Happy Advent, friends! Take a screenshot and enjoy reading each day of the season.
Archives for November 2023
How do you feel about the word “sacrifice?” I confess it’s not my favorite. In Hebrews 13:15, sacrifice is paired with praise and thanksgiving. And for me, praise usually connotates something hopeful and heart-warming. Sacrifice does not.
I’ve seen this verse used quite a bit this time of year as one of the standard Thanksgiving verses. But what does it mean to offer a “sacrifice of praise?” This is unfamiliar terminology in today’s vernacular. I think of sacrifice as giving something at a significant cost to myself: usually, something I do for someone else or a financial or material relinquishment.
Seemingly, there is not much of a cost to praise. I praised my kids for a job well done on the courts or in the classroom. I feel the bubble of encouragement when thanked or praised by a friend or family member. Easy to give, easy to receive.
In this same vein, I find it easy to thank and praise God for the good stuff: for His protection, provision, and blessings. No sacrifice there.
Yet there are times when God seems to have looked the other way, ignoring my pain and problems and allowing my heart and body to hurt. When I’ve lost loved ones, been betrayed, or watched my children drowning in misery, it seems He’s forgotten me. Praise is not effortless in these times. It’s a struggle.
Here we are in November; ‘tis the season for gratitude, right? However, not a day passes that I don’t hear a story of tragedy or immense challenge in the lives of friends and their loved ones. Additionally, this is a heavy time here on earth as our attention drifts to the heart-wrenching news in the Middle East. We also see grim reports from other parts of the world, in our country, and locally.
And, of course, there’s the price of eggs (and gas and food and…)! Continue Reading
His Word Brings Joy Part Seven
We are not Alone
Everywhere we turn, people are struggling. Careworn. Crushed in spirit.
I am sorry if you are in a sea of pain yourself. I get messages from readers of this blog, so I know some of your deep waters.
We can feel alone in our marriages, friendships (or lack thereof), fractured families, churches, and even feel far away from God.
I want to piggyback on number one of our joy list (there is joy in His presence). Because of the epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety, it’s good to be reminded of God’s nearness. We forget. I know I need this reminder.
God is personal. When it seems we are alone, His word reminds us that we are not. He is with us, dear one. When I am consistently reading the bible, I notice that I feel less lonely because I find the delight of His nearness in its pages. I remember He is my best friend and forever companion because He tells me this is true. Continue Reading
His Word Brings Joy Part Six
God’s Word is Full of Hopeful Promises
My circumstances were dire in 2016; almost everything in my life: family, marriage, finances, health imploded. I remember a night when I fell asleep holding my Bible – clinging to the hopeful promises and comfort inside its pages – and woke up with it smashed against my side.
The Bible contains about 7,000 promises made to humankind (and I probably read half of them that night). Talk about hope! I believe that hope and joy hold hands, so when we focus on His promises and plans, this produces great joy. Despite my considerable pain, there was joy through the tears in that long season as God’s promises buoyed me each day.
Here are a few of my favorites from that time:
- “In His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope…this inheritance is kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4
- “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by water that sends its roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
- “You will show me the path of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” Psalm 16:11
- “God has said, ‘never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:15
So. Much. Hope.
If one of these scriptures feels like a big hug, I encourage you to memorize it.