By Emily Goss
Recently I was confronted with what I think to be one of the hardest questions I face as a mom. The question is simple but not easy. It is short but thought provoking. The question is: “Will I sacrifice?”
My first response was, Well of course, I would sacrifice anything for my kids! But as I started to really digest the question, I believe my answer changed. You see the answer to the question seems to depend on the day, mood, level of energy I have, level of crazy of my kids and/or the weather outside.
Ask me if I’d give a kidney for my child, and the answer will be yes every time. Ask me if I would give up naptime to play hide and seek, well… that’s a different story. Ask me if I would sacrifice my life for my child, and easily the answer would be a resounding, Of Course! But ask me to sacrifice my schedule and/or routine, and I might throw up a little in my mouth.
Why is this? The answer to the big stuff seems to be so crystal clear while the little sacrifices I have to make daily seem more ambiguous and inconvenient. It’s these little inconveniences that seem to have me on edge lately.
It’s when my youngest decides that the 17 minute nap in the car during carline is nap enough for the day. It’s when my son asks me to throw a baseball while I should be cooking dinner. It’s the times when I have to cancel a fun playdate for a child who doesn’t feel well. It’s the extra time I spend cleaning “washable” bath tub paint out of the tub after bedtime.
For you, maybe it’s the conversation that your teenager needs to have during the series finale of your favorite show. Maybe it’s taking time off work to visit your child’s school on career day.
You get it. We’ve all been there. It’s the small things that can amount to big things in the area of sacrifice. The reason the question, “Will I sacrifice?” is hard is because it points to our attitudes. It uncovers our inner objectives. The answer to this question will shape who you are and who your children become. It is an opportunity for us to live out the gospel in front of a watching audience (our children) daily! It is ultimately an opportunity for us to die to self.
Jesus is the ultimate example of a life of sacrifice. He completely laid himself down for us, and not just on the cross. The cross was the ultimate sacrifice. But he also sacrificed by how he lived his life. He sacrificed daily by not giving in to sin and serving others above himself.
I love 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 for the picture of self sacrifice it paints so beautifully for us: “Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
Seriously, this verse makes me want to do a cartwheel! The life of Jesus can be manifested in our mortal flesh. This is such good news for you and me! It means we don’t have to try harder and sacrifice more on our own. Because we can’t change our attitudes on our own. We are too selfish and self absorbed by nature.
But because Christ lived a perfect life of sacrifice and paid the ultimate penalty on the cross for us, we as Christians, carry about in the body the dying of Jesus. This means we can answer the question with a resounding, “Yes I will sacrifice!” I can, and I will sacrifice for my children daily because Christ sacrificed for me.
Word of the Day
“Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” 2 Corinthians 4:10-11
Lord Jesus, thank you for the sacrifice of your life and death on my behalf. Thank you that because I carry around the dying of Jesus, the life of Jesus can be on display in my life. Equip me to sacrifice daily for my kids in the big and small. May you receive glory. Amen.
By Liz Giertz
I sobbed myself to sleep one night, exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically from an altercation with my youngest son.
He was adamant about getting what he wanted, even to the point of dismissing all other alternatives I presented. His iron will would have been worthy of applaud had he not been going head to head with me.
I slept soundly and woke the next morning to my usual routine. When it was time to wake him for school, I entered his room, gently curled around his tiny body and snuggled him close, entirely unencumbered by the previous evening’s strife. For a few precious moments as I breathed in his sweet smell, I felt only love for this little toe-headed boy. I wanted nothing more than to remain there, stroking his hair and feeling his heart beat. Any sadness from the battle we had waged was forgotten.
Until I remembered.
In the space of one long sigh my remembering stole the joy from that blissful moment.
I’d have given anything to return to the serenity of snuggling my angelic child, but the memory returned and caused a slight separation from him.
I think this is why God chooses to forget our transgressions; so He can see us in the image of His perfect and blameless Son.
It is me who remembers and drives a wedge between us. When I drudge up my old failures, I tend to pull back from Him, wondering how I have any claim to His love when I have so many faults.
I saw the same emotions mirrored in my son’s eyes as he awoke that morning. Sleepiness was replaced by love when he focused on my face. Then as he remembered his behavior, guilt and shame flickered across his baby blues before he averted his gaze from mine.
Just as my Father in Heaven does for me, I reached for him and held him close. I had to choose to forgive and forget.
God longs to be in simple fellowship with me, to wrap His loving arms around me and free from the barrier caused by my sin. So He shows me mercy for my unrighteousness and chooses to forget (Hebrews 8:12) for the sake of His only Son’s sacrifice on the cross. This is the New Covenant, the Good News, the Gospel.
And it isn’t just for me, it is available to all who believe it.
He knows we are prone to mess up over and over again, but just like a loving mother He refuses to allow our redeemed mistakes to keep us from Him. He forgives and forgets because He loves us. He shows us mercy because His Son paid the price so that we could be in fellowship with Him despite our sins.
When we confess our iniquities, they are forgiven and removed from us “as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).” We have an obligation to forget them, too, because if we continue our remembering, we are likely to shy away from His presence. We must instead accept His gift of grace and “draw near to God, and He will draw near to [us] (James 4:8),” because in His presence is the fullness of our joy and pleasure forevermore (Psalm 16:11).
Reminiscing about my past mistakes doesn’t make me any more forgiven, but forgetting them leads me to closer fellowship with my Forgiver.
Word of the Day
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:12-13
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank and praise You for the sacrifice of Your Son that won for me salvation and eternity in Your presence. Help me to remember Your great mercy and forget my sins as you forgive me. I long to draw near to you and be held close in Your loving arms. Let nothing separate me from Your love for the sake of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Read more of Liz's Blogs at www.creativeinspirationsatmymessydesk.com
By Kandice Adams
I have been the breadwinner for our family for quite a while now. It wasn’t part of the plan… our plan, and until recently, I never considered that it might be a part of God’s plan.
Honestly, I had always felt punished, or at the very least, in a holding pattern.
I spent years holding my breath…
waiting for God to give my husband a job,
waiting to breathe financially,
waiting for our circumstances to change so I didn’t have to carry the burden alone...
I was so frustrated with waiting that I forgot to live; I forgot to exhale.
One evening not too long ago, right there in the middle of my juice stained, carpeted floor, I railed against God, and He gave me an answer that I had not been seeking.
He sent me to Paul.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want; I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).
When Paul penned those words he just had been imprisoned for the third time.
The current circumstance was house arrest, but he had seen how things could be.
He had been tortured; he had been hungry.
There were days when he didn’t know if he would live or die.
Yet he was gracious; yet he looked to the father; yet he chose to be content.
As I sat on the floor of my warm, comfortable home, waiting for the dinner bell to “ring,” it occurred to me that I needed to learn to be content.
Subconsciously, I had been asking Him to provide a life for me that would make needing Him unnecessary.
Have you been wondering why you are not living the American dream?
Have you been wondering why it feels like you take two steps forward but one step back?
Perhaps you have been subconsciously asking Him to provide a life that would make needing Him unnecessary too.
Because He loves us, His answer is “no.”
We have a choice; we could choose to be miserable in this season, or we could choose to be content.
Let’s choose to be content.
Let’s choose to exhale… our plans, our hopes, and our dreams, and place it all at His feet.
Our father is providing us with an opportunity of a lifetime, to grow closer to Him, to learn to trust Him with everything, and to find our contentment in Him. His refusal is the greatest gift of love as those seeds will continue to sprout forth and stretch to eternity.
Today, sweet sister, if you are finding yourself in a season that wasn’t planned, instead of holding your breath waiting for the season to pass, exhale and place each desire at the feet of the father. Ask Him to help you find your contentment in Him, and trust that every season has a shared purpose of rooting you further in His love.
Word of the Day
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want; I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:12-13 NIV.
Father, your grace and your love surpass every thought, every hope, and every dream, I could conjure. There are times when I take my eyes off of you… in my forgetful, ungrateful moments, please remind me of the goodness and the contentment that can only be found in you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
By Katie Gibson
Confession time: I don’t’ like for things to be out of my control (and all of the OCD mommas say, “Amen!”).
I like all of my ducks in a row, color-coded and smallest to largest, please. I don’t understand go-with-the-flow kind of people, and I cringe at the idea of change.
Recently, my husband and I began the process of obtaining a house. Two and a half years ago we pursued full-time ministry and moved onsite at the Christian camp we were working for. Our situation is different, for sure, so our concerns grew as we sent off piles of paper to the lender, seeking approval.
My thoughts flopped back and forth like a fish out of water, from faith-filled to “doubting Thomas:” Lord, You are able… but what if we don’t qualify??
Perhaps, the most frustrating and unsettling part of it all was there was absolutely nothing I could do but wait. You can only imagine the mental whirlwind.
Feeling backed against a wall, restless, wavering in hope and overwhelmed by fear— I cried out to God.
In His merciful way, the Holy Spirit responded, reassuring and reminding me I wasn’t the first to be in the place of “pinned.” He took me back to so many instances in His word where His people found themselves in situations completely out of their control, leaving them completely dependent upon God.
I call it the place of “unless God.”
Unless God fulfilled His word, Noah was just an old fool with a giant boat.
Unless God parted the Red sea, the Israelites were dead in the water.
Unless God destroyed the walls of Jericho, Joshua was a mere marching band leader.
Unless God gave her favor with the king, Esther and her people would be annihilated.
Unless, unless, unless…
These “unless God” situations of life give us one of three options:
a. Retreat in fear. Settle for less-than-best.
b. Worry. Try to “fix” the situation ourselves.
c. Stand firm. Watch God come through on His promises.
How often have I missed out on God’s best because I’ve allowed fear to intimidate me back into my cave?
How many times have I wasted time and energy worrying and trying to push down walls that God never intended for me to move?
Friends, God’s Word has the power to build our faith in the middle of these “unless God” moments. If He can flood the earth and part seas; crumble an entire city; make the sun stand still; change the heart of man; heal the blind, the lame, the demon-possessed— then we can be sure He not only can, but He will make a way for us too.
Why? Because He loves us; because He has good plans for us. Because when there’s nowhere else to turn but God, the glory goes to no other, but God.
As for me? I decided to stand. And do you know what? At the last possible moment, when I felt as though I was on my last drop of faith… He came through. We were approved, and one step closer to our dream-come-true.
What “unless God” situation are you finding yourself in?
Unless God, I’ll never meet the bills this month.
Unless God, my marriage will never recover.
Unless God, my child will never be healed.
Be assured today: God is God, even over the impossible. If you’re feeling pinned, with nothing you can do, and nowhere to turn, simply stand. Get in the Word and let unshakable faith rise up within you today. Still your soul and wait quietly for the Lord… He will come through for you.
Word of the Day
“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. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:22-26
God, I can feel so overwhelmed when things are out of my control. Help me to resist retreating in fear or trying to carve my own path. Thank you that you are working on my behalf. Help me to stand in faith, knowing that you are God, even over the “impossible.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
By Emily Goss
There is a worn, green sign hanging from a chain-link fence that catches my eye at a local thrift store. The sign reads “Collectibles.” It is tattered and hanging sideways as if to mock the very word on the sign. Those must be some really special collectibles, I think sarcastically as I watch the sign billow in the wind. There is no trace of any expensive or rare item behind the sign. Only an old lawn mower and a plastic kid’s play set. The sign should really read “Junk.”
Do you remember having a special collection as a child? I loved collecting porcelain bunnies. I had flopsy, mopsy, and peter cotton tail. The books, nick nacks and stuffed animals decorated my cluttered room. And how I loved the Lisa Frank collection I had in middle school. The trapper keeper, stickers and pencil box were some of my most prized possessions. And who didn’t think Beanie Babies would be worth millions one day?!
As an adult, I find myself collecting less tangible and often less desirable items. Worry, anxiety and selfishness are often on display, as I take extra care to make sure they stick around. Entitlement and pride are kept under lock and key in my heart. I may not flaunt my collection but, if I’m honest, I kind of require them to “clutter my room.” I make sure to hide my collectibles and keep them in perfect order as to not draw attention to my sin, but I sure don’t want to throw them out completely.
Stress and anxiety are just a part of my day, I reason.
Everyone struggles with entitlement and pride, I rationalize.
It’s totally normal to lose it and let my anger get the best of me.
These are my collectibles... whether I like to admit it or not. My sin is concealed behind the chain-linked fence marked “Collectibles” and I need to call it what it is, “Junk.”
Proverbs 28:13 says, “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”
The issue of collecting sin is really a matter of find and replace. I need to replace the junk with something truly valuable. And the way I do this is by asking God to search my heart. Psalm 139:23 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”
It is vital that we pray this and make this the cry of our hearts. Because if we stay in denial over our sin, we cannot prosper according to the verse above. In order to receive mercy, we must confess what we know to be sin in our hearts. Even if it is a sin we kind of like. Even if it is one we’ve kept around for a while and at times find comfort in. God’s grace, love, and mercy is so much better than my collection of sin.
What is more valuable than my collection of sin? God’s word. Time with Him in His word is what I need to replace the junk in my life.
So, if you find yourself struggling with the same sin, take heart and take it to God. Confess your sin to the One who can forgive you completely.
1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “But thank God! He gives us the victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let’s walk freely in this victory today because God is so gracious to forgive. Psalm 32:5 says, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
Take time right now, in the quietness of your own heart to do some internal spring cleaning, if you will. Ask Jesus to clean out the junk you may not even know you have been collecting and replace it with truth from His word. Let his forgiveness wash over you and refresh your spirit today.
Word of the Day
“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
Lord Jesus, search my heart and know it. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. I desire to replace my collection of hidden sin with a desire to know you more. Thank you that your Word promises that if I confess my sin, I will receive mercy. Amen.