross the finish line with ease? I believe we all desire to receive a first place medallion for a job well done once we enter the Heavenly Princess Run.
PRAYER: Father, help me to keep my training plan focused on You. Help me to schedule priority time for endurance training through daily quiet time and prayer.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NIV).
Today’s devotion is by Sherri Holbert, a co-founder of Walk of Purpose ministries. Read more of her inspirational devotions in DIVAS of the Divine: How to Live as a Designer Original in a Knock-Off World. Study or check out her blog at www.walkofpurpose.blogspot.com.
By Rhonda Rhea –
Do you know how glorious it is to speak at an event that’s directed by a thoughtful and gracious event coordinator? Those are the trips that are somewhere near heaven. Ah, to be chauffeured about, fed the best meals from the finest restaurants, then transported to a posh hotel, only to find a gorgeous gift basket already delivered to the room. Bubble bath waiting. Bed turned down. Mint on the pillow. It’s good to be queen.
Okay, no one knows as well as I do that I don’t deserve to be treated like a queen. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it, does it?
You know when I truly realize I’ve been unduly treated like royalty? When I get home. It’s like a whiplash back into reality. One second I’m signing books and greeting the complimentary crowds, the next I’m walking in the door to kids who barely manage a deadpan, “Oh Mom, it’s you. I’m glad you’re home–‘cuz we’re out of bread. And somebody must’ve spilled a bunch of milk inside the fridge ‘cuz it smells really nasty in there.”
I’m suddenly “persona non au gratin”—no longer the big cheese. It’s so funny that I can go straight from the applause of a gracious audience to cleaning the cat box.
While I admit I love my short reigns as queen, I have to tell you that there’s something quite comfortable about coming home to bread-fetching, milk-mopping and cat-box-cleaning servitude. Living with an entire brigade of pride police really isn’t a bad thing.
Humility can be so tricky. Once you realize you have it, it’s probably a point of pride—and then it’s gone! The best way to stay humble is to stay focused on Christ, our example. We’re told in Philippians 2:5-8 to have his attitude. “Let this same attitude and purpose and humble mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: Let Him be your example in humility. Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God, possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God, did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself of all privileges and rightful dignity, so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself still further and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!” (AMP)
Jesus was true royalty, not the temporary, speaking-event kind. He is rightly called the King of all kings. Yet this passage tells us that He didn’t hang on to those rights as royalty. He pushed them aside on our behalf and took on servant status. Imagine leaving the splendor of a Heaven beyond any five star hotel we can picture to serve and to unselfishly give His life.
I really do want to be like Him. I want to humbly serve before any crowd. And I want to humbly serve as I load my shopping cart with four gallons of milk. The Message phrases Proverbs 15:33b this way: “First you learn humility, then you experience glory.” By His grace, there’s glory before the crowds. I truly believe that in humble surrender, by His grace, there’s glory in the cat box too.
Rhonda Rhea is a radio personality, conference speaker, humor columnist and author of eight books, including High Heels in High Places and the newest, soon-to-be-released, How Many Light Bulbs Does It Take to Change a Person? You can find out more at www.RhondaRhea.com.