Sow & Gather


God’s Perfect Plan

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.  Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) 

Are you a planner? Do you love the sight of a well-organized calendar that pinpoints your family’s daily activity list down to the minute? Maybe you’re a list-maker. You can’t wait for the end of the day when you can proudly admire the day’s accomplishments, marked off with the perfect check mark.   

Everyone in one way or another is a planner. As beings created in His image, God has instilled in each of us the desire to be navigators of our own destiny. We may not always make the best choices, but you better believe that the decisions we make are part of a plan, either ours or God’s. 

I love to plan. In fact, I love to plan so much that I became an event planner. There’s nothing more exciting for me than gazing at a blank Excel spreadsheet and then beginning to organize the tasks that will outline the event “to do” list. I pride myself on making sure I think of all the details, big and small. No matter how hard I try, every once in a while one of my events will have an “oops” moment. Usually the “oops” moments are small and undetected by the outsider. However, sometimes the inevitable happens and a small “oops” moment becomes a big “uh oh” problem. The key when this happens is to quickly figure out a solution and be resourceful enough to keep the event running smoothly without anyone being the wiser.  

You may not be a professional event planner, but you are a professional life planner. Your life is one big event after another. Every new day brings new choices and opportunities. We are constantly planning every hour, of every minute, of every day.  Even when we sleep our brains are working. If only we had to concentrate on planning one day at a time. Instead, we are making plans for next week, next month, even next year. Some of us have already mapped out our entire lives before we ever graduate high school.

Is there anything wrong with having a plan? No. God wants us to have a purpose and set goals for our lives.  A problem arises when we put all of our thoughts and efforts into our own plan without ever considering what God’s plan is for our lives. When you look back at your life, at all of the decisions and plans you’ve made, how many of those decisions were driven by your own selfish desires and how many were God-driven? We may think we have the perfect plan for our lives, but as Proverbs 19:21 says, it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Have plans for your life fallen short of your expectations?

Maybe you need to seek out the guidance of God, the eternal life event planner. His plans always succeed and never fall short of our expectations.

Dig Deeper |

2 Corinthians 5:5; Philippians 2:13

Action Item |

This week give yourself a reprieve from planning and allow God to plan your week. Start each day asking God to help you manage and accept His plans for your day. If you are a list-maker, write your list based on the prompting of God.  Be sure that you are running His agenda and not your own.       

Prayer |

Gracious Heavenly Father, help me to allow Your plans to be my plans for this day. Help me to seek out Your will in every situation I encounter this week, and help me to meet Your expectations instead of trying to enforce my will. May my eyes be opened and my heart be filled with the Holy Spirit as You guide me each and every day.  Amen.

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How Can We Rejoice in the Lord Always?

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment
How Can We Rejoice In The Lord Always #sowandgather #joy

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice! Philippians 4:4 NIV

When is the last time you did something unspeakable? Now I don’t mean something that is illegal or distasteful. I mean something that is completely out of character. Has it really been that long since you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone and done something really outrageous?  

Paul wrote the book of Philippians as an encouragement and support to the church of Philippi. The relationship Paul had with the Philippian church was one of appreciation and affection. Paul’s message was for the people to keep their lives centered on Christ so they might experience true joy.   

How do you express pure joy? I guess a better question might be when is the last time you experienced pure joy? Life is not easy and there are definitely times when it is hard to smile and be happy. But when you keep your life centered on Christ and what he has done for us, it’s hard not to feel joyful.   

According to the King James Bible dictionary the word, rejoice, means to be exhilarated with lively and pleasurable sensations; to exult. I don’t know about you but by definition the word, rejoice, appears to mean more than just a meager hand clap and smile. The act of rejoicing seems to lean more towards an exaggerated outward showing of excitement. I think we could all use a spiritual jolt of excitement every once in a while. 

So, what are you thankful for? Have you stopped to think about all that God has blessed you with? Have you rejoiced in knowing that you are a child of God and no one can take that right from you? You are forgiven and set free from sin because of Christ’s sacrifice. God’s grace and mercy are never ending. His love is overflowing. You will receive an amazing inheritance in heaven and will live for all eternity with your Creator.  

If this doesn’t make you want to get up and dance for joy singing praises to the King of Kings, then maybe your spiritual battery needs to be recharged. Rejoice in the Lord today and always. Sing His praises again and again; Rejoice! 

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 105:3; Psalm 118:24; Psalm 122:1

Action Item |

As we take time this month to reflect and give thanks, may we also take time to step out of our comfort zone when praising God. Maybe instead of saying your prayer at the dinner table, you could sing a prayer. Turn your favorite Christian music up full blast at home and dance. Sing at the top of your lungs to your favorite Christian song in the car. If you are really feeling bold, maybe you could lift your hands in the air at Sunday morning’s worship service rejoicing God while singing His praises. 

Prayer |

Oh Magnificent Creator of the Universe, my prayer this week is that I will be on fire for You. Help me to be joyful in all that I do. Allow Your passion to flow through me igniting a fire that spreads to every individual I encounter this week. I will sing your praises and rejoice in knowing that I am Yours and You are my King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Amen. 

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Can We Schedule Divine Assignments?

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather Can-We-Schedule-Divine-Assignments #newyear #newbeginnings

“Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.”  Psalm 95:6-7 NIV

Technology has permeated almost every function of daily living, but thankfully, spiral bound, daily planners with tabbed monthly spreads and daily plan sheets are still available. For those folks who love to make lists (like me) and who like to see their life in big square blocks, the planner is a gift. To some the idea of carrying around a planner and writing every detail and task for each day is a nightmare!   

Whether you are one of those who live to organize on paper or via technology, there is a sense of starting fresh each new year. It is exciting and scary to wonder what the year will hold but the truth is our sovereign God already knows. Those blank pages have already been filled with divine assignments, trials and testing, growth, discipleship, seasons of pain, and seasons of joy.

Thankfully, God does not literally fill in our pages but only allows us to see what we need to see when we are ready to see it. If we knew the plan ahead of time, we would try to reorganize it another way or manipulate it to fit our needs and wants. 

The problem is we don’t always see God working in our lives because we have already filled each day of each month with empty, busy things. We have become the authors of our own story. 

The Psalmist says, “Let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” It is a position of humility that says that there is nothing we can do apart from our Lord. When we bow down, we are to confess our sinfulness and dependence on Him. As someone who can organize one's life down to each hour, dependence can be substituted for self-dependence and not God dependence. Many times the will of self becomes more important than submitting to the will of God.   

Our plans and our desires need to be laid at the foot of the cross. We need to pray that we would “Delight ourselves in the Lord and that He will give us the desires of our heart.” Psalm 37:4 Our desires and our plans need to line up with the ones He has created for us. Only God can course-correct in our hearts to help us delight in what He delights in. 

My new planner is a tool to help me stay organized, but it is also an open book with blank spaces ready and waiting for God to write His assignments. This year my desire is to recognize and praise the God on whom I’m dependent: more God, less self. 

Happy 2017 and Happy Organizing!

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 95, John 3:16–21

Action Item |

Have you already filled your year with empty, busy things? Pray that God will change your desires, your plans to line up with His, and that this year may be full of His divine assignments.

Prayer |

Dear Father, please forgive me when I am dependent on myself and try to control the world around me. Give me Your desires and Your ways so I may walk in obedience to Your will. Amen. 

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How Do We Put God First in the New Year?

Advent, New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment
Put-God-First-New-Years-Resolution #sowandgather #newbeginnings #freshstart

And whatever you do; whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 NIV

As the days after Christmas tick by, we inch nearer to a new year of promise and prosperity. The previous year is filed away as a mere memory and before we are able to ring in the New Year, we are confronted with that all too familiar question, “What are your New Year’s Resolutions?” If you’re like me, you need a couple of months to settle down from the hectic pace of the Holidays before thinking about your goals for 2017.

Retailers and health clubs are two of the biggest offenders of trying to make us feel guilty about not having resolved to do anything prior to January 1st. I love to work out but I avoid my health club like the plague for the first few months of a new year. It seems as if all of the equipment and classes are full of “Revolutionaries,” people who join a gym in January committing to get healthy and exercise only to quit a month later.  

Retailers are the second offenders, for they advertise even bigger sales after Christmas trying to recoup any lost revenue from the holidays. Retailers want your first thought after the holidays to be about that one gift you didn’t get for Christmas or about that newer model that wasn’t available until after the holidays. It’s as if they think we forgot about the gifts we had just opened three days earlier. Of course, there are those individuals that whatever you give them goes back to the store to be exchanged for something else. I call those people "the after Christmas opportunists." 

Yes, the New Year is full of opportunity, so with all of the choices of where to spend your time and money, how do you decide what you’re going to resolve to do this year? I have a thought the answer might seem obvious but perhaps rarely considered when thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Pray. That simple word should be our first thought any time we consider action. Yet, it’s the one word we often forget. Colossians says, “And whatever you do; whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” We just spent the last two months thanking God for all of our blessings and celebrating His sacrificial gift of His Son, so why, when we are looking at the year ahead, do we suddenly leave Him out of the equation?  

What if, during this year, we resolve to put God first before making a decision?

I wonder what our resolutions would look like if we involved God in each and every choice. How many of our resolutions would we actually commit to follow through with versus falling short and quitting? This year allow God to guide your decision process and see what you are able to accomplish in 2017.

Dig Deeper |

Ephesians 2:10; 1 Peter 2:10

Action Item |

Whether you like to make New Year’s Resolutions or not, this year in all of your decisions commit to praying. Ask God what His goals are for 2017 instead of asking for your own plans. Make a list of all the areas God wants you to change; things He may bring to mind that He wants you to accomplish this year and keep it by your bible. As you go through the year, look back at the list and see how God has worked in your life.

Prayer |

Heavenly Father, thank you for the blessings and hardships of 2016. Thank you for allowing me to participate in yet another year and help me to be present and willing to follow your direction for my life. Allow Your will to be ever present in my daily living and help me to see areas where I need improvement. Amen.

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God’s Word Nourishes

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment
God's Word Nourishes #sowandgather #newbeginnings

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.  1 Peter 2:2-3  NIV

There is nothing more precious than watching a new born instinctively search for their mother’s milk which God designed perfectly for them to thrive.  

Spiritual milk is the sweet word of Christ in which believers also instinctively search for and grow in grace in their walk with Him. The word “craving” or “desire,” in other translations, means to yearn, intensely crave, earnestly desire and long after.  

Just as milk is physical nourishment for a baby, God’s Word is spiritual nourishment for the heart and mind. In Proverbs 4, it says that “God’s Word is life to those who find it and health to a man’s whole body.” 

If I am to grow in my walk with Christ, then I need to fill myself with His truth daily. I need God’s Word because it is living and active and it penetrates my soul and spirit, joints, and marrow (Hebrews 4:12). 

There have been many times I have desired worldly nourishment and not the life-giving water found in Christ. My supply never lasts and always leaves me feeling unsatisfied, weary, and longing for something else. 

Having tasted the goodness, kindness, and graciousness of the Lord, His Word not only fills me, but leaves me yearning for more of Him. I pray that above everything else, I would earnestly desire Him. What are you craving today? 

Dig Deeper |

1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrew 4:12Hebrews 6:4-5

Action Item |

Ask God to give you a desire for His nourishing Word daily. 

Prayer |

Dear Father, thank you for Your Word that nourishes my heart and mind. May my cravings only be for You. Amen. 

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One Year Of Sow & Gather - Online Devotionals for Women

encourage, harvest, New BeginningsSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
sow-and-gather-womens-devotionals-online-free #sowandgather

God gave the Women's Ministry at First Baptist Grapevine a vision for Sowing God's Word and Gathering Women's Hearts via online devotionals --- a blog. What started as a small seed of an idea over three years ago, has blossomed into a gathering place for women of all ages to share in nuggets of God's word. 

As I curate the devotionals each month, I am awed and inspired by how God is using this core group of 7 to 10 women to write such powerful words for His Glory. Be assured, each devotional comes from deep within the woman that put pen to paper. We do not take our calling to this ministry lightly.

I love that Sow & Gather allows talented women a creative outlet to express God's message. If spreading the love of Jesus via an online platform sounds like your calling, there's an opportunity for you to be a part of this ministry.

Our core group of contributors and editors are members of First Baptist Grapevine. That's where we started, but that's not where we end. This is an open invitation to any woman who acknowledges the Statement of Faith to contact us for more information on becoming a volunteer contributor or assisting us with out grass roots social media team.

May God bless you and keep you,

The Sow & Gather team

Are You Ready to Run?

encouragement, encourageMarci AnthonyComment
run in such a way as to get the prize. #sowandgather #encouregement #encourage

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24

It’s an Olympic year! I get so excited when the summer Olympics air on TV. For two weeks my eyes are glued to the TV as I marvel at the physical and mental abilities of the world’s top athletes. So many of the athletes have trained for almost their entire life and sacrificed so much to have the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the world. It doesn’t get any bigger in sports than the Olympics.

I love watching the track and field events, specifically the running events. The athlete’s muscular build, strength, and speed is truly mesmerizing. From the moment the gun goes off runners are focused on only one thing, the finish line at the end. The runners know that if they reach that line first they will receive the most coveted prize of athletes all over the world, the title of Olympic Gold Medalist.

When you think about all the time and energy that goes into becoming an Olympic champion, one has to wonder is it worth it? If you ask any athlete who has competed at the Olympic level, most would answer, “Yes.” Competing on the world’s largest stage with the world’s best athletes is the pinnacle of any athlete's dream. If I told you that Christians have a similar challenge given to us by God, would you believe me?

God’s challenge is for us is to run a race, but the type of race God requires us to take part in is a race of the soul. You see, each and every day from the time we rise to the time we lay our heads on our pillows, our Coach (God) is pushing us and molding us into the individuals he wants us to be. He has given us our training manual (The Bible) which has all necessary answers to life’s hurdles we come in contact with daily. To help us with our mental stamina God equips us with the Holy Spirit. Lastly, helping us to fight through the final yards to the finish, God provides us with prayer so we can accomplish and win the race.

The best part about the race we are running is that everyone who crosses the finish line wins! God pushes us hard to reach His goal. The prize we receive when we cross the finish line is better than any Olympic medal; it’s the promise of eternity. Are you ready to run the race?

Dig Deeper |

Philippians 3:14; Galatians 5:7

Action Item |

Are you running God’s race or your own? Where do you need to make changes in your life to get back on track?

Prayer |

God help me to run your race that you have set out before me. Help me to work hard and finish strong. Amen

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When Loving Someone Is Hard

EasterMarci AnthonyComment
When Loving Someone Is Hard #love #Easter

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. I John 4:7 NIV 

When my sons were young, I used to read them the stories of the Bible. I read the stories of Noah, Daniel, Jesus walking on the water, Jesus feeding the 5,000 and, of course, the story of Zacchaeus. When we read that story, we always sang this song. 

Listen as I sing: Zacchaeus was a wee, little man and a wee, little man was he. He climbed up in the sycamore tree for the Savior he wanted to see. And when the Savior came that way, he looked up in the tree and said, “Zacchaeus, you come down for I am going to your house for a tortilla.” What a tortilla? You eat tortillas in South Texas. You do not drink tea as the song is normally sung. Only true Texans would appreciate this version. 

Okay, let’s get on with it. 

Who was this Zacchaeus? He was a short, Jewish man who was a chief tax collector and very wealthy. However, he was hated and despised by all and very unlovable. 

But one wonderful day Jesus intentionally came to his home and Zacchaeus’ life changed. As Luke 19:9 stated, “Today salvation came to this house in this man.” Zacchaeus became a follower, or disciple of Jesus and his life was forever changed. 

One thing always sticks out to me when I think about Zacchaeus. He was a man who wasn’t liked and was very unlovable. I think about all the people in my life who are unlovable, and there are many. They are just plain hard to love. They have consisted of my family, my children’s friends and teachers, co-workers, bosses, and even people I volunteered with at school or other organizations. 

But, 1 John 4:7 calls me to love. I am to love the unlovable; I have no choice. It is a command. The only way I can truly love others, even those difficult people, is through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. So, this command prompts me to pray for help so that I can show the love of Christ to ALL people. Through Him, I can love anyone. 

Begin to invite the unlovable into your life, and share a tortilla! 

Dig Deeper |

Luke 19:1-10

Action Item |

Love the Zacchaeus in your life. 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, Thank you for your love. Help me to show and act out your love to all, especially the unlovable. Amen.

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God is Always Faithful

EasterMarci AnthonyComment
God Is Always Faithful #Easter

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

“God is so good and faithful!” That is the text I sent after hearing the good news about a doctor’s report. Would I have sent the same text had the results been bad? Wouldn’t it still be the same God? Why do I only consider Him “good and faithful” when it’s the news I want? Sometimes when I consider the news to be bad, it is actually when God is being the most faithful and good to me. 

I wonder if the apostle thought Jesus was still “good and faithful” when He laid in the tomb? If Jesus had not died on the cross to be risen up three days later, we would have no “good news” to share. 

Jeremiah 29:11 is such a familiar and comforting passage, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you," says the Lord, "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I have always loved this verse, but do you notice it doesn’t say anything about a pain free, easy, no problem life? Actually, it was written to the Israelites when they were about to go through a hard time of 70 years waiting on God. It tells us that God the Father THINKS about me…about you! He wants us to have a life of peace, a future, and a hope. 

1. Peace, in the midst of our life and all that comes to us. By Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, only He can give us peace. John 14:27 - “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” 

2. A future, not just a future in 5, 15, or even 50 years. He gives us an eternal future. Jesus is right this moment preparing a place for each one of us who trust in Him. A special place just for you! This place isn’t close to Him or down the road, but it is in HIS FATHER’S HOUSE! John 14:2 - “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” 

3. Hope, not just for eternity, but also for right now, for today. I think I know what’s good for me but God knows what’s best for me. Am I willing to trust Him even when I don’t get the answer I really wanted? Even when the answer is hard and painful? I Corinthians 2:9 says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 

What if the answers we didn’t like were actually protecting us from something worse or even preparing us for something better? 

Sometimes I think of all that God has promised: peace that is beyond human understanding; hope that is better than I could ever imagine, and a future to spend eternity with God. In the light of these promises, then why do I struggle when life seems too hard and the trials seem too much? 

As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this season and all the joy and gladness it means, remember that first Jesus had to endure the cross for you and me. We can trust Him regardless of what comes our way. 

Digging deeper |

Job 42:1-6; Psalm 84:11

Action item |

When you are going through hard times, do what Jesus did…”draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) 

Prayer |

Lord Jesus, thank You for willingly enduring the cross so that I can spend eternity in heaven. Help me to understand that everything that comes into my life has gone through my Father’s hands; the same hands that created me and everything in this world. I thank you, in Jesus name.

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God Will Begin Something New In Me

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

Many years ago my entire extended family sat around a large dining table and shared our New Year’s meal together. My father announced that the annual reading of the year-end report would take place; a report that my father compiles including all of the details from the year. After we reminisced about the year’s occurrences, my father asked each of us to make a commitment for the year. Each of the family shared important life goals, some deeply spiritual, bringing many of us to tears.

It came time for my young son to share what his deep felt commitment would be. I beamed as he began to share. My pride quickly dwindled as I heard his pronouncement. He said, “This year my commitment is to quit biting my fingernails.” I know, this sounds like a good goal; however, there was one problem with the commitment: HE HAD NEVER, EVER BIT HIS NAILS. His response, “I just want to make sure I can do what I commit to.”

I sit here this year at 50 years old and I am tempted to venture down the same path as my son. It would be oh so easy to make a public commitment that sounded so very life changing when I am actually already doing it. At least my self-esteem would be improved.

How precious that the God of the universe does not have the same attitude. As I reflect on that very first chapter in the Bible, I am astounded that in the beginning of time, God spoke, created, and blessed. This pattern continues throughout the Bible. All the way through God’s word, the incredible God of the universe sees a need. He speaks a solution. He creates something new. And yes, then he blesses the ending.

The year 2016 is a new beginning yet again. In my own weak power, I can tell you before it even begins, that I will probably fail at most of the huge goals I make for myself. I will commit to losing weight, probably won’t. I will commit to being organized, probably won’t. I will commit to richer experiences and much more patience, probably won’t happen. BUT God, who sits on his throne in heaven and yet still walks with me every moment, will begin something new in me. HE WILL see my need. HE WILL create something new in me. HE WILL bless me.

Oh this indescribable gift of a God who begins again with me every year.

Dig Deeper |

Genesis 1

Action Items |

Avoid the draw to make unrealistic goals for the year. Instead commit yourself to the God who will begin for you and in you. Is there an area in your life that needs improving? Resist the urge to work on it alone. Ask God to see you, create in you, and bless you.

Prayer |

Dear God, you are the creator of all. God, you can see all and I thank you for seeing me. God I ask that you see my heart. Lord, examine my motivations and thoughts. God, I ask that you see my need and create something beautiful in my life in spite of my weak, insecure self. Thank you Lord, in advance, for the new beginning you will create in me in 2016. Amen.

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Failure Only Defeats Us When We Quit

New BeginningsMarci Anthony1 Comment

"He said to Simon, 'Put out into the deep water and let down your net for a catch.'" Luke 5:4 (NASB)

My mom is probably the best cook I know. She is a country cook but her food is delicious and when there is a potluck, people actually ask her what she made so they can get a taste. Unfortunately, I did not inherit that gene. I remember one day when I was about twelve, my mom was gone for some reason so I was determined to make my dad dinner. I decided to make biscuits, which I had never done before.

I found my mom's recipe and began mixing in the ingredients. I read the words "baking powder" but thought “baking soda”. The little teaspoon was easy; it was the biggest spoon on the ring, or so I thought. I mixed everything together and placed the biscuits in the oven. They were so beautiful when they came out, but a little more yellow than my mom's. I was so pleased. I decided to taste my creation because I just knew it was going to be heavenly. To my surprise, I was not even able to get the first bite down because the over-powering bitterness drew my mouth shut.

So back to the beginning; I made a second batch. This time I used less baking soda but, as before, they were bitter too. My poor dad ate two even though they were awful.

Though that day I had set out with great hope and determination to accomplish my goal, I failed.

Peter experienced something similar. Early in his walk with the Lord, Jesus told Peter to let down his nets. Peter, being unconvinced, said to Jesus, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets." Luke 5:5. Immediately, the nets were so full that the boat began to sink. What if Peter had given up?

Failure in a moment does not equal failure for a lifetime.

From the roots of my own failure have sprung the tendrils of future success. I believed that my failure was equated with my identity. But I am reminded that my identity now rests in Christ. So I am encouraged to cast long and hard for whatever God has called me to do.

Failure can only defeat me when I quit, but if I use it as a spring board of motivation, then accomplishment could be right around the corner.

Going Deeper |

James 1:2-4; 2 Peter 1:5-8

Action Item |

Where has God asked you to go deeper? Decide to take the first step toward that calling. Have you experienced failure at something you thought God wanted you to do? Don't quit pursuing that goal.

Prayer |

Precious Lord, help me when I don't want to go on. Give me the grace to push forward, the courage to pursue You, and the wisdom to know what You desire for me. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Make Your Resolutions With God - Not Alone

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment

If God is for us then who can be against us? Romans 8:31 (NASB)

Resolution - a word I rarely use or think of until around January 1st. As different goals swirl around in my thoughts, I begin to wonder about the word itself. To determine to do or not to do something. I am struck that I am beginning to learn the meaning of this word. With the weight of achievement resting on my shoulders, despair begins to slither in because I cannot accomplish what is before me. Where despair might have overwhelmed me, hope rushes in swallowing the despair with the knowledge that I don't have to resolve it alone. Those original conclusions were born out of self-centered thought instead of God-centered truth. I have a glorious Warrior. He resolves to fight my battles and gives me a chance to join Him.

I am reminded of the first time that I went to the beach. The day was stormy and, honestly, we should not have gone. But my dad didn't want us to be disappointed. The last brave soul snorkeling exited the water just as we arrived. The wind whipped around us and the waves were surging. We were not in the ocean more than thirty minutes when he said we needed to get out.

It had been my dad's first experience in the ocean, as well, and he had been unaware of the dangerous undertow that was occurring below the surface. He happened to be standing on the edge of a shelf and held me up to keep me above the water. While still hanging on to me, he began to encourage me to swim to the shore with the tide. As I paddled with each wave, the sand would be ripped out from under his toes. He thought we were going to drown because he was not able to get a secure foothold. He fought to get me to the shore and because I was obedient, I was fighting with him even though I was unaware of the danger.

Just like the story, my life is filled with struggles that surge and choke. At times it can seem that my last toehold isn't enough to keep me in the game. But God is always there. He invites me to battle alongside of Him, to resolve to surrender to His call, and to trust that He is my Defender. With Him I can accomplish what once seemed impossible.

Dig Deeper |

Ephesians 6:11-20

Action Item |

Make one resolution that you have prayed over and God is leading you to do. When difficulties come, determine to work through them to a solution and fight on for His glory.

Prayer |

God, show me what you want me to change this year. Guide my steps and when trials come, please fill me with the strength and courage to fight the good fight. In Jesus name, 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.

What Race Are You Running?

New BeginningsMarci AnthonyComment

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

2016 is a new year full of opportunities. As Christ-followers, we are called to go and make disciples, and share the good news of Christ. I have to admit that when I read this verse, I was convicted of the goals I was creating for the New Year.

What was I willing to risk for Jesus? What was I willing to do for Him? What race was I running? Unfortunately, many of my goals were centered on me and my plans, not on what God may have for me to do.

This verse gives me three reminders for the New Year:

  • lay aside every encumbrance and sin which easily entangles me,
  • run with endurance the race set before me, and
  • fix my eyes on Jesus.

I know how easily my sin can distract me from honoring, trusting, and obeying God in all things. Sin wears me down and keeps me from walking the path set before me. When obstacles or the culture become overwhelming, it can keep me from doing the work that God has already prepared in advance for me to do.

I will need endurance to run the race set before me. The only way I can endure is to stay in the Word of God every day and to be nourished by it. Just like I exercise to keep my body strong, I also need to keep my heart, soul and mind strong and guarded with truth.

I must fix my eyes on Jesus each and every day.

He is the true author and perfecter of my faith. When I focus on me, and run a race for myself, I don’t see the needs around me. There are so many people in my world who need to hear the truth: the truth that Jesus came to deliver them from sin, to heal their broken hearts, and to give them a new life in Him.

My prayer for you is to fix your eyes on Jesus this New Year, and be open to do the work He set before you. It may not be easy or convenient, often the opposite, but we serve a God who says, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you.” (Deuteronomy. 31:6)

Run hard!

Dig Deeper |

Hebrews 11; Hebrews 10:36; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Romans 13:12

Action Item |

What is keeping you from running the race set before you?

Prayer |

Dear Lord, in this New Year, may my eyes be open to see You, and to be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Give me boldness and courage to share the Gospel and to not grow weary. 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.