Tag Archives: devo

Devotional by Davalynn Spencer

DC_SpencerAround our country home we have an open field of wild grass, oats, sunflowers, thistle, and various weeds. The most insidious weed is a skinny little thing officially named convolvulus arvensis. Most people know it as bindweed.

Bindweed pops up without much notice, sending out fragile-looking tendrils that wrap around anything upright—from a single stem of wild oats to wire fencing. Earlier this spring, I allowed a bunch of bindweed to lace the unstacked pile of wood behind my house. Bad idea. The bindweed lived up to its name and effectively bound each piece in the pile, preventing me from lifting one without using force or shears. I was amazed at its strength.

Deceptively delicate in appearance and painfully prolific, bindweed roots can reach depths of up to twenty feet. That’s a committed weed. Often confused with the ornamental annual, morning glory and its trumpet-shaped flowers, there is nothing glorious about bindweed.

Aside from annoying me with its insidious encroachment, bindweed reminds me of tiny sins and poor habits I allow to take root in my life. If left unchecked, they quietly grow into chain-like bindings that pin me down or choke out beneficial habits and desires.

It also reminds me of Jesus’s Parable of the Sower. In Mark 4:3-20 (also in Matthew and Luke), we find Jesus telling the story of a farmer who sowed his field with good seed. As a story teller myself, I imagine a sandaled man, skin sunbaked to a beautiful bronze, living in a semi-arid section of Israel’s former Promised Land. He wears a shoulder bag containing precious seed that will take root and grow and provide a good harvest come fall.

As he spreads the seed by hand, flinging the grains in an arc, some falls into the rich soil he has prepared. Some falls on rockier ground along the edges, and a few seeds scatter to the worn path and unattended areas next to his field. The birds eat some of the seeds, but most of it sprouts.

This is a wonderful story that I recommend you read during a quiet time with the Lord, for today I want to focus on the thorns that Jesus said choked out the seed and made it unfruitful. Jesus explained clearly what the thorns were: worldly cares, hunger for wealth, a clamoring for more and more things.

Jesus knew what He was talking about when he issued this warning. The seed is God’s word, He said, and is often stolen from our hearts by the enemy, allowed to dry up and wither, or choked out by noxious desires. In the story, only one-fourth of the seed grew and produced a crop.

I want to be in that 25%. Therefore, I’m grateful for the bindweed that finds its way among my flowers and garden plants. It reminds me that I must be vigilant to guard His word in my heart and not let it be choked out by the distractions of life.

Bio: Davalynn Spencer writes inspirational Western romance complete with rugged cowboys, their challenges, and their loves. She is the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, and worked several years as a rodeo journalist and crime-beat reporter, winning awards in both arenas. Her fiction has finaled for the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion and the 2014 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, Selah, and Holt Medallion. Davalynn teaches writing at Pueblo Community College and makes her home on Colorado’s Front Range with her handsome cowboy and a Queensland heeler named Blue. Connect with Davalynn online at www.davalynnspencer.com.

Book 4.Summ BridesThe Columbine Bride

Lucy Powell is on a path not of her choosing: widowhood. But she’s determined she doesn’t need anyone’s help to get her neglected ranch back in order and running right—especially the neighboring rancher who keeps showing up at the end of her shotgun. Buck Reiter can’t leave Lucy and her two young’uns alone. It’s just not in him to sit by and watch while someone struggles. But he ends up as the struggler, searching for a way to let Lucy know there’s a whole lot more going on in his heart than just being neighborly

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“It’s a Test” Devo by guest Jennifer Slattery

Iheadshot2013t’d been a crazy week. More like a crazy year. After much prayer and emotional angst, my husband and I had decided to homeschool. Assured God had called us to it, we felt confident He’d stand behind us.

So what could possibly go wrong?

Everything. I’m pretty sure the floodgates of disaster opened above me, because I nearly drowned in a surge of chaos.

Perhaps you can relate. God called you to do something, and you stepped out in faith, only to find the storm waters grow more frantic.

That was how I felt. I was failing! Failure alone is enough to bring most of us to our knees, but failing in an area that involves our kids? Ouch!

One evening, tense and a little melodramatic, I vented every detail to my husband.

He responded with a grin, “It’s a test.”

I stared at him. “What?”

“God’s testing you.”

This failed to bring clarity to my confusion. After all, why would God need to test me? He’s omniscient. The Bible says He knows my every thought, motive, and action.

Yet the Bible is clear: God does test us. He tested Abraham (Gen. 22:1-18), the Israelites during their desert wanderings (Deut. 8:2-18), and Peter when He and the disciples encountered the hungry crowd of 5,000 (John 6:1-13).

When we read these accounts, we begin to see that the testing was not for God’s benefit, but rather for the benefit of those being tested. For it is only when our faith is tested that we begin to see our faults. Through testing, God also allows us to reach the end of ourselves—our strengths, resources, and abilities—so we can recognize our need for Him.

Pause to read Deuteronomy chapter 8 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+8&version=NLT) . In this chapter, Moses urges the Israelites to remain faithfully obedient to God, asking them to remember the testing they endured while they wandered through the desert.

Moses said this testing:

  • Humbled them (v. 2)
  • Revealed their character, and at times, lack of, and their propensity (or lack of) to obey (v. 2)
  • Showed them God’s provisions could be surprising, which taught them to hold loosely to their expectations (v. 3-4)
  • Taught them to rely solely on Him for everything (v. 3-4, 18)
  • Showed God’s faithfulness and therefore, earned their trust (v. 4-10)
  • Hindered their propensity for disobedience (v. 11-18)

Their testing revealed the depths of their sin and their complete dependence on God. It showed them He was faithful, attentive, nurturing, loving, gentle, and true, in a way and to a depth they couldn’t have grasped otherwise.

You see, true, victorious, overcoming faith occurs at the heart level, and heart change occurs once we’ve come to the end of ourselves. When, empty handed, humbled, and in need of mercy, we willingly surrender everything, even that which we hold most dear, to the God who met our need when we were most desperate for His aid.

Are you in a time of testing? What might God be trying to show you about your faith, your fears, your strongholds, and your obedience level?

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her teenage daughter and coffee dates with her handsome railroader husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 

Jen Slattery coverWhenDawnBreaks_N154102_300dpiRGB

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution motivate her to head north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. Dealing with his own issues, Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. And then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here: http://issuu.com/newhopedigital/docs/slattery_sampler/1

You can buy a copy here: On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/When-Dawn-Breaks-A-Novel/dp/1596694238/

Low Dose Spirituality

headshot2013This weeks guest devo blogger is Jennifer Slattery.

Imagine chocolate without cocoa.

Imagine salt without, well, salt.

Peruse the grocery aisles long enough and you’ll quickly recognize American’s love-hate relationship with salt. Crackers, potato chips, pretzels, even cottage cheese is loaded with the stuff. We’ve become so saturated with salt, “low-sodium” has become the latest buzz word.

In our culture, salt has become so prevalent, it can be hard to understand why Jesus talked so much about its importance, but in Bible times, salt played a crucial role. It added flavor, preserved food and was even used medicinally. Salt was so important, in fact, it was often used as money.

Salt was a big deal.

When Jesus talks about His followers being the salt of the earth, He is telling us to add flavor to our surroundings and preserve what is good in our culture. (IMHO)

As a tortilla-chip lover, I understand this analogy. I can visualize flavor-producing “salt” pouring from my Spirit-filled being, but what I couldn’t understand for the longest time was how to keep my salt from losing it’s saltiness, something Jesus warns us about in Mathew 5:13.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

I know salt. I’ve been using salt, in one way or another, for–oh, do I really want to age myself? Let’s just say, for a long time.  I’ve dissolved it, re-crystalized it, looked at it under a microscope, and tasted. The flavor didn’t change.

Which was good, because flavorless salt would be bland, ineffective and basically worthless.

The same is true of a flavorless Christian.

I certainly don’t want to be bland, but how in the world can I keep my witness salty?

To understand Jesus’ analogy in Matthew, we need to understand ancient salt cultivation. Most of the salt used in Israel came from the Dead Sea and was full of impurities. These impurities caused the salt to lose some of its flavor.

Is it easier to see how it might apply to my spiritual walk now? Just as impurities weaken salt’s flavor, impurities in our lives, known as sin, weaken our witness for Christ. We talk about the love of God in one breath, and in the next, gossip about our neighbor. We share how great life is with Christ then complain about our jobs or the housework, or chasing after energetic two year olds. We say God is loving and in control then openly and loudly fret about our finances. We talk about the power of the Holy Spirit then allow our emotions to control us.

All this must be very confusing to the non-Christian world.

For me, my greatest impurity is selfishness. My selfishness weakens my witness, mutes my “flavor” and, when left unchecked, reduces my words, no matter how heart-felt, to flavorless powder.

And it’s time I’m diligent with my flavor-preservation.

Today, as a first step effort, I’m going to focus on the needs of others by asking them for specific ways I can help or serve them. Waiting for them to come to me is too easy.

Wanna join me? What is your greatest “impurity” and what are some steps you can take to purge that sin from your salt?

Jennifer Slattery writes Missional Romance for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Slattery/e/B00JKQ4ZTW/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here: http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 

BeyondIDocoverBeyond I Do:

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here: http://issuu.com/newhopedigital/docs/beyond_i_do_sample?e=6362996/8842858

Chosen? Me? Really? I Don’t Think So.

IMG_0236Guest, Miralee Ferrell, shares with us today.

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?  Esther 4: 14

Surely God didn’t put that scripture in the Bible because He thought it related to me. I’m sure we’ve all been hit with thoughts like this in the past.

How do you think Esther must have felt when her cousin Mordecai spoke those prophetic words to her? As the queen of Persia she might have been immune to the coming disaster being plotted by Haman, the enemy of the Jews living in that land. God gave her a challenge spoken by her closest kinsman—go before the king on behalf of her people, or refuse and die along with them.

As busy women being pulled a dozen different directions each day it’s probably hard for most of us to imagine God might choose us for anything important. After all, we’re not queens or even princesses, and we certainly aren’t in a position to save a kingdom or a race of people. No, but let’s ask ourselves, what or who is our kingdom, or our people? I think most of us would agree it’s our family. We, as moms and wives, have an amazing amount of influence. We can set the emotional tone for the day by how we choose to respond in everything we say and do from the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning until we fall asleep at night. We truly are called ‘for such a time as this’ within our own sphere and have a great responsibility before God to make wise choices.

Esther made the correct choice. She stepped out in faith trusting that God would go before her when she approached her husband, the king. She didn’t demand her own way, but rather used tact and wisdom, enabling the king to see the imminent danger to her people. As women, we can learn from Esther and the position she found herself in—we too can find favor in the eyes of those around us, if we choose to trust in God to lead us each step of the way. And we too can say with confidence that we’ve come to our royal position in God’s family for such a time as this.

Father God, strengthen our faith as we walk in Your ways. Help us to see that you’ve created us for such a time as this. We thank you for leading us each step of the way on this journey called life.

MiraleeColorMiralee Ferrell is a speaker, accredited counselor, and former ACFW chapter president who has published multiple contemporary and historical romance novels since starting to write in 2005. She enjoys horseback riding, gardening, and family gatherings around their eleven-acre property in Washington State’s beautiful Columbia River Gorge. Miralee has had eight books release, both in women’s contemporary fiction and historical fiction, with another 5 under contract. She’s an award-winning author of Western fiction, and her newest novel, Wishing on Buttercups releases February 1, and is the second in a series set in Baker City, Oregon, 1880s.

Interact with Miralee: Website:  www.miraleeferrell.com Facebook Author page:  www.facebook.com/miraleeferrell

Coming Feb. 1st, Wishing on Buttercups

Can Love Survive When Secrets Collide?

She’d kept her secrets safely hidden—those from her past, and those in the present. Some things, Beth Roberts knows, a lady simply doesn’t share, even in the 1880’s West. The townspeople would never understand. No one ever has.

Jeffery Tucker, a handsome young writer, has kept his own secrets. He doesn’t have a right to pry into Beth’s affairs but finds himself strangely drawn to her and intrigued by the whiff of mystery surrounding her.

Beth knows that one day someone will unravel the threads of her past. And when two men from her past arrive, the truth might just hurt . . . Beth’s future and her heart.

As shadowy memories surface, Beth sketches the scenes she sees and is shocked by what—and who—her illustrations reveal. Dare she risk her heart again?