God’s Gift of Power

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10, ESV

This morning I found myself focusing on what I don’t have.

I hate it when I do that.

I have been given so much. A roof over my head. A family that I adore. A job that I love. Yet it is in my human (sinful) nature to focus on what I don’t have, rather than to count my blessings.

Do you ever do that? Do you ever start thinking about an opportunity that hasn’t come your way, places you haven’t visited because you don’t have the money, a certain measure of success you haven’t yet attained, or a relationship or position in life you don’t yet have?

Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV).

You and I do have life in abundance when we focus on what God has given us – gifts in the spiritual realm that can help us through the physical realm. One of those gifts is His incredible power.

Scripture says, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV). That means we have His Spirit to help us be bold when we would otherwise be fearful or timid, to help us love unconditionally when we otherwise could not, and to help us exert self-control.

And on days you and I feel especially weak, 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that Christ’s power is perfected in weakness.

Do you know why you and I tend to worry and stress? We forget God’s power. Do you know why we give up when we could otherwise succeed? We forget He is capable. Do you know why we shrink back when we could be moving forward?  We forget He can do all things.

Why else would we start in with our “what ifs?”

What if I can’t get this done?

What if this bill is not something I can pay?

What if we can’t work through this situation?

Approach this day remembering you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). Tackle any project that comes your way knowing God is able to do through you what is beyond you. And remember all that you do have today because you have His power. It is there for the asking.

Lord, thank You for giving me the power that resides in You. Thank You, too, that I am never left to my own devices, but I can call upon You at any time.

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View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of several books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 145,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced the power of God when facing a challenge?

 

The Ultimate Cover-up

by Rebecca Barlow Jordan

“You forgave the guilt of your people–yes, you covered all their sins.” Psalm 85:2 NLT

I never intended for it to be a cover-up. It was only an innocent mistake.

Several years ago I returned to my roots–in more ways than one. Yes, I’m back to brunette again. The blond was actually the result of a beauty salon mistake a few years prior to that: a dryer, processing gentle highlights, failed to work correctly.

How could I resolve the problem of hair, now with multi-colors? Only a complete cover-up would do. I liked the end result, so I kept it. Do blondes really have more fun? The only problem was, the cover-up didn’t hold. It took more cover-ups as the roots grew out. The more cover-up jobs we tried, the blonder I got–and the less “natural” I looked.

More cover-ups are never a permanent solution.

But deciding to go natural has its own problems, too. After so many cover-up applications, how do you mix the old and the new without your hair looking…striped as it grows out? The remedy, I was told, was yet another cover-up–this time, back to my roots, to the original color. That way, as the gray appears, the hair will look more natural. But covering up the blonde with brunette left reddish hues. Not as natural as I had hoped.

Strange thing about cover-ups: they may work for a little while. But sooner or later the real colors emerge. But hair is not the real issue here.

Most of us have tried a few cover-ups in our lives. I spent several years early on trying to “cover-up” some of my mistakes. Not fun, is it? Eventually, the real colors show through. Under the expert x-ray light of the Holy Spirit, layer upon layer is gradually exposed until the cover-up colors are completely gone.

God has done His own cover-up job for us. The mistakes we thought would define who we were or how we would live have been completely covered under the blood of Christ. His death gave us new peace and new life, one in which our super-natural colors could flourish. He put an end to any further cover-up attempts on our part.

I’ve decided on no more future hair coloring cover-ups, even though I agree with Robert Browning who once said, “My business is not to remake myself, but make the absolute best of what God made.” Some of us are simply trying to make the best of what God made.

But I can truly say that hair color has nothing to do with how much enjoyment we find in life. Matthew 23:12 (MSG) says, “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.”

The only thing that really matters about this entire conversation is the ultimate cover-up Jesus provided, and whether we accept it or not. It is tied to a full, enjoyable, and meaningful life: “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]” (John 10:10 AMP).

With Jesus’ divine application, there’s no need for any more cover-ups. It’s definitely a permanent solution.

© 2011, Rebecca Barlow Jordan, Used by permission. https://www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com/the-great-cover-up-does-it-ever-work/

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IMG_7350About the author: Rebecca Barlow Jordan is a day-voted follower of Jesus who loves to paint encouragement on the hearts of others. She has authored and contributed to over 20 books and written over 2000 articles, greeting cards, and other inspirational pieces. Rebecca also loves gardening, visiting with her children and grandchildren, reading great fiction, and fishing with her husband. Find Rebecca and her encouraging blog at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.

From deepening your walk with the Lord to strengthening your relationships with others … mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and women everywhere will find page after page of powerful spiritual encouragement within Rebecca’s Day-votions for Women: Heart to Heart Encouragement.

Join the conversation: How has leaning into God’s cover-up of you changed the way you live?

Where Is Home?

by Sheri Schofield

Peculiar things tend to happen in our country church when our senior pastor goes on vacation. This time, the assistant pastor was in charge. His ministry, which is mainly to a local rest home, is to a different congregation. When he stood to give announcements, he said gently, “This week we have had a number of deaths among us.”

I felt instant alarm. I had heard nothing of this! I looked around to make sure all my friends were there.

The pastor said, “Dan Smith* passed away this week.”

Dan, who was sitting not six feet away from him, shot up in his seat, shook his head vigorously and said, “No, I didn’t!”

We all roared with laughter! Needless to say, confusion reigned for a few minutes. Communion juice and bread were passed out willy-nilly, and the ushers with the offering plates stood helplessly in front, one waving his plate in the air, not sure when to pass it out. It was most unusual. Fortunately, Dan has a good sense of humor!

Our senior pastor is now back from vacation. We are his flock. If he had been handed that announcement, he would have known it wasn’t true. He would have looked immediately for the family involved, and he would have seen Dan standing with them.

This reminds me of what Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep . . . My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:14, 15, 10, NLT). With our Good Shepherd, we go way beyond mere recognition! He blesses us, too.

What is this rich and satisfying life that Jesus wants to give us? Is it a life of wealth and ease? No. Elsewhere, Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me”  (Luke 9:23-25, NLT). He also told his disciples of coming persecution because of their faith, then ended by saying, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (Luke 16:33, NLT).

I do not think Jesus was speaking only of the peace and exhilaration we will have with him in eternity when he said he wants to give us a rich and satisfying life. I think he was speaking of the relationship we can have right now, if we keep our souls melded with his throughout our days. We will inevitably suffer some loss and grief in this life. But if our hearts have found our life and hope in Jesus, we will be inwardly rich and satisfied… even now.

Consider what Moses wrote: “Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!” (Psalm 90:1, NLT).

When I return home from a vacation, I feel a sense of relaxation and belonging. I have my own pillow, my own bed, and I know where everything is. I relax and feel comfortable. This is the feeling Jesus wants to give us when we belong to him. With Jesus, our hearts are rich and satisfied, no matter what external perils we suffer. Abiding in our Good Shepherd, we are at peace. We walk into his arms, and we are home.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.  Psalm 27:13 NASB

*Not his real name

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sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.

Join the Conversation: How has God blessed you lately?

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

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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?

 

How to Stop Regret

by Debbie W. Wilson

Sometimes I’ve treated errors as catastrophes. I’ve felt worse over a mistake than over sin. Jesus paid for my sin, but I felt I had to pay for my mistakes. Maybe you can relate.

I bought a neutral colored jacket I thought would go with everything. But after I brought it home, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to wear with it. The time to return it ran out before I realized my purchase wasn’t as smart as I’d thought.

“If only I’d known,” I moaned.

That’s when I remembered Eve. The serpent told Eve that if she ate from the tree of knowledge, she would be like God (Genesis 3:5).

Was my “If only I’d known,” an echo of Eve’s obsession with the tree of knowledge? Was I trying to be like God—all-knowing? Was the desire “to know” a way to replace my need for God?

Too many times I’ve let decisions I’d like to do over (with the knowledge I’ve gained from time and experience) steal my peace. God’s Word and Spirit guide us, but in many non-essential areas we learn as we go. Even the boy Jesus “grew in knowledge.”

Here are some practices that have helped me avoid or handle regret.

Before a decision, ask God to lead.
That may mean asking Him to help me want His will. God’s will is always perfect. Mine is shortsighted and inconsistent.

I practiced this during a visit to Chicago. A pair of boots captivated me. They were a timeless style, fit like a glove, and gorgeous. It was snowing outside (I needed them). I peeked at the price. Gasp!

The next morning, I asked God to guide me as the desire for the boots still toyed with my mind. I opened my Bible and read out loud. “Spare no expense!” (Isaiah 54:2 NLT).

My daughter and I laughed. “Mom, you turned there on purpose.” I hadn’t, but it assured me God would lead me. When I tried the boots again, they rubbed my heels. I walked away without feeling deprived.

Before and after a decision, give thanks.
Even when a decision doesn’t turn out like we’d hoped, we thank God that He will use it for our good. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28 NASB).

Maybe my jacket is meant for someone else or for another season. Perhaps it’s a reminder that God is bigger than my shortcomings.

After, let it go.
God created us to need Him. Joy comes from experiencing Jesus, not from avoiding mistakes.

There were two trees in the center of Eden. Satan diverted Eve away from the tree of life to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus is “the life” (Jn:14:6). Let’s not let a decision draw us away from Him.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”      John 10:10 NIV

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson speaks, coaches, and writes to help others 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 debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: What pending or past decision wants to steal your peace?