Tuesday, October 12, 2021

In Honor Of...

 


Shari A. Miller

After an 18 year battle with cancer, our sister Shari A. Miller is now Home. Her earthly life over, but true life just begun.

Shari began writing for Woman to Woman in 2012. Each week she shared her heart and encouraged women all over. Shari loved Jesus and spent her life living to leave a legacy.

Shari leaves behind her husband of 29 years and two adult children. Please be in prayer for Bill, Emily, and Daniel as they navigate this new normal without Shari.

In honor of Shari, we will pause blog posts for the remainder of the month. In November and December we will share some of Shari's previous posts.

An Encouraging Perspective on Suffering

By: Rebekah Hargraves





Photo Courtesy of: Joice Kelly



"We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing. Therefore, we ourselves boast about you among God’s churches—about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions that you are enduring. It is clear evidence of God’s righteousjudgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, since it is just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to give relief to you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels, when he takes vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." ~2 Thessalonians 1:3-8



Never one to shy away from an uncomfortable topic, Paul begins his second letter to the Thessalonians by writing about the persecutions and tribulations we will endure in this life. His choice is not terribly shocking; in fact, trials and tribulations are common topics throughout the New Testament. Believers are repeatedly instructed to delight in these hardships, for they produce godliness in us and are a part of our sanctification process.


What is a bit shocking, perhaps, are Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians 1 regarding these sufferings. He asserts our hardships are “clear evidence of God’s righteous judgement that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you are also suffering.” 


Did you catch that? Our trials, tribulations, persecutions, and sufferings in this life are direct evidence of the righteous judgment of God.

They are evidence He is considering us worthy of the kingdom of God!


That’s a big deal!


Similarly, in 1 Peter 4:13, Peter urges,


“Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, that you may also rejoice with great joy when His glory is revealed.”


Amazingly, there is a direct connection between the suffering we experience in this world and the abundant level of glory and rejoicing we will experience in the next.


While we certainly don’t yearn for hardship, we can be a little excited about seeing God strengthen, build, and grow His church in amazing ways – and prove Himself the faithful sustainer of that church!- when we do go through hard times.


So, sisters in Christ, please do not lose heart!


Please do not fret or wring your hands or get worried and worked up.


No. Rely on your faith.

Live it out.

Test it.


Prove that it can withstand hardship. And excitedly watch God work!


We will undoubtedly face hardships in this life. They are promised to us.


Yet, those hardships are never an indictment against God, grounds for disproving the Bible, or trials that render God weak or useless.


Far from it, friends!


While we don’t yearn for hardships, trials, and sufferings, we are able to rejoice when they come because we know they will produce abundant fruit in our lives, both now and in eternity.


No pain we suffer in this life is purposeless. Rather, it serves a great purpose and provides us with an opportunity to watch Romans 8:28 come true right in front of our eyes.


“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God,
who are called according to His purpose.”


Take heart, my friends! The sufferings of this present life are leading to an abundance of glory unlike anything we can presently imagine.


Hold on. Hold fast. Look up. And keep the faith!

Monday, October 11, 2021

Gratitude and Light

 By: Joanne Viola


 It’s that time of year again.

The leaves are beginning to change color and gently fall to the ground.

The shadows are shifting in the yard.

The mornings are pitch black and …

it is getting darker earlier in the evening.

Last night I was struck with how dark it was and being unaware of the time, thought it to be later. The clock revealed it was six o’clock.

Was it this dark yesterday at six o’clock? When did it become so dark so early? How had I missed the progression of darkness?

Have you ever noticed that we are not aware of how dark it is until the light is gone?

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
(Romans 1:21, NASB)

The people Paul is speaking of knew God. But they were not glorifying Him as God. In other words, they would not worship Him as God.

Paul also tells us, neither would they give Him thanks; and so began the process in their hearts –

  • Their thinking became foolish.
  • Their thoughts about God became confused.
  • Their minds went dark.

“We can reasonably expect that knowing God should lead to honoring him as God and giving thanks. But by nature people neither give him glory for who he is nor give him thanks for what he has done.”

(The New American Commentary, Vol. 27, by Robert H.Mounce, page 79)

There we see the reason we want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude helps to keep the light on in our hearts.

“God gives to all the basic requirements for this life irrespective of their relationship to him. The proper response should be gratitude. But people choose to ignore God and come up with their own version of reality.”

(The New American Commentary, Vol. 27, by Robert H.Mounce, page 79)

In this one verse (Romans 1:21), we see the distinction between light and darkness and also wisdom and foolishness.

An attitude of gratitude towards God is critical to the light and wisdom in which we will walk each day.

“An unthankful heart eventually becomes dark.”
(Albert Lindsey)

So, with that said, what are you grateful for today? 

 

Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash


Friday, October 8, 2021

The Need for Margin

 



BySarah Geringer 



It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

Psalm 127:2 NLT



I'm learning to create more margin in my daily life. As a hard-driven Enneagram 1 perfectionist, this is a challenge for me. But I'm listening to the truth in today's focus verse, and it speaks to me about the need for margin.

I grew up with a strong work ethic being modeled for me. And I'm thankful for this trait passed down to me. However, I can push this good trait to the extreme, working myself too hard. Packing too many things in to a tight schedule. It's tempting to keep working hard at all the things in my life: writing, managing my household, volunteering and more.

Working hard can be tempting, because it produces real results. When I work hard and produce much, I feel validated. But I'm learning to find my identity in Christ rather than in what I produce. As I lean into margin, my anxiety decreases, and I can relax more easily in God's rest.

Creating more margin is simply redeeming the edges of my schedule. The old me crammed "just one more thing" in, time after time, right up to the limits. But this made me feel rushed, stressed and frazzled. I find pockets of peace every time I let myself simply "be" in the margins rather than getting one more thing ticked off my to-do list.

The margins I'm using are short and sweet. An extra ten minutes sitting in the school pickup line lets me enjoy moments with God, whether it's through listening to Christian music or reading a Christian book. Sometimes I just sit with my eyes closed, receiving God's love for me in prayer. Leaving ten minutes earlier helps curb my temptation to speed and get frustrated with slower drivers. The margins help me not only minister to my own needs, but be more kind and compassionate to others.

The margins help me preserve my peace of mind, and that's important. God wants us to love others as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40), so we must set aside time for self-care. When we don't, we become less loving toward both ourselves and others. Margins are a great place to grab moments of rest, even in a busy schedule.

Where are the margins in your life that can be redeemed for your good? I challenge you to redeem at least one 10-minute margin per day for the next week. Simply "be" before the Lord, letting him show his love for you. I pray that as you redeem the margins in your life, your peace will increase, and your spirit will settle into God's rest.

Here's a prayer to encourage you too:

Father God,

Thank you for the gift of work.

It feels good to check things off my to-do list.

However, I sometimes push work to the extreme.

When I push myself so hard, I become anxious and stressed.

Teach me to receive the rest you provide, because you love me.

Help me redeem the margins in my life..

May I experience pockets of peace in my day when I rest with you.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.


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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The Simple Difference

By: Jenifer Metzger

When my husband and I started camping at the lake, we noticed something. Everyone waved. Everyone said "hi." Our first weekend at the lake we drove around and, by mistake, drove past the same house three times within five minutes. The gentleman mowing his lawn smiled and waved all three times. Everyone, whether weekend campers or full timers, wave and seem genuinely happy to see you.

After about a year of camping at this lake, I was walking around my neighborhood back at home early one morning. I waved at the man bringing his garbage can to the curb. Nothing. I waved at the lady weeding her garden. Nothing. I waved at the man pulling out of his driveway heading to work. Nothing. As I walked throughout my neighborhood I encountered five people and not a single one waved back. This simple act of kindness was lost.


Becky Keife says, "Four of the most common and intertwined barriers that stand in the way of our willingness to show kindness to others are awkwardness, inconvenience, lack of compassion, and snap judgements."  I'll be the first to admit, I have been guilty of all four at some point; especially awkwardness.

When I think of all the missed friendships, missed opportunities, and even times I missed obeying God all because of my own awkwardness, convenience, lack of compassion, and judgmental ways, it breaks my heart. How many times did God place someone in my path to encourage with a simple "hello"? How many times did God place someone in my path to pray for them? I missed so many opportunities!

On the other hand, when I really think about it, what about all the times I was kind to a stranger but failed to show kindness to my own family. That happens more than I'd dare admit. Our families often get the tired, frustrated, stressed out wife and mom. Becky says, "My 'warm and friendly, let me grab the door for you' persona in public doesn't always match my attitude and actions in private." Ouch.

Kindness is such a small thing that makes such a big impact, in public and in private. Becky says, "Kindness once is a small stone skipped in the large lake of life. The ripple is visible and meaningful in the moment-but eventually it will fade. Repeated kindness, on the other hand, creates an ongoing impact. Like pebble upon pebble upon pebble ricocheting off the glassy water. The rigs of influence widen, the depth of the impact deepens. When the stones keep coming, they're sure to create waves of lasting change."


What if we became women who tossed pebbles of kindness day after day, hour after hour? What if we became women who tossed pebbles of kindness at work, at school, at the grocery store, at the coffee shop, at church, and at home? This simple difference will make a lifelong lasting effect.

To read more from Becky Keife in her new book, The Simple Difference: How Every Small Kindness Makes A Big Difference, click the banner below.










It's time for Share A Link Wednesday! Each Wednesday we invite you to leave a link to your latest blog post in the comments. We still desire to connect women of God with one another and encourage each other in Christ. So grab a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea, sit back and visit a few blogs. Be encouraged and share your own stories.