Author: Laura Prater

Hope In Jesus

 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Shew! October seemed to sneak right up on us didn’t it? Fall is now in the air and that means the holidays will soon be approaching! With the holiday season quickly coming upon us, I felt the Lord leading me to talk with you about our opportunity for endless hope. When Jesus was born, it was a day we all will remember and will celebrate for our entire lives. Jesus was born with such a great purpose, to be our Savior!

hope in jesus

In that, we have hope for the future, that one day we will be redeemed. Hope that all the struggles and obstacles of our lives will not be greater than God’s purpose. Hope and the reminder that the present time we all have a divine purpose. Hope that no matter the day or the hour, we are never alone, as God is always by our sides. All of these moments of hope are here because of Jesus our Savior.

Jesus paid the ultimate penalty for our sinful lives by dying on the cross. He then rose from the dead so that we too would have eternal life, when we perish from this earth.  Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:1) is our hope for all things. Jesus came to bring us hope, but in that, He also is our hope.

we have hope

We have hope in all moments of our lives, that we are forgiven of our sins, we have eternal life when we accept Jesus as our Saviour, hope for a better tomorrow, and so much more. No matter what we go through we always need to remember to have that hope deep inside us.

Lord, we thank you for sending your son to be our Savior and filling our hearts with hope. We thank you for the unconditional love you give, the promises for our lives, and eternal life. As I go out today may the joy of the Lord be my strength and hope today. As we begin the holiday season, help me to remember the true meaning of Christmas. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

In Awe,

When We Learn to Forgive

Have you ever been truly hurt by what someone has said or done to you? So much that you may have thought, “I will never forgive them or trust them again”? I know for most of us it is safe to say you have experienced this a time or two in your life.

forgive

Dealing with the pain and anger that’s generated by not forgiving someone can truly eat away at you. Our natural reaction as humans is to seek revenge, becoming angry, bitter, hold resentment, and pull away from someone who has wronged us. 

To allow our emotions to overtake us, especially by not forgiving someone who has hurt us, is not healthy. Holding on to that anger, it eats at us, it develops mistrust and negative thoughts in our minds. As a Christian, we have to learn to have a forgiving heart. It doesn’t mean it will be easy, but just like in Ephesians 4:32,

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

God forgives us when we sin, or hurt someone else. So why do we feel we can’t forgive others the same way He forgives us? 

Matthew 6:14-15 says, 

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive youBut if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus reminds us that it is so important to forgive, and not to hold resentment in and allow that negativity to hinder our lives. A lot of times we might find we are angry towards someone, and when we see them our heart begins to race, we get sweaty and want to confront them. But, the other person we are angry at seems free and happy. This is because it is us who hasn’t forgiven and the other person probably doesn’t even remember or know they hurt us.

Holding that anger and having an unforgiving heart hurts us not the other person. 

forgive

When we learn to forgive and give it to God, an amazing thing will take place. That hurt, anger, resentment, bitterness that has been eating at is, is released. We are set free from the pain and are free. No matter if the person you are angry at never says sorry, learn to forgive and be free from the hurt. It can take time, forgiving, but you will be amazed at the freedom you feel. By forgiving you don’t allow them to continue to hurt you, you simply create healthy boundaries to protect yourself going forward if it is a person you have to continue to be around for work, family, etc. 

Prayer: 

Father God, I come to you now and ask that you help open up my heart to see those who I need to forgive. If I have areas in my life where I am hindering unforgiveness may it be brought to light, so I can be free from the pain and hurt I have been carrying around? I thank you that you forgive so freely, and allow me to be set free when I forgive others. I thank you for your unconditional love, even when I struggle and find I am not perfect. Lord, I pray that as I carry on throughout the day, I can build strong healthy relationships with my family and friends. If someone does offend or hurt me, I can learn to forgive right away, and now allow it to affect me. 

In Awe,

 

He Is Our Advocate

The word “advocate” means a lawyer or one who pleads our cause or case. Jesus acts as our lawyer, which is pretty amazing! No matter what we go through, Jesus is always on our side waiting and helping us (1 John 2:1-2). He is standing by, at all times, ready to pray on our behalf! 

prayer

I think it is safe to say we all have gone through our fair share of hardships in life. Some of us are going through them now, and others are having a good stretch. In those harder moments of life, it is easy to feel that we are abandoned or alone (John 14:16), but that is Satan lying to us. No matter how hard life is, or what the circumstances are, Jesus is right there being our advocate, rooting us on to keep pushing through! 

Every day we sin, whether we try to or not, it is something we just do by nature. But because God loves us so much, He provided Jesus as our advocate (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus is righteous and blameless and loves us unconditionally. We stumble and make mistakes, but the Lord Jesus is always right there by our sides, His mercy never fails. 

Some people have the thought that, no matter what I do, sin or not, Jesus is still my advocate. In the Bible you will read over and over, Sin Not, walk in love, in God’s word, and do right. Yes, Jesus is always by our side, but it doesn’t give us a free pass to sin. Jesus Christ our Savior paid the ultimate sacrifice for each of us. He doesn’t want us to make wrong choices, sin, or walk away from our faith. He is always there waiting for us, but it is up to us how we live our lives. God gave us the right to choose our paths! 

We do have the freedom to choose what we do in our lives, and the path we take. For me there is no other way, than to walk with the Lord. I am so thankful that we have Jesus as our advocate in this life. That is one blessing we truly don’t deserve! I know, no matter what, I am never alone, and that is something that is priceless. 

prayer

How do we call on the Lord though to ask Him to advocate for us? The answer to that is by prayer and supplication we can make our requests known to Him. In Jeremiah 33:3 we are told to call on the Lord, and He will answer. I am so thankful that I can call on the name of the Lord in trials, in temptation, and in all that life brings me to be my advocate.

Prayer

Lord God, thank you for allowing Jesus to be our advocate. Thank you, Lord, for your love and kindness, and letting us know we are never alone in this world. Lord, I pray that I can follow the path you have laid out for me, and be full of gratitude and humility along the way. Help me keep my eyes set on you, guiding and leading my way! 

In Awe,

Trusting In God’s Provision

  And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 

When we truly put our faith in Christ, God will protect, provide and care for us, in all areas of our lives. He doesn’t promise we won’t go through hard times, but He does promise that He is always by our side giving us the strength to make it through anything. God wants us to put our trust in His provision for all our needs. Sometimes that can be a bit scary and require us to step out in faith. 

trusting in God's provision

We live in a world where, when we turn on the news, we see the natural disasters, crime, hate, and other hardships we are faced with. Sometimes it is hard for people to turn over and trust in God’s provision, when we are consumed in a world full of hate. But when we put our trust in the Lord, He will bring us peace when we face the hardships of life. 

Whether we are struggling in our marriage, financially, in work, or any other way, when we put our trust in God, He will give us the strength, hope, courage, and peace, to keep getting up each day. I firmly believe everything we go through is just for a season, you will always find a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what the circumstance is.

I know, personally, I have struggled with many different areas in my life over the years, and one thing that stays true through it all is God’s provision. It is easy to find yourself consumed with worry and anxiety about the situation, but if we turn it over to God, He will get us through! If you are facing what seems like an impossible situation, just pray to God. Hand it over to Him, and let Him take control of the trouble, and he will work it out in His timing! I can look back at situations in the past, and remember in the moment I didn’t know how I could conquer and overcome, but now I see how much stronger it made me, and that God gave me the strength to make it through. 

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Matthew 6:31-32

provision

Just like in Matthew 6:31-32, God knows all of our needs. All things happen in His timing, and we have to put our trust into Him, that He will provide what we need and when we need it. Everything can’t be on our timing, rather in His. We have to fully trust in His provisions, and by doing that it means handing all our worries and troubles over to Him, and believing that no matter what is in front of us, God will handle it, and provide all of our needs. 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we just thank you for everything you have provided for us. Help me to find peace in those times I am struggling, and put my trust in you! Help me to stay focused on you Lord, throughout my days, and know that you will make things good. I thank you for your unconditional love, and protecting and providing all of my needs.

In Jesus’ name, Amen! 

 

Finding Peace In God

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

finding peace

Have you ever had one of those days where everything you do, fills you with panic and anxiety. You may find yourself worrying over finances, work, family issues, or something similar. You just sit and stare off into space, worrying over the obstacle at hand, and feel your heart racing, and your hands getting clammy!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God
Philippians 4:6

I find I get more anxious and worry when the night comes. It is like you are alone, and everyone else is sleeping, and you are wide awake battling the thoughts in your mind. Sometimes I feel that Satan attacks the hardest at nights, when he knows you are alone.

When we find ourselves being consumed by our thoughts and worries, we have to turn it over to God. Give him our fears, doubts, struggles, and let him take care of the matters at hand.

Worrying is a tool Satan uses to take our focus off God, and cause angst and stress in our life. When we worry, we are consumed by thing; rather if we hand these over to God, he can take control, and in that we will find peace.

His Promises

We need to remember God’s promises he has made to each of us, to protect us, and forever have unconditional love. That no matter what we go through in our life, God is always there, he will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

I find that when I spend time praying to God, listening to worship music, or reading a devotional, I gain more peace in my everyday life. When the world around me feels like it is closing in, I can simply close my eyes and say, “Jesus” over and over, and begin to feel that peace come flooding in.

I find that if I am struggling getting something out of my mind, just thanking God for being alive, the trees around me, the air I breathe, simple things like that can detour those heavy thoughts. If you feel like you are struggling with what to be thanking him for, just think small. Food, clothes, a home, and you will begin to see all the amazing things you have been blessed to have. Give thanks to God. As you are thanking him, you will begin to forget your struggles, and peace will flow in. You won’t feel as anxious as you might have felt before.

find peace

When I spend more time putting God first, the world around me, seems a lot less scary. God, will give you the strength and the courage to overcome anything in your path. We just have to turn to him, for peace. When you turn to him in prayer, he will be there to help you through any issue.

Just finding time to read the word (Isaiah 26:3) , or pray to God is a great way to gain a stronger relationship with God, find peace in your life, and grow in your faith. Learn to cast your cares on the Lord, so he can handle them, and take the burden off of you. In return we will find peace, and that is a beautiful thing.

Prayer:
Lord God, I thank you for your unconditional love, and for always being there when I need you. That in those moments when I feel like my life is stressful or becoming to much, you are right there with me, carrying me through it. That you are the peace maker, that I can call on you to find strength, peace, and hope in all things. Thank you Lord, for your amazing love.

In Awe,

Learning the Art of Humility

This past month I have spent some time reflecting on exactly what humility means. How does it apply scripturally and in my walk with the Lord. The Lord laid some heartfelt information on my heart.

art of humility

For example, did you know that humility means the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance. Some may say that being humble is a weakness, but that is so wrong. Moses was said to be one of the most humble men on the earth (Numbers 12:3). God does not always call on those who are qualified, he calls on those who he chooses and are humble and teachable. They are willing to lay down their life to do his work. If you read in the bible you will see over and over, God using those you would least expect to make the biggest movements.

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

Becoming Humble

So many of us have a great calling on our lives, but we can become impatient and we don’t humble ourselves. God’s timing is usually not the same as our timing. You might want to get things started sooner, but if God doesn’t think it is time, it won’t happen. Look at Esther, she had a year of preparations before she was allowed to go to the king. That is 12 months, she went through the process of purifying. In those months she became stronger, and God used her to save her people from the wicked Haman’s evil plot (Esther 8). If she would have went at say month one, would the outcome have been different?

If you are asking yourself how do you become humble, it is simple. Remain teachable, be kind to others, do not be boastful, seek guidance from the Lord for your path in life, and be grateful.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 1 Peter 5:6

how to be humble

If we open up our hearts, learn to become humble, God can use us for his works. If you are feeling God is calling you to do something that you feel less than qualified, just trust and allow him to be your trainer. In the Bible you can read over and over he uses those who are humble to do his greatest works! We have to have our hearts wide open for God to step in and use us for his works. If we are so tied up in our own doings, he can not use us for what he has called us to do. It makes you dig deep and really look in to see if you are allowing God to use you, if you are called.

Prayer:
Lord, I thank you for your unconditional love and favor. I pray that you can help me humble myself before you. I pray that you can show me the areas that I need to work on, to become more humble. I thank you for calling me to follow you, and I thank you for your strength and love. Lord if you have a work that you are wanting me to do, I pray I can listen and hear your voice that will guide me.

In Awe,

Faith: He is the PERFECT Lamb!

The other day I was in such a grumpy mood. My entire schedule for the day had gotten completely thrown off. So much so that it was going to throw off the entire rest of the week’s schedule as well. For some reason, I just can’t stand to not have a plan for the day. I didn’t like not knowing what was going to happen to my day, especially since I had a routine and schedule already planned out. I wanted to wake up knowing what’s going to hit me so that I wasn’t surprised.  Funny thing is, you think I would have learned by now because God has corrected me so many times on this.

faith: perfect lamb

The day I referred to earlier, you know the one that went horrible in my eyes? It actually wasn’t bad at all, I just thought it was horrible because it didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I was so frustrated that I started whining to my dog saying that I wished God would give me just one good day-this was actually the second day in a row things were thrown off! Boy, do you think I needed to be knocked down a few pegs?

I’m not going to lie, my worst habit is relying on my own abilities. If I can’t do it, I get really upset because I don’t want to have to put my trust in someone else to accomplish the task at hand. This mentality bleeds into my relationship with God because sometimes, I just can’t let go and let God do His work. I have to try and control how the day is going to go so I can live without fear.

Unfortunately, that’s not how this faith thing works. The hardest part about being a Christian is being able to step back from ourselves and our own abilities and say, “I have faith, God, that your plan is perfect in every way and I will rest upon your promises.” Sometimes, sitting back and doing nothing is exactly what God needs us to do. We put ourselves in the way and for what? God is the perfect Lamb of God, what could we possibly do that would outweigh what He can do? Nothing; absolutely nothing.

to have faith

The funny thing is though, we get it stuck in our minds that we can. Often times, our biggest hurdle standing in the way of true faith is ourselves and the abilities we think we have. Is it wrong to try and put a plan to a day or month? Absolutely not. Is it wrong to obsess over that plan and believe that plan would have been the only one that resulted in a perfect day? Of course it is!

The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” The biggest problem about us planning ahead and then obsessing over that plan is the fact that we never know what tomorrow may bring. God holds our lives in His hands and He dictates how it needs to go, not us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” This means that we don’t need to fear our day/month/year/life not going as we planned.

Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God and His plans for our lives are also perfect. We have nothing to fear we simply just have to have faith, put our plans on the back burner, and trust that God knows what He’s doing, because I promise you, He definitely knows what He’s doing.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to be free of worry and anxiety for this day and each day to come. Help me to let go of my own abilities and rely on Yours. Allow me to see that my plan is nothing compared to Yours and that just because my plan doesn’t work out for the day doesn’t mean that all is lost. Please help me to see that my desires are still important to you but they are weaved within your desires to make them how they need to be—perfect. In Your name I pray, Amen.

 

The JOY of the Lord is My Strength

“The joy of the Lord is my strength.” We hear that verse thrown around, but is it true? When hard times come, when the storm rages, is the joy of the Lord really our strength?
 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 
joy of the Lord
You can know if “the joy of the Lord is my strength” by the responses you make in certain situations. Worry, fear and anxiety are the responses our flesh gives. When the Joy of the Lord is our strength, we respond in the Spirit and Hope, Faith and Love.  These traits come from daily walking in the Spirit.
This daily walking in the spirit is crucial to our responses in life. The more time you spend with the Lord, the more time you spend pouring over the Word and communing with Him in prayer,  the more our responses will be Spirit led. We can also memorize God’s Word so that we have it like a shield around our heart for our darkest and hardest days.

As God becomes our focus, our eyes will shift from the temporal to the eternal. Yes, we will still have days that we struggle, but we will also have the tools we need to combat the very real battle that is going on in our lives But even still- there will be hard days. And our strength and joy will rise as we wait on God. We don’t always understand the why in the waiting– and joy is hard in those places. Yet joy isn’t based on our circumstances but on our relationship and the knowledge we have it that relationship with God.

joy is a choice

Joy is a choice- a daily choice we make everyday as we wait on the Lord and grow closer to God.
Prayer: Father, help us to remember that it is through your death on the cross that we can find total and complete joy. It is a gift that is given freely to us, if we accept it. Help us to make a point each and every day to count it ALL a joy, even in the trials of life. Also, Lord help us to pass our joy unspeakable and FULL of glory to everyone we meet.
In your name, Amen.

God Is Love

God is Love

“God is love.” That phrase often gets thrown around. Until something doesn’t go our way, and then we question the simple truth that is our go to every other day.

God is love. He doesn’t just love –  He is love.

As we aim to be more like God, we will become more loving. This doesn’t mean that anything goes. No, even God, who is love, hates sin. We can dislike sin and still love the sinner. After all, we are all sinners, saved by the grace of God.

Still, God is love. His love stretched further than our love can.

god is love

God’s love stretches as far as the east is from the west. God’s love for us allows our sins to be forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are forgiven, and the love of God pushes our sin as far as the east is from the west.

God’s love stretched as from nail driven hand to nail driven hand as he allowed His son to hang on the cross, as the ultimate picture of love. From this, we learn that love is sacrifice. We learn that love doesn’t come easy. We learn that love requires dying to one’s self.

When we look at the character of God, we see the ultimate example of what loving someone else looks like.

  • Love means letting others change.
  • Love means forgiving, even when we have been wrong.
  • Love means sacrificing.
  • Love means dying to ourselves.

Love looks different through the lenses of Christ than it looks lenses of this world. When we love others with the example that Christ set, we will love different.

No, we might not accept everything that others do – but that isn’t the love we see from Christ.

love differently

We see Christ’s love compelling us to be different. To change. To grow.

 

Let us love like Christ.

Then, we will understand that God is love.

Then, we will be love.

Prayer: Father, help me to understand that you are love. That you love me so much, that you sacrificed your son for me, for us. Thank you for your deep, abiding love and forgiveness- even when I am unlovable. Help me to love others like you would want me to do. Help me to not just love with words, but with actions. In your name I pray.

In awe,

Laura

We hope this devotional series is blessing you in your motherhood and your walk with the Father. Please enjoy this printable coloring page, take a few minutes to slow down…breathe…remember to love differently, as Christ loves you.
Be blessed! 

The Praise He is Worthy Of

There are times in life when praise is hard. Our hearts are sad, angry, and bitterness is trying to take root. Sometimes it can even completely take over. Yet, He is worthy. Even when things are not as we would want them — He is still worthy of praise. 

“The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away – blessed be the name of the Lord” Job 1:21

These words from the book of Job are some of the most quoted words of scripture. They are easy to get out when God gives to us, but what happens when God takes away? How do we remember how worthy God is in those moments? It is hard isn’t it? 

God is worthy

We Remember

We need to start by going back over how faithful God is. We start by looking at all the blessings He has given. Then, we need to go back to times when God has taken away – think through all that God has done since that time. We can use those experiences to see how we have grown, to see how the hard things in life have been used for His glory.

Then, we need to think back even further. Think back to the day on the cross. Think back to that moment when the Son of God was upon the cross. God allowed His only Son to die in your place  – in my place. Go back even further – all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Where we decided to follow our own way instead of following after the goodness God had set before us.

Yes, the more we look through history, the more we remember, the more we will realize that He is worthy of our praise.

Yes, times get hard, sometimes really hard. Yes, praise might be a sacrifice during those times. But just because it is hard, and just because it is a sacrifice, doesn’t mean that He is unworthy of it. We need to remember that nothing God does is wrong or bad – and that it is because of sin in this world that bad things happen in this life. God never intended that. One of Satan’s favorite tricks is to send something bad into our life and to have us blame God for it. The devil knows that if we can believe that lie, it will be much easier to convince us the rest are lies. However, the Lord only intends for two things: His glory and our good. But our good must also meet His glory.

Focus on His Praise

So, when circumstances have you focusing on this world, take time and let yourself focus back on the character of God. Let yourself refocus on what God has done for you. During this time of refocusing, you will be reminded that God is worthy of all the praise you can give.

Prayer: Father,”I will bless your name at all times. Your praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make me boast in you: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.  Even in the toughest of circumstances, the pit of darkness or in the desert, when I seek you, you will hear me, and deliver me from my fears.  (Psalms 34) paraphrased.

In Awe,

Laura