What Name Are You Answering To?

Written by: Sarah Walker

When my son was in his first year, I was preparing for his next doctor’s check-up appointment by going through the checklist of milestones that he was supposed to be able to accomplish at his age (sit up by himself, roll over, make cooing noises, etc). I read through the list, checking off, “yes, yes, yes, yes,” but then I came to a stop at one of them: “Responds to his name.”

He was a few months older than the suggested time frame to which he should have been able to accomplish this task. As I thought about it, I actually couldn’t remember a time when he had in any way responded to the sound of his name.

I wasn’t overly worried, but it was time to experiment! I started to call his name. “Matthew?” No response. I went right up beside him and called his name. “MATTHEW!” No response. No matter how I said it, he just wouldn’t respond!

I spent the rest of the day a little worried. As I went about my day, I spent some time praying for him. As I did, I realized that, along with his given name, my family actually also called him by several different nicknames.

Mr. Man, Handsome, Buddy Boo, Matty-Matt, Big Man, (Silly) Goose, Baby Boy, Monster, and Monkey – just to name a few!

I figured out that he was being called by so many different names all the time that he wasn’t hearing his own name enough to actually know that it was his given name – the only name that truly matters!

Today he is almost three, and of course he still has a few pet names! But now, it’s not only the sound of his name that makes him turn towards me – he just knows my voice, whether I call him Matthew or Goose.

Sometimes I find this to be true of myself. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, helper, and blogger, among other things. I respond to many different names, but my most important name is Sarah, child of God (John 1:12).

There are many days where I might sense God calling to me, wanting me to connect with Him, but the cries of “mom,” “wife,” and “helper,” seem to be much louder, winning my attention. The more I put my other names first, the harder it is for me to hear when God calls after me.

In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success. (Proverbs 3:6)

When I am intentional to respond to God’s call first by setting aside time to pray, worship and invest in my relationship with Him, it becomes much easier to hear His voice and direction in all areas of my life.

I then feel Him with me when I hear the call of other names and it is easier to respond to those other names with respect, patience, love and wisdom.

Sometimes as I try to answer all the names that are calling for my attention, I start to feel overwhelmed. I can’t seem to find the time to respond to everyone and everything. I have found that by putting God first in my life, He helps me to make room for everything else that is of importance to me.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, an all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

I have learned that I can’t do it alone. I need to put God first. I need to answer to the name “Sarah, child of God” each and every day. When I lose sight of putting God first, I become less productive and often fail to respond in love and patience with those that I love. When I connect with God, His presence and guidance direct my steps in all that I do!

 

Asking for More

Written by: Sarah Walker

One evening, following a women’s ministry event at our church, we had finished up early with a challenge: leave the church right now, head out with a few others, and prayerfully find someone to bless with our time or finances.

A few ladies from the group went to the grocery store, bought a hundred dollar gift card, and walked up and down the aisles praying to find the right person to bless with the money that night.

After wandering for a while, they came across a mom with her two young children. As they approached her, they explained to her that they had just come from church and that they really felt like God wanted them to pay for her groceries.

This young mom was amazed; as it turns out, she had come to the grocery store that day worrying about not being able to afford her groceries. She was a single mom and was barely making ends meet. Amidst her very real worry, God was waiting to show her that He loved her and would take care of her in her struggles.

As I followed up with each of the ladies who had gone out on the mission to bless someone, they all had an incredible story to tell. Each one of them was filled with overflowing joy and amazement! As they stepped out in faith, wanting to be a blessing, God had used them to make a difference in someone’s life that night. While listening to their stories, it was like each woman had come to life with new energy, joy, love and a renewed sense of purpose!

“Even Jesus, when teaching us the Lord’s prayer, prayed for his portion: “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). If He had to pray for His portion, why would we think that we wouldn’t have to?” (Lysa Terkeust, What Happens, When Women Walk In Faith)

As I read this quote from Lysa Terkeust’s book I couldn’t help but wonder, “What would my life be like if I honestly asked God for my daily portion each day? What is my daily portion? What would it mean if I asked boldly, and then stepped out in faith, trusting that God will answer? ”
Jesus taught us to pray this way:

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:10-11)

I pray for a lot of different things each day. Amongst many things, I pray for my family, my friends and my church. I also pray a lot for myself. I pray to be the best wife, mother, and friend I can be. I want to bear the fruit of the Spirit within all my relationships. I pray to have wisdom throughout each day. I pray that God helps me with these things because without His help and guidance I know I will fall short. All of the things I pray for are good things, but I have never really asked God for my daily portion before.

You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:2

Every day I pray for what I think I need, but God knows exactly what I need each day!

As I began to pray for God’s will to be accomplished each day. I started to become more aware of ways to show love to others each day, even in small ways like sending an encouraging note, holding the door for someone, giving a smile or taking my elderly neighbour to the grocery store.

Although all of those things seem small in the moment, they can still be difficult to walk out. When I’m having a bad day, it’s not easy to think beyond myself and offer a warm smile or an encouraging word. When I’m running short on time, taking my neighbour to the store is a sacrifice. When I’m trying to wrangle my two little ones into a store by myself, even taking a minute to hold the door for someone is not an easy task.

But I have found that when I sacrifice what I want for the sake of others, then whatever I am struggling with quickly gets replaced by joy and a sense of God’s closeness.

I have begun to see that God’ s daily bread is not just about my physical basic needs. For that young mom in the grocery store, her daily bread literally was bread! But God’s “daily bread” can also be the tools needed to carry out his will, tools like having strength, peace, wisdom, love, patience and discernment.

I believe that as I spend each day trying to walk out what God has called me to do, God will continually give me the courage and endurance to carry out his will, and I know that as I am faithful to step out in faith, God will continually fill me with his joy.

Facebook Friends

Written By: Sarah Walker

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
(Deuteronomy 4:29)

Isn’t it amazing that the God of the universe asks us to seek him! Not only does he want us to believe in Him and follow His ways, but He also desires a relationship with us!

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)

It’s like Jesus has sent a friend request, and patiently waits for us to respond!

I first met my husband in passing at his church’s Christmas banquet. He was the Lead Pastor of the church, and some friends and I had come to visit the church that day. That evening, I found him on Facebook and sent him a message thanking him for allowing us to “crash” the church’s family dinner. (Yes…I did make the first move!)

He responded to my message and sent me a friend request. From there, dozens of messages were sent back and forth, which ultimately lead to our first date, our brief courtship, our engagement, and eight months later, our wedding day!

Our relationship started with a single message sent, as I nervously hoped for a response. As we got to know each other beyond just messages on a screen, love started to bloom.

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40)

Recently, I went through a devotional by Mardi Collier called “What Do I Know About My God?” She says that, “Because God wants us to love him, and we can’t love someone we don’t know,” we must therefore turn to the Word in search of the qualities and characteristics of God, and when we start to know and understand who God is, our love for Him will blossom and flourish.”

My husband and I spend lots of time talking with each other and spending time together. We intentionally set aside time to pursue our relationship in order to keep our connection close and healthy.

It can be so easy to let the busyness of life, with jobs, kids, sports and hobbies, keep us from spending that necessary time together. We could remain married but our relationship could grow cold if we are not careful.

That same concept is true with God. God wants to be in relationship with us, but it can be easy to say “Yes” to Jesus and start working really hard to follow his ways – but forget that He desires a relationship with us the most!

On Facebook I have many friends. Some of them are just that- “Facebook friends”; my account says that we are friends, but we have no “real” relationship. I might like their status updates or pictures from time to time, but there is no real and sincere connection.

There are times when I receive a friend request and I will decline or ignore the request. This usually only happens when I don’t know that person at all, and I don’t want to let them share in the details of my personal life.

Then there are friends and family whom I “follow” – I continually connect with them not only through message or text but also through real life connections.

Have we accepted Jesus’ friend request?

Is He like a “Facebook friend” to us? Do we stay loosely connected, maybe like what He has to say, but keep a casual distance from Him at the same time?

Or do we “follow” Him? Do we take time to read everything He has to say, replying to every message with the excitement of a budding relationship, and anxiously awaiting the times we get to spend together in His presence?

Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:8)

God promises that as we look for Him we will find Him, because He is eagerly waiting for us to respond to His invitation. He is hoping that we will come to Him, and when we do, He will respond and come near to us! What an amazing promise, and what an amazing God!

Having Faith in School

Written by: Sarah Walker

Just two short years ago, my daughter (our firstborn) started Junior Kindergarten! Of course I had mixed emotions, but I was mostly thrilled! She had been asking to go to school since she was two; she loves independence, making new friends and learning. I had no doubt she would thrive and flourish in her new environment, and I couldn’t wait to watch her grow!

However, her going to school brought new concerns: Who is she making friends with? What she is learning? What she is observing? For the first four years of her life, my husband and I had been her main teachers and influencers, and she had been shielded from things that we wanted to her protect her from.

For the Spirit that God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

It could be easy to fear for her while she is out on her own, but Scripture says that God’s Spirit within us doesn’t make us fearful. Just the opposite – the Holy Spirit gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Instead of worrying about her each day, I am brought to my knees in prayer with new passion and purpose.

“Prayer projects faith on God, and God on the world. Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God.” (E.M. Bounds)

At the Last Supper, Jesus knows that Peter is about to deny Him three times. But instead of condemning him or judging him, Jesus says to him, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

I like that Jesus prayed for Peter’s faith. He knew Peter would stumble, but He wanted Peter’s faith to remain secure even in the midst of failure, and that when he “turned back” from his failure, that he would be a source of strength to others. In Luke 18:8, Jesus asks, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” He doesn’t ask if He will find perfection; He is looking for faith.

Faith is what I need as my daughter heads off to school again for another year: faith that God will be with her, will protect her, and that He will use school to teach her and form her into who He wants her to be! Fear tries to creep in for what might happen, but faith is there to push fear back and say, “God is bigger!”

I will boldly be praying for my daughter, and praying for her faith – that her faith would remain secure, and when she falls she rises up stronger than before. I pray that she stays safe from the evil one, that she develops an understanding of how important her light is, and that she will remain a godly influence wherever she goes in this world!

And in all of it, I will trust that God will be faithful to hear the prayers of a praying mom, and that the God who moves mountains is more than able to take care of her each and every day!

Getting Comfortable in my Weaknesses

Written by: Sarah Walker

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day who was hesitant to step out into a new opportunity. I can see enormous potential in her to do an amazing job, but currently this new opportunity isn’t quite in her wheelhouse. She was feeling insecure and afraid of the task at hand.

It made me think about how often I also shy away from new prospects, mostly because I see myself weak in a particular area. I really don’t like to fail! I prefer to take on opportunities where I am confidant that I will succeed.

Because of this, I find it so easy for me to relate to Gideon (Judges 6-7). Gideon was an Israelite, living in a time when God’s people were being violently oppressed by the Midianites. In an amazing divine encounter, the angel of the Lord came to Gideon personally, greeting him with, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” He lays out a plan where Gideon will be the chosen one that God would use to deliver His people from their enemies.

Gideon replies, “Pardon me, my lord…..My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

Gideon worried that he didn’t have what it took. Even a face-to-face encounter with the angel of the Lord was not enough to convince him! He was so doubtful that he asked God to give him two signs which would “prove” that this divine calling was real (v. 36-40). God graciously answered his request.

Gideon was known for being the weakest of the weak. Even when he had a real life encounter with God, where God gave him an amazing opportunity, Gideon still doubted, and still asked God to “prove” to him that he really was chosen for this incredible mission!

That is so often how I see myself, as weak, and just like Gideon I often long for an amazing “sign” to prove that I really am supposed to do something. Sure, once in a while I might receive confirmation from the Lord, but most times it seems like God is looking for me to step out in faith and trust Him – without a sign.

As the story of Gideon continues, Scripture says that as he stepped out in faith, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet that called the men of Israel together to come and fight for their freedom. You can read the rest of the story of how God miraculously delivered His people! As fearful as he was at first, when the Holy Spirit came upon him, Gideon had the strength and the ability to take on and succeed at the task at hand.

With God all things are possible! And isn’t it amazing that, on this side of the cross, we have the Holy Spirit with us always – the same Spirit that led and empowered Gideon to succeed!

Even after Gideon had his army of men gathered together, God thought the army was too big – Israel might feel like their own strength and expertise was what delivered them (Jg 7:1-8). We know from the story most of the men were sent home, leaving only 300 men behind to fight an army of thousands upon thousands. God was setting the stage in such a way that only He and only He would receive the glory!

The LORD chose the weakest man from the weakest clan in the weakest tribe in Israel, and made sure that he had the weakest army – one that could not possible overcome the enemy. God wanted to show His strength and power – He wanted all the praise!

It’s unfortunate that our world (even our church world) loves strength and gifting so much. Because of that, we feel like people can only do things who are gifted, and we miss out on so much! We seem to have lost a love for weakness, which in Scripture is something that God uses over and over and over again to do amazing things! Within my life I have found that the areas where I am most successful are often the areas where I have the most insecurities!

Jesus said to the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor 12:9). When He said that, Paul’s response was, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me!”

Gideon knew this too, and eventually trusted that his own weakness and his insecurity didn’t matter at all when God was with him!

Within The Funhouse

Written by: Sarah Walker

There are often times that I see myself through distorted eyes. It is like I am looking at myself through the lens of a funhouse mirror, which twists my reflection in crazy ways. What I see in my altered reflection is the not the same as reality, but that is not always easy to see.

I am reminded of a Dove commercial with the slogan, “You’re more beautiful than you think.” Within the video, several women were asked to describe their physical appearance to a forensic sketch artist, who had never met them, and who was sitting facing away from them and could not see them. He would then draw a picture of them based on their self-description. In the same experiment, the women were also asked to meet with another person, a total stranger. After the woman left the room, the stranger would then also describe the woman’s appearance to the sketch artist.

In the end, there were two pictures drawn of each woman by the artist. One picture was drawn from each woman’s own self-description, and the other came from a description from the stranger she had just met. Side by side, the two pictures were vastly different from each other. The women typically emphasized the things they disliked about themselves, while the strangers tended to notice their best features, and described qualities like, “She had nice eyes that lit up when she spoke.” In every case, the women’s self-description picture was noticeably more negative and exaggerated than the gentler (and more accurate!) picture that came from the stranger’s description.

(For full impact, check out the commercial here!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk )

So we maybe don’t see ourselves as accurately as others do. I wonder how God would describe me, compared to how I would describe myself?

For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we are all the work of Your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. (Psalm 100:3)

When I read these verses, which say that God has formed every part of me, and that He has plans for me, and that I am His work of art, and am precious to Him – I know within my soul that every part of me has been wonderfully made.

But, in times when my judgment has been clouded, I have had no problem justifying that I shouldn’t feel good about who I am.

My four-year-old daughter came up to me this week and made a negative comment about her appearance. Yikes! As her mom, I know she is beautiful and perfect in every way! As a parent, to hear my young daughter form a negative opinion about herself was absolutely heartbreaking.

Until I had this experience as a parent, I had never considered how my self-critical attitude might affect my own heavenly Parent. I can only imagine how God our Father in Heaven must feel when I look down on myself. He literally knitted me together in my mother’s womb, breathed life into me and predestined assignments just for me to accomplish!

My love and devotion for my daughter is beyond measure, and yet it cannot compare to the love God has for my daughter, or for me. She is His masterpiece! And so am I.

We are children of God, formed in HIS image, dearly loved by Him! How have I thought it is ok for me to carry negative attitudes about myself, when God has put so much love and detail into every part of my life?

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; make and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)

Watching my kids grow and discover life is an incredible experience. It also has brought me new insight into how God sees me and loves me. The way I feel towards my own children gives me a glimpse of how God sees and loves His. And what He sees is so much better than I how I might see myself!

Under the Microscope

Written By: Sarah Walker

Recently I have been studying various scriptures about how God “sees” us.

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth.” (Psalm 33:13-14)

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry.” (Psalm 34:5).

These verses fill me with a sense of awe and wonderment! When I think of how God is watching over me and is attentive to the sound of my voice, I am filled with a deep sense of peace and love from my Saviour!

But then I came across this verse:

“The Lord is in His heavenly temple, the Lord is on His heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; His eyes examine them. The Lord examines the righteous.” (Psalm 11:4-5).

I was still in awe that the God of the universe watches over me, but to hear that He is also examining me made me feel a bit anxious at what He might be finding!

It made me question: how many times do I choose to act or respond in the wrong way, or how often are my inner thoughts and attitudes not what they should be? It is hard to think about God examining me, because when I examine myself, I don’t always like what I see.

I love that John 13:1 says that Jesus was coming to the end of His time on earth, and “Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.” Even though Jesus, the “examiner,” knew His disciple’s everyday sinfulness, and even more, knew those who would eventually deny and betray and abandon Him, He still got on His hands and knees and washed their feet.

Not only did He become like a lowly servant to show His love and care for them, He also laid down His life for them despite all of their present and future failures.

And He laid down his life for you and me, despite all of our present and future failures!

“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4)

The verse above says that even though I still struggle with sin, even so when the perfect, holy, and righteous God looks at me, no longer does He see my sin and shame, because I am tucked in safe with Jesus and His perfect righteousness! When He looks at me, He still sees me – but now He sees me joined with Jesus’ perfection. Because of this, the Lord’s eyes on me are a lot less scary, and a lot more hopeful, and gives me a lot of reasons to praise Him!

My First Ticket

Written by: Sarah Walker

After sixteen years of driving, I received my first traffic ticket ever that day. It was not a great day, to say the least! My daughter, who was home sick from school and was in the car with me, thought it was great! She loved telling everybody, “Mommy got her first ticket ever today!”

The worst part is that I was two minutes from my house; I was in my own neighborhood!

Now for those of you who know me well, you may find this funny. I am constantly complaining about the drivers in my neighborhood. Everyone drives incredibly fast. People are always talking on their phones or texting. We have no sidewalks in our area, and I am often infuriated when people whip past us when we have our young kids out for a wagon ride or when they are riding their bikes in the driveway.

There have even been a handful of times where I have been jogging in my neighborhood and have had someone speeding right towards me, only to swerve away from me at the last minute because they had been texting and not paying attention to the road.

I, on the other hand, would never be so reckless. Especially when my kids are the in car with me, I always drive the speed limit, taking my time with everything.

That day, I drove up to an intersection with stop signs, where the posted speed limit is 10km/h, so you know I was already going incredibly slow. The corner was completely empty with no signs of life. I slowed right down to an almost stop and turned the corner, only to find a policeman on the next street, just waiting for people like me, with his lights already flashing, standing in the middle of the street and waving me over to the side of the road to receive my punishment.

My ticket says, “Disobey stop sign- failure to stop.” Had I slowed down a little bit more, I could have saved myself $110.

To be honest, at the time I thought it was a bit harsh. I was not happy. There are way more unsafe people out there than me! But, as I thought about my “rolling stop” throughout the day, I had to admit that I had indeed broken the law, even if it was a smaller offence. I did it! In my grumbling, it was really easy to justify why there are so many other drivers out there that day that deserved a ticket WAY more than I did!

I can so easily do this with my sin. I can think that my sin doesn’t really count compared to someone else’s. “I would never do that!” I think to myself. Sometimes when looking at another’s sin, my secret struggles seem like nothing by my comparison!

Even though my ticket seemed silly compared to other “more serious” traffic offensives, I still broke the law. Like it or not, I deserved my ticket.

Even though I considered my traffic offence minor, it didn’t count as any less of an offence, and even though I may count many of my sins minor, it still doesn’t make them any less sin.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

My sin, whether small or great, gives me grounds to be separated from God forever, but because of Jesus’ glorious sacrifice of dying on the cross for me, I no longer receive that ticket I deserve, but instead I receive a wonderful pass to everlasting life.

What I thought was a trivial ticket, the police officer saw as a very real offense. He was just as concerned with a minor driving error as he was concerned with the big ones. All of it is unsafe for myself and others on the road. God is the same, He sees my sin the same as he does everyone else’s. All sin is unsafe, and is dangerous for me and others – which is why a loving God tells me to avoid it!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

The good news is that, even in my sins and offences, God has wiped my sins and offences out! My ticket has been ripped up, and everything I’ve done, big and small, has been forgiven. My experience this week brought me new understanding into how I look at myself, and how I look at sin, and has made me even more grateful for what Jesus has done for me!

Words Written Within My Heart

Written by: Sarah Walker

Bind these words on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. (Proverbs 6:21-22)

Each month my children learn a new Bible verse at church. The verse will stay the same for the entire month, and will be repeated often whenever their class gets together on Sunday mornings. The verses are recited with lots of inflection and are accompanied with fun and funny actions, which help the kids to remember each one. Repetition is a great way for kids to learn (and adults too!).

Each night in our house, we say the month’s Bible verse as a part of our bedtime prayers, but once we are finished saying this month’s verse, my daughter insists on saying all of the verses that she has learned so far.

Joined with actions and lots of energy, our nightly routine sounds like this:

The plans of the Lord stand firm forever!

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid; for the Lord your God goes with you!

My God will meet all your needs!

I have loved you with a love that lasts forever!

God’s way is perfect!

Nothing can separate us from the love of God!

As a mom, my heart is full hearing their little voices speak out God’s word with so much excitement! Going over these verses has become a big part of our bedtime routine. Not only that, I have memorized them too! I have found that not only am I helping to write God’s truth on their hearts and minds, I have been writing it on my own as well!

I was unsure of my ability to take on something new this week, and in my moment of doubt, all of a sudden a common phrase entered my mind: “Be strong and Courageous, do not be afraid; for the Lord your God goes with you.” The words that we repeat as a family every night sprung into my thoughts, reminding me of God’s promise, and immediately changing my attitude toward the project at hand.

There was another time recently when my inner attitude towards someone was less than loving. I was beating myself up about my bad attitude. Suddenly, the words came to mind, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God,” and “I have loved you with a love that last forever,” two more verses from our bedtime repetition. Remembering those verses stopped me from traveling down the road where I would question how God could love me and my sinfulness.

To be honest, I have not put so much time and energy into memorizing Scripture since I was a child in Sunday school, when I would memorize Bible verses for a candy prize. Now I realize what a valuable exercise that was, and how I wish I had done more of this in my life! God’s Word encourages us, convicts us, protects us, and leads us, and we never do wrong by reading it, speaking it and committing it to memory.

Christmas Is A Time Of Joy

advent

Written by: Sarah Walker

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing.

As that special time of year rolls around and the classic Christmas songs begin to play on the radio, twinkling lights start to line the streets of my neighbourhood, and decorations and sweets fill the shelves of every store. My heart can’t help but swell with what many might call “Christmas spirit”. It’s that wonderful time of year when nostalgia, traditions and anticipation fill my heart with great joy and wonderment for the season ahead!

Inevitably, as we ring in the New Year and put the decorations away, it becomes a lot harder to find that sense of “Christmas joy” in the busyness of our day-to-day routine. Something about the season makes it a bit easier to find that joy, but of course, we don’t live in December all year long!

There are definitely times in my life when experiencing and finding joy is easy, but of course there are times when trials have come along that make it seem impossible to find any joy. In those times, I know I have to make a choice: will I choose to wallow and stress or will I choose to be joyful regardless my circumstance?

But, as true as that is, I have also found that when “I” have tried to be joyful on my own, it is not always enough. It doesn’t always work. I can’t always do it on my own.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

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)

When I consistently set aside time to spend with Jesus through things like prayer, worship and reading His word, I find that HE fills my heart with joy through the Holy Spirit!

It’s not always as simple as just “choosing” to be more joyful. Some days, that’s just impossible. But I have learned that when life is hard and difficult, I need to choose Jesus.

When I’m sad, I need to choose Jesus.

When life is busy and filled with endless routine, I need to choose Jesus.

And when life is wonderful and fun, I need to choose Jesus.

It’s like that amazing Christmas anthem says, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” Regardless of the season, my mood, or any situation, I must always make room for Jesus. The more time I spend in God’s presence, the more true joy finds a way in, no matter what time of year it is. I become more joyful, gentle, patient, loving, and kind. Put simply, spending time with Jesus makes life easier!

Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory! (1 Peter 1:8)

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Sarah is married to her best friend Chris and together they have two energetic and sweet kids! She currently lives in Southern Ontario where she is the children’s director at her church.

 

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