Category Archives: Devotionals

Lessons From This Summer (Final Part) — Do Not Fear

Standard

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

The school year is getting closer.  I feel like that is the ever-present thought on my mind.  It brings with it joy and excitement at the thought of seeing friends, having new classes, activities, and new memories to be made.  At the same time, it often also inspires feelings of panic as I consider the amount of responsibilities that are different and far greater than those that I have during the summer months.

When I focus on those responsibilities, I just want to curl up in my bed, lock the door, and hide in my room.  (Like that ever really solved anything for anybody).  But when I am afraid and overwhelmed, that is usually my first response.  Where can I hide?  How can I keep this from happening? Other times, I think to myself, “I know I am supposed to do this, but if there were any way to make it easier, less stressful, less expensive (fill in the blank with whatever usually applies to you)…”

I have mentioned in my previous two posts that this summer has been one of immense personal growth and learning.  I am not going to write a post about each of the lessons that I have learned this summer, but the lessons have been many.  I have learned about my relationships with other people, my view of God, many of my faults, how I spend my time, money, God’s provision and timing, as well as many others.

This past Sunday in church, one of the points of the sermon was, “When we stand for Christ we draw a line in the sand that is daring Satan to cross it.” It discussed how our enemy uses his tools against us to find what will eventually pull us away from putting our trust in God. One of the easiest ways for me to stop trusting God is to give way to fear.

This summer has been a time of me more firmly drawing my line in the sand.  As I learn these lessons and put them into practice I am choosing to stand for Christ.  Heading back to college and starting a new school year will be a time to really live out what I have been learning in a different environment than my home. When I fear everything that could go wrong before I even get there, it is so easy for me to take my eyes off of Christ and lose my firm footing.

This Sunday, the Lord gave me a special blessing which encouraged me to not fear and continue to stand for Him and live out what I have learned this summer.  After the sermon, we had a baptism at a lake and were blessed by the testimonies of people sharing what God has done in their lives. Walking back from the lake, I had a conversation with an older, wise sister in the faith whom I had never met.

She talked to me about her own life, issues the world and church were facing, and other topics.  Then she looked me in the eye and said,

“God will never leave you or forsake you. You are the apple of His eye. You do not need to be afraid. You are so blessed. You have everything that you need.”

My eyes welled up with tears and I thanked her for her words as we got in line for the church potluck following the service. I got my plate of food and sat down at another table with my parents and some other friends from church.

An older brother in the faith sat down who was my Bible study leader a few years ago.  He asked me about my life, and I talked with him about the many lessons I had been learning this summer as well as struggles and fears.  He reminded me,

“Isn’t it amazing how many times we are told not to fear. God has great plans for your life, Breanna.”

I got in the car after the service had ended and broke down crying in the car from the encouragement that I had received from the Lord through these dear people, one of whom  I had never even met.  It was so incredibly freeing to realize that the only thing that was holding me back from really living out what I have been learning was my own fear.

God reminded me in a very personal and incredibly loving way that He is with me always on this journey.  That He is standing beside me, helping me to fight the lies of the enemy with His truth. That He is all sufficient for me, and that He is taking care of me. That I have absolutely no need to be afraid.

I will honestly admit to you that all of my little worries have not disappeared, but they have subsided. I admit that there are still moments where the easier thing to do seems to hide from, rather than walk boldly towards whatever I am afraid of.

But in spite of my fears, I am drawing my line in the sand.  I will serve Christ.  I will live for Him daily.  I serve a God who is bigger than my fears and whose truth is more powerful than the lies that the enemy wants me to believe.

So to any of you who might be afraid today of whatever today, this week, this month, this year holds for you, I echo the words of my sister in the faith…

“God will never leave you or forsake you. You are the apple of His eye. You do not need to be afraid.”

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Lessons from this Summer (Part 2) — Be Present

Standard

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

~

Sometimes it is through the honest words of a friend that I am the most challenged and convicted. While talking with a friend from Cedarville about my life at school, they remarked that I often seem like I am just about to explode.  Not from anger, but from daily life.

Don’t you just love it when a friend speaks truthfully? If you’re like me, probably not at first. It takes a while for the words to digest and to process them clearly. I came home that day and mentioned the comment to my mom.

“What a great insight,” she remarked. And she was right, pointing out several instances where that was true. Too often, I am so consumed with worries about what I am about to do next that I am unable to be in the here and now. Rather than relaxing and being present, I am thinking about the many tasks and responsibilities that fill the rest of my day. No wonder I always seem like I am going to explode! It’s true.

Focusing on my problems and responsibilities takes my eyes directly off of Christ. I become completely focused on myself and what I am going to do to fix everything. But here’s the problem…I can’t fix it by myself. In fact, many of the problems that I have spent hours pondering were never solved by any of my 100 possible solutions.

When I trust that God is in control and I believe that the promises in His word are true, there is no reason for me to not be fully present in whatever situation I am currently involved in. Worrying about the next situation robs me of the joy of whatever is happening right now, and cannot change whatever task awaits me next.

I am so thankful for those honest words spoken by my friend. They probably have no idea how truly convicting they were to me. This year, I have decided to start being fully present in every moment and trusting all of my fears, doubts, worries, stresses, problems over to the only One who can truly carry and solve them.

So why did I share this with you tonight? A few reasons…

Honestly, I did not want to share with all of you that someone told me I always seemed like I was about to explode. Who wants to be known for that? But just in case any of the rest of you are ticking time bombs like me–here’s a little wake up call before the same words that were spoken to me are spoken to you. What is stopping you from being present wherever you are right now? Why? How can you take steps to give all of your concerns to the Lord and enjoy what you are doing in each moment?

Secondly, I shared this because we all need friends who are honest with us. I am so grateful for those people in my life. The person who shared this with me is not a best friend of mine, but they still spoke the truth. Sometimes we get frustrated or uncomfortable when friends say something that we perceive as negative about ourselves. Many times we are uncomfortable because it is true. Don’t be upset with your friend. Don’t take it as an insult against you. Rather, bring it before the Lord and ask Him to help you become better in this area.

Have a wonderful day today savoring every moment.

Lessons from this Summer (Part 1) — Lord, Grow My Faith

Standard

It has been quite some time since I have last posted anything on this blog. Long times of silence for me, usually mean that God is teaching me a lot and I am processing it. This blog was created as a place for me to record what I am learning in my walk with God. It is called Trust Falls because trusting God completely has always been a struggle for me. I think it is for everyone at some point or another if we are honest.

The next several posts over the next few days are my reflections on what God has been teaching me this summer. I write these posts to share what I am learning in hopes that it may also encourage you. I also write them because it helps me remember what I am learning and also be held accountable by those of you who read this blog and go throughout daily life with me.

The first lesson I have been learning this summer lays the foundation for all of the other posts to follow.

This past year, I often prayed that God would grow my faith. I had no idea when I prayed that prayer what that would exactly imply. I don’t even think I fully considered what that would mean as I prayed it. The prayer fit with the theme of chapel or a song I was listening to.

But God often answers our prayers.

This summer I have been participating in a Bible study called, The Gospel-Centered Life. (I highly recommend it). One night my Bible study leader told us…

“Opportunities to trust God are opportunities to grow our faith.”

And the lightbulb went off…

I had flashbacks to all the times I have prayed that prayer, sometimes praying it by rote rather than meaning it with my whole heart.

I remembered the mornings my car wouldn’t start, my day had too many tiring obstacles, and I worried about the future. I thought of times that I was frustrated with other people, strategizing how I would provide for myself, and trying to save the world without looking to the true Savior of the world for help.

And it has struck me so often in the days since then just how many opportunities that God was giving me every day to build my faith by trusting Him.

Slowly my attitude has been changing. Rather than feeling frustrated by challenges in my day, I am learning to entrust them to God which is growing my faith in Him. Rather than racking my brain for a million of my own solutions, I am praying and asking God to show me the direction He would like me to take. Rather than worrying about the future, I am remembering that there has not been one day in my life that God has not provided my basic needs and blessed me in abundance with more.

There are many moments throughout the day when I succeed, and many more when I fail. But slowly and surely, I am learning to put my trust in God–not me, not other people, not things, not finances, not my jobs–and my faith in Him is growing steadily every day.

I don’t know where you are at tonight when it comes to trusting God. Maybe you gave Him your life a long time ago. Maybe you never have. Regardless of where you are today, remember that there is a very real God who made you and loves you. He has great plans for you. He knows you by name and thinks about you constantly. He loves you with an everlasting love.

If you have never trusted God with your life, why not trust Him today? Stop running from Him and give Him control. Ask Him for forgiveness from your sins and trust Him with the rest of your life.

Lord, I know that I have sinned. I know that my sin separates me from you. Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross to save me from my sins. I ask for your forgiveness from my sins today. I believe that you sent your son Jesus to die on the cross and that He was raised from the dead. I ask that you will come into my heart and make me a new creation. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

My Times Are in Your Hands

Standard

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands…

Psalm 34:14-15a

I get excited easily.  This is not at all surprising to those of you who know me well.  Probably the thing that gets me the most excited is the joy I receive from relationships with God, family, and friends.

I absolutely LOVE being involved in the lives of people around me.  I desire to hear about and share in trials, triumphs, joys, dreams, successes, and every little bump in the road in between.  Sometimes, in spite of all this excitement, I catch myself thinking about changes which will inevitably effect these relationships in the future.

Because it is a well-known fact that those exciting, beautiful dreams and the mundane, every-day routines of life, will take us all over the country and the world.

It is nights like tonight, after spending a weekend on campus with old friends and new that I am reminded of how very short this precious time is.

And it is nights like tonight where I am also reminded how very thankful I am that my times are not my own.

If there is one lesson I have been learning my whole life, it has been to trust that the Lord has my times in His hands.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of change, especially when a change seemed to signify to me that an important relationship was going to change. Let me give you a few examples.

  • The summer after second grade we moved from Illinois to Minnesota.  I was so distraught about leaving friends and familiar surroundings that I told my parents I was going to super-glue myself to the wall and that they could not make me go. (My nine year old self must have realized this was a bad idea once I thought it through, because I got in the car and went and it became my favorite state and home).
  • Eighth grade graduation seemed like torture to me. I was convinced, and I mean absolutely convinced I was going to lose dear friends and that a new, scary, big high school was going to be the worst experience ever.  (I’ve still keep in contact with some of these people, and one remains one of my best friends to this day. Love you Em)
  • High School was not the worst experience ever. I loved it.  I dreaded leaving my entire senior year.  There were farewells to band and speech and teachers and friends.  And I cried my eyes out.  (I can still play my instrument, compete in speech, and stay in contact with teachers and friends).
  • College. Oh dear. I was a mess the night before starting school.  Saying goodbye to my family set off a full-out panic attack. (I cannot imagine my life without the people and experiences I have had here).

You get the point.  No change and potential shift in relationships has ever seemed pleasant to me.  But through each and every change, God brought new friends and gave me the ability to continue relationships with the old.

And through each of those new relationships and experiences, I learned valuable lessons that have helped to form me into the person I am today.

So maybe you’re like me.  Maybe nights of sharing life with friends gets you all worked up when you think about how very short your time with them is.

But I want to challenge you today to stop that thought, and just enjoy the time you have with them today.  Trust that the Lord knows what is best for you.  That your time is in His hands.

It will make life so much more full and memorable.

The Influence of a Godly Mom

Standard

Listen my son to your father’s instruction, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

Proverbs 1:8

Tomorrow marks a very special day in my life, the birthday of my mom.  If you asked me who the most godly woman I have ever met is, without hesitation I would tell you my mom.

And in honor of her birthday, I would like to tell you the reasons why.  These are some of the lessons I have learned from my mom.

She taught me that character matters.  And that nothing and no one should ever make you compromise it.

She taught me that wisdom first and foremost comes from the Lord.  Whenever I had any sort of problem, her first question would be if I had prayed about it.  If my answer was no, she would send me to my room to pray and ask the Lord for guidance before I sought hers.

She taught me to pray for wisdom, knowledge, understanding and discernment.

She taught me the value of time spent in the word.  Many mornings I would find her in bed doing her devotions.  The book was worn and torn from years of use.  When I went to college, she gave me her devotional book.   It is one of the most precious gifts I have ever been given.

She taught me to pick and chose friendships wisely, to look for friends that would push me towards the Lord.

She taught me that only one opinion of me really mattered, God’s.

She taught me that exterior beauty will fade, but inner beauty can only grow and mature.

She taught me that my family should be my best friends.

She taught me about sacrifice.  She would never put herself first.

She taught me that good relationships are worth waiting for and to never settle.

She taught me what a wife should look like.

She taught me how to manage my time, work hard throughout the day, and relax at the end.

She taught me to manage my anger, and to never let the sun go down without resolving it.

She taught me that sometimes I was wrong and needed to see a situation from another’s point of view.

She taught me to take healthy risks and try new things.

She taught me how to distinguish between Satan’s lies and God’s truth.

She taught me to pick my battles wisely.

She taught me to tithe.

She taught me to put others before myself.

She taught me to do the hard right thing over the easy wrong.

She taught me to go for my dreams and believe that if God was in it, it would eventually come to be.

She taught me to trust in the Lord as provider.

She taught me to be patient.

She taught me to listen.

She taught me gentleness, compassion, and kindness.

She taught me what it means to be faithful and loyal.

She taught me about my Creator.

And so much more…

So for those of you who are parents, setting a godly example for us, your children, is so very important.  It is the greatest gift that my parents gave to me.

And for those of you who are not, you still have a vital role to future generations.  What kind of legacy are you leaving?

Thank you, Mom for all you have given to your four kiddos.  We love you!  I wish I could be there with you today to celebrate!

 

 

 

 

Seeing God In Every Day

Standard

Today I saw God at work in these ways…

  • An incredible  sermon which challenged me to let go of anything that is not of or from Him.
  • Amazing professors dedicated to Christ-centered learning.
  • The beauty of true friendships among the body of Christ.  How amazing it is that the Lord has provided people to walk alongside and lift us up when we cannot ourselves.
  • My daily food and water provided.
  • Clothing and shelter.
  • Watching junior highers write notes to encourage a friend having surgery.  20 personal notes were written to one girl going into a difficult surgery tomorrow.

Do you see God at work around you? What is He doing in your life? How has He blessed you?

A sermon I heard recently discussed how God has given us what we need for each day, food, water and Himself.  Everything else is a blessing.

So what are your blessings?

Leave a comment and tell me about them.

Friends

Standard

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ Jesus, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:3-9

What an opening to a letter! Can you imagine receiving that in the mail?  Some of my favorite passages to read in scripture are the letters of Paul to the early church.  I love reading how he encourages them in their faith, challenges them to grow and to pursue God, and rebukes them when they have fallen astray. I can hear the passion and emotion that he writes with, urging his brothers and sisters in the faith to pursue Christ above all earthly things.

Paul often mentions specific friends by name in his letters and includes a special message for or about them.  He writes to each church with urgency and a knowledge of their struggles.  He continually encourages his brothers and sisters in the faith, in spite of what they are going through, to press on.

We need friends like Paul.  Friends who challenge us in our faith and hold us accountable for our actions.  Friends who can encourage us in every day life.  Friends who will walk with us through suffering.  Friends who can rejoice with us in our successes.  Friends who are not afraid to speak Biblical truth in a world that is often preaching the opposite.

Who are those people in your life?  Have you taken some time to encourage them lately?  Have you told them how much you appreciate them?  Are you aware of what is going on in their life?  Take some time to catch up or write them a little note to say how much you appreciate them.