Light the Way

by Julie Zine Coleman

He hadn’t even noticed his wallet was missing. Not until he answered a knock on his door. There stood a group of teenagers, holding it out in front of them. They’d found it at a nearby mall and used his driver’s license to locate him. Knowing it contained a newly cashed paycheck’s worth of bills, he could hardly believe such integrity. Not one dollar was missing. Grateful, he offered them a reward. They politely refused. They were just happy they had successfully reunited the wallet with its owner.

He had to know more. Why were they so honest? Who were they? The kids smiled shyly and told him they were Christians from a local church. Their integrity was a mere reflection of the One they followed.

The following Sunday, he came to church. He didn’t know much about God, but he knew whatever those teens had was something he wanted. It wasn’t long before he had given his life to the Savior as well.

Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NASB). God uses our acts of love to make himself known.

God is all about revealing himself to the world. It’s always been his purpose. “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea,” God promised (Habakkuk 2:14 NASB). Paul tells us in Romans 1 that God first revealed his eternal power and divine nature with His creation. Next, He chose the family of Israel to reveal Him to the nations. Then the ultimate revelation came: Jesus Christ, “the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3, NASB).

And now, Paul tells us that “the manifold wisdom of God… [is now made] known through the church…” (Ephesians 3:10, NASB).

He has chosen US, the Church, to be the vessels through which He is revealing himself today! This serious responsibility has big implications for how we live.

I was recently confronted by an angry neighbor. He accused my sweet dog of something that was absolutely untrue. As I cringed under his bitter words, my instinct was to shoot right back with a hefty dose of reality. But before I could open my mouth, the Lord reminded me that I was there at that moment to represent Him.  A careful, loving response had the potential to show my neighbor Jesus in me.

What better way is there to reveal Christ in us than love? After all, it is just a reflection of the love God has already lavished on us. And there’s plenty of that to spread around.

Paul wrote: “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10 NASB). The world’s brand of love is often self-seeking and self-righteous. The kind of love we can offer (agape love) chooses the good of another over ourselves. It is as different from the world as light is from darkness.

My angry neighbor? After a quick prayer for the Lord’s strength, I bit my indignant tongue and responded to his anger with humility and grace. I hope that someday this unhappy man will put His trust in Christ. Maybe God will even use my decision to treat him with love to draw him in.

The world is stumbling around in darkness. God has called us to light the way for them.

“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: In what ways have you seen people respond to love?

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What Are We Really Forgiving?

by Ava Pennington

What’s one of the most common reasons we give for not forgiving others? If you’re like me, you might say forgiveness implies approval or tolerance of the behavior. We read about forgiveness, talk about it, and teach it. Yet for most of us, forgiving others is one of the most difficult things God asks us to do.

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me that one reason we may find it difficult to forgive is because we misunderstand what it is that we’re forgiving.

What if I told you we are not forgiving the sin?

King David wrote, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment” (Psalm 51:4 ESV).

Even the Pharisees of Jesus’ day understood that God alone can forgive sin. That’s why they pitched a fit when Jesus forgave the paralytic. In Luke 5:18-25 (ESV), we read:

Behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed…but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.

And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”

And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Yes, only God can forgive the actual sin. And since Jesus is God, He demonstrated that He also has the authority to forgive sin.

Perhaps that’s one reason we struggle with forgiveness. We’re trying—and failing—to forgive something we don’t have the right to forgive. We justify our failure to forgive by saying we don’t want to communicate tolerance for the sin. Or that it’s not right for the other person to “get away with” what they’ve done.

So if we’re not forgiving the sin, then what are we forgiving?

Consider that we’re forgiving the offense. The offense against our rights. Against our values. Against our family. Against whatever it is that we hold dear.

By forgiving the offender, I’m saying my rights are less important than freedom from bitterness and resentment. I’m saying my job is not to forgive the actual sin, but the offense against me. The offense that has trespassed my rights.

Could it be that the act of forgiveness is the ultimate act of admitting that I’m not God? That in giving up my right to be angry and resentful, I’m submitting to the authority God has to forgive sins?

Could it be that when we forgive others, we’re expressing our awareness that we’re in desperate need of the same forgiveness? Because, let’s face it, it’s just about impossible to go through life without giving offense, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Sooner or later, we’ll need others to forgive our offenses against them.

Even so, forgiveness is not something we can even begin to do in our own strength. We need the prompting of the Holy Spirit to motivate us to surrender our rights (Galatians 2:20). And we need the power of the Holy Spirit to humble ourselves to actually forgive (John 14:15-17). Finally, we need the Holy Spirit’s comfort to know that God is a just judge (Genesis 18:25), and we can trust that He will make all things right in the end.

There’s a freedom in forgiving others. Freedom in knowing God is God and we are not. Most of all, freedom in offering what we, ourselves, need.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 NIV

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever struggled to forgive?

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Listening for His Song

by Cindi McMenamin

Alice remembers the day she felt desperately alone. But only for a while. She lay on the cold exam table as she was moved into the tube-like chamber. She was undergoing an MRI of her brain to determine why she was experiencing headaches.

“Other people told me about the experience, but nothing really prepares you for it,” Alice told me a few days after the procedure.  At first she kept her eyes open when the hood enclosed her. But then she realized she needed to close her eyes and think about something else.

All sorts of sounds were occurring. A crashing sound, some pinging. As she closed her eyes and tried to relax she put the sounds together and made a song. “I pictured the sounds as notes to a song, rising up and going down,” Alice said. “I created in my mind a little symphony with the sounds, trying to picture the notes as they happened.”

Alice was creating a symphony of praise in the middle of uncertainty. Oh, how that helps when we’re anxious or fearful.

From the time my daughter could talk, I taught her to sing about whatever she was experiencing. If she was hungry, we’d sing about it. If she was excited or if she was bored at having to wait for something, we would come up with a song. Often it was the same tune and we just created new words. This kept her focused not on her situation, but on the song. It was a way of distracting her from worry or uncertainty and causing her to keep a song – and some joy – in her heart.

That must be what God is doing in our lives when He gives us songs. He’s distracting us from our distress.  Like a loving Heavenly Father, God turns our hearts away from worry by tuning us into a song.

In Psalm 40, David sang of waiting in a pit for God’s deliverance. When God pulled him out of the sinking mud and set him on solid ground, David says that God put a new song in his mouth. God not only gives us songs of praise after our victories but songs of surrender while we’re still in the pit!

Are you in a place of uncertainty today? Whether you’re on an exam table, in a hospital waiting room, alone in an unfamiliar place, or waiting in what feels like a pit, He can fill you with His songs. Let Him help you pull together the sounds and situations of your life into a symphony of praise to Him.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God…” (Psalm 40:3a).

Lord, when I feel anxious, afraid, lonely, or depressed, fill my heart with a song of praise to You.

About the authorView More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindi: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, Drama Free and When God Sees Your Tears. For more on her books and ministry, or to learn more about her coaching services for writers, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: What songs bring you the most comfort in uncertainty?

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How to Rest from Worry

by Debbie W. Wilson

I can worry with my eyes closed. In fact, I’ve done some of my best fretting in my sleep. Even when I’m alert, worry drones on beneath the surface looking for an opening to pop through.

My worries appear reasonable. Physical facts support them. But—and this is a big “but”—they leave out the character and nature of God.

When I experienced some health issues that included fatigue and brain fog, assorted fears taunted me. The realization that aging could make me frail and vulnerable frightened me. I realized that when I feel strong I know that with God I can handle life. But when my ump to push though evaporates, my confidence fizzles.

I reexamined my premise: with God can handle anything. I had to ask myself if I believed God could cover everything when I couldn’t help. Was my confidence in Him or in me? Physical, mental, emotional, and financial proficiency brings the illusion of security. Lack of those brings a terrible awareness of vulnerability.

Nature supported my perception. Strong animals dine on the weak and wounded. Ruthless people exploit the poor and aged.

But God gently, but strongly, interrupted my fretting. The Bible Gateway app I’d set on continuous play got stuck on Deuteronomy 33. Even after I manually moved it forward, every time I opened it to continue where I’d left off, it went back to this particular chapter. Since I tend to listen to it when I’m doing other things, I couldn’t always readjust it. I decided God had something He wanted me to hear.

Sure enough, verse 12 continued to stand out. “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders” (NIV).

One morning, while listening to praise music, that verse opened up for me. “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him.” God offered security. Would I let myself rest in Him?

That morning I decided to “rest secure in Him.” I pictured my Shepherd lifting me onto His shoulders, as a shepherd would a lamb, and carrying not only me but also all the cares I’d picked up. Relief washed over me.

What cares has the world laid on your shoulders? Will you let yourself rest secure in Him? Jesus offers rest to us. We choose whether or not we’ll receive it.

 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 25:28 NIV

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Join the conversation: What are the things in your life that are making you yearn for rest?

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Mark My Words

by Deb DeArmond

I enjoy listening to podcasts on a variety of topics while traveling. There’s a lot to choose from: shows for writers, travelogues, cooking, and business. The speakers I look forward to most, however, are those that start the day with me: podcasts by pastors and teachers that help grow God’s Word in my heart. Those that take me deep and make me think, “Hmm. I’d never seen that before in that Scripture.” Or, “Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever read that passage before.” After 45 years as a Christ-follower, it still happens. Often.

Recently, a podcast entitled, “A War of Words” by Pastor Bill Johnson recently caught my eye. And by the end of the message, my heart had been caught up as well. The idea that jumped out at me most as I listened was simple: “When God speaks, He creates.”

As a Christian writer and speaker, that’s my goal. I always pray that the Lord empowers my words to create pathways, understanding, growth, and peace for those who read or hear my words. I want to encourage them to walk more closely with Jesus. So I ask for the exact right words for what He’s led me to teach.

I read it aloud to myself and ask others to read it as well. I inquire: “Does it reach the heart? Is it encouraging? Is it too direct? Might it offend, or does it inspire rather than discourage?” I use the same process as I write books and articles. I am always focused on using words that will have the greatest impact for my audience.

There are a multitude of scriptures on the topic.

  • Proverbs 21:23 (ESV): “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”
  • Psalm 141:3 (ESV): “Set a guard, Oh Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
  • James 3:8b-10 (ESV) “[The tongue] is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God’ from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”

Have you been on social media lately? Me too. Now there’s a word choice challenge!

As I look back on my interactions online, I might occasionally have strayed from purposeful word selection (!!). The war of words these days can ignite carelessness in us on topics close to our heart, or when we feel under attack for our beliefs and choices. Passion can push us in the wrong direction if we are not cautious and focused on using our words to create, not criticize or crush our accusers.

Jesus, as He stood accused, offered no words in His defense. “When He was insulted, He did not insult in return,” 1 Peter 2:23a (CSB).

Please understand, I don’t recall ever attacking someone’s parentage or intelligence. No name calling or insults. But words are my business. And I can be tempted to use them in a manner that will not create an opportunity for growth in those who receive them.

Thinking of God’s propensity to create made me say, “Hmmm, I can do better. I need to do better, because I represent Him.”

And mark my words, I will. What about you? Anyone want to join me?

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: How do you keep from being careless or worse with your words?

 

Coffee? Or Cough-ee?

by Rhonda Rhea

I microwaved my second cup of coffee this morning and couldn’t figure out why in the world it tasted like cough medicine. Granted, I’m never sure how I’m supposed to be awake enough to get my own coffee when I’ve yet to have my coffee.

Three or four sips in, I still didn’t get why it tasted so weird. Somewhere around that fifth sip, I woke up enough to remember it wasn’t my second cup of coffee. It was my first. And then another realization slowly started to sink in:  I haven’t made the coffee yet this morning.

I stared at that cup of coffee for a few minutes thinking about how I’ve been gone for a few mornings and Oh my word. When did I make this coffee?

Let’s be clear. There are times when adding extra creamer isn’t going to cut it. Not even a lot of creamer. Not even if it’s caramel macchiato creamer. Cough-medicine-au-lait is never going to be anybody’s specialty drink of the day. And frankly, I’m pretty sure those first four sips were a little chewy. No wait. I think I’ll stay in denial about that for a while longer.

It’s a good reminder, though, that sin can be something like that. We don’t make life taste better by trying to flavor sin with something we think might mask its icky-ness. We don’t fix anything by excusing or rationalizing. We can’t avoid dealing with its objectionableness by distracting ourselves with something else or otherwise trying to forget about it, either. What we have to do every time is just plain get rid of it. Pour it out. Get a clean cup. Start over. We confess sin, turn away from it, and go a different direction.

Facing up to our sin is anything but tasty. It’s unpleasant. Humiliating, even. But necessary. At every point we come face to face with our sin, we get a closer look at our own depravity and our surprising penchant for evil. It’s easy to deceive ourselves about our bent to sin, but this is no place for denial. When we do get a taste of our sin’s offensiveness, the revelation that we could actually be so utterly wicked can be outright devastating. It sends us into a place of mourning.

But it’s at that place of mourning that Jesus comes alongside us. When we become painfully aware of our inability to lift the tiniest finger to clean up the mess, and at the point we realize anew our complete dependence on Him to do it, He reminds us of His cross. His payment for every sin was complete. Jesus suffered unspeakable agony on that cross for sin—agony that should’ve been ours.

Remembering the inexpressibly high price of sin also reminds us to keep a short account of it. First John 1:9 reminds us that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (HCSB). Not a masking. Not a distraction. Not a denial. No, a complete cleansing. A new cup, as it were. That’s a better something to chew on every morning.

In other things to remember, making sure I’ve put on a new pot of coffee is high up there on my list for tomorrow. I’m happy to report that at least this morning’s coffee didn’t make me sick. As a matter of fact, I haven’t coughed once all day.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is still wondering if coffee can actually ferment. She is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What helps you to keep your relationship with God fresh?

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Fly, Baby, Fly!

by Sheri Schofield

It was springtime here in the wilds of Montana, a busy time for all the animals and birds that were raising their young. One morning I looked out over our rugged landscape to see a family of ravens flying toward the towering rocks by our house. The parents were teaching their young to fly that day. As they touched down, one of the young ravens slipped and struggled to recover. It managed to get a firm hold, but I could tell it was scared. One by one the other young birds flew short distances from the rocks and returned. But the one that had slipped refused to fly.

The parents circled the rock around their scared baby croaking, “Fly, Baby, fly!” But Baby croaked back, “Are you kidding? I’m not budging from this rock!”

This went on for a couple hours. The other fledglings were doing very well. But not Baby. Finally, the raven family headed back up the canyon. Baby squawked, “Don’t leave me!” But its family kept flying. Finally, Baby flapped his wings and followed his family back to their nest.

I thought about how many times I feel just like that baby raven! I experience a difficult situation, and I withdraw. My computer tech tries to teach me something, and I can’t figure it out, so I choose to let it go rather than continue the struggle. I run to my comfort zone, my regular household responsibilities. I tell myself, “I’m too old for this! What am I thinking! I live out in the mountains, far from civilization. My children are grown and don’t use this technology, so I can’t call them and ask for help. This is too much for me!”

But God didn’t create me to stay in my comfort zone. He wants me to be brave. He wants me to fly!

In Psalm 61:2 (NIV), David wrote, “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Like the raven, I feel secure on my Rock. My God is my safest place of all. But unlike the rock next to our house, my Rock moves with me! If I venture to fly into the unknown, my Rock, God’s love, flies beneath me, ready to uphold me if I grow weary!

David also wrote, “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:9 (NIV)

I can hold onto that! I can boldly say, “If I attempt to rise above this computer mystery, if I explore these new ideas and try to apply them, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast!”

So, Lord, let me be brave! Let me respond to your call to “Fly, Baby, fly!”

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Children’s ministry veteran Sheri Schofield was unexpectedly called on to save her husband’s life, a battle that took her to the Pentagon, Congress, National Security and the President of the United States. At her website, www.SheriSchofield.com, she shares this journey in her book One Step Ahead of the Devil. Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, was launched June 1. It is designed to help parents lead their children into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Join the conversation: What makes you cling to the Rock?

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Deep Roots

 by Pam Farrel

You might live in the part of the world known as Tornado Alley. Winds whip through, and trees that have shallow roots are tossed about like toothpicks. But trees with roots deeply embedded into the ground remain firmly anchored in place. It is the deeply rooted trees that survive storm after storm.

God challenges us to have another kind of deep roots:

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:8 NIV

Jesus warns of the danger of shallow roots in the famous parable of the seed:

“Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.”  Mark 4:5-6 NIV

This world needs more people, more marriages, and more families with deep spiritual roots. Strong individuals coupled together build strong marriages. Relationships like this provide stability for families, churches, and communities. But deep roots take a little effort to develop.

We run a ministry called Love-Wise, and couples often tell us, “We want a marriage like yours.” So we explain some of the choices we have made to grow a happy marriage. Good training is available through church attendance, a Sunday School class, or a small group where couples meet together to discuss relationships. Other opportunities for growth are in attending marriage conferences, listening to Christian radio, and other forms of media.

But the really rich work God does is in us as individuals. Spending daily time with Him is crucial to getting His guidance in becoming the best partner, parent, and person possible. Deep roots develop when it is just you and God dealing with your life, your relationship, and your heart. A media-only diet is like a tree with shallow roots. One big wind storm comes and it can topple the tree. Or one hot, scorching summer hits and shallow roots dry up and the plant dies. The best fruit, the sweet fruit, comes when the roots of the tree go deep down into the rich soil.

I join the Apostle Paul and pray for each of your marriages:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph 3:17-19 NIV)

 Lord, sink our roots deep into You and Your Word. Give us the sweet fruit that comes with deep roots built on the kind of love you can give. 

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 45 books including best selling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and A Couple’s Journey with God. She and her husband, Bill, co-direct Love-Wise ministry.

Join the conversation: How have you built up your marriage?

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Don’t Worry; Martha Will Do It

by Kathy Collard Miller

I wonder if Martha, the sister of Mary, was the dependability queen in her town, Bethany. I can just imagine at the Women of the Temple Committee meeting for the upcoming women’s luncheon event, the chairperson asking, “Now who can we get to cater the lunch?”

Everyone looks around and another woman asks, “Where’s Martha?”

Mary speaks up, “Oh, she’s at the meeting for the Temple Benevolence committee.”

A third woman raises her hand. After being called on by the chairperson, Lydia says, “Ask Martha. She’ll do it.”

Could Martha have worn an invisible S on her tunic? No, not for Superman, although many most likely called her Superwoman. But S for steadfast and its twin sister, Dependability. Why else would Martha have been so crazy busy when Jesus came visiting? Remember the story?

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

What motivated Martha? Of course we’ll never know conclusively her heart’s motive. But as women, so many of us are like her because we have chosen the same technique to gain approval and applause: busyness and productivity. We know Martha didn’t have to do everything she did because Mary, who was equally considered the hostess, didn’t. I have no doubt Mary did what she was supposed to do and then chose to abide at Jesus’s feet. If Martha is like me, she thought of “one more thing,” “one more dish,” “one more decorating touch,” “one more …” Did she think, “Just wait until Jesus sees this. He’ll feel so important and valued.” I would have.

But Jesus loves Martha’s soul well. He doesn’t want her to carry the heavy yoke she puts upon her own shoulders and the muddy cistern she is gulping from. He doesn’t need anything to make him feel important or valuable. He only seeks his Father’s approval and applause.

In his concern for her he woos her by pointing out the result of her sin: anxiety, anger, critical spirit, feeling abandoned, even blaming Jesus for not making Mary do what Martha thought Mary should do. She accused Jesus of not caring for her. Most importantly, her motive was to provide rather than abide. Jesus was saying, “I love you too much. Please look at what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Come and abide.”

He says the same things to us.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 NASB

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller is an award-winning author of over 50 books and this devotional is excerpted from Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory . She is a speaker who has shared in 8 foreign countries and over 30 US states. Kathy and Larry have been married for 48 years and are the parents of 2 and grandparents of 2. They live in Southern California and often write and speak together. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com. She would love to hear from you.

Join the conversation: Do you seek God’s approval through busyness and productivity?

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Marvelous Mundane

by Debora M. Coty

“Where there is no wood, the fire goes out …” Proverbs 26:20, NKJV

I recently read about a woman in India who was bored with her life. After fifty-five years of marriage, she was tired of the same ole same old, so she began hormone revitalization, had invitro fertilization and gave birth to a baby girl at the age of seventy.

You can bet trading in prune juice smoothies for apple juice sippy cups jacked her excitement level up a notch or two.

Our daily grind can sure seem dull. You get up in the morning, throw back a cup of caffeine, and launch into the same routine day after boring day: work, cook, clean up, repeat. Seriously, isn’t life made up of 90 percent routine? All of it so easy to overlook as Papa God’s intentional blessing.

Yes, I said blessing. As in no catastrophe is currently occurring, your health allows you to get up at all, and Papa God has generously allowed you to live to see another sunrise. These are blessings we often take for granted.

Gratitude for the mundane keeps our Creator-creation perspective intact. It’s the acute awareness that the Source of our everyday blessings – such as a warm breeze, lungs to draw it in, senses to feel its pleasure – is here with us every second, enjoying our enjoyment.

When we look at it this way, the mundane becomes downright thrilling! We see annoyingly noisy kids as happy, carefree children; work duties become a privilege many are without; household chores wouldn’t take so long if we lived in a grass hut swarmed by flies.

Sure, routine can be boring at times, but we really don’t want to resort to extreme measures like the Vermont mother who thought hanging onto the cargo rack of her car with her five-year-old son while traveling fifty miles per hour would add a little zip to her day. Now she’s zippy in jail.

There are ways to morph the mundane into everyday adventures that don’t require bail:

  • Look for the laugh: Peel away a few layers to see humor in everyday situations.
  • Plan getaway-cations: Save your pennies for a special trip to a special place. But in the meantime, plan monthly, restorative, low-cost mini-vacays for long weekends. Anticipation is half the fun.
  • Get your bad self down: Add more music to your life’s soundtrack. Whether you’re listening to it or making it, music lightens, brightens, and heightens your spirit.
  • Get dirty: Yahweh created dirt. He likes the stuff. He designed plants to live there and human skin so that it washes right off after we work the soil. So create a sweet-scented garden, even if it’s only a few pots circling a concrete light pole. It will calm you, beautify your living space, and connect you with the Master Gardener.

Sister, we can’t let thankfulness be a casualty of boredom. Let’s choose to feel blessed, rather than entitled, in our marvelous everyday mundane. Maybe an injection of gratitude is just what the Great Physician ordered.

“This is the day that the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24, NLT   

(Excerpt was taken from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M. Coty with permission from Barbour Publishing.)

debora-coty-250x250About the author: Debora M. Coty lives, loves, and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband Chuck. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Her newest release, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms, hits booksellers September 1. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Join the conversation: How do you fight the boredom of the mundane?

Photo by Braydon Anderson on Unsplash