Why You Should Record God’s Faithfulness in 2023

The Lord instructed Israel to create records and memorials to commemorate His blessings and to remind future generations of God’s faithfulness. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.’” (Exodus 17:14) God was telling Moses to share with the next generation how He had saved Israel and to record it in a book for future generations.

In Joshua 4, the Israelites crossed over the Jordan Sea into the Promised Land. The Lord had Joshua command one man from each tribe to take a stone from the River bed. They constructed a memorial from the stones. The memorial was to remind future generations of God’s faithfulness. “That this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7)

This is a good idea for us today.  I encourage you to take note of when God blesses you and to record those blessings in a journal. Your blessings journal will serve as encouragement when you face challenging times.

Photo by Kristin Ball, Giraffe Tower Photography

My grandmother recorded blessings daily on sheets of paper. She usually just wrote just one sentence or a few words. We found many sheets of recorded blessings after she passed away. She clearly set aside time each day to reflect on how the Lord had blessed her that day. Some blessings were financial, but many more blessings of encouragement. She often recorded that a friend had dropped by for a visit or someone had offered to take her to the store (she did not drive) or to church. This exercise instilled in her a spirit of grateful and a recognition that God is working in our lives daily. These notes encourage me many years later.

I encourage you to develop a habit of pausing at the end of each day to reflect on how God has watched over you and blessed in that day. Writing down a blessing or two is a great way to end the day. Your record of blessings will one day serve as a reminder to your children and grandchildren to depend on the Lord and to fully trust him.

Perhaps you don’t have a personal relationship with God and have never considered that He loves you and that He blesses you daily. He does, and you can experience the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior and having your sins forgiven simply by admitting that you are a sinner and accepting Jesus Christ’s death on the cross as punishment for your sins. Please click on Basics of Salvation in the tool bar above to learn how you can invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.

Reflecting on My One Word

The My One Word campaign encourages people to choose a word that reflects what God has shown them He wants them to focus on in the coming year.  It is time to prayerfully consider your word for 2023.  My One Word for 2022 was Praise.  I have focused on praising God for who He is, what He is doing and has done, and the promise of what He will do.

Praise is the theme of many psalms. So, I spent much time in the book of Psalms. A friend gave me a copy of the two-volume work Thou Art with Me by Abie Kulynych. It is a reflection on God’s heart and nature as revealed by the the psalms. These daily devotions helped me to meditate on the depth of God’s love for us. I highly recommend these volumes. https://smile.amazon.com/Thou-Art-Me-Revealed-through/dp/1735592609/ref=sr_1_1?crid=N7122RM4VYYU&keywords=thou+art+with+me+abie+kulynych&qid=1672503951&sprefix=thou+art+with+me%2C%2Caps%2C1132&sr=8-1

cover of book, Thou Art with Me, by Abie Kulynych.

For 2023, my One Word is Reflect.  Reflect can mean to give back or show an image of; as a Christian, I want my words and deeds to reflect Christ.  Reflect can also mean to ponder or meditate, as in meditating on God’s Word.  The verse I have chosen for the year that embodies these combined ideas is Psalm 77:12. “I will also meditate on all Your work and talk of Your deeds.”

I encourage each of you to select a word that God has put on your heart to be your focus for 2023,. Great resources to help you find your word and grow through your word are available from My One Word (myoneword.org)

Logo for My One Word campaing.  Tag line, Change Your Life with Just One Word.

Prayerfully consider the word God is putting on your heart and then please share your word and why you chose it.

What is your One Word for 2023?

Tips for Good Time Stewardship

Christmas is a few days away, and 2023 is just around the corner. As you consider changes you will endeavor to make in the new year, make a plan to be a better steward of your time. Managing your time well will relieve stress and provide you with more time for God, your family, yourself, and activities your really enjoy.

The tips below are designed to help you become a better steward time. They are modified from suggestions given by Emilie Barnes in her book, “Keep It Simple for Busy Women.” Emilie has gone on to her heavenly reward now, but her tips for organization and time management are still timely.

Tip 1: Avoid trying to do too much. Make a to-do list for each day. Prioritize the items on your to-do and do those that are truly necessary. Some things may not get done, and some may be postponed. Prioritizing will help to ensure that the important tasks are the ones which get done.

Person holding a note pad and pen, writing a to-do list.
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Tip 2: Make a plan and stick to it. The plan should align with the priorities you set in above. And be prepared that plans often go awry. By having a plan, however, you will be able to get back on track. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5

Tip 3: Do not put off the things that you must do. Some things simply must get done, and it is often the best plan of action is to tackle those things early in your day. It will give you a sense of accomplish and will remove that burden from your list.

Tip 4: Say “No.” You can not do everything you are asked to do. Prayerfully consider whether the task you are being asked to take on is something the Lord wants you to do. If it is not, then He has someone else prepared to do the task. When we try to do tasks that are not ours to do, we deny someone else the blessing of serving in that role.

Tip 5: Delegate. Delegation applies to work and to home. If you are a supervisor, you need to empower your employees to handle some tasks on their own. In your home, divide up tasks with your spouse, and begin training your children to be responsible for some age-appropriate tasks. Emilie is quick to point out that when you delegate, things may not get done exactly as you would like. Restrain from re-doing the tasks or criticizing. Learn to let go and compliment what got done well.

Start each day in God’s word and ask Him to direct your footsteps. “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Open Bilbe on a breakfast table.
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If you have never considered that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, you may not have experienced the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior and having your sins forgiven. Please click on Basics of Salvation in the tool bar above to learn how you can invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.

For information about my novels and my Bible study, Honoring God with Your Money, see https://smile.amazon.com/stores/Susan-Elizabeth-Ball/author/B0047P60V2?ref=ap_rdr&store_ref=ap_rdr&isDramIntegrated=true&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

Letters to Mother from College

Title of book, Letters to Mother from College, and a picture of a college dorm on a southern campus

New Book—just published 

My newest book, Letters from Mother from College, is now available on Amazon. 

Will Polly discover God’s plan for her life in a small southern college?

Letters to Mother from College was inspired by the letters my mother wrote home during her first two years of college.  Mom was the only child of a single mother, and they were very close.  At 17 years of age, Mom left her home in Pennsylvania to attend a small college in a small Southern town.  Everything was new and different, and Mom wrote about her experiences in frequent, lengthy letters.  It appears that my grandmother kept every letter my mother ever wrote to her.

We discovered the letters after my grandmother passed away.  Mom wanted to toss the letters, but I took them and kept them for “safe keeping”.  Occasionally, I considered ways to share the letters with my siblings.  I began reading them in order a few years ago, after my own mother had passed,  and they were enlightening and engaging.  The letters inspired me to write at story, and I simply needed to add some details.

The letters provided the framework for the novel.  Many of the details were added from family stories that my mother told us or were fabricated from my imagination.  However, the primary elements of the story are the actual experiences my mother had as she adjusted to college life and being away from her family for the first time.

I hope that you will enjoy this look at college life in the 1950’s.  Polly discovered that God was directing her path and had a wonderful plan for her life.  God also has a wonderful plan for your life.  I pray that you will open your heart to the Lord and allow Him to direct your footsteps.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

If you have never considered that God loves you and created you for a purpose, you may not have experienced the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior and having your sins forgiven. Please click on Basics of Salvation in the tool bar above to learn how you can invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.


Speaking the Word of God

I read a very sad, yet hopeful, story today about a man had suffered great pain and how he was helped by Christian speaking Scripture to him. It was a reminder that Christians need to regularly read the Bible and spend time in prayer so that we are ready to share Christ with those God puts in our path. My mother referred to this as being “prayed up.”

Scott Smith do not have a personal relationship with God when his daughter was raped in a high school bathroom. The attack filled the family with pain and anger. As Smith sought justice for his daughter, he met a Christian man named Jon Tigges. Tigges befriended him and invited him to travel across the country with him. Tigges was going to share with other conservatives ways to defend their constitutional rights. Smith decided to accompany Tigges, as he felt it would give him an opportunity to share his story.

Smith found that most people already knew his story, and over and over, the Christians he met prayed the same prayer for him. The prayer was Ephesians 6:10 – 13, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Man and women sitting on a couch while reading the Bible. Each person has an open Bible, and the man is pointing to a Scripture in the woman's Bible.
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Smith found peace through the words and Scriptures shared with him by the Christians he encountered on this trip. He came to the conclusion that the purpose of the trip had been for these Christian people to share God’s message with him. He learned to put his trust in God, and God replaced his anger with peace. Smith is now walking with the Lord, because Christians spoke God’s word to him.

Speaking the word of God is the most powerful tool we have. It can help to overcome despair, bitterness, loneliness, anger, and a host of other negative emotions. People across this land are hurting, and they need to hear the word of God. The word of God is light and life. It offers hope to a dark world.

Ask God today to provide opportunities for you to share His word with those you encounter. Read your Bible, prayer, and be ready to share the word of God.

hands folded in prayer atop an open Bibel
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One Nation Under God

A friend of mine post daily on Facebook the Pledge of Allegiance, along with a picture of an American flag. The pictures are different each day, and they always are in a beautiful or unique setting. Recent flags have reflected fall and harvest season and have been set in rural areas. At other times, he posts flags flying in major urban areas, small towns, commercial districts, military bases, and everywhere in between.

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In his own way, he is reminding us that America is one nation under God. Americas come from different backgrounds and ethnicities. We are a nation of different cultures, skills, talents, and passions. But we are all Americans. And we are one nation under God.

This morning I had a strong desire to hear the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.” I went to YouTube and found many versions. I chose one by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. It is amazing, and I highly recommend it. As powerful as their version of this beautiful hymn is, it was their church members that made the biggest impression on me. Thousands of people of various skin colors and ethnicity were standing in close proximity and worshipping God with their whole hearts.

It occurred to me that this scene was being repeated over and over all across America this morning. In hundreds of thousands of Christian churches across American, tens of millions of Christians gathered to worship God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Tens of millions more joined in virtually.

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Those who oppose Christianity try to convince the world that Ameria is not a Christian nation any longer. In fact, a former president stated that not too many years ago. But he, and they, are wrong. More than 63% of Americans identify as Christians. We are the majority, and this is a nation created by God as a Christian nation.

Christians need to remember that our country was built on a solid foundation of belief in God our creator and Jesus Christ our Savior. We need to look at each person we encounter as either a child of God or as a person who needs to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We need to let the light of Christ shine brightly in us. Jesus told his disciples, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5: 14 – 14

Commit to being the light today and every day. Those living in darkness need the light that can only be found in Jesus.

Praise

At the beginning of the year, I chose “praise” to be my One Word for 2022.  I have endeavored to making praising the Lord my focus of the year.  I have made an effort to read the Psalms faithfully and post verses emphasizing praise on my Facebook page.  So, I do not believe that it was a coincidence that God led a friend at church to give me a book that explores the Psalms in some depth.

Woman's hand held up in worship
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The book, Thou Art with Me, is in two volumes of about 350 pages each.  That’s a lot of pages, and I found it a bit intimating.  When would I have time to read the 700-page tome?  But I felt an urge to begin reading it last week.  I pulled Volume 1 from the shelf.  To my surprise and delight, the volumes contain short (3 – 4 pages) essays—one or two per Psalm.

I had just read Psalm 113, so I decided to start there. I replace Volume 1, took down Volume 2, and flipped to the commentary on Psalm 113, which was titled “Praise.”  Again, I was reminded that there are no coincidences when we listen to the Holy Spirit.

The commentary by author Abie Kulynych was insightful and instructional.  Kulynych explained that Psalm 113 – 118 are called the “Hallel Psalms” and that hallel means praise.  They were sung as part of the Passover celebration.  The Passover was an event that demonstrated God’s power and His love for His people.  It is certainly worthy of great praise and celebration.

As the true Passover lamb, Jesus provided us with an even greater reason to praise God.  Jesus’s death extended the protection of the Passover to the Gentiles.  His blood covers our sins and allows us entry into Heaven, if we accept His free gift of salvation.

Bible and hands folded in prayer
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Kulynych goes on to explain hallal further.  He says its literal meaning is “to be clear,” and it is a call to pay attention—to listen and learn more about God and His character.  Jesus’s death on the cross tore the veil that blocked us from seeing God.  Through Jesus, we are able to see God in His glory.  He explains this using 1 Corinthians 2:9,10, “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, or ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”

God sent the Holy Spirit to helps us to know God and to know God’s will for our lives.  Kulynych writes, “If you are in Christ, then the Holy Spirit is in you, and if the Holy Spirit is in you, then your eyes have seen, your ears have heard, and your heart has received the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. God has made Himself clear.”

Kulynych ends his essays with, “Praise is so much more than the fruit of our lips; it is the revelation of God’s heart.”

Wow!  I am inspired even more to make Praise the focus of my life, not only in 2022, but always.  I want God to reveal more of Himself to me, so that I can live a life that reveals God to others.

Abie Kulynych books, “Thou Art with me,” Volumes 1 and 2 are published by City of Refuge Fellowship, Burlington, NJ. To learn more about this church, see www.cityofrefugefellowship.org.  The books are available for purchase on Amazon.

If you have never considered that God loves you and created you for a purpose, you may not have experienced the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior and having your sins forgiven. Please click on Basics of Salvation in the tool bar above to learn how you can invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.

The cross of Christ
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Accomplish More for God

Do you struggle to accomplish all that you need to do? Or hoped to do? Or feel God calling you to do? I certainly do at times. I often feel overwhelmed by the length of my to-do list.

Yet, in the book of Ecclesiastes 3:1, Solomon tells us “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” This tells me that there is time to do everything that God has called us to do. God commands us to take care of our families, to do our jobs well for our employers, and to serve Him as He empowers us. He describes this service as both ministering inside the church (1 Corinthians 12:27-31) and outside the church (Matthew 25:31-44).

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If your life feels demanding already, it can be daunting when you feel the call to serve your family, your church, or your community in a new way. It is important to pray and examine your heart to ensure that you have heard from God about this new role that you are considering. Once you are certain that this is a role God is calling you to fulfill, you need to prayerfully consider how to “find” the time to fulfill this obligation.

  1. Start your day with God’s Word. Reading God’s word each morning will get your day off to a great start. It will also help you to focus on God’s voice and be attuned to what He has for you to do today.
  2. Ask God to help you identify the time-wasters in your life. Are you spending too much time on social media? Playing solitaire or video games? Watching sports? Solving crosswords or sudoku puzzles? None of these activities are wrong or bad for you. But, they have a way of consuming more time than we realize. I love to solve all kinds of puzzles–jigsaw, word puzzles, brain teasers. They are fun and good exercise for the brain. However, I can easily spend one or two hours a day on these activities.
  3. Ask God to multiply your time. As God multiplied a few loaves and fishes to feed 5,000 people, He can multiple your time so that you accomplish more than you expected. God may answer by of allowing you to complete tasks more quickly than anticipated, having someone volunteer to do some tasks for you, or giving your favor as you drive so that you do not spend a lot of time stuck in traffic or hunting for a parking space.
  4. Examine the volunteer roles you hold now and pray about whether it is time to let one or more go. Last year, I stepped down from a leadership role I had held for many years. It was hard to step away, but I knew that it was time. God has put another person in that role who is doing exciting new things with that ministry. The ministry is growing, and I am excited to see how God blesses this ministry under her leadership.
  5. Develop good habits that help you stay focused and on track. These good habits include starting the day in God’s Word and prayer. They might also include (1) checking email only a few times a day at prescribed times, (2) making a list of tasks to be accomplished each day, (3) adding routine tasks to your schedule or work calendar as reminders, and (4) setting a time limit on how much time you spend in activities such as television, social media, and games.

Jesus told his disciples, ““The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luke 10:2) If you area a child of God, you are a laborer that He is sending out to bring in the harvest. Don’t allow busyness to deter you from answering the Lord’s call.

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If you have never considered that God loves you and created you for a purpose, you may not have experienced the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior and having your sins forgiven. Please click on Basics of Salvation in the tool bar above to learn how you can invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.

Stewardship that honors God involves managing all of the resources He entrusts to us, including our time and our money. To learn more about stewardship of financial resources, please click the Finances categories tab to find many blogs on money management, budgeting, and stewardship. My book Honoring God with Your Money is a great tool for financial money management.

The Law of the Lord is Perfect

When I was growing up, it was fairly common in church to sing Scriptures set to music. Many of these Scripture-songs were from the book of Psalm, as the psalms were created as songs or poems. Psalm 19 was a favorite in my church. It speaks to the perfection of God’s law and the blessings of following God’s law.

It is common in today’s world for people’s opinions on right and wrong to be based on their feelings, rather than on a concrete set of principles. Feelings are subject to many variables, including one’s mood, public sentiment, and other’s opinions. This has led to values being fluid and fluctuating. An opinion that is valid today might be considered wrong or offensive tomorrow.

God did not intend for our values and our sense of right and wrong to fluctuate based on our feelings. He gave us the Bible to be our guidebook. He laid out for us a firm foundation to guide our laws and norms. When we don’t stand on the foundation, we are subject to the whims of public opinion rather than the truth of God’s word. I encourage you to follow the law of the Lord and make the Bible your guide.

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The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward
.

Psalm 19:7 – 11

You Were Created to do Good Works

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)  “’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.”

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This is one of my favorite verses of Scripture, and one I turned to whenever I am feeling discouraged.  It reminds me that God does not want me to fail.  He wants me to prosper, and He wants to bless me, as He also wants to prosper you and bless you.

If you have not experienced God’s love in a personal way, you may wonder why the Creator of the universe would want to prosper you. Why would He even care about you?

God cares about you because He created you.  He created every person to enjoy a special, personal relationship with Him.  God knows you intimately.  Psalm 139:1 – 4  describes this intimately in some detail.

“You have searched me, O Lord, and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it completely.”

You are so precious to God that He knows your thought before you can express then. The psalmist goes on to say that there is no place where we are out of God’s reach or thoughts.  And it speaks of our conception and development, “For You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (v. 13)

God took care to when He created you. He designed to fulfill His purposes and plans for you.  He created you to fellowship with Him.  “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9)  We fellowship with God when we abide in Him through prayer, worship, and Bible study.

God also created you with a purpose in mind—a role for you to fulfill that is uniquely your role in life.  Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God created you—yes, you—and me so that we can fulfill His purposes in our life.  When we work to fulfill God’s plans for our life, we recognize that we are doing the work we were created to do.  This brings great joy and a sense of fulfillment, as recognize our purpose and our value as a child of God, created in His image to do good works.

“May He give you the desire of your heart, and make all your plans succeed.”  Psalm 20:4

If you have never considered that God loves you and created you for a purpose, you may not have experienced the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior and having your sins forgiven. Please click on Basics of Salvation in the tool bar above to learn how you can invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.

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My novels, Restorations and Reconciliations, are stories of individuals struggling to find peace and happiness in life. Their journeys lead them to realize their need for God and that He has a wonderful plan for their lives.

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