• Devotionals

    My strength comes from the joy of the Lord

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    Thought of the day:
    When God is leading me through a transition, His joy for me is my source of strength.

    “Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
    Nehemiah 8:10 (NRSV)

    Being in a period of transition is a stressful time for me. When my circumstances start to change and l experience growing pains, it can affect my ability to see the situation for what it is – as God testing and purifying me so that He can prepare me for the next level of His wonderful plan for my life.

    At such times, I hand over the situation to God, but emotionally, l can’t help but see changes in our family’s circumstances as portents of doom. I admonish myself constantly for allowing my fears to overpower my faith.


    My husband, Solomon, on the other hand, is the kind of person who can always tap into God’s joy, despite what is going on around him. He interacts socially and generally enjoys his life, while l sit at home lamenting over what l perceive as a downward turn of events.


    In order to cheer me up, Solomon encourages me to go out for a coffee with him or to meet up with friends. However, l get too caught up in the cinema playing in my head to take on his suggestions. In such times, my husband reminds me that the joy of the Lord is our strength. God knows our current dilemma and is preparing us for promotion and blessings. In the meantime, we should rejoice in each day that God has made.

    Maybe l am not as spiritually mature as my husband, for l have never really understood what Nehemiah meant when he told the Israelites in Nehemiah 8:10 that God’s joy strengthens us.

    Then, a few days ago, l watched an online sermon that gave me a revelation of this Bible verse.


    The pastor preached on Psalm 23:6, where God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. As l listened, l began to understand Nehemiah’s words better. Sure, life would be more joyful if l could foresee how we were to persevere through our adversities, but true joy comes from the strength that only God can give me.


    Revelation rained down on me: God takes joy in me as His child – I am loved, cherished, and protected. Though changes may be whirling around me in a chaotic cyclone of fear and doubt, l can be confident in the presence of it, fortified in the knowledge that God has my back.


    With this in mind, l will heed Nehemiah’s words to the Israelites to eat, drink, and not grieve. I need not fear change, nor should l condemn myself for feeling it. Instead, l should lift my eyes to Jesus and remember that my joy comes from above. God will do the rest.

    Prayer:
    Wonderful Father, thank you that You love us and take joy in us as Your children. As You lead us through changes, help us to remember that Your joy is our true source of strength which overcomes fear and doubt. Amen.

    Delve deeper:
    Are you currently finding it difficult to experience joy in the midst of your present circumstances? Is God leading you through a period of transition, which is making you anxious and worried?

    Remember that your help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth! In prayer, ask God to show you how you can tap into the strength that comes from the joy He feels for us, His beloved children.

    Photo credit:  Preslie Hirsch on Unsplash

  • Devotionals

    The Worry Habit

    Written by Linda Washington

    Thought for the day: Worry is a habit we can overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit.  

    Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

    Romans 12:2 (NRSV) 

    I’m a worrier. Whenever I feel sad, afraid, or overwhelmed, anxious thoughts tumble over and over in my mind, like clothes in a dryer. Even after praying, I still worry over problems. 

    Recently, worry escalated when my niece began to have epileptic seizures out of the blue. I felt cold all over when my brother texted me these words: unresponsive . . . at hospital. Thankfully, he’d been home when she had a seizure. He’d called 911 and off they went to the hospital. 

    She was released when the doctors couldn’t find any reason for the seizure. Everything was good, right? I didn’t have to worry about her any more, right? Wrong. A week later, she had another seizure, which required a hospital stay.  

    As you can imagine my worry meter was off the charts. Even after my niece received excellent care at the hospital and was released, I still worried to the point of sleeplessness.  

    After praying about it, I realized that my constant state of worry showed my belief that problems were bigger than God’s ability to handle them. I needed to be transformed. This brings to mind Paul’s advice in Romans 12:2: “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” Sounds impossible, especially if I have to do it on my own. But I don’t. God can help me to change.  

    Recently, I took the first steps toward that change:

    (1) Admitting that I wrongfully chose worry over trust in God; 

    (2) Asking God to forgive me and help me change. That’s part of being a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1) – putting wrongful habits to death. I want to be a prayer warrior, instead of a worrier. 

    Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. I need to “persevere in prayer” as Paul suggests in Romans 12:12, seeking God for help whenever I’m tempted to worry. I also need the truth of God’s promises to “hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9), instead of to worried thoughts. They also remind me to “rejoice in hope” and be “patient in affliction” (Romans 12:12). 

    Prayer:

    Lord, forgive me for the time I wasted worrying. You are bigger than the biggest problem I will ever face. I’m grateful that I can always count on you. You are my helper, the One who will never forsake me, as Hebrews 13:5-6 tells me.  

    Delve deeper:

    Got a worry habit? Allow God to transform you “by the renewing of your mind.” Instead of letting worried thoughts tumble over and over, consider Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:8: “[W]hatever is true, whatever is honorable . . . think about these things.”  

    About the author:

    Linda Washington received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Northwestern University and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has worn many hats: textbook editor, senior project writer, manuscript reviewer for several publishers, ghostwriter, and a freelance developmental editor. She has authored or co-authored fiction and nonfiction books for kids, teens, and adults.

  • Devotionals

    A new acquaintance brings a fresh perspective

    Thought of the Day:  I thank God for bringing new acquaintances my way, for they give me a fresh perspective on my life.  

    Iron sharpens iron, 
        and one person sharpens the wits of another.” 

    Proverbs 27:17 NRSV 

    When my husband and l moved to a new city over a year ago, it was hard for me to leave my friends.  Many years of shared joys and tribulations have made us a close-knit group. In particular, l appreciate my friend’s loyalty and support while l convalesce from burnout and depression.   

    Making friends in an unfamiliar environment hasn’t been easy: l have made some acquaintances in the city and in our apartment building, but our initial interactions haven’t blossomed into anything more substantial. Being unable to lay social foundations has negatively affected my ability to acclimatize to my new environment; I have felt socially isolated, leaving me with regret at having made the decision to move.  

    About two months ago, l started group counseling for depression, where I  was delightfully surprised to find the other participants eager to make their acquaintance with me.  

    In a pleasant turn of events, I now go for a weekly coffee with some of the ladies in my therapy group.  Their knowledge of the city and their willingness to show me its cultural highlights have positively influenced my attitude about living here. In turn, they enjoy picking up make-up tips from me based on my experience as a freelance make-up and SFX artist. 

    I am grateful to God for the fresh perspectives of the city that my new acquaintances give me.  Most importantly, l consider myself blessed to have not only my dear lifelong friends but to also have the opportunity to make new friendships.     

    Prayer: 

    Merciful Father, thank You that You have created us to enjoy fellowship with You and our fellow man. We are grateful for the fresh perspective that a new acquaintance brings into our lives. Amen. 

    Delve deeper:

    Is there anyone that you know of — an elderly neighbour, a colleague or even someone at church — who needs someone to talk to, or even a friendly word spoken to them?

    Ask God to show you how you can reach out to them today. Your efforts will be a gateway through which God’s love can flow into their lives and will give you a fresh, new perspective on your own life.

    Photo credit:  Simon Maage on Unsplash

    Published on PresbyCan Daily Devotional on 22nd April 2019

  • Devotionals

    A little cloud of hope

    Thought of the day: During trials, l will wait expectantly on God for a sign that He is working in my situation.

    “At the seventh time he said, ‘Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.’”
    1 Kings 18:44 (NRSV)

    Three years ago, l was diagnosed with burnout, anxiety and severe depression. Formerly a full-time teacher, my days suddenly revolved around doctor’s and psychiatrist’s visits, taking medication and trying to cope with mental lows and fears.


    I felt weak and frustrated, yet I was determined to make a full recovery. I prayed and praised God for my deliverance. I believed that l would get well. Yet months went by and l saw little progress.


    Did l get discouraged? Yes. Did l wonder secretly in my heart if things would ever get better? Sometimes. However, l remained insistent that God would heal me.


    Furthermore, I started to get severe headaches. In response, I delved into scripture, l fasted and kept on praying. I concentrated on keeping my eyes on Jesus and thanked him for healing me. I imagined myself being well and whole again.


    Then, one day, the headaches suddenly stopped.


    It was my little cloud of hope, a small but significant sign that carried a loving assurance from God, that more healing was coming. Since then, l have been making continuous improvement in my recovery.
    God pours out great blessings from small beginnings. And it all starts with a little cloud of hope.

    Prayer: Wonderful Lord, thank you that when we wait on you in faith, you will send us a little cloud of hope: the beginning of a great outpouring of your blessings. Amen.

    Delve deeper: Friends, if you are deep in the midst of strife and don’t see any end in sight, ask God in prayer to show you His presence. Let Him guide you to that little cloud of hope, that assurance that He is moving in your situation.

    Published on PresbyCan Daily Devotional on the 8th May.

    Photo by Dallas Reedy on Unsplash


  • Devotionals

    Not my way, but God’s way

    Thought of the day: Rather than struggle to find solutions in my own strength, I will follow God’s purpose for my life.

    “The human mind may devise many plans,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.”
    Proverbs 19:21 (NRSV)

    Since l was a child, it has been a dream of mine to be a writer. I wrote my first poem at age ten and continued writing throughout my teens. During my university studies, some of my work was published in one of the campus’s magazines.
    After graduating, l started writing a novel while l drifted from job to job. When the opportunity presented itself to teach at a private school, l accepted the position without much thought.
    I was optimistic that l would be able to write in my free time, however, my career took over my life. I worked 80 hours a week, on weekends and in the school holidays. My half-finished manuscript lay forgotten and started to accumulate dust, along with my childhood aspirations.
    When a diagnosis of burnout forced me to leave the teaching profession, l knew that l had to make a lifestyle change. This time, l consciously sought God’s advice through prayer and petition. In response, He put it in my heart that l should become a Christian writer and blogger.
    To be honest, this was not the answer l was expecting to hear. However, with the gift of hindsight, l realized that making decisions independent from God hadn’t worked out well for me in the past. In Hebrews 13:5, it states that God will never fail us nor forsake us. Maybe, the time had now come for me to act in faith and follow God’s way.
    Fast forward to today, l am currently sitting in my favorite café enjoying a steaming cup of coffee while l write an article for a Christian magazine on my laptop. Choosing to trust God and launch a new career as a Christian writer and blogger has changed my life. I relish being my own boss and being a creator invigorates me. Stress and drudgery are things of the past.
    I am so grateful to God for revealing His purpose for my life. It has taught me that His way is always designed with our well-being in mind, because He loves us and knows what’s best for us.


    Prayer:
    Sovereign Lord, You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Teach us to not rely on our own understanding, but to trust in the wonderful plan You have for our lives, for only You know what is best for us.

    Delve deeper:
    If making your own decisions hasn’t worked out well for you in the past, maybe it’s now time to choose God’s way. God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly over all that we ask or think, so trust in Him and trust in His process of doing things. He will always keep your best interest at heart and make all things beautiful.

    Published on PresbyCan Daily Devotional on 13.06.2019.

  • Devotionals

    On the wings of eagles

    “But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
    they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.”
    Isaiah 40:31 (NRSV)

    Thought of the day: When l am weak, I will wait on the Lord, for He gives me strength.

    The temperamental spring rains have bidden their farewell where l live in Bochum, Germany. In their place, summer has heralded its arrival, with fresh breezes rippling through lush grasses scattered with colorful bursts of dahlias, petunias, and hydrangeas.
    I have embraced this change of season by making my first attempts at gardening. For the last three years, l have been in convalescence from burnout and depression. Consequently fighting fatigue, fear, and low mood has been a daily struggle. Recently, however, l have felt strong enough to venture outdoors. Being in the fresh air, with the rich dark earth sifting through my fingers and the sun caressing my face is extremely therapeutic. While l work, l thank God for His goodness, and l trust Him with further improvement in my health in His perfect timing.
    Yesterday, the cheerful chittering of birdsong drew me outside to the garden. As l drank my morning coffee, l watched the swallows flying above me, fascinated by their dipping and soaring. I saw a similarity between my feathered friends and myself: Just as the birds rely on God to keep them airborne, so too will l continue to put my life in His hands.
    Furthermore, as l wait in faith, God will continue to renew my strength until l too, like the birds, will soon mount my wings and triumphantly soar, fully recovered and ready to start a new exciting chapter of my life under the loving provision of the Lord.


    Prayer:
    Precious and loving Father, thank you that when we are weak, we can find refuge in You. Teach us to wait faithfully in Your presence, while You strengthen us in Your perfect timing. Amen.

    Delve deeper:

    Are you waiting for a breakthrough in your life? Seek God’s presence where you can find rest from your toil. Wait in faith, for with His perfect timing, God will fill you with a surge of revival, and you will soar with His strength and love into a new and exciting season of your life.

    First published on PresbyCan Daily Devotional on 2nd April 2019: https://presbycan.ca/2019-04-02/eagles