ALABASTER JARS

Life in Abundance


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Seek Ways to Share

For the poor will never cease to be in the land: therefore I command you, saying, “You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:11

The holiday season is all about giving. We love to give to strangers, loved ones, and organizations, but how easy it is to become embittered when gift recipients imply that the gifts were owed or somehow due. One morning, as I read through Deuteronomy, I was mentally discussing a family need with the Lord. The need pertained to an extended family member, and I knew that my gift of time was expected and that no gratitude would be given. I had just concluded my rhetoric with God by deciding that the task was not a good fit for me, when I stumbled upon Deuteronomy 15:11.

I was awestruck. Why would the Promised Land always have the poor? Surely God could have managed the abundance in the land to accommodate everyone’s needs. I then realized that God always provides a way for us to express our thanksgiving to Him. We need opportunities to share our time, money, and talents with others so that we receive a blessing. It is not for us to worry about rather recipients expect gifts or if they are genuinely appreciative. The adage it is better to give than to receive is certainly true. Giving help us to have hearts overflowing with gratitude towards God for the gifts that he so freely bestows upon us. How great and mighty is our loving Savior! He has a mechanism in place to keep us from becoming ungrateful. I encourage you to seek ways to share God’s blessings with others. I know that you truly will be blessed!

by Tonya Mechling


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The Camaraderie of a Team

Now these are the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who gave him strong support…according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel. 1 Chronicles 11:10

The Camaraderie of a Team

The mighty men had an impressive repertoire of skills. They were a fierce and powerful lot with a reputation for getting the job done. First Chronicles eleven presents beguiling tales of bravery and massive force. What support these men provided for David! God knew that David was going to go through some rough years and He surrounded him with a team.

Although I do not play team sports, I too have team camaraderie. God has blessed me with wonderful friends. I think back to the difficult times in my life. Every single occasion includes an encouraging friend. These friends provided meaningful support when I needed it the most. I hope that I have offered them the same support.

The friendships we develop here on earth are significant. God wants us to have rapport with others. As believers, we are on His team. Instead of swords and arrows, we wield love and encouragement. Take stock of your team today and share Jesus with your comrades.

By: Tonya Mechling


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Bottled Tears

You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? Psalm 56:8

Bottled Tears

It had been a long toiling week. We had finally finished packing the last of my grandparents’ belongings. I took a few moments to catch my breath. My eyes lingered as I walked through each empty room. I had so many memories. Grandma had passed away a few months prior, and Grandpa was living in an assisted living facility. It was hard to be in the house without them. I found myself walking towards the old piano in the parlor. I had spent many hours playing and singing hymns with my Grandma. With memories pouring in, I solemnly sat at the dusty piano and began playing the familiar hymns. Tears began to stream down my face. I poured my heart out to God.  I remembered my grandmother’s life. I cherished our memories. A floodgate of tears and emotions swept through me.

We each have moments in life when we surrender all and cry out to God. Psalm 56:8 speaks to such occasions. When I read the words of David I am comforted. Jesus truly is aware of the hardships we experience here on earth. He has captured every tear and every sorrow with His outstretched arms. There is nothing too great or too small for His notice. When heartaches and unquenchable sorrows fill your soul, envision Jesus carefully gathering your tears and putting them in His bottle.

By: Tonya Mechling


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Part of the Puzzle

I woke up this morning to an email from Joe, my childhood friend. Every now and then, I get a note from him that’s timely and inspiring. This one, he says, is from Max Lucado’s writings.

Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries . . . When we mix, mingle, confess, and pray, Christ speaks.

The adhesiveness of the disciples instructs us. They stuck together. Even with ransacked hopes, they clustered in conversant community.They kept “going over all these things that had happened” (Luke 24:14 MSG). Isn’t this a picture of the church—sharing notes, exchanging ideas, mulling over possibilities, lifting spirits? And as they did, Jesus showed up to teach them, proving “when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there” (Matt. 18:20)


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Life in the Fast Lane

“As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness: I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.” Psalm 17:15

We all do it from time to time. Intentions become mislaid and life gets busy with stuff. As I write, I pause to reflect upon my use of each day. I have mentally conjured up a t-chart. One side reads FOR ME, and the other side reads FOR GOD. Since I am not working right now, one would surely expect to see God’s side brimming with activity. Worship, church activities, and the occasional helping of others all made the list; sadly, though, they use a small space on the t-chart. The other side, however, is overflowing with selfish endeavors.

As I read David’s prayer in Psalm 17, I was drawn into God’s presence. While fleeing from Saul, David went through many ordeals. The perils around him forced him to live minute by minute. Despite all of the danger and strife, he was able to keep his focus on God during this time.

I want to lift up the same prayer as David. My life will still be inundated with stuff, but I want everything that I do, say, and breathe to be about becoming like Him. Moment by moment, I want to reflect Jesus in all that I do.

By: Tonya Mechling


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Turning Fear Into Faith

by Teri Dorrell (excerpt reposted from here)

Proverbs 3:5–6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Another one is Psalm 118:8: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Trust is a daily part of our lives. We trust that our alarm clocks will go off. We trust that we will have a hot shower each morning. We trust that our chairs will hold us when we sit down. We trust that the gallon of milk will be good. We trust that the bank will keep our money. There are so many things we don’t even think about that we put our trust in daily. None of those things love us or even care about us, but we trust them.

How much greater is our Heavenly Father who loves us, and gave His life for us, and promises to take care of all our needs. I don’t know how many nights or perhaps months that I let my fear of something being under my bed control me. Even though we can all laugh at that now, it was real to me as a little girl. I can still remember the night I decided I had had enough. I was just going to force myself to trust in the Lord and slowly walk to my bed, get in, turn off the light, and just go to bed. I was going to have more faith than fear. I would like to tell you all the fears just instantly went away, but they did not. It took many nights of faith before I could just go to bed.

I wouldn’t be honest if I said, “I no longer have any fears.” They often sneak in, and the Lord patiently reminds me that He loves me and will take care of the fears if I will simply obey Him and have more faith than fear. I don’t know what fears you may be dealing with, but remember He is faithful and true, and what He has promised that will He do.


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It’s Not About the Roar

by Fylvia Fowler Kline

I just learned something new about lions. I always thought that lions roar—like dogs bark—to scare or intimidate. Wrong.

Lions rarely roar. The only time they do is when they mark their territory, when they say to their competitors, “Stay away. This is my turf.” The rest of the time, these fierce animals are stealthily quiet. When you really think about it, it makes sense. A roar would only send the gazelle sprinting off at lightening speed!

The Bible compares Satan to a roaring lion. If that simply meant “When you hear a roar, watch out and get out of there quickly,” it would be easy to safeguarded from Satan’s snare. But that’s not how it works. You see, Satan has already roared a mighty AARGH and staked this earth as his territory. Now, he just lays around, sneaky and quiet, ready to pounce— when we least expect it, when we are weak or when we are preoccupied.

Even Jesus found himself a foot away from Satan’s trap. When physically weak and emotionally fragile, Satan tried to lure him. “And Jesus’ refusal was curt: ‘Beat it, Satan!’” (John 4:10, The Message)


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Like is a Relay

Take any portion of the Bible and you see a people chain—One person connected to another person to another, one person passing on the torch to another, one person picking up where the other left off—Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, David and Solomon, John and Jesus, Paul and Titus.

God depends on this human connectivity. Jesus’ life on earth also emphasized the need for this relay. His first step in His ministry was to link what he was going to do with what John his cousin had already done. “He picked up where John left off. ‘Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.’”(Matthew 4: 17, The Message)

The very Son of God chose to begin His ministry with the words of his very human predecessor. He was God. He could have started with a big bang of His own. He could have created a unique solo performance. But instead, he stayed connected with the people before him, and then readied the stage for those ahead of him.

The Christian life is not a solo act. It is a drama that spans from the beginning through eternity. It is about players who are synchronized and connected to tell the story of salvation.


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Remember and Never Forget

by Fylvia Fowler Kline

I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—stories we have heard and known. Psalm 78:2-3

Psalm 78 is the story about telling stories. Asaph, the storyteller, says before you start going off on how bad you have it, remember. Before you dump God for something else, remember. Before you start wishing for more out of life, remember. Before you start forgetting, remember …

Remember the past. Remember where you’ve been, how you survived. Remember the blessings, remember the miracles. Remember how your God has been with you.

Every time the Israelites lost sight of their history, they came to a bitter standstill—questioning themselves, one another and even God. So Asaph tells them to never forget their stories.

It is in the stories of our past that we find hope. In sharing our stories of faith with one another, we find strength to endure today. From the mistakes of the past, we find direction for the future.


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Drawn Into His Arms

by Tonya Mechling

…and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place. Deuteronomy 1:31

There it was, tucked carefully in the first chapter. I had read Deuteronomy many times, but somehow I had always missed this beautiful gem. I discovered the promise one morning as I was laying all of my burdens at Jesus’ feet. I was going through a career change, and my purpose in life was unclear. As I was crying out to God, He answered me with this special gift.

The Israelites had been through so much. Their forty-year journey through the wilderness mirrors our expedition through life. We thirst and hunger for God’s protection and guidance. We face uncertainties and hardships, but God leads us just as He led the Israelites. As I pondered the image of a father cradling his son, I was comforted with the reminder that God carries me in His arms. Dear friends, take courage and know that God is lifting you up and drawing you to His bosom at this very moment. Nothing you face today is too difficult for Him!