Four Ways to Battle Fear and Worry

Every Christian has to decide: Am I trusting that Jesus is for me always, or am I believing His care for me diminishes based on my performance? Is Jesus my king, provider, and comforter? Or, is He a distant authority figure watching me weather storms alone?

In Matthew 14:22-33, the disciples found themselves at this crossroads. They were in the middle of a storm, frightened and hopeless. Jesus approaches them and says, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Apprehensive and uncertain, Peter calls out to Jesus, “Lord, if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water.”

Full of faith and full of trust, Peter walks on water with Jesus. But the moment is broken as soon as the wind kicks up and Peter lets fear creep back in.

Like Peter, when we trust that Jesus really does want the best for us, everything changes. We can stop worrying. We can embrace change. But inevitably, the wind will kick up again.

The alarm doesn’t go off.

You get news from your boss you weren’t expecting.

A friend betrays you.

In those moments when the worry creeps back in, we can look to Jesus or start looking for ways to keep ourselves afloat.

4 Ways To Focus on Jesus Today

1. Spend time in the Bible.

When I’m not looking for Jesus daily, my perception of Him goes from good King to enemy. His plans look terrifying and my way looks better.

Keeping our perspective in check starts with us knowing who we’re putting our trust in. Reading the Bible shows us more about Jesus and builds trust in our hearts.

2. Serve someone else for a change.

When I focus more on myself than the people around me, I give more of my attention to my own doubt and fear. Serving others allows me to remember that life is not all about me.

Serving also allows me to come face to face with situations I can’t fix or control. So as I reach out to serve others I find myself reaching up to Jesus more and more.

3. Pray.

Prayer doesn’t have to be super religious, lengthy, and eloquent. God also loves raw, honest prayers. When Peter was afraid and sinking he didn’t say, “Jesus, Holy Messiah, save me if it is your will.” He said, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)

Most of us avoid prayer because we think we have to impress someone. Prayer isn’t for me to impress Jesus. He knows my heart. Prayer allows me to grow by being open and honest with Jesus and myself.

4.  Hang out with other people who are trying to follow Jesus.

There’s power in numbers. We’re more likely to have faith and be less fearful when we’re surrounded by people who point us back to Jesus (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Jesus’ love, provision, and sovereignty are always present. But I can see those things more clearly through the love and support of Christian friends. Celebrating God’s miracles in each others’ lives helps to make those moments real and gives us touchstones to go back to when fear creeps in.

Peter was only able to walk on water when he kept his eyes on Jesus. The miracle of change, the ability to do the impossible, comes when we do the same — putting our eyes on Jesus rather than storms that surround us.

Day 3: Three Steps to Better Communication

Does it ever feel like you and your spouse speak completely different languages? You say one thing, your spouse hears another, and so begins an evening of arguing.

Marriage is a gift, meant to bring us joy, make us more like Jesus, and be a visible example of God’s love for His children. Communication is often the biggest obstacle to what marriage is intended to be.

So how do we change how we communicate?

1. It starts with you. 

It’s easy to point a finger at our spouse. Think about how often you start sentences, “If only you would …”

The end of that sentence might be an area of weakness for your spouse. But the truth is we can’t control our spouse’s actions. We can only control our own. Improving communication starts by turning that finger back on ourselves and asking the Lord to show us our own sin (Matthew 7:5).

2. Examine your heart.

What comes out of our mouths is an overflow of what is in our hearts (Luke 6:45). Chances are if you don’t like what you’re saying, or if your spouse doesn’t like what they’re hearing, the issue is in your heart, not your words.

3. Listen to the Holy Spirit.

When we are in a relationship with God, His Spirit lives in us. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to change the way we communicate with our spouse.

Our conversations don’t need to be filled with anger, rage, slander, lies, or foul language (Colossians 3:8). Instead, as we follow Jesus and learn to take His attitude toward our spouse, we show grace for each others’ faults. We forgive one another, submit to one another, and love one another. It’s pretty easy to guess which behaviors will produce better communication between a husband and a wife.

Better communication doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a daily decision to choose loving God and loving our spouse over loving ourselves. But when we allow God to show us how to communicate, He will strengthen our marriages and be honored through them.

Questions for him:

  • Which behaviors from Colossians 3 do you see in yourself?
  • What do you want to see more of instead?

Questions for her:

  • Which behaviors from Colossians 3 do you see in yourself?
  • What do you want to see more of instead?

Question to talk about together:

  • What’s one thing I could start doing or stop doing to improve how we talk to one another?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 8: Sex Is Sacred

God created sex, and it is good!

When God brought Adam and Eve together in the Garden of Eden for the first marriage ceremony, they were naked and had no shame (Genesis 2:25).

The Bible has a high view of sex in a covenant marriage between husband and wife. Hebrews 13:4 says everything about the marriage bed is pure and holy. So shame or awkwardness don’t belong there.

The Bible says to enjoy sex and dedicates an entire book, the Song of Solomon, to celebrating the sensual side of marriage — sometimes in explicit detail (Proverbs 5:18-19).

Sex is so important to a happy marriage that the apostle Paul warns spouses not to withhold sex or use it as a bargaining chip. Sex is so holy and good that only prayer can take its place, for a short, mutually-agreed upon season (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).

As with all good gifts from God, sex is under constant attack by the enemy. Whether it’s the physical demands of our schedules or nighttime routines that kill romance, sex in marriage can become an afterthought — dutiful, selfish, or lazy.

The key to sex in a great marriage is to hold sex in high honor. God wants us to see sex as a sacred, spiritual act, a way to worship Him for the gift of your spouse. Making time for sex and learning what it takes to make sex more pleasurable for each other is the most basic way to show that it matters to God and it matters to you.

Better sex is a spiritual connection to be more fully expressed.

Elevating our view of sex requires open communication about each other’s expectations, likes and dislikes, discomforts, and struggles. In a culture of sexual brokenness, our attitudes and feelings toward sex are often filled with lies.

Most importantly, sex can’t be treated as separate to your marriage. The best sex is a celebration of the trust, intimacy, safety, affection, and service inside your marriage. Better sex is a spiritual connection to be more fully expressed.

Questions for him:

  • Is your attitude toward sex more than just physical? How would your wife see that?

Questions for her:

  • What emotional barriers do you have to sex, if any? Where do those barriers come from?

Question to talk about together:

  • What’s one physical and one emotional way you can improve your sex life?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 13: Disappointments Don’t Have to Break Your Marriage

Read: Psalm 91

We all encounter loss or disappointment at some point in our life. Where do you go when you don’t get the job, when your kids decide they no longer believe, or the diagnosis isn’t what you thought it would be?

We all react to disappointments differently. Some withdraw, become emotional, or get depressed. Others make themselves busy. And some obsess about trying to fix everything.

Psalm 91 reminds us that when disappointments come our way, we are not alone. God is right there with us. God can heal our loss, our hurt, and our anxiety.

We need to communicate with our spouses about the turmoil in our lives. But our spouses are our partners, not our saviors. Husbands and wives cannot heal our hurts the way God can. Only God can rescue us, protect us, deliver us, and satisfy us (Psalm 91:14-16).

Our spouses are our partners, not our saviors.

Maybe your disappointment is your spouse. There might be deep pain and regret in your marriage. You might think your relationship is beyond repair, but nothing is too far gone for God to repair.

When disappointment comes, Satan would love nothing more than to isolate you or convince you no one cares. So as hard as it may be, open up to your spouse and to your heavenly Father about how you feel. You can share your worries with God, knowing that He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)

Maybe you need to go a step further. Ask another couple to come alongside you and your spouse in this season, to pray for you and encourage you. Marriage counseling can also be helpful when recovering from disappointments and losses.

Do not be afraid to ask for help from God and from others. God is our ultimate healer, and He often works through His people. When we share our pain with each other, we’ll find ourselves growing closer to Jesus and closer together.

Questions for him:

  • How do you respond to disappointment in your own life? In your wife’s life?

Questions for her:

  • How do you respond to disappointment in your own life? In your husband’s life?

Questions to talk about together:

  • What’s the biggest disappointment you’ve faced since getting married?
  • What’s the best way I can comfort or support you during tough times?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 14: Commit to More Than Not Getting Divorced

When it comes to setting goals, we tend to focus on performance rather than purpose. As a result, we frame goals negatively. We vow, “I’m going to stop eating so much junk food.” Instead of, “I’m going to eat healthier foods to fuel my body.”

In the same way, when we commit to staying together, we can, intentionally or unintentionally, put all of our focus on surviving instead of thriving.

Success in marriage is more than “sticking it out for the kids.” Living with someone who doesn’t speak to you — sharing your house but not your heart — is not what Solomon had in mind when he wrote, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22).

Marriage is a gift from God, and like all of God’s gifts, it’s meant for His glory and our joy. God made marriage. We are His in body and Spirit, and our unions are designed to draw people to His extraordinary love for the world (Malachi 2:15).

Our unions are designed to draw people to God’s extraordinary love for the world.

Seeing two people pursue one another, forgive one another, sacrifice for one another, and bring the best out of one another — what better picture is there of the way God loves us? God’s love keeps loving. It’s a love we learn to express by experiencing it ourselves (1 John 4:19).

Through loving each other, we become less like the person we were and more of the person God made us to be. Marriage is meant to change us, and this, too, is a good gift. Our best selves and our best lives are revealed as we allow God, through marriage, to make us more like Him.

God wants us to stay together, but He also wants us to be in this together. Not divorcing should not be our only goal. Loving each other as Jesus loved us, that’s the goal. And if we pursue that goal, we’ll find that we not only stay together, we’ll become more like Jesus in the process.

Questions for him:

  • What part of your marriage most glorifies God?
  • What is the biggest challenge in your marriage? What part do you play?

Questions for her:

  • What part of your marriage most glorifies God?
  • What is the biggest challenge in your marriage? What part do you play?

Questions to talk about together:

  • Would watching your marriage encourage or discourage someone else thinking about getting married?
  • Do you both have a relationship with Jesus? How are you pursuing Him individually and together?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 1: Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table

When we’re panicked and ready to run, God is perfectly calm. When we’re ready to retreat, He prepares a table for us. Why? Because no matter how out of control we feel, God is still in control.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…”
(Psalm 23:5)

When we spend time with the King in the presence of our enemies, we realize we have everything we need to face the situation at hand. We start reflecting His peace to the people around us — including our enemies. Instead of seeing us squirm, our enemy sees us getting stronger.

But if we’re not careful, the enemy will pull up a chair at our table, and we’ll start reflecting his attitude to everyone instead of the Lord’s. Instead of feeling more secure, we’ll grow more paranoid. Instead of increasing in confidence, we’ll become crippled by fear.

The goal of this week is to identify our enemy, so we can banish him from our table. Take a few minutes today to learn more about who the enemy is, and tomorrow we’ll start looking at how to know if he’s been speaking to you.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 2: What Are You Looking for?

“… for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 14-15

Satan doesn’t need to scare us into submission. He simply manipulates the fears and desires we already have.

One of the easiest ways to get us to question God’s goodness is to convince us that He’s holding out. “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) has been destroying human beings since Genesis 3. The enemy is the one telling us, “It’s better over there,” or “You’d be better off if you just…”

Whatever we think we need, we better believe the enemy will call attention to it. Whatever words we’ve been waiting for God to say, we’re going to hear them spoken over someone else. Comparison steals our joy by taking our eyes off the feast before us and putting them on what God is feeding someone else instead.

We don’t have to live this way. Grow in contentment instead of being controlled through comparison.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 4: You Are Not Worthless

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Not all, but much of the anxiety we experience comes from feeling like we’ll never be enough. Smart enough to accomplish the dream in our hearts. Charismatic enough for other people to listen to us. Holy enough for God to like us.

Those thoughts are not from the Lord. We may feel unworthy at times, but we were never worthless. God loved us so much He sent His Son to pay for our sin so we could have a relationship with Him. Jesus gave His life to be at the table with us. That’s how valuable we are.

When we lose sight of God’s love for us, we begin to live like we are responsible for everything. We forget that God is waiting for us at the table, ready to provide for our physical and emotional needs. Instead of settling our hearts in His presence, we strive to be better and achieve more.

If we’re living each day full of worry and apprehension, it’s time to slow down and ask, “Why?” Follow up the answer to “Why?” with “Who told us that?”

The enemy is crafty, and he will feed anxiety every chance he gets. Instead, allow Jesus to calm your anxious heart.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 5: Who’s really out to get you?

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Does it ever feel like the whole world is out to get you? 

While that feeling is real, it’s probably not true. Not everyone is out to get us. It’s more likely that one person is out to get us, and his name is Satan.

Satan is our real enemy, and he will exploit any hostility he finds to shift our focus away from God. If we get in a dispute with a neighbor, his is the voice telling us that everyone knows and they’re all on the neighbor’s side. Soon, we’re convinced the whole neighborhood is against us.

Bitterness builds resentment and makes it harder and harder to hear from God. This is why forgiveness is such a powerful weapon against our enemy. Where the enemy tells us to watch our backs and defend ourselves, God says, “That’s my job. You get to forgive. Leave everything else to me.”

Imagine that for a second. No more looking over our shoulders or plotting how we’ll get back at everyone. Instead of waking up exhausted, we can finally rest our mind and enjoy the day.

Bitterness never hurts the person we’re mad at. In fact, the person most affected by our bitterness is probably us. Allow forgiveness to set you free.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 3: You Will Get through This

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil …” Psalm 23:4

Part of what makes roller coasters scary is not knowing what’s coming. We can’t see the drops,  twists, or reverses until we’re in them.

Often, life feels the same way. Everything is fine until someone gets sick or the company announces it’s closing. “You’re not going to make it through this,” we hear in our head.

Fear overwhelms us until we remember who we’re facing the situation with. God, our Good Shepherd, brings us through the valley of the shadow of death. Not to the valley, but through the valley.

Our security is not based on what happens to us or what God gives us, but on His presence with us. When the enemy tries to fill our hearts with fear, we should remember who we’re with, and put our eyes on the Good Shepherd instead.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 6: What do I do when someone hurts me?

Read: Luke 6:27-36

Even Christians can experience rage. Your body shakes. The heat rises to your cheeks. Your mind can’t comprehend how someone could mistreat someone so badly. You’re seething as you think, “How could they?”

A reality of being a human on planet Earth is that someone, someday, in some way will hurt you. When that happens, what should our response be?

Jesus gives us an answer in Luke 6:27-36. Love people, even when they are not lovable, even when you don’t want to. Give grace, be merciful.

No one knows more about loving people who don’t deserve it than Jesus. No one else can sympathize with you more than Jesus. He was hurt, made fun of, and talked about. Yet, He was willing to die for those who hurt him.

Our goal as Christians is to mirror what Jesus’ response was. Jesus knows all the unlovable people in your life, and He can equip you to love them the way He does.

The best way to begin changing our hearts toward someone is to pray for them (Luke 6:28). Be honest with God about your frustrations. Talk to Him about how hard it is to love that person, and see how God starts to transform your heart and mind.

It’s easy to respond to pain with pain. But only love will lead to healing. The more we love those who hurt us, the more our hearts are opened to letting Jesus heal our pain. Jesus is able to understand your pain, turn your heart toward forgiveness, and help you love. That’s what the grace of Jesus does.

Loving your enemies won’t be easy. It takes an effort to offer mercy as Jesus did, but He promises the reward is worth the work (Luke 6:35). If we will try to forgive and love, we will start to see our hearts soften. Give your hurt to Jesus day after day, and watch how He grows your heart.

Reflect:

  • Is there anyone in your life you need to forgive?
  • Do you need help loving a specific person? Ask God for help and how He would have you respond to that person. 

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 1: What Breaks Your Heart?

Read: Nehemiah 1

Nehemiah’s story started with a burden. He saw the condition of Jerusalem’s wall and knew the situation was desperate. Without a wall, people returning to Jerusalem after years in captivity would be unprotected and vulnerable to attack.

Nehemiah was brokenhearted, but he didn’t tackle the problem immediately. Why? He first needed to bring his burden before the Lord.

The state of Jerusalem’s wall reflected the condition of the Jewish people’s relationship with God. Disobedience had left their city and their lives in disarray. So before Nehemiah could fix the brokenness surrounding the city, he asked God to fix the brokenness inside the people of the city. Forgiveness was the foundation everything else would be built on.

Once the people were right with God, Nehemiah began to pray about what was next. All the while, God positioned Nehemiah so he’d have influence with the king and with the people. God had arranged it so a foreign king provided resources to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.

Imagine what God is arranging behind the scenes, so you can do more than you ever thought possible.

Look around. What breaks your heart? What has God put in front of you that you can’t ignore? Until our hearts are broken for the situations and people around us, we’ll maintain the status quo.

Once you know what your burden is, go to Jesus in prayer. Ask Him what to do next.

Consider This:

What are you burdened about?

Pray:

Jesus, I am burdened about ___________________________. What should I do next? I want to make a difference. Help me make a difference.


Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 4: Get Ready for Battle

Read: Nehemiah 4

Nehemiah realized his opposition posed a real and menacing threat. In order to stay ready, Nehemiah had the people keep their swords close by at all times. He took his enemy seriously and prepared people to defend themselves at a moment’s notice. This level of vigilance is difficult to maintain when the work is so demanding.

Like those rebuilding the wall, we have a real enemy who wants to destroy God’s work in us. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The good news is we haven’t been left defenseless. We have the armor of God, and our sword is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:10-17Hebrews 4:12).

Armed with the truth of the Bible, we can withstand Satan’s lies and the self-doubt that plagues our minds. With God’s Word hidden in our hearts, we can avoid giving into sin and step confidently into the future.

Like those building the wall, we must take our enemy seriously and have our sword at the ready. The truth of God’s Word is a sword in the hand of a difference maker. Every day, difference  makers ask, “What truth from the Bible can I apply in my life right now?”

Consider This:

Do you view God’s Word as a weapon?

Pray:

Jesus, help me as I commit to reading the Bible. Help me understand. Help me apply what I read to my life.


Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 6: The Critics Are Coming

Read: Nehemiah 6

Anytime you want to make a difference, there will be critics. Every difference maker faces opposition. Nehemiah experienced resistance first hand. The critics showed up in Nehemiah 4 as the wall started going up. They continued taunting Nehemiah and his crew throughout the process.

To the critic, rebuilding the wall seemed impossible. They rooted for the Jews to fail. Anytime we take a next step, we experience criticism just as Nehemiah did.

When a friend or relative suddenly becomes our biggest critic, it’s often because the change we are experiencing challenges and convicts them of their own lack of action. For a critic, our success draws attention to their personal failures.

The critics are going to come. We can follow Nehemiah’s example and focus on what God is calling us to do. Or, we can be distracted by the critics who are rooting for us to fail. But, we can’t do both.

Overcoming opposition is about realizing who we are and what we’ve been called by God to do. When we seek God’s voice above all others, we’ll find the confidence to do the work. Just as Nehemiah refused to come off the wall, we must not be distracted from the work God has called us to do.

Consider This:

What’s one step you can take this week to prepare your heart for the criticism that’s sure to come?

Pray:

Jesus, help me stay on course regardless of the criticism I face.


Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 7: Are You Doing Enough?

You’re serving at church, volunteering with local charities, and helping at school. Every second of the day is accounted for, yet so much is left undone. Your days are long, and your body is exhausted. At the end of the day, you wonder, “When will it be enough?”

It’s overwhelming to look at a hurt and broken world. Too often, we see all the needs at once. We want to love others, but in our striving, we leave ourselves burned out and too busy to hear from God.

In Matthew 22, Jesus reminds the religious elite (and all those listening) to make the main thing the main thing. If we’ll focus on loving God and loving our neighbors, it will result in us fulfilling God’s commands.

We don’t have to end world hunger in an afternoon or heal every broken heart in one day. Instead, Jesus says the most important thing we can do is to love Him and love others. That’s our charge.

So rather than getting overwhelmed by all that we can’t do, we start with what we can do. Loving our neighbors can be as simple as cooking an extra lasagna to bring to the new mom next door or the widow across the street.

When we are loving God with our heart, soul, and mind, we are more in tune with His Spirit in us. The Holy Spirit is a helper and a guide. We can trust the Holy Spirit to show us opportunities to love people one at a time.

That’s how we make a difference — not by running down a list or striving to hold everything together. We change the world by loving God and showing visible love where He tells us to.

Reflect:

  • Why do you think Jesus put the emphasis on loving God and others instead of following all the laws? 
  • Is there a big need you feel overwhelmed by? 
  • What is one thing small thing you could do to meet that need today?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 9: God’s Not Scared Of Your Mess

Read: Nehemiah 9

How do you picture God? Is He angry, vengefully looking to punish your next mistake?

That’s a different god than the God Nehemiah describes. God rescued the Israelites from slavery by parting the Red Sea and leading them to the promised land. When they were hungry, God rained down bread from heaven. When they were thirsty, water flowed from a rock. God provided for Israel at every turn.

You would think Israel would be forever grateful. But instead, Nehemiah describes them as entitled and arrogant. They failed to obey commands and forgot the miracles God performed among them. God had every right to punish Israel, but instead, He showed them grace. Though there were consequences for their sin, God never abandoned them. He relentlessly pursued them with compassion, love, and protection. That’s the kind of father God is.

Israel’s story is our story. Even when we are sinful, God pursues us, acting justly and faithfully, even when we do wrong. God is not scared of our mess. He meets us right in the middle of it.

Nehemiah thanks God for His mercy despite the Israelites’ sin. And hundreds of years later, God sends the greatest difference maker of all in Jesus. God chose these people with their messy past to introduce the Savior of the world to the world. He truly is a gracious God! In light of all God has done, the only response is gratitude.

Consider This:

How does looking at your current situation through the lens of God’s grace change your perspective?

Pray:

Jesus, here’s how You’ve been good to me… (List the ways.)


Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 4: Hope for Single Moms

Why am I walking this journey? All the other moms seem to have it all together, and I am struggling to put food on the table. Why did God even choose me to be a mother?

If you are having similar thoughts, rest assured that you are not alone. Grab a Kleenex, a comfy reading spot, and let’s dive into Hagar’s story.

Abraham and Sarah grew weary and impatient waiting on God’s promise of children to come true. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah ordered Hagar, an Egyptian slave in their household, to sleep with her husband in an attempt to build a family.

Hagar became pregnant and began to despise her master, and Sarah likely grew jealous of Hagar’s ability to bear her husband a child. Sarah tells Abraham that it is his fault she is miserable, and he basically gives Sarah permission to do whatever she wants to Hagar. Sarah begins to mistreat Hagar, and Hagar runs away.

God always comes through on his promises; He feels our hurts and hears our cries for help.

Have you found yourself in a difficult predicament, with children, and wonder just where God is leading you? Has your heart cried out for hope, wholeness, and healing?

An angel of the Lord visits Hagar in the wilderness and orders her to return and submit to her mistress, promising her she will give birth to a son named Ishmael and countless more descendants. Hagar was running away from a difficult situation, but God stayed with her and gave her the courage to face the brokenness. Hagar gave birth to a son named Ishmael, translating to “God hears”.

Even when we have doubts and fears, God always comes through on His promises; He feels our hurts and hears our cries for help. Hagar’s story is one of hope. God listened to her cries and felt her brokenness; He stayed with her, pursued her, and delivered her.

God sees your struggle and will guide you through it.

Parenting is hard work in the best of situations. Single mom, God’s grace and mercy fills in all the gaps and crevices in motherhood that you possibly could not. His grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9). God sees your struggle and will guide you through it. Hagar thought she could escape her misery but God not only returned her to it, He blessed her through it. Let Hagar’s story provide the hope you need when you feel the most alone.

Reflect:

  • Are you in a less-than-ideal parenting situation? Meditate on 1 Peter 5:10. Don’t give up hope! God will restore you if you just trust Him!
  • Have you ever tried to escape your problems only to learn that escape is a temporary solution? God wants to help you. Read Philippians 4:13 and 1 Peter 5:7 and stand renewed in your faith that God is a promise maker and a promise keeper.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 6: Is Waiting Worthwhile or a Waste?

Read: Luke 1:5-80

What do you do when you feel called to be a mom, but it just isn’t happening? You probably hear a lot of:
“When are y’all having a baby?”
“Well, have you tried ____?”
“It’ll happen when you stop thinking about it.”

If only.

Elizabeth was not unaware of these expectations of others. As the wife of a priest, and during that time, many viewed infertility as evidence of sin. Still today, infertility can feel like a punishment—especially when everyone else seems to be getting the exact thing you are praying for. Thoughts like “maybe if I read the Bible and prayed more …” are pervasive, but this wasn’t true for Zechariah and Elizabeth. The Bible says that “both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly” (Luke 1:6). Elizabeth was barren, and both she and Zechariah were advanced in age, so it would be easy to feel hopeless and that their prayers for a child would go unanswered.

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished (Luke 1:45)

In her years of waiting, Elizabeth likely didn’t always feel “blessed,” or that her suffering would end. But, feelings are fleeting, and they are no indication of how God is working behind the scenes on our behalf. God has a purpose and a plan that is greater than ours. Elizabeth was faithful, and her prayers were heard. Motherhood, which seemed like a distant dream, would eventually become reality.

Feelings are fleeting, and they are no indication of how God is working behind the scenes on our behalf.

Though we can read Elizabeth’s full story in a matter of minutes, it’s important to remember that it took many years of waiting. It is easy to celebrate alongside Elizabeth when we know how her story ends, but our story is still being written. During the waiting, we can find comfort in these lessons from Elizabeth’s story:

  • God has a purpose and a plan that is greater than ours.
  • The best predictor of God’s future faithfulness is His past provision.
  • God’s timing is always best.
  • God is a promise maker and a promise keeper.

Reflect:

  • What are you praying for that feels impossible? (Luke 1:37)
  • In what ways has God proven faithful to you in the past?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Ridiculously Life Changing – Jeff Foxworthy & Wayne Cook’s Story

Famous comedian, actor, and author Jeff Foxworthy credits Wayne Cook, who he met at the Atlanta Mission, for changing his life forever.

“I was experiencing homelessness but I was living hopelessness, which is something that is way more severe and required a lot more attention than I realized,” says Cook. After trying to intimidate his small group leaders to get them to stop showing up, he finally accepted their love and attention… and snacks!

Why Does God Allow Trials and Storms?

Many people experience trial after trial and don’t understand why. The first question we must ask ourselves is whether we’re participating in creating the trials. Are we reaping what we’ve sown? If not, consider the alternative — He’s training us for bigger things.

We endure the hardships that God allowed to pass through His hand so that we may grow in holiness. When we endure trial after trial, God just might be training us for a big assignment. Remember: God works all things together for good.

Truth Be Told – Townhall

This week is our town hall (Q&A) format. Pastor Miles Welch digs deeper into the lies we believe and how the enemy uses those lies to take us out. He takes questions from the small groups in the room ranging on:

  • The Anatomy of a Lie
  • Your Heart & Strength For God
  • Trials & Storms
  • Sin & Consequences
  • Fear & Anxiety
  • Forgiveness
  • Confidence in Our Faith

 

Lie: True Christ Followers Have Storm Free Lives

Just because we follow Jesus doesn’t mean we will have trouble-free, storm-free lives. The Bible tells us that, “in this world, we will have trouble.” (John 16:33) But Jesus also tells us He will strengthen us for the storms of life.

We need to build our foundation on God and His truth in the Bible. That will make us strong enough to withstand the storms.

Decoration vs Foundation

Pastor Kevin uses a house as a metaphor for our lives. We want to have a great house (life) so we put great energy – and money – into securing and decorating the best possible house. And so we think, if we can improve appearances and make life beautiful, we can improve our lives.

But soon enough a storm comes along in our health, our marriage, our family, our faith, our career, etc. And it’s in the storm, that we figure out, it’s not the decoration that determines if our house (life) stands strong – it’s what we have in our foundation.

Fear Not and Get Out of the Boat

“Fear Not” is the most repeated command in the Bible. And fear is the number one reason people avoid doing what God asks them to do.

Think back to a time when you felt afraid: What or whom did you turn to for comfort? Often, it’s anything or anyone other than God. God wants us to turn to Him first! When we do, God blesses our obedience, and we save ourselves a lot of heartache.

How David Glorified God in the Cave

As David and his mighty men were holed up in a cave for his safety, David longed to be free and enjoy the comforts of home. Three of his mighty men risked their lives to deliver what he craved most. Instead of enjoying the water from his favorite well in Bethlehem, he poured it out as an offering to God.

Pastor Brian Tome of Crossroads Church explains how we can experience this kind of transformation. We know we’ve turned a corner in our suffering when we stop thinking about ourselves and our problems. And we start thinking about God, and how worthy He is to be praised and worshiped in all situations.

God Builds You in the Low Places

We all have times in which we feel down and like our tough situation will never improve. What should we do in those moments of despair? Some people turn to old vices and bad habits. Some people turn away and shut out the world.

Pastor Brian Tome of Crossroads Church encourages us to turn to God. Just like He did for David in the Bible, God will build us up and we will be transformed.

The Momentum David Gained

Senior Pastor Brian Tome of Crossroads Church recreates David’s run down the mountain and the casting of stones, as he tells the Bible story of the battle of David and Goliath.

In our lives, we can see parallels to being in a valley and facing a seemingly impossible-to-beat giant. With God’s help, we can gain momentum and conquer life’s battles.

Carry Your Own Load to Love Others

It’s an expression of love when we carry our own load. This means when we have a responsibility to do something, people can count on us to get it done.

When we carry our own load and live up to our responsibilities, it creates maturity, stability, and a healthy environment in which the people around us can thrive.

Faith Seeks God Earnestly

It’s not enough for us to live off someone else’s faith. We need to seek God earnestly ourselves so that we can have our own experiences with God and grow our faith.

When we seek God, we will see God – and that will compel us to seek God further. This practice helps us to solidify faith as the center of our lives.

Faith Sees God Early

Just like Joshua in the Bible, we can choose to see an opportunity for faith instead of falling victim to fear.

The faith of seeing God early in the midst of trouble is a mindset and practice we can develop. Then, when the rest of the world only sees problems, we can recall God’s promises.