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Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

-Acts 14:17

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 NIV

As soon as the calendar turned January 1, I was inundated with announcements and posts from family and friends about how they were going to change something or go after something this year. I rejoiced with them (I love goals and going after it) but secretly, I didn’t want to see them just yet. My kids didn’t go back to school until January 9th and I couldn’t think about any new year aspirations until that glorious day. When my sweet babes are home for a three week winter break, I’m doing all I can to keep everyone alive and the house from being trashed. 

So new things. . .fresh starts. . .yeah, they didn’t come until Monday, January 9th at 8:15 am immediately following the close of those beautiful yellow school bus doors.

And that first week when I finally had space to think and plan and dream about the new year, I felt God drawing me to this verse. “Forget the former things. . .I am doing something new,” he called to me.

So I started asking him to reveal the newness he had for me this year. 

A new opportunity. . .new dream. . .favor on the new ministry he birthed in my heart last year? 

And although I believe he will bring newness to my work and calling, he’s been focusing my eyes to see beyond the physical. Now, I’m seeking him for new strength, new strategy, self-discipline that forms new and healthy habits. A new heart for my husband and children. Fresh vision for our home.

God wants to realign our hearts, just like he did to the people of Israel through the prophet Isaiah’s words. If God’s people had stayed focused on their captivity, they would have never experienced their release. As God calls us up and out into a new year, a new season, and new territory, we may find ourselves looking more to our limitations than to his great power. We see all the ways we’ve fallen short in the past and wonder if we can be effective in business, ministry, motherhood, marriage. . .

But he says, “Forget about all that. I’m doing something new now.” Because when we focus on our shortcomings we get stuck in the same cycle of powerlessness and discouragement. With eyes fixed behind us on what has been, we cannot see the way forward.


This is an edited excerpt of what first appeared here and is shared with the author's permission.

Jessica Wolstenholm is co-founder of Grace for Moms. After 15 years in the music and publishing industries, Jessica came home to be with her two small children. Although the transition from the corporate world to the playground has been an adjustment, she is learning every day to access the grace available to us through Christ as she navigates the full time job of motherhood. She is the co-author of The Pregnancy Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey to Motherhood and The Baby Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey Through Baby’s First Year. Jessica lives in Nolensville, TN with her husband, Dave and two miracle babies, Hope (6) and Joshua (3).

More of Jessica Wolstenholm: www.graceformoms.com

It’s Time to Seek the Lord  -   

This devotional was written by Jim Grams    

 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die… —Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

 

The most probable author of the Book of Ecclesiastes was the incredibly rich and powerful King Solomon. It is a book filled with statements of hopelessness and an attitude that says, “Life doesn’t matter.” But in Chapter 3, Solomon talks about there being a “time for everything”: A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to be silent and a time to speak. It isn’t hard to get the picture. God wants us to examine how we spend our time.

 

I was looking around my house the other day and decided to count the clocks. I couldn’t believe it. There were 21! Try counting the clocks in your home and don’t forget the DVD player, the microwave and even the coffeemaker. Clocks are everywhere!

 

We are so very time conscious in fast-paced North America. I remember some of my trips to Africa’s great interior. I was in a Mozambique village without TV, no newspapers and no clocks. It was very easy to even forget which day of the week it was. All events in those villages were scheduled by the sun and not the clock. It was awesome!

 

I think all of us would be a lot better off if we scheduled our lives by the SON! Every event in our day should be centered in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I wonder how often we have looked at our wristwatches and rushed away from an opportunity to share Christ’s love with someone who was just ready to open his or her heart.

 

Let’s determine today to ask God to help us be less time controlled. Let’s decide to serve Christ every minute and make each day, His day…by being obedient to His call. Walking with the Lord requires keeping our eyes fixed on Him every single moment.

 

Solomon ends his depressing view of the world with this great conclusion to the book of Ecclesiastes: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  He actually got it right in the end. We need to decide to get it right every morning, by obeying God without constantly looking at our watches. Time is not money; time is an opportunity to seek our Lord, and it’s a gift we need to give Him daily.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Are there any blocks of time in your day where God is excluded?  Do you find yourself wasting minutes or even hours of your valuable day?

 

2. Try praying short prayers throughout the day.  In the middle of your busiest hour, pause a moment, and just talk to your loving Heavenly Father.

 

FURTHER READING:

Hosea 10:12; Ephesians 5:15-16

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

DIVINE PROTECTION -   

In Lessons on Living

"Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn." - Ruth 2:9

An Alpine mountain climbing team came to a perilous gap in the ice. The only way to get across was to step into the outstretched hands of the guide who had met them on the other side. The first climber hesitated a moment as he looked into the gloomy depths below, where he would certainly fall to his death if anything went wrong. Seeing his hesitancy, the guide said, "Don't worry. In all my years as a guide, my hands have never yet lost a man!"

With this same assurance, Ruth placed herself in Boaz's hands. God provided someone who would protect her. Boaz took steps to keep her morally safe by commanding the young men not to touch her. He also provided for her physical protection. Under the hot Mediterranean sun, the danger of heat stroke was a very real possibility. But his young men brought jars of water to the field, and Ruth was free to refresh herself whenever she wanted. In Boaz, Ruth found a safe haven from the dangers around her.

God offers the same to all His children. There is never a moment when we are excluded from His divine protection. That does not mean we can never be hurt. It doesn't mean we will never die. But God's divine protection extends to our ultimate safety?the protection of our souls. These can never be harmed. They are safe in the care of Jesus.

Rejoice in God's divine protection. Be confident that you are safe in His care, no matter how difficult your circumstances might be. God is the keeper of your soul.

Life can hurt us but it cannot ultimately harm us.


- See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/divine-protection#sthash.OfJ1VHLW.dpuf

Dr. Woodrow Kroll served as President and Senior Bible Teacher at Back to the Bible from 1990-2013. Author of more than 50 books, Dr. Kroll's passion is to increase Bible literacy in America by engaging people in the Bible and connecting them with the Author. His clear, incisive teaching of the Word keeps him in demand as a speaker all over the world. - See more at: http://www.backtothebible.org/authors/woodrow-kroll#sthash.7Yrcap6W.dpuf

More of Dr. Woodrow Kroll: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

I Am Soooo Sorry -  

This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. —Galatians 5:1

 

My husband and I were driving home from dinner with friends and suddenly found ourselves bickering over nothing of importance. The next thing we knew, our wonderful day together had been spoiled by a fight that could have been avoided. We finished our drive home in tense silence.

 

By the time we got home, we both realized how silly our argument had been. Still hurt and angry, it was hard to know where to start. He broke the silence by apologizing for his part and I quickly followed as I recognized my part. It should have ended there, but I didn’t let it. I couldn’t stop apologizing and saying how sorry I was. Even the next morning the first words out of my mouth were another apology about how wrong I had been. That’s when he told me to stop.

 

I probably would have kept apologizing all through the next day if he had not stopped me. It was hard for me to accept his forgiveness. I continued to want to make it up to him and do things for him to show him how very sorry I was. In fact, I often find myself doing that with God, too.

 

I carry shame and guilt over sins I have already confessed. I hold onto the guilt and work to make it up to God. I live as if I am really, really sorry, then He will forgive me. Or, if I do something for someone else today, then maybe I will make myself right before God. However, that is not what the Lord has for us. Christ has set us free. Not free to do whatever we please but free from the penalty of sin. In fact, we have freedom from having to earn His love and earn His forgiveness. He has already paid the price, and he has already forgiven us of our vices and shortfalls.

 

Actions in keeping with repentance are appropriate! But, all those extra “sorry’s” and all the things I do to try to make myself right with God are not about Him. Those things are all about the attempts I make to improve my “standing” in His eyes. And they are simply mistaken. So the challenge becomes: How do you and I accept the invitation God gives us to live a life that is free? How do we live a life not trying to earn forgiveness but accepting what has been freely given?

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. In what ways do you have a hard time accepting the freedom found in a relationship with Christ?

 

2. What makes it hard for you to forgive yourself?

 

FURTHER READING:

Psalm 32:1-5; John 14:16-17; Romans 8:1-2

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

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