It's Never Too Late

“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;” Psalm 91:15a

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He didn’t ask me to tuck him in last night.

I heard the click of his light and waited for the invitation. Silence. Why wasn’t my Eli calling for me?

Maybe he’s praying, or stretching, or reading with a book light? Was something wrong?!

I’ll tell you what’s wrong. My boy is growing up. And I’m not ready.

I crept out of bed and peeked into his room. He looked longer, his jaw a bit wider, with those man-boy feet (now bigger than mine) sticking out from under his Star Wars blanket,

“Are you okay? You didn’t call me to ‘Kentucky’ you in…”

He opened his eyes, cracking a smile. Had he lost all his baby teeth?

“Oh, my goodness! You’re freaking out, I just thought it was too late to call you.” He laughed. Apparently, my mama-meltdown was hilarious.

But something squeezed at my heart, “Never. It’s never too late. You can always call me!”

And just like that, I realized my longing to be understood was much like my Heavenly Father’s. How many times had he sung the same ancient truth over my life … “It’s never too late, you can always call on me.”

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer you; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I” (Psalm 145:18 NIV).

Being a mother reminds me I’m made in the image of God. Although the love I feel for my kiddos is a teeny glimpse of His love for us, there’s nothing on earth more consuming and eternal than God himself. It’s that big. At times, when I’m desperate for my son to hear my words, God confirms he feels the same way about me. His Spirit pleads, “Why aren’t you calling on me, daughter?”

He’s listening at the door of my heart while I sit in the dark, cold and unsure. Always present, but desiring me to utter his name, to invite him to turn on the light. But, I make excuses … I’ve waited too longmy need is too great, or—the most dangerous … my need is too small.

What areas of your life do you hold back from God’s loving comfort? In what space do you prefer him not to come? Where have you cuddled under the lie, “My longing is too insignificant for him to care?” Push these things aside. They’re smothering your access to child-like faith. All we need to do is, cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

P.S. I reserve the right to tuck my “babies” into bed as long as they live under my roof. I’m fairly certain it’s in the Constitution somewhere…or a Dr. Suess book. Either way.

by Jenna Masters




Are You Willing to Commit to Joy?

“…in thy presence is fulness of joy…” Psalm 16:11

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Recently, I was blessed to attend a conference for Christian writers—writers hungry to soak up wisdom and encouragement from professionals in the craft. Authors, agents, publishers and mentors from all levels of the literary field flew to Southern California to do just that—impart wisdom and encouragement to those wrestling with the ministry of words.

"Claim your gift, then commit to it."

Isn’t that advice for all of us who are children of the Creator of the universe, the giver of all gifts?

Additional points we were challenged to consider:
Do you have a passion for (your gift)?
Does it (exercising your gift) bring you joy?
Are others inspired/encouraged by your (expression of the) gift)?

In my case, an actual professional author whom I had grown to admire and respect, reviewed some of my work and said I wrote well. It was the push I needed to take my gift seriously.

Then the real issue with my relationship to writing called me out: Are you willing to commit? No longer could I use the excuse of “I can’t.” It’s a choice between “I will” or “I won’t.” Am I willing to do whatever it might take—to learn, to labor, to sacrifice—all to walk worthy of my gift?

Committing to the craft of writing, or any other calling, made me think about my life as a Christian. I am committed to a person—Christ Jesus. God is not passive, but dynamic, and requires my willingness to commit my life to knowing and loving Him. My salvation was a gift earned by Jesus and, like my gift to create story, I must work out my own salvation that God is working in me. Whether to be a Christian—a God-given and Christ-sacrificed atonement that pursues me, or to be a writer—a God-given talent and personal desire to pursue, my willingness is required in the relationship.

To be counted worthy of doing anything well requires dedication to learning and growing. We must be willing to labor, work it out, and sacrifice for the namesake of the call.

Pursuit of our gifts can, and often does, become me focused. Instead of using our gift to bless others, their acceptance, acknowledgement, and accolades can overtake us. Soon our only joy is found in what others think.

It’s not uncommon to fall into this same trap as a Christian. But, our defining value is rooted in who Christ is and what God thinks. To know the Lord by studying His words, to love and live like Christ, to labor in prayer and put others first requires my willingness to give up the need for approval from others, and the nagging notion that I must earn God’s love. He has put His salvation in me. The question becomes, am I willing to work it out?

My passion for Jesus beckons me to write. My soul seeks His attention and my desire longs to draw attention to Him. Joy overflows when I am smack dab in the middle of my gifts—writing for Him, with Him and about Him. In His presence is fullness of joy.

What is your passion? Are you single-minded in your pursuit of that passion or are you being tossed between two conflicting opinions?

Commit your will to work out the gift God is working in you. Joy is abundant there.

“Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant.” Galatians 1:10

By Dana Lange



Worth

“Your worth is based on the value God has placed on you. You are not defined by your past, your failures, what someone else said you’re worth, what you think you’re worth, what you own, the way you look or by any other value this world or its people have or have placed on you. The enemy will remind you everyday of who you used to be. But God tells you who you are. Our worth has been sealed forever in His love and mercy. Our lives are defined by His grace alone.” Louie Giglio

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I’m certain these words were meant for me. I have been defining my life by the roadblocks—not seeing the giant arrows pointing me toward another direction.

My strong desire has been to daily encourage, pray and give biblical counsel in the context of a church. This hasn’t happened. I’ve always felt limited through social media to do that. But the yearning hasn’t gone away. I see a plethora of opportunities without being able to realize them.

I see ministry as a daily call, a continual pouring of God’s truth into women. I know from personal experience that I need to spend intimate time with him every day. I want to share what God has taught me. He pours “in” to make me a vessel that pours “out.”

Bible verses describe the beauty of Jesus Christ, our Savior. I don’t know how to create things that are pretty—I’m thankful if I can color within the lines. But I see God’s beautiful creation as a holy place—to sit quietly, be inspired, and share his love of it.

Several times I’ve taken tentative steps into ministry and each door I’ve knocked on remained closed. Every rejection, no matter how loving—has left me wondering “What am I missing Lord?” Am I really too old to understand what women need today? Don’t we all just need You? Can I not relate to them? This hurts. Take this desire away, please.”

No answer. Everytime I look at the young women around me, confused by mixed messages this world—and even religion—puts out, I think “God's Word has the answers you’re looking for.” Every time I hear how lonely someone is—isolated in the middle of a crowd—or how they don’t feel they fit in anywhere, I think “You're not alone, God has you.” The desire to gently, lovingly share what gets me through those same issues just grows and grows..

We don’t always communicate face to face. With social media we connect with others through our phones or computers and this only serves to make us feel isolated. We see the highlights of others’ lives and feel our own is lacking.

“There’s a ministry here.” Father God whispers into my heart. “But God, I want to minister in a church!”

I recently visited my son in Pennsylvania. I also visited family in New York and New Jersey. While there, different family members thanked me for being faithful in posting on social media, encouraging them through God's word. My sister-in-law said, “It didn’t matter that you were in California, you strengthened my faith as if you were here.”

I came home from my visit and couldn’t wait to be with my church family again! As I closed my eyes and worshipped. I was reminded I am to serve Him wherever I am—as the Holy Spirit leads. God put the desire in my heart. No building can contain all the Lord has for me to share of His love, grace and mercy. As the temple of the Holy Spirit, I contain the love of God and can share with whomever and whenever opportunity arises. I’ve been looking for a place and realized all I’ve ever needed to serve Him is within me.

“Okay, my Lord, I hear you now. Thank You!” He took me across the country to make a point.

When you read this, my hope for you is that you will do whatever it is the Lord puts on your heart. Take a step in faith. The enemy wants to stop us. He will use anything or anyone to try and keep us from proclaiming Jesus Christ. Don’t doubt, but walk toward your goals. If it’s God’s will for you, He will confirm it and then help you to get it done.

“And I am sure of this, He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” Philippians 4:6

by Eve Montano








Wonderful Truth

“Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.” Psalm 119:18

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This morning the Lord spoke to me through the wind—or lack of it. As I sat with my cup of coffee and my Bible open in my lap, I noticed the only movement in the shrubs and trees beyond our yard came from squirrels—playfully jumping from branch to branch—and birds—alighting for a momentary rest from their flight.

I continued to sip and watch, taking in the peace of the moment, then noticed hanging branches move by an unseen force. A gentle breeze caused them to lift, dip, and sway sideways—touched by the breath of God.

Years ago my family owned a sailboat. One of the first basics we learned was how to tell wind direction and how to use it to the fullest extent in propelling our little craft forward. Fill the sails and we sliced through the water, barely noticing the dip and crest of the waves. But, let the sails empty of wind and we floundered—at the mercy of the sea.

How did we know when we were positioning ourselves to fill our sails? By the appearance in a tiny ribbon or string extended from the top of the mast. Only when it flew straight did we know we were filling our sails for optimum speed and forward movement. Depending on the circumstances around us, it could be the most exciting ride of our lives. But that’s another story.

God had to teach us the wonderful truths of his laws of nature for us to become seasoned sailors.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18

In the same way, we seek his word to teach us his expectations for the true path. What we see in this world will mislead us if we don’t look to the unchangeable Creator of the Universe (and his laws) for guidance. Learning—and following—his instructions produces in us a “seasoning,” a “Christ-likeness,” and a sure sense of direction to our eternal destination.

Just as the sailor depends upon a tiny ribbon to understand the best way to fill the sails of his or her boat, we look to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit to illuminate the truth and direction of God’s word.

Open God’s word. Depend upon him and he will lead you on the ride of your life.

“Your laws please me; they give me wise advice.” Psalm 119:24

by Marilyn Allison

Hidden in the Heart

“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

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This verse is much loved from my childhood, perhaps because it was short and easy to memorize. In my teen years I didn’t think about God very much. I was too busy getting on with my life. Only when circumstances approached the desperation level did I cry to the LORD for help. When he brought me through, I don’t remember if I ever took time to thank him.

My sophomore year in college I recommitted my life to Jesus. I’d like to say I “walked on the water” from then on, but—like Peter—the storm-tossed waves distracted my focus. My Bible was always with me…somewhere in my room gathering dust. Finally, I began to read it before I went to bed at night. I remember feeling empty, no emotion. I needed God to change me, but—would he? Had I kept him at arm’s length too long? Then a verse caught my attention.

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.”
Psalm 34:23-24

I had certainly stumbled. This word was exactly what I needed. God hadn’t given up on me. Reassured by his living word, my life began its upward turn.

Sadly, I remembered only three of the many verses I had memorized in all the Sunday school contests from my youth. But, if you can only remember three—what an awesome message they give. The first was the one that heads this devotion. “I have hidden your word in my heart…” The second one:

“All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.” Isaiah 53:6

and

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9

The Gospel Truth in three verses. The Word—hidden in my heart—kept me and brought me back to him. The Living Word satisfied my thirst, yet it made me more thirsty than ever—to know the One who spoke the Word.

As I write this, the school year is ending and many of you will have children home for the summer. Your daily routine will change and you’ll find less time allotted for your personal space. It happens every vacation period, doesn’t it? When you have one who tugs on you or gets in your face—”Mommy” or “Mom”—with their need all day long, it’s so easy to surrender your personal time with Jesus.

Let me encourage you. Don’t do it. If it’s even for five minutes, ask the Lord to speak to you and open his Word. He is faithful to give you what you need. Put his word in your heart and power will come out. His truth will come from your heart, guide your actions, and glorify God.

“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart…”
Mathew 12:35a

Happy Summer reading.

by Marilyn Allison