When You Don’t Know When . . .

by Afton Rorvik

Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called place Marah (which meant “bitter”). Then the people complained and turned against Moses, “What are we going to drink?” they demanded.  Exodus 15:22-23 NLT

First they had too much water, and then they didn’t have enough.

The people of Israel had just watched God part the mighty waters of the Red Sea so they could walk through them to safety from their Egyptian pursuers. Then they had witnessed God calling the waters of the sea to regather and crash down around the Egyptians, obliterating them.

They danced and celebrated and praised the Lord.

Then three days later, they got thirsty and started whining. Did they forget that God had just parted the Red Sea for them? Did they forget that God had just rescued them from many years of Egyptian oppression? Did they get so focused on their own immediate needs that they forgot to remember God’s past provisions?

Yes, yes, and yes.

And oh, I understand. After a year of so many uncertainties, I just want some certainty. I want to know when this Covid virus will release its grip on us. I want to know when schools will reopen. I want to know when I can once again have neighbors gather around my dining room table. I want answers. I want to know when.

Like the people of Israel, I can all too easily complain about what I need and want today and not remember to thank God for the many times He showed up for me in the past in His perfectly orchestrated timing.

I forget the way He helped me find a job just weeks after my previous job ended. I forget the way He helped orchestrate the arrival of a book contract the month the pandemic began, providing me a distracting project while quarantined at home.

Lord, help me to remember!

As I read about the people of Israel, I notice how God graciously continued to remind them of His care:

Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai. After breaking camp at Rephidim, they set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai.

Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:1-4 NLT).

Oh, Lord, remind me that You see and you care, that You carry me on eagles’ wings too. Help me to trust Your timing. Forgive me for whining while I wait. Help me to live grateful.

About the author: Afton Rorvik writes about living connected, something that matters deeply to her even as an introvert. In her book Storm Sisters, she talks about the power of friendship in hard times. Afton and her husband John have two adult children and love to walk and hike in Colorado. You can connect with Afton on her website, or on Facebook.

Join the conversation: What do you remember about God’s gracious care for you?

More Gratitude = More Faith

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Psalm 136:1 NASB

Turning onto the main highway through Annapolis, I knew I needed to spend the next half-hour’s drive in prayer. Several things were weighing heavy on my mind. But before beginning my list, I decided to spend a couple of minutes thanking God for how He had already blessed me. I thanked Him for my family, naming them one by one. I thanked Him for my church, His provision in my ministry work, for the people in my life who were so important to me. I thanked him for our home, our neighborhood, and provision for our physical needs.

There was so much to be thankful for. Before I knew it, I had arrived at my destination. And I was still thanking God. I hadn’t even gotten to naming my requests! Those urgent items I had been stewing over? Suddenly they didn’t seem so urgent after all. My heart now brimmed with trust in a God of provision and love.

In Luke 17, we find three passages that together remind us that gratitude is vital to trust.

Jesus encountered ten lepers on the road to Jerusalem. In response to their desperate request for mercy, He told them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” It was an odd thing to say, because lepers were not welcome in the temple. But the men turned and in faith did exactly what He said. And on the way, they suddenly realized they had been healed.

Most of them continued on to finish doing what Jesus commanded. One turned around and headed back to Jesus. His heart was too full of gratitude to continue forward.

Jesus had just finished talking with His disciples about their need to forgive. If someone sinned against them seven times a day, they were to forgive them seven times. The disciples were taken aback. “Lord, increase our faith!” they cried.

So Jesus told them a parable about a slave who spent all day working in the field. He returned to the house exhausted and hungry. But his master told him, “Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink.”

Jesus finished: “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to do.’” (Luke 17:7-10 NASB).

The very next thing Luke records is the story of the ten lepers. Are we supposed to connect these three sections? I believe we are. Luke tends to group his stories together to make a point.

The disciples had asked for more faith. Without it, what Jesus was telling them to do would be impossible. When the one leper came back to fall at His feet and thank Him, Jesus told him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” That was the kind of faith the disciples had just begged for. Where did it come from? A heart full of gratitude.

Why is gratitude so key to increasing our faith?

Gratitude supplies the correct perspective. Remembering what God has done puts Him at the center instead of us. When we thank Him, we are expressing belief that the good things in our life are evidence of a God who is at work on our behalf (James 1:17). We are acknowledging that our lives are in His hands. He is in control. That puts everything else we have been focusing on in proper perspective.

Gratitude teaches us to trust. When we remember His past faithfulness, we are empowered to trust Him for the future. Psalm 136 is a great example in this. As the psalmist recalls the works of a mighty God, the audience repeatedly responds: “His love endures forever” (Psalm 136: NIV). What better way to increase their faith in Him?

We need to stop thinking like a slave, and start thinking like a leper. A slave focuses on obligation: what he needs to do to keep his master happy. But a leper focuses on what he has been rescued from—and his heart overflows with gratitude.

So in these days before Thanksgiving, remember who He is to you and what He has done. Then spend time thanking Him from the bottom of your heart. The very act of expressing gratitude will provide an accurate perspective on his power and help you to go deeper in your trust.

Be that leper—the one whose full heart makes doing anything but adoring Him impossible. Start with simple gratitude.

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More Gratitude = More Faith – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About 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 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: For what are you most thankful today?

 

A Message to Remember

by Rhonda Rhea

I’ve discovered something rather disturbing about myself:  I’m a salad dressing whiny-baby. It’s not like I’m even all that into salad. I think we all know I’d rather have chocolate. Or coffee. Or chocolate mixed with coffee. But the other day I found myself with a salad that needed something that neither coffee nor chocolate could fix (though it took me several minutes to come to grips with that). So there I sat trying all the salad dressings. All of them. I even mixed a few—like some sort of mad scientist. The first dressing was too tart. The next one, too sweet. Then the next one was just too…orange.

That’s when I figured out that I was not so much a mad scientist. No. I was Goldilocks.

When did I become so dressing-spoiled? It doesn’t even comfort me all that much that I’m not the only one. God’s chosen people had wandered in the desert for 40 years because they had chosen not to trust the Lord. When they finally stood poised to enter the land of promise, instead of the “now you can all relax” message they might’ve expected, they got more of a “don’t get too spoiled” warning.

“Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His command…When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14, HCSB).

In the verses just prior to these, the people are reminded to be diligent in their obedience to God because “the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land…a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey,” (Deuteronomy 8:7-8). Olive oil and honey? They were headed into the best salads with all the best dressings.

The entire chapter is full of “remembers” and “don’t forgets.” And it’s not just the Israelites. It’s so often in our times of greatest blessing even now that we forget our Lord God is the source of that blessing and that “every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” (James 1:17, HCSB). Anytime we forget, the blessing loses its sweetness. Pride replaces recognition of His provision and our satisfaction in life sours.

When we catch ourselves going all Goldilocks-y, it should trigger our reminder to…well…“remember.” “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord you God gives you the power to gain wealth,” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18, HCSB).

Remembering that every good blessing is from Him helps keep our obnoxious pride in check and reminds us to lean on Him for everything. It reminds us to love, follow, trust and obey. And that adds blessing upon blessing—whatever we do, wherever we go—whatever is on the menu.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll excuse me. Salad is on the menu again here and I’ve decided to make my own dressing. So now it appears I have to travel to a thousand islands.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits.  Psalm 103:1-2, ESV.

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 children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Rhonda’s book, Fix HER Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God-Renovated Life,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What are the blessings you want to remember as you start your new year with Him?