Over two years after submitting my devotion to be considered for publication, “The Master Craftsman” is being read internationally in The Upper Room magazine and online on February 18, 2014.
To God be the glory for this humbling privilege, as I’m blessed with the opportunity to serve through the ministry of The Upper Room.
This devotion was inspired by my dad’s passion for carving beautiful artwork into his custom made quivers, as well as my desire to see others, and myself, as God’s amazing masterpieces.
Please pray the Lord will overwhelm readers with His love as they read this simple reminder of our incredible design, priceless value, and unique purpose as God’s awesome creations.
I have already been blessed by the comments from the community of Upper Room readers who encourage one another and are ministering to my heart through their amazing faith and love for God’s people.
To read and share this devotion, please visit The Upper Room blog, where you can also see photos of my dad creating his leather masterpieces.
I’m grateful for your continual support in reading and sharing my work.
But most importantly, I’m thankful for the opportunity to grow with you as we walk by faith, one Spirit-empowered step at a time.
“But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the LORD with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.” (3:3-5, NASB)
God has used these verses to bring me comfort and strengthen my resolve through many sleepless nights and countless seasons of affliction.
When circumstances seemed hopeless, when my sobs were the only prayers I could offer, God would bring me back to these three short verses.
I never understood why these words are so powerful, until now.
“But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head” (v. 3).
During my darkest hours, God helps me focus on who He is and how He works.
The Lord protects me like a shield. He is present and personal.
When I read these words, I imagine Jesus cupping my face with His mighty and loving hands and saying, “I am with you, Beloved.”
Lord, help me live like I believe Your loving presence is enough.
“I was crying to the LORD with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain” (v. 4).
God hears, even when my cries are silent tears streaking my cheeks.
God is beyond the ordinary and without limits.
God is above all, exceedingly powerful, merciful, compassionate, just, loving, and good.
How do I know?
He reveals these truths, and Himself, throughout the Bible.
Our Creator, Redeemer, Wise Counselor and Savior of the world cares enough to listen to us and answers our prayers.
God is intimately close without leaving His holy mountain.
Only the one true God can be with us, while remaining exalted above His creation.
“I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me” (v. 5).
The Lord holds the universe in His palm and can handle every detail of our lives.
He has planned each day of our lives.
God is using every broken piece of our lives to create a beautiful and purposed mosaic of His love, sealed in grace according to His perfect will.
In Psalm 121:3, the psalmist declares that “[the LORD] will not let your foot slip — He who watches over you will not slumber.” (NIV)
God doesn’t nod off on the job. He is our loving Shepherd. We can trust Him as we sleep.
Peace prevails in the presence of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
He sustains us, holds us up, and meets our deepest needs.
Sustains, not sustained.
The Hebrew word for sustains, sāmak, means “to uphold, to lay one’s hand upon, to be braced, to strengthen, to refresh, to secure” (Strongest, 1459).
The Lord is actively supporting us, carrying us, providing for us, even and especially during times of long-suffering.
The more we know Him, the more we love Him. The more we obey Him, the more we learn to trust Him.
Whatever is keeping us up at night or burdening our hearts, God can handle.
When we honestly and humbly admit our struggles and release our cares to the Lord, He provides supernatural peace.
How do I know?
Because, once again, God is helping me sleep at night as I trust Him during another difficult waiting season.
This morning, after waking up at 4am due to intense back pain, I read the following verse:
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8, NASB)
Just when we feel like we can’t take one more minute of affliction or one more second of waiting, God gives us blessed assurance.
Because He is the Maker of the heavens and the earth, He’s in charge, in control, and perfectly capable of handling anything we’re willing to place into His gentle, but mighty, hands.
Thank You, Lord, for helping us acknowledge Your constant presence and realize Your immeasurable power. Help us rest secure on the firm foundation of Your grace, as we place every detail of our lives in Your care and serve You in courageous faith. In Jesus name, Amen.
Why is it hard for us to trust God when we’re hurting, afraid, or waiting for a breakthrough? How does the Lord bring you comfort or strengthen your resolve when you’re running low on patience or endurance?
Photo taken by Karen Barnett, author of Mistaken.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, NASB)
The Godhead is seen working in glorious harmony in Genesis 1:1-3.
God created (v. 1). The Spirit of God was moving (v. 2). Then, God spoke and through His Word, all things came to be (v. 3).
Reading these verses brings to mind the apostle John and the powerful declaration that begins his testimony.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1-3, NASB)
The Father, Creator of all things, is God.
Jesus, our Redeemer, is God.
The Holy Spirit, our Wise Counselor, is God.
Accepting this truth, even though the doctrine of the Trinity is too complex for our finite minds to fully understand, is a foundational belief in the life of a Christian.
God is Three and One.
God is intimately personal, yet set apart from His creation as the only One worthy of exaltation and praise.
God is Maker, Redeemer, and everything we will ever need.
God is with us.
As we read the first three verses of the Bible and the first three verses in the Gospel of John, we can be assured that God is!
His love overflows as we open our hearts and listen to the words He speaks through Scripture.
He is magnified through Christ.
He empowers us to live in obedience when we give up our rights and place Him as the ultimate authority in our lives.
God is able to handle whatever we’re battling, whatever we’re afraid to surrender, whatever we’re not ready to face.
When we’re weary, discouraged, frustrated, or anxious, we can depend on the Maker of the Universe and find peace in His presence.
When we’re praising God for all He’s done, acknowledging His work in every blessing of life, we experience true joy and are touched personally by the unfathomable love our Savior has for each one of us.
Even when we hold back a part of our lives from God, even when we refuse to put Him first or flat-out reject Him, our Heavenly Father remains faithful, loving, and good to us.
“In the beginning God created” (Genesis 1:1) and by His grace He decided all He made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
God, as He reveals Himself in the Bible, is the one true God. We can trust Him and rely on Him. We can love, worship, and serve Him without fear.
We can place our lives into His hands and know He is always in control and always with us, even during those moments when we feel most alone, afraid, forgotten, or useless.
God created. God is. God loves.
Lord, please help us believe the first three verse of Genesis and John. Help us submit every aspect of our lives under Your authority. When we are at our weakest points or when things are going so well that we forget we need you, please remind us that You are always with us, always enough, and always more than we will ever be able to comprehend. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
How can remembering God is Creator of all things help us believe He cares and can handle the details of our lives?
Photo taken in Hawaii by X. E. Dixon
Thank You, Lord, for the fresh start You give us each and every day!
Please give us passion and diligence as we seek Your face in the treasure of Your Holy Word, the Bible.
Open our hearts to Your Truth and keep our minds focused on getting to know You better.
Help us approach Your Word like an innocent child, knowing You will provide all we need to understand at the perfect time and according to Your perfect will.
As we read through The One Year Bible, please reveal Yourself to us intimately. Strengthen our faith as Your Truth saturates our hearts and minds.
Help us to hear Your voice clearly and obey You faithfully, Lord.
As we dig into the Bible, please ignite in us a supernatural, life-transforming love that changes our lives and impacts the lives of those around us.
Help us experience You so intimately that we are changed forever!
Please, Lord, make us more like You.
Reveal the sin in our lives and help us to repent quickly as You refine us through our times of rejoicing and affliction.
Thank You for making us new through Your sacrifice and making us more like You as we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. Help us receive Your grace, knowing we have no need to fear or feel shame when we approach You.
Please, Lord, help us remember that each time we read the Bible we are given an opportunity to get to know You better as we rest in Your presence.
This is not a task to be approached begrudgingly, but a privilege to be embraced with excitement, a gift to be received with humility and gratefulness.
When the daily commitment feels too overwhelming and our attitude is sour, allow Your love and grace to infuse every fiber of our bodies. Remind us that You give us a fresh start every morning, Lord.
Abba, please help us believe You and take You at Your Word.
Help us trust that every verse in the Holy Bible is rolling off Your tongue and intended to help us grow deeper in our personal relationship with You as we learn to love others in Your name and for Your glory.
Please help us understand Your Truth in the context in which it was given. Take away any presuppositions or biases that will get in the way of interpreting Your Word in light of all You reveal through Christ.
Show us the glory of the Trinity revealed throughout the Bible, Lord.
Please help us live like we believe what You say, walking in love and obedience, even when Your Truth is not considered popular.
We love You and praise You and can do nothing apart from You, Abba!
Thank You for inviting us into Your loving arms and holding us secure in the stronghold of Your unchanging Truth.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
Happy New Year!
Thank you for your continued support and encouragement as I write for God’s glory. I’m so excited about our fresh start in 2014 and am thankful for your commitment to join me as we bloom in Christ!
I invite you to join me in reading through the Bible in a year, which only takes 15-30 minutes per day. The reading schedule can be delivered to your email.
You can read the all four sections at one time or split your reading up throughout the day.
The important thing is that you approach this opportunity with a prayerful heart ready to get to know Jesus more and more as He reveals Himself through the Bible.
I’d love to hear from you and will be praying for us as we journey through The One Year Bible online in 2014.
When you click the link, you will be given the option to click on the Email Signup under Free Newsletter (see left column). I’ll be following the reading plan under the “Daily One Year Readings.”
I’m looking forward to growing with you!
Photo by Lauren Pfahlert
In 2001, I stole my first Bible and committed my life to Christ.
I had no idea what to do with the Bible. I had no clue where to start reading. And the parts I read, I didn’t understand. So, I quickly allowed that Bible to become a decoration on my shelf, collecting dust while I struggled to change my life.
Still, I wanted so badly to be a good Christian, so I did my best to imitate the people who went to church with me. Yeah, well, that didn’t work out so well.
One day, a dear friend gave me a brand new Bible with my name printed in gold letters on the cover. I kept it safe in the box, afraid to damage the crisp pages.
When she noticed I was still carrying my stolen Bible to church every Sunday she asked me about the Bible she had given me as a gift. I told her I was afraid to mess it up. She looked at my stolen Bible, which still looked brand new, and said fifteen words that the Lord used to nudge me onto the path of the greatest adventure I could ever imagine.
“If you want God to change your life you have to read His Holy Word.”
Her words taught me two very important things. It’s God, not people, who transforms lives. Our part is to listen, to allow the Holy Spirit to give us understanding as we prayerfully read the Bible and obey with a heart fully surrendered to Jesus.
After wiping the crumbs of humble pie off my cheeks, I started out small. I joined one Bible study after another. I read a few excerpts from the familiar books, here and there.
But I longed to know God more. I yearned to experience Him and to be transformed by His Truth. So, in 2005, when my neighbor invited me to read the Bible in a year, I accepted the challenge.
I was amazed to discover that it only takes 15-30 minutes per day to finish the whole Bible in one year!
My husband and I have been reading through the Bible yearly ever since.
Our lives have changed. Our marriage was saved. And every year, we continue to experience the Lord’s transforming power as He deepens our faith. As we continue in our commitment to seek Him daily, God uses His Truth to refine us as He empowers us to obey Him.
The One Year Bible reading plan is designed to familiarize readers with the Bible. This type of reading doesn’t take the place of deeper study of the Word. But my husband and I will both testify that, through the yearly reading plan, God never fails to change us a little bit more every day.
Tomorrow I’ll be finishing my 2013 jaunt through The One Year Bible. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know this has been a difficult year of affliction for my family.
Through the toughest days, God has used His Holy Word to comfort me, change me, deepen my faith. But, more importantly, I have grown to know Him better.
This year, I’d like to invite you to join me on a Bible reading adventure. In 2014, I’ll be signing up for The One Year Bible Online plan. The daily reading is sent directly to your email. There’s even an option to receive the daily readings via text.
With this amazing technology, there really is no excuse for us to miss out on the awesome opportunity to get to know God better and be transformed by His Truth.
Scripture says: “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.” (Psalm 18:30-33, NIV)
In 2013, I learned just how much I need to know what God says in the Bible.
When my circumstances had me worn and weary, ready to quit, crying and feeling as if I was at the end of my rope, the Holy Spirit would bring me back to His promises. Even verses I didn’t know I had memorized would pop into my head just when I needed them most. The years the Bible reading have helped me to know God’s character, so I have been able to rely on His grace when it was hard for me to trust Him.
I hope you will prayerfully consider joining me on this life-changing adventure.
I’ll be reading through the New American Standard Bible, updated edition (NASB) in 2014. If you’re new to reading the Bible, I recommend the New Living Translation or the New International Version.
The One Year Bible is available in a Kindle version, which I used in 2013, and in paperback. I found that having the Bible already separated into the daily readings made the experience easier and recommend this option if you’re a first-timer.
Please let me know if you’ll be joining me so I can pray for you.
I’ll be blogging about what God is revealing to me through this journey and would love to have you share your heart or post questions and comments on my blog.
I’m looking forward to growing with you!
Lord, we’re so grateful for the treasure of Your Holy Word. Thank You for blessing us with the privilege of nurturing our personal relationship with You through prayerfully reading the Bible. Please give us understanding and help us remember that Your words should be interpreted in the context in which You delivered them. Help us to always pray before reading the Bible and to approach this experience as a daily invitation to be transformed by Your love as You unfold Your whole story, right before our eyes. We love You and praise You, Lord. And, oh, how much we need You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I would love to connect with you on through my Facebook Author page. I offer encouragement, prayers and updates on my writing journey through social media and am excited about the opportunity to fellowship with you as we grow in Christ, together, in 2014!