There are so many things to be grateful for this year; especially those things we didn’t even ask for but our loving Father either knew we needed or just wanted to see the joy on our faces at the surprise blessing. May every day be filled with our gratitude for being loved so thoroughly. In this special section, AW4W is highlighting special thanks for the "faith-building blessings. Those that challenge us to declare like the Apostle Paul about his thorn, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
May you find camaraderie, encouragement, and hope in these stories. We would love to hear about your faith-building experiences with your Abba Everlasting. We’ll keep this page up for the holiday season to help us all through the busy days and/or the lonely days ahead. Either way, we will bask in the Star Light of God’s baby Boy. We look ahead to the day Jesus, our King, comes back to bring us to live with him forever. Amen.
Enjoy this beautiful song, The Lord Is My Salvation, by Getty Music.
A Brokenhearted Mother
Sometimes a sin is so heinous you can't bear to hear about it. The crime? Internet child pornography. The victims? There are too many to count! The children in the photos, the wife who is betrayed, the criminal's children who love their Daddy, the employer, the parents who had no idea and raised him in a Christian home, the neighborhood children and parents, the church family, the extended family, everyone who pays taxes and the high cost of crime, the detectives who had to look at the photos to make the charge and stop the activity. The list goes on and on…
…The Father gave all of the full weight and punishment of our sin, put it on Jesus and punished Jesus for it. All out of love for us. Jesus accepted the punishment out of love for us. As this family spends today and many days to come in tears, the Holy Spirit will plead our case before the Father.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (An excerpt from the devotion: By a Brokenhearted Mother.)
I'm feeling weighed down by the problems and sadness all around me. I'm weary from worry! I know I shouldn't worry, I don't need to worry…All of those shoulds, needs, oughts, and musts turn everything back on me. The emphasis is all wrong…Why am I trying to do God's work? No wonder I'm weary!
Peace . . . I want peace . . . true peace that calms me inside.
God has already provided that true peace for me.
Psalm 62:8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Does this mean I can scream, vent, cry and basically empty my heart of worries into God's hands? Absolutely! … It isn't up to me - God is handling things. Wow - my weariness has been replaced with peace. (An excerpt from Janet’s devotion: Weary from Worry.)
I look at her pale face, thin body lying in bed. It had been four months of this unknown illness wreaking havoc and robbing her of youthful joy…
As her days filled with pain and loneliness, my days filled with frustration and helplessness of a mama who would do anything for her daughter, but powerlessly could do nothing…What else could I do to make her better? Myself sick with worry and stress. Daily pleas turned into constant state of prayer: 'Please, God, heal her.' 'Heavenly Father, please lead us to the answer'.
Or so it is seemed at the time.
Standing in the now, I see with faith-filled eyes that God was not silent during those anxious days eleven years ago. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7
So we wait. In the waiting, he is at work. “For his love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1
So with whatever strength the soul can muster in the midst of the storm, be still and cling to him.
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5 (An excerpt from Tracy’s devotion: 'Mama, I don't feel good'.)
Several years ago my children went on vacation with their father. At the end of the vacation he didn't bring them back to me. And thus began the nightmare. I fought here in the States…I fought in the country where he had the kids…The fight was long, ugly, costly, and painful…
In the end, we were triumphant; the kids and I came home. Through it our mantra was, “Don't look back. Don't count the cost. Don't stop until it's done.”
I know that most people don't go through a storm like that. But we all go through them at some point. Maybe you're in the midst of a battle that doesn't look like it can be won. You can do it. You'll make it through. It's not just me promising you that, it's a promise from our Father.
"Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame." Isaiah 50:7 (An excerpt from Kelly’s musing on June 20, 2013.)
Each week our church's prayer corner brings to light particular struggles this or that person is dealing with in their lives. Sometimes I'm so surprised because these women always seem so strong and yet they are asking for my prayers! One of my sisters-in-Christ works with our Jesus Cares ministry and has a special need family member. She always seems so strong and yet she asked me to pray with her because I inspire her! God helps me do my best when I talk to them and the women who I "need" inspiration from on a weekly basis.
At age 17, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, I had an explanation for my many years of joint pain. But I was in denial…If I thought about my disease or talked about it, I knew it would be real. I just wanted to pretend to be normal instead…
Maybe you’ve tried the same tactic. You ignore a sickness or pain thinking it will go away. Sometimes it works, but often you can’t wish away a health problem…
“Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.’” …When I talk with friends, it sounds like many of us feel that confession is one of the weakest areas of our prayer lives…
If we’re too proud to admit that we’re sick, we don’t need Doctor Jesus. (An excerpt from Diana’s devotion: Owning up to our sickness.)
I Thessalonians 5:13 Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Sorry, I was not thankful when I sprained my ankle. I am not thankful my friend is in constant pain. I am certainly not thankful my son does not love God…
…"Be joyful always."... Look around at the blessings in your life…We have a Savior who paid the price for our sin and is preparing a home for us with Him in heaven for all eternity. That makes me joyful…
…God tells us to "pray continually". In times of distress I have no trouble praying continually. Many of the circumstances in our lives we would rather not face are the very things God knows we need. It is through weakness that we realize we have an all-powerful God…
Knowing my God is strong enough to help me in any trouble I am comforted and thankful… (An excerpt from Julie’s devotion: Give Thanks in All Things?)
…did you ever feel a tiny, little guilty twinge as you prayed, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us? (Matthew 6:12)"…
My son and I had just returned home after a fun afternoon of back-to-school shopping. When I saw him opening the screen door to enter the house, I yelled, "Philip, come back!"…I was pretty sure I had locked the inner door which was now standing wide open! …our fears were confirmed: we had been burglarized…We were terrified and angry, and I was saddened that my wedding ring (which doesn't always fit my swollen finger, so left behind) was gone…the individual (and 12 others) was eventually arrested…The criminal apologized, but I ignored it... Justice was served; he got sentenced to twenty years in jail. It was a relief.....but incomplete.
…Whether the man's apology was sincere or not, I knew I had to forgive him according to God's will. I was too scared to do it in person, so I wrote him a letter instead. I used it as an opportunity to tell him that we all are sinners and assured him of the forgiveness that is ours through faith in Jesus and how he saved us, and that because of that, I forgave him, too. I pray that something good comes out of all this: that the Holy Spirit works faith in that young man's heart… (An excerpt from Karen’s devotion: Forgiveness.)
…One afternoon during our family's winter ocean/beach vacation, I took our dog, Trubble, for a walk on the beach…I let Trubble off his leash and…we walked.
…After a bit he caught some scent and followed it. When I noticed his preoccupation I called to him, but with the wind in my face and the roar of the waves he couldn't hear me... Soon he was just a speck way down the beach… I prayed for God to somehow bring us back together. As I tried to keep an eye on him, I realized that Trubble made a beeline back to me as fast as his legs could carry him. God is good and cares about us and even our dogs!...
…If God was capable of heart attacks, I am sure I gave Him quite a few with my wanderings-the "scents" of this world distract me often. It also made me think of other parents who ask us for prayers for their child or children who, though raised Christian, have wandered away from their faith… Thankfully, we have a God who never gives up on us…
Luke 12:6-7 "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than the sparrows."… (An excerpt from Lori’s devotion: Hope for Wanderers.)
The storm blew in from nowhere. I was on a bike trail with one of my best friends (my Trek road bike) and I was still 7 miles from home coming back from a 30-mile ride…Suddenly, a huge lightning storm blew in and torrential rains came with it...There was no place to take cover... So, there I was, pedaling as fast as my legs would let me until I reached the old familiar building on my route. As I sat under that porch with the storm raging around me, I found myself audibly muttering, "Lord, get me through this storm."
…As my mind pondered that plea, I nervously chuckled to myself (until the next lightning bolt made me jump again) thinking about how the disciples must have felt during that boat-tossing storm on the seas with Jesus…When Jesus called them out for their lack of faith, he sent a message to the disciples and to us that he is with us through all of life's storms, no matter what they are…The storms will come, whether it is a serious illness, a sudden death in the family, or a tough financial situation. Through our trust in Jesus, he will calm those storms and get us through. We will find his purpose in a serious illness. We will find comfort in his promises after the death of a loved one. We will refocus and draw nearer to him during a tough financial situation. He promises us, "...that in all things God works for the good of those who love him..." Romans 8:28 (An excerpt from Karen’s devotion: Lord, Get Me Through This Storm!)
Some time ago, I was on my way to my next class…when a woman stopped me in the middle of campus. She asked if I could help her find a shelter… She needed to get to this shelter because she was afraid that when her husband was released from jail that very day he would come after her…I offered to pay for a cab to the shelter... I knew I would regret it if I didn't take a moment to remind her that everything was going to be okay because God always has a plan for our lives...
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
…She needed a spirit of power in her moment when she felt so helpless and weak. I needed a spirit of power and love to help her in this time of great need. I had always wondered how I would react if I found myself in a situation like that. Everyone always says that you have no idea where the words come from- the Holy Spirit takes over and the words just flow from your mouth and that is exactly what happened… (An excerpt from Talia’s devotion: The Spirit God Gave Us.)
Some people really enjoy reunions. I’m not one of those people…in my experience; reunions tend to turn into a non-stop string of put-downs. Every silly thing that you did in the past is dragged out for the amusement of all those in attendance. The goal is to put you back in time to relive the embarrassing, painful moments of your life…
Thankfully, that is not how the Lord looks at reunions. Luke 15:11-32 tells the parable of the lost son and the joyful reunion with his father… Jesus is looking forward to bringing me and all believers to his house in heaven. He tells of the preparations he is making for that reunion in John 14:2-3 “In my Father’s house are many rooms: if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”… (An excerpt from Carolyn’s devotion: Reunions.)
…2 Corinthians 12:7-9. This is my go-to section when I'm feeling low dealing with daily chronic pain for the past 40+ years. When I read this section I think of Paul's thorn, Jesus' crown of thorns, Jesus' cross, my cross (Matthew 16:24) -it all harmonizes.
I am reminded the pain is there for a holy reason. If it serves no sanctified purpose then God is just an all-powerful bully and my faith in Him is false. But that would contradict everything His Spirit reveals to me through His Word, and every blessing so lovingly given to His adopted child.
Just like me, the Apostle Paul pleaded to be out of the pain. Just like me, he experienced frustration physically, emotionally and spiritually. Just like me, he thought the Lord's work would be better served without it. But God knew we were both wrong. Without the reminder of physical limits, without it reminding our weakness is Christ's strength, would we still focus on Jesus? Paul says it was to keep him from being conceited. I have said many times that if it weren't for my "thorn", I shudder to think where I'd be today. (An excerpt from Christine’s devotion, Thankful for the Thorn)