Discovered

Have you ever discovered something that you didn’t know you had?

How fun is it when you discover an awesome surprise! Something totally unexpected. Something not planned. What a treat! 

My husband bought a GMC truck in 2019. Last winter and until a few weeks ago, we did not know we had a remote starter. We could have taken advantage of a slipping into a warm truck during the cold months but we had no idea. No idea. 

You might be thinking, “Are they wacko or something? They didn’t know they had a remote starter?” In our defense, this is our first vehicle to have the remote start feature, so it never occurred to us until someone asked. Then we checked it out. Woo hoo! We could start our truck without going outside to do so. 

It's embarrassing to admit this but how many of us don’t know what we have? Until someone tells us? Something that is either hidden or we are unaware of – something we haven’t heard of or seen? 

Friends, we have a treasure to be discovered – a treat that can be ours – a gift to be opened – for everyone. No matter our race. No matter our social status. No matter our economic standing. No matter our skin color. No matter our political alliance. No matter our denomination. No matter what. 

If you haven’t discovered the awesome treasure that is yours for the claiming - let me tell you. You have a God who loves you – to death. You have a Savior, Jesus, the Messiah. You have a home waiting for you in Heaven. You can start your eternal, abundant life now – here on earth. 

I have been immersed in “religious” practices since birth. I attended a faith-based school until seventh grade. I have been able to recite the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed since first grade. I learned the names of the apostles. I was in church every day – Monday through Friday – and on holy days as well as every Sunday. I heard what was being taught but I did not have a relationship with Jesus. The truth was there but I didn’t discover Him until I was 25 years old. He was there – just like our remote start. Although I wasn’t aware of Him, He loved me. I had to discover Him for myself. 

And when I did – my life was changed. He was the best discovery I’ve ever made. 

My friends, life is short. We don’t know how many days or hours or minutes we have been given. Let’s not waste them. Let’s not be unaware of the gift that is ours to discover. Jesus. He is waiting. He loves you. 

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3

Kathy Troyer
Author

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Antiquated Treasure

Several months ago, I was invited to go antiquing with a friend. Wandering aisle after aisle of “treasures,” I was somewhat surprised to find a large portion of my childhood filling the shelves. Knick knacks, toys, furniture and appliances that once filled my childhood home, were now considered prized antiques.

I found myself waffling back and forth between the shock of “why would anyone buy this old junk?” to “wow, I wish I would have saved my old toys because now they’re worth a fortune!” 

How nice it would be to know for certain what items will appreciate in value and which ones are simply worthless castoffs. In truth, however, even if something is valued at a ridiculously high price – if you can’t sell your priceless treasure – it really has no value. Something is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.

My childhood toys may be valued at hundreds of dollars, but if I can’t find a buyer, those toys aren’t worth anything.

The only thing that will never lose its value, is our salvation in Christ. There are times in life that many of us struggle with our worth and value in the Body of Christ. We must never forget that Jesus paid the ultimate price for us. 

We may have people in our lives who would tell us we are nothing and will never amount to anything, but we must never forget that we are the apple of God’s eye (Psalm 17:8). God knew us before we were born (Psalm 139:15). God has great plans for our future (Jeremiah 29:11). God loves us so much he sacrificed his one and only son for us (John 3:16). The currency used to secure our eternal home and guarantee our salvation was the blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). 

The next time the enemy tries to convince you that you are worthless, remember whose you are and never forget that God paid dearly for you. In the Savior’s eyes – YOU … are a priceless treasure! 

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 (NLT)

Kathy Kurlin
Author

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Ahh, Decisions

The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. Numbers 17:8

I admire decisive people--people who can walk into the department store, look at the racks of shoes and immediately know which pair is for them. I, on the other hand, could spend hours thoroughly perusing every shoe, building pie charts and bar graphs writing full on analytical reports on the probability of usage, durability, cuteness and practicality while also considering weather, number of color coordinating outfits and so on. THANKFULLY I have six children and am seldom allotted such time in ANY store, thus I have perfected the art of “stick-to-list-grab-n-go” (a much more financially sound approach, too, I might add). However, left to my own destruction I would be quick to revert to my tragic natural ability to over-analyze everything.

So when I came across this passage in Scripture I was intrigued.

The Israelites were trying to determine who God’s chosen leader would be. God told Moses to put 12 staffs, one from the leader of each ancestral tribe, inside the Tent of Meeting. Numbers 17:5 says, The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout.”  

The next day Moses went in to check the staffs for God’s direction and not only had God made His chosen leader's staff sprout but it had budded, blossomed, AND produced almonds! There was no doubt, God had made His direction for chosen leadership VERY clear.

God always has a plan. 

Am I seeking Him for HIS plan or am I so diluted by self that I’m not even asking the right questions for clarity? 

Have I fully surrendered to Him my will and my desires so that when I ask Him for His way, or to hear His voice, I’m really ready to receive it? 

Or, am I already looking sub-consciously for what I want to hear and thus am blinded to all the buds, blossoms and almonds God is trying to show me?

Dear Jesus search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). 

Amen.

Janette Kieffer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Catch the Breeze

Feel like you’ve been in a rowboat paddling like a crazy woman?

Or, in a battleship that you can’t get to turn around?

Or, a cruise ship surrounded by people who won’t go away?

Or, a fishing boat that is smelly and messy?

Or, a speed boat that is going full throttle?

Today it is time to take a breath and catch the breeze in your sails.  Breathe.  Deep breaths.  Close your eyes and breathe.

You are not alone.  Jesus has been with you when you were aboard the crazy rowboat or in any of those other boats. The problem is you have been trying to do it all yourself and it has worn you out. 

Try something different.  Imagine life as a sailboat where you are dependent on the breezes to move you.  Instead of puckering up and blowing into the sail trying to move the boat yourself, take a deep breath and say, “Jesus.”  When you do, open your hands as a gesture of showing Jesus you are done trying to right the ship.  

“My beloved ones, don’t ever limit your joy or fail to rejoice in the wonderful experience of knowing our Lord Jesus!” Philippians 3:1

Your experience is designed to give God praise.  Then, and only then, can you realize Jesus has been beside you in every port, ship and boat these past few weeks.

Hands open!  Breathe deeply!  Say His name – Jesus!  

You will catch that breeze.

 

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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If The Shoe Fits

When I was a little girl, one of the greatest life lessons I learned had to do with a pair of shoes.

I remember begging my mother for a pair of bright blue patent leather shoes. My mother was a single working mom so it was a big ask for her limited budget. Somehow though, she managed to scrape together the money to buy the shoes. 

Once I owned these blue beauties, I was afraid to wear them for fear of scuffing them. I’d slip them on and walk around on the carpet like a fashion runway model – but rarely wore them outside. Even though the shoes kept their perfect patent leather shine, my feet weren’t done growing. Quite naturally, I outgrew the prized shoes, barely having worn them and ended up giving them away.   

Today, I have a habit of using things until they completely fall apart. My athletic shoes, exercise equipment and favorite Bible are all held together with duct tape and a wing and a prayer. Eventually I dispose of the shoes and the gym equipment, but even in its broken-down state, I can’t discard my Bible. It contains a lifetime of notes, prayers and tears and still has much more to offer.

There are lessons to be gleaned from shoes – old or new, and worn-out Bibles.   

If we overuse things, they fall apart - but if we let things lay dormant, they have little value.  

I possess gifts and talents that I fail to use for various, mostly selfish reasons. If I’m not using them, God has every right to take them away and give them to someone else.  

My choices are to use every last bit of talent that God has given me to further His Kingdom and glorify Him (because I still have much more to offer). OR … I can let my gifts die from inactivity, basically throw them away - which ultimately benefits no one because I am choosing to let them waste away. 

The choice should be obvious. I pray daily, “take everything that you have given me, Lord and use ME. I may be old, but I’ve still got much to offer!” Even if I am being held together with the adhesive of God’s grace and mercy –take all of me, Lord!”

How do your “shoes” fit these days?  Do you plan to “use them … or lose them” or “lose them, never having used them at all?” 

You know what they say … if the shoe fits!

To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.  Matthew 25:29 (NLT)

Kathy Kurlin
Author

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Window Shopping

Back in the day – B.C. (before COVID) - window shopping in clothing stores was one of my favorite past times. I didn’t always buy anything, just enjoyed trying on clothes. There’s no better pick-me-up than trying on a nice outfit to boost your ego.

Since our country was in lockdown for a while, little luxuries like shopping haven’t been available. Online shopping isn’t the same thing. I like to try on clothes in front of the mirrors that highlight the good, the bad and the ugly. In triplicate.

As things are starting to open up, there are some obvious changes with businesses. Dressing rooms in every store are closed indefinitely.  This means I have to make an actual purchase now. That entails bringing clothes home to try on and making a return trip for an exchange if things don’t fit. 

During a recent shopping/return trip, the “closed” sign on the dressing rooms got me thinking about a friend. Throughout our very long friendship, I’ve tried unsuccessfully to share the gospel message of Jesus with her.  I’ve tried everything short of beating her over the head with my Bible to get her to accept Jesus as her Savior. She’s made it plain, she’s not interested. 

When this COVID thing started early in the year, my friend was so consumed with fear, she required medication and barely got of bed for the first few weeks. I figured there was no better time to try sharing Jesus with her again. She was a little more receptive because the world was in chaos and she wasn’t coping.  

My friend brought Jesus home with her to “try on,” but quickly wanted to make a return. Her problem seemed to be that she thought she was buying a “one-size-fits-all” religion, rather than getting to know the real Jesus. My friend was only “window shopping.” 

I’ve never tried to sell her something under false pretenses. I’ve been clear that Jesus is not about religion, but a relationship. I’m not giving up on her though. My prayer for her and anyone looking for peace and reassurance during these uncertain times is to bring Jesus home. Try Him on and wear Him around the house until He becomes a perfect fit. 

You can try and wear Jesus out – but once you say “yes” to Him – He’s not going anywhere. He wants to wrap His Holy Spirit around you and keep you safe throughout the storms of life.

“But I will call on God, and the Lord will rescue me.”  Psalm 55:16 (NLT)

Kathy Kurlin
Author

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Chatter That Doesn’t Matter

We see social media posts all the time mentioning that “life is short.”  (And it truly is.)  So, why do we waste our time with chatter that doesn’t matter?  Why don’t we say something nice instead of talking negatively?

I know so many times I should have said something nice but it got pushed down in my throat because I hovered over the negative to complain.  Chances are you have done that also.  “That’s good but it should be this way ____.”  “I like what they did but I would have done it this way _____.”

We would feel much better to slide to the positive rather than sit in the negative.

To help us both, here are the beginning of sentences we can keep in our head to stay on the positive and regain a friendship and/or heal a hurt, and correct our attitudes:

I may have never said this, but….
I was so impressed when you…
I have always admired you because…
I never said I’m sorry when…
You inspired me when you…
I would love to know more about…
Thank you so much for the time you…
I love you because…

Recognizing that negative tendency is not healthy, both of us can let Jesus be the guide in showing grace and love.  Starting today.

Lord, you’re so kind and tenderhearted to those who don’t deserve it and so patient with people who fail you! Your love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness.  Psalm 103:8 TPT

 

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Tripping Hazards

My neighborhood boasts a gifted artistic craftsman who hand paints ordinary rocks and turns them into works of arts. The artist sprinkles our streets with assorted rocks painted to resemble insects, fruits, vegetables and cartoon characters. Included in the artistry, are also inspirational rocks that contain simple messages of love, joy, peace and hope.

Until recently, my daily walks were for the sake of exercise only. A typical walk found me hoofing it at a brisk pace, head down to avoid tripping hazards while music flowed through my headphones, distracting me from my laborious breathing.

Not long ago, I momentarily shifted my eyes from my feet to appreciate a rainbow of beautiful flowers surrounding a fire hydrant. Nestled amongst the colorful flora I spied a happy little ladybug rock.

Upon my discovery, I couldn’t help but wonder how many other painted masterpieces I might have missed due to my regular downward posture? How many other sights, sounds or smells of the season was I missing because my goal was racking up steps on my fitness tracker?

From that day on, I decided to change up my routine. Rather than walking solely for exercise, I vowed to pay closer attention to my surroundings.

I quickly discovered many painted rocks and began noticing the beautiful colors of a desert in full bloom. Not only did I come to appreciate the smells of those desert blooms, but I soon delighted in hearing the trills and songs of the morning birds that nested in them. I also developed an ear for hearing from God as I started appreciating His artistic creation of nature.

While I’d previously spent much of my efforts tuning out my environment because of headphones, I was also guilty of shutting God out. He helped me to see that walking with my head down and concentrating on my foot placement was actually similar to the way I’d been dealing with some of my worrisome life trials.

I’d made a habit of focusing only on my problems, to the point that I was overly stressed and conjuring up a host of “what if” scenarios that likely would never happen.  I was trusting in myself to solve these difficulties rather than looking up and seeking God’s wise counsel.

We can walk through life, heads down, relying on ourselves, thereby missing all that God has for us - OR - we can trust HIM completely. God will direct our paths and teach us where we should walk and help us avoid tripping hazards if we will allow HIM to be our guide.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

Kathy Kurlin
Author

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Beautiful Butterfly

I was sent a picture of a saying on a t-shirt that went like this...

"I want to be a caterpillar. Eat a lot. Sleep for a while. Wake up beautiful."

Did that make you smile like it did me? Well what made me smile even more is that in Jesus we already ARE like the caterpillar!

We CAN, "eat a lot" -

Taste and see that the LORD is good. (Psalm 34:8)

Ezekiel sure did! Ezekiel 3:3 states, Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.

And what did he get to do next once he ingested the Word of God? He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them. (Ezekiel 3:4)

Good to know that when we have eaten a lot of His Word we then have something worth sharing! Something that will not return empty (Isaiah 55:11)

We CAN, "sleep a lot" -

We CAN because He doesn't! He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber. (Psalm 121:3) In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

We CAN, "wake up beautiful" -

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

A caterpillar is not worried. If it operated in fear no cocoons would ever be attempted. They have to trust and rely only on how God equipped to evolve. And they can't give up in the waiting period, they must sleep and get rest or the something beautiful won't emerge. Can you imagine a world without butterflies? Or, can you imagine a world where butterflies just walked around and never risked using the wings God gave them? That would be sad.

The butterfly’s beauty carries a message of hope. You too, dear one in Jesus, have a message of hope to bring for Him into the world. Don't be afraid, don't give up.  Trust Him to lead you. (Psalm 16:7-8)

So, feast on His Word daily. Rest in His mighty hand and trust that the King of kings, will wake you up beautiful in His eternal unshakable kingdom. Do not give up.  Within you is His beautiful message of hope!

Independent Read: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Janette Kieffer
Author

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Full Access

My husband and I attended a concert and as we sat in our seats in the large venue, we noticed a line of people standing near the front of the stage.  These were the people who paid extra money to get a backstage pass to meet the entertainer.  A lot of extra money.

I wondered what it was like to meet her and have a possible 5 second conversation with her.  I would remember it but would she remember me?  How meaningful an experience could that be and would it be worth the cost?

The thoughts of having that backstage pass made me think of what it may be like when we leave this life to meet our Creator.  Will there be a band playing?  Will there be a spread of snacks and drinks?  Will someone welcome us with a sign with our name on it?

Of course, we don’t know the answers to any of those questions.  We can’t know beforehand because no one on earth has had the experience and returned to tell us.

What I want you to know is Jesus waits to welcome you to your new eternal home when you leave here.  He loves you and has never once wanted you to be anyplace else except in heaven.  You can make choices to be a woman who is walking in the light of Jesus.  If a wrong decision is made, forgiveness is freely given and you can step up to a new level of life.

He always remembers you.  Your life can be a meaningful experience with a decision to get full access.

It is not temporary.  It is permanent.  God’s love is never-ending.  Not even for a little while.

Then, to top it off, the entire cost has already been paid for you.

For this is how much God loved the world – he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift.  So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.  John 3:16

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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