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And Then There Were Others

school/learningMarci AnthonyComment
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Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) 

The hurricanes of 2017 will most definitely go down as catastrophic.  I was recently in Houston and it actually looked like a war zone as I passed through the streets.  Home after home was completely emptied of its contents.  Cabinets, furniture, floor coverings and clothes lay on the curb as a representation of a lifetime of memories created in one place. 

As I saw such devastation, I couldn’t help but wonder why God would allow a catastrophe of this level?  As God always does, He nudged my spirit straight into His presence through His Word.  Hebrews 11 begins with some precious words, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”  The chapter proceeds with a list of many heroes of the faith that God used to accomplish great and mighty things.  God performed miracles for them and He protected them in many ways.  Then, almost at the end of the chapter, comes these words, “And then there were others.”  The writer of Hebrews continues to speak of these others who were beaten, mocked, killed and tortured for their faith.  “The world was not worthy of these” the writer states.  ALL of these were the heroes of the faith…those who experienced miracles and those who didn’t.  It wasn’t the outcome of their circumstances that proved their faith, but their simple faith in God, who was with them. 

In God’s tender voice, He reminded me through this scripture that your faith cannot be in things that you see.  God reminded me that my faith is not in a circumstance, an action, or an outcome.  My faith is in the one and only God…the God who can do miracles, who can accomplish great things and who can be present with those who are suffering. 

So, my encouragement for you today:  resist the urge to use your eyes to measure the work of God.  Know that the ways and movement of God cannot always be seen.  Whether God delivers you in a miraculous way today or whether He simply is present with you in your suffering, know that He is God and He loves you! 

Digging deeper |

Hebrews 11

Action items |

Do you find yourself evaluating the movement of God by observing the circumstances in your life?  If so, use your smart phone or even a piece of paper and write down Hebrews 11:1 as a reminder to keep your eyes upward.  Are you in a storm today?  Is that storm causing you to question God?  Allow God to gently remind you today that you cannot see all that God is doing.  Place in your faith in Him and not the outcome! 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, it is so very hard not to question You at times.  Make my faith strong, Jesus.  Give me the courage to place my faith in things not seen.  God, give me peace in my storms and deliver me when it is Your will.  Amen. 

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Total Eclipse of the Heart

school/learningMarci AnthonyComment
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"He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.”  Psalms 104:19 NIV

Ok, so I know what question you’re asking yourself…what does Bonnie Tyler’s song Total Eclipse of the Heart have to do with a Bible devotional?  I’ll get to that in a minute. We heard a lot about the solar eclipse that happened on August 21st, 2017. It was amazing to witness the incredible events that occur when God’s forces of nature are thrown out of their normal daily routine. 

The path of totality, named for the area of the United States that was able to view a complete eclipse of the sun, demonstrated how much we rely on the sun and moon to help keep us regulated throughout the day. On Monday, August 21st, several unusual things happened along the path of totality during the full eclipse. First, many animals weren’t sure what time of day it was. Some animals slept, thinking it was nighttime, while others ran around crazy not knowing what to do. In Washington State, over 305,000 salmon washed ashore because of a strong tide brought on by the eclipse. Flowers that had opened their petals for the day to receive their daily dose of sunlight, closed, thinking that it was night, and then reopened after the sun came back out. In some areas the temperature changed more than 10 degrees in a few minutes because the sun was blocked out. 

In areas that were not along the path of totality, individuals were able to see only a partial eclipse, but the effects were still felt. For one thing, it felt strange to be outside. Although a total eclipse wasn’t visible, there was still an eerie feel to the sky and it was strange to drive around and see so many people standing outside, staring up at the sky. As humans, our day was interrupted by a natural phenomenon, and it seemed like everyone stopped and had to take a peek (hopefully with approved eyewear and homemade cereal boxes). 

We are such creatures of habit that God knew we needed something to help us regulate our body clocks. If you look in Genesis 1:3-5, one of God’s first tasks in creation was to separate the light from the darkness.  He called the light day and the darkness night. The sun, with its rays of light and heat reaching the earth, creates a powerful one-two punch, but the moon’s proximity to the earth also plays a dominate role in our everyday life as well. 

The moon is partially responsible for our seasons.  The Earth's axis is tilted 23.5 degrees. The angle tilt is responsible for the seasons. But, the tilt angle is not fixed. The moon's gravitational pull on the Earth causes precession, which is a small, 21,000-year cyclic change in the angle of the Earth's tilt. Basically, the Earth is tilted and it is the moon’s gravitational pull that keeps the Earth on that tilt, thereby giving us our seasons.   

I know you weren’t thinking that you would be getting a science lesson as part of a devotion today, but I think that sometimes it’s important to remember that God’s hand is in every aspect of our lives.  From His creation of the sun and moon, to the intricate angle of the Earth’s tilt and gravitational pull of the moon, He thought of everything. So why do we sometimes doubt His ultimate power when it comes to our lives? Well, it comes down to an eclipse of our heart.  I told you there was a reason for my title choice. Instead of allowing God to work in our lives, we cast a shadow over it, which blocks God out. Many times we act like the animals did during the eclipse and run in circles or become confused because we’ve lost our direction. Stop eclipsing God and let Him work in your life. 

Key Verses |

Galatians 4:10; Ecclesiastes 3:1 

Action Item |

Are you blocking God from working in your life? Open your heart and let Him in. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the Sun and Moon. Thank You for thinking of how the moon and sun affect our daily lives.  Thank You for events in the sky like eclipses that remind us of how vast the universe is and how powerful You are.  Amen. 

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Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Trusting God With Your Children

school/learningMarci AnthonyComment
2.4.16 I Will Teach You The Fear Of The Lord Sowandgather.jpg

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. “  Philippians 1:6 ESV 

This week I send my firstborn to kindergarten. When I was a new mom, someone told me that the days are long and the years are short and I feel no truer words are spoken about the early childhood years. I look forward to watching him gain knowledge and independence yet if I’m honest, I actually have quite a few fears about this new journey he’s on. Did I pick the right school? Should I have homeschooled him instead? Maybe I should have been willing to pay private school tuition to keep him in a Christian environment. Will he make friends? Will he decide he hates school and be the problem child?  

In my own life, it’s easy for me to claim Philippians 1:6. I am a work in progress. I know that God will continue to work on me and refine me until I stand complete before Him. Yet why is it so hard for me to let go of my child and trust that the same God will be faithful to work in his life? Every mom I’ve talked with in this same season of life has similar struggles. We hold ourselves responsible for how our kids turn out. We agonize over every little decision, secretly convinced that if we put them in the wrong activity, in the wrong school, or even can’t get them to eat a perfectly balanced healthy meal every single day, then their lives will end in abject failure and it will be our fault. 

This is what society teaches us. But thankfully, the bible teaches a much different story. We can trust that God will finish the good work He has started in our lives and in our children’s lives. We can and should prayerfully consider big decisions but realize that any control we hold is an illusion. God is in control. We can make all the wrong decisions and God can work it for good. We can make all the right decisions and still have a wayward child that we have to depend on God to draw back to the truth. 

So as you start this new school year, pray fervently for your kids. But leave your fears and anxieties at God’s feet. He’s the one really in control. 

Dig Deeper |

Romans 8:28Proverbs 22:6Hebrews 2:8-10 

Action Item |

When you find yourself worrying about your children, pray first for God’s presence in their lives and seek Him as you make decisions for them. 

Prayer |

Heavenly Father, you will complete the good work you began in me and in my children. Help me to trust you through hard circumstances and realize that you are in control of how my kids turn out, not me. 

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Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post. 

Facing Failure? Persevere!

school/learningMarci AnthonyComment
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Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4 NIV

The title of Certified Public Accountant or CPA rang loudly and seductively throughout my college years. I dreamed of this title and the job opportunities it would give me, and I worked diligently to achieve it. At the end of my senior year, I sat for the CPA exam fully expecting to pass with flying colors. However, upon receiving my results, I realized I had failed miserably. I was shocked…upset…and cried buckets.  

I desired to be a CPA, but I failed.  I couldn’t believe it. What do I do now? 

As I began to deal with the failure, I found God was there helping and reviving me. He was with me. Immanuel, meaning God with us, is a name referring to Jesus. (Matthew 1:23 NIV) He was my strength, and I relied on Him during this moment of setback. 

After recovering from the heartache, I found God was telling me to persevere. I was to continue to pursue this dream and try again. 

Well, guess what? I did. 

I decided to retake the exam, and this time I studied. I placed myself on a study regimen and took a review course. I even limited my social activities. Bummer! But what helped me most was my prayers to and reliance on God. It was God who gave me strength to continue. 

Now, I’m sure you are expecting me to say I passed the second time. Well, no, I didn’t. In fact, it took me five times to fulfill that dream of being labeled a CPA. 

Yet, it’s true. God was with me every single time! 

Digging Deeper |

Hebrews 12:1; James 1:12

Action Item |

Never give up! 

Prayer |

Immanuel, You are the God who is with us and strengthens us. As I move through life and failures come my way, help me to rely on You and persevere. In Your name, Amen. 

Join Us | 

Gather with us by sharing your "Action Item" or "Prayer" by clicking on the Comment link at the top of the post.