Blessed

by Susie Crosby

adj: enjoying happiness; favored, privileged, fortunate

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope…” Matthew 5:3 MSG

Religious-sounding words make me cringe sometimes. Maybe it’s because they get overused, or can seem insincere. Or maybe it’s because I haven’t understood their true meaning.

Blessed has been one of these awkward words for me.

“Bless you.”

“God bless.”

“Blessings!”

Everything in me feels weird when I say or hear or read words like this. I can’t help it.

Years ago, I impulsively bought a beautifully framed wooded sign that states: “We are so blessed.” It fits beautifully above our dining room mirror and works with the decor. But I can’t look at it without an uncomfortable feeling–wondering if it comes across as prideful or self-righteous or possibly inauthentic to people who visit.

But Jesus said, Blessed.” Many times, in the Beatitudes part of the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew. The upside-down truths that He shared that day surprised the crowd and brought them to cheers. They make me want to know more about what Jesus meant when He used this word.

When Jesus spoke on that hillside, He said we are blessed when we’re at the end of our rope, blessed when we’ve lost what is most dear to us, blessed when we are humbled, blessed when we have worked up a good appetite for God, blessed when we care for others, blessed when our hearts are pure, blessed when we work for peace, and blessed when we are left out and lied about–mistreated for doing what is right.

When Jesus calls us blessed in the midst of suffering or working or trying to do good, it doesn’t sound contrived or fake. And it doesn’t sound like pride. It sounds like he’s giving us something we desperately need but cannot earn.

Beatitude: a feeling or state of well-being and contentment; blissfulness, gladness, joy.

Blessed.

Maybe it means taken care of. Not simply happy or lucky, but attended to and held close by God Himself–our loving Father, by Jesus–our savior and friend, and by the Holy Spirit–our strength and comfort.

Every Sunday at the end of the church service, our pastor prays this blessing over us that God gave Moses and Aaron to bless the Israelites:

The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine on you

And be gracious to you;

The Lord turn his face toward you

And give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26 NIV

If it means that God will keep us, make his face shine on us, be gracious to us, turn his attention to us, and give us his peace; then maybe “bless you,” isn’t such an awkward thing to say after all.

Sit with Jesus on your own hillside for a moment. If you are at the end of your rope, look into His eyes. Invite Him in. Let Him bless you with His attention, His peace, His strength, and His grace for the struggle you face. He sees you, He knows you, and He will honor and take precious care of your heart for Him.

This article was brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: How has God blessed you recently?

Waiting on My Turn to Shine

by Dena Dyer @DenaJDyer

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”  Philippians 2:14-15 NIV

In the spring after we married, my husband Carey and I auditioned for a professional Christian musical production on the life of Christ. The director spoke so highly of both Carey and me after we sang, we felt confident he’d offer us roles.

Indeed, Carey was cast in a leading part–but I was chosen for the large chorus and as an understudy for one of the leading ladies.

Understudy again?
I thought. I am so tired of this! Since high school, it seemed I was always the alternate or the understudy. Though I’m ashamed to admit it now, I became jealous of Carey. I was also envious of the woman cast in the role I had to learn–but not perform.

Sinful much? Sigh. Even though I’d been a Christian since I was seven years old, I still had a long way to go in order to be Christlike. I questioned my appearance, talent, and personality. And I felt sorry for myself. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride

It’s clear now: God wanted more for me than applause and accolades. Throughout my teens and twenties, I set loftier and loftier goals for myself and was never satisfied. Instead of working on things I could control—by reading the Bible, honing my talents, and praying for God to use me as He thought best—I worked against myself. By focusing on accomplishments rather than obedience, I robbed myself of contentment.

Thankfully, God broke me of my perfectionism a few years later. It wasn’t fun, and it didn’t happen overnight. But I’m unspeakably grateful that He didn’t give up on me.

In Philippians 2, Paul encourages the church at Philippi to not complain or argue, and to hold firmly to the word of God. Jesus is known as “the Word made flesh,” and when we hold onto Him, we become blameless and pure–by His grace and mercy and not by our efforts. Then we can be a shining light in a dark world.

Our Heavenly Father is so immeasurably good to us. Like a master craftsman, He hones and perfects our rough edges. His goal is to make us more like Jesus, and He is a patient, loving artist who sees the women we were created to be and isn’t content until we’re fully transformed.

A few years after my temper tantrum over being cast as the understudy, God gave my husband and me the unique opportunity to be one of six lead singers in a Christian-owned professional music theater company in our town. We served with that cast for a total of eleven years, raising our children and getting to tuck them into bed nightly (a rarity in entertainment). The owners of the theater even paid our health insurance.

God is faithful, friends. He knows our desires, and He knows our secret thoughts. And when we align ourselves with His will instead of insisting on our own timetable, He gives us far more than we expect or even deserve.

I want to be a content and grateful woman of God who seeks His face and approval, not the applause of men or the accolades of our culture.

Won’t you join me in praying for God to transform us, so we can shine for Him?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me when I complain or argue about my circumstances. Instead, help me focus on your goodness and grace. Make me more like Jesus so I can shine His light in this dark world. Amen.

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Waiting on My Turn to Shine – encouragement on #FollowingGod from @DenaJDyer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Dena Dyer is the author or co-author of ten books for women and hundreds of articles in magazines, newspapers, and websites. She lives in Texas with Carey and their sons Jordan and Jackson. She loves bargain shopping, decorating, and traveling. Find Dena on Instagram and Facebook, or at her website.

Dena and Carey’s book, Love at First Fight: 52 Story-Based Meditations for Married Couples (Barbour) will give your marriage encouragement and hope when you find that the once endearing, charming, and distinct qualities that once attracted you to your spouse are now a source of stress and conflict.

Join the conversation: How do you find contentment?

Entitlement

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

The other day, my friend and I were comparing notes on grandparenting. We agreed that being grandmothers can be a journey through uncharted waters. My friend’s adolescent grandson was driving her a little crazy with his attitude that day. Any time she would refuse him what we wanted, he would respond in anger. “The entitlement!” she wrote me. She then assured me: “We don’t respond well to entitlement.”

That got me thinking. Is a child’s entitlement a result of bad parenting or grandparenting? Are we causing this obnoxious trait in our children by giving them too much? Or is there something deeper happening?

To answer that question, we have to go all the way back to the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve were approached by the serpent, encouraging entitlement was in his plan. Both humans knew that God had made it clear that they could eat from any tree in the garden but one: “For in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17 NASB).

Notice Satan’s tactics: he first cast doubt on the truth of God’s words. “You will not surely die!” he assured them. Then he went after the goodness of God. “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” he said. (Genesis 3:5 NASB) He’s keeping you back because He wants to remain superior to you. His motives are vain and selfish. He’s not for you. He’s for Himself.

Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise…” and took the bait. So did Adam. And the sinful nature of future humankind was determined.

Why did Eve do it? Every other tree had been generously provided. Why did she have to have the one thing that was denied her? I think it goes back to Satan’s challenge; his suggestion that God was not truthful or truly good. She should have more. She deserved more.

Entitlement.

Of course, they didn’t consider the other side of the coin before taking that plunge: that maybe God was protecting them from something, like a life of toil and pain. That their denial of the goodness of God would taint everything, from the physical world to their relationships with God and with each other. That in His prohibition, He truly was being good.

Entitlement is a dangerous thing. One of the ten commandments is “you shall not covet.” I’ve heard people say that the last five commandments (Exodus 20:12-17) are horizontal, governing human to human interaction. They do, but this one is more than that. To covet is to want what you do not have. Who provides what we have? God. Feeling entitled is a statement to God: I deserve more. You have refused me what I need. You are lacking in your goodness.

The opposite of entitlement is contentment. Contentment does not depend on circumstances, material possessions, or successes in life. Contentment is a by-product of something bigger: trust in the God who provides every good thing. Trust in a God who is absolutely good.

Paul wrote, “Not that I speak from want, but I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am…” What was Paul’s secret to living in contentment?  “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely…dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NASB).  If there was a list of what Paul felt would fit that bill, God would have been right at the top.

When entitlement poisons our heart and mind, we already have the antidote. We need to dwell on God’s goodness. Had Adam and Eve taken a minute to think about how good God had already been to them, how every good thing had come from His abundant generosity and grace, I’m pretty sure they would have doubted that conniving snake. What Satan was saying was in direct conflict with anything they already knew about God. It would have been a no-brainer to walk away.

Let’s make sure our children and grandchildren understand that everything they have has come from God, including parents who say no for a reason. Let’s help them to understand there are bigger, more important things in life than getting to play video games all day or freedom to roam at will. Encourage them about His goodness, which He limits only to grow us in our trust in Him.

Because God is good…all the time.

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment, for we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  1 Timothy 6:6-7 NASB

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Thoughts on Entitlement from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. 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.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Do you ever struggle with entitlement?

 

 

 

Can True Satisfaction only Come through Self-Exhaustion?

by A.C. Williams @free2Bfearless

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11 NIV

Feeling satisfied is tough for me, but recently, I think I experienced it. In March of last year, I joined some friends at a Bible camp in Tennessee where I volunteered as a day-laborer.

You never know what assignment you’re going to get at this place. This past year, I ended up in a team of four cleaning up the fallen trees around the archery plaza. Three or four 70-foot-tall trees had come down, and we needed to chop them up, haul the logs out of the hollow, split them with the industrial splitter, and stack them in the wood yard.

Yes, it was as hard as it sounds. I wasn’t using the chainsaw (with my lack of coordination and general clumsiness, there was a definite danger of unintentional amputation), but I did haul branches and logs.

I worked my butt off, y’all. I couldn’t move at the end of the day. I had entirely exhausted myself. And I was satisfied.

But is that real satisfaction? Self-exhaustion? The end of your rope? Wearing yourself out to the place where you can’t even move? I think true satisfaction is deeper than that. It stems from our individual cultures, our worldviews, our personal perspective on what it means to have, do, and be enough. It’s a soul-deep longing for completeness.

As a believer, being satisfied should be part of my identity, but if that’s true, why don’t I experience it? For so long, I’ve had to choose to be satisfied with something when I didn’t actually feel it. Choosing to be satisfied when you aren’t is contentment.

Contentment is good too (don’t get me wrong), but being satisfied is different. Being satisfied is being full, having enough, doing enough. You don’t have to choose it. You just are.

I feel satisfied when I worship, standing in God’s presence, lifting up my voice to sing about what He’s done for me. I know He is enough—more than enough to provide for my needs, to redeem my foolish choices, to forgive my wrongs. He is enough, and I am satisfied.

Can that experience translate to my work? When I eat? When I sleep? Of course, it can, and it should, but it must start with Jesus. God gives us satisfaction. He is the source of it. Maybe we should ask Him to satisfy us in specific ways. 

Before I work, I need to ask Him to help me be intentional in my task list.

Before I eat, I need to ask Him to make me aware of when I am full.

Before I sleep, I need to ask Him to fill my thoughts rather than all the other things going on around me.

Living as a consumer is a never-ending struggle against the unachievable. Nothing but God can fill the cavernous void in our souls, not perfection or money or pleasure or status, yet we would spend our lives chasing satisfaction. Outside of God, we’ll never find it.

Only God can satisfy. That’s not a fuzzy concept or an abstract theory. It’s a practical reality. We only need to apply it.

TWEETABLE
Can True Satisfaction only Come through Self-Exhaustion? encouragement from A.C.Williams, @Free2BFearless, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

amy c williams
Finding Fireflies

About the author: A.C. Williams is an author and entrepreneur who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if she isn’t, her socks will never match. She prefers Trixie Belden to Nancy Drew, wears her watch on the wrong wrist, and Mr. Darcy is her love language. Follow her adventures on social media @free2bfearless.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced satisfaction? Please share your story!

Whatever State I Am In

by Crystal Bowman

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.  1 Timothy 6:6-8 NKJV

For the past fourteen years, our home in Florida provided an escape from bitter Michigan winters  where I spent most of my life. I have never been a fan of cold weather (like anything below 75!) so wearing flip-flops in February was a dream come true. I had the best of both worlds—warm, comfortable summers in Michigan and warm, comfortable winters in Florida.

It wasn’t just the weather that I enjoyed in each state. I also had a rich and meaningful life in both places. In Florida I had my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) ministry with more than fifty young, energetic moms to mentor and enjoy. I also had the Atlantic Ocean four miles down the road and often went for long walks along the shore. In Michigan I had my mother, siblings, high school friends, and my son’s family. I was happy and enjoying life to the fullest—until everything changed.

In July, my healthy husband became ill. Since the best doctors for his medical care are near our home in Michigan, we listed our home in Florida and sold it in two weeks. We are now living in Michigan indefinitely. And here I am—four months later—with snow on the ground in November wearing Uggs instead of flip-flops.

The Apostle Paul moved around a lot, preaching the Gospel wherever he went. He relied on God and others to provide for his needs and made tents with his friends Aquila and Pricilla to earn his keep. He was adaptable to his circumstances and didn’t get too comfortable in one place. Not only did he adapt well to change, he learned to be content in any and all circumstances. In Philippians 4:11 (NKJV) he wrote, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Paul didn’t need sunny skies or warm temperatures to be content. He didn’t even need a roof over his head. His greater purpose was to tell people that Jesus died for their sins, and if they believed in Him, they would have eternal life. Sharing the Gospel and living for Jesus was more important to him than anything else.

I wish I could say I am adaptable like Paul was. I’m not. I’m more of a status-quo-type person. I get set in my ways and enjoy comfortable things—like warm weather, a full fridge, and a nice house. But through this new experience, God is stretching me and teaching me to be more adaptable and content no matter where I have landed. My priorities need to be more meaningful than merely where I live. I need to focus more on my blessings and less on the outside temperature. I have friends and family nearby, good doctors, a good furnace, and my cozy Uggs.

As I face a cold, bitter winter in Michigan, I am inspired by the Apostle Paul’s words. I can be content in whatever state I am in—even if that state is Michigan.

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Whatever State I Am In – encourage from Crystal Bowman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids. She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

Ten percent of women struggle with infertility. Mothers In Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms contains 30 hope-filled stories from contributors like Valorie Burton, Katie Norris, and Shay Shull, whose journeys through infertility and miscarriage to adoption and miracle births will buoy your faith. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Join the conversation: What is challenging your sense of contentment?

 

Tempted to Compare My Holidays

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

This time of year always brings to my mind fun memories of childhood Christmases. The pattern in our house rarely changed from year to year, and I loved it. I would anticipate every second, from munching on Chex party mix while visiting my dad on Christmas Eve to playing in the backyard at my aunt and uncle’s house Christmas afternoon.

I always knew what to expect, and I thrived on the predictability of it all.

I don’t know how my parents managed to pull it off, with the challenges divorce can bring. But somehow, they did. I felt safe in knowing and anticipating what our holiday had in store.

As a wife, mom, stepmom, and step-Mimi, holidays can be a bit more unexpected now.

For years I longed to create a Christmas season our family could not only count on, but look forward to each year. But outside factors and challenges always seemed to interrupt my best laid plans.

Frustration has a way of knocking at our heart’s door at times like that, when expectations lost cause us to feel like what we do for our holiday isn’t good enough. With a simple scroll through social media, I can easily become overwhelmed with post after post of recipes, decorations, and family outings that put my spur-of-the-moment schedule to shame.

When we compare our holidays to others’, we risk losing the mountain of blessings that God has given to us. Our expectations become disappointment, and what we long for becomes the enemy of what we already have. But God offers a better way.

Expectations can push contentment into the shadows, but God renews our contentment with the light of each new day.

So I’ve learned to be content with my circumstances. Even when they take an abrupt turn, like they have recently. In fact, our current circumstances have already affected my ability to plan, go, and do as much as I’d like through this year’s holiday season. But when disappointment tries to creep in, I will remind myself of God’s promise to me. His presence is always here, filling me with joy and peace through the holidays.

My holidays may not be perfect, but they are wonderful because God is in it.

You may be thinking, “But my holidays can’t be wonderful. Not this year. Too much has happened.”

I am right there with you, friend. We can let a diagnosis, grief, or hurt cast a pall over this season, or we can allow them to draw us into the throne room of grace, where mercy, hope, and healing reside.

So this year, join me in deciding to celebrate our wonderful, imperfect, unexpected, sometimes painful but always grace-filled, holidays.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 NIV

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Tempted to Compare My Holidays – insight from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing insight with her readers in relatable ways. Her lessons highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Check out Kristine’s weekly devotions and other resources at kristinebrown.net.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with comparing your holiday experiences with others’?

 

Chasing Contentment

by Lori Hynson @LoriSuperGal

“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” I Timothy 6:6 NLT

“As soon as I . . .” get that promotion, make more money, potty-train the baby, get that book written, get over this illness, get out from under this debt . . . then I’ll be content.”

Have you spent your life chasing an endless list starting with “as soon as”?

While this is true for most people, it is especially true for those of us living with what I call SuperGal Syndrome. Running after approval, after some kind of achievement, after what someone else may have.

Contentment is the most valuable thing we can possess in life. We all want the first side of contentment—living satisfied, living peaceful, living joyful.  So, we chase after whatever we think will get us there. You know, get us there. The good there.

But true contentment has a second side. Being content is being at peace with all of our circumstances. Even those that weren’t exactly part of our plan—the failure to locate that pot of gold, the health issue, the ruffled relationships, the wayward kids, seeing someone else achieve what you wanted, comparing yourself unfavorably to others.

“I did it my way” may have been a profitable philosophy for Frank Sinatra, but isn’t going to much help the rest of us. Doing it our way usually leads to frustration, disappointment, anxiety, and failure. It leads to more as soon as…

What does the “true godliness with contentment” mentioned in I Timothy look like? It’s us saying, “I want what You want for me, Lord,” and meaning it. Learning what God wants for us, then trusting that God has the best plan for our lives, which may or may not include our as soon as.

Want contentment? Who doesn’t? On my best days, the days I’m NOT off and running too soon after my own plans, here’s what works for me—starting my day with a thankful heart.

Refreshing my mind with the positive—God’s beautiful creation, a smile, my ability to take long walks at my age—it’s all there if I look for it.

When we count our blessings—today’s and yesterday’s, it pushes open the gate to God’s path of peace for us, and comforts ours hearts to face that day’s circumstances.

That, for me, is true contentment.

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Chasing Contentment – insight from Lori Hynson @LoriSuperGal on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori HynsonAbout the author: Lori Hynson is a Recovering SuperGalaholic, author, speaker, Bible teacher, and singer. Her life ministry is to encourage women to recognize and be healed of their self-imposed SuperGal burdens, to find God’s abundant peace and contentment through His Word, and embrace the freedom they can experience daily in their new life in Christ.

Lori’s book, SuperGal vs. God, is the story of a woman who was convinced she could control everything life threw her way. Until she couldn’t fix the one thing that mattered most. A Bible study/book club guide on the truths in this story is also available.

Lori and her husband have five children, thirteen grandchildren, and enjoy living near Valley Forge, PA with their cats Wednesday and Natasha.

Join the conversation: For what blessings do you most often thank God? How does remembering to do so affect your attitude?

Tiny Effort, Extra Joy

by Beth Duewel @DuewelBeth

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.   Psalm 34:8 NIV

Last week, a friend and I wandered into a tea-room for lunch. The place had linen and plates and a tiny dish with a baby-sized spoon in the center of our table. Fancy. So, when my order of tea arrived, I lobbed extra tiny-teaspoons of white into my cup with my fancy fingers pointed to the sky.

Um, small detail: It’s good to know what…exactly it is that you’ve extra’d into your tea, or you may have to hand it back to the server explaining, “My tea tastes like the ocean. Sorry.”

With all the extra this day needs—it’s not uncommon to add a little more to everything. Our tea. Our day. Our joy. Sometimes we happily heap on the wrong things in hopes that life will taste just a tiny-bit sweeter when we do. But there is something infinitely healing in the reality—that unlike sugar or salt (label the dishes, please, fancy, people)—there is nothing I can add to the simple joy of Christ. His joy is elaborate. Extra. Enough.

In fact, look for a moment to the instruction God gave Jeremiah:
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have and daughters… Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you to exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:4-7 NIV).

Hold the extra!

Not only were the Israelites told to build their houses, they were encouraged to settle their hearts in as well. To marry and have children, to seek peace, to be content and allow God’s happiness to sustain instead. Even in exile, they could rise above circumstance and confusion and prosper in the uncertain place God placed them—in that plain, hardly ever fancy, space of joy.

But we’re human. We wrestle. We add. We live the stretch and pull of tentative trust. Sometimes we even take the spoon into our own hands. That’s why I couldn’t love what God says later to Jeremiah any more if I tried: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me” (Jeremiah 32:40 NIV).

Focusing on who God is, is the more a wanting heart needs. No matter how much fear and uncertainty this day holds, God’s over and over good will be added to it.

Ultimately, God is always moving us to His more. We can do hard things!

Inviting this entire more into our lives? It can be scary. I’m reminded of just how frightening when I think about the conversation I had with my daughter this past week. Because although Brittany is wading through another flare-up of a challenging illness, she said, “I had three good days this week, Mom!” I heard her voice smile.

Good.

Wonderful.

Extra—ordinary.

Days.

I will never stop doing good to them.

You can try to judge a moment for all that it lacks—but so much more life is lived when you notice all that it doesn’t.

Also, something miraculous happens in my soul when I measure life from the plenty of my less: I see Jesus for the good and gracious of who He is. And who He is demands less effort on my part. Sure, we may expect sweet and get…ocean? But whatever He plans—however it tastes—we can trust that He is working His eternal plan.

As my friend Rhonda Rhea mused: “Oh, how I love that fancy place—and that plain place—of joy. Beautiful, fancy-and-unfancy, unnatural JOY. The kind that happens in the most unexpected places. EXTRA blessing, right there.”

You too will prosper. No EXTRA needed.

Father, You are over and above, enough. Help me trust Your provision more and to stop trying to add extra to YOUR already perfect plan. Lord, help me notice Your abundant, good joy today. Amen. 

TWEETABLE
You can try to judge a moment for all that it lacks—but so much more life is lived when you notice all that it doesn’t – @DuewelBeth on @AriseDailyDevo #Godsmore #ourless #extraeverything (Click to Tweet)

 

beth duewel (2)

About the author: Beth Duewel is a writer, speaker, and blogger at Fix-Her-Upper.com. She has three almost adulting children, and lives with her husband in Ashland, Ohio. Beth and her coauthor, Rhonda Rhea, are super excited about their newfix her upper reclaim your happy space book,  Fix Her Upper: Reclaim Your Happy Space.

 

Join the conversation: Dear friends, what is your extra today? Is it extra worry, extra work, or extra stress? We would love to pray for you. Feel free to private message me via Facebook. Enjoy!

 

For Want of a Better Word—And a Word on a Better Want

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Some people seem to have a way with words. Words, sentences, paragraphs—they all just flow out of them, all polished and pretty. The fact that I don’t despise those people is a testament to how truly spiritual I am. (If you’re not rolling your eyes right here, then you’re obviously even more spiritual than I am. Impressive.)

Most of the time my words have to be coaxed, wheedled and prodded. My muse cops an attitude and is all like, “Not today, suckah.” Then when I finally do get some words down, I still have to edit them up one side and down the other.

Writers of my caliber? We’re the ones who want the words—written or spoken—all perfectly packaged. And we’re constantly stepping back to look at the package, thinking things like, “That package really could’ve used a bigger bow. Maybe a red one. Perhaps an entirely different paper. Also…a different package altogether.” Incidentally, we’re the same people who spend a good minute and a half practicing to get the wording just right in our heads before ordering into the drive-through speaker.

Word-discontent. I have it often. As a matter of fact, I just edited those last few sentences, like, six times. Then still left “word-discontent” in there, pretending it’s grammatically sound. And pretending it’s actually a word.

Discontentment is a tricky rascal. All kinds of discontentment originate in thinking we need something different than we have. Something better. Something in a different package. Something with a red bow. Something more. And at every level of discontentment is that next little niggling thought that we will never be truly happy until we have that something more.

That kind of dissatisfaction always breeds conflict—within ourselves and with other people as well. “What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you?” (James 4:1, HCSB).

Are you warring with dissatisfaction—maybe even warring with others because of it? Want to change that? There’s only one way to stop wanting more. And that is to want a different kind of more. More Jesus.

Wanting more of Jesus than anything else in life—that changes everything. Focusing on Him shines a light on any selfish wants and they’re seen for the empty, unfulfilling distractions they really are.

Wanting more Jesus is a life pursuit. Maybe not so much coaxing, wheedling and prodding, but it is learned, day by day, and it requires our attention. As we give that attention to times of seeking the Lord’s face in prayer, making His Word part of our everyday life and our everyday thinking, letting those connections with Him make us quick to get rid of sin, we find the temporary things of this world less appealing. And we find His love, His truth, His “Him-ness,” so much more desirous than anything else we’ve ever known. (Yes, I just wrote the word, “Him-ness” in there—with nary an eye-roll.)

At that place of praise-filled closeness to Him we’re drawn into worship. It’s impossible to worship in His fullness and still want what we’re not supposed to want. In worship we’re reminded we truly do have everything we need. In Ephesians 1:3, Paul praises the Father who “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing.”

Discontentment? Bye-bye. Because…not today, suckah!

Wait, did I word that wrong?

…I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…  Philippians 3:8 NIV

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For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure – insight from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea 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: In what ways has the Lord filled you with contentment?

Can’t Buy Groceries without Money

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

 I had to make a last-minute flying trip to the grocery store. We were having unexpected, dinner guests from out of town – people we had never met. But that’s another story… I had roughly an hour and a half to shop, get the groceries home and put away, and then make it to the hair appointment I’d scheduled six weeks ago. (Cancelling that appointment was not an option.)

I flew down the aisles in record time, snatching things off shelves without even bringing the cart to a complete stop. I was doing great. I found the shortest line and unloaded all the items onto the little conveyor belt to check out. As the clerk began scanning my things I rummaged in my purse for my wallet. Not there. What? Then I remembered taking it to my desk earlier in the morning to pay for something online. My wallet was at home next to my laptop. No debit card or credit card. Not even my check book.

I relayed this disturbing information to the clerk, while I tried to reach my daughter on her cell. “Do you want me to stop? You can come back later after you get your wallet,” he suggested.

I didn’t have time to come back later. This was literally my only window of time in the day. “No, please finish. I’m trying to reach someone in my family.”

My request must have sounded pitiful. The lady in line behind me offered to pay for my groceries, which totaled 138 dollars and change. My daughter didn’t answer her phone. I seriously considered taking this kind stranger up on her offer. But then I reached my father-in-law who promised to come right away and bail me out.

The clerk called a manager and arranged for my “delay in payment.” I pushed my full cart over to the side and watched out the window for my father-in-law’s car. He arrived within ten minutes, paid my bill, and got me on my way.

Even though the people at the store were very nice about the whole thing, there was no way they would let me have groceries without money. In the car on the way home, God brought a Scripture passage came to mind.

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.   Isaiah 55:1-2 NIV

The food I eventually bought at the grocery store filled our bellies, but we would get hungry again. Like many other things we pursue to fill our lives, it could not satisfy us completely or permanently. Many of us spend our time and money acquiring things, success, and relationships that at best bring temporary satisfaction. God offers us full and eternal, soul-deep satisfaction through a relationship with His Son. And it doesn’t cost us anything!

Why do we spend money on what does not satisfy? Come to Christ and let Him satisfy your very soul with the richest of fare. What are you “buying” today that still leaves you empty?

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Can’t Buy Groceries without Money – @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Kathy Howard encourages women to live an unshakable faith for life by standing firm on our rock-solid God no matter life’s circumstances. The author of 8 books and a former “cultural Christian,” Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. Kathy and her husband have 3 married children and 4 grandsons. Find out more and get free discipleship tools and leader helps at her website: www.kathyhoward.org.

Join the conversation: What do you need to bring to Him today?