Sow & Gather

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His Mercies Never Cease

love, encouragementMarci AnthonyComment
his-mercies-new-every-morning-sowandgather

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

In a few short hours we begin a new year. Maybe 2015 hasn’t been kind to you and you are looking forward to 2016. Maybe 2015 has been a wonderful year and you are sad to see it end. No matter where you find yourself, you have to admit there is something exciting about the start of something new.

A year and a half ago I became a first time grandmother. There was nothing that could have prepared me for the joy of this sweet little girl entering our lives. I love everything about being “Nana”. Well everything, that is, except when I have to send her home. I find such delight in her. I am reliving the joy and wonder of “firsts”.  I told my husband that it’s as if we’ve been given a “do-over”. We’ve been given a second chance to make right the mistakes we made as the parents of her daddy.

Last week we celebrated the birth of Jesus. The birth of this child brought unbelievable new beginnings. A new covenant, new life through salvation, and a new way to enter God’s presence. As I thought on this, the Lord brought to mind this passage in Lamentations.

So often I’m discouraged because I feel I’ve blown it in my spiritual walk. I resolve to obey but find myself doing my own thing. I give into that temptation once again. I resolve to get up early to pray but push the snooze button over and over until I have to get up and the time is gone. I then begin to feel like “Why bother? I’m never going to get it right.”  But these verses tell me that the Christ, born so long ago, is there saying, “Don’t give up. I have fresh mercy for you.  I’m always here ready to give you a fresh start.” Not only will He give me a fresh start, but He is faithful to give me everything I need to walk a life of victory with Him.

We don’t have to wait for a New Year and those New Year’s Resolutions. His mercies are new every morning, and we can have a new beginning today. Wow! What an encouragement!

Dig Deeper |

Exodus 34:5-6; I Peter 1:3-4; Hebrews 4:16: Isaiah 43:18-19

Action Item | 

If you are honest with yourself, do you or do you not believe that Jesus has mercies for you that are new every morning? In what area of your life, do you need to claim Jesus’ mercies today?

Prayer |

Precious Father, thank you for your mercies that are new every morning. The enemy would want us to believe we are failures when we don’t walk with You as we think we should. Help us not fall prey to his lies. Help us to walk in the truth that your mercies are constantly there for us. As a child of Yours, there is no failure that Your mercy won’t cover. You are a faithful Father, and we love You! In Jesus name, Amen!

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What Can I Do When My Faith Is So Weak?

Faith, New BeginningsMarci Anthony3 Comments
do-not-be-afraid-or-discouraged-sowandgather

Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. II Chronicles 20:15b NIV

I find it amazing that God has to remind me often that He wants to be involved in my daily life. I don’t know about you, but I simply forget that He’s standing by, just waiting for me to turn to Him and let Him guide me through my problems. He constantly has to remind me that if I’m willing, my battles are not mine…they're His!

In II Chronicles, King Jehoshaphat hears that three armies have united and are on the march toward Jerusalem! He knows his army has no chance to stand against them, so he makes an appeal of protection to the Lord. “O Lord, God of our fathers…we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

God’s reply is immediate and wonderful: They don’t need to be afraid or discouraged because the battle is His.

But . . . ”Go out to face them tomorrow.” What?! God says He will fight the battle, but we still have to march up against an army that’s at least three times our size?!

For King Jehoshaphat and all his fellow soldiers, it becomes a distinct matter of faith. Is their faith in God real . . . real enough to march toward an army that will surely decimate them, unless God keeps His promise and enters the battle Himself?

The way they respond is exemplary! First, they all fall down and worship the Lord, then early the next morning they march – straight toward the enemy. But then they set the bar really high for all believers who would follow in centuries to come (that’s us!), for not only do they exhibit great faith by marching toward this vast army, they also appoint a men’s choir to lead the way! And as they march, with the choir in front, they sing praise to God for the splendor of His holiness! Now that’s faith. Simply amazing, life-on-the-line faith!

Of course, God was faithful to His promise. He ambushed the enemy armies and caused them to completely destroy each other.

And I must remember that those soldiers were people just like me. Same fears, same struggles. But they sure stepped up to the plate and showed me what it means to put my life in the hands of my faithful God!

Dig Deeper |

II Chronicles 20:1-30; Ephesians 6:16

Action Item |

Do you sometimes feel that a vast army is coming up against you? Do you truly believe God is willing to act on your behalf? Pick up our shield of faith each morning before the day begins and allow Him to guide you throughout the day.

Prayer |

Lord, many times my faith is so weak. Please help my unbelief. Help me to take that first, hard step, believing that you will carry me the rest of the way. And, Lord, help me to sing your praises as I go!! Amen.

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This post is part of A Little R-n-R Wednesdays A Linky Party and #livefreethursday with Suzie Eller

What is a Happy Harvest?

harvest, 2 PeterMarci Anthony1 Comment
happy harvest sowandgather.com

“May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.”  2 Peter 1:2 (NLT)

During the month of October, have you ever seen a sign that reads, “Happy Harvest?” My path must have crossed that wish over 1000 times without any thought until recently. Browsing through a local hobby/craft store (don’t get the wrong idea, I simply cannot do crafts), I noticed a pumpkin that read, “Happy Harvest.” Reflecting my cynical mood, I thought, “What in the world is happy harvest? What does that even mean?” Moving on to the project at hand, I proceeded to forget about that strange wish, but I continued to be perplexed.

Questions came to my mind as I reflected on the interesting wish: Why would I ever wish someone a happy harvest? Have I been missing a special wish in my life for 50 years? Do I need to go buy Happy Harvest cards? Are my children scarred because I haven’t taught them about this oh- so-special greeting? The moment required a conversation with one of my closest advisers, GOOGLE!

Many reasons support October being called the Harvest Month in the United States of America. First, many crops such as pumpkins, vegetables, and apples, are harvested during this month. Each of these crops are planted early in the year and they grow throughout the summer. Second, the full harvest moon is experienced every third year in October. This moon is important for farmers because they can work into the night harvesting their crops during that time. Many other reasons came to my Google- sized search, but I was satisfied with those.

I give in . . . it is harvest season! But the question still remains, why say, “Happy Harvest?” After several days of mulling that over in my pea-sized brain, I came to the conclusion that harvest is the end of the growing season! After all of the work, after all of the watering, after all of the pruning, the plant is fully grown; the growth stage is complete. There is much to celebrate at that completion!

My excitement could not be contained as I compared this experience with my own personal growth in my relationship with Jesus.

As the knowledge of my precious Jesus increases, the harvesting of more grace and more peace proceeds.

This very year has been a growing one for me. It began with questions, frustrations and discouragement. Resisting the urge to eat Snicker bars and drink coffee all day every day, I began to search through my very special, pages-falling-out, Bible. The very difficult journey required much toil and much effort. Through the process, God, the ultimate farmer, pruned me!

Today, I sit here reaping the harvest of grace and peace. The very circumstances that discouraged me are still present, but I have peace growing all around me. I continue to disappoint myself and have others disappointment me, but the flowers of grace abound.

So, here it goes, “Happy Harvest” to each of you!

May you grow in your knowledge of Jesus. May you open the pages of His beautiful love letter to you. May you sit quietly in prayer with your Maker. May you experience the great harvest of grace and peace.

Dig Deeper |

2 Peter

Action Item |

As you read this blog, you may find yourself where I was 1 year ago. If so, make a plan to grow in the knowledge of Jesus. Set time aside, even if it is very short, and begin this journey. You will not be disappointed with the Harvest from your growth process. Happy Harvesting!

Prayer |

God, I come before you tody needing the harvest of grace and peace. Give me the strength and the courage to put effort into knowing You more. God, help me with my schedule and give me the determination to commit to knowing You. Thank You that after much growing, You will give me more and more grace and peace. Amen.

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Taming Your Cranky

encourage, Peace, ThessaloniansSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
he-sees-me-taming-cranky-sowandgather

Today we welcome author and speaker Suzie Eller to Sow & Gather. Suzie spoke to our Women’s Ministry one year ago on September 5-6, 2014. She graciously allowed us to use one of her devotionals from the 2014 conference here on the blog. So as a #TBT here are some timeless encouraging words from Suzie.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV)

I thrashed the covers in the small bed, punching my pillow, trying to ignore the green numbers on the clock that flashed 2:00 a.m. Recovering from a recent illness, I was exhausted. My laptop was evidently just as sick as I was, for when I booted it up, numbers and scrolling messages exploded on the screen.

This normally happy girl was grouchy . . . overly sensitive . . . emotional. Earlier that evening I had been quiet. If I opened my mouth, I wouldn’t be happy with what came out. The last thing I wanted on this ministry trip was to be the girl with her cranky pants on. Yet here I was wearing them with a capital “C.”

As the numbers flashed to 2:30 and then to 3:00, I wrestled with God. Lord, what is wrong with me? Father, how can you use a girl who’s wearing such a giant set of cranky pants? That’s when the scripture came to mind.

Soft. Gentle. Like a whisper it played through my thoughts, filtering down to my heart: “The LORD your God is in your midst…” (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV). Right then. Right there. He was with me. “He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by His love.” (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV). My spiraling feelings. My fatigued brain and body.

he-sees-me-sowandgather

He saw them all, and yet His gladness poured over me. He would quiet my whirling thoughts with His love. “He will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV). That’s when the tears came, because right there, even in my cranky pants, God saw me and was singing a majestic lullaby over His daughter. I curled up in the blanket, closed my eyes, and sleep finally came.

Maybe today you’re wearing your cranky pants with a capital “C.” You’re out of sorts. You’re biting your tongue to keep harsh words away from those you love. You’re tired spiritually or emotionally, or maybe it’s been a long time since you’ve rested physically.

He sees you.

He sees all of you. Not just the cranky pants, but your heart, and that you want nothing more than to be yourself again.

My prayer is that you hear that lullaby gently playing. That you sense Him drawing you close. I pray that you’ll remember that we all have those days when we are out of sorts, or when everything seems to be going wrong. But most of all, I pray that you remember that our Heavenly Father doesn’t turn away from us in those moments, but brings peace to our troubled thoughts when we hold up them up with absolute honesty.

That next day I woke up tired physically, but rested on the inside, and my cranky pants were nowhere in sight. I know they’ll pop up again. Life does that sometimes. But when it does, rather than hide from God, I’m going to run to Him instead . . .  cranky pants, and all.

Dig Deeper |

Zephaniah 3:17; Philippians 4:6-7.

Action Item |

God’s grace is needed on good and bad days, but it’s often sought only on those days when you feel worthy and approved. But whose approval are you looking for? Yours, or the One who knows you best? When you have your next cranky pants day, ask this question: Will I live today ACCUSED or will I be RESCUED by my Heavenly Father who promises to quiet me with His love?

Prayer |

Dear Father, some days I stay away from You because I am ashamed of my feelings. Thank You that I can rest in Your grace as You pour out peace and quiet my thoughts with Your peace. In Jesus’ 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.

Suzie-Eller-Proverb31

Suzie is an International Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and author, former radio co-host, and Bible Gateway blogger. She’s a woman who believes that our past shapes us, but does not limit us! She is an author of articles, columns, and seven books including her most recent books:  The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness and The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places.  Join Suzie and her sisterhood of brave girls on Thursdays as they celebrate #livefree.

Most important, she’s a mom, wife, and “Gaga” to five beautiful babies.

Suzie lives in NW Arkansas and when she’s not writing or speaking, she’s with her family, or hiking, or filling the kitchen with smells of her love language of cooking.

Focus On What Is Excellent And Praiseworthy

Peace, encourageSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
noble-right-pure-praiseworthy-sowandgather

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

Does your mind wander?  Do your thoughts cause you anxiety, worry, irritation or even pain?  Is your mind in a state of confusion or absorbed with the circumstances of life?   

Often, I let my thoughts get carried away and I have to stop and force myself to think on Jesus.  I begin to think on the command in Philippians 4:8 and ponder what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and praiseworthy.  Okay, Lord!  Your precious words from the Bible are true and King Jesus on His throne is noble.  The laws given to us in your word and through men are right.   A precious newborn baby is pure and the first colorful flower of spring is lovely.  A preacher teaching your words and actions is admirable and the love between husband and wife is excellent

I have to pause in my day and take my thoughts captive. For a time my mind will be at rest. When I pause and "think about such things," God is training my mind to look for His beauty in the world and in my mind. 

Finally, I praise the Lord!  Let every breath I have praise God for He is praiseworthy.

focus-on-praiseworthy-sowandgather

Dig Deeper |

2 Corinthians 10:5; Colossians 3:2

Action Item |

What is your focus?  What thoughts consume you or cause anxiety, worry, irritation or pain?  Ask God to show you the steps you can take to focus your mind on Him and His ways.

Prayer |

Jesus, I must confess my mind is always spinning and not focused on you and your ways.  Help me to train my thoughts to contemplate what is good and worthy.  Keep me in your Word as that helps control my thoughts. Thank you for your help.  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.

Welcome To Sow & Gather - Time for Transition

Peace, Philippians, MatthewSow & Gather - Tamera B.2 Comments
contentment-all-circumstances-sowandgather

Change makes me anxious. What will happen next? Will the change be good? Why is there so much to do? Change is good! That's what I tell myself.

Does August really mean the end of Summer? (Hard to believe as it is 105 degrees outside as I write this post). August always signals change for me. Even when I was out of school and had no kids I still bought school supplies. There's just something about a new notebook, multi-colored pens and the waxy smell of a fresh box of crayons to smooth out any rough edges of transition.

Even if you don't have kiddos heading back to school, you'll wake up one morning and wonder why the school zone lights are blinking and your commute increased fifteen minutes.  You might even start to experience a little frustration or anxiety - because of the change.

Join us at Sow & Gather for the next few weeks for encouragement, stillness and contentment as we all begin the transition to a new season in our lives. Your first dose starts below.

I’ll Get There When I Get There

I am not saying this because I am in need; I have learned to be content in all circumstances. Philippians 4:10 NIV

If the plane doesn’t take off in forty minutes I miss my speaking presentation – the one for a high-profile, national organization. Yeah, that one. God is teaching me about waiting. I know God is good and sovereign and in control.  It's the stress on me and the stress on the folks planning the conference.  “Lord, I pray for their peace, too.”  Waiting is hard on all of us.

I feel like my whole life has been about waiting. When will I be tall enough to ride the ride? When can I drive? When can I date? When can I get married? When will I get to this point or that point in my career? Always waiting for the next thing to happen.

ill-get-there-when-i-get-there-sowandgather

Every time I need to be on time and I'm running late, I tell myself, "I will get there when I get there." You know what? I need to apply that phrase to my whole life.  "I'll get there when I get there."  The world calls that "living in the moment."

It goes back to the Apostle Paul being content in all situations. Jesus taking time to stop when the woman touched his garment. It's realizing we need to just breathe. That's hard for me. God does not want us to be stagnant. He wants us to experience growth in all areas of our lives. For me it's finding the balance between constantly pressing forward to the next great thing and being still enough in my soul and mind to hear God's voice as He directs my footsteps.

At last, the plane is taking off. I trust "I will get there, when I get there."

Dig Deeper |

Matthew 9: 20-22; Philippians 4:10-13

Action Item |

Take a moment just to breathe deep and relax.  Ask God to identify an area of your life where you need to be content and enjoy the moment.  Or, maybe God has called you to action and you're scared to take the next step.

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to slow down and hear your voice. I know you want a conversation with me. Make me aware of your creation and allow me to soak it all in.  Help me to take a deep breath and have every confidence that I will get there when I get there.

Join Us |

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

purposefulfaith.com

This post is part of the weekly #RaRaLinkup over at Kelly Balarie & Friends.

 

Sow & Gather - Devotionals That Connect

seek, honor, encourageSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
sow-and-gather-devotionals-blog
Sowing God’s Word. Gathering Women’s Hearts.

The Women of FBC Grapevine yearn for connection with God's word and other women.  Devos - in a blog format - allow us to connect with one another over a virtual cup of coffee. 

Our gathering place is for you and your neighbor - from across the street, the town, the state or the country.

As part of the SHE Women's ministry, the contributors to Sow & Gather strive daily to Seek, Honor, and Encourage.

Seek |

The contributors of Sow & Gather wholeheartedly SEEK Him through prayer and Bible study. Our eyes are fixed on eternity so we may

discover Him (Jeremiah 9:13)

be blessed by Him (Psalm 119:2)

be strengthened by Him (Psalm 105:4)

bless others (Psalm 122:9)

and seek good for our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Corinthians 10:24).

Honor |

The contributors of Sow & Gather wholeheartedly live to HONOR Him.  Because of who He is we will

honor Him with our resources (Proverbs 3:9)

join those unseen in honoring His name (Revelations 4:9)

humble ourselves to honor others so they know we are His disciples (Romans 12:10).

Encourage |

The contributors of Sow & Gather wholeheartedly live to

walk beside the fainthearted (I Thessalonians 5:14)

build one another up (I Thessalonians 5:11)

encourage each other to remain true in faith (Acts 11:23).

We pray you will gather with us and share God's word with your sisters, friends, neighbors and co-workers.  We also ask for your prayers that we will always Seek, Honor, and Encourage.

Love and Blessings,

Sow & Gather Contributors (August 17, 2015)