Category: <span>thoughts by Karen Woodard</span>

For a few years now, I have been learning to deal with sleeplessness at night. 


Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love.”  2 Corinthians 6:4-6

For a few years now, I have been learning to deal with sleeplessness at night. There have been several reasons why I wake up and then cannot get back to sleep. Often, it is anxiety that keeps me from the rest that I need. At first, I was angry each time I woke up in the middle of the night because sleep re-energizes an introvert like me!

As I have gone through a very stressful time dealing with the death of my father, the emotional frailness of my mother, and my brother being in hospice with terminal cancer and mental illness, I have found myself “socially distancing” from God in my grief and concern.

So when I read this portion of Scripture, the fact that Paul had sleepless nights drew my attention. Now, I do not pretend to know about what Paul was going through as he penned the words in 2 Corinthians, but he does mention going through hardship, distress, and trouble!

My attention was drawn to how he dealt with sleepless nights, among his other challenges: his secret was to dwell in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. He chose an attitude of sincere love, purity, understanding, patience and kindness in response to his challenges!

I find that praying and listening to worship music helps me. This leads to surrendering control to God, no matter what happens, believing that he is a GOOD God.

A song that has really ministered to me is “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin. I invite you to sing it as a prayer to God today. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBmwwwiHrOk

Remember that we all need to deal with anxiety and sleeplessness at times, but God is faithful and will never leave us or forsake us! Trust him to give you the rest that you need!

By Karen Woodard
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Further Reading

•  Suffering – Spiritual principles to meditate on during hard times
•  Jesus is Always There!
•  Salvation Explained


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Aren’t you glad that when we call out to God, we know that he will answer? He DOES care!


Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.”  Psalm 38:15

I recently had the opportunity to experience “extreme waiting.” For anyone who has had to phone a 1-800 number, perhaps you will identify with what I went through in trying to change the date on a return flight.

There is always repetitive music to soothe the anxious heart. I found this prerecorded message (which was played over and over again) very interesting as a comparison to waiting on God in prayer:

All agents are still assisting other callers. Your call is very important to us. Please remain on the line for the next available agent.”

While waiting for an actual person to answer, I found myself questioning whether someone would actually come to help me with my problem. I also wondered whether someone really did care. Was my call really important? I was tempted to give up, but would continue to wait, hoping that I would actually hear a human voice if I just persisted a little longer.

After spending over 5 hours over 3 days, I did get through and was able to change my ticket. I have heard of others who waited a lot more hours than I did. For me, the key was to phone in at the beginning of the day. This makes me think of another verse David penned in Psalm 5:3:

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”

Aren’t you glad that when we call out to God, we know that he will answer? He DOES care! We are important to him! We do not have to “wait for the next available agent”!

Father God, I confess my unbelief. I sometimes doubt that you will really answer me. Teach me to hope in you and to pray with confidence. Amen.

Waiting is hard. David was really hurting when he wrote this prayer. Can you identify with him? Pour out your heart to your heavenly father, affirming as David did, “You will answer.

By Karen Woodard
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Keeping Yourself in God’s Love – even during painful times in your life

To Whom Are You Listening?

•  Salvation Explained


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“Why do we cry?  Tears are therapeutic. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning! 


I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears:Psalm 6:6

Why do we cry? My new granddaughter usually cries because of hunger, tiredness, a dirty diaper, or teething pain. Most of us cry because we are frustrated, hurting, depressed, weary, or unhealthy.

David’s sorrow led him to be worn out with weeping, to the point of “flooding his bed” and “drenching his couch with tears”. Can you identify with this kind of weeping? I can. At one particularly low point in my life, I cried every morning for a week!

Tears are therapeutic for preventing dryness and infection, supplying oxygen and nutrients, and healing damage. I would like to propose that they also have spiritual purposes: preventing spiritual dryness and sin’s infection of our spirits, supplying spiritual oxygen and nutrients to our soul, and healing our spiritual wounds!

The overall purpose of tears is that we might see better, both physically and spiritually! There is a song that came to mind as I was reflecting about the reason for the tears I’ve shed over the years of my life:

He washed my eyes with tears that I might see the broken heart I had was good for me. He tore it all apart and looked inside. He found it full of fear and foolish pride. He swept away the things that made me blind, and soon I saw the clouds were silver-lined. And now I understand ’twas best for me he washed my eyes with tears that I might see. (Lyrics by J Swaggart)

Father God, thank you for tears and for the way they bring me back to you! Help me to trust you when life does not go the way I wish it would, and please use my tears to keep me spiritually healthy and responsive to your Holy Spirit’s work. Amen.

If you find that you are crying a lot lately, here is a final encouragement from Psalms 30:5b: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning! Trust God to bring healing and health from your grief and sadness, but know that he is also using your tears for his good purposes.

By Karen Woodard
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Further Reading

•  Life Can Bring Joy out of Sorrow by Norma Becker
•  Fully Surrender to the Lord
•  Salvation Explained

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They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. Acts 14:21-22

The hiking boots were brand new, a gift from several girlfriends who knew about the honeymoon that had been planned. The time came to put them on, in anticipation of our first hike as a married couple.

As we expectantly headed towards the summit, blisters began to form on my feet. The hike was hard. Rain clouds began to gather, and by the time we neared the top, it was obvious that we would be drenched by a downpour on our way down. Our plan to stay in a tent that night was also a “no go” because campsites were flooded. The only good news was that my husband had packed rain ponchos which we wore on our descent, and we were able to find a hotel where we could get warm and dry that night!

How many times has a day started out so wonderfully, only to be “dampened” by circumstances beyond our control?

Blisters, tiredness, and a storm kept me from reaching the summit that day and surveying the view, but I learned valuable lessons from that hike (like breaking in boots and conditioning myself ahead of time, and accepting rain and mud as a reality of life!). Later in our marriage, a week-long hike along the West Coast Trail (5 days of rain!) proved to be equally challenging, but I was more prepared for how hard it would be!

The Christian life is like a life-long hike! And we should not be surprised by difficulties, but instead learn to embrace hardship as a friend throughout life’s journey to heaven.

Father God, we are your children, and we don’t know what lies ahead of us, but we know that you travel with us! Please help us to see our daily hardships as an important part of the journey! Amen.

Today confess your disappointments to God. Ask him to help you accept them and learn from them, allowing him to develop a more prepared and positive spirit in you.

By Karen Woodard
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Further Reading

Struggles, Despair Articles
Testimonies:  what lead people to God?
•  Salvation Explained

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Then the man said,

The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”(13)

And the Lord God said to the woman,

What is this you have done?”

The woman said,

The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 

Genesis 3:12-13

This is the blame game! Adam is blaming Eve, and Eve is blaming the serpent for deceiving her. What is not as evident is that God is also being blamed, because God gave Eve to Adam.

It’s interesting to note that in the creation story, Adam is so delighted to have Eve in his life. But now, when God is holding him accountable for his bad choice, he is only too happy to throw Eve “under the bus.

Although from my point of view, the serpent truly was to blame, I find it interesting that God gives each of them (Adam, Eve and the serpent) their “punishment” for the bad choices they made.

As a parent, this story reminds me of when my children were young. They would be playing well together, but then a choice would be made by one of them that would cause a “domino effect” of bad choices, ending in a fight. Coming into the disagreement, I would ask what happened, and each child would blame another for the conflict. This is human nature, even from a young age!

Who is responsible for the choices that we make? Is it fair to blame God or someone else when we make wrong decisions, even if we felt pressured or influenced by another?

Spiritual maturity hopefully teaches us that we all make bad decisions, so when we do “give in to temptation,” we need to own those choices and not blame someone else for our unhappiness in the consequences that come as a result.

Father God, I am your child! When I make a wrong choice, please help me to “own it” and not blame you or someone else for the trouble I get into!

Today ask God to show you if you are blaming him, the devil, or your spouse today for any situation in which you find yourself. Release your defensiveness and pride, and let God restore you to a right relationship with him and those around you. Accept his loving discipline and learn from it.

By Karen Woodard
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•  Feelings, Forgiveness and Peace
•  What Do You Want Jesus to Say When you Meet Him Face to Face?

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Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27

This statement from Jesus follows a question asked by his disciples, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus had challenged a rich man to sell all of his worldly possessions and become a disciple, but the young man went away, sorry that he could not do as Jesus asked.

In our rich culture, there are a lot of young (and old!) men and women who do not want to give up everything to follow Jesus. Persuading them to be Christians often seems impossible. Jesus acknowledged that it is hard for those who are rich to enter the Kingdom of God; in fact he said that it was easier for a camel to go through the “eye of a needle” than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.

When in Israel, our tour group was able to see what the “eye of the needle” is (a small opening in the city gate where camels can be tied up) and to think about how difficult it would be for a camel to squeeze through one! With human eyes, it does look impossible!

Perhaps you are struggling with your own “impossibility” today. There is a chorus that comes to mind (perhaps like me you learned it as a child):

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable? Got any mountains, you can’t tunnel through? God specialises in things thought impossible And he can do what no other power can do! — Oscar C. Eliason

Father God, help me to see what seems impossible to my human eyes in a new light today. I give you my mountain, my uncrossable river, my loved one who turns away from Jesus again and again, knowing that you do the impossible every day because that is who you are!

Allow God to carry you. Rest in him, trusting him to work in ways that surprise you!

By Karen Woodard
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•  Lost Without You
•  When I say… “I am a Christian” – by Carol Wimmer

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“I have come that you might have life, and that you might have it abundantly!”  John 10:10

In a recent conversation, a woman I’m mentoring honestly confessed that she did not feel like she was living the abundant life that Jesus promised in John 10:10. In order to figure out what Jesus might have meant by the phrase “abundant life”, we went back to the context of this verse.

It’s all about sheep!! (And their shepherd, whose loving care of his sheep is described in so many ways throughout the chapter.) As she and I discussed her lack of abundance, it really came down to the question, “As his sheep, do you trust the shepherd, or are you trying to do life as a wayward sheep?”

Unfortunately, the tendency of most sheep is to stray from the shepherd (Isaiah 53:5-6).

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way. . .” This leads to a lack of abundance.

Are you a weary sheep? Are you tired from trying to do life on your own? Surrender and allow the shepherd to find you and carry you back on his shoulders to safety! Acknowledge that you are “prone to wander” and choose instead to stay close to the shepherd each day, allowing him to carry you when you are fearful, hurt, or confused. Don’t run off, because as stated in Psalm 23, there are so many benefits of staying close to him that lead to the abundant life that Jesus promised: lacking nothing, resting, peace, restoration, his presence and comfort, just to name a few.

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it!
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above!

(Prayer taken from hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson)

Read through John 10, noting everything Jesus does for his sheep.  If you have time, also go to Psalm 23, and see if you can add to my list of what the abundant life is all about. Resolve to stay close to the shepherd and experience the abundant life that Jesus came to give you!!

By Karen Woodard
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• Eternal Love
• Fully Surrender to the Lord

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“They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:41

From my childhood, I have always loved watching storms out the window of a dry and safe home, mesmerized by the boom of thunder and by lightning flashing across a dark sky. But there is no way I would want to be out in a boat in the middle of a storm! In fact, while one of my favorite past times is fishing on a sunny day, lulled by the waves rocking my boat, I am ready to head for shore when storm clouds roll in!

All of my life, I have also been an avoider of anything unpleasant, if I have the choice. For instance, my husband and I have avoided conflict as much as possible in the 43 years of our marriage, hoping that problems would just eventually go away. (Needless to say, that has not been a very successful strategy!)

There were some seasoned fishermen among the disciples in the boat with Jesus! But all of them were terrified by this storm. They were also equally amazed by his control of the wind and waves. In our lives I believe that God wants us to get used to and even to welcome the “lightning, thunder and rain” as well as a rocking boat in order to also understand his power over them!

There is a song that my parents used to play on one of their LP records when I was a child that still goes through my head, even as an adult:

When you walk through a storm hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of a storm there’s a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark.
W
alk on through the wind, walk on through the rain though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!

As we all walk through the storms of life, there is someone walking beside us who controls the “wind and the waves” and who gives us a reason for hope!

Father God, I know that you have promised to walk with me through the storms of life. Help me not to be so afraid of what I cannot control, but to rest in the knowledge that I am not alone! Amen.

Let Jesus be the one who brings you peace even in the midst of a storm. Trust him even though you are afraid, and watch him bring calmness as only he can!

By Karen Woodard
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Why Me Lord? Why Not? A new perspective on being shunned or mistreated
Beauty out of Brokenness

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“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”  1 John 1:9

How often do we hear parents telling their children to say that they are sorry to a brother or sister or playmate? The child mumbles the words, embarrassed, head down, perhaps with a scowling face. Are they really sorry?

Why is it so hard to admit to others that we were wrong?

Personally, it is easier for me to confess my sins to God than to my brother or sister. In the back of my mind, I am justifying my actions, wanting to accuse the other person for what he or she did wrong. If he or she would just confess first, then maybe it would be easier for me to do so as well, right?

Why should we admit it when we are wrong? According to the verse above, it is to be assured of God’s forgiveness and to be cleansed from our “dirtiness.” In my case, I have felt in the past like I was walking around with dirt on my heart when I have refused to ask for forgiveness, but I clung to my dirtiness rather than allow God to clean me up through confession.

Canadians often say, “Sorry.” And there is usually a conditioned response, “That’s okay.” This may work for some people, but there are times when it is not enough to simply say, “Sorry!” And it is often not “okay.” True confession involves a little more heart-searching. It includes thinking about how we have hurt another person to the point of putting ourselves in the other person’s place, imagining how it would feel to be them.

Father, help me to better understand how my words and actions impact others, and how my refusal to apologize to them leaves me with a dirty heart. Thank you that you want to cleanse me, if I will only let you! Teach me to apologize more readily so that relationships with you and others can be restored! Amen.

By Karen Woodard
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•  Did You Know that You are Someone Special?
•  A Poem of Hope

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If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”  Galatians 6:3-5

There is a classic movie based on a book written by Jane Austen that portrays how both personal pride and prejudice affect relationships. Much misunderstanding and hurt occurs when these two attributes collide!

However, it is human nature to try to judge or cast blame on others rather than to acknowledge one’s own sin. In our minds, we naturally reason that it is almost always “someone else’s fault” that our personal world is in a mess! If only a situation was different, then we would be truly happy, or if someone would not have done what he or she did, then it would not have ruined the day!

My father often states, “There are two kinds of people in the world — saved sinners and unsaved sinners.” His point is that no one has the right to throw stones at someone else (John 8:1-7) because we are all in the same sinful state apart from the salvation that was bought by Jesus’ death on the cross. As Romans 3:23 says,

“For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.”

Comparing ourselves to others usually leads to an unhealthy pride in ourselves and prejudice against others which comes across as judgmental whether it is meant to be or not. We each have our own “load” to carry in life, and we can be proud of ourselves when we are faithful in each task God has given us, and a little less concerned about what our brother or sister is or is not doing!

Father God, help us to focus on our own issues and stop comparing ourselves with others around us. Our self-worth is built on being your children and honoring you with what we do and say, so please teach us to love and accept others as you have made them, just as you love and accept us with all of our faults. Amen.

Today, when you find yourself being critical of someone else, acknowledge this to God, and ask him to give you his eyes to see that person as he sees him or her.

By Karen Woodard
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• Eternal Love
• Fully Surrender to the Lord

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“But be kind, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you!”  Ephesians 4:32

Do you know the secret to a lasting marriage? Kindness! It is a choice that we all make on a daily basis, but it is like giving water to a thirsty soul, knowing how thirsty we have also been in the past.

When my husband and I meet with engaged couples, we include this verse in our discussions with them. In their starry-eyed love, they cannot imagine ever being anything but kind and forgiving with each other, but as years go by, unkind words are spoken and unkind deeds are done because even people who love each other are selfish at their core and will lash out in self-defence when threatened.

We all have tender hearts as children, but over the years they often they get walled up in self-protection once we start to feel the unkindness of others. Getting back to a tender heart takes time; it means allowing God to break down walls and then choosing to be vulnerable again. Jesus kept his tender heart throughout: he wept at the death of Lazarus, he agonized over the city of Jerusalem, and he forgave those who crucified him as well as the disciples who ran away in fear.

Do you have a tender heart? Are you still moved by what moves the heart of God, an unconditional love that keeps pursuing the broken-hearted and desires to heal wounds? Choosing to be kind and forgiving to people who do not deserve it is the ultimate example Christ has set for us!

Father, How often I have been on the receiving end of your kind and tender heart towards me. How can I not extend kindness and forgiveness to others? Please show me how to have a tender heart once more that is willing to be vulnerable like Christ was even on the cross. Amen!

Is there someone to whom you can extend kindness and forgiveness today? Allow God to break down any walls surrounding your heart so that you can reach out with tenderness to others who need to be loved, even if you think they do not deserve

By Karen Woodard
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Surely wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns, it sets the forest thickets ablaze, so that it rolls upward in a column of smoke.” Isaiah 9:18

The sky is smoky today. The sun cannot seemingly push through the grayness. (The windows look dirty, too.) It feels oppressive. While there are no fires close by, the smoke from far away has become pervasive even here!

At the heart of the fires, homes are being destroyed and lives lost. Where I am, the loss is not so dire, but it is still discouraging to look outside and know that others are suffering from its effect.

Wickedness is like fire, according to this passage in Isaiah.

Like fire, it does not stay in one place, but burns out of control, affecting so many people. Wickedness blurs our vision and perspective, whether we realize it or not.

In the same way, our culture affects how we think and act on a daily basis. The difference is that while fire, smoke and their destruction are visible, wickedness is not always as obvious. Homes and families are the most affected by wickedness, too, with destructive results.

What can the righteous do?

Our fire-fighting tools are prayer and evangelism. Our fire-fighting power comes from walking in the strength of God’s Spirit on a daily basis. And only God’s love, grace, and forgiveness can put fires out! Let’s all do what we can to combat wickedness in our culture!

Surrender anger, hate and other negative emotions that would take over your thoughts and actions. Choose kindness, forgiveness, and patience instead! Watch out for potential fire starters.

Father God, please help me to do my part in extinguishing the fires of wickedness, first of all in my own life, but also in the lives of others around me. Don’t let my perspective be clouded by all of the smoke around me. Amen.

Become a firefighter. Think about what you say or do today in terms of whether it lights a match or extinguishes a flame. Make it your aim to manifest the Spirit’s fruit in word and in deed.

By Karen Woodard
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“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”  Ephesians 4:26-27

I used to think that Christians should never get angry, but the Bible acknowledges that we will be angry sometimes. The issue is what we do with our anger.

Did you know that there are at least 113 references to the word, “angry” in the Bible? So what does God say about anger? He doesn’t say we can’t be angry, but just to manage it like how he does.

Own up to the emotion. Say it. “I am angry.” But don’t forget to seek a solution. Ask for forgiveness if you say or do something hurtful out of your reaction to your anger, but understand that it won’t go away as long as you don’t work through it in a healthy way.

It is interesting to note that this verse ties anger to speaking truthfully. Have you ever asked someone that you knew who was angry at you, “Are you mad at me?” only to have them deny it? It is not healthy to stuff our anger, but it is difficult to acknowledge our own anger with the person we are angry with. Somehow, God also links holding onto our anger as letting the Devil have a foothold in our lives!

Even God gets angry. Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy (Micah 7:18). But he does not stay angry. He forgives and shows mercy to people who sin against him.

Our challenge as angry people is to do the same.

Father God, thank you for your mercy towards us! Help us to show mercy to those who anger us. Remind us not to hold on to our anger, but to give it to you! Amen.

By Karen Woodard
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Dirty Oven – Sin in our life is like a dirty oven

Spiritual Oxygen: Are You Getting Enough?

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The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.”  Isaiah 50:4

Are you a good listener? Studies have shown that we stop talking only an average of 17 seconds before we resume speaking in a conversation, and most of that time, we are thinking about what we want to say next! Sometimes prayer can be like that, with God barely getting a word in edgewise, as we monopolize the conversation.

Do you listen to instructions? Isaiah says that God gave him a well-instructed tongue to sustain the weary. A disciple is one who takes instruction, listening carefully to what God wants to say. Listening is time-consuming, and sometimes it seems like instructions are just too long and drawn out to try to remember, but disciples must be willing to listen to what God wants to teach them to be able to minister to people each day.

While God does speak to us in the quiet moments of life, the discipline of listening to God’s instructions often will involve turning to the Bible each morning, applying those instructions to your own life, and then sharing what you have read with someone who needs to hear the truth that day.

Be sure to humbly let God teach you first before you seek to teach others, though, so that you can share what God is teaching you rather than smugly think that you know what someone else needs to hear and apply!

Heavenly Father God, please attune my ears to hear your voice each day with the intention of applying the truth to my own life, then sharing your messages to those around me, to encourage and help them! Amen.

By Karen Woodard
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Come Alongside – by John Fischer

Extending Grace to Others

Be Patient


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“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”  Acts 2:38

My husband likes to give and receive practical gifts. For instance, in January, he had snow tires put on our daughter’s car for her birthday. I don’t remember this being on my daughter’s “wish list” for her birthday, but she obviously needed them for winter weather.

He is a very active person who tends to misplace things like keys and his cell phone, so I thought I’d surprise him with a gift that would help him find lost stuff … these amazing little disks that attach to items and will beep when activated.

My husband can continue to search for his keys and phone on his own, or use the gift he received. In the same way, you and I can continue trying to “do it all” in our own wisdom and strength, or ask the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us.

The choice is up to us.

Sometimes it is hard to figure out what someone else actually needs, but God knows how to give amazing gifts to his children! New believers need God’s help to find their way forward, especially in the face of persecution, so he gives them the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, sometimes even God’s greatest gifts go unused because in order to fully benefit from them, we need to admit we need help. We can all humbly use the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives, relying on him moment by moment.

The choice is up to you.

Holy Spirit, I do need you. Please help me confess my sin and pride each day, acknowledge my inability to live the Christian life in the way that I should, and trust you to work in and through my life in such a way that God is glorified for the gift that he has given us. Amen.

By Karen Woodard
Used by Permission

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thoughts by Karen Woodard Thoughts by Women