I Know the Plans I Have for You …

by Deb Haggerty @DebHaggerty

How many times do we rush blindly into our days, perhaps breathing a brief “God guide me” on our way out of the bedroom to get coffee and dive into our plans? I was reminded recently that our ideas may not be the plans God has for us.

I was scheduled for a left knee replacement March 10, 2020. All the pre-op tests were clear—I breezed through them. I was hoping to be scheduled for the first surgery slot so I could go back to sleep. I had to report at 6 a.m. and I am NOT a morning person.

My husband took me to the hospital and dropped me at the front door so he could go park the car. I felt a bit light-headed but thought the feeling was from lack of sleep. When they called me to the front desk, I was really off balance. They offered, and I took, a wheelchair for transport to the prep area. I was very glad to get back in bed.

For once, the nurse was able to place the IV easily. I lay there in bed feeling strange. I knew something was not right. The nurse took my blood pressure once, twice, then said the pressure was high, which was unusual for me. She said she’d be right back. When she came back, she told me I was in A Fib—ultra fast, very erratic heartbeat. The anesthetist came by and said they’d have to wait and see—they couldn’t do the surgery with my heart in A Fib. The ortho doctor called my cardiologist who told him in no uncertain terms to cancel the surgery.

The moment the surgery was cancelled, my heart went back into normal sinus rhythm. They took me to the emergency room to do some tests to make sure I was okay and didn’t have a blood clot, but everything was perfect. Instead of knee surgery and two days in the hospital, I was sent home.

But what else was going on? The COVID 19 virus is rampant in the world. People my age with underlying conditions are at the highest risk for contracting the coronavirus. I was at peace throughout the entire process, certain God was in control and that it was his intention that I not have surgery that morning. He protected me from any possibility of picking up an infection or the coronavirus at the hospital or during the physical therapy which would have followed.

As Scripture says in James 4:13-15 (ESV) “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

When your plans go awry, think of my story and know God may have better ones for you. Be at peace, wait and work on your craft until his direction for you becomes clear. James also says in chapter 1, verses 2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers [and sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

God promises he will always be with us, so have faith and remember, God’s timing is always perfect.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”         Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

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

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About the author: Deb Haggerty is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Elk Lake Publishing, Inc., a Christian publisher that “Publishes the Positive.” An author, blogger, and professional speaker, Deb has been writing stories for over forty-five years. In 2019, she released two books: Experiencing God’s Love in a Broken World—A Spiritual Journey, co-written with her husband of thirty-seven years, Roy, and These Are the Days of My Life, her memoir (with a bonus section of business tips). Follow Deb at Facebook.com/debhgrty or her blog, positivegrace.com.

Join the conversation: Has God ever changed your plans? What happened?

When Life Hurts

by Monica Schmelter @MonicaSchmelter

I get lots of calls, letters, and emails requesting prayer.

Each request is different.  Some requests just really stand out.  One of them was “Frieda” who asked for prayer. After 16 years of marriage, her husband wanted out.  He’d met another woman online. He felt “alive” with the other woman and wanted a new life.

Frieda’s case is especially complicated: her husband was a pastor. She had worked by his side for years, supporting his ministry and raising their children. But despite her tears and prayers, the marriage ended.

Why such needless suffering? The events brought pain not only to Frieda and her children, but to their former congregation. With more questions than answers, they did their best to move forward, but the profound sense of loss and suffering persisted.

When it comes to suffering, there are no easy or pat answers. However, when life hurts, we can trust His Word. It assures us of His promises, purpose in our lives, and offers godly perspective.

 God’s Promises

What a comfort it is to know He stands ready to help! He says we can come to Him in total honesty and receive mercy and grace when we need it most. Hebrews tells us that Jesus the High Priest “understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us in our time of need” (4:15-16 NLT).

God’s Purposes

God will use suffering to accomplish great things in our lives. Suffering has a way of helping us to realize just how helpless we really are. And as we cry out to God in our pain, He will use that moment to draw us into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Him. we are in a good position to go deeper in our trust of Him. He will also use suffering to develop and transform us into the image of Jesus Christ. And make us a better reflection of who He is to the world around us. As we trust and obey Christ amid suffering, He will accomplish great things in our lives.

God’s purposes in our lives are accomplished as we yield to Him in our pain. Hebrews tells us that even Jesus was perfected through suffering: “For it was fitting for Him…to bring many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10 NASB).

God’s Perspective

While it may seem like an eternity as we struggle through pain, we can know that it will not last forever. God’s eternal perspective is a comfort, as well as giving us hope that one day everything will be made right. Our earthly life may be limited, but life beyond the grave will be forever.

As Paul wrote: “That is why we never give up. Thought our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT).

If you are in a season of suffering, take some time right now to reflect on God’s Promises, Purposes, and Perspective. Allow His Word to encourage you and fill your heart with hope. You can trust Him to use your right now for good.

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monicaheadshot (1)Monica Schmelter is host of the daily television show Bridges on Christian Television Network. In her spare time, she searches for delicious and decadent calorie free chocolate. You can find out more about her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Holding on to Hope

by Kathy Howard

“I wonder where heaven is,” Dad sighed. Then after a brief pause, “What do you think it’s like?”

Dad and I sat on his patio in the cool of the morning, watching the birds as we sipped our coffee. My Bible lay in my lap. I had just read to Dad about the eternal life we have in Jesus (1 John 5:12-13).

My father loves Jesus and has faithfully served Him and others all his adult life. But these last years of life are not what he expected, not what he hoped they would be. He feels trapped in a body that has betrayed him. He can’t participate in the activities he enjoys. Daily he patiently endures the consequences of my mother’s dementia. He feels there is nothing to look forward to. In this life, anyway.

For a while longer, we sat, contemplating heaven, eternal life, and earthly suffering. And we turned from one place to another in God’s Word. Reading, talking, reading some more. I wanted to give Dad something to hang on to. Something solid to stand on. I silently asked for God’s guidance on what to say and what to read.

From 1 Thessalonians chapter four, we read about the hope we have even in grief because of Jesus’ sure return for those who belong to Him. From 1 Corinthians 15, we read about the resurrection body that believers will receive. From Hebrews chapter eleven, we read about the great men and women of faith who stood firm on God in spite of their physical circumstances. And from 2 Corinthians chapter four, we read how God worked through Paul’s sufferings to display His grace, strength, and glory.

Dad’s weakness can magnify God’s strength. Dad’s struggles can point others to God’s glory. And one day, Dad’s “perishable” body will be raised “imperishable.” His earthly body ravaged by disease will be perfected and glorified. The sting of death will be swallowed up in victory. Jesus Christ, our Savior, has won it for us (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

That time with Dad on the patio was precious. A holy time, reading God’s Word and basking in His glorious wonders. That morning was also an answer to prayer. I knew Dad was discouraged. He knew well God’s truth, but the sufferings of life can cast long shadows. God ordained our time together as a gentle reminder. A sweet moment to see God’s promises for him in light of eternity. To be encouraged by God’s Word.

For a believer, death is but a gateway to eternity, the fulfillment of God’s promises to us. But the sometimes physically grueling process of dying can easily pull our eyes off the greater, spiritual goal. Pain, grief, and discouragement vie for our attention. We – our parents and ourselves – need a firm grip on the One who keeps His promises.

God’s Word gives us a fresh infusion of hope. His promises are recorded there so we can remind ourselves and our parents of everything God has waiting for those who love Him. Think about these truths as you rise. Talk about them as you go through your day. Hold them to your heart and impress them on your parents. Remember His promises. And hold on to hope.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”      Hebrews 10:23 NASB

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Struggling to navigate the parent/child role reversal? Kathy Howard’s new book, 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents, explores God’s Word to find hope and encouragement for the wide range of physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual challenges the adult child caregiver may experience. Each of the 30 devotions – which can also serve as a 30DaysHope_AgingParentsCover 300RGBguide for a daily quiet time – includes a Scripture passage, a real-life illustration, biblical commentary/application, and questions for reflection. You can pre-order your copy here. The book releases on May 21.

 Join the conversation: Perhaps you need to remember God’s promises as much as your parent. Which promises have you forgotten? Which ones do you need to hear the most today?

Photo by Ron Smith on Unsplash

God Records His Name

by Brenda L. Yoder

“….In all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.” Exodus 20:24 (KJV)

I opened the inside of the hymnal and saw her name. It was written in the cursive handwriting I’d known to love. The simple, clean lines which spelled Lois Yoder made me feel she was somehow with me, though my mentor and mother-in-law had passed away several years ago.

This hymnal was important to her. She recorded her name on it.

I felt the same feelings when I read Exodus 20:24, “in all the places where I record my name I will come to thee, and I will bless thee.” In a flash, I pictured Jesus’ name written on people’s hearts. I thought of Cindy, who’s in an abusive marriage, and who knows God’s name is recorded on her heart. It gives her strength when others misjudge her for terminating her marriage.

I thought of the orphaned children my daughter works with who don’t know to whom they belong. She crouches down, looks them in the eyes, and tells them Jesus loves them. She calls them by name, letting them know they are also seen, known, and loved by those who minister to them.

I thought of my children who have chosen Christ as their Savior. His name is recorded on their hearts, and it’s that promise I take in prayer as I pray for their protection. How many times I have interceded for them, declaring in the heavenly realm that my children belong to Christ and the enemy has no authority over them.

This verse is a visual promise of God’s imprint and engagement in our lives. When we accept Jesus’ death as payment for our sins and gift of eternal life, His name is written on our hearts, sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Not only does He record His name on us, marking us as His own, but He comes to us and will bless us.

Just like the hymnal with my mother-in-law’s name recorded on it, God records His name on our lives. This is our mark of protection again the enemy. God commanded the Israelites to mark their doorposts with the blood of a flawless lamb that would save them from death. So is Christ’s blood the mark that saves us from death and destruction. Our lives are then sealed by the Holy Spirit.

How precious of God to tell us His Name is scripted on our lives. His Name seals us. It says we are His. Let that be a comfort when you feel lost, abandoned, or forgotten.

Prayer: Dear God, show me where you have recorded Your name, where you have come to me, and where you have blessed me. Thank you for this promise of hope, security, and protection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Brenda YoderAbout the author: Brenda L. Yoder’s newest book, Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind releases in 2018. She’s been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, the Washington Post, and has a mental health column in her local paper. Her first book, Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All released in 2015. Her ministry, Life Beyond the Picket Fence, is found at brendayoder.com  where she authentically writes about faith, life, and family beyond the storybook image. Brenda speaks on a variety of mental health topics. She is a certified trainer by the Faith Trust Institute and an advocate for intentional parenting, children, and healthy relationships. You can connect with Brenda on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Brenda’s book, Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Where in your life has God recorded His name?