Do you remember the Sesame Street song, "That's about the size, where you put your eyes, that's about the size of it"? It's a song all about perspective based on what our eyes are focused on. It's a great teaching tool for little ones, and it can be a reminder to us big ones as well!
Our perspective is based on where we put our focus. If we are focused on the One who loves us and has a unique and exciting plan for each of us, our perspective will be a good one. If we are focused on our circumstances, our perspective tends to be clouded by discouragement and a sense of being overwhelmed.
My prayer is that this space will be where you will find strength and encouragement to place your focus where it ought to be. May God bless you as you seek and follow him.
By Heather Tabers
When I was a little girl, I was surrounded by family and friends that loved me very much. However, I was also surrounded by family that were less than pleased with my existence. In many ways, I was a disappointment. An inconvenience. A mistake. A burden. An embarrassment. As I grew older, I grew more aware of these opinions and carried their weight around in my heart. I was told that I should have been aborted. I was told that my life ruined the lives of others. I grew up bearing the weight of misplaced condemnation.
The definition of condemnation is “the expression of very strong disapproval” or “the action of condemning someone to punishment”. I understood this definition all too well as a child. That’s why Romans 8:1-4 is such a passage to me. Romans 8:1 begins, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” For a little girl who was raised in condemnation, this was such good news! Who I am in the world is nothing compared to who I am in Christ. I was not planned or wanted in this world, but the God who knew me since the beginning of time had a special plan for my life. Why? Verse 2 says, “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “That’s great for you, Heather. You were an innocent little girl. Your circumstances were not your fault. But you don’t know what I’ve done. I’ve messed up. People don’t like me because I’ve done some bad things.” There’s good news for you, too, dear sister. The rest of this passage reads, “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Did you catch that? God sent his Son, Jesus to the world to bear our punishment. That condemnation that you and I have both felt is not ours to bear any longer! It doesn’t matter if we deserve the guilt, shame, and punishment or not- Jesus took it! When we are daughters of the King, we are liberated to live a new life free of the things that used to weigh us down.
Maybe you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “I know I’m a child of God. I even teach Sunday School. But I’m still a sinner. I keep messing up. Why can’t I just let go of this sin in my life?” These verses have good news for you, too, sweet sister. God’s boundless, limitless, matchless love and mercy flow over us every morning. Each day that you wake up is a new day to live in the Father’s freedom. Were you a gossiper yesterday? His mercies are new every morning, so today you are free from that condemnation. Were you a crabby mom yesterday? His mercies are new every morning, so today you are free from that condemnation. Were you an adulterous wife yesterday? Whoa. Adultery? That’s serious stuff. Are you condemned for that? No. His mercies are new every morning, so today you are free from that condemnation. When you GIVE GOD your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you of your sins and cleanse you from ALL unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Not just the little stuff. Not just the stuff that isn’t really your fault. He forgives us from ALL of our unrighteousness.
Tomorrow is a new day, sister. Lay those sins at the foot of the cross tonight and wake up free tomorrow morning.
What sins do I need to lay at the foot of the cross?
Who do I need to forgive in my life?
Freedom from condemnation is not just a gift for me. Who do I know that needs to be set free?
Father God, You are mighty to save! You love the unlovable. You forgive the unforgivable. You bring new life to the dead. Bring new life in me today, Father. I lay my sin, my guilt, and my shame at the foot of Your cross. You bore my sins so that I would not have to carry the weight of condemnation any longer. Thank You for loving me, forgiving me, and creating new life within me. Amen.
A little over a year ago my husband left for two months of training. We’ve been together for years and living without him provided new challenges for me, like how to sleep in an empty bed, how to make meals for one, how to laugh and how to talk through my day. I felt an emptiness without his presence.
Within a week I was lonely. Although I was surrounded by friends and family, nothing could fill the void my husband left. I was desperate for comfort but was reminded of Psalm 139. My anxious heart found comfort as I prayed the words of the Psalm,
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (23-24).
This prayer is a constant reminder to stay grounded as I strive to please to God while facing the challenges of missing an absent husband. The loneliness I felt afforded me the opportunity to dig deeper into God’s word.
The Psalmist exudes love for God and praises His companionship in verses 4-6; “Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” As I missed my husband and the way we would finish each others' sentences, I learned to recognize that my Father God is always present and knows my sentences before I even think them! Although this was knowledge I already had, the Holy Spirit comforted me by bringing it to my remembrance when I needed it the most.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Mary Parker is an Air Force wife who works as a public relations writer. A South Carolina girl at heart, she and her husband have recently relocated to Fairbanks, Alaska. Mary spends her spare time honing exercise and cooking skills, and is a self-proclaimed DIY addict. You can read about how faith and hope shape military family life, and check out Mary's latest projects, at Mary's Mischief.
Verse 14 tells us to wait. Speciﬁcally, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.”
What does it mean to “wait on the Lord?” What should your attitude be while you wait?
How easy is it for you to remember God’s promises during times of heartache? Why?
What is your typical response when you don’t get the answer from God that you were hoping for? What does God want for you during those times?
Father, give me the strength to wait on You in my times of heartache and fear. Let Your Spirit remind me of Your promises. I believe that You are good, and that You love me. I trust You as my safe dwelling, my shelter, my Rock. Amen.
By Laura Moore
Where do you tend to fix your eyes? On yourself? On the approval of others? On some other desire?
What steps do you need to take to fix your eyes on Christ?
Lord, I am so thankful for Your great love for me, and that You are all-sufficient in every season of my life. I confess that I look to other things besides You- those things never bring true peace. Help me to turn my eyes on You in all situations, for all things. I trust that You are more than enough for me. Amen.
Laura is a Christ-follower, Navy wife, mother to one toddler, writer, and coffee drinker. She writes about Faith, Military Life, and Motherhood at Embracing This Life.
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” ~ Luke 1:45
“I have trust issues.” Have you ever heard anyone say that? Perhaps you have uttered those words yourself. Placing trust in someone can be very risky- there is great gain to be had if that person holds true to their word and great loss to be felt if they do not. Most likely we have all felt the crushing of our hearts when we trusted someone who proved to be untrustworthy, especially if the loss we suffered was great in doing so.
Mary was a young girl who found herself in a very difficult and embarrassing position. She was a virgin, engaged to be married and pregnant with a child that was not her fiancée’s (nor hers, really). She knew that she could be accused of adultery and stoned to death. Everything was at stake- her marriage, her reputation, her life. Yet, Mary chose to believe God. She believed the words of the angel and of her cousin Elizabeth. Most importantly, she trusted the heart of the God she loved and served.
Friend, you may find it hard to trust the people in your life. It is becoming increasingly difficult to trust our government. Sometimes it is hard to trust our husband, our family, or our friends, but the heart of our loving Father can always be trusted. This Christmas season I invite you to treasure the gift of Jesus in a fullness that you may have never known. Leave the doubts of your heart at the cross and seek the Baby in the manger with a completely open heart.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. ~Romans 15:13
Father God, we confess our seasons of unbelief and we lay them down before you. You know the wounds of our hearts and the reasons we doubt. Heal those areas in our lives, Lord. This Christmas season we want You to fill us completely and wholly with Your love. We believe, Lord. Amen.
1. Take a moment to reflect on how Mary and Joseph must have felt. Do you trust God that deeply?
2. Has there been a time in your life where you didn’t trust God, yet he proved Himself trustworthy?
3. Is there an area of your life that you need to let go and simply trust God?
Heather Tabers is the wife of a wounded warrior and the mother of five children. She is also currently a full time student, a specialty cake baker, and a volunteer with the VA Public Relations office. She writes about her life and her faith to encourage other women on her blog. Wives of War.
My family is blessed to be loved, nurtured, and taken under the wing of a wonderful woman of God named Sandy. She is the mother that my heart adopted. A few months ago she spent a week in our home, pouring out her heart, loving on us, and leaving a legacy of God’s love for my children. In all of the little things that we did as a family, God used Sandy to impart pearls of wisdom, to help us see Him more in our every day lives, to teach us life lessons, to show us His love.
One afternoon, Sandy saw my 9 year old son swatting frantically at a bee. He shared with her that he is very afraid of bees and the lesson she taught him was one I will never forget. Tenderly, she shared with him that she also had fear, but that she had learned how to be free from it- by giving it over to God. She told him that she made an exchange with God- He took her fears, and gave her His peace to fill the void.
This truth is for us, too. When we are fearful, we can exchange our fear for His peace. There is no fear too big or too small for us to bring to Him; He gives us peace from His Spirit freely.
As I reflect on those wise words from my friend, I cannot help but think of the many opportunities that exist in God’s “great exchange program”. We can exchange our sorrow, for His joy. We can trade in our pain or His healing. Psalm 30 reminds us of this promise, as the psalmist praises the Lord for a great exchange in his life:
What about you, sister? Do you have some old regret you want to get rid of? Just give it to Him and He’ll give you a new start in return. Are you buying into lies from the enemy about your value, your worth, your purpose? Trade those lies for God’s promises in scripture, and let His truth remind you of your magnificent worth to Him. Exchange your past for His future. God’s exchange program is BIG, and the possibilities are endless.
Am I living a life filled with the peace and joy of Christ?
What fears, lies, or regrets am I holding in my heart today?
How can I encourage a fellow sister in Christ to be a part of God’s great exchange program?
Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice. You gave your life for me on the cross, in order to pay for my sins. That is the greatest, most beautiful exchange in all of history. Don’t let me forget it, Lord. Bind my heart to Your gospel. Thank You for all the exchanges You provide in my life, God. Today, I choose to lay down my ________________ in exchange for Your ____________________. Do a great work in my heart, Lord, that I might know and glorify You more. Amen.
Heather Tabers is the wife of a wounded warrior and the mother of five children. She is also currently a full time student, a specialty cake baker, and a volunteer with the VA Public Relations office. She writes about her life and her faith to encourage other women on her blog, Wives of War.