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.
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Gratitude, thankful, thankfulness, thanksgiving, burdens, thank you, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Thank You: Burdens Disappear in the Presence of Gratitude

When we choose to dwell on the struggles of this life, we can easily become burdened. A simple ‘thank you’ releases these burdens through gratitude and thanksgiving to God.



Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe,

Hebrews 12:28, CSB

We have all had days that start off on the wrong side of the bed. We wake up to instant chaos and all things wrong, knowing it’s an extra cup of coffee kind of day… only to find we forgot to buy more coffee at the store.

When we choose to dwell on the struggles of this life, we can easily become burdened. A simple 'thank you' offered to God releases these burdens. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #thankfulness #ThankYou #burdens #thanksgiving

The Burdens Are Real

I have had so many days like this! At this point, I feel like they have become my normal routine. Children wetting the bed at 5:30 A.M., an hour before the alarm clock goes off. Someone getting sick on a day I have tons of errands to run. Forgetting the keys as I walk out the door, only to find I locked the door before shutting it.

Getting in the car to take kids to school and suddenly realizing I never filled up the car with gas the day before. Yep, it’s a miracle I’m able to write and share this with you today. But hey, God has a sense of humor, and I like to think He includes my life in it. Whatever helps me cope, right?!

Point being, we are all faced with messes we have to clean up. We are constantly greeted with unexpected frustrations that try to get the best of us. At any moment we may choose to drop it all and have our own fallout, pity party, adult tantrum; wishing all these burdens would magically just go away. At least, that’s how I feel most days. I realized my soul was struggling inwardly to understand how to receive peace the way Jesus spoke of in John 14:27.

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.

John 14:27, CSB

The Inward Struggle Is Real

We all have asked this question at one point in our lives or another: What’s the point of all this? Every day has the same repetitive issues while juggling a whole new set that gets thrown our way. The cycle of life seems never-ending, and most of the time, just flat-out depressing and exhausting.

I want to be happy and at peace, but this world seems to completely rob me of that luxury. How on earth, literally, ON EARTH, am I supposed to have joy and peace when I am surrounded by all this negativity and mess? This translation in Ecclesiastes, I think, perfectly describes how I feel most days…

That’s when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth. What’s the point of working your fingers to the bone if you hand over what you worked for to someone who never lifted a finger for it? Smoke, that’s what it is. A bad business from start to finish. So what do you get from a life of hard labor? Pain and grief from dawn to dusk. Never a decent night’s rest. Nothing but smoke.

Ecclesiastes 2:20-23, MSG

I have a feeling I’m not alone in this way of thinking. I’m sure Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, knew people would think this way too; which is why he wrote it.

Listen Carefully

I found myself in another jumbled up chaotic day where nothing was going right. I was tired, frustrated and just completely fed up with life. I woke up irritated with an extra load of laundry from a child wetting the bed; the kids were late for school and my car wouldn’t start after dropping them off! Of course, I did all this without coffee because I forgot to buy more at the store. Like I mentioned earlier; it’s a miracle I am able to write this!

This was just another day full of annoyances and frustrations that were causing my attitude toward my husband and kids to be very unkind! I am never a pleasant person for them to be around when I start my day like this. Somewhere in the middle of the chaos of my day, I quietly heard God whisper to me: “I am here…I am with you…I know how you feel. Go and sin no more.”

I huffed and complained the whole way, but finally decided to sit down and spend time with God. I turned off all the distractions around me, and I turned on my ears to hear what He was trying to teach me through this messy day. God sweetly spoke to me; “Offer up prayers of thanksgiving child.”  The Lord wanted me to go throughout my day so far and find the things that went right, rather than wrong, and say thank you for them.

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7, CSB

Follow His Guidance

And so the list began…

Thank you, Lord, for the laundry detergent that allowed me to wash my child’s sheets. Thank you for the water for him to shower and the soap to get him clean. Thank you for the person you provided today to help jump-start my car when it died. Thank you for giving my husband the knowledge to know what was wrong with the car and the ability to fix it. Thank you for allowing me to have this time spent with you so I can reflect on the things that went right instead of wrong.

With every thank you I sent up, a new feeling of peace and calm were sent down. I finally understood what the Lord meant when He said…

Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28, CSB

The more I offered up those prayers of thanksgiving to God, the more I felt the burdens of that day drift away. Through this, my soul found rest.

Say Thank You

We were never meant to carry the weight of life’s daily frustration and stress. The whole purpose of the cross was to take those burdens away from us. Jesus took our place so we could enjoy life, not be burdened by it.

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.

Psalm 118:5, ESV

When we all sit down and really think about what Jesus did for us, how can we honestly say anything BUT, Thank You?

Today, I invite you, dear reader, to try this out for yourself. When you feel burdened by life and things seem to be falling apart around you, don’t get discouraged, Friend! Instead, reflect on your day or situation, and find something to say thank you to God for. It’s there. You just have to be intentional to find it.

We were never meant to carry the weight of life's daily frustration and stress. The whole purpose of the cross was to take those burdens away from us. Click To Tweet

When we choose to dwell on the struggles of this life, we can easily become burdened. A simple 'thank you' offered to God releases these burdens. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #thankfulness #ThankYou #burdens #thanksgiving

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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, faithfulness, faithful, God’s promises, Jesus, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

His Faithfulness: Jesus is Our Confidence in God’s Promises

Faith means having confidence in someone else’s ability without proof. To be faithful means your allegiance is solid and persistent; true to your word. God gave us proof of His faithfulness to us by sending Jesus. 



An Incomplete Gift

For my mom’s most recent decade birthday (you know, 30/40/50…) I wanted to paint her an imitation of “365 Days of Happiness.” I purchased four rectangular canvases, acrylics, brushes, and sponges, then got to work. First, I coated each canvas with an ombré style base color to represent the four seasons. Once the background was dry I sketched the tree which stretches throughout the four pieces. Then I painted the tree and leaves on the middle two canvases.

At the time, my husband and I were working opposite schedules with all three of our children in school. In other words, I bit off more than I could chew and only ended up delivering two of the four canvases on my mom’s special day. I told her I would complete the final two prints by Christmas.

That didn’t happen.

Here we are, more than four and a half years later. So much life has transpired. I would say my faithfulness meter sank after the third year came and went without the completion of my masterpiece. Or perhaps it declined when we moved out of state. The two remaining partially completed canvases have moved with me twice now, and each time I come across them it is a glaring reminder of my failure to deliver on both the actual artwork and my word.

To be faithful means your allegiance is solid and persistent; true to your word. God gave us proof of His faithfulness to us by sending Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #faithful #faithfulness #Jesus #promises

Being Compelled

Recently one of my pals referenced something a mutual friend of ours says to her three-year-old son: We can try again tomorrow. Those five little words have sprung to mind often since I read them. It reminds me of this reassuring passage:

…his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! I say, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:22b-24, CSB

Regardless of current circumstances, God is a proven refuge, a sure fortress. As the year comes to a close, it feels natural to look back at how the Lord has worked through, sustained, and grown me. I am able to see how God is teaching me to view my failures and my sin properly, not through morbid self-introspection—which is just another form of pride, but with humility. He who began a good work will complete it. And I know I am safe and secure in His capable arms. No failure or sorrow or tragedy can pluck me from His hand. I am His own…and He is mine. God’s faithfulness is inexhaustible!

…if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

2 Timothy 2:13, CSB

I get stuck in the sinful pattern of living for myself, unsuccessfully searching for tips, tricks, and methods to be faithful. Yet Jesus calls me to once again look at His example and to allow His love to be the method that compels me to a life of faithfulness.

For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, CSB

Restoring Faithfulness

It’s easy to look at failure through the lens of finality. But Jesus totally disrupted that when He rose from the grave! Letting failure take center stage emphasizes self, not Almighty God. Sin is super sneaky, planting seeds of cynicism and self-justification.

But we are free to try again.

Only when we do so, may it not be in our own strength, but through the proven power of Christ Jesus.

The question no longer is: Can I do it? Am I able? Can I overcome my moodiness, my laziness, my sensuality, my grudges, and resentments? The only question is: Is Jesus Christ able?

Lion and Lamb by Brennan Manning

In the spirit of Advent, and a discipline that comes straight from the Spirit of God, I completed the paintings. When I looked the original up online to reference which colors to use, the site noted that the picture is on the cover of—get this—“INSPIRED Faith: 365 Days a Year.” I laughed out loud that it had faith in the title! I took it as an affirmation from God that now is indeed the time to follow through. Then I ordered the devotional to accompany the paintings!

The Purpose

While I have no idea how my mom will react, the hope of her appreciation is not what constrained me to finish the artwork. It was confidence in and gratitude for the God who started a good work in me. Joy, anxiety, growth, misfortune, disappointment, and resolution can all occur between the beginning of something grand and its completion.

But God never stops pursuing or working out His purpose in us.

For a moment in history He turned His face away, but He had compassion with everlasting love and sent us a Redeemer (Isaiah 54:8). Regardless of how others will receive it, it is never too late to exhibit faithfulness. The purpose of demonstrating dependability is to be Christ-like, not to show off some personal impressive skills. Clearly. It took me almost five years to deliver on a promise! Still, in a small way, I am able to replicate Christ’s devotion to the Father and to us by producing what I said I would.

I’m so glad Jehovah didn’t give us an incomplete gift. Praise be to God for keeping His promise and raising Jesus to ensure our freedom! His faithfulness is a protective shield (Psalm 91:4). Hallelujah!

Praise be to God for keeping His promise and raising Jesus to ensure our freedom! His faithfulness is a protective shield. Hallelujah! Click To Tweet

To be faithful means your allegiance is solid and persistent; true to your word. God gave us proof of His faithfulness to us by sending Jesus. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #faithful #faithfulness #Jesus #promises

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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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Burdens: Offering Gratitude and Thanksgiving to God

When we choose to dwell on the struggles of this life, we can easily become burdened. We can release these burdens through gratitude and thanksgiving to God.



Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe,

Hebrews 12:28, CSB

We have all had days that start off on the wrong side of the bed. We wake up to instant chaos and all things wrong, knowing it’s an extra cup of coffee kind of day… only to find we forgot to buy more coffee at the store.

Choosing to dwell on the struggles of this life can cause us to become burdened. We release these burdens by offering gratitude and thanksgiving to God. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #burdens #thankful #gratitude #struggles #peace

The Burdens Are Real

I have had so many days like this! At this point, I feel like they have become my normal routine. Children wetting the bed at 5:30 A.M., an hour before the alarm clock goes off. Someone getting sick on a day I have tons of errands to run. Forgetting the keys as I walk out the door, only to find I locked the door before shutting it.

Getting in the car to take kids to school and suddenly realizing I never filled up the car with gas the day before. Yep, it’s a miracle I’m able to write and share this with you today. But hey, God has a sense of humor, and I like to think He includes my life in it. Whatever helps me cope, right?!

Point being, we are all faced with messes we have to clean up. We are constantly greeted with unexpected frustrations that try to get the best of us. At any moment we may choose to drop it all and have our own fallout, pity party, adult tantrum; wishing all these burdens would magically just go away. At least, that’s how I feel most days. I realized my soul was struggling inwardly to understand how to receive peace the way Jesus spoke of in John 14:27.

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.

John 14:27, CSB

The Inward Struggle Is Real

We all have asked this question at one point in our lives or another: What’s the point of all this? Every day has the same repetitive issues while juggling a whole new set that gets thrown our way. The cycle of life seems never-ending, and most of the time, just flat-out depressing and exhausting.

I want to be happy and at peace, but this world seems to completely rob me of that luxury. How on earth, literally, ON EARTH, am I suppose to have joy and peace, when I am surrounded by all this negativity and mess? This translation in Ecclesiastes, I think, perfectly describes how I feel most days…

That’s when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth. What’s the point of working your fingers to the bone if you hand over what you worked for to someone who never lifted a finger for it? Smoke, that’s what it is. A bad business from start to finish. So what do you get from a life of hard labor? Pain and grief from dawn to dusk. Never a decent night’s rest. Nothing but smoke.

Ecclesiastes 2:20-23, MSG

I have a feeling I’m not alone in this way of thinking. I’m sure Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, knew people would think this way too; which is why he wrote it.

Listen Carefully

I found myself in another jumbled up chaotic day where nothing was going right. I was tired, frustrated and just completely fed up with life. I woke up irritated with an extra load of laundry from a child wetting the bed; the kids were late for school and my car wouldn’t start after dropping them off! Of course, I did all this without coffee because I forgot to buy more at the store. Like I mentioned earlier; it’s a miracle I am able to write this!

This was just another day full of annoyances and frustrations that were causing my attitude toward my husband and kids to be very unkind! I am never a pleasant person for them to be around when I start my day like this. Somewhere in the middle of the chaos of my day, I quietly heard God whisper to me: “I am here…I am with you…I know how you feel. Go and sin no more.”

I huffed and complained the whole way, but finally decided to sit down and spend time with God. I turned off all the distractions around me, and I turned on my ears to hear what He was trying to teach me through this messy day. God sweetly spoke to me; “Offer up prayers of thanksgiving child.”  The Lord wanted me to go throughout my day so far and find the things that went right, rather than wrong, and say thank you for them.

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7, CSB

Follow His Guidance

And so the list began…

Thank you, Lord, for the laundry detergent that allowed me to wash my child’s sheets. Thank you for the water for him to shower and the soap to get him clean. Thank you for the person you provided today to help jump-start my car when it died. Thank you for giving my husband the knowledge to know what was wrong with the car and the ability to fix it. Thank you for allowing me to have this time spent with you so I can reflect on the things that went right instead of wrong.

With every thank you I sent up, a new feeling of peace and calm were sent down. I finally understood what the Lord meant when He said…

Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28, CSB

The more I offered up those prayers of thanksgiving to God, the more I felt the burdens of that day drift away. Through this, my soul found rest.

Say Thank You

We were never meant to carry the weight of life’s daily frustration and stress. The whole purpose of the cross was to take those burdens away from us. Jesus took our place so we could enjoy life, not be burdened by it.

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.

Psalm 118:5, ESV

When we all sit down and really think about what Jesus did for us, how can we honestly say anything BUT, Thank You?

Today, I invite you, dear reader, to try this out for yourself. When you feel burdened by life and things seem to be falling apart around you, don’t get discouraged, Friend! Instead, reflect on your day or situation, and find something to say thank you to God for. It’s there. You just have to be intentional to find it.

We were never meant to carry the weight of life's daily frustration and stress. The whole purpose of the cross was to take those burdens away from us. Click To Tweet

Choosing to dwell on the struggles of this life can cause us to become burdened. We release these burdens by offering gratitude and thanksgiving to God. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #burdens #thankful #gratitude #struggles #peace

Samara Doole

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Gratitude: Remember and Acknowledge for 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 into a life of joy and gratitude.



“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 to be imparted to me, 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 into a life of joy and gratitude. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

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 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 into 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

Gratitude is woven throughout a life of joy. Gratitude begins by acknowledging and remembering the blessings in life. Then our attitudes shift from doubt to confidence. 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 into a life of joy and gratitude. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

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Humble: Accept the Thank You and Move On

Accepting gratitude for a job well done seems to be a hard thing to do. Our desire to be humble doesn’t mean that we can’t accept thank you without a qualifier.



“Thank you for staying late to help.” “No problem. It really wasn’t a big deal.” Even though I had to have my husband pick up my son from tae kwon do, change dinner plans, and cancel another meeting.

“That dessert is awesome.” “It’s just something I threw together.” Even though I had to make an extra trip to the grocery store, not go to the park to play with my little boy, and feed my family sandwiches for dinner since I had to baby sit the cake to make sure it didn’t fall.

“My kid loves being in your class. Thanks for all the extra help.” “It’s my job and I’m happy to do it.” Which I am, but it takes a lot of extra effort and time to text parents after school, put together meaningful assignments that help each child, and means I usually work from 7:30-5:30 everyday.

Maybe some of these situations sound like something you have encountered. Do you find yourself, like me, brushing off the compliment? I wonder why that is. Why can’t we just say “Thank you” and move on?

A Desire to be Humble

I have a theory that women have a predisposition to appear humble. Humbleness means we are gentle, cooperative and together therefore accepting a compliment that includes “thank you” is difficult.

But I submit to you lovely, humble readers that “thank you” is exactly what we should say and leave it there. Don’t diminish your work.

Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.

Proverbs 27:2, NIV

As long as you are not touting your own accomplishments, you should accept the gratitude of others. Let me ask you, do you want your daughter to brush off her accomplishments? Do you want God to brush off your accomplishments done in His service? Absolutely not. That sounds absurd doesn’t it?

As long as you are not touting your own accomplishments, you should accept the gratitude of others. Click To Tweet

Gratitude

God invites us to a life of gratitude and thanksgiving. He is so proud of us when we choose to follow Him and the path He sets out for each of us. Sometimes that involves baking a cake, making a meeting that was unplanned, or teaching His children. Saying “thank you” acknowledges the hard work you did.

Pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on you.

Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

These are cherished words in my heart because they show the partnership I have with my Heavenly Father. We are together in this world and He is always near. In a very real way I need to accept the “thank you” for both of us. And so do you.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV

Accepting gratitude for a job well done seems to be a hard thing to do. Our desire to be humble doesn't mean that we can't accept thank you without a qualifier. #humility #gratitude

The Take Away

This is something I need to work on. Recently I was talking about why I have such a hard time accepting “thank you” without a qualifier that makes it seem like it is no big deal. I think the need to be humble is part of it, but not all. Maybe some of it is because all the women in my life have made similar statements in the face of gratitude and I am following their example.

But I don’t want my children to do the same. I want them to feel proud of their accomplishments because we pray over them. We give thanks to God for His direction, we ask for help when things don’t seem to be going exactly right, and we give glorious praise when the course ends up being more wonderful than the bumps along the way. How can we not accept gratitude when He is part of the equation of our lives?

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2, NIV

So in light of my new discovery, I want to ask God to help me be more accepting of the gratitude of others.

Dear God,

Please open my ears and heart the the thankfulness of others. Help me discern the difference between boastfulness and gratitude. Let me remember that You are a part of all gratitude and that in accepting it fully I am drawing closer to You and the path You have set before me.

love,

me

Accepting gratitude for a job well done seems to be a hard thing to do. Our desire to be humble doesn't mean that we can't accept thank you without a qualifier. #humility #gratitude


This is where the story changes…

mug, but God, coffee, tea

Annie Spratt

Content Within the Discontent

The holiday season is upon us and I have been inundated with the message that I need to be thankful. And I’m sick of it. What if I don’t want to be? You don’t know what has happened to me! What if I don’t feel like I have anything to be thankful for? What if I want to be surly and miserable? Stop telling me to be happy all the time!

 

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Real Life, Real Gratitude

Do we really need to be thankful? How do we find this place of contentment when times are hard? What’s the point? Can we just “fake it til we make it” or does is have to be real? What if we can’t seem to get to this place of contentment?

It turns out we do need to be grateful.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

Even when our circumstances are not ideal.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

But sometimes we are discontent for a reason. If we were truly content all the time, we would never be prompted to change or grow. The hope we have is that our discontentment in not in vain.

…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts…. Romans 5:3-5

And we don’t have to fake our contentment. Sometimes life is just truly crappy. For real.

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. my eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. Psalm 69:1-3 (“I sink in deep mire” sounds a whole lot like “I’m in deep crap,” don’t you think?)

But the waiting can be long, no doubt. I’m not even going to sugar-coat that for you.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

 

 


Final Thought

Take a deep breath. Feel God’s love embracing you. And wait patiently for Him to move you out of your discontentment. Thankfully He loves us and we can trust Him.

 

Are you feeling discontent at the moment? Are you feeling discouraged? What have you found to help get you through times of discontentment in the past? 

 

xoxo