Jesus Loves Me, This I Know?

“Jesus loves me, this I know …”  

This song in its simplicity provides us with a basic foundational Christian principle. It’s a song we learn as children, yet how many Christians do you know that have difficulty grasping this simple concept?  I know I’ve certainly struggled in this area on more than one occasion.

I became a believer as an adult, so I didn’t have that early childhood reassurance to remind me of Jesus’s love. I grew up “semi-religious” in a church that portrayed God as an unreachable deity that was more fire and brimstone than love and all the good-feels. Consequently, I feared God, anticipating lightning bolts every time I messed up. If I’d been taught the love of Jesus as a child, I wonder if I would still struggle with doubts regarding my relationship with Christ.

Having children and grandchildren is kind of a “do-over” for me in this department. Through a great Bible-believing church, kid’s programs and being able to model the love of Jesus, my kids grew up knowing Jesus on an intimate level. Now as adults, whenever they have a challenge or trial, their first inclination is to call and ask for prayer. With confidence and certainty, they know Jesus is the ultimate “go-to” for any and all situations.

I provide daycare for my baby granddaughter. I’m a grandmother/nanny or “Granny,” which allows me to pour Jesus into her young life. I pray over her, I speak blessings for a bright future over her and I sing Christian songs to her at nap time. Most days whenever I sing “Jesus Loves Me” to her, I’m barely able complete one stanza before her little eyes start to flutter and close. Literally within minutes, she’s fast asleep. Every time!

I like to think that the love of Jesus is some sort of miracle sleep potion. It’s uncanny. I promise, it’s not because I have an amazing singing voice, either. My grandmotherly reasoning believes this little babe feels so secure in my arms as I speak blessings over her and sing about Christ’s love for her, she is able to fully relax. She sleeps restfully swathed in my love and the love of Jesus, as well.

This song is more than a lullaby. It soothes even someone like me whenever I feel stressed or doubtful of my place in God’s kingdom. 

Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 136:26 (NLT)

What a great “go-to” reminder for us all. Jesus loves ME, this I know!  Do you KNOW this to be true in your life? It’s simple … but it’s true!

Kathy Kurlin
Author

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Yo! I’m Right Here.

READ Luke 24:13-35

This scripture takes place right after the death and resurrection of Jesus.  It is the telling of two men, heading home from Jerusalem, going to Emmaus.  They are walking and talking about all the events that had occurred in the last week. This would have been the time of the celebration of Passover, but with the recent events (crucifixion and death of Jesus) these men are downcast as they walk home.

Then, a third man comes up alongside them, and walks with them on their journey home.  This man is Jesus, but as it states in verse 17 “…They stood still, their faces downcast.”  They didn’t look up.  They continued on their walk rehashing all the events of the last week, explaining TO Jesus what happened, TO Jesus.  Can you imagine?  Jesus walking up along side these two men, who are clueless that they are informing this “stranger” of the actual events that JESUS  (who is walking along side them) LIVED THROUGH.

Jesus had to have been like “Yo, I am right here…if you would only look up.”

So these two men continue to walk and talk for the next 7 miles.  (verses 19-24)  Finally in verse 27, Jesus gets a word in edge wise.  “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself.”

When they reached Emmaus, Jesus proceeded as if he were going on farther, but these two men asked him to stay.  He was invited into their home where Jesus, in verse 30, “took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.”  Then what happens next is the very magic of this whole story.  In verse 31 it says, “THEIR EYES WERE OPENED.”  Yes, they finally, after all this time, an entire afternoon of being in the actual presence of Jesus Christ did they finally realize and see who was before them.

How many times in our lives does this happen to us?  I know it happens to me, a lot. I get so set in my ways, looking down and looking back that I forget to look up and see Jesus is walking on this path right along side me.  And most of the time, I do all the talking! I love to tell Jesus all the things, all the details, all the drama and rehash everything He already knows.

What Jesus really wants us all to do is invite Him in.  It is when we invite Him into our homes, and our hearts, and those secret places that we bury all the “stuff.”  Yeah, that stuff that Jesus already knows about. He just wants to be invited in, and he will STAY.

Cammi Thurlby
loveSTRONG Ministries

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I Praise

I praise you in the sunshine.

I praise you under the clouds.

I praise you when I’m running fast.

I praise you when things slow down.

I praise you in the middle of the messes.

I praise you when things are going smoothly.

I praise you when the decision is easy.

I praise you when the decision has wrecked me.

I praise you while I laugh.

I praise you when I cry.

I praise you at the beginning, in the middle and at the end.

I praise you for when you give.

I praise you when you take away.

I praise you for changes that upset my world.

I praise you for consistency.

I praise you because you always love me.

I praise you because you see me.

I praise you because you won’t turn your back on me or give up on me.

I praise you as best as I can as often as I remember.

I should not forget to praise.

I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
Deuteronomy 32:3

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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No Longer Needed

“No manna appeared that day, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.” (Joshua 5:12 NLT)

At this point in the Scriptures, Joshua had successfully led the nation of Israel across the Jordan River. The Promised Land now, awaited their taking. Have you ever stopped to consider that the very food source (manna) that had been provided to Israel during their forty long years in the wilderness, was gone? Never to be seen again.

It’s as if the Word of God is screaming out to each of us to, ‘Turn the page. There is so much more that I have in store for you to eat.’

Perhaps He is. And perhaps, if you are somewhat like me, you often miss this. You see, God had miraculously met Israel’s physical needs to eat with manna yet, it was time to now eat from the land itself. Canaan was ripe for planting and harvesting crops, but Israel would require some skin in the game.

Prayer is not an alternative to preparation and faith in God to provide for your needs, is never void of your own hard work. Do you keep asking God to provide something in your life and it doesn’t appear that He is listening? There is a time and a place for everything. God will never lead you into the next journey without having first, prepared you to walk with Him. Israel no longer needed this manna because the land in which they were about to enter would abundantly provide all in which they could only dream of eating.

I wonder if today, those seemingly unanswered prayers are in reality, your own manna? Could it be that God has already provided you with the tools and soil necessary for harvest? May I encourage you today to take a moment and pause? Those unanswered prayers might not be so unanswered at all.

Today, I pray for your eyes to be open to seeing that.

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG Ministries

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A Legacy of Love or Lies?

It happens more than I care to admit -- those dreaded bouts of insomnia.  When it’s really bad, I’ve been known to resort to late night television. During one such spell a few weeks ago, I tuned into one of those ridiculous “Real Housewives” shows. After just a few minutes, I determined that the people on this show were anything but “real.”  I’m ashamed to admit, the story line drew me in like a toddler chasing a shiny toy.

One story in particular regarding a housewife’s so-called “legacy” both intrigued and shocked me. This woman boasted about the great legacy she would someday leave behind. She had no children, had never been married but recently had become engaged to her longtime, live in boyfriend. She appeared to be in her 50s, so the likelihood of motherhood seemed pretty slim. Her “great legacy” was some sort of dress she’d designed that could be worn multiple ways.

This woman gushed over how proud she was of her design and how she’d accomplished this “great thing” (in her eyes) completely on her own. Sadly, she thought the most important contribution she could provide to the world was … a multi-purpose dress.

There were so many things wrong with this whole scenario. You’ve got someone with a huge pride issue who wasn’t about to share credit with anyone else – even though she had help along the way.  In my mind, the worst part was she truly believed making money and leaving this fashion legacy to the world was a magnanimous achievement.

I’ve never seen anyone who needed Jesus more. Are there really people in the “real world” who act and think like this “Real Housewife?” Without Jesus in our lives – the answer is … yes! Without Jesus - money, achievements, accomplishments and possessions are the things that drive worldly ambition.

As children of God, Jesus tells us our real pursuit and the most important commandment is:

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’  The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 (NLT)

As ambassadors for Christ, our “real” life purpose is simple: love God, love others and share this real truth with everyone we can!  If we fulfill our purpose - someday we can look forward to meeting people in Heaven who have benefitted from our commitment to share our legacy of the love of Jesus.

Are you working on your legacy? It’s never too late to start …

Kathy Kurlin
Author

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But I Don’t Even Like Mustard

Here we go again.

Again and again and again.

I get so exhausted with finding myself in the same place over and over again. Not praying just venting. Complaining and whining and crying but never learning. God why? Why again? Why this? Why does this keep happening to me? Why, why, why?

I wish I was one of those women who smile sweetly through adversity, calm and collected knowing that the Lord will be there with them through their trials. Not to say she doesn’t have her moments of weakness, but she is constant in her pursuit of Jesus and finds her way back to his arms quickly. She is faithful.

I am not that woman. I am the one sitting in her car hyperventilating holding back tears on the verge of screaming and blaming. The only constant for me would be the worry lines on my brow.

I’m the woman holding all the bags and trying to pick up more while reassuring God Almighty, that it’s okay I got this one. I want Jesus nearby but please don’t hover. Fix my mistakes but don’t take control - Lord. I can’t handle any trials right now, but maybe next week when I’m more rested and I’ve caught up on the grocery shopping and house cleaning. Please just let me schedule a little time aside for the next crisis.

I am not faithful, but I want to be.  “Faith no bigger than a mustard seed” always made me confused. I always took it to mean a tiny, the tiniest, amount of faith will see you through any circumstance. Maybe for that wonderfully faithful woman that is what it means. For myself and my hardheaded compatriots it might mean something a little different. For me faith no bigger than a mustard seed means that I will find myself in situations, possibly many situations that will require no more from me than to take a deep breath and let God have control, faith. Duh right?

Isn't that what I just said it was for the faithful woman? What I mean for me is not it is that simple but rather it is that difficult. A mustard seed has a hard shell. Mustard seeds are hard and having faith can be difficult for some people. People like me, and maybe people like you. Maybe life grinds you down. You find yourself between a rock and a hard place and you want to just give up, but next time you think to yourself  “I don’t have faith like a mustard seed,” - don’t look at your faith as a quantity look at its quality.

Sister, sometimes my faith can’t be measured without the use of a microscope. But not the world, or sin or the devil are going to crush it. Be tough, like a mustard seed.

And the Lord said “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’ and it would obey you.” Luke 17:6 ESV

Huni McGee
Author

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Radiating A Filtered Perspective

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

This world is very much performance driven.  And, from a very young age too.  For example, "If you eat all your dinner... you can have desert."  With social media, it's taken on new heights and depths that threaten to eat us all alive if we are not careful.

Psalm 18:30a - God's way is perfect.

So why do I strive to have MY way?  God must think I look silly straining and striving to just measure up and do all and be all "that" -  whatever or whoever "that" is.  He's probably thinking... “Girl, you are gonna pull a hamstring trying so hard. Or slip a disc with all the ways you are trying to bend over backward to do things YOUR way. Don't you know you're not built for that?  I in all My infinite wisdom did not build you to do that, or to be like so-and-so either.”

Jeremiah 29:11  - For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 

Before I hurt myself something awful maybe I need to be more about His presence than my performance.  Look at Exodus 34:29-30 Here we see Moses spending time with God and his very face began to glow radiantly. (Who knew!?  All these expensive face creams and all it takes to glow radiantly is to spend time with our Maker...for free.)

This verse states that, Moses wasn’t aware his face had become radiant.  Moses wasn't thinking about what he looked like only what his God was like. Yet what did others notice? The radiance of Moses' face. When we marinate in His presence it will be His fragrance we leave in our wake everywhere we go. People will experience the fruit of His Spirit within us.

Jesus, make me more about Your presence than my performance in life.

Independent Read: Ephesians 3:14-21

Janette Kieffer
Author

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First Step

After the end of a recent mission retreat in Guatemala, my husband and I needed to leave our hotel in Antigua at 3:30 a.m. in the morning to go to the Guatemala City Airport.  I decided to shower the night before because 3:30 a.m. is not meant for anyone to be awake. (Surely there is a special place in heaven for night shift workers.)

I turned the shower on and waited and waited for hot water.  None. Only cold. So I turned the cold water handle on just in case it was plumbed backwards. No hot water.  I turned the hot water faucet back on and waited and waited some more. Because I was committed, I was going to do shower with or without hot water.

First my right foot went into the shower.  Then my left. Brrrr.  “I can do this. I need to do this.”  Then the water began to feel less chilly.  Soon warm water was falling on my head. Ah....the warm water became warmer and warmer until several minutes later I was enjoying hot water. It was wonderful.

This might sound silly but I thought - this is what happens when God asks me to step out in faith!

It looks like nothing is happening. I don’t always see (or feel) the blessing right away.  It’s only when I step out in obedience that He empowers me to do what He’s asked of me. I believe it’s the same for you, too.

What is it you are waiting for?

May God give you - and me - the courage and faith to take that first step.  May your cold water turn to hot water when you do.

May your first step be one of many steps.

May you enjoy His “showers of blessings”.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. Ezekiel 34:26

Kathy Troyer
Author

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Which One?

It's certainly no coincidence that the very first Psalm harbors a thematic backdrop in the choices of life's two roads. Here, we read about the life of the faithful person contrasted with that of the faithless.

Life is all about choices. Some may be easier than others, but nonetheless, our daily directions can be downloaded into our hearts from God.

It's no accident that at the very center of Scriptures, we find the Psalms. An entire range of human emotion expressed, confessed. From songs of praise, to crying out in pain, we read it all.

But, one simple question remains foundational.

Which road do you choose?

Psalm 1

Stefanie Calens
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Game. Set. Match.

Game.  Set.  Match.

Stupid.

Why was I so stupid?

I was not laser focused.

My mind was not laser focused on the right thing.

I didn’t think of Jesus first.  I did not react with love.

That punk, satan, tempted and I reacted.

Stupid beyond stupid.

What happens now?

Crawl into a hole and cry?

(Cry, yes.)

(Crawl into a hole, no.)

Ask for forgiveness and bow my head?

Yes.  I get back the laser focus.  I ask for forgiveness.  I ask for help.  I crawl to God.

God knew what I was about to do and without knowing why, He prompted my friend to be praying for me.

I had no idea that my safety net was already in place.

The safety net was ready for my fall.  God wants me to be a better person.

He wants me to throw my arms in the air and cry out to hear Him say He still loves me.

Stupid decisions and all.

He loves me.

No excuses.  I take responsibility and know the warning signs so I can be prepared next time.

One day it won’t be so difficult.

Until then, I trust in His word.  I trust in His love.  I trust in His promise.  I trust.

The desire of my heart is to be like Jesus.

As a human, I can strive to be better.

As a woman, I can recognize the strength He gives me.

As a child of God, I can know the Father loves me even when I’m stupid.

This life is not for the faint of heart.  I will not buckle my knees except to pray.

My focus will be clearer and I will immerse myself in the Bible.

I remember,

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

So, I will pray for that desire over and over.  And then again and again.

It will be God’s game, set, match.

Not satan’s.

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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