Archives For Devotional thoughts

God Loves Names

Renee Ann Smith —  July 14, 2014 — 46 Comments

A woman I never knew gave me my name.

At least that’s what my sisters tell me. I was only child #4, but I guess 3 kids were enough to deplete the girl names my mom and dad could agree on. So my mother got my name from a French friend and called me Renee, with an accent I don’t use anymore.

As a child, I always wanted a cool, all-American, popular-girl name like Kim or Julie or Amy. I didn’t appreciate having to spell out my name for adults and then trying to explain where the accent went.

It’s interesting how names go in and out of style. The names that were popular in the 1840s or 1940s—or 1960s when I was born—are not necessarily popular today. And even the popular names vary according to each country’s traditions.

When preparing to welcome a child into the family, moms and dads often agonize over choosing a name. They pick names they love or names they hope their kids will live up to or names that carry a legacy of family or faith.

I don’t think my mom intended to give me a name with a legacy.

Most Sundays, dad stayed home to read the paper, and mom went to church to sing in the choir. They did send us to Sunday school when we were little—since we could walk there. But we never prayed or read the Bible at home. My parents never talked about God or told us we should seek a relationship with Him.

As far as I know, my mom didn’t know what my name meant when she chose it.

So years later, after I became a Christian and looked up the meaning, I found it ironic to discover that Renee is French for Rebirth.

And it tickles my fancy that God watched from heaven as my mother gave me a name that only He truly understood the significance of.

God loves names—
Listing them in His Book of Life,
Calling them out to challenge & change us,
Whispering them in the dark to let us know we’re not alone.

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New Name Good Shepherd John 10“The sheep hear His voice. He calls His own sheep by Name & leads them out.” ~John 10:13~

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And He loves changing names.

Remember how He called timid Gideon, hiding in the wine press Valiant Warrior? And Simon Peter who sank in the water & denied Christ became Peter, the rock?

God gave them those names because He saw something in them that they hadn’t seen themselves—and maybe didn’t even believe was there.

And someday he will give us each a NEW NAME, too.

New Name Revelation 2:14

“I’ll give the sacred manna to every conqueror. I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with Your New Name, your secret new name.” ~Revelation 2:14~

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I’m confident we’ll love those NEW NAMES, specifically chosen for us long, long ago by the One who knows us better then we know ourselves!

Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you.
~Jeremiah 1:5~

I’m looking forward to that day, aren’t you?

Thanks for the blog visit! Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I snapped these iPhone pics at a recent baptism in the creek that borders our church property & tweaked them with PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. (Follow this link for more Free Graphics.) Continue Reading…

When Love Is Assumed

Renee Ann Smith —  June 23, 2014 — 9 Comments

This post is part of the Atlas Girl Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! 

Emily Wierenga Atlas Girl

I grew up in a home where love was assumed.

In my neighborhood, parents worked jobs, had children, enjoyed their small luxuries—color television, decent cars, wall-to-wall carpet—and lived quiet.

Love in action was a roof over your head, food on the table, and presents at Christmas and birthdays.

Love was not spoken. But I did hear powerful words . . . “who does he think I am?” and “look what I’ve had to put up with” and “I’m not going out of my way for THOSE PEOPLE.”

And I saw love as something to be doled out in small portions—like when dessert had to stretch to the seven of us crowded around our table.

Where more for someone else meant less for me. So I hid & hoarded my share.

During my teen years, God touched my life. I gave my heart to Him, and He filled it to overflowing.

I read verses like John 4:13&14 . . .

Atlas Girl Emily Wierenga

. . . and Romans 8:38&39 . . .

Atlas Girl Emily Wierenga. . . and I marveled at God’s extravagant love.

It almost seemed wasteful, pouring out all that on a life as small as mine.

I wanted to believe in that love, to live in it, to share it. But something about the odd choice of words in Romans 8:38 niggled in my brain.

Was LIFE something to fear, something that might separate me from God? The idea seemed ridiculous.

Then I grew older and the happily-ever-afters I dreamed of as a girl fell apart.

I discovered how LIFE can scrape and press and grind until the overflowing fountain of my heart became a broken cistern.

And I once again became a hoarder, trying to stop up even the trickles of love that were seeping away.

When I tried to guard my own heart, I not only shut others out—I shut myself off from God’s love as well.

How did He fix me? He broke me even more.

When I allowed Him to work—He demolished that cracked cistern and replaced it once again with the wellspring of His love. 

God showed me that He is greater than my heart & I can trust Him to guard it.

Worried Hearts I John 3 Bible verse

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So I can be filled enough to overflow and yet never be left feeling empty.

I’m blessed that you stopped by today, friends. Have a beautiful week!

Emily Wierenga Atlas Girl***Did I mention this post is part of a blog tour? Emily T. Wierenga, award-winning journalist and author of 4 books, has released her first memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look. They say the book is like “Girl Meets God” meets “Wild” meets “Eat, Pray, Love.” I say the book is inspiring. You can grab a copy here.

For God is greater than our worried hearts & knows more about us than we do ourselves. ~I John 3:20, The Message~

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***Photo Backstory: I made this graphic by tweaking an iPhone pic of a local garden with PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. (Follow this link for more Free Graphics.) Continue Reading…

When God Said No

Renee Ann Smith —  June 16, 2014 — 11 Comments

Last week, I wrote about the heartache I sometimes feel when God doesn’t give me what I want. I’ve had this problem since I was small. You see, I just don’t like taking “no” for an answer!

Though I’m ashamed to admit it, there have been times in my adult life when a “no” from God reduced me to a sulking, bitter child again. I sometimes even looked for a way around what God had denied me—-another way to gain satisfaction outside of His will. Nowadays when I feel that temptation coming on, I flip my Bible open to Luke 22. This chapter records Jesus’ final hours before He went to the cross.

Verse 39 says, “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’

Then Jesus, whose heart was greatly burdened, poured out His agony to His Father.

“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,

Abba, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’

An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

Abba.

Even at the time of His betrayal and arrest, on the eve of His suffering, Jesus called God Daddy. Jesus brought His request to His loving Father and—-trusting Him completely—-left it there.

When God Said No

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And His loving Father answered, “No.”

“No” to the one and only begotten of God, full of grace and truth.

“No” to the Daystar from on high, who brought light to our darkness.

“No” to the beloved Son with whom God was well pleased.

God said “no”—not because Jesus’ request was selfish or sinful—but because He had an integral part for His Son to play in the redemption of mankind.

God said “no” to Jesus because of us.

Because of that great “no,” Jesus did go to the cross and the veil was torn in two and the way made clear so that now I—a sinful daughter with no standing of my own—can enter God’s presence and lay my requests at His feet.

And because God delights in me and does all things well, I can trust that whether He tells me “yes” or “no,” His answer always comes from love.

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When God Said NoA “no” from God does not necessarily mean that my request is sinful or selfish. It just means that He has something greater in mind for me than what I can imagine, much less ask for.

  • His “nos” are always blessed.

  • His “nos” are always best.

  • And in His hands, our hearts can rest.

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I’m blessed that you stopped by today, friends. Have a beautiful week!

This week I might be linking up with Inspire Me Monday, Sharing His Beauty, Mommmy Monday Blog Hop,Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Modest MondaysBook Notes, Make Your Home Sing Monday, Living Proverbs 31, Salt & Light, Turn It Up Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesdays, The Bloggers’ Digest, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Teaching What Is Good, What I Learned This Week, Titus 2sday Link-up, Living Proverbs 31, Busy Monday, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, Imperfect Prose, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Winsome Wednesday, Wise Woman Wednesday, Three Word Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Walking Redeemed, Whimsical Wednesday, A Little R&R, Capture Your Journey Wednesday, The Barn Princess, Adorned from Above Wednesday Link Party, Whimsy Wednesday, In Him We Live, Juana Mikels Wednesday Link-up, Hope in Every Season Homemaking Party, Thursday Favorite Things, Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Throwback Thursday, Thoughtful Thursday, Cozy Book Hop, Booknificent Thursday, Tell His Story, Thought Provoking Thursday, Raising Mighty Arrows, From House to Home Link Party, Share the Joy Thursday, Time Travel Thursday,Thrive @Home Link Up, Grace at Home, Christian Fellowship Friday, Faith-filled Friday, Fantastic Friday, Faith & Fellowship Friday, Fellowship Friday, Friendship Friday, Freedom Friday, Womanhood w/ Purpose Friday Link Up, Essential Friday Link-up, Saturday Sharefest, Saturday Situation, Ladies Only Blog Hop, Sunday Stillness, and Heart Reflected.

Did you ever feel like God was playing favorites & you were being purposely left out?

Have you ever looked around at what others received—maybe things you desperately wanted from God—and wondered why He said ‘yes’ to them and ‘no’ to you?

When Jesus was on earth, He fielded such questions. I’m thinking specifically of His time with two sisters, Martha and Mary, and their story in John 11.

These sisters knew Jesus well. They served Him often and sat at His feet. He considered their home, His home.

But when their darkest hour came—the death of their brother Lazarus, their provider and protector—they called for Jesus, and He did not come.

Does God play favorites

In fact, He delayed His coming until He knew Lazarus was dead.

When Jesus did arrive, both sisters uttered the same lament: “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21 & 32)

Two sisters, so close to each other, experienced the same tragedy, felt the same grief, and expressed the same doubt in the same exact words.

And Jesus responded to each differently

With Martha, the practical one, He pointed her eyes toward eternity and the true resurrection. And I can’t help but wonder if she needed a lesson in the midst of her tragedy because she’d missed a time or two at Jesus’ feet.

With Mary, the dreamer, He said nothing. Perhaps she’d been sitting at His feet for so long that He knew His words were hidden in her heart to comfort and teach her.

Yet, even though Mary had sat often at Jesus’ feet, soaking in His words, and had been commended for her choice, her relationship with Him did not ward off tragedy. Jesus did not show favoritism. Mary still had to experience hard things.

So Jesus treated each sister differently—not from favoritism—but because He knew them.

Does God play favorites Psalm 139

  • He knew their heart needs.
  • He knew the attitudes behind their words.
  • He knew they must soon face life without His physical presence.
  • He knew they must be prepared for other days when it might seem He refused to come when they called.

From that perfect knowing, Jesus chose what gift to give each precious child.

Just so, our heavenly Father knows what’s best for us. And we can be confident that’s exactly what He’ll give!

Thanks for coming by to visit today. Blessings, friends!

Share some encouragement with your Twitter friends via the Click to Tweets below.

“Every good & perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights. ~James 1:17~

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“Search me, O God & know my heart. Try me & know my anxious thoughts.” ~Psalm 139:23~

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Did you ever feel like God was playing favorites & you were being purposely left out?

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This week I might be linking up with Inspire Me Monday, Sharing His Beauty, Mommmy Monday Blog Hop,Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Modest MondaysBook Notes, Make Your Home Sing Monday, Living Proverbs 31, Salt & Light, Turn It Up Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesdays, The Bloggers’ Digest, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Teaching What Is Good, What I Learned This Week, Titus 2sday Link-up, Living Proverbs 31, Busy Monday, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, Imperfect Prose, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Winsome Wednesday, Wise Woman Wednesday, Three Word Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Walking Redeemed, Whimsical Wednesday, A Little R&R, Capture Your Journey Wednesday, The Barn Princess, Adorned from Above Wednesday Link Party, Whimsy Wednesday, In Him We Live, Juana Mikels Wednesday Link-up, Hope in Every Season Homemaking Party, Thursday Favorite Things, Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Throwback Thursday, Thoughtful Thursday, Cozy Book Hop, Booknificent Thursday, Tell His Story, Thought Provoking Thursday, Raising Mighty Arrows, From House to Home Link Party, Share the Joy Thursday, Time Travel Thursday,Thrive @Home Link Up, Grace at Home, Christian Fellowship Friday, Faith-filled Friday, Fantastic Friday, Faith & Fellowship Friday, Fellowship Friday, Friendship Friday, Freedom Friday, Womanhood w/ Purpose Friday Link Up, Essential Friday Link-up, Saturday Sharefest, Saturday Situation, Ladies Only Blog Hop, Sunday Stillness, and Heart Reflected.

 

Bad Day

1. From the moment you wake, focus on yourself.

2. Repeat this mantra: “No one else could possibly appreciate what I’m going through.”

3. Complain often.

4. Dwell on every slight given you.

5. Relive old hurts again and again and again.

6. Refuse to forgive.

7. Guard against recognizing the unique beauty of each soul.

8. See only the faults and weaknesses of the people you love.

9. Keep “I told you so” ready on your lips.

10. Criticize often.

11. Set God’s Word far away from your eyes.

12. Cast aside God’s promises.

13. Hold your worries close to your heart.

14. Remain troubled for the length of a sleepless night.

15. And through it all, remember not to pray.

Worry 2

I shared only 10 Rules for How to Have a Happy Day. (You can find that post here.) Purposing to have a bad day seems to take more effort.

Conclusion: It’ easier to have a happy day!

I’m so glad you stopped by, friends, because that always makes my day great! I appreciate your visits and words of encouragement. Blessings!

How to Have an Unblessed, Wasted, Very Bad Day (Click to Tweet)
Keep “I told you so” ready on your lips. How to Have an Unblessed, Wasted, Very Bad Day #parody (Click to Tweet)
Hold your worries close to your heart. How to Have an Unblessed, Wasted, Very Bad Day #parody (Click to Tweet)
Cast aside God’s promises. How to Have an Unblessed, Wasted, Very Bad Day #parody (Click to Tweet) Continue Reading…