Are You Doing Life God’s Way?

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”— Hebrews 11:1 (CEB).

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The lyrics to an old Frank Sinatra tune come back to haunt me sometimes. Part of the song goes, “I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway and more, much more than this, I did it my way.”

Why do these words resonate with me? Before Jesus got ahold of me, I tried to chart my own course. I tried to do things my way. Looking back, I can see my way wasn’t always the best. I didn’t consult the Maker of the Universe before making a decision, especially those affecting not only me, but others as well.

 

Even though God gives us free will, I want to do life His way.

 

My confidence was in my own ability to get things done. My faith and hope and assurance rested solely on what I could perceive with my own eyes. I resisted change unless I was in control.

In 2001, a life-changing experience opened my eyes.  I began seeking God. As I have grown to trust Him more, my confidence now lies solely in Him. Do I still I have doubts sometimes? Yes. Do I still question God? Yes.

Why Does God want us to Pray for Others?

“Pray much for others; plead for God’s mercy upon them; give thanks for all he is going to do for them”— 1 Timothy 2:1(TLB).

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I listened as a friend prayed with me over the phone about a family situation.  Melita is a true prayer warrior, and I treasure our bond as sisters-in-Christ.

I had called, leaving a voice message when she didn’t answer. I didn’t expect to hear back until the next day. It was late. However, my friend returned the call before she retired for the night. I was humbled by this beautiful friend’s willingness to return my call so late, even though she has to rise early each morning for work.

Having friends who will stand with you during trials is important. Even more important are those who will drop what they are doing to pray with you when asked.

We must believe our all-powerful God loves the people in our prayers.

I’ve learned to pray immediately when someone texts, emails or calls asking for prayer. If I don’t pray at the time of the request, I forget. I also add the person’s name and request to my list so I can continue to pray for God’s intervention or direction for an individual.

God instructs us to pray for others in several places in the Bible. In James 5:16, the apostle writes:  “Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results.”

The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children

“For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him”— 1 Samuel 1:27(NRSV).

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When a child is born, a mother anxiously checks for 10 fingers and 10 toes. She waits to hear the verdict from the medical staff that her child is healthy and whole. It’s a time of wonder when that tiny being is first placed in your arms and a time of uncertainty when you’re released to return home with the responsibilities of caring for a new life.

As each year passes, we watch our children grow, revealing their distinct personalities. While one child may be more fearful, another may test a mother’s patience with attempts to defy gravity or some other activity leading to cuts, bruises and broken limbs.

Letting go is difficult.

As the mother of two sons, now in their late 30s, I am aware of the limitations of my influence at this stage of their lives. With the lessons they learned as children embedded in their memories, I can only pray daily for their safety, well-being, their relationship with God and success in all they do. I pray for their work situations, their health, their relationships and how they raise their children.

When a child is young, a mother knows how to fix things. We can kiss a scraped elbow, place a warm, damp wash rag on their heads to bring comfort when ill, listen to their fears and promise them there are no monsters under the bed.

A mother’s heart is torn when a child becomes an adult and she realizes how her role has changed. Letting go is difficult.

Seven Daily Steps to Trusting God

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”— Proverbs 3:5-6(NLT).

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Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of my favorite scriptures. I’ve posted it on my computer monitor. I have it memorized as a daily reminder. As I’ve grown spiritually, letting go of the need to be in control, I’ve learned to lean on God.

In a recent “Bible Study Tools” article I read, the author gives readers seven daily steps to trusting God with all your heart. Following this advice each day will enable you to have a greater trust in where God is leading you and why.

  1. Don’t depend on you. “We live in a world where trust must be earned and seems to be in short supply,” says the author.  But wise King Solomon, who wrote Proverbs, knew that trust is where we must start (see Proverbs 3:5). Disappointments teach us to depend upon ourselves. However, “living the life God has called us to means unlearning that lesson—to rest in God’s understanding” and not our own.” But, what if we don’t feel like we can trust Him completely? The author says, “That’s where step two comes in.”
  2. Cry out to God. “Surrendering to God begins with our lips and our thoughts,” the author adds. We need to cry out to Him to show we depend on Him (See Proverbs 3:6). When we pray, we’re confessing His ways are better. When we surrender our lives to Him, we have to remember step three.
  3. Run from evil. “So much in our world can clutter our relationship with God,” the author says. In 1 John 2:16, the writer describes “them as the desires of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride in our lives.” They become stumbling blocks when we think we deserve them to be happy. Instead, life works best when we remember God is the source of our blessings.
  4. Put God first in your life. We’re selfish beings; even so when we put God first, trusting everything we own to His keeping, including our money, we’re admitting how much we depend on Him.
  5. Check yourself by God’s Word. We’re not so good at evaluating ourselves. I know I’m not. We make excuses for our behavior. If we are to truly trust God, we need to know where we stand by studying His Truth.
  6. Listen to the Holy Spirit. As we go through our day, the Holy Spirit guides us. That means we’re never alone if we will listen (John 14:26).
  7. Rest in God’s Love. Living in a difficult world often makes us wonder if God even cares. You might ask, “Where is God when I need Him?” Solomon reminds us God never leaves us to fend for ourselves.

Even in the midst of turmoil, God is with us, using our challenges to teach us how to trust in Him with all our hearts. It takes whole-hearted commitment each day but we’re never alone (Matthew 28:20b).

I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at carol@carolaround.com.

Is Forgiveness Good for Your Health?

“Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots to divide his clothing”— Luke 23:34 (NRSV).

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Good Friday has passed, but Jesus’ prayer on that fateful day should be taken to heart. One take-away from the day Jesus was crucified was His willingness to forgive those who persecuted Him.

Looking down from the cross on the Roman soldiers who were gambling for His clothing, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

But it wasn’t just the Roman soldiers He referred to during this distressing time. On either side of Jesus were two criminals who belittled Him. As the religious leaders mocked Him and the crowd jeered at Him, what did Jesus do? He prayed for them—a prayer of unmatched mercy and redeeming love. Even in His agony, Jesus’ concern was not for Himself but for the forgiveness of His enemies.

Is there someone you need to forgive?

Did you know withholding forgiveness from someone who has wronged you does more harm to you than the one you refuse to forgive? Refusing to forgive not only weighs down the spirit, it can also affect your physical health. Whether it’s a minor spat or long-held resentment toward another, unresolved conflict can go deeper than most realize, especially if it’s a family member or friend.

Refusing to forgive ups your risk of high blood pressure, the risk of heart attack, sleep problems, increased pain and levels of anxiety, depression and stress. As we age, research reveals a greater increase in the connection to forgiveness and our health.

Serving God More Than Leftovers

“And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work”— 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NRSV).

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Does your family moan when you serve leftovers or are they grateful for the meal placed before them? Maybe it depends on what you’re serving.

In a recent “Upper Room” devotional, the author wrote, “I often serve my family leftovers to save myself a little time. The original meal is usually delicious. But when I serve the leftovers several days later, I sometimes feel that I haven’t given my best.”

The writer continued by comparing leftover food to serving herself spiritual leftovers as well. She doesn’t always make time for God. He isn’t her first priority. Like many, she says a quick thank-you each morning but doesn’t take the time to appreciate the opportunities God offers her.

That love flows from the very heart of God.

The writer also admits she doesn’t read God’s Word each day.

Just as physical food nourishes our bodies, God’s Word is meant to feed our souls, and we are invited to receive it afresh each day,” she adds.

Can You Find Your Identity in Four Words?

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God”—John 1:12(NLT).

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If someone asked you to identify yourself in four words, could you do it? Recently, on a social media site, participants answered that question. I did, too. My response was, “A child of God.”

Before I turned to God during a life-changing event over 15 years ago, I couldn’t make that statement. Before I found my identity in Christ, I would have said I was a daughter, a wife, a mother, a high school teacher and a professional photographer. My identity was wrapped up in my earthly relationships and my professions. While those aren’t negative identities, they defined who I thought I was.

“I am a child of God.”

In my late 40s, I began asking, “Who am I?” I was lost. When God revealed my true identity in Him, I discovered how much God loves me and wanted a relationship with me. The shackles fell off. I was free to be the person He created me to be.

When we find our identity in Christ, He begins to work in our hearts. How?