Happy New Year! Doesn’t it feel good to be finished with 2020 and move up to the new and improved model 2021? It does to me. Last year was certainly for the memory books. Now we shall move on to bigger and brighter things.
Do you have any New Year’s Day traditions? Perhaps you make a resolution to improve an area of your life. My husband has had the same resolution since the eighties……to make no resolutions. If he doesn’t make them, then he won’t break them or such is his logic.
Me? Oh, I have a few things I like to do. The first is to write down a major prayer request. This is something that is troubling me that I have tried to give over to God. I do give it over, but then I keep sneaking back and picking it back up. Instead of leaving it in God’s highly capable hands, I decide to manage it myself, a mere human.
On New Year’s Eve or Day, I will hand write this issue on a piece of paper. Next I pray over it, and completely give it to God. Finally, I burn the paper to symbolize that I cannot and will not worry about or pick up this problem again. It is in God’s hands. He will take care of the situation according to His will.
If you do not do this, you should give it a try. The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:6-7:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
What a great way to begin 2021…with the peace of God that passes all understanding. We don’t know why we are so at ease and peaceful in the middle of chaos, but we are. Actually, we do know. We have given the trouble over to God. He is in control of our lives.
Another thing I like to do is pray a blessing from the Bible over my husband, mother, sister, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews (even those by heart and not blood). I individually name each one of them and say this Old Testament prayer from Numbers:
‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ‘
Isn’t that a wonderful blessing? This is a perfect way to enter into any new year. I would encourage you to pray it over your family as well as to write down your burden, give it over to our most powerful God, and then burn it. These two acts will make you feel happy as you begin 2021. May God bless us as we begin the adventure called 2021.
Do you have a prayer request you would like to share with me? I would be honored to join you in praying. Just fill out the contact form.
Stories and Songs of Faith: My Journey with God by author Alexis Goring is an uplifting collection of fifty-two devotions. Personally I love devotional books. It is refreshing to read them at different times throughout the day. This one would easily slip into any time.
The author draws from her personal experiences and time with God to share with readers. While this is a weekly devotional, I kept reading them. The author’s style of writing is smooth and easy to understand. It felt like a conversation between friends. The stories are transparent and honest.
Each devotion contains scripture, a message or story, reflection questions, and a song. In the back of the book is a listing of song links. If reading on a Kindle, one just needs to click the link and the song begins playing. Genius!
This is a wonderful book filled with short devotions. I thought it was moving and gave me much to consider. I highly recommend it. It would make a perfect Christmas gift, and make sure to get a copy for yourself. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars. A copy was provided by CelebrateLit Lit but these are my own words.
About the Book
Book: Stories and Songs of Faith
Author: Alexis Goring
Genre: Christian Devotional
Release Date: April 25, 2020
Stories and Songs of Faith: My Journey with God is a 52-week devotional that will bless your heart, soothe your soul, encourage your mind, and strengthen your God-given spirit.
Join author Alexis A. Goring on an inspirational journey. Each devotional builds from real-life experiences that impart many faith lessons learned along the way.
Each day is built on the foundation of a Bible verse or edifying quote, followed by Goring’s personal story and reflection questions for a personalized experience.
All of the devotionals are tied to a song in order to go a little deeper into the heart of the message. A song directory at the end of the book connects the reader with music online to further enhance the study experience and glorify God.
Spend a year on a journey growing closer to the Lord through Stories and Songs of Faith, and discover personal transformation as time with Jesus Christ changes your heart to look a little more like His.
Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.
More from Alexis
Stories and Songs of Faith: My Journey with God was published in April 2020.
However, the idea for this devotional wasn’t a thought in my head until around the beginning of last year. It’s interesting because though I have been writing devotions since recovering from a health crisis at age 16, and have had my devotionals published in books, on blogs and on websites since then, I never thought of putting together a book filled with my original devotions until January 2019.
It’s amazing how God works! Because at the time that God inspired this project, I was actually still trying to recover from writer’s block and work on another fiction book which I planned to have published before the end of that year. But God had other plans.
And His plans were (and always are) perfect!
God put this devotional on my heart and I went to it! First, I gathered all of the devotions that I’d written over the years that were published on other blogs. Since they didn’t pay me to publish my work, I still had the rights to each one. So that meant I now had about 25 percent of the content for my book! Next, I reached out to the women’s devotional book editorial team who had published several of my devotions over the span of about 14 years. I planned to ask permission to re-publish those devotions that I wrote, this time in my own devotional. But later, I decided that it would be a better idea to simply write new material for my book. And so I did! But it wasn’t easy.
At first, I was barely writing more than one devotion every two or three weeks. It was then that I realized that as a trained journalist, I thrive on deadlines (never missed one). So I decided that it would help motivate me to write consistently if I gave myself a deadline for each new devotion. Around that time, I had been writing a few times a month for a friend’s blog called Whispers in Purple. I decided to sign up to write a new devotion for her blog every week until I was done putting my devotional together. So I booked myself for one of my new devotions to be published every Friday from around February 2019 through Summer 2019.
By Summer 2019, I had a total of 44 devotions and thought I was done. However, God knew I was not and He let me know that through two professionals in the publishing industry. The first was a popular book editor who told me, “You know, Alexis, if you wrote 52 devotions then it could be a weekly devotional because there are 52 weeks in a year.” I gave her a nod but wasn’t convinced that was the best idea for me as the author. Not soon after, a literary agent gave me the final push by simply saying, “You need to keep going.” And so I, reluctantly then but gratefully now, did keep writing more devotions. I booked myself to be a guest on Whispers in Purple blog every Friday through the rest of that year and then finally by the end of February 2020 (the next year), I wrote devotional number 52. I was so relieved to be done writing my book!
Not only does God have perfect timing; He positions you perfectly for success! Long story short: My publisher had hired a new editor who has decades of professional experience in editing devotionals and she (Patty) was the editor who my publisher assigned to me! Patty had a wonderful idea that really shaped my book by giving it the perfect title and bonus idea. The title of my devotional, as you can see, is about my real-life stories and faith-based songs that guided me on my journey with God. And the fun bonus idea was to have links to the songs that I mentioned in each devotion. These links were made available for the reader in a song directory at the end of my devotional in both the print and e-book versions. Even better, the link is live if you are using a Kindle to read my book meaning that the reader can just click on the hyperlink and hear the song via YouTube while using their Kindle app or Kindle device, without having to look it up first online. Patty said that there’s really not another book on the market yet with this kind of idea and format. She told me that it may help a lot of people, especially music lovers. As a music lover myself, I loved this idea!
But God wasn’t done directing my steps (praise the Lord!): He allowed 20 professionals from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences to agree to read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of my book and write an endorsement. We’re talking actresses, journalists, pastors, doctors, teachers, authors, bloggers, singers and a Christian radio show host … a wonderful variety of people who were all behind my book!
The final part of this amazing experience that brings joy to my heart is the fact that this is the first book I wrote where all of the first few reviews were each 5-stars on Amazon.com! That has never happened to me before (I have three other books published though they are all fiction stories but this devotional is my first nonfiction work).
Several of the people who have endorsed and/or reviewed my book have said that it was timely and needed for such a time as this (the Coronavirus pandemic, intense politics, increased racial tensions, and everything else that’s been hitting us hard this year on and off the news). Only God can do that so I give all the glory to Him!
In closing, I’d like to share words from my friend Morgan’s endorsement.
She said: “God has profoundly touched my life through Alexis A. Goring’s uplifting and personable weekly devotional book sharing God’s love through her own experiences and insights. It is so well-written and in a voice that feels as if a close friend is having coffee with you and talking of God. Every entry is backed by Scripture, as well as highlights meaningful songs that God has used to touch the author’s heart. As a fellow journalist, I love how the author uses her talent of observation to see God at work all around her as well as the use of thought-provoking questions at each devotional’s end to further connect our lives to that entry’s theme and the Scripture truth it has been based on. If you are looking for a devotional that is short but powerful, this is it. It would be a perfect gift for a special person in your life.”
Morgan’s words about how reading my devotional made her feel like she was having coffee with a close friend and talking about God is how I want every person who reads my book to feel. And if you don’t like coffee then we can have tea or ice water! At the end of the day, I hope and pray that God uses my devotional to touch your heart and bring you closer to Him.
To celebrate her tour, Alexis is giving away the grand prize package of a $10 Starbucks gift card, an eBook copy of “Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories”, and a signed copy of Alexis’ devotional book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Glimpses of God is a refreshing Summer devotional for women written by authors Shirley Crowder & Harriet Michael. It is a two month devotional with sixty-five daily lessons. That makes it perfect for a summer inspirational quick read.
Authors Crowder and Michael each write devotions. Their styles are welcoming and easy to read. I felt as if we were having a conversation together. Topics all center around summer – Dog Days of Summer, Blackberry Winter, Memorial Day, Good Ol’ Summertime, and Vacation Bible School. Each day includes a lesson, corresponding Scripture, a suggested Prayer, and a Thought for the Day.
Not every lesson has the same spiritual depth. Some are light and made me happy, while others were deeper and left me pondering something for a few days. I liked that. The authors really meshed well. This is a devotional that all women will enjoy.
I highly recommend Glimpses of God. It would make a great birthday or Mother’s Day gift. A small group would benefit from reading and discussing it. Church libraries should keep a copy, too. I received a copy from Celebrate Lit but these are my honest words. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.
About the Book
Book: Glimpses of God: A Summer Devotional for Women
Author: Shirley Crowder & Harriet Michael
Release Date: April 29, 2020
Creator God made the world in which we live. He placed the moon and stars in the sky, the rivers and ocean on the earth. He also created seasons throughout the year. Each season is defined by specific features/attributes that are common although the degree varies depending on where a person lives. In winter we think of cold weather; in spring, blooming flowers; in summer, warm weather; and in the fall, beautifully colored leaves.
As Christ-followers we also experience spiritual seasons. These seasons do not come in order like seasons in nature, which come regularly without fail. Each spiritual season we experience is defined by certain features also. In spiritual winter we think of the coldness of our relationship with God; in spring, new
This devotional is focused on summer—both calendar and spiritual. Our spiritual summer is a time of growth, hard work, and relaxation as we nurture and care for the new things that were planted in our spiritual spring and allow them to ripen or mature.
Shirley Crowder was born in a mission guest house under the shade of a mango tree in Nigeria, West Africa, where her parents served as missionaries. She and co-author Harriet E. Michael grew up together on the mission field and have been life-long friends. Shirley is passionate about disciple-making, which is manifested in and through a myriad of ministry opportunities: biblical counseling, teaching Bible studies, writing, and music.
She is a biblical counselor and is commissioned by and serves on the national Advisory Team for The Addiction Connection. She is an award-winning writer who has had several of her articles appear in “Paper Pulpit” inthe Faith section of The Gadsden Times, and in a David C. Cook publication. She also writes articles for Life Bible Study, Woman’s Missionary Union, The Addiction Connection and Inspired Prompt. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to eight books.
Shirley has spiritual children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren serving the Lord in various ministry and secular positions throughout the world.
Harriet E. Michael was born in Joinkrama, Nigeria, deep in the African jungle in the Niger River delta, where her father served as the only missionary doctor at that station. A few years later, the mission moved the family to a larger hospital in Ogbomoso. Co-author Shirley Crowder and her family lived right across the dirt road. The two children became constant playmates. Today they continue to enjoy their lifelong friendship.
Harriet is a multi-published, award-winning writer and speaker. She has authored or co-authored seven books (six nonfiction and one novel) with several more under contract for future release. She is also a prolific freelance writer, having penned over 200 articles, devotions, and stories. Her work has appeared in publications by Focus on the Family, David C. Cook, Lifeway, Standard Publishing, Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Upper Room, Judson Press, Bethany House, and more. When not writing, she loves speaking to women’s groups and teaching workshops on freelance writing.
She and her husband of more than 40 years have four children and two grandchildren. When not writing, she enjoys substituting at a Christian school near her home, gardening, cooking, and traveling.
More from Shirley
In the same way that nature’s seasons serve a purpose on earth, so do the seasons in our spiritual lives. God provides, cares for, and sustains the earth, and in His faithfulness, He does the same for us. Our responsibility is to be obedient to God’s commands in the Bible and to cling to the truth that God is in control.
Our “Glimpses of God” series consist of:
Glimpses of God: a winter devotional for women
Glimpses of God: a summer devotional for women
Glimpses of God: a spring devotional for women (due out in early 2021)
Glimpses of God: an autumn devotional for women (due out in late summer 2021)
We pray that as readers meditate upon the Bible passages and truths in each devotional, they will catch glimpses of God in and through everything around them.
How has He provided for you? How is He protecting you? How is He teaching you?
The Prayer of Agur by author Jay Payleitner is my introduction to him. I had not before heard of him nor known he had written any books. This short little book was a brilliant, heart stirring explanation of a prayer that is often over looked in Proverbs, or at least it has been by me.
The Prayer of Agur from Proverbs (30:8-9) is where Agur asks for only his daily bread. He does this for two reasons. If he gets an abundance he could forget about God, and if he doesn’t have enough he might steal and dishonor the Lord’s name. Reminiscent of the Israelites in the desert, isn’t it?
Payleitner has a nice, easy style of writing. I found it very enjoyable. He writes clearly and concisely. Each chapter is dissected and explained so that a novice or seasoned student will easily understand it. There are questions at the end of them, also.
The author says: “Open your heart to Agur’s wit and wisdom, and you can learn to
• escape imbalance
• overcome fear of failure and eliminate envy
• joyfully pursue your passions
• reap the eternal rewards of trusting God • find your personal sweet spot”
I have read through the Bible many times. Obviously I just glossed over parts of it, such as this one. Now I am hungry to reread it all over again and see what I have missed.
A big take away from this book for me is that God has always used ordinary people to fulfill His purpose and always will. The saying still holds true, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called,” today. We just need to listen for Him.
Agur was an unknown man that asked God to provide the exact amount he needed for each day. He trusted God and was rewarded for that. It sounds so simple yet is sometimes difficult for mere humans.
I highly recommend this encouraging, inspirational book to everyone. There is much to ponder within the pages. I will definitely return for a second read again soon. It would make a great small group study or book club choice. Ministers would easily be able to build a sermon on it. It gets a 5 out of 5 star rating fro me. I received a copy from the author, but these are my honest words.
About the Author
Jay Payleitner is one of the top freelance producers for Christian radio, having worked on Josh McDowell Radio, Today’s Father, Jesus Freaks Radio, and Project Angel Tree with Chuck Colson.
Jay is a long-time affiliate with the National Center for Fathering and Iron Sharpens Iron. He speaks at men’s retreats, marriage weekends, writers’ conferences, and weekend services. Jay has sold more than half million books including the bestselling 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, The Prayer of Agur, and What If God Wrote Your Bucket List? His books have been translated into at least ten languages. And he has been a guest multiple times on The Harvest Show, Moody Radio, Cornerstone TV, and Focus on the Family.
Jay and his high school sweetheart, Rita, live in the Chicago area where they raised five great kids, loved on ten foster babies, and are cherishing grandparenthood.
I am so excited to tell you about this new release from author Melissa Jagears. She is a master storyteller and produces books that will delight Christian historical fans. This one beckoned me to begin page one and hours later I bittersweetly finished it saying goodbye to my friends.
It is another captivating novel by outstanding wordsmith Melissa Jagears. Pretending to Wed is a Christian Historical Romance that had me turning pages to see where the story was going next. I was immediately invested in the story. Immediately. I loved all of it.
This is the story of Corinne is our heroine, a laundress. She needs out of the laundry business due to health issues with her hands. Doing laundry for hours each day takes a toil on a body’s health. It is also the story of Nolan. He lost a leg when he was younger and naturally this has affected his entire life. Nolan has always done his best but could never measure up to his cousin. Now he and Corrine both need a spouse for very different reasons. Corrine is strong, independent, and a bit sassy. Nolan is sincere, sweet, and adorable. They really do make a perfect couple even if they are fighting it.
Characters are well rounded and believable. The villains are despicable, but that was their job. Expect a few familiar faces from her past book, Romancing the Bride, which is Book 1 in her Frontier Vows series. If you haven’t read it you will be able to follow this one just fine. It can be read as a stand alone. The story is well planned and captivating. The spiritual message is encouraging and certain to stir hearts.
I absolutely love the writing style of this author. Her mixture of historical information with Christian inspiration is a winning combination. Conversations sound authentic and add tremendously to the story. The author does her research well and has a fantastic sense of humor. Life lessons are easily threaded throughout the story leaving readers much to ponder. One of my favorite parts of the book is Nolan’s belief in Corrine.
This is a another winner from an author that is exemplary in writing tales that touch hearts. I connected to the characters and felt their emotions right along with them. I highly recommend this Christian fiction to everyone. Reading groups would have fun and inspiration while discussing this book. It gets 5 out of 5 stars from me. I received a copy from the publisher but these are my honest words.
About the Author
Don’t miss out on Melissa’s new releases and sales and specials. Sign up for her newsletter: https://bit.ly/2tzZEVS
Much to her introverted self’s delight, ACFW Award winner and double INSPY finalist Melissa Jagears hardly needs to leave her home to be a homeschooling mother and novelist. She lives in Kansas with her husband and three children and can be found online at http://www.melissajagears.com, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
Refresh your Faith, uncommon devotions from every book of the Bible, by author Lori Hatcher is a unique devotional. The author uses scripture from each of the sixty-six books of the Bible and molds a refreshing, inspiring devotion around them. Be prepared to become enlightened.
Most of the devotionals that I have read draw upon the same, favorite, and familiar scriptures. This one is the exception. It is a breath of fresh air. I was given a sampling of lesser known books and scripture to help deepen my daily Walk. The lessons stayed with me long after I had finished them.
The style of writing is personal and soothing. It was easy to imagine discussing scripture and stories over a glass of iced tea with this author. Her devotions are smooth and clear. They give insight and inspiration. I will definitely read this book again.
This would make a lovely gift for anyone – man or woman, any age, no matter where you are in your Walk. I highly recommend this. Be sure to get a copy for yourself, too. It is certainly different but in a good way. I gladly give it a 5 out of 5 star rating. A copy was provided by Celebrate Lit but these are my honest words.
Move from biblical doldrums to dynamic discovery! While your favorite Scripture verses or stories may bring you comfort, if you’re feeling monotony in your time with God it’s time to shake it up a bit. Each of these 66 culturally relevant, story-driven devotions—one from each book of the Bible—spotlights an unusual verse or passage and takes only five minutes to read. If you have more time, you can dig a little deeper with an uncommon thought to ponder, unusual faith action step to take, and an unfamiliar passage suggestion that invites you to further explore the Bible’s hidden gems.
You’ll be challenged to think deeply, step out boldly, and grow dynamically, transforming your devotional time—and your life!
Praise for Lori Hatcher’s writing . . .
“Real-life inspiration and candid wit. These 5-minute devotions will change your life.” —Psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Kevin Leman
Lori Hatcher is a blogger, pastor’s wife, and women’s ministry speaker. She’s the editor of South Carolina’s Reach Out, Columbiamagazine, president of Columbia Toastmasters, and regular contributor to magazines such as Christian Living Today and websites like Crosswalk.com. Her book Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time, won the Christian Small Publisher 2016 book of the year. Find out more about Lori and her well-loved 5-minute devotions at lorihatcher.com.
Read a Teaser from Refresh Your Faith
The dirty little secret in Christian circles is that many of us are bored with our devotional time. We know we shouldn’t feel this way. It’s important to read our Bibles every day. After all, it’s God’s Word, the source of truth, and life, and hope.
While some have successfully built the discipline of Bible reading into their lives, others struggle. Even those who regularly read their Bibles find it a bit dry at times. Many of us also read devotionals, not to take the place of Bible reading, but to help us discover unfamiliar passages and stories and benefit from a godly writer’s perspective.
I wrote Refresh Your Faith because I was frustrated by many of the devotionals I read. They seemed to focus on the same basic verses I’d memorized with my children twenty years ago. John 3:16, Romans 8:28, Psalm 23, Matthew 3:5-6. Same with the Bible passages and stories. I treasure the familiar verses and stories. I’ve held them close to my heart during some of the darkest times of my life.
But I knew there was more to the Bible than these well-worn favorites.
I reached a point in my spiritual life when I needed something new. If something didn’t change, my spirit was going to wither up. My time with God shouldn’t be something I did out of duty. I wanted to delight in God and His Word.
So I asked God to help me. I needed something to refresh my faith and energize my Bible reading. Wow, did He answer. I’d been reading through the Bible every year for more than a decade, but all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to passages I’d never noticed before.
These uncommon verses sparkled like gems. The more I read, the more I spotted them, tucked into obscure stories and buried under genealogies and census reports. I found some hiding out in plain sight—golden nuances and nuggets in the shadows of the more familiar stories.
Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible is a collection of the treasure I unearthed during my year of searching. Each story-driven devotion contains an unusual verse, a real-life application, and an uncommon faith step.
I hope my book will energize your faith, inspire your devotional time, and make you say, “Wow, I’ve never seen that before!”
Welcome to my stop on Celebrate Lit’s book tour for God Sees Her. Enjoy learning about today’s title. Make sure to enter the giveaway at the very end. You might be the winner?
This lovely daily devotional is a year long book of inspiration written by women for women. From Our Daily Bread with the forward by Liz Curtis Higgs, I was positive this was going to be a daily dose of encouragement. It truly was.
Each devotional is timely and relates to a woman’s life. They are easy to read and understand. Each day contains a scripture and relating message. The daily offerings are meaningful yet short. It is easy to fit this daily devotional into one’s day.
The book itself is compact with a lovely floral cover. There is a ribbon bookmark to keep your place. Devotionals are dated, January 1 through December 31, which makes it an easy yearly study regardless of when it is started.
I enjoyed the lessons in this devotional. Some of them touched me more than others, but all of them were encouraging. It would make a great gift for any woman, young or old.
This sweet book gets my recommendation. It would make a lovely thoughtful gift that would be enjoyed all year long. I rated it 5 out of 5 stars. Celebrate Lit provided a copy but these are my honest words.
About the Book
Book: God Sees Her
Author: Our Daily Bread
Release Date: March 3, 2020
Following the overwhelming success and rave reviews of God Hears Her, we’re bringing you another devotional written by women for women to reassure you that God is with you. God Sees Her is a beautifully styled gift book containing 366 meditations with accompanying Scripture that speak to the heart of women.
The title comes from a story in an Old Testament book of the Bible—Genesis—where Hagar is on the run, alone in the desert with nowhere to go. The angel of the Lord finds her and calls her by name. After this encounter, Hagar exclaimed, “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). Women today need this same assurance . . . God sees you, God knows you by name, and God cares about every detail of your life.
Let these short Our Daily Bread devotionals written by women like you wash over your soul and remind you each day that God is near. The handy size, ribbon marker, and decorative cover make it perfect for gift giving to your girlfriends too.
To celebrate their tour, Our Daily Bread is giving away the grand prize package of a God Sees Her hardcover, God Hears Her leather-like, God Hears Her journal, God Hears Her CD, God Hears Her pen, and God Hears Her Scripture & Encouragement cards!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Pet peeves. We all have them. Most of us have a long list of them. I know I do. Incorrect grammar drives me crazy. Younger people being disrespectful always makes me want to correct them on the spot. One of the biggies for me though is people saying “I am sending good (or positive) thoughts.” What is that? Explain it to me.
How does one send a thought? Do you put it in a box and send it? No, that wouldn’t work. I suppose in lieu of praying people believe this is the next best thing. Perhaps for them it even is the best thing, but it is not for me. I would much rather have and offer prayer. In fact, scripture tells us to “Pray without ceasing.” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Do you believe a person’s thoughts are powerful enough to change someone else’s life? I don’t. Do I believe prayer is that powerful? Pull up a chair and let me tell you some first hand experiences. Yes, prayer is absolutely that powerful and effective. Why, because God is powerful.
Several years ago I had a stroke. The doctors said there was damage done to my eyes and I would always see bright flashing lights, like strobe lights. Always meaning every minute of every day for the rest of my life. To the doctors’ baffling surprise my eyesight improved almost back to normal. I had an army of faithful prayer warriors praying for me. God heard and answered our prayers. No positive thoughts or vibes sent my way could have healed me.
Family members have had cancer literally disappear thanks to our healing Heavenly Father answering our prayers. Lives have been saved, jobs secured, and babies added to our family all because we prayed and God answered. Money miraculously became available to pay for food or important bills, all because of answered prayers. Accidents were avoided, injuries not as severe, and diagnoses not fatal where first thought, all due to faithful praying family and friends. God heard and answered. Prayer makes a difference, a big difference.
I encourage you to pray for one another instead of merely saying you are sending thoughts. It is not difficult. There is no special way to pray. It is a conversation between you and your Creator. He knows everything about you already, even what you are going to say. Open your heart and just talk to God. The more you pray, the more you will want to pray and the easier it will become.
Don’t get me wrong. Positive thinking is important. It makes a huge difference in a person’s day. We all awake each day with the choice to be happy and see life with the glass half full or we could be grumpy and negatively say the glass is half empty. I do believe in positive thinking, but I just don’t believe in sending positive thoughts.
Speaking of thoughts, I hope this has given you something to ponder if you ask for or offer good or positive thoughts. Honestly, I would rather not have someone say that to me except for the fact that I can pray for them. If they aren’t praying, they are missing such a blessing. We all need blessings and prayers. We all need God.
In the matter of days our lives were turned upside down. Normal ceased to exist. Our daily routines changed. Spring Break plans were disrupted. Schools let scholars go home for the remainder of the year. Seniors were cheated out of their final semester of High School or College. People were quarantined at home. Why? A nasty extremely contagious, life threatening virus named Covid19.
Parks were closed. Sporting events were cancelled. Businesses were shut down and only essential workers were employed. Companies had employees work from home. Grocery store shelves were bare. Toilet paper became a rare item. Yes, stores were sold out of it everywhere. Hand sanitizer disappeared along with it. Health officials found it necessary to reteach us how to wash our hands.
Since groceries were out of meat, groceries were selling their raw protein along with prepared menu items. Delivery or curbside pick up were the only options since dining in had been banned. Gatherings were limited to ten people. Weddings were rescheduled and funerals kept private. Church doors were closed. Masks were worn in public for protection. Our world had completely changed.
Covid19 has taken our normal from us. Our secure, everyday life is now gone. Healthcare and grocery workers are exhausted. Parents are homeschooling and frustrated. Family and friends are missing each other. Children are frightened and do not understand. Adults are, too. This is a worldwide pandemic. What is a pandemic? Webster’s dictionary says “Pandemic definition is – occurring over a wide geographic area and affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population.”
Oh, but wait. It is not all gloom and doom. Covid19 has also given to us. Our priorities have been forced into perspective. Family has risen to the top. Those concerts and sporting events that we believed were essential have been replaced with family time. Family dinners have made a huge comeback. People are returning to the kitchen to prepare meals that will be eaten around a table with family. The weather has turned nice and families are going outside. We are rediscovering the treasure we have been taking for granted.
Communities and the entire nation have joined together. Meals are given to children
out of school and to healthcare workers. Restaurants are pitching where they can. Protective masks are being made at home to help. Many are giving them away. Neighbors are checking on each other. Teenagers are doing yard work to help elderly. Groceries are picked up for friends. Kindness is manifesting itself through people across this nation. We are thinking of others and their needs. America and mankind are pulling together to help win this war on Covid19. We are standing together to assist others.
With so much time spent in self quarantine parents are spending quality time with their children. Hiking, playing games, grilling or working in the kitchen, are just a few of the ways families are enjoying their time together. They are becoming reacquainted with each other. Families are doing more activities together and making lasting memories. For the most part, this is a great thing. Unfortunately there will be some children not blessed with a happy home.
The best thing to come out of this is that people have turned their hearts and minds back to God. Children are witnessing a revival in their homes. Prayers are said at mealtime and bedtime now more than ever. Bibles are being dusted off and opened. God’s Word is being read. We have more time now to begin our day with God’s Word and in prayer. That excuse has been taken away. Parents are able to set good examples for their children and teach them God’s Word.
God’s children have hit the reset button on their lives. We are putting things in proper order starting with Jesus, then others, and finally ourselves. We will come through this battle victorious. Always we need our Heavenly Father, but we need Him especially now. This is an epic battle we are fighting with Covid19. Fear not. Nothing is impossible with God. He is more powerful than anything, even this pandemic. I hope the lessons that we learned during this time will stay with us. I hope our world remains changed for the better. Don’t you?
Hope for New Beginnings by authors Dr. Howard Eyrich and Shirley Crowder is a Christian devotional. It is filled with a plethora of topics worthy of reflection. There are thirty one devotions included in this inspirational book.
Each devotion contains a scripture, scripture observation, devotion, prayer, interaction, notes, thoughts, and questions sections. The lesson is in-depth and subjects vary from Grief and Hurt to Forgiveness and Hope. I found certain days spoke to me more than others, but that is normal for any devotional.
These devotional encourage deeper study of God’s Word. The journal section made it easy to review what I had learned. This was a well written and organized book.
The only negative I would point out is the cover. I wish it had a more eye-catching, pleasing cover. The sunshine breaking through dark clouds is symbolic but very gloomy.
I recommend this enlightening book. Devotions may be done individually or as a group study. They also may be done daily or stretched out into a week. There is so much to ponder in each one. Each lesson draws readers closer to God. It receives 4 out of 5 stars as a rating from me. I received a copy from Celebrate Lit, and these are my own, honest words.
About the Book
Book: Hope for New Beginnings
Author: Shirley Crowder, Howard A. Eyrich
Genre: Non-fiction / Religion / Devotional
Release Date: November, 2018
Hope for New Beginnings: Devotions for the Adventure – Stepping into any new beginning not knowing what is ahead, is exciting and unsettling at the same time. Our Hope, as Christ-followers, rests in knowing that we do not move forward in our own strength, but in the strength of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. We pray these devotions will help prepare your heart to learn from the Lord as He affirms His steadfast love that gives the strength and hope needed to walk boldly into whatever new beginning the Lord has in store for you. These devotions will guide your thoughts toward the biblical truths presented in the background and focal Scripture passages. Each devotional has exercises (you will choose at least one to do each day) that lead you to interact with the biblical truths presented and gain a deeper understanding of the truths in each devotion. Biblical Counselors, when you are ready to dismiss a counselee, this makes a great assignment for the next thirty-one days, then have the counselee come back for a final check-up.
Dr. Howard A. Eyrich’s career has spanned more than sixty years. He has filled various roles including seminary professor and president, Pastor and church planter. He retired as the Director of Counseling Ministries at Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Alabama;
He has served on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Birmingham Theological Seminary, Trinity Seminary, the Biblical Counseling Coalition, and The Owen Center, as well as various Presbytery and Presbyterian Church in America denominational committees to name some of major roles.
His publishing efforts include two books as solo author, three books with a co-author, and numerous chapters in significant volumes in the biblical counseling field, as well as articles for The Journal of Biblical Counseling and several other magazines.
Dr. Eyrich and his wife Pamela have two grown children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Retirement for him is a time for ministry. He writes, teaches, preaches, and travels for the Kingdom. He also enjoys the hobbies of model railroading, hunting, and shooting.
Dr. Eyrich is available to speak in conferences, fill pulpits, and for intensive marriage interventions, especially with ministries couples.
Shirley Crowder was born in a mission guest house under the shade of a mango tree in Nigeria, West Africa, where her parents served as missionaries. She and co-author Harriet E. Michael grew up together on the mission field and have been life-long friends. Shirley is passionate about disciple-making, which is manifested in and through a myriad of ministry opportunities including: biblical counseling, teaching Bible studies, writing, and music.
She is a biblical counselor and is commissioned by and serves on the national Advisory Team for The Addiction Connection. Several of her articles have appeared in “Paper Pulpit” in the Faith section of The Gadsden Times, and in a David C. Cook publication. She also writes articles for Life Bible Study, Woman’s Missionary Union, InspiredPrompt.com and TheAddictionConnection.org. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to six published books, and she has a four-book devotional series she co-wrote that is scheduled for publication over the next couple of years.
Shirley has spiritual children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren serving the Lord in various ministry and secular positions throughout the world.
More from Shirley
New beginnings are a regular part of life. Sometimes they are well planned, and we eagerly anticipate the future. At other times, we are reticent to move forward into the new beginning. As we think about new beginnings it is appropriate for us to look at the beginning of God’s Word—the Bible.
In Genesis 1:1 ESV, we read, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Here God is the subject, as He is the subject of the entire Bible. From this verse we learn something very important about God—He existed before the universe was created. God has always been, is now, and will always be, present.
Next, we learn that from nothing God created the universe and everything within it. He is the holy, sovereign, majestic, powerful, all-knowing God.
Every time I read these first few verses of the Bible, I am amazed that with just four little words, Let there be light (verse 3), the Creator God spoke into existence light that drove away the darkness. What astounding power! From these verses, we learn that God is the Author of light. Other places in Scripture tell us that God is light itself (1 John 1:5), and James calls Him the Father of lights (James 1:17).
Think about it: here we are today, many years since God spoke those four little words, Let there be light, and as John tells us, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5). The Light—God—brings clarity, order, and understanding, while darkness is seen as evil, void, and chaotic.
I watched the coverage of a solar eclipse on several websites. It was so interesting to listen as a myriad of scientists and others explained the wonders of the universe, and while the science behind it all was quite interesting to me, the coverage fell flat. Why? Because it was totally devoid of any mention of Creator God. Only one man explained the solar eclipse through the lens of God’s Word. As he explained the science behind the solar eclipse, he also explained that THE God of the Universe who created everything that we see, holds the entire universe in His hands, and controls everything that happens, including a solar eclipse.
In the midst of a new beginning or anything else going on in your life, the truths in these passages are wonderful reminders that we can step confidently into any new beginning as we trust in the God who was here in the beginning, is here with us now, and who will be with us always. And what a comfort it is to remember that the light of God dispels the darkness and chaos of sin.