Category: <span>thoughts by Idelette McVicker</span>

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Comfort in Times of Uncertainty


“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23: 4
(NIV)

I drove home through thick fog tonight. There have been fog patches around our home and in the area these past two weeks. I hardly ever drive through thick mist without thinking about my relationship with God.  It becomes such a tangible representation of our faith journey through life and how dependent we are on our Guide to lead us every step of the way. How easily I could get caught up in Fear, forgetting what a faithful Shepherd we have. He is a loving God who never changes. He guides us through the foggy times and dances with us when the sun shines. Our Lord is, after all, the Light of the world and He is never far away.

Reflect: Where do you find comfort in times of uncertainty?

Prayer:
Lord, you are such a faithful Shepherd. Thank you for leading me in “paths of righteousness,” especially when life seems uncertain.

by Idelette McVicker
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The Lord is my Shepherd; I have everything I need.” Psalm 23:1 (NLT)

I started a 40-day fast, abstaining from spending, acquiring and shopping. Thankfully my husband eagerly accepted the challenge to shop for groceries and necessities.

Although as a woman I enjoy shopping, I realized early on that the fast isn’t about shopping. Instead it’s about a deep desire to be clear about how God is calling our family to live. I want to decide from a core understanding, rather than follow the ways of everyone around me. I don’t want to be shepherded by the strength of marketing. I want to follow the One true Shepherd.

These past 20 days I have found that I have a lot more “space and time” to think through what is truly important to our family. I am not busy acquiring, gathering and storing. Instead, I am planning for what we really need, while being creative in how to use what we already have.

Dear Lord, Thank you for being my Shepherd. Thank you for being our Provider. May I never forget that everything good and beautiful and perfect comes from you. Amen.

by Idelette McVicker
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What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.”  Matthew 20:32

It might seem kind of obvious that when two blind men call out to Jesus for mercy that they want to be healed. But Jesus stops, calls them closer, and asks them directly, “What do you want me to do for you?

I have noticed, sometimes, when I’m sitting by the side of life’s road, crying out to Jesus for mercy, he stops, calls me closer and asks, “What do you want me to do for you?”

It’s one of those questions that clears the cobwebs. It cuts through to the core issue. After all, if I’m enlisting the Creator of the Universe on my behalf, I’d better know what I want.

How am I really feeling? What’s the real issue here? What do I need from God today?

There is power in clarifying your true need. And there’s power in bringing it before the throne of grace.

Today, what do you need Him to do for you? Ask for what you need – even when it seems kind of obvious. Ask. And watch how He moves heaven and earth on your behalf.

Dear God, Please help me be clear about what I really need and want. Thank you, that when I ask, you listen. Help me see the power of your hand upon my life, even today. Amen.

By Idelette McVicker
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Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrong.” Proverbs 10:12

I am in a season of life when I am confronted daily with the idea that I am, well, not perfect. I am making a lot of mistakes and pray for grace constantly. That’s when I started thinking about my own upbringing and what made the difference. In spite of the humps and bumps of growing up, my mom’s love carried me through. Did she make mistakes? Yes. Was she perfect? No. Did she show me an amazing love, rooted in an unshakable faith? Absolutely.

In Proverbs 10:12 we read, “love covers all wrongs” We find the New Testament version in 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” It’s a spiritual principle that gives me a fresh perspective on parenting, relationships and doing life well. The amazing power of Love means that even when I make mistakes, as long as my Love is even greater, I am covered. No wonder Jesus breaks the commandments down to this one action: Love.

Reflection:
How big is your Love?
Where do you need the power of Love to cover your sins and your mistakes?

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank You for covering my life with Your amazing Love. Grant me the grace to love well, so those in my world will remember my love, rather than my mistakes. Amen.

by Idelette McVicker
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I love that the Son of God didn’t seek out only environments and places to visit worthy of his heavenly identity. After all, his very act of coming meant exchanging heaven for a human life on earth. He deliberately chose simple environments, like a stable, to display the power of the Kingdom of God. For me, his visit to the Pool of Bethesda stands out. It was a place where “a great number of disabled people used to lie, the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.” (John 5:1-3) It struck me that this was probably not the most hygienic place around.

Imagine the smell. Most of these people couldn’t make it to the bathroom on their own. I imagine most regular people didn’t frequent this pool and yet Jesus chose to enter into this humble environment and bring healing.

Who and what do I surround myself with? Which places do I frequent? Is this where Jesus would go? Perhaps it’s time to consider the positions we have created for ourselves and our thoughts about where we belong on this earth, and then, just like Jesus did, let’s lay these down.

Thank You, Jesus, for coming to earth and laying down Your divinity. Today, I lay down any concept of self that excludes me from entering the humble, stinky places where you would hang out. I ask for the grace to walk where You go. Amen.

By Idelette McVicker
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“I know the greatness of the Lord -that our Lord is greater than any other god.” Psalm 135:5 (NLT)

Dictionary.com defines “devotion” as “profound dedication; consecration” and “earnest attachment to a cause, person, etc.” We know that devotion is our 24/7 way of being with God. At the same time, setting aside consecrated time daily to spend with God is my act of devotion; of showing God my profound dedication to Him. It is not a matter of habit or religious duty, but rather it flows out of love.

During this time before our Lord, our Heavenly Father becomes the central focus of our devotion. We worship Him, and only Him. We can come, not only because we love God, but also because we know that God loves us unconditionally. We can come without our armor. We can come expectant and with our hearts opened up to Him. From this central place of devotion, we can move out into the rest of the day, pointing our life towards our King.

Reflection:
What brings you today to spend time with our Lord?

Prayer:
Dear Father, I am devoted to You. May I center my day around You today, so that I can walk in the great Love You have for me.

By Idelette McVicker
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While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!’” Luke 11:27-28

The woman in the crowd had such admiration and love for Jesus. She couldn’t imagine a greater blessing than being the woman who carried and raised the Son of God. Jesus shifts the perspective, however. He says Mary is blessed not because she carried and birthed him, but because Mary heard God’s word and obeyed it.

In the same way, we are blessed, not because we fulfill the great calling, but rather when we obey the voice of God. God looks at our heart and sees the willing servant. Is this where I am positioned today? Am I listening for God’s specific word for me and responding as Mary did? “I am the Lord’s servant, May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38, NIV)

The blessing comes as we walk closely with Him, moving on His shouts and His whispers, willing to follow and trust the Divine.

Thank You, Father, that You value my willing heart and my obedience. Speak to me today, Lord. Your servant is listening. Amen.

by Idelette McVicker
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I am the vine; you are the branches; apart from me you can do nothing.John 15:5 (NIV)

Life tends to get busy. I had a meeting with two women in our home yesterday and we shared some of what our week was like. Let’s just say our plates were full. (A third friend called to cancel, because she simply hadn’t managed to finish up her work in time for the meeting.)

I don’t mind being busy, but I always want to have time for the people and activities that are truly important in my life. When life gets full, I find it crucial to know my priorities.

I was reminded again of that when visiting a friend’s house recently. When her husband opened up his computer, the following words flashing across his screen: “Tap into the Source.”

I can’t do anything disconnected from my Source. My Source offers me peace in the midst of chaos. My Source offers me strength when it feels like I have nothing left to offer. My Source offers grace beyond what I deserve.

My Source offers everything I need for every situation I may encounter. My Source feeds my soul.

Thank you, Jesus, that you are my “Source” everything I need for today. Amen.

By Idelette McVicker
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Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth. God gives, God takes. God’s name be ever blessed.” Job 1:21 (Msg)

Let’s just say Job is not the most popular name on the baby name sites. We like to name our children after the typical heroes, names that can bless them with a future of power and strength. Job’s name is synonymous with suffering and loss. And yet, Job is someone we can hold up as an example of strength, patience, grace, love, friendship with God and the ultimate comeback.

Several years ago, I attended a weekend retreat in the mountains in Taipei. We were organized in groups and had to choose a person from the Bible to represent our table. Our table chose Job. “What?”  I thought, but trusted that God would show up in this seemingly strange choice. The light came on for me when we created a one-sentence mantra to describe our hero. I still remember it:  “Job, a humble, but wealthy man who praised God, in spite of his circumstances.”

Job holds out a life story that, in the end, is noteworthy. He walked through the pain and came out admirable.

Through seasons of suffering and loss, when things seem most dark, do I remember to praise my God, in spite of my circumstances? Job continues to remind me that everything I have is a gift.

Reflect: What are you thankful for today?

by Idelette McVicker
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Create a clean heart in me, oh Lord

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.Hebrews 12:1

I love that God has created us to do good works and that He has prepared them in advance for us to do. (See Ephesians 2:10) Even before we were born, God had a purpose for our lives and there are good works He needs us to do on this earth. On the other hand, there is an Accuser, an enemy of our souls, who does his best to keep us from fulfilling our purpose. I have noticed that it often is the same things that keep coming up to entangle me. Hebrews 12 verse one calls it the sin that so easily entangles us. Is there one sin in your life that keeps creeping up on you, trying to entangle you?

When the Holy Spirit points out our sin, it is to turn our eyes back on to Jesus and to set us free. It’s never about condemnation. God wants to put iron in our souls as we respond to His discipline, because ultimately He wants us to fulfill our purposes and not be held back in a life of sin. How wonderful to know that God calls us to freedom, godliness an great purpose.

Create a clean heart in me, O Lord. I want to live out the purposes You have for me and walk in the good works You have already prepared in advance for me to do. I love You, Lord. Amen.

By Idelette McVicker
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I SEE YOU, says Jesus

I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
John 1: 48

Nathanael didn’t quite believe Philip when he said Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. In fact, Nathanael’s response was, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

When Nathanael checks Jesus out, ‘instead of confronting Nathanael about his unbelief’ Jesus speaks to him about a part of Nathanael’s life that no human would know. He reveals to Nathanael that He, as the Son of God, knows him. “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you,” Jesus tells him. To me it says that even before Nathanael started his ministry work, Jesus saw him. Even when no one else knew what Nathanael was capable of, Jesus saw him.

It’s in this instance that Nathanael believes Jesus truly is who Philip said He is.

In the same way, Jesus sees us. Even before anyone sees what we are capable of, He knows us and He sees us.

Jesus sees you. He has been with you, watching you, walking with you. He has seen the pain, the struggle, the depth of your desire. He also sees you today, where you are working, where you live and where you love. Jesus sees you and He is wanting to draw ever closer as you spend your life in Him.

Reflect:
Jesus, where did You see me?

Prayer:
Thank You for seeing me today, Jesus. You see me. You see me. I am right here. Thank You, Amen.

by Idelette McVicker
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Jesus, a friend of sinners and a friend of the poor

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

A recently read Anne LaMotte’s book, “Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.” In her dry humorous style, she writes about visiting a prison with a friend “to teach inmates how to tell stories.”  She then shares a quote from Reverend James Forbes that has stayed with me for many days. He said, “Nobody gets into heaven without a letter of reference from the poor.”

Rev. Forbes bases his thoughts on Matthew 25 where the Son of Man separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep, “those who cared for the poor and the prisoners” are allowed to share in the kingdom inheritance; the goats aren’t.

Our culture is so focused on popularity and individual gain, it’s easy to get caught up in this. But when we get quiet before God and sit at His feet, we are reminded of Jesus, a friend of sinners and a friend of the poor.

Lord, when our hearts are turned towards You, we can’t help but also see the poor, the prisoners and the unloved. Help me to see those precious souls the world disregards and reach out with love, grace and compassion.

By Idelette McVicker
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devotional

But Lord,’ Gideon asked, ‘How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my family.’ The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you …’” Judges 6:15

How often do I look within or to another before I look up? Gideon looked at where he came from. He looked at his own accomplishments and his personal sense of identity, trying to establish whether he was equipped for the task, but God had a different answer: “I will be with you,” God told Gideon.

Sometimes, living in our fearlessly independent society, we forget that we don’t have to rely on self. We don’t need the perfect credentials to walk in the call God has for us.

Instead, we are partnered with the God of the Universe who promises: “I will be with you.” It’s the promise of Emmanuel—God with us. We don’t have to do it alone. We can look up and fix our eyes on this God who can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us …”

Thank you, Lord, that You are my partner and my strength. Thank You for the promise that You will be with me as I set out to do what You are calling me to today. Amen.

By Idelette McVicker

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Children rain boots

Children are a blessing and a gift from the LORD.” Psalm 127:3 (CEV)

It struck me that if children are a blessing from the Lord, then God must actually be looking upon us as blessings too! Since we are “His children God is our Heavenly Father” God also views us as a blessing to Himself.

I know some days my children are blessings. Just recently, a simple “thank you” from our kindergartener made me smile. When she saw the impact her words had on me, she quickly asked, “Mommy, did that just lift your spirits up, up, up?”

There are many simple things that make my heart sing: I am blessed when our children, “brother and sisters” treat each other with Love and respect. I am blessed when they are kind to friends and neighbors. I am blessed when they share well. I am blessed when they remember good manners. I am blessed when they are thankful and not just consumed with their own needs. I am blessed when they are obedient. I am blessed when they learn and grow into new skills. In the same way, our Father in Heaven is blessed when we, His children, do these simple things.

Reflect:
Knowing that God loves you unconditionally, take a few moments and ask God to show you how you bless Him. How can I bless the heart of my Father today?

Prayer:
Dear Father, help me be a blessing to You and Your Kingdom. Help me love others and treat everyone with kindness and respect. Help me live a life that makes Your heart sing.

By Idelette McVicker

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devotional

Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means “God is with us.Matthew 1:23 (NLT)

Advent marks the season of preparation and waiting. In a sense, it is our taking part in the pregnancy of the Christ child, carrying our part of His story. We prepare our hearts to receive Him; for Him to be born into our humble and broken lives.

It struck me today that as we prepare for Christmas, our hearts focused on the birth of our Savior, in a greater sense we are also participating in a kind of Advent season every other day of the year. Whether it’s Christmas season or not, we are preparing for the return of Christ. We are preparing our hearts for Jesus to come again. Our world is pregnant with His return.

Reflect:
Is your heart ready to receive Him at this time in history?
Where are you making room for Christ this season?

Prayer:
Come, Lord Jesus, come!  Help me prepare my heart as a welcoming place that receives You today and every day to come.

by Idelette McVicker

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