14 Bible Verses on Loving Others

  • Matthew 5:43-44 NIVverseslovingothers
     “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
  • Mark 12:29-31 NLT
    Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
  • John 13:34 NIV
    A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
  • John 15:12-13  NLT
    This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
  • Romans 13:8 NLT
    Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1 NIV
    If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV
    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
  • Ephesians 4:2 NLT
    Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
  • Ephesians 4:31-32
    “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
  • 1 John 3:18
    Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
  • 1 Peter 1:22 NLT
    1john4

    Picture by Just2Shutter, 123rf.com

     You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

  • 1 John 4:7-8 NIV
    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
  • 1 John 4:11 NIV
    Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
  • 1 John 4:19-21 NIV
     We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Nourished, Book Review

Nourished:  A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full Night’s Sleep
by Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph

You can’t keep filling up and feeding others if you’re undernourished and starving yourself.  That’s what mother-daughter writing team, Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph, say in their new book: Nourished.  They’ve packed their book with humor, honesty, a grunge image of a fieldchatty writing style, and practical tips everywhere.

A lot of their advice was basic; however, it’s nice to have a collection of tips all in one place.  I loved some of the word-pictures and metaphors they use to bring their points home.  My favorite is the idea that all of us have a favorite pillow style.  I like mine soft.  You might like yours super-stuffed.  The same is true about our schedules—the activity level that is comfortable for me might not be comfortable for you.  That’s why our lives need to be unique and God-directed, not copycats of what works for someone else.   They cover everything from how to dress your body type, to how to organize your schedule, to how to enjoy family meal time, and how to get your home in order.  I would have loved to see a little more of an emphasis on nourishing faith and a relationship with God, perhaps, but ultimately the book is an all-around healthy heart, mind and body makeover.

Usually, I’m the kind of reader who loves to hear the personal stories and perspectives of the author. Not so much in this book. I think part of that was because I loved Becky Johnson’s tips and input, but Rachel came across as nice and enthusiastic and ‘young.’ I’m a mom with four kids living in a house half the size of Rachel’s, so her perspective felt a little simplistic. She seemed to send a lot of time trying to justify why she doesn’t have a lot of time…..when I think she might have been better off ‘fessing up’ to the fact that the majority of women reading the book probably have more kids than she does. I remember having one toddler, a ministry, a work-at-home job without any childcare, and a busy husband and thinking my life was crazy then. Now, I really wish I had that much free time again! I’d appreciate it if at least once in the book she said, “I know I only have one child, but this is what works for me right now, and this is what my friends with four kids and a job say works for them…..” I get how hard that is to confess. I’ve had to say it myself—-“my life is crazy and it feels like no one else’s could be any crazier, but I know I don’t understand what it’s like to have 9 kids, or home school, or parent a special needs child, or have a husband in the military or be a single mom.” When your own experience is limited, maybe getting some ideas from others with more experience would have been a plus and, at the very least, admitting that you don’t know what it’s like to juggle as much as someone else goes a long way to set a tone of humility. Perhaps that’s why I loved that Becky Johnson chimed in with talk about raising four kids in a log cabin.

This isn’t a Bible study and it’s really not meant to be.  They talk about faith in a cursory kind of way, with a lovely emphasis on how God sees us as His beloved daughters.  My personal preference would probably have been for less references to their friends’ or fellow bloggers’ books and more dependence on Scripture, but the book seemed to be more of a ‘blogging community’ kind of  end-product, which many women will enjoy.

I loved that they included a chapter at the end of the book on how to be nourished when life is hard.  For some women whose lives are taking them through trauma and pain, things like organizing your junk drawers or buying a new outfit aren’t going to help much.  The authors were wise to meet that head-on and share with love, grace and encouragement on how to pursue hope.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

25 Bible Verses and a Prayer on Forgiveness

God’s forgiveness of us:

  • Psalm 32:5 ESV
    I acknowledged my sin to you,
        and I did not cover my iniquity;
    I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”versesforgiveness
        and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
  • Psalm 51:1-2 ESV
    Have mercy on me,O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
    according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
    Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!
  • Psalm 103:11-12 ESV
    For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
        so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
     as far as the east is from the west,
        so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
  • Proverbs 28:13
    Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
    but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
  • Isaiah 1:18 HCSB
    “Come, let us discuss this,”
    says the Lord.
    “Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they will be as white as snow;

    isaiah1

    Photo by Ruud Morijn; 123rf.com

    though they are as red as crimson,
    they will be like wool.

  • Isaiah 43:25
    “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
  • Daniel 9:9 NIV
    The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him
  • Micah 7:18 HCSB
    Who is a God like You,
    removing iniquity and passing over rebellion
    for the remnant of His inheritance?
    He does not hold on to His anger forever,
    because He delights in faithful love.
  • Matthew 26:28 HCSB
     For this is My blood that establishes the covenant;it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.
  • Acts 2:38 ESV
    And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receivethe gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 3:19 HCSB
    Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord
  • Acts 10:43 HCSB
    All the prophets testify about Him that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.
  • Ephesians 1:7 ESV
    In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
  • Colossians 1:13-14 NIV
     For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
  • Hebrews 10:17 ESV
    then he adds,“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
  • 1 John 1:7-9 HCSB
    But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • 1 John 2:2 HCSB
     He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

Forgiving Others:

  • Matthew 5:23-24 HCSB
    So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
  • Matthew 6:14-15 NLT“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
  • Matthew 18:21-22 NLT
    Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
    “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
  • Luke 6:37 HCSB
    Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NLT
     Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
  • 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 ESV
    Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.
  • Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT
    Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
  • Colossians 3:13 NLT
    Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

prayerforgiveness

If I Put a Spoon Under My Pillow, Will It Snow?

“This is it.”

My kids are desperate for snow.  More specifically, they are desperate for a snow day.

Apparently, so are their teachers.

In early January, the tiniest picture of a snowflake appeared on my weather forecast.  The details said wintry mix overnight, no accumulation, yada yada yada, blah blah blah.

My kindergartner arrived home from school that day with specific instructions from her teachers.

Place a spoon under your pillow.

Wear your pajamas inside out.

Flush an ice cube down the toilet.

Her older sister calls out, “And do a snow dance!  You have to do the snow dance.”

It was simple math to them.  Do this + this +this + this = guaranteed snow day.

It did not snow.

This week, snow was again in the forecast.  My Facebook filled with chatter and pictures of weather maps all foretelling the great snowstorm of 2015.

It snow-dusted, just enough to turn the world a little white.  Not enough to cover the grass even.  Not enough to delay anything, much less close it down.

I don’t mind really.  I enjoy snow well enough, but only when it’s outside and I’m inside with a book and a cup of cocoa.

But my kids mind.  A lot.  They are Virginia girls, desperate for at least a few sizable snowfalls a season.

Every single time there is a whisper of a snowflake or two falling in the night, our town is abuzz, the Wal-Mart shelves clear out of milk and bread, and my children brace themselves for a real and true snow day.

“This is it.”  That’s what they think.

Maybe Joseph felt the same way.

All those years, he waited and waited, holding on perhaps to a distant memory of those visions from God of his family bowing down to him.

He waited in a pit while his brothers plotted his death, and then settled for selling him into slavery.psalm 62-5

He waited as an Egyptian slave, working faithfully and with integrity for his master.

He waited when he was falsely accused and thrown into an Egyptian jail.

So many times, he might have thought, “This is it.  This is my big moment of rescue and redemption!!”

But it wasn’t.

There was the night in the Egyptian prison when Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker came to Joseph with dreams they couldn’t understand.  Joseph interpreted the dreams, but then asked for help, saying to the cupbearer:

But when all goes well for you, remember that I was with you. Please show kindness to me by mentioning me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this prison. 15 For I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should put me in the dungeon (Genesis 40:14-15 HCSB).”

This is it.

That’s what Joseph thought.  “Here’s my chance!”

Then the cupbearer forgot about Joseph for another two years.

Waiting is hard enough.  But getting your hopes up and then discovering disappointment, is even harder.

Joseph could have given up. Maybe he did.

Years later, though, that cupbearer finally did remember Joseph.  And, perhaps when Joseph least expected it, God came through.

In God’s perfect timing.  In God’s perfect way.  God came through.

Had the cupbearer remembered Joseph years before like he had promised, Joseph might have made it out of prison.  Maybe.  Perhaps.  We’re not really sure.  Pharaoh could have just dismissed the cupbearer’s story as little more than a novelty.

But in this precise moment, the Pharaoh needed someone to interpret his dream, and Joseph was the one to do it.

Interpreting that cupbearer’s dream had seemed like a wasted opportunity, yet years later that is what God used to rescue Joseph from prison.

What we do today might not seem to matter, but God doesn’t waste our faithfulness.  

His timing is precise and perfect, even when it doesn’t feel like it in the moment, even when disappointment presses in, and even when the waiting feels like it can collapse your heart.

We can’t place our hope in circumstances or people like a forgetful cupbearer.

We can’t always decipher God’s plans and predict when “this” really is it.

We can’t make it snow despite all of our snow dances and inside-out-pajamas.

We can, however, live God-glorifying lives day-in and day-out, being faithful even to the most mundane tasks that earn us no worldly recognition or honor.

Our hope, after all, isn’t in circumstances or people or ‘connections’ or our own abilities.  They will take us on an endless emotional roller-coaster of misplaced expectations and inevitable disappointment.

Our hope, though, can be rock solid, unshakeable and steadfast when we place it in Him and Him alone.

 “Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him”  (Psalm 62:5 HCSB).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King

12 Bible Verses and a Prayer for When You Need to be Refreshed

verses-about-being-refreshed

  • Psalm 19:7 NIV
    The law of the Lord is perfect,
        refreshing the soul.
    The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
        making wise the simple.
  • Psalm 23:1-3 NIV
    The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
        He makes me lie down in green pastures,
    he leads me beside quiet waters,
        he refreshes my soul.
    He guides me along the right paths
        for his name’s sake.
  • Psalm 68:9 NIV
    You gave abundant showers, O God;
        you refreshed your weary inheritance.
  • Proverbs 11:25 NIV
    A generous person will prosper;
        whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
  • Jeremiah 31:25 NIV
     I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
  • Acts 3:19 NIV
     Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
  • Romans 15:32 NIV
    so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.
  • 1 Corinthians 16:18 NIV
    For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.
  • 2 Corinthians 7:13 NIV
    By all this we are encouraged.In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.jeremiah 31
  • 2 Timothy 1:16
    May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.
  • Philemon 1:7 NIV
    Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
  • Philemon 1:20 NIV
     I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.

prayerrefreshing

35 Bible Verses on Grace

  • Psalm 103:1-2 NIV

    Praise the Lord, my soul;versesgrace
        all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
    Praise the Lord, my soul,
        and forget not all his benefits—
    who forgives all your sins
        and heals all your diseases,
    who redeems your life from the pit
        and crowns you with love and compassion,
    who satisfies your desires with good things
        so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

    The Lord works righteousness
        and justice for all the oppressed.

    He made known his ways to Moses,
        his deeds to the people of Israel:
    The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
        slow to anger, abounding in love.
    He will not always accuse,
        nor will he harbor his anger forever;
    10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
        or repay us according to our iniquities.
    11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
        so great is his love for those who fear him;
    12 as far as the east is from the west,
        so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

  • Jeremiah 31:2-3 ESV
    Thus says the Lord:
    “The people who survived the sword
        found grace in the wilderness;
    when Israel sought for rest,
        the Lord appeared to him[a] from far away.
    I have loved you with an everlasting love;
        therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
  • John 1:14-17 ESV
    And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.john1
  • Acts 4:33 ESV
    And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
  • Acts 15:11 NIV
    No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
  • Acts 20:32 ESV
    And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
  • Romans 3:23-24 NIV
     for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
  • Romans 4:16 ESV
    That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
  • Romans 5:1-2 ESV
    Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
  • Romans 5:8 NIV
    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • Romans 5:20 ESV
    Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
  • Romans 6:1-2 NIV
    What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
  • Romans 6:14 NIV
    For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
  • Romans 11:6 NIV
    And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV
     But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
  • 2 Corinthians 8:7 NIV
     But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 HCSB
    Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.
  • Galatians 2:19-21 NIV
    “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
  • Ephesians 1:1-3 ESV
    Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
    To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
    Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
  • Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV
    But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
  • Ephesians 4:7 NIV
    But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
  • Colossians 2:13-14 ESV
     And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross
  • 2 Timothy 1:9 NIV
    He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
  • 2 Timothy 2:1 NIV
    You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
  • 2 Timothy 4:22 NIV
    The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.
  • Titus 2:11 NIV
    For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
  • Hebrews 4:6 NIV
     Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
  • Hebrews 12:15 ESV
    See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled
  • Hebrews 13:9 NIV
    Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.
  • James 4:6 NIV
    But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

    “God opposes the proud
        but shows favor to the humble.”

  • 1 Peter 4:10 NIV
    Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
  • 1 Peter 5:10 ESV
    And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
  • 2 Peter 1:2 NIV
    Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
  • 2 Peter 3:18 NIV
     But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Overcoming Fear of a New Year

Afraid.

That’s how I feel.  Maybe it’s pessimism or a sort of realistic pragmatism, but pulling out that blank calendar for the new year, all those empty spaces soon to be filled to overflowing with notes, events, appointments, due dates, and reminders, makes me nervous in an awkward and embarrassed kind of way.  20931038_s

It’s the kind of fear that you want to hide and cover over with nervous giggles and by abruptly changing the subject.

I’m no believer in superstition, and yet I battle this one mysterious fear-mongering belief that if the first few weeks of the new year begin poorly, I’m in for doom and dismay for the next twelve months.

Like the year I threw up on New Year’s Eve as a teenager.  Even I knew that seemed like a bad omen.

Truth be told, I don’t look at that empty dayplanner with excitement and anticipation about all the unknowns in the coming year.  I don’t like surprises and the unexpected makes me nervous.  I’d rather see the pages filled out in advance so I can brace myself for the ride with all its twists, turns, high rises and low points.

I guess I’d be a failure as a mountain climber or an adventurer of any kind.  I’d never really look forward to what’s over the next peak or around the next bend in the road.

Instead, I’d likely be trekking backwards, always back.  Even if the ground were difficult, at least it’d be familiar.

It’s a foolish thing really, this fear of mine coming so soon after Christmas.  The consistent message of the Christmas story, heard in the prophecies of Isaiah, the announcements of the angels, the pronouncements of Almighty God, is “Do not be afraid.”

All year I flip open my Bible to these words, returning again and again to take comfort in the promise of an angel to a virgin and the host of heaven to shepherds keeping a night-watch in the fields.  God with us.  Fear Not.  Do not be afraid.  Emmanuel has come.

And then I sit just days after Christmas staring at this white-paged calendar, worrying and fretting anxiously, preparing for the worst instead of expecting the best.isaiah43

How quickly I forget the promise and stumble into this now-familiar pit.

And I need to stop.

I don’t want to be a backwards-traveler, confined by foolish superstitions and held captive by the sin—yes, sin—of fear and worry, refusing to trust my Almighty God who carries the the whole world in His palms and who loves me so passionately and lavishly that He’d sacrifice His Son to spend eternity with me.

It’s uncomfortable at first, awkward like a baby stumbling through those first few steps.  Maybe it’s even unnatural, me learning slow to walk by faith, letting go of the comforts of the known within my white-knuckled grasp.

So I’m choosing this week to meditate on a verse that reminds me to be excited about the new work of God in my life, the blessings and beauty He has in store for the year ahead.  I’m reminded to take joy in the promise of a new year in His presence and in His care.

Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland
(Isaiah 43:18-19).

Originally published December 29, 2012

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

365 Pocket Devotions, Book Review

365 Pocket Devotions: Inspiration and Renewal for Each New Day
by Chris Tiegreen

This little book, 365 Pocket Devotions: Inspiration and Renewal for Each New Day, is another treasure from Chris Tiegreen, author of various One Year devotionals.  I fell in love with Tiegreen’s book, The One Year Worship the King devotional a few years ago, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to spend a year with his insights into Scripture again. pocketdevotions

The devotions in this pocket-sized book are shorter than most and aren’t necessarily the deepest of in-depth Bible studies.  Yet, I do find they often provide more insight and things to think about than many other devotions you could choose.  Often, he’ll look at a passage or concept in enough of a fresh way to stir me into deeper thought, deeper study, deeper prayer—and that’s the beauty of a well-written devotion.   It’s not utter fluff that leaves no impact.  It’s a stirring of the heart and mind to seek for more of God and His Word.

I love that the entries in this book are not firmly linked to the calendar.  Instead, they simply are marked as “Day 1….Day 2….etc.”  That means you can start any time you feel like it rather than waiting for January 1 to roll around.  It also means if you fall behind, there’s no need to catch up.  You just keep going where you are left off.  Days one through five in each week are regular devotions with extra short offerings on days six and seven (presumably when you might hit on a weekend day if you are reading Monday to Sunday).

Perfect for that first moment with God every morning or the last thing you read before sleeping at night, these pocket devotions could really fit in any time of the day, slip into a purse or car easily, and bring a little fresh inspiration into your Christian walk.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Seven Men: And the Secret of their Greatness, Book Review

Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness
by Eric Metaxas

Eric Metaxas’s biographies of William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were some of my favorite works in any genre.  I found them inspiring, full of information while still being readable, and actually theologically educational.  I learned so much about these men and their faith.  Even my eight-year-old daughter has become a fan of Metaxas because she loved his biography of Squanto for kids. So, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review his new book, Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness.7men

The introduction is compelling. As a woman and a mom with three daughters at that, I haven’t really given much thought to the crisis facing boys in our modern times, when ideals of chivalry, strength of convictions, and moral confidence are scoffed at, mocked, denied, and often ripped to pieces by the media and other cultural influences.  Metaxas’s goal, then, in writing this book was to address the question of ‘What is a man?’ by looking at seven men he believes represent a model of manhood.

As always for Metaxas, the writing style is readable and easy to follow. The stories he tells are engaging and interesting, and the biographies become more inspirational than just the cold, hard facts with Metaxas’s commentary and presentation.  He chose to write about: George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Charles Colson.  Some of these biographies were more familiar to me than others.  In particular, I learned the most and was surprised the most by the biography on Pope John Paul II.

After reading the longer Metaxas biographies, I have to confess I was a bit disappointed by these extremely small, fast-paced, and superficial looks at the lives of seven incredibly complex and historic men.  I shouldn’t have been surprised.  It makes sense that he’d only be able to give a cursory overview of their lives in the amount of space available.

So, while I wouldn’t consider this book an adequate study on any of these individual men, as a brief introduction to these biographies, this book works.  As an exploration of the concept of manhood and an attempt to inspire us to value chivalry, self-sacrifice, and standing up for what is right, this book succeeds.  Perhaps more importantly, I’m now intrigued by the lives of the men I didn’t know much about and I can’t wait to read longer, in-depth biographies of their lives.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Grace, Book Review

Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine
by Max Lucado

Each of our testimonies is unique and our God-story always carries that personal touch. We all can share with others the story of what God did for ME. But at the core, no matter what God has done, no matter where He found you or where He’s taken you, your story is about grace. It’s true for all of us.grace

All of our stories at their bottom line are about grace. None of us, after all, deserve one half-second’s notice from a God so holy, and yet He humbled Himself for us, came here for us, died for us. It is surely “much more than we deserve.”

Maybe because this grace is so universal, we often overlook it, forget it, stop being thankful for it, recognize it in name but not in deep-down life-changing everyday reality. We slip into self-condemnation and falter into works-based faith, propelling ourselves into performance and busyness and standards we can’t ever meet.

So, an inspirational book on grace may be a healthy reminder for all of us, and Max Lucado’s book on Grace is pure “Max.” He’s an artist with words, painting inspirational chapters, each one a quick and simple read that stirs the soul. It’s not a theological treatise. It doesn’t really claim to be. It’s more like sitting at the feet of a storyteller while he embellishes on a single theme.

The study guide that accompanies the book serves as a tool for individuals who want to dig deeper or for group study. While the book itself mostly revolves around stories (Biblical and otherwise), the study guide walks through Scripture.

If you’re a fan of Max Lucado’s style or if you’re in need of some inspiration or if you’ve recognized in your own life the habit of forgetting grace rather than embracing it, this book may be just the refresher your spirit needs.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”