How Do You Define Freedom?

by Debbie W. Wilson @DebbieWWilson

My husband and I zipped along I-95 South, near Washington DC, on a section of interstate that never sleeps. Among the mostly courteous drivers, a few wanna-be race car drivers cut in and out, too close for comfort. I marveled at how a tight space could hold so many speeding vehicles. That changed when we reached an area marked, “Warning: Unmarked Pavement Ahead.”

The space abruptly shrank to three lanes, and we were left with no markings defining the lane boundaries. This slowed us down considerably, since there was nothing to define where exactly we should be driving. We lost any sense of security that we would not be scraped by someone else.

I imagined the rest of I-95 without marked lanes and shuddered. Then I thought of our culture. In the name of freedom, we’ve erased timeless limits that protect the liberty and well-being of all.

Defined limits provide safety and ease even in a crowded parking lot. In a populated world we need clear boundaries to prosper. The Bible provides timeless parameters to protect our travel through life. When we navigate within those limits, we avoid wrecks and heartaches.

The Problem with Religious Rules

Human additions to God’s laws become heavy chains that cause people to rebel against God’s perfect law of liberty and are unprofitable (James 1:25).

“‘Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!’? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires” (Colossians 2:21-23 NLT).

Jesus understands. He invites us to come to Him so He can teach us how to live without heavy burdens. Even better, He promises to walk with us. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT).

The Problem with License 

Perhaps, repulsed by legalism, other believers have swung to the opposite extreme. They minimize and dismiss God’s instructions. In contrast, the Bible shows how God’s commandments serve as guardrails of liberty.

  • “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17 NASB). God’s commandments serve as guardrails of liberty.
  • “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3 NLT).

We avoid the potholes of our fallen nature and sin and enjoy life’s journey when we walk His path in the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s Word outlines our lanes. (Psalm 119:105)

The Protection of Guardrails

In Satan’s conversation with Eve, he portrayed God to be like him, a liar and a thief who steals our freedom and joy (Genesis. 3; John 8:44, 10:10). Nothing could be further from the truth. As we remember God’s character, we won’t fall for lies.

Don’t be duped. Biblical instructions on right and wrong keep life’s interstates safe.

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.                                                                                                                                           Psalm 19:7-8 NLT

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How Do You Define Freedom? Insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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, she speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Debbie’s book, Little Women, Big God will introduce you to the surprising women in Jesus’s family tree. As they journey through impossible circumstances, each discovers that quality of life is not determined by the size of our problems but by the size of our God.

Join the conversation: What standards help define how you choose to live?

 

Why Should I Forgive?

by Debbie W. Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“Will you help me control my thinking?” The airport shuttle driver’s question surprised me. He’d obviously overheard my conversation with the woman leaving the shuttle. His landlady, who called herself a Christian, had wronged him. Hurt and anger showed in his eyes and words.

How could I help this man see that to be freed from his pain he needed to forgive the woman who’d caused it?

I’m sure people have disappointed and hurt you too. It’s part of life on planet earth. Maybe that’s why Jesus included forgiveness in the prayer He taught his disciples.

Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matt. 6:12 NLT).

Isn’t it ironic that we must forgive the ones we least want to forgive? This isn’t a cruel joke. It’s protection. Granting forgiveness heals our wounds and frees our souls.

I’ve read articles about forgiveness. Some platitudes offered more harm than good. They painted forgiveness as a magic wand that erased all pain. Hurt feelings don’t necessarily indicate unforgiveness. They may reveal deep wounds.

Scratches heal quickly. But deep injuries take time to mend. Forgiveness sets healing in motion.

To avoid the hard work of forgiving, we avoid the issue with, “It’s no big deal.” Or we tell ourselves, “Why must I forgive? This is too big. They don’t deserve to be forgiven.” To overcome this resistance, it helps to remember who benefits when we forgive. We do—as well as those we love.

They may not deserve to be forgiven. But do you deserve to prolong your suffering by holding on to the sharp barbs of bitterness? Or do your loved ones deserve to live with your hostility or be shaped by your destructive example?

Forgiveness benefits the one who gives it. We forgive for our own sake. We also forgive for the sake of those we love, because bitterness is a poison that can’t be contained.

The person who wronged us may not even be aware of our turmoil—or care. They may be dead. But if our resentment lives on, we suffer and model a harmful example to those who watch us.

Resentment drains the joy out of life and erects a wall between us and God. He hasn’t moved, but we feel distant. Tormented souls snap at small irritations, miss the beauty around them, and injure those in their wake. How many spouses, children, and coworkers suffer because of someone’s unwillingness to forgive?

Your freedom is at stake. Forgive to free yourself from turmoil. Forgive for the sake of those you love. Scripture describes how holding on to offenses can affect those around us: “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV).

I explained the benefit of forgiveness with my shuttle driver. When we reached the airport, he handed me my luggage. “I’m going to do what you said,” he smiled. “I am going to be free.”

What about you? Are you ready to be free? Forgiveness brings freedom for the one who forgives. Forgive—for your sake and the sake of all you love—including Jesus.

 The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  Matthew 25:40 NIV

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Why Should I Forgive? – insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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, she speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Debbie’s book, Little Women, Big God will introduce you to the surprising women in Jesus’s family tree. As they journey through impossible circumstances, each discovers that quality of life is not determined by the size of our problems but by the size of our God.

Join the conversation: Have you been able to forgive a wrong done to you or a loved one? Please share how God enabled you to do so.

 

You Can Be as Close to God as You Want to Be

by Debbie W. Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“I believe, but I don’t feel close to God like some of you. Not sure why. I’d like to.” My friend’s words caused me to remember my own faith journey.

In Sunday School my young heart warmed toward God when I heard the stories of David and Goliath and Zacchaeus, the wee little man. My grandmother made sure I treated God with respect. No food in my mouth when we blessed our meal.

But I didn’t understand the part about being a sinner who needed saving. I wasn’t sure what people were saved from. That changed when a youth leader explained John 3:16 at a weekend youth camp and the Holy Spirit cut through my blameless veneer. I’d wronged God. Jesus had gone to the cross for my sin.

The realization broke—and healed—my heart. The gospel became personal. Jesus didn’t just love this conglomerate called “world.” He loved me! I returned from camp on top of the world—a citizen of heaven—a child of God. Could anything be better?

But the glow faded. Instead of sprouting wings, I bristled when Mama said, “Clean your room.” I fussed when my little sister got into my stuff. Knowing Jesus assured me of heaven when I died, but it didn’t seem to make much difference now. Even reading the Bible raised more questions than it answered.

In college, I spent a weekend with some vibrant Christians. Their lives created a thirst to know God better. At a friend’s Bible study, we listened to Bible teaching audio tapes. This group treated the Bible as if it meant what it said.

I’d filtered the Bible through my own understanding. What agreed with my world view I kept, but I dismissed the parts that didn’t. No wonder it didn’t make sense.

I wanted the peace my college friends who simply trusted the Scriptures shared. But could I let go of relying on my own understanding and fully trust the Scriptures?

God tenderly wooed me to trust Him. I exchanged my know-it-all approach for childlike faith. The Scriptures came to life. Questions, I thought would never be answered in this life, became clear. Scales fell off of my eyes.

“I feel I’ve been living blindfolded all my life, and now I see,” I told my friend. “Even how I view the evening news has changed.” Life brimmed with the presence of God, and I couldn’t get enough of Him.

Perhaps like me and my friend, you want to feel closer to God. You can! Here are some tips to help you get started.

Tips for Your Journey

  • Ask your heavenly Father for a closer relationship.“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7: 7-8 NIV).
  • Read the Bible with childlike wonder.“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do’” (Luke 10:21 NIV)
  • Invite Jesus to be your life, not just a part of life.I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him…the lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.  Psalm 34:8, 10 NIV

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You Can Be as Close to God as You Want to Be – insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps people live in God’s grace so they can enjoy fruitful and full lives. Debbie is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. She enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Share her journey to refreshing faith at debbieWwilson.com.

Debbie’s book, Little Women, Big God will introduce you to the surprising women in Jesus’s family tree. As they journey through impossible circumstances, each discovers that quality of life is not determined by the size of our problems but by the size of our God. Debbie’s latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. 

Join the conversation: Are you seeking a closer relationship with God?

 

 

 

How to Stop Negative Self-Talk

by Debbie W. Wilson

Who hasn’t experienced negative self-talk? Years ago, a knowledgeable guide delighted our group of moms and kids on a fieldtrip to a local historic site. But I sensed her emptiness and wanted to talk to her about the Lord. My conversation didn’t go as I’d hoped.

Accusations pelted me as I drove away, “Why did you say that? You really botched an opportunity. You’re a poor excuse for a Christian.”

Have you ever left a conversation where you wanted to help someone know God better and been besieged by negative thoughts? Or maybe you attended a Bible study and left feeling like you shouldn’t have opened your mouth.

Have you ever wondered what’s up with that?

The Bible says, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephes. 6:12 NIV). We have an enemy who doesn’t want people to know the truth about God. When we try to grow closer to Him or tell others about Him we invite spiritual attacks. This knowledge shouldn’t scare us but prepare us.

Paul told us how to win the battle in our minds: “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5 NIV).

Here are two filters to help you recognize and defeat damaging self-talk.

Know the truth. Those trained to identify counterfeit money study real money. The better we know the truth the quicker we’ll discern lies. God’s Word is truth. Notice the difference between what Satan said to Jesus and what the Father said about Jesus.

Satan: “If you are the Son of God…” The Father: “This is my dearly loved Son.”

Do you know what the Father has said about you? Do you know the truth about how He sees you? When we know the truth we’ll recognize the lies.

Know the Shepherd’s Voice It’s not enough to know what the Bible says. We must know the character of the One who wrote it.

Satan knows the Bible better than we do. He quoted Psalm 91 to tempt Jesus. But Jesus knew Scripture was never intended to tempt, harm, or condemn God’s children. God’s word corrects, comforts, instructs, and strengthens us.

Do you hear a harsh tone when you read the Bible? Are your thoughts condemning and accusing? That is not the voice of our gentle Shepherd. The better we know our shepherd’s voice the quicker we’ll take every thought captive.

The better we know Jesus, the quicker we discern and defeat our enemy.

We must learn to filter our thoughts. Ideas that argue against the truth or don’t line up with our Shepherd’s voice must be captured and made to submit to Him.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (Jn. 10:27 NIV).

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson speaks, coaches, and writes to help others 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 debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever engaged in negative self-talk after a conversation or contributing to a group discussion?

Photo by Jurica Koletić on Unsplash

How to Rest from Worry

by Debbie W. Wilson

I can worry with my eyes closed. In fact, I’ve done some of my best fretting in my sleep. Even when I’m alert, worry drones on beneath the surface looking for an opening to pop through.

My worries appear reasonable. Physical facts support them. But—and this is a big “but”—they leave out the character and nature of God.

When I experienced some health issues that included fatigue and brain fog, assorted fears taunted me. The realization that aging could make me frail and vulnerable frightened me. I realized that when I feel strong I know that with God I can handle life. But when my ump to push though evaporates, my confidence fizzles.

I reexamined my premise: with God can handle anything. I had to ask myself if I believed God could cover everything when I couldn’t help. Was my confidence in Him or in me? Physical, mental, emotional, and financial proficiency brings the illusion of security. Lack of those brings a terrible awareness of vulnerability.

Nature supported my perception. Strong animals dine on the weak and wounded. Ruthless people exploit the poor and aged.

But God gently, but strongly, interrupted my fretting. The Bible Gateway app I’d set on continuous play got stuck on Deuteronomy 33. Even after I manually moved it forward, every time I opened it to continue where I’d left off, it went back to this particular chapter. Since I tend to listen to it when I’m doing other things, I couldn’t always readjust it. I decided God had something He wanted me to hear.

Sure enough, verse 12 continued to stand out. “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders” (NIV).

One morning, while listening to praise music, that verse opened up for me. “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him.” God offered security. Would I let myself rest in Him?

That morning I decided to “rest secure in Him.” I pictured my Shepherd lifting me onto His shoulders, as a shepherd would a lamb, and carrying not only me but also all the cares I’d picked up. Relief washed over me.

What cares has the world laid on your shoulders? Will you let yourself rest secure in Him? Jesus offers rest to us. We choose whether or not we’ll receive it.

 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 25:28 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: What are the things in your life that are making you yearn for rest?

Photo by Joanna Nix on Unsplash

Why I Know We’ll Be Happy in Heaven

by Debbie W. Wilson

Much to my mother’s chagrin, I loved blue jeans and climbing trees when I was a girl. I’d shimmy up the trunk of a tall pine the neighborhood boy could only reach by standing on his bicycle. My trees were forts, castles in the clouds, and hot houses for daydreaming.

My arms and legs no longer scale trees or swing from branches. But I still feel the magic when I peek through leafy limbs.

A Crepe Myrtle growing beside our garage doors below our kitchen spreads its lovely branches in front of a bank of windows. When I look out from my kitchen table, my heart smiles. I’m living in a heated and air-conditioned tree house.

I wasn’t thinking about how much I enjoyed the view from trees when we picked out our house plan or when we planted the Crepe Myrtle. But God remembered.

Our round kitchen table, which doubles as my workstation, reminds me of happy times around my grandmother’s kitchen table. Max, my standard poodle, ties me to Pepper, another lost treasure from my childhood.

Jesus said, “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:2-3 NLT).

When I recognized how God had restored these long-lost pleasures in my earthly dwelling I got excited. How much more will my heavenly home be filled with special touches that show God’s intimate knowledge of me? What deeper joys await us in heaven?

Not only does this help us face our own death, but also it softens the grief we feel when we lose a loved one. We know how much we’ll miss them. But when we remember they will be living the biggest dream of their lives, we can also rejoice for them.

Heaven will be better than all of our childhood daydreams combined. The landscape will beat any treetop view. And the air will be honeysuckle sweet.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson speaks, coaches, and writes to help others 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 debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: In what ways has God granted you the desires of your heart? How does that boost your hope for heaven?

 

How to Stop Regret

by Debbie W. Wilson

Sometimes I’ve treated errors as catastrophes. I’ve felt worse over a mistake than over sin. Jesus paid for my sin, but I felt I had to pay for my mistakes. Maybe you can relate.

I bought a neutral colored jacket I thought would go with everything. But after I brought it home, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to wear with it. The time to return it ran out before I realized my purchase wasn’t as smart as I’d thought.

“If only I’d known,” I moaned.

That’s when I remembered Eve. The serpent told Eve that if she ate from the tree of knowledge, she would be like God (Genesis 3:5).

Was my “If only I’d known,” an echo of Eve’s obsession with the tree of knowledge? Was I trying to be like God—all-knowing? Was the desire “to know” a way to replace my need for God?

Too many times I’ve let decisions I’d like to do over (with the knowledge I’ve gained from time and experience) steal my peace. God’s Word and Spirit guide us, but in many non-essential areas we learn as we go. Even the boy Jesus “grew in knowledge.”

Here are some practices that have helped me avoid or handle regret.

Before a decision, ask God to lead.
That may mean asking Him to help me want His will. God’s will is always perfect. Mine is shortsighted and inconsistent.

I practiced this during a visit to Chicago. A pair of boots captivated me. They were a timeless style, fit like a glove, and gorgeous. It was snowing outside (I needed them). I peeked at the price. Gasp!

The next morning, I asked God to guide me as the desire for the boots still toyed with my mind. I opened my Bible and read out loud. “Spare no expense!” (Isaiah 54:2 NLT).

My daughter and I laughed. “Mom, you turned there on purpose.” I hadn’t, but it assured me God would lead me. When I tried the boots again, they rubbed my heels. I walked away without feeling deprived.

Before and after a decision, give thanks.
Even when a decision doesn’t turn out like we’d hoped, we thank God that He will use it for our good. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28 NASB).

Maybe my jacket is meant for someone else or for another season. Perhaps it’s a reminder that God is bigger than my shortcomings.

After, let it go.
God created us to need Him. Joy comes from experiencing Jesus, not from avoiding mistakes.

There were two trees in the center of Eden. Satan diverted Eve away from the tree of life to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus is “the life” (Jn:14:6). Let’s not let a decision draw us away from Him.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”      John 10:10 NIV

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson speaks, coaches, and writes to help others 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 debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What pending or past decision wants to steal your peace?

How God Delivered Comfort When I Was Afraid

by Debbie Wilson

My doctor’s office called to tell me I needed an MRI on my stomach. A previous sonogram had revealed a large mass. Having lost both my parents to cancer, this news alarmed me. While I waited for my appointment, God comforted me in three specific ways.

1st Comfort

After receiving my doctor’s report, I emailed some praying friends. My sister immediately called and prayed for me over the phone. Peace washed over me. The prayers of God’s people wrapped me in a blanket of supernatural calm.

2nd Comfort

Our 85-pound poodle suffers with Addison’s disease and other chronic health challenges. Even though he was only four at this time, some days he lacked the energy to climb out of bed before mid-afternoon. My heart hurt when he wagged his tail at me but couldn’t get up. But this week he played with the exuberance of healthy dogs his age.

I told a friend, who was laughing with me at my two dogs’ antics, “When Max feels well our whole family smiles. Max has helped me appreciate 3 John 2.”

The next morning, as I raised the kitchen shades to welcome the morning light, God gave me an unexpected hug. “Debbie, that verse is for you,” I sensed Him say.

I grabbed my Bible and read: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 2 NIV).

No matter what the MRI said, God had spoken. He wanted my best.

3rd Comfort

I’d agreed to speak at a Sunday school class at a neighboring church that Sunday. I’d picked the subject I planned to address. But, in my sleep during the wee hours of that Sunday, I sensed God nudging me to a different topic. In my semiconscious state I replied, if you want me to talk on that then wake me up in time to prepare and help me find my notes.

It had been well over a year since I’d spoken on that topic. The ink for our printer hadn’t arrived, so I needed my hard copy notes. At six thirty I awoke. I started to go back to sleep but remembered my promise. Okay, I’ll get up. But what about the notes?

The first file I opened contained handouts for the talk. Wow! I had forgotten I’d even created them. And there were enough for the group. Now I was awake! In less than a minute, I found my notes. Since I wasn’t sure I’d even kept a hard copy of the talk, I knew God was guiding me.

I scanned my notes. The opening story stunned me. I’d completely forgotten about discovering a suspicious lump at the age of 36 and my failed human efforts to secure peace. I marveled to think how peaceful I was feeling this time.

The point of my talk was Good News + Faith = Rest. God had given me good news in 3 John 2. But without faith it would not bring me rest. By God’s grace I believed His Word, and He gave me rest. His leading me to that talk reminded me His hand is on my life.

My MRI revealed I needed surgery. Thankfully, the surgeon was able to remove the mass, and it was benign.

What problem is threatening to steal your peace? Ask God what He has to say about it. Then put your faith in His Word—and find rest.

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 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: What problem threatens your peace?

Photo by Alexandre Chambon on Unsplash

Give God a Reason to Celebrate

by Debbie W. Wilson

My caller ID flashed the name of the company working to recover my computer files. “We couldn’t save everything. Come see what we retrieved,” the technician said.

I mentally brought each important file before the Lord. “Please save this one and this one,” I prayed. To have my lost computer data restored would bring me greater joy than I had ever felt having it in the first place.

Jesus’ words came to mind, “I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7 ESV).

Jesus cherishes those who stay close to Him. But He yearns for those who are lost. To lose even one that He created and died to rescue breaks His heart.

Jesus told stories of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son to illustrate the tremendous joy restoration brings. In the last story, a rebellious son demanded his inheritance and then squandered it in “wild living” in distant places (Luke 15:11-32). When a severe famine came, hunger brought him to his senses. He remembered his father and started home.

His father saw him coming and “ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The father didn’t even wait to hear his son’s rehearsed confession.

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:22-24 NIV).

Celebration

When the tech handed me my computer, I clicked the important files I’d asked God to rescue. One by one they opened. I thanked God for each one. It didn’t matter that the formatting was skewed. They were back!

Did you know that your heavenly Father rejoiced when you joined His family? The angels danced. Even now, He sings over His children (Zeph. 3:17) and delights in them (Psalm 149:4).

But He still longs for those who are lost.

If you’ve wandered away from Jesus or if you have never invited Him into your life, give God reason to celebrate right now. Simply acknowledge your need for Him and receive His forgiveness. God is still in the business of restoring what is lost.

Dear Jesus, I’ve messed up in many ways. I believe You died and rose again for my sins.

If you’ve never invited Christ into your life add: Please forgive me for all of my wrongs. Come into my life and make me into the person You want me to be. Amen.

If you already know Jesus and are returning home, pray: I’m coming home. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and make me the person You want me to be. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, welcome home!

“‘Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:24 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: Have you personally experienced the restoration power of God?

Photo by Ryan Wong

But I Don’t Like Being Weak

by Debbie W. Wilson

Hobbling around, duck-taped together because of a swollen knee, reminded me how much I hate being weak. I was already dealing with low energy and other sensitivities. Now my limited strength had to cover physical therapy too.

God used my weaknesses to get my attention.

 We love our strengths. They open doors, garner accolades, and earn money. But no one has only strengths. Everyone has weak areas. The person who gets things accomplished may bruise people. The people person may be easily distracted from tasks. These weaknesses may frustrate and embarrass us. They sidetrack us, but they’re also gifts from God. They keep us humble and reliant on Him, which is His goal.

What about those weaknesses caused by emotional or physical injuries, not DNA? Are those also gifts? Joseph told his brothers that what they intended for evil, God intended for good (Genesis 50:20). God uses all of our weaknesses—including our injuries—to benefit us. Accepting our weaknesses heals and strengthens us.

The Apostle Paul dealt with weaknesses too. He said, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV

 What if our weaknesses are actually disguised links to God’s mighty power? Paul viewed them that way. Rather than viewing our challenges as a detriment, we can look at them as an opportunity. Who would choose human strength over Christ’s power?

Our weaknesses may limit us, but they strengthen what God can do through us.

Paul’s limitations included weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. He saw them as reminders to let Christ take over.

My limitations never limit Christ’s work in me. Quite the opposite—they release His power through me.

I have to apply this principle by faith. My feelings don’t always agree. Join me in asking God to help us trust Him with our weaknesses.

Lord Jesus, please help me to be like Paul and stop focusing on my handicap and start appreciating the gift. Your grace is sufficient for my every need. May your power be made complete in me today.

“For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson speaks and writes to help others 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.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number Give yourself a breakgenerator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Debbie’s book, Give Yourself a Break: Discover the Secrets so God’s Rest,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced the power of God through your weakness?