Bright screens, beeping notifications, a never-ending list of activities and to-dos . . . when do we ever stop? Is it any wonder we are deeply weary?
Jesus longs to give you the gift of rest—to lead you beside quiet waters and refresh your soul. He stands with open arms, saying, “Come as you are!”
With her signature honesty, vulnerability, and humor, bestselling author Sheila Walsh helps you seek Jesus in the quiet. Every entry features an encouraging devotion and takeaway along with powerful scriptures that guide you in drawing near to your life-giving God.
The 5 Minutes with Jesus series is the perfect way to start your day with a replenished heart.
Expand your five minutes by sharing inspiration, viewing exclusive videos, and previewing new books at 5MinutesWithJesus.com. [facebook icon] Facebook.com/5MinWithJesus [twitter icon] @5MinWithJesus [Instagram icon] @5MinWithJesus
Other titles in this series:
5 Minutes with Jesus: Making Today Matter
5 Minutes with Jesus: Peace for Today
5 Minutes with Jesus: A Fresh Infusion of Joy
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About the Author
Sherri Gragg fell in love with stories as a child, discovering that she could travel to any place and any moment in time between the covers of a book. Today as a writer she takes her readers with her on the journey. Her first book, Arms Open Wide: A Call to Linger in the Savior’s Presence, utilizes cultural background and archeology to immerse the reader in some of the most riveting moments of the Gospels. Sherri is a nationally published freelance writer and award winner in the 2012 Writer’s Digest Competition and lives with her husband and five children in Franklin, Tennessee.
Read an Excerpt
5 Minutes with Jesus
Quiet Time for Your Soul
By Sheila Walsh, Sherri Gragg
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2017 Sheila Walsh
All rights reserved.
As a Mother Comforts Her Child
It seemed to sneak up on me overnight. One moment Christian was a little boy who needed his mom for so much, and the next he was off to college — independent, confident, and strong.
One morning I sat in my favorite chair with a cup of tea, looking through old family photo albums and remembering some of my favorite moments from his childhood. There was the Alaska trip when Christian was nine years old. Part of our trip package included dogsledding. The chief "musher" asked Christian if he would like to direct the sled. When Christian looked at me, I said, "Go for it! You can do it. If you fall, I'll be right there."
I must have said that a hundred times as he was growing up: "If you fall, I'll be right there!" Now I say a variation of it in my prayers for him, thanking God that if Christian falls, his heavenly Father will be right there.
We can find great comfort in thinking of God as our Father. But did you know that when God wanted to describe how He comforts His children, God compared Himself to a mother?
In the book of Isaiah, God had some difficult things to say to His children, the Israelites. Despite His loving care of them, they had stubbornly rejected Him over and over again. He had sent His messengers, the prophets, to call His children back to Him, but they didn't listen. Finally, the time came when the Lord decided to let His children have their own way.
But the Israelites had forgotten something important: the same God they were rejecting was the One protecting them. He warned the Israelites that when He removed His protection, their enemies would sweep in and take them into captivity. It was terrifying, heartbreaking news — and God knew it. He couldn't bear to deliver it without comforting His children, and when He did, He used this imagery: "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you" (Isaiah 66:13).
One of the most precious blessings of taking time to replenish our souls in God's presence is the tender comfort He offers us when we are hurting. It is so easy to run to a thousand other places when our hearts are wounded, but our compassionate God wants us to come to Him. He wants us to trust Him with our wounded hearts.
Will you allow Him to comfort you today?
If you fall, He'll be right there!
Five Minutes in the Word
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Isaiah 40:1
You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!" Isaiah 40:9
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
Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God"? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. Isaiah 40:27–28
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29–31CHAPTER 2
The Lord Is Our Protector
Parents can be pretty intense when it comes to protecting their kids.
When children are tiny, it is all about babyproofing — setting up gates in front of stairs, putting guards on sharp corners, and locking cabinets filled with cleaning supplies.
Then the children get a little older, and parents frantically say a lot of the same phrases over and over: "Look both ways before you cross the street!" "Do you have your coat?" "Don't talk to strangers!"
A few more years pass, and moms and dads find themselves having hard conversations about texting and driving, safe dating, and on and on and on ...
I am not sure a parent ever stops being concerned about a child's safety.
Have you ever thought about the truth that your heavenly Father wants to keep you, His child, safe too? Matthew 2 tells us about just such a time. Jesus was still young, probably a toddler, when His earthly father, Joseph, received an urgent warning from God in a dream.
"Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him" (vv. 13–14).
I wonder how Joseph felt when those urgent words interrupted his dreams. The angel's appearance — and message — must have been terrifying!
Jesus' very life depended on Joseph's willingness to listen and obey, and Joseph did not hesitate. Matthew 2:14 tells us he got up and took his family to safety that very night.
Just as Joseph loved and protected his son, God loves you and wants to keep you safe. He might speak to you urgently in a dream as He spoke to Joseph, but more often He speaks gently and softly.
One of the greatest gifts of spending time in quiet listening to God is getting to know His voice. Being able to recognize it opens the way for Him to speak into our lives and keep us from harm. Sometimes He will keep us from physical harm, but He seeks to keep us safe in so many other ways as well.
As a loving Father, He might warn us away from a toxic relationship or hold up a stop sign concerning a major life change. But one of the beautiful things about our Savior is that He also cares about the small things in our lives, about the habits that harm us and the old wounds that make us vulnerable.
When I was young, I didn't always go along with my mother's attempts to protect me. Now that I am older, I hope I am wiser. I want to follow Joseph's example by listening closely to my loving Father's words of protection in my life.
Like Joseph, may we never hesitate to obey!
Today I will listen for the Lord's voice and trust that He is watching over me.
Five Minutes in the Word
The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. Psalm 121:6
If you say, "The Lord is my refuge," and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. Psalm 91:9–10
The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life. Psalm 121:7
The waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. Proverbs 1:32–33CHAPTER 3
How He Longs for You
It is truly one of the most heartbreaking moments in all of Scripture.
In Matthew 23:37, we see Jesus' heart for Israel, His wandering people: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing."
Jesus spoke these words to the Jews, but His divine words tell us a lot about the heart of God for all His people. Our heavenly Father longs for relationship with His children. He longs to protect them, to be near them, to hold them close to His heart.
Maybe you find that thought surprising, but we can find a lot of evidence in Scripture that God desires an intimate relationship with us. Way back in the garden, before God banished Adam and Eve from Eden, He made a promise that He would find a way to bring His children back home.
It would take centuries for that rescue story to play out. Battles would be waged and kingdoms would rise and fall, all as part of that rescue plan, all leading up to the birth of the Messiah.
And when that Messiah came, He loved to tell stories about God's longing heart. Jesus compared God and His lost children to a woman who searched for her precious lost coin, and to a shepherd who was so desperate to find one wayward sheep that he left all the other sheep to search for it and bring it home (Luke 15:1–10).
Finally, Jesus said, God's longing for His lost children was like a father who had lost his son, a father who would never give up and who would give absolutely anything to have his boy come home (vv. 11–32).
What about you? Have you wandered far away from home? Or perhaps you just need to hear your Father say those sweet words one more time:
"Oh, how I long to gather you near ..."
You don't have to clean yourself up to come home to your Father. Just come.
Five Minutes in the Word
"'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'" Luke 15:31–32
"I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." Luke 15:7
"The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:10
"I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you." Isaiah 44:22
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand." John 10:27–28CHAPTER 4
Ears That Hear Him
Have you ever received news that broke your heart and took your breath away? In a moment like that, when God's promises don't seem to line up with your circumstances, it's easy to wonder where He is in the midst of your pain.
Those are the times we most need to get alone with God so we can try to get His perspective on things. We need to have ears to hear our heavenly Father when overwhelming problems surround us.
It was on February 7, 1938, that German pastor Martin Niemöller needed to hear from God in just this way. That morning Martin was led from his prison cell to the courtroom for his trial. His crime was daring to speak against Adolf Hitler.
Martin had been so courageous in the weeks and months leading up to that day, but as he began the long walk toward judgment, he found himself overcome with fear for himself and the people he loved.
Martin needed to hear from God.
The guard who led him along the passageway seemed cold as stone, but after a moment Martin began to hear a soft whispering. At first Martin wasn't sure what he was hearing, but as he listened more carefully, he realized it was the guard's voice. God's message to Martin was being delivered through the unlikeliest of messengers: a soldier of the Third Reich. He was whispering words from Proverbs that brought great comfort and courage to Martin's soul: "The name of the lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10 NASB).
Are you, like Martin, overwhelmed by your circumstances today? Do you find yourself turning your situation over and over in your mind, desperate for a solution, then feeling knocked down by a fresh wave of fear?
Go to your heavenly Father. He knows what you are up against. Spend some time with Him so that He can fine-tune your hearing and remind you of who He is and what you mean to Him.
Perhaps there in the quiet you too will hear the gentle words Martin heard as he walked alone through one of the darkest moments in his life and in all of history: "The name of the lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe."
Today, Lord, enable me to hear Your voice above every other.
Five Minutes in the Word
He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:2–4
Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." Isaiah 35:3–4
"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. Psalm 91:3
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25CHAPTER 5
Sometimes I get the feeling my GPS is getting a little cross with me. She gives me directions, and I am pretty sure I'm following them. Then the next thing I know, she is correcting me.
"Rerouting," she says.
The first time she sounds remarkably polite and patient. And the second time too.
But the third time? The fourth? Perhaps I am imagining it, but I think she just called me something that could not be mistaken for a compliment under her breath!
Sometimes we think we are on the right path, exactly where God wants us to be, and then to our surprise, He interrupts us: "Rerouting ..."
Peter had one of those moments in Acts 10. As a faithful Jew, he had learned about God's law throughout his whole life. What is more, everything we can gather about Peter from Scripture reveals a man who was serious about living in total obedience to that law. We find him in the synagogue and observing all the required feasts. Peter must have been pretty sure he was on the right path in life.
Then God completely rerouted him.
Scripture tells us that one day when Peter was praying on a rooftop, God came to him in a vision. He showed Peter a variety of animals that, according to Jewish law, were unclean to eat — and commanded him to eat them!
Peter was horrified. "Surely not, Lord! ... I have never eaten anything impure or unclean" (Acts 10:14).
God was insistent, telling Peter that he shouldn't call anything He had made "unclean." And His message was really about much more than eating guidelines. God wanted Peter to know that since Jesus had redeemed all creation, the old divisions of Jews and non- Jews no longer applied. God was drawing all people to Himself. It was time for everyone to come home!
Did you notice what Peter was doing when he received this important change of direction for his life? He was taking time to be alone with God.
God is rarely as intrusive as our GPS. He waits for us in the stillness. It is often there that His loving voice surprises us with a new direction for our lives. I don't want to miss out on that, do you? Let's open our hearts for His rerouting today!
In the stillness we will hear God's voice saying, "This is the way!"
Five Minutes in the Word
The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. Exodus 13:21–22 NKJV
[Stephen] said, "Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, 'Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.'" Acts 7:2–3 NKJV
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Psalm 32:8 NKJV
Cause me to hear Your loving kindness in the morning, for in You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You. Psalm 143:8 NKJV
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go." Isaiah 48:17 NKJVCHAPTER 6
The 34th Miner
Jorge Galleguillos never slowed his work deep beneath the surface of the earth as the mine creaked and cracked all around him. But at one point he looked up to see what looked like a white butterfly fluttering diagonally toward the cavern floor — just moments before steel buckled and snapped, and stone crashed down with a deafening roar.
That image, the wisp of delicate white, stuck with Jorge. How could he forget it? In his culture, the appearance of a white animal meant God was very near.
The nearness of God was indeed the light in the blackest midnight for Jorge and the other miners as they prayerfully awaited rescue. When the miracle of that moment dawned at last, sixty- nine unbelievable days later, the thirty- three men ascended the mine one by one with a common conviction: a thirty- fourth Miner had been with them beneath the mountain of rock, the Miner who holds the universe in the palm of His hands.
Excerpted from 5 Minutes with Jesus by Sheila Walsh, Sherri Gragg. Copyright © 2017 Sheila Walsh. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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