Jesus Conquered Death!

Resurrection Sunday!

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words.” Luke 24:7

“He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:38-39

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

He’s Alive! Thank You, Jesus! Because You live, I will live also.

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A Time of Waiting, A Time of Silence

Silent Saturday

Waking up the day after experiencing great sorrow is excruciating. As you open your eyes, for one moment you forget, then the memory comes and grief kicks you in the stomach.

Is that how it was for those who loved Jesus? When they woke up the next day, did the memory cause them to cry out in sorrow or were they even able to sleep at all?

We have no information about what they did the day after, but I know that grief gripped their souls. Did they remember what Jesus had promised? He would rise in three days. The Pharisees remembered:

“The next day, the one after Preparation Day, chat chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has risen from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.’ ‘Take a guard,’ Pilate answered. ‘God, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting a guard.” Matthew 27:62-66

They unknowingly added to the proof of Jesus’s resurrection! When the time came, no one could say someone had stolen the body.

In the meantime, did any of His followers have a hint of hope? This was a day of waiting for them. A day filled with sorrow. A day of not knowing. A day of silence from God. Jesus was gone. They had witnessed unimaginable horrors in His death. All the joy they knew before was crushed.

Sometimes we are in a time of waiting. A time when it seems like God is silent and we wonder how we can bear the pain. A time when our mind is trying to grasp the reality of what has happened. This is when we cling to the remembered promise. Resurrection Day is coming!

“Weeping may stay for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

Jesus, thank You that You are always with us. Even in the times we wait in silence.

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All for Love





Good Friday

A day our Savior died to save us from death.
A day Mary’s heart was shattered into pieces.
As Simeon predicted to Mary when Jesus was a baby:
“And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:35

jesus-on-cross-web

Now she understood.
As she watched her beloved son slowly die
with blood flowing down.
Pain etched on His face.

She knew better than anyone how perfect He was.
Never a wrong word.
Never a moment of hatred or evil intent.
He’d always been loving and kind.
Powerful and true.

Now, as He gasped for air, He thought of her
as He asked His dear friend to care for her.

Even as her heart was crushed
did she realize that He also died for her?

He died for every sin ever committed or ever to be committed.
He took our punishment.
He faced the worst moment:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46

The moment when He experienced separation from the Father whom He had always been with.
The moment when He carried all sin on Himself and had to take it alone.

He suffered the worst death possible physically with crucifixion.
Then He suffered the worst experience emotionally by being separated from His Father.
And He suffered the worst spiritually by taking our guilt on His soul.

Why? Because of His great love for us.

“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

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13
Jesus not only died for His friends but also for His enemies.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6,8

Mary believed. She is with Him in heaven. A sword pierced her soul but soon after she knew the greatest joy possible!

Jesus, there is no way to thank You for being willing to endure what happened to You on the cross. I believe in You and I give You all of my heart. I receive Your love.

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April 2, 2021 · 5:58 pm

Praying Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is one of the best known and most quoted chapters of the Bible. Its verses express David’s understanding of God’s care from his own personal experience. 

David was a King, author, poet, warrior, devoted to God, and ancestor of Jesus Christ, Son of God. A descendent of shepherds who as a boy killed a lion and a bear with his own hands while protecting his sheep. (1 Samuel 17:34-36) God described David as, “A man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:22) 

Scripture often compares us to sheep, animals who are easily led astray. Like them, we wander and get into trouble. Helpless on their own, sheep need someone to care, feed, protect, and shelter them. When one wanders off, it’s likely to be taken by a predator. A good shepherd keeps each one in sight and meets their needs. 

“A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23)


“The LORD is my Shepherd.”

The LORD God Almighty, Creator of all that exists is our Shepherd. He is my Shepherd. People may mentor, teach, guide, or fight for us but our one true Shepherd is God. No one else can fill that role. Only God can always be with us and see what is ahead. He alone knows what’s in our hearts and what our true needs are. He is perfect. If we look to a person as our caretaker, they will disappoint us. But we can trust God, He never fails.


Lord God, thank You for being my Shepherd. You keep Your eyes on me. You know everything about me and still love me. I’m never out of Your care. You are my strength and shield, the perfect Shepherd who never makes a mistake. You never forget me or leave me behind. I trust in Your perfect love and know You will never lead me astray. 

“I lack nothing.”

In our consumer society, it seems we’re never satisfied. We frequently want more. How often does someone say, “I have all I need?” David expressed fulfillment saying, “I shall not want.” He trusted God to give him what he needed. He knew that though he might lack something for the moment, God would provide his needs at the right time. 

Father, because of Your perfect love and power, I have everything I need. I confess, Lord, I often feel like I’m lacking. I look for happiness in earthly possessions, people, or status. I seek comfort from temporary pleasures. I look at what I don’t have and think I’m missing something that would make me happy. But what I need is found in You. When I turn to You, You fill my soul with love and grace and make me complete. When I seek satisfaction from people or things, I’m left thirsty. In You, I find the fulfillment I’m looking for. You are enough. I love You Father! Thank You that in You I am complete. 

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.”

A good shepherd leads his sheep to a lush pasture with grass to eat and calm water to drink. A place where his animals feel safe and can lie down in peace. 

The Lord gives us spiritual nourishment by filling the empty places in our hearts and giving us peace and hope.  He is our haven in the middle of life’s storms and refreshes our souls. When we come to Him with our confusion, brokenness, and pain, He restores us and carries us through our struggles.


Lord, thank You for being my refuge in the storm. Thank You for providing refreshment for my soul when I’m battered and torn by circumstances. You are my spiritual food, my living water, and my place of rest. When trouble hits, help me slow down and trust you instead of running in circles looking for escape. Enable me to lie down in peace knowing You have my back. 

“He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.”

God is our guardian. He shows us the way to go and enables us to live honoring Him. When we seek Him and ask for wisdom, He answers. 

Lord, please give me wisdom to live righteously. Help me to glorify You with the decisions I make. Direct me and keep me in step with Your Spirit. Thank You for showing me the way.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

We experience some extremely dark valleys in this life. Times when the shadow of death feels like it will swallow us. But for those who are in Christ, evil can’t touch our souls. God is always with us. As a shepherd protects his sheep from predators with his staff, so our Shepherd protects our souls from Satan. We belong to Jesus Christ for eternity and no one can take us away.

Father, sometimes fear overtakes me and it feels like evil is winning. Help me remember You are always beside me, all around me, and in my heart. My soul is eternally safe in Your hands and no one can snatch it away. When I experience a time of pain or sorrow, I know I’m not alone. You give me the strength to endure. Your Spirit comforts me no matter what’s happening. Thank You for Your constant love.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

Imagine a soldier on the battlefield. Instead of grabbing a quick bite of an emergency meal, he looks ahead and sees his commander has laid out a banquet. There’s a beautiful table laid with delicious dishes. He sits down right in the presence of his enemies and enjoys a meal. How could he do that? Only if he had complete faith and trust in his commander. We don’t have to panic in front of our enemies, the devil and his demons. God’s Spirit is always with us and has provided a banquet of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Our part is to have faith and trust our Commander. 

In Scripture, being anointed with oil is a picture of God pouring His Holy Spirit on believers. (NET Bible Notes) Oil flowing down one’s head and an overflowing cup are both pictures of abundance. God sent His Spirit to comfort, encourage, empower, and fill us to overflowing with His spiritual blessings.

Holy Spirit, thank You for giving me peace when the enemy offers anxiety. You help me love when he tempts me to hate. You offer joy when circumstances threaten depression. You’re my patience when I want to lash out. You give me all I need when I rely on You. You put Your shield around me when the enemy is throwing every poison dart of negative thoughts and fears. When I run to You in faith, I can sit at Your table in peace. 

“Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.”


What a beautiful truth! His goodness and love, also translated as mercy or loving kindness, will be our constant companions. 

Father, please soak this truth into my soul. Your goodness and love are always with me and will never leave. Remind me I can’t be separated from Your love. Empower me to stand on truth instead of my ever-changing feelings. Your love is a solid rock and a firm foundation which can’t be shaken, destroyed, or removed. Praise You Father! Thank You! I stand knowing I may get knocked down but I won’t be destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:9)

“And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

The ultimate promise! We will live with Him forever. 

Jesus, thank You for making it possible for me to live with You for eternity! Thank You for promising You are preparing a place for me and proclaiming, “I will come back and take You to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3) I know this life is fleeting, a puff of smoke compared to eternity. Focus my heart on the truth of my forever home with You. Praise You Lord! 

Psalm 23 – Shane and Shane


First published at iBelieve.com



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Living By Faith

The LORD Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.’…For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart Him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” Isaiah 14:24, 27

Isaiah gave many prophecies concerning Israel and the surrounding nations. Every prophecy of God has and will come to pass. Whatever He determines to do, He will do. Nothing can stop God or change His plans. He is Sovereign and all-powerful. 

Nothing can stop His plan for my life. 

Father, I know I’m in Your hands. You hold me and direct my path. Your ultimate plan for me can’t be thwarted. I may take detours, drag my feet, get distracted, and I know I continually make mistakes. But You never let go. You never stop loving me. Your purpose for me will be fulfilled. Please help me live it to the fullest. I don’t want to miss the spiritual blessings You want to pour into my life. Help me be willing to sacrifice, give, deny self, and trust You no matter what. 

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How Can I Grow Stronger in My Faith?





What is faith?

My fiancé broke up with me three weeks before our wedding. Devastated at the age of nineteen, I had no other goals except to get married and have children. I depended on God but my trust needed to grow deeper. By spending the next few months focusing on my Heavenly Father through Scripture, prayer, and leaning on other believers, it did strengthen me. He carried me through to the place of praising Him for protecting me from a wrong relationship.

The writer of Hebrews describes faith as, “The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). In verse six, Hebrews 11 states “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”

It’s not wishful thinking or hoping for the best but rather knowing God exists though we can’t see Him. It’s believing He’s good and loving, including when bad things happen. It’s trusting we’ll be with Him in heaven because Jesus Christ died and rose again. Once we’ve believed in Him and God’s Spirit lives in us, the strength or weakness of our faith affects how we live. It leads to victory or spiritual defeat. Having confidence in Christ empowers our prayer life and determines when or if we’ll take risks in obeying Him. A weak faith can leave us living in fear while strong faith gives us confidence whatever happens.

Here are ten simple things we can start today to grow stronger in faith:

1. Begin your day praising God with a thankful heart.

When you wake up, think about who God is and all He has given you and express your gratitude. Here’s a sample prayer, but let the Holy Spirit lead you in praying:

Good morning Father! Thank You for giving me another day to live. Thank You for the sun which rises without fail. Thank You my soul is secure in You and You will never leave me. I praise You Father and worship You. I believe there’s a reason I’m alive so use me for Your glory. Show me if there’s someone You want me to help today. Thank You for breath in my lungs and the ability to think and know You. Praise You for Your unfailing love!

Start with a few minutes if time is an issue. Set a notification to remind you when needed. Consider praising Him in song or playing praise music on a phone app. Have your alarm be music that uplifts your soul.

2. Ask God to search your heart and reveal anything hindering your relationship with Him.

Be willing to hear whatever He tells you. Ask Him to show you where you need to change and to give you strength to overcome what causes you to stumble.

King David, who lived in Old Testament times, prayed this way: 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.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

3. Pray throughout the day.

When anxiety attacks, stop and pray. Scripture tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything.” (Philippians 4:6a) If you feel convicted about an attitude or action, confess it to God immediately and be cleansed. John, called Jesus’s beloved disciple, wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) When someone comes to mind, say a quick prayer for them.  As the Apostle Paul wrote to fellow believers, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18)

Document answered prayer. Remembering how God has responded in the past enables us to keep believing now. When I was in my late thirties, I began to think I would never have children. My husband and I had been married for ten years and I had faced continual roadblocks to my dream of being a mom. Then God gave us our son through a miracle adoption. This memory always buoy’s my faith. It was an amazing, underserved gift which came completely from His grace. Though it happened years ago, I still hold to this demonstration of God’s unconditional love, especially when concerns for loved ones arise.

4. Read the Bible.

Commit to reading Scripture for at least five minutes each day. There are many devotional apps, books, and online resources which can increase your understanding of the Bible. You can even listen while you drive or cook dinner. The book of Psalms or John would be a great place to begin. Ask God to speak to you as you read and look for promises or descriptions of who God is. Once you establish a habit, gradually increase the amount you read. Find one verse to meditate on each day and turn it into a prayer. Think about all it means. Be sure to read the verse in context to get the true meaning.  

Manage your expectations. About eight years ago, I was inspired to start using the SOAP method of Bible study. Excitedly, I thought, “This will change my life!” I was anticipating an immediate powerful experience. I learned it’s what you do every day that changes your life. As I read Scripture daily for years, truth was embedded in my heart and mind. Spiritual growth is a journey and occurs over time because of daily choices. The writer of the book of Hebrews taught, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

5. Share your beliefs with other Christians.

We need each other. Talk to another believer about something you learned recently. Ask for prayer. Prayerfully seek a spiritually strong mentor and spend time with them. If you don’t know anyone, ask God to bring someone into your life. Discussing your questions and what you’re learning from Scripture strengthens your faith. The ancient King Solomon known to be the wisest king during Old Testament times, taught: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) I have a friend who loves Jesus but because of hard times she was doubting God’s love and wondered if she was being punished. I was able to speak truth into her life reassuring her of God’s unconditional love. She needed someone to help her through that valley. At other times, she has helped me to see truth in my life.

I’ve been a Christian for over fifty years and I’m still learning I simply can’t mature in Christ by myself. God designed us to live in community. We can only go so far in our faith if we operate alone. The times I’ve stayed in isolation; I grew weaker not stronger.

6.  Attend a church where grace and truth are offered.

As stated before, we need other Christians and the best place to find Christian friends is in a Bible believing church. Be sure to look at the statement of belief and assure that salvation through Jesus Christ is taught. Also, verify that they offer grace and love and value accepting people where they are and helping them become more like Jesus. Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches us “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” This means attending church or spending time with other believers is crucial to our spiritual life.

7.  Serve in some way however small.

When we help others, we often receive the most benefit. Look for places in your church or community where you can help those in need. Practice acts of kindness. When we share the gospel and help those with a weaker or more immature faith, ours grows. Peter, perhaps Jesus’s most well-known disciple, gave this instruction: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)

8. Read an encouraging book or listen to a Christian podcast or message.

There are hundreds of great books and messages available. Start by asking for recommendations from Christians you trust or talk to a pastor at your church.  

Learning about Christian heroes from the past always encourages me. Find a book at the library or online about someone who was strong in faith and persevered to find inspiration.

9.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

We all have times we when we question what we believe and seek truth. God welcomes our questions and wants to answer. Scripture tells us in James 1:5-6a, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.” When experiencing doubt, also ask your pastor, counselor, or another mature Christian you’re acquainted with for help.

10.  Be willing to obey God when it’s scary or uncomfortable.

The more you’re required to depend on God, the more your faith will mature.

Take action on something you know God is asking you to do and trust Him to help you. This might be speaking to someone about Him, writing an encouraging letter, serving in a new ministry, giving your testimony, or some other risk. As resistance exercises strengthen physical muscles so our spiritual muscles increase when challenged. If we remain in our safe haven, we don’t advance in confidence. This also deepens my trust in Christ. In order to know God will catch me when I jump, I have to be willing to take the leap.

Each new level of faith eventually becomes a place of comfort we’re called to leave. I don’t believe God will ever tell us to take it easy and get comfortable because we’ve reached our peak. As long as we’re on earth, He will call us to a deeper life with Him and to new opportunities requiring dependence on Him. I’m speaking to myself here. I like being where I feel safe and know what to expect. I pray God will increase my willingness to take the next step stirring me to fully rely on Him.

Father, please help each of us grow stronger in faith. May we be willing to seek You first each day listening for Your guidance and obeying You despite being afraid or facing what seems impossible. We believe in You Lord! We know You reward those who seek You and You love us with an everlasting love! Please be glorified through us every day.

Published first at iBelieve.com

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Drink With Joy

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD Himself, is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:2-3

When we are parched and desperately longing for water, we drink with joy when we finally quench our thirst. At that moment, water is all we care about. How much more joyfully do we drink of salvation when we find it in Jesus! He is our Rescuer. He is our Salvation. What joy there is in knowing we have found forgiveness. To know there is hope. To find acceptance and purpose. 

And that salvation is offered freely to all who will believe! Drink with joy. Receive His love. 

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

Photo by mrjn Photography on Unsplash

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Broken Chains

In Christ—all is victory.
It’s settled
I’m redeemed
I’m His
I will live with Him forever!
The enemy is defeated.
Christ reigns.
Eternal glory is ahead.
He uses everything.
Nothing is wasted.

Believe.
Trust.
The prison door is open.
The grave is empty.
The chains are broken.
The bars are an illusion cast by the one
who came to kill, steal and destroy.
he is a magician using smoke and mirrors,
what he presents is not reality.

Reality is found in Christ
Who has won the victory,
defeated death,
and set us free.

Look to Jesus
the Author and Finisher of our faith
who has won the victory.
This world is not our home and
will never satisfy our souls.
We are here to point to Him,
to store treasure in heaven,
to walk by faith,
to know one day we will take the next step
and be in His glorious presence.

Until then we look into a dark mirror
We see shadows
One day we will see clearly
and will live in pure light.
Nothing can change the truth
we are in Christ and His forever.

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Kindess is….

Allowing others to succeed
 Letting someone else be first
 Turning the spotlight on another
 Seeing pain
 Sharing joy
 Remembering sorrows
 Removing obstacles
 Reaching out to help
 Recognizing struggle
 Celebrating someone’s victory
 
 Kind in tone
 Kind in smiles
 Kind in word choice
 Meets needs
 Goodness in action
 Unnecessary goodness
 Unexpected grace
 Doing or saying what is in the best interest of another.

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22  
 
 “Put on then as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12 

 “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.’ Ephesians 4:31-32 

Lord, please help me put on kindness today.

Image by Prawny from Pixabay

Image by bknis from Pixabay

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HOPE

I lack nothing
I have all I need
I'm restored
I'm not afraid
I'm comforted
I'm anointed
I overflow with blessings
I will always have His goodness and mercy
I have eternal life
Psalm 23

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