Thursday, April 16, 2020
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "There Is Power In The Blood"1 (Lyrics)

In my spiritual journey, I've discovered that God often leads in ways that we don't understand. He simply requires our obedience. He has something in mind for us further down the road. Like a book, our life has chapters. Each chapter builds on the one before.

For instance, for several years, I reluctantly led Bible classes. Like Moses, my speech is hesitant. I love to write, not speak. Often, my mind delivers a total blank. I avoid large groups because I am hearing-impaired. But the leaders in my church don't jump on just any warm body to do a job. After prayer, they are sure that they have found the right person for the job, and I trust their discernment.

In preparing for the Bible classes, to make it easier on myself, I went to a huge amount of trouble reading the leader's books and researching God's Word to formulate suitable questions. I loved the research, but I disliked the classes. Wanting to avoid all eyes on me, I simply showed a video, divided the class into smaller groups, and handed out the Scripture-based questions to search and discuss. All I did was sit in, but I always felt relieved at the end of class.

Another reason that I resisted leading Bible classes is that they were in the evening, and I don't like driving at night. When our second vehicle died, we decided not to replace it, and I prayed for a ministry at home. Immediately, two opportunities arose: writing devotionals and marking Bible studies to encourage prisoners.

Despite knowing that I was in God's perfect will in carrying out my new tasks, I felt guilty for giving up the other. False guilt really complicates life! Then God showed me:

Matthew 25:21b – You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. (NIV)

Had I not studied God's Word in order to prepare for Bible classes, I couldn't have been part of writing ministries that reach many more. But even as I moved on, I was looking back. Once again, God showed me:

Luke 9:62 – No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God. (NIV)

Recently, I spent several months training for an online ministry, but when I graduated, the door closed because I couldn't honestly sign the contract. Still, I knew that God had a reason. Sure enough, a few days later, my prison ministry offered me the opportunity of using my discipleship training with one long-term prisoner, working all the way through a single course, instead of answering a different prisoner and lesson each time.

God has a plan, but He doesn't reveal it to us all at once. He requires trust and obedience. We may not like the chapter that we are currently in, but it is necessary before we can move forward. To complete the story, we must delve into the next chapter wholeheartedly.

Prayer: Father, give us the courage to step out in faith and not to look back. Help us to trust You when we don't understand. Help us to embrace the future as it arrives, and to use our story to bring others to You. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

JJ Ollerenshaw <>
Belleville, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you.

    A great challenge, JJ.

    I know the feeling JJ! Blessings with fuel to keep on ~ keeping on.

    Thanks for the devotional reminder that God’s got this in His more than capable hands.

    Thanks JJ
    I enjoyed your submission in today’s devotional.
    I often see how your writing reflects my life.

    What a wonderful testimonial. Many thanks.
    Stay safe during the difficult times.

    Thank you for your encouragement to move on to the next calling in our life without fear. Only when we start our next task will we know how the Lord prepared us.
    God bless.

    Dear JJ,
    Thank you for the powerful devotional and remind us to trust in God’s plan for all of us. It is always heartwarming to hear how God has led someone else. May more blessings come your way.

    Thank you so much for your words. My husband and I are starting a new chapter in our lives with a big move next month and I was feeling anxious about – well everything. Your words bought me much peace. Thank you.
    I’ll be printing this off and keeping it in my Bible! God bless you!

    Hi JJ,
    I understand the idea of somewhat seasonal times in life, when one kind of work or activity is good at one stage in life, but then things change. This adds spice and variety to life, though! Also, interests and abilities ebb and flow. Life is always and adventure!

    I loved your story of a “long obedience in the same direction”. I love hearing how God doesn’t waste anything but works it all together for good. Very encouraging. Blessings on your work of mentoring your brother in Christ in prison. Who knows how many lives will be touched, ultimately, by your work? Well, God does. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Wow, JJ! You have been on my heart lately. This is a great reflection on how you are being led by God to places where you fit perfectly. We were made for a purpose and what that is, is none of our business – we just suit up and show up and do the next right thing, God fitting us to be of maximum service to Himself and those around us. Love and prayers to you today.

    Greetings JJ,
    Thank you for writing this devotional and praise to you for your persistence to handle Bible classes even though you didn’t feel comfortable at times, but devised ways for others to be connected with the word of God. The Lord truly had ways to keep you devoted to sharing His word with others and especially to prisoners for sure.
    Bless you for your devotion to our loving Saviour.

    Thanks for sharing your spiritual journey. You are absolutely doing the right job as you have a way with words that expresses your deep feelings and emotions that transfer to the reader. You were a trooper to continue teaching when it was difficult, but I am glad you were led to the tasks of the moment as you are a blessing to many and there are fewer who deal with prisoners, I am sure. You are certainly sharing your gifts in the right place. Now you have the gift of time as we all do. The trick is to ask God how to use it!! Have a great day!

    Great wisdom – and all from the Word! My scripture today was Genesis 22:1-8
    Abraham is told to take his son Isaac, whom he loves and make a burnt offering of him on M Moriah. Even although I’ve read this many times, it seemed momentous today! He was distressed when he had to say goodbye to Ishmael, his son with Hagar, now even more was asked.
    And yet, when Isaac asked him “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”, he answered, “God HIMSELF will provide” What faith!
    You’ve shown that too in trusting God… look how many people you reach with a single devotional! (Ask Robin Ross!)
    Bless you!

    Hi JJ,
    I enjoyed reading your devotional today.
    I myself have recently been in touch with a prison bible study course as I wanted to volunteer to mark studies done by prisoners. You see, I had on my shelf in my bedroom an unopened letter for several years, I opened it the other day and it was all the bible studies I had completed myself, as a prisoner, back in 2017.
    I currently support a young man in a young offenders jail where I now reside. I met him when I was volunteering to speak with youth at the facility about substance abuse issues. We developed a relationship and I continue to visit him on a one on one basis and offer him mentorship council as an addict in recovery but more recently as a Christian man.
    Since Covid-19, we have not been able to visit. It was then I found my old studies marked and completed. I have since contacted the ministry team to have them send me some studies to pass on to my young friend. Isn’t God wonderful!!

    I often find myself in situations such as this and I find your sharing of these experiences helpful.
    Thank you.


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