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The Mustard Seed Ministries Blog

If you are interested in writing a devotional (or submitting any other type of entry) for Mustard Seed Ministries, please click here to learn about the writing process and how we accept submissions. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday
Aug272014

Beauty from Ashes

"and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."
Isaiah 61:3

I didn’t set out to be a statistic. All the ambition I once had included the proverbial frame house with a white picket fence and two children playing in the back yard. I’m ashamed to say I missed the mark altogether, and now stand in the divorce hall of fame along with half of America. Multiple times. I don’t like it much, but it’s a fact.

However, and Hallelujah!—true to His Word, the Lord has made beauty from my ashes.

The guiding voice of God became more recognizable when I actually practiced listening for it. Other hurting women who have walked the paths I have walked have found themselves in the presence of my testimony and been reassured. The hope in another woman’s eyes shines through the tears that well up in them. My shame is turned to victory and I praise God for making it possible to touch another heart. To stand bold and courageous in His name and bear my soul to a room full of broken hearts.

I didn’t set out to turn a deaf ear to my Savior’s leading. But it happens. And when it does, He is always waiting for our return; willing to weep with us over loss, and shout with us in victory.

Take heart, broken women of the world. God still makes beauty from ashes; and He is waiting for us to offer Him ours. The transformation is a beautiful thing to see--and even more beautiful to experience.

Grant us your peace, O Lord. Allow us to experience the miracle of your artistry. Bring us under your favor so that we may see our ashes transformed into Your beauty.


By Kathleen, United States

Wednesday
Aug202014

Sifted

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. (Luke 22:31-32)

I watched her turn the handle on the old sifter as I had many times before.
My wife is a young woman who cooks the old way. And yes, she still sifts flour. “Cake won’t turn out right if you don’t,” she says. Some cooks have given up sifting since lumpy flour and extra protein (bugs) aren’t normally issues anymore. Sifting is painless for the flour but tiring for the one cranking the handle.
I’ve discovered some things that seem unnecessary really are-if you want the cake to turn out right. Peter was about to be sifted, and Jesus warned him.
According to his testimony, Peter was ready to be imprisoned and die for Jesus-but he wasn’t. Jesus tried to prepare him for the sifting, but Peter thought everything was under control. So Jesus burst his confidence bubble with news he would deny him three times. Sure enough, when the chips were down, Peter failed.
Satan sifted but God used it to form Peter into more than he was. Proud Peter became humble. Fearful Peter gained courage. Lumps were smoothed and unhealthy attitudes removed. But not before doing the unimaginable and enduring a look from the one who would die for him.
God sifts us and sometimes uses Satan as the instrument to do it. But God, not Satan, controls the intensity and length of the sifting. The enemy can’t proceed one millimeter beyond God’s determined measure. God’s sovereignty provides the knowledge of just what and how much is needed to get our attention and move us where we need to be.
Overconfidence, stubbornness and lack of complete trust have caused God to crank the handle a few times in my life. When I endured patiently and learned the lesson, life improved, rebellious lumps were crushed, and faith grew stronger.
God sifts because God loves. Let him remove the lumps hindering your faith journey.


Merciful Lord, may we endure Your sifting with joy instead of reluctance.

By Martin, Greenwood, SC

Wednesday
Aug132014

GUESS WHO'S BACK

This son of mine was dead, but now is alive; he was lost, but now he is found. v 24

One day our daughter found a stray cat on our front porch. Without asking permission, she fed him and the inevitable happened. He moved in.

Old Tom made himself at home and soon his furry, grey body and quiet purring became an important part of our lives. But he had not given up his street life. He would disappear for weeks at a time, and just when we decided he was gone for good, he would return -- a torn and bloody skeleton of a cat.

The prodigal son, and most of us, have a little of Old Tom in us. While we enjoy the comfort of being part of God's family, our independent nature at times gets us in trouble and we end up spiritually, and sometimes even physically starved and wounded.

No matter how many times Old Tom wandered off, it was a day for rejoicing when someone shouted, "Guess who's back?" Someone would pour him a bowl of milk. And, against his better judgment, someone else would prepare him a warm bath.

Our scriptu re tells us that God's welcome mat is always out no matter how many times we stray. Imagine the cheering in heaven when someone shouts "Guess who's back?"





Lord, our sinful nature causes us to foolishly stray from your loving care. Thank you that your love is great enough to welcome your foolish children back home. Amen.

By Madeline, Nebraska

Wednesday
Aug062014

A SPECIAL KIND OF LOVE

Take tender care of those who are weak; and be patient with one another. 1 Thess. 5:14b TLB

I steered my grocery cart out of the way as two giggling little girls came running through the store. Suddenly the youngest -- probably abour 3 years old -- stumbled and fell, dissolving into tears. The older girl helped her up, gave her a hug, then took her hand as they proceeded on their way. My eyes clouded over at the tender scene. They must have been sisters, I thought. The love was so obvious.

In Hebrews 10:24 the writer to the Hebrews writes to a group of Christians who were faced with so much opposition that they were in danger of abandoning their faith. "Let's outdo each other in being helpful and kind to each other," he wrote. He knew the importance of unity -- of being a loving family that takes care of each other.

The church at Thessalonia also faced opposition. Paul, writing to them, also realized the importance of being a loving, supportive family of Christ.

What a wonderful example the little girl in the grocery store was for Christians everywhere to be sisters and brother to each other.



Lord, teach us to love one another as you first loved us. Amen.

By Madeline, Nebraska

Wednesday
Jul302014

Sanforized

But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God…and now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.” Acts 20:24-27 (The New American Standard Bible)

Not long ago I noticed that the Levi’s I had been wearing were getting smaller, or at least it was slightly more difficult to button them unless I made an effort to temporarily move body mass to another location. The effort reminded me that many years ago my mother bought clothing because it had the label “Sanforized” displayed in plain sight. In the garment industry at that time a process had been developed that prevented fabric from shrinking when washed in warm water with harsh detergents. No doubt today’s fabrics are of a different quality or material, and I haven’t noticed a Sanforized label in years. So, my sense of an ever-tightening waist band (waste is probably more appropriate) couldn’t be blamed on material shrinkage.

Evidence strongly suggests that the Apostle Paul was Sanforized! The Holy Spirit empowered him to not shrink from speaking the Gospel of Christ – the whole purpose of God. So I wonder what label(s) you’re sporting these days. Have you been stamped with the Spirit label, and is shrinkage still a problem each time you’re dunked into a harsh situation? When the circumstances heat up does the collar feel tighter and you find it harder to reach out through shrinking sleeves? If so, perhaps it is time to move to a new suit of clothes that never shrink. For proper fitting information, please consult the garment description in Ephesians 6:10-20.


Father grant us the power and courage to not shrink from declaring your Gospel to all those with whom we have contact.

By Don (Maine)

Wednesday
Jul232014

Love Your Neighbor

Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39 (NKJV)

One summer evening I was watering flowers and my husband was mowing our lawn when an elderly woman he didn’t know approached him and asked if we had seen her cat that had wandered away from home. After my husband informed her we hadn’t seen the cat she described, the woman eagerly continued to speak with him.

She told him she had been widowed eight years, and spoke of the life she shared with her husband that spanned nearly half a century. She told of raising a family, and how they had weathered many storms, but the storm she weathered now was missing him.

She was lonely and God provided a listening ear. My husband stood there and patiently listened, although the mosquitoes were out and the sky was darkening. But he listened, and he could tell by her changed countenance that she walked back to her house with a lighter step and lighter heart.

Loving our neighbor as Jesus teaches should keep us attentive to the heavy hearts around us that are burdened by a depth of loneliness that we can help ease. Sometimes, all we have to do is provide a listening ear to show we care.


Dear Heavenly Father, Please help me to always have an attentive and caring heart for those who are lonely around me. Amen.

By Kathy (Texas)

Wednesday
Jul162014

SINGING IN THE RAIN

"Rejoice in the Lord always." Phil. 4:4 (rsv)

Half awake, I could hear through my open window a chorus in the treetops. I heard a cardinal's shrill call, the busy chatter of sparrows, and the sound of the robins conversing. I lay there for a while enjoying the sounds of spring. There was no particular rhythm or beat, no particular harmony. Yet all the varied tones blended into a beautiful melody.

My pleasure was interrupted by a clap of thunder -- then a sudden downpour. I pulled the covers over my head, thinking how miserable it would be to get out and go to work. But even through my covers I could hear robins, blackbirds and sparrows still chattering away. Their attitude did not seem to have been altered by the rain.

Paul said, "Rejoice in the Lord always." He did not say to rejoice only when the sun is shining and everything is going well. He did not tell us to withdraw when the clouds of trouble dump misery upon us. Instead, he told us not to be anxious. With a thankful heart, we shou ld bring our problems and requests to the Lord. Then we will know peace and contentment that will support us through each day.

Dear Lord, give us thankful and accepting hearts so that we may trust always in you. Amen.

By Madeline, Nebraska