Birthdays Matter

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16 ESV  

August is my birth month.

My birthday was my day.  A special day set aside just for me. But something changed on my 45th birthday.  

We lived in New Hampshire.  My husband was out of work, money was tight.  My husband was sad because he could not get me a birthday present. We rarely exchange gifts anyway. I had a long talk with God about this whole gift giving idea. A person should never feel pressured to give a gift.

I continued my conversation with my Abba as I drove to the grocery store. 

While in line, I noticed the woman in front of me as she fumbled through her purse. She did not have enough money and looked embarrassed. I’ve been in that same situation and I usually put items back.

“Here, take this.” 

I handed a ten-dollar bill to the young man at the cash register. It was the rest of our food budget after I purchased the items in my cart. “No! I can just put the ice cream back.” the woman said without making eye contact.

“Not the ice cream, it’s my birthday today, the best present I could get is to buy ice cream for someone else.”  The words came out before I could stop them.

“Happy Birthday!”  The young man at the register and the woman said in unison.

“Thank you!  Now, you would not want to deny me this present on my birthday, would you?”

I loved the confused looks on both of their faces as the woman walked away, with her groceries, including the ice cream. I purchased my groceries and headed home. Joy filled my heart and I thanked God for the wonderful birthday gift.

I shared the story with my husband and son. “From now on I am going to give on my birthday.  The gift I get in return is far more precious than anything money can buy!”

I rarely tell anyone I do this. I am not trying to promote myself or get an “atta girl”.But, how can I keep such a wonderful blessing from you?

I want to challenge you to give on your birthday.

“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35 ESV).

The best part—don’t tell anyone you are doing it.  What an amazing secret between you and God. I know many of you already give to the poor and needy.  God sees that.  Will you go one step further? Will you join me and give on a day people least expect? All the Glory goes to God!

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

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer and speaker. As a certified Christian Life Coach Minister, and Ordained Minister, she aims to share the love of Christ wherever God leads. Cherrilynn is a speaker with Women Speakers. She contributes to the Blue Ridge Writers blog, is published in four compilations books, and her book Shine Don’t Whine released in 2020. Cherrilynn served in the military for twenty years, earning the John Levitow Military leadership award. She lives with her 19-year-old son Michael, Jr., and her husband of 22 years, Michael. She fondly calls them her M&M’s.

Join the conversation: How do you celebrate your special day?

Obedience Brings Joy

by Susan U. Neal @SusanNealYoga

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:10–11 (NIV)

I had read the above verse many times, but this time I realized Jesus was teaching that obedience to God’s commands brings us joy—His joy. In 1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV) Samuel explained, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice.” God takes pleasure in our obedience. So when I am obedient to God, he is pleased. And you know what? That makes me joyful.

When it’s spelled out in God’s Word, there is little to question. But when God nudges in a small, quiet voice, submitting can be more of a challenge.

Unfortunately, obedience often goes against our natural inclinations. Most people have an area of resistance to God. For me, my lack of submission concerned tithing. I wanted to obey God, but I was afraid that if I gave Him a larger part of my income, I would not have enough money for the future.

I let my fear become bigger than God. The God of the future.

So I told God my fear. And the more I prayed, the more my fear decreased. At first, we did not give a full 10%, which was what we felt God would want us to give. But as time went on, we eventually jumped into the deep and began to tithe fully. What Jesus said to his disciples in John 15: 10 was that when we are obedient, we can rest (remain) in His love. (The Greek lexicon defines “remaining” as an inward, enduring personal communion.) I found this to be true: eventually I stopped fretting, finally able to trust that God would provide for our needs. And He did.

Tithing is no longer a struggle for me. Instead, I actually find joy in writing checks for the church, a Christian camp scholarship, or sending support for our Compassion child.

In fact, our family chose to sponsor a child while we were on a mission trip in Ecuador. My daughter fell in love with a five-year-old girl named Laurita (little Laura). They were hand-in-hand on the playground all week. The pastor at the VBS site told us, “Laurita is the only girl at our church that does not have a Compassion sponsor.” My heart longed to take care of this little girl like I do my own children. I felt God’s calling to sponsor her. But an uncertain future made me wonder: would we have enough money to support her on a monthly basis for over a decade? Our family discussed the sponsorship together. We were tithing at 10% now and still could meet all our financial needs, so we chose to take a leap of faith once again.

Even when I was afraid to obey God, I discovered that when I did obey, I found something so much more precious than money—it was a joy that is complete. It seemed strange that obedience and joy were so connected. I also found that having a willing heart enabled me to hear His call on me more clearly. My heart was full.  I felt His joy keenly—just like the verse indicates: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you.”

It has been nine years since we sponsored Laurita. Our family members take turns writing to her. I joyfully look forward to reading her letters. The day I read, “I pray for your family every night,” a tear dripped down my cheek. Oh, what joy!

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Obedience Brings Joy – insight from @SusanNealYoga on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Susan Neal HeadshotAbout the author: Susan Neal RN, MBA, MHS, lives her life with a passion to help others improve their health so they can serve God better. She is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach, and her mission is to improve the health of the body of Christ. She is the author of six healthy living booksYou can find her on SusanUNeal.com.

Susan’s best-seller, 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates, a Selah award winner, sold over 5000 copies in its first thirteen months. Over half of Americans live with a chronic illness, primarily due to the overconsumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates. This book provides a day-by-day plan to wean your body off of these addictive products and regain your health.

Join the conversation: Is there an area in your life in which you struggle to obey?