Thoughts for the Week

Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

A Servant of Jesus


Do you refer to Jesus as a friend?

There’s nothing wrong in doing so. In fact Jesus refers to us as his friends in the New Testament (John 15:13-15).

However, while reading through the book of James with my bible study recently, someone pointed out something interesting in the first sentence. James, the brother of Jesus wrote this book and starts his letter with the phrase, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:1, NIV).

This is significant because the Bible makes it clear that during Jesus’s ministry, his family thought he wasn’t who he said he was, “for even his own brothers did not believe in him” (John 7:5).

It’s incredible that James went from disbelieving Jesus to acknowledging him as Lord. But what I find even more incredible is that James is referring to himself as Jesus’ servant.

If you’ve ever grown up with siblings, especially with older ones, not getting along becomes inevitable.Probably the last thing a young sibling wants to do is think of him or herself as a servant.

But James did. Even through growing up in disbelief, and going through what probably was shock and bitterness through Jesus’ execution, James finally believed in his brother and allowed himself to become available to serve God.

James and Jesus were probably (and hopefully) friends growing up, but if the brother of Jesus can refer to himself as a servant, do not forget that you are called to be a servant of Jesus too, and not just a friend.

Copyright 2017 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

Cheer Them On

How is romance celebrated in the Church?

Christians have marriage retreats, seminars, and such, but excluding weddings, how often is just romance honored?

In reading Song of Solomon, it’s obvious the book is broken up into a few different speakers, the Beloved, the Lover, and the Friends. While the Beloved and Lover take up most of the dialogue, the Friends weigh in from time to time about the romance developing between the two.

It’s interesting to note that their input on their relationship is positive, saying how they will “rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine” (1:4b, NIV), and offering to help the Beloved find her Lover when he went missing asking “which way did your lover turn, that we may look for him with you?” (6:1b) and encouraging them to enjoy the tender and beautiful side of their love, saying “eat, O friends, and drink; drink your fill, O lovers”(5:1b).

Reading over these passages  or watching real romance develop between friends can certainly feel awkward. But it seems the role of friends in regard to a loving couple is to be supportive to them, not just in the big things, but in the little, helpful ways they may need.

Perhaps the friends can offer to babysit for a night so the couple can get a date night, be available when the couple is in need of some friendly advice, or simply be positive and encouraging!

Romance is a beautiful and mysterious thing God has created. For the people around us who have found romance in a positive way, the Church needs to cheer them on!

Copyright 2017 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

Couldn’t Have Left You Behind

This week’s devotional is an encouraging moment God gave to me (in all places) in the middle of the deli aisle at Jewel Osco.

I decided to listen to the news recently, and it was downright depressing hearing about the dark and confusing tragedies happening all around us. With the stories of our broken world still spinning in my head, I attempted to get my weekly grocery shopping done.

As I walked through the deli aisle, I absentmindedly mused with God how completely and utterly hopeless life would have been if he had given up his rescue plan to save us from our sins through Jesus Christ and had left us all here to rot.

This is when God interrupted my train of thought. While I didn’t hear an audible voice, I got an impression that was very insistent that went something along the lines of:

“Now wait just a minute. Say you had a pet, child, best friend, or someone that meant the world to you, and they were in a position where they could get hurt or killed, wouldn’t you drop everything to go and get them back?”

I had to sheepishly admit, “Well, yeah, of course!”

And that’s when this deep, enveloping sense of affection washed over me and he said, “Well, that’s how I feel about you, one hundred times over. I never, ever could have left you all behind.”

The rest of my shopping trip was certainly more fun after that and I’ve pulled courage and peace from his assurance ever since.

“So I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5b, NIV)

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

You’ve Got to Dream Bigger than That

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This is a story about a funny conversation I had with God over little cheesy crackers.

Growing up, my favorite snack was cheddar Munch’ems. They ran through the 1990’s until approximately the early 2000’s when they were discontinued by the manufacturer.

I remember snagging a box of these delicious little crackers, toting them outside, and watching the fluffy summer clouds drift by as I chowed down. I have many good memories about this simple snack.

Fast forward about fifteen years and I was thinking about how Jesus said he’s got to prepare a place for us in heaven because his Father has many mansions (John 14:2).

Well, a mansion needs a kitchen, right? And if there’s a kitchen, there’s got to be a pantry. I smiled and shot up a little prayer. “Hey God, I know you’re a loving Father, so I have a request. Can you stockpile some cheddar Munch’ems in the pantry of my mansion, please?”

Then he responded to me. Now, whenever God speaks to me, I have not heard an audible voice, but I usually get impressions on my heart that I know are not my own thoughts. So he said something along the lines of:

“Oh honey, you know I love you so much, but when it comes to what I’ve prepared for you, you’ve got to dream bigger than Munch’ems!”

I then prayed back “What! Bigger than Munch’ems? I didn’t think that was possible!” And laughed.

It may have been a funny little prayer request, but on tough days, sometimes God talks to me and sends me little reminders that go something along the lines of “Don’t get discouraged – remember I’m waiting here with Munch’ems for you.”

Which sounds so comforting and brings me back to a beautiful childhood, just watching the clouds go by.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9b, NLT).

The Necessity of Stress

Scientists recently created special kind of greenhouse called The Biosphere 2 where they could conduct studies on trees and other various plant life. It was here they discovered something curious.

The trees in the Biosphere 2 grew very rapidly as they had no wind to blow them over or to weaken their structures. However, many of them collapsed before they reached maturation. After some study, the scientists were able to determine that it was the LACK of wind that caused the early death of the trees.

Wind forces growing trees to position themselves for the best sunlight and to grow more strongly. It is clear that these trees required certain amounts of stress in order to grow into strong maturity.(Link)

People react similarly. The author of James grasped this concept and taught it to the readers, saying “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3, NIV).

Without any kind of difficulty in one’s life, it is very natural to lack maturity, or at least, the internal structure to grow into a mature person. But be glad when you encounter stress at times, because if you’re relying on God, your root system and internal growth will become strong, just like the trees.

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use with permission only.

I Am He Who Will Sustain

Who takes care of you?

During different stages in everyone’s life, there are various caretakers. During childhood, the caretakers are the child’s parents. During the teenage years, it’s a combination of parents, and teachers who look after the individual.

People during young adulthood find their caretakers in their significant others. Later adulthood allows for their jobs and businesses to be their main source of income, and in essence, is a caretaker. The elderly years will require very specific care either from the person’s children, or a retirement home.

All this to say, everyone needs someone or something to care for them all throughout their lifetime. Even when one feels invincible, or on top of the world, he or she is always going to need someone to talk to, someone to ensure they are doing well, and someone to love them.

It is comforting to know that God is a loving caretaker and is always there during every stage in life.

“I have upheld [you] since you were conceived, and have carried you since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isaiah 46:3b-4, NIV).

There’s no need to worry about who is going to take care of you, no matter what stage of life you are in right now.

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

The Ending is a Happy One

If you’re a writer, do you ever get attached to your characters? I do. Over time, whether you mean to or not, you begin to care about your characters as if they were real people.

I was writing a story this week for a project, where the main character struggles to overcome a bleak and difficult situation. Seeing her frustration and discouragement, I felt compelled to support and comfort her.

I wanted to say “Honey, don’t feel sad. I have an amazing life planned for you! You’re going to live in a happy home, find a loving husband, and have beautiful children. Yes, there will be some ups and downs, but don’t give up, it’s going to be incredible!”

Wanting to reach out to my character, I was suddenly struck with a though: Is this how it is between God and us sometimes? He’s the author of our lives, he brings in the supporting characters, the love interests, the antagonists, the plot twists, etc.

But unlike my character who knows nothing about her future, God has told us already that we win in the end:

Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will           be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.He will wipe away every           tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning,                 nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away                                         (Rev 20:3b-4, NIV)

Don’t get discouraged in this small chapter in your life, remember that the author of your life is the all-powerful, loving God, and he’s already shown that our ending is a happy one.

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.


The Fool and the Internet

What’s your favorite way to communicate online?

With social media, blogs, video viewing sites, and more, the world has never been more connected. This can be a double-edged sword, however. Because while we’re connected to more some good people, this means we’re also connected to those people who tend to stir up trouble.

The politest euphemism for these people is to say that they are a troll: someone who aims to specially cause strife and gets into unending arguments just to infuriate the person on the other end of the conversation.

The trolls believe they are safe since no one knows who they truly are (since some sites allow anonymous users), and they never need to speak with the frustrated person face-to-face.

Believe it or not, Proverbs spoke about this rude type of individual long before the internet was invented. It says that “a fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions” (18:2, NIV).

A fool just wants to get his or her ideas out there, and can never be convinced that what he or she is saying is incorrect or unkind.

The best course of action is to ignore these trolls because they aren’t open to learning what you have to say, they’re just trying to voice their opinions, and to possibly get a reaction out of you.

The anonymity of the internet seems to allow these trolls to irritate anyone they please, but don’t forget that there’s an all-powerful “Admin” watching all online activity, along with the trolls and their foolish actions. He will ultimately deal with every decision made on the internet….

…which is oddly a comforting thought.

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use with permission only.

Why Do You Do Good Deeds?

Good deeds have always been, and always should be, encouraged – whether it’s helping someone move, assisting an elderly person, or simply giving out small gifts to strangers.

While sometimes the secular and Christian charities and good deeds look similar, the reason behind them can differ greatly.

Many good outreach efforts from the community that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime were due to there being some kind of crisis: Hurricane Katrina, the Twin Towers attacks (9/11), and others.

While it’s very touching to see the best come out of people during times of need and disaster, sometimes the only reason for doing good stems from the fact that something bad has occurred.

I’m certainly not condemning the charities and those who do good in the face of misfortune, I applaud them! God designed us in his image, and his kindness shows through in crisis.

However, there’s something special about one who does good to others not because of something bad, but because God is good.

Philippians 2:13 says “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (NIV).

There is so much more joy to be had when someone loves and does good to others because they  want to celebrate God’s goodness.

So this week, keep in mind that joy is the best fuel for doing good.

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

Trust Me, You Don’t Want This

Just last week I was slicing up jalapeno peppers for a chili dinner, when my youngest cat, Kiwi, hopped onto the table nearby. She was eyeing the peppers, and in typical Kiwi-fashion, began meowing for the food I was handling.

Kiwi’s always had a healthy appetite, but she never had a jalapeno pepper before, and for good reason. As a conscientious cat owner, I’ve made sure I don’t feed my cats anything that could hurt them, such as a spicy pepper.

But Kiwi doesn’t know this, all she knows is that mom has food, and she wants it!

Her meows became more strained and I couldn’t help but laugh. “Trust me, baby kitty,” I said. “You don’t want this.”

But that didn’t stop the begging, she meowed more, as if saying, “No, mom, you don’t understand, I REALLY want that thing there and it’ll make me so happy, I promise, PLEASE!”

I just shook my head. There was no way for me to indicate to my darling cat that this jalapeno would be spicy and taste awful. It wasn’t as if I could sit her down and rationally explain this to her.

All I could say was “Kitty, please trust me.”

To which she eventually responded to by stopping her begging and going off to find something else to do.

I suddenly wondered if that’s how God sometimes feels with us. He wants to give us good things as a loving Heavenly Father, but when we ask for things that could hurt us, he must say no.

There may be times when we can’t fully understand why he won’t allow us to have or do something, but that’s when we need to trust that He’s good and knows what he’s doing.

Matt. 7:9-11

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

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