Monday, May 27, 2024

Live Free & Unhindered

 By: Joanne Viola


 

Decisions have never come easily to me. I tend to process slowly and deeply, which has its pros and cons.

Once made, a single decision can change the entire direction of one’s life. So we want to make the right choices and feel confident the outcome will be good. We want to experience peace with where the choice takes us and not have to worry about undoing our lives from a mistake.

This is true no matter what stage of life we are in – single, newly married, parenting younger children, or parenting adult children.

I recently read a quote:

“Integrity: the courage to meet the demands of reality.”
(Dr. Henry Cloud)

As we navigate changes and transitions in our lives, we must do so with integrity, with a soundness and wholeness of mind that is not impaired by fear.

Therefore, to move forward in our decisions will require courage.

We cannot let fear gets its grip on us or we will panic, hide, freeze, run, or just stand still. Indecision will keep us stuck instead of moving forward. We will be unable to meet the demands of reality.

So what are we to do?

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.
He will not rebuke you for asking.

(James 1:5, NLT)

God will never scold us for asking, We will never hear Him say that we should be able to figure it out on our own. He will never make us feel that we are not enough.

He will supply the need for wisdom. He will respond to this prayer by supplying the wisdom we need.

How do I know He will supply wisdom?

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand!
Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

(Galatians 5:1, The Message)

God wants us to live freely, walking out our days and decisions assured He has gone before us, is with us, and will guide us.

He wants us to live free of fear and indecision. His desire is for us to keep moving forward, unhindered, and unstuck.

Jesus will give all the wisdom needed,
and provide courage to meet the demands we encounter along the way,
so that we are able to live a free life in Him. 

 

 

Reflection:
Are you feeling stuck where you are in life?
What would it take for you to live freely?
Have you prayed and asked God to provide the wisdom you need today?

 

Image by Anne-marie Ridderhof from Pixabay


Sunday, May 26, 2024

From Annoyance to Awe | A Songbird's Unexpected Gift

 




Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Psalm 100:1-2— NLT

Let's be honest, birds can be a bit...well, noisy. Especially early mornings when you're trying to catch some extra Zzz's. And don't even get me started on the occasional "gift" they leave on your car. I wouldn't call myself a "bird person" by any stretch.

However, I do enjoy visiting my friend's house. She has a lovely bird feeder station in her backyard, and it's always a delight to see the colorful variety of feathered friends that flock to it. Bird-watching isn't my cup of tea, but it's a peaceful backdrop to our conversations.

One sunny morning, we were sipping coffee under her beautiful backyard pavilion. The usual chatter of birds filled the air, a familiar, almost comforting background noise. Then, something shifted. A single, clear melody cut through the cacophony. It was unlike any birdsong I'd ever heard before. Pure, sweet, and with a depth that resonated deep within me.

Intrigued, I searched for the source of this avian aria. There, perched on the weathered fence post, sat a small, unassuming bird. I couldn't identify the species, but its song was pure magic. I found myself completely drawn in, mesmerized by its melody. The worries and anxieties of the day melted away, replaced by a lightness and joy that surprised me.

At that moment, I couldn't help but raise my hands in praise. This tiny creature, with its simple song, had brought such unexpected beauty and peace. It was a powerful reminder of God's magnificent creation. The artistry woven into that little bird's song spoke volumes of His love and care for even the smallest details.

Encouragement

Sometimes, God uses the unexpected to touch our hearts. We might be focused on the mundane, the noisy, or the annoying, and then a glimpse of beauty, a sound of joy, breaks through. It's a reminder that He is present in all things, even the seemingly ordinary.

Take a moment today to pause, listen, and appreciate the wonders of God's creation, big or small. You never know what unexpected blessing might await you.

Reflection's

  1. When was the last time you stopped to truly appreciate the beauty of nature?
  2. Are there things you might be overlooking in your life because you've grown accustomed to them?
  3. How can you be more open to the unexpected ways God might be trying to connect with you?


Saturday, May 25, 2024

Weary of Goodness

 By: Grace Metzger

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Galatians‬ ‭6‬:‭9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My church has been focusing on Galatians lately, an amazing book of the Bible. Because of this I’ve also been spending my a lot of time in Galatians as well. While reading this last week, the above verse stood out to me. The reason it spoke to me, to be very blunt, is that I have become very weary and worn down with the thought of constantly trying to do the good thing. It started to sound exhausting to me. I know that sounds bad, but I didn’t want to put in the extra effort and was ready to stop focusing on being a kind, good follower of Christ, and instead do things the easiest way.

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share

‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6‬:‭18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So I dug into more about good works. To I’m sure no one’s surprise, there were plenty of verses to choose from on doing good works. 1 Timothy says that we should be rich in good works. The definition of rich means plentiful or abundant. By having so much kindness, gentleness, self control, and goodness in your heart that it causes you to have an abundance of good works. 

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭1‬:‭17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This brought me to my next question, what does the Bible even mean when it talks about good works? How are we expected to have an abundance of something that we don’t even know what it entails? I wish I could give you an easy short answer, an answer like serve in ministry then you’re fine. However that’s not the case, the more I looked into this and the more I thought about it I realized that there wasn’t one thing that defines what God means by good works. Isaiah 1:17 gives us some great examples like seeking justice, correcting oppression, caring for the orphans and widows. But I don’t believe we’re limited to that list of things.

God is calling us to do good works. That might look different for each of us. God might be calling you to mow your elderly neighbors lawn, I however don’t know how to work a lawnmower so I don’t know if that is what God is calling me to do. Or maybe God is calling you to be kind to that one person who has no friends. Whatever He’s calling us to do, He’s doing it because we are going to be reaping the rewards of our good works one day, whether that’s a new unexpected friend or maybe it’s reaping the reward in Heaven. 

Whatever our reward might be, take heart in knowing that it might not be as easy but doing the good and right thing has so many more benefits then taking the easy way out.


Friday, May 24, 2024

The Bronze Serpent: In What Do You Trust?

By: Lauren Thomas 

Have you ever noticed the symbol for emergency medical services? It is called the Star of Life, a blue, six-pointed star inside of which is a staff with a snake wrapped around it. The staff and snake are known as the rod of Asclepius, which has its origins in Classical Mythology. But when I see that symbol, I am reminded of a much older symbol: the bronze serpent in the Bible.



At one point during their wilderness wanderings, the Israelites experienced a plague of venomous snakes. The bites from these snakes caused many people to die. The Israelites cried out to God for help. God responded and commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. Anyone bitten could look at this bronze serpent and be healed. See Numbers 21:5-9.

 

Over time, this bronze serpent, which had been provided by God as a means of physical salvation, became a spiritual pitfall. The people began to make offerings in worship to the bronze serpent. Much later in Hebrew history, we read that King Hezekiah destroyed the bronze serpent because the people were unfaithful to God by it.

 

He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).

2 Kings 18:4 ESV

 

We can be like the Israelites who put our faith in something God has provided for us, instead of placing our faith in God Himself. We can place too much faith in the things we own, in our modern conveniences, in our money, in our medicine, in our ideologies, in our political systems. Anything.

 

We’ve got to be careful in whom and in what we place our trust.

 

Theologians point to the symbol of the bronze serpent as a type and shadow of the cross. The bronze serpent provided life in place of death, just as the work of Christ on the cross provides us with salvation in place of punishment. As a shadow is lesser than the object which casts the shadow, the bronze serpent is inferior to Christ. May we place our faith in Christ and worship Him and Him alone.

 

“Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.”

Isaiah 12:2 ESV

 

Reflection:

In your life, what competes with Christ for your faith and trust?

Like Hezekiah did physically, how could you symbolically destroy these idols?




Thursday, May 23, 2024

New Every Morning

 




By: Donna Bucher


Promising something new, each day in the garden provides delights which encourage my frequent visits. Astonished by the rapid changes of plants and flowers, I marveled at God’s intricate design for creation.

Considering the admonishment in James 4:14, reminded me like the garden, we know not what our life may reveal tomorrow. But one thing we know beyond all doubt: God gives mercies sufficient for today.

A hectic schedule combined with life’s demands often curtail my lingering in the garden daily. Which adds to my jubilant surprise at the new changes when time allows my visits.

Yet despite my thrill with all of the fresh splendor greeting me, a melancholy creeps over the scene. Each day in the garden awakens with yet unseen charms awaiting me, but how many go unnoticed?

Like the garden’s new offerings daily, God beckons me to a fresh encounter with Him each morning, where I find mercies sufficient for today.

Though the same plants and flowers return and bloom every year, their continual transformation and growth brings a new season. Reminding me to embrace new mercies for the day unfolding before me.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 

Lamentations 3:22-23

 

The dreaded rainy days nourish new growth along with sunny days and warmer temperatures. Yet the garden cannot sustain new growth on yesterday’s rain and sun alone. Nurtured by each day’s contributions, God cherishes His creation.

Welcoming God’s designed nourishment, the garden opens to its Creator day after day; so, we must receive a fresh revelation of His mercies for today.

My heart becomes thirsty for God’s Word, satisfied only when quenched by time spent drinking in its goodness.

Yesterday’s Living Water provides no refreshment for today. Like the manna gathered by the Israelites, I must seek nourishment daily. Rotted manna from the previous days cannot nourish my spiritual needs today.

God’s steadfast love promises not only His presence with you daily, but mercies sufficient for today. Each day brings new burdens, and your sovereign heavenly Father knows your exact need for this day.

His mercies come new every morning, because you are not promised tomorrow, nor hold knowledge of all this day portends.

Turning the eyes of your heart upon God at the start of your day reminds you of His steadfast, never-ending love for you.

Seeking a fresh revelation in His Word fortifies you for the day ahead, ensuring you remain in The Way. Nourishing you with mercies for new growth, strength, and spiritual transformation.

God’s invitation in the garden bids me consider not only how He nurtures creation, but the necessity of receiving His gifts daily. Creation displays His beauty in every sunrise, unfolding leaf, budding flower, and farewell sunset.

Do we receive His creative gifts daily?

Likewise, held in His steadfast love, we receive mercies sufficient for today as we seek the nourishment of His Word in the intimacy of covenant relationship. Resting in complete trust before our gracious Heavenly Father, every need for this day flows from His all-sufficient hands to ours.

Reflection:

 

How do you receive God’s new mercies each day?

 

How can you better seek Him in the freshness of each new day?









Find more encouragement and FREE Resources at Serenity in Suffering!

 

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