How to Experience God’s Kindness—When Life Stinks

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“If you think this is building my faith, you’re wrong,” I told God.

My husband and I had faithfully served a community of believers for over a decade when the leader’s controlling spirit began to express itself in unethical and dishonest behavior.  When he wouldn’t respond to reason, I prayed God would resolve the situation or allow us to slip away quietly.

We tried to leave without drawing attention to ourselves, but the leader created a brouhaha worse than anything I could have imagined. When I heard the lies he was spreading about us, hurt and anger choked me.

Why had God ignored my prayers? Why had He forsaken us?

What Do I Believe?

Do you trust God’s kindness?

Do you believe He is good to you? Today? In that situation you desperately need Him and He seems to have failed?

The Bible proclaims God’s kindness. It also tells stories of believers, like Naomi, who allowed circumstances to blind them to His tenderness.

Naomi believed God was kind—to other people. She told her daughters-in-law, “May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me” (Ruth 1:8 NIV).

But Naomi thought God’s kindness had run out—for her. Weren’t the graves of her husband and two sons proof?

“Call me Mara [bitter], because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (Ruth 1:20-21 NIV).

Has disappointment ever distorted your perception of God? In such times, we reason that we wouldn’t allow our loved ones to suffer if we had God’s power. Since God permitted our pain, we conclude He must be angry or not care about us.

Now I Believe

When Ruth came home from gleaning barley and reported how Boaz had been kind to her, Naomi’s perspective shifted. She exclaimed, “He [God] has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead” (Ruth 2:20 NIV).

By the end of the book of Ruth, Naomi’s circumstances and perspective have flipped. She’s caring for Ruth’s infant son who will carry on the name of Naomi’s husband and sons. The town’s women gently remind Naomi that she had not returned home empty after all. God and Ruth came with her (Ruth 4:15).

Like Naomi, I can’t see God’s kindness when I dictate how it must look. Joseph, on the other hand, trusted God’s kindness while he was in prison.

“The Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden” (Gen. 39:21 NIV).

If Joseph had focused on his chains and his brothers’ betrayal, he would have overlooked God’s kindness and blamed God for not preventing the injustice. He would have demanded his immediate release. But Joseph recognized God’s compassion even before he saw God’s good purpose in his suffering.

The Lord poured out good will to both Naomi and Joseph in their losses. Naomi’s grief may have temporarily blinded her to God’s care, but it didn’t stop God’s goodness.

God used our painful experience to teach me that His nature doesn’t change with my circumstances. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).

If you feel distant and distrustful of God:

  • Ask Him to open your eyes to the evidences of His kindness.
  • Thank Him for it now, by faith.
  • Look for His goodness every day.

Just as God used Naomi and Joseph’s losses to bring about greater good, He is at work in our stories for our good, too.

Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.” Psalm 23:6 TLB

TWEETABLE
How to Experience God’s Kindness—When Life Stinks – @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 ever struggled with trusting in God’s kindness? Are you now able to see Him at work for your good?

Rethinking My Priorities

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

Years ago, the little booklet “My Heart, Christ’s Home” challenged me to move from viewing Christ as a guest in my heart to giving Him full ownership and control of my life. One morning I woke up with that analogy on my mind.

I thought about my literal house as a picture of my soul. I imagined how my priorities might clash with His if He came to help me bring order to my home.

Here is my imagined interaction with Christ:

“Let’s attack the front porch. Everyone sees it,” I said. “We can power wash and freshen the paint for instant impact.”

Christ shook His head and looked in the direction of my desk.

“No one sees my desk,” I pushed back.

“But you spend a lot of time there,” He said. “Your life will flow better if you cleaned out the distractions and organized your priorities.”

“My desk overpowers me,” I whined. “I don’t know how to bring order to it.”

“Will you let me help you?” His warm eyes sparkled.

 I wanted order. He’d offered to help. “Yes,” I nodded. 

 We dove in together. He held up papers and asked what I planned to do with the thoughts listed. We laughed and compiled heaps to be filed and tossed. The tedious task flew by as we worked together. He helped me separate the useful from the useless.

The work from my desk flowed the following weeks with ease. Jesus was right. Even though no one saw my desk, they sampled the work that came from it.

“Now are we ready to tackle the porch?” I asked one morning.

“I’d like to see your pantry.”

“My pantry? No one sees the pantry. The porch is front and center.” When I saw He wasn’t budging I asked, “Could we at least talk about new window treatments for the family room?”

Jesus smiled and said, “I thought you wanted more energy. Let’s look at what you’re eating.”

Inwardly I groaned but accompanied Him to the space. He zeroed in on a shelf of brownie and cake mixes.

“For company,” I stammered. “Look at these.” I pointed to a box of vitamins.

He held up a bottle. “Expiration date: 2002.”

“Uh, did you see my cookbooks?” I whispered.

He thumbed through one, and I noticed that only the dessert section showed use…

As I imagined this exchange, I realized my priorities were in areas other people would see and appreciate. I wanted my efforts to show. But my Lord wants better. He wants me to prosper. He addresses my weak spots, not to shame me but to free me, so I will soar.

Why would I settle for a spiffy renovation when I can experience lasting transformation?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2 NLT).

TWEETABLE
Rethinking My Priorities – 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, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog. debbieWwilson.com

Join the conversation: How might inviting Christ to overhaul your heart improve your life?

How to Recognize the Thief in Your Mind

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“How might Satan be using your health challenges to stop you from reaching your purpose?

My friend’s question caught me by surprise—and turned on a light.

“Oh my,” I gasped. “That book I’d put on hold dealt with that very thing: little strength!”

I’d chosen that focus because the theme tied together the biblical characters I was studying. Now, was the one with little strength.

My friend’s question made me realize I’d taken my health issues as a reason to put the book aside. I believed if this assignment was important to God then He wouldn’t allow me to feel so poorly. Obviously, this book must not matter to Him.

I’d allowed these thoughts to steal my motivation to finish.

Robber Versus Thief

The dictionary shows an important distinction between a robber and a thief. I’ve underlined a key difference.

  • robber takes “something from (someone) by unlawful force or threat of violence.”[1]
    .
  • thief steals, “especially secretly or without open force.” [2]

In John 10:10, Jesus called Satan a thief. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (NIV).

If someone stuck a gun in your back and asked for your wallet, you’d know you were being robbed. But a thief may con you into believing surrendering the same cash is noble—even God’s will.

My friend’s question pulled back the curtain and exposed the thief behind the lies trying to steal my purpose. I realized God wasn’t stopping my project. He was empowering me to write from experience.

A Thief Among Us

John 12 tells the story of Mary anointing Jesus with an expensive perfume and Judas openly criticizing her. He basically called her action a waste and said the ointment, worth a year’s wages, could have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Can you imagine how those harsh words, spoken in front of a house full of people, could have wounded Mary? If she’d believed Judas (who was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples) she could have felt ashamed that she hadn’t been “wiser” in how she showed her love for Jesus. She could have believed she’d disappointed God.

But the Bible says, “He [Judas] did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief” (John 12:6 NIV).

Jesus allowed Judas’s poisonous words to prick the ears of everyone in the room before stepping in to set the record straight. How many were agreeing with Judas?

If you’ve ever been assailed by accusations when you’ve tried to serve Jesus, listen to His words.

“‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. …She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her’” (Mark 14:6-9 NIV). (The Ryrie Study Bible says Mark is describing the same scene as in John.)

The thief called Mary’s actions a waste. Jesus called her actions beautiful.

Mary had done “what she could.” She couldn’t stop poverty. She couldn’t protect Jesus from the cruelty He’d suffer on His way to the cross that very week. But she could anoint Him with her love. And Jesus called it beautiful!

Do you recognize the voice that plays in your mind? Jesus’ words infuse joy, life, love, and hope. But Satan’s steal and destroy. Which message do you believe? Don’t let the thief steal the good you can offer Jesus.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10 NIV

[1]https://www.dictionary.com/browse/rob

[2]https://www.dictionary.com/browse/thief?s=t

TWEETABLE
How to Recognize the Thief in Your Mind – @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, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog. debbieWwilson.com

Join the conversation: What words, spoken either in your mind or by someone, have taunted or paralyzed you?

 

When God Steps In

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

One Wednesday evening, my daughter Ginny opened a letter saying her insurance agency had suspended her comprehensive and collateral car coverage. She thought it was a mistake, because her records showed they’d continued to withdraw payments from her account.

She called Thursday and discovered they had indeed canceled her insurance. They said they’d sent two emails (that must have gone to spam) asking for a signature our state required. We worked together to email the signature that afternoon. They received it but said it could take seven business days to reinstate her coverage.

Rain poured all afternoon—as expected. In the early evening, the wind suddenly gained force. The crepe myrtle branches outside my kitchen window swirled as if agitated in a giant washing machine. Whoa! I’d heard Hurricane Michael wasn’t bringing strong winds.

I sprinted to the front porch to check on the larger trees near our house. We have a circle drive, in our wooded front yard, where our kids park their cars. We moved their cars for Hurricane Florence to protect them from flying debris. But Hurricane Michael wasn’t supposed to bring much wind.

I was horrified to see a giant gumball tree leaning precariously in the direction of Ginny’s uninsured parked car. “Ginny,” I yelled to my daughter. She needed to move her car quickly!

Ginny joined me on the porch just in time to hear a loud crack and watch the tree’s slow-motion fall. “My car!” Ginny screamed.

We helplessly watched the tree fall the very day we learned Ginny’s car was not covered by insurance.

After the tree settled I shouted over Ginny’s wails, “The trunk missed! Those are small branches you see. The trunk missed your car!”

It took a few moments to process the miracle. While regretting not noticing the wind a few minutes sooner, I realized that, too, was God’s protection. Had Ginny been trying to exit the driveway. she would have moved directly into the path of the falling tree. Instead of a near miss, Ginny and her car would have taken a direct hit and been squashed.

Not only did the trunk just miss her car, the largest branch headed in the opposite direction from it. The impact that broke the pavement missed her bumper by a few inches.

Ginny and I feel we witnessed a miracle. How many times a day does God protect us and we do not recognize it?

Our experience that day reminded me we never know when a storm will come and assault our health, finances, or relationships. But we don’t need to fear them. We need to rest in the protective shelter of the Most High. The Lord covered us when insurance failed. There may be many kinds of storms, but only one refuge.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” Psalm 91: 1-2 NLT

TWEETABLE
A Reminder to Remember that God Does Step In – from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilson

About 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. debbieWwilson.com

Join the conversation: Have you ever seen God protect you or a loved one?

The Security Faith in a Good Father Provides

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

I woke up at 4 a.m. questioning a decision I’d made that afternoon. I’d told the designer, who’d drawn out a closet plan, we wanted to work with her. In my sleep I had second thoughts.

“Lord, I’m too tired to figure this out. I don’t know if we made the right decision.” Immediately an Old Testament passage came to mind.

“If a young woman makes a vow…and her father hears of the vow or pledge and does not object to it, then all her vows and pledges will stand. But if her father refuses to let her fulfill the vow or pledge on the day he hears of it, then all her vows and pledges will become invalid. The Lord will forgive her because her father would not let her fulfill them” (Numbers 30:3-5 NLT).

Relief filled me. I didn’t have to figure it out. Like a good father, my Abba would protect me. Father, you heard our words. If we jumped too soon, please rescue us. I’m giving this to You and trusting you to lead.”

I told the designer to wait while we did some more research. She understood. In the end, we chose a different option that saved us money. Once I let go of bearing the burden of making the perfect decision and trusted my Father to lead me, I enjoyed the adventure.

We believers know that we are saved “by grace through faith,” but sometimes we forget we were created to live by faith (Romans 1:17). We tend to rely on ourselves in our everyday decisions. But God wants us to include Him in every aspect of life. Jesus modeled how to live. He relied completely on His Father (John 14:10). Jesus wants us to walk that closely with Him (John 15:4-5).

Living by faith saves us from a wasted life and wasted opportunities. It protects us from regret. It pleases God and satisfies us (Hebrews 11:6John. 15:11). Our heavenly Father longs to show up in the mundane tasks of life. When we lean on Him in every area, life becomes an awesome experience.

I find robust faith requires two necessary ingredients. We need a knowledge of the Word and a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

The Word

The Bible says we’ll be molded by the world if we’re not transformed by the Word. Without renewing our minds we won’t be able to recognize God’s perfect will.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17 NIV).

The Spirit

Jesus said His Father would send the Holy Spirit to live in us to be our helper in life (John 14:17). “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves” (Galatians 5:16 NLT).

What wakes you up in the middle of the night and steals your rest? What would trusting Jesus look like for you in that area? How would it be to know it all doesn’t depend on you?

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?                                                                                                                                             Matthew 6:25-26 NIV

TWEETABLE
The Security Faith in a Good Father Provides – @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, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog. debbieWwilson.com

Join the conversation: What keeps you up at night?

How a White Christmas Showed Me God’s Love

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

The first Christmas I spent away from my family was also my first Christmas of walking with the Lord. Having grown up in the deep south, my assignment to Boston after college couldn’t have been more exotic if I’d been sent to Mars.

I arrived in early October. The beauty of the colored leaves intoxicated me. The quaint town of Needham, with its mixture of Victorian houses and small clapboard homes, held storybook charm. The locals’ accents fascinated me. One student, named Barbara O’Conner, introduced herself as “Barba-er O’Conna.”

The ministry team I joined was made up of seven young single men and women. We quickly became fast friends.

I’d planned to return home for Christmas. But our national director had other plans. He asked everyone to remain on assignment to prepare for the conference that would begin the day after Christmas.

The Lord had prepared my heart for this change in plans. I was excited to experience a New England Christmas. Since Boston winters were much colder than Savannah winters, I wanted the perks of a northern Christmas. I asked the Lord for a white Christmas.

The Boston natives groaned at my desire. “We don’t want to travel in snow,” they said. No problem; I asked the Lord to let my friends get safely on their way, and then bring snow.

Christmas Eve arrived, and there was no sign of snow. The guys on our team came over to our house, and we talked and laughed late into the night. At 2 a.m. I climbed into bed. There was still no sign of snow.

Christmas morning my housemate Candi padded into my bedroom and wished me a Merry Christmas. “You want to see our white Christmas?” I joked.

I pulled the shade and gasped. Six inches of marshmallow cream glistened in the morning sun—a living Christmas card.

We squealed in delight and rushed to dress. The guys showed up with sleds, and we romped like kids.

I baked my first turkey that Christmas. A widow joined us for dinner. In the evening we gathered in our small living room and thanked God for His Christmas gift of Jesus and for His forever family.

Instead of feeling homesick being hundreds of miles away from friends and family, I felt full and loved. God had not only granted the desires of my heart, He’d protected my friends’ travel.

Perhaps not having expectations for that year freed me to recognize and enjoy the treasures that matter most. And God granting me a perfect white Christmas reminded me that He knows and cares about our heart’s desires.

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 NIV

TWEETABLE
How a White Christmas Showed Me God’s Love – @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, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog. debbieWwilson.com

Join the conversation: Do you have an unexpected Christmas memory to share?

Why John the Baptist’s Mission Matters to You

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

Fifteen months before the birth of Jesus, God sent the angel Gabriel to Zacharias to announce the birth of John the Baptist. John’s ministry was to prepare the hearts of Israel for the coming Messiah. One line in his mission intrigued me.   

“And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children…to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (Luke 1:17 ESV).

I wondered how turning the hearts of the fathers to the children prepared the way for Jesus. Then a counseling class taught by Jim Craddock, a pioneer in connecting the relationship we have with our fathers to the relationship we feel with the heavenly Father, showed me the staggering impact a father plays in a child’s concept of God.

During the course, each of us took an inventory on how we perceived our heavenly Father in regard to a variety of issues. I zipped through the simple list checking the appropriate columns.

Later, we filled out the same inventory with respect to our earthly fathers. I whizzed down the columns until my pattern arrested me. I flipped back in my workbook to the first inventory. I was stunned. The pattern of my answers was identical. I’d projected the image of my earthly dad onto my heavenly Father.

Where Daddy had a sense of humor, God chuckled too. Where Daddy was strict, I saw my heavenly Father frown. The lesson startled and warned me. My relationship with my earthly fathers had direct impact on the way I experienced my heavenly Father.

A friend took a seminary class that echoed this finding. A survey found that every self-proclaimed atheist shared a common trait—a damaged relationship with his or her father. Their fathers had been either absent, distant, or abusive.

John the Baptist’s mission now made sense to me. Turning the hearts of the fathers to their children opened Israel’s arms to welcome God’s Son. Loving, engaged fathers tenderize their children’s hearts towards the Father. Self-absorbed and emotionally disengaged fathers hinder their children from experiencing the unconditional love of our heavenly Father.

Two Modern Examples

Josh McDowell, Christian author and speaker, is a modern-day example of this. Josh grew up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father. He entered college a hardened agnostic. But in his attempt to disprove the resurrection he discovered Christ and a heavenly Father. His heavenly Father healed his past wounds and transformed his life. Read his bio here. Josh McDowell has impacted millions of lives for Christ through his speaking and writing.

C.S. Lewis’s mother died when he was ten. Lewis was shipped off to school. The physically and emotionally distant relationship he had with his father no doubt played a role in his becoming an atheist. But the story doesn’t end there. Christ pursued Lewis. Experiencing the love of his heavenly Father transformed Lewis into the great Christian author and influencer we so deeply love.

If you struggle with trusting God, feeling close to Him, or believing He loves you, look at the relationship you had with your father. Perhaps there is a good reason you feel that way. But it is not based on the truth about who God is and who you are to Him.

Jesus came to show us the Father. Grow close to your Father by getting to know your Savior. His love will transform you as it did Josh McDowell and C. S. Lewis.

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”  John 14:9 NIV

TWEETABLE
How Does John the Baptist’s Mission Matter to You? @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, 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: Can you think of ways your ideas about God have been influenced by your earthly father?

 

Why Suffering for Christ is a Privilege

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

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

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

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

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

That’s why this verse in Philippians stopped me.

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

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

The New Living Translation says it like this:

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

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

Suffering for Christ is a privilege because

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

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

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

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

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

Join the conversation: Have you experienced suffering for Christ?

How to Overcome Weakness with God’s Strength

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

How do you overcome weakness?

I rambled into the kitchen wishing I could have stayed in bed. “This is going to be a terrible day,” I muttered to myself. I had a full schedule, and I’d tossed in bed instead of sleeping. When I have a lot to do, my over-stimulated mind won’t turn off, even when I try to sleep. But it drags when it’s time to get moving. My schedule needed brain power, and my brain felt dull.

That morning I sensed God’s Spirit gently interrupt my prattle. Do you think lack of sleep can squelch God’s power? Zechariah 4:6 popped into my mind, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts” (NASB).

Of course, God is more powerful than my lack of sleep. He’s greater than my lack of anything. Why was I focusing on how I felt instead of on His strength? I changed my thoughts and prayed. “Lord Jesus, I give you my day. I ask your Holy Spirit to fill me. Accomplish Your will through me today.”

That night I realized it had been a wonderful day. Our Bible study had enjoyed a dynamic discussion. God had even provided an unexpected break in the late afternoon. My lack had been an avenue for His power (2 Cor. 12:9).

Ephesians 5:18 says, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (NLT). While alcohol impairs an inebriated person’s speech, attitude, and actions, the Holy Spirit empowers those things.

Paul goes on to say, “Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-21 NLT). When we ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit, we are praying according to His will and know that He hears us and will answer us (1 John 5:14-15). To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to yield to Him and set aside anything that conflicts with His will.

We must choose to cooperate with His will even if we don’t feel differently. We walk by faith trusting Him to supply the power to obey and please Him.

Are you feeling empowered or weary? Are you prepared or overwhelmed for the work God has for you?

As God reminded me that morning, it doesn’t matter how we feel. What matters is in whose strength we choose to operate. Will you bring your lack—and your strengths—to God and invite Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit and empower you today?

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6 NASB

TWEETABLE
How to Overcome Weakness with God’s Strength – @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, 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: For what do you need God’s power to do today?

How to Make a Lot Out of Little

By Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

My friend retired from work at the same time the prices of her two insulins shot up. One jumped to an over $900 copay for a three-month supply and the other to over $1000. This leap in prices and dip in income tempted her to fret.

But Sandi chose to embrace this as a faith challenge. God knew her needs. How would He supply? Should she lower her monthly missionary support?

We all face problems that overwhelm our resources. John 6:1-14 shows how God uses such times to wow us.

“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do” (John 6:5-6 NIV).

Jesus asked this only to test Philip. I wonder how Jesus hoped Philip would respond.

When I imagined how faith might reply I pictured Philip turning a puzzled face to Jesus. As understanding dawned, with a twinkle, he’d say, “What do You have in mind, Lord? Do I detect a miracle?” But the real Philip looked at the crowd and said, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (John 6:7 NIV).

Even if they had been able to buy that much food, how would they transport it? The situation was impossible in every way. Andrew showed a spark of faith. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish…” then looked at the other disciples and realized how ridiculous he sounded, “but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9 NIV).

The disciples couldn’t feed the crowd so, except for Andrew, they didn’t even look for options. When have you held back what you have because it wasn’t enough?

Jesus didn’t find Andrew silly. He took the boy’s lunch and told the disciples to have the people sit on the grass. He then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten” (Jn. 6:11-13)

It’s natural to evaluate a need in light of our resources. But God wants us to evaluate needs in light of His resources.

Sandi mentioned her retirement to her doctor who supplied her with free insulin for two years. When the doctor was unable to continue, Sandi asked us to pray with her about this.

In the meantime, Sandi added two more missionaries to her charitable giving. She texted me Sunday. The pharmacy charged her $5.00 for one of the insulins! “I can pay for that!” she said. “I will get a prescription for the more expensive one when I see the doctor. So, what else will God do?”

What problem dwarfs your human resources? Let’s bring Jesus what we have, thank Him for it, and trust Him to supply our needs. Lord Jesus, help us live with the joyful anticipation that comes from abiding in You. 

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.                                                                                                                   Philippians 4:19 NASB 

TWEETABLE
How to Make a Lot Out of Little – @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, 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: How has God met a need you couldn’t supply?