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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.

Faith, Hearing God, Revealing Jesus, surrender

Finding Jesus in the Center of My Pain

JessicaSufferingQuote

Ugly tears coursed down my cheeks. Why? How could this have happened? The betrayal hit me like a gut punch. I wanted to scream it all away, or at the very least tear someone apart with my bare fingernails. But even that wouldn’t make it better, wouldn’t erase what I was going through. I felt so alone.

The hurt felt worse than a knife. It felt like a massive, crushing weight obliterating every inch of who I’d been. And I was left alone to pick up the pieces, not even sure I could.

Sometimes, the hardships we go through seem unimaginable: A difficult, completely unfair illness cutting us down in the prime of our life. Debilitating financial or legal issues that seem to have no way out. Crushing betrayal or other emotional or physical violation. It’s the opposite of how we think life should go.

In the midst of my pain, I was on my own. I knew no one who’d been through what I was experiencing. There was no one I could confide in who’d truly understand. Talking to a counselor brought temporary relief but no real solutions. Blocking it out and staying as busy as possible only worked for so long.

Then came Jesus. In the darkness, in the depths of my pain, I realized: He knew. I didn’t even have to open my mouth to share any of the scary or nitty-gritty details, because He saw them up-close and personal.

Not only that, but He’d been there, too.

In the depths of my #pain, I realized: #Jesus knew. I didn’t have to share any of the scary or nitty-gritty details, because He saw them up-close and personal. He'd been there, too. Click To Tweet

He’d experienced the worst pain, the deepest betrayal, the hardest suffering—none of it deserved, and all of it something He could stop if only He caved to temptation. Yet our Savior chose to bear the cup of sacrifice and endure. And it hurt Him—so very, very badly.

But for some reason, I’d never before understood this. Growing up, I’d been taught Jesus died on the cross, but His suffering seemed abstract. In paintings depicting the crucifixion, the holes from the nails had a bit of blood, and Jesus was frowning beneath His crown of thorns, but it was all rather contained—a PG version of what He’d really been through. Then His suffering was over and, whoosh! Our Savior was dressed in head-to-toe white with a glowing golden halo, smiling like He’d never been gasping for His last breath or sobbing from the pain of being sold for thirty pieces of silver by one of His twelve best friends.

But when I encountered Jesus in my sorrow, it wasn’t the Sunday school, family-friendly version kneeling beside me as I collapsed before Him in a darkened room with my prayer of surrender. It was the scarred-up Jesus, the One who remembered the ragged bloodstained holes from where they’d driven the nails in, who didn’t wince as they beat Him but cried out in agony, who didn’t just quietly and stoically accept that Judas let Him down but ached over the treachery.

This Jesus understood. And when I realized that, and I allowed him to meet me in my suffering, I was no longer alone.

Jesus never promised a life free of hardship when we became Christian. Suffering is universal. But it’s a shared suffering when we walk with Jesus, which makes all the difference.

Jesus never promised a life free of hardship when we became Christian. Suffering is universal. But it’s a shared #suffering when we walk with #Jesus, which makes all the difference. Click To Tweet

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (ESV).” These aren’t just words on a page. There is true rest, a peace, in knowing Jesus has been there, too, and can ease our burden.

There is true rest, a #peace, in knowing #Jesus has been there, too, and can ease our burden. Click To Tweet

But not only is there rest, but also hope. While Jesus did suffer, His suffering ended. He overcame. He triumphed. As He told His disciples in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Many years have passed since my tough time, and sometimes it feels like it didn’t happen to me at all, but rather to a character in a book I read. I still go through hard times, when I want to throw myself on the bed and cry, when I want to give up and surrender.

Yet now I have a secret weapon: I know God is with me in the center of my pain. And that, like nothing else, helps move me towards healing.