Seeking Refuge

by Doris Hoover

God is our ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 NIV

Hurricanes impact entire communities. Tornadoes, on the other hand, target individuals. They spin down a street, obliterating one house here and one house there while leaving others untouched.

On September 1, 2021, Hurricane Ida blustered up the east coast, launching a tornado at residents of a small New Jersey community. It ravaged individual homes three miles from my daughter’s house. She sent photos of houses ripped apart. Although my heart went out to the tornado victims, I praised God for my daughter’s safety. Indiscriminate destruction!

A week prior to Ida, our entire country felt the hurricane-like impact of world events, but individual families in Afghanistan suffered the tornado-like devastation of a suicide bomber who stood near their children. Indiscriminate violence!

In the aftermath of nature’s storms, people generally resume their normal activities unless they receive a direct hit. Then they stand shell-shocked in front of splinters that used to be a house. Meanwhile, they take shelter in homes of friends and family or in motels. Insurance companies provide financial aid so the victims can rebuild. Gradually, families replace the material possessions that had been torn from them.

In the aftermath of the political storm caused by the military withdraw from Afghanistan, most of us returned to our normal lives, even though our hearts were heavy. But those who lost loved ones, collapsed in shock, unable to stand. How do they go on? Where does one find shelter when a loved one is torn from them?

 “God is our ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 NIV). If the earth around us gives way, God is our help. When mountains crumble into the sea, God is our help. In the midst of roaring, foaming waters, God is our help.

The devastating circumstances we encounter in life leave us reeling, frightened, hopeless. Yet smack in the middle of our ruins is a place of refuge for broken, hurting people. A quiet voice calls to us. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

The Lord invites us to curl up beneath His wings and take refuge in His strength. No matter what storms spiral around us, He stands immovable, unbreakable. In the shelter of the Most High, we can retreat from turmoil, even if just momentarily. Our trial may not cease, but its effects cease when we burrow our heads in God’s neck and hear Him whisper over us, “Be still.”

The Lord is a refuge for hurting people. He holds us in His arms for as long as we’ll stay. There’s no time limit, no expiration date on God’s comfort. He never moves away from us: We can cling to Him until we’re ready to let go.

Are you in need of refuge? Call out to the Lord. He will never fail you. God will work in your brokenness. He’ll pour healing balm over your deepest pain. The Lord is an ever-present shelter in all of life’s storms.

“I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” (Psalm 61:4 NIV)

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

About the author: If you’re looking for Doris Hoover, she’ll be somewhere between the Sunshine State of Florida and Sunrise County, Maine. Most likely, you’ll find her outside collecting ideas for her writing. Her love of God and nature inspire the devotions she writes. Doris is a mother of three and a grandmother of five. She and her husband Tim enjoy traveling to visit their family. Doris has won awards for her devotions. In addition to being published in The Upper Room, CBN.com, Arise Daily e-devotionals, and InkspirationsOnline.com, Doris is also a contributor to many compilations such as Arise to Peace, Short and Sweet, Light for the Writer’s Soul, and more. Her first book is Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional. You can visit her website and blog at ANatureMoment.com.

Join the conversation: Have you recently encountered a storm?

Another Meal?

by Doris Hoover

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?  Matthew 24:45 NIV

“Ooo ooo, me!” I could squeal, raising my hands and flailing my arms in response to the above question. But I would really only be able to respond to the second part of Jesus’ question. I am the one in charge of feeding my household. But am I a wise and faithful servant? If I am honest, I often act more like a disgruntled employee, resenting my endless chore of preparing food for others.

I’ve been preparing food for my household for forty-nine years. I have planned and prepared three meals a day along with snacks and desserts. For forty-nine years. Haven’t I earned the right to be bored and weary of the task? Uh, no-o.

My attitude needs adjusting. Each family develops its own pattern of running their household. My husband and I grew up in the 50’s when gender roles were clearly defined. June Cleaver cooked and cleaned, while Ward Cleaver went to work. We followed suit with how we conducted our household. It made sense for us, as I cook way better than my husband does, and he does other chores way better than I could.

I must credit my husband for fixing his own breakfast and lunch, and we go out to eat sometimes. My complaint is that meal prep is a never-ending task. People eat regularly. It’s a big responsibility to make sure others are fed every day. Even Martha complained to Jesus that Mary wasn’t helping her in the kitchen. And Martha liked to serve!

The resolution to my quandary comes in the next verse of Matthew 24: “It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns” (Matthew 24:46 NIV). We all have assigned tasks within our family circles. Many of them are tedious, tiring, and endless, but they are our responsibilities. So how can we keep ourselves from getting discouraged? I have several ideas.

  • Remember all our service is ultimately for Jesus.
  • Look at the blessings associated with the task.
  • Realize we’re being wise and faithful servants by performing the task.

Paul wrote: “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 NASB). When we view our responsibilities as God-given opportunities to bring glory to Him, we can be purposeful even in the tedious. Paul wrote the Colossians: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24 NASB).

May we remain faithful to what He has given us to do. And at His return, may we hear with glad hearts, “Well done, faithful and wise servant.” We can make even the hopelessly mundane tasks count for eternity.

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

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41DNkvteFwL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: What responsibilities do you have that have bored you to tears?

The Rule of Double Negatives

by Doris Hoover

Don’t use no double negatives. That was a saying we had in elementary school to emphasize a grammar rule. When two negatives are used in a sentence, they indicate the opposite—a positive. So, the actual meaning of the example sentence instructs us to use double negatives.

The same rule occurs in mathematics, but as many times as I tried to make sense of it, my math-impeded brain couldn’t understand the examples. But whether you understand things mathematically or with words, the rule is accurate.

Not surprisingly, God incorporates the rule of double negatives in the spiritual realm. He cancels out a negative with a negative to create a positive. The sin we commit is cancelled out by the sin Jesus bore on the cross, so we can become sinless. Logically, it defies common sense. Just as I have trouble understanding things in mathematical terms, God’s double negative rule makes no sense to a fleshly mind. It is spiritually discerned.

When in our flesh, and we are confronted with the guilt of our sin, we frantically search for spiritual hope. The day the Lord opened my eyes to see the immensity of my sin, boy, did I hold onto the rule of double negatives. I desperately needed my sin cancelled out. I needed the gift of Jesus bearing my sins on the cross to make me sinless before God.

That’s not the only time I needed the rule of double negatives. As a Christian, I continue to stumble into sinful actions, thoughts, attitudes and choices. They cause me to build up guilt.

Guilt is the enemy’s delight. With it, he torments us. But God reminds us in Romans 8:1 there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The One who cancels negatives with negatives makes a way for us. He gives us the guilt-freeing gift of confession. Even though we may act according to the ways of our flesh, we don’t have to carry the guilt of those actions. The sins we commit daily in our flesh have been cancelled by the gift of salvation; yet God gives us a way to clear them from our minds and release the guilt that torments us. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV)

We can be certain that our blood in the flesh that brings us death was cancelled by the blood Jesus shed, so that through His blood we have eternal life. That’s a given. But God also provides a positive for those negative feelings of guilt. Jesus invites us to share our guilt with Him so He can deal with it and give us a clear conscience. Our negative actions which produce negative feelings of guilt are cancelled by the positive action of remembering we’re loved by the God of mercy, grace, and compassion.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-22 NIV

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

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41DNkvteFwL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: How does God’s unrelenting grace impact your life?

The Arm of the Lord

by Doris Hoover

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  Isaiah 53:1 NIV

I slipped on a wet rock, falling forward with my baby daughter in my arms. I knew I was going down and would get banged up in the fall, but I would not let her get hurt. I cupped her head with my hand and protected her back with my bent arm. The slam, though excruciating, was of secondary concern. My first reaction was to look at my baby’s head. My arm and hand had kept her safe.

Today, that same daughter has a toddler. For his birthday, he got a little trike that can be pushed like a stroller. He pedals down the street with a huge smile on his face, thinking it’s all him. He’s oblivious to the fact that his mother’s arms are helping to push him.

The arms of mothers and fathers are powerful appendages used for good. With them they soothe, help, discipline, and willingly suffer pain to protect and provide for their children.

Similarly, yet with extraordinary means, God’s arm is used for good in our lives. It’s the means by which the Lord accomplishes His purposes. The arm of the Lord protects, delivers, and saves His children. On the cross, it was even laid bare and bruised, absorbing the pain and shame and suffering that we deserved.

Our Scripture reference asks two questions: Who has believed the message and to whom has God’s arm been revealed? It seems one follows the other—revelation follows belief.

When a friend set off for a weekend retreat, she had barely made it out of her neighborhood when car trouble caused her to return home. The mechanic later told her it was lucky she turned back because the problem could have resulted in a serious accident. She viewed the incident as a revelation of God’s arm of protection. You see, she believed the message that God is able and that she matters to Him. Another person may have simply viewed the incident as good luck. The Lord’s arm is revealed to those who recognize it and honor it.

Just as a mother’s arms are used to bless her children, the Lord’s arms are actively blessing us. We are His children. If we’re not aware of God’s arm working in our lives, maybe we’re pedaling along like an oblivious toddler, thinking it’s all us. Or maybe we’re not believing the message that God is able, and we matter to Him.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV  

Father, open our eyes to always see the evidence of You acting for good in our circumstances. May our hearts rejoice when You reveal to us the power of Your mighty arm.

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

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41DNkvteFwL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: What evidence of the Father’s arms have you seen lately?

A New Name

by Doris Hoover

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1 NIV

I have a surname which I received from my father and a married name which I received from my husband. But my best name is the one I got when I was adopted by the Lord, who officially declared me “a child of God”.

My daughter and her husband adopted a precious little boy. Removed from a life of neglect and dysfunction, he was placed into their loving home. On his official day of adoption, he was given a new name which identified him as belonging to my daughter’s family. His new name affords him all the benefits that come with his new standing. He has his very own bedroom in his very own house. His adoptive parents lavish love upon him. They shower him with material, emotional and spiritual blessings. He went from a chaotic uncertain home to a home that offers stability, safety, nurturing, and love.

Before we’re adopted by the Lord, we suffer from neglect because the world only offers empty promises that never satisfy our deepest needs. Dysfunction is the norm, and our future is uncertain. Our souls are starved for spiritual nourishment.

God sees our deprivation. His heart opens to us, and we’re invited to become part of His family. Jesus is the means through which we’re officially adopted. From that moment on, we have a new standing with all the benefits it affords. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:16-17 NIV).

Oh, how blessed we are to have a new name and a new standing! But do we live in their power?  In John 17:13, Jesus promises us the full measure of His joy. Paul assures us in Ephesians 3:20 that our Father can do immeasurably more than we can even imagine or ask because His power is at work within us.

Too often, I forget about the benefits of being in God’s family. I imagine you may as well. This forgetfulness shows up as worry or complaining, as fearfulness, or as a lack joy. If those emotions fill our days, we’ve definitely forgotten that we’re part of the most powerful family in the universe. In fact, the Father of our family created the universe.

Let’s live up to our new name by turning away from our old worldly attitudes. Let’s remember who we are and claim our heritage. Then we can live in the power of the blessings God bestows upon each one of His children. Because that is what we are!

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

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41DNkvteFwL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: What benefits of being in God’s family do you appreciate the most?

Better Than Gold

by Doris Hoover

The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.                                                                                                    Psalm 19:9-11 NIV

I love fine jewelry. Its sparkle and shine attract my eye. My husband likes to tease me that I’m drawn like a moth to light to jewelry stores, even though I mostly just browse. Something about the beauty of polished gold stirs my spirit.

Today’s Bible verses compare God’s Word to pure gold. The black and white words we read in the Bible are righteous precepts to guide us through life. They are majestic, stunning, and alluring words, because they originated in the mind of God. Opening the Bible and reading it is like opening the door to a jewelry store where a light shines on pure polished pieces of gold displayed on black velvet.

When the Lord gave the Law to Israel, the presentation reflected the value of what they were receiving. Moses was to meet God Himself atop Mount Sinai. Three days prior to the meeting, the people purified themselves. Boundaries were established at the foot of the mountain with a warning that anyone crossing them would be put to death.

On the day of the meeting, thunder rumbled and lightning flashed as a dense cloud covered the mountain. With a trumpet blast, Moses led the people to the base of the mountain while he climbed to the top. The people trembled as the Lord descended on it in fire.

When Moses came down from the mountain and told the people all the Lord’s words, they responded unanimously, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” (Exodus 24:3)

Jesus so revered God’s Word that He used the words verbatim when He responded to Satan’s temptations in the wilderness, “It is written…” (Matthew 4:4 NIV) And Paul tells us, “For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

The Lord has given us a book that is so pure and valuable, nothing on earth compares to its worth. In it we read about the creation of everything, our origin, and God’s amazing plan to redeem us from sin and bring us into His eternal presence.

Before I was a Christian, I didn’t know much of what the Bible said. I had access to the book, but I never knew its value. As a new Christian, I dove into God’s word with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. But it was during my most difficult trials that I truly discovered the preciousness of what was written. During those times, I didn’t just read my Bible, I opened it and climbed into the arms of Jesus while He soothed me with the sweet balm of the Word. I made my bed in the book of Psalms where the Lord fed me a substance that was sweeter than honey. I was drawn to the hope, peace and comfort of God’s word like a moth is drawn to a light.

I still love the beauty of pure gold, but the most precious treasure I own is made of black ink and paper. The Bible is a treasure available to each one of us. If we read it and meditate on it, we’ll discover its immeasurable worth.

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Better Than Gold – thoughts on how much God loves us from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris HooverAbout the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: How has the Word of God impacted you?

A New Song

by Doris Hoover

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”                                                                                                                                            John 8:11 NIV

Birds serenade from the treetops, singing joyful songs that make me smile. Each melody floats over me with happy notes. As I sit on the porch enjoying nature’s concert, I imagine God smiling also, delighting in His creation.

The birds cause me to wonder about my own melodies. What kind of music have I composed over the years? Have my life-songs brought a smile to God’s face?

The Lord definitely didn’t delight in many of my compositions—my music has often been filled with many discordant notes. Even so, He didn’t give up on me. He let me play out my song the way I chose to write it.

At one time, pure innocent notes flowed from my heart. But as sin crowded in, my life became totally out of tune. Then, when my song was nothing more than objectionable noise, I cried out with remorse. Jesus pulled me into Himself and kissed my head. He forgave my off-key choices and gave me a chance to rewrite my song. Then He promised that together we would create a beautiful duet.

Jesus gave me a chance to write a new song with my life.

Jesus gave that same chance to a woman one day in the temple. A mob of outraged men dragged her before Jesus and accused her of committing adultery. “In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?” (John 8:5 NIV). John tells us they were using the scorned woman as a way to trap Jesus so they could accuse Him of not upholding the Law.

As the crowd jeered, ready to throw stones, Jesus knelt down and wrote in the sand. The men demanded He address the situation, so Jesus stood up and said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7 NIV). Then He stooped back down, giving the crowd time to think about their motives and reflect upon their own lives.

One by one, the accusers dropped their stones and left. Jesus looked up at the woman, not with disgust or condemnation, but with a question. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:9-11 NIV).

In other words, go write a new song with your life.

I know exactly how that woman felt because I, too, was drenched with grace and enveloped in the soft cotton of God’s mercy. Covered with the balm of forgiveness, my soul sang out the only words possible: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

When we stand before Jesus with all of our shame exposed, He wraps us with a clean white sheet. Gently, He lifts our chin with the crook of His finger. As we look into His eyes, we don’t see disgust; we see eyes overflowing with immeasurable love.

Jesus offers gives each of us a chance to compose a new song that resounds with notes of mercy and grace. He will help us to write a new life-song that will make God smile.

O Lord, we’re undeserving of your grace; yet we’re desperate for it. Help us change our discordant lives into beautiful melodies that float up to you.

TWEETABLE
A New Song – encouragement from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: What new song has God written on your heart?

Exploring New Territory

by Doris Hoover

They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is the fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.” (Numbers 13:27-28 NIV)

When my husband and I were making a decision about where to retire, we discussed exploring options in a new state. Having both grown up in New Jersey, we had deep roots there. Our three children were married and settled there. Many of our friends and relatives lived locally. Our house of thirty-four years held a lifetime of memories. There was a strong pull to stay put, but we felt a stronger pull to venture into a new place. We struggled with conflicting emotions as we tried to make our decision.

The nation of Israel also had conflicting emotions about entering their promised homeland. Even though they had traveled many months through the wilderness to arrive at their destination, they were unsure about stepping into a new place. So Moses sent men out to scout the land.

At the end of forty days, the twelve scouts returned to report their findings. Two men recommended taking the land. The other scouts agreed the land was abundant with produce, but they were afraid of the powerful inhabitants. God’s promise of a blessed homeland was within reach! They need only step forward to receive it. Instead, the people clung to the word but. Instead of entering a rich land, that generation was sentenced to wander its borders and never partake of the goodness God had planned for them (Numbers 13-14).

How often do we miss out on wonderful opportunities because we cling to our fears and doubts? We see the potential for something new or better, then we say but. By refusing to take hold of the new land, Israel missed out on God’s wonderful plan for their lives.

Even though my husband and I saw the potential for an exciting retirement, it meant leaving the comfort of a familiar place and entering unknown territory. When we finally made the decision to move, some people questioned our choice. We had to be bold to follow through with our plans.

In our new community we’ve developed some wonderful friendships. We’re pursuing dreams and activities that weren’t possible in our previous home. And we’ve discovered creative ways to keep our ties to New Jersey.

An important blessing for me is the opportunity to grow my writing skills. The Lord has provided time, people, and experiences to help me advance in this arena; yet each time a door opens, I face a decision. I can stay where I feel safe and comfortable, or I can take a risk to venture into new territory. Sometimes I only hear the word but, and my fears win; however, when I trust God’s leading, exciting opportunities arise.

Maybe the Lord has stirred your heart to stretch beyond your comfort zone. It may be a decision about where to live. Maybe you sense a nudge to undertake a new venture. You have the choice to explore a new land, or remain where you feel comfortable.

If we ignore the Lord’s leading, we’ll have regrets. We’ll always wonder what could have been. Blessings come when we grab hold of the opportunities the Lord places before us, opportunities to taste the milk and honey of God’s plans for our lives.

 O Lord, give us courage to step into the new territory you place before us.

TWEETABLE
Exploring New Territory – insight from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been rewarded by stepping outside your comfort zone?

Are You a Butterfly or a Slug?

by Doris Hoover

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.                                                                                                                                                    Matthew 6:34 NIV

 A Monarch butterfly flitted from one flower to another. Then it lifted on the breeze and fluttered through the garden, light and carefree. Enchanted by its graceful movement, I got lost in its happy world. The tiny creature seemed to be dancing on air currents, free from any kind of worry.

I wished I could feel as weightless as that fluttering beauty, but a family situation weighed heavily upon my shoulders. I felt more like a slug than a butterfly. I was creeping beneath a load of concerns. Even though I knew the Bible instructs me to cast my cares on the Lord, I was so consumed with my burden, neglecting to look up to see Jesus offering to help me.

Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25 NIV ). He directed his disciples’ focus onto the birds. They never plant seed or harvest crops, yet they have food to eat. God faithfully provides what they need. Each day they wake up singing delightful melodies, content in where God has them. In fact, they seem as happy and unburdened as butterflies.

Certainly, you and I carry legitimate burdens. Some issues, like health problems or the loss of a loved one, are so intense we can feel overwhelmed with distress. Life can be a challenge, but the Lord doesn’t want us weighed down with worry, crawling about like a slug. He doesn’t want us obsessively mulling over our problems, analyzing them from every angle, fearing the worst that could happen.

The Lord asks us to look at Him instead of our grim scenarios. The future is not for us to control. The only one who has that kind of power is the One who holds the future. He wants us to hand Him our heavy hearts. He can bear the weight that crushes us. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

So how can we take hold of the rest Jesus offers? Through prayer. By giving our burdens to Him as we sit in His presence. Prayer is a divine passageway that brings our worries into God’s realm in exchange for peace for our troubled hearts. And as we do, choosing to trust Him with every concern, the Holy Spirit fills us with a sense of wellbeing. We feel lighter knowing we don’t bear our troubles alone. The One who has power over our circumstances is sharing the load.

As I watched the Monarch butterfly flit among the flowers and listened to the birds sing that day in the garden, I thought about the power of prayer. Closing my eyes, I asked the Lord to take care of the issues that weighed me down. I leaned into His strength. My shoulder and neck tension relaxed and I could feel my spirit rising above my burden. I was no longer a slug. As I released my worries to the Lord, I felt as light and carefree as a butterfly dancing on the breeze.

TWEETABLE
Are You a Butterfly or a Slug? insight from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris HooverAbout the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: Is something weighing you down today? How can we pray for you?

Continual Change

by Doris Hoover

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.                                                                                                                           1 John 3:2 NIV

I love to watch clouds. As air currents glide through them, cottony wisps morph into dream pictures. Mountains change into oceans which transform into deserts with horses galloping across them. Continuously clustering and stretching, the clouds form new pictures by the minute.

Clouds remind me that I’m also in a process of change. God has a perfect design for me. It evolves in increments. As the Holy Spirit glides through my spirit, causing subtle transformations in my attitude, values and priorities, I begin to morph into a different person. I may not know what I will become, but the Lord has a vision for me. He has a vision for each one of us. Little by little, He reshapes us to conform to His beautiful design.

Change has been a constant since the beginning of creation. The Lord began with a dark void which He transformed into light, sky, water, and land. His vision evolved until the world was complete. Then the Lord admired His masterpiece. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 NIV).

The Heavenly Father works a master plan in us, too. Like chalk blown across a sketchpad, the Lord breathes across our lives, gradually moving us toward His vision. As we yield to the Spirit’s influence, we’re transformed.

David asked the Lord to make changes in him. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV). By asking God to change his heart and attitude, David became as malleable as a cloud in the wind.

Circumstances are also in the process of change. They’re not permanent, even though, at times, it seems that way. We may wonder how long we have to endure the responsibility, the stress, the hurt, or even the mundane drudgery of each day. But our situations aren’t static. God works in them as powerfully as He works in us. Our “lot” in life isn’t permanent. We may think we’re stuck in a situation that will never improve; however, the Lord moves through our circumstances in imperceptible ways, making alterations according to His perfect plan. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

When I read through my journal entries, I see the cloud pictures of my life. The unfolding of my story amazes me. Through the Lord’s intervention, situations which seemed hopeless became victories.

Invisibly, the Lord moves through our circumstances and our hearts as He creates His masterpiece. We usually don’t notice the revisions until we look back over the years. Each breath of divine air moves the filaments of our lives closer to a heavenly design. Even when we smudge our pictures, the Lord is able to blow over the chalk to turn our smudges into something good. Such modifications take a lifetime, but the Lord works in us until His work is finished. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

We may not know what we will become or how our circumstances will evolve, but each day the clouds remind us that changes are happening. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).

TWEETABLE
Continual Change – thoughts on walking with God from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris HooverAbout the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: Looking back over the years, can you see the progress God has accomplished in you? Please share a before-and-after example!