Sunday, November 24, 2019

Blessings in Disguise

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness James 1:2-3 ESV.
When considering our blessings, a list seems easy when we can count good health, financial security, pleasures, and even people we love. But, should we add such things as pain, failures, and stress?
Is pain a blessing? Imagine being pain free. We’d have no twinges or sharp sensations signaling something is wrong and needs attention. Our nerves are made to send danger messages to the brain, so we can process and address the source. Without such indications, we could become incapacitated or die.
What about failures? All of us have them, but our response makes the difference in how we count them. Someone told Thomas Edison he was wasting his time trying to create the light bulb, because he had failed over a thousand times. He said they weren’t failures, but just unsuccessful ways to finding one that would work. Failures can be stepping-stones to successes.
Being thankful for stress seems counterintuitive, but studies show some benefits. The University of Buffalo surveyed 2400 people for four years. Those who reported more adversity and difficulties had better mental health and well-being than those who had less. And stress in nature can be positive:
·       Without struggling to shed its cocoon, the caterpillar would not become a butterfly.
·       Without pressure and heat, a piece of coal would not become a diamond.
·       Without an irritating grain of sand, the oyster would not produce the pearl.

Pain, failures and stress are never part of life’s pleasurable experiences, but they have purpose. We should list them with gratitude, counting them as God’s blessings in disguise.
“. . . give thanks in all circumstances” 1 Thessalonians 5:18b

Friday, November 15, 2019

Thanksgiving "Squashed"

November means jacket weather, pansy planting, harvest moons and Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, this holiday seems lost in the shuffle--squashed between trick-or-treat time and Christmas. Among row upon row of Halloween costumes and Christmas decorations at stores, a person might find a couple of paper turkeys, a few packages of napkins and maybe a plastic cornucopia for Thanksgiving.

Artificial Christmas trees seem to sprout up in store displays earlier each year, just an aisle over from shelves replete with witch hats and plastic jack-o'-lanterns. Even before Halloween is over, Santa and his elves have moved in to stack their wares on kiosks, endcaps and shelves from floor to ceiling. Only the shrink-wrapped turkeys piled high in a store’s freezer section give credence to the November holiday. Thanksgiving is relegated now by most people as a hurried celebration piled high with food, family and dawn-to-midnight football.

While it's true that every day should be one of thanksgiving, the holiday itself is unique. What distinguishes it from all other holidays is the fact that it was not begun in honor of an individual or group or symbol. Thanksgiving began as an attitude toward life. Based on the oldest celebration in our country's history, it's an exemplary event started by the Pilgrims who came to this land in hopes of finding fertile soil for planting seeds of freedom. They suffered hardships and losses, yet on a harvest day in 1622, they shared a modest meal and thanked God for what they had.
That day became an annual observance and continued through the birth of the United States. Several presidents and many state governors proclaimed Thanksgiving days to be celebrated each year.

In 1863 during the midst of one of the most challenging times in our country's history, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Since then the observance has grown from being a day dedicated to harvest time to one of expressing gratitude for all things this free land provides in abundance and opportunity. Yet, sadly, the commercialism of the two holidays before and after has grown to diminish our recognition of its significance.

Thanksgiving is unique, and we should give it greater consideration, rather than squashing it between Halloween and Christmas. And like the leftovers we continue to enjoy from our tables on that day, our gratitude should overflow with glad expressions all year long.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

“Godliness Training at the Sanctification Spa” – Sandra Fischer

. . .train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come 1Timothy 7b-8 ESV.

The apostle Paul wrote Timothy about the importance and superiority of godliness training. Here are ideas for such training at the Holy Spirit’s “Sanctification Spa”:

Warm-up by breathing in each morning as you awake in gratitude to God.

Apply the balm of God’s promises, getting that faithlift, which smooths out any wrinkles of doubt and fear facing you.

Exercise your mind by doing 5 reps of memorizing a scripture 3 times a day.

Walk in step with the Spirit to build up your faith stamina.

Run to God when you need help to strengthen your heart; then, rest in Him for His care and comfort.

Crunch the temptation to sin.

Jog your memory by recalling all the times God has met your needs, then thank Him.

Stretch your spiritual muscles by sharing your faith in Christ with others.

Pull-up to the curb at church each week to join in Christian fellowship.

Sit-up and take notice during sermons and Sunday school lessons to tone flabby faith.

Jump at the chance to share the gospel of Jesus Christ whenever and wherever the opportunity arises.

Bend your knees and heart in prayer often.

Chin-up when trials come by trusting God’s providence.

Workout your salvation daily as God works in you to shape you into Christ’s image.

Training also includes subscribing to a good diet--feeding on the Bread of Life, drinking in the Living Water and being the Salt of the Earth to the world.

LORD, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit as our personal trainer for godliness in Christ.

Sandra is a Faithwriters Platinum member, author of “Seasons in the Garden.” Contact

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Our Spiritual Family Tree - Sandra Fischer

The apostle Paul wrote to disciples, “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. . .be imitators of me” 1 Corinthians 4:15b–16b

Do you have inherited features from someone in your biological family tree? I do. I have my “mother’s eyes”, my “father’s red hair”, and my “grandmother’s pear-shaped physique.” I also have features from what I call my “spiritual family tree.” I have diligence to study God’s Word instilled by a dedicated Sunday school teacher. I possess a hunger for righteousness from passionate pastors who preached God’s truth. I bear a desire to serve others inspired by faithful church servants I know. Overall, as a child of God, I contain the constant guidance, comfort, and discernment of the Holy Spirit at work in me. 

Paul emphasized the importance of nurturing faith in others. He called Timothy his “true child in the faith” 1 Timothy 1:2 ESV. Paul could count innumerable others as part of his faith family—early believers who first read his letters and millions of us who still do. Can you point to people who are similar progenitors of your faith, members of your “spiritual family tree?”

At the top of every believer’s family tree is God, our Father. “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ” Ephesians 1:5a NLT. And Jesus acknowledges our identity with Him, “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother” Mark 3:35 ESV.

Why not draw up a spiritual family tree of those who fostered your faith in Christ? If it includes people still living, tell them what they mean as your spiritual forbearers.

“Lord, thank you for adopting me and blessing me with a spiritual family.” 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Me, Myself and the ‘Other Guy 
   by Sandra Fischer

“Lord, what about him?” (John 21:21b NIV)

Ever find yourself concerned about what someone else has or is getting in life compared with you? You may be teetering on the sin of covetousness. Many of us are familiar with the “greener grass” temptation to view the “other side of the fence”, comparing our lives with others. 

Peter did it. In John chapter 21, Christ restores Peter three times by appointing him to care for the “sheep”, His followers. Jesus indicates the kind of death Peter would experience, ending with an emphatic, “Follow me!” Instead of focusing on Jesus’ command, Peter turns to look at John and asks, “Lord, what about him?” He’s concerned with what Jesus had in mind for the “other guy.” Jesus said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22 NIV).

God has a plan and purpose for each of us—to focus on Him, to follow where He leads us and to not be distracted. When we begin to wonder about the “other guy” and what God has in mind for him or her, we need to heed the voice of Jesus saying, “What is that to you? You must follow me.” From Peter’s example we can see he did refocus and follow Jesus. He trusted his life and death to Christ, faithfully serving and glorifying Him. We can do no less. Our Shepherd calls each of us as individuals. “. . .he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3b NIV.) Let’s focus on our own path, following Him.

“Father, help me keep my eyes on You and Your path for me.”

Sandra is a Faithwriters Platinum member, author of “Seasons in the Garden.” Contact

Monday, July 22, 2019

Great Expectations by Sandra Fischer

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. (Mark 10:38) NIV

Has anyone ever asked something of you with preconceived expectations and hidden motives?

According to Mark’s gospel, James and John did exactly that when they told Jesus: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask” (Mark 10:35b NIV) Such audacity might elicit a sharp rebuttal by almost anyone—except Jesus, who simply asked what they wanted. Their answer revealed hidden, selfish motives. They wanted Jesus to grant them positions of honor, to sit at His right and left in His glory

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. (v.38) He explained that to follow His course would mean a way of suffering and death for them. He added, “to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant” (v.40) Perhaps their recent experience of being part of Jesus’ inner circle at the Transfiguration prompted them to presume upon Jesus.

I wonder if we presume upon God sometimes when we pray. Do we have great expectations for Him to “do for us whatever we ask”? And, like James and John, do we fail to reckon what granting our prayers might require of us?

We do know throughout scripture that we can ask anything in prayer, but we should not presume upon God with wrong motives. Interestingly, James writes, “you do not receive {answers to prayers}, because you ask with wrong motives” (James 4:3a NIV) And Paul exhorts us to “call on the LORD out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22 NIV)

Jesus taught us to pray to the Father for His will to be done. He will meet that expectation every time.

“Father, help us in our petitions to want Your will above all else.”

Sandra is a Faithwriters Platinum member, author of “Seasons in the Garden.” Contact

Saturday, March 16, 2019

“Sharing Cookies” - Sandra Fischer

“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. . .” (Hebrews 13:16 NLT)

Years ago, the mother of a college dorm-mate of mine sent packages of special cookies to her, instructing her to share them. They were delicious treasures and, occasionally, she would share them, if we begged her. Most of the time, she hid them, saving them for herself.

I heard a sermon recently exhorting us to share Christ by proclaiming the gospel. I thought about those cookies our friend was reluctant to share and how much we wanted them. The connection? We are not to keep what we possess in Christ hidden away for ourselves, but we are to make known the heavenly riches with which we are blessed. God, like the “cookie maker”, commands us to share the message of salvation with lost beggars, unlike the “cookie hoarder”, who hid the treasures for herself.

Paul said it this way: “‘Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’ But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?’” (Romans 10:13-14 NLT)

Our world is full of people hungering for truth, for grace, for nourishment to feed their souls. We need to reach out to them and share the glorious treasure we have. “. . . if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15 NLT) Sharing cookies is good for temporary gratification, but sharing the gospel offers eternal fulfillment. 

“Father, fill us to overflowing with the treasure in Christ you have given us.” 

Sandra is a Faithwriters Platinum member, author of “Seasons in the Garden.” Contact