New Beginnings

Focus on God

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3: 22, 23 NKJV

There is something about a new calendar that calls to me. The pages are still fresh and pristine. It is not cluttered with appointments and errands to do, or the reminder that I still haven’t accomplished a project on my goal list. The New Year holds the offer of new beginnings.

The Lord also gives us new beginnings. His mercies are new every morning, not just at the beginning of a new year. What a great gift that is!

Over the next few devotional blogs, let’s look at some new or renewed beginnings that can be part of our walk with the Lord. First, let’s consider a sharper focus on God.

We can start with a clearer focus on God by “cleaning our lens.” If we are taking a photo smudged in fingerprints, it messes up the crispness of the picture. If we are looking at God with smudges from sin and misconceptions about Him, that also obscures our focus. If we ask Him to reveal to us areas that need His mercy and compassion and a fresh start, He will show them to us.  That awareness prompts us to seek the Lord’s forgiveness for our sins.

Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD; Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven. Lamentations 3:40, 41 NKJV

Let’s ask God to help us to see Him for whom He is and not a distorted view of Him. As we read Scripture, the Lord reveals Himself in it. Here is a short list of God’s attributes:  He is righteous (Lamentation 3:18). He is compassionate and faithful (Lamentations 3:22, 23). He does not change (Malachi 3:6). God loves us (John 3:16; John 15). He created us and all things. He is our salvation and our Redeemer.

You drew near on the day I called to You, and said, “Do not fear!” O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life. Lamentations 3:57, 58 NKJV

Photo by Ethan Sees on

As we press forward to a new beginning with God, let us remove distractions that may come between us and our Savior. One of my distractions is being “too busy” with commitments. It’s easy for me to get too involved and find myself exhausted at the end of the day without spending time with God. It helps me to set a specified time to read God’s love letter, the Bible. If I set time aside for God like an appointment instead of just another task to accomplish on my list, I am more likely to be consistent in reading my Bible and talking with God in prayer. I also take notes, for it helps me remember what I’ve read better than if I just read or listen, even if I don’t spend much time with my notes later.

Your distractions may differ from mine. What helps you to set aside time to focus on the Lord?

Lord God, Please help me to keep my focus on You. Show me who You are in fresh ways this year, Lord. I want to begin everything with You. Amen.

Sunrise photo on top by Jonathan Petersson on


I would love to hear from you! Is there a topic you would like to see covered? Has something I’ve written been helpful to you? Happy New Year!

Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs I hope and pray that you will be touched by God in a special way each time you visit. Blogs usually post every other Thursday and are archived for your convenience. Click on the month in the sidebar to see what was published in a given month. Thank you. Kathryn

Growth in the Storm

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 NLT The…


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Angelic Messengers at Christmas

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest of care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow… Even angels long to look into these things. I Peter 1:10, 11, 12b NIV

God put His plan for mankind’s salvation into action. Our Savior was leaving heaven to live among mankind! God’s messengers were involved during the preparation for the arrival of Jesus, and into His early childhood. The apostle Peter wrote that angels long to look into these things. Imagine what the angels thought of everything that was happening around the time of the Messiah’s birth.

Gabriel, an angel of the Lord, appeared to Zacharias.

“Do not be afraid , Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you shall have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” Gabriel goes on to tell that John’s roll would be “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:11-20 NKJV

Gabriel also appeared to Mary. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; so the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:30-32, 35 NIV

After Joseph considered putting Mary away secretly because she was pregnant with a child who was not his own, an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream. The angel told Joseph that Mary’s child was conceived from the Holy Spirit and to take her as his wife. Matthew 1:18-25. God knew Joseph needed the assurance that this was His plan.

Can anyone who has seen a Christmas pageant forget the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds?

Photo by Monstera on
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”  Luke 2:9-14 NIV 

The Wise Men went to King Herod seeking “He who has been born King of the Jews.” Learning the prophecy said the King would be born in Bethlehem, they left Jerusalem and again saw the star which led them to the Child Jesus. They worshipped Him and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The Magi were divinely warned in a dream not to return to Herod and returned to their own country another way. Matthew 2:1-12

Joseph had additional visits from angels in his dreams. He was warned to flee to Egypt with Jesus and Mary because Herod sought to destroy the Child (Matthew 2:13-14). He was later told to return to Israel after Herod died, and then warned not to settle in Judea where Herod’s son Archelaus reigned, so Joseph settled in Galilee in Nazareth, fulfilling the prophecy that Christ “will be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:19, 21-23)

The angels might not have understood how God could love us so much to send Jesus to be our Savior, but the messengers from God were obedient to the Lord’s specific instructions.

Let’s reflect on Jesus coming to earth. Let’s be quick to obey what God tells us to do.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending Your Son, Jesus! Help me to not be afraid, but to trust and obey You as Mary and Joseph did when you sent your messengers to them.


The Names of the LORD – Part Nine of Nine

Jehovah-tsidkenu– The LORD Our Righteousness

Come quickly, Lord Jesus! O, for the time when You, Jehovah-tsidkenu, will reign on earth! We will praise You and declare Your righteousness, for You alone forgive us of our sins (Psalm 35:28;50:6; 51:14).

The LORD is our righteousness, for we are not righteous in ourselves. It is God who justifies us. But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24 NIV

Jesus Christ’s righteousness is credited to our account.

We are also called to live righteously in both the Old and the New Testaments. In I Peter 3:10-12, Peter quotes from Psalm 34.  “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Photo by Kathryn Hughes

We learn much of how to live from studying God’s Word. It is God’s instruction manual for us. We also can know the LORD intimately from learning who He is and knowing His character. In this nine-part series we have looked at some of the names of the LORD.

  • He is the LORD Yahweh, or Jehovah, the self-existent One, the eternal I AM.
  • Our God (Elohim) created us, saying “Let Us make man in Our own image.”
  • As Jehovah Elohim, He is our Redeemer.
  • The-LORD-Is-Here, or Jehovah Shammah, is always present with His people.
  • As Jehovah Nissi, The-LORD-is-our-Banner, calls us to follow Him in the war against our flesh.
  • God is our Provider, Jehovah Jireh, who provided for our redemption, and He also supplies our daily needs.
  • The LORD leads us and cares for us as our Shepherd, Jehovah Raah.
  • The LORD Who Heals You, Jehovah Rapha, heals us from diseases and from emotional and spiritual decay.
  • The-LORD-Is-Peace, Jehovah Shalom, brings us peace, even within the storm.
  • Praise be to God, Jehovah Tsidkenu, is The-Lord-Our-Righteousness. 

    Christian singer Phil Wickham sings “1,000 Names” from his album Hymn Of Heaven. I encourage you to listen to it. There are so many more names of God to discover.

    Let’s truly get to know the LORD by every name of God and by every one of His attributes found in Scripture.

    Top Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

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    Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs. I plan to add more names and attributes of the Lord to this devotional blog in the future. I hope and pray that you will be touched by God in a special way each time you visit. Blogs usually post every other Thursday and are archived for your convenience.


    The Names of the LORD – Part Eight of Nine

    Jehovah-Shalom: The-LORD-is-Peace

    So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The-LORD-is-Peace (Jehovah-shalom). Judges 6:24 NKJV

    Peace. It can be hard to grasp when the world seems to spin out of control. Reading the news is more distressing than it is hopeful. Stress, troubles, and difficulties with other people cause an emotional and sometimes physical upheaval. Fear and turmoil often become the norm. When my focus is on problems I feel anything but peace.

    Gideon certainly did not have peace when he is first introduced in the Old Testament book of Judges, chapter six. He threshed wheat in a winepress to hide it from the Midianites who oppressed Israel. Gideon was fearful and discouraged.

    I love how the LORD does not leave Gideon in his fears, but comes to him. In the time they are talking, Gideon questioned why bad things were happening and stated, “The LORD has abandoned us.” Then he gave excuses of why he couldn’t be the one the LORD was sending to deliver Israel. The LORD assured Gideon of His presence. “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

    Gideon’s response grows from fear to bringing an offering. When the Angel of the LORD touched the offering with His staff and fire from the rock consumed the offering, Gideon feared for his life. “Alas, O Lord GOD! For I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face.” The LORD said to him, “Peace be to you: do not fear, you shall not die.”

    So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The-LORD-is-Peace (Jehovah-shalom).

    Gideon’s circumstances did not change, yet he found that The-LORD-is-Peace. The Midianites still were the oppressors of his people, but now Gideon had peace because he was listening to the LORD. In his obedience to do what the LORD instructed him, he tore down his father’s idol, he called 32,000 people to arms against their oppressors, and after dismissing all but 300 of them, he led the remaining small army to victory. Gideon became the sixth judge of Israel, and Israel had forty years rest from their enemies. (Judges 6-8)

    Picture of Gideon from Kidfrugal Free Bible images

    We also can find rest from our enemies and from our own distress if we rely on the LORD. Our circumstances may remain unchanged, but if we turn to the LORD, He will be our peace in the midst of the storm.

    Jesus told His disciples, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV

    Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace by which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1, 2 NIV (emphasis mine here and in Philippians).

    Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV.  Paul wrote to the Philippians while he was Nero’s prisoner in Rome, and yet the apostle is triumphant, writing of joy and peace. 

    Let’s look to God as our source of peace. Let’s share that peace with others. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19 NIV

    Jehovah-shalom, thank you for being the LORD of peace. Help me to not be anxious, but to rest in the peace You provide.

    Top photo by Disha Sheta on

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    Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs. I pray that you will be touched by God in a special way each time you visit. Blogs usually post every other Thursday and are archived for your convenience.


    The Names of the LORD – Part Seven of Nine Jehovah Rapha – The LORD Our Healer

    “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Luke 4:18-19 NKJV

    “You have a mass on your kidney.” My doctor’s news shocked me. I always figured that given my family history that cancer would someday be on my horizon, but kidney cancer wasn’t in my family tree. Three long months later, it was removed during the biopsy surgery with clear margins. The cancer was gone.

    A year later, in 2019, breast surgery removed another spot. The prognosis: “Not cancerous yet, but likely to become so.” The doctors told me to be tested every six months.

    Praise to Jehovah Rapha, The LORD my healer! I have been fine since then. I know that is not the case for everyone with health issues. Why God chose to heal me, I don’t know. When Jesus walked on earth, He healed many physical diseases and raised a few people from the dead, but He didn’t raise or heal everyone. The Apostle Paul pled with God three times for healing, but the LORD told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.)

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    The Lord’s healing involves much more than just the physical body. He heals the brokenhearted. We can turn to Him, knowing that He does understand. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15 NKJV.

    Jesus Christ sets at liberty the captive, which we all have been, for sin oppresses us as it has everyone since the fall of Adam and Eve. The devil would like nothing better than for us to be captive to his evil schemes and the eternal punishment he faces.

    Consider the sin of the Israelites. The LORD repeatedly warned them through the prophets that if they did not obey God, that there would be consequences. He warned of the upcoming captivity they would face for their rebellion against Him. Yet the LORD still had compassion on them. The prophet Jeremiah gave God’s message, “‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God…and you have not obeyed My voice,’ says the LORD.” “Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” Jeremiah 3:12, 13, 22 NKJV.

    Oh, may we take that plea from God to heart! Let’s be quick to repent when we sin. When we turn away from sin and confess our sins to God, He is quick to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

    Sin is not overlooked by God. Jesus died in our place so that we may repent and follow Him, like a sheep following its shepherd. He welcomes us to an intimate friendship with Him.

    Dear Jehovah Rapha, Thank you for the gospel of Christ, the good news that heals me from the captivity of sin. You heal my brokenness physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You love me enough to want me as Your friend.  LORD, when you heal me, may I be thankful for the healing. When you say no, or not yet, may I lean on You, for Your power is perfect in weakness. Thank you for being The LORD my Healer. Amen.

    Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

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    Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs. I hope and pray that you will be touched by God in a special way each time you visit. Blogs usually post every other Thursday. Past devotionals are archived for your convenience.