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Remembering Jesus: Overcoming the Pressure of the Holiday Season

The pressure of the holidays can be suffocating. Remembering Jesus, our Savior, and resting in His presence allows us to overcome the lies and expectations. 



I can already feel the lies of the season…

Do all the things. Be all the things. Give all the things.

»Pressure«

Why in the world does this happen during the Christmas season? I know it’s all been said before, it’s all been penned, it’s all been discussed…

Busyness vs. Peace • Mantle vs. Manger • Presents vs. Presence.

The pressure of the holidays can be suffocating. Remembering Jesus, our Savior, and resting in His presence allows us to overcome the lies and expectations. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #Advent #Christmas #Jesus #busy #rest #holidays #pressure

Expecting Gifts

Christmas isn’t about the things… We all say this, but we fall prey to the trap every year. We allow it. It creeps in with every Christmas song, movie, and commercial. With every dollar-spot stop at Target. Every ‘SALE! SALE! SALE!’

GIVE all the things…

I’m seriously contemplating -deep breath in- little to no gifts this year. GASP! As everyone screams, ‘Look away! Look away!’ The horror. The nerve.

The freedom…

Imagine, for just a moment, if the pressure of buying the perfect gift, or anything at all, was lifted from our shoulders. Imagine if Christmas was about the conversations, the number of hearts beating in the same room, about being around, not the presents.

What if the gift of the season was about experiencing each other, hearing each other, breaking bread together, grieving together, laughing together, living life together…

Giving what we have…giving ourselves. Our Creator provided us unique gifts to pour out on those we love. Baking, making, hospitably serving, singing, reading, smiling. Giving love, listening ears, open doors… Giving Jesus. Jesus – the most perfect gift.

God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.

1 Peter 4:10, TLB

Christmas Busy

Christmas is about spending time with loved ones…Yet we still fill our time with events, parties, and programs that take us away from intimate moments with the ones we love. ‘Tis the season to be busy. Christmas parades, Christmas programs, Christmas events…

Christmas is stamped at the beginning of these words, adding a new level of pressure to attend. We run ourselves ragged making sure to show our faces, our kids’ faces, our spouses’ faces at it all.

Please understand I’m not trying to close everyone off from societal traditions. I’m simply trying to spark inspiration in finding rest, seeking the warmth of hospitality, and taking pleasure in the calm.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6, NLT (ephasis added)

Yes, this verse refers to a time when governments practiced seasons of peace. However, through His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus offers peace to us all, at any moment. He offers us calm in our spirits, though there’s strife all around. He provides quietness through the hustle and bustle. Falling into Jesus brings rest, comfort, and a stillness that is unmatched in this world.

Overcoming Pressure

Christmas is about Jesus… But we fill the season with so much that Jesus isn’t. From the moment of conception to the moment of ascension, every bit of Christ’s life is what we cherish at Christmas, and all the other 364 days. Well, it should be.

For what Jesus accomplished in our place, we should be filled with overwhelming joy. He came to earth as the Son of God, died on the cross for all our sins, rose from the dead three days later, and gave us hope for eternal life with our Father. From that joy should spring forth immense generosity… supernatural generosity.

Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others.

2 Corinthians 8:2, TLB

The load is lifted from my chest, and I take a huge sigh of relief. It’s beautiful. Warm. It’s Jesus. Only Jesus. Rejoicing in His gift, being in His presence, and resting in His hope is what the days ahead are all about… it’s what life is about.

Sister, I pray we can join together in overcoming these lies of the holidays. That we can shift the ‘normal’ expectations and rest in Jesus. Rest in remembering Jesus.

The pressure of the holidays can be suffocating. Remembering Jesus, our Savior, and resting in His presence allows us to overcome the lies and expectations. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #Advent #Christmas #Jesus #busy #rest #holidays #pressure

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Anger, angry, forgiveness, righteousness, oceans, grace, freedom, broken, sin, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Angry: Silencing Anger through God’s Redemptive Love

Acting on our angry feelings is dangerous and invites a stronghold of sin to take root in our lives. But we can break through with God’s redemptive love.



Be angry and do not sin;

Ephesians 4:26, ESV

I’ve been desperately grasping for a reprieve from anger… grasping for peace amongst the storm of rage. Just when I think I’ve pulled it all together, something happens that creates a massive eruption of spew from my mouth.

Acting on our angry feelings is dangerous and invites a stronghold of sin to take root in our lives. But we can silence this through God's redemptive love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #anger #angry #righteousanger #sin #grace #freedom

Righteously Angry

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.

Romans 12:19, NLT

I keep hearing about righteous anger, but I often wonder if I even have the ability to embody it. Is it possible for a human to have purely righteous anger? Are we able to knock over tables in righteousness…

Matthew 21:12-16, lays out the prime example used when we speak about Jesus’ anger. –I’ll have to be honest, there are times when I think it would be nice to tip some tables over in rage.– However, I would like to challenge our minds to think about the depth of His anger; think about how His anger differs from ours.

Jesus was perfect and blameless. Sinless. He had the ability to show care and bring restoration even in this heated moment. It grieved His heart to see the perversion that had become the Temple of the Lord, for the sake of His faithful.

But those who saw Jesus act and heard His words of conviction, praised Him. Children sang ‘Hosanna’! He overturned perversion and restored the innocent. This is not often the result of human anger.

Human Anger

I can’t account a time when acting on my anger brought about healing. In fact, I tend to lace my fury with the lie that it’s part of my healing process–Well, not if someone else has to heal because of it.

My heart aches. I can’t explain the pain and brokenness my false righteous indignation has caused. I can’t tell you how many messes I’ve had to clean up because I acted out my firey insides. Or how many times I’ve had to ask for forgiveness. Especially from my Savior.

We don’t get a pass on sinful anger just because we call it righteous. If you have to say it’s righteous, it probably isn’t. If you have to account for your actions during bouts of anger, you’ve probably been acting selfishly and, ultimately, sinfully.

Always the Ocean

A lot of life reminds me of the ocean. A lot of my relationship with God reminds me of the ocean. Always with the ocean. This time, thinking of anger… it’s captivating and extremely dangerous.

I know the curative therapy that is the sea; breathing in the salty air, diving into the warm water, letting the waves bring you back to shore. Its majesty lets you know you cannot tame it.

Oh, how small we are.

But that’s how enticing anger is. The eruptions like waves; believing in the false therapy following. Breathing in and out, in and out… Yeah, that’s not working. Diving into the heat of the moment. Its waves pulling you further from shore, with no hope of taming the rage.

Oh, how small I’ve become.

Take a Breath

Because I am still in this season, because I’m not on the other side of this lesson, I feel I should share what God is speaking. In trying to derive advice from The Ultimate Authority, a series of questions ran through my mind. I believe these will allow us to take a breath, evaluate our anger, and have to repent of sin less often.

Am I angry at what makes God angry… did this make filthy, what God made pure?

Am I being honest about my anger? Do I need to repent of these actions?

Do I have the ability to be angry and love at the same time? Is my anger meant to restore or tear apart?

Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to control my anger or am I harming those around me?

Freedom from Anger

Yes, these questions may help bring rational thought to a fueled moment, but how do we feel anger and not sin? How do we handle seasons of anger and break free from its bondage? As I said, I’m still in the thick of it, but these are my daily practices and convictions…

Self-control: Proverbs 16:32

Face to the floor prayer.

Take every thought captive: 2 Corinthians 10:5

Fasting.

Give NO opportunity to the devil: Ephesians 4:27

Biblical meditation.

Do good: Romans 12:19-21

Love God and keep His commands: John 14:15

God’s Peace

In these moments of helplessness, moments where rage takes over, I am reminded of how much I need the redemptive power of my Father. How much I need the freedom given through His blood.

Through His blood, we can repent of our unrighteous, sinful anger. We can be made whole, we can heal through His grace, not our rage.

His grace silences our haughty words. Silences our temper. It covers us and gives us the ability to approach His throne with the things that have broken our hearts. It allows God to speak:

That ocean you love so dearly, its majesty, its nature, its constant rhythm is my love for you. I am the ocean, unwavering, unstoppable, overwhelming, raging. The battle between the ocean and the shore, that’s my battle for you. For your freedom. That peace you feel, that’s my gift to you. No longer will you be a slave to this crashing bitterness. You are delivered. You are redeemed.

Through His blood, we can repent of our unrighteous, sinful anger. We can be made whole, we can heal through His grace, not our rage. Click To Tweet

Acting on our angry feelings is dangerous and invites a stronghold of sin to take root in our lives. But we can silence this through God's redemptive love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #anger #angry #righteousanger #sin #grace #freedom

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constant, depleted, God’s character, infinite, sustain, surrender, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Finite: Surrendering to God’s Infinite Power and Grace

We often forget our humanness. When we accept that we are limited and finite, God’s infinite power can work. It’s through Him we can do anything at all!



I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.

Ephesians 3:16, NLT

Confronted… face to face with my own limits.

After months of adding more, and more, and more to my plate, I finally hit the proverbial wall. Scrambling to evaluate what was important, pieces began to fall off with or without my permission… “But God! You brought me here. All of these things, You need ME to do.

Confronted… face to face with my infinite Savior.

We often forget our humanness. When we accept that we are limited and finite, God's infinite power can work. It's through Him we can do anything at all! Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #empty #finite #infinite #surrender #power

Finite

I am human which means I am finite. I am bound by limits, but often forget this truth until I’m facing the insurmountable. Until I’m facing circumstances and other humans out of my control.

I’ve overbooked my schedule – I cannot be in two places at once.

Here, put this hat on, this hat, and this hat – I cannot be all things to all people.

But you said you could last week – I cannot peer into the future ahead.

As I started coming to terms with my limited nature, I heard the Holy Spirit speak:

Let God be God. In His infinite power and mystery, let God work and move. Stop getting in the way. Stop trying to measure Him, put boundaries around Him. Nothing concocted by human minds or built by human hands can contain His sovereignty. Trust in His strength, His love, His forgiveness.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

Ephesians 3:17-18, NLT

Limited Humans

In order to completely accept my finite nature, I must also recognize the limited nature of my fellow humans. I cannot hold others to God-like infinitude but must remember the grace and love of the One.

Because we are relational creatures, we focus on what other humans can supply… we rely on others to fill our gaps; forgetting it’s only through His power and glory that any other human can provide anything for anyone. Only HE can supply all we need and lack.

For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

Romans 11:36, NLT

Intricate

We are so intricately woven together as His beloved children. He created every working and operating part in our bodies, but left one major component that ONLY He can touch… our souls.

How often have I tried to fill the void in my own soul? How often have I tried to be the savior of another’s? ONLY God’s infinite and immeasurable love can cover the multitude of darkness in our human hearts and souls.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Ephesians 3:19, NLT

Infinite

Praise God! He is infinite… He is never-ending, never-changing, constant and stable.

‘I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,’ says the Lord God. ‘I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.’

Revelation 1:8, NLT

Who can figure out our Mighty God?? Our finite minds cannot fathom. Our will is minuscule… we cannot move the oceans or bend the wind. We cannot command the skies or the mountains to rise.

Take a long, hard look. See how great he is—infinite, greater than anything you could ever imagine or figure out!

Job 36:26, MSG

We may appoint man to rule, but only One is appointed to take on the limitless depths of sin. ONLY ONE is crowned the limitless Savior of the world and beyond.

Praise God! He is infinite… He is never-ending, never-changing, constant and stable. Only He has overcome the limitless depths of sin and been crowned the limitless Savior of the world. Click To Tweet

Surrender

My Savior blankets me in the grace that only He can give. Over and over He pours out tenderness to my depleted nature. When I strive to be all, see all, know all, do it all in my strength He’s waiting. Waiting for His Beloved to finally surrender. Surrender to His unlimited nature beyond fathom…

God fills and sustains. He inflates our lungs to speak Truth. He ignites our hearts and sets fire to OUR plans. His Spirit dances inside us as we lose ourselves to God’s overwhelmingly infinite love.

Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.

Ephesians 3:20, TLB

Have you come to terms with your own limits? Have you surrendered to God and His infinitude?

We often forget our humanness. When we accept that we are limited and finite, God's infinite power can work. It's through Him we can do anything at all! Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #empty #finite #infinite #surrender #power

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friendship, Holy Spirit, listen, patience, relationships, grace, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Listen: Hearing Other’s Pain through the Power of the Holy Spirit

We often try to fix those we love instead of allowing a safe space to exist and be heard. Helping others in pain requires us to listen through the power of the Holy Spirit. 



Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

James 1:19, NLT

Making sure others feel comfortable when we interact is one of my greatest desires. I want them to feel the freedom to occupy space as their true selves. Feeling safe with someone allows for a deeper strengthening of friendship. I’m not going to say I have it all together because I don’t, but one way I ensure this result is through listening. Sincerely listening.

I’m still learning how to truly hear those around me. To hear through the Holy Spirit and not through human methods. Because, let’s face it, all the distractions, screens, noises, and even selfishness get in the way. Listening takes discipline and an immense amount of patience…

We try to fix those we love instead of allowing a safe space to exist and be heard. Helping others in pain requires us to listen through the Holy Spirit. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #listen #devotional #scripture #holyspirit #friendship #relationships

Selfishness

Many times in my life I’ve been told I’m a great listener, which you think would cause great pride inside. In reality, I selfishly carry it around like a burden… I’m easy to talk to because I’m silent. When do I get to speak??

See, selfish. On the outside, I sit silently, making eye contact and nodding. While on the inside, I am screaming to be heard; creating comebacks, forming opinions, preparing the right words to say. This is NOT active listening; NOT listening as God commands us to listen.

We all have this innate desire to be heard, to be allowed space to exist. But God asks us to lay ourselves down to allow His Spirit room to breathe. To give us supernatural patience to hear; truly hear. He is the very best part of us, and He is the very answer for loving those who are hurting…

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Philippians 2:3-4, NLT

Deeply Listen

Undistracted, uninterrupted, completely attuned… Not everyone is a natural at this and not everyone can pick this habit up quickly. I definitely struggle. I still find myself interrupting my friends. -sigh- I know how much I can’t stand to be interrupted.

Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.

Proverbs 18:2, NLT

Half listening, then interjecting to fix a problem with human words is foolish. Our attempts to ‘be there’ for our friends is sometimes overshadowed by our want to ‘fix them. To make their life ‘right’ and easy. It’s honorable, we think it’s out of love, but it’s not helpful. It’s not Spirit-led.

Some of my closest friends have come by way of just listening. Not trying to have all the answers, not trying to have the perfect words, but saying ‘My heart hurts with yours.’ There’s a tenderness when a friend will silently and intently listen to your words; deeply listen. This exemplifies God as He bends down from Heaven to listen to our cries (Psalm 116:1-6).

Language Between

I cannot tell you the countless times I’ve skimmed over deep pain in my heart, only to have a friend hear it’s depth and speak truth to it. There’s language between the verbal words and the silence. Silence can give just as much, sometimes more, information than hearing. Hearing the entire language of hurt prepares our hearts and minds to speak from a posture of wisdom.

Our inability to shut our mouths does a disservice to those who are hurting. In our attempts to break awkward silences and fill the space with noise, we block potential Holy Spirit work. Whether the work is in us, in the other person, or both. Leaving space for the Spirit to move, may give us discernment, as the listener, to hear the words that haven’t been spoken. To understand the words under the words.

Trust

When we actively and truly listen, we prove our love. Not just our love for the other individual, but our love for God. Not waiting for a chance to be heard, but laying down our selfishness. Selfless listening, Holy Spirit listening is powerful. Allowing the other person space to exist to be who they are in that moment cultivates confidence; trust.

And from this trust, we have a unique ability to point the pain to our Savior. Because there’s no amount of pain, human circumstance, or issue that has not already been healed through the blood of Jesus.

Selfless listening, Holy Spirit listening is powerful. When we actively and truly listen, we prove our love. Not just our love for the other individual, but our love for God. Click To Tweet

We try to fix those we love instead of allowing a safe space to exist and be heard. Helping others in pain requires us to listen through the Holy Spirit. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #listen #devotional #scripture #holyspirit #friendship #relationships

Romello Williams

brokenness, darkness, intercession, isolation, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Isolation: A Letter of Intercession to the Broken and Alone

Pain can tempt us into isolation. Being alone is not the answer to healing and protection. God calls us to stand in the gap for the broken.  



There have been a few seasons in my life that have pulled me toward darkness. Darkness is an isolating place to hide. It can shield us from the truth. There were times I was pulled and other times I stumbled into the shadows. I lost my way to the light on the hill. I lost my way to the little lights shining in my loved ones’ hearts. But they always left the light on for me; God left the light on for me…

Pain can tempt us into isolation. Being alone is not the answer to healing and protection. God calls us to stand in the gap for the broken. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #isolation #alone #pain #darkness #support

Pain on Canvas

Art school was my first glimpse of how fast the world can drag someone to such darkness. This was the height of my battle with self-harm. And it’s no coincidence, this was the height (or the depths) of my lack of confidence. See, this culture taught that great art comes from great pain. So pain I bred, and pain I endured. I concocted it, fed it, let it flow through my veins, and poured it all over canvas.

I’ve never been surrounded by so many people yet felt so very alone. That’s dangerous on an already heavy mind. There’s a despicable desire to retreat even further… Become thin enough to waste away. Make the dorm room dark enough to feel gone. Take late night walks in an unsafe place, trying to fade out of existence. Don’t answer the door or the phone… disappear.

Complete isolation. It’s dangerous.

Familiar Friend

Recently, I’ve been feeling the pull towards darkness, towards isolation. I’m not sure if it’s a bout of seasonal depression or a year-long strain on my mind. Whatever it is, I’ve had to fight so hard to stay away from my familiar friend. I’ve had to fight thoughts of wanting to run and fade away.

There’s a feeling that I know what to expect there, in the dark. I know who can hurt me, or more importantly who can’t hurt me there. I know I can shelter my heart from pain and keep my mind from having to work through normal human living…

Lies and Truth

But it’s all lies… what I know are lies. In the dark, Satan circles like a vulture. In the dark, he whispers, destroys, devours. He knows there’s weakness in seclusion. Absolute singleness… unsheltered, unsafe, exposed.

The truth is… it doesn’t matter who you are, there is at least one, The One, who cares whether you are safe. Who cares to leave the light on for you.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

Romans 8:38, NLT

It’s okay to fall into the darkness, but Love please don’t stay there long. Allow those little lights to pull you to safety; allow the brightest light to pull you to safety. Safety forged by His blood. Safety promised through grace.

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12, NLT

We must stand against isolation. We must let those who have walked the dark path before usher in our Champion. Let us, shoulder to shoulder, faces to the ground, intercede for our brothers' and sisters' souls. Click To Tweet

To You:

If you’ve lost your way… if you’ve stumbled your way into the dark…

Oh, Sweet Friend please allow me to nurture your heart for a moment…

Please be brave. Do not be alone. Do not sit in isolation. In isolation is a vulnerability that kills. Sometimes physically, but more dangerously, the soul, the heart, the mind deteriorate. The terrors Satan throws are murderers.

Beautiful Sister, you must stand against this… but not alone. We must stand together. Will you let us stand with you? Let us fight with you! Will you let those who have walked this path before, those who know it’s darkness, usher in your Champion? Let us, shoulder to shoulder, faces to the ground, intercede for you… for your soul. Because Love, wars are waging against your soul, not your body, YOUR SOUL.

Satan doesn’t care about your body, though it’s a nice perk when he gets it. He cares that you don’t belong to the only ONE who died to save you. He wants to steal that from you, one whisper at a time. Speak out, Beauty. Tell your sisters, your pastors, your prayer warriors… tell them and let them fight. Don’t allow the isolation of shame, heaviness, condemnation make you silent; make you alone.

Oh please don’t be alone. Let us remind you of the God who selflessly left His throne to destroy your condemnation. Remind you of the Father who pursues, pursues, and pursues again! He never stops. He breathed you into existence, you are not forgotten, you are not condemned.

And, oh Sweet Sister, you are so precious. Valuable. He will restore you; He has restored you. The holes, the mutilations, the breaks in your heart… He will return those, mended. Whole. You are not broken any longer. You are rescued. Redeemed.

Isolation Intercessors

You see, I had intercessors. I had twinkling lights on their knees every night for me (still do). People who didn’t know exactly what I was battling, but knew I wasn’t strong enough to fight for myself. And they fought, oh they fought.

Oh yeah, that’s great for you, Katie. Aren’t you so blessed? 

My Sweet, so are you. Do you know how many ladies we have praying for you? Yes, you! The Oh Lord Help Us Team is full of survivors of darkness. We know the importance of praying in the gap for those who don’t have the strength. Reach out to us. Let us know how we can intercede for you! Step out of the darkness.

Pain can tempt us into isolation. Being alone is not the answer to healing and protection. God calls us to stand in the gap for the broken. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #isolation #alone #pain #darkness #support

Annie Spratt

compassion, love, trust, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Compassion: Portraying Tenderness through Actions, Not Just Words

Compassion is more than a feeling, it’s an action. We must live this two-fold mission, to truly love those around us. To truly portray the love of Christ. 



Sharing my testimony is a tool I use to help others feel comfortable with me. I tell the nitty-gritty of my past so that others know I am not sitting on a lofty pillar. There’s nothing they can tell me that will make me run away.

It’s easy for me to talk about the past. It has come and gone. I can share the lessons I’ve learned and the way God moved. But the right now is way more difficult. It can feel too raw, too vulnerable, too real to talk about current circumstances…

Compassion is more than just a feeling, it's an action. We must live this two-fold mission, to love those around us; to portray the love of Christ. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #encouragement #compassion #love #trust

Compassion in Action

But I did just that. I couldn’t take it any longer. I found my safe friend, stumbled around small talk, then let it flow. My heart knew I could trust her. We’d already been through so much in such a short time. She could see through the tears, the pain, the anger, the vulnerability. She listened, cried, felt my pain, and loved me.

Her love was action. She jumped head first into How can I help my friend mode. Secretly texting her husband… We need to help Katie. And they did. My friend felt my need, saw where she could help, and helped. Compassion in action…

Prove It

Compassion. This word can be thrown around willy-nilly, without a mind for God’s (Biblical) definition. The world tells us it’s a tender feeling toward someone suffering. There’s often a strong desire to lessen the pain. And while this is definitely true, we know love is more than just a strong desire. Love is an action.

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

1 John 3:18, NLT

Compassion doesn’t just boil down to a posture of the heart. It is also a posture of our hands. I mean this figuratively and literally. It’s two-fold, noun and verb. In my real life example, my friend’s heart felt the same pain as mine. But her hands, arms, and mouth provided comfort in my suffering, alleviating a small amount of my pain.

Bottomless Compassion

Imagine for a second, if my example had a different narrative. What if my friend had judged or rejected me? What if she threw condemnation in my face instead of reminding me of my redemption in Christ? Have you ever received reproach? Have you ever given it?

I think we are all guilty of this, but pure compassion overpowers judgment. Because we have all received bottomless grace upon grace through our Beautiful Redeemer (John 1:16), we can love others where they are. We can say I hear you, I see you, I feel for your situation. This gives us the ability to cultivate trust and share truth. To share the sincere love of Christ.

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

1 John 4:20-21, MSG

Holy Spirit Lead

Genuine compassion is the result of our lives being poured out and replaced with the sympathies of God. Our devotion to Him allows us to be a conduit for His love. When we step outside our human nature (self-minded), the Holy Spirit has room to occupy our words, our hearts, our actions.   

Let’s not just speak words of tenderness, let’s jump into action to help those who are broken, worn down, or suffering. It doesn’t always have to be a massive undertaking… a hug, a served dinner, $5, free childcare… Every effort made through compassion honors our Gracious Father.

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.

1 Peter 3:8, NLT

Have you surrendered to God’s heart? Has the Holy Spirit prompted you towards a posture of empathy and kindness? 

Let's not just speak words of tenderness, let's jump into action to help those who are broken, worn down, or suffering. Every effort made through compassion honors our Gracious Father. Click To Tweet

Compassion is more than just a feeling, it's an action. We must live this two-fold mission, to love those around us; to portray the love of Christ. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #compassion #love #trust #encouragement

loyal, friendship, faithful, love, pursue, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Loyal: Pursuing Steadfastness in Our Relationships

In times of stress, we tend to isolate ourselves from everyone and everything. But we need to be loyal to our relationships, our word, and our lives, portraying the steadfastness of Jesus. 



The little break between Christmas and New Years can be disorienting. What day is this? When did I shower last? I know I bought batteries…where are they? But tucked in the midst of confusion are nuggets of reflection. As I was mustering the strength to pack for another trip to Indiana, I found myself reflecting over this past year and the years before.

There were several major differences from previous years, but one stood out the most: friendship. I have never been the one to juggle many different relationships and friendships, but here I am. I owe a lot of this to Oh Lord Help Us and a bit to volunteering at church. No matter who I owe, one thing is for certain: I am rich in relationships.

In times of stress, we tend to isolate ourselves from everyone. But we need to be loyal in our relationships, portraying the steadfastness of Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Introvert

I know just as well as anyone that moving to a new place can be daunting. Making new friends is even harder. Especially for those of us who identify as introverts. There are different levels of introvert, but all the same, it’s difficult and paralyzing.

It’s been four years since we moved to North Carolina and I just now feel like I’ve found some of my people. It took me stepping out, being uncomfortable, fighting against my nature. It’s more than just fighting against myself, it’s following through. Showing I’m reliable, accountable, trustworthy. Showing how much I care…

Wholehearted

I never regret the moments I push past myself to be uncomfortable. Sadly, I used to be extremely fickle… cancel outings, not answer calls or texts. It took me a long time to realize how surface my life was without quality relationships. I can name a few dear souls that never quit.

Praise Jesus for those people who wait patiently for you to get your act together. The loyal, wholehearted ones who know there’s a special friend somewhere inside. They wait… and they wait. Those are the ones who you should hold on to. The ones you thank over and over for not giving up on you. For pursuing you through prayer, texts, invites, etc. I strive every day to live the gracious example of these special friends.

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 3:3, ESV

We need each other… through hardships, pain, seasons of grief. Because this life is ever changing with swells of inconsistency and unknown, we need to be found loving and faithful through it all.

We need each other... through hardships, pain, seasons of grief. This life is ever changing with swells of inconsistency, we need to be found loving and faithful through it all. Click To Tweet

Richness of Relationship

Financially, this has been one of the toughest years to date. But what I lack in monetary wealth, I make up for with rich, rich relationships. In previous years of financial strain, I would isolate myself; cut myself off from the support and love of a friend or even family members. I allowed the overwhelm and embarrassment to overthrow my faithfulness.

Not only was my dedication to those I loved strained, but my loyalty to the Lord suffered. My bank account was poor and so was my spirit. I became sporadic in going to church and was even more disloyal in my Bible reading. Hitting my knees? Yeah, non-existent.

Praise God He stays true…

This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.

2 Timothy 2:11-13, NLT

His loyalty to my heart didn’t bail me out of financial hardship, but it did draw me closer to Himself. In doing so, it showed me the value of relationship over wealth. Of loyalty over inconsistency. In this season, I’m thankful for that lesson. It’s kept my head above a tsunami of stress and encouraged me to draw close to those who love me.

Loyal Example

The Bible’s layout of loyalty is strictly relational. This is no coincidence. We follow Jesus’ example of loyalty straight to the cross. The cross is a symbol of loyalty to God’s divine plan and a devotion to all of us sinners. Not only did Jesus’ faithfulness make it possible for us to have a relationship with God, but also allows a devotion to one another.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31, NIV

We need to strive each day to portray our steadfast devotion to Jesus, and in turn to one another. Love God, love each other. Loyal servants, loyal friends.

In times of stress, we tend to isolate ourselves from everyone. But we need to be loyal in our relationships, portraying the steadfastness of Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Jan Romero

busyness, Christmas, Jesus, pressure, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Pressure: Overcoming the Lies and Expectations of the Holidays

The pressure of the holidays can be suffocating. Remembering Jesus, our Savior, and resting in His presence allows us to overcome the lies and expectations. 



I can already feel the lies of the season…

Do all the things. Be all the things. Give all the things.

»Pressure«

Why in the world does this happen during the Christmas season? I know it’s all been said before, it’s all been penned, it’s all been discussed…

Busyness vs. Peace • Mantle vs. Manger • Presents vs. Presence.

The pressure of the holidays can be suffocating. Remembering Jesus our Savior and resting is His presence allows us to overcome the lies and expectations. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Expecting Gifts

Christmas isn’t about the things… We all say this, but we fall prey to the trap every year. We allow it. It creeps in with every Christmas song, movie, and commercial. With every dollar-spot stop at Target. Every ‘SALE! SALE! SALE!’

GIVE all the things…

I’m seriously contemplating -deep breath in- little to no gifts this year. GASP! As everyone screams, ‘Look away! Look away!’ The horror. The nerve.

The freedom…

Imagine, for just a moment, if the pressure of buying the perfect gift, or anything at all, was lifted from our shoulders. Imagine if Christmas was about the conversations, the number of hearts beating in the same room, about being around, not the presents.

What if the gift of the season was about experiencing each other, hearing each other, breaking bread together, grieving together, laughing together, living life together…

Giving what we have…giving ourselves. Our Creator provided us unique gifts to pour out on those we love. Baking, making, hospitably serving, singing, reading, smiling. Giving love, listening ears, open doors… Giving Jesus. Jesus – the most perfect gift.

God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.

1 Peter 4:10, TLB

Christmas Busy

Christmas is about spending time with loved ones…Yet we still fill our time with events, parties, and programs that take us away from intimate moments with the ones we love. ‘Tis the season to be busy. Christmas parades, Christmas programs, Christmas events…

Christmas is stamped at the beginning of these words, adding a new level of pressure to attend. We run ourselves ragged making sure to show our faces, our kids’ faces, our spouses’ faces at it all.

Please understand I’m not trying to close everyone off from societal traditions. I’m simply trying to spark inspiration in finding rest, seeking the warmth of hospitality, and taking pleasure in the calm.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6, NLT (ephasis added)

Yes, this verse refers to a time when governments practiced seasons of peace. However, through His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus offers peace to us all, at any moment. He offers us calm in our spirits, though there’s strife all around. He provides quietness through the hustle and bustle. Falling into Jesus brings rest, comfort, and a stillness that is unmatched in this world.

Overcoming Pressure

Christmas is about Jesus… But we fill the season with so much that Jesus isn’t. From the moment of conception to the moment of ascension, every bit of Christ’s life is what we cherish at Christmas, and all the other 364 days. Well, it should be.

For what Jesus accomplished in our place, we should be filled with overwhelming joy. He came to earth as the Son of God, died on the cross for all our sins, rose from the dead three days later, and gave us hope for eternal life with our Father. From that joy should spring forth immense generosity… supernatural generosity.

Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others.

2 Corinthians 8:2, TLB

The load is lifted from my chest, and I take a huge sigh of relief. It’s beautiful. Warm. It’s Jesus. Only Jesus. Rejoicing in His gift, being in His presence, and resting in His hope is what the days ahead are all about… it’s what life is about.

From the moment of conception to the moment of ascension, every bit of Christ's life is what we cherish at Christmas. We should be filled with such joy for what Jesus accomplished in our place that immense generosity flows from us. Click To Tweet

Sister, I pray we can join together in overcoming these lies of the holidays. That we can shift the ‘normal’ expectations and rest in Jesus. 

The pressure of the holidays can be suffocating. Remembering Jesus our Savior and resting is His presence allows us to overcome the lies and expectations. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Mourad Saadi

repentance, sin, shame, surrender, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

New: Dragging Our Haunting Shame to the Feet of Jesus

There are days we allow shame to take over our minds. We must remember that through Christ we are made new, our sin has no hold over us, we are redeemed. 



It’s no wonder winter brings so much sorrow. It’s downright ugly outside…most days. Winter has a way of isolating us. Or is it hibernation? There are days it’s hard to get out of bed. Days where past transgressions flood our minds and paralyze our ability to push through.

I believe, there’s a direct correlation between the grayness of the sky and how much pain we allow in.

There are days we allow shame to take over our minds. We must remember that through Christ we are made new, our sin has no hold over us, we are redeemed. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Haunted

Days like these truly haunt me. Yes, I do love the occasional rainy, snuggly day. But, a whole season of gray really does a work on my mind.

It takes strength to push down the enemy and his lies. Moreover, it takes strength to ask the Lord to be your strength. It’s just easier to wallow in loathing. To toss and turn in the mixture of mud and pure white snow…muck.

That’s just what we do. We take the new, clean slate the Lord paid the ultimate price for, and roll it through the slopping mess that is sin and shame. Every time I allow the past to rule my present, I take my tiny human hand and smack my Savior right in His blood-soaked face. Soaked from the thorns and nails meant for me.

It’s important for me to make this image strong and unforgettable because my deep, dark sin seems to be strong and unforgettable. An unrelenting force, pushing its way to the surface of my being; begging and pleading for the acknowledgment of my darkness.

Remember how wretched you are!? Relive all that darkness; dwell on it. Nail it into your memory! May you NEVER forget how pathetically weak you truly are. 

Surrender

I can’t imagine what my life would look like if I surrendered every day to these hauntings. If I didn’t have the anchor of Jesus. I understand self-harm and suicide so clearly. It’s the absence of hope, the inability to overcome the ghosts, torture the mind cannot endure.

In the depths, the pits, when we have come to the end of ourselves, and truly don’t know what to do next, surrender is our only option. Who we surrender to is the question…

Will we surrender to the one who wishes to devour our souls? The one who never forgets our sins and wants nothing more than to destroy us…

Or, will we surrender to the only One who can truly save us? The One who forgets all our filthy, wretched crimes and covers us with His love…

The answer seems easy, but in the midst of battle, it can be hard to tell up from down, light from dark…

Light

Yes, I understand how heavy and dark these words have gotten. But, it’s in this darkness God shines the brightest. (Sorry to get cliche on you…but also not sorry.) Think about it. God cannot outshine Himself, nor can He be the darkness. So in the darkness, He shines brightest and in the light of life, He is.

Okay, I’ll take my philosophical cap off and talk real talk…

When we decide to surrender to the One, Jesus, it allows us to see His brilliance clearly. His light bursts through, piercing the depths and disintegrating the blackness. When we choose to surrender every day, not just in the depths, we see His light in everything!

New

EVERY DAY I have to drag my sin and shame to the feet of Jesus. I demand it to stare my Savior in the face…

“Look at HIM! Look at His sacrifice on my behalf. You have no power here. You will not shadow His sacrifice in order to ridicule me. Nor will you reduce me to trash. I’ve been beautifully purchased through the blood of Jesus. You are forgotten. I am redeemed. I am new.”

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18, NLT

Think about this verse… really dwell on it…

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8, ESV

That means He became our sacrifice even though we are wretched. He died on our behalf even though we are disobedient. He took our place even though we continue to sin, and sin again.

EVERY DAY we must drag our shame to the feet of Jesus. We must demand it to stare our Savior in the face... Click To Tweet

Psalm 51

When my disgrace pushes it’s way to the surface, I try my best to remember I’m not alone. I’m living in a world full of people with sin. Those who have lived before me, aren’t blameless either. Case and point, David…

When I read Psalm 51, I remember just how sinful we can fall. But also, just how much we are in need of salvation. Psalm 51 was penned after David’s dealings with Bathsheba… if you don’t know how ugly this part of David’s life is, read 2 Samuel 11. You’ll understand why this Psalm is so powerful.

Sisters, when our sin “haunts us day and night” (Psalm 51:3), may we recognize the price Jesus paid… We are “washed whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7) through His blood.

There are days we allow shame to take over our minds. We must remember that through Christ we are made new, our sin has no hold over us, we are redeemed. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

humility, pride, shine, esteem, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Shine: Dimming Arrogance and Allowing God to Shine

In our attempt to shine brighter and brighter, we must learn that dimming the light of arrogance is the only true way God can shine through us. 



If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.

-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Mascara

I couldn’t believe I went through carpool with streaks of mascara running down my face. Really, it didn’t matter as the sunglasses hid a majority of the mess. And boy, what a mess I was…

The previous night was an evening of silence and staring off. But, the morning brought words formed from hurt feelings and confusion. There was a heavy stream of tears.

It’s difficult to filter through inner dialogues and actual reality; piecing together instances to justify a feeling, and forsaking the whole picture. That’s just what I did. I made the pieces fit so my bitterness was not in vain.

The pieces did fit fairly easy, but it was vain. I was the embodiment of pride…

It’s ironic that out of pride came a massive mess. The opposite of what I was trying to achieve. Those black streaks of mascara truly made me take a step back. They forced me towards, dare I say, humility.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:3-4, NIV

In our attempt to shine brighter, we must learn that dimming the light of arrogance is the only way God can shine through us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

‘Self’-Filled

We live in a world where meekness is rare, and the focus on ‘self’  is common. Self-esteem, self-help, self-affirmation, self-aware, self-care… there’s a LONG list of ‘self’ words. Seriously, Google it.

Listen, self-affirmation isn’t a new thing. But it seems to be more prevalent these days. Maybe my eyes are open now, but there just seems to be a heavy push to remember who we are. “Who am.” And while I believe in affirmation (seriously I do), I can’t help but wonder if we are remembering that these truths are the same for our fellow humans too.

Most affirmations, especially if aligned with the truth of the Bible, are genuine and honest. But we can’t forget that we aren’t unique in that we are loved or chosen or beautiful or known. Guess what? If we are all created by God, we are ALL every single bit of those things. The Bible is for everyone who accepts its truth… We were created by God, in His image.

When I finally allowed my mouth to shut up, the streaks of mascara to serve their purpose, and the Holy Spirit to take over, I was urged to surrender. Surrender my vanity and think back. Further… further… further still. So far that I thought on the creation of the universe and Who molded each intricate particle…

Shine of Humility

Humility, but also shame washed over me. This other human was knit together in the same fashion, molded by the same hands, and loved to the same degree by our Beautiful Creator. And, in this moment I allowed my heart to love what the Lord loves, and hate what the Lord hates…

Here are six things God and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family.

Proverbs 6:16-19, MSG

It’s no coincidence that arrogance is first on the list. Pride goes before all destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Arrogance is dark, dull and, above all, an absolute liar!

Pride says – I can shine like the stars…

Humility says – Jesus shine through me!

Unity

It’s not as though my intentions are ultimately selfish. In fact, they seem to be the opposite. Outwardly, I’m excited when others succeed, but inwardly I become jealous… Oooh, that’s ugly! Maybe I can apply the fake it ’till you make it rule??

Our motivation in the world should be driven from our love of God and our love for our neighbor. When we get caught up in our own selfish motives and ambitions, the body of Christ starts to deteriorate. If we consider each other above ourselves, then we create a beautiful community. A community where everyone is esteemed in high regard and no one is looked down on…

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Philippians 4:1-3, NIV

Our motivation should be driven from our love of God and our love for our neighbor. When we get caught up in our own selfish motives and ambitions, the body of Christ starts to deteriorate. Click To Tweet

A By-Product

When pride and selfishness rule, there’s no room for the Holy Spirit. When we bring ourselves to a place of surrender, there the Spirit of the Lord can dwell.

If we are living now by the Holy Spirit’s power, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Then we won’t need to look for honors and popularity, which lead to jealousy and hard feelings.

Galatians 5:25-26, TLB

Here’s the thing… to think I can achieve this level of humility on my own is prideful too. The only real way is to surrender myself to the Holy Spirit. When we allow the Holy Spirit room, He does miraculous things. He makes us so much better. He shines so we don’t have to (and thank goodness because I don’t want that pressure).

In our attempt to shine brighter and brighter, we must learn that dimming the light of arrogance is the only true way God can shine through us. We are His vessels on the Earth. We carry His light (Philippians 2:15), the only way to shine is allowing God’s light above all else.

Ultimately, you can’t just gain humility through practice to make it a character trait. Humility is a product of drawing near and spending time with Jesus. When we seek after Him, we inadvertently become more like Him.

In our attempt to shine brighter, we must learn that dimming the light of arrogance is the only way God can shine through us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional