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Ministry Moments Blog
A devotion by Nichole Tamburstuen, Statewide Director for Arms of Love Foster Care & Program Administrator - Central Region
In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. - Ephesians 6:16
Paul gives us an amazing analogy of the shield of faith in this scripture. It is to activate faith, it’s where we walk forward into what we know God will do and trust God to do. It’s what we hope, and know to be truth without seeing it. (Hebrews 11:1)
Throughout scripture, Gods shows us that when giving a blessing, he first asks for us to participate in an action to which then he gives the blessing. There are times our struggle either within ourselves or our situation, can keep us from taking up this shield of faith that Paul speaks about. It’s the inner struggle, often we are not even aware of its deceptions. Careful not to be so trapped in the battle of struggles like insecurity, doubt, fear, guilt… things that the evil one sends our way as “flaming arrows” to distract us from that act of faith, living out our calling. Create habits that condition your heart to look at things above, fix your focus on a capable magnificent God and walk in the truth of that God.
A few weekends ago we were on our way to what felt like the 10th soccer game of the weekend. My husband was telling the girls to close their eyes, picture stopping the ball, shooting the ball, picture your moves to help you actualize your victory -plan out what moves you're going to make and how it feels to complete your winning play. This is a great way we as Christians can prepare to see ourselves enacting our faith. We get the privilege of when stepping out in obedience, partnering with God, to experience His earthly blessings. Visualize yourself victorious fighting your battles of doubt, fear, shame or whatever it may be… stepping into it as if the win has already happened, knowing our God is “faith-full” and this is why you can live a faith filled life.
For by grace you have been saved through faith: and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. - Ephesians 2:8
A devotion by Matt Gaston, Leader Care Facilitator - Eastern Region
“The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh” Proverbs 11:17
The sentence “help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” as you know comes from a product commercial concerning seniors who have the potential of falling when they are alone and so they need to wear an electronic device so that if they do fall someone can come to their rescue. The sentence now has become comical and has also become a joke somewhat. We hear it often in our daily routines of life. I am sure all of us have used this sentence in pun.
But from a spiritual sense this sentence is not comical one wee bit. God’s people fail on a regular basis and they sometimes get isolated from other believers because of their failure. They have fallen and yes they may not know how to get up again. They hurt and they feel they have betrayed the Lord so greatly that they don’t deserve another chance. The Story of the Prodigal Son depicts God the Father expressing Mercy and Forgiveness within the Family. The fallen son is uplifted and restored by a merciful father. It’s interesting the other son in the family expressed cruelty to his fallen brother which broke the father’s heart.
The Parable about the Good Samaritan is all about Mercy & Compassion for those outside the Family. God does not forget those who show mercy to others! God looks upon the poor and needy both physically and spiritually. He calls out to us as His disciples, go to the fallen and lift them up. Show My Mercy and show My Compassion, and yes, place it upon to those who you feel don’t deserve it.
Mercy is good for the Soul! I like that!
A devotion by Mona McDonald, Pursue Life Adult Ministry Vice President
“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Proverbs 4:23
I office on the go and carry a shoulder bag that contains my work and priorities for the day. When I get overly busy, before I realize it, my bag overflows with more than what is important for the day. Sometimes I fear needing “this or that” so I cram those in my bag too. I accumulate unneeded paper, magazines, junk mail, grooming items, buried receipts, napkins filled with chewed gum and straw wrappers…real trash. Sometimes it’s so heavy and full that it spills out and I need a second bag (a suitcase, really) because I haven’t taken the time to deal with the old work, the trash or the fears of needing “this or that”. If I don’t deal with the contents on a daily basis, I no longer know what is most important and my work and priorities eventually become ineffective, exposed to many distractions and embarrassing spills.
Our heart is a wallet, a satchel, a briefcase, a handbag, even a man-bag to be filled with love, wisdom, good things and treasures. The heart can easily become a suitcase filled with hurts, wrong thoughts, deception, selfishness, foolishness, even chaos that we carry wherever we go. Sometimes we carry more in our hearts than a suitcase can hold and there is spillage. Most of the time, we have little control over what spills out. As Christ followers, our hearts are meant to spill. Paul helps us understand in Romans 5:22-23 that an overflowing heart spills out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Does this describe the trail behind me and you or is it scattered with hate, misery, conflict, intolerance, meanness, foolishness, disloyalty, harshness and out of control behaviors?
There’s a country saying, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.” Protect your heart at all costs, keep it clean and sorted. So as we go and our hearts spill over, the trail resembles the indescribable and overwhelming love of Jesus.
Father, I desperately need your help to clean up my heart so that when I do spill over, others will see Your goodness and not my chaos. Lead me to your Word every day so I can know how to guard my own heart and withstand the constant battle of the evil one to steal, kill and destroy Your work through me. Amen
A devotion by Sheryl Van Horn, ABCS Program Administrator - Southwest
“But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” - 1 Samuel 16:7
"All the seven sons of Jesse were brought before Samuel and yet God did not choose one of them. Samuel said to Jesse, 'Are all the young men here?' Then he said, 'There remains yet the youngest, and there he is keeping the sheep.' And Samuel said to Jesse, 'Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.' David entered into the house of his father. Samuel heard, the Lord say, 'Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!'” - 1 Samuel 16:11-12
Have you ever felt ordinary, overlooked? I know I have that’s is why I love the story of David he began as a shepherd boy but God saw more and even more than that he saw a heart that would love and follow him. David also made some huge mistakes but repented and our merciful loving Father forgave him and used him for His glory. As we deal with hurting families and fellow staff member remember to see them as God may see them.
In December the Tempe New Life Pregnancy Center held its 4th annual Christmas gift give-away for clients’ children. Fourteen volunteers gave their time that day, covering five separate rooms offering material assistance, childcare, picking out toys and wrapping toys. Many of these were first time volunteers and it was a blessing to have them! Throughout the event 157 children received new or like new Christmas presents. However, in the midst of all of the Christmas excitement of the day there were two unexpected appointments at the center – both of which were obviously God ordained.
The phone rang and it was a young woman, Annie*, calling the pregnancy center looking for information on abortion procedures. The director stepped into the office to talk with her as volunteers continued serving those in the center. But Annie said she was calling from work and couldn’t say everything she wanted to say. “I guess I can’t really talk now,” she said. “I’ll call you some other time.”
The director knew how critical every minute is for a woman considering abortion. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to counsel Annie to choose life for her unborn child, the director offered to ask a few questions that would only require simple, discreet answers. Annie agreed and through this process, she admitted she felt completely alone and said, “I’m not in a good place in my life to have a baby.”
Asking more questions, the director learned that Annie had a very loving mother – a mother who was not angry about her daughter’s situation but who wanted this grandchild. The director gently explained to Annie about life in the womb and how small she was when her heart began to beat. She reminded her that she has eight months to consider plans for how to care for her baby, but an abortion decision made now would be irreversible. Annie listened intently and seemed to understand how the center could be additional support to her if she chose to parent her baby. After a few minutes she said, “I have to go now. Maybe I will call your clinic later.”
The call ended and the director prayed that God would use her words to touch Annie’s heart and spare the life of her little one. A little while later as the director helped a young family leaving the center, a young man approached her and asked, “Is this the church office? I have some questions about this church.”
The director told him no, but offered to answer any questions he had. He explained he was writing a paper for a class at the university about comparative religions and had many questions about Christianity. He asked to see the worship center, and as they toured it together he said, “This is much larger than the mosque.” The director replied, “Oh, so you are a man of deep faith!” He looked surprised but said, “Yes, I am a Muslim. May I ask questions without offending you?” The director smiled and said, “You may ask me any question that you like and I will not be offended. You are a seeker of truth just like myself.”
As they talked, the director told him the worship center was decorated for Christmas and that Christians believe God the Son was conceived by God the Holy Spirit in the body of a young woman named Mary. She said, “God made a plan before the creation of the heavens and the earth because he knew the humans he would create would fall out of relationship with Him because they chose to disobey His Word. This is what our Holy Book, the Bible, calls sin. I understand that Muslims know Jesus by the name ‘Isa Mesih’ which means ‘Jesus Messiah’. ”
“Yes, this is true,” he said.
She continued, “Part of God’s plan was that He would require a blood sacrifice to remove the sin that separated people from Himself. His plan meant God the Son would need a body of flesh that could bleed in order to be that sacrifice. God the Son would then be 100% man and 100% God at the same time, so His blood would have the supernatural power that the blood of animals cannot equal.”
“Yes!” he exclaimed, “Do you remember Abraham on the mountain? He was going to sacrifice his son, but then there was a sheep in the bushes.”
“Yes, I know the story of Isaac very well. God provided a blood sacrifice so that Isaac would not be killed. When Jesus became a blood sacrifice when he was crucified, God was providing the perfect blood sacrifice that has the ability to give eternal life to every person who chooses Jesus as their Savior, their Messiah.”
He looked very serious and said, “Muslims do not believe in forcing anyone to accept our religion.”
The director smiled and replied, “No, a Christian who is obeying God’s Word does not force our religion on anyone, either. When I was 17 years old, I first understood the story of the sacrifice of Jesus and I decided to become a follower of Him. You are a seeker of truth. I am a seeker of truth. If you walk beside me for a while, learning about Jesus, then we can walk together in our search.”
He smiled warmly and asked if he could attend a service at the church. What a joy it was for the director to invite him to church that Sunday and assure him he would be welcome!
God’s timing and His plans are perfect! His plans were much greater for this special day than anyone at the center could have anticipated. Knowing these two young people in search of truth would call and visit on a busy day, He provided the many volunteers needed to help those receiving Christmas gifts and other services that day so the director could dedicate time to helping both of these. They were different in every way! But in the loving eyes of Jesus their hearts are exactly the same – they are seeking answers to the most profound questions of life.