“(Misfortune) can ruin your life only if it ruins your character. Otherwise, it cannot harm you—inside or out.” Aurelius

“The great objective of this life is character, for it is the only thing we can carry with us into eternity.” Austin Phelps

Doesn’t it help to keep in mind, when life feels particularly hard, that God has our character growth in mind? Right now with the COVID-19 epidemic keeping most of the world in lockdown, with economies declining, it is easy to see loss and limitations.

The usual props we rely on to keep us afloat seem suddenly tenuous, melting away with alarming speed.  Worse, we are reminded of our mortality and the fragile nature of life.

The invisible work of God in our lives and hearts—our character—is less easily discerned. But it’s right there, revealing the shaky foundations. And so we must choose: to mourn the loss of the safe-holds we have trusted in, or give them up in exchange for Him.

Is the lockdown exacerbating something in your character that needs improvement? Are secret fears and doubts growing in strength? The Lord brings us to the tip of the iceberg we’ve been floating on (we thought it was sturdy land) and now bids us gaze into the icy depths of our soul.

We must face our helplessness. Only then can we surrender the melting thing we trusted in and turn to the Rock.

Trust is not weakness of character. It is the very growth we need.  The growth that will take us through the lockdown and accompany us into eternity. Despite material losses, we gain. That’s Kingdom economy!

Forever, Lately

Linore Rose Burkard writes “Romance to Warm the Heart, Fiction to Stir the Soul.” Best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, she also writes  YA/Suspense and Contemporary Romance. Find her online at https://www.LRBurkard.com, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/LinoreBurkardReadersGroup/

 

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What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

In such a place, waiting for direction, I encouraged myself by reviewing the hard circumstances where God placed Moses. From the moment he appeared to him in a flaming bush, his life was never easy.

Go to Pharaoh? Lead the Israelites out of Egypt? Who, me?

After all his objections, Moses consented and set off on mission. Here’s the part of the Exodus story I love. God said to him:

  • I will be with you.
  • I will tell you what to say.
  • I will tell you what to do.

Moses didn’t have to worry about what to say to Pharaoh. God told him, “When Pharaoh says… you say…” In every confrontation that’s how he operated. He just spoke the words given him.

Our God never leads us to go on mission in our own wisdom and strength. In my waiting place, feeling inadequate and unsure of what to do or how I could do it, he whispered, “You don’t have to do it. I will.”

Encouraged by Moses’ experience, I went forward, trusting God to be with me, to tell me what to say, and to tell me what to do, expecting him to do what he had purposed. And he did.

Is he calling you for a special mission? Are you feeling inadequate and unsure about what to do?

Remember the mighty acts of God throughout history—he isn’t known for sponsoring failures—and go forward in total reliance on him.

“In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion… I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only” (Psalm 71:1, 16).

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s secretary of Christian Authors Network and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

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We’re moving. That’s the extent of what we know about this year, or maybe next. My husband is going to retire or the business is going to close—we don’t know which will come first—and we’re moving closer to home.

We don’t know if it’s the right time. Billy is eight years older and past retirement age, but I still have a few years to go before Medicare. I also have a condition that may or may not qualify me for disability, but it’s bad enough that we must have health insurance to help pay for all the annoyances associated with it.

One thing I know for certain. I want Billy to have time to enjoy the little farm we own back home, so I’m ready to take that leap of faith. The faith-leap that says we’ll be fine. That I won’t have to go through any more extended hospital stays or endure any more surgeries. That, even if I do, God will somehow help us pay for it all.

It’s a huge leap. Not just for my health, but for everything else involved. By faith, we’re believing the house we’re in will sell at such a price we can afford to build the new one without going into debt. That we’ll be able to move everything into storage and live together in tight quarters for months while the new house is under construction. That we’ll make the transition from work to retirement—while building a new house, while missing our friends here—without too much discord. That we’ll survive this as a loving couple.

We aren’t the first to have plans without a clue of how or when they’ll be accomplished. Long ago God said to Abram, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV).

Abram and Sarai knew less about their future than Billy and I do. They had no clue where they were going or how God would make them a “great nation” when Sarai was barren. But they trusted God and did as He instructed, and sure enough, through Abraham, all the earth was blessed through the life, death, and resurrection of his distant grandson, Jesus Christ.

Billy and I aren’t looking for such greatness. We just want to move to our little seventy-acre farm back home and enjoy the time we have left raising cattle and green beans. And the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of promises and results—will guide us through the maze.

What can He guide you through this year? This month? Today? There is nothing too big or too small for Him. We don’t have to know the particulars of the plan as long as we know Him who guides us through the particulars. Let’s trust Him together.

Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and their funky feline, P.B., in a forest in deep East Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She has a deep and abiding love for her Lord, her family, and salted caramel. And coffee. Don’t forget coffee. Author of award-winning books and short stories, she didn’t begin writing professionally until she turned fifty. Taking on a new career every half century is a good thing. Visit www.lindayezak.com.

 

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By Janet Chester Bly

A wounded friend of mine wept. “I prayed very hard my husband wouldn’t leave. Every day and night I prayed. But he left anyway.”

What kills hope?

Fear or rage will. Guilt and doubt try to. Sin does. Prayer answers of “No” and death of a dream can.

Hopelessness has the ability to make us mentally intoxicated—without reason, moderation, or judgment. Our wits become all spur and no rein. We lose confidence that good things will ever happen again when we hit rock-hard bottom.

The traumas of this world soil innocence and blind our view of a loving God. We become like injured, brute beasts who strike out at or flee from the one who comes to rescue. But God told us He wants to save us. He has our best interests at heart.

“But what if mine’s broken?” my friend asked.

We can’t thrive without hope.

George Bernard Shaw told us, “The life of the human race is a brief discreditable episode in the history of the meanest of planets.”

But Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Jean-Paul Sartre stated, “Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance.”

But Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

Sir James Jeans declared, “Life may be a disease which attacks planets in their decay.”

But Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst … [It] will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

Which voice do you choose to believe?

My friend chose to trust in Jesus…despite evil lurking around her and terror that struck at night. Temporary menacing shadows conspire to hide God’s gracious design for her life. But she holds onto blessed hope in Him.

Can’t wait for the unfolding of the rest of her story.

ALT="Janet Chester Bly"Janet Chester Bly authored and co-authored 40 fiction and nonfiction books for adults and kids with her late husband, Christy Award winning western author Stephen Bly. www.BlyBooks.com.  “Voices in the Night” is excerpt from Hope Lives Here: https://www.blybooks.com/books/true-life-stories/. She’s working on another devotional, Grace Spilling Over/True Stories of God’s Tender Mercies, and a novel, Beneath a Camperdown Elm, Book 3, Trails of Reba Cahill Series. Both books available summer 2018.

 

 

 

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By Jackie M. Johnson

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Life is full of challenges. You want to lose weight but the pounds stick to you like super glue.

A friend needs a new job or is having marital problems. Your niece is wondering if she will ever get married. Our country is divided on political issues. And on it goes.

As believers, we are taught early to “trust in the Lord.” But what does that really mean and how do we do it?

Trust means letting God be God. Not freaking out when the bills pile up like snow in the Rocky Mountains. Not striving to make things happen on our own. Trust is releasing worry and surrendering stress. It’s letting go of the problem and believing that the One who loves us most will take care of our situation.

So when you submit a book proposal, you don’t keep calling your agent every few days to see how it’s going. Or, if you don’t have the money for rent or the mortgage, you don’t worry incessantly. You pray and take action, and trust God will provide instead of trying to control outcomes and letting the stress keep you awake at night.

As you pray, God acts. He may ask you to do something or he may direct you to wait and be still. Either way, you learn to lean, not on your own understanding of how things should be, but on the strong shoulders of Jesus Christ. He has the wisdom to know what to do, even when the next step seems unclear. He has the strength and power to make real and lasting changes. And, he acts out of ultimate love for his daughters and sons.

God will do what is best, in His way and in His timing. On that we can rely.

Trust in His goodness. Rest in His love.

Jackie M. Johnson is the author of the popular Power Prayers for Women, the helpful breakup recovery resource When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty, and Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. She also writes a blog for single and single again readers, Living Single, on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk website. Connect with Jackie at www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com.

 

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