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"We are committed to helping you grow in grace-filled, daily discipline! The habit of a Quiet Time looks different in every season, and we hope that these articles will encourage you to just keep going by the grace of Jesus!"

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November 25, 2021

5 Practical Ways to Express Gratitude to God

How to Cultivate a Grateful Heart

By Miranda Ewing

A few weeks ago, my one-year-old son ran the highest fever he’s ever had. My husband and I nervously passed our flushed baby back and forth as we scrolled our phones, looking for remedies. When we took him to urgent care the next day, the doctor told us his molars were coming in, and his fever would pass soon. I breathed a sigh of relief and said out loud to my husband, “Praise God.” 

I am quick to give God thanks when a troubling situation is resolved, when my frustrations or anxieties are soothed, or when something goes my way. But am I quick to thank Him in the menial moments of the day? Do I look for opportunities to notice His handiwork and how His blessings have shaped my life? 

The answer is often “no.” It is far too easy to go through life without thanking God for His kindness. But a grateful heart is something God delights in.

So, how can we cultivate a grateful heart? 

1. Begin the day with thanks.

After you wake up in the morning, let your first words be thanksgiving to the Lord: “Thank you Father for giving me another day. Thank you for making me Your own. Thank you that, whatever this day holds, I can rest secure in the gospel.” If it is hard for you to remember to begin the day in conversation with the Lord, you might write your prayer out on a piece of paper to put up near your bed or on your bathroom mirror.

2. Thank Him in your worship.

One of the easiest ways to thank the Lord is to sing praises to Him. Sing songs of praise around the houses, in the car, on walks, and in your quiet time. As we thank Him with song, we repeat the truth about Him to ourselves and to others. We are blessed with renewed minds as we worship and thank our Heavenly Father! How incredible!

3. Speak of all of His benefits.

Psalm 103:2 says: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” There is no better way of remembering the Lord’s benefits than to recall them and speak of them often! The Psalms give us the model for this kind of remembrance. The authors give thanks to God by calling out how He has shown His faithfulness. How has He shown His faithfulness to you? Make a daily habit of telling God and others how God has blessed you!

4. Thank Him as you read His Word.

When you spend time with the Lord reading His word, pause and thank Him for what He is revealing and teaching to you. Thank Him for giving you His Word in the first place! As you linger in the Lord’s presence you have access to unmeasurable treasures. 

5. Thank Him for the hard things.

Because life is still broken with the presence of sin, we encounter difficulties everyday. What if we took our hard situations, even our sin, and instead of becoming despondent, we thanked the Lord for our righteousness and security in Christ?  Pausing to be thankful turns our hearts away from ourselves and back towards the Lord. 

Application Points:

  • Take one of the suggestions from this blog and put it into practice for the next week. Reflect in your journal or Quiet Time Companion about how it is cultivating gratitude within you.
  • Ask a friend to be a “thankfulness accountability partner” with you for the rest of November. Each day you text one another about something you are thankful for. 
  • Read a book on gratitude, like Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ book, Choosing Gratitude: A Journey to Joy.

Miranda lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana with her husband, Sam, and son, Jack. She and her husband actively serve together at Headwaters Church.

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November 23, 2021

Working from a Place of Rest

Jesus is the Key to Sustaining Ministry

By Nicole Schrader

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest…” Matthew 11:28 (The Message paraphrase by Eugene Peterson)

In this familiar verse, Jesus calls people to come to him and find rest, yet often the lives of believers are full of activity, service, and sacrifice. Our culture tells us our worth is measured by what we produce or accomplish. When is it enough? When can we stop for the day?

Working from a Place of Rest, a book by Tony Horsfall, answers these questions by focusing on the way Jesus walked through life in tune—and in time—with his Father in heaven. Jesus was always in the moment, present and mindful. His ministry was seemingly unhurried yet sovereignly planned.

Horsfall takes us to the scene where Jesus sits beside a well in Samaria and makes observations about the significance of resting in regard to the will of God.

Jacob’s well was there; so, Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. (John 4:6). The fact that he is resting, taking some time out, is what gives him the opportunity to “waste” time with the Samaritan woman who comes to the well while he is sitting there. Because of that life-giving conversation, not only is her life changed but the whole Samaritan town experiences revival…We can learn to work together with God just as Jesus did, for this was no idle moment; rather it was a moment of communion, of sensing what the Father was doing and of responding accordingly.

Working from a Place of Rest suggests our lives need margins, space, or time to allow for the unexpected. The biblical idea of keeping margins around a field from which the poor can glean can be carried over to the limits we place in our lives.

Do we overload our schedules? Does a small delay trigger a disproportionate response in us?

Jesus rests by a well and takes up a conversation with a Samaritan woman. By the end of the chapter, Jesus is convinced to stay two days with the villagers. He is unruffled. It’s not the only time we see Jesus make a detour in his plans to deal with an “unexpected” situation. When he was on the way to see a little girl at the point of death, he stops in a crowd and addresses a woman who touches his robe.

Jesus said he always did the will of his Father. Horsfall puts it this way:

While Jesus was very clear about the task in hand and totally committed to doing the Father’s will, he does not seem to have fallen into the trap of being so tightly scheduled that he could not cope with interruptions and delays…

This book impacted the way I view myself:

  • As a child of God my value and worth are not estimated by any activity of mine but wholly on the unconditional love of God in Jesus Christ.

This book impacted the way I view time:

  • God is sovereign over my days. Resting in the fact he is in control and I am to wait and walk with him frees me from slavery to my to do lists. I give time back to God to apportion as he wills.

This book impacted the way I view ministry:

  • By seeking God to help me set boundaries, I won’t overburden myself with responsibilities. Then, I am able to say “yes” to the things he calls me to do—and interruptions to my day become divine opportunities.

This book impacted the way I view quiet times:

  • Jesus spent time alone with his Father. I, too, must establish a discipline of resting from activity to hear from God, to receive guidance and strength, and to nurture my relationship with him.

Those who understand what it means to work from a place of rest can be described as ‘contemplative activists’. They work just as hard as anyone else, yet they do so in a way that expresses their dependence on God and takes account of their own humanity. They are led rather than driven and rested rather than rushed. They are partners with God in the great adventure of making disciples in all the world.

Horsfall, Tony. Working from a Place of Rest: Jesus and the Key to Sustaining Ministry. Bible Reading Fellowship, 2010.

Nicole is a retired homeschool mother who loves to travel, bake bread, read, and spend time with her kids and grandkids.

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November 18, 2021

In All Circumstances

The Gratitude Advice that Changed My Life

By Erica Hunt

Tucked into the cracks of the history of World War II is the story of two Christian women who were imprisoned and sent to a concentration camp for hiding Jews in their home. Upon arrival to Ravensbrück, these two sisters were assigned to their barracks and found a dilapidated building with broken windows, backed-up toilets, and wooden slabs built as beds for four people that packed in seven other women and thousands of fleas.

Betsie and Corrie ten Boom reacted as anyone would upon finding that they would be sleeping with fleas. Their hearts sunk, their bodies cringed, and the pits in their stomachs deepened. But though their circumstances were bleak, they had hope; they had miraculously managed to smuggle in their small Bible. They had the gift of God’s Word.

It was Betsie who remembered the recent reading from 1 Thessalonians 5: “Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (vs.14-18).

They obeyed God’s Word and thanked God that they were together. They thanked Him for the precious gift of His Word which had somehow slipped past the notice of the guards. They thanked Him for the crowded quarters that would enable many women to hear the Gospel. Then Betsie went a step further:

“Thank You,” Betsie went on serenely, “for the fleas and for—”

The fleas! This was too much, “Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.”

“Give thanks in all circumstances,” she quoted. “It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.”

(pp.209-210, “Ravensbruck”, The Hiding Place, ten Boom, Corrie; Sherril, Elizabeth & John)

Corrie reluctantly joined Betsie in thanking God for the fleas.

Weeks later, they learned of an excellent reason to give thanks for the fleas. The terrible infestation caused the guards to avoid their building, allowing the inhabitants to hold uninterrupted worship services and Bible reading that encouraged and strengthened the overcrowded barracks full of broken, dying women.

Betsie ten Boom had a perspective that truly only came through the Holy Spirit’s work in her life. She had developed a close relationship with the Lord long before the hardships of war had disrupted her life. Because of that close relationship, the harshness and evil of the concentration camp did not squelch that spirit, but instead made the Holy Spirit’s presence even more evident in her life.

I greatly admire Bestie’s attitude of thankfulness. Though I have never been starving, I have been hungry. I have been in some dark and dirty places, but I have always had access to a shower and a clean bed at some point. I have never had to sleep in a flea-infested building surrounded by tired, harsh people laying in the stench of their own filth, but I have been in situations out of my control. I too, have had the choice to express thankfulness in the midst of all kinds of circumstances: good or bad.

Betsie’s thankful heart is a reminder that even the darkest, dirtiest of places and the cringiest critters can show God’s hand at work. We can be thankful for seemingly terrible, dirty, or disgusting things because God doesn’t waste them. He uses them.

Being thankful is more than just a positive attitude or a bright outlook on the future. It is not natural or easy to be thankful for nuisances in our lives. But thanksgiving to God takes the focus off ourselves and places it on Himself. When we lift our attention to the Giver and Sustainer of even the fleas, joy will followa genuine joy given by the Holy Spirit. Such a joy is only made sweeter by the contrasting darkness of sin and suffering.

Like Corrie and Betsie, we may never understand why God allows us to endure hardships or to walk through circumstances that are beyond our control and understanding. But we do know that the words of 1 Thessalonians 5 apply to us as well. This is His will for us, and in that, He will be glorified. This mindset is what sustained Paul while he was in prison. It strengthened Corrie and Betsie ten Boom in the flea-infested barracks of a concentration camp. This surrender of giving thanks in all things can sustain and strengthen you and your circumstances, too.

Application Points:

  • Practice thankfulness in all circumstances.
  • Memorize all or parts of 1 Thessalonians 5.
  • Pray that God would give you a thankful heart.
  • Join with a friend and hold one another accountable in giving thanks for hard things in your lives.
  • Read more of Corrie’s story in her book The Hiding Place.

Erica lives with her husband, Justin, in South Dakota. She teaches middle school and loves traveling, collecting quotes, learning fun facts and historical information, drinking coffee, eating ice cream and enjoying good conversation with friends.

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November 16, 2021

10 Spiritual Blessings You Can Never Lose

A Look at the Riches We Possess in Christ

By Katie Stone

It’s a tradition in my family at Thanksgiving for each of us to share one thing we are thankful for as we sit around the table. Some years, it’s easy to a list a hundred blessings. Other years, it’s hard to think of even one.

As Christians, our gratitude should never be based on the temporary blessings of this world. Regardless of whether you have a long list or the heavy heart this year, let’s take a fresh look at the incredible spiritual blessings we have received in Christ. These blessings don’t change. These are blessings we can never lose.

These blessings are not earthly things like relationships or possessions. They are spiritual blessings. And all of these spiritual blessings are found in one place—in Christ.

Jesus is the blessing from which all other spiritual blessings flow. When Christ becomes our very life, He becomes the source of everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)

These blessings flow from Jesus, but what exactly are the spiritual blessings Paul describes? Here are just ten of the blessings Ephesians chapter 1 mentions.

1. We are chosen

“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…” (v4)

God, who created all things, chose us to be His. Furthermore, He chose us before He created the world. In other words, He specifically chose to create us. Contrary to the evolutionary belief that we all evolved without any thought or purpose, Scripture says that God specifically made you. And He chose to make you His child. 

2. We are holy and without blame

“…that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…” (v4)

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines Holy as “whole, entire or perfect, in a moral sense. Hence, pure in heart, temper or dispositions; free from sin.” Blameless is defined as “Without fault; innocent; guiltless.”

While we live in this world, we will sin. However, sin is no longer our identity. If you are in Christ, you are holy because Christ is holy. Your actions do not define you. Christ’s action on the cross defines you and makes you holy. He crucified our old sinful man, clearing all our guilt, and gave us a new life, clothing us in His righteousness.

3. Adoption as sons

“…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself…” (v5)

In addition to being specifically chosen by God and then made holy, we have also been adopted into the family of God. God is our Father. The church is our brothers and sisters. We are no longer orphans.

4. Acceptance in the Beloved

“…He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (v6)

Our acceptance as sons of God is not based on our own actions or inherent worth. It is based on the grace of God that is ours through faith in Christ. Since we did nothing to earn our acceptance, we can do nothing to become unacceptable to God once we are in Jesus.

5. Redemption through His blood

“In Him we have redemption through His blood…” (v7)

Redemption is similar to a ransom. We were slaves of sin, and Christ paid our ransom with His very blood. We are no longer slaves. We are redeemed.

6. Forgiveness of sins

“…the forgiveness of sins…” (v7)

The forgiveness of sins can only be found in Christ. There is no other way to obtain forgiveness. So if we belong to Christ and confess our sins to Him, we are forgiven! “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

7. Riches of Christ’s grace

“…according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us…” (v7-8)

Grace is often thought of as an undeserved hug from God. Grace is undeserved. However, it is much more than a hug. Grace is God’s enabling power to live the Christian life.

Are you in bondage to a specific sin? Does it feel impossible to live in victory? You have access to the riches of Christ’s grace which He has made to abound toward you. This grace is available to every believer who will reach out in faith and receive it from God.

8. Knowledge of God’s will

“…having made known to us the mystery of His will…” (v9)

Does it ever feel like God’s will is a mystery? In Colossians, Paul explained the mystery of God’s will. Are you ready for it? “God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

This might not be the answer you hoped for. Nevertheless, it is an immense blessing. When Christ becomes our life, He enables us to live the Christian life, He sanctifies us, conforms us to the image of Jesus, and gives us hope for eternity. This has been the will and the purpose of God from before the foundation of the world.

9. An inheritance

“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance.” (v11)

“You received the Spirit of adoption…we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:15-17)

We often think that God asks too much when He says we must give up all to follow Him. And yet, God has given us all that He has in Christ as our inheritance. What do we have to give up in comparison to what He has given us?

10. Sealed with the Holy Spirit

“…in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (v13-14)

The night before Jesus was crucified, He said, “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7) Jesus said it was better for us to have the Holy Spirit than to have the physical Jesus with us.

One reason it’s better is because the Holy Spirit is always with us. “I pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever…you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

Application Points:

  • Read through and meditate on Ephesians chapter 1 and respond in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for all the spiritual blessings you have received in Christ
  • Seek Jesus afresh. Make Him your goal, your reward, and your desire. All the spiritual blessings are found in Him. And all that we need for life and godliness is found in Him.

Katie loves an urban cafe as much as the smell of campfire and pine. She works in communications while studying business and non-fiction writing, and is most happy when leading worship and discipling others. 

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November 11, 2021

Control and Perfection: The Enemies of Thankfulness

Why I Struggle with Being Thankful

By Christi Grimm

If you have joined the ranks of parenthood, you have probably felt overwhelmed at the task. Parenting is no joke- it is definitely not for the faint of heart! As I have spent the last two decades raising children (and with another decade in front of me), I have come to realize something: I like control.

Children have a way of pointing these things out to us, don’t they? I like to feel that I am in control of my life, I like to have control over my home, I like to have a sense of control over my children’s choices…and the list goes on.  If you’re willing to admit it, you probably like control too! Control, many times, has a partner called Perfection.

Our so called “friends” Control and Perfection sound like this:

“My home should be perfectly picked up- it should look like a Pinterest board.”

“My children should never talk back, disobey, act rudely, or be disrespectful.” 

“My meals should be wonderfully healthy, organic, and home grown, and we should eat dinner at 6 P.M. every night.”

“My body should be shapely, lack any extra fluff, be perfectly smooth, and of course I should be working out 3-4 times a week.”

“My spiritual life should be soaring, I should hear from God in a profound way every time I sit with Him, I should never miss a day, and it should absolutely happen first thing in the morning (while the children are quiet, content, and doing their own Bible studies with their Greek and Hebrew word study materials, of course.)”

“My marriage should be idyllic- we should never argue, should have weekly romantic dates, should connect emotionally, sexually, and spiritually on a regular basis…and it should always be fulfilling.”

Now, I realize we don’t use these exact phrases, but this is how we live. We expect to have perfect lives. We expect to “have it all together” all the time.  And because we have these unrealistic expectations of ourselves, our children, and our families, we must maintain control!  Because when we give up control, we risk the opportunity of our perfect-Pinterest-personas crashing down. 

Friends, I can tell you from experience- this is no way to live! Control and Perfection are two sides of the same coin and no matter how you look at them they always do the same things: they steal your thankfulness and ultimately your joy.  If I am focused on everything being perfectly planned and executed, there is no space to experience God’s grace. There is no space for learning and growing, to be human, or to be a CHILD of God. We tend to forget we are CHILDREN of God; we are not little gods who should be in control of everything and perfect! If I am focused on everything being controlled and perfect, I miss out on experiencing a thankful heart.

Thankfulness occurs in a humble heart.  Control and Perfection occur in a prideful heart. A prideful heart says “I can do this, I don’t need help, and I need you (the world) to see how well I’m doing and applaud me.” Essentially, the attitude of our heart becomes “Look at me! I’m a little god!”

On the flip side, the more we recognize that we DON’T have it all together and our daily dependence is on God, the more thankful we can become at His work and presence in our lives.

I am finding that the more I open my hands and relinquish control and perfectionism to Him, the more thankfulness stirs in my heart. It isn’t a series of words I speak, per se, but rather an attitude and authentic feeling of thankfulness (that can then pour over into my words). I am recognizing that when I fall back into control and perfectionism, I fall out of a thankful heart and attitude. The two cannot reside in the same heart at the same time. I can either choose control and perfectionism OR I can choose humility and thankfulness.

Do you struggle with being thankful?  Do you struggle with irritability when things don’t go as planned? Perhaps, like me, you have struggled with control and perfectionism. I want to challenge you: each time God brings a detour in your day or an irritability from the messiness of life, stop and choose thankfulness. 

As we walk into this Thanksgiving season, I encourage you to do it differently. Get to the heart of the matter!  Cultivating a thankful heart requires digging in. It requires more than just speaking some nice words of thanks around the Thanksgiving table with friends and family. It is more than writing what you’re thankful for on a paper cut-out turkey. Thankfulness pours out of the heart; it is an attitude and is in direct correlation of our communion with the Father. The more I relinquish the need for control and perfection, the more I can offer all of myself to the Father and the more thankfulness will flow in. 

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His Holy Name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion. (Psalm 103:1-4)

Application Points

  • Ask yourself: Am I striving for control in this situation? How can I let go of control and invite God into this moment? If God is invited into our messes, He will create thankfulness within your heart.
  • Ask yourself: Am I trying to have everything perfect so that I can feel better about myself? Is my perfectionism tied to my identity and worth? When our identity and worth is grounded in Christ instead of our surroundings, we can’t help but become thankful at what the Lord has done!
  • Ask yourself: What, in this moment, is actually a God-gift that I can humble myself and be thankful for? What often looks like a disaster is frequently filled with God-saturated goodness if we will only look for it!
  • Ask yourself: What is it about a Pinterest-persona that is so gratifying? How can God fulfill this need for you? Each time we turn to a worldly way of fulfillment (even if it’s a good thing), our soul is ultimately crying out for more of God. He desires to show you more of Himself, and as He does, your thankfulness will overflow!

Christ keeps busy raising her 6 children, traveling, and homeschooling. She is passionate about bringing God’s freedom to women through small retreats.

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November 9, 2021

Choosing to Rejoice in a Season of Suffering

How to Fight Roots of Bitterness and Resentment

By Jordan Sparnroft

I have found it easier to choose resentment over gratitude when I’m walking through darkness. Resentment masks itself as a comforting blanket in a dark and scary room. However, resentment only deceives and further suffocates.

I have resented everything and everyone: from the person who wronged me, my situation, myself, and God. In my resentment, I’ve hurt the people who were trying to help me. I’ve walked away from God and the results were even more darkness. Isn’t that exactly what Satan wants for us? To isolate us from God and His people, to separate us from love and drown us in hate. I don’t want that for you or for me. Neither does God. The path to light is narrow but it can be found. Jeremiah 29:13 tells us, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Both Philippians 4 and 1 Peter 1 tell us to rejoice in our suffering. David spends the majority of the Psalms lamenting to God, yet rejoicing and remembering both God and His character. I recently learned that there is a difference in rejoicing and being “thankful”. Rejoicing means to celebrate the character of God. Being thankful means to praise God for all the blessings He has given you. God calls us to do both.

Hebrews 12:3 tells us to “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Consider Him. Jesus deserved to be bitter and resentful. His circumstances were unjust. He is King yet he was homeless, wrongfully accused, all culminating in suffering and dying a death He didn’t deserve. He knows the temptation of being bitter; go to Him. His grace comes in the form of His word, His creation, His people. We consider him by meditating on what He endured for us, we praise Him for Who He is, we google verses about God’s character and apply His character to our suffering.

If resentment has settled into our hearts, we also need to examine what and who is feeding our feelings of resentment and seek the people and things that help us focus on God and to dwell on the praiseworthy.

Do you have friends who are joining you in your misery? Are they wallowing in self-pity with you and bringing you further down into despair? Or are your friends bearing your burdens with you by caring for you in your time of need, crying with you, and still pointing you to the One Who holds your heart and is near to you in your brokenness?

Surround yourself with people who will lament with you yet open your eyes to everything God is doing and has done in the midst of your suffering. It is acceptable to be sad and angry about what is happening or has happened to you. However, it is possible to sing His praises in the midst of intense sadness.

To do this, we need people in our lives who love God and love us, bear our burdens with us, and point us to the One who holds our hearts and is close to us in our brokenness. Seek those who have also endured suffering and have chosen to pursue God in the midst of it. Their wisdom is pure, gentle, full of mercy and good fruit; without bias and hypocrisy (James 3:17). Such wisdom comes directly from the heart of God. Spend time with those who use their sufferings for His glory and help you seek God and His grace in the midst of your own suffering.

What are your eyes looking at and your ears listening to? What kind of accounts are you following on your social media feed? Is what you’re looking at promoting fear, doubt, jealousy, lust? (Even Christian accounts that aren’t bad can promote feelings of jealousy and lust because of our own immature thinking.) Is what you’re looking at on social media and Netflix or what you’re listening to promoting anything worthy of praise?

It is also important to note what resentment is NOT. It is NOT resentful to ask God to take your suffering from you. It is NOT resentful to be overwhelmed by what is happening to and around you. It is NOT resentful to tell Him your anxieties and your anger about your situation. All of these feelings and actions are permissible and even encouraged! The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite spirit. Don’t be afraid to be completely honest with God about your emotions.

Application Points:

  • Rejoice in the character of God. Be thankful for the blessings and grace He has given and is giving you in your suffering. Meditate on Jesus and the unjust suffering He endured while remaining sinless so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
  • Surround yourself with people who love God and love you. People who will bear your burden with you, yet point you to the One who created You and holds your heart in His grip. Look to the wisdom of those who have also endured suffering yet have chosen to pursue God and seek Him in the midst of it. Their wisdom is invaluable and comes from God.
  • Set aside anything or anyone who is promoting feelings of self-pity, doubt, anger, fear, lust, and jealousy.
  • A great resource is the book Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop. He talks about what it means to lament yet praise God in suffering.

Jordan lives in historic central Virginia with her husband and daughter. She is a first grade teacher at a Christian school, and loves early mornings and spending time with her family.  

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November 4, 2021

3 Ways to Incorporate Gratitude into Your Quiet Time

Showing Gratitude Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

By Grace McCready

Fall is the season of many pleasant things, including flannel shirts, stylish boots, and pumpkin spice lattes. But fall—especially the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving—sometimes produces that very unpleasant feeling of guilt because we haven’t been as thankful as we should’ve been this year.

Don’t worry, friend. It’s never too late to be thankful. While I completely understand how challenging it is to be grateful when you’re in the midst of suffering, there are several simple ways that you can express gratitude to God. Here are just a few of them:

1. Use the Quiet Time Companion.

One thing that I love about the Quiet Time Companion is that it essentially serves as my reminder to express gratitude. The section entitled “Today I’m Grateful For” nudges me to thank God for a recent blessing in my life that He has provided. Instead of journaling a quick prayer or asking for a long list of things, this little reminder helps focus my heart on God’s provision in my life.

2. Make daily lists.

I often incorporate gratitude into my quiet time by making lists of things that I am grateful for. This is a straightforward way to express thankfulness to God. After all, He is the One who provides every good thing in my life and your life—whether it’s a home-cooked meal with family, an encouraging text from a friend, or a breathtaking sunset at the end of the day (James 1:17). Your list doesn’t have to include a hundred things—it can be as short or as long as you want. The length of your list doesn’t matter nearly as much as the attitude you have while you make it.

3. Note answered prayers and respond with praise.

I have a little journal that has my “big prayers” written inside and the “big answers” that God has given in response. These “big prayers” are prayers that I typically pray multiple times—sometimes even for months. When God graciously shows up in my life and answers one of these prayers (even when the answer isn’t what I initially wanted to get), I write it down. Honestly, I often neglect to show my gratitude when He answers, but He deserves my gratitude for each and every prayer He answers. When you look for God, you’re more likely to see Him working in your life—and you’re more likely to thank Him for the work He’s doing, too.

I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my pleas. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1-2 NASB)

Application Points:

  • If you don’t already have one, check out the Quiet Time Companion and see if it could be a helpful resource as you grow in gratitude.
  • Try making a new list each day this week with several things that you’re grateful for. See how many blessings you can identify and thank God for them throughout the week.
  • Find a blank journal (or use your Quiet Time Companion) to write a few “big prayers” that are on your heart right now. As you see God answer these prayers, write down the “big answers” and praise Him for working—even if He doesn’t work exactly like you thought He would.

Grace enjoys spending time with her family, hanging out with friends, and watching her favorite TV shows. She is the author of Real Recovery: What Eating Disorder Recovery Actually Looks Like, which is set to release in 2022. She blogs about the Christian life at 
Tizzie’s Tidbits of Truth.

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November 2, 2021

3 Ways to Spice up Your Quiet Time Routine

Fighting for Our First Love

By: Emily Miller

I’ve been married for almost seven years. During our first couple years of marriage, everything was new and exciting. We learned everything about each other: Our pasts, our quirks, our habits as we explored the ins and outs of our personalities. Sometimes this learning was intentional in the form of long talks and many questions, but more often we learned as we lived life together.

Seven years into marriage, we’ve had three children, moved five times, fought, repented, pointed each other to Jesus, clung to each other while weeping, held hands in hospital rooms, and shared almost every evening together. Leigh and I know each other deeply.

There are dangers in knowing anyone well. We can feel over-familiar and lose interest; take the other for granted and not appreciate; we can assume that we know everything and stop pursuing the relationship.

I’ve been having a quiet time every morning since I was thirteen years old. At first it was new, exciting, and hard. I felt proud of myself for spending a whole 15 minutes reading the Bible each morning. I had a sense of accomplishment for maintaining my new habit. I was thrilled by each new insight into the Scriptures I read, amazed every time I heard Jesus’ voice in those quiet, early-morning moments.

Eighteen years have passed since I began my quiet time routine. I’ve learned much about Jesus through both His Word and in putting His Word to the test by (very imperfectly) living it out in every season of life. My battle is not with knowing how to spend time with Jesus, that habit is formed. My battle is with over-familiarity.

Becoming over-familiar and even bored with the Bible, the Gospel, and Jesus Himself is not a trivial thing. In Revelation 2, God warns the church of Ephesus with these words:

I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Rev. 2:4)

In marriage, we don’t go to sleep delighted in our marriage, wake up the next morning feeling a bit bored, and then willy-nilly decide that we don’t love our spouse anymore.

Likewise in our walk with Christ, we don’t immediately go from delighted with Jesus’ love to indifferent to Him and His Gospel. Instead, the loss of our first love is not dramatic, but a slow, quiet process.

In both marriage and our relationship with Jesus, regaining our love is also a slow, quiet process.

Thankfully, there are many weapons we can use to combat over-familiarity and a dwindling love for Christ. Here are three:

1. Repent.

We are often very clever about avoiding our responsibility in our relationships with God (and people). We pretend that our lack of love is normal, not that serious, and perhaps even inevitable. We blame circumstances. We act like we’re the helpless victim of our own stale hearts. We do everything except call our lack of love what it is: sin. Sin always has its reasons. But, as long as those reasons are our excuses, we are kept under sin’s power.

The truth is that it’s shocking that we become bored with the Jesus and His Gospel! How do we become tired of the One Who made us? How are we bored by the One Who loves us best? How can we be indifferent to the Hope of the world? It’s insane (and yet so very normal) that we have to force ourselves to make time for Jesus.

Repentance frees us to recognize reality, take responsibility, and ask for Jesus’ help in escaping the appalling hardness of our own hearts.

2. Remember.

When I recognize that I’m taking my husband for granted, I immediately start keeping a mental list of everything I appreciate about him. Lists of how he has failed my expectations or irritated me tend to come more easily, since we are naturally wired with loveless hearts that keep a record of wrongs. So, I fight to make note of everything I like about my husband: His smile, his lanky frame, his laugh, his tireless serving of our family, his practical knowledge, his hard work, his ridiculous love of Minecraft, everything! I rehearse my favorite memories of him. I keep an account of the things he’s done that inspires my respect.

This practice feels unnatural at first but, as I do it, my love revives. After a short while, I’m grateful to have my husband in my life. I’m amazed that he loves me and chose me as his wife.

When quiet time is boring and our love for Jesus is cooling, start a list. Write out scriptures that inspire thankfulness, respect, and love in you for Who God is and what He has done. Write out specifically what He’s done in your life. Keep a jar labeled “God’s Goodness” and spend a year collecting notes of every good gift God gives and every prayer He answers. Gratitude is love’s great ally.

3. Make It a Date.

When we first begin dating, we prepare ourselves, plan our time, and set up an atmosphere to learn about and please the other. We rejoice in sharing ourselves with someone we find so wonderful and interesting.

If daily quiet time has become rushed, boring, or lifeless, then treat it like a date. Schedule the best time. Prepare yourself by getting a good night’s sleep, making a delicious cup of coffee, or getting some exercise to clear your mind. Set a nice atmosphere by choosing a beautiful spot, lighting a candle, or getting some flowers. Remember that this time is set aside for you to learn about and please the Most Interesting Being in existence. You get to spend time with the One Who loves you best. Treat quiet time as a holy (set apart) time. Share yourself with Jesus. Rejoice in the fact that the Most Wonderful One delights in meeting with you.

In seven years of marriage and eighteen years of daily quiet time with Jesus, I’ve discovered two truths:
1. The battles against over-familiarity will come.
2. If we fight this battle, instead of surrendering to it, we’ll end up enriching our love.

My marriage now is way more fun, deep, and satisfying than our first years together. I also love Jesus and enjoy my quiet time with Him more at 31 than at 13.

The enemy of your soul wants you to be convinced that the familiar becomes boring, that love is only exciting at the start, and that habits -like a daily quiet time only lead to lifeless routine. The truth is that the familiar can be delightful, well-tended love grows in beauty, and a daily quiet time (like regular dates with your husband) nourishes your relationship with Jesus.

Application Points:

  • Recognize the dangers of over-familiarity.
  • Repent.
  • Remember. Make lists!
  • Treat quiet time like a date: schedule it, prepare for it, and set the atmosphere.

Emily began having a daily quiet time at the age of 13. This habit has been one of the few constants in her life as she transitioned from being a missionary kid in Mongolia to a barista in Oregon to a stay-at-home mom in central Florida. The Word of God has anchored Emily to Jesus through depression, struggles with doubt, health issues, and her son’s cystic fibrosis.

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October 28, 2021

How to Get the Most Out of Your Quiet Time

Three Tips to Help You Grow in Your Relationship with Jesus 

By: Katie Stone 

Do you ever come to the end of your quiet time and wonder if you did it right? Does it ever feel like you’re just going through the motions and never getting anything out of it? 

If so, you’re not alone. Every one of us has been there at some point. Here are a few things I’ve learned to help get the most out of your daily time with Jesus:   

1. Begin with Prayer 

Having a quiet time is about growing in our knowledge and love for Jesus. However, the Bible teaches that apart from the grace of God, we are unable even to do this! 

“For it is God […] who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Corinthians 4:6) 

This is a humbling reality. When you start your quiet time, begin by recognizing your need for Christ even in the process of seeking to know Him more. Ask Him to give you a deeper love for Jesus, to enlighten your eyes to the truth of His word, to teach you to pray. He delights to answer these prayers. 

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (I John 5:14-15) 

2. Confess Sin 

“If I regard sin and baseness in my heart [that is, if I know it is there and do nothing about it], The Lord will not hear [me].” (Psalms 66:18 AMP) 

As a believer, nothing can ultimately separate us from God. But if we allow sin to remain in our life unconfessed and unrepented of, it will hinder our growth in Christ. 

When you begin your quiet time, allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and see if there is any unconfessed sin standing between you and Jesus. (Psalm 139:23-24) 

If the Holy Spirit brings unconfessed sin to mind, tell Him about it and ask forgiveness. Then take courage! The gospel deals with our sin, removing it from us, and clothes us in Christ’s righteousness. Jesus will forgive and cleanse you of all sin no matter how big or small. As 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

If you are sincere in allowing God to search you and no unconfessed sin comes to mind, praise the Lord! Scripture tells us, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.” (I John 3:21) In other words, we can have complete assurance that sin is not hindering our ability to come before God in prayer and worship. 

One note: there is no need to confess sins you have previously repented of. Cling to the promise that God is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from them. We no longer bear the guilt of sin that has been confessed and repented of. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25) 

Corrie Ten Boom said, “When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever… I believe God then places a sign out there that says No Fishing Allowed.” 

3. Remember, Fruit Takes Time to Grow 

I do not believe that every time we open our Bible we need to “get something” out of it. We do not need to “hear from God” or find a specific application point for our quiet time to be worth it. 

We live in a results-driven culture that places high value on methods and services that get fast results. This mindset affects everything from fitness to entertainment to how we shop. It’s also affecting our quiet time. We come to God’s word expecting to receive one verse that will instantly solve all our problems and remove all our worries. 

Past generations instinctively understood a concept we need to be taught: fruit takes time to grow. 

Farmers till the soil in the spring and fruit does not instantly grow up out of the hard ground. Then they plant seeds and water and weed for weeks without tasting any fruit. It’s only after much hard work and lots of waiting that fruit finally begins to grow and ripen. 

When we open God’s word we are not opening the Amazon Prime app. When we pray we are not talking to Alexa. Quiet time is more like planting a garden. 

Each time we show up, open our Bible, and spend time in prayer, we invest in our relationship with Jesus. Just as planting seeds, watering, and weeding the garden might not feel very productive or exciting, our quiet time might not feel productive or exciting some days. 

However, God has promised, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) And, “you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) 

As Amy Charmichael said, “Our feelings do not affect God’s facts.” 

When you come to your quiet time, don’t spend it trying to get specific results instantly. Instead, come to spend time with Jesus and allow Him to faithfully take the truth you putting into your mind and produce the fruit of godliness in your life in His perfect time. 

Application Points: 

  • Begin your Quiet Time by recognizing your need for Christ and asking Him to give you a deeper love for Jesus. 
  • Each day, confess any sin that you are aware of and receive Christ’s forgiveness. 
  • Remember that having a quiet time is like planting a garden. Be faithful and patient. God is using this discipline to produce fruit in your life. 

Katie loves an urban cafe as much as the smell of campfire and pine. She works in communications while studying business and non-fiction writing, and  is most happy when leading worship and discipling others. 

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October 26, 2021

Prayer Works

Why Prayer Works, and its True Purpose

By: Vanessa Bonilla 

Take a moment and the think of the person you are closest to in this world. What classifies that person as the closest? Is it because they know you best or because you know them best? I would guess that it’s a healthy mix of the two. 

An essential piece of any healthy relationship is honest, open, and ongoing communication. We want to feel seen, heard, and loved. We want a sense of belonging. We long to know and to be known. 

Our most important relationship is the one we have with the Lord. Just like with our earthly relationships we can’t have a flourishing, life-giving relationship without communication. This is what the Bible calls prayer. 

When we first begin to approach God, we don’t know Him well so we don’t know how to talk to Him. If we don’t pursue knowing God we end up only talking to Him when we have a request to make of Him. If this is the extent of our communication, we begin to believe that prayer doesn’t work. 

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:3 

James helps us understand this a bit more. What is a wrong prayer? Wrong prayer is not the words we use but our motivation. We get to know the Lord through His word and through the Holy Spirit. If we are not engaging with Scripture we will most likely go to the Lord seeking to gratify self-centered passions which are inconsistent with his revealed will. 

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7 

Jesus shows us two conditions for answered prayers: abiding in Him and His words abiding in us. When we spend time in the word of God our prayers will be shaped by what we read. 

That said, let’s not skip too quickly over the abiding part. Miriam Webster defines abide as: to bear patiently, endure without yielding, to wait for, and to accept without objection. It is in this space that we see the true purpose and value of prayer: learning to abide. It is in this space that we learn to trust. Trust leads us to see every outcome as an answered prayer because we trust our life to the One who truly knows us, knows our future and is tirelessly invested in meeting our deepest needs. 

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 

Here Paul reminds us that the Lord is close to us. He cares for us. 

Prayer is the antidote to worry, to our anxiety, to our loneliness, to our broken hearts, and to our pain. So we pray, because we know He is close, we know through His Word that He cares, that He loves us, that He longs for a deep relationship with us. 

Prayer works not because we get everything that we ask for, but because we are felt, seen, heard, and loved by the Most High. 

Action Steps: 

  1. During your quiet time write down attributes of God from the portions of Scripture you’re reading through, which encourages you to abide in Him. 
  1. When you pray speak openly! He already knows you more than you know yourself so sharing with him teaches US to be transparent and more willing to abide. 
  1. When you don’t know what to pray for start with thanking Him; “thank you Lord for running water and a healthy body.” This will remind you how mindful God is of you and how many needs of yours He’s already met and continues to meet.    

Vanessa lives with her husband, Eli, in Brooklyn, NY where she homeschools their five children. Vanessa is also the Children’s Director at her church. She loves fire pits, friends, and spending time with her family.

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