Walk in Wisdom

by Shirley Mozena

Lord, what fools these mortals be!  Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. Proverbs 28:26 NIV

I’m a reader. I love the printed word and can’t get enough of it. When I want to escape into another world, I pick up a novel. Sometimes I read one more than once if the writer is good. One book, I always return to is—you guessed it, the Bible. There is much richness and comfort in those ancient words.

It seems to me our world is going crazy. Every day, something new is taking place. What you believed would never happen, happens. Sometimes, I get afraid. Will our country last? Will we be safe? Then I get on my knees and ask God to give me strength. I ask God to give me wisdom. I ask God to help me not to fear.

Do you ever get in a crowd and wonder if you will get out? How about a traffic jam? Do you feel that you will be there forever? I imagine that’s how Jesus felt when He was constantly pressed on from every side.

While studying the book of Mark with a friend, we read about the incident where Jesus calmed the storm after a long day among crowds. He and the disciples went out onto the lake to get away. As they traveled, Jesus lay back and took a nap. He was God, but also human, and He was tired! But then a storm came up and “nearly swamped” the boat. The disciples, who as fishermen were very familiar with boats and water, were very afraid and woke up Jesus. And even though they had witnessed many of Jesus’ miracles, He now did something astounding that terrified them in another way.

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:39-40 NIV).

Can you imagine this? I know about being in a boat and being scared by waves. I’ve crossed the Columbia River Bar, entered the ocean in a small boat and felt fear. The waves were sometimes enormous and seemed like they would crash right into our boat. But the boat just rose up on the swell and came down on the other side.

The disciples were afraid too, but the rough water did not scare them as much as the power of Jesus’ words. They now understood He had power over nature. I believe they realized, yet again, Who was with them.

God.

Wow! Does that bring you back to our world like it did me? The wild waves of crazy leadership. Despots desiring more power? Lies everywhere? It brings me back to Proverbs 28:26 (NIV), which tells us “Those who trust in themselves are fools…”

Last night, I was disconcerted. Restless. I couldn’t put my finger on my emotions. I guess I’ll admit it: I was afraid. Afraid for my country. For our world. For the powerless against the powerful. And then, I reflected on the story of Jesus stopping the storm. I prayed for strength. For more belief in my unbelief. And for my fears to be banished.

Lord Jesus, help me to not fear. To remember Who is in control of our world. Who is never afraid. Who controls the wind and waves. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

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

About the author: Shirley Quiring Mozena is a writer, blogger, and national speaker for Stonecroft. She has written three books, Second Chances, Beyond Second Chances: Heartbreak to Joyand recently published, Second Chance at Love: Navigating the Path to RemarriageHer work has appeared in newspapers and magazines.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with fear?

Whine or Wine?

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

The effects of original sin permeate every crevice of our world. Trials, tribulations, illness, sexual immorality, and debauchery are some of the effects of this unwanted invader. There is no escape while sojourning on earth, so God sent the Holy Spirit to give us strength and wisdom amidst the storms.

Jesus is the perfect example of how to live with the effects of sin. He acted in wisdom and love. He never complained. I want to glean from His actions and walk in the power of the Spirit.

Jesus was crushed for our sin. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace…” (Isaiah 53:5 ESV).

When I read this verse, I think of grapes. I know it seems irreverent and a bit silly, but bear with me. When grapes are made into juice for wine, they are crushed. We reap the rewards when they are pulverized. A fragrant aroma arises only when they are pressed.

Jesus’ body was beaten, yet he said, “Father, forgive them.” His sacrifice reconciled the world to God.

So what happens when we are crushed? People watch when we go through trials.

One day at work, a few co-workers ridiculed me because I said I was offended by their dirty jokes. I found a quiet corner to sulk. Eyes were still on me. My heart broke; they knew I was a Christian. Why would they say such nasty things in my presence, then make fun of me?

The taunts continued.

“Oh, Cherrilynn’s here, we’d better be good, she’ll tell God on us,” Mike stated.

“God wouldn’t like our jokes, either would he?” Steve said.

“You guys are idiots!” I said as I left the room.

Laughter echoed throughout the office and followed me down the hallway as I escaped their harassment. I prayed and asked for wisdom. (I wanted God to call down lightning on them.)

But the Holy Spirit impressed this verse upon my heart instead: “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15 ESV). The Spirit continued, your choice is to whine or be wine when you are crushed. Do you want to complain or be a fragrant aroma?

I returned to the office. “I’m sorry for calling you idiots.” Mike and Steve’s mouths opened wider than their eyes.

“We thought you’d never talk to us again,” Mike said with his Cheshire grin.

“We accept the apology, and we will warn you next time we tell those kinds of jokes,” Steve said.

“Thanks, guys,” I said.

After the apology, the dirty jokes stopped. They even came to me privately to ask for prayer.

I’m not always a fragrant offering when I go through trials and tribulations, but God is there to lovingly remind me not to whine.

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

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer in both fiction and non-fiction. She is a coach, ghostwriter, editor, and speaker. She is honored to be a member of AWSA.You can find her published in several online magazines and blogs along with books.  Her latest book, Shine Don’t Whine, released in October 2020. Cherrilynn proudly served in the Navy and Air National Guard. She lives with her son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 22 years. Cherrilynn loves Christ, Chocolate, coffee, and Cats. You will often find her on the beach sea glass hunting.

Join the conversation. Do you find yourself complaining when you are crushed?

Camping Anyone?

by Sheri Schofield

Once upon a time, I thoroughly enjoyed camping out in the mountains. At least I think I did. But for some reason, all I can remember now is freezing at night every time I rolled off that thin, rubber mat that was supposed to protect me from the cold, hard ground. Honestly, that is all I remember about camping.

But nostalgia is a strange thing. Somehow, my husband, Tim, wants to camp out again. However, he wants an upgrade on the equipment. So, he bought a tiny camper and tried to tow it home behind his little Suzuki. Bad plan. It caught fire on the way home. Unfortunately, the fire only consumed the Suzuki, not the camper.

I recognize ill omens when I see them.

Tim assures me that the old man who sold it to him, slept in it all year. I seriously doubt that: It has a hole in the roof. “We’ll have some good times in it,” he assured me.

Fat chance. I am not sleeping in that thing! Tim, however, said it is an investment in our retirement. Now I’m worried about his plans for our retirement! I seem to hear the music from “Jaws” getting louder and louder in my brain.

Coincidentally, my daughter married a man who is eerily like her dad. He, too, is enamored with camping out. My daughter called to invite us to camp out in their new little trailer…in Alaska. Burr! “It will be so much fun!” she tells me.

I hate to be a party pooper, but I am not camping out in another tiny trailer with three other people! “At our age,” I tell her, “we have to use the restroom more than once during the night. And we snore.”

“Oh,” she says after a long pause. “It’s not going to work, is it?”

I can imagine how Sarah felt when Abraham said, “Honey, God told me to leave town and go to a new land where we will live in tents and herd sheep and goats and camels and move around a lot. It will be so much fun!”

No wonder Sarah was barren. With all that exercise, her body probably refused to add childbearing to her burden. That’s what happens sometimes to women devoted to aerobics. Have you ever tried to round up sheep on foot? Well. There you are: Aerobics.

On top of that, God had told Abraham he would be the father of many nations. The pressure’s on, Sarah! It’s all up to you! After many years, Sarah got tired and said, “Hey, let my servant girl, Hagar, take over.” Bad idea!

But Sarah’s faith was exhausted from trying to measure up to Abraham’s expectations. Exhausted from moving all the time. Exhausted from trying to conceive a child to build a nation.

Trying to measure up to others’ expectations can be a faith-drain on anyone. If you’re there, know this: God loves you unconditionally. He will give you the strength you need for each day as it arrives. The grace for tomorrow will be there on time. Your future is assured in Jesus. You’ve got a wonderful eternity ahead…and it does not involve camping out!

Jesus said, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may be where I am,” John 14:2-3 (NIV).

Heaven’s going to be a blast!“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV).

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

About 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!

FREE CHILDREN’S PROGRAM!
Sherri offers a free series of video lessons about Jesus and His salvation—for children ages 4 and up. It is available at her website www.sherischofield.com. In this video series, Walk-The-Talk Island, Sheri presents her award-winning book The Prince and the Plan, in 24 video lessons for your children, grandchildren and any others with whom you wish to share. In addition, Campfire provides devotions for children.

Join the conversation: Have you ever caught yourself using someone else’s expectations to measure your success?

A Word for the New Year

by Crystal Bowman

A few years ago, like many of my friends, I began the practice of choosing a word or phrase to focus on for a given year. Before I choose my “word” I think about it for a few days and ask for God’s direction. As I look ahead to 2022, I have a few events that will demand my time, attention, and more energy than I have. After much thought and prayer God brought a Bible verse to my mind, so I did a quick Google search to find the reference. “The Lord gives strength to his people. The Lord blesses his people with peace”(Psalm 29:11 NIRV).

Nothing could be more fitting for me to focus on than that verse! I need strength for what lies ahead, and I need peace knowing that God will equip me for what he has called me to do. So I guess I actually have two words this year—strength and peace.

With the events of the past two years, I have learned to be flexible. I have learned that my plans may fall through. I have learned that a loved one may become seriously ill, and some may die. I have learned that the only thing I can count on is God’s love, and that even when I cannot understand his ways, I can trust that his ways are best.

I know that everyone is hoping and praying for a happier and healthier year. Will 2022 bring an end to the pandemic? Will there be peace in the streets rather than riots? Will political issues continue to divide our nation? Will hate and racism continue to escalate? Of course, we don’t know the answers. But we do know that God is in control, and he is faithful to meet all of our physical, spiritual, and emotional needs in the coming year. He will give us strength and peace for what lies ahead.

I came across another Bible verse recently. John 1:1 (NIRV) says, In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.  The “word” is Jesus, who was with God from the beginning of creation, who left his throne in the heavens to come to earth in the form of a baby human. His earthly life began in a humble stable and ended on a wooden cross to pay for the sins of the world. His victory over death gives us victory over sin, pain, and sorrow. His resurrection gives us hope for eternal life with him and with our loved ones. Jesus is the word of life, the word of hope, and the word of peace.

I will focus on the words strength and peace in the days ahead, but the greatest word I can focus on is Jesus. He is the way to the Father, the truth that we seek, and the giver of eternal life. Jesus is the Word above all other words!

Here is what we announce to everyone about the Word of life. The Word was already here from the beginning. We have heard him. We have seen him with our eyes. We have looked at him. Our hands have touched him. This life has appeared. We have seen him. We are witnesses about him. And we announce to you this same eternal life. He was already with the Father. He has appeared to us. We announce to you what we have seen and heard. We do it so you can share life together with us. And we share life with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ”. 1 John 1:1-3 NIRV

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

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and eight huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: On what word will you focus in 2022?




The Prayer of Faith

by Sheri Schofield

There was snow on the ground when some big, husky men showed up with chain saws to cut trees for firewood. A long, cold winter was coming, and most of them had wood stoves for heating their homes. For an hour they worked steadily away, sawing the trees, sweat rolling off their foreheads. Finally one of the men said, “This is really hard work. I don’t know if I’ll get enough wood today to last through the winter.”

The men straightened up and stood looking at the small pile of logs they had cut. Then one man hesitantly said, “It might be easier if we turned on our chain saws.”

Hm. You don’t believe that? Okay. But how about this—You go to church every week and kind of listen to the sermon. You wish the lost people in town would get saved. Or maybe you have just finished teaching a Sunday school class, but the kids were rowdy and you couldn’t seem to get anywhere with them. You’re frustrated and distracted. You lose interest in the sermon and start making your grocery list.

(Warning: DO NOT LET YOUR PASTOR SEE THAT GROCERY LIST! He may be equally frustrated. He works long hours and sees few people come to the Lord or overcome their problems. The evidence of your inattention might be the last straw for him!)

There is no difference between what the woodcutters were doing and the behavior of most Christians in America today. Like the woodcutters, many Christians are attempting to serve God in some way, but they have forgotten to turn on the power. They don’t even know where the power switch is. Something is very wrong.

Time and again when Jesus performed miracles, he spoke of people’s faith healing them. He told us to pray—in faith—until God answers our prayers. He told us to pray and never, ever give up.

The prayer of faith is the power switch for reaching people for Jesus, for in fervent prayer we connect with God, the Source of all power. What is the prayer of faith? It begins with a heart of absolute trust in God.

One year, my husband was very ill. He could not work, and he could not be left alone. With a husband, two children and no income, the responsibility for support fell on my shoulders. I chose to pray. Three nights a week after my family was in bed, I drove over to the church and prayed for two or three hours. Mostly, my prayer was simply a cry for help, for healing for my husband. I poured out my heart to God, and he poured his presence into me, with peace and instructions. I held onto God like a child holds onto its mother’s hand, desperately refusing to let go.

This went on for eight months. During that time, I sometimes received letters from distant friends saying, “God told me to send this to you.” It would be a check that covered our expenses. God gradually put my husband back on his feet so he could work. That in itself was a miracle. Better still, our children grew in faith and became strong Christians as a result of my dependence upon God. My relationship with God has grown from there, and I have learned the secret of his presence in my life. He is the Power Source of all I do.

Have you been working hard and seeing few results? Could it be time for you to turn on the power switch and watch God roar into action?

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 5:16 NIV

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

sheri schofield

About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator. She was named Arise Daily Writer of the Year in 2020, and Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Sheri also writes devotions for children at her website: www.sherischofield.com in “Campfire”, and is in the process of developing a children’s program on her YouTube site. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the conversation: Has God infused you with power? Please share!

Holding onto Hope When Winter Lingers

by Grace Fox

Winters are long, gray, and soggy where I live in southwestern British Columbia. Lack of sunshine for extended times can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) characterized by depression, lethargy, and irritability. Those who struggle with it find October through April particularly difficult.

I haven’t experienced SAD, but winter brings challenges of a different sort my way, because I live on a sailboat. For instance, condensation is a problem despite our running a dehumidifier around-the-clock. As a result, I’m constantly on a seek-and-destroy mission against mildew inside cupboards and around our mattresses. Doing the laundry means backpacking our dirty wash to the marina facilities a city block away—in the rain. And walking on slippery docks and steep ramps requires extra caution. Twisting my ankle and doing a face plant taught me that lesson.

This year, amidst damp cold and increasingly tight pandemic restrictions, I began feeling as though winter came with no expiration date. Imagine my delight, then, when I discovered pink blossoms on a leafless tree in early February. The sight lifted my spirits. I stood and stared at the flowers in awe and wonder. I couldn’t resist posting a picture on Facebook. “This is not fake news,” I wrote. “Spring is on the way. There is hope after all!”

Sadly, an Arctic blast swept through our province a couple weeks later. Temperatures plunged and the flowers froze. But despite their sad demise, my anticipation of spring lingered. Their presence had reminded me of warmer, sunnier, longer days ahead. They’d given me hope, and an Arctic freeze could not take that from me.

Life occasionally hands us seasons that resemble long, dreary winters. We begin to wonder whether our circumstances will ever improve. We spend our energy trying to persevere and praying for what feels like forever without seeing progress or change, and we begin to lose heart.

Sometimes we experience an Arctic blast. Winds of sudden change blow, bad news chills us to the bone, and we wonder whether we’ll survive to see warmer days ahead.

No matter how difficult our situation, the truth remains: God’s presence and promises bring hope.  

The apostle Paul knew what it meant to suffer. As a minister of the Gospel of Christ, he’d experienced slander, criticism, beatings, and imprisonment. He’d learned how to thrive despite the storms, and he shared his insights with the Corinthian believers so they might learn to do the same.

Paul encouraged them to not lose heart, and then wrote, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV).

Paul’s words still apply to us today. Our difficulties—our winter of the soul—might linger longer than we wish, but the Holy Spirit’s presence within us renews us and gives us strength to persevere. Our troubles might appear to have no expiration date, but rest assured, they will eventually pass. The purposes that Christ is achieving through them, however, will last forever. Therein lies hope.

Like the pink blossoms in mid-winter lifted my spirits, so God’s truth brings hope in seasons of hardship. Hold on, my friend. An eternal glory that exceeds imagination lies ahead.

Grace Fox co-directs an international missionary sending agency, speaks at women’s events overseas and across North America, and has authored ten books. She’s a regular contributor to Mornings with Jesus (Guideposts) and a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her new devotional Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos is available wherever Christian books are sold. Connect with Grace on her website, blog, or on Facebook.

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

About the author: Grace Fox co-directs an international missionary sending agency, speaks at women’s events overseas and across North America, and has authored ten books. She’s a regular contributor to Mornings with Jesus (Guideposts) and a member of the First 5 writing team (P31 Ministries). Her new devotional, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos is available wherever Christian books are sold. Connect with Grace on her website, blog, or on Facebook.

Join the conversation: Have you seen God at work within you during these difficult times?

Faith to Soar By

by Christina Rose

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NLT

This morning, as I walked about the nearby lakes, I noticed a group of people looking to the sky and taking pictures with their phones.  As I followed their gaze, I saw the source of their interest, two large, majestic eagles perched high on a lofty treetop. The eagles’ piercing blue eyes were focused intently on the lake, searching the water for prey. One could sense their impressive power as they perched on alert for the sign of fish, gripping the branches with huge talons.

Eagles have long been considered a symbol of freedom and strength. Rather than retreat from a storm, the eagle uses the adversity to its advantage. When a storm hits, the eagle positions its wings above the wind so that it will lift it up to soar above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle soars above it. 

Last year the Pandemic unleashed storms throughout the world with loss of life and income, closures and cancellations, sending waves of anxiety and fear around the globe. At times, it feels like we are all in some weird Twilight Zone movie that can’t be real. My church of several thousand attendees endured closures for months and services were streamed online.  Shortly after reopening, the lead pastor announced that he and his wife would be leaving to start another church. We were unsure if they truly wanted to leave or were asked to leave, but for many of us it was just another loss during this time of great change.

Our pastor and his wife had relocated from another state to serve at this church for almost 10 years. They have three small sons, one of whom has special needs. Since they both worked for the church, leaving meant that both would lose their salaries which required big faith. There was no guarantee that this new venture would succeed, and they risked losing everything.  As the pastor addressed the congregation on his last sermon, he expressed his gratitude and then broke down. He started sobbing while his wife tried to comfort him and after some time, he looked up with tears streaming down his face. We could feel his love for the church and how sorry he was to leave, along with concern for what the future would hold. He was just a young dad trying his best to trust that God would provide for him and his family to move forward. He exemplified the emotions that many of us feel during this time of great uncertainty.

One month later, the new church opened its doors to fully packed Christmas services. Many members of the former church had chosen to follow the pastor, and they donated time and money to convert an abandoned restaurant into a welcoming church, beautifully decorated for Christmas. That first weekend as we sang Christmas hymns, familiar faces smiled at one another as the room was filled with joy that our pastor had succeeded in making his dream happen. He stood in front of the congregation, radiantly beaming and announced that they had received enough donations to build a larger church that would accommodate the 2,000 people who had chosen to follow him. 

There have been many storms in the past year as our lives have dramatically changed by the Pandemic. We have been required more than ever to have faith and trust God for all our cares.  Just as the eagle positions its wings to fly above the storm, if we position ourselves to trust God for every need, he will carry us safely above the storm as he delivers us to our divine destiny.

“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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  (Matthew 6:25-27 NIV)

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

christina rose

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, as well as auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cover.jpg

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, redemption and restoration. Christina hopes her story will encourage others who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Are you soaring on wings like an eagle’s in this time of uncertainty?

It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage

A. C. Williams @Free2BFearless

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. Philippians 3:12 NLT

My car has some issues, and rightfully so. It’s a 2012 Malibu with 181,000 miles (I bought it with 12,000, so you can do the math). I drive a lot, because I’m from Kansas and flying anywhere is too expensive.

The brakes squeal. The tires wobble. The trunk has a rather impressive dent in it from where I backed into a mulberry tree one winter.

My car needs some work, but it gets me where I need to go. It does what it was designed to do, even though it’s a little rough around the edges.

Sound familiar?

I get so frustrated with myself, because I still have so much to learn about following Jesus. You’d think that after 30 years, I’d have this Christian thing figured out a little better, right?

But no. I still do the things I don’t want to do, and I don’t do the things I know are right. I didn’t understand what Paul meant in Romans 7:15-20 until I got old enough to start living it.

What I need to remember (what we all need to remember) is that sanctification is a process. Sure “getting saved” is instant, immediate, complete, but that doesn’t mean we lose our sin nature. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to fight with the baggage we were carrying before we came to Him.

Following Jesus will change us from the inside out, but oftentimes it takes a lifetime. For performance-driven perfectionists like me, that can be disheartening. I want to be like Jesus now. But that’s not how it works.

If He did that, my life would be about me, and what I can accomplish. Instead, He lets me struggle through daily impossible tasks that I can only conquer with His strength. He lets me face heart-wrenching choices that drive me to my knees, because I’m too weak to stand without Him. He breaks my heart for the people I love, because I know there is nothing I can do to help them.

And through it all He is faithful, because my life isn’t about what I can accomplish for Him. My life is about what He can accomplish through me.

God doesn’t use perfect people. Rather, His power is made perfect in those of us who are weak (2 Corinthians 12:9). I’m rough around the edges. I’ve got a lot of miles on my soul. My joints don’t creak yet, but my knees do sound like bubble wrap when I go down a flight of stairs.

It’s right and good that I invest time and resources to become a healthier version of myself, to grow closer to God, to know Him better. But just because I need some work doesn’t mean He can’t use me right now. I can still do what He created me to do. I can still fulfill His purpose in my life while I have broken pieces.

The road might be a little rough in spots, but with His strength I can still get where I need to go.

Don’t wait to be perfect before you choose to follow Him. Don’t wait to be in good repair before you do what He’s calling you to do. You’re weak right now. So what? God can work with that. Will you let Him?

TWEETABLE
It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage – encouragement from A.C. Williams, @Free2BFearless on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: A.C. Williams is a coffee-drinking, sushi-eating, story-telling nerd who loves cats, country living, and all things Japanese. She’d rather be barefoot, and if isn’t, her socks will never match. She likes her road trips with rock music, her superheroes with snark, and her blankets extra fuzzy, but her first love is stories and the authors who are passionate about telling them. Learn more about her book coaching services and follow her adventures on social media @free2bfearless or on her website, www.amycwilliams.com.

Join the conversation: When has God accomplished something through your weakness?

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.

TWEETABLE
God’s Gift of Power – insight from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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?

 

Thankful No Matter What

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

The LORD is my strength, and my song; He has become my salvation. Psalm 118:14, ESV 

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” For over 150 years, Americans – and people around the world – have thanked God for His many blessings on Thanksgiving.

But, what if we don’t feel blessed? What if we’re in the midst of some trial or difficulty or heartache right now? Can we still join in the Thanksgiving celebration with joy or will we just be going through the motions?

The writer of Psalm 118 knew trouble. His life had not been easy. He had been betrayed and attacked. And he had felt caught in a hopeless and dangerous situation with no way out.

But in the middle of those trials, he also experienced God’s personal intervention on his behalf. In Psalm 118:8-16, the psalmist testifies to God’s deliverance and expresses his gratitude. In this passage, we find 3 reasons to thank God when we face times of trouble:

  1. God is our refuge (Psalm 118:8-9) – When storms are raging all around us, we can always find safety in God’s presence. He is our shelter from the storm. Other people may not be fully trustworthy, but God can always be trusted. Other people may not always be dependable, but we can depend on God in any and every situation. Like the psalmist, when we’re in the midst of trouble, let’s thank God that He is our refuge. When we hide ourselves in Him, He will be our shelter!
  1. God is our helper and protector (Psalm 118:13) – When people and circumstances fight against us, we do not have to wonder or worry about victory. God Himself goes with His people and fights for them. When the psalmist was surrounded and swarmed by his enemies, victory came through the name of the LORD. Do you ever feel “swarmed by enemies?” Call on the name of the LORD. Thank Him that He is your protector!
  1. God is our strength (Psalm 118:14) – “The LORD is my strength, and my song; He has become my salvation.” God saves! He will deliver us through trouble with the strength of His might. He is our reason to sing, so let us lift a song of praise and thanksgiving to the God who is our strength!

God is our refuge, our protector, and our strength! If we can name no other blessings in our lives today, we can thank God for these. Let’s thank Him today, especially in the midst of trouble.

TWEETABLE
Thankful No Matter What – @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the Author: A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight books, Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest.

Kathy’s book “Before His Throne” leads you on a 9-week journey through the book of Malachi to discover what godly fear looks in our daily lives and how this biblical attitude will help you find deeper intimacy with God.

Join the conversation: Are there other things about God for which you are thankful?