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?

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.                                                       1 Corinthians 5:21 NASB

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to die on the cross?

An old photograph of our son covered in mud documents the special affinity my toddler had with puddles. Of course, the caked dirt didn’t change my love for Brant. But it did affect how I treated him. He wasn’t allowed to roam the house while muddy. I held him at arm’s length when I carried him to a tub of running water. After he was clean, we snuggled close, and he gained free access to the house again.

Who benefited from my child’s bath? Bathing him was work for me, but it was also joy. Removing his grime restored the pleasure of cuddling together.

Some people avoid God when they mess up. They think He doesn’t want to see them. But Jesus died to remove the stench of sin that separated us from Him. He wants to share life now and throughout eternity.

Before sin entered the world, there was no need for sacrifices. After sin, animal sacrifices provided a temporary remedy so people could enjoy closeness with God. From the skin garments God made for Adam and Eve to the blood sacrifices required in Mosaic Law, blood was God’s provision for removing guilt and restoring fellowship with Him (Leviticus 17:11). “In fact, …without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).

Like bathing with body wash, the effectiveness of animal sacrifices was temporary. These Old Testament sacrifices pointed to the future sacrifice of God’s perfect Lamb, who would become sin on our behalf.

  • “With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever” (Hebrews 9:12 NLT).
    .
  • “Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins” (Hebrews 9:14 NLT).
    .
  • “But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice” (Hebrews 9:26 NLT).

From the Garden to the cross, those benefiting from an offered sacrifice increased. Abel offered one lamb for himself. At the Passover, one lamb was offered for a family. The Day of Atonement included offering one lamb for a nation. But at the cross, Jesus, the spotless lamb, was offered for the sins of the world.[1]

When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) many in his Jewish audience understood. This was the long awaited One first promised to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:15).

While we look back in history to the cross, Old Testament sacrifices pointed to His coming. Faith in God’s promised One is the basis for righteousness for both Old and New Testament believers. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin, we gain nothing less than God’s eternal approval.

Based on an excerpt from Little Faith, Big God © 2020, Debbie W. Wilson

[1] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Hebrews (Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute, 1983), 301.

TWEETABLE
Why Did Jesus Have to Die? – insight and 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: What does Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross mean to you?

What Would Jesus Say to Us about the Corona Virus?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.                                      Matthew 10:28 NIV

Have you wondered what Jesus would say to us about the corona virus? My inbox is full of emails from merchants and event planners sharing the precautions they’re executing to protect us from this virus.

My daughter, who works in airline reservations, had her shift hours doubled to handle flight cancellations. It doesn’t take a genius to do the math on that one! Paying your employees overtime to cancel your source of revenue? The threat of this virus has shaken our economy and our sense of well-being.

So, what would Jesus say? Several thoughts come to mind. Let’s look at one.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 NIV).

I bet you didn’t see that one coming! While the Bible is full of verses that assure us of God’s care and protection over our earthly lives (Psalm 91; Matthew 6:25-27), this one reminds us of a core issue. We all will die. Some of us will die peacefully; others will die painfully, but either way, life on this earth will end.

How we live and whether or not we are ready to face eternity is more important than how and when we die. While the New Testament speaks of a time when Jesus will return and all believers who are still alive will meet Him in the air, statistically speaking, you have 100% chance of your life on earth coming to an end (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

I recently spoke with a young man who said his sister had canceled her family birthday party because of the virus threat. I mentioned that we all will die and need to be ready to die. This 38-year-old man said he’d had a brush with death just weeks earlier. He described riding his motorcycle down a city road when a rolled carpet fell off the truck in front of him, knocked him off his bike and sent him skidding across 100 feet of asphalt. He showed me the pink skin running down his arm where the asphalt had penetrated the layers of his clothing.

“When they put me in the emergency vehicle, I fell apart. I couldn’t believe I was still alive,” he said.

Jesus’ words really are a source of comfort to those who embrace them. For He reminds us there is only One with the power to destroy or to save an eternal soul. And He has gone to extreme measures to save us.

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

If you were to die today and God were to ask you why He should let you into His heaven, what would you say?

Would you tell Him you’ve done your best?

That your good deeds outweigh your bad?

Your very eternity rests on getting this right. The Bible supplies the correct answer.

If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 NIV). Have you put your trust in Jesus? Do you believe His death paid for your sins—past, present, and future—and His resurrection secured your eternal life (1 John 5:13)? If so, you have nothing to fear from the corona virus, or anything else, for that matter.

How much head space is the corona virus taking up in your mind? We should be wise in our actions. We should heed the precautions to wash our hands and protect ourselves. But let’s be counted among those who encourage each other to faith, not fear. Fear actually suppresses the immune system we need to fight not only this virus but other serious illnesses, including cancer.

Let’s follow the Bible’s admonition to: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

TWEETABLE
What Would Jesus Say to Us about the Corona Virus? – 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 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 are you coping with our present circumstances?

God Is Precise

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

In an old commercial, in a noisy room full of people, a man says, “My broker is E. F. Hutton. And E. F. Hutton says . . .” And the room grows suddenly silent.

“When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen,” says the commentator.

Dining with a large group, I felt like I was in an E. F. Hutton ad when the man next to me said, “You know, the longer I live, the more I can’t imagine a loving God turning anyone away from heaven, just because they don’t believe in Jesus. Can you?”

Time froze as the image of Jesus the night of his betrayal popped into my mind. I pictured him sweating drops of blood as “He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death” (Hebrews 5:7 NASB).

I looked at my companion, oblivious to whether or not those around me were listening, and reminded him that Jesus had asked if it were possible to avoid the cross (Matt. 26:36–56). “I can’t imagine a loving Father forcing his only Son to die on a cross if there was any other way to God,” I said.

“I never thought of it that way,” he said. Then he turned away to talk with someone else.

My companion’s declaration made me realize that when God seems narrow, it’s safe to say we’re looking at the situation from the wrong perspective. Maybe it’s better to say he is precise, because he knows what works and what doesn’t.

When my husband and I visited Yad Vashem—The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem—story after story of needless cruelty crushed me. A picture of a smiling mother and her two-year old son was followed with the story of how the Nazis separated them and sent them to different camps before murdering them both. I left a wet mess.

If just reading short snippets of those World War II horrors pained me, I can only imagine what it was like to live them. Jesus did more than live them; blameless Jesus, who’d never had even an impure thought, became each horrendous sin.

The agony Jesus experienced on the cross sliced much deeper than the physical pain of crucifixion. Jesus took on His body every sin that has or ever will be committed. That means He took the sins that were committed against us as well as the ones we’ve committed. He suffered in a few hours what would have taken the rest of us an eternity to suffer.

He took the hell we deserve, so we could share His heaven.

Study the founder of any religion, and you will discover a flawed person who needed a Savior. Jesus is the only person since Adam and Eve born spiritually alive and without sin. He is the only one who can supply spiritual life.

If there had been another way to save us, Jesus would have skipped the cross. But there was no other way.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 NIV

(Adapted from Little Faith, Big God, Feb. 2020)

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God Is Precise – Encouragement and Insight 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. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. Debbie is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach.

God expects spiritual growth to be a process. Do you? By exploring the biblical men and women of Hebrews 11 who failed, got up again, and finished well, Little Faith, Big God will inspire you to persevere in your own faith. Present-day stories and guiding questions invite personal reflection, application, and discussion. 

Join the conversation: What encouraging thoughts has God given you in this Easter season?

What Good Can Come from Bad News?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“The vet called. The tests on Max came back positive.” My husband’s words punched me in the stomach. Have you ever felt slugged by unwelcome news?

Max is our standard poodle. If I could use only one word to describe him, it would be magnificent. Max’s beautiful tail waves like a banner when he glides down the sidewalk. His coat is as thick as lamb’s fleece. When he was a puppy, we marveled the first time he watched a distant plane cross the sky. His sensitive spirit knows when to be gentle and when to play hard.

Max also impresses strangers. One man ran out of his house to get a closer look. Another pulled his truck over to ask about him. Perfect strangers want to have their pictures taken with him.

The vet had tested Max for Masticatory Muscle Myositis (MMM). I’d hoped Max’s issues were a side effect of Addison’s disease. The descriptions of MMM are too horrible to fathom.

Knowing Max’s challenging health issues, you might think we wish we’d chosen another puppy. Not at all.

As my daughter said, even if MMM takes Max, it has been worth it to have him. We wouldn’t trade a few years with Max and all of his problems for decades with another healthy dog. A day doesn’t pass without him making us laugh. He has taught us much about love, life, and faith.

Our son Brant expressed how Max’s challenges have refined his faith. “I had to ask myself if I’ve really trusted God with my eternity,” he said. “Because if I can trust Him with something that big, shouldn’t I be able to trust Him with Max?”

Brant was expressing the truth of 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NASB): “…you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold…may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Fire purifies gold so that it will gleam for a little while on earth. Trials purify faith so it will sparkle for eternity. Watching Brant’s faith shine has filled me with joy. We have great hope God will transform Magnificent Max into our Miracle Max. But, no matter how this turns out, Max has been worth it!

If we can say that about Max now, imagine how we will respond when we are finally able to see how God used our temporal pain to bring us eternal joy. Grieving a loss, a beloved family member, friend, or even a pet, is not wasted when it polishes our faith. With the Psalmist, we learn to say “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25, NIV).

God cares about our challenges and uses them to polish our faith. One day, we will see the result and gasp—it was worth it!

Max was only two when we learned his diagnosis. He is eight now and though he has experienced some setbacks, he continues to fill our lives with joy. He is indeed our Miracle Max.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT).

TWEETABLE
What Good Can Come from Bad News? – 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 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: What trials have you experienced that ultimately grew your faith?

How Do I Love My Enemy?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”                                                    Matthew 5:44 NIV

How do two porcupines hug? Very Carefully.  How do we love our enemies? With divine empowerment.

What did Jesus mean when He told His disciples to love their enemies? What does it look like to love your adversary?

We associate love with objects that make us feel good. When I say I love chocolate chip cookies, sunsets at the beach, and the gal I just met, I mean I enjoy the taste of cookies, the beauty of sunsets, and my new acquaintance’s personality.

To love our enemy, we need a stronger love than that. We need a love that can’t be stopped by the erratic behavior of its recipient. We must become conduits of Christ’s love.

What Does Love for My Enemy Look Like?

When God tells us to love our enemies, He isn’t asking us to manufacture warm feelings. God’s love is practical. It does what’s right. It seeks the eternal best for all involved.

Two concrete ways to show love are to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44 NIV) and provide help when they experience trouble.

God told the Israelites to return their brother’s stray ox or donkey when they found it (Deuteronomy 22:1). If they found their enemy’s lost animal, they were to return it, too (Exodus 23:4). In other words, we do good for everyone.

What Loving My Enemy Is Not

Loving your enemies is not seeking a close relationship with them or tolerating evil. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. If you wouldn’t place your child or best friend in a situation, you should treat yourself with the same consideration. God calls us to be loving—and wise.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15 NIV).

Unsafe people put kind people in awkward positions. It’s uncomfortable to live guarded. But we must practice caution with those who manipulate, deceive, and back-stab. We don’t do anyone a favor when we protect wrong doers.

A young woman once told me she felt guilty because she told her principal about a young man who bullied her. “I should have been able to shrug it off. He got into trouble, and it’s my fault.” This woman had warned the man many times to stop. Yet she accepted the blame he put on her when he reaped the consequences of his wrongs.

The instruction to love our enemies does not mean to tolerate sin or abuse. Permitting sin is not good for us or them (Ephesians 5:11). Love and boundaries go together. Real love hates wrong.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good” (Romans 12:9 NLT).

Where Do I Find the Power to Love My Enemy?

God is love. His Spirit produces love through us when we submit to Him (Galatians 5:22). As we obey the Romans 12:14 command to bless those who persecute us, power shifts from our enemy to us. They don’t control us; God does.

When Christ rules our hearts, we love, based not on who they are, but on who we are in Christ. Nobody can rock that.

TWEETABLE
How Do I Love My Enemy? – practical insight 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 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 go about loving your enemy?

Are You Overlooking Your Best Gifts?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

One summer, our four-year-old son drove a friend’s battery-powered three-wheeler. Watching Brant’s joy planted an idea. This would make the perfect Christmas gift.

My husband and I located a red one that December on sale. We stretched our seminary student budget and bought it. I smiled every time I imagined Brant’s surprise on Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve we set the gleaming three-wheeler beside the tree. I went to bed anticipating the excitement of the next morning.

But Brant didn’t like his gift. It wasn’t blue—like the one he’d ridden that summer. “But red’s your favorite color,” I reminded him. Didn’t matter, Brant wanted blue.

That year, his friends and sister scooted around on the three-wheeler. But Brant. Wouldn’t. Even. Touch. It.

The next summer we visited my friends again and Brant anticipated riding the blue three-wheeler. He was surprised at how much smaller and more worn it was than his three-wheeler. His attitude toward his vehicle changed. But by this time, because of Brant’s lack of interest and our coming move, Larry had already promised it to a man for his grandchildren.

Our good gift to our son never benefited him, because he rejected it.

I wonder how many times I’ve repeated my son’s story. I missed the joy of a good gift because it didn’t look like what I imagined or wasn’t the color of a friend’s. Worse, how many times have I’ve questioned my Father’s wisdom and love?

When God’s gifts don’t look like we imagined, we feel disappointed or rejected. We can’t imagine that His gift is better than what we asked for.

One year, I had a roommate who didn’t get anything I said. I felt frustrated trying to connect with her. One night in my journal I came across a prayer I’d written earlier to become a better communicator. I laughed to myself. God was answering my prayer, just not in the way I’d imagined. While I’d pictured an easy exchange of ideas, He was teaching me how to listen and express myself in ways that didn’t come naturally.

Do you have prayers that seem to be unanswered? Could you have overlooked the answer because it came wrapped in a blue bow when you expected pink?

It’s not too late to change our attitudes and enjoy God’s good gifts.

  • List the “gifts” you wish were different. Include experiences, personality traits, and people in your life. God already knows your thoughts, so be honest.
  • Ask Him to open your eyes to see them from His perspective.
  • Go down your list and, by faith, thank Him for His promise to work even the bad things together for your good and for the good of all who love Him (Rom. 8:28).

When our four-year old dismissed his Christmas gift, he wasn’t the only one who missed out. Our family missed the joy of him enjoying his gift. Remembering God gives good gifts helps us look for the good. The treasure may be hidden, but we know it is there.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.  James 1:17 NIV

TWEETABLE
Are You Overlooking Your Best Gifts? – insight 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 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: Has there been a time when you failed to recognize what God gave you as a desirable gift?