When Your Manna Tastes Bland

Last year, I had my wisdom teeth removed *gag.* The surgery went well, but there were complications during my recovery. I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say, I ate the same bland soft foods for about a month. Let me tell you: diversity of diet is a spiritual need.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration.

But I’m not the only one who finds my heart getting heavy when God’s provision is the same old ordinary stuff day after day.

Recently set free from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites were roaming the wilderness when they cried out to God for food. He graciously provided, dropping down manna from heaven.  Just bits of bread tasting like coriander and honey, the manna was spread across the transient camp daily for 40 years (Exodus 16.)

Though the idea of bread raining down from heaven is extraordinary, the Israelites quickly grew bored with God’s unfailing but monotonous meal choice.

They always had enough.

But the people had enough of just enough.

Bored, they complained against the Lord. The people got sick of manna. It was bland, it was wearisome, and really- how long can anyone live with the same old same old?

Like the Israelites, we are often grateful the Lord always provides. But sometimes we wish God’s provision was just a little more exciting.

Take note of God’s response to the Israelites when they felt much the same. He was faithful. That’s who He is.

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is” (2 Timothy 2:13 NLT.)

Throughout the wilderness routine, God surprised the Israelites with quail and likely livestock from their battle victories.

At the end of those forty years, those manna-fed people crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land. They had homes of their own, freedom to live for His glory, and even gardens and pastures for raising all sorts of foods.

When entering the Promised Land, the Israelites also had forty years’ worth of reminders of His faithfulness. The ordinary, too-familiar taste of His extraordinary provision lingered on their lips.

What a sweet treat -one we’re blessed by too.

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The excitement we yearn for has less to do with our present life and more to do with daily taking in what He provides. When we’re willing to believe it, our joy is found because:

His promises are true every day.

His provision, even when it seems monotonous, sustains us.

God is who He is- and that’s exciting, even day by (regular old) day.

Remaining fresh and delighted in faith often blossoms through ordinary ways of witnessing His extraordinary faithfulness.

As you and I take our next big bites of ordinary, let’s chew on the bland in delighted faith. Our provision is from the perfect One. He’s providing us with tastes of His constant presence day by day, nourishing us to grow in Him along the way.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second! More info on an upcoming series with guest posting here.

Word of the Week: Daily Bread

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”

Proverbs 30:8

Literally, the end of this verse reads something like” feed me with staple food conveniently.” That last part about “convenience” is descriptive of a daily allotment.

In essence, this Proverb says “every day, Lord, give me the basic portion I need.”

If only we were grateful to have only what He gives.

Instead of just our daily bread, we want the super-sized loaf. We’d also like a fridge to store it in so we know it will be good tomorrow. Preferably, we’d like butter and other spreads to make the daily bread more exciting too.

In our world of “more,” receiving just our daily bread looks meager.

But our ration, our measure, is prescribed. It’s preset by the Lord. He never fails to provide for what He has prepared in advance for us to need. Yes, indeed, the Lord selects the extent of our need and guarantees to meet it.

Each day, your daily bread is just what you need according to the Lord’s plan for you.

It might be:

  • The amount of money you need to pay the day’s bills
  • The food you need for the day
  • The loving relationship you need to be full for the day
  • The assigned work you need to use your time well
  • The quantity of rest you need to function this day
  • The 5 words in the verse that led you through the day honorably

This simple system negates our worries.

Do you need it today? You don’t need to control the obtaining of it.

The Lord knows; He planned the need perfectly. He’ll fill it likewise.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: Strengthen

“Be strong and of good courage… do not cower.

Do not heed your fears. Take the land I have given you to possess.”

Joshua 1:6, 7

Joshua is one of my favorite books of the Bible. The third chapter in particular grips me every time. So thankful Christine shared about the Lord using Joshua to encourage her to worship Him during battles of all kinds.

Genuinely praising God amidst the crazy and chaotic takes strength.

That’s the word this week, pulled from Joshua 1: Be Strong.

4 Facts:

  1. “Be Strong” is a Verb

I’m referring to the word strengthen because in this verse, in context, “be strong” means “grow strong” or, simply “strengthen.” It’s an action word.

Strength is not something we just possess. To be strong is to exert power.  It’s to use what you have been given with might.

  1. Strengthening is Multi-Faceted

Sometimes being strong means grasping something tightly. That might involve seizing hold of it…or it may mean clinging with force to what is already in your grip.

When you exert strength, it takes effort and sustenance. You must firm up your muscles- even your Spiritual muscles.

  1. Strength Derives from Something Given

“Adopt” and “apply” are some of the first words listed in the definition of strengthen. The potential of the power and might have been given. The Lord’s promises have been made and His call has been issued.

To be strong is to apply what has been given. Flex the faith-muscle God has been growing.

  1. Being Strong Means Relying on the Lord

Another aspect of “be strong” is “be encouraged,” or, “fasten.” What is it that the Israelites were called to be strong in? What is it we’re to fasten ourselves to, take hold of, and grip with all our strength?

God’s promises. Be strong in taking hold of God’s promises.

Securely and resolutely take hold of the one who is growing you.

That’s what it is to be strong: to flex our God-given muscles in the battles we face.

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We take hold and flex in praise, in faithful following, and, as the verses that follow state, in obedience.

Will you stretch and flex from the soul with me today?

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: Satisfy

To have enough. What a mind-boggling concept. We live our days on “more,” not “enough.”

Our time is spent seeking more time. Our appetites are never appeased for long. Our work earns what it takes to get by- but never enough to meet all of our needs and desires.

We are the unsatisfied. And often, we’re proud of that fact. Accomplishing more and gaining more earn us praise and make us successful in this world.

But Scripture says this:

“Why spend money on what is not bread,

and your labor on what does not satisfy?”

Isaiah 55:2

We prefer to seek and seek and seek. To spend and gain. It’s no surprise, though, that this prodding toward satisfaction is found in the same chapter as the well-known word from God that His way is not our way. That His way is higher than ours.

Our way, our focus on “more,” is ever-changing and expanding. But God’s is complete. Whole. Contented. Full.

His way -His self- is enough.

You can breathe that sigh of relief now.

“Praise the Lord, my soul…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Psalm 103:5

Satisfy is a beautiful word.

In this verse Michele shared in her earlier post about memorizing the mind of God, we’re reminded of what satisfaction accomplishes: renewal and praise.

Yes, that’s right. Satisfaction accomplishes something.

Without satisfaction, we’re in the loop of “more.” We’re trapped in a cycle. But satisfaction says “enough.” Calls us full, and marks the completion of something.

Satisfaction means that what was intended has been fulfilled.

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That fullness gives glory to the Lord. It shows the fullness of His plans and demonstrates His faithfulness.

When we are satisfied, we admit that the Lord is all that He says He is and give Him the ultimate praise: that there is none other and nothing more. That He is the standard, the good, and the end we seek.

Satisfaction proclaims that our God is indeed perfect.

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Another mind-boggling concept, I know. But praise Him!

For being so complex, the truth is quite simple: Why spend on that which can’t satisfy? Praise the Lord: He does satisfy. To find what is enough and complete, look no further than to Him.

This post is being shared on:
#WomenWithIntention, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

What God’s Word Taught Me About Comparison- The Word Works Series

Gleaming with fresh perspective, Kristine’s blog and ministry More Than Yourself works lesson by lesson to shift perspective away from “me” and onto the reality of God’s design for our lives- and everyones’. She is also releasing a new book on comparison called Over It, so check out her blog for more information! Thanks for re-orienting our thoughts today, Kristine.
Author Bio 1

My spirit longed to put words on paper for others to read.

I knew I had a book stirring inside me, but that’s about all I knew. I read. I studied. I prayed. I hoped soon God would refine the message He placed in my heart and show me how to share it.

I embarked on a new adventure in writing after many years of teaching it to junior high students. As I practiced, learned, and practiced even more, God began revealing a vulnerability I’d tucked into a deep, hidden place where I would never have to deal with it. Or so I thought.

Little by little, I worked to develop my skills and put words out there I hoped would bring others closer to God. But all the time, I was allowing myself to be distracted by what I saw other women doing. Great women. Amazing women. The more I watched them, the more self-doubt creeped in and whispered condemning words in my ear.

I had let the voice of comparison lead me down a destructive path.

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I knew at that moment – this was the message He wanted me to share – my battle with comparing.

In my early twenties I came to know Christ as my Savior. Once I allowed God to have control of my life, He instilled in me a passion for reading about the lives of women in Scripture. I connected with them.

I identified with them.

I found joy in learning from these women and teaching others about their lives. We can discover so much from their circumstances – from making connections between their experiences and our own.

But I had no idea God would show me the truth about overcoming comparison through the lives of three of these special ladies.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”

(Psalm 139:16 NIV)

The book I had welling up in my spirit began with this simple truth. I would soon uncover the way to end my need to compare through my study of these biblical women. Today, that message I felt stirring inside me is about to be released, just two years after the journey began.

Over It SPINE (1)

In my new book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, I lead a journey through the stories of three women in Scripture who fell into the comparison trap but learned the keys to finding freedom from comparing. Walking through their stories, we can…

Discover deep truths about the struggle with comparison.

Find contentment in our God-given uniqueness.

Realize God’s plan is more than we could ever imagine.

Has the voice of comparison caused you to question whether you measure up next to her? Are you ready to erase comparison and embrace all God has planned for you? Then I invite you to come along with me and find the answers your heart longs for – the answers that will bring us to a place where we are able to say, “I’m over it,” and mean it.

The Over It book will be available on Amazon April 5th. To purchase your copy, click here.  Proceeds from the sale of each book will benefit the More Than Yourself, Inc. scholarship program.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not- The Word Works Series!

You know the friend who always answers “how are you?” honestly but non-intrusively? That’s how Jeanne writes. Her blog, Where Faith and Grace Hold Hands, bids you welcome, shares an experience, and then turns the “how are you” into “How God is.” Grateful to welcome her today!
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Since I was a girl, I’ve struggled with the effect of rejection on my identity. Being teased and bullied in elementary school left permanent scars on my heart and self-concept. After becoming a Christian as a teenager, I still struggled with the lie that acceptance by others—especially the popular kids—would erase the fear that I really, truly was not enough . . . that I was “less-than” most of the kids I knew.

After I married and my husband and I decided we were ready to start a family, we crafted a timeline and waited . . . and waited for a child to come into our family.

Our walk through infertility, as painful as it was, also freed me from many of the lies I’d carried from girlhood into womanhood. Lies that said, “You are less than.” “You are not enough.”

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One day, as I was driving around town and lamenting to God about how much I wanted a baby, I said something to the effect of, “You must not love me as much as you love others. You give teenagers who don’t want babies a pregnancy. You give women who have four children one more. And You haven’t given me any children. Even though I’m ready to be a mom. I want to be a mom. You love them more than me.”

I could almost hear God’s response audibly. He said something to the affect of: “I love you, Jeanne. I can’t love you anymore than I do, because I already love you completely.

My thoughts stopped, amazed.

Tears began to flow, even as I drove . . .

. . . as I absorbed His words spoken straight to my aching heart.

The biggest truth I took from that conversation is:

God loves each of His children passionately, perfectly, and completely.

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As I spent time with Him in the Bible, He showed me verses that proved just what He thinks about His children.

Bible Heart

Jeremiah 31:3—“The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’”

Zephaniah 3:17—“The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

Psalm 139:17-18—“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with you.”

Isaiah 49: 15-16“Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.”

As I meditated on these verses, I came to realize that to say He loves us less than another is to call God a liar . . . which, of course, we know isn’t true.

I suspect I’m not the only who has doubted that God really loved me. The thing is, when we take the truth of His word to heart, it revolutionizes our understanding of Him, and refreshes and deepens our relationship with Him. To know that there is nothing we can do that will cause Him to stop loving us? That is a life-truth right there. It’s when we grasp this truth that we can walk free of the condemnation that accompanies so many of us.

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As I began to embrace His words to me, I released the tight hold I had on my dream for motherhood. He revealed to me the idol that it had become. I chose to trust His love for me and His plan for me. I began to see that I am His girl. We are all His children. His precious treasures. He loves us.

If you’re not sure about this, ask God to show you in His word what He has to say about you and the inestimable value He places on YOU.

What about you? If you have trouble believing God loves you no matter what, what’s holding you back? What is one life-changing lesson God has taught you?

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

23. BEHOLD: The Abundance

How many lights have you seen in the past few weeks? How many cookies have you eaten? Are there people in your life that you’ve seen, cared for, and appreciated lately? What a blessing. What a gift.

Is Christ in your life? Does the Lord ever provide for you? Are there moments when the Lord’s Word or Works make you smile? What a blessing. What a gift.

We are blessed with abundance.

It’s easy at Christmas to count every bit of abundance as a curse –so much money (spent), so many plans (so busy!), so much to do (to get ready). When those plans don’t work out or the gifts aren’t what we expected, it is also easy to count our abundance as insufficient.

But He:

“is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,

according to his power that is at work within us,”

Ephesians 3:20

Further, the Lord is:

“a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

Psalm 86:15

All that the Lord has for us is sufficient. And what He has for us is abundance. It isn’t always in the time, memories, plans, or finances that we want.

He offers in abundance opportunities to come to Him, to pray, and to enter His wisdom. We are offered hope and joy beyond measure. The beauty of the world He has adorned for us is overwhelming. The ability to love and connect with others that He puts in our lives exceeds all that we can fathom.

We celebrate Christmas because of the abundant gift of life given to us through Christ. More than just coming, just saving, just being human like us, being completely passionate…or anything else…Christ is more. He is always more than we expect, believe, or dream.

His abundance is such that we always have cause to be in awe in of His goodness. That, itself, is a greater gift than all we can imagine.

Behold, the abundance of the Lord.

Behold, all that He gives filling us full with plenty flowing over.

Behold, the Lord whom we always have every reason to praise!