Packing for the Journey

by Virginia Grounds

And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money, and do not have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.”  Luke 9:3 NKJV (emphasis added)

Summertime – my favorite time of year. It is a time for break from the everyday routine. For many, it is a time for vacation, fun, relaxation, and family gatherings.

Summertime is also a time of church mission trips and conferences. Packing for a mission trip can be a challenge, as there are normally limits on how much luggage you can take. How to squeeze a change of clothes for each day into one small bag is an interesting experience. And we cannot forget about all the incidentals including mission gifts.

Several years ago, I went on mission to El Salvador. The message God gave me to the women there was about the rock of our salvation, Jesus Christ. I had this great idea to take some polished rocks and markers for each woman to write the scripture reference on that most spoke to them through the message. When we arrived at the airport, my luggage was overweight. I had to open it right there at the check-in counter with the eleven other women around me and distribute bags of rocks to each one. How embarrassing! From this experience I learned an important lesson. What we take is not important; the message and the mission is our purpose.

When Jesus sent His twelve disciples out on mission, His instruction for their travel was quite different than what we are inclined to do as we prepare to travel. He told them to “take nothing for the journey”, not even a change of clothing! They were not to take a suitcase, food, or money. Can you even imagine leaving on a mission trip with only the clothes you are wearing?

No purse full of stuff, ladies. No briefcase of work to do as you travel, or technology. No snacks. No cellphone. Nothing.

As I read the Scripture, I thought perhaps the journey was a short one, and they would not need provision. However, the words of Jesus dispute that claim by showing their need for housing. Therefore, I believe the message Jesus is teaching them is to trust God to provide as they carry out the mission for which they are sent. A change of clothes for everyday is not to be the focus. Worrying about food and housing was not to be the focus. Their mission was to preach the kingdom of God for salvation to all who would hear. Jesus would inspire others to house and feed them. The disciples were to be dependent on God to provide.

The Lord, who knows all things, sent them out knowing that provisions would be made for them, as they obeyed what was asked of them. He had given them the power to do so. When Jesus empowers and we respond, He provides. That is a trust building truth you can count on.

When it seems the provisions in your life journey are not what you wanted or hoped they would be, Jesus provides what is needed. He tells us in Matthew 6:31-33 (NKJV) not to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear. Just take care of today for tomorrow will worry about its own things.

He applied this same message to sending the disciples on mission, and it applies to our lives as well. Focus on the moment. Don’t worry about what will take place there, just do what we are sent to do. Trust God to provide.

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

About the author: Virginia Grounds is a speaker, author, Bible Teacher, former radio host, and effective communicator. Her love for women’s ministry and passion for God’s Word have been an important part of serving for more than 30 years in ministry in one of the largest churches in America. Virginia served with her husband in full-time ministry

Rock Solid Trust: Trusting God When Life Is Hard by [Virginia Grounds]

helping to meet the needs of hurting people. This motivated her to write her first book, Facing Fears, Quenching Flames, a devotional book for overcoming fear and anger.

Virginia writes to grow women in their faith and teach life lessons for survival in today’s world. She is married with three adult children and grandchildren. Her ministry website is majesticinspirations.com.

Join the conversation: What do you prioritize when preparing for a trip?

Holding On or Letting Go

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways obey him. Then he will make your paths smooth and straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIRV.

I sat in the church parking lot with a tithe envelope in one hand and my check book in the other. The finance office was about to close. Tomorrow heralded a new year. My head and heart were at war—should I write a check for the amount necessary to complete our tithe for the year, wiping out checking account in the process?

I closed my eyes. Father, I’m sorry we’ve been unfaithful. We’ve let other things take priority.

My mind drifted to unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses, car repairs, college tuition, an expensive vacation, and purchased items we didn’t really need. Invariably, the tithe check was written last. Overwhelmed by an honest evaluation, my tears flowed.

Trust me, whispered God.

I took a pen from my purse and wrote a check for the full balance of our checking account, sealed the envelope, opened the car door against the whipping wind, and made my way across the parking lot and into the church. Although I knew I was doing the right thing, nagging doubts plagued me. How would we function until our next check arrived?

Pulling in the driveway at home, I got out and opened the mailbox. As I sifted through the mail, a return address caught my attention—my publisher. I jumped back into the warm car and ripped the envelope open. Inside was a royalty check that was almost enough to cover our expenses until the next pay check. Thank you, God!

Further down in the stack was a package. Enclosed were two books in which I contributed stories almost three years before. I’d given up on ever receiving copies.

Once inside, I threw away the remnants of the package along with junk mail. But every time I walked by the trashcan, I felt uneasy. The feeling persisted. Finally, I fished the package out and looked inside. A folded piece of paper was wedged in a bottom corner. I took it out and gasped. It was a check for $200. Laughter spilled out of my mouth. Father, not only do you provide, but with such creativity. How could I ever have doubted you?

 Sometimes, it isn’t easy to let go and follow God’s directives, especially if they seem impractical or don’t make sense to us. When God told Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus and stay there until it was safe to return, Joseph immediately obeyed. He didn’t wait until morning. Matthew 2:14 says that Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left for Egypt that night. Joseph’s unquestioning obedience saved Jesus’ life.

 Human nature inclines us to hold on, tightfisted, to things within our grasp, delaying our immediate steps of obedience, fearing what lies ahead. Faith whispers, trust God and let go.

He knows what He is doing. We can trust Him to be faithful. As Paul wrote in gratitude to the Philippians’ sacrificial gift to him, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NASB).

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Holding On or Letting Go – insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailydevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: How has God provided for you in a time when you were out of resources?

 

Manna Mania

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Have you ever wondered if the Israelites ever tried to get clever with their manna? God provided them with all that miraculous food each day to keep them alive. But I do remember reading that they got a little whiny about eating the same thing day in and day out. I can picture them moaning, “Oh, the hu-manna-ty”—even though the manna must’ve been pretty sweet and tasty. Exodus 16:31 says “it tasted like honey wafers” (NLT). Add a drizzle of chocolate and it sounds perfect to me.

I wonder if they ever tried to get creative. Maybe they tried new recipes. Mannawiches, maybe?

What if they got even more clever and made it into a loaf, then added berries? Wouldn’t that make “Berry Manna-loaf”?

Would eating too much of it cause them to sing mellow songs and consider music and passion always the fashion? Perhaps they could’ve kept the showman theme, added different fruits to make other tasty treats. You know, like “Copacabana-banana-manna.” Could’ve happened, couldn’t it?

Or maybe they were just too busy whining to get creative. I would make fun of them for it, but I’m afraid there are too many times I ask God to provide and then take it for granted when he does. Or worse, I complain about the way he does it. How embarrassing to still be so quick to be full of myself instead of being full of him.

I’m so thankful our God is a God of mercy. He demonstrated it again and again with the whining Israelites. Psalm 78: tells us, “They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, ‘Can God spread a table in the desert?’ Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved. In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities.” (verses 18-19, 23-25, 30, 32, 38a, NIV).

His mercy still shows up in our every whiny inadequacy today. Even after I’ve been too shallow and full of self to recognize him and thank him, he graciously shows me mercy. And he’s faithful to continue to remind me to recognize him and to thank him and to crave his presence more than anything else. What a mighty, merciful, loving God we serve!

I think my lunchtime prayer might be a little different today. It’s very likely to be fuller than usual of thanks and praise to the merciful God who provides. And I want to crave him more than I crave lunch.

Speaking of lunch cravings, does banana bread sound especially good to you right now too?

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 3:22-23 NIV

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Manna Mania: Remembering to Be Thankful – @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: For what are you most grateful to the Lord today?