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Posts by Melissa Spoelstra

Today’s Truth

Yet Jerusalem says, “The LORD has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.” “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins” (Isaiah 49:14-16 NLT).


 


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The school called yesterday to let me know my son had been waiting in the office for ten minutes. I had remembered to write the note to excuse him from school for an appointment, but I lost track of time while answering emails and plugging through my to-do list. I sure hope you can relate! I set alarms on my phone, write lists in my planner, and still struggle to remember things.


Thankfully the Lord doesn’t have this same struggle. He has never forgotten anything, ever – except that He chooses to forget about our sin (Isaiah 43:25). It may feel like He doesn’t always respond to our prayers or intervene when we think He should, but He

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Today’s Truth

But have you not heard? I decided this long ago. Long ago I planned it, and now I am making it happen (Isaiah 37:26a NLT).


 


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My daughter told me she was tired of people telling her to trust God. She had begged Him to make her hair grow back after her alopecia diagnosis. Despite years of prayers, though, she remained completely bald with no eyelashes or eyebrows. She knew all the Sunday School answers about God’s love and power. But her real-life circumstances caused her to question why a God who loved her and had the power to heal her… didn’t. She wondered if the Lord was unable or unwilling. Your situation may vary greatly from my daughter’s, but perhaps you can recall a season in your life when you struggled to trust God’s timing.


When God doesn’t act quickly enough for us,

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Today’s Truth

“Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” (Isaiah 7:9b NLT)

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I woke up frustrated and discouraged after a battle with worry in the middle of the night. Don’t laugh when I tell you what I was obsessing over because it seems so ridiculous in hindsight. My highly allergic daughters had just convinced my husband and I to allow them to buy pet birds since cats and dogs made them sick. I laid awake fretting about the smell in our house, the annoying sounds the birds made, and then imagined ways to get rid of them without breaking my daughters’ hearts.


Looking back, I can’t believe how overfocused I became on something that wasn’t that important in the grand scheme of life. This worry, fear, and fixating on small

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Today’s Truth

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT).

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During my children’s elementary school years, they had chore charts to give them structure and responsibility. However, when one of them didn’t accomplish all their tasks, my husband and I would have a conversation about allowance reduction or possible consequences. Can you imagine if one of my children said, “I know I’ve been slacking off recently, if I get all my chores done every day this week and even do some of my sibling’s chores, can I remain your child?” They understood that they were assigned work because they were part of our family, not that they were working to stay in it. Sometimes I can bring a “working to earn my place in the family” mentality

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Today’s Truth

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31 NLT).

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I left the Zoom meeting and raced out of the house hoping to stop at Target to pick up a gift to bring to my lunch appointment. As I sped into the store, I got a call from my caseworker. She wanted to discuss some concerns regarding our foster son. I talked with her while quickly getting what I needed and driving downtown. My mind was still processing all the issues with our teenage foster son as I found parking and realized the meter required me to download an app on my phone and enter payment information. Whatever happened to good old quarters in a meter?


I hurriedly completed the task, slammed the car door, and began walking

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Today’s Truth

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18 NLT).

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I hurriedly pulled the clothes out of the dryer until I noticed a huge streak of blue on one of my favorite shirts. Upon closer inspection I found that most of the articles in the load had similar marks. After rummaging around in the basket, I found a blue ink pen fully emptied of its contents. This incident happened several years before Google provided instantaneous advice in these types of situations. I had heard that hairspray could remove ink, so I repeatedly sprayed, rubbed, and rinsed until the Aqua net fumes were more than I could handle. Finally, I surrendered to the permanence of the stains and threw out the entire load.


While the loss of those clothes

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Today’s Truth

As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza” (Acts 8:26 NLT).

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When my son was seven years old, I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. He said he would travel around telling people about Jesus. At this tender age he was surrounded by the message of Christ at both school and church. Because his father was a pastor, he had double doses of Sunday school during both morning services in addition to a midweek children’s program.


I envisioned crowds gathering to listen to my son preach in Billy Graham fashion until he added that he also would feed the people lunch. When I questioned how he would accomplish this, he explained that he planned to tell people about Jesus one at a time, possibly

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Today’s Truth

“He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest” (Acts 5:2 NLT).

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After a night of intermittent sleep, I woke up feeling groggy and unsettled. I went through my morning routine including some vague prayers and Bible reading where my mind wandered more than focused. I answered a few emails, organized some paperwork, and participated in a zoom meeting. Then I wandered into the kitchen to make lunch but my eyes were drawn to the large screen sitting above the mantle. I began to make internal justifications why I deserved an afternoon off distracting myself with a television show.


I had work to do, but I could find another time to squeeze it in without missing deadlines.


I had minor surgery the previous week and probably needed some additional rest (even

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Today’s Truth

Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes (Acts 3:16 NLT).

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Several years ago, I visited Nashville with a group of girlfriends. One of the gals in our group texted a friend she knew who owned several restaurants downtown for a recommendation. She directed us to a place and said to mention her name at the door.


To our surprise, when we gave her name, we were ushered into a special section with VIP treatment. Servers brought out complimentary platters of food and told us about the famous musicians who had occupied our seats the night before. I sat in awe at the unexpected blessings we received just by dropping a name.


We can discover the power of name dropping for every Christ-follower in the pages of the book of

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Today’s Truth

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NLT).

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After three hours on a school bus, I arrived at the waterpark for a youth retreat weekend in desperate need of an attitude adjustment. Listening to the students in my group complain about not having their phones for two days was grating on my nerves. I wanted to remind these students how grateful they should be for a weekend away with food, friends, teaching, and a waterpark! I knew my ranting wouldn’t set a good tone so I quietly hustled the girls down to the first session.


As the worship began, I complained to the Lord about the ungrateful students but also asked Him to awaken in me a love for these girls. I can’t explain exactly what

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Today’s Truth

They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved (Acts 2:46-47 NLT).

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In the late 1990s our culture became fascinated with watching television shows featuring real people experiencing real life. From scenarios involving deserted islands to dating life, reality television doesn’t fully live up to its name because we never really know how much of the relationships and experiences we are witnessing are staged. Although no one is likely filming us on a regular basis, we too can live an edited version of the Christian life. What I mean is that sometimes we live like what is real isn’t actually real. For example,



We know Jesus paid for our sin on the cross, but sometimes we live in shame.
We know God has given us power through the Holy Spirit, but
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Today’s Truth

All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’) (Isaiah 7:14 NLT).

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With all the decorating, baking, shopping, and holiday parties, I sometimes feel lonely during the preparation for the Christmas season. While I interact with a variety of people – from a sales clerk to other moms at a school party – I don’t always connect with them beyond small talk. I also find my quiet time with the Lord diminished due to my overwhelming to-do list. I want the celebration of Christ’s birth with family and friends to be special, but not at the expense of intimacy with the One who sent His Son to save me.


During times of spiritual loneliness, we might entertain questions like:



Is the Lord still with me?
What should I do in moments when
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Today’s Truth

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8 NLT).

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After three hours on a school bus, we arrived at the water park for a youth retreat weekend. I’ll admit I needed an attitude adjustment. Listening to the students in my group complain about not having their phone for two days was grating on my nerves. Once we got to our rooms, disagreement broke out about who had to sleep on the pull-out couches rather than the beds.


My irritation level rose. I wanted to remind these students how grateful they should be for a weekend away to stay in beautiful rooms, eat food prepared for them, hear amazing speakers, connect with a thousand other teenagers, and enjoy the water park. I knew my ranting wouldn’t set a

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Today’s Truth

“It is all right,” the Lord replied. “Do not be afraid. You will not die” (Judges 6:23 NLT).

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When my twins didn’t make the volleyball team in seventh grade, I started stressing out. I wanted them to experience the benefits of participating on a team as well as find an engaging way to get some exercise. Mostly though, I wanted them to stay after school for two more hours so I could have a little more time to accomplish my own to-do list.


I decided they should try out for tennis. No, I obsessed about them trying out for tennis. I marched them to the courts every day before try-outs to give them a crash course in the sport I had played through Jr. high and High school. This situation kept me up at night as

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Today’s Truth

Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-Nissi (which means “the Lord is my banner”) (Exodus 17:15 NLT).

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During her kindergarten year, my daughter had a variety of puzzling symptoms that caused her organs to start shutting down with septic shock. During the days on the ventilator in the ICU, I felt God’s presence and power in a way unparalleled to any other time in my life. But I wasn’t prepared for the battles I would face after going home.


My other children had been displaced during the long ordeal and needed extra attention. My daughter was getting better but still required daily shots in her stomach because of a blood clot that resulted from a central line IV. To say I was weary would have been an understatement. But the crazy thing was the battle

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Today’s Truth

He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15:26 NLT)

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My friend Lee described the night when he lay alone on his hospital bed, feeling as though he were hanging over a cliff. The Lord asked him this question: “Will you trust me?” He wrestled to reconcile God’s goodness with the direness of his circumstances. He was in his early forties with a brain tumor that was later diagnosed as glioblastoma.


The following days were a wilderness of surgery, medications, and recovery. Contrary to what doctors had told him, Lee got better, with no signs of cancer. He felt great and took every opportunity to share about God’s miraculous healing in his life.


After five years of excellent health, Lee told me at a church campout to pray for him

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Today’s Truth

God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations. (Exodus 3:15 NLT)

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When my youngest child was born, my son was just starting kindergarten and my twin daughters were two years old. To say I was a little overwhelmed in that season would be an understatement. When Rachel’s birth certificate came in the mail, I noticed that it said she was born on the second of the month, but she actually was born on the fifth. I made a mental note to look into getting that changed but got swept up in tantrums, diaper changes, potty-training, and reading lessons.


Years went by and I didn’t think much about it until one day when she was in middle school and wanted to go on a mission trip. Guess what she needed?

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Today’s Truth

And there he built an altar and named it El-Elohe-Israel (Genesis 33:20 NLT).

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My sister, mom, and cousins traveled from all over the country to gather in celebration of my aunt’s seventieth birthday. We laughed, made memories, and talked about all sorts of subjects. Occasionally we spoke about God. Someone told a story of God’s provision. Another shared openly how she was struggling with her faith. I enjoyed our conversations, especially when we talked about our Savior.


On the way home I realized that while we had spoken about God, I hadn’t spent much time with God. There’s a difference between talking about someone and personally spending time with them. God reveals Himself to us so that we can draw near to Him.


Jacob was a man in the Bible who knew

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Today’s Truth

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God (Psalm 90:1-2 NIV).

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My mind stared at the blank index card. A Bible study leader handed one to every person to write down a prayer request. Sounds easy, but on that particular day, my mind and heart felt so jumbled. I thought about my kids and some of their concerns but knew I needed to write down the two words that come up almost every week for me: time management. I struggle with managing my time wisely and also feeling guilty when I don’t. Too often my mind seems occupied with the next thing on my schedule.


You may be in a season when you have a lot of time on your hands. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom and your kids

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Today’s Truth

“And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.” (Genesis 14:20a, NLT).

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My daughter’s friend faced some pretty significant health challenges in high school. It got so bad at one point that she couldn’t raise her hands above her head to even wash her hair. She thought she would never be able to go away to college and take care of herself with the amount of pain she battled on a daily basis.


Through these debilitating setbacks, she set her attention on the Lord. She focused on what she could do more than what she couldn’t. Though she felt her setbacks outnumbered her abilities at times, she felt more determined than ever to be able to attend nursing school.


This gal is now my daughter’s roommate in college. She still battles

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Today’s Truth

“It is all right,” the Lord replied. “Do not be afraid. You will not die.” And Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and named it Yahweh-Shalom (which means “the Lord is peace”). The altar remains in Ophrah in the land of the clan of Abiezer to this day.

(Judges 6:23-24, NLT)

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Life can be so stressful. The American Psychological Institute reports that 77 percent of Americans say that they regularly experience physical symptoms from stress. The top four symptoms they reported were fatigue, headache, upset stomach, and muscle tension. Psychological symptoms of stress were also reported, including feeling irritable, angry, nervous, lack of energy, and as though you could cry.


I know I can relate to many of those symptoms! How about you? I wonder if you have encountered some stressors already in this new year. We all lack peace from time to time. Fear and worry can creep in when we least expect them, leaving us awake at night. Maybe we think peace will descend upon us once

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Today’s Truth

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming” (Psalm 27:8, NLT).

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Have you ever found yourself so caught up in the activity of Christmas that you had no time to spend with the God we celebrate? I sure can relate to quick prayer times and less Bible study in my Decembers. I’ve found that spending time with Jesus is a great way to say, “Happy Birthday.” Yet those cards have to be mailed, presents bought, cookies made, and parties attended. So how can we get it all done and still invite Jesus to His own party? We don’t want to just add more items to our already overflowing to-do lists, but we can make small adjustments in our posture and mindset regarding the things we are already doing.


We

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8