God’s Best for You

by Karen Wingate

This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 58:17 NIV

My 16-month-old grandson recently brought his dad for a 3-day visit while Major Mama did a two-week work trip (TDY) with the military. He quickly discovered the bottom kitchen utensil drawer and had a great time pulling out measuring cups, plastic funnels, and—Uh-Oh—my long-handled meat fork. I guess my house wasn’t as baby proof as I thought.

Being the good grandma that I am, I distracted him with the measuring cups and attempted to remove the meat fork from his fist. At first, his grip tightened. Come on, Buddy-Boy, don’t make me make you cry, my heart implored. With more “redirecting,” the fork soon found a higher home.

Grandson wanted that fork. To him, it looked and felt interesting. As Grandma though, I knew what was best for him. I knew the way he should play. Measuring cups and plastic funnels are non-traditional toys but safe; metal two-pronged meat forks are not. It would be inappropriate and defiant for him to insist on holding on to that fork.

My Bible reading in Isaiah 48 reminded me that sometimes my prayers are like my grandson’s desire for new toys. I see shiny, attractive things that I want. Possessions and accomplishments that I think would be really cool. So I ask for them. But, knowing He has something better in mind for me, God sometimes withholds what I want. If I’m listening, His Holy Spirit redirects me toward those better things or simply reminds me to trust that God wants what is best for me, even if I don’t understand.

There have been times (and I imagine there will be more times) when I tighten my grip on my original request. I may even make a frowny face at God, accusing Him of unnecessary delays or complications. I suspect I’m not the only one who has had the gall to question God’s love for me when He doesn’t let me have what I want, or even what appears to be reasonable.

Sometimes in those moments, God relinquishes, granting my request, so He can teach me the hard way that it wasn’t such a good idea after all. And He will grieve that I missed out on the riches of His peace and righteousness because of my obstinate will (Isaiah 48:18, 19).

The Bible says it so clearly: God wants to teach us what is best for us. I admit, the hard part is knowing what is best. How can I know whether what I request is God’s best?

We can work toward aligning our requests with the will of God in two ways.

First, ask. James 1:5, 6 tells us that if anyone lacks wisdom, ask, and God will generously give it to us.

We can also observe. The next time God doesn’t instantly answer in the affirmative to your request, pay attention to what else is happening. How does He provide for you in the meantime? How does He sustain you through the trial? How does He become more real to those watching you go through your tough time? How do you become stronger and grow closer to Him by not getting what you asked for? Finally, what does God give you instead that is bigger, better and yes, His best for you?

So, the next time I—or you—feel compelled to pray for something we want, here is a way we could pray.

“Lord, I want this, but I realize my judgement and experience may be as limited as that of a 16-month-old toddler. I ask that You give me what is best for me. And, while You’re at it, would You teach me why this is best so I can ask more in line with Your will the next time?”

God loves you so much. Even if it means making you temporarily unhappy because you didn’t get what you thought you needed, He wants to give you His very best.

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

About the author: Author, speaker, and Bible study leader Karen Wingate loves to brag on how she sees God working in the world. Karen is a veteran writer of 30 years, writing Christian education curriculum, magazine articles, and contributions to devotional guides and compilation books. Read about her latest sighting at www.karenwingate.com/blog.

Karen’s book, With Fresh Eyes, gives a fresh look at God, His creation, and people through the eyes of someone who is seeing the details of her world for the first time. It will challenge you to pause, ponder, and praise God for all His good gifts.

Join the conversation: Have you ever regretting receiving something you asked God for?

The Way Everlasting

by Christina Rose

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

God speaks to us through His Word; the more we study it the more likely we are to recognize and obey His voice. We can pray to release any anxious thoughts that might be interfering with receiving His words. We can also pray to receive more wisdom from the written Word and to trust in what we hear.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6 NIV

When Moses led the Israelites to freedom they reached the Red Sea with the Egyptians in hot pursuit. Moses listened for God who told him to raise his staff over the Red Sea which then parted allowing the Israelites to cross. Once they were safely through, God then told Moses to again raise his staff so that the walls of the sea would descend upon the advancing Egyptians thus destroying them.

It was Joshua’s listening to God’s instructions that allowed the walls of Jericho to fall and the city to be conquered for God’s glory.  It was Noah’s listening to God’s instructions on how to build the ark that saved him, his family and the animals of the earth from destruction. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 NIV).

 During a very challenging time when sleep escaped me, I cried out, “God, I can’t sleep!”  I heard God answer me, “Talk to me, I never sleep.” My worries dissolved as I poured out my troubles, listened for answers and journaled into my notebook. “He will never let me stumble, slip, or fall. For he is always watching, never sleeping” (Psalm 121:3-4 TLB).

My eyes fell on a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers as I entered the market, but when I reached for them, I heard, “No, buy pink roses.” This made no sense to me, so I dismissed it and put the sunflowers in my cart.  I then heard, “Your flowers are dead, buy pink roses.”  Strangely enough my sunflower bouquet seemed to be wilting and turning brown right in front of me.  Again, the words “pink roses, pink roses,” kept overwhelming me until at last I returned the sunflowers and bought the pink roses.

Michelle was entering the market as I was leaving.  Her eyes fell on the pink roses and she collapsed in heart wrenching sobs. “Michelle, what’s wrong?” I asked.  She answered, “Today is the anniversary of Caroline’s death. I’ve been up all night praying that God would send me a sign to show me that Caroline is okay and that He hears me.  When Caroline died, everyone sent me pink roses and my house was filled with them. Pink roses remind me of her. They remind me of all the people who cared about us.  Now seeing your pink roses makes me think that God hears me and cares.” 

Michelle’s daughter Caroline was about to enter 3rd grade with my daughter a few years ago when she was carried away by a sleeper wave and drowned. She was a beautiful little blond girl full of joy and smiles who followed her mom everywhere. “Michelle, I wasn’t going to buy these pink roses, but I had such a strong feeling that I must buy them. I know God was the one guiding me to buy these for you.” I handed her the pink roses, and we hugged some more.  When we ask God to know our hearts and commit our ways to Him, He will lead us in the way everlasting.

“Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  Matthew 13:43 NIV

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

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Has God ever made a choice clear for you? What happened? Please share!

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  James 1:5-6 NIV

Have you ever found yourself between a rock and a hard place? It is an uncomfortable place to be. Stuck between difficult choices, two options that both seem good or both seem bad, needing to make a decision that has unfortunate consequences.

As children, many of us learned that making wrong decisions could be the ultimate mistake, so at times we avoided the whole thing. Later we came to understand that no decision is indeed a decision in itself. So how are we to make difficult choices? Where do we find the wisdom to make good choices?

God has the answer in a simple gift He calls wisdom.

The Book of James is short but packed with practical knowledge. In the above nugget, we learn that wisdom is not something that comes from study, a strong character or will, or even from a good heart. True wisdom, divine wisdom, is a gift from God, and all we have to do in order to receive it is to ask. The process of asking reminds us that we are totally dependent on Him for wisdom. God promises that when we ask for His wisdom, God promises to give it. He never tires of providing it.

James goes on to explain that once we receive wisdom, we must then trust it. How do we trust? Simply put, we act. We make a decision and move boldly and confidently, knowing that if we have aligned ourselves with God by our request, God will lead us forward.

If you just gulped as you read that last sentence, you know this is a real test of where your trust lies. If we trust that God is who He says He is, and trust that He will direct if we ask, then we can trust Him and will act on that belief.

This is how we move from between that rock and hard place.

I’ve found that when I follow these steps, God is able to move me where I am supposed to be. If I move in a wrong direction, He will correct my course. If I move in the right direction, He goes before me. The saying is true: God doesn’t tend to move anchored ships that stay safe and secure in the harbor. God moves a ship that is moving through the open waters.

In prayer today, thank God for His perfect wisdom that is always available for you. Ask Him to help you remember to seek it whenever you find yourself in difficult circumstances, then determine you will trust Him and make that move.

About the author: Cheri Cowell is the author of 365 Devotions for Peace (Thomas Nelson). She can be found at www.CheriCowell.com.

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place – insight from @CheriCowell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Cheri Cowell Cheri Cowell is also a contributor to When God Calls the Heart to Love. To learn more about Cheri visit www.CheriCowell.com.

Inspired by best-selling author Janette Oke and the Hallmark Channel original TV series When Calls the Heart, Brian Bird and Michelle Cox explore the love-filled moments from the fictional early 1900s town of Hope Valley. Stories of romantic love, as well as love between families, neighbors, and friends, will touch your heart and encourage your soul to recognize the potential of love in your life.

Join the conversation: What wisdom has God given you recently? Tell us your story!