Posts by Miriam

Encourage One Another

“Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.” (1 Samuel 23:16)

I was reading in 1 Samuel 23 recently where David is hiding out in the hill country of Ziph because Saul is continuing to hunt him “day after day” (verse 14). In fact, David gets word that Saul is headed to Ziph to find and kill him (verse 15). The very next verse says, “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.”

There are times in our lives when we all need encouragement from a brother or sister in the Lord to continue to stay strong in our faith. Recently, our family has had some struggles—some very difficult and some just not that fun—and there were many days the Lord used dear sisters in the Lord to encourage me to keep my eyes on Jesus. They texted or called me to see how I was doing or to say they were praying for me or a member of my family. Often they would send text messages with scripture in them. What an encouragement this was to me and my family!

The next time someone you know is going through a difficult time or maybe just having a hard day, reach out to them and encourage them to stay strong in the Lord. Maybe they just need a reminder to keep their eyes on Jesus instead of their circumstances.

Breakfast with Jesus by Beth

“Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’” John 21:12

One of my favorite meals of the day is breakfast. I have a place near my home and work where I love to eat breakfast.  I have eaten breakfast there for years–twenty to be exact.  For ten of those years, I had the same waitress most mornings.

There is a passage in scripture that I have come to love. It’s about Jesus making breakfast for his disciples.  I love the passage in John 21:1-14. Especially verse 12, “Jesus said to them, ‘come and have breakfast.’”

Here is the account of that morning:

After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

 

Some things to ponder about this passage that spoke to my heart:

Jesus will meet us where we are — The disciples were fishing. They had not caught anything. “Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you do not have any fish, do you?’ They answered Him, ‘No’”.  Jesus knows what we are going through. What our current circumstances are. Whatever season we are in, Jesus will meet us right there.

He will supply and meet our need — He had breakfast waiting for them!  However, He used some of the fish they caught. “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” He will use what we have! It’s out of His supply that He will meet our needs.

Take a few minutes and thank Jesus for meeting your need in His time and in His way. Look for Him! Expect the unexpected. Jesus can meet your need and my need simultaneously.  Praise Him!

The Coffee Scoop by Laura

“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:5

Have you ever taken time to ponder how God has used His people to impact your life? When I do this, He always brings to mind life-giving, life-changing examples and it leads me right back to Him in thankfulness and praise. This is the beautiful body of Christ in motion. Those redeemed by the precious blood of Christ who live all over the world are part of this amazing family. Paul refers many times in his writings to believers in a familial way. He sees himself as a spiritual father and calls his fellow believers brothers and sisters. I love this!! I so agree with Paul and feel the same about those who have impacted me in the family of God.

One of my “sisters” I would like to tell you about is Sarah. She is many years my senior and is known as a woman of prayer. I met her over 20 years ago, yet her impact on my life continues daily. It’s interesting how simple truths are often sown into our lives through conversations and the Holy Spirit brings great increase from the sweet, life-giving seed of truth. Sarah shared with me a prayer reminder the Lord gave her as she was asking Him to bring her son a mate. She made coffee every morning and used the same measuring scoop. One morning as she was looking at the scoop, she saw it with spiritual eyes. She would begin to pray for her son’s mate every time she scooped her coffee for the morning!

In case you don’t know, I LOVE COFFEE and yes, I make a pot almost every morning. Over all these years, I have followed Sarah’s example, praying for godly mates for our two daughters each time I scoop. God answered my prayers when he brought us Tyler and Austin. These men who love Jesus will love our girls and lead them to the feet of Jesus! Now, my scoop reminds me to pray for godly mates for my grandson, Titus, and others the Lord allows to be born into our family.

This simple prayer reminder from my sister has impacted my life in ways I never would have considered. I shared this with Sarah years ago to encourage her. I want to encourage you as you are in this “praying” life as a child of God and a member of the body of Christ. Let your daily activities lead you to prayer. Ask your Heavenly Father to give you prayer reminders like my coffee scoop. Then share with your brothers and sisters in your spiritual family to encourage them, trusting that the Spirit will produce in them a great spiritual harvest building up the body of Christ.

Only Five Loaves of Bread and Two Fish by Miriam

“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. (Matthew 14:17 NLT)

Sometimes I struggle getting past what I see, which may not seem like enough to me, and seeing how God can take what I see and make it enough and then some. I’m often like Jesus’ disciples who only saw “five loaves of bread and two fish” and knew that would not be enough to feed the crowd who had gathered to listen to Jesus.

Whether it is “five loaves of bread and two fish” or the last $100 in our checking account, God can take little and make it much. As Jim and I have trusted the Lord for almost 17 years to provide for our needs through His people as we are 100% supported through the ministry Jim is on staff with, we have seen Him take what seems like “little” to some and do great things with it. However, I still struggle at times when something happens and there doesn’t seem like we will have enough to take care of whatever it is. I was having one of those days when I read this very scripture and it stopped me in my tracks. 

I had to confess to the Lord that I was struggling to see past the little I saw for the big task ahead of us. God faithfully provided — not at all how I expected — and I am so thankful! Just like the disciples who had been around Jesus and saw Him perform many miracles, yet struggled to trust Him to take their meager offering and feed the multitude, I can do the same. I’ve had years of trusting Jesus, and I have story after story of how He has been faithful, yet I can still have times of doubt. However, I’m learning to take those doubts to Him more quickly and trust Him to take what I have, bless it, and distribute what he wants to through me. (Matthew 14:18-21)

Do you struggle to trust the Lord to take what little you have and do immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine? (Ephesians 3:20) Then my prayer for you and myself is we will remember He is able.

Peace in the Storm by Beth

One of my favorite times of the day is very early in the morning before the sun comes up. You will find me sitting with the Lord, a cup of coffee in one hand and my Bible in the other.  On this particular morning, as I was about to begin my quiet time with the Lord, I began reflecting on the promises of Jesus. As I reflected, I remembered taking a picture of the Sea of Galilee while in Israel. The day was beautiful with little to no wind. The thing is, the picture depicted fairly calm waters, the sun shining, etc. However, we know from scripture that often a storm would arise, “…for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.” (Matthew 14:24) The winds and waves would toss the boat back and forth causing great fear among those on board. These were strong, seasoned fishermen who became fearful. They were also disciples of Jesus!

On an occasion they found Jesus sleeping in the stern. They woke Jesus up saying, “Don’t you care if we drown?” Y’all, this sounds like me! “Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” (Mark 4:35-41)

Oh friend, may you know the peace of Jesus today. The wind and waves still obey his voice!!

With One Voice by Laura

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”– Romans 15:5-6

This benediction brings to mind my two beautiful friends and ministry partners. Beth, Miriam and I have been singing together as One Purpose for over 27 years.  This one fact is in itself amazing and rare. Three unique women with very different personalities and backgrounds, we have the most important life goal in common. To glorify God in all we do. We have had many discussions as to why we have been blessed by this longevity in ministry and we know that it is only by God’s grace.  God has truly granted us to live in harmony with one another as we have made it our purpose to glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our voices are very different yet when we sing, we are often asked who is singing what part of the harmony and some have commented that when singing in unison we sound like one voice. We have definitely spent many hours over the years practicing, but sometimes I sense the Lord just gives us one voice!  What are some of the ways we live in harmony with one another?  Prayer binds our hearts together.  There have been few times when we get together that we do not pray for each other.  We have shed many tears in prayer. Tears of joy and sadness. The Holy Spirit has knit our hearts together into a precious sisterhood. God’s Word is our guiding truth. Each of us has a deep devotion to Jesus!  We read and study the Bible individually and we share often what the Lord is teaching us when we are together.  We are not ashamed of the gospel and seek to live in accord with Christ Jesus. Music is our common love and we are so grateful to have had the privilege of expressing worship to our Lord in this way.

What about you? Think about those with whom you minister. Be reminded of all the relationships you have in the body of Christ. Ask the Lord to reveal truth to you concerning how you are relating to your brothers and sisters. Maybe He will call you to a change of attitude or maybe He will confirm your attitude of harmonious living.  Do whatever He tells you trusting His leading. He grants you this grace!

My prayer is that God will continue to pour out His endurance and encouragement on us and that as we pray together, looking to His Word for guidance, and sing with one voice for His glory, He will grant us many more years of ministry! May He do the same for you!

The Joy The Baby Brings – by Miriam

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
Luke 2:10-11

If you have ever had a baby or have a family member or friend who has, you know what joy comes from the birth of that sweet child. My husband, Jim, and I have been blessed with three children and five (soon to be six) grandchildren. Babies truly do bring much joy! However, we all know they can bring out many other reactions as well. Our newest granddaughter, Annie James, can create quite a loud noise if it is time to eat and you are moving too slowly to feed her.

However, the baby born in a stable over 2,000 years ago brings us a different kind of joy. Our church choir sings a song at Christmas called “Ten Thousand Joys” (by Karen Dean and Don Marsh). It is one of my favorite songs. I’m especially encouraged by the chorus:

Ten thousand joys—sweet Son of God, You came to me. And my heart sings because I know that You are mine. In You I find ten thousand joys—enough to last through all the years, and joy to shine through all my tears—ten thousand joys.

You see, only Jesus can bring us joy that can carry us through good times and difficult times. Only Jesus can help us rejoice in the midst of suffering. The joy that Jesus gives “is for all the people;” however, it only comes to those who have a relationship with Him.

Do you know Jesus—really know Him—as your personal Lord and Savior? Has there been a time in your life when you acknowledged Him as Lord, believed in Him as your Savior, and confessed your sins to Him? If you have, then you have this joy available to you as the Holy Spirit lives in you. If you haven’t, I pray that you will make the decision to have a personal relationship with Jesus. There is nothing like the joy that comes from knowing Him in a real and personal way.

In the Secret Place by Beth

“When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place…”
Matthew 6:6

Do you have a secret place where you daily meet with Jesus? A place where you put all aside and simply listen, talk, and commune with Jesus? This has been such a vital part of my walk with the Lord. It has changed my prayer life.

God does not hear us because we pray earnestly or in secret. He hears us solely on the basis of redemption. Prayer is not simply getting things from God – prayer is coming into perfect fellowship and oneness with God. For me personally, it is in the secret place. It is a place that it’s just me and Jesus. Psalm 139:3-4 assures me that God is already intimately acquainted with me and all of my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue He KNOWS it! Wow! He knows my every thought. He knows the deepest longings of my heart and my deepest fears. He knows, and cares.

Oswald chambers writes, “Having a secret stillness before God means deliberately shutting the door on our emotions and remembering Him.” God is in secret, and He sees us from “the secret place”. He does not see us as other people do or as we see ourselves. This secret place is where I weep before the Lord and know that as I weep and plead with my Father, Jesus is at His right hand interceding for me. It is in this place He reminds me I am a child of the Most High King–the One whose very breath is in my lungs. It is here He reminds me I am His. It is here He reminds me Jesus is interceding for me and those who are in Him. All the while Satan (whose name is the “accuser”) is accusing us, pointing out our sins and frailties before God. But the accusations fall upon deaf ears in heaven, because ‘Jesus work on the cross paid for our sin debt in full; therefore, God always sees His children in the perfect righteousness of Jesus. Amen!

When we enter into “the secret place,” we will find that God was right in the middle of our everyday circumstances all the time. I can remember specifically entering into this secret place with Jesus when I was on my first mission to Maisome Island, Tanzania. The Lord knew my fear of the unknown. I had said “yes” to Jesus way before I knew the details of this particular trip. Fear began to creep in. Let me say here, because I had been dwelling in the secret places with Jesus–sometimes multiple times a day–I knew exactly what to do when fear began to plant itself in my mind. I cried out to the Lord and He heard me! Jesus began to overwhelm me with thoughts of Him doing battle for me. He reminded me that I live from a place of victory already won. He reminded me, “I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7. I praise Him!

Do you have a secret place that you daily meet with Jesus? Let me encourage you to find this place. It does not necessarily have to be a physical place. A secret place can simply mean being still before the Lord. Deliberately shutting the door on our emotions and remembering Him. Cry out to Him; call on His name with the assurance that He hears the prayers of those who seek Him and seek Him with all their heart. (Jeremiah 29:13).

A Broken, Useful Vessel by Laura

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (II Corinthians 4:7).

You are useful to your Master Potter because of
His presence within you!

1. YOU HAVE PURPOSE AS A BROKEN VESSEL

As jars of clay, designed by the Master Potter, cracked in many ways, but mended by the grace of Christ, we are indwelt by the precious treasure of the light of the gospel of Christ in the person of the Holy Spirit, for the purpose of showing that our power belongs to God and not to us.

What a purpose!! To be a vessel for His honor… A jar of clay for His glory… A cracked pot for His garden. Bringing God glory is our purpose and that never changes! God said, “I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them” (Isaiah 43:7).

You not only have purpose but you are useful

2. YOU ARE USEFUL AS A BROKEN VESSEL

God has good works for you. Uses for you. Just you. In your uniqueness as He has designed you. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

So, as we listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit through His Word, He speaks, He guides, He enables us to discern the specific works, uses (ministries) He has prepared for us to walk in. These will change and look different in every season of your life.

At my house, I have a pitcher (vessel) used only for sweet tea. It has a specific use. I don’t use it for anything else. When it’s empty…it’s of NO use. But on a hot summer day, when I pour out that sweet tea over some ice in a glass with fresh squeezed lemon juice…there’s nothing more refreshing!

You will be a useful vessel only as you are emptied of self
and filled with the Spirit.

One of God’s specific uses for you is right where you find yourself today! In the specific role He has called you to fulfill. You are in His plan for your life. But there is a decision to be made. A question to be asked each and every day!

“Will I choose to be emptied of self and filled with the sweet Holy Spirit who will refresh me and in turn refresh others through ME?”

You are useful to your Master Potter because of His presence within you!

Take some time to pray and think about your head, heart and hands.

Your perspective (what you think in your head) will affect your attitude
(how you feel in your heart) which will determine your actions
(what you do with your hands).

Head – Your goal is to think Biblically! So, in the context of your everyday life, I want you to know that you are commissioned by Christ and empowered by the Spirit. 2 Cor. 5:20 says, “We are ambassadors for Christ.”

Heart – Your goal is to let Christ rule your heart (rule over your emotions).
Col. 3:15 says, “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… and be thankful.”
I want you to feel thankful for the blessing of being useful to Christ.

Hands – Your goal is to serve Christ. I Cor. 10:31 “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  I want you to do whatever Jesus tells you. John 2:5, “His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.'”

You are useful to your Master Potter because of
His presence within you!

Wilderness Wanderings – A Devotion by Miriam

“Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.” Nehemiah 9:19-21

Do you ever feel like you are in the wilderness?  Maybe it is because of relationships, finances, your spiritual life, or some other reason. There have been times in my life when I have felt like I was wandering in the wilderness and was wondering when the Lord would choose to bring me out.

Sometimes the Lord leads us into the wilderness to test us (Deuteronomy 8:2). Other times you may be in the wilderness because of your own doing. Whatever the reason you are in the wilderness, if you trust the Lord and make the decision to follow and obey Him, He will continue to guide you while you are in the wilderness.

In my time with the Lord recently, I was reading in Nehemiah 9, and the words in these verses just seemed to jump off the page of my Bible. Our family has had some financial struggles lately and I’ve felt a bit like we’ve been in the wilderness. The Lord is so gracious to use His word to remind me He hasn’t abandoned me, He is always providing for me, and we truly lack nothing we need.

Are you in the wilderness right now or have you just come out of the wilderness?  If you are in the wilderness, won’t you trust Him to see you through?  If you have just come out, why don’t you encourage someone in your life who may be in the wilderness.