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As women, we fill many roles: spouse, mother, caregiver, friend, and employee. Sometimes our day begins at 5:30 am and ends with a slow crawl to the bed around 11:00 pm. Downtime is only during our five or six hours of sleep, and that too is sometimes disturbed by the needs of others. This lifestyle can cause long-term stress that eventually may cause problems both physically and mentally.

It is hard for us to admit that we are stressed out. As Spirit-filled women, we are supposed to stay calm, relaxed—and oh yes, smile. Long-term stress can affect our health. Some warning signs may appear such as sleeping problems, headaches, upset stomach, difficulty concentrating, and feeling tired most of the time. We may also feel irritated with others for little or no reason, have feelings of depression, anxiety, tension in the neck and back, in addition to changes in our normal weight.

During stressful times, God has provided a very unique way for our bodies to handle pressure. Our brain produces a chemical called oxytocin which has a calming effect on the body. This chemical is released in higher levels during childbirth, breastfeeding, and when we seek support from female friends.

I am reminded of a story in Luke chapter one where Mary was informed by an angel that she, an unmarried young woman, was going to have a baby. There would be no announcement in the local paper regarding her marriage to Joseph, no planning for the big wedding of her dreams, no choosing her wedding party, no showers or walking down the church aisle—yet a baby would be born to her.

I can just imagine that Mary was stressed to the max! So what did she do? First of all, she probably had moments of anxiety, sleeplessness, headaches, a little tension in her neck, along with worry and irritation like she had never experienced before. What in the world was she to do about all this stress in her life? Well, she just packed her little ’ole suitcase, got on Cleo, her donkey, and headed for a town in the hill country of Judea to visit her relative, Elizabeth.

Much like us today, these two women, whose stress levels probably hit number ten on the one-ten scale, begin to talk. As Mary poured out her feelings to Elizabeth, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost and began to encourage Mary. Mary in turn began to sing a new song: “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” You talk about oxytocin levels on the rise. I can just imagine there was an abundance of it flowing!

Oh how great is our Creator, to create within our brains a chemical that calms our stressed minds with just the simple act of talking with a friend. God knows exactly what we need; how marvelous is God’s plan for each of us. So get on Cleo your donkey—or better yet, get in your car—head out to the home of your best friend, and talk. Let the oxytocin start flowing. Move from stressed to blessed!

 

Doris Dollins has been in the nursing profession almost twenty years. She has been a hospice RN for the past twelve years. Doris is the mother of four children and thirteen grandchildren. She is a member of the UPC of Paris, Texas, pastored by Robert Myre.

Reprinted with permission from Reflections Magazine.

Radiance

Focus Verses:

“And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:4)

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house,” (Matthew 5:14-15)

The Word of God says that we are the light in this world and that we are to be separated and divided from the darkness. Matthew 5:16 says, “let your light shine.” Even the world recognizes light and darkness as the universal battle between all things good and all things evil.

God is telling us to let our light shine, and not just any light, but a light that is so strong it can only be compared to that of a city. With the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us, we can not only be a light, but we can radiate.

When you look up synonyms for the word radiate you will find the following list; bright, shine, light, dazzle, and illuminate. These words challenge me in so many different areas of my life.

  • Don’t be the typical neighbor. Be different!
  • Don’t be the average co-worker. Be bold!
  • Don’t be the every day stay-at-home mom. Stand out!
  • Don’t be just another sister at church. Be radiant!

The exact opposite of radiant is: darkness, blackness, dim and dull.

Two ways to radiate His light:

1. Recognition. Recognize that Jesus is our source of light. In John 8:12 and I John 1:5, we read that Jesus in the light of the world and that in Him there in no darkness. Psalm 27:1 reminds me that God is my light and my salvation. We need to recognize that all goodness and mercy comes from him. When we’re doing good, flesh likes to take credit. A radiant woman will:

    • Give glory to God
    • Reflect Him
    • Radiate His goodness

2. Separation. In II Corinthians 6:14, the Bible asks a clear question, “What fellowship has light and dark?” Nature itself shows us that there is no fellowship between light and dark. A simple experiment can be done to prove that; go into a dark room and turn on the light. What happens to the dark? Like the light and dark, we are to live a life that is separated. Lines must be drawn that separate our conversations, our outings, meals, friends and choices of entertainment. “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy ” (Leviticus 19:2).

Life Reflection:

Ask yourself: Are the boundaries I put in place that separate me from darkness, evident to nonbelievers? 

 

Our goal as woman of radiance is to reflect Christ. Luke 11:33 makes a clear statement, “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, put it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.” The scripture is so clear, to do anything else would lack reason.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.” (I Peter 2:9)

Let your light shine. Be a woman of radiance!

Devotion

Let’s start with defining the word devotion: love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity or cause. Synonyms for the word devotion include: committed, loyal, practice, or an act of fidelity. The opposite of devotion is infidelity and unfaithfulness.

Nowhere in the definition of devotion do we see that it relates to religion. We do however see words within the definition of devotion that relate to relationship.

Devotion is not religion, it is relationship.

The greatest example we have in the natural realm of an act of devotion, is a wedding. More specifically, at the point when the marriage vows are made. We commit our lives to our spouse in front of family, friends, and God, promising to devote our lives to them. The greatest relationship you will ever have in your life is your relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ.

There are benefits to committing your life and devoting your life to God. Proverbs 16:3 tells us, “commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” When we choose to commit our lives to God, the Bible says that He will establish our thoughts. Our spouse will offer us comfort and support; be someone to share our joy and victories with, but only God can establish our thoughts. Only He can bring stability and clarity to our mind and give us a firm foundation allowing us to grow in our walk with Him.

Two ways to build a life devoted to God:

1.  Recognition.  We must give God recognition in all areas of our life – career, education, family, finances, relationships, marriage, and ministry. In the Book of Acts, Paul was in Athens and he came upon a statue that the people had erected. “For as I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD…” (Acts 17:23). If we are going to live a life of devotion to God, we must first be sure that we know who God is.

Devotion to God will require a commitment of our time. Proverbs 31 is a powerful chapter that describes a virtuous woman. Proverbs 31:27 reads, “she looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”

You will know who you serve when you know where your time is spent.

Life Reflection:

Make a list of how and where you spend your time:

 

Matthew 6:19-21 tells us that where your treasure is, there is your heart also. We can also read it as a challenge to us saying, where your time is spent, there is your heart also. It is a reasonable argument that people spend time doing the things they love.

2. Separation.  When you become devoted and involved in a new relationship, there is a separation from previous commitments. Acquaintances, hobbies, friends, interests and plans that once controlled your time, now begin to revolve around your new relationship. Living a life devoted to God will bring a natural separation as you grow closer to Him. Matthew 6:24 confirms that we cannot serve two masters and in II Corinthians 6:14-15, the scripture asks the question, “What does a believer and an infidel have in common?”

We devote time and self to God in the following ways:

  • Prayer
  • Attending church activities
  • Fasting
  • Reading the Bible
  • Fellowship
  • Praise and worship
  • Ministry Development

Life Response:

Psalm 1:1-3 describes great blessing and favor when our life is devoted to God first. It describes not just a moment in time with our Savior, but a lifestyle of devotion. The greatest relationship you will ever have in your life is your relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ!

Submitted by Kini Garcia

Download a .pdf version of this Bible study:

I love the sunshine!  I love spring, and I love summer seasons.  If it could be spring and summer year round, I would be content.  At least I think I would.

I complained as I sat looking at the rain come down so forcefully one day while at work.  It was so gloomy outside.  The day prior, another light shower had fallen, but that day I could see the sun and white clouds in the distance.

We NEED the rain.  Without it, everything would wither up and die.  It is the same way in the seasons of life.  We need those ‘storms’ that blow into our life.  It may seem like we’re going to be blown away by the force of the wind as the pelting rain stings our skin, but it is causing us to dig our roots deeper into Christ.  It is in those times we find our shelter under the shadow of His wings and learn to trust in Him more fully.   At other times, He sends a light shower that refreshes our soul as we see light and hope peeking out beyond the rain clouds.

We also need the autumn seasons when things are changing.  Old things are dying off, but then the cold begins to come as winter moves in.  It feels like everything is dead and barren.  The icy sting of the bitter cold cuts straight through to the bone as snow begins to cover the ground.   Everything becomes ice-covered, and, at times, we can’t feel anything, because the cold has caused us to become numb.  The longer winter seems to linger, the more we wonder if we’ll survive.  We feel forsaken, desolate, and alone at times.

We need that season of dying off to self, to old ways, things that shouldn’t be in our life.  It’s in that time that we realize we are hopeless without Christ.  It’s in that season that we realize how much we need HIM.  Don’t give up in that season – spring is coming!  Just when you think everything within you is dead, hope and life will begin to bud and spring forth as God creates a NEW thing in you.

God gave us each season for a reason.  Each season does have a purpose.  Just as changing seasons are necessary in life, so are they necessary to keep balance, health, and well-being in our spiritual life.   I’m not ready for fall, because I know winter will soon follow.   I’d prefer the warmth of sunshine and to see the flowers continue to bloom, but I know I also need the season for things to die off that shouldn’t be in my life.  It’s painful, sometimes brutal, but what follows makes it all worth it as we once again begin to see the things God is cultivating within us bloom and blossom as spring returns.

No matter what season you may be in right now, hold on and endure with patience.   A new season is coming!  God is working in you, and when He is finished you will trade beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that you may be called the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord!  (Isaiah 61:3)