Grace

Hitting Pause to Rest

rest quote and woman sitting

Do you feel as if summer is moving much too fast? Did those lazy days you planned, when June first rolled around, get swallowed up in business an hustle? Do you wish you could simply hit pause, turn on some praise music, maybe grab a great book or go for a slow, leisurely stroll?

We do, too! That’s why we’ve decided to slow things down this month in order to quiet our hustle as we learn to rest.

Today, we’re intentionally resting in grace. What does that look like for you?

For us, it means releasing our mistakes and regrets. It means allowing each new day to be precisely that–new. A new opportunity to laugh, to love, to connect with God and others, and to lean deeper into, you guessed it, grace. It means trading our striving for surrender, our guilt for all we have or haven’t done for celebration for all God’s doing, at this moment, in us. It means celebrating His grace revealed in others, too, and entrusting our loved ones into His hands.

It’s focusing on how God is leading us today, knowing tomorrow will come, in His timing. It’s embracing all today has to offer, knowing He’s always right beside us.

Here are a few of our favorite verses. Choose one to prayerfully consider this week as you rest deeper in God’s love and grace as well.

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Faith

Hope in Chronic Illness — Guest Post

woman gazing toward the sunrise with quote from Matthew Henry

Grasping for Hope

by Jennifer Henn

Several years ago, I was wasting away from undiagnosed Celiac Disease. It affected every system in my body. When the doctors finally determined the cause of my symptoms, I weighed 100 pounds and couldn’t absorb nutrients. They ordered me to rest, saying, “Do nothing so you can heal.”

Those are hard words for a mother to hear. I was willing to do anything to quicken my healing. I thought if I could understand certain Bible passages, and put those truths into practice, my hardship would soon be over. I read and memorized Scripture, studied and journaled about it, hoping for a full understanding. But I had the wrong perspective. God wanted to work within my heart, and heart surgery takes time.

I cried, “Why is this so hard!” I struggled to grasp the truth and personal application of the Scripture I’d read.

I wanted change in my life—now. But I’ve learned God wants me to have a deeper understanding of His truth, which can’t be immediately grasped.

The first couple of years following my diagnosis were the hardest and often brought me to one section of Scripture in the Bible.  “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4, ESV).

In my exhausted state, I often questioned whether my character was improving. The weight of never feeling well and multiple doctor appointments bore down on the weak places in my soul. In my quiet time, I asked God, “Am I persevering? Will I find the hope Romans talks about?”

I needed hope that God’s Word is true when it says I am loved and that His ways are greater than mine. Meditating on this truth needed to be a daily practice in order to end the voice of despair taunting my mind.

To keep hope in view, I asked a friend who makes jewelry to make me a bracelet. I asked it be made with three different colored stones. Green would represent perseverance, red character, and a faux diamond for hope.

The bracelet companion reminded me that God was working things out of me that needed to go. Things like stubborn reliance on myself or the craving for people’s approval. At the same time, He worked in my ability to trust Him. While I learned to praise God in my storm, He gave me hope.

When I look back, I see hope was there the entire time. It took hope to ask for the bracelet to be made. Hope led me to continue in perseverance with prayer and the reading of Scripture. Hope opened my eyes to the sufferings of others which took the focus off myself. And hope showed itself when others said, “I see Jesus in you.”

When I focused on the struggle, I became discouraged. But over time, I learned that understanding comes through the struggle. God supplied hope through His love to keep me going. And through it all, my perspective on life changed.

When we praise God through our suffering, He works in hope. Once we have a deep sustaining hope, we can bring encouragement to others. Today, in your difficult circumstance, believe in hope. Praise the One who made you and is doing a good work in you.

Let’s talk about this!

Where might you be missing hope that’s in front of you? Who do you know that needs encouragement through their time of hopelessness?

Did this devotion encourage you?

If so, make sure to check out our Bible reading plan available now on the YouVersion app! You can find Cover image for Bible study devotionalit HERE! And make sure to grab a copy of our 90-day devotional, Drawing Near. You can find that HERE.

Get to know Jennifer!

Jennifer Henn homeschooled for nineteen years. She speaks and writes about her experiences from preschool through high school. Discouraged by the trend of homeschoolers to label themselves, she shares a balanced approach. She believes you can teach your children at home while enjoying the freedom to explore their individual interests.

Her first book, Take The Mystery Out of Homeschooling: A How-To Guide, takes parents incrementally through the basics of homeschooling and offers practical advice so they can make informed decisions.

Visit her on her website, follow her on Facebook and Instragram, and purchase her book on Amazon.

Are you considering homeschooling your children but have no idea how it’s done? Take The Mystery Out of Homeschooling: A How-To Guide takes parents incrementally through the basics and offers practical advice so they can make informed decisions. Easy to navigate sections include: popular teaching methods, what subjects to teach, how to schedule the school year, socializing your children, where to get help, record keeping, and much more!Jennifer puts your mind at ease through personal examples of her own and other homeschool veterans. If you want to homeschool, and need a resource for success, this book is for you.

 

Faith

Overcoming Doubt Through Faith — Guest Post

Our doubts can paralyze us or propel us to deeper faith. Our guest blogger today shares how using a story from her childhood that showed her how to move from uncertainty to spiritual victory and deeper intimacy with Christ.

Overcoming Doubt in Faith

Guest Post by Mirachelle Canada

How do you respond to doubt? Does it draw you to God or away from Him? Your reaction can lead to increased anxiety and uncertainty or unshakable faith.

As a kid, I couldn’t understand why God had allowed my dream to come to pass, only to strip it away. My child-like faith lay buried beneath pain and sorrow, and doubt, like a leaky faucet, dripped upon the growing weeds of mistrust in my heart.

I was the kind of kid who’d dig through a closet full of manure, believing the pony I dreamed of waited inside. My parents had promised to get me a horse if time and money allowed. Every night I asked God to grant my desire and never doubted He’d bring it to me. As the years passed, my dream grew into wanting a full-sized horse.

At age sixteen, I worked at a stable where I could be around my beloved animals. One day a horse used for lessons was to be sold at an auction. Calamity Jane was a bay mare, the color of deep chestnut with a silky black mane and a white apostrophe-shaped star. I inquired about how much C.J. might sell for, which turned out to be $325. I had saved that much working my job, so I purchased her. My dream had come true, and I thanked God for answering my life-long prayer.

After a blissful year together, another horse in the stable was stricken with a disease that attacked muscle function. A few weeks later, I noticed C.J. was frequently laying down. One night as I brushed her, I felt her inner thigh trembling uncontrollably, so I called the vet. The diagnosis was heart-breaking. In the most painful moment of my young life, I watched my childhood dream slowly die, and I couldn’t understand why. How could a God of love let what I loved, and found the most joy in, die?

After C.J.’s death, I couldn’t bear to look at her empty stall. I still worked my job, but I didn’t spend extra time with my furry friends. I grew angry, sad, and confused. I wondered how I’d ever recover and doubted my faith would ever be the same.

Months later, just before heading to college, a line of Scripture popped into my mind, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean not on your own understanding” (emphasis added). I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I looked it up the Bible, and read:

“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Prov. 3:3-6, ESV).

The scripture passage became my lifeline. I realized that, as a child learning to trust, I had held securely to God’s character of love and faithfulness, but nearing adulthood I doubted them in a difficult situation because they had not yet taken root in my heart. The good news is, when our adult circumstances create doubt, God invites us to trust in His unchanging character and heart. As I continued to pour over the passage, God healed my heart. I posted in my dorm room to remind me and reciting it each time I felt doubt. Accepting that I need to trust in Him, especially when I didn’t understand why helped me overcome my doubt. Looking to Him to see me through restored my faith. Our faith, belief, and hope in Him grow as we wait upon Him and discover in Him, we have all we need.

Let’s talk about this!

How has God brought you through your doubt? Do you have a scripture verse you rely on when your heart feels weak?

***

If this devotion encouraged you, make sure to check out our Bible reading plan available now on the YouVersion app! You can find it HERE! And maybe sure to grab a copy of our 90-day devotional, Drawing Near. You can find that HERE.

Get to know Mirachelle!

Mirachelle's author photoMirachelle Canada is a writer, playwright, screenwriter, and theatre director/producer from Northern Virginia, where she teaches television production at her high school alma mater. She is passionate about awakening creativity and the gifts of God in everyone.

She is currently working on her first historical fiction novel set during WWII.

Connect with Mirachelle at:

her Website  on Facebook,  Twitter, and  Instagram.

Grace

Moving From Guilt to Freedom

I was a mess during my teen and young adult years. I blamed everyone else for my self-destructing life: If my circumstances hadn’t been so chaotic, I never would’ve dropped out of high school. If certain interactions hadn’t been so painful and unstable, I never would’ve turned to alcohol. And if so-n-so hadn’t said such-n-such, I never would’ve reacted as I had.

This type of victim-mentality robbed me of the strength to change and distanced me from God’s mercy and grace. To experience the freedom of forgiveness, of being absolved completely, that Christ offered, I first needed to grasp my need for it. Click To Tweet

I had to honestly evaluate not just my life, not just my outward behavior, but my sinful heart as well.

Honest self-evaluation is hard. Admitting our sin truthfully, not only to ourselves, but to God, can feel even harder. It takes great humility to acknowledge what God already knows—that we’re worse than we’d imagined and are helpless, in our own power, to change. Often there’s an additional challenge that often holds us in fear when we could be living in the freedom of grace: we’re afraid of rejection. Scared of being cut off entirely. Because that’s often what we’ve experienced from others.

An acquaintance grew up in a controlling household where love was conditional and tied to behavior. When she acted a certain way and others were pleased with her, they welcomed her close. When she disappointed them, she was disregarded and pushed away.

Maybe that resonates with you. Many of us have experienced similar interactions, whether with family, friends, or with our significant others. As a result, we can unknowingly carry a similar expectation into our relationship with God, and we likely aren’t even aware we’ve done so.

Here’s where God’s different. Whereas others might say, “You messed up. You blew it,” and cuts us off, Christ said, in essence, “You messed up, and I’m going to draw you near.” Click To Tweet But He did even more than that. When He stretched out His arms wide and died on the cross for our sins, He said, in essence, “Sweet daughter, you really made a mess of things. Of your life, your relationship with others. Your relationship with Me. And so I’m drawing near.”

Whereas others might say, “You messed up. You blew it,” and cuts us off, Christ said, in essence, “You messed up, and I’m going to draw you near.”Our Savior’s love is different than any we’ve ever known. Click To Tweet

When our sin separated us from Him, Christ took the first step to bridge that gap. Click To Tweet He took the first step, then the next, and then the next after that, pursuing us with His last breath, quite literally, to welcome us in. This demonstrates, where sin abounds, as serious and destructive as it may be, God’s grace abounds all the more, for God’s steadfast, unshakable love never ceases, and His mercies truly are new each morning (Rom. 5:20, Lamentations 3:22-23).

Scholars believe Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, wrote that last phrase, shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem. He’d spent a good chunk of his adult life warning the Israelites to turn from their idolatrous ways and back to God, but His children persisted in their sin. And after generations of rebellion and idolatry, they were finally experiencing the consequences.

Jeremiah, a prophet who loved God and had remained faithful, witnessed the destruction of his beloved homeland. The city and their beloved temple had been reduced to rubble, and the people became destitute.

Mourning all that had been lost, Jeremiah didn’t say, “Why me? This isn’t fair, God.” No, instead, he said, “See, O Lord, how distressed I am! I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious.”

This from the man who could’ve prayed, “I, only I, have remained faithful.”

Scholars debate whether he was speaking of his own sins or of those made by the nation as a whole, but regardless, we know he sinned. According to Scripture, we all have. We’ve failed to live and love as we should, whether we’re harboring selfish thoughts or displaying selfish actions. I do both a thousand times each day, and when confronted with my wretchedness, it’s tempting to divert blame. To justify and make excuses, but though doing so might feel “safe” in the moment, it only leads to increased bondage.

To find freedom, I need to take an honest look at the sin-wrought rubble of my life, focus on the love and goodness of God, and like Jeremiah did in the next chapter over, cast myself upon the One whose mercies never fail.

Because “the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the One who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly on the salvation of the Lord” (Lam. 3:25-26).

Let’s talk about this! Have you received the forgiveness Christ offers and the freedom that follows? If not, and you would like to learn more about finding ultimate and eternal absolution, please contact us HERE. If you’ve already experienced God’s cleansing grace, are you walking in that? Or are you interpreting spiritual distance that isn’t there, that Christ died to remove? How might remembering His reaction to our sin help you rest more deeply in His embrace, not just when you’re acting in a way that pleases Him, but when you mess up as well?

Join our online book club to learn to rest, daily, in God's grace! Click To Tweet

Book club inviteWe want to help you live in the freedom of God’s grace! Join us for a five week online book discussion club to discuss the Ragamuffin Gospel, a book that was truly transformative in Jennifer’s life. You can find the book HERE.

From the back cover:

A Furious Love Is Hot on Your Trail! 

Many believers feel stunted in their Christian growth. We beat ourselves up over our failures and, in the process, pull away from God because we subconsciously believe He tallies our defects and hangs His head in disappointment. In this newly repackaged edition—now with full appendix, study questions, and the author’s own epilogue, “Ragamuffin Fifteen Years Later,” Brennan Manning reminds us that nothing could be further from the truth. The Father beckons us to Himself with a “furious love” that burns brightly and constantly. Only when we truly embrace God’s grace can we bask in the joy of a gospel that enfolds the most needy of His flock—the “ragamuffins.”

This club will be hosted on our Facebook Group and through Zoom video. Contact us HERE for information on how to participate.

Plus, we have fun news! Our 90-day devotional is now available!

Cover image for Bible study devotionalDrawing Near: 90-Day Devotional:

Each day, God beckons us to Himself, calling us to rest in His love and grace. As we do, He heals our hurts, overpowers our fears with love, and restores us to the women He created us to be. This 90-day devotional, written by women who are learning themselves to live anchored in God’s grace, will help you deepen your faith and grow your relationship with Christ.

Buy it HERE.

 

Relationships

When No One Else Can Help — Guest Post

By Meredith Kendall

Rejection stings in every form. Friendships that crumble. Parents who disapprove. Children who leave and don’t return. And loves that betray. Labeled “unwanted” is never our plan.

One evening, I arrived home from putting on a successful Fall Festival, filled with laughter and hot dogs and sugared up kids, to hear my husband say, “I just don’t love you anymore. I’m going to be with her.”

He was having an affair.

I was devastated. I was married at 18, moved over six hundred miles away from family and friends and now at 31 years old, a stay at home mom was going to be divorced. Have you ever had your dreams shattered? Hope seemed lost.

Every day I woke up, turned on the local Christian radio station to sing at the top of my lungs and weep. My life was turned upside down. All alone, I had no clue how I would make it.

I received all kinds of advice from well-meaning friends and family, but none of it comforted me. How could they understand what I was going through? Truth was, no one’s words could ease my pain.

Walking in faith was new to me, so I wasn’t sure where Jesus was in this mess. I wish I could say I ran to the Bible to read passages that would give me comfort. Unfortunately, I felt I lacked the confidence and skills to navigate Scripture. The one thing that did bring me comfort was a song on the radio that seemed to be played over and over again. The artist talked about how to survive whether we are on the mountaintop or in the valley. The song went on to say that when we are on our knees we are before the Love that can change everything and that on our knees is where we need to find our power.

God used a song of truth to bring peace in a horrible situation. I literally got on my knees for the duration of this song, arms stretched high, tears streaming, making this my prayer. God, who I’d given my life to just a year earlier, met me there. I was a new Christian and had no clue how to navigate this pain, this new normal. But Jesus gave me His comfort through the lyrics of this song.

Now twenty-two years later, I share my story in hopes that you will experience peace knowing that God doesn’t abandon us during our time of Woman's profile against an inky sky with text pulled from the post.affliction, but is waiting for us to cry out to Him. I’m grateful that I allowed Him to be my Comforter during my hardest time because His wisdom helped me find my way.

Worldly wisdom would’ve let me down. It said, “Walk away. Forget your marriage. Just start over.” Some even said, “Let’s go out and get a drink. Let’s go out and party.” But I stayed on my knees for my marriage, and today, by God’s grace, we share our story.

Truth in Scripture says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

What’s your story? Have you fallen on your knees in need before your loving Father? If so, show others the way according to God’s words, it’s not for us to hide our affliction as if it has never happened, but to comfort others in their time of need and to be a light of God’s goodness. What story of comfort are you hiding that God wants to use?

Let’s talk about this! Rejection hurts and, if not dealt with correctly, in light of God’s love and grace, can leave lasting wounds that negatively impact our future relationships. How does knowing God loves us and will never leave us help you move forward? Has He helped you through a deep hurt and perhaps given you insight that could help others? Share your thoughts, stories, questions, and insights here in the comments below, because we can all learn from one another! And make sure to join our social media group–a safe place for women to share their struggles, celebrations, prayer requests, and questions. Join by clicking the “Join Group” button below.

And if you haven’t done so, make sure to snag our free Bible study (in ebook form) on growing in grace and a Christ-centered identity. You can do so HERE. (Print copies are available for $5 plus shipping and handling.)

Get to know Meredith!

Meredith Kendall is a change agent, driven by her God-given passion to equip struggling families to achieve their unique God-given potential.

As a nationally recognized sales leader, Meredith Kendall learned how to build bridges and make connections with the heart of what people need. God called her to co-found Advancing the Gospel which serves those who are often forgotten. Today she uses her gifting’s to help people understand the root causes of their struggles and find freedom through Christ.

Her upcoming book My GiGi’s House: Finding Hope will be released October 2019. Pre-release copies are available now.

www.the180program.org

www.meredithsagekendall.com

Check out her upcoming release!

Ralynn promised God that if He allowed her to see the light of day she would seek help. Pregnant and afraid for her life, Ralynn’s chance encounter with Ms. Shelly started her on a path of healing and finding a relationship with Jesus and her purpose in life.

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