Written By: Lyndsay Terry
Right away, all the way, happy way.
If you’ve been around me and my children for awhile, you’ve undoubtedly heard me say this. And while I know it can be controversial (“It’s not right to expect them to be happy about obedience all the time!”) we make it a part of our DNA in our family. And no, I don’t expect my children will always be happy to obey what I’m asking/telling them to do. It’s not about their attitude toward the action, it’s about their attitude toward me.
“You don’t have to be happy about it, but you don’t have to be disrespectful either.”
“You don’t have to like it, but you know that I only ask you to do things that are for your good and betterment.”
“I don’t expect you to skip with delight over this, but I do want you to choose joy in the midst of disappointment.”
Obedience is an important value to our family. And obedience, while not always full of happiness, always brings joy in the end. It may be awhile before we see it, feel it, know it, but it’s there waiting for us to experience.
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” John 14:15
“Whoever knows me and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me. Those who love me will have my Father’s love, and I, too, will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:21
“Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will go to them and make our home with them. A person who doesn’t love me doesn’t do what I say. I don’t make up what you hear me say. What I say comes from the Father who sent me.” John 14:23-24
Obedience has such high value in the Kingdom of God. Obedience proves our love for the Lord. It is the primary way we show our affection and our gratitude to Jesus for all He has done. If we love Him, we WILL obey Him.
It doesn’t say perfectly, but I think it implies that our hearts are continually becoming bent toward obedience. We aren’t naturally that way. We are rebellious and self-focused people. It is the grace of God that has made us think of anyone other than our own desires. It is the grace of God that prompts us to obey. It is the grace of God that wins us over to JOYFUL obedience. We learn - through obedience - that He is trustworthy, that He is looking out for our best interest, that He knows what’s truly good for our hearts and souls and bodies. Through obedience we come to know His heart and what may start as skeptical obedience grows into joyful obedience.
“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (emphasis added)
It was FOR JOY that Jesus obeyed the Father unto death. He knew that obedience ALWAYS brings blessing and joy. We may have to go to hell and back before we experience the joy, but it is always waiting for us on the other side. And it’s greater than the trip to hell. It’s greater than whatever suffering we may endure. Suffering as small as not having candy for breakfast or as great as losing relationship with a loved one. If it’s done out of a heart to obey the Lord, there will be joy waiting for us.
And sis, I can’t promise when our joy will be made complete in all things. Some moments will be on this side of Heaven, but others will be when we see Jesus face to face. Either way, either grace we’ve been given, it is enough for us to obey having full trust and confidence that the Father is worthy of our obedience. We can have peace knowing that joy awaits us.
What area of your life are you struggling to obey the Lord? Think about it…
Do you have your answer yet?
Take as long as you need to remind yourself of past moments of obedience that brought blessing. Remind yourself of His goodness, His faithfulness, His wisdom, His heart for you, His sacrifice on the cross for you. If he spared not His son for you, why would He withhold what He knows is good for you? Obedience is the pathway to blessing. Obedience is the pathway to joy.
Right away, all the way, happy way - it’s the only way sis. He is worthy of our obedience.
At What Cost?Read Now
Written by: Gay Idle
From the dawn of time, God’s plan for mankind was to be accomplished through obedience.
When God placed man (Adam and Eve), in Eden’s garden, he basically said, “Here you go. You are in charge of this paradise. I planted this garden, now you take care of it, nurture it.” And paradise it was. No weeds, so the work was not backbreaking; it must have been incredibly rewarding to see and experience the results of their labor. I can only imagine the beauty of creation in its infancy.
Do you wonder if God walked with Adam and Eve every evening in the garden? What do you think they talked about? What must it have been like to have no concept of evil in the beginning…only good, coming from the heart and hands of their Creator? To know that God had given them dominion over all the earth and every living thing on the earth? That alone would be enough to keep them talking for weeks or months. This nurturing/ruling thing…keeping it all in balance was going to be an adventure. And God was sharing the adventure with them.
In the midst of this garden, God placed two particular trees. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In creating Adam and Eve in His own image, God was also giving them the opportunity to choose. They could eat from any tree in the garden except for one; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He even told them why. If they ate from that tree, they would surely die (Genesis 2:16).
The choice was really quite simple. Obey God and live, or disobey and die. And we all know what happened after that. If you’re not sure, go read about the fall in Genesis chapter 3.
Yes, they fell. They sinned against God. They knew they had really messed up. They fell from their state of perfect unity and fellowship with each other and with God. Everything was different now. And what a hot mess it made of things. Severe pain in childbirth, weeds, thorns, and thistles. Instead of rewarding and meaningful work, they would experience hard labor, and work by the sweat of the brow. Oh…and that whole unified relationship between man and woman was now an unholy mess! And to top it all off? Death…separation from God…spiritual death along with eventual and inevitable physical death.
God is love. And Love makes a way. Even in the beginning, He knew that to give us choice meant we could/would choose to disobey His command. But it also meant that we weren’t just puppets put on this earth to blindly walk through life with no way to choose love. He created us to live, to love, and to choose eternal life. And so He made a way to restore fellowship with man. So God drove them out of the garden and closed the gate so they could not re-enter the garden and eat from the tree of life. Doing so prevented them from eating from that tree and living forever in their sin.
And so even before he proclaimed the aforementioned curses upon Adam and Eve, God said to the serpent, “...I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 NIV)
There is so much to unpack in this verse, but for our purpose and the sake of brevity, let’s just say that this was the beginning of the end for Satan. God would provide His Son, the seed of the woman, to administer the final death blow to the head of Satan. The striking of the heel is a picture of Christ’s death on the cross...but we know that Satan did not have the final word in Christ’s death because we serve a RISEN SAVIOR! We have access to the Tree of Life through the saving work of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, defeating the enemy and rising again to life, so that we too may rise with Him to life everlasting.
And that brings us back to obedience. While man’s original disobedience closed the gate to the Tree of Life, God opened the way through His Son. I love the way the Amplified Version says this in Philippians 2:8, “After He was found in [terms of His] outward appearance as a man [for a divinely-appointed time], He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Romans 5:19 tells us this, “For just as through one man’s disobedience [his failure to hear, his carelessness] the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of the one Man the many will be made righteous and acceptable to God and brought into right standing with Him.”
When the man failed to obey, a sacrifice was required. In the garden, God provided an immediate sacrifice for Adam and Eve when he “made garments of animal skins for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” Their awareness of their nakedness required a covering…their sin a sacrifice. They wore a reminder of their disobedience…the consequence of their sin. This also served to remind them that God would provide a way back to Him through the shed blood of the perfect lamb of God.
1 Samuel 15 says that “...to obey is better than sacrifice…” All that I have just written drives home the point that it is our disobedience that requires sacrifice. And that breaks my heart when I think of it in terms of my own sinful choices in life. It kind of makes it personal. My sin caused the sacrificial death of Christ on the Cross. All of our sins really, but still. If you never sinned, my sin would still have caused His sacrifice and that makes it personal. And heartbreaking. And humbling.
And thankful…oh so thankful, because He died on the cross to bring us back to the life of obedience.
All this talk of obedience puts me in mind of a puppy I had years ago.
Puppies are a bit like toddlers as they go about exploring, everything ends up in their mouths. Clair quickly became well acquainted with the words, "no", "quit", "put that down", "spit it out...NOW", oh... and "that's my shoe, thank you for bringing it to me but I would rather you had left it in the spot by the door".
One morning it occurred to me, as I was yelling once again, "Clair...where are you and what are you into this time?", that I am a bit like my puppy...and maybe you are too. You see, Clair loved to please us and she was a very loving puppy, but she had a tendency to test every boundary that we put into place. Some things she learned rather quickly, but others...took time and work.
She was a work in progress. Aren't we too a work in progress?
Just as He did way back in the Garden, God, in His loving kindness, has set boundaries for us. He created us and knows what is best for us. Some of those boundaries aren't really hard for us to abide by...I mean most of the Ten Commandments are easy to keep aren't they? After all, I've never killed anyone. But there are those things that I know God asks of me that I don't always follow through with. How about you?
As Clair found...some of the bad things we do are well...just plain fun...but the end result is well...not fun.
Obedience is a hard lesson to learn.
When Clair was being obedient she anxiously waited at my feet either for her reward, a loving word, and a hug, or she waited for the next command. When she was not being obedient, she was so busy getting into trouble she missed out on the reward and instead suffered the consequences of her actions.
Sound familiar? Yeah, me too!!
With all my heart I want to be known as one sitting at the feet of my Master, anxiously awaiting my reward, a loving embrace, and looking forward to the next command.
I want to have a heart that is captivated by His voice, filled with His love, and obedient to His plan!
Photo by Garrett Karoski on Unsplash
Lessons in ObedienceRead Now
Written By: Olivia Caldwell
I've been reading Numbers 14 over and over again and just mulling over this portion of Scripture this week. As I have been praying over and reading about and living out obedience for the last year and a half (I spoke on the Wonder of Obedience at our Wonder Conference last October, so y'all know I had to live it before I could speak it!), I have become increasingly convicted when it comes to obedience. Honestly, I pray I never stop becoming more and more convicted regarding obedience to the Lord. I certainly need and desire to grow in this area, to obey immediately and in full faith in whatever it is that the Lord asks me to do.
This passage covers so much about obedience.
The Israelites are on the cusp of entering the Promised Land. Twelve men are sent out, one chief from each tribe. For forty days they are scoping out the land of Canaan, of which the Lord said, “I am giving to the people of Israel.” (Numbers 13:2), and they return with their report of the land. All but two of these men bring the people a bad report of the land, saying that the land flowing with milk and honey is actually a land that “devours its inhabitants” and that they are but grasshoppers to the people in the land.
Numbers 14 begins with the people of Israel crying and weeping and longing to return to Egypt, to a life of slavery without the Lord's presence and protection. They say,“Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2b-4, emphasis added)
The other two men who surveyed the land, Caleb and Joshua, tear their clothes at this and look at what they say to the people: “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into the land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread to us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:7-9)
The land is a good land. The Lord will bring us into it. Do not rebel against the Lord. Do not fear the people of the land- they are bread to us! The Lord is with us!
And the people said to stone them with stones for these words.
The Lord says to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?” (Numbers 14:11)
I have to admit, that even though I recognize I have many Israelite tendencies, I have found myself about ready to chuck my Bible across the room as I read about these people. “Are you kidding me? The Lord literally said He is going to give you this land. You were just delivered from slavery in the most incredible, miraculous of ways, you've been led by the Lord in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. You've seen His hand and you've seen His provision and you have trembled at His glory and at His judgment and - and you're telling me that you don't believe Him when He says that He will give you this land and bring you into it?”
And then the Holy Spirit nudges me, “What about last week when I prompted you to pray with that woman?” Why did I hesitate?
“And that person you know you need to share the Gospel with?” Why do I fear?
“And the work that you know I want to do in your home, in your family, that you have been distracting yourself from?” Why do I doubt?
How long will I not believe in Him, in spite of all of the signs I have seen?
This part of the Israelites story grieves me so much. The Lord declares that none among the people of Israel listed in the census from twenty years old and upward will enter into the land, except for Caleb and Joshua. He says, “But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in the wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness.” (Numbers 14:31-33, emphasis added)
“Who you said would become a prey.” It's interesting to think that if their parents had obeyed, the children would have avoided the suffering of the wilderness and entered into the land of the promise because of the faithfulness and loving kindness of the Lord.
They said that their children would become a prey and they feared for their children. And because they presumed that they knew best, that their ideas in the face of unbelief were better than the Lord's plans and promises, their disobedience caused the ones they had so much concern for to suffer. And yet, because of the goodness and steadfast love of the Lord, these children would know the land their parents had rejected.
When Moses told this to all the people, they mourned greatly. The Lord had told them to turn and to set out for the wilderness (Numbers 14:25) and instead they rose the next day, early in the morning, and went up to the heights of the country, now ready to enter into the land the Lord promised, saying, “Here we are.”
Doesn't that just tear your heart apart? I imagine regret and desperation gripping them, compelling them to try to take back their grumbling, their complaining, their unbelief in the sight of their Almighty God.
Moses rebuked them for their disobedience, since the Lord directed them to start for the wilderness, and he warned them not to go up into the land: “...You shall fall by the sword. Because you have turned back from following the LORD, the LORD will not be with you.” (Numbers 14:43)
“But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses departed out of the camp.” (Numbers 14:44) And they were thus defeated.
It is clear that our delayed obedience is disobedience and that disobedience is sin.
There is so much grace in Jesus, but there will come times when our obedience must be swift as we receive instruction for that moment. One moment. There is no room for delay or hesitation. We must have our minds made up that we will obey the Lord Jesus, right here, right now, even when it doesn't make sense. There is nothing more crushing than missing an opportunity to obey that is a gift to us from the Lord. We simply do not know what is on the other side of our obedience. What will disobedience cost us? What will it cost others?
I want to give the Lord my “Here I am.” before I am even asked. I do not want to offer Him my “Here I am.” with delayed obedience. He is worthy of my complete, pure, wholehearted obedience, not a mixture.
There are times we are unsure if we have heard Him right. There are moments when we worry that our obedience will be weird or distracting. Listen, I hear you, but what the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do is none of those things; it is the will of the Father. It could not distract if it is for His purpose. What seems weird to you is on purpose and specific for what He intends your obedience for. When you worry you have heard Him correctly? Sis, sometimes we need to stop arguing with ourselves about what we think we have made up and simply obey. Let the Lord grow your faith.
Always, always, we must remember just who our God is. We must be in the Word, poring over His will and His character and His promises. We must know precisely who He is and what He has done so that we will not give way to unbelief.
We must desire to be like Caleb, who “had a different spirit” (Numbers 14:24), insisting and persisting in the ability of the Lord to do anything and in His mighty hand. We must be prepared for some around us to react, not with stones, but in ways that could deter or distract us if we take our eyes off of Jesus. Remember that the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel when they intended to stone Caleb and Joshua? Walk in the fear of the Lord, trusting in His purpose to prevail and for Him to be glorified.
What keeps you from obedience to the Lord? What is keeping you stuck? Stop and pray right now. I'll pray for you here:
God I thank you for your Word. God I thank you that you are holy. I thank you for your steadfast love and I thank you for your goodness and for all of your promises that are yes and amen in Christ. Lord, I ask that you would teach us by your Spirit, that you would embolden us and that you would help our unbelief! Forgive us, Lord, for when we hesitate and for when we fear. Forgive us when we simply do not believe. Help us to cling to your word and to your word alone. Help us to be completely yielded to your Holy Spirit and to trust and obey. There truly is no other way to be happy in Jesus. Show us what a joy and a privilege and a gift it is from you, Father, that we get to follow you and to obey you. And Lord, I pray over any areas of regret in our lives when it comes to obedience. I pray that you will speak to our hearts concerning these things and that you will even redeem some of the situations that may come to mind now. Nothing is impossible for you, God. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.
Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash
Because I Said SoRead Now
Written By: Angie Reese
I hated it when she said it. “Because I said so,” in response to my asking of “why?” was infuriating as a kid. Sure, sometimes I asked “why?” because I was playing a game, but sometimes I really wanted to know why. Why do I have to put my clothes away? Why do I have to come inside? Why do I have to stop hitting my sister? Ok, I knew the reason for the last one…I swore that I would never say that as a mom. So here I am with a three year old of my own. I have answered “why” patiently all day. All. Day. Long. Somewhere around dinner time my patience wore out and I said it. And you know what? It felt good. (But more importantly, it worked!) I took a deep breath and moved on. It wasn’t the cursed experience I expected it to be.
But isn’t that what God says to us? Obey me because I said so. He tells the Israelites specific things to do, wear, eat, and say. He gave the 10 commandments. He told us the greatest commandment. And we (sometimes whine) and ask God “WHY?” all the time. We ask it when we are angry, confused, or told to do something we don’t want to do.
This week I was pondering about this and wondering what God’s answer to us is.
Isaiah 15:22 has Samuel the prophet say “...To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” Here are a few of the verses that I came up with.
Exodus 6:2 “God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord.” (and then goes on to explain why he was leading the people of Israel through the desert)
Matthew 13:11 “He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.” (as Jesus explained why he spoke in parables)
Job 37:5 “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.”
Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.”
Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever,...”
These verses have made me realize that just like I really didn’t MIND Alora asking me “why?”, neither does God. People have asked him that question throughout the Bible. He has also asked that question of many people. I have also learned that sometimes God answers with an explanation. And sometimes he doesn’t.
Where does that leave us then when we really want to know why? It leaves us with obedience. As disciples of Christ, we are asked to obey God no matter what it costs us. Sometimes we just have to remember that He is a good father and wants what is best for us. His eternal knowledge is beyond what we can comprehend. That is not the answer we want. It is the equivalent to “because I said so”. But sometimes with a little time and space, we can see that the experience of being told that by the loving, perfect, one true God of the universe isn’t the cursed experience we thought it would be. I hope you can find peace in that like I have this week, sisters. It certainly isn’t an easy task, but obedience is sometimes like that. It stings a little. Give it a try. Pray through it. Ask why and listen for an answer. And when you get one - whether the explanation one or the “because I said so” one - obey. Trust Him and his eternal lense. It will always be His perfect will.
Photo by AZGAN MjESHTRI on Unsplash
In the Midst of our OrdinaryRead Now
Written By: Gay Idle
We are living in times that demand that we all be extraordinary.
Just look at social media.
So many are striving to make a name for themselves…or build a platform for their business. Saying, in essence, “look at me…I’m special…watch my reels…do what I do…buy what I buy, or buy what I’ve created…it’s extraordinary…I’m extraordinary…you too, can be extraordinary!”
This leaves us feeling anything but extraordinary as we compare ourselves to all the others on social media who seem to be living idyllic lives, with their seemingly angelic children, spotlessly organized homes, amazing pets, and beautiful smiles. We watch as people claim, either to have never experienced any hardships because they have it all figured out, or say that their hardships are well behind them and now they are prepared to sail off into a perfectly, peacefully settled sunset…and help you do the same. Uggghhh! Do you ever feel like it is all just TOO MUCH?!
Unless we realize that comparison indeed can be the thief of joy, we are at risk of joining the vast numbers of people finding themselves dealing with depression as a result of all this excessive social media mania.
Yes, there are many truly good resources to be found on social media platforms. Some resources are sources of encouragement and are there to spur us on to not just be our “best selves”, but to press into who God has created us to be. We at Pretty & Wise strive to help women live bravely and boldly into their calling. And most of us have lived long enough lives to realize this truism …
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny.” ~ Reepicheep, the film version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Yes. It is true that God calls us to proclaim his goodness through hardships and trials. But, that is not the only way He shows Himself in the process of our journey through this life.
Most often, God calls us in the midst of our ordinary so that He might accomplish His extraordinary purposes.
How do I know this? We see so many individuals throughout scripture just living their ordinary lives when God calls them out to accomplish His extraordinary purposes. People like Joseph, Moses, David, Esther, and so many more. They weren’t called because they were extraordinary, but because our amazing God called them to accomplish extraordinary things to accomplish His will. He did not call them because they were already equipped with all they needed to carry out His will. It is God, Himself, who accomplishes the work through those who are willing to place themselves into His miracle-working hands.
James reiterates this point when he tells us that
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth” (James 5:17).
Did you get that? He was a man ‘with a nature like ours’. He surely doubted his own abilities, but He trusted God was true to His Word and because of that, God did a mighty miracle on his behalf.
So let’s look back at what influences we are allowing into our lives and the messages they bring. Is it the prevalent message that life is to be lived as an over-the-top adventure that will bring amazing rewards? The ‘go for the gusto’, ‘be all you can be’, and ‘be your best self’? We think that aspiring to these great heights will help us to build the beautifully fulfilled life that we all crave. But when we fail or when we fall, we are left wondering…what the heck?! We have set ourselves up for a deep discontent that digs itself deep into our souls.
So what are we to do? As Christians, we should aspire to live a life that is worthy of the calling we have received (Ephesians 4:1). Our aim is to please God, not because we want His favor but because of our love for Him. God does not shine His favor on us because of our own accomplishments, but because of His great love for us. That’s such a relief to me when I feel that I’m failing on so many levels.
I believe that God calls us as we are going about our daily life…in the midst of our ordinary…when we are actively seeking His presence in the midst of meetings at work, doing the dishes, changing diapers, or folding laundry. We need to get in the habit of acknowledging His presence in every moment.
God is not just there for us in the trials and hard moments of life. He is with us in the dailies, in every moment of our ordinary lives. Living into our simple and ordinary life provides the springboard to discovering innumerable opportunities for extraordinary faithfulness, obedience, and devotion to God.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul is instructing believers to live their life in a way that will please God. He is in fact commending them for obediently living out God’s commands and urging them to stay strong (Thess. 4:1-8). He goes on to commend them for their love for one another and urges them to do more so in verse 9. And finally, in verse 11 we read this,
“Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, ”
Lead a quiet life
Mind your own affairs
Work with your hands
Our aspiration…our ambition…the drive within us…should be to lead a quiet life. Not be a busybody. Do simple work. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like heaven to me. So excuse me while I go live in a cottage on the beach, do some vocal coaching, and work on my book! Well…maybe not. We’re not called to live this way in order to turn away from the world. The very next verse tells us why this is important.
“...so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” vs. 12
To walk properly before outsiders. It’s all about our witness in this world. We are to live lives of integrity so that our witness for Christ is credible. This is what living this one ordinary life is all about.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 bears this out:
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
In the midst of our ordinary moments, He calls us deeper still to something beyond what we are able to accomplish on our own. It’s hard to imagine that God calls us out of the daily tasks of everyday life…and yet He does.
Zechariah, in talking about God’s pleasure in the construction of the temple states this, “Who [with reason] despises the day of small things (beginnings)?” (Zechariah 4:10a, AMP).
Who indeed? The temple of God is the place where the Holy Spirit resides. Today the Holy Spirit resides in believers. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Please, let’s not despise this one ordinary life we have been given. We all begin somewhere. No matter how small and insignificant our daily routines may seem to be…this one ordinary life will be the vessel through which God accomplishes HIS extraordinary purpose.
Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash
No Ordinary LoveRead Now
Written By: Lyndsay Terry
The other day I was listening to a sermon that had nothing to do with this topic of “ordinary” but the speaker touched on something that struck a chord in me…
If God did not spare his own Son for you, why would He withhold any of the lesser needs or desires from us? That’s like buying an expensive Ferrari as a gift for someone, but not wanting to spend an extra $10 on a big red ribbon to put on the car. If you can spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a gift, why not $10 extra dollars? That is practically nothing in light of the cost of the gift itself.
Is it not the same with the Lord? If He paid the cost of His only child, why would He withhold healing from you? Why would He withhold provision from you? Why would He withhold marriage from you? Why would He withhold (insert blank here) from you?
And yet, sometimes He does … there must be a reason, but what?
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV)
God is always working for our benefit. If He says no to a lesser gift - the big red ribbon - it is because it will not be the greatest blessing to us. That’s a hard pill to swallow at times. Healing seems like the greatest blessing. Marriage seems like the greatest blessing. Financial provision seems like the greatest blessing. Whatever your heart sincerely longs for seems like the greatest blessing and yet sometimes the Lord says no.
Sweet sister, it’s for our benefit. It may not feel like it, but it’s true and He is trustworthy. His love is no ordinary love. He doesn’t give only what we want, He gives what is the greatest blessing to us. He doesn’t give based on what is happening right now, He gives with all of time in mind. He may say no to healing on earth, but He says yes to healing in Heaven - always. He may so no to marriage, but He says yes to a supremely intimate relationship with Himself. He may say no to abundance of finances, but He says yes to our daily bread.
All of these things produce more trust, more hope, more faith, and more love - no ordinary love - but fully reliant, fulfilling, steadfast love from us to Him and from Him to us.
I don’t have all the answers when it comes to this. I’m struggling with it myself. One of my dearest friends is terminally ill. They’ve given her just weeks. I’ve prayed for healing … we all have. The Lord has helped me understand something for the first time and has reminded me again and again when my heart just can’t stand it … Heaven is the greater healing. We pray for healing on this earth and when it just doesn’t come we often think we lacked faith. If we had just believed more or prayed more or trusted more … but truly, is not Heaven the greater healing? What a gift to pass through this earth and into the next with no more pain, no more sorrow, made completely whole, and in the arms of Jesus forever and ever.
So yes - sometimes God says no. And it hurts. It hurts so badly at times. But isn’t He good? Isn’t He trustworthy? Isn’t He worthy? His love is no ordinary love, sweet sister. His love is infinite and infinitely for our good and His glory.
Can I pray for you?
Jesus, help us trust in your decisions What to offer in blessing and what to withhold as a blessing. Help us to fully surrender our way for yours. Help us to see what you are doing and faithfully trust you when we cannot see. We love you. We give you our heart, our yes, our trust. You alone are worthy. You alone are faithful. We trust you Jesus.
Guest Writer: Ginger Harrington
Reaching goals doesn't happen without effort. Moving from intention to action is the first step, but our daily choices help or hinder us from forward progress. Building consistent habits that support our goals is a powerful way to press on toward growth and success.
“It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It's what we do consistently.” ― Anthony Robbins
Have you realized you aren’t where you want to be in some area of life? Maybe you even set a few goals or made resolutions this year and your progress has been sporadic.
We all have goals, aspirations, and dreams. Even the most unmotivated people have things they want to accomplish in life. Most of us–the imperfect types–have a list of areas ripe for growth and improvement. In essence, we don’t want to stay where we are…like we are.
Physical health, spiritual development, and personal growth are areas we often target for improvement.
When it comes to reaching goals or building better habits of health, what holds you back? Motivation, time, knowledge, skill, finances, equipment, or even current level of health can be obstacles to moving from intention to action.
The Challenge of Consistency in Reaching Goals
We may start strong but staying consistent is challenging. Last year I had a goal to lose weight. I worked at it (most of the time) and was sort of successful in a frustrating way. What's that, you ask?
I lost the SAME five pounds at least five times. Maybe more.
I stopped counting. At times I stopped trying. Let's face it, lack of progress is seriously demotivating. I had conversations in my head that went like this:
Inconsistency kept me running in place rather than moving forward toward my goal. The Yo-Yo Cycle of inconsistency can keep us from making lasting changes. Consistency is a battle, and the struggle is real. Can you relate?
Move from Motivation to Habit to Reach Your Goals
Jim Ryun said this about the role of habits in accomplishing goals: “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
A vital part of accomplishing goals is establishing small habits and routines that help us succeed. The word habit is defined as “a usual way of behaving: something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way.” ( source: https://www.britannica.com/dictionary/habit)
Practice bridges the gap between intention and habit. The positive habits we build form a support structure for the life we desire. Small changes and helpful habits can become part of our daily steps as we pursue our goals.
Athletes and musicians practice new skills until they become intuitive, part of their muscle memory. In many ways, practicing helpful habits is like developing muscle memory. What once felt unfamiliar, requiring great concentration, begins to flow automatically.
Focus on Progress Over Perfection
I’m discovering I tend to sabotage my good effort when I fall short or default to old habits. Failures and setbacks prompt a cycle of shame and guilt in my self-talk. How often do we allow today’s lapse to defeat our next step?
Elevating perfection over progress can derail consistency in creating new habits and accomplishing goals.
What could it feel like to change your perspective and expectations? What if you let go of perfectionism, recognize progress, and celebrate growth? Shift your focus to the next right step and make the next good choice. This mindset shift fuels motivation to keep moving toward our aspirations.
7 Ways to Move Forward with Consistency
The more we choose well, the more consistent good habits become. This makes it sound easy, but changing our thoughts and patterns is hard work that takes time and consistent effort.
Consider how these words from Philippians provide a pattern for pursuing your goals:
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. –Philippians 3:12-14 NASB
Although this passage refers to spiritual growth and sanctification, we can discover some practical habits of consistency.
Don't let inconsistency or discouragement tempt you to abandon your healthy goals. Celebrate the small wins of your forward progress. In Genesis 1, God "saw" that each day's work of creation was good. The meaning of the word "saw" is to see, to look at, inspect, perceive, consider. God recognized and stated the value of the good work that was accomplished. How often do we do this?
One healthy habit that is OH-SO-GOOD for your soul is to value small victories. Notice what went well this week. We often discount the small positive steps we make, but success creates energy for more success. Honor the good effort of each step forward as you build consistent habits to reach your goals.
What encourages you to press on today? Fight for consistency but give yourself grace as you pursue the positive habits for a life well-lived. What next step do you need to take toward your goal today?
Written By: Nancy Foster
What is “Ordinary”?
According to Webster’s Dictionary Ordinary can mean:
1. Of a kind to be expected in the normal order of events: Routine, Usual
2. a. Of common quality, rank, or ability.
b. Deficient in quality: Poor, Inferior.
Oxford’s Dictionary defines Ordinary as:
Not unusual or different or special or unexpected in any way; usual
Synonyms of ordinary include Normal, Usual, Standard, Natural, Typical
It seems that somewhere inside of us there is a desire not to be ordinary. It may be because we think we’ll be lost in the crowd. It may be that we equate ordinary with inferior.
There are seemingly infinite ways for people to express their uniqueness or their desire to stand out. Differences are expressed through clothing, hair, body art, vehicles, not to mention bumper stickers on vehicles. There are expressions that scream, “NOTICE ME! I AM HERE AND I NEED TO BE PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER THAN ME!”
Well, I have come to believe that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, however we need to see ourselves from a different perspective.
I’ve read that a jumbo jet has six million parts, forty thousand rivets on each wing and that it takes 43 days for skilled technicians to build. I would not dare to say that the smallest rivets were not important. If I heard the builders say, “Yeah, this one had some rivets left over. We didn’t know where they should go. We didn’t have time to look, but it seemed sturdy enough. We threw the leftovers away.” I would not get on that plane.
I don’t believe God made anything or anyone for which He doesn’t have a specific purpose. If there is a “specific” purpose, it can’t be ordinary. Look in the Psalms. Ps. 147:4 He counts the stars and calls them all by name. Why would anyone waste time on counting and naming the stars, unless there was a purpose? Unless it was important? Unless it brought Him pleasure to count and call the names of His own?
God says SO MUCH MORE about you and about me than He counts us and names us. He counts our hairs. (I wonder if He has named them too?)
Psalm 139:1-18 is a beautiful portrait of the intimacy we were made to have with God. It is evidence that we are not ordinary. You are not ordinary. You are not inferior. You were not an afterthought. You were made, on purpose, for a purpose, that God Himself wants to reveal to you and He is excited to do just that.
Read it slowly as if you are reading it to Him as He is listening.
1 O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. 2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. 3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. 5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! 7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. 9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night--12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. 13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. 17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
Read verse 17 again and again…
His thoughts about you are precious. Precious means of great value, not to be wasted or treated carelessly. Let’s not discard God’s thoughts about us because they reveal our identity. They reveal our value. They reveal our purpose and tied to all of these is His pleasure. (Rev. 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.)
His precious thoughts cannot be numbered. This means He’s still adding precious thoughts about you to His repertoire. You cannot number something that is continually growing in number. He hasn’t laid you aside for the newer models coming along. His purpose for you hasn’t diminished alongside of anyone else.
Even though days upon days seem ordinary and nothing seems to stand out or make a difference, there’s much to be said for finishing the race and remaining faithful. When you look at yourself through the lens of the scripture, you will not see ordinary. You will see an extraordinary God who wants you to know He is near.
One of my favorite verses to mediate on is Zephaniah 3:17…
The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He is quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
(Skip Moen says the picture of “quiet in His love” is this: “I don’t need to say a thing.” Imagine a conversation between people who love each other deeply and intimately. One is weaker and needy. But the other loves so much that He says, “You have not shaken my love for you at all. I don’t need to say a thing.” This is the silence of approval. When God is quiet in His love, His smile is more than we need, to know we are His.)
And I would add, His smile is more than we need, to know that we are not ordinary.
Ordinary to ExtraordinaryRead Now
Written By: Alexandria Brown
When did “ordinary” become such a yucky word in the English vocabulary?
When did the word ordinary become an insult when we talk about people, places or things? And why?
Everyone wants to do something extraordinary, ordinary is simply not enough anymore…don’t get me wrong, I long to do big things for God and His kingdom. It is not a bad thing to want to do extraordinary things in our life. It’s not a bad thing to have big goals and aspirations. It’s not even a bad thing to pursue them and work towards those big extraordinary things. That is good and great and I wish and pray that more kingdom people would grab hold of and run with what Jesus said in John 14:12 and do what He, Jesus, commissioned us to do, which is to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth.
We know the verses. We say the prayers.
Our Father, Who art in heaven.
Hallowed be Your Name
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven…
Jesus commissioned us to go and make disciples and to go and do the works He had done and even greater. We are called to bring the extraordinary (heaven) into the ordinary.
As I sat, meditating and praying over this verse this week, I felt the Lord asking me this…
Are you willing to give up your view of the extraordinary to receive my (God’s) ordinary?
That question stopped my thoughts and drew my focus in and I began asking the Lord what that meant…
You see, I had been so focused on the extraordinary of what I believed God wanted and still to this day wants to do, heal the sick, bring freedom to those who call on Him, restore marriages and identities, and reunite families, that I was missing the very opportunities for those things to take place in my everyday life, my family and my workplace.
All throughout the Bible when we read God doing big and miraculous things He didn’t accomplish the unimaginable because there was some extraordinary circumstances or greatness that happened. Instead, when He worked miracles it was created out of every day ordinary things and people.
When David defeated Goliath, it was an ordinary day. A day that David loaded up some ordinary food to take to his brothers. Nothing special and yet, on that same ordinary day God used an ordinary person to do an extraordinary act.
When Jesus feed the 5000+ and the 3000+, let me tell you there was nothing extraordinary about those loaves and fish. Gordon Ramsey was not the chef of the day. Just simply ordinary people with ordinary food wiling to let God do something unimaginable. And God took the ordinary and created the extraordinary.
Seeing a theme?
God has called us to be extraordinary IN the ordinary. He has called us to be the salt and the light in the midst of our families and our workplaces, our churches and schools. I wonder how much time I have lost looking for the opportunity to do something great for God. Waiting for the next “big thing” to happen. Waiting for things to fall into place in order for that extraordinary opportunity to show its face and bring glory to God, when in fact, God is simply wanting us to allow HIM to create the extraordinary in the middle of our everyday ordinary?
What would happen if we created atmospheres of peace and love in the exact place we are? When we are at home and at work and at the grocery store. What would happen if we begin to use the ordinary everyday things to glorify God? Not just when we go to a big conference or on a mission trip or a prayer meeting. What would happen if we took God literally when He said “Go” or “Love God and love others”?
We don’t have to be the most educated or trained. I wonder what would happen if we truly let God use our ordinary selves in our everyday activities? If God could do so much with plain loaves and fish, what could He accomplish with me, His daughter, His treasure, if I only let Him?
As I sat their contemplating all of this I felt Holy Spirit asking me again,
“Are you willing to give up your view of the extraordinary, to see my ordinary?”
Maybe this is not something that speaks to you and that is totally fine.
As for me, I say yes Lord.
God I want all that you have for me. I do not want to miss the things big or small that You want to do in my everyday ordinary. I don’t want to wait for experience to have You move in and through my life. I want You, God, to use my ordinary to bring glory to Your Name.
Love you sis,
What's Most Important?Read Now
Written By: Tanya Glanzman
Why is it that that word immediately causes a reflexive “ugh” to rise within me? It seems to have the same impact as words like discipline, self-control...trust.
Because instantly, I’m reminded of all the of the places I am currently not consistent. I’ll spare you the long list, but if I were a bettin’ woman, I’d bet we had some similarities if we compared lists.
And it’s not like they are new things, or even hard things. In fact, they are the same things I’ve been working on for years…and years. And that can cause me to feel frustrated with myself.
So quickly I can find myself stuck in the mental loop of self-abasement. What in the heck is wrong with you? Why can’t you get your act together? What is your issue with this one thing that keeps you from being consistent in this one area?
The thing is, it’s never just one area or one thing that I struggle with. I’m actually usually pretty good at doing one thing consistently, consistently. In fact, I’m wired in a way that when I get my mind focused on one thing, I work at it 150%. It tends to consume my time, my energy, my ability. All that I am can get so consumed with that one thing and usually, in this way, I can be pretty successful in that one thing. For a time.
This issue, however, is that in the pouring out of all my time and energy into that one thing, all of the other things, the really important things of life, tend to fall to the sidelines.
For years I searched for that just right eating plan to help me be the me I wanted to be. I would invest hours of my time researching and learning. I would think about it, talk about it and post about it. I joined groups and found friends on the same journey. I’m an “all in” kind of girl and each time I started ALL IN. Most of my time and focus would be placed upon the current, at the time, plan.
And then slowly…a little at a time, I would run out of steam. I could only maintain that level of intensity for so long before I fizzled out. And before I knew it, I just wasn’t doing it anymore. It was too hard, too much to juggle with all the other pieces of life that demanded pieces of me. The other things of life began to crowd their way back onto the field.
I ran a marathon, once. At 35 I decided that if I didn’t do it then, I never would. I wanted that 26.2 sticker for the back of my car so bad I could taste it.
I trained. Hard. In the cold, in the heat, hour after hour of my feet hitting the pavement with an irritatingly (especially at 4am) cheerful accountability partner 11 years my junior.
For a season, this goal held all my focus. I thought about running, talked about running, ran and then ate chocolate ice cream because, after all, I ran, I deserved it. And just a side note, my eating well consistency and my running consistency didn’t coincide in the same season.
I’m glad I ran that marathon 10 years ago. I’m not sure where the sticker that was so important to me at that time went, but I have the medal and the photo (somewhere…I’m sure of it.) I haven’t really run since. And please, if I ever tell you I’m thinking about training for another marathon just mention mile 22 and port-o-potties and you will have loved me well.
Here’s what I’ve learned. Balance is key. Consistency in BALANCE. Learning to balance all of these beautiful people and responsibilities and all that contains life in my world. Learning to be consistent in allowing Him, the very one who blessed me with this body, this mind and all I have the privilege and responsibility to love and love well to lead me in my daily priorities.
Consistency in yielding every single part of myself to Him, daily, to lead me in the way that I should go. To make my priority list for me. To gently nudge, to quietly whisper and to help me have the self-control I need to place His priorities as my own.
I’ve learned that He cares so much less about all of the things that I tend to make so important. The goals and dreams that I have elevated within my own heart and given so much of myself to. He has revealed to me in this season that at His very core what He cares about most are people.
Loving with His love and being Jesus with skin on to those around me. At home, at work, at the grocery store, in traffic.
As I continuously endeavor to find balance in all things, my personal prayer is that I will consistently rest in His love for me and will consistently yield to that love in a way that allows me to consistently demonstrate His love to others.
There is no goal, dream or desire more worthy of all of me. Consistently.
Let’s pray together,
Father, ABBA. Thank you for your unwavering, never ending, faithful and enduring love for me. Help me to balance well all of these beautiful parts of this life that you have given me in a way that bring glory and honor to you. Help me Father to hold your heart and to see others and myself the way that you do. Help me to consistently love like you love and to place the priority of people and their hearts above any and all priorities that my own human heart would try to elevate above. Help me Father to always let my ONE THING, my most important thing, to never fail to simply be sitting at your feet.
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