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Pilgrims in the World: Embracing Our Identity in Christ

As believers, we are pilgrims 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, KJV

As believers, we are pilgrims 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 | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #belong #identity #pilgrims #salvation #provision

Pilgrims in the World

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, KJV

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, KJV

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 there is a rhyme and a reason to how and why He takes us in certain unlikely directions.

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. 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 heads. 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 in the world 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, KJV

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

As believers, we are pilgrims 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 | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #belong #identity #pilgrims #salvation #provision

unsplash-logoEsther Ann
Gratitude, thankful, shepherd, God’s Word, scripture, Psalm 23, provision, presence, perception, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Psalm 23: Trading Our Perception with the Truth of Our Good Shepherd

We respond to Scripture based on how we perceive our current circumstances of life. That is one of the beauties of God’s Word; it becomes new each day just as our circumstances and moods do. It’s a lifelong process to take God at His word and not allow perception to filter out the truth. Psalm 23 is an easy passage to help us trade our perception with God’s truth.



Psalm 23

A dear sister recently told me she is not a fan of Psalm 23. I got the impression she felt bad about admitting it since it’s part of the Bible, but her reasoning made perfect sense.

After a little inquiry, I learned it was the chapter she was forced to read and recite when she got in trouble as a child. So it’s not hard to see how one of the most well-known passages in Scripture became tarnished in her mind. Let’s dig into Psalm 23 together and see what it says and how it may challenge our perception.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

Psalm 23:1

We respond to Scripture based on the perception of our circumstances in life. Psalm 23 is an easy passage to help us trade our perception, with God's truth. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #provision #GodsWord #scripture #perception #Psalm23

Our Perception

Two specific thoughts come to my mind after reading verse one:

  1. Do I view God as my personal Shepherd, or is He too busy with more important tasks?
  2. What do I perceive I am lacking?

In this passage, God presents Himself as a caretaker. He is seen as a provider, a leader, and One who is responsible for care. Because of that fact, David’s response is: there is nothing I lack. The first part of verse one speaks to God’s character. I wonder what causes us to feel He is holding out on us? Lately, a bit of careful reflection will quickly illuminate I have everything I need.

For example, a few weeks ago our kitchen was wrecked after a weekend of grilling out with neighbors and running around town. No one wanted to clean up the mess. My man is an excellent helper around the house, but he was working late and I needed to clean up before I had room to cook. Has anyone else encountered this yucky phenomenon?

Anyway, as I dove into the mountain I asked God to help me see the positive instead of feeling sorry for myself that no one was helping me. The Father quickly reminded me of the sweet time we had spent with our neighbors and the laundry list of blessings which made it possible. And He showed me what a joy it is to have a family and a home to share. Before I knew it, I was actually smiling while washing dishes. But don’t spread that around.

God’s Provision

He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths.

Psalm 23:2-3

Three more reflections appear to me here:

  1. Green pastures mean God knows where the food is.
  2. Quiet waters represent that God knows we are like sheep.
  3. Comfort is always going to be greater on God’s path.

Sometimes, our perception tells us something looks really tantalizing, or maybe even righteous. Yet the Father, in His omniscience, knows what will nourish us completely. If sheep are steered to rushing waters they will stick their head in and be swept downstream. God understands what His children need and how best to provide for them.

That means, if we truly accept that He knows best and does provide for us, then we must dare to challenge beliefs that set themselves against God’s goodness to us. Sheep may lack water and be willing to go toward a stream to quench their thirst, but they may be pulled under rushing waters. The Good Shepherd will always lead us to quiet waters, even if it means we have to walk away from a seemingly sure thing.

His purposes are better than ours, and therefore His paths are better than ours.

Jeremy Pierre, Author & Dean of Students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Sometimes, our perception tells us something looks really tantalizing, or maybe even righteous. Yet the Father, in His omniscience, knows what will nourish us completely. Click To Tweet

God’s Presence

Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

Two big things stand out:

  1. There’s no question of if we will go through dark times; it’s merely a question of when.
  2. Yet God is present in the darkness.

In verse 4, David is allowing his understanding of God’s nearness and comfort to guide his perception of a truly agonizing situation. There are times in life when we feel such thick darkness we can practically taste it. Normally that causes fear. But God is with you. He is with me. Darkness and death cannot separate us from the love of God, so in reality, it can do no infinite harm. It may trifle with our body, but it cannot touch the souls of the children of God. We are secure through Christ Jesus.

God’s Attention

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in house of the Lord as long as I live.

Psalm 23:5-6

Two observations:

  1. God hosted David on the battlefield in the face of his biggest threat.
  2. David has the assurance of complete rest in God’s steadfast love.

In this last stanza, David shifts the descriptive symbols used for God. He went from describing God as Shepherd in verses 1-4 to a Host in verses 5-6. God lavishes us with His individual attention and exclusive exaltation. He can do that because He’s God! And because the things that concern us concern the Father.

A Few Questions

  • How would it change your life to believe God “leaves the 99” to find you (Luke 15:4)?
  • What is the thing you feel you’re lacking or desiring that you don’t have?
  • Do you believe you can continually leave your desires at the feet of Jesus because He cares for you (Philippians 4:6-7) and will fulfill His purpose for you (Psalm 138:8)?

I hope this encourages your heart and has sparked some rich thoughts about our Good Shepherd and Host. My journal is filled to the brim as I read the beautiful Word of God. It is all at once penetrating and comforting my soul.

We respond to Scripture based on the perception of our circumstances in life. Psalm 23 is an easy passage to help us trade our perception, with God's truth. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #provision #GodsWord #scripture #perception #Psalm23

All scripture is referenced from the HCSB version of the Bible.
unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
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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God’s Word, love, money, provision, sin, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Money: Replacing the Love of Money for the Love of God

When we place money above everything else, sin takes root in our hearts. We must learn to replace our love of money for the love of God.



For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1 Timothy 6:10, CSB

I recently read an article stating that money is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible. Now, I have never sat down and counted the number of times it is mentioned, but I have definitely observed it many times.

It doesn’t take a Bible scholar to see that the Lord wants us to know a thing or two about money. This generation is undoubtedly the most prone to wander from faith, like 1 Timothy 6:10 states. Especially when it has to do with the almighty dollar.

When we place money above everything else, sin takes root in our hearts. We must learn to replace our love of money for the love of God. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #GodsWord #money #love #provision #sin

Money Makes Us Squirm

Money is widely talked about and not usually referenced in a way God intended it to be. Why do you think the majority of people squirm in their seats when the pastor preaches on money? Do you think God addressed money so many times to make us uncomfortable? Or is He trying to get our attention and make a point?

Personally, I think it’s the second one. I think people are naturally uncomfortable talking about money because it happens to be the very thing that we depend on in order to live.

Think about it. We need money for pretty much anything! Food, water, clothes, shelter, medical care – you name it – it costs something. Freebies only go so far, for so long. Money happens to be the very thing that helps manage, operate, and change the world we live in for the better. Do you agree?

Plain and simple, we need money in order to live. Without it, we fall into a deep pit of despair and eventually die because we lack the necessary lifeline in order to survive. People say it all the time, “You can’t live with it, and you can’t live without it”.

Money is a powerful source of help. It’s required in order to appropriately exist in this world. I think it’s fair to say we should go to God, our Creator who created all things, to see what He has to say about money…

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.

Revelation 4:11, ESV

For The LOVE

I want to dive into only one of those 800+ scriptures on money. I hope to provide some insight that the Holy Spirit gave me when I read this passage…

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil

1 Timothy 6:10, CSB

Let’s break the verse up so we can better understand what it means.

For the LOVE of money…

When we love something, it holds a higher value and significance over other things. This can be best demonstrated in how we view relationships with others, like our spouse or our children. We give them value and significance in our lives because we love them so much.

Putting value on money can feel as though we need it in order to live. Or, in other words, it feels like we can’t live without it because it’s a necessity. When we view money this way, it reveals in our hearts that we actually love it and can’t live without it. Many people, myself included, have fallen in love with money without recognizing its trap!

Is The ROOT

Let’s continue dissecting this verse and see what comes next.

For the love of money is the ROOT

Our understanding of the love of money will help us better understand this second part, the root. Whenever we want to see a tree grow, we have to plant the seed in the soil and water it. Roots only take place after the seed is planted in the ground.

In this case, the scripture is showing us that the love of money is the seed that we have willingly planted in our hearts which has started to take root. A root also indicates some kind of growth is happening below the surface.

Deep inside us, we have a “money root” and we better hope it produces good fruit or we will certainly reap the consequences otherwise. Jesus taught His disciples that if they did not develop good fruit, then they would be cut off from the root and thrown into hell.

The ax is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 3:10, CSB

Oh, how I wish good growth was rooting in our hearts. Sadly, that just isn’t the case as we’ll unfortunately see.

ALL Kinds of EVIL

Now the final part of the verse.

For the love of money is the root of ALL kinds of EVIL.

This part of the verse is very interesting to me. The fact that this particular sin, the love of money, has the ability to grow and produce ALL kinds of sin within us is quite alarming.

Honestly, the last part of this scripture really had me a bit shaken up. I mean, it does say ALL, so we must conclude that God intended it to mean what it says. He is not a God of deception, but of truth. ALL kinds of EVIL begin to grow from this ONE bad seed.

Beloved, that’s not to be taken lightly! You might be asking yourself the same questions I found myself asking…

  1. How do we avoid the love of money and avert its ability to take root in our lives?
  2. How do we keep it from potentially and inevitably causing more and more sin from within us?

Understanding Faith Like Abraham

FAITH! That’s it, my friends. Faith.

Thousands of years ago before houses, televisions, computers, phones and more; men and women lived in this world just like we do today. Sure it looked different, but people adapted to their surroundings just like we do today. I personally think they did a better job with this than we do.

They used their hands to work in the fields and they used their gifts God gave them to help each other even more. In the Old Testament, we find that people like Abraham and Sarah lived according to what God wanted, not what they wanted. If they needed something for basic survival, then they would ask God for it and trust that He would provide it.

When they needed food, God sent them food. When they needed water, He would lead them to where water could be found. If they needed shelter, then God would provide the supplies needed to build a roof over their heads. God ALWAYS showed up when they came to Him for a need.

God knew they were seeking Him first and it gave Him great joy to bless their faith. Makes sense right?

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Matthew 6:33, CSB

Stubbornness

Just like today, there were people then that felt like they didn’t need God’s provision in their lives. They decided to go their own way and figure things out for themselves. Some might think people like this are brave, strong and courageous. Others may think of them as stubborn, prideful, and foolish.

Consider reading about Abraham’s nephew Lot and his wife to form your own opinion on the matter (Genesis 13-14). In a nutshell, though, it doesn’t go well for them. It turns out that going their own way only leads them into danger. This easily could have been avoided had they followed God instead of their own evil hearts.

So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.

Psalms 81:12, ESV

How Far Would Your Faith Go?

Abraham, unlike his nephew, was a faithful follower of God. Those who trusted and followed Abraham had the privilege of seeing just how real God is. Abraham found favor in the Lord because of his unwavering faith.

He never questioned or doubted God when asked to go somewhere or do something. He just simply listened and obeyed his Father’s instructions. Abraham knew that God was the provider because, simply put, there was never a time He didn’t provide. Each time Abraham went to God, God provided. And each time God provided, Abraham’s faith grew stronger.

Abraham’s unwavering faith is tested to the max, though. In Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to offer his son, Issac, on the altar as a sacrifice to Him. Abraham is clearly unsure and saddened by this, but HE STILL FOLLOWS THROUGH WITH IT! He gathers his sticks and tells his son Issac to come with him to the altar without grabbing a lamb! They walk up the mountain to the altar and Issac asks his father Abraham where the sacrifice (the lamb) was and…

Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ Then the two of them walked on together.

Genesis 22:8,CSB

Abraham blindfolds and ties up his son and lays him down on the altar to kill him. He is just about to take his son’s life…

But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’

He replied, ‘Here I am.’

Then he said, ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from me.’

Genesis 22:11-12, CSB

ALL IN Faith Has Its Benefits

God then provides a ram stuck in a nearby thicket by its horns for Abraham to sacrifice instead of his son Issac.

Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

Genesis 22:13, CSB

Abraham’s faith showed God that he was ALL IN no matter what! How do we establish that kind of faith today? No offense, but we have issues spanking our own children, let alone putting them on the altar to kill for God! Sounds crazy, but truth be told, our faith is weak because we have become weak as a human race.

We think we know best and don’t feel the need to go to God for help with EVERYthing in our lives. I think this is because we have believed the same lie that Lot and his wife believed: if we follow the larger crowd (a.k.a. the world), then we will be able to make money and lead a successful, happy life. There are people out there, right now, doing this very thing and making it look so appealing. ‘It’s working for them, so it should definitely work for me too!‘ This little lie comes straight from the devil, hoping we catch it and run.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8, ESV

But we believers are called to be set apart.

But know that the Lord has et apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.

Psalms 4:3, ESV

Replace Money With God and Receive Good

We are God’s children, created to follow Him not the rest of the world. So in order to live out this Abraham kind of faith today, we must first acknowledge our need for God in our lives. By doing this we can start to follow His lead instead of our own.

When we acknowledge God as our ultimate “lifeline” in order to survive and make Him more valuable and more significant than anything else in our lives, then we can rest assured He will root in us ALL kinds of good.

God showed me something pretty spectacular in His word. When you take a look back at the one verse we used today, and change only two words in it, it takes on a whole new meaning.

For the love of GOD is the root of all kinds of GOOD.

When we live our lives putting God first and relying on Him to provide for all our needs, then God will do just that. We must replace the love of money for the love of God and surely find a life of contentment, joy, peace, purpose, and prosperity!

When we live our lives putting God first and relying on Him to provide for all our needs, then He will do just that. We must replace the love of money for the love of God and surely find a life of contentment, joy, peace, purpose,… Click To Tweet

God Hasn’t Changed

With our world changing constantly and new distractions popping up everywhere, it is extremely crucial that we root ourselves in the Lord. God wants us to live our lives in abundance with peace, knowing He will take care of us always.

God knows we need money to live, just as much as He knows we need water to live. The same God that provided for all of Abraham’s needs, is the same God we serve today. He hasn’t changed. His ways and words stay as they are, no matter what we choose. Even though we change daily, it is good to know that His Word stays the same.

We all need to get on our knees and acknowledge one simple and unchanging truth…

God will give us what we need when we finally accept that all we really need – is Him.

When we place money above everything else, sin takes root in our hearts. We must learn to replace our love of money for the love of God. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #GodsWord #money #love #provision #sin

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focus, provision, attention, overwhelmed, supply, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Refocus: Centering Our Lives on God While the World Fades Away

Being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of this world should not take our focus off of God. We must refocus our lives on God and let the world fade away.



My relationship with God is my number one focus. If I nurture and grow my relationship with Him, He will take care of everything in the world around me.

Gracie Kay

Center of Attention

April and May bring prom season to the world of high school. Young girls are adorned in beautiful gowns, sparkling jewelry, and Cinderella-like shoes. Young men look dapper in their tuxedos. When its time for pictures all the cameras are focused in on the couple. They are the center of attention.

One late afternoon in May, I found myself inside beautiful Duke Chapel focused on my son and his date in order to capture picture-perfect memories. Handed a high dollar camera, I was faced with a dilemma. I tried to focus, turning the lenses back and forth, but the camera just didn’t want to cooperate with me.

My oldest rolled his eyes and took the camera and proceeded to give me in-depth instructions. Within the next hour, the young couple was the center of attention. Cameras and phones flashed, taking what seemed like millions of pictures.

Later that night as I was thumbing through pictures, God seemed to whisper in my ear, “Where is your focus?”

Being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of this world should not take our focus off of God. We must refocus our lives on God and let the world fade away. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #focus #provision #overwhelmed

Where is Your Focus?

When God spoke to me, my heart fell and I felt ashamed. You see ladies, I have been focused on so many different pressures in my life, that my focus has not been on God and His ultimate plan.

Life is overwhelming sometimes! Our time and energy are pulled in different directions. Jobs, school, kids, ailing parents, church commitments, organizational commitments. All of these responsibilities and more threaten to take our focus away from God. No matter how young or how old you are, you are not immune to this dilemma. So, take a moment and do an inventory of where your focus is. Let me share mine with you:

  • Selling a house.
  • Building a new house, in a new city.
  • Applying for financial aid and trying to find scholarships as a single mom.
  • Scared to death to start graduate school, but know this is God’s path for me.
  • Blogging
  • Editing my second book
  • Raising three kids, while trying to be mom and dad, both.
  • Church commitments.
  • Job commitments.

Your list may look a lot like mine, or it may be different. None of these things could be taken off my list and I certainly would not consider them unhealthy. However, if our list or commitments take our focus away from God’s will, then we need to refocus our lens.

Refocus Your Lens

How do you refocus your life on God and not the responsibilities of this world?  In church Sunday, we sang a new praise and worship song and it gave me the answer. Read the words and let them sink into your soul…

If you’re not in it, then I don’t want it. Let all else fade away.

Passion, “Fade Away”

Talk about some powerful words. If God is calling us to do something, He will enable us to do it. He will provide us with whatever means necessary to accomplish the task He has set before us.

If you are taking care of an ailing parent, He will give you strength and wisdom. If you are balancing work and going back to school, He will provide you with effective time management skills. God provides patience if you are waiting for a situation to be taken care of.

But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19, KJV
If God is calling us to do something, He will enable us to do it. He will provide us with whatever means necessary to accomplish the task He has set before us. Click To Tweet

All

I love this verse because it reminds me that God will supply all my needs. A-L-L. All, not some, not when He feels like it, but all my needs. There is great comfort in these words. God also brought the words of an old hymn from my childhood to my mind.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Helen Lemmel, “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus”

We must focus our eyes on Him. We must nurture and grow our relationship with Him by reading our Bible, praying, worshiping and fellowship with other believers. Let us all refocus our lenses. Focus on God and let the world fade away!

Until we meet again… Gracie

Being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of this world should not take our focus off of God. We must refocus our lives on God and let the world fade away. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #focus #provision #overwhelmed

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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

depression, provision, replenish, isolation, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Replenish: Accepting God’s Provision in the Depths of Depression

Seeking God while battling depression seems impossible, but God guides us to take strides to care for ourselves so that we will hear Him clearly. So He can replenish our souls. 



Like many women, I have spent a good deal of my life living with depression. I liken it to parenting a toddler who you are never allowed to hand off to anyone else to care for. Sometimes it trails along quietly in your shadow, other times it rides piggyback. Others still, it wraps itself around you like a writhing boa constrictor. Any time it has its hold on you, it weighs a portion of you down. Depression restricts your ability to move forward or function normally. It is exhausting.

There comes a time when the weight and the exhaustion gets to be too much to bear. At these times, I feel like Elijah under the broom bush. He is running from Jezebel, knowing his life is hanging in the balance, and he collapses under the pressure.

He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

1 Kings 19:4-5, NIV

Seeking God while battling depression seems impossible, but God guides us to care for ourselves so that we will allow Him to replenish our souls. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #depression #isolation #replenish #provision

God’s Provision

There are moments where I have had enough of the struggle to keep moving, to survive the days and hurts and struggles. When it’s bad enough, my mind whispers Enough.

Luckily, our God is so immeasurably good. He knows what we need and how we need to receive it.

He could have told Elijah to suck it up. There was Kingdom work to be done, and he proceeded to wallow under a bush, welcoming the very outcome he had been running from. God could have inspired him to go right then and anoint the kings He would later command him to. But Elijah wasn’t ready for that, so the Lord sent an angel who said,

‘Get up and eat.’

1 Kings 19:5, NIV

That’s it. Just get up and eat. God provided the food, so Elijah only had to do the two things he commanded. Get up. Eat. And then God let him sleep again, before telling him to get up and eat once more.

Elijah needed nourishment. He needed God to replenish his body, mind, and spirit. Kingdom work was laid in front of him, but first Elijah needed to stop succumbing to the desire to give up. He needed to start getting ready for the journey he was going to embark upon. He needed his mind and heart at rest to be able to hear what God had to say.

Taking the First Step

What does that mean for those of us who suffer from depression? When getting out of bed feels like a monumental task, what does “Get up and eat” look like in a real way?

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2, ESV

Depression presents along a very broad spectrum, so there is not a one size fits all answer to those questions. At certain points in our lives, replenishment requires exactly what Elijah needed… eating and resting. At others, we need to reach out for the love and support of those closest to us. There have been many times I have said, please pray for me because I cannot pray for myself right now. God expects us to spread the weight of our burdens so that we do not have to bear them ourselves.

There are still other times where eating, sleeping, and calling on friends may feel like putting a bandaid on a severed limb. At those times, get up and eat means go to counseling or start taking medicine again. There is no shame in finding help where help is most needed.

Discerning between God and the Enemy

The important thing is to figure out what you need to replenish. Replenish enough to start seeking God and His Word again. This is not about fixing our depression, but mobilizing ourselves. When we are immobile, it is difficult for us to recognize the vast power and grace of God. But when we replenish ourselves and position ourselves to mobilize, we can see the immensity of His power. And, like Elijah, find His quiet voice in our hearts and in His Word. We must always remember to be seeking that voice so we may not confuse it with the voice of the enemy.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8, ESV

If we are under the broom bush, Ladies, we are easy prey. But when we give ourselves sustenance and rest, we gain the energy to stay in the Word. Energy to discern His sweet voice amidst the chaos and cacophony the enemy would try to distract us with. We can see the lion approaching. We can hear God’s encouragement, and we can remember that we know who wins in the end.

When depression makes us immobile, it is difficult for us to recognize the vast power and grace of God. But when we replenish ourselves, we can see the immensity of His power. Click To Tweet

Getting Help

All of this being said, I do not want to forget the people who have times where their words of concession are precisely Elijah’s:

Enough. Take my life. I am no better.

I was there. I asked God to take my life, and in His outstanding goodness, He refused to take it from me. I know how that moment feels, and I pray for each and every one of you that you find help before you get to the point I did. I pray that you feel God’s hand on your shoulder. I pray that you call that friend, that counselor, that suicide hotline as soon as you have the thought: things would be better if I just…wasn’t. We were not meant to survive on this earth in a vacuum. Our Creator built us to be in relationship with one another, to choose community over isolation.

Seeking God while battling depression seems impossible, but God guides us to care for ourselves so that we will allow Him to replenish our souls. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #depression #isolation #replenish #provision

unsplash-logoKat Love

faith, provision, trust, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Provide: Trusting God to Meet our Needs

We all struggle with trusting that God will provide for our needs. What if we decided to live by faith and truly believe that He will sustain us? 



I am a worrier. I always have been. Faith is not one of my spiritual giftings so trusting God to provide for me has been a constant battle. There have been many times where I did not believe God’s promises to meet my needs. While most of the time I associate provision with material needs, it is not always what is lacking.

Surrendering Trust

While I have struggled with not feeling taken care of financially, I have also seen the idea of not feeling provided for play out in other areas: loneliness, discontentment, and healing. I have felt that I didn’t have the relationships I needed, that I wasn’t in the stage of life I should be, and that I wasn’t and those around me weren’t healed in the ways I thought we should be.

Even as I sit here writing this I am worrying. There are three trees leaning on my house and I don’t know how I will afford to get them off. Have I prayed, asking for help? No. Have I trusted that God is going to provide for my needs in this situation? No.

While my heart knows that God will meet my needs and sustain me, most of the time my head forgets. He has shown me time and again that He takes care of me, but I still haven’t learned to completely surrender my trust to Him.

We all struggle with trusting that God will provide for our needs. What if we decided to live by faith and truly believe that He will sustain us? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

All Our Needs

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19, NLT

ALL of our needs. Not some, all. God will meet all of our needs. This is so easy for us to forget. Sometimes we get caught up with what He is not doing that we forget to see what He is. Maybe when He isn’t providing something it simply means it isn’t something we need.

A lot of the time we focus on what we think we need and not what God says we need. We don’t consider that His provision may look different than we expect it to. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t provide, it means we aren’t looking outside our own perception of provision.

We often focus on what we think we need and not what God says we need. His provision may look very different. We need to look outside our own perception of provision. Click To Tweet

Faith

You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.

Matthew 21:22, NLT

Faith. There’s that word again. I struggle a lot with faith. I recently took a spiritual giftings test and among the lowest ratings was faith. It’s not that I don’t believe in Jesus or that I have no faith. It’s the fact that I don’t always believe I can ask for anything and receive.

Sometimes as Christians we don’t want to get into the habit of treating God like a genie. I think this stops us from even making requests. I have not thought to pray for help with the trees on my house. It seemed like too minor of an ask. I didn’t want to ‘waste’ a request on this when there are so many more things that are more important.

Scripture tells us that we can pray for anything. When we think something is not important enough we are acting like we are God. That we can decide what is important and what isn’t. This is not our right and not our job. We can ask for ANYTHING.

There is a second part to this…“if you have faith, you will receive it.” It is more than asking for something and boom it happens. It takes faith on our part. Faith that God will truly answer our prayer. Faith that He will provide for us. Without faith how can we expect God to answer us?

Do Not Worry

Let these words really sink in as you read this passage…

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

 So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:25-34, NLT

Jesus is very clear. Do not worry. He speaks to the way that God provides for the birds and the flowers and how we are so much more than they. God provides for the creatures around us. The ones we were created to have dominion over. So why do we fret? Why do I worry? God knows our needs and He will provide for them. We must seek and have faith in Him. He is our provider, sustainer, and healer.

Provide

Every day we wake up, we have to choose whether we are going to allow worry to creep in or if we will have faith in God to provide for us. We are constantly surrounded by proof that He will, but we still struggle. What if we changed our thinking? What if every day we woke up and the first thing we did was say “God I have faith that you will provide”? This could change the course of our days and ultimately our lives. Let’s speak our faith into existence, let’s truly believe that He WILL meet all of our needs.

We all struggle with trusting that God will provide for our needs. What if we decided to live by faith and truly believe that He will sustain us? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Ernesta Vala

perception, provision, scripture, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Perception: Reading Psalm 23 Without the Filter of Circumstance

We respond to Scripture based on how we perceive the goings on in our life. That is one of the beauties of God’s Word; it becomes new each day just as our circumstances and moods do. It’s a lifelong process to take God at His word and not allow perception to filter out the truth. 



A dear sister recently told me she is not a fan of Psalm 23. I got the feeling she felt bad about admitting it since it’s part of the Bible, but her reasoning made perfect sense.

After a little inquiry, I learned it was the chapter she was forced to read and recite when she got in trouble as a child. So it’s not hard to see how one of the most well-known passages in Scripture became tarnished in her mind. Let’s dig into Psalm 23 together and see what it says and how it may challenge our perception.

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

Psalm 23:1

We respond to Scripture based on perceived circumstances in life. It is difficult to take God at His word and not allow perception to overrule the truth. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Our Perception

Two specific thoughts come to my mind after reading verse one:

  1. Do I view God as my personal Shepherd, or is He too busy with more important tasks?
  2. What do I perceive I am lacking?

In this passage, God presents Himself as a caretaker. He is seen as a provider, a leader, and One who is responsible for care. Because of that fact, David’s response is: there is nothing I lack. The first part of verse one speaks to God’s character. I wonder what causes us to feel He is holding out on us? Lately, a bit of careful reflection will quickly illuminate I have everything I need.

For example, a few weeks ago our kitchen was wrecked after a weekend of grilling out with neighbors and running around town. No one wanted to clean up the mess. My man is an excellent helper around the house, but he was working late and I needed to clean up before I had room to cook. Has anyone else encountered this yucky phenomenon?

Anyway, as I dove into the mountain I asked God to help me see the positive instead of feeling sorry for myself that no one was helping me. The Father quickly reminded me of the sweet time we had spent with our neighbors and the laundry list of blessings which made it possible. And He showed me what a joy it is to have a family and a home to share. Before I knew it, I was actually smiling while washing dishes. But don’t spread that around… 😉

God’s Provision

He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths.

Psalm 23:2-3

Three more reflections appear to me here:

  1. Green pastures mean God knows where the food is.
  2. Quiet waters represent that God knows we are like sheep.
  3. Comfort is always going to be greater on God’s path.

Sometimes, our perception tells us something looks really tantalizing, or maybe even righteous. Yet the Father, in His omniscience, knows what will nourish us completely. If sheep are steered to rushing waters they will stick their head in and be swept downstream. God understands what His children need and how best to provide for them.

That means, if we truly accept that He knows best and does provide for us, then we must dare to challenge beliefs that set themselves against God’s goodness to us. Sheep may lack water and be willing to go toward a stream to quench their thirst, but they may be pulled under rushing waters. The Good Shepherd will always lead us to quiet waters, even if it means we have to walk away from a seemingly sure thing.

His purposes are better than ours, and therefore His paths are better than ours.

-Jeremy Pierre, Author & Dean of Students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Sometimes, our perception tells us something looks really tantalizing, or maybe even righteous. Yet the Father, in His omniscience, knows what will nourish us completely. Click To Tweet

God’s Presence

Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

Two big things stand out:

  1. There’s no question of if we will go through dark times; it’s merely a question of when.
  2. Yet God is present in the darkness.

In verse 4, David is allowing his understanding of God’s nearness and comfort to guide his perception of a truly agonizing situation. There are times in life when we feel such thick darkness we can practically taste it. Normally that causes fear. But God is with you. He is with me. Darkness and death cannot separate us from the love of God, so in reality, it can do no infinite harm. It may trifle with our body, but it cannot touch the souls of the children of God. We are secure through Christ Jesus.

God’s Attention

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in house of the Lord as long as I live.

Psalm 23:5-6

Two observations:

  1. God hosted David on the battlefield in the face of his biggest threat.
  2. David has the assurance of complete rest in God’s steadfast love.

In this last stanza, David shifts the descriptive symbols used for God. He went from describing God as Shepherd in verses 1-4 to a Host in verses 5-6. God lavishes us with His individual attention and exclusive exaltation. He can do that because He’s God! And because the things that concern us concern the Father.

A Few Questions

  • How would it change your life to believe God “leaves the 99” to find you (Luke 15:4)?
  • What is the thing you feel you’re lacking or desiring that you don’t have?
  • Do you believe you can continually leave your desires at the feet of Jesus because He cares for you (Philippians 4:6-7) and will fulfill His purpose for you (Psalm 138:8)?

I hope this encourages your heart and has sparked some rich thoughts about our Good Shepherd and Host. My personal journal is being filled to the brim as I read the beautiful Word of God. It is all at once penetrating and comforting my soul.

We respond to Scripture based on perceived circumstances in life. It is difficult to take God at His word and not allow perception to overrule the truth. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

All scripture is referenced from the HCSB version of the Bible.
confidence, hope, provision, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Confidence: Relying on God’s Hope Through the Storms of Life

Life is guaranteed to bring storms. We must learn to put our confidence and trust in God. Only He can provide hope for the days ahead. 



While everyone was hunkering down in anticipation for Hurricane Florence, my family too was (and still is), walking through a storm, but it’s not the tropical kind. It is the physical kind. My son Evan is having his bone marrow transplant. He has had 7 rounds of chemo and after his brother donates bone marrow, Evan will have his transplant.

He Goes Before

I have faced fear these past few months in a way that I had not thought possible. Sometimes the fear is so real, I can taste it and so strong, I can barely breathe. It is in moments like this I have had to remember what my heart can quickly forget. My God goes before me.

This summer I spent some time in Proverbs. At the end of the study, I looked at Proverbs 31. Two verses clearly stand out to me…

She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet… Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

Proverbs 31:21,25, ESV

Maybe saying they stand out is not the right way to put it. They literally make me groan. Not afraid? Clothed in strength? Laughing at the days ahead? How?

Life is guaranteed to bring storms. We must learn to put our confidence and trust in God. Only He can provide hope for the days ahead. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Emotional

I find myself spending way too many days in a panic hoping things will change. And if I am honest, I am frustrated by my own feelings and how emotional I feel.

I can quickly equate extreme emotion with sin. I am not sure where I made that connection. But let me be clear. Scripture does not support this. Emotions are good. God gave us feelings. I get in trouble when I live as if they are always true. Just because my feelings have me running to fear and anxiety does not mean I have to stay there.

Still…

While I have been dealing with this extreme situation, I have also been fighting for joy and looking to see God’s good gifts. Many people in God’s body have rallied around us providing in ways I could not have thought possible. As each new needs has appeared, God has supplied. His ways have truly not been my ways.

I was sharing my frustration recently with a friend about my inability to laugh at the days ahead. She just shook her head at me and told me I was laughing. I told her I was definitely doing more crying than laughing. But she reminded me that I was still seeking, still praying, still fighting to believe that He is my supply. This is a joy that cannot be taken away through any trials in this life.

Just because our feelings have us running to fear and anxiety does not mean we have to stay there. Continue seeking, praying, and believing He is our supply. Click To Tweet

Confidence Through the Storm

James tells us to count it all joy brethren when we face various trials knowing that the testing of our faith develops perseverance (James 1:2). And Paul reminds us…

…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope,

Romans 5:3-4, ESV

The Proverbs 31 woman doesn’t have confidence because she has taken care of her family in her own strength or because she has put provisions aside. She has confidence because she knows who ultimately is responsible for her home. I know that too. The doctors have come up with a treatment plan, but God is ultimately the one I can and must turn to for hope. He holds all my days in His hands and He cares about my son in ways I cannot even imagine.

Life is guaranteed to bring storms. We must learn to put our confidence and trust in God. Only He can provide hope for the days ahead. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional