In the Waiting

by Mark Schumacher

Psalms 40: 1-4. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and more; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.”

Recently, I’ve been in a couple of situations where I knew the answer needed to come from God – I did not have the resources, and needed His direction, patience, wisdom and ability to trust Him for the outcome. Too often in my life, I invite Him into matters where I can really use His help, but I feel I’m able to affect the outcome too.

One of these involved working with my family to address growing challenges with my aging parents – who were still in their home. Kids become parents, parents become dependent on their kids, many tears are shed and fears are realized, and guilt runs high – many of you know all about this experience. Prayers containing heartfelt requests for wisdom, strength, endurance and patience result in needing to trust and wait.

Well, in this matter, a three-year period of searching and waiting on God’s timing (since we started having some extra care in their home) has resulted in a joyous answer – placement in a place that really feels right and meets their needs in special ways. The how we got to this location is a beautifully designed God appointment – and is a story for another time.

As the Psalmist shares…He lifted me up out of despair (mire)…gave me a firm place to stand…put a new song in my mouth (and heart). In verse 4, he shares, “Blessed is the one who makes the Lord his trust.”

I am thankful for God’s answer to my prayers (and the prayers of many of you – the body of Christ is so needed and such a blessing!). We all, no doubt, have experienced answers to prayers quickly sometimes, over a long period of time other times, and many yet to come. God’s timing is always best. It is often easier to see that more clearly when we can look back. My trust and patience in His timing has provided the gift of another victory! Oh Lord, let my heart and mind remember this time, to help me be more consistent in that trust.

About the other situation, well, it’s been over a year with very little answer yet. What does God have planned? It looks like I’ll be working that trust muscle more in the days to come! But really, is there any reason I should doubt His perfect timing? I guess I’ll keep working on the tasks that I should work on while He works in the waiting.

I heard someone share recently, “When it is not God’s timing, you cannot force it. When it is God’s timing, you can’t stop it.” I think I can live with that! How about you? Are you able and willing to allow God to provide the answers and direction you need when He knows it is best?

Dear Lord, Help me to be able to lay the burdens and prayer requests I have at your feet. Please provide me with the patience and strength to trust you – for your perfectly timed answers. I know you love me and care for everything I care about. Thank you for being the Lord of my life, the one fully capable of providing all that I need – when I need it. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:21-28

Jesus Predicts His Death
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.  What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”



Flashback Friday: Crayons

by Jean Abbey (2017)

“We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different, but they all have to learn to live in the same box.”
(Author unknown)

As a former first grade teacher, I’ve had many children rush to me proudly showing their new box of crayons, some with 16, 32 or 64 in number. The children thought that their new crayons would always stay that perfect! Of course, by the end of a week many of those beautiful new crayons were either broken in half, had a broken tip or were just missing. We had a “lost and found” crayon bucket in our classroom, but nothing in it was perfect anymore. In the bucket, the children
deposited several imperfect crayons that had been found in a variety of places: under a bookshelf, across the room, in the trash can rescued by the custodian, in a game box and even stuffed in the back of their desk or someone else’s desk (This is a topic for another time).

Kids rooted through that bucket with full anticipation of finding that perfect crayon to make their box complete again. But this never happened. Their box was now imperfect, never to look the same again. Of course, there was always some child who had purchased the identical box of crayons and would share them with a friend with the rule that it be returned in the same condition. We call that teamwork or showing kindness to one another. Now their crayons were all imperfect but remained the same color. Does our “box of crayons” have to remain perfect? Can we accept that people or situations in our life may change, but still welcome them back in the once perfect “box?”

Ecclesiastics 4: 9-10 says that “two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.”

Prayer: God may we accept others in their imperfectness and team up and make a new beautiful creation. Help us to appreciate the changes in others and still consider them perfect in our eyes. Thank you God for loving us regardless of any changes, as we know that You walk daily before, beside and behind us while making us whole again.


Letter of Salvation

by Aimee Moul

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Matthew 18:13-14

In Matthew 19:23-26, Jesus is speaking to his disciples about being saved and how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples were concerned and asked him, “Who then can be saved?”. And Jesus replied, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Persevere and don’t give up, good and faithful servants! Continue praying and asking Him for those loved ones to be saved! Matthew 19:26 tells us he doesn’t want one to die.

This is a portion of a letter Matt and I received from a friend this past Christmas:

“On September 25th, our 51st wedding anniversary, we attended the God Loves You Tour at the fairgrounds. It was awesome, “Marty” (name changed) stood up and prayed with Franklin Graham! I have prayed for him for 46 years to accept the Lord!! It’s still his journey to read the word, we some days do it together, which has never happened. I pray every day for clarity and hunger for God’s word.”

I know many of you are praying for loved ones to receive Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. I pray that the scriptures and the excerpt from our note encourage you as much as it does me.

Precious Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to this earth to die a criminal’s death, so we can spend eternity with you. We thank you that “Marty” accepted your Son as his Savior. We rejoice with all of heaven over his life-changing decision. I ask, Father, that you would draw ____________________ to you. Please move in their hearts and minds. Open their eyes to see and their ears to hear You. I pray they would accept your Son Jesus into their hearts. Thank you, Father. In Jesus’ Holy Name I pray, Amen.


Truly I Say

by Herman Crawford

I have mentioned in previous devotions, that I am intrigued by phrases used repeatedly in Scripture. I did a Lenten
devotional once on “walk worthy” or “walk in a manner worthy.” This is used only four times in the NASB20 translation but, for me, it is a convicting phrase.

Another phrase that is used often and therefore deserves some attention is one used by Jesus often in the New Testament — “Truly, I say.” This phrase is repeated about 75 times in the New Testament NASB20 translation. So, what exactly does this phrase mean? It is a term of strong, intense affirmation. It means firm. It means trustworthy. The Greek for “truly” is “amen” and is the word we use to end our prayers (in the name of Jesus, we pray, Amen). It means that everything we have just spoken to God in our prayer is trustworthy, It is true. You can take it to the bank. The only one who uses this
expression in the New Testament is Jesus. And again, He uses it some 75 times. In the book of John, Jesus really
emphasizes this phrase: “Truly, truly I say” and he uses it about 25 times. He is literally saying – “Amen and amen.” Every use of “amen” or “truly” by Jesus serves to affirm what He is about to say and, consequently, we need to pay close
attention to the instruction and/or teaching that follows.

What are some of the “Truly, I say” verses that stand out to me? Try these:

Matthew 10:42 — And whoever gives one of these little ones just a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple, truly I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
What little ones? What reward?

Matthew 13:17 — For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
Longed to see and hear what?

Matthew 26:21 — And as they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.”
If Jesus knew about the betrayal, why didn’t He do something to stop it?

Mark 14:30 — And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.”
Have you ever denied Christ? Would you deny Jesus?

John 3:3 — Jesus responded and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Will you see the kingdom of God?

John 5:24 — “Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
You have heard; now, do you believe?

Look at these verses as well as others listed within the New Testament; see what Jesus feels so strongly about. Answer the questions with each of the verses above – understand what Jesus is saying.

And I will leave you this one to think about from Matthew 25:12 – “But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.” As we enter the Lenten season, think about these words from Jesus. I pray that these are not words reserved for you and yours.

Prayer: Father, thank you for Your Word. Help us to understand the importance of reading and understanding what You have for us. Help us to understand that we cannot love You without knowing You and we cannot really know You without Your Word. Bless us during this Easter season. Amen.


The Potter

by Sharon Luckenbaugh

“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter, we are the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

Recently on a Saturday morning, my daughter Erin and I drove through the scenic country roads of northern Virginia until we came to the potter’s workshop. After months of waiting and anticipation, we finally arrived at our pottery class. We were both excited to learn the process of preparing the clay and making our pottery piece. After introductions and a cup of coffee to take off the winter chill, the potter demonstrated how to prepare the clay and create a piece on the pottery wheel. She shared techniques using the fingers and hands to form the clay into the desired shape. The right amount of water had to be applied to the clay to keep it moist and malleable. The clay had to remain at the center of the wheel as it was being formed. A solid and secure foundation had to be established. If not, the vessel could break while being fired. My turn came at the pottery wheel. I learned very quickly my need to be humble, teachable, and laugh at my mistakes. It was obvious I was not an experienced potter. The foundation to my vessel collapsed-twice and almost flew off the wheel. Clay can certainly have a mind of its own! Just like us. The potter was patient with me, reminding me again of the techniques I needed to use. She provided encouragement. The potter’s workshop was full of finished vessels. This inspired me to persevere and finish my coffee mug.

Over the past few weeks of reflection, my brief time at the pottery wheel reminds me of our Heavenly Father, the potter and creator of our lives. His word provides instruction on how to live this life here on Earth. The potter is patient as He instructs and guides me on my spiritual journey. A journey that began at a young age. I can easily waver in my faith, lose my focus on God, and disobey His word. Yet, time and time again, He continues to shape me into his likeness. The world and the enemy are relentless in trying to distract me from my relationship with God. The devil would love nothing more than to remove me from my relationship with Him. I need to come before Him daily and keep my eyes fixed on the potter, my Heavenly Father.

Despite the world’s attempt to distract and crush us, God’s promises help us to remain steadfast and persevere in our spiritual walk. One day we will meet the potter face to face. The potter who has patiently molded and made us into His likeness.

Thank you God for your unconditional love for us. Thank you for sending your son Jesus to reconcile and save us. We are grateful for His sacrifice and the life we now can have through Him.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come. All this is from God, who reconciled us and himself in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5: 17, 18