October 18, 2017

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” John 13:14-15

Suffer the Kindness

This weekend, our family had the gift of being back at our old church (in America). The entire service was beautiful and allowed me to feel deep emotions that have been stored up within my heart. Our pastor preached a sermon on servanthood and focused on the passage where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet.

As he was speaking, I was reminded of my wedding when Titus and I washed each other’s feet (in both America and Kenya). On both days and both continents, I wore white and had freshly manicured feet. Titus was also dressed and looking his best. There was joy in the moment, in the giving and the receiving. I knew the water, basin and towels were symbolic of choices we were making to love and serve one another.

It was in the days and weeks to follow that we learned so much more about “washing feet,” until it actually became a saying in our house, because there were plenty of moments when I didn’t want to give or receive. And there was always a choice before me.

This school of learning to love and serve spilled over into parenthood. It dwells in our work at Living Room. It’s growing in our home and family. And in this season of bringing our children with all of their hurts and our hopes for their healing to America, I have been struck by how hard it can be for me, like Peter, to allow others to wash my feet. The journey that my family is on is so much bigger than ourselves. There is no way we can do this without community and support; and yet, there is often this desire within me to see how to repay or give back when a kindness or generosity has been given to me.

Right now, I am learning to simply receive with gratitude.

To the dentist, who I’ve never met before, who surprisingly said, “no charge.” I was not entitled to this kindness and certainly wasn’t expecting it but grateful nonetheless.

To the art teacher who welcomes my little ones to come and create, I say thank you.

To all who have given clothes and toys, strollers and beds, I am overwhelmed by your generosity.

To the friend who has lent us their car, thank you.

To the family who has opened up their home and lives to the seven of us, there are no words. We have a baby and several toddlers. We are not low maintenance guests; and yet, we are grateful.

Honestly, we are experiencing humbling kindness on a daily basis. And I can hear within my soul these words from a teaching I listened to years ago by Dan Allender. He said, “Don’t defame their gift. You are figuring out in your heart and mind how you can repay the gift you have been given. Suffer the kindness of God on your behalf.”

Suffer the kindness of God.

“Father, may we graciously receive from others as if it was coming from You—gifts that cannot be repaid. Amen.”

 
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October 17, 2017

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

All Years’ Resolutions Part 4

I believe we all try to stay “fit” to some degree. It makes my “All Years Resolutions” list every year. However, in I Timothy 4:8, Paul reminds me, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

I agree that staying physically fit does have value, but I really desire “godliness” for the present and the life to come. Looking up how “godliness” is defined, I found several different answers. The majority defined it as “Christ-likeness.” One of Christ’s attributes was His peace.

My soul feels “fit” when I walk in Christ’s peace. How does that play out in my everyday life? As one example, I have to practice forgiveness on a moment-by-moment basis so that no “thing” or no “one” can disrupt the peace that Jesus has given me. This does not always come easily, but as a choice. “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). I choose by an act of my will to forgive a person for belittling me, or hurting my feelings, or for making me “temporarily” angry. Yes, I used the term “temporarily” because a person can only make me angry or upset if I let them. If I take the offense, I make Satan happy. Instead, I would rather please God by choosing to forgive that person.

To forgive means to cease to feel resentment and the need for revenge against the offender. A well-known evangelist explained unforgiveness as being like a person taking poison and hoping the other person would die. The poison of unforgiveness continues to poison if I do not choose to forgive. After making the choice to forgive, I have to follow up by asking God to forgive my anger or offense because my sin is just as wrong as the person who sinned against me. We both sinned against God.

Now if I bit the person’s head off, or made an unkind comment, then I also need to ask that person for their forgiveness. As I choose to pray for God to bless that person, I feel free and “fit” and back to walking in His “perfect peace” as I continue to trust Him to lead me in His ways.

“Lord, as I discipline my “spiritual body” to stay on track to “spiritual fitness” on the road to Christ-likeness, may it produce in me a harvest of righteousness and peace. Help me run to You when I need to make that choice to forgive as You did for me. Thank You, Lord.”

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October 16, 2017

“The one who says he abides in HIM, ought himself to walk in the same manner as HE walked.” 1 John 2:6

All Years’ Resolutions Part 3

Christ gave us the example of OBEDIENCE. “He replied, ’Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28).

We are not our own. We are bought with a price, the precious, priceless blood of Jesus. We are more valuable to God than we can perceive.

Jesus was completely, totally obedient to HIS Father. I remember as a child how I sang a song about being in the Lord’s Army. When we give our lives to Christ, it is like joining the military: He owns us. We belong to Him. We cannot call Him “LORD” and say “NO” to what HE calls us to do.

Christ came as an example of TRUST. “But I trust in Your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in YOUR salvation” (Psalm 13:5).

Jesus came here to show us the way. I remember a story that Paul Harvey used to tell every Christmas. It told of a man’s wife that left for Christmas Eve service at church, alone as usual. Her husband just could not believe that Jesus would give up His glory to come to earth to show us the way to be saved from ultimate eternal death. As he waved from their window, he noticed a group of little birds huddled together lost in the storm. It began to snow and they were confused and had no direction.

The man grabbed his jacket and boots and went out to help the little birds. He opened the double doors to the barn, turned on the barn light, and tried to shoo the little birds into the safety of the barn, but all his efforts were to no avail. They were frightened by him and did not understand he wanted their trust. He watched in dismay as they were freezing to death. In despair he thought if only he could become a bird himself, he could show them the way to be saved. As that revelation came to him, he fell to his knees and asked God to forgive him and asked Jesus to come into his heart as he now understood.

“Lord Jesus, help us abide in YOU and walk in the same manner as YOU walked. May we be totally obedient to YOUR word and YOUR voice. Help us to trust YOU as YOU showed us that YOU trusted YOUR Father completely in spite of circumstances around YOU that looked totally dismal. Yet YOU trusted and obeyed HIS will for YOUR life as YOU showed us the way to salvation. Amen.”

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October 15, 2017

“Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1

All Years’ Resolutions Part 2

Could I, like Paul, say, “Follow my example”? Am I so like Jesus that I could ever say that I love like Jesus? Am I obedient to my Father’s every command like Jesus? Do I hear every whisper of His still small voice?

We go to BIBLE study after BIBLE study. We go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, constantly getting fed the Word. Are we stuffing ourselves at the buffet of learning, but not giving out to others any of what we are learning? Are we getting fatter and fatter with no exercise of our faith to illustrate to the world around us? Do we live for Jesus both publicly and behind closed doors? Does the world around us see Jesus in all that we do and all that we have become?

On a personal note, I remember an old song written by Thomas Chisholm. The title was “Living for Jesus.” I will share a short refrain:

Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

Refrain:
O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.*

Although they are the words of Mr. Chisholm, I see Scripture all through it as he has picked out just what we are looking for in God’s Word. Jesus gave us His example of how to live for Him. How could I give Him less than my all?

The song goes on to address living for Jesus wherever I am, wherever He has placed me, and suggests even suffering affliction and loss. It also speaks to seeking the lost ones that Jesus died to redeem, and bringing the weary to Jesus to find rest and peace in Him.

Oh, that I could live as Jesus did, in my own skin.

LORD JESUS, may I live these words day by day publicly before neighbors and store employees that serve me, and behind closed doors. May they see Jesus in me and feel His love coming from me. Thank You, God, for Your Holy Word for us to clearly see Your example. You came to show us so that we may show others and lead them to You.

*C. Harold Lowden | Thomas Obediah Chisholm, © Words: Public Domain; Music: Public Domain
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October 14, 2017

“I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1 NIV

All Years’ Resolutions Part 1

I was going over my 2017 Resolutions as a reminder of the goals I had set for myself for this year. I call them “all year’s resolutions” because they need to be looked at each month.

My ultimate New Year’s goal was to become more like Jesus in 365 days. The only way I knew how to do that was to learn more of Jesus. He not only came to save us, but to show us by His example how He expected us to live our lives. His Word gives me a wealth of information for living by His example.

So I ask myself, “Do I look like Jesus?” The Bible lists the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5: 22-23: “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” It would be safe to say, then, that my life should be demonstrating each and every fruit of the Spirit. If I don’t look like Jesus, why not?

If I want to look more like Jesus in 365 days, what does it take?

• Jesus spent time with Our Father in heaven very early every morning.

• Jesus loved His disciples (He called them “friends”) even when they let Him down, disappointed Him, and even betrayed Him.

• Jesus reached out to help others and to meet their needs.

• Jesus was obedient to our Heavenly Father. He willingly suffered unspeakable torture, and crucifixion.

• Jesus forgave the most heinous crimes committed against Him physically, mentally, and emotionally—even betrayal.

• Jesus gave up more than I can imagine by coming as a human to show us the way.

• Jesus is interceding for us even as I am writing this devotion. Do I pray for others in this way?

If I want to look like Jesus, can I do any less than I see in His example?

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.” (Colossians 1:9-11 NIV).

I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).

May the world now see Jesus in my skin.

“Thank You Jesus, for sacrificing more than I can imagine, coming to show me by example how to live my life here on earth.”

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October 13, 2017

HIS ACTION

“So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” Luke 5:16

“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.” Matthew 14:23

Withdraw & Pray

HIS EXAMPLE TO US

Jesus went off by Himself and spent time with the Father in prayer.

MY STORY

One of the side effects of a chronic health issue I live with is insomnia. I am able to go to sleep almost immediately, but most mornings between 2 AM and 4 AM I wake up. As I lay there, I begin to pray for whatever/whoever the Lord puts on my heart. Occasionally I go back to sleep, but more often than not God calls me out of bed to go be with Him. Most days I go cheerfully, whatever the time (thank goodness I’ve always been a morning person!), to see what He desires to share with me. The silver lining in my health issue is extra time with God, and since no one else is up that early, it’s just Him and me.

MY RESPONSE

Jesus knew how important it was to withdraw and pray. Luke 6:12 tells us the night before He chose the 12 apostles. “He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” This tells me before I make big decisions I need to spend time with God in prayer. The night before His betrayal, Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him—asking them to pray that they would not fall into temptation, and Luke 22:41 (NIV) tells us “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.’” This shows me that it’s okay to ask the Father for things to go differently, but also to accept them if they don’t.

So I will follow His example by withdrawing away by myself and praying; spending time with God the Father; allowing Him to love on me, reveal Himself to me, and give me strength to obey His will in my life. I will go to Him for big (and small) decisions and I will trust that whatever He chooses to do is right, even if I would rather it go a different way. If Scripture tells us Jesus often withdrew by Himself and prayed, isn’t it important we do so as well?

MY PRAYER

“Jesus, thank You for showing us how important it is to withdraw by ourselves and spend time with the Father in prayer. Please help us carve out that time—even if it’s just a few precious minutes a day. Amen.”

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October 12, 2017

HIS ACTIONS

“Then people brought little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:13-14

Tender Touch

HIS EXAMPLE TO US

Jesus touched people, even those who were thought to be unworthy

MY STORY

“How sweet to hold a newborn baby and feel the pride and joy he gives,” rings the hymn of old. Oh, the sweet, tender touch of a new baby’s skin. My mother-in-law calls it “dewy” and I think she’s right. That touch is long gone now, but how I remember it. Sweet smelling, warm, and all mine—okay, half mine.  

We crave touch, don’t we? The hug of a friend, the embrace of a spouse, and the kiss of a child can make us feel alive. Jesus was always touching people. He touched the blind (Matthew 20:34), the deaf (Mark 7:33), and the leper (Luke 5:13). Children wanted to be touched by Jesus and though the disciples thought the children should be ignored, Jesus touched them and prayed for them (Matthew 19:13-14). Healing followed the touch of Jesus. Can this be true of our touch as well?

MY RESPONSE

How can I follow the example of Jesus in this area? I can touch people with a smile, a telephone call, a little note on pretty stationery, or a simple hug. Even a prayer in secret can touch a person’s life and call forth healing in the name of Jesus. Who can I touch today?

MY PRAYER

“Father, I thank You for Your touch in my life. Please show me someone who needs a touch from You through me today, and help me to follow through with a hug, a telephone call, a written note, or maybe a smile. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.”

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October 11, 2017

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters…”
Isaiah 55:1a

Come to the Waters

As far as I know, I’ve never been truly dehydrated. I drink water throughout the day and other than some minor headaches that remind me to pour another glass, I’ve never experienced the severity that would land me in the hospital, hooked up to IVs to replenish my systems.

We don’t always know we are thirsty. We get busy and forget to drink water, or maybe we don’t particularly care for drinking water, and we can get completely depleted and end up hospitalized before we even know our need. Cells shrivel, and body processes slow or stop functioning completely.

Water is basic to the continuation of all life—and especially our spiritual life. Jesus, being our Creator, made us this way. When He tells us to “Come to the waters,” He wasn’t making a suggestion. He was saying, “I made you to need this!” And He wasn’t talking about H2O—He was telling us to continually replenish our spirits.

This is a well-covered topic in Scripture:

“For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring” (Isaiah 44:3).

“Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37).

We need the Living Waters, the Holy Spirit. Come and drink, and be healthy again. Come even when you don’t feel thirsty, and be filled and saturated, running over and overflowing. “’He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive…” (John 7:38-39a).

He invites us to come and drink. He longs to pour out His spirit on us, to fill us afresh. We aren’t meant to walk around dry and shriveled, barely functioning spiritually, or laid out flat on our backs because we are depleted and have nothing left—and don’t even know it. We were created to thirst for Him.

If life has sucked you dry, there is something you can do about it. Sit at His feet and talk it over with Him. He’s a good listener. Then ask Him to fill you with Living Water—Himself. 

“Jesus, we are desperate for You, even when we don’t realize it. We come today for fresh filling. We stand on Your promises for today, and for the future: ‘They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to the living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’ (Revelation 7:16-17). In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

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October 10, 2017

“Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.”
2 Corinthians 2:15-16a (The Message)

What Is Your Fragrance?

We had just been asked to stand for worship. I stood, and then it happened… someone slipped into the seat behind me, and I was assaulted by the fragrance they were wearing. Right away I started feeling very sorry for myself. “Why do the wearers of strong perfume always end up next to ME?” “Can’t I even enjoy church?” Granted, I am pretty scent-sensitive. Strong perfume immediately gives me a headache, and it seems like the stronger it is, the more lavishly it’s applied. I’m sure this person, as part of their morning routine, put on the scent that they love, and headed out the door with nary a thought about it. I stood there huffing (no pun intended!) about it, which of course is ridiculous. I’m sure that person wasn’t intending to ruin my day!

But this got me thinking about the different kinds of “fragrance” that I put out. How do I smell to those around me? I have the choice to put out a lovely fragrance. I can be polite to that poor, harried checker at the store after having stood in a long line. I can joyfully assist someone in need. I can be a good listener and be one that people turn to when they need prayer. 

“Smelling” bad is poisonous. One day I was flying home, and there was a long delay at the airport. Everyone was waiting patiently in line, when one person loudly complained about the wait. Suddenly, everyone was aware of the fact that we were late, and the murmuring and toe-tapping began. And guess what? That didn’t lessen the delay one little bit! That “stinker” made the situation worse!

Obviously, we have our days, and I have too many of them where I look back and I am not happy with the way I have responded to certain situations. But we can purpose to be a lovely fragrance. I want to be aware of my actions, and know that I can be a pleasing aroma to the Lord, and those around me.

“Father, thank You that because of You, I have a lovely aroma. Please help me to always be mindful of Who I represent. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

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October 9, 2017

“Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Mark 3:35 (NET)

The Real Aunt Dorothy

Everyone should have an Aunt Dorothy. She is loving, loyal, fun, caring, and thoughtful. You think, “Ahh, but not every family is blessed with an Aunt Dorothy; you can’t just go and pick one, now can you?” 

Indeed, that’s exactly what my mother did. The aunt that originally came in the family package had some important missing parts, like honesty, loyalty, and dependability. So my mother sought the Creator of families to find a replacement aunt for her children (so it doesn’t sound like she is replacing her children). She looked at the godly women who were serving Christ alongside of her and invited them home to join our family for dinner and such. It didn’t take long before Aunt Dorothy was a permanent part of our family.

Now when people discover that Aunt Dorothy wasn’t born a sister of my mother, they ask me one of several questions. “Is she your REAL aunt?” Well, she’s not imaginary. We don’t just set an empty chair at graduations, weddings, funerals, holidays, vacations and such. She really is in the photos, folks. So, yes, she really is my aunt.

“Well, but is she your aunt by blood?” they ask. Not my mother’s blood, maybe, but she is by the blood of Christ, since she is a fellow believer. So, yes, through Jesus, she is my aunt by blood. 

“However, she’s not your biological aunt, right?” All right, I will concede on that point. Not because I couldn’t make a point of us all being descendants of Noah, but out of respect for Aunt Dorothy’s other family. To honor the fact that they had her first, I will, when pushed, say that she is NOT my biological aunt.

This much I know: no biological person could have been a truer sister to my mother, nor a more real aunt to my siblings and I. For more than four decades she has been there for us and with us. She laughs and cries with us. She plans and dreams with us. She works and plays with us. She remembers and forgives us. She is a gift from a loving God.

“Jesus, I thank You for the family that You placed me in. I trust that it was for Your good purpose in my life. I beseech You to open my eyes to the blessing of family members You have given me whether by blood, or adopted from your Church body. Amen”

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October 8, 2017


“Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”
Genesis 3:9

Choices Matter

Have you ever been really, really lost in a dark place, like a cave? The farther in you go, the more twists and turns there are. The narrow passageways just keep going until you are hopelessly lost. What began as a Saturday afternoon meander becomes a nightmare of terror from which you cannot emerge. After countless bends, corners, angles, and zigzags, crouching and crawling and squeezing through increasingly tight spaces, trying to find your way out, you finally must sit down and wait to be found.

The thing about caves is that we usually enter them innocently. We just want to look around. Check it out. I wonder where this will lead…. I wonder what’s just around that bend…. And suddenly, we realize we are in deeper and farther than we ever intended to go.

Sin is like that. Choices matter, every single time. Sin never lets you end up where you thought you’d end up.

But the introduction of even a nearly imperceptible light from a very great distance gives hope of being found and rescued—that is, if you want to be rescued. If not, then the approaching light causes you to hide ever deeper in the recesses of your dark place.

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:19-20).

No matter how dark your darkness is, God can see you. He is right there shining the light. Since He is omnipresent (everywhere at once), He is also outside of your darkness, calling you like He called Adam. “Where are you?” Make no mistake, He knows where you are—but He wants you to admit it to yourself.

“I am here, in this dark place. I didn’t know I would end up here. I can’t find my way out. I need Your help. Shine Your light and show me the way.”

The thing about lost people is that usually they aren’t only in a dark, convoluted cave, but they are also blind. How great is that darkness! They are deeply lost in lies, deception, cover up, hiding, excuses, fear, and doubt.

The Lord says to us, “Come out into the Light! I’ve come to get you! Don’t shrink back now… your deliverance is near!” And along with deliverance comes peace. Rest from running and hiding. The end of having to feel your way along the passageways and getting in even deeper.

“Father, we come to the Light. We have loved darkness in some areas more than we loved the Light, but now our eyes are open. We need to be rescued, and we hear You calling us out. Thank You for loving us so much that You sent us a Light, Your beloved Son. Amen.”

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October 7, 2017

“Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’” John 2:2

The Invited Guest

I was on my way to a wedding. As we drove along the highway, I was praying for this young man and his bride. My heart was full of thoughts of all the good things this couple stood for, as well as the red flags and danger signs I saw in their relationship. I was happy for them and worried for them all at the same time. I was reminded of the wedding at Cana. Jesus had been invited to a wedding as well.

Weddings are a time of celebration, a public declaration of love and loyalty. Weddings recall the past as family members weep over the passing of a little one’s childhood and the unveiling of a young man or woman stepping into marriage and adulthood. There is a lot of hope in the joining of a man and woman beginning a new life together.

I had made a determined decision to support and encourage this couple. I had great hopes for them and was committed to praying for them. As we traveled to their celebration, I prayed that Jesus would turn the water into wine once more. I asked that Jesus would take their insufficiency and lack and turn it into a wonder of provision, a provision infused with a quality of joy. That’s the kind of thing Jesus does when He shows up at weddings.

I was reminded how He has done that very thing in my own life. He has found me in my need, in all the ways I was seriously lacking, in all the things I could never provide and yet He has worked something beautiful in me. Something unexpected. Something only He could do. It all began when I was finally willing “to do whatever He said to me.” That moment changed everything.

Invite Him to your “wedding.” Do whatever He tells you. Get ready for the excellence of water turned into wine. Celebrate!

“Father, Thank You for new wine! Your plans for us are always good. We will trust You in all things, at all times, in every way. We will respond to You in willing obedience. Thank You for the miracle of what You do in us. The best is yet to come! Amen.”

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October 6, 2017

HIS ACTION

“’Why were you searching for Me?’ He asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in My Father’s house?’” Luke 2:49

Home in the Father’s House

HIS EXAMPLE TO US

Jesus made it a priority to be in His Father’s house.

MY STORY

I’ve gone to church my whole life. As a young child my mother would help me get there by walking me across the busy street, and as I got older she would wait to make sure I got across okay, and pretty soon I was going alone. Dad always gave me a quarter to put in the offering plate and every Sunday I took the Bible my grandmother gave me. The only time I missed was if I was sick or we were out of town on vacation.  I served in that church as a young person, too. Acolyte duties, watching babies in the bride’s room, singing in the choir, and Scripture reading were a big part of my church life. I loved it. As a young adult I moved on from that church to another church where I started serving in Women’s Ministry and I have served in that capacity ever since. Church is home; it’s where I want to be; it’s my custom; it’s my life.

MY RESPONSE

As a young person, Jesus wanted to be in His Father’s house. That’s where Mary and Joseph found Him after missing Him for three days. It is further recorded in Luke that Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was His custom. Going to the Father’s house should always be my priority, my custom, and my life. After all, it is a foretaste of the glorious home I’m on my way to.

MY PRAYER

Father, thank You for Your house here on earth. May it always be the place I want to be more than anywhere else. And may it be said of me that I rejoiced when they said, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” Amen.

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October 5, 2017

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’”  Matthew 19:14

Let The Children Come To Me

HIS EXAMPLE TO US

Jesus invited children to come to Him. 

MY STORY

This past Sunday my granddaughter wanted to come to “big church.” Pastor Bryan asked if anyone would like prayer, and she shyly raised her hand. Her mom and I looked at each other, and she asked her daughter what she wanted prayer for. My granddaughter didn’t say anything, she just smiled and kind of looked questioningly at me. 

I took her hand in mine, her mom put her arm around her and her other grandmother put her hand on her knee. I began to pray for her—for any anxiety regarding school to be relieved, and a few other general things, and then I began to pray that she would know she would never be alone, Jesus would always be with her, He loved and delighted in her, and she was a treasure of great value to Him.

MY RESPONSE

Three important women in her life made a wise decision last Sunday. We could have blown her off because she didn’t really know what she wanted prayer about, or perhaps felt she should raise her hand because the little girl in front of her about the same age had raised her hand. But we didn’t. Instead we chose to pray over this precious little girl, to impart truth and love and light into her heart, mind, spirit, and soul. 

MY PRAYER

“Lord, thank You that You call all of us to come to You as little children, with wide eyes and open hearts. Thank You for the opportunity to speak words of life into one of Your precious ones. Amen.”

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October 4, 2017

 “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

“…God be in my eyes and in my looking, in my mouth and in my speaking,In my heart and in my thinking…”
16th century Sarum Primer   

God, Be In My Eyes, Mouth, and Heart

We can all fall victim to misreading an observed situation. When we assume we rightly discern the motive of another’s heart, we play a dangerous game. Here is a “snapshot” of that very happening, a real-life example of how this occurred during my family’s summer reunion. We had gathered in the living room and our son picked up his guitar to play and sing. Soon our daughter joined the singing and then our 9-year-old grandson blended in, too. Pure joy filled my heart! Quickly I tiptoed from the room to grab my camera and record this fleeting moment of harmony and relationship. It had been three long years since we were able to be together. You see, our daughter’s home is an arduous fourteen-hour plane ride away. Very recently, she had lamented to me that in their adult years, she and her brother had found it difficult to build and maintain meaningful relationship given their distance and busy lives. Seeing their sweet interaction and connection made me absolutely jubilant. 

I began to imagine the happy memories my photos would later evoke. In focusing on the thoughts of my daughter, regrettably, I blanked out input from my son that renders me culpable in what was soon to transpire. He had let me know, several times over, that though he often sang and played in front of large groups of people, when he played before family, he found it embarrassing, and sometimes smothering, if I focused attention on him. So with the third click of my camera, down went the guitar, silent went the voice, and frozen on me was his look. What followed were his words of frustration and resentment met by my feelings of hurt, humiliation, and dishonor. I perceived my motives were misunderstood, but I managed to hold my tongue.

Evaluation and retrospect drove me to the Lord. What does His wisdom suggest for this situation and, more broadly, for our general enlightenment? First, we need to daily read God’s Word, storing up wisdom to be applied in our circumstances. Second, each morning we need to ask for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit who gives us counsel, guidance, and necessary recall. Third, in prayer we need to ask that we be empowered to walk in love. Peter urged the believers to “…see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22b).

“Gracious Lord, keep me mindful of my daily need for the counsel and wisdom that comes from Your Word. Prompt me to seek, each morning, a fresh infilling of Your Holy Spirit. Set a guard on my mouth so I speak only words of grace and healing. Finally, cover my shortsighted eyes with the farseeing lenses of Your love. I ask these things in the preeminent Name of Jesus. Amen.”

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October 3, 2017

 Our apologies, ladies. Yesterday’s devotional was contributed by Sally McClung of “All Nations” (ministry).
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“When the Israelites cried out for help to the LORD, He raised up a deliverer for the Israelites who rescued them. His name was Othniel, son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The LORD’s Spirit empowered him and he led Israel. When he went to do battle, the LORD handed over to him King Cushan-Rishathaim of Aram and he overpowered him.” Judges 3:9-10

Overpowered and Broken

When I think of overpowered, I think of being defeated or overcome by superior strength—of being handed over as the above verse says. In the world of gaming, however, being overpowered (OP) means to be very powerful or to have superior strength.

The other day my daughter told me that in one of her games, a certain character is being updated to make OP (very powerful), and then she proceeded to tell me the same character was also broken. I assumed she meant something was wrong with her, like there was a glitch in updating the game and, as a result, the character wasn’t functioning right. It turns out that, in gaming language, “broken” is another way of saying the character will be OP.

I asked her how something could be broken and OP at the same time—it didn’t make any sense to me. Then I had an a-ha moment.

When we are broken (have given up hope, despairing, damaged, defeated, shattered, etc.) and come to Jesus, don’t we then become OP? You can’t be much more powerful than to have the Spirit who literally raised Jesus from the dead living in you (Romans 8:11). The above verse says the LORD raised up a deliverer for the Israelites. Othniel was empowered by the Holy Spirit, which is how he overpowered the King of Aram.

Acts 10:38 tells us that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power, and He then went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. God is with us, too. It is God who does the healing and the good, but He lets us participate. 

Interestingly enough, this game character’s name is Mercy. Doesn’t God, in His great mercy toward us, give us His immeasurable strength? “To You, O my strength, I will sing praises; for God is my defense, My God of mercy” (Psalm 59:17).

On my own, I’m the older version of overpowered and broken: weak and defeated. But with God, through Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I’m the game version, where overpowered and broken = strong and victorious.

“Dear Lord, thank You for living in us and making us the “game version” of overpowered and broken, by Your great grace and mercy, and all for Your glory. Amen.”

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October 2, 2017

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2

Look to His Beauty

When going through a hard time, the things that we are dealing with are “front and center.” It’s what’s happening, what we have to cope with, so it’s natural that our focus is on that. But therein lies a trap of the enemy if we aren’t careful!

The enemy wants us to focus on the problems—our pain, our weakness, our sorrow, our loneliness. God wants us to keep our focus on HIM in the midst of all these problems. When we keep our eyes on Him, it puts the problems in the proper perspective.

Someone sent me this definition of FEAR: false evidence appearing real!

If we focus on the problems, it’s so easy for fear to creep in. Before we know it, the problems and the resulting fear can overwhelm our trust in the Lord.  

In the midst of hard, very difficult days, I have to constantly remind myself to keep my focus on Him, His goodness, His answers, His grace, His sufficiency, His strength—instead of focusing on the problems. I have to choose my perspective! I never “conquer” doing this. It’s something I have to do in the midst of each new difficulty and hard time. His grace for the problems is sufficient—one day at a time.

I have some large windows—some of them high off the ground. I have someone who helps me clean them. I get nervous just watching him climb the ladder!! But this helper has been away on holiday. We’ve had lots of windy/rainy/stormy weather. So my windows are dirty, streaky, and spotted. My view through the windows is a lovely one—the ocean, trees, mountains. But right now, if I’m not careful, all I see is the mess on the windows! I have to look beyond that to see the beauty.

So it is in life, we must look beyond all the problems we’re facing and see the beauty of Jesus Who is greater than the problems. When we keep our eyes, our focus on Him, it invites Him into our situation! He enters in to help and strengthen us. He enables us to have joy even on the hardest of days. How faithful He is.

“In all their suffering He also suffered, and He personally rescued them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years” (Isaiah 63:9).

“The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (2 Timothy 4:17).

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).  

“Trust in Him at all times—pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

I’m so grateful that He helps us through life’s difficulties each day. He never grows weary of stepping into our lives and helping us. 

“Thank You, Lord!”

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October 1, 2017

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

Trusting

This is from the account of Jesus meeting Nicodemus at night. He was having trouble with the concept of being born of the Spirit, as we did before we were born again. Humanly, we cannot understand, but with the Holy Spirit we can. Our lives are in His capable hands.  

New light shines in our hearts with Jesus! This can be a daily experience when trusting Him for everything. When we focus on Him, life makes more sense, when “our minds are set on things above and not of this earth” (Colossians 3:2). 

I love a good mystery, and adventure. Living life trusting the Lord has definitely proven to be an adventure. It is exciting how He works things out so marvelously for His kingdom good. But painful and unexpected things do happen in our lives. We all have dreams for our children when they grow up, first and foremost that Jesus would be the love of their lives and they wouldn’t choose less.

One year I was working at a kids’ camp when my daughter was in 5th grade. The leaders (including me) had written skits that would impact the kids’ lives and encourage their walk with the Lord. My daughter was in a skit where she was a teenager who fell into bad choices, turned away from the Lord and didn’t return. I didn’t think my daughter would play that part. She was a great little actress. But I was stunned at the reality that this could happen. When she became a young adult, unfortunately, this skit came partly true and Jesus is not foremost in her life. It breaks my heart. I know our children need to find their own faith, but it’s taking a long time.  

To the Lord a day is like a thousand years. So we trust this wind (seemingly a windstorm), knowing Jesus has her and He loves her more than we do. We don’t quit praying with His heart in mind.

The unexpected wind can definitely surprise us and knock us down. Yet who am I to question where the wind will blow? I need to be sensitive to this wind and aware of His control and purpose. I need to be willing and obedient, trusting this circumstance or seeming calamity is for eternal good! Remember that He is God Almighty, Creator, glorious Savior, and Lover of our soul! We can trust Him, and wait for Him to work it out in His time for His great glory!! When we wait, resting, He accomplishes His purpose, and I’m excited to see how He will bring it to pass. I trust where this wind is blowing!!

“Lord, thank You for the Holy Spirit who leads and guides us. I pray for Your eternal perspective, trusting where, when and how You are leading. May we cling to You and follow You in Your next step. Amen!”

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September 30, 2017

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Courage, Dear Heart

Cour·age (‘kərij/) noun

1. the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery. 
2. strength in the face of pain or grief. 

On April 22, 2016, I met a tiny baby boy named Ryan, all wrapped up in a pink blanket. He was only a few days old and had been brought to Kimbilio Hospice in need of refuge. His mama’s death certificate shares the same date as that of Ryan’s birth. The youngest of eight children, Ryan was born too soon. On that Friday afternoon in April when I first picked him up in my arms, I had no idea how much Ryan’s little life was going to reshape mine; but I am pretty sure a familiar voice whispered into my soul, “Courage, dear heart.” The phrase has lovingly and patiently been repeated at least a thousand and one times since.

I did not know how my plans were going to be interrupted and my heart was going to be expanded, broken, and taught in profound ways about the extravagant love of God; but in more ways than I know or could ever tell, thankfully, it has.

Shortly after meeting baby Ryan, Titus, Ella and I welcomed him into our home and have had the hard privilege of working towards his adoption over the past year. We are grateful to announce that Ryan, as of July 27th, is officially a Boit.

When Ryan was six months old, he was diagnosed with sickle cell disease. Within weeks, his three-year old brother, Geoffrey, and eight-year old sister, Alice, were given the same cruel diagnosis. Since that time, the children have been receiving ongoing medical care while we have been praying and searching for the best treatment options for them. Earlier in the year, through a laboratory test, we learned that Ryan and Geoffrey have a donor sibling match in their eleven-year old sister, Sharon. Alice, sadly, does not have a donor match with any of the brothers or sisters.

While it is standard care in the United States to provide bone marrow transplant for all sickle cell patients that have a matched sibling, this complex but curative treatment is not currently available in Kenya. Titus and I have spent the last six months working to identify a treatment center and jumping through lots of hoops related to insurance, children department regulations, court approvals, and U.S. immigration.

On September 18th, our family will go to Los Angeles for Ryan and Geoffrey to receive bone marrow transplants at UCLA Children’s Hospital. We will return to Kenya when given permission by the boys’ doctors, but expect to be in the U.S. for at least nine months.

There are many unknowns still ahead of us, but we are certain that God is with us and that Los Angeles holds a community that loves us and will help stand with us in this journey. A friend of mine recently wrote these words: “Juli, your boldness makes us want to be bold in generosity.” While I am humbled by these words, I also love them and want to invite others to step into boldness and courage—not because of its ease but because it matters to the heart of God and to this broken world.

“Father, thank You for the many loving kindnesses you show us daily. Continue to fill us with courage, that we may do all Your will. Amen.”

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September 29, 2017

HIS ACTIONS

“Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” John 6:15

What Kind of King Is This?

HIS EXAMPLE

Jesus showed in countless ways that He was so much more than what the people thought they wanted. In this scene, the wind was blowing, waves were rising, and night had fallen. It was dark both outside the boat, and inside the disciples’ outlook. They’d rowed three or four miles against the wind and waves. When Jesus finally came near, walking on the water, they did not recognize Him at first; once they received Him into the boat, they found themselves immediately on land at the place they were heading. Just prior to this event, Jesus had fed more than 5,000 men with next to nothing, showing His authority over an impossible situation; now He is showing His authority over the natural elements (walking on water), and His authority over time and space (they found themselves immediately at land, even though they had several miles more to go.) Jesus will not agree to become less than He is, even if we beg Him to be what we want Him to be. “He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waters of the sea” (Job 9:8).

MY STORY

There was a time when Jesus was “just God’s Son” in my heart. A lesser being (I cringe to even type the words now.) An afterthought in God’s mind. Merely a way to deal with the sins of man. Surely not almighty, everlasting God. I was very wrong (John 5:23). I had no concept of Trinity—it was too far outside my understanding. I did not know the scope of His power, the strength of His might, His authority over all things in heaven and earth. But now I know that Jesus did what God did (John 5:19), because HE IS GOD Who lived among us. He is the Word of God—the eternal expression of God. He deserves all our praise and worship. He is worthy of all our devotion, our yielded flesh, and our submitted spirits, even to the exclusion (when necessary to choose between Him and something or someone else) of anything else we may be devoted to, yielded to, and submitted to on earth. Over time, and in relationship, and by His tender mercies and loving grace, He has shown me Himself.

MY RESPONSE

I confess my small thoughts about Jesus. I reject wrong ideas about Him. I read His Word to gain the truth of Who He is, and I do not receive any beliefs, whether expounded by friend or foe, that would diminish or lessen Him in His glory. I declare His praises to all who will hear, and also to those who won’t hear, for they will be without excuse in the day of His coming.

MY PRAYER

“Father, may we see Jesus for who He is—not an earthly king, but a heavenly King with all authority and power over all things. In Jesus’ powerful Name, Amen.”

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