All posts by Janice Pender

Unloved Study-Leah Spiritually Grows, Lesson Three

Lesson3graphicLeah had to learn to surrender her pain.

She held on to her unloved state with both hands griped tight. Oh, how she wanted love. “Children will surely bring it my way”,she thought.

However Leah soon found out, her beautiful children couldn’t be used as tools to gain love. God never gave up His pursuit on Leah and He will never give up on you. 

You may have tried to gain love in all the wrong ways. 

What you thought was real proved to be more disappointments.  You probably compromised your original values believing it was okay if it brings you love.  Yet, soon you realized it was another empty road of despair. 

Sisters…God never gives up His pursuit toward us because we belong to Him.  He wants to teach us how to thrive during our barren times. Thriving is living and soaring above the mess…especially an unloved mess.

Leah was unloved and God knew. 

He knew and He moved with action to come to her rescue.  God didn’t remove Leah from her situation.  Instead, He revealed how much he loved her right where she was. 

God blessed Leah with beautiful children; however, the blessing that transformed her mind was when He taught her how to soar above her circumstances and worship Him.  Amazing! 

This week, we will see how Leah’s unfilled longings lead to a surrendered heart toward God.  We will also discuss how she almost missed God’s great blessings and His great love.  

Sister’s let’s be brave. 

Choosing to surrender when the world tells us different is brave and beautiful. You are valued and loved.  Walk in this truth….but most of all…walk in His love. 

 “God takes everything in our lives and uses it for the good of His kingdom” (Unloved, pg. 57).

Unloved Study- The Unloved Reality, Lesson Two

“Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up: a servant who becomes king, a fool who is full of food, an unloved woman who is married, and a maidservant who displaces her mistress” (Proverbs 30:21-23).

lesson2graphicLeah was unloved.

This wasn’t something she imagined, God recognized it.

God is always concerned about the conditions of our life.  He loves us and values us beyond our imagination.  We are valued because He has created us in His image with freedom to choose and a capacity to love and be loved.

He has placed with us an innate desire to be loved, however, many are moving on this earth without love and hope.  Jesus came to bring us hope but not only hope, He sacrificed His life for the sake of love.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His Son” (John 3:16).

Our life thrives on God’s love and hope.

His love is designed to energize us, motivate us, and encourage us to persevere during the tough seasons in life. Without God’s love, we would be utterly lost.

There are women who feel all hope is lost because they are missing God’s love from their life.  That’s where we come in.  We are called to be God’s hands and feet.

We are Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). God wants to use us to make an appeal of His love and salvation to the hurting in the world.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

God commands believers to love and it is their choice to obey.

He requires us to have the compassion of Christ when it comes to dealing with the unloved (Page 34).  The best way to show God’s compassion is to love with action.  Ladies need to see God’s love through us in action.

God’s light shines through us when we sacrifice our time to show love to a co-worker suffering in a hard marriage or a single friend going through a season of loneliness.  We can say to the unloved, “God loves you”; however, how much better it is if we take time to show them the love He showed us.

Take time this week and look

for ways to spread sacrificial love to someone.  This means you may have to look deeper than what appears on the surface.   Every woman is worthy of God’s love.

Feelings of being unloved can be real and not a figment of someone’s imagination…

Grace makes Salvation a Possibility

images-1Quick riches runs through the veins of America.

Some people search endlessly for ways to get rich quick in hopes of bettering their lives.  One way they do this is by playing the lottery, as large sums of money dangles in front of their eyes.   They play in hopes of winning the top prize.

However, playing the lottery always involves a risk.  The money that is invested will not ensure a win.  It doesn’t even come close to one.  It’s been estimated that only one individual out of 300 million will win a mega million jackpot.  And yet, in light of these odds, many will take a chance that maybe…there’s a possibility.

What if God regulated His riches like the lottery system – when only one soul out of 300 million could secure eternal life?  How would it affect our desire for Him?  The truth of the matter is God’s salvation and the riches of His grace is available to everyone – not just a few.

Let’s Read Ephesians 1:7-8a.  

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.  

This scripture reveals that God’s salvation grace is available only through Jesus.  God lavishes His grace on us, abundantly pour His grace over us, and His grace will never come to an end…if we are in Christ Jesus.

What are God’s riches?  Well, first of all, we’ve been redeemed – freed from sin’s penalty and its enslaving power. Jesus’ death and His sacrifice paid the price for our sins and released us to experience true freedom in Him.

We also have complete forgiveness of our sins as a result of the Lord’s sacrifice.  Only Jesus has the ability to:

Pardon us, 

Release us, and

Dismiss us from all evidence of wrongdoing

He does this when we willingly give our life to Him.  This is the abundant blessings of God’s saving grace that is showered on us.

Salvation is a definite possibility and grace will secure it for anyone who wants it.

When we surrender to Jesus, we don’t have to wonder, Did I win the rewards of eternal life, restful peace, and unconditional love?  God’s word says it is so …and generously more through Jesus Christ.  

Praise God for His rich abundant Grace!

Be Still and Move Forward

be stillRemember the ageless childhood game “Mother May I”?

One player is designated “Mother” and the other players are called “Children.”  The “children” stand far away from “Mother” and ask her permission to move forward.  The “child’s” ultimate goal is to move when “Mother” says to and be still until she calls you.

This entertaining game is a great picture of how God helped the Israelites escape their enemies.

Let’s read Exodus 14:13-16 (NIV)

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid … The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.  Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.

The Israelites were trapped.  Their fierce enemies were behind them and the enormous Red Sea was before them.  Their limited strength was no match for their powerful enemy and they feared that their end had come.

It was in this vulnerable moment that Moses profoundly said:

Be still and watch God fight for you.”

What a powerful statement!  They were to be still before God in complete trust and watch His power fall down from heaven.  Amazingly, God gave them a way of escape and by faith they moved on the path He provided.

Sometimes circumstances, sins, or false beliefs make us feel trapped.  Our limited power is no match for the enormous road before us.  Instead of fearing that we may never come out, God encourages us to be still and watch as He fights for us.   He will surely open the path for us to move on regardless of our present circumstance.

Too often we remain stuck in our current pain of lost and forget that God has strengthen us to move forward with the power of His Spirit.   As we grow spiritually, let’s have courage to be still, watch the salvation of the Lord fight for us, and have the confidence to move from our place of bondage to everlasting freedom.

After you have prayed about your situation, are you moving forward in complete trust in God?

Faith is Measurable Belief

imagesHave you ever taking time to watch ants while they are gathering food?

Ants are little but very strong and they don’t hesitate to use their strength.  They can carry 10 – 50 times their body weight! Because they are small, their muscles are thicker compared to their body size and they produce more force compared to other animals.  These remarkable insects appear to have little strength but in reality they are powerhouses.

As believers, we are somewhat like the ant.  We are great powerhouses for the Lord, filled with His Holy Spirit, but, sometimes our daily efforts are hindered because we exercise little faith.

Let’s read God’s word in Matthew 17:19-20 (NIV):

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Jesus is rebuking His disciples for having little faith.  They had sincerely wanted to help a little boy possessed by a demon; however, they seemingly gave up and took on the attitude of doubt.  The disciples had placed borders around their faith…much like we do, so often.

A person with little faith will believe God only if life is how they want it.  However, the moment their life flips and trouble falls on them, they begin to second guess God’s ways and fear He’s left them alone.

God wants us to have great faith that is persistent and never gives up on Him, no matter what the circumstance.

Ironically, Jesus describes this great faith as mustard seed faith.  A mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds to plant in a garden; however, once it’s dug deep in good soil it grows into an enormous tree – sometimes up to six feet tall!

Mustard seed faith isn’t little faith, but great faith that grows to enormous heights when it is firmly planted in a heart that is determined to trust God in all circumstances.

Mustard seed faith believes God can move any mountainous obstacle that seems impossible to overcome.  The promise is sure…if we have little faith, God will grow it into enormous faith if we only trust and believe.

How does your faith measure?  Is it little faith or is it faith like a strong mustard seed? 

As we continue our walk toward spiritual growth, let’s ask God for mustard seed faith that grows stronger while we trust in Him.

Second Chances Restore the Broken Hearted

moving-forward2In the middle of the night they took Him.

The religious leaders were after Jesus for a while and when the opportunity presented itself, they arrested Him and took Him immediately to the High priest to be tried.

Peter, whose name means “rock”, was there. His story is found in Luke 22.  He had given up everything to follow Jesus for three years.  Now, his world was crumbling into pieces because his Lord was taken.

Peter trailed in the background, watching, waiting, and wondering, “How could this be… What will they do…Will they arrest me too?

And in the uncertain dark night, as the flames from a kindled fire cast just enough light, a servant girl watched Peter and said “This man was one of Jesus’ followers!” In haste, Peter denies and says, “Woman, I don’t even know him!”

Later, another bystander said, “You must be one of them!” “No, man, I’m not!” Peter replied.

Yet, another said, “This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean.” And again Peter cries, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about!”

A rooster crows in the distance and Jesus turns his gaze upon Peter.

It was then, Peter remembered Jesus’ warning, “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny me three times.” Instead of being courageous and bold, Peter shrunk back in fear.  Overwhelmed by the sting of failure, Peter ran weeping bitterly (Luke 22:31- 62).

Have you ever allowed the fear of man to hinder your witness for Jesus?  Were you ever silent about your identity as a believer because you were unsure how others would accept you?  Did your heart grieve when you refused to live out loud for Christ?

We all will disappoint God sometimes.

Yet, God will shower us with His grace and mercy … and offer us a second chance.  Jesus did this for Peter when he appointed him to, “feed [His] sheep” Peter was restored and encouraged to forget his failure and move forward to preach the gospel (John 21:15-19).

This is great encouragement for us as believers who fail to represent God well.

Isaiah 43:18 -19 says, “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

If you are grieving because you should’ve been bolder in your Christian witness, then repent from your sin and move forward in the Lord.  We serve a loving God of second chances.

Messages from God

It’s 11 pm…

I’ve had a great day for the most part. A few bumps in the road in terms of my temper tantrum boy.  My perpetual frowner of the family keeps me on my toes and on my knees in prayer most days. I taught some writing classes to some amazing kids, (kids that are not mine, but I’m blessed to be able to teach) got to see a friend that I haven’t had spent much time with lately, took my littles out to ride their scooters, cooked a pretty good dinner that four out of five kids actually ate, permed, straightened and styled my daughter’s hair, and had a tantalizing conversation with my five-year old wherein she expressed her concerns that I was, “Just too busy and she wants to spend more time with me.”

Big sigh…

It’s so hard to get it all done.

It took a little five-year old to remind me that maybe my priorities are out of whack; that maybe I should concentrate less on my clean house and list of things to do and just get on the floor with her and color and play.  Maybe I should skip that night out with friends here and there and build a tent in her room and eat pizza by the light of a thousand glow sticks.

She was speaking from her heart.

She wants more time with me.

And I’m a stay at home mom…

It made my heart ache.

And then I thought about God.

What about him?  How much time am I really giving him?  Is he feeling neglected?

Does he think I’m too busy?

I think I know the answer to that question.

I know that all we have is right now. 

Right here. 

This moment. 

I realized that when my husband was diagnosed with cancer and our lives were forever changed.

Right now, I’m going to take the time to slow down and enjoy the craziness that is my life.

I’m going to jump on beds, and camp in the backyard and spray my kids with silly string until they laugh so hard they’re in tears.

I’m going to make every moment count. 

Because what I’ve discovered is that in the end,

it’s the memories that you’re left with;

and I would like to leave my children with really good ones.

I’m going to give the first fruit of my time to the Lord and ask him to order my steps.  I’m going to not worry about getting it all done and instead enjoy whatever the Lord happens to bring my way.

I’m going to trust that God knows what he’s doing, and honestly, I don’t think he really cares if my house is spotless or if the laundry is done…

But I know that he cares about the heart of my baby girl

and that he used her to send me a message tonight. 

It’s late…

My kids are literally still awake and chatting away with each other in bed.  If I were a good mom I might reprimand them…

But I think I’d rather just go make a memory…

Excuse me while I go grab my silly string…

Tomorrow’s list of things to do: Make doc appointments, Pick up packages, Type syllabus for class, Call and get quotes on remodel, Finish lesson plans  Go buy glow sticks and order pizza…  (Because that little girl is so much more important than any other thing on my “list” of things to do.)

Message received God…

Message received.

Be blessed y’all. :)

My little messenger...

My little messenger…

Guest Blog by: Gretchen Deveaux from Living Life Upside Down

Second Chances Lead to New Beginnings

The Beginning

She was a woman who lost all hope.  Unloved, shunned, used, and abused, this woman believed she was unworthy – devalued because she was marked as immoral. She was deemed an outcast of society, and she bore the pain of her shame away from people – to avoid their whispers of condemnation. “Who is this woman?” you ask.  Well, her story is found in the gospel of John chapter four and the only name given to her is the Woman at the well.  Ironically, her nameless title is a fitting description of her unseen soul.  The deep hole of her heart was barren and dried out by the choices she made and her desperate need was a permanent filling of fresh living water found only in Jesus Christ.

Yes, Jesus, the compassionate one, the all-powerful one, the one who specializes in complete forgiveness.  Jesus is able to see her heart, shame, and pain, but because of love, refused to condemn.  He was willing to come to this woman’s rescue in the heat of the day and offer her a second chance – a different life than what she knew.  He invited her to drink abundantly from God’s living water of salvation – the blessings of a new beginning.  You see, only in Jesus do we have a chance to a new beginning, a different life than what we knew before.  Listen to God’s word in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

This scripture reminds us that Jesus is our only hope of newness.  The second chance Jesus offers, through salvation, originates from Him, is initiated by Him and it always leads to a new beginning when we say yes to Him.  And the result is powerful!  Our old life … our old sinful position will be untraceable.

This is what happened to the woman at the well.  She was graced with a new beginning and a second chance for eternity, because she chose to believe in Jesus.  Are you reaping the guilt and shame of poor choices?  Have you lost all hope that a new beginning is within your reach?  Know that Jesus’ love declares us worthy for a second chance to a new beginningWill you say yes to Him today?

Second Chances are Initiated by God

imagesFor some, the New Year brings new hope, new dreams, and new goals.  But many are hoping this New Year will bring a second chance.  At some point everyone desires a second chance…a chance to “do-over” and “make right”.  In the Old Testament, Moses knew what it felt to long for a second chance.  He had murdered an Egyptian soldier for beating a Hebrew – one of his own people.  But his fellow brethren rejected his heroic efforts and Moses life was in danger.  So, he fled far away with no intentions of ever returning back to Egypt.  But God had another plan for Moses life.   After many years in seclusion, God sought Moses and initiated a “second chance.”  He invited Moses to participate in His great work of freeing the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. Moses should have immediately responded, “yes God!  I’ll go.” But, sadly, his defeated response was, “Who I am, that I should go?”  (Exodus 2:11-3:11).

We too can have the same shortsighted vision like Moses.  God graciously extends a Second chance to us when He offers forgiveness for our wrong doings, speaks encouraging promises to us through His word, or gives us an opportunity to serve Him and His people.  But often times, we allow the regrets of the past to outweigh the future God has planned for us.  Listen to God’s word in Philippians 1:6 (ESV).

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

This scripture reveals that God initiates the great work of salvation in us through Jesus Christ and He will work hard to complete our unique calling until His son comes back again.  However, our past failures will lead us to believe that our second chance is gone.  Like Moses, we may say, “Who am I that I should go, or be forgiven, or be used for kingdom work?”  But we must remember that the secret ingredient to sustain us for kingdom work is found only in the Great I Am.

God gave Moses a powerful promise and it is the same promise that is available to us as well, “I will be with you” (Ex.3:12).  As we focus on this New Year, let’s never forget that God is faithful and graciously extends a second chance to join Him.


The Cost of Forgiveness


Covenants, treaties, and contracts have lost their permanent intent.  Long ago we could trust these documents to uphold what they promise.  However, today, individuals have recklessly violated their binding power. Thankfully, this is not so with God.  God initiated a New Covenant with those who believe and He went to great measures to make sure it would be established for eternity through Jesus Christ.  

Listen to God’s word in Matthew 26:28 … .for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

This verse reveals Jesus’ blood was necessary for the forgiveness of sins.  In Luke 22, Jesus describes it as a new covenant in His blood which was poured out for many.  A covenant is an agreement, promise, or vow between two equal parties.  We see this meaning beautifully portrayed in a marriage ceremony between a man and a woman as they say their vows to one another.

On the other hand, we are never equal with God so we could never create an agreement that would satisfy the payment for our sins.  Therefore, God took the initiative to establish a permanent promise for the forgiveness of all sins.  Under the Old Covenant, God agreed to forgive the sins of people if they brought animals for the priest to sacrifice.  However, the blood of these animals was insufficient in removing their sins forever.  Consequently, these sacrifices had to be repeated over and over again.

Praises to God for sending Jesus to establish a New Covenant – a new agreement for the forgiveness of our sins!  This New Covenant of grace would cost Jesus his life. The bible says that “…without [the] shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22), and unlike the blood of animals, the blood of Jesus Christ was sufficient to cover the sins of all people – completely and forever.

The coming of Jesus as a lowly babe and the blood he shed on the cross for our sins was a once and for all sacrifice that would never be repeated.  Jesus truly is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).

Forgiveness comes with a cost that Jesus paid on the cross when he died in our place.  As the second party to God’s New Covenant, we have a choice to accept the terms Jesus Christ established for forgiveness by giving Him our life and trusting him completely as our Lord.

Have you done this today?  

As we think about Jesus this Christmas season, let’s never forget the price he paid for our forgiveness!