Devotion Archives 2021, 1-25

 

Today is a New Day by Janet Gehlhar

     Forget the resolutions!  I’m not setting myself up for failure again.

     Something that was reinforced over the past year is that I have zero control over what happens around me.  I’d prefer control – or would I?  And that is where God reminds me that His plan is the best for me.  Well, of course it is.  I seem to momentarily forget that important fact.  As I work on my go-with-the-flow attitude--let me correct that--as God teaches me to adjust my attitude, I must admit that it's a painful process.  And yet, as I move through the process, my heart becomes more content and at peace, knowing God is handling everything.

     I have a new focus.I’m picturing each day as a clear canvas, forgetting the mistakes of yesterday, not worrying about what is coming tomorrow, and focusing on following what God wants me to do today.

     For focus, I recite my paraphrase of Psalm 118:24 and Lamentations 3:23:

This is the day the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it. 

God’s mercies are new every morning.  Great is YOUR faithfulness.

Lord, use me today to carry out YOUR will.  Today will be a great day.

     I must admit I felt a bit silly the first few times I boldly spoke those words out loud when I woke up.  But now I feel empowered as I start my day because my focus is on God’s plan – not mine. 

A WORD for Women

How wise are you? by Kathy Schreiner

     My best friend of sixty years was born on January 6, Epiphany. In all these years, I have yet to find an “Epiphany” birthday card. Hello! Hallmark? Anyone?

     “Epiphany” is also known as the “Gentile's Christmas”. It is the day the early Church set aside to remember the coming of the non-Jewish "wisemen" to worship Jesus, King of the Jews. Their knowledge of the coming Savior of the world tells us that God's promise is for all. Even in the ancient kingdoms of the Babylonians, Medes, and Persians, the prophecies and promise were proclaimed and believed. Educated men in the East who studied the stars; men who sat on advisory councils to kings—society’s wise men—also believed. When they saw His star, they dropped everything to find Him so they could worship Him and give Him precious and valuable gifts.

     Are you willing to drop everything to worship Him?

     Are you willing to give Him His heart's desire?

     Jesus doesn't desire gold, frankincense and myrrh from you. All Jesus desires from you IS you. He wants you to be His own, to belong to Him. Do not look on this "ownership" as being like a piece of property. Far from it! It is like being the most valuable, cherished thing someone could have. Like a child you would give your life for. That is just what Jesus did, gave His life for yours.

     "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1a)

     There is a phrase that has become popular with a picture of the traditional three "wisemen" on camels following the Star. It’s titled, "Wise Men still seek Him".

     Are you among the wise?

     But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)

     Wise (wo)men still seek Him!

 
A WORD for Women
 

The Boiling Pot of PTSD, part one of three, by Julie Luetke

     Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is like a boiling pot of soup. You have to keep your eye on it because it can boil over any minute. It might calm down while you are talking to a friend, praying, or focusing on something, but it is still on the verge of boiling over. No matter where you go, it tags along like a foreboding shadow.

     PTSD is filled with pain and fear, and for good reason. You have experienced the unthinkable. It may be one event or many. It just won’t stay out of your head.

     People may tell you things like:

     “If you just had more faith...”

     “If you were just busier...”

     “If you just think about something else...”, and so on.

     You may have used alcohol, food, gambling, shopping, or drugs to escape. They carry problems of their own. I am sorry you have to endure this pain. Far more important, God is sorry you have gone through such trauma, and still suffering from it. 

     God’s reasons for letting us have PTSD are His own. That does not mean He isn’t helping you endure it.

     Matthew 11:28 Jesus invites us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

     This is a promise from God!  Go to God by listening to His Word, praying and pondering the love He has for you. Seek out a pastor or Christian friend who will remind you of God’s love and promises. God promises He will never leave you. He says you belong to Him and He loves you.

     “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

 

(To be continued January 22, 2021 with The Brokenness of PTSD, part two)

 

RESOURCES

 

 Angie Molkentin, APR, Director of Marketing and Communications for WLCFS-Christian Family Solutions writes:

"Our minds and souls need care. When the need goes beyond what we can do on our own, it is wise to seek professional help. Mental health care professionals are one way God cares for his dear children. Be sure to reach out for immediate help if you or someone you love is in crisis."

 

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life (Psalm 138:7a)

 

Christian Family Solutions provides counseling and mental health treatment for individuals and families in need through telehealth and in person at 50 clinics in six states. The CFS is 800.438.1772, option #1, any time. During business hours, the CFS staff can talk with you about care options available at CFS, including outpatient counseling, mental wellness and skills groups, and Intensive Outpatient Programs - a higher level of care that provides the necessary intervention when symptoms are escalating. CFS serves all individuals in need of care, with the ability to integrate Christian faith principles as desired by clients. When you invite the God who created you and loves you into your treatments, the results are powerful! 

 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.

 

Mental Health America has crisis resources available to address a variety of concerns.

 

PTSD: National Center for PTSD

 

Veterans Crisis Line

*NEW RESOURCE ADDED* "A Pastor looks at PTSD; IEDs on the Road of Faith"

A WORD for Women
 

The Brokenness of PTSD, part two of three by Julie Luetke

     If you have PTSD, life before the trauma may seem whole, the way life should be. Since then, you may feel broken. Tears or anger may come too easily, fear and shame always at the door. Loneliness and depression are nighttime companions. Life just isn’t as fun as it used to be.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,

since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

(2 Corinthians 4:18)

     Jesus endured many things that would give all of us PTSD. He was arrested without cause, put on trial illegally, crowned with thorns and beaten by ruthless Roman soldiers. Crowds shouted hatred and called for His crucifixion. Spit on and nailed to a cross. He hung naked for hours before giving up His life for you. Jesus’ resurrection proves His power over sin, death and the unthinkable events of your life.

     I am not suggesting that since Jesus endured this you should just suck it up and endure your pain. I am saying that Jesus understands your pain. Find your strength in Jesus. A coach knows how to direct a player because he was once a player himself.  Jesus coaches when he says, “Do not be afraid”. He knows what fear is. Be confident taking His direction. He never gives up on you. He is always strong, always ready and able to help.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

(Psalm 18:2)

 

(To be concluded on January 29, 2021 with "Peace in the midst of PTSD, part three". If you missed Part One, "The Brokenness of PTSD", click here to find it.)

 

RESOURCES

 

 Angie Molkentin, APR, Director of Marketing and Communications for WLCFS-Christian Family Solutions writes:

"Our minds and souls need care. When the need goes beyond what we can do on our own, it is wise to seek professional help. Mental health care professionals are one way God cares for his dear children. Be sure to reach out for immediate help if you or someone you love is in crisis."

 

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life (Psalm 138:7a)

 

Christian Family Solutions provides counseling and mental health treatment for individuals and families in need through telehealth and in person at 50 clinics in six states. The CFS is 800.438.1772, option #1, any time. During business hours, the CFS staff can talk with you about care options available at CFS, including outpatient counseling, mental wellness and skills groups, and Intensive Outpatient Programs - a higher level of care that provides the necessary intervention when symptoms are escalating. CFS serves all individuals in need of care, with the ability to integrate Christian faith principles as desired by clients. When you invite the God who created you and loves you into your treatments, the results are powerful! 

 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.

 

Mental Health America has crisis resources available to address a variety of concerns.

 

PTSD: National Center for PTSD

 

Veterans Crisis Line

*NEW RESOURCE ADDED* "A Pastor looks at PTSD; IEDs on the Road of Faith"

A WORD for Women
 

Peace in the midst of PTSD, part three of three, by Julie Luetke

     Imagine a cup of coffee so full that one more drop would make it overflow. When your PTSD overwhelms you, is that how you feel? Now think of the coffee not as PTSD, but as peace from God.  If we drink in all of the peace God wants to give us, there is no room for fear, shame, loneliness or any of the dark sides of life.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

 

     God’s peace is His gift to you. You don’t earn it. Hearing God’s Word brings peace. Living in the moment, with constant thanksgiving brings peace. Having your best friend, Jesus, always by your side brings peace. Wait, isn’t Jesus always by my side? Yes, but we are imperfect and let things get between us. Imagine physically holding His hand. When fear comes around, hold that hand tighter and take the peace instead of trying to solve the problem with a substance or action that doesn’t last and carries problems of its own. You are the center of God’s attention and affection. Let Him fill you with the peace He longs to give.

     Your heavenly Father loves you so much He let His Son die on a cross and rise from death to assure you His peace of forgiveness.  Peace that nothing will separate you from the love of the Father. Peace that you will live forever with Him in heaven. Peace in the midst of the worst PTSD attack. When you are overwhelmed pray over and over:

     Father, fill me with your peace, Jesus hold me and drive out the fear. Wash your peace over me. Thank you for your peace that passes all understanding. Amen

 

(This concludes the three-part series on PTSD by Julie Luetke. Click to access the entire series.)

Photo by Emmanuel Phaeton on Unsplash

RESOURCES

 

Angie Molkentin, APR, Director of Marketing and Communications for WLCFS-Christian Family Solutions writes:

     "Our minds and souls need care. When the need goes beyond what we can do on our own, it is wise to seek professional help. Mental health care professionals are one way God cares for his dear children. Be sure to reach out for immediate help if you or someone you love is in crisis."

 

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life (Psalm 138:7a)

 

Christian Family Solutions provides counseling and mental health treatment for individuals and families in need through telehealth and in person at 50 clinics in six states. The CFS is 800.438.1772, option #1, any time. During business hours, the CFS staff can talk with you about care options available at CFS, including outpatient counseling, mental wellness and skills groups, and Intensive Outpatient Programs - a higher level of care that provides the necessary intervention when symptoms are escalating. CFS serves all individuals in need of care, with the ability to integrate Christian faith principles as desired by clients. When you invite the God who created you and loves you into your treatments, the results are powerful! 

 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.

 

Mental Health America has crisis resources available to address a variety of concerns.

 

PTSD: National Center for PTSD

 

Veterans Crisis Line

*NEW RESOURCE ADDED* "A Pastor looks at PTSD; IEDs on the Road of Faith"

A WORD for Women

New You by Tracy Hankwitz

     My hope was running high as the New Year approached. But venturing in, not much has changed. The virus still rages, and politicians fight over truth. Amidst this volatile landscape, can peace, joy, and fresh possibilities exist? I believe they can! It begins with a new perspective - a new me.

     Do you remember the New Testament story of the jailer and the earthquake? Thinking Paul, Silas, and the other prisoners had escaped, the jailer intended to take his own life. But Paul preached good news to him and - here comes the good part - ‘immediately he and all his household were baptized. ..he was filled with joy, because he had come to believe in God’. (Acts 16:33-34 NIV)

     He was baptized then filled with joy. Holy water washed his filthy heart and filled it with joy instead. He was made new.

     Baptism is the key! God’s mercies are new every morning, lavishly washing me clean with his love, like a sacred daily ritual. This is where joy is found.

     So I’m taking a step toward restoration and wearing a perspective of gratitude and joy. Join me in finding three small things for which to be grateful. Then do it again tomorrow, the next day, and the next. Let’s cultivate this habit of counting blessings, because each is evidence of his love. He alone is our source of joy, peace, and fresh possibility.

     ‘See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’ (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

 
A WORD for Women

Mask Up! by Karen Maio

     We’ve all heard a toddler or tween belligerently stamping her foot and saying this classic line of power play or rebellion: “You’re not the boss of me!”.  A wise parent will remain calm and explain that when it comes to rules or decisions that affect that child’s well-being, they are not negotiable; the parent is keeping her child safe. 

     With the COVID pandemic still all around, I am a bit shocked to see some adults acting the same way. 

     “You can’t make me wear a mask; I have rights!.”

     “I’m not staying home for the holiday!”

     While none of our sinful hearts like to be told what to do, we need to remember that the government and health agencies in charge are establishing these rules and guidelines for our safety and to try to end the surge of the virus.

     1st Corinthians 10:23-24 address Christian freedom:

     I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

     Philippians 2:3-4 teaches us about imitating Christ’s humility:

     “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

     A person may think “It won’t happen to me” or “it’s just a virus; I’ll be fine”, but that possible a-symptomatic COVID-carrying person may be putting their immunocompromised loved one or stranger at risk.

     I understand that there are some who physically or emotionally cannot cover their faces, but to all the rest, I urge: Humbly love one another, respect those in charge, and mask up! God-willing, it won’t be forever.  

 
A WORD for Women

The Big Game by Kathy Schreiner

     I am an unapologetic "Cheesehead”, born and bred. I started watching NFL Green Bay Packer games with my dad when I was eight years old. Every Sunday I would cut the roster of players from the Milwaukee Journal, and listen as Dad would explain the plays to me. I was allowed to have a few sips of champagne following the Packer's win in the Ice Bowl of '67. One of my greatest pleasures was when I was able to take my dad to a game with tickets I had scored from a liquor sales rep. This was during the "non-glory days" of the Pack. Still, if you are from Wisconsin, it is kind of like a trip to the Holy Lands to be able to see a game in person.

     The 2020/2021 Packers’ season was a bright spot during this COVID year. They made it all the way to the playoffs followed by yet another let down. No Super Bowl game for us. No Lombardi trophy. There is always next year. While it is fun to follow a beloved team, cheer them on to victory, and commiserate with fellow fans when they lose, one must remember, it is only a game. Not so with real life. There may not be a "next year" for you or someone you love.

     That being said, what is the "crown of victory" you wish to win?

     What does your personal “Super Bowl” look like?

     Is Life a game where first downs and penalties are just the way the game is played, and nothing more?

     As Christians we know better. Our salvation is not a team sport with MVP individuals. There is only one Super-Star, only one who the entire "game" relies on. It is Jesus who has the play book laid out in His word, the Bible. We know that Jesus is there to throw a flag when the devil tries to penalize us for our sins. Jesus has canceled all our sin penalties. Not only does Jesus carry the entire game by Himself, He willingly gives you and me the victory trophy He won by His perfect life, innocent death, and victorious resurrection. By the gift of faith in His work of salvation, we will be crowned with Him in heaven. That will be the best celebration there could be.

     With Jesus' win for me, I'm not going to Disneyland, I'm going to heaven!

     “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on the day---and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)​ 

 
A WORD for Women

Crazy for Christ by Christine Wentzel

     The other day I was searching the Internet for free images to use for Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season. While in this task, I found some people tripping over Jesus in the dark because of their curiosity over the smudge of black on a person’s forehead. One described it as a cross-shaped tattoo, and another as a painted black + (plus) sign. What followed was a discussion thread with people offering answers to this anomaly. They ranged from the absurd to generic Wikipedia definitions for “Ash Wednesday”, but no specific mention of the Gospel. Christians will joke that the easy answer to every bible-study question is “Jesus” so I was hoping to see his name pop up on the first page…nada, zip.

     But this diversion from my work gave me rich food for thought...

It’s not odd to see some people in any time or any place with facial markings or tattoos.

However, it is odd to see random people

in the same area

with the same marking

on the same part of the face

on the same day

of the same month

each year.

     Now that did create some interesting theories in a discussion group!

     So what is the Mystery behind this strange annual practice?

     Can I get a witness?

     The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth, gives the reason for the crazy things believers do in light of God’s amazing Grace for all people!

     If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. (2 Corinthians 5:13-15 NLT)

     Whether we choose to fast or not, or whether we receive the imposition of ashes or not, let our faith walk point the way to the Cross and empty Tomb for no other reason than Christ’s love compels us!

     God gives Christians "The Ministry of Reconciliationto plead with the lost to…

REMEMBER

God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin

REPENT

so we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view

REJOICE!

the old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God

 
A WORD for Women

I Yada You by Emily Krill

My lover said to me,

‘Rise up, my beloved, my fair one, and come away.'”

Song of Songs 2:10 NLT

 

     In the 90’s, Jerry Seinfeld popularized the term “yada” in one episode of his show, Seinfeld. Still to this day, the phrase “yada, yada, yada” is used to gloss over details of a story that the speaker doesn’t want to explicitly define.

     I had no idea what the significance or meaning of that word actually was until I did some digging. According to multiple resources, Yada is a Hebrew term that has a variety of applications, but one of the core meanings describes the intimacy God desires with his people. That is “to know, to be known, to be deeply respected.” Isn’t that cool?!

     The only word in the English language that even comes close to this level of intimacy is sex – and look what we have done with that?! It’s become something we “have,” as though it’s a beer or a burger; it’s become merely an act of consumption. Our television commercials make money on it. Our education system teaches about it as something to wrap in rubber or run from. No wonder there is a massive epidemic of fear of intimacy in our culture today; it’s become so far from what God designed it to be.

     All this leaves me desperately searching for a “reset” button. I want to know, to be known, and to be deeply respected. I want to understand God’s yada.

     I found it alright – it’s called the Song of Songs. My husband and I have been reading it together for the past week or so, and it’s pretty intense! (By intense I mean that some of the verses have me blushing shades of purple.)

     It’s purpose, according to my study notes, is:

  • To tell of the love between a bridegroom (King Solomon) and his bride,

  • To affirm the sanctity of marriage, and

  • To picture God’s love for his people.

     As I have read through these chapters, I’ve found myself deeply refreshed and renewed not only by what an intimate human relationship should look like, but also the depth of God’s love for us. I’m not going to get into details about it because I want you to challenge you to go read it yourselves, however, I am going to share one section of verses that so powerfully display the beauty of the excitement a man has for his wife and, simultaneously, the excitement our God has for us and that we should have for him:

Ah, I hear him – my lover! Here he comes, leaping on the mountains and bounding over the hills. My lover is like a swift gazelle or a young deer. Look, there he is behind the wall! Now he is looking in through the window, gazing into my room. My lover said to me, “Rise up, my beloved, my fair one, and come away. For the winter is past, and the rain is over and gone.

(Song of Songs 2:8-10 NLT)

 

     Can you hear the two different voices of intimacy intertwined?

     The voice of a man returning to his beloved, calling her away with him after being apart for the winter – a beautiful reunion!

     The voice of God calling us to Heaven when we die, signifying an end to tears, heartache and pain – a beautiful reunion!

     These eight chapters should be required reading for any married couple (once the kids go to bed, that is). Let it define intimacy for you. Read it with the goal of knowing God, being known BY God, and to share a deep respect. Then, bless your mate with that same gift.

___

 

Dear Lord, your creativity astounds me. Just when I believe that I have a full grasp of your depth and love and grace, you open my eyes to even more that I could ever imagine. Thank you for wanting us and allowing us to know, to love and to respect you. Let us offer this gift to each other as you have taught us. Amen.

 

Devotion used with permission from Messy Worship.

 
A WORD for Women
 

God’s Great Love by Erica Koester

     A few months after having my son, I began to struggle internally. I was navigating motherhood for the first time, and trying to juggle many other obligations. Foreign, negative thoughts started to creep in. It reached a point so low that I genuinely, truly believed I was failing as a wife, as a mother, as a friend and as an employee. It was at that time that I sought Christian counseling. In talking with a professional, we slowly unearthed the very root of the problem: I had consistently believed the lies of the Enemy.

     That is a heavy story to share, but the work of the devil needs to be exposed. Dear sisters, what lies have you believed about yourself that directly contradict what God says about you in His word? We are fearfully and wonderfully made; God carefully formed us together in our mother’s womb.

     Not only did God create us, but he loves us dearly. Paul shares beautiful words about Christ’s love in Ephesians 3:13-17: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

     The love of God is so great that it surpasses our human knowledge. Maybe that’s why we have such a hard time grasping it! May you be reminded today that your Father in heaven created you and loves you more than you even know. 

A WORD for Women
 

Beautiful day! by Karen Spiegelberg

     My maternal grandmother lived to be 104!  She was one of the most amazing women I ever knew.  She journaled every day for many of her years.  While reading her journals recently, I noticed one specifically impressive thing—most days she started by writing, “Beautiful day!” What a great attitude. Some studies even say that we may potentially live longer with a positive attitude.

     As Christians, we often need a reminder to have a better daily outlook. In Psalm 118:24, David tells us, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” But this passage is not just telling us to be upbeat and positive about each day.  It is reminding us that every day, no matter what it brings, is a precious gift from God.  Each day that we live in God’s grace is a day that has been perfectly crafted by him, for his plan and for our purpose.  Embracing each day doesn’t guarantee our longevity but it does ensure that we are living as best we can for Jesus and to God’s glory.  After all, there’s no guarantee that we will even have another day.

     My grandma didn’t journal in her last few years. She was getting weak and couldn’t write as well.   I have a feeling though, that each precious last day the Lord gave her, the first thought on her mind was, “Beautiful day!”

A WORD for Women
 

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