Posts by Sarah Ivill

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There’s great comfort for the child of God in studying the doctrine of God’s providence. Knowing that “all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand” (Heidelberg Catechism A. 27), encourages the believer to not despair when darkness comes, thank God when blessings bloom,...
Have there been times in your life when you wanted to sing of the love of the Lord, but you felt paralyzed by pain, or choked by chaos? This has certainly been the case for me. Thankfully, when my peace is in jeopardy and pain threatens my joy, the psalms point me again to Christ. This is...
Have you ever felt unwanted or unneeded? You may be a single person who faces another lonely night, a spouse who is met with cold indifference instead of warm affection, a ministry leader who has been replaced by someone with more charisma, an employee whose boss often criticizes your work, or a...
If someone observed your life for a week, for what would they conclude you are living? Would they observe that you oppress others for power? Would they witness you being envious, foolish, a workaholic, or greedy? Would they say you pursue rugged individualism, or isolate yourself to gain power,...
Christmastime often gives believers more opportunities with family and friends to discuss the true wonder of the season. We can tell them that we need not wonder who God is and what He is like. He has condescended to us through both the living Word and the written Word. If we want to know the...
We don’t tend to think about thanking God with our whole heart when we are walking in the midst of trouble. Instead, we often cry out for help, pleading with the Lord to deliver us, change our circumstances, or save our loved ones. Of course, it is good and right to cry out to the Lord for...
The church is the family of God. Paul beautifully expresses this truth at the end of his letter to the Thessalonians by using the term “ brothers” five times (1 Thess. 5:12, 14, 25, 26, 27). Every family has rules, whether spoken or unspoken, or more likely, a combination of both. So it is in God...
If you happen to find yourself alone without any distractions, where do your thoughts wander? Are you anxious about that next job assignment, cowering before an intimidating boss, demanding your rights from someone, or eager to defend your motives? Do you fear for your child’s health, reputation or...
When you’re in distressing circumstances, it’s hard to rest in God’s providence. Just ask the young married couple who recently buried their first child, or the mother who just learned her son has leukemia. Speak with the couple who is facing great financial loss after years of smart planning and...
Where do you turn when you have sinned? If we’re honest, it’s not always to the throne of grace. When we have grown irritated, frustrated, or angry; or when we let an entire day go by without thanking God for the many blessings He has given us; or when jealousy and envy pervade our hearts, we don’t...
It had been a hot summer in the south, but the heat didn’t match that of my own heart. I felt like I was trying to walk through a desert with no water, or slug through mud without getting anywhere. Years of battling chronic pain had worn me down. A ministry plan that didn’t materialize the way I...
Doctors tell us that one of the best things we can do for our health is to get moving. In other words, stop the sedentary lifestyle and start skipping rope, skiing, swimming, or the like. Similarly, James tells us that the best thing we can do for our spiritual health is to get going (Jas. 2:14-26...
I remember the excitement I felt when I began my new job as an assistant director of women’s ministry in a local church after graduating from seminary. I had the privilege of serving under two women who were far more seasoned in ministry than I was. Little did I know that I would assume the...
What does it mean to be happy? Well meaning people may exhort us to this end, but how do we define happiness? Some would argue that happiness is found in one’s appearance. Others would maintain that it is found in education. Still others would argue that it depends on extracurricular activities and...
Suffering is incredibly difficult, but all the more so when we don’t understand its purpose and we’ve lost our hope in the midst of it. It’s important, then, that in the midst of suffering we take time to reorient our perspective by turning to Scripture. The book of Job is particularly helpful to...
It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without time. From scheduling appointments, events, worship services, school calendars, playdates, business meetings, ceremonies, meals, and the like, our entire lives revolve around time. But have you ever considered that time is a gift from God? He...
It’s sad, but true. If we fail to love our neighbor as ourselves and instead bite and devour one another, we will be consumed (Gal. 5:14-15). You have seen this in your relationships with family and friends. You have witnessed this between children fighting over a toy. You have observed this...
When was the last time you failed to follow God’s call to holiness? Maybe you knew you should give a gracious answer, but instead responded to a friend, spouse, or child with anger. Perhaps you knew you were to be content in a situation, but discontentment filled your heart. Or maybe you knew God...
My oldest child is finishing up his junior year of high school. As my thoughts turn toward his senior year, there is one thing at the forefront of my mind. I have one more year with him under our roof to teach him what it means to love God and live for Him. I look back on the years God has given me...
One of the things we most want in life is to be loved. We want our parents and siblings to love us. We want our friends and extended family members to love us. We want our coaches and teachers to love us. If we are married, we want our spouse to love us. If we are parents, we desire our children to...
One of the most difficult things for people to do is to cease striving and rest. Yet striving after the things the human heart craves, like significance, security, and success, has not brought people contentment. Instead, people are frustrated, hate their jobs, despair of life itself, and grieve...
Think of the one area in your life right now in which it seems that it will take everything you have to make it through. Maybe it’s a class in graduate school or seminary. Perhaps it’s a season of struggle in your marriage and family. You might have a health issue that is debilitating. One of your...
The wonder of God’s mercy is cause for worshiping Him, working for His glory, and witnessing about His great name. In the midst of hardship, it is sometimes difficult to see God’s mercy. However, if we will look for it, we will, by God’s grace, see it. We see an example of this in Paul’s letter to...
If anything gives us the opportunity to be unfaithful to God it is trials. In the midst of suffering we are often tempted to doubt God’s faithfulness and friendship, goodness and grace, and power and promises. We sometimes wonder if we will make it, how we will make it, or why God is doing this to...
In the midst of suffering, I often pray, “Lord, help me to suffer well.” What I mean is that I want to suffer in a way that glorifies God. But what does it look like for the believer to suffer well? In the first part of his letter James speaks about what it means to be faithful in suffering through...
Is it difficult for you to think about joy and suffering in the same sentence? Normally, when we are in the middle of suffering, we just want it to be over. Think of the woman who feels betrayed by her best friend, or the wife who feels betrayed by her husband. Consider the mother who longs for her...
When Paul wrote to the Philippians he was confined to prison, awaiting his hearing before Caesar (see Acts 23:11; 25:9-12; 26:32). Although he was chained to a soldier at all times, he was able to write letters, have visitors, and boldly proclaim the gospel (28:30-31). During this time Paul’s...
Do you ever feel insignificant, unnoticed, or like your words and works aren’t significant contributions? Have you ever thought, “Does anyone love me?” or “Does anyone even care where I am and what I am doing?” If so, you likely know what it’s like to trust in “a false hope for salvation” (Ps. 33:...
One of the most important things to maintain, yet one of the hardest, is peace with others. From the time we get up in the morning until the time we go to bed at night we have many opportunities to either be a peacemaker or a peace-taker. What we decide depends on our relationship with God. We are...
As I think about my church family, so many older and younger men and women, as well as covenant children, come to mind. I have come to know and love them, and pray for them often. Just like in families, there ’ s a lot that can happen in church families. Behavior isn ’ t always the best, and...
Are you in the middle of searing circumstances? Have you been searching for a source of sustenance in the midst of suffering? Do you need a safe shelter as you battle against sin? As you serve those around you, do you need strength? Psalm 18 reminds us that sustenance, shelter and strength are...
It’s easy to grow weary of proclaiming Christ, especially if it doesn’t seem to be making a difference in the lives of those we teach. We are prone to think that our toil is in vain if our children or spiritual children don’t seem to be maturing in Christ. Yet Colossians 1:24-29 teaches us that...
It is easy to set our minds on everything but heavenly things during the day. You might be tempted to replay the hard conversation you had with your friend repeatedly in your mind until you are overwhelmed. Your race for academic success or career advancement might be wearing you down. The behavior...
For many of us, the fall signals a new and busy season of ministry. This is often an exciting time, but if we’re not careful, we will be so busy that we will forget what is most important. We will be tempted, after experiencing God’s greatness, goodness, and grace, to not stop and celebrate it in...
One of the greatest gifts we can give others is a commitment to pray for them, a commitment that will also bring us great joy. But it’s easy to just pray through a list of petitions instead of first thanking God for their faith and fruitful ministry. Paul’s thanksgiving and prayer for the...
What do we do when suffering breaks into our lives like an unwelcome intruder, when a diagnosis comes at an inconvenient time, when we feel disillusioned and full of despair? Where do we turn when we are scared, sad, and sobered at the fragility of our lives or the lives of our loved ones? This...
For many of us the inability to gather with church family during parts of the pandemic increased our appreciation for our pastors, elders, deacons, and fellow church members. It has not been unusual to hear people testify of how they will not take church gatherings, especially corporate worship,...
What moves you to sing? Is it the clock that signals the end of a long work day, the child that wants you to sing to them before bed, the celebration of a milestone in life, or the spouse you hold so dear? All of these are good reasons to sing, but Scripture gives us a better reason. In Psalm 19 we...
Have you ever considered that it is important to “guard your steps when you go the house of God” (Ecc. 5:1)? Perhaps we don’t often think of church as a dangerous place, and yet it is a very dangerous place for those who refuse to listen to the preaching of God’s word. The author of Hebrews warns...
As a mother of four children I’ve heard quite a bit of grumbling and questioning. But as I listen to my children, I’m often convicted at how many times I grumble about a particular circumstance or question why God has allowed something in my life. Scripture reveals that these are serious sins...
If you have been in the stores lately or checked your calendar, you are likely aware that Mother’s Day is May 8. As a mother of four children, I am always grateful to receive words or acts of appreciation from my family, and to have the opportunity to express words of thankfulness to my own mother...
So many people live and work for the moment at hand, pushing any idea of eternity out of their minds. They squander their time, money and resources without a glance at their Creator. They seek satisfaction, security and significance in relationships, education, and materialism. Yet if you speak...
Soon believers all around the world will celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Some will go to church because they are expected to do so by family. Others will go because they know the joy of gathering together on the Lord’s Day to worship Him. Still others will show up broken and tormented by...
What thoughts are first and foremost in your mind these days? Do you awake only to be overwhelmed by thoughts of your sin and shame? Are you paralyzed by thoughts of your suffering? When you go to bed are you already overwhelmed by your deadlines for tomorrow? It is not hard to focus on our sin,...
Where I live signs of spring usually arrive by the beginning of March. Although my favorite season is fall, I am always happy to see the flowers bloom and trees make new leaves. It reminds me that although I could not see it during the winter months, God made the flowers and trees in such a way...
One of the greatest memories I have of Valentine’s Day is from my time in seminary when my friends and I helped each other focus on the love of God. We were in an accountability group together and all single at the time. Far different from the romantic cards, chocolates, jewelry, and flowers being...
I have sat before women with tears streaming down their face confessing the truth of God’s sovereignty, but questioning His love in the face of death, despair, disappointment and disillusionment. Whether it’s the loss of a baby, the end of a marriage, the loss of financial security, the end of a...
For many people January is the month of new beginnings. By now, some of you have made it a few weeks on your new diet or exercise program, Bible reading plan, caffeine-free mornings, social media fast, budget, or endeavor to read more books. These are all good goals, but they pale in comparison to...
As we begin a new year many of us will talk about new adventures we want to take, new goals we would like to accomplish, new relationships we would like to build, and new opportunities we would like to be given. These are good things to think about, but at the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatians...
As a mother of four children I well remember many nights that were anything but silent. The cries of a newborn suddenly awakened by pangs of hunger. The moans of a sick child who needed another dose of acetaminophen. More recently, the voices of teenagers telling me about their day when they arrive...