You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chose to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity.
Lord, help me to be so filled with Your love that I become unoffendable.
I understand the dangers of this statement. It’s kind of like praying for patience. LOL It doesn’t just come down in a pretty gift basket and voila patience. No, that would be to easy. Instead what tends to happen is you wind up with what we will call opportunities to show patience. In a hurry? One kid will only be able to find the left foot of every shoe and not the right the other one can not seem to find their backpack. On the way you’re gonna hit every red light. So on and so forth.
I think that it is very important when asking for new gifts, yes they are gifts, that we count the cost and go in with open eyes.
Do I really want to become “unoffendable”? What does that even really mean to me?
Can I just let you into me Jesus time this week for a minute?
‘Father, forgive me I forgive them, completely, totally & irreparably. I release that hurt. I give up that anger. Let peace and love reign in my heart that I may leak that all over them today.’
This was the beginning of one of my journal entries this week after reading the passage above. During my devotion time Holy Spirit prompted some anger and resentment that I had held in my heart. Previously, I justified it. There was good reason, in my mind, that I was grumpy and frustrated and hurt. I began to pour out my heart to the Father to ask him to forgive me for holding on to that. Not 3 words in and I stoped.
I had allowed my anger to mask the need for the very things Christ told us to do. Forgive and love.
How am I supposed to leak the love of God on the people around me if I am walking around offended, angry and resentful?
‘Father, I ask that with all of my heart that You forgive me for allowing anger & hurt to take up space. Please, would You fill the space we cleaned with Your virtues, Your mercy, Your compassion, kindness, gentle-ness, humility, patience and love. Help me to be a reflection of You today. That’s what I want. Help me to walk it out.’
Often times I get so focused on receiving my forgiveness that forgiving others is an after thought. I do it once I receive my forgiveness. Don’t get me wrong, the important thing is to forgive, and still I believe this week the Holy Spirit has been showing and revealing to me that there is an even deeper level of forgiveness to be had.
So as I pray to become the person who is unoffendable I would be remiss if not to remind us of Jesus on the cross. He held no anger or resentment when He said ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.’
Father God, help us to see those around us the way You see them that we may leak Your perfect love all over them. Help us to choose mercy and grace over offense and resentment. Help us to be better reflections of Your Son today.
Love YOU sis,
Written by: Alexandria Brown
Last night, we had dinner with a family from our church. It was so lovely to share a meal around our 9-foot-long table and to hear our kids running around together downstairs as we talked and got to know one another a little more.
We shared about our kids, our interests, how we met our spouses and how long we had been a part of our church and how we came to be there. We landed on the subject of our church several times throughout the night, almost as if this common thread was woven throughout our varied topics of conversation.
As our friends described some things about our church body that they love, and as we agreed, I remembered a time a few years ago when I prayed for this exact thing. I remember reading through a book with a group of friends and reading the most beautiful descriptions of the church operating as laid out in Scripture: just as the body of Christ.
And don’t get me wrong: my experience with the church up until that point had been wonderful. I adored ‘doing life’ with and serving alongside brothers and sisters. But I began to read illustrations of how this particular author’s church operated alongside countless Scriptures outlining how the body of Christ is to operate and I honestly was overwhelmed. I wondered over what that would look like, what it would be like to be a part of that church, operating in the giftings given to me and surrounded by my brothers and sisters doing the very same thing: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:7
I began to pray for that, for the Lord to show me what that could look like. And sitting around the table last night, talking about our beloved church, I almost had fresh eyes to see the gift that is my local church. We were led to our church mere months after this praying and dreaming and our church family has been the most delightful gift.
It’s funny, though, because as I’m sitting here at the same long table with a cup of coffee and reflecting, the Holy Spirit reminded me of just why my heart longed for this so much in that particular season. I was honestly in such a refining season, walking through hardship and suffering and a purification that I had prayed for but didn’t realize would come in the form it did.
I was real tender and surrounded by people I loved dearly who were serving the Lord through all sorts of roles and avenues and.. I felt like I didn’t have a place. I felt like I didn’t belong and that I didn’t have anything to offer up. There was one particular night that I felt actually sidelined as my people were celebrated for their roles and giftings. I tried desperately to hold back the tears that pricked my eyes and immediately felt great shame and guilt. I didn’t want to be feeling this way! I loved seeing how the Lord was working in my friends’ lives. I wanted to wholeheartedly celebrate, too, but at the same time I lamented, “What about me?”
My sweet friend, who loved me well through this difficult season and who didn’t know exactly how my heart was aching then, sent me this passage from 1 Corinthians 12:12-26:
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
As I suffered, these people suffered along with me. As they were honored, I was to rejoice along with them. And as I sat off to the side, wounded and bemoaning my inadequacies and almost completely believing the lie that I didn’t belong, my heart needed this truth: I was not any less a part of the body of Christ. Not one bit.
This is such a marvelous design. “God has so composed the body.” No division, all members having the same care for one another. The many parts of the body having specific and unique purposes, indispensable and making up one body, Christ as the head.
It’s such a beautiful thing, to have walked with the Lord through this difficult season, almost just right into an opportunity to live this out in my everyday life. It gives me such an appreciation for the Lord’s design for His church and for the church itself. It makes me want to take commands regarding the church seriously. I want to nurture His church in this way:
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another.” Romans 12:10
Friend, I don’t know if you can resonate with any part of what I’ve shared here today, but I pray that you let this passage of Scripture sink down deep into your heart and soul today. The way God has created His church to function leaves no room for exclusion, division, feelings of inadequacy, resentment or selfishness, even. No, we belong to and are called to nurture the body, operating as one under Christ. We are called to lay down our lives just as Christ did.
So Lord, would you open our eyes to areas of our hearts that we may, even unknowingly, carry bitterness or resentment? And would you then purify our hearts and awaken us to the design of your church, that you yourself intentionally composed? We want to obey your commands regarding your church wholeheartedly, delightedly even. We want to strive for the sort of love that undeniably presents us to the world as yours. I pray, Holy Spirit, that you would reveal to us the gifts and talents that you have given us and that you would teach us how to use them for the building up of your church and for your glory, God. Amen.
Written by: Olivia Caldwell
Our hearts are such silly things, but they are important to God. I am not talking about the heart that pumps blood through your body. That is a mere muscle. I am talking about the heart that feels and loves. The same heart that worships our Lord in song can turn and feel the most negative things and fuel the most negative thoughts and actions.
When I look at the Bible to the women that are written about there, I see their hearts are weak like ours and they feel those negative emotions as well. The two times it jumps out at me have to do with their abilities to provide children to their husbands. In Genesis 30 we read of Rachel, Jacob’s love, and how she became resentful of her sister that could have children when she couldn’t. Sarah and Hagar had a resentful relationship because of Sarah’s inability to bear a son until she had Issac. These feelings of resentment got in their way of trusting God to work out His plan in His time. I relate to these women so much.
After my oldest daughter was born, my husband and I wanted to have another child. So when our oldest was two, we started to try to expand our family. We got pregnant and soon after I was in horrible pain and rushed to the emergency room. I was having a miscarriage. There was nothing they could do. I was supposed to come back in a couple of days to confirm my worst nightmare. Many of you have gone through this experience as well. Some of you were far along in pregnancies and lost the baby. Some of you had to deliver stillborn children. We don’t talk about the emotional toll this has on us. Doctors deal with the physical problem the best they can. This process continued for me for a long time. Loss after loss. It was so difficult. I went to fertility specialists, had medicines, blood drawn over and over, scans and x-rays, injections, tests, ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, tears, anger, more tears, crying out to the Lord and asking him why. Was I not a good enough mother to my one child that I didn’t need to have another? Did I do something wrong? Would I never have another baby? Was I not grateful enough for what I had?
Month after month I cried out to God. This turned into years. I had given up. I had become hard-hearted. Every time someone announced that they were pregnant it was a knife to my heart. I was angry and resentful toward God. I was resentful toward my friends and family members that were able to have children whenever they wanted. I was resentful toward the foster and adoption systems that made it so difficult for loving people to have a child that someone else didn’t want. How could they?
Something changed in my heart. I realized that I was living my life wanting something and not appreciating what I had. I was otherwise healthy. I had a loving spouse. I had a beautiful daughter that was becoming a teenager. I needed to let go. Somehow I did. I made peace with it. I allowed my resentment to turn into a heart that was wanting to nurture the family I had and take care of myself in a way I never had before. I allowed myself to let God fill that hole in my heart.
It was a January morning. My husband was driving back from the Carolinas. I hadn’t been feeling well that morning. I realized that I was late - which wasn’t too strange. But for some reason this time it was different. I took a pregnancy test bracing myself for the negative result again. Except this time, it wasn’t negative. It was positive. Thirteen years since our first baby arrived and I was going to have another baby. I was elated and terrified. Dare I hope and dream? Was this really going to happen? All those years of resentment suddenly seemed so silly. All that time felt wasted.
I felt so blessed and so happy to add our sweet second baby to our family. Her name means “my dream” and above her bed has always hung the Bible verse from 1 Samuel 1:27 that Hannah says, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.”
Through all of my resentment and envy and depression, God was a kind and loving and nurturing constant. He still loved me. He waited for me to turn to Him and wait. I know that this is not the story for all women who deal with fertility issues. Some never are able to have children of their own. But you know what, God is still a nurturing father to you. He wants to fill that hole in your heart with Him. Even if He had not blessed me with my other children, I still would feel that way. I felt that way before the blessings of Alora and Willow.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-6
When I was truly able to let go of the irritable resentment I was harboring, I was able to allow God to love me the way He wanted to. I was able to love him the way He wanted me to. And I was able to nurture the relationships I had and the ones He wanted me to have as well. I will never stop being thankful for ALL of my children - those that I gave birth to, those that I lost, and those that I have adopted in my heart.
Sisters, I hope that hearing my story can bring you to a point of letting go of some of the resentment that you might be holding on to. It is so painful to hold and so refreshing when we can really let it go and allow the nurture of our Father God to heal those sore places in our hearts. It is a hard journey, but so worth it. Let us pray for you if you are struggling with this. It might not be about children. It might be about a spouse or a parent or a sibling. It might be about a friendship that has gone wrong or a job situation. Whatever it is, resentment has no place in the heart of one that loves God. He didn’t make us that way. If you have been holding onto that, it can be scary to let it go. Trust your Abba Father to nurture your heart to a place of fulfillment in Him.
Written by: Angie Reese
Do you love Fall? I do…and I don’t.
I love the gorgeous colors of fall. The flaming red, burnt orange, and golden yellow hues bring a smile to my lips as I gaze on their beauty and make my, not quite, daily walks more enjoyable. The days of bright sunshine and brisk cool temperatures are refreshing after a long hot summer. I don’t even mind the occasional rainy days because I know they aid in the vividness of the changing color in the trees all around me. Those are the perfect days to sit with a cup of tea, my comfy lap quilt and a good book and read away to my heart's content. Even as the light begins to fade earlier in the evenings, it seems to grant permission to take more time in the evenings to enjoy some comfort food and movie time with the family. And more time for reading.
I love the cooler temps. Yes to sweater weather! Mind you I said cooler, not cold. That’s the problem..when fall hits I know winter is close on its heels. I’m not as fond of winter. I don’t like wearing coats. Do you?
I love all things apple…but not all things pumpkin. Don’t hate me, but pumpkin spice? Yuck! Just give me a slice of apple pie, or a bowl of apple crisp and a nice steaming hot cup of black coffee. Yes!
And what is it about fall that makes me want to buy new pens and notebooks, and books? Well…I always want to buy books. But I’m a little old to be buying school supplies. And yet, the excitement of a new season is still there. Sort of a mid-year reawakening. An opportunity to begin again. But it’s not so much about new life that we think about in spring, but a putting off of the old. Dropping our leaves, so to speak.
Which brings me to something I don’t like about Fall. All the dead leaves. I wouldn’t mind it so much except that we have so many trees on our property we live in a veritable forest. Our grandson says we live in The Forest of Chesterfield. And that requires not one but multiple leaf blowing sessions throughout the entire season. The cooler temps beckon me to sit out on our deck and drink coffee in the mornings, but the leaves are taking over the chairs, the tables and even fall into my mug. Ugh! Except, with those falling leaves I can finally see the birds in the trees around our backyard. I love birds!
As you can see, I sort of have a love/hate relationship with Fall. One thing about Fall in our area of the country is that it can be trusted. It always arrives. Some years the color palette is not as gloriously vivid as others, but the leaves will still lose their green and turn at least a muted color and fall to the ground. Those leaves no longer hold the chlorophyll that keeps them green and feeds the tree. So they turn to a glorious, or not so glorious, hue of red, yellow, or orange as if to say, “This is me!” Shouting out one last hurrah before they are let go to flutter to the earth below.
There are so many lessons to be learned about God in nature. The one that comes to mind as I think about this fall weather and the changing of the seasons is one of the faithfulness in the promises of God. After the great flood, God tells Noah that He will never again destroy all living things on the earth through such a catastrophic deluge. In Genesis 8:22 we have this promise, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” And so there is constancy in the seasons. We can depend on them. Even more so, there is that with God. He is THE constant. The ever-present God who can be trusted. His promises are true. He can be trusted even while we cannot trust ourselves.
A.W. Tozer says that, “Unbelief is a deadly sin. Among all created beings, not one dare trust in itself. God alone trusts in Himself, all other beings must trust in Him. Unbelief is actually perverted faith, for it puts its trust not in the living God but in dying man.”
Even as the tree’s leaves fall to the earth in the Fall, the trees themselves know that in Spring new leaves will emerge on their branches bringing with them new life and sustenance for the tree. So it is no longer dependent on the dying leaves. Why? Because our Creator God made it so. And so we can put our trust not in our own fickle selves, but in the God who created us. The one who knows us best and yet still, He loves us so. As we let the sin of self-dependence fall to the ground we become more dependent on Him. He then brings new life to our limbs and renews our hearts so that we can now find our joy in Him. We can trust the one who is TRUTH.
I think that sometimes we approach this discussion about unbelief as if it has everything to do with us. Do I trust you, LORD? The reality is that He is trustworthy, no matter how I feel. He is faithful when I am not. His promises are true…always. His faithfulness, His trustworthiness in no way depends on my belief or lack thereof. He is LORD and I am not.
When things go askew in our lives we often wonder, “Where are you God?” “Why is this happening?” But nowhere in scripture do we have the promise that everything we encounter in this fallen world is going to fall to our favor when we are walking with God. He does not promise that we will not encounter trials. In John 16:33, He promises just the opposite when He says, “...in this world you will have trouble…” but He tells us this so that we can be assured that in Him we can experience peace in the midst of our trials. The fact is that He is there…with us in the pit of despair, waiting for us to take His hand so that He can either sit with us a bit longer or lift us out of the pit. His love and compassion never fail. Our faith may falter because we can’t see through the darkness and we may begin to panic because we think we are alone. But when we pray we begin to see through eyes of faith. The pupils of our spiritual vision will begin to adjust to the darkness and let in the light of His love. And we come to realize that He is our ever present help in time of need (Psalm 46:1).
So let this season of falling leaves be a reminder for us to let go…
Of our fear and insecurity,
Of our hurt,
Of our anger,
Of our doubt,
And let’s fall into the everlasting arms of the One who loves us most. The One who can be trusted to be faithful, because His very name is faithful and true.
“ I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.” Revelation 19:11a
Blessings and happy Fall,
WRitten by: Gay Idle
The father instantly cries out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief.
This scripture has always spoken very powerfully to my head and heart. To me that simple statement has been a statement of freedom, correction, and hope.
Let’s start with freedom. I grew up mostly in the church. My parents got saved when I was a kid and we quickly began going to a very charismatic local church. The pastor often spoke on faith during service. The subject of faith was very intriguing to me even as a young child and it has stuck to this day. The idea of having such a powerful tool at my disposal and it only needing to be a size of a mustard seed was mind-blowing to me. But I digress...
Faith is a choice to believe God’s word regardless of opposing statements or contrary circumstances and align your thoughts, words, and actions according to that belief.
To me faith=trust.
This has been my definition of faith through all these years.
Have you ever been told or heard of someone say ‘well you must not have had enough faith’, or ‘If their faith was only stronger maybe...’? (Squirrel) I am so sorry if anyone has ever said that to you and I ask your forgiveness on their behalf. Truly.
The first reason why Mark 9:24 speaks so powerfully to me is because that simple statement brings freedom. Jesus said if we only have the faith of a mustard seed we could move mountains in Luke 17:6. Yet the father in this scripture said, ‘you know Jesus, I might not even have enough faith, and still I believe You are big enough and good enough to cover for my lack’ (Alex paraphrase)
Sometimes, we just do not have enough in us to believe. Sometimes we have doubt whether we realize it or not. Sometimes doubt is more noticeable or less noticeable to us. Either way this scripture tells me that I don’t always have to have it together. It’s ok for me to just go to Jesus and say I need help believing for what I need from you. The father did not come with anything more than hope, and yet the father made a choice to align his thoughts, words and actions to Jesus the best that he knew how.
It brings freedom, because no matter where I am at on my faith walk I have permission to go to Jesus and say I need help believing. It takes the weight off of my shoulders (where it never should be to begin with) and places it back on Jesus. (Matt 11:28-30)
Correction, hmm, this one is a little bit of an uncomfortable and touchy subject...
I mentioned a little earlier that many of us have either been the person to be told ‘that our faith must not be good enough’ or know someone that was spoken to. I really did mean it when I asked for forgiveness on behave of anyone who has ever said that to you. This is by no means that. Instead, it is a personal conversation with you and Holy Spirit. Let me explain.
A while back I was believing God for something big. I don’t recall if it was something spiritual or healing or financial. I don’t think it really matters and that’s not the point I am speaking to now anyways. I have always prided myself on being able to trust God in seemingly tough circumstances. Some call that optimism, some call it naive, and others would say I was just young. I whole heartedly believed that I had the faith I needed for any and all situations I faced
and I would sometimes get frustrated with people who did not believe like I did. HA! Because I had it all figured out. (Insert eye rolls here)
I remember one morning being frustrated that what I was praying and believing for had not yet come to pass and I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit.
Hey, I want to help will you let me? Insert Mark 9:24 I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief.
I instantly felt so convicted that I had allowed pride to infiltrate my faith and my trust in God! Pride that I somehow had superior faith than those around me, pride that I could do and believe for it all, pride that I was somehow immune to unbelief, and worst of all pride that I know longer needed my Saviors help. That pride moved me from trusting in God to trusting in myself.
Well let me tell you, it did not take long for me to repent and ask and receive forgiveness. Now, you will regularly hear me say in my prayers both personally and corporately, “Lord, I believe help my unbelief.”
You see I no longer have that insecurity. The pride has been broken off and I am set free. I no longer feel the need to prove to those around me that my faith and trust in God is all that and a bag of chips. I don’t need people to see, or think or hear that my faith is one thing or another. I will fail at some point, I am human. I have doubt sometimes and that’s ok. I was never meant to have all the answers. But my God, my Jesus wants to meet me, meet us, meet you, right where we are. I never want to question whether I believed enough or was completely doubt-less. And because of Jesus I don’t have to!
That’s where hope comes in. Regardless of the situation or circumstances if I am praying God’s will over my family, my health, my relationships, my finances I can believe and trust that I don’t have to be enough because my Jesus is enough. I just simply have to surrender my unbelief and fear to Him and let Him take the load.
What is it that you are wanting to believe God for sis?
It could be something immediate or long term. What are you asking God for? What are the desires of your heart? Is it direction or healing? Restoration? Family?
You can trust Him. He really does want to hear your heart. Lean in sis. Lord, we trust you, help us overcome our unbelief.
Written by: Alexandria Brown
My mind has been flooded with a million different things the Lord is doing in my life and how that all relates to unbelief/trust. Even just this morning during our pre-service prayer time, the Lord was prompting me to pray for help with my unbelief. He was urging me to pray that my doubts would be met with an answer - Him. Following the close of our church service today, I went to talk and pray for with a dear friend and the Lord was continuing to nudge my heart about belief and trust in the middle of the unthinkable for the absolutely unbelievable.
I sat down to write this article and couldn't quite figure out where to start. As I said, my mind was flooded. Stories and information and emotions were swirling around so much so that sifting it out and sorting it out and making any sense of it all felt almost impossible. So I went to read some scripture to re-center myself. That is when the Lord made it clear me...
"... they don't need your wisdom, beloved. They need mine."
Today the Lord reminded me early in the day that while godly counsel, pastors, friends, books, and advice are all good - if I seek those things before I seek the Lord then they are out of place and I've made them an idol.
I could write some things the Lord is teaching me and share some of that wisdom with you and that would be all well and good and often times that is what the Lord wants me to do, but tonight, I would be disobedient to the Lord doing that because some of you need to go straight to Him. You've been running to a girlfriend or a preacher or teacher or your counselor or co-worker or even your spouse - all before you run to the Lord. When you do that, you build your trust in your own understanding and begin to lean on that rather than the Lord and his ways and his wisdom.
So I'm just going to give you scripture tonight. Get somewhere quiet, get out your bible (so you know I didn't make any of this up), and get in communion with the Lord. Run to him FIRST. Let this time build your TRUST in Him instead of your trust in your own understanding. Let him help you with your unbelief. He is the answer to your question, dear one. He is ready to speak to you in the middle of your mess, your questions, your weariness, your "whatever", and he is ready to help you trust him more tonight...
Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; Help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Psalm 37:3
In God, whose word I praise - in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm 56:4
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest n the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber. Psalm 121:3
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trust in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25
Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD. Proverbs 16:20
The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. Nahum 1:7
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans. Psalm 118:8
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10
The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delight sin him. Psalm 37:23
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. Psalm 27:3
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6
Lord Jesus, I pray for unshakable faith for my sister reading this right now. You know her heart, you know her struggles and her triumphs. You know her desires and her fears. You know her better than she knows herself and Lord you love her unendingly. I pray her faith blossoms like a flower in spring, opening wide to face the Son and let the light of his face shine up on her - bringing life to her weary soul. I pray you would give her the gift of faith... that she would believe for the outrageous in the middle of the mundane. That she would believe for the unbelievable in the middle of the unthinkable. That she would trust you like a little child. That it wouldn't matter all the surrounding factors or circumstances... she would just believe you at your word and be quick to obey you. Build her up. Make her a mighty daughter. Help her learn to run to you FIRST - before she runs to your resources. Help her listen to you guiding her and watch for your footsteps. Make her a lover of your word and not just a hearer, but a doer. May you be honored in her life, Lord, and in mine.
Written by: Lyndsay Terry
Last week I set out to read the books of 1 & 2 Kings. I’ve been meaning to read them for some time now and so I began to basically devour 1 Kings..
And then I read 1 Kings 13.
I was reading before bed one night and, truth be told, I had to start reading what was unfolding aloud to my husband because at one point I went, “Oh, dang!” And I guess maybe it’s a little out of the ordinary to audibly comment on Bible reading that way? It's safe to say his interest was piqued.
So in 1 Kings 13, a man of God is sent by the word of the Lord to confront Jeroboam at the altar he set up. He plotted to keep Israel from offering sacrifices in the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem and ultimately from returning to King Rehoboam of Judah. He made two golden calves for the people, saying, “..Israel, here are your gods who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” (1 Kings 12:28b)
“This led to sin..” (1 Kings 12:30a)
He also made shrines on the high places, made a festival for the Israelites, offered sacrifices on the altar and burned incense. I mean, just WOW. This paired with what I had read about him the day before had me feeling some kind of way.
The man of God arrives and proclaims what the Lord commanded and then: “He gave a sign that day. He said, “This is the sign that the LORD has spoken: ‘The altar will now be ripped apart, and the ashes that are on it will be poured out.’” (13:3)
Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, crying out, “Arrest him!” and his hand withered and the altar was indeed ripped apart, ashes pouring from the altar, just as the man of God had said.
So Jeroboam pleaded for the man of God to pray for him so that his hand would be restored- and he did. His hand was restored to him right then and there. And then.. This is where I (very immaturely) basically cried out, “BURN!”
Jeroboam insisted that the man of God come home with him to refresh himself and receive a reward. And this man of God replies, “If you were to give me half your house, I still wouldn’t go with you, and I wouldn’t eat food or drink water in this place, for this is what I was commanded by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat food or drink water or go back the way you came.’” (13:8-9)
Juvenile comments aside (ahem), check his statement. His steadfast resolve to what the Lord had said to him. No, no, NOT EVEN IF YOU... Because the LORD SAID.
The rest of the story, however, is quite sobering. It’s why my reading in this book has halted because I just keep reading this over and over again and pondering over it.
An old prophet was informed by his sons all that the man of God had done that day and they also told their father what the man of God had spoken to the king. He saddles up his donkey, follows the man of God, and says to him, “Come home with me and eat some food.”
The man of God repeats to the old prophet what the Lord had commanded him: I cannot.. I will not.. “For a message came to me by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat food or drink water there or go back by the way you came.’”
The old prophet responds by saying, “I am also a prophet like you.” (13:18) and tells the man of God that an ANGEL spoke to him, telling him by the word of the Lord to bring him back to his home for food and water.
“The old prophet deceived him, and the man of God went back with him, ate food in his house, and drank water.” (13:18b-19)
Basically, back at the old prophet’s place, the word of the Lord actually does come to this deceiving prophet this time, and he cries out the judgment to come to the man of God: “but you went back and ate food and drank water in the place that he said to you, “Do not eat food and do not drink water”- your corpse will never reach the grave of your ancestors.’”
And then when the man of God left, a lion attacked him and killed him.
Like, my mind is just reeling as I read this. There’s so much more to this story and there’s a lot to unpack. But mainly I’m thinking, this man of God (man of God!) came and boldly opposed Jeroboam’s wickedness, he at first stood firm when it came to what the Lord commanded- and then he was DECEIVED! That old prophet sought him out, having known what the man had told the king Jeroboam, and LIED to him! What is happening here?!
And I mean, I guess in a way I’m kind of defending his disobedience right now. Ouch.
This is really hard. So hard. But what it comes down to is: this man of God deviated from the last thing God had told him to do.
This is so sobering to me because I look around at everything happening around us right now, at all of the voices and the chatter and the noise. And I’m trying to call to mind what it was that the Lord last called me to do. And I’m like, how easy could it be for me to get off track? To stray a little? To be deceived?
Will I trust in what God said or will I allow doubt to creep in? Based on what I see in the physical, my circumstances, my tarrying to obedience.. Anything?
Will I trust in what God said TO ME or will I begin to believe the voices that may come at me? Will I stand firm or will I waver because it sounds good? Because it sounds legit? Even though it is not right simply because it’s not what GOD SAID? TO ME?
Will I take the time to seek the Lord’s will? Will I remain in Him, walking in step with His Spirit so that His will remains at the forefront of my mind?
I just have felt like this is so significant. My hubby even brought this story up again today and said he felt like it was no coincidence that I landed there this week.
I don’t want to lose sight of what God has asked of me. I want to remain in a holy fear of the Lord that keeps me ever before Him, abiding in Him, hearing His voice and remaining resolute, never wavering or compromising. Never straying even a BIT from what He has said.
Listen, I’m no scholar and I make dumb commentary sometimes. And I’m still wrestling with and pouring over and praying about all of the details of this passage of Scripture. But for today, we have GOT to take this to heart: keep in mind what the Lord has said and stand boldly, defiantly, against anything else.
Do not doubt, church. Do not let unbelief creep in. Remain in His Word; trust in what He has said. Our God is holy; He cannot lie. Every word He has said is true.
Anything else, anything less? Flee from it.
Praying for you, sister, as you refuse to budge or compromise on what God has called you to. Holy Spirit will guide you and keep you. I hope you have a chance to dive into the full story here and I pray that you see God for who He is: holy, loving and full of kindness and mercy. Love you!
Written by: Olivia Caldwell
This month I have been facing some serious tiredness. I am a mother of three, a wife, and a fifth grade teacher. You know that saying in all the memes…”There’s no tired like teacher tired”? I try not to buy into that. There is also no tired like full-time mom tired, new mom tired, older person tired, chronically sick tired...the list could go on and on until we listed every person and circumstance in the world. The bottom line is: we are ALL tired.
My husband teases me because I love sleep. My favorite place in our house is my bed. I want to sleep in. I want to take naps. If I am trying to find rest and peace, my bed is where I want to go. I want to escape stress and chaos. And there is nothing wrong with having a place where you can relax. The problem is that I can’t always do that. I have adulting to do. As I was reading the articles from the other contributors this month I had a gut check. Am I seeking rest in this world or escape? Am I trying to carry all the burdens that God has asked me to give to Him or am I trusting Him?
I have been pouring all my time and energy into school and whatever is left over I have been giving to my family. Nothing has been left over for God. Not that I have completely ignored Him, but I certainly haven’t been treating him like I should. He’s kind of been stuck in a corner of my mind where I wander from time to time. Not cool. When my priorities get all messed up like this, He has a great way of gently bringing me back into focus. Realignment isn’t always easy, but I am always glad when it happens.
Psalm 28:7 says “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”
(By the way, “exults” is another way of saying “is extremely happy”. I had to look it up.)
The LORD is my strength - not work. Not myself. If I am tired, what am I expecting to happen? Suddenly one night I get the perfect sleep and am no longer tired? That my fifth grade students are going to suddenly listen perfectly and understand fractions and long division? That my daughters and husband will start acting like sitcom family members and all problems will be solved within 30 minutes and then we get to have lots of laughs in a house that never seems to be dirty? No. Not even. We aren’t promised perfect. We aren’t promised understanding of everything. We aren’t promised health or happiness at every moment.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
This verse comes after the writer has just complained about all the wicked people around him seeming like they have everything. This verse is his reality check after all that “tired of the world” stuff has been expressed. It struck me as well in a similar way.
Instead of being tired and focusing on being tired, I need to re-prioritize. Give myself 15 minutes extra in the morning to sit and pray and put on my armor of God. Would that help me be a better teacher? It certainly couldn’t hurt! Instead of commiserating with co-workers about how stressful teaching is right now (don’t get me started on that one), use that time to get organized so I can leave work as soon as possible and get home to my family. God gave them to me and they deserve to have some of my “prime time” as well. After putting the kids to bed, take some time to read my Bible and reflect. What better way to leave things at His feet so I can sleep better?
Sometimes these things seem overly simple and obvious, but they aren’t. They are worthwhile and impactful. They can help me to realize that everything isn’t an emergency. I have help from God and in God and all that He has given me. It allows God to become my strength and my rest instead of trying to find rest on my own. (How’s that workin’ for you Angie?)
Tired happens. When it does, we need to rest our minds and our bodies, but more importantly we need to lean into the Lord so he can be our strength and renew and awaken our spirits so we can be good stewards of our lives.
Take some time to read or re-read the other articles on this topic, they are most certainly worth your time. Lyndsay’s article about doing things “unto the Lord” no matter how mundane they are and how this relates to obedience and holiness. Alexandria’s article reminds us that the God who moves mountains still hears our voice and reaching out to Him can be so refreshing and rejuvenating. Gay reminded us to pause and remember that our rest is found in God alone.
I thank God for these ladies and all their beautiful wisdom. I thank God for you all that join us each week as we reflect and study together. I pray that you find some rest and that in doing so, you rise up awakened in mind, body, and spirit in God.
Written by: Angie Reese
Are you tired? I have been for months now. I’m suffering from post shut-down syndrome.
This is a sub-set of symptoms from having lived through this crazy pandemic of the past (almost) two years now. This syndrome does not even require you to have actually had Covid-19. If you are alive on this planet earth, you most likely are suffering from it’s symptoms.
Symptoms of Shut-down Syndrome:
This is not an article telling you specifics of what to do in order to live through this, or any, pandemic. It’s not about whether or not to get a vaccine or how to get healthy. It’s not about the ‘science’ of it. No...I just want to tell you a little of what God has been teaching me in all of this mess.
The Lord God has given Me the tongue of those who are
instructed to know how to sustain the weary with a word.
My journey, especially in the past few months, has caused me to pause in the moment. To stop listening to the blaring voices in the news and social media in order to resync my heart and mind with God’s voice. It has caused me to stop and consider that this is a universal syndrome and those steps that I listed, well all but the toilet paper one, have their own list of symptoms to process. So what am I learning in this pause?
Into the Word
He awakens Me each morning;
He awakens My ear to listen
like those being instructed.
I am blessed to be able to get out of bed each morning and go directly to the coffee maker to pour a freshly brewed cup of coffee...ahhh the aroma...and then go straight to my comfy chair to enjoy my coffee with Jesus. I use these first morning hours to sit with Jesus, to talk with God, to read His word, and then if I have time, to read from a book that leads me into further reflection. When I am awakened to His voice, He perks up my ears to listen and learn from His word.
But sometimes...I am sidelined by distractions and I miss His voice. And approaching my mornings with good intentions but haphazardly allowing for distractions gets me off track. Even in spite of the fact that I am still physically going to that quiet place every morning. And I know I’ve been doing this when I feel the bone-tired weariness of living in this restless world.
I find that it’s time to pause again. To stop and listen to the song that He sings over me.
Listen to my voice, beloved.
You will not find rest in a restless world.
Come and confide in Me;
I will be your rest.
That’s just it…there is no rest to be found in a restless world. Our rest is found in God alone. And so we have to pause and rest in His wisdom. Rest in His word. Sit in the lap of your heavenly Father and listen to the song He sings over you. If you are not familiar with a loving earthly father, this might be hard to picture in your mind’s eye, but as you come to know Jesus, He will reveal the Father to you. A good and loving Father.
Rest For the Soul
Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28-30 just where to go to find this rest for our souls,
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.
All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for yourselves.. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
We need rest from the burdens (yoke) that has been placed on us, or dare I say the one that we have taken upon ourselves. So what exactly does it mean to take His yoke?
The yoke has been used as a symbol in the Bible, referring to the cattle yoke, or harness. In this passage, Jesus uses the metaphor of the common yoke to teach his disciples a lesson. I can imagine Him pointing to the cattle in the field nearby as He taught. His disciples would have had a clear image of what He was talking about. It can be a bit muddy to those of us who grew up in a city and aren’t familiar with the ancient agrarian ways. So, I did some digging and discovered that a yoke of this kind binds two cattle together so they could work in tandem. This yoke, or harness, was often larger on one side so that a larger, stronger, and more experienced animal could guide and mentor a younger animal. This would also significantly lighten the burden of the less experienced and weaker animal.
Can you see it? No? Well, hold my purse while I slip out of this current yoke...Post-Shutdown syndrome, and slip on the yoke of Jesus and walk in tandem with Him.
Just what is the ‘yoke’ of Jesus? What was the burden of His life...the thing He was most passionate about? He knew what He was to do from a very early age. At just 12 years old, Mary, who was in a panic over where He was, found Him in the temple complex...his answer to her chiding was this, “Didn’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business”, Luke 2:49. In John 6:38 Jesus states, “I came not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” So, if we are to take up His yoke, we too are to do the will of the Father.
Awaken to Hope
With all my heart, I want to learn from Him, so that I may find my rest in Him. There is nothing like a good rest to restore body, mind, and soul. To awaken with a fresh perspective. New hope. Ready to take on whatever challenges may come.
Even as I walk with a renewed hope, I know that more difficulties will come. After all, Jesus also warns us that in this world we will have trouble, (John 16:33). But in the same breath, He tells us to ‘take heart’ because He has already overcome the world. He is the victor. And from this promise we can experience peace. A peace that makes no earthly sense. And you know what? It doesn’t have to when we place our trust in Him.
“But I will see Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I will be satisfied with your presence.” ~ Psalm 75:15
Written bY: Gay Idle
Awake my soul and sing
Sing His praise aloud
Sing His praise aloud
As I sit here thinking about what to write that song Awake My Soul by Hillsong is playing in my head like a tune that won’t leave. So not knowing what else to do, I decided to do something a little different and set my words down and just worship to that song.
I love the words in it. “Where we hear praises He hears faith.” It’s the sound of our prayers and our praises that moves Him. It stirs the heart of our Father and “where stood a wall now stands away”.
When we are tired and exhausted physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually we can turn and remember that our God still moves mountains. Our voice, our heart, our actions moves the heart of our God.
The same God who created the universe is moved by the sound of our voice.
Can we just let that sink in for a moment.
We all have amazingly crazy busy lives. Last week Lyndsay spoke about doing everything unto the Lord. Big or small focusing our efforts as a ministry to God. She spoke about how shifting her perspective and attitude towards God in all things and how it changed not only her, but the atmosphere in her home. WOW!
I have to admit that that is something I always strive for. A home where people can let their guards down. Where they can plop down on a seat and be overwhelmed with peace and comfort. Where the weight of their day just melts under the Presence of the Father and His grace. That is the kind of atmosphere I want to have in my home.
That kind of atmosphere doesn’t happen by accident. It is definitely not something that just happens. LOL If only. It takes us choosing to praise when we don’t feel like it. It takes us choosing faith over fear.
I strive for it, I don’t always have it. Sometimes I do get wrapped up in my to-do, family time, kids school and sports, and work. Sometimes I forget where my focus is supposed to be. Sometimes I can get so wrapped up in the daily life tasks that I exhaust myself to get them done. And let me tell you, when that happens there is not much peace in my home.
When that happens I find it very hard to “realign” myself with the right who and why. I’m tired and exhausted and I just don’t have anything left to give. But then, when I finally decide that I’ve had enough and I can’t do it anymore and there is nothing left to lose I praise.
Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. Psalms 54:4
If you are feeling tired and weak, reach out to God. He is waiting to hear your voice. He is ready to move at the sound of your faith. Will you let Him?
*Awake My Soul Hillsong Worship CCLI 7134998
Written by: Alexandria Brown
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