It’s (Not) Going to Get Better

I’m not a pessimist. In fact, I tend far too much toward optimism. However, I’ve learned that belligerent optimism isn’t helpful when equally stubborn hardship prevails.

The reality is that we should expect suffering as a result of sin. Believers should expect the added difficulties of persecution and living apart from the pattern of the world. Whether we’re facing chronic illnesses with no cure or the persistent battle of loving others well, the truth is life often hurts.

Short of heaven “better” is always going to be a relative term.

Putting our hope and faith in optimism, or changing circumstances, or the next self-help fad, will leave us frustrated and disillusioned over and over again.

Yet we do have hope.

The Gospel is good news for the lost, suffering, weary sinners of this world. That means it’s good news for you and for me.

In Hope When It Hurts, by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton, the good news of Jesus Christ is precisely and pointedly applied as balm to our suffering. From the very first chapter, their thesis is clear:

What I need, and you need, is the truth about Jesus Christ, because our suffering only makes sense and we only retain any hope when we look at ourselves through a gospel lens.”

Never offering pat answers or platitudes, Hope When It Hurts proceeds to offer the framework of a gospel perspective on suffering. A reality check on pride’s role in our response to suffering stretches readers to shift their eyes to the only real hope we have -and the only real purpose we live for (hint: it’s not our comfort or convenience.)

Several chapters address the opportunities afforded to us by our suffering.

Unlike messages staking our hope in optimism for changing circumstances or everything working out for the better, Hope When It Hurts stakes everything on God. In short, easy-to-read, but in-depth chapters, the authors highlight practically why we:

  • Have hope
  • Don’t have to be shaken
  • Can persevere
  • Take heart in suffering
  • Are freed from agonizing over making sense of pain
  • Worship God in everything and anything

Straight-shooting, personal messages treat the ache from the inside out with words like these:

“…when you are in the darkness…and you begin to question God’s love for you, remember what it true: Jesus Christ was sent into the world because God loves you. There is not greater demonstration of his affection for you, and there is no clearer proof that he intends to make good of what you are enduring right now. The who was struck down on the cross is the One who could not be destroyed and, because He is for you, neither will you be. He is your light. Draw near to Him.”

It’s true. Paul, while enduring final imprisonment and reaching out to his loved ones as his earthly days dwindled, proclaimed hope when it hurts: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18.)

Even if it never gets better in this lifetime. Even if a gruesome, painful death is how we’re safely delivered into His heavenly kingdom, the Lord will rescue us and bring us to Him.

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Paul follows these words with praise- “To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

This book follows suit. Although atypical and unexpected for a book on suffering, this message carries the broken to worship and eases the hurting into praise.

As much a devotional as a book of reflections on suffering and Gospel hope, Hope When It Hurts renews and refreshes believers. Instead of saying “it’ll get better,” readers are reminded of what already is better: the true, joyous, incredible hope we have despite our often-unchanging, hopeless suffering.


<This review was provided in exchange for a free preview copy of Hope When It Hurts from the Good Book Company.>

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

 

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Knowledge Isn’t Everything (6/6)

This post is the last in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the series here.

Knowledge isn’t everything. But knowledge is a good gift of God.

  • Knowledge of Him means everything for our eternal security and hope.
  • Knowledge from Him empowers us to do His will.
  • Knowledge of Him is used by Him to fill and shape us to be made complete.
  • Knowledge from Him is steadfast, leading us through shifting circumstances out of our control.
  • Knowledge is a propellor, a motor, a mover, a shaker, a pointer, a changer, a filling agent, in the hands of God and the hearts of those who belong to Him.

No, knowledge isn’t everything. But in it’s proper place before the Lord, knowledge can be useful and worshipful.


As the Idolizing Knowledge series wraps up- let’s leave our shattered idols in pieces for God, in His perfect knowledge, to repurpose for better use.

He can redeem what we don’t know- and what we do.  


Guest Directory

Click the links below to gain further insights into the trappings of idolizing knowledge:

Joanne

May We See and Know Him by Joanne Viola

Donna

The Dangers of Wealth and Education by Donna Reidland

Irina

Education Elevation by Irina Glazkova

Knowledge Needs Love by Ronja Oksanen

How Humility Tempers Knowledge by Sarah Geringer


Has knowledge of God been your object of worship instead of God Himself?

To read the whole series on Idolizing Knowledge, click here.

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

Knowledge Isn’t Fulfilling On It’s Own (5/6)

 

This post is the 5th in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here.

Once upon a time I earned a B- in a tough course on Biblical Literature. It was the lowest final grade I’d ever earned. I had studied- hard. I felt all the rush of competing with classmates who invited me to their study sessions even though they all knew what the heck a “prophetic” book was and I was still trying to pronounce “day-oot-or-no-me” properly.

A couple of years later, I was well on my way to adding a Bible minor to my degree.

There was a problem, though.

All my knowledge of the Bible, my spiritual leadership positions, and my wisdom on pleasing everybody in the name of Jesus weren’t fulfilling. I was still empty.

Knowledge, even knowledge about God, wasn’t able to save me. Smarts on Scripture didn’t secure my soul. Understanding of sin couldn’t get me out of it.

I needed a different kind of knowing. I needed relating, trusting, relying, nearness. I needed the person of Christ. And I needed Him to save me.

When I entrusted all my bloated brain and shriveled heart to the One who knows it all, I found the only thing that’s really fulfilling: a relationship with the everlasting, almighty, perfect God.


For those of us who idolize knowledge, it’s hard to accept that information will never fulfill us on its own.

In the first post of this series, I proposed that knowing all about surgery didn’t qualify me to perform it. Knowing a surgeon wouldn’t qualify me either.

Knowledge isn’t meant to stay still. Knowledge needs to be in action to be fruitful.

This was the grievous error James so succinctly called out:

Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” –James 1:22

Saving knowledge is knowledge of Christ responded to.

Sanctifying knowledge is knowledge of God learned from and acted on.

Growing knowledge is knowledge of the Spirit expanding through personal experience with the Spirit Himself.

Loving knowledge is knowledge of the love of God transforming the way we live and speak the truth.

The list goes on.

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Idolatry makes us greedy. Idolizing knowledge turns us into information-hoarders.

When we think we know a lot and are learning tons, we’re unlikely to test information against the Scriptures. We’re unlikely to control our tongues, blazing with fun facts as they are. What we are likely to do is “establish a righteousness” of our own, given that we need someplace to showcase all the knowledge we’ve collected. Hoarding our treasure troves of facts, what we gain we’ll only lose because knowledge serves no purpose on a shelf and out of use.

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Knowledge is just one in a long list of qualities we’re to increase in.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control…For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” –2 Peter 1:5-8 (emphasis mine)

Even with knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can be ineffective and unproductive. Knowledge alone doesn’t make us helpful to the Gospel. Information alone doesn’t fulfill what’s needed to make us fruitful in Christ.

The next verse goes on to warn that without these qualities- which are many more than just knowledge- we get nearsighted. So nearsighted we’re blinded.

Knowledge is often pictured as light- and just as with light, staring too intently at brilliance makes everything go dark.

Knowledge was never meant to fulfill us apart from Christ. When we try to let it fill us anyway- we end up bloated with emptiness.

We know the One who does fill us and fulfill us. We get to know Him personally. We are blessed to find all fullness in Him, loading us with and lighting up for us to see what we need to love, and serve, and glorify Him.

Let knowledge of Him alone lead to worship of Him alone! <Click to Tweet>


Are you getting to know God better? Does that help you worry less about feeling fulfilled?

Join me  (<–click here) to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be

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

Knowledge Isn’t Complete (3/6)

 

This post is the 3rd in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here. Guest directory info is available here.

Serving with a mission which crossed over daily into Mexico, I didn’t head to the border with any intention of interpreting. My Spanish was mas-o-menos just okay. But as I was regularly immersed in groups of friends only speaking Spanish, I thought I was really starting to get good.

Fast forward 4 months to my last week in the community.

Happily chatting away in Español, I casually said “estupido.” Directly translated “stupid,” it was just an adjective to me. According to my shocked and then hysterical friends, I was swearing. Red in the face and mortified, I’d been unknowingly swearing in front of children, the elderly, and everyone in between for months.

For all I knew about Spanish and the regional dialect, I was certainly lacking in some understanding.


Being fully immersed doesn’t mean we are fully informed. <Tweet This>

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! –1 Corinthians 13:9

No person except for Christ has ever walked this earth with a complete understanding of anything. Even people with special knowledge of God- people whose prophecies were realized in Christ- had to live by faith.

We don’t even know our own hearts fully. –Jeremiah 17:9

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Even the disciples, seeing Jesus face to face and following Him diligently, had to have their eyes opened and the truth explained several different ways. They were divinely inspired to write the New Testament but still spoke with humility because they knew they couldn’t know it all while still on earth. And that was okay.

Beth Moore has said she wouldn’t tell her younger self a thing if she could go back in time. She explains there are many things she’s glad she didn’t know ahead of time because she would have said “no way.” Discovery, even through the terrible and painful, is what grows us up and into closeness with the One we’re following and putting our faith in.*

Andrew Wilson explains: “If God’s glory is infinite, and my concept of Him is not, then I never stop needing an increased understanding of His greatness.”**

While attempting to comprehend how incomplete our comprehension is drives us knowledge idolaterers to our knees, we ought to stoop all the lower in awe and praise.

All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. –1 Corinthians 13:12

Someday we will not be wanting for knowledge out of reach.

Someday knowledge will be complete.

Wholeness will satisfy us for eternity as we know fully the One who has always known us fully.

Since God says there will be no more pain in that day, soaking all of the fullness of Him and of knowledge won’t even give us a headache. We will enter into God’s understanding- and there will be no more sorrow or sin. There will be nothing left to make us foolish.

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As for now, God keeps us on a need-to-know-basis to focus us on what’s more important: who we know. Him.

The “by faiths” of the OT heroes are extraordinary and emboldening because of what they didn’t know. They didn’t know the whole plan. Abraham went by faith when God said “go” even though he didn’t know the destination. Noah built the ark by faith, not knowing how it could possibly turn out alright when the earth was flooded. Moses led a nation out of slavery by faith, not knowing what was to come, where they would settle, or even how to feed them all.

Hebrews 11:27 sums up why, despite not knowing, these faithful people followed God when they were blind to the whens, wheres, hows, and whys.

Moses “persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.”

Because knowledge isn’t complete, idolizing understanding keeps us distracted with something meant for life after death.

Idolizing knowledge distracts us from Who we need to know if we are to persevere, live by faith, and walk securely along the narrow way.

Whether our current knowledge-worship has us bloated with self-assurance or hopped up on the thrill of the chase, we must fix our attention on the One we follow- by faith.


How do faith and knowledge interact in your mind?

*Beth Moore, Entrusted Bible Study, Audio Session 6
**Andrew Wilson, GodStories, pg19

Join me for the next 5 weeks to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be.

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

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second. Now accepting submissions for a guest directory on Idolizing Knowledge! More info on guest posting here.

Knowledge Isn’t Unchanging (2/6)

 

This post is the 2nd in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here. Guest directory info is available here.

For those who aren’t familiar, cursive is a style of penmanship with pretty curves and continuous lettering. I spent many days as an 8 year old carefully memorizing and mastering the script.

The teachers of the 1990s insisted cursive was the only writing allowed in high school and college. In my understanding, knowing cursive was currency for my ticket to success in the world.

Fear swelled up in me when my high school teachers began requiring us to type our work on the computer. My child-self never mastered Homerow or Touch Typing. I figured computers were for games and cursive was for life.

I called it wrong. Now I type at 55+ WPM using two fingers at a time. Kids who see my handwriting think I’m bilingual.

The knowledge I staked my hope on as a little girl changed gears and left me in the dust.

Knowledge’s changing nature and instability have thrown me for a loop in more profound ways, too. Years of resisting the Lord because I’d have to change my mind to accept His truth evidence that.


The vivid imagery of James 1:6 pictures a “wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

I feel for the wave.

Characterizing one who lacks wisdom and craves information but doubts what God says, the wave evidences what happens when we let the shifting nature of knowledge carry us through life.

At the mercy of the wind, untethered knowledge is always changing directions. Unanchored knowledge rises and falls as opinions, emotions, and other biases swell up inside it. Pursuing knowledge alone leaves us ever grasping after something that will always slip out of reach.

We can’t count on knowledge the way we count on God.

Knowledge isn’t unchanging, but God is.

post-2_tossed-about

Once, when the disciples and Jesus were caught on the open sea in the midst of a storm, Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves. He has the authority and ability to do that.

Can we, in our shifting knowledge, even fathom what that takes? What does one have to know to still forces of nature? What kind of understanding can hold forces of nature in place to make a way for safe, stable passage?

God, in His infinite knowledge, can.

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” –Mark 4:39

The rebuke is familiar to those of us living at the mercy of knowledge’s shifting, tumultuous seasons and limitations.

Be still and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10

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This is the knowledge that anchors our hope in Christ, who is unchanging.

Relying on knowledge as if it is God tosses us about. We are swayed by the next big idea. Our hopes are thrashed by the winds of change and unwanted possibility.

Relying on knowledge of God instead of knowledge as God secures us. <Click to Tweet>

We know the One who rules over the changing tides and routes the wind. He doesn’t shift and isn’t swayed. Let’s stake our hope in Him.


Do you idolize knowledge, despite its changing nature? 

Join me for the next 5 weeks to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be.

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

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second. Now accepting submissions for a guest directory on Idolizing Knowledge! More info on guest posting here.

Knowledge Bloats (1/6)

This post is the 1st in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here. Guest directory info is available here.

“But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.

1 Cor 8:1-3

I’m a freelance writer. I’ve written about topics like car parts and techniques for surgery. However, I’m no mechanic and would heartily refuse to assist if anyone handed me a scalpel.

You, likewise, know some lingo and plenty of trivia about certain topics. Maybe you’ve memorized sports statistics. Perhaps a loved one has told you about the day to day tasks they complete at work. Chances are, you aren’t qualified to be a famous athlete or even a sports commentator. Your loved one’s boss probably wouldn’t be pleased if you showed up instead one day.


Much of the knowledge we possess doesn’t lead us to anything actionable. Still, many of us are obsessed with learning all we can know.

Set up as an idol, we worship knowledge because of what we believe it gives us: control. Power. Security. Influence. Prestige. Ability. Option.

The trouble is knowledge, all by itself, puffs up. It’s hot air. Knowledge can look and sound impressive but have no substance. Even when tall and intimidating, it may be flimsy when it’s leaned on.

Often all knowledge for the sake of knowledge gives us is a headache. <Tweet this>

Want-to-know-it-alls like myself must be wary of making too much of knowledge alone. When we let knowledge puff us up, all we’re doing is trying to misuse it for our own glory. We want to be so smart that God and all His creation praise us and bend to our wills.

but-knowledge-puffs-up-while-love-builds-up

Grand as it might appear and authoritative as it may sound, knowledge:

  • Isn’t unchanging
  • Isn’t complete
  • Isn’t all-powerful
  • Isn’t fulfilling on its own
  • Isn’t everything

God, on the other hand, is all of these things and so much more.

God is self-existent and sufficient, He is also omniscient. He knows everything.

Knowledge, as we know it, has limits, boundaries, and frustrations. Yet our finite knowledge is something God uses for His good purposes. (Hint: God’s good purposes don’t involve us taking control or bloating our egos.)

God gives knowledge, withholds it, reveals it, explains it, multiplies it, and wields it for His glory.

According to God’s Word, knowledge paired with grace, love, peace, wisdom, goodness, and the like can glorify Him. Fitted in the frame of righteousness and powered by the zeal of the Spirit, knowledge can propel the sharing of the Gospel.

Knowledge revealing God’s glory is certainly more substantial, lasting, and righteous than knowledge puffing up our egos.

Does knowledge need to have less of a bloating effect and more of a godly effect in your life too?

Join me for the next 5 weeks to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be.

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

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second. Now accepting submissions for a guest directory on Idolizing Knowledge! More info on guest posting here.

How to Discern the Voice of the Holy Spirit: 5 Truths from God’s Word

For a longer time than I’d like to admit, I avoided talking about the Holy Spirit because somehow the Spirit seemed weirder, wackier, and harder to explain than God the Father or Jesus Christ. One of the difficulties I’ve had is in accurately expressing how the Holy Spirit works.

Language is limited.

It’s hard to clarify in just a few words how having a “feeling” about something is different from the “feeling” of the Holy Spirit working.

Saying “The Spirit spoke to me” quickly gets us labeled. It sometimes confuses people who wonder if they’ve never heard the voice of God – though if they’ve trusted the Lord as their Savior, they have. The voice of the Spirit just isn’t like any other voice we know.

Our discernment is also limited.

Sometimes recognizing the Holy Spirit’s work is even more difficult than explaining it.

We wonder if our sense of peace is actually a deceitful optimism, and we struggle to trust any leading in our hearts when we know our hormones are out of whack. We look at our requests of the Lord from every angle, feel everything we can about every known solution, and then strain to see “which option” the Spirit is pointing to.

I’m honored to share 5 truths about recognizing the Holy Spirit’s voice over on Alyssa J Howard’s Blog: Living by the Light of the King.

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

Frustration, Faithfulness, and God’s Timing + CD Giveaway

One of the unique differences between Christian artists and the majority of other musicians is openness about the muse for music. Christian art is about testifying to the God who is, glorifying Him through song.

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The story behind Kari Jobe’s new album The Garden is a real life example of the reason for the hope she has in Jesus. In the title track, Jobe describes the desperation she felt when her sisters’ infant James Ivy arrived stillborn. Jobe was pregnant at the same time. The loss bore all the tragedy of shared dreams shattered and hope falling limp before the Lord.

But God.

In His perfect timing, He brought healing and revived hope for Jobe when months later a garden at her new home began to bloom. It had looked a mess, and she wasn’t sure what it would produce. She discovered, climbing up with fresh life, ivy.

Her reflection resounds in the title track lyrics: “For this moment you planned ahead that I would see your faithfulness…”

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My friend Lois recently wrote about her own experience with God planning ahead for her when she received a birthday lost in the mail months late- but God timed it right when she needed it.

Another friend, Christine, wrote of reaching just the right person in customer service. God’s timing of the call resulted in conversation leading to a personal connection through which she can share the reason for her hope.

Still another friend told me how she was frustrated with the difficulty of locating and entering a food pantry to drop off bags of rolls. She arrived just in time to witness a man sadly turned away because the available bread racks were empty. Handing him the bread, she was able to tell him God loved him with the full conviction of knowing God had timed their visits so they would meet.

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Our Lord goes before us (Deut 31:8.)

Into the garden in the spring. Into the mail system’s mess to delay cards. Into the customer service queue to connect people. Into the food pantry where a man in need of bread and the bread of life could be handed both at once.

The hope and awe bound up in recognizing God’s profound faithfulness are themes throughout Jobe’s CD. Direct praise is cultivated through “I Will Sing.” Stories of His inexplicable faithfulness ring out through “Miracles.” Awe resulting in drawing nearer to the Lord is represented through “Closer to Your Heart.”

Whether we’re waiting for the Lord to reawaken our hearts or reflecting on the majesty of God, we can be certain He is faithful. He who began the good work will complete it. He’s planned ahead. He’s gone before us and made a way.

The narrow road leads us to the abundant expanse of God’s glory. Praise be to our faithful God!


Interested in winning a copy of the CD? Comment on this post before 5pm EST of Friday, Feburary 10th!

You can also purchase a copy by clicking here.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Only residents of continental U.S and Canada

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

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

 

Motivation for Long Days at Work

When I’m exhausted by the thought of putting one more second of time into producing something for someone else, to someone else’s standards, according to someone else’s timeline, I find encouragement in these verses.

I hope you do too.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

“Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”

The boring parts of work don’t always leave us feeling fulfilled. The Lord calls us to un-glamorous, unexciting work.  Whether the bland parts of jobs, like shuffling through paperwork, or the blah parts of working through life like doing the dishes, quietly tending to our affairs is part of our testimony.

Work is an expression of creating and stewarding what the Lord has given us. It is part of sustaining and supporting the affairs that the Lord has made us responsible for. When we quietly mind our lives and care for what He’s given through work and ordinary tasks, we evidence how we value all the Lord has provided.

whatever-you-do-work-at-it-with-all-your-heart-as-working-for-the-lord-not-for-human-masters

Colossians 3:23

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”

In your heart, your work can be unto the Lord. It needn’t be for your boss that you do your work honestly and to the best of your ability. Rather, reflect the character of the Lord. God made man, and He is sovereign over the systems we live in. That includes the workplace.

1 Corinthians 15:58

“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Even work that seems in no way related to the Gospel can be used by the Lord for His good purpose. Sticking stamps on a stack of envelopes might just be a part of the work of the Lord today –and His work is never in vain.

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Psalm 90:17

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.”

You don’t have to figure out how refilling the copier’s ink can be made into a spiritual act. Your life’s work, surrendered to God and completed to glorify Him, is up to God to use as He will. Keep in mind that the work of your hands is part of God’s plans. He will establish it, He will cause it to bear fruit. He is faithful to us even in the little things, just as He calls us to be.

1 Corinthians 3:12-13

“…their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.”

Doing work lazily or half-heartedly without concern for doing it well catches up to you. God knows your heart, your ambitions, your motivations, and your true efforts. Do quality work. It will be tested, it will be shown for what it is. Let it be through and through “our utmost for His glory.”

{Originally posted on My Faith Radio}

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

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

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.

give-us-today-our-daily-bread

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.

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