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Sunday, November 30, 2014

12 Days of Christmas Stories That Will Keep Your Family Focused on Jesus

Christmas Stories

If you're like me, you look for ways to keep your family's focus on Jesus during the Christmas season. A great way to do this, especially if you have kids, is having an assortment of Christmas books to read to your children in the days leading up to Christmas. Today I'm so excited to share with you my 12 Days of Christmas Stories That Will Keep Your Family Focused on Jesus!

If you're looking to add new titles to your Christmas stories list this year, look no further than these 12 Christmas stories I've found for you that will be a great addition to your home as you seek to keep the focus of Christmas on Jesus for your family! He is the reason we celebrate, after all!

12 Days of Christmas Stories 


God Gave Us Christmas

J Is for Jesus: The Sweetest Story Ever Told

The Christmas Star

The Nativity Story (Candle Bible for Kids)

The Christmas Story

Christmas in the Manger

The Christmas Story: The Bible Version

The Story of Christmas

A Star for Me

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale

Itsy Bitsy Christmas: You're Never Too Little for His Love

I hope you enjoy looking through my list of Christmas stories to help keep your family focused on Jesus! Let me know if you'll be adding any of these titles to your family's Christmas stories list!

Walking in His Grace, 

Monday, November 24, 2014

God is Your Shield in the Storms of Life (Blogging Through the Bible)

Storms of Life

When the storms of life beat against us it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that God doesn't care about us. We think He has left us all alone when the truth is He is right there with us in the midst of the storm.

Today we are reading Psalm 3, a psalm written by David during a storm in his life. Storms of life are hard - they're even worse when they involve family. David is on the run. Who is he running from? His son, Absalom. David found himself in the midst of a storm with his son at the helm of the uprising against him.

Where can we go during the storms of our lives? Where did David go? David went to God in prayer! And we can, too!

David refused to listen to his enemies who were trying to convince him that God had forgotten about him. He chose instead to remember the faithfulness of God to him in times past...times that God had been a shield for him, his glory, and the lifter of his head.

Oh my friends, do not listen to the lies of your enemies...please remember that God is your shield in the storms of life. Run to Him as David did. Let God lift up your head during the storms of your life...let him be your glory!

Whatever storm you may find yourself in today, I pray that you will cry out to God for help. Let Him sustain you, let Him give you peaceful sleep, and let Him fight the battle for you.

Psalm 3 But You O Lord are a sheild for me

Here is my S.O.A.P. for Psalm 3. I would love to hear your thoughts about this Psalm so please feel free to share in the comments below!

Monday, November 24, 2014
Psalm 3

Written by David when he “fled from Absalom his son”.

Scripture: Psalm 3:3-8
But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing is upon Your people.

Observations: David knew God to be: a shield for him, his glory, and the One who lifts up his head. Knowing these things about God, David cries out to the Lord concerning his current trouble. God hears David’s cried for help.

God sustained David because of his cries for help and so David is able to lie down and sleep even with tens of thousands of people surrounded against him, and awake again in the morning. David is held safe in the strong arms of God.

David has experienced the help of God in the past, so he knows he can cry out to him for help once again and he can run again into the safe arms of his faithful God. He knows salvation is from Lord alone and that God’s blessing rests on His people.

Application: When enemies rise up against us we can have confidence in God. We can remember how God has rescued us in times past and take comfort in knowing that He will be faithful to do it again.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness during the storms of our lives. Thank You for being our shield, for being our glory, and for lifting up our heads so that we can behold Your mighty hand fighting our battles for us. May we run to You and cry out to You in times of trouble. May we always be quick to remember Your faithfulness in times past and trust You will hear our cries for help today. In the faithful name of Jesus I pray. Amen!

Here's our reading plan for this week. I would love for you to join me as we read the Psalms through December. In case you are just joining me on my Blogging Through the Bible journey, we already covered Psalm 1 and 2 back in September. If you'd like, you can read those two Psalms as well this week.

Psalms Reading Plan

I'll see you back here on Wednesday for another Blogging Through the Bible post.

Walking in His Grace, 

**Chime In! What stood out to you in Psalm 3? Are you going through a storm? Have you taken your trouble to the Lord in prayer? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

God is Weaving Your Tapestry (Blogging Through the Bible)

The Master Weaver

The image of God as the Master Weaver, weaving together both the good moments and the bad moments of our lives, to create a beautiful tapestry, is a lovely illustration of God's hand working in our lives. Only now, as we walk through these Grace-Filled-Moments of our lives, we cannot see the completed beautiful tapestry that God is working to create on our behalf.

That's why I'm so thankful we have the life of Joseph to look at. Today we finish reading in the book of Genesis. The book of beginnings has come to an end for us, but the impact of the lessons we have learned from these 50 chapters I think has only just begun.

We have looked back on the Master Weaver at work in the lives of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Issac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah, and Joseph and have seen how God can truly work ALL things together for the good of those who love Him. Joseph has taught me to offer up to God the painful moments of my life that can be redeemed for His glory in His faithful hands.

It's hard to imagine the beauty of our tapestry during the painful moments of our lives. In the moments of our pain we do not understand what good can come out of our circumstances. It's in these painful moments that we must trust who we know God to be and be open to discovering even more of Who He is. This is my prayer for me and for you as we walk through the painful moments of our lives.

Painful Moments Redeemed in the Hands of God

Here are my S.O.A.P.s for Genesis 49 and 50. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Genesis 49

Scripture: Genesis 49:24-25
24 But his bow remained in strength,
And the arms of his hands were made strong
By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob
(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 By the God of your father who will help you,
And by the Almighty who will bless you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.

Observations: Jacob’s words concerning his son Joseph in verses 24 and 25 reveal to us that Jacob truly did discover a personal understanding of Who God is as he had experienced God for himself during his lifetime. 

Jacob gives five titles of God: “the Mighty God of Jacob”, “the Shepherd”, “the Stone of Israel”, “the God of your father”, and “the Almighty”. 

Jacob’s personal relationship with God is seen in how he refers to God in 3 of the 5 titles using “of Jacob”, “of Israel”, “of your father”. He has discovered God for himself and can now refer to God in this way instead of how we see him referring to God back in chapter 32 verse 9 as “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac,”. God is now "the God of Jacob".

Application: The things we go through in this life allow us to experience God in a personal way for ourselves. A tradition I started for our family each Christmas is buying or creating an ornament for how our family has experienced God throughout the year. Last year was “Peace” as we experienced the Peace of God through trying times with our son who was dealing with fears and anxieties related to his diagnosis’ of Asperger’s and OCD. God was our peace during those trying times. This year we have experienced the faithfulness of God during financial struggles that He has brought us through, so I’ll be looking for an ornament that says “Faithful” because God has moved mountains in our finances. I might do two ornaments this year because God also reminded us during this time that He is our Provider.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for using the experiences of our lives to show us Who You are. Help us to remember to look for your attributes in every circumstance we will go through in this life. What a blessing it is to know we can take the hard places of our lives and use them to grow in our personal understanding of Your character. Give us eyes to see Who You are so that we can comfort others in the valleys of this life with the same comfort that You gave to us during our valleys. Thank You for being so faithful to my family and for reminding us that You are our provider for all that we need. In the faithful name of Jesus I pray. Amen!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Genesis 50

Scripture: Genesis 50:15, 19 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” 19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

Observations: Joseph’s brothers acknowledge “all the evil” they had done to their brother and worry that he would now turn on them since their father was dead. Joseph reassures his brothers that they have no need to be afraid of him because he is not “in the place of God” to bring retribution upon them. Joseph goes on to confirm the truth of the evil that his brothers committed against him, but even more so the greater truth that in God’s hands it was meant for the good purpose of saving the lives of many people.

Application: We need to develop the habit of looking for God’s hand in all the circumstances of our lives. When we live this way we can live as the “victor” instead of the “victim” and we can become “better” instead of “bitter”. We must trust the goodness of God to overrule any evil that would try to come against us.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Your Word tells us that no weapon formed against us shall prosper and that You’re working all things together for our good! Help us to hold on to these truths as we face the hardships and struggles of this life. May our hearts not seek retribution against those who have hurt us, but help us to lay our pain at the foot of the cross and earnestly pray for them instead. Teach us to intentionally look for Your hand weaving together all of the circumstances of our lives into a beautiful tapestry of your grace and mercy. May this be our focus which will allow us to be victorious conquerors through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is in His victorious name I pray. Amen!

Remember we will be in Psalm 3 on Monday. We have already read Psalm 1 and 2 back in September, so if you weren't with me then and want to read those two short Psalms over the weekend that would fine. 

Here is the reading plan for next week. I'll see you back here on Monday to discuss Psalm 3. Have a beautiful weekend friends!

Psalms Reading Plan

Walking in His Grace, 

Many thanks to Courtney Joseph of Women Living Well, home of Good Morning Girls, for leading us through the Bible. Click on the image below to read other Blogging Through the Bible posts.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holding On To Your Faith During Times of Famine (Blogging Through the Bible)

Promises of God

What do you do when you've been given a promise from God and then He takes you in a different direction from where your promise lies? That's exactly where Jacob finds himself in these final chapters of Genesis.

God has instructed Jacob to leave Canaan - the promised land - with his family and all of his possessions. God uses a famine throughout the land to drive Jacob and his family into the land of Egypt where Joseph is waiting with provisions that will keep them all alive. God has purposes behind this famine that are far greater than Jacob can imagine.

Why would God do this? Well, thankfully, He tells us exactly why in His Word. As we saw in my post on Monday, God gave four specific promises to Jacob to hold on to during this dark time - a time of famine that in God's hands would be used to fulfill His promises and purposes for Jacob's life.

Tuesday's reading showed us the fulfillment of those four promises God gave to Jacob. During this time of famine, God was working out His good plan for Jacob's life and for his entire family. God separated this people for a specific purpose. He did not forget about His promise of the land of Canaan. This was a time of preparation for Jacob and his entire family. They not only needed to grow in physical number, but they also needed to grow spiritually. There was going to come a day when they would have to take possession of their promised land.

The same holds true for us today. We must be growing spiritually in our walk with God in order to take possession of the promises He has for us as His children. He truly has a good plan for my life and for your life! One day we, too, will take possession of our promised land - our true home in the presence of God - and we need to be prepared to meet Jesus face-to-face.

Are you facing a time of famine in your spiritual walk with God? Does it seem like God has taken you off in a different direction from where you thought you'd be at this time in your life? I'd like to encourage you to hold on to your faith - hold on to the promises of God that you know belong to you because you are His child! Let God do the work He wants to do in your heart wherever He has you at this time in your life, trusting that what He is doing is for your good. This time is not to be wasted - it is our time of preparation - and nothing is wasted in the hands of our faithful and loving God!

Nothing is wasted in the hands of our faithful and loving God

Here are my S.O.A.P.s for Genesis 47 and 48: 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Genesis 47

Scripture: Genesis 47:5-6 Then Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, saying, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Have your father and brothers dwell in the best of the land; let them dwell in the land of Goshen. And if you know any competent men among them, then make them chief herdsmen over my livestock.”

Genesis 47:27 So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly.

Genesis 47:29-31 When the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “Now if I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but let me lie with my fathers; you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” And he said, “I will do as you have said.” 31 Then he said, “Swear to me.” And he swore to him. So Israel bowed himself on the head of the bed.

In Genesis 47:5-6 we see the favor of Pharaoh extended to Joseph’s father and brothers in the giving of the best of the land and in making some of Joseph’s brothers chief herdsmen over his livestock. This is a fulfillment of God’s promise to go with Jacob and his family to Egypt (Genesis 46:4).

In Genesis 47:27 we see Jacob and his family with possessions, growing and multiplying in numbers. This is evidence of the fulfillment of God’s promise to make Jacob into a great nation (Genesis 46:3).
In Genesis 47:29-31 we see the fulfillment of God’s promise that Joseph would be with Jacob when he died and His promise that Jacob would be buried with his fathers (Genesis 46:4).

All four promises that God spoke to Jacob are fulfilled. God is faithful! All of these promises were coming to pass during a time of famine. Proof that God is working even in the midst of the trying times of our lives.

Application: Cling to God during the valleys of this life. Know that He is with me, that He is shaping my character, and that His promises for my life will surely come to pass. 

Most of the time I do not understand how God is moving to fulfill His promises, but that’s when I must walk by faith trusting that God is good and that His plans for me are good. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your goodness and Your faithfulness to me. Your ways are not my ways; Your ways are higher than mine; and Your thoughts are not my thoughts. Give me grace to walk faithfully with You through the valleys of this life. Help me to trust You when what I see with my natural eyes does not seem to align with what You have promised to me in Your Word. I pray that during those times I will keep my eyes focused on You and on the truth of Your promises I find in Your Word. I pray that during those times I will allow Your hand to mold and shape my character for Your glory. In the faithful name of Jesus I pray. Amen!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Genesis 48

Scripture: Genesis 48:3-4, 21 Then Jacob said to Joseph: “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’ 21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am dying, but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers.

Observations: Jacob shares with Joseph the promise God had given to him – a promise to make Jacob fruitful, to multiply him and make him a multitude of people, and to give the land of Canaan to Jacob’s descendants as their possession forever. Jacob shares with Joseph that he is indeed dying, but reassures Joseph that God will be with him and will bring Joseph back to the promised land of Canaan.

Application: It is important to remind our children of the promises of God, that He desires a personal relationship with them, that one day Jesus will return for us, and we’ll finally be home with Him forever.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the promise we have of Jesus’ return! This dark world we travel now is not our true home. Every day that we continue to wait for the return of Jesus, we see a more defined separating taking place between Your children and those who refuse to acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. Give us an urgency as earthly parents to tell our children of all the promises of God, of how He desires a personal relationship with them, and that Jesus is returning one day and at His return every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. May all of our children bow their knees and confess Jesus as Lord of their lives now so that they will be ready at His return. May we all, as God’s children, keep our eyes focused on the promise of Jesus’ return and on our eternal home with Him. It’s in the redeeming name of Jesus I pray. Amen!

Well, we only have 2 more days in Genesis! Here's our reading plan for the rest of the week:
Genesis Reading Plan

What Book of the Bible Are We Reading Next?

We are Reading Through the Bible with the Good Morning Girls taking one chapter at a time, one book of the Bible at a time, for as long as it takes us. There are no dates or numbers on our reading plan, so you can jump in at any time!

What book of the Bible are we reading next?

The book of Psalms! I l.o.v.e. the Psalms!! During the darkest times of my life - those times of famine I talked about today - I have turned to God in the Psalms for comfort and for strength to continue on in my journey of life. God has truly blessed me with many Grace-Filled-Moments as I seek to live life's moments in the power of His grace! He will do the same for you as you commit to seeking His face through His Word and in prayer. Won't you join me in the book of Psalms on Monday?

Now for those of you who may not have been with me in the very beginning of this Reading Through the Bible journey which I began in August with the Good Morning Girls, I need to explain that we have already read Psalm 1 and 2 back in September. So you may want to go ahead and read those 2 chapters over the weekend so you can begin with me in Psalm 3 on Monday.

Here is a bookmark for Psalms that Courtney Joseph has provided for us. You can right-click on the image and print it off to use as a bookmark for your Bible during our time in Psalms.

Psalms Bookmark

I'll see you back here on Friday when we will finish the book of Genesis! Only two more days friends...let's finish strong!

Walking in His Grace, 

***Chime in! Who is excited about starting the book of Psalms on Monday? Give me a shout out in the comments below...