He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11
Two days in a row of favorite verses. This one I consider my mama verse. Oh, how I love the sweet gentleness of our Savior described here. Our good shepherd does not beat his sheep into submission. He lifts them in his arms and carries them against his chest. I imagine the lamb resting its soft head against his chest and hearing the lulling thump-thump of his heart beat. I want to be that lamb. (insert a deep breath here). Then it continues. He gently leads us mamas (and papas) who have young. Gently. Don’t we need to be led gently? We are so hard on ourselves…okay at least I am. Opinions about mothering jab at us at every turn…sleeping, feeding, potty training, homework battles, screen time, the list goes on, but I’ll stop there cuz I don’t want to send any new mamas into a panic attack! Jesus knows us mamas and he knows our sweet (or sometimes not so sweet!) lambs. He gently leads us. Oh, how I need that today. Oh, how I am thankful that he knows my kiddos and their strengths and struggles. Rest in his leading you today, sweet mama. He’s got you and your people.
Father, thank you for being our gentle shepherd, caring for our babies and leading us mamas. We need your presence with us today. Thank you for continually reminding us this month of your being near us, with us, within us and of your mighty power. This mom-life can be overwhelming. We need you to guide us. Show us the way to go as we parent our kids, no matter what stage of life they are in.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Forty years have passed since Joshua and Caleb explored the promised land and the people rebelled against God. They have wandered in the desert for forty long, sandy years, learning to trust God more, and waiting for God’s timing to bring them into their future home. Moses has died and Joshua is now leading the people of Israel. The time has come finally arrived to enter the land. At this moment, God speaks to Joshua. The gist of God’s message…do not be afraid; be strong and courageous; know and follow God’s Word exactly; I will go with you wherever you go. What jumps out at me is how many times God tells him to not be afraid. Here’s the man who stood up with courage all those years ago. Even with great faith, one can still battle great fear. It’s a daily battle to lay down our fears and take up courage and remind ourselves that God is with us. Our fears urgently plea to be heard and followed, but when we are walking along where God leads, he will lift our heads and guide us in paths of victory. Shortly after God speaks to Joshua the people conquer their most feared opponent, Jericho. Following God’s lead, the people hardly fight at all. They walk around with God, blow horns, and shout at the top of their lungs…nothing their own understanding would have led them to do. But with God, nothing is impossible. With God, impenetrable walls crumble, giants fall, and victories come in the most unexpected ways! Let’s take courage and lay down fear today. Let’s remember who leads us to victory and walks with us each and every step of the way. God is with us today, my friends! I am so thankful for Emmanuel!
Father, lift our heads to see you when we are afraid. Help us to be strong and courageous as we face life today. You lead us to victory. Help us to trust you even when it’s difficult and we want to try to control it. Help us to follow your Word, your gentle leading. Lord, we thank you for being with us wherever we go. Whatever we face, help us to rest in your leading and direction.
And God said, “I will be with you.” Exodus 3:12
I love how humbly Moses begins his leadership. The mighty man of God who will write the first five books of the Old Testament, who God will use to perform miracle after miracle, who will see God pass before him on the mountain, whose face shone with being in God’s glory…this same man begs God to send someone else at the start. God spoke to Moses from the burning bush to call him into leadership, to call him to be the voice of a compassionate God to his oppressed people. God has come to deliver them and bring them to the promise land…a promise that began more than four hundred years before. From the hindsight we now have, it seems silly that Moses would beg to not go. But, I can totally relate. He ran from Egypt forty years before and had lived peacefully and in obscurity as a shepherd. He had a family and had settled down. It’s hard to leave what’s known and comfortable. God promises Emmanuel. “I will be with you.” It’s this promise and that of sending his brother with him that finally calms Moses into agreement. He will not be alone on this adventure…The Almighty God who Sees goes with him. He will have community with his brother. Today, let’s rest in the fact that like Moses, God goes with us where he calls us to serve. He sees our struggles; he knows our hearts; he understands our weaknesses and insecurities and promises to never leave us or forsake us. Let’s be Aarons to each other today as well. Let’s be people who come beside each other in our calls and serve together. Let’s lift each other up before the Lord. Let’s be a community of believers wherever we are that brings courage and strength in our collective call to be the hands and feet of Christ to a hurting world.
Father, thank you for seeing our suffering and not leaving us alone in it. Thank you that just as you saw your people enslaved and delivered them, you will break the bonds of our slavery to addiction, to false securities, to unhealthy relationships. Lord, we pray for freedom and hope today. Lord, as we walk into the call you’ve placed in each of our hearts, thank you for the promise of being with us. We are never alone. Give us the courage to walk with you today. Help us to lean on you and each other when life gets difficult today. Amen.
Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” Genesis 31:3
We are hanging out with Jacob again today. Decades have passed. He now has 11 sons and several daughters from four wives. He still lives in his uncle Laban’s household where he’s worked since he ran away from home years before. God is clearly with him. His flocks increased while Laban’s decreased. Eventually Laban and his sons become jealous of Jacob’s prosperity. Jacob notices his Uncle’s and cousins’ changes in attitude and had to be anxious about what to do. At that time God once again intervened. God told Jacob to finally head home and reassured him that he would be with him. I love how human Jacob is. After this great reassurance from the Almighty God, Jacob packs up all his possessions and wives and children and heads out while his Uncle is out of town. I can so relate. Can’t you? We have all these amazing promises for us in the Bible about grace, salvation, God’s presence with us, and yet, I so commonly hear God and half obey, half self-protect just in case. Laban eventually meets up with Jacob to say a peaceful good-bye to his daughters and grandchildren. Even with this sneaky lack of trust on Jacob’s part, God still continues on with him, blessing him not only with provision but also with resolution in his relationship with Laban and eventually with his brother as well.
Emmanuel, we need your help to continue in trust today. Thank you for your grace when we make a mess of our own way in our attempt to “help” your plan like Jacob did. Thank you for staying close to us through your Holy Spirit. Thank you for your Word and our ability to read your words every single day rather than waiting for decades for you to speak like Jacob did.
The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land a while, and I will be with you and will bless you.” Genesis 26:3
When famine struck the land, Isaac planned to take his family to Egypt where they would find abundant food. It made perfect sense. But God had other plans and appeared to Isaac to let him know Egypt was not the answer. If he would trust God and stay where God told him, God promised to be WITH him and bless him. When God is with us, his blessings seem to overflow into our lives. For Isaac, God provided abundantly for their physical needs during this time of famine. He found well after well of water and reaped a crop one hundred fold what was sown. God’s hand of blessing was clearly on him. It’s been in my hardest “famine” times when circumstances were the worst, that God showed himself more WITH me than ever. I was desperate and leaned hard into Jesus, the only rock of refuge that satisfied (trust me I tried others!). God provided strength beyond myself; he provided financially; he put a supportive community around me, but most of all, I rested in the comfort in his presence, knowing he understood my pain even if no one else could. In my need to control, it's so easy to lean on my own understanding and "go to Egypt", but God's ways are always better than mine. What physical or spiritual treasure have you found because of God being with you in your life?
Lord, today, we like Isaac need you with us. Help us to not run to what seems like a quick fix, but to trust you even when we don’t quite understand your leading. Thank you that with you are endless gifts of all kinds. Thank you for understanding each of our hearts and minds and bodies. Thank you for being with us and never leaving us.
Reflection Question: Where in your life these days are you tempted to follow your own path rather than trusting God to lead?
Hi. I'm Maggie. Current hats: Wife, mom, artist and starting this week, a devotional writer! Enthusiastic, creative, focused. I love chai tea lattes, and authentic conversations.