Is Our Strength Too Small?

by Terri Gillespie

If you falter in a day of adversity, your strength is small. Proverbs 24:10 TLV

What was I thinking?

An amusement park ride that included the words “drop” or “doom” probably wasn’t the best choice for me—even twenty-five years ago. But the hopeful look on my then teenaged daughter’s face trumped my fear—and good sense. I couldn’t disappoint her again.

I suppose working fifty-hour weeks had built a sizeable reserve of guilt for her to draw from.

The ride advertised itself as the tallest in the park. “Breathtaking views,” it promoted. Unfortunately, as we sat in the gondola on the precipice of insanity, those views were only for a few seconds. And with the gondolas being completely exposed to the elements, I felt like I was about to freefall—without a parachute—over four hundred feet. Pure, unadulterated terror.

Sitting out there those seconds, I remember questioning how the ride worked. I may even have said—screamed—that out loud. In the state of pure fear, I had forgotten how the monstrosity worked.

Mind you, for the hour we stood in line, I had watched how it worked—over and over again. Listened to the teenaged attendant give the safety briefing, as he strapped us in.

Yet, once we perched over nothingness hundreds of feet in the air, everything I had seen or heard was forgotten.

You know what it reminded me of? Receiving a potential death sentence. Except I had absurdly spent good money to willingly receive that verdict.

The true test of wisdom’s strength in our life is when trials and tribulations befall us. When we’re strapped in and riding life’s “drop of doom.”

I can spout wise words with the best of them, but when challenges arise, especially ones that push those weak areas of my heart, I can still falter. That what-do-I-do panic moment before His truth kicks in. The standing on a precipice with a stampede behind me. My first thoughts are “Yikes! Help!” or a sense of hopelessness. Or, “How does this faith-thing work again?”

But the sooner I pause and look up, out of my physical situation—or down at the drop—my Heavenly Father can guide me and show me how to proceed. He can give me that peace, that perfect shalom.

And the shalom [peace] of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua [Jesus]. Philippians 4:7 TLV

I fully own to being weak. Still, if faltering points me to my true strength, my Abba, then that’s not too bad. “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Messiah may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 TLV).

Heavenly Father, I acknowledge my weakness. I would rather be wise and completely dependent upon our True Strength right away when adversity comes, but I know that You will walk me through the minute I come to You. Thanks for Your patience. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, releases later this year. 

Join the conversation: What do you do when you panic?

Make the Plunge

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake… Philippians 1:29 NASB

The water was COLD. Driven into the ocean after becoming overheated in the hot sun, I stood in it up to my knees, wincing as the periodic waves drenched me a little higher with each step forward. I knew a quick dip would put an end to the painful, slow progression. But I just couldn’t do it. Avoiding the shock, I continued to inch my way in. I couldn’t bring myself to make the plunge.

We all hate pain. We’ll do anything to avoid it.

Paul told the Philippians that God had granted them suffering. Granted? Could providing an opportunity to suffer be some kind of benevolent gesture, a giving of something desirable?

Wait…what?

No one likes to suffer. Neither did Paul! Yet he regarded his suffering as a favor from God. He looked past the temporary to the eternal. Paul saw suffering as a means to invaluable and eternal benefits.

1. Suffering is a path to knowing Jesus better.

“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” (Philippians 3:8 NASB).

We follow a suffering Savior. It only makes sense that walking in his footsteps will involve suffering in our journey as well. Sharing that common experience will develop an intimacy in our relationship with Him that would not have possible without it.

Paul saw sharing the sufferings of Christ as a means to intimacy with Christ.

2. Suffering produces glory.

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…” 2 Corinthians 4:17 NASB

God has purposed to conform all believers to the image of Jesus Christ. Transformation requires change, but change does not come easily. Suffering can force us to abandon old habits or ways of thinking and move us forward into the new.

The end result of sharing Jesus’ suffering will be sharing in his glory as well! Romans 8:17 (NASB) tells us “if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”  

3. Suffering teaches us how to access the power of Christ.

“He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB

God makes His amazing power available to us. Sometimes accessing that power can only come after finding our own resources insufficient. Paul saw his “thorn in his flesh” as a means to that end and so embraced his weakness. Suffering reveals the reality of our insufficiency and drives us deeper in our sense of dependency on God. When we are weak, then we are strong in the Lord.

4. Suffering makes us more effective for God’s Kingdom.

“[God] comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted…” 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NASB).

My daughter was blind-sided four years ago with a debilitating illness. For three years, her life was completely interrupted. As our family crawled through that torturous time, we clung to two facts: the pain would enable us to know Jesus far better, and our experience would give us insight (and a resulting empathy) into other people’s pain. She is now able to minister to people I can’t touch, because she has been in their shoes.

When suffering comes along, and it does more often than we wish, it can be overwhelming. But instead of thinking “Why me?”, we must choose to keep our eyes focused on the Savior, who, through suffering, made a relationship with God possible for us. Now God is using pain once again, this time to bring us further along in that relationship.

We must look past the temporary to the eternal. We must choose to trust in His good intentions. Taking that plunge will not only give relief but peace throughout the process.

TWEETABLE
Make the Plunge – encouragement on #FollowingGod from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: How has suffering or hard times changed you for the good?

Progress, Not Perfection

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

He was a powerhouse of a student, filled with energy, brains, and confidence: all a little too much for his second-grade self to handle at times. One morning he stepped on my last nerve. And I lost my temper.

It was more than unprofessional. It had the potential to be damaging. I couldn’t let him leave for the day without trying to make amends. I found a moment to speak with him alone. “I’m so sorry,” I told him with tears in my eyes. “I was wrong for losing my temper. I was wrong to make you feel unloved. You are important to me, and so very important to God. Will you forgive me?”

He impulsively threw his arms around me, totally sympathetic to my struggle. “It’s alright, Mrs. Coleman,” he assured me. “I was being bad. You are supposed to straighten me out when that happens.”

It was the start of a beautiful friendship. Knowing his teacher readily admitted her failures opened the heart of that precocious little boy.

If you are like me, your standard on living before others may be nothing less than perfection. Not an especially realistic expectation. But don’t despair, because in reality, it’s not perfection, but the demonstration of our spiritual growth that actually touches hearts.

Paul’s first letter to Timothy emphasizes this. “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather show yourself an example of those who believe,” he told Timothy. “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:12, 16 NASB).

Paul wanted Timothy to be an example to the church at Ephesus. But Timothy would not inspire through perfection. Rather, people’s hearts would stir in seeing God at work in Timothy. Living transparently before them, willing to admit his failures and openly acknowledging his humble dependence on God, would encourage them the most.

Not the pretty picture we might assume an example should be, right? Transformation can be a messy business. But Timothy’s transparency through that process would best serve to inspire and instruct the body of Christ.

Years ago, I heard a Bible college president urging his young protégés to keep themselves one step above those in their future congregations. Don’t let them see your faults, he warned them. In order for you to be an effective leader, you need to be revered.

This idea couldn’t be less biblical! The apostles were very open about their weaknesses. Paul named himself the chief of sinners. Yet the Chief of Sinners led hundreds to the Lord and God is still using his writings in the lives of believers today. Peter’s impulsiveness and infamous denial are laid out for all to see in the gospels. But God used him to lead people into the truth and to build His Church. Our testimony is not in keeping up appearances. Our most effective witness is in the demonstration of our progress.

God reveals Himself through us as He moves us forward in our relationship with Him.

Being candid in the struggle gives those around us an opportunity to watch God’s transforming power in action. It gives them hope that they, too, can be used by God, even with their own imperfections.

Stop feeling pressure to be perfect. Embrace what you can learn and ultimately teach others in response to your failures. It’s the perfect opportunity to reveal a God who is alive and active in you.

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB 

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Progress, Not Perfection – encouragement from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: How has transparency led to inspiration for those around you?

God’s Gift of Power

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10, ESV

This morning I found myself focusing on what I don’t have.

I hate it when I do that.

I have been given so much. A roof over my head. A family that I adore. A job that I love. Yet it is in my human (sinful) nature to focus on what I don’t have, rather than to count my blessings.

Do you ever do that? Do you ever start thinking about an opportunity that hasn’t come your way, places you haven’t visited because you don’t have the money, a certain measure of success you haven’t yet attained, or a relationship or position in life you don’t yet have?

Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV).

You and I do have life in abundance when we focus on what God has given us – gifts in the spiritual realm that can help us through the physical realm. One of those gifts is His incredible power.

Scripture says, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV). That means we have His Spirit to help us be bold when we would otherwise be fearful or timid, to help us love unconditionally when we otherwise could not, and to help us exert self-control.

And on days you and I feel especially weak, 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that Christ’s power is perfected in weakness.

Do you know why you and I tend to worry and stress? We forget God’s power. Do you know why we give up when we could otherwise succeed? We forget He is capable. Do you know why we shrink back when we could be moving forward?  We forget He can do all things.

Why else would we start in with our “what ifs?”

What if I can’t get this done?

What if this bill is not something I can pay?

What if we can’t work through this situation?

Approach this day remembering you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). Tackle any project that comes your way knowing God is able to do through you what is beyond you. And remember all that you do have today because you have His power. It is there for the asking.

Lord, thank You for giving me the power that resides in You. Thank You, too, that I am never left to my own devices, but I can call upon You at any time.

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God’s Gift of Power – insight from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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 several books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 145,000 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: Have you experienced the power of God when facing a challenge?

 

Pursuit of Perfection

by Jennifer Smith Lane

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.                                                                       2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

As a recovering perfectionist, I asked myself, why do I get so caught up in being perfect? While I know full well that perfection is impossible, there is still something deep inside me fueling my desire to achieve it. I began to wonder where this notion came from.

Surely it is a godly pursuit, right? I recalled one of Jesus commands from the Sermon on the Mount, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 NIV) and reassured myself that while perfection was a tall order, I was on the right track in pursuing it.

However, further study of this verse brought new understanding.

First, I looked up the dictionary definition of perfect. Webster’s defined it as “free from any flaw, fault or defect in condition or quality and complete.” Then I looked up the Greek word for perfect, which literally means the condition something is in: its completeness or maturity. A cross reference to that verse is Leviticus 19:2, which commands Israel to “be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (NIV). I realized that the idea of perfect is more about holiness than  being flawless or acceptable.

This changes everything.

I had perfection as the goal, and I was failing miserably. But perfection isn’t the goal, God is. The pursuit is about holiness and growing in maturity in my walk with God, not about whether I did everything perfectly. You see, God doesn’t call us to pursue perfection, He calls us to pursue Him.

While pursuing perfection is one thing, striving for it is another. When we take the pursuit of perfection and place it on the throne of our heart rather than God, we stray off course and perfectionism becomes our ideology. Webster’s defines perfectionism as “a refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. A doctrine holding that religious, moral, social, or political perfection is attainable.” Obviously not Scriptural! If we adhere to the way the world defines perfection, pursing it becomes the object of our worship, not God.

Life isn’t perfect, and it never will be. It’s messy. It’s chaotic. It’s unpredictable. Living focused on an unattainable goal is not a recipe for success. Instead, it highlights our weaknesses, intensifies our failures, and leaves us unfulfilled. But Jesus said, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV). Did you catch that? Christ’s power works best in our imperfections.

Friend, what are you pursuing? Ask God to shine His light to expose your desire for perfection, so that you can correctly see your imperfection for what it is: an opportunity for Christ to shine through you. It will transform your pursuit of perfection into a pursuit of Him.

TWEETABLE
Pursuit of Perfection – insight from Jennifer Smith Lane on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

jennifer smith laneAbout the author: Jennifer Smith Lane is the president and co-founder of the Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance, whose mission is to provide education programs to prevent eating disorders. In addition to her non-profit work, she leads an eating and body image ministry walking alongside women on their recovery journey and empowering them to find freedom in Christ. Jennifer, her husband, and three children live in Michigan.

Jennifer’s new book, Transformed: Eating and Body Image Renewal God’s Way, helps women identify the underlying spiritual issues that keep them stuck in eating and body image issues. It is an inductive Bible study that teaches tools to turn to God for rescue through the spiritual disciplines.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with the need for perfectionism?

What Do You Do With A Sign?

by Sheri Schofield

I was driving home the other day when a flashing road sign caught my attention: “GOAT INSPECTION AHEAD”, then a new flashing message, “GOATS WILL BE INSPECTED SEPARATELY.”

Whaaaaat? Yes, we do live in cowboy country. But most people have cattle and horses. Very few people have goats. I have certainly never heard of a goat inspection! And weren’t they getting a little picky by inspecting each goat separately? It sounded strange to me! Who came up with this idea anyway? Were the goats carrying some awful disease? And should I be concerned about it??

Then I saw a sign further down the road. It said, “BOAT INSPECTION HERE.”  Ooooh! The first sign was missing some light bulbs. Now I got it!

There’s a sign-dependent man in the Bible. In fact, this man was really big on signs: Gideon. Yes, I know: Men aren’t usually interested in asking for directions! But Gideon was. He asked God for a sign – then two, then three – because he just couldn’t believe what God had asked him to do.  (“Are you sure all the candles are working on that sign?” he probably wondered!)

Many in the land of Israel had turned away from God and were worshipping idols, including Gideon’s dad. So God sent their neighboring enemies to invade the land. Every harvest time, they would come in and strip the land of everything they could find. They brought their own livestock with them, since that was their mode of transportation. Their livestock would eat all the plants in the fields. Then the enemies would return home.

This left the people of Israel starving, and they finally cried out to God for help. In time, God moved to rescue them. He sent his angel to see Gideon, a nobody from a very small tribe. The angel found Gideon threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress which was well hidden from the invading armies of Midian. The angel said, “Hey, mighty hero! God is with you!”

Gideon was indignant. “Whaaaaat? Then why is God allowing all this hardship? Where are God’s miracles that we’ve heard so much about? It feels like God has abandoned us and turned us over to the Midianites!”

The next line gets a little more specific about who that angel was. “Then the LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” (Judges 6:14, NLT)

Don’t you just love those words! God himself was telling Gideon to rescue his people!

But Gideon couldn’t believe it. He protested that he was the least in his family, and his family was the weakest in Israel! Finally, he asked for a sign to reassure him he was getting it right. . . and God did as he asked.

Gideon asked for two more signs, and God patiently honored those additional requests. Then he used Gideon, least in his family which was from the least of the tribes, to deliver Israel.

God most often chooses the weak to carry out His business. It’s counter-intuitive to how the world thinks, of course. So it’s hard for us to imagine He would choose to use little old us. But as the Lord explained to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for [My] power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB). God chooses “the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong…so that no man may boast before God” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NASB).

Do you have a great desire to see God reach someone for eternity and rescue them from Satan’s power, but you feel insignificant and not skilled enough for God to use you to do it? Hear this: The LORD . . . the same LORD who spoke to Gideon . . . put that burden on your heart. He wants you to step out in faith and trust Him to provide the right words. The Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost is now living in you and stands ready to help you share the gospel. Go in the strength that you have, for the Lord is with you!

“… I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. In those days, I will pour out my Spirit even on servants, men and women alike . . . And anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Joel 2:28, 29, 32, NLT

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What Do You Do With A Sign? insight fro Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the 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!

Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.

Join the Conversation: Has God ever given you a sign?

Take Time to Listen

by Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner @SGiesbrecht

“Say what?” “Can you hear me now?” These familiar catch-phrases have been used in popular commercials to get our attention. But hearing  words are no guarantee that we are actually listening.

According to Google, to hear means “to perceive with the ear the sound made by someone or something.” However, listen means “to give one’s attention to a sound.” Listening happens when we are drawn into someone’s words with interest, and choose to engage ourselves with them. Hearing occurs by happenstance, but listening intently is a choice.

Jesus struggled against people who were hearing but not listening. He told a parable to illustrate this. A sower tossed seed over different kinds of ground. Some seed fell on the hard path, which was trampled under and never grew. Some fell on rocky soil, which withered as soon as it sprouted. Other seed feel among weeds, which were eventually choked out. But some seed fell into good ground, grew up strong and reproduced. The seed represented the Word of God. Many would hear it, but few would receive it. As Jesus told the parable, he interspersed a warning several times to his audience: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Luke 8:4-8 NASB) They may have been hearing the Word of God, but they were not really listening.

Last week I was disappointed by a dear friend who has recently relapsed into her addictions. In processing the situation, I asked myself, “What more could I have done?”

I mentioned this concern to one of our mutual friends, who said, “She has all the tools she needs. She knows what to do.” Wow. My cloud of guilt and shame lifted as I was comforted with the truth – my struggling friend had heard already everything that needed to be said. It was her responsibility to choose to listen.

It was up to her. She had to decide to actively respond to God’s Word. She had to want to get back up again. God wanted me to surrender the responsibility for results to Him. My job now is to be faithful to pray for her and trust Him to work it all out.

So I’ve learned a new way to die to myself. I must choose to decrease so He can bring abundant increase. I need to practice what Paul did when he was faced with something he could not resolve on his own. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, to that Christ’s power may rest in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

I’ve been encouraged by the people of God and recalibrated by the Word of God. I’ve chosen to lean in and listen closely as God communicates to me through the circumstances, my friends, and the Holy Spirit.

I’ve made a choice to be a different person come Resurrection Sunday. I’m making this time of lent a time to listen to God. Interestingly enough, God wants us to listen to him speaking through the people he has placed in our lives. Can you hear Him now?

“So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he things he has shall be taken away from him.” Luke 8:18 NASB

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Take Time to Listen – insight from @SGiesbrecht on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

SherylGiesbrecht_35.JPGAbout 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 Wives for four years. Hundreds of her columns, magazine, It'll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth by [Giesbrecht Turner, Sheryl]and devotional articles have appeared in Focus on The Family MagazineJust Between Us, Discipleship JournalCCMWalk Thru the Bible’s –  and Tapestry, Live-Living and Charisma publications. You can find more about Sheryl at www.fromashestobeauty.com, or follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Sign up to receive Sheryl’s weekly blog on her website: www.fromashestobeauty.com.

Sheryl’s latest book, It’ll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth , addresses the healthy role doubt can play in a Christian’s life. She encourages addressing doubts head-on to feed faith, knowing that misgivings and fears can be happily resolved through the grid of God’s Word—without leading to an unbelieving way of life.

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt shame as you approached God?

 

Blow Away the Fog of Doubt

by Sheryl Giesbrecht @SGiesbrecht

Do you want to know what is ahead? Does your way seem blocked or clouded by questions?

By praying Scripture, we turn on the light of truth and invite God’s presence to overtake the shadows. We do battle God’s way. When we obediently put on our ‘spiritual armor’ to fight, we stand firm in the authority of Christ.

The truth is, we are already ‘more than conquerors’ through the price He paid for us; we claim a victory that’s already won. Christ gave us a new identity when He took over our lives. “[God] made us alive together with Christ…so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5, 7 ESV)

What’s so amazing about grace? Everything. As believers, God’s grace engulfs us every single moment, but in the flurry of life, we overlook how involved God’s grace actually is in the minute details of our lives. I’ve been having numerous ‘grace encounters’ lately. God has already paved the way for me: “I have set the Lord continually before me; because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8 NASB).

Some of you might not know how you can even take the next step in life, let alone, walk down the driveway to pick up the daily newspaper. It’s when we understand that we cannot walk another inch forward without God’s grace—and that grace becomes most precious and most glorious.

God will give you exactly what you need from Him. “[The Lord] has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB).

Want increased impact? Pray the Warrior’s prayer every day. Jesus has already won the battle. Now put on the Armor of God by praying each piece of the armor over yourself with God’s word. Our war is not against flesh and blood, you are victorious through scriptural prayers. Here’s the Warrior’s Prayer straight from Ephesians 6:14-17:

Heavenly Father, Your Warrior prepares for battle. Today I claim victory over Satan by putting on the whole armor of God! I put on the Girdle of Truth! May I stand firm in the truth of Your word, so I will not be a victim of Satan’s life. I put on the Breastplate of Righteousness! May it guard my heart from evil, so I will remain pure and holy, protected under the Blood of Jesus Christ. I put on the Shoes of Peace! May I stand firm in the good news of the gospel, so Your peace will shine through me and be a light to all I encounter. I take the Shield of Faith! May I be ready for Satan’s fiery darts of doubt, denial and deceit, so I will not be vulnerable to spiritual defeat. I put on the Helmet of Salvation! May I keep my mind focused on You, so Satan will not have a stronghold on my thoughts. I take up the Sword of the Spirit! May the two-edged sword of Your Word be ready in my hands, so I can expose the tempting words of Satan. By faith Your Warrior has put on the whole armor of God! I am prepared to live this day in spiritual victory! Amen

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Blow Away the Fog of Doubt – insight from @SGiesbrecht on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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 Wives for four years. Hundreds of her columns, magazine, It'll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth by [Giesbrecht Turner, Sheryl]and devotional articles have appeared in Focus on The Family MagazineJust Between Us, Discipleship JournalCCMWalk Thru the Bible’s –  and Tapestry, Live-Living and Charisma publications. 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, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and InstagramSign up to receive Sheryl’s weekly blog on her website: www.fromashestobeauty.com.

Join the conversation: How do you deal with doubt?

 

 

 

Quagmires

by Debora M. Coty @DeboraCoty

On our anniversary tour of the Scottish highlands, Spouse and I were fascinated by tranquil green moors that disguised deadly secrets.

Quagmires, they were called.

Our guide explained that you could be hiking along, enjoying a peaceful moorland stroll, and suddenly come upon a wee sodden patch of mud camouflaged by brush. Another step, and your boot would be sucked right off your foot. If you’re a bit more unfortunate, your entire leg might sink into the hidden quagmire, followed shortly by the rest of you, never to be seen again.

We women have hidden quagmires too – stressors not visible to others: festering wounds camouflaged by our everyday “game face,” unresolved relationship rifts, consequences of poor choices, leftover childhood damage, gouges hacked by hurtful words, lingering pain, or emotional scars testifying to previous bloody encounters.

Hidden wounds are tough to heal because we tend to keep them covered rather than exposing them to light and air.

But in order for healing to take place, debris must be cleared away, the wound cleaned, healing balm applied, and sufficient time allowed for the protective scab to form and do its restorative work. If a wound is left unattended, the risk of infection increases, and it may become septic. Even more painful. Crippling. Possibly deadly.

So how do we go about ripping off nasty old bandages to expose our hidden wounds to light and air?

Nail it. Identify the real problem. Are any of your current behaviors driving you nuts? Do they seem out of control and you’ve no idea why you act this way? You’re in good company. Even the apostle Paul, lamented, “When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway” (Romans 7:19 NLT). Examine your past for clues to the source. Ask Papa God to guide you in sleuthing out and confronting the cause of your perplexing behavior (which, by the way, is merely a symptom of the underlying real problem). Unearth and expose your wound. It might be buried layers deep.

Air it. Admit your secret to Papa God; wait for His response. “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22 NIV). Then confide in one or two trusted friends … not your entire women’s roller derby team.  Allow these soul sisters to help tug off that filthy, embedded bandage bit by bit. The act of uncovering (confessing) your hidden problem is the first step toward healing.

Bathe it in light.  Invest in a good Bible concordance/reference book and several different Bible translations. Look up words or phrases related to your specific wound and do a personal Bible study (taking notes on passages and journaling your thoughts about what you’re reading) on all related Scripture. Ask Jesus to reveal His perspective to you (it will likely be quite different than yours) and to initiate rehab from the inside out. “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:19 NIV).

If you’re in a quagmire now, be assured that your heavenly Father’s mighty hand is extended, waiting to pull you out. Despite your deepest, grossest, most putrefied hidden wounds, His “power is strongest when you are weak” (2 Corinthians 12:9, CEV).

In the lovely, lilting words of our Scottish guide regarding the hidden perils of quagmires, “Larn what treach’rous terrain looks like. If ye know what t’look fer, ye need fear n’moor.”

And on the moors of life, we need fear no more either. As long as we know what to look for and follow our ultimate Guide, we won’t be sucked under.

*Adapted from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M. Coty with permission from Barbour Publishing.

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deboracotyAbout the author: Debora M. Coty lives, loves, and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Her newest release is, Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever had a hidden wound exposed to the light? Tell us your story!

When You Can’t Go Any Further

by Cindi McMenamin

Nancy had been on long rides before. But nothing like this.

For months, she had pedaled it hard on an upright bike at the health club, training for the 40-mile bicycle ride with her friend, Donna, across Whidby Island in Washington State. But the workouts on the stationary bike didn’t prepare her for the steep uphill climbs she was encountering on this ride.

Nancy’s friend, Barb – and her husband, Rick – followed Nancy and Donna on the long-grueling ride up the hills, offering support by driving ahead of them in a pickup truck, then coming back and briefing them what they would encounter around the next corner.

But after a couple steep climbs, Nancy was exhausted. Each time they made a turn and started up a hill again, she struggled, without saying a word. Donna rode on ahead of her, apparently unaware of her struggle.

But Rick saw it. And after driving back down another time to tell the women what lay ahead, this time he did something different. He stopped the truck, got out, picked up Nancy’s bike, and put it in the back of his truck. Then he let her into the truck, and drove her up the hill. Once they were up, he got out, lifted her bike out of the truck and put it back on the ground for her to resume her ride.

“He did that over and over again and never said a word,” Nancy told me later, with tears in her eyes. “That was grace.”

Nancy was right. That was grace.

We often face struggles. And in our pride we are determined to pedal harder and wear ourselves out working through them. Sometimes we complain to others. Sometimes, like Nancy, we don’t say a word. But God knows what lies ahead, around the next bend. And instead of saying “Come on, you can do it, pedal harder!” God quietly carries us up those hills.

In Isaiah 40:29-31, we are told that God gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. And even though the young and energetic may fall, those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength as if they’re soaring on eagles’ wings.

Are you struggling through something right now because you’re trying to do it completely by yourself? If so, recognize help where it exists. And just yield. Yield to the One who knows what lies ahead and is there to carry you up the hill.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness….” 2 Corinthians 12:9 CSV  

Lord, thank You for always being there to not just encourage me, but to carry me at times. Help me to humble myself and rely on Your help to get me through whatever lies ahead of 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 130,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and When You’re Running on Empty. For more on her books and ministry, or to learn more about her coaching and consulting services for writers, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: Has God ever carried you when you could not go on alone?

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash