Rebecca Duvall

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Faithfulness

lemonThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is faithfulness. I’ve chosen a lemon to represent faithfulness because a little lemon goes a long way. If we add a little to avocado it keeps it from turning ugly and brown. Adding a little to water gives it a sweet refreshing taste. If we add just a little faith in Jesus to our daily life, He can quench our thirst in the areas of our lives that are dry and parched.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. ~Hebrews 11:1

Someone who is faithful will remain firm in their belief and support of something and/or someone, regardless of what the world around them says.

Faithfulness is having the ability to give an accurate account of things without speaking falsely.

Remaining faithful means not neglecting something and/or someone because it’s easier or more convenient. When have you avoided something because you felt the task was just to big or difficult?

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~1 Corinthians 10:13

This verse in 1 Corinthians is one of my favorites. It a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness to people. God not only knows about every temptation I’m faced with and what I need to defeat it, but He offers me His help to defeat it while filling me with His peace. That’s pretty amazing don’t you think?

So what does it look like for us to be faithful to God in our daily lives? For starters, I think it’s spending time in God’s Word every day, along with quiet time with Him so He can reveal His truths to us. I think being faithful to God also includes being faithful to those He puts in our lives, whether it is for a brief season or a lifetime.

Someone who is faithful to others is known as reliable, loyal and trusted. They are true to their word, meaning their actions match what they say they will or will not do. Do others describe you this way?

My struggle with faithfulness is my expectation of others being faithful. I take it too personal when they fail to be true to their word or when they neglect me or something I need/want. I often put my happiness or contentment in the hands of others. I must remember my true happiness, joy and peace can only come from God. When someone falls short of being faithful to me, it’s because of their struggles and temptations. It usually has nothing to do with me. These are times I can be faithful to God, by offering my grace to those who disappoint or hurt me, just as Jesus offers His grace to me each and every day.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, You are faithful and true and sent Your Son, Jesus to be our perfect example of faithfulness. Lord, I pray for your compassion so we may be faithful to others, Amen.

Gentleness

PeachThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is gentleness. I’ve chosen a peach to represent gentleness because they are easily bruised, so we need to handle them with care. Similar to the people in our lives. We must treat every relationship delicately, because people are easily bruised.

Having gentleness is behaving in a kind, calm manner, being polite and soothing regardless of the people or environment around you.

The dictionary says gentleness is a person with a mild temperament or someone who isn’t harsh or rough. It also says it’s someone who isn’t affected by criticism.

Gentleness is an attribute of God I struggle with daily. I find myself being more abrasive than mild when seeking things to fulfill my to-do list. I often show up to the church mid week with a list of things I need to take care of or check on and feel like I’m always on a time crunch. I know it should always be about the people I work with, not the job or task I do with them, but I struggle it. I think I more often than not, run in, blast a list of needs and run back out leaving everyone’s heads spinning. It takes every ounce of effort I have to interact in a gentle manner and not like a crazy person who’s had too much caffeine.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. Philippians 4:5

Gentleness is asking someone how their day is going before asking for help. It’s gently encouraging someone to make a change without judging their actions. It’s a willingness to accept a decision or suggestion gracefully from another. It’s being friendly and social in an uncomfortable or awkward situation. Do people find you easily to approachable?

Gentleness is not yelling when someone accidently breaks a tile on the kitchen counter. It’s not reacting harshly when a flying dart hits you in the face. It’s choosing not to tell someone how much they annoy you when they’ve decided to let you know how stupid they think you are. It’s politely explaining yourself even when it’s the 20th time. It’s completing a task for someone, without being asked, and expecting nothing in return. When was the last time you stepped in to help someone without being asked?

“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

Jesus is our one true example of someone who is gentle. He offers us the gentleness we need to experience in our life as well as teach us, through the Holy Spirit, how to be the example of gentleness to others.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, You gently call us to You, through Your word and those You place in our lives. I pray we would be a reflection of Your gentleness, Amen.

Self-Control

Lime SelfControlThe Fruit of the Spirit this week is self-control. I’ve chosen a lime to represent self-control because when we don’t have self-control in front of others it can leave them with a sour taste.

Having self-control is the ability not to show your feelings or not do things that your feelings make you want to do.

The dictionary states self-control is to refrain or avoid or be stable, calm or harmonious. It also says having self-control means not to agitate, excite, indulge or upset. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a very tall order. I find myself challenged with all of the above almost hourly, especially when with my family.

Self-control is not cursing loudly when you step in a pile of cat vomit as it squishes between your toes. It’s not reacting rudely when someone interrupts you. It’s not screaming at someone when they accidently ram their scooter into your leg.

Self-control is asking politely with a smile, even when it feels like it’s the 100th time you’ve asked. It’s being careful with others things, even if they have not been careful with yours. It’s smiling and calmly listening when someone’s yelling at you because they’re upset. It’s resisting a third cupcake even though you know it would taste oh so good.

Self-control is not letting your circumstances dictate your thoughts, words or actions. Having self-control is putting the feelings of someone else above your own and acting or speaking in a way to be helpful, not harmful.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ Titus 2:11-13

As hard as I try to be an example of a wife, mom, daughter, friend or Christian who has self-control, I fail miserably every day. Whenever I do appear to have self-control, it’s not by my own doing. It’s only by the grace of God, the help of the Holy Spirit, that I am able to resist reacting in a hysterical awful ridiculous manner throughout my day. Praise be to God for His goodness!

What does self-control look like to you? When have you witnessed it? How have you been an example of self-control? When do you find it difficult to have self-control?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, You gave us Your Son, Jesus, who was the perfect example of self-control. I pray for strength to choose what is right, even though it may not be easy, Amen.

Forgiveness

forgivenessDid you know that 1 in 9 American adults have Kidney Disease and 1 in 3 who don’t already have it, are at risk to get it? There are currently over 101,000 Americans on the Kidney Donor List waiting to receive a donor. Of that 101,000, twelve of them will die each day while waiting.

March is National Kidney Month and Thursday, March 10th, is World Kidney Day. It’s all about bringing awareness to the world how important the kidneys are, and different ways to keep them healthy.

The National Kidney Foundation lists 5 easy things we can be doing today to help keep your kidneys healthy.

  1. Find out the condition of your kidneys with an ACR urine test or GFR blood test. Go to www.kidney.org/KEEPHealthy to find out how you can be tested for free.
  2. Reduce your intake of over the counter pain meds with an anti-inflammatory component (NSAIDs).
  3. Eat more foods rich in nutrients and less that are processed. They suggest the DASH Diet
  4. Exercising at least 30 minutes per day.
  5. Manage your blood pressure and sugar levels. High blood pressure & diabetes are the leading causes of kidney disease and kidney failure.

So what about those who already have kidney disease and are in kidney failure? There are many ways you can help them as well.

  1. Cash donation
  2. Donate an old vehicle
  3. Give a stock gift
  4. Join a kidney walk
  5. Participate in a NKF Golf Classic Tournament
  6. Volunteer
  7. Become an organ donor

You can go to the National Kidney Foundation Donate page for details.

The kidney is near and dear to my heart because over three years ago, God gave me the opportunity to save my husbands life by giving him a kidney. Since doing this, God has also given us many opportunities to share this story; a story about God saving my husband, as well as renewing our marriage. This video, from The 700 Club, is a peak into our story and how forgiveness played an important roll in how my husband received a new kidney.

Another way God has allowed us to share our journey to a renewed marriage is through the book I have written, In His Way, which is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Christianbook.com.

Throughout much of my married life, I lived under the illusion that I had it all together – it was everyone else that needed fixing. Several years into my second marriage my husband, a Deputy Sheriff, became a workaholic and was never home. Meanwhile, I became a volunteeraholic, too busy to face the fact that we had become two strangers under one roof, raising three kids.

God revealed Himself to me through the different women I volunteered with. As my heart slowly opened to God’s presence, my marriage came crashing down around me. As I cried out for God’s help, I discovered my husband’s affair. I found myself surrounded by faithful people who gave me the strength to face the problems in my marriage and the tools needed to begin fixing it.

Over the next four years, my husband’s health deteriorated and he was forced to retire. Through this God continually showed me I was In His Way and then, when He knew He had my attention, He would proceed to show me how to do things In His Way. In the end, what God told me to do, saved my husband’s life, and our marriage. What was broken is now fixed by the grace and love of God.

My prayer for us today~ Father God, thank you for the forgiveness we receive through Your Son, Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins. I pray we would extend forgiveness to everyone in our life that has, or will, hurt us, Amen.

Godly Love

Bible heartFebruary is the month everyone is talking about love; how good it makes them feel when they receive it or how much they wish they had it. Many people talk about love as if its something they should receive because they are entitled to it.

In Matthew 22, Jesus says the two greatest commands are to love. We are to first love God with all our heart, soul and mind and then love our neighbors as ourselves. But what does it look like to love?

  • Love is patient
  • Love is kind
  • Love does not envy
  • Love does not boast
  • Love is not proud
  • Love is not rude
  • Love is not self-seeking
  • Love is not easily angered
  • Love keeps no record of wrongs
  • Love does not delight in evil
  • Love rejoices with the truth
  • Love always protects
  • Love always trusts
  • Love always hopes
  • Love always perseveres
  • Love never fails

Over the past few months, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 has been rattling around in my head. In this passage of scripture, God gives us a clear definition of what love is and is not. I confess, the first time I read this passage, I used it as a checklist for others and how they were failing to love me the way God wanted them to. I use to pray for God to help them love me the way I deserved to be loved.

Then God changed my heart. He gently reminded me I didn’t deserve love any more, or less, that anyone else did. We were all equal in His eyes. Because God loved me first, I was to love others first, to be the example of love.

We are called to love everyone, no matter what. If you come across someone you feel you can’t love, which we all will, many times throughout our lives, we can ask for God’s help. Pray, confess the difficulties you are experiencing while trying to love this person. Ask God to change your heart. Ask God to help you see this person the way He sees them. Ask God to show you, and help you understand, the gifts He has given them. Ask God for opportunities to love this person in a way only you can. I believe God will give you the ability to love this person, because He will change your heart, soul and mind.love never fails

I looked up each of the words that describe what love is or is not in the dictionary. This is what I came up with:

  • Love bears provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.
  • Love desires to help others, is considerate or helpful.
  • Love does not feel discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.
  • Love does not speak with exaggeration and excessive pride about oneself.
  • Love is not having or showing a high opinion of one’s own dignity, importance or superiority.
  • Love is not discourteous, impolite, harsh or ungentle in a deliberate way.
  • Love does not seek one’s own interest or selfish ends.
  • Love is not easily displeased.
  • Love does not intentionally remember being treated unfairly or unjustly.
  • Love does not receive pleasure, satisfaction or enjoyment in wicked, harmful, or immoral acts.
  • Love is delighted and joyful with acts of honesty and integrity.
  • Love always defends or guards from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.
  • Love always sees others as confidently reliable.
  • Love always looks forward with desire and confidence.
  • Love is always steady in a course of action especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
  • Love never falls short.

I don’t know about you, but this list seems overwhelming. Thankfully, God loves us and offers His grace to us regardless of how we fail to love the way He loves us. Also, we are not called to love in our own strength or ability. God will enable us to love, but we must first seek Him and His love for us.

God gifts us each in a way we naturally love. I usually find it fairly easy to be patient and kind toward others. How has God gifted you to love? I struggle with protecting and trusting others. I’m fearful of being hurt. What part of loving others do you struggle with?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the love you have for everyone everywhere. I pray Your love for us would pour out onto those in our lives, Amen.

 

Hope

31 HopeI’m thankful for the hope I receive through my faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

 

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ~ 1 Peter 1:3

I’m confident in the strength, wisdom and power I receive daily from the Holy Spirit, which was given to me by Jesus, through the gift given to the world by God. I know I cannot do the things I do, such as write, speak, love and live with passion, on my own. It’s only with the guidance, wisdom, courage and strength given to me through the Holy Spirit by Jesus that’s allowed by God.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1

I cannot see these things being given to me, but I am sure I am receiving these gifts by God, because there is no one else able to give such gifts to another.

My belief, my hope, is that every circumstance, whether good or bad, will be used for good by God. There is a silver lining to every situation, even if we can’t see or understand it. We must trust God, who is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent-all powerful, all knowing and everywhere.

31 Romans 12-12

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank You for the hope we have through Your Son, Jesus, who You sent for us. I pray You would open the eyes and heart of those who don’t understand what the death of Your Son on the cross means, so they may truly grasp the love You have for them, Amen.

Laughter

30 laughterYesterday, on date night, we watched the newest Hunger Game movie. It was intense and extremely scary. Thankfully I had my man with me to protect me. I’m sure he had a good laugh watching me freak out in the theater. It’s a good thing we were sitting in the very back of the theater. I kept closing my eyes, covering my eyes and looking anywhere except the ginormous movie screen. I was tempted to leave the theater with the excuse I had to use the restroom, but was afraid I’d miss something important.

A time for crying and a time for laughing, a time for mourning and a time for dancing ~ Ecclesiastes 3:4 CEB

Earlier today we watched something I could calmly sit through. Well, I don’t think calmly is the right word. It was something I could sit through without getting scared. Oh, and for reference, I think the Indiana Jones movies are all scary. Back on topic, we watched Ellen Degeneres: Here and Now from 2003. She’s not scary, but very funny. Who makes you laugh?

A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing ~ Proverbs 17:22 AMP

I’m thankful for the gift of laughing. I enjoy laughing, especially with family and friends. Not just the kind of laughing that happens from watching something funny on television, but the kind of laughing that happens when your being silly.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to a Christmas party. We each brought a gift for the gift exchange where you could steal gifts from one another. The gift I opened had silly Santa hats in it and then later, after my husband’s gift was stolen, he ended up with a gift with two more silly Santa hats. My husband was about to put the Santa hat on, when I said he should wear the elf hat. The moment he put on the hat I started laughing and could not stop. He looked absolutely ridiculous in the hat, but what made it hilarious were the funny faces he kept making. It was awesome! He owned the fact that he looked ridiculous and went with it. Now that was funny. I laughed so hard that night. It was in deed a fun night filled with amazing food, great fellowship and lots of laughter created by silliness. When was the last time you laughed because of something silly?

RobReb2015

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the gift of laughter and how it brings healing and joy to our heart. I pray we would let our guards down more often and be silly, Amen.

Entertainment

28 EntertainmentI finally went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the movie almost everyone is talking about. I think it was a good movie with a lot of action. Sadly, I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t want to give anything away to those who have not seen it yet, but I never like to see any bad guys win in any part of any movie, even if it’s not real. Remember, I like sunshine and rainbows, all the time.

I’m thankful for those who have created such amazing technology and the ways it’s used to entertain. My daughter is studying animation, so I get to hear a little about the time it takes to create anything animated. I’m thankful for the gifting and patience of those who spend hours creating characters and stories to entertain us.

Star Wars might just be a movie, but it’s similar to real life; the struggle between bad and good. We each deal with this internal struggle from time to time. The desires the world tells us we need to be concerned with and the desires God gives us. Some disregard the desires God gives us, because they can’t understand them. Others struggle because they try to understand them but can’t. Others seek the desires given to them by God and find them, because they don’t try to understand them. What is God asking of you that you can’t fully understand?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for allowing our minds to think in such creative ways. I pray this creativity would be used to glorify and honor You, Amen.

First Responders

26 first responderI’m thankful for Firefighters, Law Enforcement and Paramedics that come to our aid when we are in need. They see us when we are at our worst, but give their very best. They train long and hard to make sure they are prepared to help, no matter what the situation. They put themselves in harms way to keep us safe. They go toward the problem, while we run away from it.

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. ~ Hebrews 13:17

I’m thankful for the many ways First Responders keep us from harm. I’m thankful for the ways they help when tragedy, of all kinds, hits. How has a First Responder helped you or a loved one this past year?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the wisdom, strength and courage you equip all first responders with. I pray we would show our appreciation and support for their service to the communities, Amen.

Joseph & Mary

24 joseph maryI’m thankful for the obedience of Mary and Joseph when the angel Gabriel told them about the baby they would have. I wish I were as obedient to God as they were. I know I can be, but it’s so hard. It can be very difficult not to worry and let fear of what might happen take over and rule my mind. I’m thankful for the inspiring story of Joseph and Mary’s faith.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. ~ Luke 1:26-38

Back in Mary’s day, a woman becoming pregnant before marriage was a sin, punishable by death. I would have been freaking out if I were Mary. Did Mary freak out? No, she simply asked a question so she could better understand what the angel Gabriel was talking about. I can’t fathom trying to comprehend having the Holy Spirit ‘come upon me’ causing me to become pregnant. Not even today. I think that explanation would bring hundreds of questions into my mind, leading me to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’. Mary did nothing even close to this. She answered calmly (I say calmly because there’s no exclamation point at the end of her answer) “My it be as you have said”.

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. ~ Matthew 1:18-25

Then there’s Joseph and how he reacted to the news. Joseph was worried about how Mary would be treated, so he was going to quietly divorce her. I love that he was concerned for her, so sweet. Since he was to stay with Mary, not divorce her, an angel spoke to Joseph in a dream. The angel explained the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and was fulfilling what God spoke of through the prophet Isaiah. Can you imagine waking up from a dream about the actual crazy circumstances going on in your life and thinking ‘oh, okay, time to take Mary home as my wife’ without a second thought?

I think the humble obedience of Joseph and Mary should be an example to all of us, how we should respond when God speaks to us. Joseph and Mary were protected and taken care of for their obedience. How has God blessed you for your obedience?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for Joseph and Mary, who are examples of true obedience to You. Lord I pray we would seek clarity to know you better, not question due to disbelief, Amen.

 

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