Welcome Patricia Knight!

If you’ve been around this blog for awhile, you’ll recognize the name Patricia Knight because she has graciously allowed me to share some of her devotionals here from time to time. Now Pat has agreed to contribute to my blog on a monthly basis, so it seemed appropriate to tell you a little bit about her.

As I’ve shared here before, I consider Pat to be one of my Christian mentors. She is my far-away friend whom I met online in 2003 when we were both writing devotionals for the same online chronic illness ministry. Although Pat and I have never met in person, we share such a strong love for the Lord that our bond of friendship has strengthened immeasurably over the years.

Pat and I have spoken by phone a few times but our daily lives don’t mesh well enough to make it possible very often. We live on opposite sides of the country so there is that 2-3 hour time difference. We also each endure chronic pain illnesses so our awake times are very different. Even though Pat lives with extreme pain most of the time, her constant encouragement and thoroughly trusting dependence on the Lord have shown me how to live joyfully no matter how I feel. As she wrote on a card she sent me recently: 

As iron sharpens iron so one woman sharpens another.
—Proverbs 27:17

In this case, I like her use of “woman” instead of “person” as the passage was originally written. Yes, she and I do sharpen each other to keep us grounded in our faith.

Pat is the author of REJOICE! and PURE JOY, two books filled with joyful devotionals. Besides having written encouraging devotionals for an online chronic illness ministry, she currently maintains a ministry of handwritten encouraging notes for those who are hurting. I have been blessed many times over the years with one of Pat’s beautiful notes!

Pat, I’m so thankful for the blessing of you in my life!

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Thank You Challenge 2015

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Would you believe that I haven’t always been the most thankful person? Oh, I did thank people out of politeness every so often. But God worked on my heart for many years before I realized the need to express thanks more often.

When I first met Rick, he took me to dinner and I thanked him for that afterwards. The next day we had lunch together and I thanked him for that too. I recall him being very surprised and pleased that I would thank him for such simple gestures and that spoke to my heart as I realized I needed to do this more often.

After we were married, I began my campaign to thank Rick for the smallest things he did for me, from carrying out the trash to his offer to help with the dishes—even though I always turn him down. :-) The great thing is that it has led him to do the same. A day does not go by when he does not thank me for many little things I do for him.

ThankYouBlackboard--AMPThe point is that if you truly thank an individual for doing or providing something, it causes that person to feel as if what they did really matters. Not only that, being thankful breeds more thankfulness and results in a mutually loving attitude that colors your whole relationship. And your life!

So, here’s the challenge: make the effort to thank those around you regularly and wholeheartedly for even the smallest, most seemingly insignificant things. It may take time, but you’ll see a difference in the people in your life because a thankful attitude rubs off on others. And blessing other people this way ultimately blesses you!

As you start being thankful for even the little things, you’ll start seeing God’s hand in so much of your life that you were not so aware of before. And you’ll recognize how much God has blessed you, and that will lead you to thank Him for every single thing in your life. Every. Single. Thing.

Take my word for this. It really works!

And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.”
—Isaiah 12:4-5

 

And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
—1 Chronicles 29:13

 

Be thankful and joyful.
Be content with life.
Make the most of every situation.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita

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Read the Word of God

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Reading the Word of God for yourselves,
reading it rather than notes upon it,
is the surest way of growing in grace.
Drink of the unadulterated milk of the Word of God,
and not of the skim milk.
—Charles Spurgeon

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Set Your Mind On Things Above

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Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ,
keep seeking the things above, where Christ is,
seated at the right hand of God.

Set your mind on the things above,
not on the things that are on earth.

—Colossians 3:1-2

 

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JOY and FAITH

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For the past few weeks, I have been pondering the word JOY. Such a small word for such a huge and amazing emotion.

How can I describe JOY?

How can we feel any JOY at all while in those valley places?

And why do we feel JOY in the first place?

Stay tuned, beloved!

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So the natural progression—in my mind at least—led me to next think about the word FAITH. Hebrews 11:1 (above) was given to me years ago during a particularly stressful time in my life when God showed me that FAITH in Him can carry me through any situation.

FaithBraceletsCollage--AMPI have always tried to live by that kind of faith, and this Christmas I received two special bracelets from my Rick that were faith themed. As you can see in this photo, one of them says “Keep the Faith.” The other reads “Faith Hope Love.” They look really nice worn together, and are serving to remind me that my FAITH is found only in the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary.

…..

Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said,
“Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You,
even as You gave Him authority over all flesh,
that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.
This is eternal life, that they may know You,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
I glorified You on the earth,
having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.
Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself,
with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
—John 17:1-5

This year I hope you’ll join me in exploring JOY and FAITH, especially as it pertains to each of us individually. I don’t think this subject can ever be exhausted because God fills us up with unending amounts of JOY and FAITH. It’s up to us to grab hold of both of those and never let go!

Heavenly Father, we need You more than we can ever imagine. We so need Your JOY and Your FAITH. JOY that You think of us as the apple of Your eye. JOY in and through every single circumstance in our lives. FAITH in the mercy and saving grace of Your Son, Jesus Christ. FAITH that we can always count on You—and only You—to see us through those inevitable valleys in our lives. Oh, Abba Father, we are so utterly thankful for how much You lavish Your JOY and FAITH upon us!

…..

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Happy 2015! Do Not Dwell on the Past…

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Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
—Isaiah 43:18-19

Do you find yourself thinking about things you once were able to do but are not able to any longer? Are you dwelling on past mistakes or times that to you seemed to be better or easier than where you are right now?

I confess that I am guilty at times of dwelling in the past, remembering when it seemed effortless to do something as simple as laundry or taking an enjoyable walk without a lot of physical pain. However, I’ve found that these remember when thoughts only serve to fuel that monster called discontentment.

The dictionary defines being content as being satisfied or resigned to circumstances. Being satisfied means we feel fulfilled, but feeling resigned to our circumstances denotes a passive acceptance of our situation. These sound like opposites, but they are not. We can accept our physical limitations and still be satisfied, but it has to be a conscious decision to accept our situation as something God can use in our lives.

I haven’t been able to work at a job outside my home for about 15 years. I have always wanted to write, but never had the chance to do so—until I had to stop working. Now I’m thankful for this chance to do something that has always been on my heart, and in the process continue to glorify the Lord no matter what my circumstances.

It has taken some time, but I’m learning not to let my past dictate my future. Instead, I am acknowledging this new thing that God has fashioned in my life as He makes “a way in the desert” to use me in the lives of others.

For every wasteland in our lives, God gives us a stream of living water to help our way through that desert.

Those who are not able to scrub the kitchen floor can read a story to their children or grandchildren. If I can’t hammer a nail any longer, God has blessed me with the ability to write in a way that may help others in similar situations. Much has been taken from me, but God has replaced them with more meaningful things, which has brought me even closer to Him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for a brand new year! We are so thankful that You are our Stream in the Desert, even though we sometimes have trouble remembering that. Help us to see that only with You can we ever be satisfied and filled with joy. Amen.

 

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Thankful for God’s Joy

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I am still feeling surrounded with the joy of Jesus Christ’s birth, so I’d like to share another of the devotionals I wrote for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleThis particular devotional was included in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving. 

 

When I want to thank God for His joy . . .

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

—Psalm 100:1-2
 

[The  LORD says] The joy of the LORD will fill you to overflowing.
You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.

—Isaiah 41:16 NLT
 

We are praying . . . that you will be filled with his mighty,
glorious strength so that you can keep going  no matter what happens—
always full of the joy of the Lord.

—Colossians 1:11 TLB
 

You will make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence is fullness of joy.
—Psalm 16:11 NASB
 

Be full of joy in the Lord always.
I will say it again, be full of joy.

—Philippians 4:4 NCV

 

. . . I will pray.

Glorious Father,

Today I woke up singing a praise song that I heard on the radio yesterday. I guess it must have settled into my mind because I remember hearing it play through my dreams during the night as I slept. What a wonderful way to start the day! No matter how tired, cranky, or achy I feel when I wake up, praising You in song overcomes any pain or irritation I may be experiencing.

There are so many reasons to be joyful when thinking about You. Knowing I can always turn to You for guidance makes me smile with gratification. Your comforting arms holding me close make me sigh in blissful contentment.

Your heavenly joy becomes visible when I hear the delighted giggling of a child or see the tiny hands and feet of a newborn baby. And how can I not rejoice wit You when a glorious rainbow paints the sky? I always appreciate Your readiness to show me the joys in life, especially when I’m at my lowest. You give me joy enough for each and every day. Thank You for Your gracious gift.

Amen.

I have no understanding of a long-faced Christian.
If God is anything, He must be joy.

—Joe E. Brown

 

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[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

 

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Joy!

 

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Joy to the world,
the Lord has come,
let earth receive her King!
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns,  
let men their songs employ!

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Mary Treasured All These Things

Please enjoy this special Christmas devotional by Pat Knight.

Thank you, Pat, for blessing us with this wonderful rendition of Mary’s viewpoint in being the one to give birth to our Savior, Jesus Christ, and watch Him as He grew up.

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“Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Mary was an ordinary person who accomplished the extraordinary. As a young teenager, a mere twelve to fourteen years of age, Mary possessed a quiet faith, one that conveyed submission, humility, and inner strength of character. The angel assured her, Do not be afraid. You have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 2:32).

Mary was initially overwhelmed and perplexed by the announcement, but she asked only one question of the angel Gabriel: “How will this be since I am a virgin?” (Luke 2:34). Once Gabriel responded that the Holy Spirit would overcome her to create her pregnancy, Mary replied, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). Her next response was to compose and sing a song of praise and glory to God, rejoicing in His mercy lavished upon her. Mary’s song ends with conviction that God will be true to all of His promises. She felt honored that she had been chosen to participate in a miracle that would fulfill God’s promise made centuries ago to bring the prophesied Savior to the world.

Mary didn’t attempt to live in the future, avoiding futile “what if” questions. She relied upon her Lord to meet all of her needs on a daily basis. Whenever she was reminded of a new aspect of Jesus’ future predicted by a prophet or an angel, Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). God recognized Mary’s superlative heart value. He chose her as the mother of Jesus by examining her heart and found it overflowing with goodness. To hold the Son of God in her arms, to cuddle Him, to nurture and instruct Him, must have been a tremendous privilege and responsibility, not so different from the devotion and love all mothers feel toward their children. However, a sense of wonder must have constantly permeated Mary’s emotions.

As Jesus matured, He gradually developed an awareness of His unique relationship to God. He was also perfectly obedient to His earthly parents. Mary and Joseph must have yearned for their firstborn to experience every aspect of life, but Jesus was unable to fall in love, have a family, or experience any permanent status on earth. Jesus the Christ, was God in the flesh. He was focused on the work with eternal consequences He must perform during his brief time on earth.

Jesus’ parents had no forewarning that their adult son would walk on water, cure the blind, or heal the lame. But they believed unreservedly in His mission. At a wedding where the wine supply was exhausted much to early in the celebrations, Mary asked Jesus to help in some way to prevent embarrassment to the bridegroom. Then she instructed the servants, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). Though Jesus had never performed a miracle up to that point, Mary trusted His abilities and judgment explicitly. She was likely as surprised as the servants that Jesus converted gallons of plain water into elegant wine.

Jesus was born on earth not to constantly perform fantastic miracles, as needed as they were, but to bring redemption of sin to the multitudes. Soon the prediction the prophet Simon uttered when Jesus was still an infant, was proving true; that Mary as well as Jesus would suffer deep anguish in the future. When Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, storm clouds of opposition and rejection gathered over His life. Mary must have felt personally attacked when she viewed mob hatred escalating toward her son. Jesus was the subject of intolerance and shame, scorn and disbelief. Mary paid a tremendous price to bring the Savior into the world; she paid an exorbitant price to stand beneath the cross, witnessing the torment of Jesus during his heinous crucifixion. Mary’s heart must have completely shattered, spilling forth all the treasures she’d pondered over the past thirty-three years of her son’s life.

As He hung from the cross, Jesus assigned His beloved disciple, John, to care for His mother for the rest of her life. Then Mary retreated into seclusion with Jesus’ committed followers, where they hid from the Roman authorities, praying for protection and guidance. Three days later, news arrived that Jesus had risen from the dead. How Mary rejoiced! Her son, the Son of God, was alive! Thanksgiving filled the air.

Are we willing to cling to our beliefs as Mary did, even when the rising tide of public opposition threatens to chip away at our spiritual commitment like granite eroding from the constant battering of surging tides? Just as the plans for the incarnation of our Savior were flawlessly choreographed in heaven, God loves us so much that His purposes for each of our lives are also perfect. As we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas season, let us follow Mary’s example, learning to treasure all the Words of God and ponder them in our hearts.

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Please enjoy this beautiful rendition of “Mary, Did You Know?” by Pentatonix.

If for any reason you are unable to view the video, please CLICK HERE for the lyrics.

 

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