Hope for the Hard Days

No one is immune to trouble.

Job 5:7 but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.

For some reason, we tend to walk around in Christian circles believing that no one else struggles with the same challenges we have. Or that no one is dealing with sin like we do. We bury our real and true selves under a façade of fake smiles and trite expressions when in reality the moment we share that we really have had a bad day, or week and the other person smiles in relief with a “me too!”

If we are to bear each other’s burdens, there is a sacrifice that must be made. And make no mistake we are to do just this, but sometimes we underestimate the weight of that burden.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I don’t know about you but when I read the headlines of the latest news broadcast and check in on Facebook to see the latest child abduction post, political rhetoric from all sides, and just the debauchery that exists in our world, I find my mind goes to a very negative place. Add in the prayer requests and needs of those who have lost loved ones, who are fighting the vicious monster cancer, and yet others who bear unbelievable heartache and heartbreak, it’s easy to believe that life is just too much.

In these times I am reminded that while I am told to bear each other’s burden, I am not doing any of this alone. As a matter of fact, the One who has given me my purpose and job to do here on this earth has already told me His yoke is easy and his burden is light!

Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

How can this be, when there is so much to be weighed down with that is just what’s outside of me? When I add the weight of the sin I struggle against, the unexpected bad news I hear, or the prayers I pray for my own family – I must immediately turn to the One who knows, sees and hears all.  Laying my burdens and cares at His feet is the ONLY way that I can move forward in this life and help care for others in the way that they need from me. Just a few verses before He tells us His yoke is easy, He tells us in vs. 28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

The enemy is crafty –he seeks to steal our joy in a multitude of ways, including the words that others say or don’t say, the pressure he applies to those walking outside God’s protection, and the rampant sin at work in our world. All of this combine to bear much weight on the Christian and even more so the Christian in ministry – because we feel those things so keenly. My heart literally hurts physically when I know that others who I care about, or who entrust me with their cares and woes need my support and prayer. Speaking and ministering at conferences can weigh me down quite literally where I need to rest for several days after. Writing and laboring over words that others need to hear can be physically exhausting because of the spiritual battle that is also taking place. Physical rest becomes necessary because of the mental, emotional and spiritual battles taking place.

This is why I sympathize for those in any position of Christian ministry and for their families. The weight they bear is heavier than we can know. The weight of their knowledge can be unfathomable.  The hits in ministry continue without an end in sight.

If you’re not in ministry, you still know the weight. As women we bear these burdens as well. Burdens for our family, our friends, and our church.  The Christian life MUST be lived in our consistent walk in the Word. The consistent practice of filling our minds with the words of Christ, then combined with the act of submission in prayer leaving the burdens we bear at the feet of the only One able to carry them for us.  If we avoid this, or underestimate its importance, we run the risk that our minds will be filled with the difficult news, the negative attitudes and the disappointing and sorrow filled headlines that scream for our attention. And the truth is what we fill our minds with becomes what we live out in our lives.

This morning I read in Hebrews 12 and I continued thinking through this further. This is part of the race we run.  See vs. 1,2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

And then further vs. 12-14

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

All of this rests squarely on our understanding that He is the source. The Holy Spirit power that resides in each of us at salvation.

Our hope truly rests in Him today. Without Him we can do nothing, and as much as we think we can carry our burdens on our own, we will fail miserably.

John 15:5  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

If we can’t bear our own burdens in our own strength how can we even begin to think that we can bear the burdens of others as we are commanded in Scripture?

Obedience follows obedience and our comfort and peace are in Him alone. While we cannot live in a vacuum and avoid the bad news or negative spirits around us, we can and must prioritize the place of His Word and prayer and meditation in our lives above the other noise.

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Face Your Goliath

by Angela Jamison

Last week in my Women’s Small Group we discussed the Bible story of David and Goliath. We pondered on how brave David was to stand up to Goliath after soldiers twice his size ran in fear and how much faith he held to do so scantily armed and with little doubt. Even when Saul attempted to talk him out of it or Goliath himself laughed in his face, David stood strong in the belief and knowledge that God had saved him from adversity before and He would do it again.

David stood up to Goliath.

After a brief discussion, I proposed a question …

What Goliath in your life do you need to stand up to? 

 We all have one, a giant in our life that we spend more time and energy on avoiding than simply facing. These are the moments when the Bible, and it’s truths, come alive for me.  The moments when I can insert myself into the story, see and feel, the depth of it’s meaning.

David and Goliath could be a fairy a tale. A fairy tale of the underdog winning against the big bully, taking him down with one well placed stone. It could be.

But it’s not. 

David and Goliath is a story of faith, a story of the necessity of believing in God’s mercies and arming ourselves, every day, with his power and love. David didn’t win because he had a large stone, was a top-notch pitcher or kung-fu master. David won because he believed he could and he trusted in the One who had protected him always.

David won because he had God.

The best part of this story? We can win, too! Just as David did, we too can face our Goliath and take him down because we have the strength and the power and the love of the most strong Almighty Father.

 It’s so easy to be like the hundreds of other soldiers running from Goliath in fear. It takes faith to stand up and be like David. So again, I ask …

What Goliath in your life do you need to stand up to?

 Sometimes our Goliath is an outside force, another person or situation, but often times, our Goliath lives within ourselves. Sometimes, our Goliath is the doubt, the fear, the self-deprecating talk we allow to manifest in our hearts and minds. We are our own worst enemy, our own Goliath.

David won because he had God and we can win too. Wrap yourself in the blanket of truth of God’s word, knowing and believing He will deliver you from whatever giant you are facing, inwardly or outwardly. With Him, you are capable and through Him you are strengthened.

Stock your arsenal with these Bible verses to help you stand up to your Goliath…

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. -Philippians 4:13

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.  -Psalm 119:114

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all – Psalm 34:19

headshotAngela Jamison is a mother of four and works with young children as the Director of a Christian Preschool. She derives joy from children and is passionate about connecting with mothers to encourage and reiterate God’s design for the toughest job on Earth. 

 After struggling with infertility, Angela and her husband entered the world of foster care and began the journey to create their family on God’s terms.

When she is not entertaining children, or buying LulaRoe, Angela loves to read, write and explore the path being laid before her by the most perfect parent, our Heavenly Father.

Read more of Angela’s writing and journey at www.angelajamison.com

Bible Studies & Giveaways!

The recent Bible studies released through Women of Faith include 3 titles – Building Your Strengths, Praying with Power and Giving God your Future. Each study includes twelve weeks of lessons with easy to understand illustrations.  The questions for each lesson have you turning in your Bibles to find the answers and prompt deeper thought about each topic.  There are multiple insets throughout the book with a quote or verse highlighted for special focus. Each lesson also contains three smaller sections at the end helping to dig deeper into the topic for the week, how to meditate and pray, and a trinket to treasure – an object designed to help us remember the lesson.  The format is easy to follow and the consistency between the books make each one an easy transition to the next.  With forwards written by Patsy Clairmont and Thelma Wells, the name recognition give to each study should help it be very successful on shelves in bookstores.

Each lesson is fairly short.  The illustration/explanation is usually just the first page, most of the study relies on answering the questions which are firmly based in Scripture.  These studies will not take an enormous amount of time each day to complete and can be easily added to your ongoing Bible reading without creating too much additional work.  I appreciate so much that the majority of the questions in these studies leads you back to your Bible – the answers aren’t found in the book itself.  This is a feature that is a huge benefit I believe for encouraging actual study to take place in our Bibles.

Included in the back of the book is a leader guide, in case someone chose to do this study with a small group – no extra purchase is necessary.  It is extremely convenient, not to mention a great savings for those of us used to having to purchase an additional leader’s guide to conduct a study.

After having planned on reading Praying with Power first, I decided to sit down one afternoon and take a quick glance through on Building Your Strengths.  Instead of glancing through though, I stopped and did the study and read the book in its entirety.  This is a very practical guide to thinking through our strengths and how God can use them to further His kingdom.  Not just stopping with our own strength though the author does make sure to acknowledge the Divine Strength that we as children have access to in God our Father.  The practical application of all the chapters is an outward focus which I believe is an important one for us women as we can many times become consumed by the demands on our time and energy. I look forward to finishing all 3 of these studies in the days ahead.

From the foreword Building Your Strengths –
“If God sends us on strong paths, we are provided strong shoes.” Corrie Ten Boom

IF you’d like a free copy of each of these three studies – you are in luck!  I’m giving away one set of these three books to one lucky winner!  Follow the instructions below – do all three things:

  1. Leave a comment on the blog by sharing which book you’d be most interested in reading.
  2. Like the Encouraging Women Today Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/encouragingwomen2day/
  3. Share this giveaway with others –either by sharing the links to the website encouragingwomentoday.com or the Facebook page link to this blog post.