Are You Missing the Benefits of Joy and Play?

by Debbie Wilson

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

This quote struck me, because in many ways, I lost my sense play last year. 2020 was one of the hardest years I can remember. I lost one of my closest friends to cancer; several of my friends lost loved ones in unexpected tragedies; we were isolated, experienced national chaos, a worldwide pandemic, and an election like none I’ve ever witnessed.

Under such circumstances, to talk about fun may sound frivolous and out of touch. But I have good reason to believe joy is exactly what we need.

Research shows that fun can trigger the release of endorphins which promote an overall sense of well-being. And happy people have better relationships. The Bible supports turning on the joy even—or especially—in challenging circumstances.

Joy Is Biblical!

From prison the Apostle Paul wrote: “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NLT).

King Solomon, the wisest of kings, wrote: “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22 NLT).

A Psalm addressing the injustice of the wicked getting away with their evil schemes includes this admonition. “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires” (Psalm 37:4 NLT).

Considering these biblical admonitions, today is the perfect day to count our blessings—not our woes. God made us to celebrate and to enjoy Him. Paul said that rejoicing in the Lord is a safeguard for us (Philippians 3:1).

Oswald Chambers said, “I am ever playing in God’s Presence as well as praying in it.”

Considering this has helped me give myself permission to enjoy life’s daily blessings and carve time for activities I enjoy. I’ve been reminding myself throughout the day to “Rejoice in the Lord!” Just saying those words aloud helps me smile.

This year, I am working to put strong boundaries on my thought life and rejoice in the Lord always.

Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! Nehemiah 8:10 NLT

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

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What role do joy and play have in your life? How do you incorporate them into your day? If you are good at this, I hope you will share a tip to help the rest of us incorporate more joy and play into our daily lives.

Who Jesus Was, Is, and Will Be

by Debbie Wilson

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.  2 Cor. 8:9 NIV

This verse plays through my mind at Christmas. In light of it, let’s consider who Jesus was before the first Christmas, what He gave up to come here, who He is now, and the glorious future promised to all who know Him.

Before the First Christmas—Jesus Was Rich

Hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth Isaiah saw Him in His glory (Jn. 12:41). Look at Isaiah’s description. “In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a high and lofty throne. The bottom of his robe filled the temple. Angels were standing above him. Each had six wings: With two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They called to each other and said, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory. Their voices shook the foundations of the doorposts, and the temple filled with smoke” (Isaiah 1:1-4 GW).

At the First Christmas—Jesus Became Poor

The One Isaiah saw “made himself nothing” by coming to earth as a baby and later dying on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11). “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. … ‘This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” (Luke 2:7, 12 NIV).

Today, Jesus Reigns on High

Jesus reigns in heaven in indescribable glory today. “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.  The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades’” (Revelation 1:12-18 NIV).

That You Might Become Rich

Before Jesus returned to heaven, He promised He would prepare a place for us in heaven so that we can join Him (John 14:2-3). Read how this Scripture describes our glorious future with Him.

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.’

“And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.’ And he also said, ‘It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children’” (Revelation 21:3-6 NLT).

Has your image of Jesus grown beyond the baby in the manger? This Christmas let’s rejoice in the One who, “died for us and was raised to life for us, and…is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us” (Romans 8:34 NLT).

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

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What does the fact Jesus gave up so much to come and dwell among men mean to you?

One Good Reason to Trust God with Unanswered Prayer

by Debbie Wilson

“The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” Luke 1:25 NIV

What if I told you unanswered prayer may be a sign of God’s favor? You might argue that since biblical days, many have taught otherwise. That if you’re sick, or God has closed your womb, then you’ve fallen from grace.

What if I told you the Bible shows the reverse was true for some of God’s chosen ones?

In the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, one line spoken by Elizabeth, after she became pregnant, speaks volumes about the pain she suffered during her years of unanswered prayer. “‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said. ‘In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people’” (Luke 1:25 NIV).

The Jews believed Elizabeth’s barrenness represented God’s punishment for some hidden sin. For decades, Elizabeth, a descendant of the High Priest Aaron and a priest’s wife, felt disgraced among her people. I can imagine her begging God to show her what she had done to lose God’s favor.

We know God’s delay in answering Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayer wasn’t because of His displeasure. But they didn’t know that—until much later.

The Bible describes Zechariah and Elizabeth as “righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old” (Luke 1:6-7 NIV).

In their culture, righteous and barren didn’t go together. But what her peers saw as disgrace, God saw as special favorHe had not overlooked Elizabeth. He had chosen her for a special honor. He’d chosen her to raise the forerunner of His Son!

When the angel told Zechariah that God had answered his prayer, I picture Zechariah scratching his head. Which prayer? Since they were both very old, I’m sure they hadn’t prayed for a child in ages. Listen to the angel’s words:

“But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord’” (Luke 1:13-17 NIV).

If God had shown Elizabeth His plan when she was young, whose plan do you think she would have chosen? Would she have chosen to fulfill her friends and family’s expectations by having an ordinary child at the expected age? Or would she have chosen to be a part of the miracle of Christmas and bear the son Jesus described as, “among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11 NIV)?

Do you have a prayer that has gone unanswered? Have you felt judged by others or forgotten by God because of it? From the perspective of time, we seeGod’s plan for Elizabeth was better than her own. Will you trust Him with your desires too? Elizabeth provides one more reason to trust God with unanswered prayer.

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

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Have you struggled with unanswered prayer?

How to Be Thankful When You Don’t Feel Thankful

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

[Speak] to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father. Ephesians 5:19-20 NASB 

Every time I slid behind the wheel of my cheerful yellow car, I gave thanks. The Lord had provided this used car at an affordable price just in time for a cross-country trip. It was perfect for hauling my toddler and preschooler and a direct answer to prayer. That’s why I couldn’t understand why I had to lose it.

My husband, Larry, and I spent a month on a mission trip in Eastern Europe. The experience filled our hearts and emptied our pocketbooks. Our mission organization required us to raise money for our salary and the trip. Donations came in designated for the trip, however, we returned to short paychecks. We realized some donors had diverted their regular support for our trip, not added to it.

Larry’s elderly grandfather passed away, and Larry’s parents offered us his 1973 green Buick La Sabre. Since Granddad’s car wouldn’t sell for much, Larry decided to sell my car to solve our financial shortfall. The green giant had baked in the hot Arizona heat during Granddad’s decline. Rust spots showed through oxidized paint, the vinyl roof peeled like a bad sunburn, and the dingy interior recalled Granddad’s years of smoking.

Larry and I worked with high school students in one of the wealthiest areas in the country. Their up-to-date sports cars highlighted our rundown vehicle. Our church parking lot gleamed with polished Mercedes and BMWs.

One day, a young man helping me carry my groceries said, “Let me guess which car you drive.” He pointed out cars I wished I could claim. Reluctantly, I pointed to the green dinosaur. “Oh. I like vintage cars,” he said politely.

The car was also unreliable. One morning it stalled on at a busy eight-lane intersection with my children in their car seats. A kind stranger in the next lane saw our predicament and motioned for us to join her.

A friend, wanting to surprise Larry, arranged to have the car painted and a new vinyl roof installed. Our dated monstrosity returned sporting a fresh exterior, but it was not the sporty car I still missed. Disappointment washed over me. That night, as I returned home after carpooling students from Bible Study, I sensed the Lord interrupt my pity party. Debbie, have you thanked Me for this car?

Thank You? How can I thank You when I am not thankful?

Scripture filled my thoughts. “Give thanks in all circumstances…” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV). “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,” (Romans 8:28, NASB).

To refuse to give thanks now would be blatant disobedience. Oh Lord, You know how I feel about this car. How can you ask me to be thankful?

The pressure persisted. “Lord, I do not feel thankful. This car is ugly and unreliable.” I took a deep breath and went on. “But if you insist—THANK YOU; thank you for knowing my needs. Thank you that this is your will for me now. And thank you that you will use this for my good.”

Although I did not wake up to a new car, I woke up to a new attitude.

My grudge and self-consciousness vanished. And whether because we’d replaced every hose and valve or because of God’s grace, the car stopped breaking down.

The next year we moved from sunny California to northern Indiana. The green giant’s spacious interior and smooth ride provided a delightful trip. It started every morning in the below freezing temperatures with the first crank. Its heater never failed. While fellow seminarians worried about how the salted roads would tarnish their cars, we had no concerns.

The car became a great blessing and moved us to Oklahoma, where we finally sold it. This unwanted gift taught me a valuable lesson in the art of giving thanks. It’s not hypocritical to thank God before you feel thankful. Giving thanks is about trusting God, and God really does work all things together for the good of His children.

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

TWEETABLE
How to Be Thankful When You Don’t Feel Thankful – insight on #Gratitude from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever struggled to be thankful?

Can Comparison Ruin Your Time with God?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“What did you want to be when you grew up?” our small group leader asked. One by one, people offered sensible vocations. “From the time I was a boy, I wanted to be an eye doctor,” my optometrist said.

“I wanted to be a preacher and pound the pulpit,” a Christian worker chuckled. 

The leader turned to me. Unlike the rest of the group, I couldn’t recall one serious aspiration and couldn’t bring myself to admit I’d wanted to fly like Peter Pan or ride horses and catch bad guys like Annie Oakley.

My second-grade teacher once wrote on my report card, “Debbie does good work but daydreams too much.” Didn’t all children carry fairies to school? Little did I realize these were clues as to how I would someday connect with God.

Do you feel like your relationship with God should look a certain way? Do you compare yourself with other people and berate yourself for not being like them? The Psalmist wrote, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it” (Psalm 139:14 TLB).

God made us multifaceted and different from each other. He didn’t create a bunch of sock dolls from the same ball of yarn. He knit you together in the perfect way to reflect His glory and display His creativity. If no two fingerprints are the same, why would we think God expects everyone to relate to Him the same way?

When my children were babies, our church had a place for nursing mothers to feed their infants. While chatting with another nursing mom, I mentioned the quiet time I spend with God at night. She straightened her shoulders, and huffed, “We are children of the light.”

If it is supposed to be darkest before dawn, I wondered why she boasted about meeting with God then! Maybe she’d never read God neither slumbers nor sleeps. Seriously, this woman’s rigid perspective showed in her countenance and outlook on life.

That’s why I appreciate hearing women from different ages and stages of life share how they connect with God.

One young mother and pastor’s wife, who grew up dancing, said music speaks to her. Today she uses music to direct her thoughts to God.

A busy working mom listens to a Bible app while she rides her stationary bike before dashing off to work. She uses car rides to share devotions with her teens.

Another gal prays when she walks her dog.

One of my romantic friends views her quiet time as a date. She looks forward to spending time with the One who knows all about her and wants to share life with her.

Another friend, a busy CEO, wife, mother, and volunteer in many ministries, starts her day with a Bible study and a kale/jalapeño smoothie! If she has to catch an early flight, she carries her devotional on the airplane.

An older widow sings hymns when the house grows dark.

For me, daydreaming contributes to my joy in studying and teaching the Bible. I like to put myself in the story and imagine how I’d have responded to those same circumstances. People in my audiences have told me those passages have come alive for them because of that perspective.

God tells us to delight in Him. That means spend time with the Lord in the way that draws you close to Him. Don’t be afraid to try different times of day and forms of Bible study. Just spend time with Jesus.

Take delight in the Lord. Psalm 37:4 NIV

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

TWEETABLE
Can Comparison Ruin Your Time with God? – encouragement from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What helps you connect with God?

Out of Tragedy God Brings New Life

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

I called my friend Nikki, anticipating her lively voice and was shaken to hear her sob, “Debbie, we just found out our son died.”

I’d called in response to an earlier text. That was not why she’d texted me. But God had timed my call perfectly. Even though I couldn’t take away my friend’s pain, I could share in those initial moments of shock and grief.

Nikki felt the need to contact Justin’s birth mother. The woman was devastated. She’d never be able to meet her son on earth. She wanted to fly across the country for the service. With Nikki’s permission I share what she wrote about their meeting.

For the first time ever, we met on Thursday. Both of us felt extreme emotions about this meeting, but together we walked, and together our hearts connected in ways only God could have worked. We saw each other, our hug was 33 years long, our embrace was extreme in love, joy and compassion for each other. This Holy moment that God ordained since the beginning of time, was fragrant and beautiful, pure and Holy. Nothing could ever surpass the delight that came from our hearts in those first moments.

Justin’s memorial service was Saturday. Nikki shared that not long after having their daughter, she had to have a hysterectomy. “I asked God one time for a child we could adopt. But then I left it in His hands. I thought, How could I ask for another woman’s child?”

Thirty-three years ago, God completed their family with Justin. Nikki told us, “Justin came just in time.”

Pastor Chuck recalled funny and poignant stories of Justin’s escapades. Then he shared the hope those who know Jesus have of heaven. He invited all who didn’t know Jesus to receive Him as their Lord and Savior. As he closed, he asked those who’d invited Jesus into their hearts to stand.

“I’ll count to three,” he smiled. “One, two, three.”

One person stood—Justin’s birth mother.

Overcome, Pastor Chuck covered his face and turned aside. Because of Justin’s untimely death, the woman who’d chosen life for the son she could not keep will enjoy him for eternity.

Texts to Nikki and her husband revealed two internet attenders who also stood and gave their lives to Jesus—including a ninety-year-old cherished friend!

So much in our world is broken. Untimely death, pain, and loss have marred 2020 for many. We need to remember, this is not our home. And as Pastor Chuck proclaimed after he’d recovered his composure, “If it ain’t good, it ain’t over.”

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

TWEETABLE
Out of Tragedy God Brings New Life – encouragement from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever witnessed God changing tragedy into good?

Am I Responsible for Their Happiness?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.                                                                                                            1 Thessalonians 5:24 NIV

The tendency to confuse faithfulness with responsibility runs deep in my DNA.

I did not distinguish between those things when putting a Saturday women’s conference together for our church. My intent was to minister to the women who attended our Sunday School class. So when I learned how many additional women were registering, I began to worry. Why were they coming? What were they expecting? This wasn’t an event I’d spent months planning. I hadn’t even promoted it but for a notice in the bulletin.

When I feel overwhelmed, I usually discover I’m feeling responsible for something beyond my control. My desire to minister to the women at the conference had morphed into a burden to make them happy. The pressure to meet their unknown expectations was stealing my joy. It was all on me.

The Difference Between a Goal and a Desire

In order to help us understand where our responsibilities end, some thought leaders have delineated between a goal and a desire. A goal is something you want, and you control the means to reach it. A desire is something you want, but you don’t control the variables to reach it. You need the cooperation of other people and/or circumstances for your desired result to happen.

For example, let’s say you plan a picnic for your family. You get up early to shred cheese for their favorite sandwiches. You hum as you spread pimento cheese onto slices of homemade bread. The picture of your family enjoying your special effort brings a smile as you pack a lovely quilt.

An hour before you leave, your son’s friend calls to invite him to the pool. He’s spent time with his friend but not with the family. You say, “Next time. Today is family time.” Disappointment oozes out of his pores. His body comes to the picnic, but not his heart.

At lunch you hand your daughter her sandwich on a paper plate decorated with her favorite cartoon character. She whines, “I don’t like this bread.”

At least you have homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Your son grabs the cookies, the ones you stayed up to midnight to bake, and says, “Mom, they’re moving!” To your dismay, the seal wasn’t tight. Ants march through your cookies.

Did you fail? Was your effort a complete waste? That depends.

If your goal was to make them happy, then yeah, you failed. No one’s happy. But if your goal was to love your family, then, well done! Big success.

Learn from Jesus

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 NIV).

Jesus’ assignments aren’t heavy burdens, when we live yoked to Him. He’s gentle. If we learn from Him, we’ll be gentle with ourselves too. Any goal that requires someone else’s cooperation can be blocked by them. God doesn’t hold us responsible for what we can’t control. He asks us to be faithful—to Him.

God doesn’t measure success by how things appear but by how we trust Him. When I realized the source of my anxiety before the conference, I was able to let it go. I only had to be faithful to do my part in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to Him.

TWEETABLE
Am I Responsible for Their Happiness? – insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, was released in February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever found yourself stressing over what is beyond your control? What happened?

How to Ask God for Help

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

Do questions dog you or wake you up at night? What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Do you know how to ask God for help?

Recently I’ve heard people wondering—

  • If it’s safe to return to business?
  • What’s the right medical protocol for my issue?
  • Does God want me to start a new project?

Even before the added complications of Covid-19, we faced questions that reached beyond our understanding. Where do you go for answers?

After observing His prayer life, a disciple asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. In Luke 11:1-13, Jesus showed His disciples and us the art of asking. Let’s look at the familiar verses of what many call the Lord’s Prayer in relation to finding answers to our questions.

Call Him Father: Jesus said to call God “Father.”

This speaks of our special relationship with God through Jesus and reminds us to approach God with childlike trust and humility. We aren’t asking an impersonal computer or busy call center for help. We’re approaching One who has a vested interest in us. One who counts us as family. His care for us reflects on Him (Ps. 23:3).

Remember God’s Nature When You Ask: “Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2 NIV).

My husband is a seasoned relationship counselor. If I have a question dealing with people and relationships, I ask him. But I don’t ask him for technical support. He’s a counselor, not a techie.

Hallowed means holy. Our Father grants requests that line up with His nature. Remembering His holy nature eliminates foolish requests. Does my request agree with God’s character?

Ask God for Daily Needs: “Give us each day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3 NIV).

For 40 years, God provided daily manna for the Hebrews in the wilderness. A few foolish people hoarded some for the next day, even though God told them not to. The day-old manna was stinky and wormy.

God provides the grace we need when we need it—not before. Learning to look to Him for my daily needs teaches me to trust Him and removes my fears of the future. How many of your concerns deal with the future? How might trusting God with today help you not worry about tomorrow?

Ask God with a Clean Heart—Forgiven and Forgiving: “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us” (Luke 11:4 NIV).

If we have trouble forgiving, we need only to remember how much God has forgiven us. By receiving God’s forgiveness, we then have grace to extend to others. This clears any blocked channels so we can better hear from God. Has unforgiveness hampered my connection to God? What do I need to confess and forsake? Who do I need to forgive?

A Different Kind of Protection: “And lead us not into temptation” (Luke 11:4b NASB).

God never tempts anyone (James 1:13). So why does Jesus include this? To remind us to ask for protection from temptation. I once read of a study where individuals were put in a room with a plate of fragrant chocolate chip cookies and told not to eat any. Other individuals were given a plate of radishes and told not to eat.

Afterwards, both groups were given a set of problems to solve. Those who hadn’t spent energy resisting cookies spent more time solving the problems before giving up. Resisting temptation taxes our strength and energy. When we put ourselves in positions to be tempted, we drain strength and energy that could be channeled to more profitable endeavors.

The Most Important Ask: “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13b NASB).

Today, the Holy Spirit indwells every believer (Rom. 8:9). Whatever fills us controls us. A person controlled by worry acts very different from one filled with hope. When we yield to the Holy Spirit, we manifest His fruit (Gal. 5:22-23), have the power to resist sin (Gal. 5:16), and understand His will for each day.

When you need help, ask God. Your heavenly Father wants to help you.

TWEETABLE
How to Ask God for Help – insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020.

Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]

She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What part of the Lord’s Prayer is most difficult for you to pray?

Should I Love Those Who Do Things I Hate?

All who fear the Lord will hate evil.   Proverbs 8:13 NLT

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

On Saturday, May 30, 2020, my husband and I strolled down Fayetteville Street from the State Capitol Building to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. We stopped to get fresh juice on a side street before returning to our car. After weeks of silent streets, it was a joy to see families enjoying the spring day. While restaurants were still closed or taking only sidewalk orders, life promised the return of normal. Little did we know that in a few hours this peaceful street would erupt in chaos as rioters smashed windows and destroyed property.

We live in a time when hate flows easier than tap water.

Is Hate Ever Right?

It may surprise you to know hate is not necessarily wrong. God hates.

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV).

This list doesn’t give us permission to judge others. Judgment and punishment belong to God alone (Romans 12:17-21). The Bible lists these so we won’t do them.

If we hate the things God hates, we’ll run from them—not to them. This list shows us what not to do. He grants us self-control, not other-control.

Speaking of Running

The division in our country reminds me of the prophet Jonah. When God sent him to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, to warn them about God’s pending judgment, he ran the other way. Assyria was a ruthless nation and enemy of Israel.

God captured Jonah’s attention—literally. While in the belly of a big fish, Jonah submitted to God’s commission. He went to those he hated and preached a one-sentence sermon. As a result, “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth” (Jonah 3:4-5 NIV).

Was Jonah ecstatic that God used him to bring about one of the biggest spiritual revivals in history?

“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live’” (Jonah 4:1-3).

Jonah didn’t believe the Ninevites deserved God’s mercy. He wanted God to punish them, not forgive them. God used a plant and a worm to expose his unrighteous anger.

Nineveh can be a word picture to us for those who do things that we hate. The book of Jonah reminds us God wants all people to find mercy and forgiveness through Jesus. He wants to use us to reach them.

Review the things God hates and pray with me.

Lord Jesus, help us to be more like You. We need Your grace to hate evil so that we won’t practice it and love the people who do practice it.

TWEETABLE
Should I Love Those Who Do Things I Hate? – insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilson
Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]


About the author:
 Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big Godand Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: How do you express love for people doing the things that you hate?

What Impact Is Your Faith Having?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were put to death … the world was not worthy of them.                                                      Hebrews 11:36-38 NIV

Have you ever met someone whose presence changed you?

My husband and I once had the privilege to eat lunch with the late Romanian pastor Richard Wurmbrand and his wife, Sabina. Mrs. Wurmbrand’s radiant smile still lights up my mind. I believe her countenance would have glowed in the dark like a full moon at midnight. This is amazing when you consider what they’d suffered for Jesus.

When the Communists took over Romania, they held a special meeting for pastors, filled with brainwashing and propaganda. Wurmbrand said: “My wife and I were present at this congress. Sabina told me, ‘Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in his face.’

I said to her, ‘If I do so, you will lose your husband.’ She replied, ‘I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband.’”

Pastor and Mrs. Wurmbrand were Messianic Jews. They suffered under the Nazis and the Communists. Pastor Wurmbrand spent fourteen years in Communist imprisonment—three of those in solitary confinement, where he saw only his Communist torturers. His body never fully recovered from the abuse.

His persecutors drugged his food. They regularly beat him for preaching to fellow prisoners. In his drugged state, the only Scripture he could recall at one point was, “Our Father.”

He shrugged, “It was enough. I knew I had a Father.”

Sabina suffered greatly too. The Nazi Party murdered her parents, four siblings, and five children, yet she showed no bitterness or resentment. She continued to show God’s love to all. She nurtured the underground church her husband had started and spent three years working in slave labor after being arrested for subversive evangelism.

One of her greatest burdens must have been having her nine-year-old son Mihai, left to fend for himself while both of his parents were in prison. Because it was against the law to help families of the imprisoned, the women who did try to help him were beaten so badly they were left crippled.

Our language barrier kept me from talking with Mrs. Wurmbrand, but her countenance communicated more than words. How could she smile after suffering such loss? How could she forgive the years spent in poverty—starving and not knowing if her husband was alive? Her youngest son was a boy when the Communists took his father. He was a man when Richard was finally released.

How did she hold such composure among tragedy? She knew Jesus was worthy of any sacrifice. She “was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10 NIV).

None of us knows what trials we’ll face. But we know we will be tested (James 1). Someone once said we are either coming out of a trial, in the middle of one, or headed into to one. Faith in Jesus prepares us and leads us triumphantly through any challenge. The Scriptures build our faith and equip us for life because they testify about Jesus (John 5:39).

The purpose of Bible study isn’t primarily to expand our knowledge (1 Cor. 8:1). The purpose is to open our eyes to our glorious Savior. Jesus is the object of biblical faith. Knowing him kindles a hope that won’t disappoint. The better we know him, the more radiant our faith and witness for Christ will shine in a dark world. Just look at the Wurmbrands.

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)

Adapted from Little Faith, Big God Copyright © 2020 by Debbie W. Wilson

TWEETABLE
What Impact Is Your Faith Having? – encouragement from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released Little Faith, Big God: Grace to Grow When Your Faith Feels Small by [Wilson, Debbie]February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Are there people in your life that have had a big impact on your faith?