The test was given at a testing center a couple of hours from my home. So I made a hotel reservation, packed my suitcase, and headed out with excitement and anticipation. I arrived at the hotel, settled into the room, and went out to treat myself to a steak dinner. When I returned from the restaurant, I thought, “Let me do a little refresher.” I opened my study guide, pulled out my flashcards, and started cramming. Minutes turned into hours, and the daylight faded into night. Nevertheless, I kept on cramming. I did not believe that my careful, methodical preparation was enough to help me pass the test. My unbelief robbed me of adequate rest.
Have you ever spent a sleepless night tossing and turning because swirling, anxious thoughts keep you from drifting off? Maybe you can think of a similar time when your unbelief or lack of faith kept you from getting the rest you needed.
Hebrews 4:1 explains, “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” This good news comes with a sober warning: God’s rest is available! But you can miss it too. The type of rest that the writer of Hebrews is talking about is a literal repose. It is not a euphemism for death or the afterlife; according to Strong’s Concordance its literal Greek translation (katapausis)indicates a cessation from work (The Interlinear Bible).
Hebrews 4:2 repeats the promise and warning, “For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.” Whenever a principle in Scripture repeats, it is important! Back-to-back these verses teach that the same promise of rest was made, yet one group did not combine what they heard with faith. Faith in God’s promises produces rest.
A few hours into my evening cramming, I realized that I needed to stop studying and rest. Even though I finished the exam exhausted, I passed the test the next day! My one regret from that situation is that I should have activated my faith in the careful preparation I made for the test. My unbelief and self-doubt robbed me of the rest I needed. I learned that rest is necessary to do my best at whatever task I face.
The author reminds us in Hebrews 4:4 that after a busy week of creation, God himself rested on the seventh day. If God instituted the pattern for regular rest periods, shouldn’t we as women take his lead? What keeps women from entering into rest? Could it be unbelief or self-doubt? Do you believe that if you stopped serving, cleaning, teaching, cooking, and working, your household would crash down around you? Is your constant busyness a symptom of unbelief? If it is, Hebrews has good news. Mix a little faith with the promise God has extended to you. Rest for a minute. God has offered you rest; take him up on it!
Reference: The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew - Greek - English. Jay P. Green, translator, Hendrickson. 2011.
Memory Verse: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.” Hebrews 4:9-10
Consider this contrasting scenario.
“Your eyebrows look really good today,” were the parting words on a Zoom meeting I had recently with a female colleague. Of course, I thanked her before we said goodbye and closed the meeting app. Her words stuck with me. I got up from my desk and went to the bathroom to look in the mirror. My eyebrows looked okay to me. I did not see anything special, but I thought about her words for the rest of the afternoon. She took less than three seconds to speak the words out loud and they made a positive impact that lasted for days.
These two stories have one thing in common. Both focus on spoken words that made a lasting impact. King Solomon started the collection of maxims which became the book of Proverbs to keep wise sayings in one place, much like a catalog of wisdom. His desire was for his spoken words to be remembered and have a lasting impact. 1 Kings 4:29 tells us, “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.” One-third of the book of Proverbs is framed as advice a father offers to a son, a parent to a child. Much of that advice is focused on how a wise person treats other people. Heeding biblical advice shows strength of character. To strengthen character and to build healthy relationships, Proverbs 3:27 advises, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” Both comments spoken to me in the stories above made an impact. But only one made a good impact on my heart and brightened my day.
Has someone ever done something for you that made a lasting impression? Maybe they complimented a skill you possess. Or perhaps noticed a positive change or habit you were implementing. Or maybe it was something simple like, “Your hair looks good today.”
You have the power to shower goodness on everyone God puts in your path.
This proverb offers a greater challenge. Think about the people you encounter on a daily basis. Some of them may live inside your house, others you may encounter in person outside your home, or even virtually. Can you be the kind of woman who seizes brief moments to make a positive impact on others by offering a simple compliment or positive observation? Solomon, the wise king, thought this was good advice. Take his guidance to heart and do not withhold goodness from others. A well-spoken, timely word can change someone’s day!
Memory Verse: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” Proverbs 3:27
That same night light lit an anxious toddler’s room as she learned to sleep in a big bed alone. Tangles of Christmas lights encircle our living room as we wind them around the tree each November, just before the magical moment when the tree twinkles and ushers in holiday cheer. There have been campfires complete with sticky s’mores and friends laughing and sharing stories. I remember sleepovers with the lights on way too late into the night to celebrate the burgeoning independence of older children. I imagine at some point in the future, the flicker of candles will set the mood for romantic dinners or perhaps even wedding ceremonies when my children move into a new phase of their lives. When each distinct light shines, a season in my motherhood journey becomes discernible in its radiance.
God has used light to mark the passage of time and to govern days and nights since the very beginning—or at least since the fourth day. He didn’t use little pink or blue candles to mark the passage of years like we do on birthday cakes; nevertheless He used lights. Astronomically big ones: the sun, moon, and stars. Genesis 1:14 says, “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years.’” God knew the power light would have and thought it was the right way to separate the night from the day, and to mark units of time as distinct, special, and unique. This verse even describes these units of time as “sacred.” God chose light because He is light. From the first chapter of the Bible, we see how foundational light is to faith. Not only does God use light to mark times and seasons, He himself is the light that illuminates the darkness.
No matter where you are on your motherhood journey, you already know that there are sacred moments built into this gig. Some of the sacred moments are the hardest ones, the ones when it is easy to feel alone and hidden in darkness as you go through them. When you hit those bumpy patches, remember God is there with you. Look for God’s light to guide you through the dark moments. He sees your tears, hears your prayers, and offers His comfort and peace to you in a way only He can. When your heart feels full to bursting with pride and love for your child, remember God’s graciousness as He entrusted you to be the mom for your child. As the days, years, and seasons roll by, be assured that the very God who created night and day also empowers you to do the holy work of motherhood. Walk with Him and savor the sacred seasons, trusting His light to guide the way.
Memory Verse: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12
Feeling that warm nudge in my heart again, I asked if he had a wheelchair with him. As I pushed him into the urgent care, I was reminded that God does not waste anything. What I thought of as hours to kill was really an opportunity to show kindness toward a worried husband.
Have you ever felt that nudge from God urging you to act? Maybe it was even in a situation where you didn’t think the circumstances were ideal for you to get involved or you had other plans for your time.
In the letter to Titus, Paul had one goal in mind—to continue mentoring Titus in his new role as pastor of the church he had founded on Crete. Paul recognized that discipleship is an ongoing process and wanted to provide Titus with explicit instructions on his new role as a Christian leader. Sometimes even believers need to be reminded of the simple instructions of how to “love thy neighbor.” Titus 3:1-2 prompts us to right behaviors: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”
So why would Paul have to tell Titus something that seems so basic in the Christian life? Because he knew we have the tendency to drift toward being self-absorbed. As women we often wear more than one hat at a time. Wife, mother, teacher, friend, chauffeur, cook, caregiver, and employee are just a few of the roles that fill a busy mom’s schedule. Having a full life does not excuse us from being obedient when God asks us to stop and share His love with someone else. Paul’s reminder is meant to jog the memory and guide our behaviors in encounters with other people. Jesus wants us to carry ourselves with humility and kindness to share his love with others through gentle interactions.
If you have ever felt that nudge and missed it, or dismissed it, learn from that regret. Make the decision now to say “yes” when you feel that prompt or whisper from God. What would it look like to do good today? What action might you take to move from passive intention to active obedience? I encourage you to make that shift in your heart so you can become the hands and feet of Jesus.
Memory verse: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” Titus 3:1-2 NIV
Another friend, Martha, set two mugs of coffee on the kitchen table when I stopped by her house for a visit. It was raining pretty hard and the warm welcome was just what I needed. She gently inquired about the family, made small talk about the weather but quickly turned the conversation to me. She wanted to know how I handled a recent disagreement with a friend at church. She wanted to make sure I had acted with integrity during the conversation. She cared deeply about the person I was becoming and how I was growing as a Christian woman.
Mary and Martha (the irony is not lost on me) were two older, wiser friends God gave me as I was learning to be a wife, mother, and disciple. Similar, yet different, each one shared wisdom with me in a way I could receive it—often with a mug of something warm and comforting in my hands at the kitchen table.
Maybe you have an older, wiser friend who pulls up a chair at the table with you, too.
In Romans 1:10-12, Paul tells the Romans that he prays for the opportunity to go see them. He has a specific purpose in mind for his visit. Verse 11 says, "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong."
Paul isn’t just talking about a gab session or a social call. He knows his time with the Gentiles in Rome needs to have some substance—too much is at stake. The faith of the Roman church was being talked about all over the world! Paul needed a personal visit with his friends to teach them and invest in their spiritual growth. Being the wise apostle that he was, Paul also knew the relationship had to be a two-way street. In verse 12 he continued, “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.”
If you have had the input of a Mary, a Martha, or a Paul in your life, count yourself blessed. A seasoned saint who shares truth and seeks to sharpen your faith is a gift not to be taken for granted! If you have not had this privilege in your life, no matter your age, seek out someone who can be that person in your life. It can be as simple as asking someone whom you admire to meet for coffee. Tell them you value their wisdom and want to grow in your own faith.
Or perhaps you are a woman of faith who can share wisdom, time and cups of coffee with a younger woman. Ask God if it is time to seek out one who can be taken under your wing. Then pay attention when He starts showing you women who need the valuable input of a Mary or Martha. Mentorship does not have to be a formal discipleship program put together by your church. It can look a whole lot like two women sharing life at the kitchen table.
Memory verse: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 NIV
After hours of feasting and good-natured family friendly competition the evening came to a close and we found ourselves exhausted and happily cleaning up leftovers. How could leftovers be possible when I had not purchased enough food for our hungry crowd?
Have you ever found yourself in a position where you had little to give but God turned it into exactly what was needed?
Luke 9:10-17 reminds us of a time when Jesus did just that. Jesus and his apostles had spent some time in the villages of Galilee preaching the Good News and healing the sick. They were tired and were in need of rest so they slipped away toward the town of Bethsaida seeking solace. As the apostles were telling Jesus of their adventures in ministry they noticed a crowd following him.
Despite his need for rest and rejuvenation, Jesus welcomed the crowd and continued teaching and healing. As the afternoon faded into evening the apostles begged for Jesus to send the crowd away so the masses could get food and lodging before nightfall. At this point Jesus stunned the disciples with three simple words, “You feed them” (Lk 9:13 NLT). Collectively they came up with a decent excuse to offer the Lord—we don’t have enough food!
Luke 9:13 explains that there were only five loaves and two fish. Clearly this measly amount would not be enough to feed the crowd of over 5,000 who were gathered. As Jesus organized the people into small groups and gave thanks for the small picnic, he made sure that every person there was not only fed, but fully satisfied. After the meal, the disciples filled twelve baskets of leftovers!
God takes the little we have to offer Him and increases it to fulfill his purposes.
Are you feeling tired, weary or drained but the day hasn't even started yet? Or maybe the weekend is too far away to think about? Offer what you have to the Lord. He can take the meager bits that you hold in your hands and turn it into something more useful and productive than you could have imagined. Is there an area in your life when you feel like there is never enough money, time, focus, energy, effort, appreciation or compassion?
Ask God to take your sparse supply and supernaturally upsize it! When we offer God the little that we have and trust him with it, he does the miraculous! And don’t be surprised if you have baskets of leftovers; He specializes in abundance!
Memory verse: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV
Hearing about as much of my complaining as she could stand, she looked at me directly and said, “When are you going to stop playing tourist and start living here?” Her words, while truthful and direct, stung a bit as I let them seep into my heart.
Have you ever moved to a new place and had a hard time adjusting? Perhaps it was a short-term move like summer camp or college? Maybe you relocated for a deployment, a job or even retirement.
In Jeremiah 29:4-23 we read a letter from Jeremiah addressed to all the people who had been exiled to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. He plainly tells them to build homes and plan to stay. In other words, stop playing tourist and start living. He instructs them to plant gardens and eat the food they produce. He encourages them to marry and have families. He instructs them to not dwindle away just because they are in a new place. These words in Jeremiah 29:7 hit close to my heart: “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
God places each of us into unique circumstances. No matter your address, God wants you to live fully where you are right now.
Are you in a dorm room or apartment? That’s your home! Make a difference in your community with the people who are living in close proximity. Are you living in a bustling suburb? Invest in the community around you. Invest in the people who shop where you shop, worship where you worship and play where you play. Do you live in a rural area? God has placed you there for a purpose. Look around and find a need that you alone can fulfill. Perhaps it can be as simple as taking a neighbor a jar of flowers or making a point to get to know the cashier or librarian or car mechanic in your town.
God may have plans to do something even bigger through you—but you won’t know until you plant yourself, let your roots take hold, claim your new community and start living faithfully right where you are! The change you make in your new community may bring the same kind of beauty as a flower blooming in a garden.
Memory verse: “Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.” 1 Corinthians 7:17 NIV
My three year-old daughter was a blessing and pure joy as she cheerfully filled our house with singing, good-natured preschool mischief, lots of warm hugs and sloppy kisses. She was growing into a bright and precocious child who filled my days with activity and my heart with love. Amidst the fulfillment I experienced nurturing her, a void was present deep in my mother’s heart. I knew someone was missing in our family. I had prayed fervently for a new baby for the past couple years.
After church the following Sunday, I parked in the garage while my husband and daughter went into the house to prepare lunch. I had no appetite. I opened my Bible to 1 Samuel and I started to pray and weep as I read Hannah’s story. My tears mixed with Hannah’s as she struggled with the overt slights from Peninnah and I struggled with the blessings of my more fertile friends.
In 1 Samuel 1, we read that God blessed Peninnah and Elkanah with children long before Hannah’s womb opened to conceive Samuel. Samuel’s arrival was no accident. He was the child of ardent prayer as Hannah cried out to God in such a way that Eli, the priest, thought she had been drinking too much wine. Her anguish and bitter tears reached the ears of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies with a promise to return the child to God’s service for his entire lifetime if she could conceive and carry him under her heart for a short time. God heard Hannah’s cry, then gave Eli a message for Hannah that her request for a baby would be granted.
Strengthened by Hannah’s example to plead with the Lord openly, the very next Sunday I followed suit. During the service I went to the altar and prayed for another child. Our worship pastor prayed with my husband and me. After a few minutes our pastor looked at me and assured me that the Lord had heard my cry and I could expect God to answer my prayers. With this affirmation, I imagined how Hannah must have felt when Eli said something similar to her. Have you ever felt certain that your bold act of vulnerability was heard and kept safe by God? I have. About a year later, we gathered to dedicate our infant son’s tiny new life to the Lord.
Have you ever longed desperately for someone to be part of your life? Perhaps you feel the desire for a child, a close friend, or a spouse to be in your life. Hannah’s story shows us that making ourselves vulnerable before God is the safest place to share our most desperate cries. Cry out! Share your desire with the One who already knows your deepest hopes and dreams. Trust Him with your longings and know that He is listening!
Memory verse: “In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.” 2 Samuel 22:7 NIV
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