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Source of Joy: Have You become Bored with God’s Blessings?

God gives us many blessings. Once we move past our initial thankfulness, the weight of what we must steward can distract us from the source of our joy.



Perception

For a month or more, the Lord has been confronting me… I hear messages about my perception of His blessings. Most of the time, He returns me to a small portion of the Israelite’s story; when they journey out of Egypt and into the land God promised…

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’

Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it and ground it in handmills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it.

Numbers 11:4-9, ESV

God gives us many blessings. Once we move past our initial thankfulness, the weight of what we must steward can distract us from the source of our joy. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #thankfulness #provision #blessings #steward #joy

Bored of Blessings

As an outsider looking in, I become outraged on God’s behalf. He blessed the Israelites with precious food straight from heaven so they would not have to hunt for food. When they woke in the morning, the manna lay in wait for them, alongside the dew. Then, they had the audacity to dream of returning to their lives as an enslaved people because they were bored with God’s provision.

As Christians, we like talking about the blessings of the Father. We praise God for the blessings as we receive them. Once we have them in our possession though, what do we do with them? Do we continue to praise God for them? Or do we become a little like the Israelites, wishing for more or different blessings in the midst of God’s goodness?

Steward His Blessings

God gives plentifully. 

He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you.

Deuteronomy 7:13, ESV

The Word promises that God will bless us on Earth. He allows us to multiply through childbirth. He blesses the land and animals that He created for us to provide us with food. Once we possess this bounty, then, we must steward over them.

The blessings, never less so blessings than when we received them, then become responsibilities. This is precisely when we start taking them for granted, viewing them as burdens. Jesus tells us quite clearly in the parable of the talents that we are to steward over what He gives us. When we do we will be blessed with even more responsibility.

Source of Joy

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 

Matthew 25:21, ESV

The master praises the servant for managing the gold given to him well and promises him more to oversee. The promise of more influence brings happiness, much like when we receive a hard-earned promotion. The reality, though, includes more work and greater challenges. We are still called to find joy in those challenges, not in spite of them.

I must reflect on when I received those gifts to remember the joy I found in them. I must seek a greater source of joy in the greatest blessing ever bestowed on me: His love, expressed most earnestly through His death on the cross.

The Joy of the Lord

Entering into the joy of the Lord can be difficult for a few reasons. First, we mistake the temporary and conditional emotion of happiness with joy–an attitude of the heart which is steadfast and constant. Joy persists in the midst of very strong, negative emotions because God is present with us in those moments, He is our source of joy.

Do not get me wrong, happiness is expressed in the Bible. It is not absent, but it does not have the sustaining power of this joy that God gives us freely. In Nehemiah 8, we are told that the joy of the Lord is our strength. It allows us to traverse challenges, to steward our blessings, whether we find happiness in them or not.

Additionally, if you are anything like I am, you look for joy in who you have become or are becoming. I read the bible to find me. I look for who I am and who I should be. At the end of the day, though, the protagonist of the Bible is God. All the stories in the Bible, all the statutes, and all of the commandments point us to who God is and what He has done. God is our joy. He is our strength. He sends His word out as the source of our joy.

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace;

Isaiah 55:11-12, ESV

A Challenge

I challenge myself to find joy by reading about who God is. I challenge myself to look at what He has given me to steward over and remember their origins as blessings. If this is something you struggle with, I invite you to come alongside me in this challenge.

We must remember God’s gifts of provision and the joy we found in them. But never forget the greatest blessing ever bestowed on us…God’s love, expressed most earnestly through His death on the cross. Click To Tweet

God gives us many blessings. Once we move past our initial thankfulness, the weight of what we must steward can distract us from the source of our joy. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #thankfulness #provision #blessings #steward #joy

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Gratitude, thankful, thank you, joy, provision, peace, community, strength, God’s love, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Say Thank You: Remembrance and Gratitude are Keys in A Life of Joy

How many times do we slip into the muck of life because we are stuck in our own pity-party? Get out of the muck, and say thank you. Enter a life of gratitude and joy.



“It’s ok to have your pity party, but then you need to move on.” This is some sage advice given to me by my husband’s grandmother when I was a newlywed. I cannot for the life of me remember what prompted this advice, but it has stuck with me for nearly two decades. Perhaps this wisdom was shared in a moment of tough love, but I received it well, and treasure it greatly.

There are still days when I have my pity parties. Things seem too difficult. I feel too tired. There are moments when I want to throw in the towel and call it quits. Days I feel all alone in a crowded space. My feelings are hurt, yet again. And before I know it, I am wallowing in the muck.

In the middle of the muck is usually when I heap on a big dose of guilt and shame. You know, to make myself the martyr of my own demise. I think I shouldn’t feel this way, I should be tougher, I should be better, I should do more. No wait – I shouldn’t do more – I should do less. I should be grateful. Meanwhile, the promise of abundant life slips by.

How many times do we slip into the muck of life because we are stuck in our own pity-party? Get out of the muck, and say thank you. Enter a life of joy. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #joy #ThankYou #PityParty #provision #community

Pity Party

There are things that are too difficult. There are problems I simply cannot fix because I do not possess the means. But, hallelujah! They are not too difficult for God.

I do feel tired at times. But the things I am doing like parenting and leading and teaching are good things. They continually bring me back to my knees.

There are moments I want to quit. A life of joy doesn’t mean easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. It means peace. Things can be hard yet peaceful.

There are days I feel alone. The loss of friendships has left gaping wounds. I hide behind facades, too afraid to let people see the real me. But I am NOT alone. God continually meets my need for community.

My feelings do get hurt. Having a sensitive heart is a strength of compassion. This is how God created me, and I am confident it is a gifting He gave on purpose. But honestly, it is often my own insecurity that causes my wounded pride.

Gratitude

Gratitude is woven throughout a life of joy. And gratitude begins with awareness. By acknowledging and remembering the blessings in life, our attitudes shift from doubt to confidence.

Remember God’s faithfulness of provision in your life. And say thank you.

If we are able to solve our dilemmas on our own, we would not need to rely on the Lord. And if we provide the solution, then we receive the credit. When there seems to be no solution, God will provide. He will receive glory, and we learn to trust in a deeper way.

Remember God’s strength gives you endurance. And say thank you.

We are in continual training. Every trial we go through prepares us for further work. This is our hope and comfort. Because we know that our future is for eternity and that our life has purpose by glorifying the Father, we see value in these trials.

Remember God’s peacefulness brings you comfort. And say thank you.

Because the task we are enduring is one we are called to, part of His provision is comfort and peace. There is a difference between stretching our faith, and a struggle with the Spirit within ourselves. We have His peace within the discomfort.

Remember God’s plan for community. And say thank you.

Instead of focusing on the loss of friendship, focus on the friends we have. Invest in these people, build trust, and love them well. God does not desire us to be alone, He created us to need community.

Remember God’s love for you and all His creation. And say thank you.

Getting the focus off of ourselves, onto others, we can see that we are loved and cared for. Recognize this. Be thankful for the love other people give. Receive it well.

Move On

If you find yourself in the muck, go ahead and have your pity party knowing you will not stay there. Feel all the feelings – sad, stressed, overwhelmed, hurt, scared. Then remember. Remember how God cares for you, the provisions, the blessings. Acknowledge the good in your life. Focus on what you have, love who you have, use the time you have and do it all for the glory of the Lord.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT

Feel all the feelings – sad, stressed, overwhelmed, hurt, scared. Then remember. Remember how God cares for you, the provisions, the blessings. Click To Tweet

How many times do we slip into the muck of life because we are stuck in our own pity-party? Get out of the muck, and say thank you. Enter a life of joy. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #joy #ThankYou #PityParty #provision #community

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striving, hope, joy, righteousness, peace, glory, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Striving: Focusing on God’s Glory to Share His Love

Striving to show others the love of God is not what was ever intended by our Creator. We often fall short. Focusing on Him alone is the only way to align our hearts and share His love.



Flowers.

I would have never guessed that flowers would be the last straw. You know, the straw that broke the camel’s back?

I might have expected it to be the dress; or maybe even the food, but certainly not the flowers.

In striving to show others God's love, we often fall short. Focusing on Him alone is the only way to align our hearts and share His love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hope #righteousness #striving #joy #peace

Striving for the Wedding

Our wedding was quickly approaching. My fiancé and I had been working diligently at planning a simple, yet elegant wedding. It had been really well! There were some stressful moments, sure, but generally, it was pretty easy and enjoyable.

Until it wasn’t…

With a cart full of flowers and one attempt after the other to keep this expense as small as possible, the reality finally set in. Flowers are simply a large cost, regardless of my greatest efforts.

And that’s when things started spiraling.

God’s Love, Not Ours

From Day 1 of our engagement, my fiancé and I have been set on using this special day to display God’s love story more than our own. 

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 has been a bedrock verse for us in this season of life. Constantly serving as a reminder that it is Christ’s love that compels us and not our own. 

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, NIV

That doesn’t mean the hype of wedding planning hasn’t crowded my thoughts though. Over the last several weeks, from reserving venues to deciding on our bridal party; from wedding dress shopping to premarital counseling, the wedding has been at the forefront of my thoughts.

Understandable as this may be, when I found myself crying over a $20 purchase of ugly flowers that didn’t match my vision but fit the budget, I realized that some things had gotten out of line.

Approaching God’s Word

Sometimes we read passages like 2 Corinthians 5 with the right idea, but still just slightly off from its original meaning. God’s Word is perfect, flawless, and infallible, but that doesn’t mean its readers are. Which is why it is so important we approach the Word of God wisely and with diligent devotion to understanding it correctly.

Thank God for His grace in this though, because we don’t always do this well. 

I realized that I was focusing so much on the ‘no longer living for myself’ part that I missed the ‘living for Him’ part. I’ve been so preoccupied with trying to be selfless with my time and money in the fine details; trying to make it a day that displays Christ more than myself that I neglected the condition of my heart in doing so.

Living for Him

Romans 14:17 tells us that ‘the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.’

When we consider the context of this passage, Paul is encouraging the believers in Rome to discern religion from relationship. It does not matter if someone eats food that is clean or unclean according to the Law. With Christ seated at the right hand of God the Father in absolute victory over sin and death, it is no longer about following the written code. However, about growing in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. And, thus, serving Christ with such a heart.

We could have the greatest, most pure motives, yet if our hearts are not resting in the Holy Spirit and in the grace of Jesus Christ, then regardless of what we do or how well we do it, we’ll be missing the point.

We could have the greatest, most pure motives, yet if our hearts are not resting in the Holy Spirit and in the grace of Jesus Christ, then regardless of what we do or how well we do it, we’ll be missing the point. Click To Tweet

Striving To Do What’s Been Done

I don’t believe that God gets angry or disappointed with us when we get distracted like this. I truly believe He delights in our efforts and our diligence to glorify Him rather than ourselves. However, I believe it saddens Him when we strive so hard to do what He has already done.

Christ is glorious. That’s a fact and it will never change. He doesn’t need us to make Him glorious. He simply is. Yet He invites us to join in the blessing of sharing that with others. But when we attempt to do this in our own strength, we stray from what truly pleases the Lord.

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Psalm 147:10-11, NIV

The greatest attempts at pointing others to Christ or at seeking to glorify Him rather than ourselves, if done without an appropriate fear of the Lord and hope in His unfailing love, remains empty.

So as our desire may be to use our wedding day as a display of God’s greater love story more than our own, by God’s grace He gently reminded me, through tears and a weary heart, that I need to first see Him. See Him as glorious and worthy before effectively displaying that to others.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us plainly that we are to ‘guard our hearts, for everything we do flows from it.’ If our hearts are not resting and focusing on the glory of Christ and His unfathomable love for us, then any attempt on our part to display that to others will be tainted and ineffective.

A Place of Hope

Is there something that you have been trying so hard to do right, but feel like you’re still running in circles?

Do you feel no matter how great your efforts to honor and glorify God are, you still come up short and exhausted?

Sister, this is not how it is supposed to be. Looking at the glory of God through the grace of Jesus and pointing others to it was never intended to exhaust us. It was meant to rejuvenate, refresh, and fill us to the brim (Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 19:7-9).

Take a moment today and evaluate your heart. Are your attempts coming from a place of hope or striving? Righteousness or regret? Peace or panic? Joy or duty?

God loves it when you desire to serve Him (John 12:26), but He delights even more in a heart that is aligned with His; in a heart that finds righteousness, peace and joy in Him alone.

In striving to show others God's love, we often fall short. Focusing on Him alone is the only way to align our hearts and share His love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hope #righteousness #striving #joy #peace

unsplash-logoJez Timms
Wait, waiting, hold, season, purpose, fruitful, joy, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Hold: Learning to Love and Enjoy God’s Waiting Room

When everything is put on hold, God is still moving. We can enjoy the waiting rooms of life because, with God, no season is in vain.



Sitting on her pillow, holding her knees in her chest, she rocked herself back and forth as tears streamed down her face. She tried to journal, tried to pray, tried to worship, but all she could do was cry. She reached for the tissue, as her nose swelled again and snot settled on her upper lip. 

“Why?!?” she screamed inwardly! “God, I’m trying to trust you. I want to hear you! I want to obey, but why aren’t you speaking? Why am I still waiting?” she bawled in the dark. Then, resigned to the fact that life was still on hold, she crawled under her covers, laid her head on a tear-stained pillow and went to sleep. 

When everything is put on hold, God is still moving. We can enjoy the waiting rooms of life because, with God, no season is in vain. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #fruitful #joy #purpose #season #wait

Life on Hold

A hospital waiting room tends to freeze time as if our world is suddenly put on hold. We step into its space, waiting for news of a loved one.

Some of my favorite memories have happened in a waiting room. I was just four years old, sitting on vinyl chairs with my grandparents and my little sister when my dad came around the corner in full scrubs. He held my sister and me on his two sides and announced the arrival of our baby brother! 

Gramma

As a college student, I remember sitting in the waiting room, with all of my extended family, while my grandfather was in surgery. My enthusiastic Gramma dazzled us all with treasured tales as we waited. Time stopped, and I watched my grandmother’s eyes glisten as she told story after story of her childhood and college years. Growing up in Louisiana in the ’40s, falling in love with my grandfather in the ’50s, the early days in her marriage, the 60’s as she raised my mom and her three sisters.

To this day, I barely remember why Granddad was having surgery, and I have no idea how long we waited. But I will never forget some of her stories, or how it felt to be all together. It was pure magic.

And, there are the countless times I have sat in a doctor’s office waiting room with my own kids, reading books together, or playing “I Spy,” and, taking time to be still and make the most of our wait. 

The irony of it all has not escaped me. After all, waiting rooms are often a place of frustration or anxiety. Rarely do you see people enjoy their wait, and certainly nobody throws a party in a hospital waiting room!

God’s Waiting Room

Waiting rooms can be beautiful places, where memories are made; yet, waiting for God to move rarely feels beautiful. 

I have sat in the waiting rooms of life more than a few times. Several years ago, after my husband lost his job, I kept begging God to show us what was next. I felt like everything was put on hold, and I was stuck. I was willing to do anything and go anywhere, except sit still and wait! Sound familiar?

I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.

Psalm 40:1, AMPC

As I began writing this post, I was waiting for my fourth child to make his debut. I was in pain, and emotional. I was uncomfortable. So, I strove to make something happen, but in the end, all I could do was wait.

Over and over, Jesus showed me Isaiah 55:1…

Wait and listen, everyone who is thirsty! Come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price [simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing].

Isaiah 55:1, AMPC

And now, I am typing one-handed holding a bubbly, bright-eyed three-week-old wiggling on my lap. Like most things that require all of my patience, he is worth the wait!

Wait with Purpose

Waiting is HARD. Whether we wait with expectancy or anxiety, either way means to stretch ourselves and hope for something that we don’t fully see yet. 

Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.

Psalm 27:14, AMPC 

The truth is, God does not put our lives on hold, rather He holds our lives. We don’t wait for God to move. God is moving, and we wait for Him to speak. And, in the waiting, He is not silent and we are not without purpose. 

God does not put our lives on hold, rather He holds our lives. We don't wait for God to move. God is moving, and we wait for Him to speak. And, in the waiting, He is not silent and we are not without purpose. Click To Tweet

Wait with Joy

Through all of my times of perceived waiting. The Lord continues to show me, now is my time and right now is my calling. This place and these people right in front of me are my purpose. Enjoy this moment.

Even when we feel like nothing is happening, God is playing the overture before the show begins. We can choose to be anxious and impatient with the process, or we can sit back and enjoy the music. 

If you are in a season of waiting, this IS your moment. It IS your right now. Today IS your season. Enjoy the day. 

Waiting IS hard, but it is not fruitless. With God, no season is ever in vain. 

When everything is put on hold, God is still moving. We can enjoy the waiting rooms of life because, with God, no season is in vain. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #fruitful #joy #purpose #season #wait

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
still, be still, wait, waiting, joy, overwhelmed, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Be Still: Choosing to Wait on the Lord in Our Circumstances

Life’s overwhelming circumstances can leave us feeling completely helpless. But the Lord promises to never leave us. All we need to do is choose to be still and wait on Him.



The quieter you become, the more you can hear.

Ram Doss

I sat on the cold hospital floor and knelt beside the bed as still as could be. My hand held the one whom I had called Daddy my entire life. All we could do was just be still and wait…

Overwhelming circumstances can leave us feeling helpless. But the Lord promises to never leave us. All we need to do is choose to be still and wait on Him. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #BeStill #wait #joy #overwhelmed

Be Still and Know God

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalm 46:10, NKJV

God…sometimes there is just too much noise! There’s just too much going on around me. I just want to run away and hide! 

If you are anything like me, you have prayed this same prayer more than once in your life. As Americans, we live in a fast-paced world filled with busy schedules and lives that seem to move at lightning speed. It is so easy to take our great and mighty God for granted when we don’t take the time to be still and know Him.  

Kneeling beside the bed of my dad just days ago, I felt the same way. Everything in my life seemed to overwhelm me in that instant. Would he make it through this surgery? Could the surgeons fix his heart? Mind you, I was not doubting God or my faith, just worried and overwhelmed. But, as the minutes ticked by I remembered how God had helped me the past three years and all the lessons He had taught me along the way.

Many times I had people around me ask how I survived and held on to my faith? It was not anything I did, but everything He showed me. So, let me take a few minutes and share with you what God has taught me about being still in Him.  

To Know Him is to Love Him

I accepted Christ into my heart at a young age. I am so thankful that I grew up knowing and understanding His love, His Word, and His ways. Dear friend, you may know who God is and believe in God, but do you “know” Him?

Do you believe Christ died on the cross for you? Have you asked Him to forgive you of your sins and come to live in your heart? Once you do this, you will experience His love, grace, mercy, and peace. Then you will begin to understand and “know” His ways. 

Let the Worries Fade Away

Have you ever wondered how some Christians can go through pain and suffering and still have joy? It’s because they are being still. As a Christian God teaches us to put all our worries in His hands.

Instead of listening to the noise of your worries, listen to the voice of the Lord. We are not to let our joy come from our circumstances, because our circumstances can change in an instance. Our God does not change. Stop worrying about your joy and your happiness and let Him fight for you.  

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Exodus 14:14, NIV

Have No Fear

The Lord remains the same. As Christians, we know He can fight our battles, but we still seem consumed with fear. Fear of the unknown? Fear of failure? Fear of the future? Did you know the Devil can use these fears against us? He loves to distract us with our worries and our fears because they can distance us from God.  

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.

Psalm 46:1-2, KJV

God has proven time and again that He can work within us and through us. Sometimes He allows trials to come into our lives, so we can learn to depend more upon Him. Remember, God is always in control. Stop worrying and just be still. 

Wait

Waiting is hard and sometimes waiting can hurt. It is in our human nature to want to control every situation. Sometimes it can feel like God is not answering our prayers or does not seem to understand the urgency of our situation. But, if we give in to those thoughts we are saying God is not in control or He is not being fair.

Be still because God is worth waiting for. He is often at work behind the scenes in ways we cannot fathom. We should be still and discover what God is trying to teach us while we are waiting.  

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, And He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.

Psalm 27:14, KJV
Be still because God is worth waiting for. He is often at work behind the scenes in ways we cannot fathom. We should be still and discover what God is trying to teach us while we are waiting. Click To Tweet

Choose

I choose to be still and wait on the Lord in my present circumstances. I choose to discover what He wants me to learn in the storm. I choose to listen to the voice of my Lord, and not the noise of my worries. I choose joy. I choose life. I choose love. Join me and let us JUST BE STILL.

Until we meet again… Gracie

Overwhelming circumstances can leave us feeling helpless. But the Lord promises to never leave us. All we need to do is choose to be still and wait on Him. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #BeStill #wait #joy #overwhelmed

unsplash-logoElliot Mann
blessing, joy, praise, provision, steward, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Steward: Finding Joy when Blessings Seem Like Burdens

God gives us many blessings. Once we move past our initial thankfulness, the weight of what we must steward can distract us from the source of our joy.



Perception

For a month or more, the Lord has been confronting me… I hear messages about my perception of His blessings. Most of the time, He returns me to a small portion of the Israelite’s story; when they journey out of Egypt and into the land God promised…

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’

Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it and ground it in handmills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it.

Numbers 11:4-9, ESV

God gives us many blessings. Once we move past our initial thankfulness, the weight of what we must steward can distract us from the source of our joy. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #blessing #joy #provision

Bored of Blessings

As an outsider looking in, I become outraged on God’s behalf. He blessed the Israelites with precious food straight from heaven so they would not have to hunt for food. When they woke in the morning, the manna lay in wait for them, alongside the dew. Then, they had the audacity to dream of returning to their lives as an enslaved people because they were bored with God’s provision.

As Christians, we like talking about the blessings of the Father. We praise God for the blessings as we receive them. Once we have them in our possession though, what do we do with them? Do we continue to praise God for them? Or do we become a little like the Israelites, wishing for more or different blessings in the midst of God’s goodness?

Steward His Blessings

God gives plentifully. 

He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you.

Deuteronomy 7:13, ESV

The Word promises that God will bless us on Earth. He allows us to multiply through childbirth. He blesses the land and animals that He created for us to provide us with food. Once we possess this bounty, then, we must steward over them.

The blessings, never less so blessings than when we received them, then become responsibilities. This is precisely when we start taking them for granted, viewing them as burdens. Jesus tells us quite clearly in the parable of the talents that we are to steward over what He gives us. When we do we will be blessed with even more responsibility.

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 

Matthew 25:21, ESV

The master praises the servant for managing the gold given to him well and promises him more to oversee. The promise of more influence brings happiness, much like when we receive a hard-earned promotion. The reality, though, includes more work and greater challenges. We are still called to find joy in those challenges, not in spite of them.

I must reflect on when I received those gifts to remember the joy I found in them, and seek greater joy in the greatest blessing ever bestowed on me: His love, expressed most earnestly through His death on the cross.

The Joy of the Lord

Entering into the Joy of the Lord can be difficult for a few reasons. First, we mistake the temporary and conditional emotion of happiness with joy–an attitude of the heart which is steadfast and constant. Joy persists in the midst of very strong, negative emotions because God is present with us in those moments, He is our source of joy.

Do not get me wrong, happiness is expressed in the Bible. It is not absent, but it does not have the sustaining power of this joy that God gives us freely. In Nehemiah 8, we are told that the joy of the Lord is our strength. It allows us to traverse challenges, to steward our blessings, whether we find happiness in them or not.

Additionally, if you are anything like I am, you look for joy in who you have become or are becoming. I read the bible to find me. I look for who I am and who I should be. At the end of the day, though, the protagonist of the Bible is God. All the stories in the Bible, all the statutes, and all of the commandments point us to who God is and what He has done. God is our joy. He is our strength. He sends His word out for our joy.

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace;

Isaiah 55:11-12, ESV

A Challenge

I challenge myself to find joy by reading about who God is. I challenge myself to look at what He has given me to steward over and remember their origins as blessings. If this is something you struggle with, I invite you to come alongside me in this challenge.

We must remember God’s gifts of provision and the joy we found in them. But never forget the greatest blessing ever bestowed on us…God’s love, expressed most earnestly through His death on the cross. Click To Tweet

God gives us many blessings. Once we move past our initial thankfulness, the weight of what we must steward can distract us from the source of our joy. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #blessing #joy #provision

Evie Shaffer

Anxious, anxiety, stress, joy, kindness, hope, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Anxious: Casting Our Worries on God to Allow His Kind Consolation

Anxiety is something many people deal with. When we are anxious it is important to bring it to God, and when those around us are struggling we need to come alongside them with kindness. 



I have dealt with anxiety for much of my life. It has been one of those issues that seems to ebb and flow. The past several months have been among the most anxiety-ridden of my life. I have been allowing the weight of stress, busyness, and fear to take over. It’s made me forget who I am and Whose I am. However, I am finally learning that I need to get in front of my anxiety and not allow it to rule over my life.

Many people deal with anxiety. When we are anxious it is important to allow God and others to come along side us in kindness. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #anxiety #joy #stress #kindness #hope

Cast It Away

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7, NIV

I heard a small portion of a talk that Christine Caine did on Anxiety. She spoke of this verse in 1 Peter and the meaning of the word cast. I looked it up for myself and this is what I found…

To throw something forcefully in a specific direction.

To cast means to not only throw but to throw forcefully. This is what scripture tells us to do. To throw our anxiety forcefully in the specific direction that is Jesus. Throw it on Him. Why should we do this? BECAUSE HE CARES FOR US.

This struck a chord in me. Jesus cares so much about us that He is not only willing to take on our anxiety, He is commanding us to cast it on Him.

Consolation from the Lord

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

Psalm 94:19, NIV

When we are anxious we can expect the Lord to console us to the point of overwhelming joy. In order to receive this joy and consolation, we have to surrender our anxiety and rest in Him. This is not in part but in whole.

We can’t just give God pieces of our anxiety that are convenient to part with. We have to give Him all of it. When we do this He WILL console us so that we can have joy. We were not meant to deal with our anxiety within our own power but within God’s.

When we are anxious we can expect the Lord to console us. We were not meant to deal with our anxiety within our own power but within God's. Click To Tweet

Helping Our Anxious Loved Ones

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Proverbs 12:25, NIV

When someone we know is going through a time of trial and anxiety is present in their life, we need to step up. We need to be there to offer a kind word. Whether this is encouragement, advice, or simple validation of their feelings. Our kindness can make a huge impact on their lives. During times of personal anxiety, I had people speaking truth and kindness to me. Anxiety weighs us down, but kindness has the opportunity to lift us up.

So I challenge you, don’t be complacent. Check on people. Especially if you know they struggle with anxiety. I know first hand that sometimes I am so anxious and worn down that I don’t have the capacity to grocery shop, or even pour myself a bowl of cereal. We are so quick to offer meals, words, and kindness when people have physical ailments. Imagine what would happen if we did it for the people who deal with mental health issues.

Simple acts of kindness can go a long way. So check on people, offer them a kind word, maybe even meet a need in their life. You have no idea what a difference you can make when you offer kindness to cheer up the anxiety in someone’s heart.

Many people deal with anxiety. When we are anxious it is important to allow God and others to come along side us in kindness. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #anxiety #joy #stress #kindness #hope

Tina Dawson

depression, hope, joy, darkness, faith, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Depression: Fighting for Joy in the Midst of Darkness

As believers, we may think depression and faith could not occur together. But because of the cross, we who face despair can still find hope. 



Depression is something we hear about all the time. I’m here to tell you it is much more than just being sad. Most Christians I know who have struggled with being depressed, have found themselves wracked with guilt and despair. I know I have. I am not an expert, but I know what I have experienced and I want to share about my fight for joy.

As believers we may think depression and faith could not occur together. But because of the cross, we who face despair can still find hope. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #encouragement #depression #joy #hope

Subtle

It starts with thoughts like: Why try? It builds to: Why bother? It evolves into a feeling of heaviness. For me, it is best described as a hot, wet blanket. It’s like concrete in my shoes.

It’s like my to-do list slipping into Jello. My emotions are on edge. I think everything is about me. I think people believe I am a failure. I can barely function, but just enough.

Complicated

Most people think of the person who is never around or hidden. My friend Brandi and I talk about the active depressed person. I’m involved in my life, but I am dying on the inside. It takes all I have to get my clothes on. All I have to convince myself what I am doing is worth it. What I do matters. That I still have purpose.

I find it hard to believe that anybody notices me. This is not wanting to end life. This is not wanting to hurt anymore or it’s the desire to feel again. You begin to doubt that you will ever be happy again.

Noise

Have you ever tried to have a conversation while someone vacuumed or ran a noisy dishwasher? Did you really hear all the words? Not well, right? Depression is like that.

The words are coming toward you but the thoughts cannot really get through. You read the Bible. You pray. You fight for joy. But the words on the page don’t mean anything. They can’t prick your heart.

If you do feel anything, it’s often guilt at not being more joyful. It’s despair that you will always feel like this… Why bother? You aren’t really worth much. You are a disappointment. You won’t ever have purpose. You did once, but now you are just trouble.

Depression Is Not the Final Say…

I have had multiple issues with depression. I find the winter is usually the worst. Especially gray, rainy ones. My hormones can play a big factor: pregnancy, nursing, middle age. Stress can make it take center stage. But, it’s not the end…

I have seen God do amazing things in the middle of my despair.

Always Hope

How do we face depression as believers?

We continue to look to His word for who we are. Depression tells us we have no purpose and we are worthless. But God’s word can break through and remind us of what is true – He is the one who gives His people purpose. He will never leave us and He is the One who will see us completed to the end.

We can listen to music that glorifies Him and praises Him in spite of what we feel or think. He has not changed and He can be trusted even if our thoughts cannot. This is where I have seen God move in mighty ways. The battles I have fought while depressed, have been the bricks God laid to remind me He is faithful, He is sovereign, He is trustworthy. Even in the darkest days.

We confess what we are feeling to other safe mature believers and ask for prayer. We are tempted to hide what we are experiencing but that only leads to more isolation. This is not how the church works. We can believe that being vulnerable will make Christ look less. But when in actuality I have heard over and over that my willingness to share my neediness has challenged others to do the same. They have seen that God cares about every part of their lives especially their suffering.

We seek out help. This can look differently for different times. I have sought counseling. Medicine was necessary at one point. Every situation will not call for the same solution. But hear me, we do not have to stay in despair and depression.

We can be tempted to hide our experiences but that only leads to more isolation. This is not how the church works. Being vulnerable encourages others. Only then can we see how intricately God cares for our sufferings. Click To Tweet

No More Hiding

I do know one thing that does not work. Hiding. Hiding only makes my life feel worse. We are in a battle for our hearts and minds. We are believers and our eternity is secure. I want more than just security. I want to live a life that finds joy in Christ and in His truths. I am His. Some days that means depression and despair. He is still enough when I have those days. He is still enough.

God hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer. I call to you from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me, for you have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy. I will dwell in your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of your wings.

Psalm 61:1-4, CSB

As believers we may think depression and faith could not occur together. But because of the cross, we who face despair can still find hope. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #scripture #devotional #encouragement #depression #joy #hope
Ian Espinosa

home, joy, pilgrims, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Pilgrims: Learning to Be in The World, Not of The World

As believers, we are pilgrims who live in the world but are not of the world. We must embrace this identity to truly follow Christ. 



Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.

1 Peter 2:11

Recently my sister in law made an intriguing comment. She was recounting a simple, yet profound statement that her pastor had made to their congregation. He told them that, as believers, if they do not feel out of place in this world, they could be headed for trouble. If they always feel at home in the world, perhaps they’re trying too hard to fit in.

Her pastor was encouraging them to live as Christ instructed His followers to live: as pilgrims passing through. Ultimately, her pastor’s point was that, as believers, we are called to be in this world but not of this world. So, if at times, we feel out of place, most likely we’re actually doing something right in our walk of faith.

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

John 15:19

As believers, we are pilgrims who live in the world but are not of the world. We must embrace this identity to truly follow Christ. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Leaving Egypt

A few years ago, I found myself in a situation where I truly felt out of place in the world, even among some believers. I had earned a Master’s degree in Social Work and had worked as a community organizer and advocate to empower people in poverty. My husband had a degree in economics and owned a small business as a general contractor for high-end residential projects.

By all accounts, we were doing pretty well in this world. We were establishing successful careers, building a large community, and just generally enjoying life’s pleasures. But our faith in the Lord was small. He was about to completely dismantle the safe, little life we had arranged for ourselves through our own pride and strength.

Just like the Israelites, little did we know that we were embarking on a pilgrimage out of Egypt into the wilderness. Over the span of about two years, our careers, our community, and really our entire life changed drastically. After having our first child, my husband and I prayed and asked the Lord whether I should go back to work or stay at home to care for our baby…

It became very clear that I needed to resign from my salaried position with a large nonprofit. There went a big chunk of our steady, reliable income along with our health insurance coverage and my professional identity.

Questions…

About a year later, a number of times in prayer, my husband had heard from the Lord that it was time to close his small business. His company was our family’s only source of income. So, he was naturally resistant. And we had a second child on the way. These things did not make sense to our natural minds. And I had a lot of questions.

Why was the Lord calling us away from the careers we had been working so hard to establish? What would we tell our friends and family? How could He expect us to walk away from our only source of income? What about the mortgage? How would we feed our family?!

The Lord was trying to show us that our earthly provision was not secure. He was our provider and the source of our security, financially and otherwise. So, after a great deal of discussion, prayer–and quite a bit of fear and trembling–we decided to follow Christ’s instruction to close my husband’s business.

Pilgrims in the Wilderness

For the next year, we became pilgrims wandering in a financial, spiritual, and emotional wilderness. Stripped bare of all our earthly identities, we truly began to learn what it felt like to be outsiders. With a baby and a toddler in tow and no source of steady income, we were living in the world, but we did not have the means to be part of it. We could barely even explain what we were going through to ourselves, let alone to our friends–many of whom were not believers.

We tried to share our hearts with people in our church and fellowship groups, but even to them, the choices we were making seemed foreign. I often felt completely isolated and alone. Watching the world go on about its business, I felt as if I were orbiting just slightly outside of their circles. Despite the fact I was following the Lord and growing in my faith, a part of me was still desperately wanting to fit in. To re-enter the world’s normal orbit and simply go with the flow.

A Peculiar People

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter: 2:9

As believers, we are indeed a peculiar people. Pilgrims from a kingdom that is not of this world. Part of being a pilgrim passing through is following Christ, even when He calls us to say or do things that don’t seem to make sense to the world. And Beloved, this can be a tough and lonely row to hoe. The world might look at our faith and call us unreasonable, irrational, irresponsible, even crazy. Because faith is not their paradigm, reason is their religion.

I’m not saying that believers should not act according to reason. But sometimes what the Lord calls us to do can feel like it doesn’t make any earthly sense. Sometimes there are spiritual steps of faith that we must take in order to follow Christ. We have to learn to trust that even if those steps don’t make sense to our natural mind, they are still the right ones to take.

We can’t let our faith be swayed by what others–in the world or in the church–think of us. And if we’re faithful and obedient to follow His leading, we will see that there is a rhyme and a reason to how and why He takes us in certain unlikely directions.

Part of being a pilgrim passing through is following Christ. Even when He calls us to say or do things that don't seem to make sense to the world. Click To Tweet

Rebuilding

Honestly, our wilderness season was one of the most difficult and frightening times of my life. Yet during that pilgrimage, my faith in the Lord and my trust in His goodness grew exponentially. I saw Him move in miraculous ways on behalf of our family. We went without many things that the world calls necessities. But we never starved, and we always had clothes on our back and a roof over our head. Ultimately, the Lord had taken us on a journey out of the worldly system and into the wilderness. And today we are living in what feels like a promised land where we can rebuild what was lost.

We are once again establishing our careers, but this time, we’re doing so according to the gifts and callings that He has placed on our lives. We’re building community, but now we’re doing it intentionally with other believers who are on their own pilgrimages. And we’re enjoying life again, but not just for the earthly pleasures that the world offers. Now we’re experiencing the true joy that only Christ can bring. I get the sense that this is only the beginning of what He really has in store for our life.

From Pilgrims to Citizens

Our pilgrimage made no earthly sense at the time. In retrospect, however, I can see how the Lord perfectly orchestrated each step of faith. I feel so thankful that He considered us worthy of having that experience. It made me realize that I do not need the world.

But it also showed me how desperately the world needs Christ. Now I can show Christ’s love to a world that is lost, even when they feel like they are at home. Somewhere deep down, they want and need to be found. They long to know that they are not alone. That there is a real, lasting place for them. That is the beautiful offer of the gospel: to be pilgrims for a time but to belong for eternity.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.

Ephesians 2:19

When have you truly felt like a pilgrim in this world? How have you balanced living in the world but not being of it?

As believers, we are pilgrims who live in the world but are not of the world. We must embrace this identity to truly follow Christ. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

All scripture references are from the King James Version of The Bible.
faith, joy, trust, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Sweetness: Tasting His Presence Through the Process

Sometimes faith is a process, or promises take a while to come true. In the place of waiting, the sweetness of the Presence of the Lord sustains us. 



One of my favorite things about fall is all the delicious smells and tastes in the air. I love a mouthwatering apple cobbler; a buttery crust, topped with warm gooey cinnamon coated apples. Or what about the rich, cool pumpkin pie. All the flavors culminate into a swirl of delight for your taste buds, like a circus in your mouth. I also love sipping on fresh, warm, apple cider. So sweet. And satisfying.

Think about your favorite dessert right now. You can stop and close your eyes to really experience the sweetness in your mind. Let the warm chocolate spill over your tongue. Let the rich, cool cream melt in your mouth, or the juicy berries explode with flavor into your cheeks. Do you have your special dessert in mind? Meditate on the sweetness for a moment. Let it permeate your senses.

Sometimes faith is a process, or promises take a while to come true. In the place of waiting, the sweetness of the Presence of the Lord sustains us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

The Sweetness of His Presence

What is better than even the richest dessert, is the full, rich, beautiful presence of Jesus. In His presence is the fullness of joy! It is sweet and satisfying. There is nothing like it in Heaven or on Earth.

The secret [of the sweet, satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him, and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep, inner] meaning.

Psalm 25:14, AMPC

But, what about when you don’t feel the sweetness? What about when trusting in God, drawing near to Him is painful, difficult, uncomfortable?

There are days when I feel too raw or too ashamed to come close to Jesus. There are times when I don’t understand my own heart, so I don’t want to share it with the God, who sees all. Sometimes I would rather just binge watch TV and let my brain and my heart rest.

Yet, when I choose to risk time with Him, I am never disappointed. Because Jesus isn’t waiting to catch me in a trap. He is my refuge.

O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good! Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts and takes refuge in Him.

Psalm 34:8, AMPC

There are days we feel too raw or too ashamed to come close to Jesus. But, when we choose to risk time with Him, we will never be disappointed. Jesus isn't waiting to catch us in a trap. He is our refuge. Click To Tweet

Faith is a Process

I was struck the other day while reading the book of Exodus, by the process of faith. God appears to Moses in a burning bush (the bush is on fire, but not burning up). He tells Moses how He plans to rescue the Israelite people from slavery and that Moses will lead this rescue. God gives Moses the step by step plan for all the He is going to do, and all that Moses is responsible for (Exodus 3-4).

Then, Moses begins to question God. “But I’m not…enough.” “I can’t…succeed.” God provides answers and assurance. Moses continues to make excuses to the point that the Bible says “the anger of the Lord blazed against Moses (Exodus 4:14).” Yet, God still chose Moses to carry out His plan.

And later, in the book of Hebrews, God honors Moses for his faith in rescuing the people of Israel (Hebrews 11:27-29).

How often am I like Moses, asking God the “what about?” questions?

God is extremely gracious, patient and forgiving. He sees the full picture. He loves us through our trials, and questions, and brings us to His place of faith for us. Faith is not something man invented, it is God created.

looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2, ASV (emphasis added)

The Process and The Sweetness

Jesus is not offended by our process. He welcomes our hearts into His throne room, whatever they look like. I am thankful for my hard times with God, and in life. I am thankful for my raw questions, and even my lack of faith at times. These things keep me coming to Jesus. The more I seek Jesus in my struggling, the more I get to taste the sweetness of His presence.

His grace never dies. His love is always enough. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and I can trust that He’s got this. That He’s got me. In the process of bringing my whole self to Him, He grows my faith.

But even more satisfying than seeing my own faith grow, is that I get the privilege of sitting at His feet. The glory of His Presence is not just for Kings and Queens, but for the broken, the ashamed, the lost and the hungry.

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11, ESV

Dear Friend,

I invite you to come, just as you are, sit at the feet of Jesus, and taste the sweetness of His presence.

Sometimes faith is a process, or promises take a while to come true. In the place of waiting, the sweetness of the Presence of the Lord sustains us. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional