Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Seeds of Faith

Two male spies with a plan, one woman with information. Two men on a mission. One woman with a bad reputation. Two men doing the work of the Lord. One woman labeled as a harlot. Who could imagine that their paths would cross? Yet the spies entered her city and ended up at her house.

The time? Early 1400's B.C. The place? Jericho. The woman? Rahab. The people of her city were in turmoil because of the news they had heard. When the two spies showed up at her house, Rehab was honest with them, "I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you" (Joshua 2:9-11a; KJV).

Sometime between hearing the city news and the arrival of the spies, a seed of faith sprang up in Rahab's heart. She believed the stories about this God's power. She was afraid that her city would be destroyed next. The God of the Israelites was someone to be reckoned with. She acknowledged her belief that He was God (Joshua 2:11b).

When the sound of an authoritative knock came at the door, Rahab had a choice to make. Should she turn the spies in, or hide them? With heart hammering in her chest, Rahab acted on her growing seed of faith. Carefully concealed under the flax on her rooftop, the spies heard her tell the king's men that her visitors had left before the city gate had been shut. (Joshua 2:5).

A covenant was made. Since she had saved their lives, they would spare the lives of she and her family members before the Israelites destroyed her city of Jericho. The spoken oath was sealed with a sign. A scarlet cord. The spies told Rahab to bind the same scarlet cord that would allow them to escape to safety, in her window. "Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee" (Joshua 2:18).

The spies were true to their word. "And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and thy brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel" (Joshua 6:23). What began as a seed of faith was continuing to grow.

Rahab. The woman we're introduced to in the book of Joshua who has a bad reputation is nowhere to be found once she acknowledges her belief in the God of the Israelites. We meet up with her again in the book of Matthew. No mention is made of her past. She is recognized as the wife of Salmon, no doubt a dashingly handsome Israelite, whose son just happens to be Boaz (Matthew 1:5). That's right! The mighty kinsman redeemer of the book of Ruth.

Think about it! A former harlot ends up in the genealogy of Jesus Christ! After all, Boaz and Ruth have a son, Obed, Obed and his wife have Jesse, Jesse and his wife have David, and fourteen generations later, our Savior is born!

It never ceases to amaze me what God can do with a man or woman with a seed of faith and a spirit yielded to Him!

Are you willing to step out in faith and be used by the Lord? What step will you take today to water the seed of faith that's growing in your life?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the encouraging story of Rahab. Help me to put my faith in You no matter what. Use me to point others to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Come join in the discussion!

* A re-post from March 26, 2010.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Special Guest: Susan J. Reinhardt

I'll be honest, co-authoring a book seems a bit daunting. Two authors with different ideas, coming together to produce a single work. It's easier for me to imagine co-authoring a work of non-fiction. Fiction? Much harder to imagine. But it can be done!

Today, I have the privilege of interviewing Susan J.Reinhardt, the first half of a team co-authoring a gripping, historical fiction novel. Next Thursday, we'll chat with her partner in crime, Karen Lange!

Maria: A very warm welcome, Susan! Tell us about yourself.

Susan: I've been a believer in Jesus Christ since I was 9 years old. I'm a widow, a daughter, a stepmom, and a friend. My passions are studying God's Word, writing, reading, and teaching. In between, I'm an avid couponer, a wannabe gardener, and a happy wanderer through antique malls.

Maria: Wow! Sounds like you stay busy. How did you and Karen meet?

Susan: We met through a mutual friend. I had some research questions, and MaryAnn Diorio suggested I contact Karen. The rest, as they say, is history.

Maria: You obviously have a strong friendship. What made you decide to co-author a book?

Susan: Karen and I often joked about the possibility. We kicked around ideas, and soon the joke turned into serious discussions.

Maria: Tell us about the writing process. How did you decide who would write each scene?

Susan: Since I'd written two manuscripts and had a third underway, I agreed to write the opening chapter. After researching the time period, brainstorming the characters, and deciding where we wanted to start the story, we got to work. We alternate chapters. Other than that, the plot unfolds naturally. As you may recall, I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer.

Maria: You make it sound so simple! Give us a peek into your novel.

Susan: We were fascinated by a historical incident in Colonial times, and used that turbulent period as a jumping off point. Since our book is far from finished, we really haven't started shopping it around.

Maria: What is the most important thing you've learned from this experience so far?

Susan: Up until we started this journey, writing was a God and me adventure. Now, it's a God, Karen, and me project. When we've had different ideas about the direction of the story, I've learned to consider, communicate, and compromise. My relationship with Karen has grown. She's an amazing, godly woman, and has shown me much grace when life got crazy around here.

Maria: Valuable lessons! Speaking of the Lord, how has your relationship with Jesus Christ impacted your writing?

Susan: I'm totally dependent on Him for inspiration, whether I'm writing a devotional or a novel. I want the words I write to be containers of life, not mere entertainment.

Maria: Great perspective. As a writer, what are your future goals?

Susan: I'd like to see this book through to completion and publication. Other projects include a near-future trilogy and more devotional writing. At some point, I'd also like to pick up my speaking/teaching ministry.

Maria: Wonderful! As we wind down, share some lessons you've learned on your journey as a writer.

Susan: A gift for writing is only one component of the equation. Learning the craft/mechanics, as well as the business side, play an integral part in the process. Helping others on their journey is one of my greatest joys. The Christian writing community is awesome!

Maria: What final words of wisdom would you like to leave with our readers?

Susan: Sitting at the Lord's feet and nurturing that relationship will give you the inspiration and strength for the task before you. You'll still have challenges, but the vision He births in you will keep you focused.

Maria: Well said! Thank you so much for stopping by, Susan, and I wish you and Karen well on your co-authored novel!

Be sure to join me next Thursday, February 2nd, when I'll have the privilege of interviewing KarenLange. God bless!

*Susan J. Reinhardt's publishing credits include both online and print publications such as The Secret Place, Vista, Live!, The RevWriter Resource, two anthologies, and Devotions Magazine. Family, church, reading, gardening, and antiquing keep her from ever getting bored.  She blogs at http://susanjreinhardt.blogspot.com.

Monday, January 23, 2012

It Matters

Decisions, decisions. Some big. Some small. My husband, Steve, and I made a big decision to go on a mission trip to South Africa, half a world away. A different culture. A different time zone, with different currency, and a million unknowns. You better believe we prayed about this decision. So many variables that we have no control over. But we’re trusting the Lord with those unknowns.

What about the decisions I make from day to day? I have to admit, I’m often guilty of leaving God out of the small decisions. You know, the ones that I think I can handle, like managing my time and making wise purchases. Yet, how many times have I gotten to the end of a day only to realize I was distracted and didn’t accomplish much? Or I caved in to the temptation to buy something I didn’t need?

Even heroes of the Bible have struggled with this one. Remember Joshua? He was faithful to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land after forty years of wandering in the wilderness. He followed the Lord’s battle plan when the Israelites went up against Jericho. The results were amazing – after marching around the city and shouting, the walls fell down flat, and the Israelites took the city. Clearly, God was with them!

Bolstered by an incredible victory, Joshua sent some of his men to spy out the next land of conquest, Ai. And boy, did the men bring back a positive report. Taking this city would be a breeze – there were hardly any inhabitants. Only a few soldiers would be needed to fight this battle. Joshua listened to the advice of the spies with horrific results: thirty six men were killed and the rest of the soldiers fled before the men of Ai.

What? How could this have happened? Because Joshua thought this battle would be a piece of cake, he forgot to consult God. The odds were in the Israelites favor, it was an easy decision – no need to bother God. Joshua realized his mistake and prayed to the Lord. God told him there was sin in the camp. One of the Israelites had stolen something that the Lord had expressly forbidden. Until the sin was dealt with, the Israelites could not move forward.

Joshua learned his lesson. He dealt with the sin problem according to the Lord’s directives and was reassured, “Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land,” (Joshua 8:1; KJV).

God’s ways are not our ways. A lot of times I learn that the hard way. Big decisions or small ones, God wants me to ask His advice every time. He’s extended a special invitation,”…come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16). Today I’m going to accept His invitation!

Do you find yourself asking for God’s guidance for the big decisions, but leaving Him out of the everyday choices? What step will you take today to include Him in the small things?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for caring about every detail of my life. Forgive me when I try to do things in my own strength. Help me to take advantage of your invitation to come boldly before Your throne of grace with all the decisions I need to make. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Who Wins?

Feelings. We all have them. Strong emotions that cause us to react. This morning I have to admit that I'm a bit sleepy. It's overcast and beginning to drizzle, and I'd like nothing more than to dive back into bed and let the rhythmic dripping of the rain lull me back to sleep. But I have things to accomplish today. I have a choice to make. Give in to my feelings and sleep the day away, or push those lazy feelings aside, and choose to be productive instead.

Let's face it. Sometimes I just don't feel like doing anything. My list of tasks may be a mile long, but my list of reasons for ignoring the list is longer. The struggle begins. My old nature desires comfort and convenience. Feelings are paramount. They do everything within their power to convince me that I have the right to do what I want to. After all, it's my life, isn't it?

My new nature rises to the challenge, reminding me that life isn't all about my comfort or convenience. A verse from God's word packs quite a punch, "...Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8:34; KJV).  I imagine the heavenly hosts cheering, and I respond - "Take that, you good for nothing old nature!"

The fight is on. The old nature continues to box with everything she's got. Toying with my feelings. Trying to convince me that I'm my own master. Surely I don't have to deny myself all the time. After all, I deserve to be comfortable, don't I? What makes me feel good, IS good, isn't it? Doesn't God want me to be happy?

The battle heats up. The new nature responds with an uppercut that leaves the old nature reeling. I realize I am not my own, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

While the old nature bounces off the ropes, the new nature responds with a swift left hook that puts the old nature out of commission for a time. Jesus didn't die on the cross to purchase my happiness, but to pay my sin debt. I now have the incredible opportunity to fellowship with Him. "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;" (Philippians 4:10).

It IS possible for me to bring my feelings under control. As a believer, I have access to every type of 'punch' that will render my old nature powerless. The key is remembering that I'm a child of the King and submitting my will to His agenda. Self-control is a direct product of yielding to the Holy Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22-23).

We were created with feelings and emotions. They are a very real part of how our Creator designed us. But they are not to control us. Lay them out before the Lord and pray for His wisdom to train you to respond properly to them. It's a battle. And you can be victorious!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for creating me with feelings and emotions. I pray that You would open my eyes to the ways I've been deceived by them. Help me to submit my will to You, that I might reap the fruit of self-control in my life. I choose to walk with You, today. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

*A re-post from September 30, 2010.  

Monday, January 16, 2012


Sometimes I don't understand why things happen. I can't give an answer to the age-old question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" For some reason, I fall for the belief that if I do the right thing, a good outcome is guaranteed. Oftentimes along life's journey, I forget my purpose and begin to live as if life was given to me for my happiness and personal fulfillment. Time for a reality check!

Although I know that life has its fair share of ups and downs, why is it so difficult to embrace the 'downs?' The Bible is full of examples of men and women who experienced unexplained hardships. Remember Job? He's described as a "perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil," (Job 1:8; KJV). Very impressive when you consider it was the Lord who described Job this way!

Job had everything going for him. He had a wonderful family, was wildly wealthy, and was well respected in his community. Job loved God and made constant intercession for his children. Yet one day, everything changed. In a matter of hours, Job lost his sons and daughters, his cattle and livestock, and even his health. Job lost it all. Why?

The book of Job lets me in on some things that weren't revealed to Job. The Lord allowed Satan to wreck havoc in Job's life. Tough to understand. Job was a prime servant of the Lord, yet the Lord allowed him to be severely tested.

When faced with the tragic news that his children had been killed and his livestock destroyed, Job's response is nothing short of astounding, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord," (Job 1:21). What faith! But the enemy wasn't willing to give in to defeat so easily. If Job wouldn't curse God as a result of losing everything, surely he would break if he lost his health.

Once again, for reasons known only to God, He allowed Satan to afflict Job with painful boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. Job's wife was of little comfort. She couldn't get beyond the difficult question: Why? Her advice to her husband, "...curse God, and die," (Job 2:9b). But Job saw things from a different perspective, and answered his wife with words indicative of his faith, "...What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job 2:10b).

It 's not too challenging to be positive for a day, but when trials stretch on day after day with no end in sight, faith is stretched to the limit. Job never cursed God, yet his outlook became bleak. He wished he had never been born, and he wanted answers. Why had tragedy struck his life? Why was God punishing him?

After a long time of silence, God DID speak to Job - but not with the answers Job expected. God's response was to remind Job that He created the world and everything in it, and His ways are far above man's ways. As Creator, God's purpose for His creation is to serve and honor Him, not for man to be focused on getting through life unscathed. Job realized the greatness of God, "I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee...Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes," (Job 42:2,6). And God blessed Job, "So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning..." (Job 42:12a).
Knowing why something happened is not nearly as important as realizing that no matter how I feel, nothing - no trial, no tragedy - can separate me from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). Life will continue to be peppered with ups and downs. I can take what comes, knowing that I serve a God who loves me!

Do you get tripped up when you don't understand why something happened? Will you trust God today and exercise faith in His control of your future?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your love. Help me to remember that You are in control and can be trusted, even when I don't understand why things happen. I choose to live for You today. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Come join in the discussion!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Whitewashed Lives

The externals are there. The words are right. The look is appropriate. Wholesome activities are emphasized. But, as Christians, how often do we deceive ourselves, giving lip service to what's right, only to realize that we're merely going through the motions? Is the love we have for our Savior truly genuine? Or could we be lumped in with those the prophet Isaiah spoke of, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me" (Matthew 15:8; KJV). How many times have I majored on the trivial things, only to miss the point God was patiently trying to teach me?

Hear the words He whispers, "It's a question of your heart, child. Who sits on the throne of your heart?"As a believer, my answer should be, "Christ." But all too often, I've glanced at the throne, only to see my reflection staring back at me. I've been calling the shots. I've been so busy managing the external image that I've missed His still, small voice beckoning me to deal with the root issues. Instead of rushing around putting out the many fires of inconsistency in my life, He longs to show me the single blaze that started all the other fires in the first place.

Pride saunters confidently onto the scene. He's a seasoned pro. He gloats over those from centuries ago, whom he has been able to seduce. Take a look at the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' time. Religious leaders with enviable pedigrees. The cream of the crop who were well-educated and highly esteemed in their day. They certainly looked like they had it 'all together.' But Jesus wasn't fooled. He was quick to see Pride's strangle-hold on their lives. "Woe unto you, scribes ad Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness" (Matthew 23:27).

Wait just a minute! How dare Jesus speak to these respected leaders this way! Weren't these men dedicated to keeping every jot and tittle of the Law? Jesus pointed out their error, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." (Matthew 23: 23-24). They had it all wrong, focusing on the small stuff rather than concentrating on the big issue.

While these men tried so desperately to maintain a pious exterior, Jesus was well-aware of the evil root of Pride that had taken control of their hearts. As Jesus' popularity grew and His followers increased, Pride teamed up with Jealousy to stir up these religious leaders. "Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people" (Matthew 26:3-5).

These men were determined to keep up appearances. They were the religious leaders, who did this carpenter think He was, anyway? And yet, in spite of their attempts to discredit Him, His answers left them speechless and His followers continued to increase in number! They refused to accept Him as the promised Messiah because He didn't fit their description of who they thought He should be. Pride had such a tight grip on their hearts, that their eyes had been blinded. 'Self' remained on the throne, and Pride remained the victor.

A choice must be made. Will we continue putting out our own small fires, refusing to deal with the bigger blaze that's creating them? Will we refuse to give up our position on the throne of our life and end up like the Pharisees? Or will we deal with the root of our sin, and purpose to live by the words of the Apostle Paul, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).

A beautiful promise is given to all who surrender the throne of their hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (James 3:6b). The promise of grace. Make the right choice today!

Prayer: Gracious Heavenly Father, Help me to submit myself to You. Help me to resist the devil, knowing that he will flee from me. Help me to draw near to You, knowing that you will draw near to me. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Amen. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012


We're doing it together. Eating right and exercising. A couple weeks before the holidays, my husband, Steve, and I, determined to cut out sweets and follow a low carb eating plan. Talk about a difficult time to set health-conscious goals and stick with them!

Christmas cookies and baked goods surrounded us while we visited our families. Neighbors delivered homemade treats by the plateful. The proverbial sugar plums danced in our heads. But I have to say, we stuck to our plan for the most part, and on the other side of the New Year celebration, the scales are tipping in the right direction!

With a degree in wellness, and a history of health issues in my family, I've tried to make wise choices throughout the years. But there's just something about having an accountability partner that turns wishful thinking into reality.

When Steve is motivated to avoid those sugary confections, so am I. His exercise routine has inspired me to begin cross-training. And on those days when I'm tempted to inhale any sugar I can find, he reminds me that it's not worth it. Accountability is good. We're able to celebrate our successes and discuss our frustrations. It's drawn us closer together.

King Solomon penned God's thoughts on the benefits of companionship, "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up...And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken," (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12; KJV). These benefits can be experienced in both marriages and friendships.

 Accountability adds another dimension to a relationship. It adds responsibility. Responsibility to somebody for something. It requires a certain level of vulnerability. Being able to admit faults and accept constructive criticism along with praise.

Jonathan and David had this type of friendship. They spoke candidly of Jonathan's father, King Saul, and the fact that one day, David would rule the nation of Israel. By tradition, Jonathan would have followed his father as king, but he realized God had a different plan. He knew the Lord had chosen David as the next king, and Jonathan embraced God's plan. When King Saul attempted to kill David, Jonathan's loyalties were with David, and he planned a get-away for his friend.

The two friends made a covenant before going their separate ways. David promised to show kindness to Jonathan's descendants after he became king. When David took over the throne, he kept his promise and invited Jonathan's son, Mephibosheth, to the palace, "And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually," (2 Samuel 9:7).

David and Jonathan encouraged one another in the Lord and held each other accountable. Years later, King Solomon recorded a proverb that his father had lived by, "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend," (Proverbs 27:17). David and Jonathan were willing to discuss and deal with the hard things. The result? Growth as individuals, and a lasting friendship!

Do you have someone to hold you accountable? Are you willing to be vulnerable in order to be sharpened?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the beautiful picture of what can be accomplished through companionship. Help me to embrace accountability, knowing it will help me grow. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Who Are You Living For?

I look up to her. Her hair has been white for many years. And her hearing isn't the best anymore. But her smile is contagious, and her love for others is obvious. In her early nineties, my sweet friend has the vitality of someone a fraction of her age. Life is an adventure.

She's a people person - the type that's never met a stranger. The conversation doesn't dwell on her; no, she's more interested in finding out about you. I'm pretty sure her middle name is either Hospitality or Generosity. A cold drink and a homemade treat are always on hand for guests. And she can't resist giving  keepsakes to her visitors  before they leave. From books and journals, to beautiful gems and shells, you'll never leave empty-handed.

It's clear her relationship with the Lord is treasured. Her Bible is well-worn and contains carefully penned notes from sermons throughout the years. Prayer is a big part of her life. I'm sure she has needs of her own, but her prayer requests are primarily for others.

What an example! The way she lives her life reminds me of the words penned by the Apostle Paul, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others," (Philippians 2:3-4; KJV). My friend has experienced many of life's difficulties, yet chooses to encourage herself in the Lord and continue to pour out His love to others.

Consider the radical life of Paul. He had the pedigree, education, and position to be set for life. Yet he chose to trade it all in for a close relationship with Jesus Christ. "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ," (Philippians 3:7-8). Paul chose to draw strength from the Lord and share Him with everyone he met.

I have to admit, I often live life as if I'm the center of the universe. I can be shockingly self-absorbed. God's Word and the life of my elderly friend remind me that living for the Lord and sharing His love with others is really what it's all about. Time to re-focus!

Are you self-centered? Or do you live for others? What step can you take today to re-focus on the Lord and others?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for countless examples in Your Word, of people who lived with You in mind. Thank You for friends who know Your Word and are living it out. Help me to grow in my relationship with You and to put others ahead of myself. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Clean Slate

Have you gotten used to the idea of a brand new year? There’s something invigorating about a blank canvas – a clean slate with countless options. It can also be a bit intimidating. A couple weeks ago, I was challenged with some opportunities that promise to make 2012 very exciting. What will I do with these opportunities?

Rearranging my schedule to include time for new things will be challenging. It’s so much easier just to continue on with what has become ‘comfortable.’ But growth requires change and hard work. I’m not sure what the end result will be, but prayer and encouragement have brought me to this crossroads. Will I step out in faith?

Reminds me of a parable shared long ago. Jesus told his disciples the story of a man who was travelling to a country some distance away. Before he left, he gave each servant a specific amount of money to manage while he was on his trip. What would they do with the treasure he had left them?

I can only imagine the hours of planning and research done by these servants. No doubt careful thought was given to how the money should be invested. How would their employer invest the money? What would bring the biggest return on investment? Each servant had to make a decision.

Armed with the knowledge he’d gained, the first servant went out and managed to double what he had been given. The second servant did the same – doubling what he’d originally been given. The third servant, however, didn’t see the value of what he’d been given. Maybe he didn’t want to devote the time to studying or planning. Maybe he was so focused on his own agenda that he didn’t make time to take care of the gift he’d been given. Maybe he was undisciplined and gave in to the temptation to be lazy. Whatever his reason, he was responsible for his choice, “But he that had received one (talent) went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money,” (Matthew 25:18; KJV; word in italics mine).

When the master returned from his journey, he was very interested in what the servants had done with the treasure he’d given them. The first two servants were commended for their diligence, and received words of praise, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” (Matthew 25:21,23).

The third servant was full of excuses, “Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine,” (Matthew 25:24-25). His master was upset, and with good reason. He chastised the servant, and rebuked him for misusing what he’d been given.

The lesson? How am I using the ‘talents’ (time, abilities, money, etc.) the Lord has given me? When He opens doors and gives me opportunities, am I quick to follow Him? Am I willing to devote the time necessary to accomplish His purposes? As the new year unfolds, my prayer is to step out in faith as He leads and guides me!

What opportunities do you have this year? Will you determine to step out in faith and fulfill God’s will for your life?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the opportunities You’ve given me. Help me to step out in faith this year, and embrace what You have for me. I want to be like the good and faithful servants in the parable. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*I've added a weekly video segment to go along with my post. I'd love to know what you think!