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The Darling Blog

Welcome to The Darling Blog, a life and style blog by the owner of Darling Boutique, Linnea White. Darling is passionate about empowering women and inspiring strength through fashion to restore dignity and true beauty. Enjoy outfit inspiration and style tips, featured #darlingfinds, local collaborations, and so much more. Live the Darling lifestyle - an altogether beautiful life.

Filtering by Tag: devotional

Trusting God, Week 2: Unswerving Faith

Linnea White

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When your pastor preaches on the same verses you've been reading and journaling the last week, reverberating each perfectly placed point in your spirit, you know God is speaking. And that's what happened this week for this devotional about the Shunammite Woman - a story of unswerving faith in God. As we look at the Shunammite woman's story in 2 Kings, the fundamental truth is this: there is hope even in the most devastating of circumstances, for our God's word is faithful - always.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

Unswerving Faith: The Shunammite Woman

In 2 Kings 4:8-37, we meet the Shunammite Woman, a wealthy and capable woman who shows great kindness, generosity, and hospitality to the prophet Elisha. This woman literally prepared a room in her home for Elisha where he could stay on his frequent visits.

We live in a culture of "guest bedrooms," these neatly decorated (or sometimes filled with all of our extra crap until company comes) spare rooms used for hospitality. This woman so beautifully demonstrates literally hospitality and metaphorically the posture of her heart to this prophet of God. What if we cleared out our spare rooms (our hearts) of all of our crap, and made space for God, space for Him to dwell and for us to realign the posture of our hearts? How beautiful and effortless would our faith become?

God is always faithful. And Elisha, moved by her kindness, asked what he could do for her. "I'm alright," was her reply (basically). The Shunammite woman was unable to ask for the deep desires of her heart, to pray the big, scary, beyond comprehension prayers - to ask God for a child. But Elisha, finding out she was childless, spoke a word over her - a promise: "About this time next year, you will hold a son in your arms" (vs. 16). This promise of God was received with doubt - she answered, "Don't mislead your servant, O man of God!" Despite the posture of her heart being hospitable to God's presence in her home, she was afraid, for she had known a broken heart.

Unswerving Faith | Photo by Linnea WhiteWe've all experienced pain and loss that makes as ask the question, "Can I trust God?" The answer is always, resoundingly, unswervingly YES.

A year later, as Elisha had promised, the Shunammite woman had a son, fulfilling God's word and the deepest, unspoken desire of her heart. Talk about renewed trust in God! But God's work was not yet finished. And the Shunammite woman would face further devastation and temptation to doubt God's promise.

In verse 20, her promise literally dies in her lap. Her son, this prophesied gift from God, dies. And what is her response when he dies? Complete and utter faith in God. Without a word, she carried her son to the room she had prepared for Elisha and laid the boy on his bed, an act demonstrating her trust in God. And that trust in God fueled her hope in a miracle, in not collapsing under the weight of grief.

She made the twenty-five mile journey north to find Elisha at Mount Carmel, and asked him, "Didn't I tell you, 'Don't raise my hopes'?" Elisha at first instructed his Gehazi, basically his sidekick, to return to her home and lay his staff on the boy's face. But the woman wasn't going to settle for a stand-in to this mouth-piece, this prophet of God. Miraculously, the boy is revived, after Elisha warmed the boy's body with his own, praying all the while. The boy sneezed 7 times upon awaking --- the sacred number representing the completion of God's word.

Once again, in verse 37, the woman shows a beautiful posture of her heart --- worship and thanksgiving. For God had been true to His word, fulfilling His promise to her and then preserving it in the face of impossible circumstances.

May this beautiful woman of the Bible speak to your own faith and trust in God. May her example of kindness teach us to seek opportunities to care for others in basic and practical ways. May her attitude to "seek first his [the Father's] kingdom and his righteousness" empower us to trust that "all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). When we aren't fretting over God's provision, we experience it abundantly. So this week, realign the posture of your heart by practicing practical hospitality and kindness for someone, and, in turn, trust in a God that is always faithful to his unswerving servants.

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Read last week's introduction to the Trusting God devotional series.

Trusting God | Women of the Bible Series, Week 1

Linnea White

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Let's face it - God and I have long had trust issues. Because if I'm being honest, trusting God is a isn’t as simple as it sounds. It’s more than words on a cute mug or a favorite verse above your desk, it’s more than a song of praise or momentary thanksgiving. Trust is a verb. What does the Lord say about trusting Him? What does it mean to trust the Lord, to trust in His promises and His unwavering goodness? What about when life gets tough, when the enemy throws tragedy and pain, suffering and hardship our way?

"All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just hours after writing those questions in my journal a few weeks ago, I received devastating news from a friend - the kind of news that could cripple your faith, that could crack your bedrock of trust in the Lord. And I knew there was no better time than this to lean into the Bible, to seek His wisdom on this topic that defines our faith - trusting God.

The Bible is filled with women who trusted in God, and the cast of characters includes women young and old, married and single, mothers, sisters, and daughters. In this series, we'll dive into a few of their stories, exploring their faith to increase our own.

Trusting God, Week 1 | An Introduction

In Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts, she chronicles the lifelong battle against our flesh as we trust in God. "Anxiety has been my natural posture, my default stiffness[...] I don't fold my hands in prayer... weld them into tight fists of control[...] Worry is the facade of taking action when prayer really is." Voskamp calls stress not only a "joy stealer," but also warns that our response to stress can be sin.

Instead, give thanks daily. “Thanks is what builds trust,” adds Voskamp. “Gratitude is what births trust… the true belief."

Belief is a verb, it is the action of our faith - to place our trust in God. If we believe, then we must let go and trust. And it is a daily choice, a daily action and step of our faith.

"Jesus replied, 'This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger]'." John 6:29 AMP

Trusting God series | Photo by Megan TiernanThis is our daily aim, our striving steps of faith as we make our way about our day. May the work of this world, may the trials and tragedies of this world, not deter us from our ultimate work: living a life fully trusting in God.

Meditate on these verses throughout the week, turning to prayer instead of stress and worry, and giving thanks instead of giving in to fear.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." John 14:1 NIV

"Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord." Psalm 40:4

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow." Romans 15:13

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock." Isaiah 26:3-4

Next week, we'll start diving into scripture by exploring the story of the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17:8-24.

The Parable of the Sower: Parables Series, Week 8

Linnea White

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When taking a first look at the Parable of the Sower, it is easy to look at the soils and quickly point fingers at people whom we feel could fall into these categories. Let me start by saying this: Jesus did not teach on this to point fingers, and it is not why I am touching on this either. Jesus taught this parable to have us each take a deeper look into our lives and to open up our ears to truly hear what he is saying. I think some people may have experienced multiple types of soil in their life, while for others that may not be the case. However, what is important is that you understand the value in where your seed is placed. I personally think that this parable must be important considering it appears in Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:2-9 and Luke 8:11-15.

Jesus used four different scenarios to get this point across.

1. The seed fell among rocky places. The birds ate the seed up quickly. Seeds are not planted in this person’s life. They “listen” to the truth of Jesus without allowing and accepting Jesus. The hard ground the seed is on doesn’t allow the seed to grow. This happens when someone is engulfed in deeply-rooted sin and allows the sin to take over.
2. The seed was placed in rocky places without much soil. The seed sprang up quickly, but later was scorched by the sun due to the lack of a root. Seeds are placed in this person’s life, and they take in some of the truth about who Jesus is and profess they know him. However, because there is no depth, their heart has not changed and their faith disappears.
3. The seed fell among the thorns. The plant grew but was killed by the thorns.

 

This person appears to have received the truth of Jesus, but sin (i.e. sexual sin, greed, lust, etc.) distracts and takes them away from a life with Jesus.
4. The seed fell on good soil. The seed produced crop that multiplied. The person HEARS AND RECEIVES THE WORD OF GOD and their life is for Jesus. This person will have heart and life change and are living vessels for Jesus.

Jesus also cautions us to beware of false prophets in Matthew 7:15-20:

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them… Likewise, good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit… Thus by their fruit you will recognize them."

Here, Jesus explains how a man’s heart must be in ample condition to receive His word.

I challenge you to take time to reflect on your life. If your soil is not in the correct condition to receive the goodness of Jesus, God can till it. He tells us to turn away from sin and He will be there with open arms. I pray that if something is holding you back, or if you are bluntly living in opposition of what you know is right, God will break down those walls and barriers. No matter how big the issue seems or how hard your situation is, it takes the faith of a mustard seed to move mountains with Jesus.

Be blessed, Megan

Read more from this Darling Devotional series on The Parables.

The Parables, Week 7: The Unfruitful Tree

Linnea White

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Can you believe it's 2016? A new year, a fresh perspective on what we hope this year will bring. One thing that remains pivotal is that Jesus will be at the center of this year. As we continue with the Parables devotional series, it is perfect timing for the next one in Luke 13. Here, Jesus taught on the Parable of the Unfruitful Tree. How fitting for this time of year, as we begin a new year, we need to make proactive steps in our trees yielding fruit. This means we need to see what we are watering our trees with and what kind of soil we are grounding them in.

Luke 13 | The Parable of the Unfruitful Tree

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?' 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'"

There are three entities in this parable:

  • The owner of the vineyard is God.
  • The man who is the keeper of the tree is Jesus.
  • The tree is symbolic to individuals and Israel.

God does not want to have to cut down the tree. But, he is a God of justice. He sent Jesus to intercede on r behalf, "Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25)  Jesus desires for us to be with Him. He died on the cross so we could be in relationship with God. He works hard at providing opportunities for us to choose Him. To love Him. To make decisions that further His kingdom. While ultimately everything is in the hands of God and He in is control, He provides opportunities for us to choose Him, to exercise our free will.

In this parable, the owner of the vineyard (God) is frustrated that this tree is not providing any fruit. He knew the keeper of the tree (Jesus) had worked hard at making conditions best for the tree (people) to bear fruit; however, the tree itself did not bear any. The keeper (Jesus) then intervenes pleading with the owner (God) for a little more time for the tree (people) to be fruitful. The owner (God) agrees, but only for one years time.

Seek and Find | Photo by Linnea WhiteSee friends, there is an urgency and a call for us a believers of Jesus to be seeking Him. This seeking is not a checklist. God wants us to be in community with Him daily. The scriptures say, "Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (Luke 11:9) Jesus is here, if you are a believer or not - He is always present. Seek Him and you will find Him. I challenge you to get rid of the things in your life that are keeping you from bearing fruit, that are holding you back from what God has for you. Even if whatever you are holding on to seems to give you temporary satisfaction, time is precious and God wants to see your life bearing fruit.

I pray that this year brings much joy to you and that God will reveal Himself in a mighty wonderful way to you.

Read more from this Darling Devotional series on The Parables.

The Parables, Week 6: The Rich Fool

Linnea White

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Luke 12:13-21: The Parable of the Rich Fool

"Then Jesus said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'

And he told them this parable: 'The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

Then he said, 'This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I'll say to myself, 'You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.'

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God."

Storing Up Your Treasures

I am sure most people have been convicted of loving their things a little too much. As we go into this Christmas season, I want to challenge you to really think about how you are spending your time and how you think about the items you are desiring.

I read an amazing book by Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted, and I highly recommend it. In the book, Jen talks about a moment where she was challenged to give her brand new boots over to a homeless person without any shoes for the winter. She admits that it was a bit too challenging for her to give up her boots (when she had other pairs at home) to someone who had nothing to keep their feet warm.

I can honestly say that this is something I too have struggled with. Their is nothing wrong with liking your things - that is not what I am saying here. But, there is something wrong if you would not willingly give them up. Because the fact of the matter is that if we hold onto our things without having open hands extending them towards God, then we are making idols of those objects. 

God tells us, "Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:20)

Storing Up Your Treasures | Photo by Megan Tiernan

The truth is we have no idea how many days we will have on this earth. What we do know is time is precious and what we want to be storing up are our riches in heaven. 

This past week my sweet friend passed away. She was only 38 years old. It really stopped me in my footsteps and made me think about how short our time is here on earth. It made me think, "Am I spending it in every way possible that is glorifying to God? Am I living each day knowing how precious it really is?"

My prayer for us all is simply Psalm 39:4: "LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered--how fleeting my life is."

Be Blessed this week, friends.

Meg

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Read more from this Darling Devotional series on The Parables.

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