Can Debt Have a Positive Impact on Your Life?

What’s your biggest money burden? For many, it’s the idea of not having enough money. With bills, loans, and expenses to keep track of, debt can be a stressor that is easy to fall into and hard to get rid of. And of course, there are reasons for it.

Over the last few years, the field of money lending has developed a poor reputation. Companies giving out too many loans, coupled with a new wave of services which are designed to cost a small fortune, can lead to unwanted financial commitments. Nevertheless a tool like this is only as a good as the way you put it to use. You can effectively use lending to your advantage by achieving current goals and actively paying it off on time. These benefits below will help change your mindset towards debt, help you see the better side of lending, and plan for your future.

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Meet Caroline | Confidence Without Compromise #30

Caroline_CWC feature_30.jpg

Caroline, Mississippi

Writer, WriterCaroline.com

Meet Caroline. A writer, blogger, and content director. In this week’s feature, Caroline talks about realizing the power of the gospel, taking focus off seeking approval from others, and fully pursuing security in Christ.

Continue reading “Meet Caroline | Confidence Without Compromise #30”

Stop Being Afraid of Ruining God’s Plan for Your Life | Trust Series (Part One)

We often say we want God’s plan for our life. God’s best for us. God’s purpose for us. God’s blessing for us.

But when it comes to actually discerning His will, things can feel a little blurry.

We easily can fall into the trap of overthinking God’s plan. Feeling confidence one day about a new direction, then complete confusion the next. Asking countless questions without finding peace in answers. Being so hard on ourselves that we think we’re not good enough for what God has for us.

Whether we realize it or not, we may be approaching His will wrongly. Making it an option over a command. Making it a complicated mystery over a practical lifestyle. Making it about fearing irreversible mistakes over embracing growth and truth.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll learn how to understand and follow God’s path for our lives in the Trust Series. This three-part blog series will cover:

  • Having the courage to GO when God says, “Yes” (Part One)
  • Discerning God’s true gifts when they appear (Part Two)
  • Examining our lives to know whether we’re walking in obedience (Part Three)

Today, in Part One, we’re tackling the fear of taking steps of faith. This part is for those with the willing heart. Those who are ready for obedience and who are walking in it, ready for God to move.

Continue reading “Stop Being Afraid of Ruining God’s Plan for Your Life | Trust Series (Part One)”

Day 12: I will forgive | Love Letters

For·give·ness: The act of forgiving or the state of being forgiven; willingness to forgive.

[Source]

What is considered unforgivable to you?

Think about someone who has hurt you. Someone you could never dream of speaking to–let alone see–ever again. Imagine forgiving that person, as if what had been done in the past never happened.

Quite difficult.

Now think about a time when you have hurt someone. Maybe you didn’t apologize, but to this day, you know what happened. It might be something that appears in your mind now and then. Some days you forget what happened, other days the memory of what you did hits you.

Even harder to think about.

Considering the first scenario, we can easily say, People can be heartless. I could never forgive them. Considering the second scenario, we remember, I can be heartless. How could anyone forgive me? Putting both together, we can conclude that sin is a part of human nature.

Looking closer at the wrong that we’ve done and that others have done to us, forgiveness can seem like the last thing anyone deserves.

A man in the Bible who was deemed unforgivable by society was Zacchaeus.

We’re introduced to him in Luke 19:2; he is a chief tax collector. Tax collectors made a lot of money at this time, so for Zacchaeus to be in a role of leadership, we know he is very wealthy. Tax collectors were typically wealthy for a reason–they were known to be greedy and deceitful. They often cheated people of their money so they could gain more, and as a result, they were intensely hated by others. Pretty much completely unforgivable.

Zacchaeus, a man ostracized by others, is found near a synagogue–the last place he should be according to society, as he is considered “spiritually unclean.” He knows that Jesus is passing through the city of Jericho today, and he wants to see Him:

“And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way” (Luke 19:3-4 NKJV).

Zacchaeus’ determination to see Jesus is fascinating. He not only comes to a place where he is unwelcome, he runs and climbs a tree to make sure he sees Him. Although Zacchaeus has all the money he needs–and probably loves his wealth over anything–he is still empty. Something is missing in his life, and he is searching for it.

God never pushes away those who come seeking for Him–no matter who they are. Jesus displays this characteristic of God by His response to Zacchaeus, a hated man in the world’s eyes: “And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house’” (v. 5).

Jesus sees Zacchaeus and asks him to come. He wants to fellowship with him at his own home. This is unheard of.

Zacchaeus’ life changes the moment he makes contact with Jesus. In verse 6, he comes down from the tree quickly and joyfully. He is filled with utter joy that he is invited by Christ Himself with such amazing love–a love he has never seen before.

However, this interaction is met by criticism. Luke 19:7 states, “But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’” The crowd thinks it’s wrong that Jesus is willing to accompany a sinner, but they don’t understand what true love is.

Nevertheless, Jesus doesn’t worry about what others think. Jesus offers forgiveness, and Zacchaeus takes it by making a decision to come down and fellowship with Him.

How do we know Zacchaeus is truly repentant? By his actions. In verse 8, he tells Jesus that he will give half his wealth to the poor and return anything he has taken from others, restoring it four times the amount he actually owes! Zacchaeus chooses to abandon his former life as a sinner, in love with money and his lifestyle, to love the God who loves him.

Jesus acknowledges Zacchaeus’ changed heart, saying, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 18:9-10 NKJV). He honors Zacchaeus, mentioning that he is displaying the same faith that Abraham showed in God. This was a huge recognition for someone who was seen as undeserving of any forgiveness. Jesus also confirms what He came to do: forgive.

Jesus came to save those who are lost–to save those who are unlovable, broken, undeserving, and have made mistakes. He came to forgive us.

God tells us, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32 NIV).

Zacchaeus’ story is one of many. The Bible is filled with people who have been forgiven by God, even though they were sinners:

  • King David – An adulterer and murderer, David is called a man after God’s own heart, because he sought God’s forgiveness and turned back to Him.
  • Peter – He denied Jesus three times as if he never knew Him before Jesus died on the cross. Jesus still died for Peter and forgave him when he came back to Him.
  • Paul – He was known as a persecutor of Christians, responsible for several deaths, yet he transformed because he chose God. Not only was Paul forgiven but he was used to establish the church and wrote over half of the New Testament.

Can you imagine that God offered his forgiveness to every single one of them? If God could save them, He can save you.

Just as Jesus called Zacchaeus to come down from the sycamore tree, He’s calling you to come down and come to Him–from wherever you currently stand. The “tree” you are currently staying in could be pain, pride, regret, addiction, prejudice, violence, selfishness, lack of forgiveness–whatever. The Lord saw Zacchaeus where he was–he couldn’t hide. And He sees you, too.

Zacchaeus not only came down from the tree and came to Jesus, he turned away from his sins. He abandoned his former life–where sin and shame lived–for a better one. This was true repentance. And there was joy there.

Are you ready to abandon the former things to let God in? Are you ready for real joy?

A relationship with God isn’t an elite club only open to the best, the brightest, and the most righteous. It’s open to everyone. I encourage you to take a hold of God’s forgiveness today. You are not out of His reach. You are not too far gone and unable to be restored. God’s love for you means He offers His forgiveness to you.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14 NIV)

Love Letter 12

[*Please note: Today’s post is based on a sermon I recently heard at my church.]

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

Read Day 11

Read Day 13

 

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Day 11: I created you with purpose | Love Letters

Pur·pose: The reason for which something is done or created; the reason for which something exists.

Here’s another lesson I learned while taking fine arts courses. Art supplies are expensive. Their quality affects the price, but they also get costly because you have to buy so many of them.

You don’t just need paper. You need the right kinds of paper. One drawing pad for charcoal drawings, another for ink. The list of materials for an average class is extensive, but it’s for a reason. From pencils to brushes, every item–although different–serves a unique purpose. What I can do with one tool, I cannot do with another. Working on one piece might require using several materials that have various effects.

When we accept Christ as our Savior, giving our heart to God, we can tap into our very own unique purpose.

We are freed from sin, forgiven by God, and reconciled to our Father, able to live fully in His love. Once dead in the weight of our sins, we are alive in Christ:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:1-5 NIV).

We are made new, given a new life and a new attitude. God has prepared assignments for you that only you can do: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

We discover our true purpose, or the reason we exist–to love God not just with our mouths but in all that we do. Good works don’t save us, but they prove whether or not we truly love God and belong to Him. James 2:17 states that “faith without works is dead.” You can talk the talk, but do you walk the walk?

When it came to buying art supplies for class, quality was essential. If I bought new paints that claimed to be of a certain quality, I expected them to be of that certain quality. If they didn’t do what they advertised, I couldn’t even use them!

As believers, we have a common responsibility to show others Christ. To show everyone His love and how He deeply cares for this world. Though we have a common goal, we can live it out in different ways. You might live out this responsibility through your career, a talent or skill you have, the words you say, the hospitality to show, etc.

It’s God’s will for everyone to have an opportunity to know Him, to have access to His freedom and eternal life in Him.

Can you imagine the major losses if we don’t live up to this responsibility?

There are consequences for not walking in your purpose. You have a story that nobody else can tell. Your life is a story that someone needs to hear. Others are counting on you to be served, to hear how God has changed your life, to be encouraged, to know Him for themselves.

God created you with intention. He knows the impact you can have on this world. He knows your personality, your patterns, your strengths, and your weaknesses. You’re not an accident. You are loved and made to be on this earth intentionally.

Don’t compare yourself to others. You’re not made to live out someone else’s purpose; you’re made to live out your own. So, be encouraged.

God has a job for you to do, and His love means He’ll help you accomplish this job. Whoever you are–a student, an employee, an entrepreneur, a friend, a sibling, a daughter–simply a living and breathing human being, you have opportunities to influence other people for good.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NKJV)

Love Letter 11

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

Read Day 10

Read Day 12

 

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