The Struggle is Real

January 28, 2023 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Elaine James –

I woke up with these words on my mind: “Don’t give up!” I immediately rejected that thought because I really did feel like giving up and had no desire to listen. Then I remembered going through YouTube videos one day and coming across one of this little girl singing “Never give up.”

When my daughter caught me listening to this out-of-tune girl singing she said, “Stop! Turn that off.”

It is such a cliché to say to someone who is struggling “Well, don’t give up, things will be brighter tomorrow.” Some days we can receive advice like that with delight; but on other days we could respond with attitude and completely turn away from those words.

Can you identify with the struggle I am describing?

I know the people close to me are thinking “When is she going to snap out of this funk?”

If they only knew all the thoughts I was struggling with. That is precisely the point. If they knew all of the thoughts I was thinking, they would tell me to stop it…and then they would nag me to not give up! Ugh! There are those words again. “Don’t give up!”

Instead of those reoccurring words, we could say to one another, “don’t delay, run straight to Jesus.”

The Bible teaches us, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words” (1 Corinthians 2:11-13 NIV).

If we reminded ourselves daily that we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), then we would hold the truth not of the world but the thoughts of Christ in our head and heart. This knowledge is completely different than what the world offers for advice when we are struggling. With Christ’s truth we must look at things differently. All our struggles can be covered by Jesus. We just need to know the truth!

PRAYER: Lord thank you for helping me to understand what you have freely given me. Teach me Lord your way to get through life struggles. Amen.

I’ve Got That Joy

January 14, 2023 by  
Filed under Faith

By Elaine James –

Merrily I sang, “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart…”

“Why didn’t I sing this song sooner?” I wondered. Earlier that day I was plowing through a big writing assignment. My back, neckand arms all were aching, not to mention my brain was fried. I was about to give up. “Dear God, I’m not a writer. What am I trying to do here? I can’t do this. God I like to speak and act but this writing thing is hard. Help me.”

The Bible teaches us that Nehemiah went through the ups and downs of life just like us. He loved God and noticed the destruction of the wall in Jerusalem. God’s gracious hand was on Nehemiah as he went through a process to complete the reconstruction of the wall. After the Israelites had completed the wall, Nehemiah gathered the people to hear Ezra, the teacher of Law, read the book of the Law of Moses.

The Israelites heard the Word, lifted their hands and responded with weeping and mourning. “Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’” (Nehemiah 8:10 NIV).

Are you wondering how that song came to me? It popped in my head after I finally prayed. A still voice in my mind responded “Dear Elaine, I see your struggle. Thanks for coming to me; I know the way to help you. Here is a song that has been deep in your heart.”

Occasionally we have struggles in our daily lives. When we slow down and take the time to read God’s word and listen to His counsel then we are quiet enough so He can renew us with His strength and joy. When I did that I got back on track.

I learned I need to ask myself an important question: Why do I speak, act and write? You can ask yourself the same question “Why do I …….?”

My answer was found by praying, reading the word, worshipping and giving thanks.

The result was a song from my heart…I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart.

PRAYER: Help me to remember that my joy and strength come from you. Amen.

Umbrella

January 4, 2023 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Elaine James –

Spring is in the air; you know what that means? Rainstorms! Time to take your umbrella out, because the storms will come. When I was younger and a storm started I would brace myself, plug my ears when thunderbolts sounded, and close my eyes tight when the lightning flashed. Scary!

When a personal storm arises in your life, do you get tense and brace yourself? The Bible tells the story of a storm that arose and frightened the disciples. “Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, and the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm” (Matthew 8:24-26 NIV). They ran to Jesus scared not knowing what to do. After Jesus calmed the storm they asked “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him: (Matthew 8:27 NIV).

The apostles were learning firsthand who Jesus is. We have the Bible to explain to us exactly who He is. By reading the Bible it builds our faith and helps us to remember who Jesus is and that He walks us through the storms in life. Picture yourself with an umbrella open over your head. Written all over the umbrella with permanent marker are Jesus’ names: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jesus and umbrellas are a lot alike. They both cover us from storms.

“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 NIV).

PRAYER: Thank you God for protecting and guiding me through life. Help me to stay calm during the storms. Amen.

Do the Happy Dance

January 2, 2023 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Elaine James –

“If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience, or does He give them the opportunity to find patience?” That’s a line from the movie, Evan Almighty. I feel like the wife in that movie at times. When life gets uncomfortable, I can become controlling and perfectionistic to a fault. Sometimes I don’t see eye to eye with my spouse, one of my children or a co-worker. When I realize that they aren’t going to respond the way I want them to, frustration wells up in me. Fortunately, I’m not always this uptight. This usually only occurs when life is moving too fast and I have a lot on my plate. I want peace, and I want it now! Why can’t everyone just cooperate with me?

Do you ever feel like that? Do you catch yourself asking the same question?

The Bible teaches us to “glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4 NIV).

This reminds me of the saying, “God cares more about our character than our comfort.” We are all on a path full of trials. Those trials sometimes lead us to a fork in the road where we can either choose to make a stink, insisting on our own way, or we can adjust our expectations and pray about the next step. From there we can walk in God’s way and maybe, just like the ending of Evan Almighty, we can celebrate by doing… the happy dance!

PRAYER: God, what do You want me to do? How should I react? Guide me and help me with Your wisdom so that I can truly celebrate as I walk in Your way. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Loving Grip

December 30, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Elaine James –

My husband knew that I was disappointed. He also knew that I really needed that walk on the beach. He began to find playful ways to keep from letting go of my hand. Thankfully, I started to enjoy the game and even found myself laughing. I am thankful my husband did not let my frustration bother him. He was determined to somehow help me to enjoy myself despite the obstacles. It was hard for me not to let my negative emotions get the best of me at first, but his special attention caught my eye.

Often, I find myself trying to hold on to God’s hand and stay on His path. Challenging circumstances in life vie for my attention leaving me frustrated and feeling like giving up – just like that walk on the beach began. Fortunately, like my husband, God doesn’t loosen His grip.
The Bible says, “For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9 NKJV). At times we are tempted to call things that turn around for good a coincidence. But this verse helps us to recognize it is not a coincidence. It’s God’s goodness which gives us reason to celebrate with hearts of gratitude.

Maybe you can relate. You feel at times like giving up. Just like my husband caught my attention and helped me to enjoy a walk hand-in-hand, God’s loving grip can catch our attention as He walks with us filling our hearts with joy.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your loving grip that keeps hold of me as I continue to walk and talk with You and find satisfaction in life to carry on. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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