Divine Opportunities

I'm so excited to share a brief teaching on divine opportunities (originally this appeared live on my Prayers for a Woman's Soul Facebook page). I also take time to pray about divine opportunities toward the end.

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4 Tips For Being Positive When Life Is Hard {Give-Away!}

I love my sweet friend Tracie’s new book! It encourages us to count the cost of negative thinking and to change the way we think—and change our lives!  Tracie is giving away a copy of her book along with a PDf study guide to one winner. Here’s Tracie:
We all know life can be hard. People hurt us, the past haunts us, coworkers mistreat us, parents don’t love us, friends don’t consider us, spouses don’t honor us, children don’t appreciate or respect us, finances don’t support us, and our health doesn’t sustain us. Sometimes having a positive outlook and an optimistic attitude can seem impossible to achieve much less maintain.  But even when life gets hard, we don’t have to let our hearts get hard with it.  
Whether or not our hearts and mind stay positive in the midst of hard times is entirely up to us – but all too often we let our negative thoughts eventually harden our hearts. Fortunately, through the strength, peace and joy found in Christ, we are all capable of shattering the hard shell on our hearts through intentionally choosing to think positive. Happiness is a choice, not a by-product of a perfect life. So regardless of what life brings, we can all choose optimism and joy if we so choose.
The first step in pursuing a changed mind and a changed life is believing it can actually happen for you. Below are a few more tips to help you get started with your mind over matter transformation.
1.    Don’t ask “why me”,  ask “why not me”
Maybe you’ve found yourself asking “why me” when life feels hard. When we feel crushed under the weight of our problems, we can’t help but think life is unfair, and maybe God is even unfair since He’s allowing such adversity in our life. But John 16:33 says, “ I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  When I read this verse recently, I was drawn back to the word “all”.  We could assume Jesus meant “all this”, to refer to “all this instruction I’ve told you”. Or we could interpret it to mean, He told us ALL that we would have troubles, which we do.
But at times we might still wonder why others aren’t taxed with the same troubles we are, or maybe it seems we have more than our fair share, leading us to entertain that life is indeed unfair. But the fact that we ALL have difficult circumstances, doesn’t that actually make life fair?  You see, God doesn’t pick favorites, and it wouldn’t be fair for some people to have trouble and others have none. So with that in mind, shouldn’t we consider “why not me?” instead of “why me”? When we are struggling, it helps to remember God is a fair and just God, and He loves us as much as anyone else. All of us get an equal share of His strength to face whatever circumstances are happening in our lives.
2.    Count your blessings. 
Sometimes the hurt or pain life inflicts seems like too much to handle and fears can threaten to paralyze us and steal our hope. Been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt. But during one particular season when life was more difficult than ever due to a painful situation in my marriage, I decided to start keeping up with little daily blessings God was giving me in my journal, as opposed just to pouring out my thoughts and anxieties each day. I soon realized that when I focused on my blessings, I felt more positive, even if my circumstances remained the same. As I spent time counting my blessings, I spent less time and energy counting my losses, which helped to boost my spirits throughout each day. And my faith.
3.    Don’t let your fears overtake you. 
I am a worrier. I can’t help it. It’s a problem. I try not to, but I do. I love the Lord and trust Him, but my mind still gets lost in fears from time to time. When I can’t control a situation, I tend to think of all the worst case scenarios that could happen, and then my fears start growing like a thick vine strangling the life out of a fencepost. Maybe yours done too. After all, we’re only human and life often gives us a lot of reason to worry. On days when I find myself feeling burdened with worry and letting my mind run wild with possible worst case scenarios, I recall the hope found in Psalm 23:4 says, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” It’s such a sweet verse to tuck into our hearts when we are feeling afraid of the unknown. The truth is … the “unknown” is probably not near as scary as we think it might be.
4.    Commit to being positive, even if you have every reason to be negative. 
It takes as much energy to be negative as it does to be positive, so why not put our energy into something that will bring joy into our life instead of discouragement and pessimism? This is one tip I forced myself to put into practice in my own life during the most difficult season of my life, as I was spending a lot of time being negative, obsessing over hurt and fears, and letting negative emotions and worries and fears control my life and my happiness. I finally reached the point where I was fed up with feeling negative and sad, and ready to start enjoying life and being happy again. I made the choice to be positive, even when my circumstances were so less-than-positive. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, and it changed my life. When I chose to take control of my mind and my thoughts and my own happiness, I was released from the bondage the enemy had over my thinking patterns and my joy. The same is possible for you, my friend. If you so choose it to be positive today, no matter what.
We can’t change our circumstances or have control the situations or people in our lives, and God may not change them right away either, no matter how much we pray about them. But what we can do is stop obsessing over what we can’t change, start focusing on what we can, and letting God handle the rest.
We can trust God has a plan that we can’t possibly see right now – a good plan to help us prosper, have hope and a beautiful future. We can believe He has a purpose for the things that happen in life, and that somehow He will use it for our good. We can ask for God’s peace, instead of letting negativity and pessimism and worry become a toxic illness in our hearts, minds and lives. We can ask for Him to let us feel His Presence so we know we’re not alone. We can ask for spiritual eyes to see when He is blessing us in little and big ways, and we can always ask for a thank-full heart.
There’s a lot we can’t control, but what we can control is our thoughts, which in turn controls our emotions, giving us more control over our lives. Loving God in the hard times is not always easy, but it always worth the effort.  Once you begin making these 5 tips a part of your every day life, you will be on the cusp of experiencing a true mind over matter transformation. When you change the way you think, your life will take a turn for the better.
Reading this via email? CLICK HERE to visit my blog and leave a comment for YOUR chance to WIN! 
Give-Away Instructions: Please leave a comment along with your email (so you can be notified if you win!) on why you need Tracie’s new book and study guide. WINNER will be randomly chosen and notified via email.
 Tracie Miles is a national Speaker and Author with the internationally known Proverbs 31 Ministries (www.proverbs31.org) and has spent the last eleven years inspiring women to live intentionally for Christ  In addition to Unsinkable Faith, she is also the author of two best selling books,  Your Life Still Counts: How God Uses Your Past To Create A Beautiful Future(2014) and Stressed Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World (2012). She is also a contributing author to the popular Zondervan NIV Women’s Devotional Bible, and the Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today Daily Devotional Book.  Tracie is a monthly contributing writer for the Proverbs 31 Ministries Encouragement for Today daily devotions, which reach nearly one million people per day around the world with encouragement from God’s Word. Tracie has 3 children and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.  


Who We Really Are in Christ {Significant!}

If you’ve ever felt unheard or invisible, I can relate. I grew up in a family lacking healthy relational interaction and where, unfortunately, many basic needs for my siblings and me often weren’t met. It felt like we didn’t matter. Like I didn’t matter.

Nothing makes us feel less significant than when we don’t feel heard; when our hearts and desires and even our basic needs feel disregarded, disrespected, and dismissed.

I’m so grateful that the Lord not only knows our pasts, our hurts, and our feelings, but He truly understands us and deeply values us. He not only is able to bring healing and wholeness, but He assures us through His Word that we are in fact deeply significant to Him.

The truth is we matter. We are significant to our God because we are His! He chose us (John 15:16), and He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

The next time we’re tempted to feel insignificant, let’s meditate instead on the truth: God knows us. Intimately. Completely. He knows every single thing about us—because He loves us, we are significant to Him, and He desires to know us. (I love that part!)

Our first verse to focus on proves it:

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. (Psalm 139:1) (NLT)

He knows where we are, what we’re going through, and the secret issues of our hearts. He knows our hopes and dreams and every one of our issues. He even knows the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). We are well-known because we matter to God. He treasures us and values us.

Our second verse reflects the Father’s heart toward us. It’s reassuring and comforting and clearly reveals how much He loves us.

You are of great worth in My eyes. You are honored and I love you.  (Isaiah 43:4a) (NLV)

We need to meditate on, breathe in, memorize, and read these verses aloud daily. Let’s breathe in truth and exhale lies. Let’s dare to believe His Word. Let’s dare to believe that we are significant to our heavenly Father.

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Who We Really Are in Christ {Confident!}

Confidence has always been sort of a wrestling match for me. So when God first nudged me to begin this crazy writing for publication adventure, I couldn’t fathom I had heard correctly. After all, how could God use a high-school drop-out to write and (eventually) get published?

As my journey progressed I began to understand that my confidence was misplaced. And that God frequently uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27) because the truth is His power works best in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The official definition of confidence is as follows: the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.

Authentic, holy confidence means we can rely on the Lord; that when He leads us to step out in a certain area we can be assured He is able, even when we’re not so sure.

The good news is God is working in us and through us. He doesn’t expect us to drum up the ability to accomplish anything in our own strength! As Philippians 2:13 states:

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 

Our confidence cannot be in our own abilities, but must remain on the One who is able, faithful and who we can utterly trust.

It’s time for a confidence shift. We no longer have to wrestle with our insecurities, our inabilities, or our own lack of confidence, because we’re shifting our focus and our hearts onto His ability.

Repeat after me:

I’m confident not in my ability, but in His.

I’m confident that God is orchestrating and establishing His will.

I’m confident that God is faithful.

I’m confident He is at work in me (thank God! He won’t leave me a hot mess!)

Here are two verses on confidence to meditate on, declare aloud, and pray for the next two weeks. 

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. (Jeremiah 17:7)
 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6)

Who We Really Are in Christ {Brave!}

I hope you are enjoying my "Who We Really Are in Christ" study! Keep up the good work of praying, meditating on, and declaring each post's verses daily!

For much of my life I have not been brave. I have allowed fear to intimidate me, talk me out of God’s leading, and keep me rooted to the same spot instead of moving forward. Clearly I am entirely too familiar with fear and its tactics. Throughout the years I have fought nothing, nothing more than I have fought the spirit of fear. And it is a spirit:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) (NLT) (Italics mine)

As far as I can tell, fear comes from three places: our circumstances, our flesh or the enemy.

When our circumstances make our knees shake (and let’s face it, we’ve all been there) then here’s what we can do. (1) Pray, get clarity, and ask the Lord what, if anything, we are to do; (2) Breathe. Remind ourselves that God is in control, in spite of how things look; (3) Commit it all into His loving, faithful, capable hands, and (4) Stop staring at the situation and declare Scripture over ourselves. The more we focus on it the bigger it appears, and the last thing we want to do is create more room in our souls for fear.

I know. It’s hard. But I promise you that shifting our focus changes everything.

Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. (Hebrews 12:2a) (AMPC)

When our flesh freaks out and makes us tremble, then we must focus on increasing our trust in the Lord and training our hearts to run to Him when we’re afraid, instead of giving in to fear and allowing it to control, hinder, or pester us. As King David said:

When I am afraid, I will trust in You. (Psalm 56:3)

We increase our trust in the Lord and put on our BRAVE by meditating on His character and growing in our understanding of Who He is. He is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9), trustworthy (Psalm 22:4-5), nothing is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37) and He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), for starters.

And finally, when it’s the enemy harassing us, we can, equipped by the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, find our BRAVE, stand up to fear, and command it to go. The truth is that fear is a bully. Fear wants to intimidate us into shrinking back and going the other direction. Fear wants to stop us. Fear wants to get us so focused on it that we completely ignore truth.

Instead, we will embrace the truth of God’s Word and ignore the spirit of fear. We will run to and dwell in the secret place, where fear has no power. We will be BRAVE.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. (Psalm 91:1) (AMPC)

It’s not that we will never sense fear. We will. Stepping out into new areas is scary. Sometimes obeying God is scary. Standing up for ourselves can be scary. There’s no lack of scary scenarios in our lives or on the earth.

But God is greater than our fears. He is with us, in us, beside us. He goes before us and behind us. Because He is ALWAYS with us, we can be BRAVE.

Here are two personalized verses to meditate on, pray, and declare out loud daily to help you fight fear and cultivate your brave!

I will be strong and courageous! I will not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord my God is with me wherever I go.” (Joshua 1:9) (Personalized)

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. (Psalm 18:2)

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