Cut and Dry—An Eternal Perspective

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I confess, I’ve done a bad thing. Logic warned me not to do it, but I did it anyway. I cut my own bangs. Every time I take the scissors into my own hands, I promise myself I’ll never do it again. That’s because I never fail to end up looking at little like Spock, minus the ears. But this is definitely no way to live long and prosper.

When am I going to get it? I’m just not a skilled bang-cutter. When I try, I’m operating miles outside my area of expertise.

The gal who cuts my hair, on the other hand, knows what she’s doing with a pair of scissors. She can trim, gel, clip and mousse with the best of them. And she’s pretty adamant about me staying away from hair self-service. She knows whatever mess I make—and I will make a mess—she’ll have to straighten out.

Isn’t it strange that I would take the scissors into my own hands, knowing my past hair cutting record? I’ve thought about it, and I don’t care how badly I needed an operation, I’m quite sure I would never snatch the scalpel from the surgeon’s hand with a, “Oh, let me do that!  I saw an appendectomy on the Health Channel one time. I can so do this!”

In an eternal perspective, I guess my hair—even my appendix—is not as important as it may seem. As a matter of fact, hair and body parts are simple compared to running a life. Yet how many times have I snatched the controls on that too?

When I take control of my own life, I make a mess every time. I’m operating miles outside my area of expertise. I end up whining to the Father, “Lo-oo-ord, can you fix this, ple-ee-ease?”

Wouldn’t it be easier to simply be obedient in the first place?

We please God and show our love for Him by “surrendering the scissors,” so to speak, in complete obedience. Jesus said in John 14:15 (NIV), “If you love me, keep my commands.”

Then in John 15:9-11, Jesus tells us that we find real joy as we’re pleasing God, keeping his commands:  “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (NIV).

Joy. And not just any joy. It’s a joy that’s complete. It’s real life. Maybe even a longer life. Proverbs 10:27 says, “The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short” (NIV).

It’s a sobering truth.

Still, did it have to say “cut short”?  Just another reminder I’m spending the next couple of weeks suffering severe bang humiliation.

How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. Psalm 128:1 NASB

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When we take the scissors into our own hands, chaos can ensue – an eternal perspective from author @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What are some aspects of your life in which you are still holding the scissors?

 

Conquering Fear by Learning to Trust

by  Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.  Psalm 56:4

I lived 40+ years gripped in fear. To me, my anxiety was absolutely rational. Anyone with a brain must surely be as frightened as I about having an accident while driving in the snow. Who didn’t worry for their family’s safety? Fear touched every part of my life. I was tortured with the idea I would die and leave my children motherless, or that my husband would die and make me a widow. There was nothing that seemed unreasonable about any of it.

It was a miserable way to live.

I’ve been a Christian since I was six, but that didn’t eliminate the oppression I lived under. For many years, God invited me into a deeper relationship with Him and finally I decided to jump in with both feet.

With that choice, God didn’t automatically eliminate my fear. He didn’t start by addressing my depression or anxiety. He began with a simple invitation. Trust Him. Not my job. Not my employers. Not my bank account. Not my family. God knew I first needed to learn how to trust Him before I’d have the tools to eliminate the stronghold of fear from my life.

My journey to trust involved a miscarriage, my husband’s chronic illness, a job loss and subsequent financial issues. As I learned to trust God with these overwhelming circumstances, I began to see that He could deal with my fears as well. I asked Him to  pinpoint exactly when fear attached itself to my spirit. I prayed God would reveal the lie I was believing and His truth to replace it.

He took me back to the night it happened. I was driving home on the highway, at night, when in the blink of an eye rain turned into a blinding blizzard. After spinning out in a little Mirage, I found myself staring at the grill of a semi-truck which had stopped a mere two feet from the hood of my car. Fear entered when I believed I was mere inches from being crushed by that hulk of a machine.

Then God left me with a question: Maybe, just maybe, God had strategically placed the 80,000 pounds of steel as a barrier to protect me from injury or death from other vehicles coming around the curve who could have hit me head on. What had been a terror-filled night 17 years ago became God’s loving protection of His child. My fear of winter driving was healed.

It’s hard to trust Someone you don’t know very well. Learning to trust is a process. I had to choose to get to know God on a deeper level, and it was only then He could start the process of healing me of my long-entrenched fear. I needed to communicate all of my feelings with Him, holding nothing back. But, the more I grew to know Him, the easier it became to trust Him.

Because our God is so personal, your experience may look very different from mine, but the result will be just as complete. Then, when storms come into our lives (such as my crippling fears), there is a history shared with Him that enables us to trust even when life looks overwhelming. It is during those times when true growth occurs and freedom is achieved. 

Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV) reinforces this concept: “Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.”

Finding a way out of all that fear has been a long process. God has released its grip on me through a deeper relationship with Him. As I continually make the choice to put my trust in Him, He continues to heal different areas of my life that need His attention. As a result, I’m now able to step into His calling on my life. Because when I’m doing His will, I have nothing to fear.

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We all experience fear – author @CheriSwalwell shares how to conquer it on @AriseDailyDevos (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She has the privilege to write regularly for Book Fun Magazine, her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart, as well as two other books, Hope During Heartache and Caring for the Caregiver . Cheri would love to connect with you through her website, www.cheriswalwell.com, through email: clSwalwell99@gmail.com, or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell.

Join the conversation: Have you had to overcome fear? Tell us about your experience.

 

 

The Season for Wisdom

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.   Proverbs 2:3-5 NIV

People can be funny about seasons. I know a gal who only drinks coffee in the winter. I want to tell her—with entirely too much enthusiasm—it’s a cup of coffee. Not a wool scarf. This is not a “white shoes after Labor Day” kind of thing. To every drink there is a season. For me, coffee is all of them.

Why is it we tend to put some things in a seasonal box where they don’t belong, and not include others that really do? For instance, some of us routinely make fitness seasonal. Personally, I’m forced to ever dread the season of sleeveless tops. My own seasonal fear.

Wisdom? It’s different. There’s no “out of season.” We’re not talking about worldly wisdom that’s not really wisdom at all, but a true understanding of life and all its happenings from God’s view. True wisdom is applying and living according to that understanding.

Proverbs 3:21 tells us we should never let wisdom and understanding out of our sight. The next verse says “they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck” (Proverbs 3:22 NIV) Wool scarf? No…better. Life! A few chapters later we read that those who find wisdom “find life and receive favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 8:35 NIV). Life full of His favor—that’s the sweet life.

Every day holds a new slate of decisions. Should I go to college? Should I invest in that friendship? Should I marry that person? Which career should I choose? How should I invest my time today? Can I wear that scarf this late in the season? How many creams in my coffee? The choices can be absolutely overwhelming.

Not to worry, though. Your Heavenly Father cares about our decisions and He will be faithful to give you wisdom. Some of our answers are spelled out in black and white within the pages of His Word. Get to know Him through Scripture, and many of those choices become crystal clear.

Earthly “wisdom” will tell us that we need to go with our gut. It says ask ourselves how we “feel” about our choice. But feelings and emotions are up, down and all over the place. Boy, are they seasonal. You can’t trust them.

Trust in God, not in your own thoughts and emotions. Making a decision because it “feels right” leads countless people right into some incredibly dumb moves—often with devastating consequences.

Living in His wisdom, letting it become a natural part of how we walk out our faith, takes us to a safer place in life. Take a closer look at that Proverbs 3 passage:

“My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble” (Proverbs 3:21-23 NIV).

Struggling with a decision? Never neglect the discipline of seeking wisdom through the counsel of the Father Himself. Pray. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (ESV). And the psalmist said, “I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons” (Psalm 16:7, NKJV).

When your heart is filled with His Spirit, you can trust it in those night seasons.

For the record, I’ve heard the decision on what the “right season” is to wear white is still up in the air.

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The season for wisdom – @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevos (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What wisdom has God given you lately?

 

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Are You Settling for Less?

by Cindi McMenamin

So often we, as women, settle. We think, at times, that it’s better to stay with a boyfriend who treats us badly than to have no boyfriend at all. We stay in a job that we hate, for fear that we’ll never get a better one. We would rather be around people who mistreat us and betray us, than to feel we have no friends at all. And when we settle like that, we are clearly saying to God and others that He is not capable of giving us anything better.

I remember feeling that way, too. I had just met the man of my dreams. But he lived 1,000 miles away. And my on-again, off-again boyfriend of four years was right here in town. That relationship was convenient. It was comfortable (for the most part…except when I was crying my eyes out!). And it was better to be with someone, than to be alone, I remember thinking.

It was my sister who finally burst my unbelieving bubble with the truth.

“If you settle for what you have now, you are denying God the opportunity to bless you with His very best for you.”

My fear to make a change was denying God the opportunity to bless me? God used those words of my sister to convince me to trust Him and walk out of an unhealthy dating relationship that was slowly drying up my soul. And as I did…God proved Himself true to His Word. God had something far better for me. He was just waiting for me to believe it and trust Him with it.

God has shown me, through the years, that His best for me is always far better than anything I would’ve chosen on my own. Whether it was a job, a ministry position, or a best friend, He has always known better than me. And He has always provided when I’ve trusted.

Scripture tells us God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).

Immeasurably more! Think about that. You can’t measure the more God has for you.

But you can trust Him with it.

The God who numbers the hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30), and saves your tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8), and has thoughts of you too numerable to mention (Psalm 139:17-18), wants to exceed your expectations by coming through in a mighty way for you. So, ask yourself: How big is my God? You answer that question by what you are willing to accept and what you are unwilling to expect.

Expect Him to do immeasurably more than you can ask or imagine.

Lord, don’t let me settle for just what I think You can do. Expand my faith and trust in You to ask for what You really can accomplish. I want Your best for me.  

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: When have you settled for less?

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Blindfolded to Belief

by Sheryl Giesbrecht

Where did that come from? we ask when things don’t go as planned. It’s like being blind-folded, and we’re groping in the dark. And we wonder, What have I done to deserve this?

Circumstances can trick us into mistrust about God.  There was a time in my life when I felt blinded in a strange place. We had moved from the beach. The cold, foggy days of winter eclipsed my life, bringing on depression and a deathly sickness. I felt deceived by my husband and abandoned by God. I was angry and wanted to drop out of everything. I agonized: Why would God allow this to happen to me? I believed the lie that bad things don’t happen to good people. I had a lot to learn.

We can see a great example of struggling to trust in Scripture. God called Abram to set aside fear and step out in faith. “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you…So, Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him” Gen 12:1,4 (NIV) The only information Abram had to go on was God’s promise to guide and bless him. His decision to follow God set the plan of a chosen nation into motion, preparing the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. God wants us to come to him in total dependence; honestly expressing our lack of faith, failures, and fears.

Abram didn’t understand how his position as “the father of nations” would go down. He had major issues with fear along the way. When Abram and his group traveled through Egypt, the Egyptians were amazed at his wife Sarai’s beauty. They insisted on taking her to their Pharaoh to show her off. Abram’s fear kept him from trusting God for his and Sarah’s protection. So Abram told her to lie. “Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you” (Genesis 12:13 NIV). But even as he wavered in his faith, God protected him and his family. Eventually, Abram decided to believe in God’s promises. And it was counted to him as righteousness.

Deciding to trust God after our move, even when I couldn’t see what lay ahead, was finally my decision, too. Afterward, it was as if God removed my blindfold. I could finally see. I would believe God and anticipate the future with hope.

It was time to stop believing the lies I’d been fed since elementary school. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) I decided to renew my mind by memorizing God’s word.

I started to share what I learned with others. I made new friends, and began to invest in the lives of young moms around me, joyfully sharing their journey. I was surprised how my faith grew after my choice to follow God wholeheartedly, letting go of my expectations and plans. As Beth Moore has said, “Trust reverses detours of adversity into highways of destiny.” The choice is ours.

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.  Isaiah 50:10

sheryl giesbrechtAbout the author: Exchanging hurt for hope is Sheryl Giesbrecht’s focus—a message she shares with audiences as a radio and television personality, author and speaker. She served as Focus on the Family’s columnist for Pastor’s Wivesfor four years. Hundreds of her columns, magazine, and devotional articles have appeared in Focus on The Family MagazineJust Between Us, Discipleship JournalCCMWalk Thru the Bible’s – InDeed and Tapestry, Live-Living and Charismapublications. She is the author of four books including, Experiencing God Through His Names (Bold Vision, February 2017) and It’ll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth (Redemption Press, March 2018). You can find more about Sheryl at www.fromashestobeauty.com,

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt blindsided by God?

 

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The Cupboard is Bare

by Cheri Cowell

“So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul—then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied” (Deuteronomy 11:13-15 NIV).

Isn’t it amazing how we can have a cupboard full of food, yet our families complain  there’s nothing here to eat? Of course there is plenty of food in the house. No one is going to starve. But they know that. They’re not really saying they can’t find anything to eat. What they’re looking for is something that will satisfy.

Our souls are like that. We long for something that will satisfy our inner hunger. So, we look into the cupboard that is filled with really good things–ministry, service, and selfless giving, and yet we see nothing to eat. Nothing to satisfy.

For years I worked hard at my church. I served as a volunteer and then was hired to serve on staff. Every time the doors opened, it seemed I was there. I poured myself into ministry and reached a point where I was starving. I didn’t understand because I was doing everything I thought I should do. I was in the Word; I was doing ministry. But my cupboard was bare.

Then I read this passage. In fact, I read this passage several times before the words jumped off the page at me. “Then I will send rain on your land in its season.” The scripture goes on to detail how we will be satisfied. But there it is- three little words that helped me see how God feeds. He doesn’t promise us that whenever we say we are hungry or thirsty He will send the food. He says he will send the rain in its season. So, perhaps we are not eating the right food and we need to change what we are eating. But the answer might also be that we are eating the right things, and we just need to not grow weary in well doing.

If you are going through a time of deep hunger and you know you are doing the right things and yet you’re wondering where is the food He has promised, know that it is coming—in due season. There is plenty of food in the storehouse.

Eventually my hunger was satisfied. The food in my pantry was the right food. I just had to wait for the meal to be prepared. Jesus is preparing your meal. Dinner is coming. You won’t starve. In due season the rain will fall.

Praise God for having his storehouse full of food that will satisfy your soul. Thank Him for knowing the perfect season to send the rain to satisfy your hunger and thirst.

cheri cowellAbout the author: Cheri Cowell’s Bible study, One Story, One Mission, One God, shares how God’s mission has been the same from Genesis through Revelation. To learn about this and Cheri’s other books visit http://www.CheriCowell.com

Join the conversation: Have you felt dry or hungry while doing all the right things?

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Fighting Fire With Prayer

by Sheri Schofied

“It’s time to evacuate,” my husband, Tim, said. The fire on the next pass had crested the mountain. If it advanced much further, we would be cut off from the road. We quickly packed our most important papers, pictures and necessary clothing and headed for town. Behind us, we could see the flames in the car’s mirrors.

Will they be able to stop it from burning the town? I wondered, for the fire was headed that direction.

That night Leo, our sheriff, stood on the highway near the pass and looked across the fire battleground, where our volunteer and regular firefighters fought to contain the flames. The next Sunday at church Leo reported, “I’ve never seen anything like it! The wind began blowing the flames inward upon themselves and put the fire out! It was God. If He hadn’t stopped the fire, the town would have burned. God heard and answered our prayers!”

Many people no longer believe in the power of prayer to solve problems. But Jesus taught that we should always ask our heavenly Father for help. In Luke 18:1-8 (NLT), he told a parable to show his disciples that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’ ”

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

 Some say that if we believe hard enough, God will grant our requests. Is that faith?

Jesus called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mathew 18:2,3 (NIV)

A little child demonstrates faith by going to his parent and telling of his need. If you watch, that child will tug on his parent’s clothes and repeat the request until the parent gets up and answers him. The child who stamps his foot and demands his way will often be rebuked or sent to his room. Yet the one who asks persistently but respectfully will receive an answer.

True faith comes to the Father in confidence that God can do anything. We are to persist in asking, but not like a spoiled child! We respectfully bring the subject up to God until he answers, whether the answer is yes or no. We rest in him. Asking is an act of trust, which puts us in the right mind-set of dependency. We trust his answer, for we love him and are confident in his wisdom and goodness.

Are there fires where you live? Is there a fire burning in your soul, driving your anxiety level up? Ask the Father to put the fire out. Keep on asking. You can trust his answer. He has a plan.

 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NIV.

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years, has just released her new book, The Prince And The Plan, to help parents lead their children into a saving knowledge of Jesus. Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Join the conversation: For what are you trusting God today?

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When You Don’t Like God’s Plan

by Debbie Wilson

If God has a plan for your life, and you have a plan for your life, whose plan do you think is better?

During my senior year of college, I attended a conference called Senior Panic. The term aptly described me. Graduation loomed just months away, and I wasn’t sure which path to pursue. But I knew what I didn’t want—ministry.

So, when I sensed God’s call to join Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ), I resisted. Strongly. I was sure our perfect God had made His first mistake. He had the wrong gal.

Like Jacob, I wrestled all night with God. Like Moses, I offered up every excuse why He should pick someone else. Not only was I not qualified, the idea of living in a hut in the jungle didn’t appeal to me. And I was sure, if I completely surrendered to God, that is exactly where He’d send me.

But God wouldn’t relent, so finally worn out from resisting, I surrendered.

During my staff interview, a woman asked me how sure I was of my calling. “100%,” I said, “because this is not something I would choose.”

Cru accepted me—on PROBATION—of course. Hadn’t I already told God about my limited Bible knowledge and lack of ministry experience?

Training and Transformation

At staff training in Fort Collins, Colorado my heart softened. I realized I wanted to serve Christ wherever He decided to put me. On completion, they assigned me to a team in Boston—instead of a hut in the jungle.

Our team director modeled a close walk with the Lord. He taught us how to study the Bible in a simple format. He assigned us to spend two hours with God every morning before our staff meeting. The Scriptures began to speak to me like they never had before.

I learned to savor my time with God. His Word became fuel for my soul. It’s no exaggeration to say my life was transformed. As my love for God and His Word exploded, a passion to connect others to God’s heart was born.

I met my husband on staff and after 11 years in youth ministry we sensed the call to pursue training in biblical counseling. That led us into different venues of ministry.

After serving God in vocational Christian ministry for many decades I can say, God didn’t make a mistake when He called me. I now realize, He doesn’t call us for what we can do for Him, but for what He can do in and through us.

God’s plan is not always easy. Sometimes it includes setbacks and suffering. But we can be sure it’s always best.

Do you have a plan for your life that collides with God’s plan for you? Whose plan do you think is better?

The only way to live a life without regret is to live a life of surrender and obedience.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 NIV

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Join the conversation: Has God’s plan ever surprised you?

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I Shouldn’t Have Been Speeding

by Kathy Collard Miller

I was driving down a California freeway on a superbly beautiful day of fluffy clouds on a background of clear blue sky and I just felt very happy. My happiness urged my foot against the accelerator as the wind from the open window blew through my hair. I didn’t see the Highway Patrolman until he flashed his red lights behind me. With dread, I pulled over to the side of the road.

He came up to my side of the car and we went through what I assumed were the regular questions (since I’d never had a moving violation before). Then I said, “I don’t expect you to not write a ticket, but my husband will ask me if I told you that he’s a police officer.” I gave him the city and my husband’s name.

He didn’t smile as he took my license and walked back to his cruiser. I knew I was getting a ticket and I knew I deserved it. As I waited, it seemed like he was taking a long time, but I didn’t know if that was unusual.

He finally emerged from his car and walked up to mine. He handed me my license and said, “Next time drive the speed limit.”

I melted in gratitude and said, “Thank you.” I didn’t know if he had checked to see if Larry was an officer but I didn’t care. In his generosity, I had avoided a fine and a black mark on my squeaky-clean record.

After I drove off, I slowly worked my way back into traffic and was surprised at myself. I was actually driving below the speed limit!  I wished I could find him again on the road and shout, “Look! You’ve inspired me with your grace! I’m so grateful, I’m determined to obey the law. Thank you so much for your mercy!”

I’ve never forgotten that experience, because it shouts to me of how gratitude to God should affect my obedience all the time. God’s amazing grace, giving what I could never deserve, is all done not because of me, but in spite of me. That fact should motivate me to respond with gratitude, which in turn would lead to unselfish and humble actions.

Just as I “knew” someone who could qualify me to avoid that ticket, our identity with Christ (because we know Jesus as our Savior) qualifies us to avoid the wrath and punishment for our sin that we deserve.

And then out of the strong gratitude that we have not received what we deserve, we say, “Look, Lord! I’m so grateful I want to show it by obeying you.”

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.  Colossians 2:6-7 NASB

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller has only been pulled over by an officer once but she has been “pulled over” by God many times. As a result, her speaking and writing offer real life growth examples and biblical insights. Her most recent book, No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom tells the story of how God delivered her from being a child abuser and healing her fractured marriage. Contact her: http://www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Join the conversation: How has God’s grace and mercy motivated you to respond in the fruit of the Spirit?

Photo by A l e x a on Unsplash

Am I a Spiritual Hoarder?

by Edie Melson

 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.                                                                                                                      I Corinthians 4:2 NASB

When I think of stewardship, I think about managing something that is owned by someone else. I don’t often think of my own life in that context, and I especially don’t think of my struggles that way.

I think of my struggles as part of the journey. And in a lot of ways that’s what they are.

Truthfully, though, they’re much more than that. The difficulties I face go beyond just being bumps in the road. The things I struggle with are circumstances and experiences that mold me into a clearer representation of Jesus. The situations I’ve been a part of, the things I’ve learned along the way, even the people I’ve come into contact with, make up a very real part of who I am.

And I’ve come to realize that every aspect of this life—along with these struggles—is a gift from God. Each one is something He’s given me to make me into the person He knows I can be. Some of these experiences have been resolved and ended up in places of joy. Others have led me through great sorrow. Each one has added something to who I am.

This process of accepting the necessity of struggle has led me to think deeper about them; to question the purpose of the difficulties I’ve faced.

What if these experiences aren’t just for me?

I’ve learned that they aren’t just for me. God hasn’t given me these experiences to have me squander and hoard them only for my benefit. I believe He expects me to share my experiences with others. He wants to use them to show others His faithfulness, and allow them to learn difficult lessons through my experiences.

Paul talks about this in his second letter to the Corinthians. He’d seen wonderful success in his ministry: many souls won to Christ, numerous local churches planted, and deep friendships formed. He’d also been through some terrible times: imprisonment, beaten and whipped numerous times, stoned, and shipwrecked. After listing the difficulties, he summarized: “If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30 NASB).

What would be the benefit of sharing those struggles with others? Paul wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV). Paul shared God’s faithfulness in each of his experiences to help others in their own relationship with Him.

So instead of hoarding my struggles, I’m going to share them. I’m going to trust that God has a bigger purpose than just me. I’m going to quit hiding away my experiences, letting them gather dust in the dim corners of my memory. From this moment forward, I’m throwing open the doors and inviting those around me see the good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly.

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: What past experiences have you shared with others? What were you hoping they would learn?

Photo by Tom Rogerson on Unsplash