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God's Will, Resting in Christ, surrender

The Peace of Purpose over Plans

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A decade ago God planted a dream in my journalist husband to tell the story of poverty, race relations, and athletic success in our home town. The idea simmered and grew from interviews, to newspaper articles, to a complete historical book. The process stretched him and our family to be stronger than we knew and taught me something about who is in charge of our dreams. Want a hint? It’s not us.

We’re a culture of goal makers and dream chasers. We want to make a big mark on society, find success, or increase our “followers”. We act as though it’s our effort alone that will make our dreams come true. So how do we handle it when our goals fall apart or take years to accomplish? Often we feel like failures and get stuck in frustration. 

What unmet goals haunt you? What dreams have yet to come true? What desire have you just plain given up hope on?

I’ve been a writer since third grade. I penned silly stories, songs about boys, and poems in adolescence. It was my go to when I was sad, angry, or bored. I thought I’d be a famous journalist or songwriter one day. That was my plan. But God wanted to use the gift He’d given me in a way I never expected. 

To love others.

Proverbs 19:21 says “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that Text from Prov 19:21 with a background image of the sky and flowerswill stand” (ESV).  

My idea of how to best use God’s gift of writing didn’t match His purpose. I used my talent to seek my glory, but He wanted it for His . And I’m so glad this Scripture is true in my life, that though I have many plans, God’s purpose for me remains immovable. 

But it’s hard to surrender our dreams to someone else. Often I want to know the end will be a success, and I grow impatient when goals aren’t met according to my timeline. But the more I recognize God as the creator and orchestrator of every good desire within me, it’s easier to trust those precious wants to Him. 

My husband’s story was bigger than him and it certainly didn’t occur on his time table. God used him, the talents and abilities woven into his being, for a purpose Dirk couldn’t foresee. The story he scribed validated an entire part of our city, spoke truth and justice over wounds, and connected generations. Because that was God’s purpose from the beginning. 

Whatever good plan you’re working toward or waiting on, remember you aren’t the only one striving for it. It may not always turn out the way you hoped, but God’s purpose for you in it is more complex than you can imagine. As we surrender our plans to God, He can use them to forge His loving purpose forward. Let go of your future and trust Him today.

 

Let’s digest this deeper. What unmet dream is God asking you to surrender to Him and trust that He’s logo for Wholly Loved's Bible reading plangot a grand purpose in store for your life? What makes it hard to give control of your most precious desires to God?

Join the conversation on Facebook or find more encouragement through our 30 day Emotional Health FREE devotional on YouVersion Bible App. And make sure to grab our FREE Bible study as well. You can find it HERE.

 

wisdom

Seeking God’s Wisdom

Image of woman reading her Bible
Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

Knowledge may fill our minds and  puff up our pride, but wisdom can save relationships, careers, and lives. It’s using what we’ve learned or know to make decisions, and though bookstores are filled with titles claiming to offer the perfect guidance for practically any situation, only the Bible can make good on that promise. 

Colossians 2:2b-3 says we look to “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and quote pulled from post with sunrise in the backgroundknowledge” (ESV). As we grow closer to Jesus, our spiritual understanding increases. Our thoughts and perspectives change, and because thoughts determine behavior, we began to act as He did—wisely.

Scripture invites us to seek God’s guidance, especially during difficult times. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (ESV).

This summer, I served on a South Dakota reservation teaching Vacation Bible School. One of my favorite days came when a friend introduced the kids to the parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders from Matthew 7:24-27. You may know the story. The wise man set his house on a rock, cutting into it deeply and securing a strong foundation. But the foolish man built on sand, leaving his foundation weak and vulnerable.

It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Don’t be foolish! I’ve given you everything you need to stand strong and secure.”

God’s wisdom can help us navigate the crazy twists and turns of life.

But how?

When we apply what we learn from Scripture to our lives, that knowledge becomes wisdom.

The world tells us to read a self-help or leadership book, attend a seminar, or return to school. And these may be good things, but what if we do all this and are still without answers? What if tragedy comes and we feel lost and confused?

Or, consider the converse. What if we’ve filled our hearts and minds with the truths of God and He uses it, in the middle of our pain, to comfort, guide, and strengthen us? What if He whispers those truths to our heart as we sleep, like we read in Psalm 16:7.

If we build our security on things of this lifetime, sadly, be like the builder who built on the sand and our foundation will crumble. It can’t stand against the storm of life. But if our foundation is built on Jesus and His Word, we’ll be like the wise builder who built on the rock. Storms will come, we may be bruised up, but we will stand firm and not be destroyed.

Teaching those children at Pine Ridge about wisdom reminded me of my own need to invest greatly into reading, learning, studying, memorizing, and meditating on His Word. I don’t want to be caught off guard and make choices based on my limited knowledge. I want His never-changing wisdom to guide me.

Let us ask Jesus for wisdom today. And then immerse ourselves in Scripture, so He can open up our minds to His way, not the world’s.

Did this devotion encourage you?

If so, make sure to check out our Bible reading plan available now on the YouVersion app! You can find Cover image for Bible study devotionalit HERE! And make sure to grab a copy of our 90-day devotional, Drawing Near. You can find that HERE. And check out our FREE Bible study, Becoming His Princess, HERE.

Grace

Hitting Pause to Rest

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Do you feel as if summer is moving much too fast? Did those lazy days you planned, when June first rolled around, get swallowed up in business an hustle? Do you wish you could simply hit pause, turn on some praise music, maybe grab a great book or go for a slow, leisurely stroll?

We do, too! That’s why we’ve decided to slow things down this month in order to quiet our hustle as we learn to rest.

Today, we’re intentionally resting in grace. What does that look like for you?

For us, it means releasing our mistakes and regrets. It means allowing each new day to be precisely that–new. A new opportunity to laugh, to love, to connect with God and others, and to lean deeper into, you guessed it, grace. It means trading our striving for surrender, our guilt for all we have or haven’t done for celebration for all God’s doing, at this moment, in us. It means celebrating His grace revealed in others, too, and entrusting our loved ones into His hands.

It’s focusing on how God is leading us today, knowing tomorrow will come, in His timing. It’s embracing all today has to offer, knowing He’s always right beside us.

Here are a few of our favorite verses. Choose one to prayerfully consider this week as you rest deeper in God’s love and grace as well.

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Faith

Hope in Chronic Illness — Guest Post

woman gazing toward the sunrise with quote from Matthew Henry

Grasping for Hope

by Jennifer Henn

Several years ago, I was wasting away from undiagnosed Celiac Disease. It affected every system in my body. When the doctors finally determined the cause of my symptoms, I weighed 100 pounds and couldn’t absorb nutrients. They ordered me to rest, saying, “Do nothing so you can heal.”

Those are hard words for a mother to hear. I was willing to do anything to quicken my healing. I thought if I could understand certain Bible passages, and put those truths into practice, my hardship would soon be over. I read and memorized Scripture, studied and journaled about it, hoping for a full understanding. But I had the wrong perspective. God wanted to work within my heart, and heart surgery takes time.

I cried, “Why is this so hard!” I struggled to grasp the truth and personal application of the Scripture I’d read.

I wanted change in my life—now. But I’ve learned God wants me to have a deeper understanding of His truth, which can’t be immediately grasped.

The first couple of years following my diagnosis were the hardest and often brought me to one section of Scripture in the Bible.  “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4, ESV).

In my exhausted state, I often questioned whether my character was improving. The weight of never feeling well and multiple doctor appointments bore down on the weak places in my soul. In my quiet time, I asked God, “Am I persevering? Will I find the hope Romans talks about?”

I needed hope that God’s Word is true when it says I am loved and that His ways are greater than mine. Meditating on this truth needed to be a daily practice in order to end the voice of despair taunting my mind.

To keep hope in view, I asked a friend who makes jewelry to make me a bracelet. I asked it be made with three different colored stones. Green would represent perseverance, red character, and a faux diamond for hope.

The bracelet companion reminded me that God was working things out of me that needed to go. Things like stubborn reliance on myself or the craving for people’s approval. At the same time, He worked in my ability to trust Him. While I learned to praise God in my storm, He gave me hope.

When I look back, I see hope was there the entire time. It took hope to ask for the bracelet to be made. Hope led me to continue in perseverance with prayer and the reading of Scripture. Hope opened my eyes to the sufferings of others which took the focus off myself. And hope showed itself when others said, “I see Jesus in you.”

When I focused on the struggle, I became discouraged. But over time, I learned that understanding comes through the struggle. God supplied hope through His love to keep me going. And through it all, my perspective on life changed.

When we praise God through our suffering, He works in hope. Once we have a deep sustaining hope, we can bring encouragement to others. Today, in your difficult circumstance, believe in hope. Praise the One who made you and is doing a good work in you.

Let’s talk about this!

Where might you be missing hope that’s in front of you? Who do you know that needs encouragement through their time of hopelessness?

Did this devotion encourage you?

If so, make sure to check out our Bible reading plan available now on the YouVersion app! You can find Cover image for Bible study devotionalit HERE! And make sure to grab a copy of our 90-day devotional, Drawing Near. You can find that HERE.

Get to know Jennifer!

Jennifer Henn homeschooled for nineteen years. She speaks and writes about her experiences from preschool through high school. Discouraged by the trend of homeschoolers to label themselves, she shares a balanced approach. She believes you can teach your children at home while enjoying the freedom to explore their individual interests.

Her first book, Take The Mystery Out of Homeschooling: A How-To Guide, takes parents incrementally through the basics of homeschooling and offers practical advice so they can make informed decisions.

Visit her on her website, follow her on Facebook and Instragram, and purchase her book on Amazon.

Are you considering homeschooling your children but have no idea how it’s done? Take The Mystery Out of Homeschooling: A How-To Guide takes parents incrementally through the basics and offers practical advice so they can make informed decisions. Easy to navigate sections include: popular teaching methods, what subjects to teach, how to schedule the school year, socializing your children, where to get help, record keeping, and much more!Jennifer puts your mind at ease through personal examples of her own and other homeschool veterans. If you want to homeschool, and need a resource for success, this book is for you.

 

Faith

Overcoming Doubt Through Faith — Guest Post

Our doubts can paralyze us or propel us to deeper faith. Our guest blogger today shares how using a story from her childhood that showed her how to move from uncertainty to spiritual victory and deeper intimacy with Christ.

Overcoming Doubt in Faith

Guest Post by Mirachelle Canada

How do you respond to doubt? Does it draw you to God or away from Him? Your reaction can lead to increased anxiety and uncertainty or unshakable faith.

As a kid, I couldn’t understand why God had allowed my dream to come to pass, only to strip it away. My child-like faith lay buried beneath pain and sorrow, and doubt, like a leaky faucet, dripped upon the growing weeds of mistrust in my heart.

I was the kind of kid who’d dig through a closet full of manure, believing the pony I dreamed of waited inside. My parents had promised to get me a horse if time and money allowed. Every night I asked God to grant my desire and never doubted He’d bring it to me. As the years passed, my dream grew into wanting a full-sized horse.

At age sixteen, I worked at a stable where I could be around my beloved animals. One day a horse used for lessons was to be sold at an auction. Calamity Jane was a bay mare, the color of deep chestnut with a silky black mane and a white apostrophe-shaped star. I inquired about how much C.J. might sell for, which turned out to be $325. I had saved that much working my job, so I purchased her. My dream had come true, and I thanked God for answering my life-long prayer.

After a blissful year together, another horse in the stable was stricken with a disease that attacked muscle function. A few weeks later, I noticed C.J. was frequently laying down. One night as I brushed her, I felt her inner thigh trembling uncontrollably, so I called the vet. The diagnosis was heart-breaking. In the most painful moment of my young life, I watched my childhood dream slowly die, and I couldn’t understand why. How could a God of love let what I loved, and found the most joy in, die?

After C.J.’s death, I couldn’t bear to look at her empty stall. I still worked my job, but I didn’t spend extra time with my furry friends. I grew angry, sad, and confused. I wondered how I’d ever recover and doubted my faith would ever be the same.

Months later, just before heading to college, a line of Scripture popped into my mind, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean not on your own understanding” (emphasis added). I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I looked it up the Bible, and read:

“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Prov. 3:3-6, ESV).

The scripture passage became my lifeline. I realized that, as a child learning to trust, I had held securely to God’s character of love and faithfulness, but nearing adulthood I doubted them in a difficult situation because they had not yet taken root in my heart. The good news is, when our adult circumstances create doubt, God invites us to trust in His unchanging character and heart. As I continued to pour over the passage, God healed my heart. I posted in my dorm room to remind me and reciting it each time I felt doubt. Accepting that I need to trust in Him, especially when I didn’t understand why helped me overcome my doubt. Looking to Him to see me through restored my faith. Our faith, belief, and hope in Him grow as we wait upon Him and discover in Him, we have all we need.

Let’s talk about this!

How has God brought you through your doubt? Do you have a scripture verse you rely on when your heart feels weak?

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If this devotion encouraged you, make sure to check out our Bible reading plan available now on the YouVersion app! You can find it HERE! And maybe sure to grab a copy of our 90-day devotional, Drawing Near. You can find that HERE.

Get to know Mirachelle!

Mirachelle's author photoMirachelle Canada is a writer, playwright, screenwriter, and theatre director/producer from Northern Virginia, where she teaches television production at her high school alma mater. She is passionate about awakening creativity and the gifts of God in everyone.

She is currently working on her first historical fiction novel set during WWII.

Connect with Mirachelle at:

her Website  on Facebook,  Twitter, and  Instagram.