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.

 

Faith, Resting in Christ, surrender

Empowered by the Holy Spirit

 

I was worn out from the chase. For as long as I’d practiced Christianity, I’d felt like I was running after God and perfection and both were slipping through my grasp. I thought His love for me ebbed and flowed based on my merits. But I found a power working in me that’s separate from my striving and never tires. He’s the Holy Spirit.

He’s a member of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—whom we may avoid because He seems elusive. Early in my faith, I wasn’t sure how to rely on an unseen Being with immeasurable and invisible power. I felt like a failure most of the time. Seemed like everyone around me was crushing it while I was smothered by the stress of life.

Could the Holy Spirit provide power and guidance to transform me into the wife, mother, friend, and servant I desired to be?Could the Holy Spirit provide power and guidance to transform me into the wife, mother, friend, and servant I desired to be? Click To Tweet I needed Him to be real because I was tired of trying to change for the better on my own. So I opened my Bible and read everything about the Holy Spirit I could find. The most important truth I found is that He is with us.

Scripture asserts that God was Emmanuel (God with us) when Jesus walked the earth, and now is present through His Spirit poured out after Christ rose from the dead. In order to rely on His strength, we must believe that God resides in our being. And that with His Spirit, God will build us into who we were made to be.  

As we tuck daily into the Holy Spirit’s presence and yield to His leadership, we’ll experience abounding love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). These were all the qualities I wanted to embody and everything I couldn’t become on my own. So I trusted God to work them out in me as I came near to Him.  

Here’s what walking in God’s leadership has looked like for me. As I spent each day intentionally reading my Bible, praying for every need, growing friendships with other faithful women, and building a relationship with God, I began to hear the His voice. It was never audible, but a gentle nudge guiding me from my old sinful ways to His loving ones. He’d replay truth from Scripture in my mind when I needed help. In moments of anger, I heard to be quiet. While grieving my Grandma’s death, He assured me people are never lost and that Jesus has overcome the grave. When I felt alone, He proved God’s love for me affirming that I’m chosen and adopted into God’s family.

We can’t trap the Holy Spirit’s power by our limited knowledge.We can’t trap the Holy Spirit’s power by our limited knowledge. Click To Tweet We’ll never fully understand the vastness of His reach in this life because we are human and He is God. But we can choose to believe He’s active in our need. Knowing God’s Spirit is with us in every situation empowers us to keep going and fixes us on the right path.  

I’ve found the closer I stick to God through His Spirit within me, the more peace I feel in this chaotic and messy life. Problems still arise, people still disappoint, my sin still tries to drag me away, but now I live with God’s power fighting for me. I simply step in His footprints and keep my gaze on Him. Find comfort this week knowing perfection is not required of you, but that the perfect Spirit of God will transform your life into something better than you can fathom.

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Let’s chat about this! How do you come near to God in your everyday life? How would it change things to know that you are not alone in the battle? Visit us on Facebook to share your thoughts. Or connect more with Andrea at her personal blog.

Resting in Christ

When Grace Erases a Record of Wrongs

Feet & Hands with Eph. 2:10 listed to the left

Sometimes I stand in the shower and recount hard conversations, rearranging them until they tilt in my favor. Oh, to heal the hurt I feel! But I’ve learned the danger of this practice and how refocusing on grace helps me heal.

Many times, a thread of offense or unforgiveness can be detected in those rehashed exchanges. I deem it a form of self-protection, a way of secretly wagging a finger at the offending party and holding their actions against them. Seems innocent enough, but is it?

This record-keeping of wrongs fails to solve the problem. It leads me down a dangerous road toward sin through gossiping, bitterness, or withholding forgiveness. But the grace of Jesus adds salve to those wounds. It helps me heal the hurts I feel.

The Lord came to earth, offering grace to all. He keeps no record of wrongs. He refuses to rehash tilted conversations, too. The Savior of the world simply offers a generous dose of unmerited favor to all who will accept it–including perfectionists, those with dark or troubled pasts, people whose words pierce the hearts of others, and yes, even women who hold one-sided chats in the shower.

None of us stand innocent, yet Jesus forgives and showers grace on all. ~ @Kristi_Woods Click To Tweet

John 1:14 describes Jesus as the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, one full of grace and truth. Although I’m tempted to think I’m innocent concerning my rehashed conversations, none of us are free from sin. But Jesus forgave us and showers grace anyway.

These days, when hurt or offense singes and I’m tempted to rehash them, I focus on Jesus instead. I hold close the gift of grace my Savior offers, remembering how much I need it and that His grace is sufficient. The Lord loves and forgives undeserving people—even those like me.

Refocusing on Jesus’ free gift of grace, I’m lured from the temptation to gossip or grow bitter and am drawn to prayer, forgiveness, and love instead.Refocusing on Jesus’ free gift of grace, I’m lured from the temptation to gossip or grow bitter and am drawn to prayer, forgiveness, and love instead. Click To Tweet I’d much rather have a conversation with Him than myself!

The next time you’re hurt or offended, why not consider Jesus and the love and grace He offered you? Focusing there helps heal our wounds.

Resting in Christ

Resting in God’s Grace is Sufficient for Me

What does it mean to rest in God’s grace? Does that sound theological and religious to anyone else?

Consider 2 Corinthians 12. Paul asked Jesus to remove a thorn in his side, something Scripture doesn’t reveal but that made Paul feel weak. Jesus response: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul concludes, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (v.9)

Said a different way: Jesus’ undeserved favor is complete and adequate enough for me. His authority over all shines faultlessly in our flaws and feebleness. His unmatched control over the entire universe adjoins with my lowly self and supplies a lifeline to cling to, a safety net to relax in. Because of my weakness, God can vividly display His divine power.

After Paul heard from the Lord, he decided that his inadequacy was worth it. When he truly surrendered, God could shine brightly through him— which wouldn’t be seen when he relied on himself.

But what does “resting in God’s grace” mean for me? Was I doing a good job at letting Jesus take over when I was weak, allowing His power to fix and heal and love?

I contemplated this as I finally got around to something I’d dreaded for weeks—dealing with my son’s behavior and inability to focus at school. I began researching doctors in our network. I called with questions, made appointments, and emailed my son’s former teacher for more information. All in an attempt to get the ball rolling towards a possible diagnosis.

And I’ll be honest, even looking up doctors who might help my son broke my heart. I felt weak, unknowledgeable, inadequate, and scared. The idea of getting him help should bring me hope, yet, I kept thinking, does this mean something’s wrong with him? Surely not, because God made him exactly the way He wanted him to be…

Jesus’ words came back to me. My grace is sufficient for you. Jesus’ favor, or blessing, for me is undeserved and enough to get me through anything. And more, when I am weak, His power rests on me. To “rest on” means to lean on, adjoin to, combine as one. So, if Christ’s power rests on me, then His power is now on me. KristenQuoteGrace I can be sure that God will help me figure out the best steps to take as a mother, knowing God loves my son even more than I do and will hold on to him tightly. I can relax because if God can take my weakness and use it for His glory and power, then He can also do the same for my son’s weakness. He can turn what is hard for him and make it shine somehow.

I will hold on to this verse as we navigate what’s challenging.

What trial or limitation do you need to surrender to Jesus? Claim His power in your weakness and walk forward knowing He’s resting His grace and mercy on you.

 

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Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.