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Apr 16 18

How to Read the Bible

by J. M. Farro

      “I will not neglect Your word.”  Psalm 119:16 NIV

   Most Christians know that if they want to live the life of victory and purpose that Jesus died for them to have, they have to devote themselves to reading and studying the Bible.  There are many ways to do that, but let me share some here with you, so that if you have been struggling in this area, you might be encouraged and inspired.

   First, as we read the Bible, we should pray.  It has been rightly said that the prayer that heaven answers is the prayer that originates in heaven.  How do we pray the prayers of God’s heart?  We begin with the revealed will of God, as expressed in the holy Scriptures.  The apostle John wrote:  “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.”  I have been a praying Christian all my life.  But not until I began studying the Scriptures did I experience the power of praying God’s Word.

   Too often, believers pray problem-centered prayers.  Then they wonder why their prayer life is “hit or miss.”  But when they learn the principle of praying promise-centered prayers, they experience the power that Holy-Spirit-inspired prayer produces.  Suppose you have a financial need today.  You open your Bible and ask the Lord to lead you to principles and promises that will help you to receive His best in the matter.  You then pray and stand on those Scriptures until your need is met.  If your wait is long, or if your faith falters, you remind the Lord and yourself what His Word says.  Isaiah 62:6 (AMP) says:  “Put the Lord in remembrance of His promises.”  Be determined to do that in prayer until your answer comes – and watch the Lord work!

   Second, as we spend time in the Scriptures, we should worship God.  Over the years, I have heard many men and women of God say that the best way to learn to worship the Lord is by praying the Psalms.  This is how I learned to worship God myself.  No matter how busy I am, I try to read at least one psalm a day.  I declare the praises to God that it contains, and I pray the prayers back to Him.  I have discovered that doing this can enable me to release my burdens and cares, and to receive healing for my mind, my emotions, and my body.  The truth is that worshiping God is good for us.  We don’t do it for selfish reasons, but it is the Lord’s nature to bless us when we bless Him.  He can’t help Himself.

   In Psalm 103 (NLT), David declares:  “Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name.” (v. 1)  David calls upon his whole being to join his lips in worshiping God.  Then he moves on to reminding himself and the Lord of all of His blessings toward His servants:  “May I never forget the good things He does for me.  He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.  He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.  He fills my life with good things.  My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” (v. 2-5)  As we voice God’s Word in praise and thanksgiving, we call forth the rewards and blessings that He longs to have us receive by faith.

   Third, as we read the Bible, we should listen for the Lord’s answers.  The psalmist declared:  “I will listen [with expectancy] to what God the Lord will say.” (Psalm 85:8 AMP)  When we approach the Lord with an open Bible, prepared to listen and obey, He will speak to our hearts.  Proverbs says:  “My child, pay attention to what I say.  Listen carefully to my words.  Don’t lose sight of them.  Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.” (Proverbs 4:20-22 NLT)  As we spend time in God’s Word – reading it, studying it, and meditating upon it – we will receive instruction from the Lord that will lead to victory and wholeness for every area of our lives.

   But there’s more.  Scripture says:  “Blessed is the man You discipline, O Lord, the man You teach from your law; You grant him relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked.” (Psalm 94:12-13 NIV)  If we will allow God to use His Word to instruct and correct us, there’s a good chance that He won’t have to use painful circumstances or other people to do it, and we will save ourselves a lot grief and humiliation.  God longs for us to come to Him with an open Bible and an open heart.  Let’s not keep Him waiting.

   Lord, give me a passion for You and Your Word that will cause me to seek You each day in the Scriptures.  Teach me how to use Your Word to pray and to worship You in ways that please You most.  Thank You that as I spend more and more time in Your Word, I will become more and more sensitive and obedient to Your voice!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

    *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, click here!

   *Check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

Apr 9 18

Keep Yourself from Being Polluted

by J. M. Farro

   “If the godly compromise with the wicked, it is like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.”  Proverb 25:26 NLT

   My husband, Joe, and I used to have an African Violet plant in our home that refused to bloom.  We would give it the proper sunlight, and would water it according to the directions, but we still couldn’t get it to bloom for us.  Then one day, I decided to stop giving it tap water, and to give it filtered drinking water instead.  Suddenly, beautiful purple flowers began springing up, and Joe and I were amazed and delighted.

   While thinking about this plant during my prayer time one morning, the Lord led me to Proverbs 25:26 (NLT), which says, “If the godly compromise with the wicked, it is like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.”  He began teaching me about the importance of “water quality” in the life of a believer.  And He told me that when we yield to wickedness, instead of opposing or reproving it, we become polluted, and we lose the opportunity to make a difference for Christ.

   The apostle James talks about this when he says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this…to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27 NIV)  If we are sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading, it is entirely possible for us to keep ourselves from becoming polluted.  The Spirit of God will let us know when we are about to watch or look at something that has the potential to pollute us.  He will warn us when we are about to say something that we will regret later on.  And He will guide us in establishing boundaries in our lives and our relationships that will protect us from oppression, burnout, and abuse.

   As followers of Christ, you and I have a high calling on our lives. (Philippians 3:14)  And if we want to fulfill our God-given destiny, we are going to have to say “no” to a lot of the things that the world is saying “yes” to.  The Message Bible beautifully records the Lord’s pleas to us in this area when it says:  “‘So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,’ says God.  ‘Don’t link up with those who will pollute you.  I want you all for Myself.’” (2 Corinthians 6:17 MSG)

   Lord, I regret the times that I allowed myself to be polluted by people and things that were not Your best for me.  Make me sensitive and obedient to Your Spirit’s leading in all things, so that I can discern the good from the bad, and always choose the good.  Show me how to establish godly boundaries, and enable me to enforce them consistently with Your help.  Thank You that as I refuse to compromise with wickedness and worldliness, I will reach my full potential in Christ, and I will become a world-changer for Your glory!

    *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

    *Join the J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, click here!

   *Check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

Apr 2 18

By the Obedience of One

by J. M. Farro

   “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”  Romans 5:15 KJV

   This verse, written by the Apostle Paul, has special meaning for me.  I can still remember the day the Lord showed it to me in a fresh new way.  I was feeling very discouraged over the lack of faith of several of my loved ones, and I was pouring my heart out to the Lord, lamenting over my powerlessness to make a difference.  He led me to this Scripture, and it fairly leapt off the page into my heart.  It became God’s special promise to me that if I would just concentrate on devoting myself to Him, and focusing on my own behavior, He would honor and reward my obedience by using me to impact my loved ones and draw them to Him.

   Proverbs 10:17 (NIV) says:  “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.”  The devil will try to convince us that it doesn’t matter how we live, but the Bible says otherwise.  Each day, by our actions, we choose to influence others in a positive or negative way.  The Amplified Bible puts it this way:  “He who heeds instruction and correction is [not only himself] in the way of life [but also] is a way of life for others.  And he who neglects or refuses reproof [not only himself] goes astray [but also] causes to err and is a path toward ruin for others.” (Proverbs 10:17 AMP)  Just as we can do others a lot of good by living disciplined lives wholly devoted to the Lord, we can also do them a lot of harm by living “sloppy” lives.

   When you say this to some Christians, they bristle because they simply don’t want to be held accountable to that extent.  But whether they like it or not, God sees them as role models, and they will answer to Him for their selfishness and lack of concern for their fellow man.  Instead of seeing this responsibility as a burden, believers should rejoice that they have God-given power to make a real difference in this world for His glory.  Job 22:30 (NIV) says: “He will deliver even one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”  We don’t have to be perfect to have the “clean hands” that Scripture refers to here.  We just need to have a heart that is bent toward God’s will – a heart that wants above all else to please Him.  Then the Lord will save even those who are “not innocent,” simply because of our devotion to Him.

   James 5:16 (NLT) says:  “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.”  It’s easy for us to doubt the truth of this verse when we have prayed and stood in faith for someone’s salvation and deliverance, and have seen little to encourage us.  But God doesn’t want us to depend on what we discern through our five senses.  He wants us to go deeper than that, and to firmly believe and hope in His Word.  If you have trusted Christ as your Lord and Savior, your prayers have immeasurable power.  Satan wants you to doubt that, though, because if you don’t, you will persevere in prayer and eventually see the evidence of your prayer power.

   One of the main reasons why we don’t see a greater move of the Spirit of God in the lives of others is because most Christians lose heart and give up before they see the answers to their prayers and the fulfillment of God’s promises.  I have a relative who I have prayed for and ministered to for years, and who has persisted in unbelief and bitterness toward God and others.  Recently, I got so disgusted that I decided I would continue to pray for her, but to do no more than that.  I was astonished when shortly afterwards, she began telling me about all the wonderful Biblical teaching she was listening to and being blessed by.  These radical changes in my loved one seemed to come “out of the blue.”  But the truth is that they were a direct result of the multitude of prayers I said for her, and my determination to set a Christlike example for her.

   If there are some loved ones in your life who you long to see saved and delivered, please know that “by the obedience of one,” many can be “made righteous.”  You can make a difference in your family, your school, and your workplace.  If you will just concentrate on serving the Lord with all your heart, and glorifying Him with your daily life, He will honor your obedience by using you in mighty ways to lead multitudes to Him!

   Lord, I thank You for giving me the privilege and the power to touch and change lives for Your glory.  Today, I renew my commitment to love and serve You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30-31)  Thank You for using me in new and exciting ways for Your glory as I walk in obedience to You!

   *For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, click here!

   *Check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro page by clicking here!

   *Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Mar 19 18

Gratitude vs. Greed

by J. M. Farro

   “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.  This too is meaningless.”  Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV

   My husband, Joe, has been in the workforce for 50 years, and he is seriously considering retiring in the near future.  Now, more than ever, he is surrounded by coworkers who are constantly expressing their fears about not having enough money for their retirement.  The interesting thing about this is that many of these people already have more money than they could ever spend in one lifetime.  Some of them are collecting multiple pensions, and have a surplus of savings in their bank accounts, in addition to their present ample income.

   Whenever Joe talks about these fearful folks, it’s plain to see that my husband simply cannot fathom their rationale.  In my case, I “get it,” because I always think of the above-mentioned Scripture saying, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.”  The truth is, I pity these people who will never be “satisfied.”  The more they accumulate, the more they will crave, simply because they “love money.”  And they will never be happy, because we were designed by God to find contentment, fulfillment, and satisfaction in Him and Him alone.

   A few verses down in this passage of Scripture, it says, “We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born.  We can’t take our riches with us.” (Ecclesiastes 5:15 NLT)  If we live our lives keeping this truth in mind when we are tempted to envy others, or to strive for more than God knows is best for us, we will be able to maintain the proper perspective and priorities.  And our hearts will be filled will gratitude, instead of greed.

   The Bible says that we should always be “overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7 NIV)  How thankful are you today?

   Lord, forgive me for the times when I have envied others for having more than I do.  Remind me often that when I give You Your rightful place in my life, You will supply all that I need, and I will never suffer lack. (Matthew 6:33; Psalm 34:9)  Thank You that as I refuse to love money, and wholly love You, You will give me the ability to enjoy – and be satisfied with – my income and my possessions! (Ecclesiastes 5:19)

   *Check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store EASTER SALE! All books are 25% off for a limited time at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro Page here: https://www.amazon.com/J.-M.-Farro/e/B001K8M7ZW

   *Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

*Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Mar 12 18

God Sees Your Future

by J. M. Farro

   “I am God, and there is none like Me.  Only I can tell you the future before it even happens.”  Isaiah 46:9-10 NLT

   A lady that I know asked me for advice concerning a major decision that she needed to make.  I have ministered to her many times over the years, but I wasn’t sure that I was making any lasting impression on her.  So when she told me that she was praying and asking the Lord for His guidance, I knew that the seeds that I had planted over the years had taken root.

   This woman had been in business for herself for 30 years.  She was currently renting her place of business, and she just got word from her landlord that she had to vacate the premises within the next two months.  Should she look for another place to rent?  Or should she go to work for someone else?  I understood her quandary, because her decision was going to affect her, her husband, and her children for years to come.

   I told this lady that if she wanted God’s best for her life, then she needed to tell Him that.  I explained to her that while the Lord can see “the end from the beginning,” we can’t. (Isaiah 46:10 NASB)  Compared to God, we are very shortsighted.  I like to say that while God sees the big picture in every situation, we can only see a snapshot.  As we spoke, I could tell that this woman was terrified that she would make a mistake that she would regret for the rest of her life.

   We can’t make decisions for other people, but we can point them in the right direction.  We can tell them that God created them with very unique and specific plans and purposes in mind, and that He will keep them on course as they seek His will for all of their decisions and circumstances. 

   When I have a decision to make, I always think of God’s declaration in Isaiah 46:9-10 (NLT):  “I am God, and there is none like Me.  Only I can tell you the future before it even happens.”  My husband, Joe, and I have been together for almost 45 years, and I know that he loves me dearly.  But he can’t see the future, so while I often ask him for his input when I have a choice to make, I still go to God first, and I allow the Lord to have the final say.

   The Amplified translation of this verse says that God declares “the end and the RESULT from the beginning.”  There are consequences attached to every decision that you and I make.  If we want the consequences to be positive, rather than negative, then we must consult the Lord – and follow His lead – in order to avoid getting the kind of results that we are going to regret later on.  Do you want God’s best for your life badly enough to consult Him in everything, and to submit to His will?

   Lord, I am so grateful that You created me with specific and unique plans and purposes in mind.  Work in my heart so that my first instinct will be to turn to You for wisdom and direction whenever I have a decision to make, whether large or small.  Remind me that only You can see the future, so while others may have sound advice and good intentions for my life, they are woefully shortsighted compared to You.  Thank You that as I consult You in everything, and seek to do Your will, I will reap the results that bring me the greatest rewards!

   *Check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store EASTER SALE! All books are 25% off for a limited time at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro Page here: https://www.amazon.com/J.-M.-Farro/e/B001K8M7ZW

   *Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

Mar 5 18

Wrestling for the Blessing

by J. M. Farro

   “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”  Genesis 32:26 NKJV

   Perhaps you’ve read the famous account in Genesis 32 of Jacob wrestling with God.  Jacob was in a tight spot.  Years after cheating his older brother out of the family blessing, Jacob was going to be face-to-face with him again.  He feared for his life, and for the lives of his loved ones, and he turned to the Lord for protection and help.  Before the famous wrestling match is over, Jacob boldly declares to the Lord, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” (Genesis 32:26 NKJV)  God not only causes His servant’s meeting with his brother to go well for him, but He changes his name from Jacob – which means “deceiver” – to Israel, which translates as “he struggles with God.”

   I have read this intriguing account many times, but this time, the Lord opened it up to me in a fresh new way.  I began thinking about how God blessed and favored Jacob throughout his lifetime, even though he had many weaknesses and faults.  And I realized that because of my faith in Christ, the same God who extended grace to Jacob, also extends it to me.  I know that I don’t do everything right, and I know that I never will.  But I choose to put my faith in God’s goodness and mercy, and the fact that He is just looking for an excuse to bless me.  And my faith is the avenue for Him to do that.  I suddenly thought about three different ways that I could express my faith through “wrestling.”

   First, I refuse to stop praying.  Even when we are praying the exact will of God, we can meet with some resistance in the spiritual realm because of the devil and his activities.  That’s why our persistence in prayer is so vital.  Jesus said:  “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8 NLT)  This speaks of desperate prayer, the kind of prayer that doesn’t give up until it gets an answer.  The apostle Paul specifically mentions “wrestling in prayer” in Colossians 4:12 (NIV).  You and I can see God move mountains when we commit ourselves to doing this kind of praying.

   Second, I’m not going to stop hoping in God’s earnest desire to bless me.  Scripture says:  “[The Lord’s] joy is in those who reverence Him, those who expect Him to be loving and kind.” (Psalm 147:11 TLB)  This kind of hope springs from the belief that our God is a good God, and that He’s constantly looking for ways to bless us.  It’s a belief that should not come and go with the ups and downs of life, but should always remain rock steady.  In one of David’s darkest hours, he wrote – “I am still confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13 NIV)  No matter what he was going through, David never lost hope in God’s goodness, and neither should we.

   Third, I will not stop expecting to see God’s glory.  Jesus said:  “Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40 AMP)  Every time we’re in a tense situation, we should ask ourselves, “What am I expecting in all this?”  How we answer that question could have a heavy bearing on our outcome.  We must assume that God wants to reveal His glory in our lives and circumstances, and that He is willing to intervene on our behalf as we expect His intervention.  Are you wrestling in faith for the blessing that you need today?

   Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve missed out on Your blessings because of my lack of faith.  Guard me from the spiritual laziness and apathy that have the potential to rob me of the good plans You have for my life.  Thank You that as I demonstrate my faith with persistence and determination, I will be richly rewarded, and You will be glorified!

   *For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, including her new book for Couples, click here!

   *Check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro Page here: https://www.amazon.com/J.-M.-Farro/e/B001K8M7ZW

   *Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Feb 26 18

God’s Blessing-Bearing Word

by J. M. Farro

   “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.  He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”  Psalm 126:5-6 NIV

   The last time I was going through a period of adversity and heartache, the Lord led me to the above verses in Scripture.  As I asked Him to show me how they applied to my life, He revealed to me that if I would pray and stand on His promises of deliverance and victory, instead of giving in to doubt and despair, He would honor my faith by causing those promises to produce a harvest of blessings for me.

   In the Parable of the Sower in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells His disciples, “The seed is the Word of God.” (Luke 8:11)  He goes on to say, “The seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the Word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast and bear fruit with perseverance.”  (Luke 8:15 NASB)  As the Lord reminded me of these truths, I asked Him to give me some promises from His Word that I could hang on to during my times of trial.

   Isaiah 55:10-11 (NASB) talks about the supernatural fruit-bearing power of God’s Word:  “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My Word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”  When we pray and stand on God’s promises in a situation, God will always do something on our behalf, because He has promised that His Word “ALWAYS produces fruit.” (Isaiah 55:11 NLT)  He will never fail to honor our faith in His Word somehow.

   I have been through countless trials and troubles over the years, and I have prayed through every one.  But I have never seen God work wonders on my behalf like the times I have prayed His precious promises back to Him in faith.  And why is this so pleasing to our God?  Because not only will we be abundantly blessed as a result, but He will be greatly glorified.  As the last verse in this passage from Isaiah declares:  “This miracle will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; it will be an everlasting sign of His power and love.” (Isaiah 55:13 NLT)

   Jesus said that we would experience trials and tribulations while we are in this world (John 16:33), so we will definitely have to endure some hard times while we are here.  But we don’t have to go through them empty-handed.  We can hold fast to God’s blessing-bearing Word the whole time, knowing that when we come out of our trials, we will have a harvest of joy and victory to show for it.  As the Message Bible so beautifully puts it – “Those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest; those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing!”  (Psalm 126:5-6 MSG)

  Lord, teach me how to study, memorize, and meditate on Your Word, so that I can carry it in my heart through times of trouble and testing.  Show me what promises of Yours I should pray and stand on for my victory.  Thank You that because Your Word will “always produce fruit,” my harvest of abundant blessings is guaranteed!

   *For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, including her new book for Couples, click here!

   *Check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro Page here: https://www.amazon.com/J.-M.-Farro/e/B001K8M7ZW

   *Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Feb 19 18

Blessed or Offended?

by J. M. Farro

   “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”  Luke 7:23 NASB

   I was speaking with a young woman I know when I discovered pretty quickly that she was offended at God and His dealings with her.  She shared with me how she had tried praying, but when her prayers went unanswered, she became disappointed and bitter.  I have met a lot of people like her over the years, and it saddens me that they are going to miss out on the joys of heaven simply because they are offended at God.

   Jesus said, “Blessed (happy – with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, apart from outward conditions – and to be envied) is he who takes no offense in Me and who is not hurt or resentful or annoyed or repelled or made to stumble [whatever may occur].” (Luke 7:23 AMP)  This verse describes this young woman perfectly.  Because the Lord didn’t meet her expectations, she has become resentful and annoyed with Him to the point that she is forfeiting “God’s favor and salvation.”

   Think about this:  Jesus says here that “apart from outward conditions,” His favor and salvation can be ours.  So, it may look to the outside world – and even to us, sometimes – that we are not being “blessed” by God, when in reality, we really are.  Those prayers that we pray that go answered can be the Lord’s greatest gifts to us sometimes, even when they don’t appear that way to us or to others.

   Some Christians today have received God’s gift of salvation, but they are living without “God’s favor.”  Why?  Because they are offended at God.  They have allowed themselves to become resentful toward the Lord because He hasn’t fulfilled their expectations.  And they do not have the “life-joy” that this verse talks about, because you can’t be resentful and joyful at the same time.

   Jesus says that those who refuse to be offended toward Him – “whatever may occur” – are “to be envied,” because they will be “blessed” beyond measure in the long run.  You cannot be blessed by God and offended at Him at the same time.  Which will you choose?

   Lord, I want to live my life blessed, and not offended.  Work in my heart so that when trouble comes, I will keep in mind that You are never the problem – You are always the answer.  Remind me often that when you don’t answer my prayers the way I would like You to, it’s always because You have something even better in mind for me.  Today, I choose to be joyful, instead of resentful!

   *For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, including her new books for Couples and Singles, click here!

   *Check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Visit Amazon’s J. M. Farro Page here: https://www.amazon.com/J.-M.-Farro/e/B001K8M7ZW

   *Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Feb 12 18

Be Determined to Do His Will

by J. M. Farro

   “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.  Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do His will.  And I know that I will not be put to shame.  He who gives me justice is near.”  Isaiah 50:7-8 NLT

   When I surrendered my life to the Lord for real 25+ years ago, a lot of people around me were not happy about it.  Conflict immediately began arising in my household, and I was constantly assaulted by hurtful words and actions, even by some of my closest loved ones.  As I spent time alone with God, and earnestly sought Him through His Spirit and His Word, He continually comforted me and strengthened me.

   One of the promises the Lord gave me that meant the most to me back then was Isaiah 50:7-8 (NLT): “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.  Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do His will.  And I know that I will not be put to shame.  He who gives me justice is near.”  And God graciously kept His promise to me.  Over the years, He has either transformed people’s hearts and made them His devoted ones, or He has strengthened and consoled me so thoroughly, that it no longer pains me when others oppose my faith.

   But here’s the key:  We must rely totally upon God for His wisdom and power, and we must be “determined to do His will,” no matter how fierce the opposition.  When the Lord – and other people – see that we are serious about our devotion to Him, God Himself will be our Vindicator, and He will equip us to refuse and resist the shame and disgrace that the devil and his minions try to attach to us.

   If you are in the same painful place that I was in years ago, I urge you to take these words to heart.  Never forget that you are not alone.  Remember that “He who gives [you] justice is near.”  Be bold.  Be confident.  And watch the Lord go to work on your behalf!

   Lord, I thank You for saving me, and for adopting me into Your family.  When I encounter conflict and criticism because of my faith, strengthen me and console me so that I can stand firm in my devotion to You.  Guard me from shame and disgrace, and grant me the justice You promise in Your Word.  Thank You that as I remain determined to do Your will, You will anoint and equip me to be a world-changer for Christ!

   *For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, including her new book for Couples, click here!

   *Check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com

Feb 5 18

The Ministry of Heartbreak

by J. M. Farro

   “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV

   I recently read a quote that said that our most effective ministry will come out of our deepest hurts.  I can attest to that.  Because I suffered the pain of rejection and a broken heart at the tender age of 20, I have been able to minister to people who have experienced the indescribable suffering of a relationship gone wrong.

   Every time someone tells me about their heartbreak over the loss of a cherished relationship, I feel the pain in my own heart as if it happened only yesterday.  This positions me to minister to them in loving and effective ways, and to pray for them with a fervency springing from an “I know how you feel” mentality.

   Because I don’t know what it’s like NOT to have experienced a true broken heart, it amazes me how clueless some people are about this sort of thing.  They will talk about a friend who is having trouble loving and trusting people after a broken-heart experience, and they will be totally perplexed over their friend’s odd behavior.  Basically, they just don’t “get it.”  As a result, they’re often not much help to their hurting friends.

   I would never have asked to be hurt in such a devastating way those many years ago, but I am deeply grateful for what that experience taught me.  It showed me how to relate on a deeper level with people who have put their heart and soul into a relationship, only to be rejected and mistreated by those with whom they believed they had a bright future.  Just as the apostle Paul’s words state in the verses above, because of my own painful experience, I am able to give comfort to other hurting people, out of the abundant supply of comfort that the Lord has given me.

   If you have suffered hurt and heartbreak, my heart goes out to you.  Let me encourage you by saying that God will not allow your pain to be wasted, if you will offer it up to Him, and ask Him to use you as His instrument of healing and restoration.  May the comfort of Christ continually overflow in your life as you share His comfort with others!

   Lord, only You know the depth of my hurt and heartbreak.  I ask that You comfort and heal me on the basis of Your Word.  I offer up to You all of my pain and suffering, and I ask that You use me to minister to others who are hurting, and to draw them to You.  Thank You for making me a powerful instrument of healing and restoration for Your glory!

   *For information on how to purchase J. M. Farro books, including her new book for Couples, click here!

   *Check out the J. M. Farro ETSY Store at www.etsy.com/shop/JMFarro

   *Join the new J. M. Farro Devotionals group on Facebook, and connect with J. M. Farro — with all-new mini devotionals in addition to the standard weekly devotionals. You can access this group by clicking here!

   *Comments or Prayer Requests?  Please email Joanne (J. M.) Farro at jmf@jmfarro.com