5 Minute Daily Devo

Contentment


It is difficult to be content in any circumstance less than one of comfort and security. Just imagine saying you’re content in prison, which you’re in simply because you’re a Christian trying to proclaim Christ to the world around you. 

That’s what Paul is saying here! He says the secret is: this contentment is only possible through Christ. 

Only through the right relationship with Christ is he able to say that, despite the bleak situation he’s in, he is content because he has Christ. 

This faith has always impressed me because I can be discontented just when something small is off. 

The question today is not really a matter of what more do I need to be content—stuff and people can’t fix it—it’s a question of who I see my God as. If I’m viewing Him in the right way and seeing Him the way He describes Himself in scripture, I can be content having absolutely nothing but life in my body and even with horrible circumstances because of the hope I have in Him. 

Who do you say that He is? 

—Liz

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5 Minute Daily Devo

Nothing Good Besides You

Sometimes I’m really aware that God is the only good thing I have in life. Other times I manage to forget who He is and what’s really important. God is perfect and holy, and there is no one and nothing that can ever compare to Him. But sometimes it takes having a horrible day to remember that. As I’m continuing to grow in my faith, I want to be more aware of what is important and that I can’t use worldly things to satisfy a craving in my heart that can only be filled by God. If you find yourself in that same situation, here’s a reminder for today that we have nothing good besides God.

—Liz

Essay

Thinking Outside the Box

Hey all! It’s finally Saturday after one looooong week. Hopefully you’ve had a productive week and you’re doing well!

What I want to talk about today is something that is very dear to my family’s heart: Operation Christmas Child (OCC for short)! Maybe you’ve heard of it, or maybe you haven’t (until now that is!), but I believe it’s a great program for kids who may not otherwise get a Christmas gift—or, as some of the follow-up videos reveal, kids who have never been given any kind of gift like this.

When I was younger I used to think: “ugh, shoebox time again! How does this possibly make a difference? It’s not even that good of a gift… And I don’t really want to go to the dollar store to buy stuff for it.”  Let me tell you, it makes a HUGE difference. It’s a big deal. My perspective has changed a lot since I thought those things, and now I’m trying to pack one more box every year I participate!

If you’ve never heard of it, or at least not in detail, here’s what happens:

  1. You pack a shoebox for a boy or girl (of an age range you choose) full of things from toys to toiletries (things like bar soap, toothbrushes, and combs) and pay a small fee for shipping your box (It’s $9 this year).
  2. The box goes through processing where volunteers make sure everything in the shoebox meets the guidelines OCC sets up (no candy or food, no war related toys—toys made to look like weapons or military figures—or items that are otherwise not appropriate according to the guidelines you can read about here) and replace any items that are not appropriate with appropriate ones.

If you do pack a shoebox please, please, please check these guidelines because it’s no fun to get a nearly empty box because the person who packed it didn’t make sure their items were okay—it’s not hard to follow the rules, either. Plus, it just makes everything smoother if you double check before you send them off!

  1. The boxes are then shipped out to various parts of the world and are eventually delivered to a child of the right age and gender. When they get their shoebox they also get to hear the good news of the Gospel!

You can read about all this and even see some follow-up videos from kids who have received shoeboxes by exploring some more on their website.

I have had the opportunity to volunteer at one of the processing centers in Atlanta, Georgia and it’s such a great experience! (I’m hoping to go again this year with a group from our church, but I’m packing shoeboxes, regardless). And, let me just say, these shoeboxes are really treated with care. They take regular short breaks from processing the boxes to pray over them and the children who will get them, to share a devotion/encouraging word with all the volunteers, and give an update on how many shoeboxes have been packed.

It’s one of those experiences where I couldn’t stop thinking: “this is something that God has His hand in!” Even though it’s a human organization, and I’m sure if you look hard enough you could still find places where it’s not quite perfect, they display what the church is supposed to be about!

These shoeboxes are a simple gift. It’s nothing fancy. It’s not the latest phone, tablet, maybe not the best toy that all the kids in your area have, and it doesn’t suddenly make all their issues go away; but, it’s still an answer to a child’s prayer and it’s still a display of God’s love for some kids/families/people groups who may feel forgotten or who have never been shown love in this way.

I mean, if you really need more of a reason than sharing a little love and joy with these kids, we see in scripture that Jesus wanted to spend time with children and even told his disciples that they needed to have a childlike faith. Children were an example for grown men by the kind of faith they had in Jesus (Luke 18:15-17). The prayers and desires of these children—even the small things like wanting a baby doll or a teddy bear—are important to God and Samaritan’s Purse is just one way that God may choose to answer them, to show them that they are so loved and cared for (Luke 9:46-48).

It’s not about “We’re better than you and you need our help because we’re better and smarter” it’s about “We’re coming in love to share what we’ve been blessed with and we want to serve you where you have needs. We want you to know that you are loved and valued.”

There are so many of the follow-up videos and testimonies that feature kids saying things like: “I never had my own toothbrush” (y’all, let that sink in… never had their own toothbrush!), “I got a shoebox and in it was the Bible I prayed to God for,” or “I got [insert a very specific item that they have prayed or hoped for] and I was so happy/blessed to receive it!”

For some, this gift changes their entire life because through it they come to know Jesus. One of the testimonies we’ve heard this year was told by a girl who described how she counted each item she received and thanked God for it every night for years.

Don’t think that these little boxes don’t make a difference!

Maybe it’s difficult for us to see—at least I know it can be for me—because of where I live. I know I have been given so much, and often I’m not impressed by simple gifts. I don’t celebrate a toothbrush when I get one. I don’t count everything I’ve been given like I probably should.

Instead, I catch myself wanting to have the latest and greatest and nothing less. I get disappointed when I don’t get as many gifts as other people do for birthdays or Christmas. I’ve been so convicted about this watching those videos and hearing the testimonies of these children because I already have so much!

The gifts that I get for Christmas or other occasions are gifts on top of how I’ve already been blessed, but frequently I look at it from the perspective of “you don’t love me enough if you don’t get me exactly what I want.” This isn’t something I actually say out loud, but it’s a greedy thought that can be found lurking in the back of my mind. And how sad is that? that I don’t recognize that what I already have is a blessing? I’m not saying this to try to guilt you into packing a shoebox, but, I mean, if the shoe fits, maybe we should put it on so we can go out and get a different pair of metaphorical shoes to wear… like “cheerful giver” shoes instead of “guilty giver” shoes!

Really though, I don’t want you to feel guilty as much as I want you to recognize that, if you’re like me, you have been given so much and maybe don’t see it for the blessing it is. The fact that we’re alive and breathing, the fact that you can read this and go about doing what you do every day is a blessing. If you’re a Christian you also know that the fact that God shows us grace and mercy every single day is also a HUGE blessing.

That does not mean that my life is “all honey and no bees” because I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. However, regardless of the difficult struggles I do have, I know I need to change my point of view from “I want more stuff than that” to one that’s more grateful for what I do have. And, take that even a step further to think “how can I use what I’ve been blessed with to bless someone else?”

Packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child is a start for that kind of change in my life, but that’s not where I want to stop. In 1 Chronicles 21 David mentions that he will not give to God that which costs him nothing. Although the context is a lot different from the kind of giving I’m talking about with these shoeboxes, giving—being a generous, cheerful giver like God requires of us—will always cost something. Honestly, I want it to!

Real love for others requires more than the “nice gesture” of giving from your excess—where it doesn’t really cost you much because it was just something extra. It’s more than throwing a couple quarters that were hanging around in your cup-holders into the Salvation Army collection buckets outside stores during the holidays. It’s giving your time, energy, effort, and heart to others without any kind of discrimination or holding back. It’s giving like the poor widow does in Luke 21:1-4. Do you know how hard that is? It’s hard.

But, if Jesus gave me everything He had, and all I have is because of Him anyway, how can I possibly act like giving and pouring all the love I am capable of because of God’s love for me (1 John 4:7-21) into the lives of others is optional?

So, think about packing a shoebox! You can even do it all online if you’re not somewhere that you can take it to a collection center or are otherwise unable to do it yourself by going here! And think about other ways you can give to others in your life.

If you do, or even if you don’t/can’t pack a shoebox, please keep these boxes, the people involved in the whole process, and the children who will get them in your prayers!

And thanks for taking the time to read this long post!

—Liz

5 Minute Daily Devo

With All Your Heart


I’m going to be vulnerable and honest and say that this week has been a struggle with discipline and doubt. I have not been as dedicated to starting my day with God as my priority, and that gives way to all my doubts.

“What is God even able to do with me given what I’ve done—given that I’m still going to be making mistakes for the rest of my life?”

“Is He really there?”

“God, do You think You can still use me?”

And while I expect to continue to work through those doubts and grow in my faith for the rest of my life, I know that this feeling of being overwhelmed by doubts is because I haven’t been focused on Him with my whole heart, strength, and mind.

When I’m like this my heart wants to turn to other things just like Samuel says here. But, thanks be to my God who is gracious and faithful and who disciplines His children! It’s not a good feeling to know that you’ve been distracted, but I don’t have to stay that way!

What’s stopping you from giving God your all?

Samuel ends with a warning here to the Israelites about continuing in evil.

For today, I know I need to hear this: Do not allow yourself to stay comfortable with the worthless things of this world and miss out on what God has to offer—to be swept away along with the ways you did not trust God to be the ultimate authority and provider for your life.

Again: what’s keeping you from giving God all of you?
—Liz

5 Minute Daily Devo

Be An Encourager


Who has every felt discouraged? (I’m aggressively raising my hand to this question today) In this life it is so easy to be discouraged and to feel just plain hopeless at times. Life is hard. Period. There’s a lot to be discouraged about. But don’t stay there! One of the best ways to get the encouragement we need is for us to be an encouragement to others! In fact, the second verse here says we’re only supposed to speak to others in a way that builds them up. (Ouch. How often do I actually do that?…) Today take a baby step towards hopefulness and joy by being an encourager to someone else. Ask God to make your heart sensitive to others around you who need a kind word and then speak life to that person!

5 Minute Daily Devo

Faithful Love

Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness! I say: the Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord. Lamentations 3:21-26 HCSB


 

Sometimes I struggle with the thought that I’ve sinned too much–that I’m just too messed up for God to love me. There is a time for godly sorrow and brokenness that leads to repentance, but this idea that God will stop loving me doesn’t hold up with who He tells us He is. I look in scripture at David, Moses, at Abraham and so many other people that God calls faithful to Him and tells us how He loves them, and I see that these are still some really messed up people. There is nothing I can do to deserve His love and mercy. It’s extended to me because of who He is. I’m still called to live a life of repentance from sin and there are always consequences for when I do sin, but I don’t have to worry that God’s love for me will ever change.

5 Minute Daily Devo

Reflections

As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person. Proverbs 27:19 HCSB


 

David is one of my favorite authors in the Bible. Some of what he writes is so honest and vulnerable. I often relate to his struggles and times he rejoices. This verse is so simple, but–if I’m honest–it’s something I always need to be better at. Is my heart reflecting that I belong to Christ or to some idol in my life? It’s easy to answer but not something we always want to ask ourselves. The Holy Spirit whispers in my heart through this verse: “ask yourself anyway, answer honestly: Who/what are you reflecting?”

5 Minute Daily Devo · Uncategorized

The Narrow Gate

Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 HCSB


 

Living the life God wants us to is HARD! There is nothing easy about walking in a completely different way from the rest of the world–to not follow what culture tells us is right. Taking the narrow gate and the difficult road is extremely hard and few people find it, but that’s the way that we should strive for. It may be the hardest path, but it’s the only one where we can find true joy and hope beyond anything this world can offer. Which way are you going?

5 Minute Daily Devo

Walking in Wisdom

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk–not as unwise people but as wise–making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17 HCSB


 

We only have one chance at life here. What am I doing with mine? It is way too easy to keep walking according to what culture dictates, but what is there for me in blindly following what everyone else is doing? I have to pay attention to how I go through this life! And, it’s not a one time question for me. I have to honestly ask myself: how is my walk today? What decisions am I making? Am I making choices to walk according to spiritual/Biblical wisdom? Every day I make choices about how I will walk, even if that choice is not something I intentionally evaluate. Take a look at your life and if you don’t like the way your decisions are going, what is stopping you from changing it?

5 Minute Daily Devo

Chosen

(Just to preface this post: I’ve decided to start sharing the short posts I’ve made on Instagram and Facebook about a specific verse that stands out in my morning devotion or the section of scripture I’m reading—sort of a “verse of the day” thing. I’ve made a new category for “5 Minute Daily Devos” because I realize not everyone has time to read—and I honestly don’t have a ton of time to write—longer posts every morning. I’m currently working on a longer post and hope to publish it sometime this weekend! So, while these first few posts are going to be repeats of what I’ve already posted *go follow me on Instagram if you haven’t already @elizabethwillblog* there will be new stuff coming at you very soonish. Have a blessed day! —Liz)

The heavens, indeed the highest heavens, belong to the Lord your God, as does the earth and everything in it. Yet, the Lord was devoted to your fathers and loved them. He chose their descendants after them–He chose you out of all the peoples, as it is today. Deuteronomy 10:14-15 HCSB


 

Out of all the nations, God chose the Hebrews who were a small nation and, honestly, were often unfaithful to Him as we see in the Old Testament. He chose them in spite of their shortcomings because of who He is. They were a way for Him to display perfect love and grace. The same is true for us today because Jesus made a way for us. God has all authority and power, but He chooses to include us in His plans. He pursues us with His faithful love and is jealous for us!