Monday, September 18, 2017

“Trusting God During Difficult Times”

By Susanne Scheppmann

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalms 100:5 (NIV) 
Horrified, I placed the phone back in its charger.  My mind reeled.  What could I say to one of my dearest friends after this new tragedy had struck?  First, she experienced the loss of a fourteen-year-old son to brain cancer.  Now her eldest son, only eighteen, had been discovered mugged and murdered.  Incomprehensible.

She asked, “Why?” I have no answer other than, “I don’t know, but I cling to the factual knowledge that God is good, regardless. Tragedies in this life are beyond our understanding this side of heaven.”

However, I believe Jesus is good and that knowledge sings from the depths of my soul. This nugget of truth is more precious than life itself to me. We have been taught and recognize that faith is not something we can necessarily see, hear, feel, taste, or touch. It is stepping out of our comfort zones and trusting God—regardless of how we feel emotionally. The Bible explains, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).

The true story of Horatio G. Spafford demonstrates this type of faith in God’s goodness.  Spafford wrote the familiar hymn, “It is Well with My Soul” in 1872 after his four daughters drowned soon after his own financial bankruptcy. He, somehow, held onto the fact that despite the outward circumstances, God was good. He wrote, “And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight.” He knew that his faith was not in vain, and that someday he would see the meaning and purpose of all the tragedy surrounding his life at that moment.

For myself I think my greatest lesson of faith has been in the acknowledgement that God is good—all the time. Oswald Chambers wrote, “Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character must be proven trustworthy in our own minds.” 

There will always be moments of uncertainty. I find comfort in the words written by David Jeremiah in My Heart’s Desire.

You may sometimes feel awkward and uncomfortable, and find yourself say, “Is this really true? I don’t see anything in it. I don’t hear God’s voice. I don’t feel His presence.” There are days like that for all of us. The pursuit of God has no shortcuts. You simply must keep walking, keep seeking, and keep yearning. Keep at it, and you won’t be disappointed.  

God is good, even as I mourn with my friend.  I have witnessed her grief, anger, and doubt.  But throughout the passing months, I have watched her cling to Jesus with hands wet with tears.  My friend believes God is good all the time even when she can’t feel it with her emotions. Her faith rests in the fact, “The LORD is good and his love endures forever.”

Dear Lord, grant me the faith to know that You are good all the time even during the most difficult circumstance of this life. When I am weak, lift me up.  Enable me to accept the love and comfort from others who love me, but let me rely on your everlasting love for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
Memorize one of the Power Verses below to repeat and remind yourself of God’s goodness during difficult times in your life.

What situations in my life do I feel are out of my faith-comfort zone?
Do I believe that God is good all the time?
 Power verses:
Psalms 91:2, “I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”(NIV)
Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (NIV)
Psalms 27:5, “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” (NIV)
© 2009 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 15, 2017

“The Grocery Cart”

By  Susanne Scheppmann
Key Verse:
“You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.” (Psalm 65:9-11 NIV 
I dislike grocery shopping. It tops my list of least liked chores. I find most shopping carts veer to the left when laden down with canned pumpkin and a twenty-pound turkey. Worse, they squeak when I try to sneak down the ice cream aisle. 

Of course, the supermarket is only the beginning. I complain as I load the bags into my car. Groans issue forth as I haul the heavy bags into the kitchen. The ultimate irk comes when I try to find room for everything in my all-ready-stuffed pantry. “Where am I going to put all this stuff until Thanksgiving Day?” I ask myself.

Oh, Thanksgiving Day. A day to remind me of the bounty God blesses me with each day. It’s the holiday when I gorge myself on delectable food and then still find room for the pumpkin pie topped with white mounds of whipping cream for which I am truly thankful. I use Thanksgiving Day, every fourth Thursday of November, as a time to encourage my children to be thankful for all of God’s goodness that we have experienced throughout the year.  

Today’s key verse states, “You crown the year with your bounty.” It reflects the fact that God provides, especially during the harvest season. It’s a festive time to thank our Lord for all He provides for us throughout the year. My over-stocked cupboards should be a reminder of God’s abundance in providing for my family and me.

Next time I need to do the “dreaded” grocery shopping, I think I will ask for forgiveness for an ungrateful heart. And as I grab the unruly shopping cart, I will recite, “and your carts overflow with abundance.” I want to have a “Thanksgiving Day” each time I go to the store. I want to remember Thanksgiving Day should be every day.

Dear Lord, forgive my ungrateful heart. My grumbling about grocery shopping is a flagrant insult to Your bountiful goodness in my life. Help me to remember Your provision each day. I thank you for the groceries in my refrigerator and pantry. You are so good to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps:
The next time you are grocery shopping, pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the food in your cart.  Thank God for His provision each day as you prepare your meals.


Do I complain inadvertently about God’s provision?

Would my family consider me grateful?

How can I celebrate “Thanksgiving” every day?

Power verses:
Psalm 100:4,”Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (NIV)

Psalm 111:5, “He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.” (NIV) 

1 Timothy 6:17, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (NIV) 

© 2008 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 11, 2017

 Lost Paperclips 

By Susanne Scheppmann
Key Verse:
 “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.”
(Proverbs 27:9 NLT) 

What happens to paperclips? 

I buy paperclips in boxes that are filled to the top with the tangled metal curlicues. I place them in a magnetic dispenser. I use them one at time to clip papers together. When I am finished with the papers, I remove the paperclip and put it back into the container. They shouldn’t need to be replaced. However, within just a few weeks, I am back to the local office supply store to purchase more paperclips. Mine disappeared somewhere. Poof! They’re gone. (It’s like losing socks in the dryer.)   

Sadly, friends can disappear like paperclips. Sometimes, I realize that I have lost a friendship connection. My life became busy and I neglected to nurture the relationship. I find our hearts have drifted apart. Unfortunately, I can’t run down to the friendship store and replace valuable relationships as easily as I do my paperclips.

As I study my Bible, I see how Jesus valued His friendships. He ate with friends. He traveled with them. Christ developed His ministry with friends by His side. And, Jesus served his friends with love and humility. 

So, I ask myself, “What can I do to insure I do not lose my friends like I lose paperclips? 

The answer is to do what Jesus did. 
  • Invite a friend over for dinner
  • Plan a trip together
  • Decide how we could work together in our community or church
  • Serve my friend out of love and humility

Friendships are invaluable. Let us challenge ourselves to follow the example of Jesus. Let’s clip ourselves to our friends for a lifetime of fellowship.

Lord Jesus, You knew the value of friendship while You were here on earth. Your friends included people from all walks of life. Remind me how important friendships are in this life. Help me not to lose those important connections in life that will add love and joy to my dreariest days. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.

Application steps: 
Check through your address book. Are there a few friends whom you should call or write a note to this week? Make an effort to meet with a girlfriend this month. Choose to keep your friendships close to your heart.

Am I too busy for girlfriend time?

Do my friends feel valued by me?

What can I do to create deeper friendships in my life?

Power verses:
Proverbs 27:10, “Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, and do not go to your brother's house when disaster strikes you--better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.” (NIV) 

Ecclesiastes 4:10, “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (NIV) 

Hebrews 10:25, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (NIV) 

© 2007 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.