Who Is Your Plumb Line?

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.                                                 I Peter 2:21 NASB

Have you ever found yourself saying something like “I wish I could be like her”? I know I have—there are people I so admire who just seem to have it all together. They inspire me and make me want to emulate them. Is that such a bad thing? After all, even the Apostle Paul wrote, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17 NASB).

But it was pointed out to me some time ago that if we make people our “plumb line”—a string stretched out by a weight to mark a perfectly vertical line on a wall—we will inevitably miss the mark. Even though a literal plumb line can be near-perfect, people are not. They will likely fail us at one point or another.

In addition, when we focus on outward achievements and actions, we can begin to feel superior (or inferior) to others—and neither option is how God would like us to think. We become the judge and jury of what is good and right or bad and wrong. And when those we consider shining examples fail, we become disillusioned. Sometimes that disillusionment gets transferred to God Himself.

So where can we look for an example that will never fail us? One that will remain consistent and reliable? The Apostle Peter has the best advice: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (I Peter 2:21 NASB).

Peter had learned that lesson first-hand. As a practicing Jew, he had vowed never to eat unclean food. Then while praying, Peter fell into a trance and saw a great sheet coming down with all kinds of unclean animals in it. Within seconds, he was shocked to hear Jesus tell him to kill and eat the animals. Peter said (can’t you just hear the vehemence in his voice?), “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.”(Act 10:14). You can almost hear his underlying sentiment: “I’ve sworn I’ll never do such a thing because then I’ll be unholy.”

At that moment, Peter was depending upon his behavior to make him righteous before God. Of course, that commitment had begun before He knew Jesus as His Savior through grace. Now he knew that only Jesus is The Way, yet, his old way of thinking had never been eliminated. His vow had the potential to prevent him from seeing God’s next opportunity to minister when Cornelius (a Gentile) arrived. Thankfully, Peter turned from his vow and as a result, the Church’s ministry to Gentiles began.

Peter had his eyes on the legions of Jews who had kept the Law and thought they’d gained righteousness through it. It took three commands from Jesus (Acts 10:16), before Peter heard the truth: Don’t focus on others; keep your eyes on me. What God has cleansed, you should no longer consider unholy.

Hebrews tells us where to put our gaze as we live for God. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” Jesus led a perfect, sinless life. He is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature…” (Hebrews 1:2-3 NASB). Who better to emulate?

The next time you start to say things like “I want to be like her,” stop and ponder who should really be your model and “plumb line.” Only Jesus offers a perfect example and will never fail before your eyes.

Who Is Your Plumb Line? – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller lives in Southern California and is the author of over 55 books including the Daughters of the King Bible study series. One of the studies is At the Heart of Friendship. As a popular women’s conference speaker, she has spoken in 35 states and 8 foreign countries. Her passion is to communicate practical biblical ideas for trusting God more. Visit her at http://www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Her latest latest release is , Heart Wisdom, a part of her women’s Daughters of the King Bible study series. Heart Wisdom includes ten lessons about the different topics included in The Proverbs, and is perfect for individual or group study. Reach Kathy at www.KathyCollardMiller.com 

Join the conversation: What have you found important for resisting making other people as your plumb line?

Will You Join The Harvest?

by Sheri Schofield

The moon was full, lighting the pasture. The hay had been cut a week earlier and had been drying in the hot sun. Dad raked it into long rows that afternoon. “I hope it’s dry enough to put into the barn,” he said. “If not, we could lose it. Spontaneous combustion.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“If the hay is damp when it is stacked, it can get hot inside the haystack and burst into flames. But I think it’s okay. It’s been laying in the field for a week now. If we don’t get it in tonight, we’ll lose it anyway, because it’s going to rain. So let’s get busy.” Dad grabbed the pitchfork, mom grabbed a rake, and my brother and I began scooping up big piles by hand and throwing them into the truck. It wasn’t much of a field – only three acres. But we needed the hay for our cows.

There was a mist across the moon, a warning of rain to come. We all worked hard and without many breaks, piling the hay into the truck, driving it to the barn, unloading it then returning for more. It was exhausting. By the time the moon went down, we had the hay in the barn. We had raced against time and had beaten the rain.

Harvesting is hard work. But if we don’t get it in, we lose the crop. In today’s instant world, we have forgotten the work that goes into harvest. Someone else gathers the crops and brings them to market. The urgency of harvest no longer touches most of us.

Jesus spoke of a spiritual harvest. Matthew 9:35-38 tells us, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ ” (NIV)

Each generation presents a new spiritual harvest on earth. Yet many Christians have lost the sense of urgency toward the lost. We live in a world of spiritual pain and suffering, where the lost do not know where to turn for answers. Large numbers of children across America are growing up with no knowledge of Jesus. How many would gladly run to Jesus . . . if we would tell them about him?

On Sundays, many Christians are content to go to church, listen to the pastor preach and then leave, considering their spiritual duty to be done. But that is not Jesus’ message. He asks us to help him with the harvest. He set the example for us in what he did while on earth, to show us how to reach the lost.

The Harvester calls to each generation of believers: “Come! Help with the harvest!” This is not the preacher’s job: it is ours. Age does not matter. Children and elderly alike can help gather souls for God’s kingdom. Look around! We are surrounded by a world in desperate need of Christ. “The harvest is ripe!” Jesus is calling to us. Will we help?

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21, NIV

We are surrounded by a world in desperate need of Christ. Will I help with the harvest? – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDaily (Click to Tweet)

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: How are you helping with the harvest?

Why Suffering for Christ is a Privilege

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“It’s a pri-vi-lege. It really is,” my daughter drawls when our male standard poodle swishes his derrière in front of her to be scratched. Those who’ve met Max know she’s right. It is an honor to be picked to pet his long back.

Did you know the Bible calls suffering for Christ a privilege?

When I joined Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) out of college one questionnaire asked if I was familiar with spiritual warfare. I wasn’t. But I am now.

Every time I write a book or prepare to speak at a conference or retreat I experience battles on many fronts. I find myself wondering if it’s worth it. I’ve joked that if I have to live my message I think I’ll write and speak on gardens in Europe.

That’s why this verse in Philippians stopped me.

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29 NIV).

“Granted—to suffer”? “Granted” makes suffering sound like a gift. Certainly, salvation is a gift, but suffering?

The New Living Translation says it like this:

“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.”

While I’ve never suffered like those in the persecuted church, the Bible says that just wanting to please God brings battles. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12 NIV). So, I find it helpful to reframe how I look at the hardships that inevitably touch the lives of those who want to live godly.

Suffering for Christ is a privilege because

  • Our suffering for Christ can’t compare with what He suffered for us. “And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8 NLB). Christ’s anguish sliced much deeper than the physical agony of crucifixion. Jesus became sin. He took the hell we deserved, so we could share His heaven.
  • Suffering for Christ—without grumbling—purifies us to shine for Him. “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:14-15 NIV).
  • Suffering for Christ allows me to experience Him more deeply. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10 NASB, emphasis added). On four occasions I’ve had the privilege of worshiping with members of the persecuted church. Let me just say it was deeply moving. These brothers and sisters knew they could die for their faith at any time. Their worship was deep, rich, and real.
  • Suffering for Christ now allows me to share His glory later. “But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later” (Romans 8:17-18 NLT).

Is it worth it to follow Christ when serving Him brings suffering? Yes, suffering for Christ is always a privilege. But there’s even a better reason to persevere through suffering: He’s worth it.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.  1 Peter 2:21 NLT

Is it worth it to follow Christ when serving Him brings suffering? Thoughts from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonBio: 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. debbieWwilson.com

Join the conversation: Have you experienced suffering for Christ?