In preparation for Xavier’s first job interview, my husband, Alan, handed our son a pack of thank you cards for him to send out after he met with prospective employers. He then pretended to be a hiring interviewer, using his decades of experience as a manager to ask Xavier relevant questions. After a few rounds of role-playing, our son tucked several copies of his resume into a folder. He smiled when Alan reminded him about the cards. “I know,” he said. “A sincere thank you note will set me apart from all the other applicants.”
When the manager called to hire Xavier, he expressed gratitude for the first hand-written thank you card he’d received in years.
Saying thanks can have a lasting impact. The psalmists’ heartfelt prayers and grateful worship were preserved in the Book of Psalms. Though there are one hundred and fifty psalms, these two verses reflect a message of thankfulness: “I will give thanks to you,
We will never be able to finish expressing our gratitude for all God’s wonderful deeds. But we can start with a sincere thank you through our prayers. We can nurture a lifestyle of grateful worship, praising God and acknowledging all He’s done and all He promises He’ll do.
When my friend received a diagnosis of cancer, the doctor advised her to get her affairs in order. She called me, sobbing, worried about her husband and young children. I shared an urgent prayer request with our mutual friends. We rejoiced when a second doctor encouraged her to never give up hope and confirmed his team would do all they could to help. Though some days were harder than others, she focused on God instead of the odds stacked against her. She never gave up.
My friend’s persevering faith reminds me of the desperate woman in Luke 8. Weary from twelve years of ongoing suffering, disappointment, and isolation, she approached Jesus from behind and stretched her hand toward the hem of His robe. Her immediate healing followed her act of faith: persistently hoping . . . believing Jesus was able to do what others couldn’t . . . no matter how impossible her situation seemed (vv. 43–44).
We may experience pain that feels endless, situations that appear hopeless, or waiting that seems unbearable. We may endure moments when the odds against us are stacked high and wide. We may not experience the healing we long for as we continue trusting Christ. But even then, Jesus invites us to keep reaching for Him, to trust Him and never give up hope, and to believe He is always able, always trustworthy, and always within reach.
Eighteen-year-old Emma faithfully talks about Jesus on social media, even though bullies have criticized her joy and enthusiastic love for Christ. Some have attacked her with remarks about her physical appearance. Others have suggested a lack of intelligence because of her devotion to God. Though the unkind words cut deep into Emma’s heart, she continues to spread the gospel with bold faith and love for Jesus and others. Sometimes, though, she’s tempted to believe her identity and worth are determined by the criticism of others. When that happens, she asks God for help, prays for her persecutors, meditates on the words of Scripture, and perseveres with Spirit-empowered courage and confidence.
Gideon faced fierce tormentors—the Mideonites (Judges 6:1–10). Though God called him a “mighty warrior,” Gideon struggled to let go of his doubt, self-imposed limitations, and insecurities (vv. 11–15). On more than one occasion, he questioned the Lord’s presence and his own qualifications, but eventually surrendered in faith.
When we trust God, we can live like we believe what He says about us is true. Even when persecution tempts us to doubt our identity, our loving Father confirms His presence and fights on our behalf. He affirms we can walk like mighty warriors armed with His absolute love, guarded by His endless grace, and secured in His reliable truth.
In God’s Love Letters, Glenys Nellist invites children to interact with the Lord in a deeply personal way. These children’s books include a note from God with a space for the child’s name to be inserted after each Bible story. Personalizing scriptural truth helps her young readers understand that the Bible isn’t just a storybook. They are being taught that the Lord wants a relationship with them and that He speaks to His beloved children through the Scriptures.
I bought the book for my nephew and filled in the blanks in the beginning of every note from God. Delighted when he recognized his name, my nephew said, “God loves me too!” What a comfort to know the deeply and completely personal love of our loving Creator.
When God spoke to the Israelites directly through the prophet Isaiah, He called their attention to the heavens. The Lord affirmed that He controls “the starry host” (Isaiah 40:26), determines the stars’ individual value, and directs each one with love. He assured His people that He won’t forget or lose one star . . . or one beloved child that He’s sculpted with deliberate purpose and endless love.
As we celebrate our Almighty Lord’s intimate promises and proclamations of love within Scripture, we can fill in our names. We can trust and declare with childlike delight, “God loves me too!”
In Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis confessed he came to Christianity at the age of thirty-three, “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape.” Despite Lewis’s own personal resistance, his shortcomings, and the obstacles he faced, the Lord transformed him into a courageous and creative apologist. Lewis proclaimed God’s truth and love through writing powerful essays and novels that are still being read, studied, and shared more than fifty-five years after his death. His life reflected his belief that a person is “never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”
As we make plans and follow dreams, God can purify our motives and empower us to devote whatever we do to Him (Proverbs 16:1-3). From the most ordinary tasks to the greatest challenges, we can live for the glory of our almighty Maker, who “works out everything to its proper end” (v. 4). Every action, every word, and every thought can become an expression of heartfelt worship, a sacrificial gift to honor our Lord, as He watches over us (v. 7).
God cannot be limited by our limitations, our reservations, or our tendencies to settle or dream small. As we choose to live for Him—dedicated to and dependent on Him—He will bring about His plans for us. Whatever we do can be done with Him, for Him, and only because of Him.
Influenced by devout Christian parents, track star Jesse Owens lived as a courageous man of faith. During the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Owens, one of the few African-Americans on the US team, received four gold medals in the presence of hate-filled Nazis and their leader, Hitler. He also befriended fellow athlete Luz Long, a German. Surrounded by Nazi propaganda, Owens’ simple act of living out his faith impacted Luz’s life. Later, in a letter to Owens, Luz Long wrote: “That hour in Berlin when I first spoke to you, when you had your knee upon the ground, I knew you were in prayer . . . I think I might believe in God.”
While in Berlin, Owens demonstrated how believers can answer the apostle Paul’s charge to “hate what is evil” and be “devoted to one another in love” (Romans 12:9–10). Though he could have responded to the evil around him by hating others, Owens chose to live by faith and show love to a man who would later become his friend and eventually consider belief in God.
As God’s people commit to being “faithful in prayer” (v. 12), He empowers us to “live in harmony with one another” (v. 16).
Dependent on prayer, we can commit to living out our faith and learn how to love all who are made in God’s image. As we cry out to God, He’ll help us break down barriers and build bridges of peace with our neighbors.
As music filled the church auditorium, colorblind artist Lance Brown stepped onstage. He stood in front of a large white canvas, with his back to the congregation and dipped his brush into black paint. With smooth swipes, he completed a cross. Stroke after stroke with brushes and his hands, this visual storyteller created images of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. He covered the large patches of the canvas with black paint and added blue and white to finish a now abstract painting in less than six minutes. He picked up the canvas, turned it upside down, and revealed a hidden image—a compassion-filled face—Jesus.
Brown said he’d been reluctant when a friend suggested he speed-paint during a church service. Yet, he now travels internationally to lead people into worship as he paints and shares Jesus with others.
The apostle Paul affirms the value and purpose of the diverse gifts God has dispersed to His people. Every member of His family is equipped to glorify the Lord and build others up in love (Romans 12:3-5). Paul encourages us to identify and use our gifts to edify others and point to Jesus, serving diligently and cheerfully (vv. 6-8).
The Lord has endowed each of us with spiritual gifts, talents, skills, and experiences to serve wholeheartedly behind the scenes or in the forefront. As we celebrate God’s creativity, He uses our uniqueness to spread the gospel and build up His people in love.
On our way home from our honeymoon, my husband and I waited to check in our luggage at the airport. I nudged him and pointed to a man standing a few feet away.
My spouse squinted. “Who is he?”
I excitedly rattled off the actor’s most notable roles, then walked up and asked him to take a photo with us. Twenty-four years later I still enjoy sharing the story of the day I met a movie star.
Recognizing a famous actor is one thing, but there’s Someone more important I’m thankful to know personally. “Who is this King of glory?” (Psalm 24:8). The psalmist David points to the Lord Almighty as Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of all. He sings, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters” (vv. 1–2). In awestruck wonder, David proclaims God is above all, yet intimately approachable (vv. 3–4). We can know Him, be empowered by Him, and trust Him to fight on our behalf, as we live for Him (v. 8).
God provides opportunities for us to declare Him as the only Famous One truly worth sharing with others. As we reflect His character, those who don’t recognize Him can have more reasons to ask, “Who is He?” Like David, we can point to the Lord with awestruck wonder and tell His story!
The Mojave Desert includes the expected sand dunes, dry canyons, mesas, and mountains of most deserts. But American biologist Edmund Jaeger observed that every few years an abundance of rain results in “such a wealth of blossoms that almost every foot of sand or gravelly soil is hidden beneath a blanket of flowers.” The Mojave Wildflower Show isn’t a yearly phenomenon, though. Researchers confirm the dry earth needs to be soaked by storms and warmed by the sun, at just the right times, before blooms will cover the desert with vibrant colors.
This image of God bringing forth life despite the arid terrain reminds me of the prophet Isaiah. He shared an encouraging vison of hope after delivering God’s message of judgment on all nations (Isaiah 35). Describing a future time when God will make all things right, the prophet said, “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom” (v. 1). He declared God’s rescued people will enter His kingdom with “singing; . . . everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (v. 10).
With our eternal future secured by God’s promises, we can trust Him through life’s seasons of drought and drenching storms. Deeply rooted in His love, we can grow, blooming into His likeness until, at just the right time, Jesus returns and sets all things right.