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~ Written by Viki Rife

“I have a right.”

It’s a dangerous phrase which undermines our foundations. Let’s think about that a little. What rights can we really claim as Christians?

Do you want to stand firm for God against any kind of persecution? If so, we need to eliminate that simple phrase from our vocabulary. In fact, we need to eliminate it completely from our thought process. The best way to process this is to look at how Jesus handled His life on this earth. He gave up everything (Philippians 2:7 calls it “emptying himself”). He did not grasp for His rights (Phil. 2:6). 

He had a right to destroy anyone who opposed Him. He had a right to call down angels to rescue him from the cross. But He did not call for His rights. That wasn’t his mission He gave up His right to comfort and convenience so He could claim the right to save us. And He has saved us so we could have the right to help others find Him.

Whenever I clamor for my rights, I am trying to be greater than my Master. May I never settle for thinking that I deserve more than Jesus does!

~ Written by Viki Rife

There is one promise in the Bible that makes me want to turn and run the other way. Most of the promises are comforting and reassuring. Who wouldn’t want to receive rewards or have victory over their enemies? Who wouldn’t want to have a mansion in heaven?

But most of my life this verse has left me cold: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). We are promised persecution! 

Somehow that changes my whole paradigm of what Christianity is about. And it begs the question, in our effort to win souls, are we offering an easier life, or a harder one? What did you think you were signing up for when you accepted Christ? Most of us weren’t given an invitation to a life of suffering. 

Especially here in the United States, we think that suffering is a sign of God’s displeasure. But God makes it clear that His discipline, including persecution, is evidence that He loves us enough to purify us. As far as our life on earth is concerned, suffering is what we’re truly called to. If committing to Christ brought nothing but suffering in this earthly life, would we still choose Jesus?

What is your choice? 

~ Written by Cassie Harris

Anticipation. It made me slightly resent the four hour long drive required to get me to my destination. I found myself longing for the day teleportation isn’t stuck in the world of Science Fiction. My loved ones were waiting for me at the other end of the car trip. I spent the first twenty minutes in the car watching the clock and praying the minutes would click by faster.

Just when I thought I would lose my mind, my friends in the car with me started talking about what God was doing in their lives. Before I knew it, I had completely forgotten about the clock and was joining them in the conversation. I silently chided myself for being so caught up in the destination I forgot to enjoy the journey.

Actually, it was much more than that. I was so caught up in the future destination I wasn’t investing in the people God had in front of me at that very moment. I was so frustrated over needing to wait for what I didn’t have yet and ignoring the blessings God had given me right now.

Oh, may we as children of God never be so caught up in pointing out the things which frustrate us that we stop being blessed by the little things we often take for granted. With God, everything is a process. Even our sanctification and imitation of Jesus Christ is a process. Patience is always required, but so is the ability to shine for God while we wait for the desires of our heart to be met.

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~ Written by Sharon MacMillan

The toxicity of our modern western culture has spilled over into the Church like an out-of-control oil slick, seeping through the nooks and crannies of our women’s ministries. The devastation has spurred Chris Adams, women’s specialist for Christian women leaders, to list trends in women’s ministries. The list is a wake-up call to take inventory of how we are giving women the knowledge of how to know Him and walk with Him.

Adams lists 29 sobering ungodly traits. One that stands out is that, despite years of Bible study, women cannot tell you where God is at work in their lives. If women are attending Bible studies but cannot identify God’s work in their lives, are our women’s ministries changing lives?

We need to ask ourselves, “How can we help women hear and obey His truth so they reflect the light of His life?” Jude 20-23 gives us some pointers:

  • We must prepare ourselves in our own biblical beliefs by being built up into the most holy faith.
  • We must engage in spiritual warfare, standing with others, praying for deliverance with passion and authority.
  • We must form loving personal relationships, offering support to others in their situations.
  • We must walk with others as they learn to obey His truth, forming their own relationship with God.
  • We connect them to other sisters in the Lord, allowing them to become connected to His body so that they learn to build up others.

This is a slow process. But we must obey God’s leading, trusting Him to bring down walls of doubt, insecurity and fears. Out of the gooey mess of sin, a woman of faith, honor and beauty will have emerged to the glory of God, influencing others who need to be rescued from the toxic waste.

~ Written by Cassie Harris 

It’s commonly used as a warm and fuzzy sentiment about God’s faithfulness — “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding…” Everyone smiles at that verse. Upon hearing it, most people at least start a pensive, slow affirmative nod. We like that verse. Trusting Jesus is nice.

Rarely do we take the time to determine what the phrase “… all your heart…” actually requires of a Christian within the Body of Christ. For anyone who has experienced being let down by another human being, we tend to be a little gun shy about trusting anyone else. But, we trust God, so that’s good enough, right? We don’t need to trust anyone else. Right?

Colossians 1 refers to Christ as the “… head of the Body…” which makes God and the Body one unit. It’s impossible to love and trust God and not take the risk of trusting the individuals within the Body of Christ as well. However, humans fail, so why should we step up and trust someone we know won’t come through 100% of the time?

When the Word of God tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” that includes trusting Him to stand in the gap between our hearts and the failures of the others within the Body of Christ. This is the same God who uses imperfect people to execute His perfect plan. He can heal, use and bless whatever pains come with taking the risk to trust another imperfect being who shares the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

You cannot experience Christ fully without the Body of Christ. Trust can hurt, but trusting God with every emotional, spiritual and mental risk can make operating within the Body — within relationship — absolutely breathtaking.

~ Written by Cassie Harris

When the 15th of every month comes around, I’m reminded why the government calls me ‘middle class.’ I start weighing the pros and cons of using my spending money on coffee, rather than bread. It’s during these last days where I no longer argue when someone offers to treat me to a meal.  

For the rest of the month, I’m reminded money leaves much faster than it arrives.  

A part of me struggles with resenting God’s version of “providing for my every need.” Would it really hurt God’s grander plan to secure me away with an extra $1,000 every month? Is it possible I don’t need the cushion of the extra money, I just want the comfort? 

Earlier this week, God surprised me by reminding me of a financial blessing I had forgotten about. I went through the rest of the morning overwhelmed with God’s goodness, provision and security.  

It was then it hit me. Often times, God is not delaying His provision and extra blessings because He’s an evil tyrannical king who gets a guilty pleasure out of making us need Him. He delays those moments until we’re at a point where we can enjoy the surprise of His gifts, rather than feeling entitled to them. 

It’s simply a subtle reminder. He is the God who enjoys giving gifts to us not to manipulate or control us. He blesses us often at the last moment because He knows true relationship with us goes much deeper than convenience.    

~ Written by Cathy Simms

My husband and I recently took a road trip to visit our son who lives with his wife two hours away. To get there, we had to travel on some major highways. I was busy reading for awhile, but soon realized every time I looked up, we were in the right lane. My husband wasn’t passing anybody, which was very unusual for him! I was quite concerned that maybe he wasn’t feeling well so I questioned him. He said he was only driving in the right lane that week. 

Somewhat confused, my curiosity continued. He proceeded to tell me he was challenged in his small group that week to slow down and not let the busyness of life take over. This involved driving in the right lane, picking the longest line at the grocery store to have an intentional conversation with those in line waiting with you, holding the door for people, and simply not being in a hurry. The reason was to enjoy the moment and allow God to work. 

The idea really challenged me. How many times do I make my “to do” list and miss opportunities to encourage others? When do I fail to take notice of those around me because I’m so busy crossing things off my list? God never intended us to hurry through lives or live with tunnel vision. He created us to love Him and love others but we have to do that with eyes wide open — live with an open calendar, so to speak — so we can allow Him to use us. 

I love Psalm 46:10 which says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Being still means different things for different people but I do know it is an action. “Being still” is something we have to do. Sometimes, through life’s experiences like being on bed rest for pre-term labor, healing from surgery, dealing with a terminal illness, moving to a new location, or a change in occupation, we are forced to be still. I also know that when we are still, we are promised that we can know God is God and He has a plan for our lives. 

Was it fun driving in the right lane? No, it was rather frustrating, but it did allow us to relax and not be in a hurry. We were able to notice God’s beauty around us on the journey. By the way, we arrived at our destination in the same amount of time as our previous trips. 

Why not choose the right lane this week?

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