Written by Bill Sabala

So how’s your 2020 going? 
Just asking the question probably caused some of you to scoff, roll your eyes, and say “Yeah, right.” Let’s face it, unless you’re a toilet paper or mask manufacturer, 2020 has been a year you’d just as soon forget. So your “joy index” must be going through the roof, right?  I mean with all the quarantines, virtual school, and cancelled vacations, it’s a shame we’re wearing masks because it’s hiding our ear-to-ear smiles.
The funny thing is that, according to James, this should be the most joy-filled year of our lives. Now you’re saying, “Bill has lost his mind.” Have I? In James 1:2-4 the Bible says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” This may sound a bit far-fetched to many. After all, are we really supposed to count it all joy? Are we really supposed to count it joy when we lose our job because of down-sizing? How about when our loved one gets COVID-19 and is in the hospital on a ventilator? Does James really mean to count it joy when my mother/father/aunt/uncle/… dies? What kind of twisted dude was James?
The truth is, he’s not twisted at all. You see, James understood that the difficulties we go through help build our faith. Seriously, without faith, how could we get through all of these difficulties (trials) AND keep our sanity? Our faith in Jesus is how we do it. Our faith in Him gives us the ability to have joy; even though our circumstance seems dire. So let’s listen to Paul who writes in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Let’s remember Jesus is the reason we celebrate, and He enables us to have joy through every situation.  

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Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Written by Rhonda Alstott

I’ve heard myself say a few times in 2020 that I’ve never had so much time, with so little on my calendar to do, and still unable to accomplish anything with all this  “free” time. I think it is fair to say that none of us could have anticipated that on January 1, 2020 our lives would look so different in December due to a worldwide pandemic. I know for Tony and I personally, as the year marched on, so did our list of friends that battled COVID-19 and sadly, so did our list of friends that died of the deadly virus. And as if the virus wasn’t enough, it seems like we have a growing list of friends and loved ones that are raging other battles. Wildfires, job loss, suicide, relapse, metastasized cancer, addiction… the list grows as we close in on the end of 2020. It seems like the one thing we share in all of this is a collective trauma that comes from suffering or watching those we care about suffer. So much brokenness… a world longing for reconciliation on so many different fronts. I have also often heard myself exclaim the centuries old request “Come, Lord Jesus.” This longing I have, along with all of creation, to have all things made right again with the Creator seems like a beautiful solution to the mess 2020 has been.  Ironically, it’s what God’s people always longed for… a Messiah before Christ’s birth and a deliverer thereafter.  Humankind has always longed for this.


It’s the second day in Advent, a time where I try my best to make time and space for Jesus.  This year it seems hard.  Everything seems hard in COVID. We have decorated our home… and it’s ready but preparing our home for Christmas is not the same as preparing our hearts for Jesus. 


Our household is busy and excitingly buying and wrapping gifts for one another, but I know that all of this will bring only momentary happiness. What we all really need is more space… more space for Jesus, and the peace and joy only He can bring. That’s the true gift in all the hard this Christmas season of COVID 2020.


My favorite tree in the house is my Jesse tree. It’s a concept born out of Isaiah 11:1-11 where a promise is made that a new root will grow out of the stump of Jesse and bring salvation.  The ornaments are symbolic of several stories from scripture that remind me that God had a plan for us all along from the very beginning when He, His son Jesus, along with His Spirit, created this space I call home for a brief moment in the span of eternity.  Each story reminds me how people can make a real mess out of their lives when their priorities get misaligned with God and His kingdom.  These Bible heroes and their families struggled in the same ways my family does, just a different period of time.  History tells me my family is not alone in this.  It’s part of the human condition.  Lives and kingdoms fall apart when God isn’t the center.  We have a holiday to honor Christ’s birth where we ironically seem to create a perfect storm for messing up this order where we make Jesus our priority. Finding a PlayStation 5 this season is time consuming, inviting me to steer my attention from the only true gift that will leave us with contentment. That’s just one example. I could insert many examples in the PlayStation’s place. How do I get myself and those I love to value Jesus above all else, to see Him as the real gift? How do I get all of us to make space for Him? The Star Wars LEGO advent calendar and the Aldi Wine Advent Calendar, although fun and entertaining, will not help me or my family make this space for Jesus.


My burning bush ornament reminds me how God’s people desired a deliverer.  God gave them their temporary deliverer Moses.  My six-pointed Star of David ornament reminds me that God’s people desired a King. God gave them a temporary King in David. God knew all the temporary provisions He gave them were part of their story, but none would satisfy what was needed so He gave them, and all of mankind, Jesus.


Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (Charles Wesley 1744) is one of my favorite Christmas hymns.


    Come, thou long expected Jesus

    Born to set Thy people free.

    From our fears and sins release us,

    Let us find our rest in Thee.

    Israel’s strength and consolation,

    Hope of all the earth Thou art.

    Dear desire of every nation,

    Joy of every longing heart.


These words are prophetic to me this 2020. A year where freedom as we know it has been changed. A year where our fears have sometimes driven us to not be the people God created us to be. A year where our environments have exposed our sins and made them more obvious… a year we have cried out “Lord Jesus Come!”


This hymn so rich in theology gives us answers… for those of us needing rest, He is our rest. Strength and consolation are found in Him. Hope. Enough for everyone. He is our Hope. He is the dearest desire each of us really want this Christmas. Joy for all of us that long for Him.

Jesus has come.  God knew Moses, David and all the other giants of the faith we read about would not give us those things we really want. God knew the others could not secure our eternity. 


PlayStation 5’s look to be elusive this year. Discontentment is not. A few years ago, when our Christmas traditions were going to be different due to jobs and marriages, my family came up with a remedy to squelch our growing discontentment at the year being different. We baked 50 homemade muffins and boiled 50 hard-boiled eggs as the star attraction for our 50 paper sacks we filled with fruit, candy and other edibles. That and a carafe of hot coffee and cups were loaded, and we drove to the local homeless camps and offered them up for Christmas breakfast. We did this Christmas morning instead of unwrapping gifts.   The memory of one lady handing me her apple and explaining she could not eat it because she had no teeth and would I please regift this to someone else still warms my heart today.  Someone looking after her neighbor within a community I consider to be the “least of these” on Jesus’ list. Maybe this is how we help our families make space for Jesus. We make space for those he made space for and love Him by serving others. With all this great suffering comes so much need.  Maybe we don’t need a newer PlayStation after all.  


Hope has come, Joy has come…we only need to make space and time for Him.  May we all remember to anticipate Christ this last month of 2020.  The kind of Jesus we long and expect for may determine the kind of Christmas we get.

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Written by Becky Perkins

“Don’t Hang Your Harp on the Willow Tree and Sit and Cry About It”


“When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’.” 

Jeremiah 29:10 and 11 (NISB)

When I was in my forties, I was at IUS working on my second degree. There were certain courses outside your field of study that were required for you to take to earn your degree. I took Economics as one of my requirements. I learned things in Economics that I wish I had learned in my early twenties. Things which were helpful to everyday living. I learned about making decisions on purchases in terms of needs and wants, learning how to figure the projected dates of pay-offs with interest on credit cards, and practical ways to invest. We were required to read the “Wall Street Journal” and watch the stock markets. I was always intrigued by what drove the stock market. 

Most of the time it is the confidence or the lack of confidence of consumer spending that drives the markets. If there is just a hope of something good happening in the world, the markets soar and increase, but if something happens that is not so good, the markets drop. Just this week, as I write this devotional, the news reported that ‘with the hope of a Covid-19 vaccine coming out that is 90% effective’ the markets increased.  What a great hope for our world. The pharmaceutical company with this vaccine has received the hopeful attention of millions of people.

Webster’s Dictionary records the definition of hope as trust, reliance; a desire accompanied by expectation of, or belief in fulfillment of someone or something. We are trusting and believing that there is a team of scientists and healthcare professionals working on a vaccine that will be brought to our world to help with this deadly virus that we have endured over the last 9 months. As a Christian, I have been praying for the team of scientists that will come up with the vaccine; therefore, I am actually trusting and believing God to bring this hope to our world. Hope is the driving force behind faith. Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 

Without hope, we become depressed, live in fear, become lazy, give up doing our daily routines, and basically quit living the life that God has given us. When this happens to a person, or even more deadly, to a generation of people, we can stop sharing the love of God with those who are in desperate need of a savior. 

In Jeremiah 29, Jeremiah is writing three or four letters to exiles in Babylon after their deportation in 597 BC, warning and encouraging them while living in Babylon.  In verses 1 – 14, Jeremiah is writing a letter of encouragement to the exiles to live a life that would please God while in captivity.  He is encouraging them to be good Jews even though they are separated from their temple in Jerusalem and away from their worship services together in the temple.  These exiles had lost everything, except their lives and a few possessions.  They had lost their freedom, lost their means of making a living, they were separated from their family and friends in Jerusalem, and some had lost their relatives and friends on the journey from Jerusalem to Babylon. No matter what the situation, it looked hopeless. Jeremiah reminded them that “it does no good to hang our harps on the willow trees and sit around and weep” (Psalms 137:1-4). Jeremiah encouraged the people to accept their situation courageously and put themselves into God’s hands by faith.  He reminded them that God does not make mistakes and He does keep his promises.   

In verse 6-9, Jeremiah is writing about a false prophet, Shemaiah. Shemaiah, had the people convinced that this time in Babylon would be only a couple years. People who believed this false prophet wanted to sit around and just wait it out until they could go back to Jerusalem. Jeremiah reminded the people that God said it would be 70 years in captivity. So again, Jeremiah encouraged the people to get busy, build their houses, plant their crops, learn how to live in a pagan society, keep earning a living in this foreign land, and above all, keep sharing about God and who He was with this pagan society. Jeremiah told them to remember that the hope of the future generation was in their hands. This small remnant of people would bring about the hope of a savior to a dying world. There is a gracious promise from God that He was bringing a deliverer and a hope for their future. These promises reach beyond these exiles in Babylon and include all of Israel for generations to come. Hope came many generations after these exiles as a baby born in a manger. The hope for all of the world, not only the Jew, but for everyone who believed (Romans 1:16) by faith in God’s one and only son, Jesus.   

As I have meditated over this study in Jeremiah, I realize that I am living in an unstable world, with a Pandemic, racial tensions, political unrest, and the list goes on and on. I sometimes feel like we are held captive by the events of the world, especially Covid-19. I keep hoping for this situation to be over. Then, I think how people in years past have lived through some very hard situations for more then a year or two, definitely more than 9 months. These people have shown great courage, faith and hope in these situations. People like Corrie Ten Boom, Anne Frank, our senior citizens who lived through the Great Depression, those who have served in WW I and WW II, and other wars, those who have suffered through injustices and heart ache, and those who have suffered losses during this Pandemic. Should I give up, hang my harp on the willow tree, and weep? God keeps telling me that He is walking through this time in life with me. He gives me a hope that I don’t understand or am able to see right now. I think I need to just put “my big girl pants on” and get busy doing the work of Jesus Christ in this unstable world, pray for Jesus to help me deny myself, focus on others, seek wisdom for every situation – whether it means wearing a mask and go to worship or God telling me I just need to stay home – and look for the hope in the world around me. It is out there if we look. Christmas is coming!  What a wonderful time to look around and see Jesus and know we have a future hope even beyond this world. I am so thankful to live on this side of the cross, knowing and seeing the death and resurrection of a Savior to this unstable world.

Friends, enjoy the Advent and Christmas season with the hope that this is not all there is – there is more to come. 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”  Romans 15:13 (NIV)



The New Inductive Study Bible

The New International Bible

The Wiersbe Bible Commentary

Jeremiah, Daring to Hope in an Unstable World, Melissa Spoelstra  

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Why Your Expectations Sneak Up On You

A Blog from Prepare/Enrich

Expectations are like a measuring stick that we hold our reality up against. If they’re too high, you’re going to feel pretty disappointed in the state of things. Too low, and you might be settling for less than you should.

In the context of relationships, expectations play a huge role in how happy and satisfied you feel. But the process of learning how to manage them in a healthy way can come with its own set of growing pains. Why? What makes it so hard? Well, one reason is that oftentimes we don’t even realize we have them, or if we do, we don’t understand where they came from.


For example, let’s say you’re spending your first fall together as newlyweds and homeowners. Halloween is coming up, and your spouse just came home with what appears to be an entire store’s worth of decorations (including lawn ornaments!). Suddenly you’re in an argument. You’re mad you weren’t consulted about the decorations, and your spouse is hurt that you don’t want to participate in their favorite holiday. You both might be asking yourselves, “Why am I getting so upset about this? It’s not that big of a deal.”

This misunderstanding could be chalked up to some unacknowledged expectations – your partner’s around how you’ll celebrate Halloween and yours around the decision-making related to the celebration. Understanding where our expectations come from and how we develop them can help us gain insight into why we find ourselves feeling all the things when we least expect it. Let’s take a closer look at the main sources of our expectations.

Family of origin
Perhaps the most influential, and yet hardest to understand, are the expectations that are ingrained in us through our family of origin. As kids, we observed the way our parents and grandparents navigated the dynamics of marriage and relationships, and we thought, “This is the way it is.” For example, you might expect that finances will be handled a certain way in your marriage because that’s what you saw growing up. If your spouse experienced a very different arrangement, that will probably be something you’ll need to discuss.

As we get older, we learn that we do in fact have choices when it comes to what we expect in our own relationships, but even then, our awareness of the unspoken expectations we carry with us can vary. Once we become attuned to the fact that our most basic assumptions about marriage and relationships might very well be expectations we’ve carried with us from our family of origin, we can develop a better understanding of ourselves and our partner.

Societal and cultural influences
Today’s society and culture have a lot to say about, well, everything. From our physical appearance, to how we parent our children, to the way our relationships are formed and structured, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t held an expectation based on what society tells them is “normal.” Some of these might be perfectly realistic, such as expecting that you’ll someday get married or be a homeowner. However, even if they are realistic, you might not hold them for yourself. Perhaps it’s not something you’re striving for or it doesn’t align with your values, and that’s totally okay!

In the context of your relationship, you might find yourself holding certain expectations that, while culturally popular, are actually not a good fit for you and your partner. Take the expectation of having children. If neither you or your partner have felt the desire to have children, holding yourselves to that expectation can be a heavy burden to carry. By recognizing how these expectations originate, you can hopefully feel a sense of freedom in letting them go.

Social media
Never before has there been a time when it was easier to compare ourselves to millions of other people. It’s not always healthy because more often than not, we’re seeing a curated version of others and their relationship, no matter how “real” they say they are. Through hours of scrolling and endless images of beautifully decorated homes, smile-filled vacation photos, matching holiday pajamas, and perfectly-plated meals, we start feeling like our reality is a tad less-than. A tiny seed of subconscious expectation has been planted, even if we know better than to fully internalize it. It’s hard to not feel a bit inadequate sometimes, like we could be a little better, or be doing a little more. At the end of the day, don’t let random “influencers” have a negative influence on your relationship.

Personal desires and perceptions
Sometimes you have certain expectations simply because that’s what you want or what you perceive to be ideal. One could argue that these should be the easiest expectations to adjust or temper, but that’s not always the case. For example, if you’re someone with a high achieving or perfectionist personality, you might hold very high expectations for yourself and others, even if they’re sometimes unreasonable. Or maybe you always envisioned one of you being able to stay home with the kids, but financially that hasn’t been an option. Some of these expectations may fall away on their own or change over time as your reality and desires change. If you’re able to recognize when you’re feeling upset or disappointed due to expectations you’ve created within yourself, it can help you gain some perspective on the situation.

So what?
Expectations shape our perception – of ourselves, our partner, and our relationship. When we experience conflict, dissatisfaction, or miscommunications related to expectations it can feel frustrating and hard to pin down. Gaining an understanding of where our relationship expectations come from, whether they are unspoken, ingrained, or more explicitly decided upon, can help you figure out – individually and as a couple – whether they are worth living up to.

If you and your partner are struggling to get on the same page when it comes to expectations, examining your values and what’s most important to you is a good place to start. Remember, expectations will change along with your relationship and season of life, so it’s important to keep communicating about them. Our Discussion Guide for Couples includes a section on expectations and will give you a solid foundation for an intentional conversation.

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Tattoos vs Real Fears

Written by Rhonda Alstott

Some moments are etched in your memory like they happened just yesterday.  One such memory for me is the day I found out that my oldest child had gotten a tattoo.  This story is hilarious to me at this point in my parenting, but it cut deep at the moment.  It was the beginning of some of my unraveling.  God just has to do that with us sometimes when He needs to show us just how far off base we have gotten.  I had 20 of my closest friends sitting in my living room set to play our monthly bunco games.  Ahnya, in her sophomore year at Indiana State, stopped by to eat and say hello and play with her little sister Mary.  My friends all asked how things were going and one innocently asked, “Got any tattoos yet?” 


The room grew silent.  See this mother had always said in the most authoritative way that any child of hers had to move out if they ever got a tattoo.  Why?  I had heard another church mom set this boundary and I had respect for this church mom and adopted the same boundary, never stopping to ask why. 


Ahnya says “ummmm yeah” and the room broke out in chuckles.  I was in total shock.  Ahnya went on to describe her tattoo.  I was speechless. 


Now my authority was in question and not only that, but my logic was coming into question.  My safe reality I had created was being chipped away as the conversation continued.  Some of my friends shared about their kids’ tattoos.  Some of my friends shared about their tattoos.  I was left speechless. 


I did not kick Ahnya out as I had always threatened and since then I’ve lost count of how many tattoos my adult children have.  Same with my friends.  I have learned though that most have very personal and meaningful stories behind them, some even spiritual.  What I had to look at is why I would have such a crazy rule to begin with.   Leviticus 19:28 is the only scripture that comes to mind about tattoos, but that’s the old covenant and I can’t even hang my hat on that.  I can only guess that I made the rule because no child of mine was gonna do anything that would make me look bad as a parent.  Pretty petty, and at this point in my life, I’m way past that as a parenting goal.  I’m more interested in how their heart and soul is.


I’ve been pretty transparent about a lot of my parenting decisions  being made out of fear.  It’s exhausting and I don’t believe it’s the yoke that Jesus ever wanted me to pick up, but nonetheless I did,  and despite my best attempts, it creeps in.  Mary and I shared a great lunch this week consisting of carry out  Chinese Food complete with fortune cookies.  My fortune read “Your greatest fear will soon become your greatest strength.” 

Mary asked “What’s your greatest fear mom?”


I could not answer her.  Not this week.  It’s been a week when fear, some founded, some unfounded, has crept into my heart. 


Dr. Karl Albrecht identified 5 fears that we all share, which he called feararchy:
Extinction- the fear of ceasing to exist.

Mutilation- the fear of losing any part of our bodily structure.

Loss of Autonomy- the fear of being immobilized.

Separation- the fear of abandonment, loss of connection.

Ego-death- the fear of humiliation/shame.                                      


I’ve shortened his definitions, but I find them relevant and true.  Most of our fears and anxieties can be rooted in this hierarchy of fear.  Our fears of spiders fall under the #2 Mutilation and those who struggle with claustrophobia are experiencing a fear under the #3 Loss of Autonomy.  I guess my fear of what will people think or say if my child has a tattoo fits into the #5 category of ego death.               


By the time you read this blog Election Day will have come and gone and at this point only God knows who will serve as our next president.  Both political parties have used their share of fear mongering to scare us into what our world will look like if their opponent wins.  Can I say that I’m not gonna fear?  I will be disappointed if my candidate does not win, but I’m not gonna fear.  Why?  I can say that no matter what, my relationship with Jesus and my faith can assure me that I will experience God’s presence and peace in the midst of every circumstance I find myself in.


It has been an extremely difficult week for Tony and me in ministry.  We have lost 3 people in our church family.  One of those losses was a 35 year old.  It doesn’t make sense. She was too young and she was a beautiful person inside and out.  My mother’s heart is devastated for her mom.  I know not from experience, but watching others walk this path, that losing a child is hardest hard.  It changes your life forever.  My friend asked me, “Rhonda, how am I supposed to do this?”   She is walking through my biggest fear and the biggest fear of many and the only answer I know is by God’s Grace.


Paul, when asking God the how and why of a situation he was walking through, was told “My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness”. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT). 


Lin-Manuel Miranda penned these words in his song “It’s Quiet Uptown” in his musical Hamilton at the point where Alexander and Eliza are walking through the loss of their son Philip:


There are moments that the words don’t reach There’s a grace too powerful to name We push away what we can never understand We push away the unimaginable…


So as I push away the unimaginable, I want to go back to my opening story of Ahnya’s tattoo and my undeniable unreasonableness as a parent.  Ahnya’s first tattoo is a heart with the word “Champion”  forming the right side of it.  It was gotten after we lost a precious little boy in our church family to cancer when he was only 5.  Ahnya had a special relationship with Colton as his children’s church leader and the love Colton showed Ahnya saw her through some of the darkest days in her personal journey.  Colton’s love was pure and nonjudgmental to my daughter during a time. I as a parent could not see anything but how her behavior threatened my ego-self, #5 on that feararchy chart.  Petty, as I said before.  Thank God, His amazing grace came through a little boy named Colton and inspired Ahnya to fight and keep the faith through a very dark time in her life. 


When we imagine the unimaginable, I can only say that God’s Grace will be there.   A grace too powerful to name.   We will feel His power and presence. He promises us that.  We want to hoard all of that up like it can be collected and stored for when we need it, but we cannot .  It’s like manna and is provided as we need it.  Unprecedented is the term used to describe the time we live in.  Unimaginable is what I’ve heard too.  May we as God’s people walk daily with this promise, His grace is sufficient for me.

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Those who live in the shelter of the Most High

Written by Becky Perkins

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High (El Elyon) will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty (El Shaddai). This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him” Psalms 91:1-2 NLT

Over the years, I have taken many personality tests. I try hard to come up with a different result each time. But, needless to say, I am a hopeless Melancholic.  Melancholic’s motto is: “Let’s do it the right way”.  We are organized, set long-range goals, have high standards and ideals.   And we think and feel deeply.  Melancholics get depressed when life is out of order, when no one seems to care, and when standards are not met.

Making plans, organizing the plans, and implementing the plans is what I do best.  I am not a visionary, but give me the vision and I will get the job done.  I have worked very hard for many years in making budgets to get out of debt and reach our household goals, making meal plans and grocery lists to eat healthy,  making a daily schedule to be able to balance exercise, daily devotions, family time and office hours.  I work hard on planning when and how teams and events should happen at Wesley Chapel in Faith Development. Keeping “the plan” going is what I thrive on in ministry and daily life. 

At the beginning of 2020, the white board in my office was all planned out up through July 2020.   By March 2020, the Faith Development teams had already held 3 Child Protection Guidelines trainings, had held a teacher appreciation, had held a family luncheon to hear what parents were in need of most in their daily lives, had planned a luncheon for Special Needs families, had planned who, what, when, where VBS would be held, was in the middle of planning teachers and nursery servants for the next school year and was beginning the process for the Easter Egg Hunt and Puppet show. In July 2020, Wayne and I had planned and saved for a 2 week vacation trip for our 40th anniversary.  You see we do not take many trips and being gone 2 weeks was something we never had done in our lives. Then a worldwide Pandemic hit.   This totally ruined my plan and there was not anyway I could fix this situation.  Because, you see, making plans and keeping things going really is a way that Melancholic “fixes” things and take charge. 

God brought Psalm 91:1-2 to my awareness through study this summer.   In this verse, we see God referred to as two names, El-Elyon meaning the Lord Most High and El-Shaddai, meaning the all-sufficient one.  God enlightened me with two things from this verse.    

The first thing is that God is my all-sufficient one.  He is enough!  He is my all in all!  He is providing for me and my family in ways I would have never thought of on my own.  He is giving new life and vision to Faith Development teams and classes at Wesley Chapel that we would have never thought up without being forced into a Pandemic. 

He is causing growth in leaders, teachers and students through Zoom meetings and classes.  He is causing families (including my own family) to find enjoyment in time together, taking pleasure in the little things that we do such as walking trails, things that do not cost money, take a lot of time, effort or stress.  He is creating pleasures in my life, not me creating my own pleasures. 

The second thing God taught me this summer is that I cannot walk in my own shadow very long and have success.  In fact, I cannot walk in my own shadow which ever direction I turn.  I can only walk in His shadow.   For me to walk in His shadow, I have to let Him walk in front of me and go before me to pave the path.  As my all-sufficient One, I follow His path and walk where He leads. He does not take me where I think I should go sometimes, but I trust Him.  “He alone is my refuge, my place of safety.  He alone is my God and I trust Him”.  That is pretty emphatic! It is not that I trust “in Him”, but that I do trust Him. When I trust Him, it is a personal day by day, moment by moment walk with him.  He is my all in all and He is enough. 

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