The Simple Overlooking of a Daily Duty

Written by monthly contributor, Rachel Coltharp

I couldn’t help myself.

The little plant called to me from the grocery store and it whispered the promise of Spring. Never mind that there was snow outside. Right here, right now, was the reminder that lying beneath the frozen ground is life. A promise of life, for only 99 cents. How could I refuse?

It perched so happily on my kitchen countertop, mere inches from the window through which the snow covered ground lies. For several days I happily gazed upon it, warming my hands in the dishwater, it’s promise of Spring warming my heart.

I was shocked to walk in today and find it dead.

What had happened? Nothing dramatic. No freezing wind, no blasting heat. And then it dawned on me. The week before, a dishwasher had been installed in our kitchen. OH HAPPY DAY. The dishwashing time was cut down, and as a result, the little plant that had been delighted over and cared for during dishwashing time had been neglected.

The poor thing had dried out, mere inches from what it needed.

I hastily watered the little thing, and in a few minutes it started to perk up. By the end of the day it was restored to its former beauty. How sad to think it almost died of thirst, so very near the water.

My soul has been like that little plant.

The beautiful promise that was blooming had wilted and dried out because of neglect. It’s usually not because of the blistering heat of a trial or the freezing wind of a hardship.

Sadly, it’s usually the simple overlooking of daily duty: The failure to water the promises of God in my soul with the water of the Word, the daily irrigation that keeps the soil of my mind soft, allowing the seeds of truth to flourish.

How wonderful that we are never too far gone for reviving!  Drip by drip, precious Word, line by line, precept by precept, promise by promise. Every desert place is made fertile ground. Dormant seeds, planted long ago, spring to life when watered by the Word of Truth.

Where do you find yourself? Are you a little wilted? Or barren with no signs of sprout at all?  Take heart dear one. The promise is for you. God’s word will NOT return void of life! Pick up your watering can, the Holy Scripture, and let it saturate your spirit, water your wounds, soak your soul. And then, watch as beautiful things revive, sprout, grow.

Witness the wonder of the Water of Life!

 

Rachel Coltharp is a pastor's wife of one and mother of four. She is fluent in four languages: Infantese, Toddlerspeak, Teenlingo, and Husbandism. She is a writer and public speaker who shares from her real life experiences, mostly mistakes and do-overs. She is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ and an avid disciple of the the Apostolic doctrine. Find her sharing devotions at The Write Word and all things domestic and re-purposed at Galaxy Coltharp.

 

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Oh, My Darlin’, Valentine

By Contributing Writer, Lori Wagner

Cards. Candies. Flowers. Sure! Bring them on! Let’s celebrate love. Love is, after all, the greatest virtue.  As February 14 approaches and we prepare to remember the special ones in our lives—somewhere between the cherubs and chocolates let’s take a moment to look at the obscure yet fascinating beginnings of what we know as Valentine’s Day.

THEN

The origins of Valentine’s Day are shrouded in mystery. Three notable men in history were named Valentine. One was a priest who was said to have secretly performed marriages in Rome after Claudius II outlawed marriage to “improve” his crop of soldiers. Valentine was reportedly discovered and put to death—a martyr for love’s sake. Another version of his story suggests that Valentine was executed for his efforts to help Christians escape the tortures of Roman prisons.

A second man named Valentine is a party of a legend with a surprising twist. In this tale of old, the first-ever Valentine card was said to have been sent by Valentine to himself while he was in prison. He fell in love with the jailor’s daughter and allegedly sent the note in hopes that he might have a visit from her before his death. It was signed “from your Valentine,” a phrase popular on cards today.

Little is known about the third man, Valentine, except that he was buried on February 14. Although unproven, the legends of Valentine’s Day appeal to our senses of nobility—to heroism and romance. Of course we love this stuff. What woman doesn’t appreciate a romantic hero?

NOW

Like lovers of days gone by, today people exchange notes and tokens of affection on Valentine’s Day. Did you know an estimated one billion Valentine cards are shared each year? And God only  knows how many boxes of chocolates and stuffed animals.

As I was thinking of the river of affection flowing on Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t help but reflect on the most wonderful Valentine of all time. Still preserved in integrity, even after all these years, this “Valentine” is more than a card, but an entire love story written by a groom for his fiancé. It’s so intricate and involved that it begins with the details of the bride’s birth and watches as she grows from infancy to maturity and prepares for her wedding day. You might have guessed, but I’ll make it plain: I’m talking about Jesus and His bride. His message of love is written for all to read in the Bible.

When I look at the Bible, I really do see a love story. During Creation, God stretched out a canopy over the earth (Genesis 1:6; Isaiah 40:22). Canopies aren’t just set up anywhere and for no good reasons. The Earth was established as a special place, and God was preparing to do something wonderful beneath the starlit covering. This makes me think of a Jewish wedding and the canopy (chuppah) the bride and groom stand beneath for the ceremony.

Now, back to the beginning. Just imagine the flowers and beauty this incredible Groom presented in the Garden of Eden. It was surely a riot of color and glorious blooms. And we’re not talking stuffies, here—a plush teddy bear to squeeze at bedtime. No. He gave them live animals! Those were some exotic gifts.

Things were going along great. The lovers were having nice walks and talks in the Garden in the cool of the day, and they were chilling with the critters; but then this outsider got involved and planted seeds of discontentment. You know what happened next. Adam and Eve, the first “cells” of God’s “Bride,” became contaminated by disobedience. But God loved them so much He couldn’t just write them off and look for another. Oh no. He’s faithful, even when people like us mess up.

After Adam and Eve sinned, well, a lot of things changed, but not God’s love. He made a way for the contaminated to be in relationship with the holy, and He did it through a covenant—that’s also a part of a Jewish wedding (the ketuba, or contract). There, outside Eden, even knowing his beloved’s warts and failings, God made a covenant with them. Throughout time, He’s renewed and expanded that covenant with Noah, Abraham, Israel, etc. As His Bride grew and developed, she had some wayward teenage years—some rebellious, selfish times—but through it all, her Lover never gave up on her.

In God’s love story, we are now in a chapter of developing maturity. The “Bride” has grown from a sacred “mitosis” that began with Adam, then split off to Eve, and has continued to grow throughout the pages of time. There’s way too much to cover in one short article, but I just wanted you to get a glimpse into the sacred love letter of the ages. From Genesis to Revelation, the story unfolds. It is a story of a wedding all set to take place…and we’re all invited!

Throughout the Bible, God uses the analogy of a bride and groom to give people a picture of the relationship of Jesus and the church. In the same way a groom pledges love to his fiancé, Jesus made a commitment to His beloved—and that promise is extended to you and me. When we answer “yes” to Jesus, we become His betrothed—we enter into a covenant relationship with the Lord of glory. How cool is that?

RSVP

Like the origins of Valentine’s Day, the Bible has its mysteries, to be sure. But there is no mystery in its overarching theme—it’s central message. God made the earth. God made you. He wants you for His own.

He’s issued His invitation. It’s up to us to RSVP. The way to do that is found in the Bible, too. It’s like those cards that come pre-stamped and self-addressed when you get a wedding invitation in the mail. The person extending the invitation makes it easy to respond.

When Peter was asked “What shall we do?” he gave the answer in Acts 2:38. Think of it as the language on the RSVP card: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”   When I read this verse in the Amplified version, I came up with a little acronym.

  • Repentance = Receiving deep inside ourselves God’s beautiful plans for our lives, allowing them to supersede our own limited ideas and motivations.
  • Surrender = Living our lives in agreement with God’s plans instead of our own agendas and desires, knowing that His ways are best and in our best interest.
  • Vision = Understanding our value, our hope for the future, and accessing new spiritual life now. After all, eternal life includes today!
  • Purpose = Determining to do whatever it takes to be ready for that great wedding day (Revelation 19:7).

When we truly understand our value, our worth, God’s purpose and plans for our lives—our hearts just might warm up enough to melt a box of Valentine’s chocolates. Mmmm. We can sweeten up our world with a heart full of oozy love! And that’s my prayer for you today: that your heart is warm and full, overflowing like a chocolate fountain with joyful songs of love, acceptance and purpose.

Did you RSVP yet?

 

Mrs. Lori Wagner is a gifted author, communicator and speaker. In 2006, she founded Affirming Faith to provide resources that educate, entertain and encourage Christians of all denominations. In the past six years, she has published twelve books, including the record-breaking "The Girl in the Dress." In addition to Affirming Faith activities, Lori also serves as the Michigan State Coordinator for the National Day of Prayer and as an elected precinct delegate in her community. She loves to worship and share with others the goodness of God and rich treasures found in His Word. She and her husband Bill live in Michigan with their children and one spoiled dog.

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10 Ideas for Praying for Friends and Family

Sometimes, it's easy to pray the more obvious prayers for our loved ones: "Lord, please move in their financial situation," or "Lord, I pray for healing in their body."  We can quickly find ourselves in a bit of a prayer rut!

At our church's ladies meeting this past month, I asked each of our ladies to draw a name from a bowl.  Each lady's name was in that bowl.  I asked them to look at the name they'd pulled and pray for that lady this week; really pray.  Not just the obvious prayers, not half-hearted prayers, but pray that God works in them and through them, changes who they are to glorify Him.

If you desire a deeper prayer life and more meaningful prayers for your friends and family, consider adding more to your prayers.

Here's the list I shared with our ladies...

Pray that:

  1. They understand God’s will
  2. They gain spiritual wisdom
  3. They live a life pleasing and honoring to God
  4. They do kind things for others
  5. They know God better
  6. They are given strength
  7. They endure in patience
  8. They stay full of joy
  9. They are thankful
  10. They remember how much God loves them

I've seen God move in many ways, in many lives, and I'm a firm believer in the power of prayer!  He is able!  Your prayers DO make a difference!

How do you pray for your loved ones?  Have you ever felt that you were in a prayer rut or had fallen into complacency in your prayer life?

 

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:: also shared at holy spirit led homeschooling, a wise woman builds her home and women living well

How to Have a Peaceful Home During the Holidays

 Peace

photo by lanz-wolfe76

The holiday season is a busy one.  Many families spend more money this month than they did all year, shuffle from activity to another, and end up feeling stressed and burned out.

I love Christmas and celebrating Christ's birth, but amidst all the go-go-go of the season I'm already thinking ahead to what I'd like to accomplish in the next year and making mental notes of goals and setting agendas and...  Whew.

How do we really have a peaceful Christmas and New Year?

Here are a few routines we've implemented that help us stay sane in the midst of beautiful chaos:

• Wake up before the children, no matter what, even if it's just for a few minutes.  This means that if they're in the "wake-up-super-early-in-the-morning" season, I'm still getting up before them.  Yes, there was a time when I would wake up at 4:45, just to have an hour to myself before the children (and no, it's not that early anymore!).   I absolutely have to spend time with God in the morning, reading my Bible and spending time in worship/devotion.  It centers me and anchors my spirit for the day.   I'm a mess without that time (and my cup of coffee!).

Keep hospitality simple.  We are to be "given to hospitality" (Romans 12:13) but that doesn't mean it needs to be - or should be - extravagant.  If mama is stressed all day preparing for guests, how is that a witness to her children?  I've found that if I keep the meal simple, prepare most of it in the morning hours, then set it aside in the fridge until it's time to put it in the oven, things go smoothly.  The last hour or so we'll pick up toys, sweep the floor, etc.   If a meal is too much, how about pie and coffee?

It's okay to stay home.  You don't have to accept every invitation that crosses your desk.  I love this post by Lindsey at Passionate Homemaking, "Enjoying the Simplicity of Staying Home."  Read it; it's worth your time!

Stay on top of the laundry.  It's sounds silly, I know, but as the laundry pile grows, so does my stress level.  Or maybe it's the other way around :)  Regardless, I make it a goal to run one load of laundry a day, from start to finish.

Plan to have extra cooked meats and breads in the freezer.  It doesn't need to be much, but knowing there's a few cooked, diced chicken breasts in the freezer eliminates the need for last minute outings to McDonalds, which can certainly be a budget-buster this time of year.  Keep sliced bread in the freezer, too, so you can make a simple sandwich in a pinch.  Just add PB&J and you're set!

Shop online.  Some of you love the crowded stores and Christmas decor in the mall, I know.  I prefer to stay home and shop from the comfort of my vintage (read: old) green chenille-padded swivel chair.  Amazon.com has been my go-to source for finding great sales, and many items ship free if you spend $25 or more.  For example, many Melissa & Doug toys are on sale, which means you can find some quality gifts for about $10-$20 each right now.  (I love this latches board; I was thrilled to see Simple Mom share it recently, too.)  Why would I want to suit up the kids, pack snacks and drinks, lift my 40 lb toddler into his car seat, and go out in 30 degree weather to shop at a store that will likely sell the same gift for more money?  Shopping online works for me.

Don't overspend.  Just don't do it.  Deep down, you'll feel awful, you won't be a good steward, and it doesn't make for a peaceful Christmas or New Year.  If your budget is limited, make homemade gifts or give the gift of food.  My cinnamon raisin walnut bread or maple granola (in a jar tied with Christmas ribbon) would be a nice gift.  I just shared my 10 DIY Christmas Gifts on Keeeper of the Home.  Brandy at the Prudent Homemaker also shares helpful links for frugal gifts --- especially if you are on a zero spending budget this year.  You'll love her ideas, too!

And finally, when you've prepared the best you could, just go with the flow.  Things won't run perfectly, plans will change, and you may forget to run a load of laundry.  Stay focused on the Reason for the Season, because it's truly all about Him, not our schedules, routines, and convenience.  He's the only one that that can truly bring peace to your home and family, regardless of the season!

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6

 

also shared at Homestead Revival
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How to Have a Joy-Filled Christmas

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Featured guest post by Lori Wagner

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I love Christmas—all the sights, sounds and smells that make the holiday cheery and bright. I even love the shopping, though I rarely darken the doors of the local malls the rest of the year. Why? When else can you walk into a department store and hear songs about our wonderful God with us, Emmanuel, Jesus Christ the Lord?

In the grocery or in the middle of Walmart, glorious hymns and silly seasonal songs mingle with a message that declares joy to the world!  The Lord is come! With that in mind, I don’t let aloof cashiers, commercialism or ridiculous renegade reindeer songs deter my holly jolly celebration of the season. Christmas is supposed to be merry, isn’t it?

Joy, Gladness and all that Good Stuff

Festive music accompanies so many of our holiday activities. To me, Christmas activities and Christmas carols are like peanut butter and jelly. They just go together.

In yuletide songs of yesteryear we find messages for today. We hear words like joyful and rejoice, but let’s stop for a minute—“selah”—and think about the significance of these words. Consider for a moment that the literal definition of joyful is “full of joy.” That’s talking about a spiritual delight that reaches all the way to the tippy-tip-top!

When we have the joy of the Lord, we aren’t filled to the rim with grim, but with gladness that’s so full it splashes over from our “cups” into our surrounding “saucers.” I like living with overflow. I call it “sipping from the saucer,” and it brings to mind girlhood memories of my Daddy slurping coffee from the little dish under his cup. That’s what happens when a cup runneth over (Psalm 23:5). There’s extra!

Don’t Wait! Rejoice Now!

Did you ever notice in Luke 1:47 that Mary rejoiced in God her savior before she conceived the promise? Consider, also, the wise men from the East. They rejoiced with exceeding great joy when they had only seen the star (Matthew 2:10). Before they saw the babe in the manger, they celebrated the sign—the direction God had given them to find the promised Messiah.

As we go through our days, many of us likely have promises yet unfulfilled; but Mary and the wise men provide great examples to follow in these times. Rejoice now! We have the promise! We have the Word to show us the way. Hallelujah!

image credit

 

What Gives Jesus Joy?

Living with the joy of the Lord is all well and good for us (and I like well and good, by the way), but did you ever wonder what gives Jesus joy? Jesus “rejoiced in His spirit” when His disciples returned from going out in the land ministering in His name (Luke 10:21). What a wonderful opportunity Christmas brings you and me to reach out to others.

During the holidays many doors open that are closed throughout the year, and hearts may be, even if unconsciously so, more friendly to thoughts of Jesus. He is, after all, the “reason for the season.”

People from all walks of life, churches of all denominations and secular organizations of all types share kindnesses at Christmas time. While giving a basket of goodies to a needy family or meeting a utility bill are wonderful expressions of compassion and good will, sharing Jesus is the best gift ever. He is the Son given for all mankind—a gift wrapped in swaddling clothes in Bethlehem; unwrapped for all at Calvary. And while we’re talking about joy, remember, it was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the shame and pain of the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus is the forever gift that always fits! He’s never outdated, and He will never become obsolete like the 8-track tape player Aunt Margaret just had to have in the 70s. He’s the gift that can change a life for the better, now and forever.

Woe in the Wassailing

Amidst the carols and celebrations, there’s no denying that some people experience annual bouts of holiday misery. Memories of Christmases past can affect the way we feel about Christmas today. To be honest, not every Christmas in my past holds sweet memories. To this day I cry when I unwrap ornaments and mementos from loved ones—my Dad who died the day before my first child was born, my grandparents, and my first husband who preceded me into eternity after only seven years of marriage.

It’s an undeniable fact that holidays magnify emotions—both positive and negative. If you or someone you know is struggling to find joy, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about the Lord.

Before Mary rejoiced, she first said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” Sure, that was easy for her to say, right? She had just received an angelic visitor and the best news ever. But with Mary’s acceptance of the Christ child in her womb, she faced rejection and ridicule. Her future was precarious, at best. It was a mixed blessing, we might say; yet she chose to be joyful.

Be Mary-like…and Magnify the Lord, not your Worries!

Good Christian women, rejoice! We have been redeemed and have the promise of heaven to celebrate. When we magnify the Lord, instead of our emotional responses to old memories or today’s challenges, I believe we can enter, even now, into the joy of the Lord.

Choose to focus on God’s Word, His character, His faithfulness, His provision, His power, His friendship, His sacrifice, and His great love. If we keep our thoughts on Him, and He’s living in us, joy is part of the equation. It’s a joy that lasts and a joy that gives us strength. It’s the joy of fellowship with God, even in sufferings.

marshmallow joy

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Re-Re-Re-Re-Joy!

When we hear or read rejoice, we know it means “to bring joy,” but let’s also think “re-joy”—as in having joy again. . .and again. . .and again! The prefix “re” indicates repetition. We can’t repeat something we’ve never experienced. If you’ve ever had joy, you can have it again—replay it—re-invite it into your heart and mind. Remember, my friend, Christmas brings tidings of comfort and joy—greetings of peace and happiness for you and me and all humanity!

Joy may seem a long way from where you are right now, but be encouraged! If all you have is a little faded memory of joy tucked away in a dry corner of your soul, I pray that it is renewed—that you “re-joy” as you magnify the Lord with me. Come on. Let’s do it right now! Our God is great! He is mighty! He’s an awesome God! He’s worthy of our praise and He is our exceeding great reward!

Jesus’ Joy—Alive and Well

What does Jesus have to say about joy? In John 15:11, He said, “these things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” The joy of Jesus remains for us today. This very moment you and I have access to a priceless commodity. Jesus abides with us as we journey through this weary world. Oh, come! Let us adore Him! Joyful and triumphant!

May the joy of Jesus bubble up in your spirit like a dishwasher loaded with the wrong kind of soap. Have you ever done that? Oh, those bubbles just can’t be contained—they ooze out all over the place!

My prayer for you this Christmas season, as we shop, wrap, bake, decorate and commemorate the birth of Jesus; is that your heart may truly be filled to overflowing with the abiding joy of Jesus. And may we give joy in return to the Lord by ministering to those around us, reaching out in His name with a helping hand, an encouraging word, an impacting prayer. Have a joy-full Christmas!

 

Lori Wagner is a gifted author, communicator and speaker. In 2006, she founded Affirming Faith to provide resources that educate, entertain and encourage Christians of all denominations. In the past six years, she has published twelve books, including the record-breaking "The Girl in the Dress" and two Christmas books: "Insight on Ministry from a Christmas Tree Farm" and "The 8 Days of Christmas."  In addition to Affirming Faith activities, Lori also serves as the Michigan State Coordinator for the National Day of Prayer and as an elected precinct delegate in her community.  She loves to worship and share with others the goodness of God and rich treasures found in His Word.   She and her husband Bill live in Michigan with their children and one spoiled dog.

 

 

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Being a “Daily” Christian

 
*edited re-post from the archives
 
"Allow me to get personal.  Is your money under control?  Most Christian financial counselors will tell you firsthand we're out to lunch in this area.  Did you know that 80% of all Americans owe more than their net worth?  And yet an incredible amount of money passes through our hands.  American Christians will have a lot to give account for when they get to the judgement seat of Christ, because to whom much has been given, much will be required.
 
What about your material possessions?  My wife Jeanne and I once dined with a rich man from a blue blood Boston family, and I asked him, "How in the world did you grow up in the midst of such wealth and not be consumed by materialism?"

His answer: "My parents taught us that everything in our home was either an idol or a tool."

So how do you view your possessions?

How does being a Christian relate to your thought life?  Both at seminary and as I travel I find young men and women who've filled their minds with garbage, and then they ask me, "How come I'm not holy?"

How about your diet?  If I scheduled a seminar at your church and then walked in drunk, you'd dismiss me immediately. But if I walked in fifty pounds overweight, you'd feed me more, right? Sure, after all, you really can't have a Christian gathering without food... But maybe this is too convicting. On to something else.

How about exercise?  Dr. Kenneth Cooper told an audience of about three to four hundred students at our seminary that by a regular, systemic exercise program, they could each add five to fifteen years to their ministry. Think of the implications!"

-- Dr. Howard Hendricks, from his book Teaching to Change Lives (one of my favorites!)


P.S.  You can try Crown Financial Ministries' online envelope budgeting program, Mvelopes, FREE for two weeks by using this link. Cancel anytime!

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