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User Archives: Julie Gilles

  • Why I Quit Depending on My Own Plans

    Posted on October 22, 2014 by Julie Gilles

    Julie K. Gillies

    "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)

    Everything in me wanted to plow headlong into my next project. I yearned to get started. People were excited about my participation. And with only one older child living at home, my time was freer than ever.

    There was no reason for me not to move forward. Or so I thought.

    And so I planned. Created to-do lists. And tried to get busy.

    But strangely, nothing happened. Inspiration refused to bubble up. Over and over I tried. Over and over I accomplished nothing. I began to wonder what on earth the issue could be.

    So I prayed. Over the following weeks as my plans stubbornly refused to progress, I began to sense the Lord's gentle hand of restraint on my shoulder, holding back my ever-forward movement.

    And then my heart heard one word. Wait.

    I sensed God inviting me into a holy pause. And though I didn't understand why waiting was necessary, the Lord graciously brought my heart into alignment with His.

    Wait is one of my least favorite words because it's one of my least favorite things to do. Over the years I have waited for eternally important things, like the salvation of loved ones. I've also waited for medical test results, some hard teen years to be over, a sickness to pass and houses to sell.

    And while waiting is unavoidable, it can feel like a waste of time, primarily because waiting feels unproductive to my task-oriented nature. The truth is I enjoy the feelings of accomplishment and the satisfaction of a job well done. And that's okay.

    But is our productivity or desire for an easy, wait-free life more important than our obedience to God? Productivity, the desire for an answer or our longing for the wait to be over cannot hold more weight in our hearts than God's timing, His will and His perfect plans for that particular time in our lives.

    Sometimes a holy pause doesn't make sense to us.

    Yet our key verse reminds us not to depend on our own understanding, and instead to seek God's plans for our lives: "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).

    Had I failed to heed God's promptings, I probably would have been facing a project deadline in the midst of what turned out to be intense family-wide health issues, including many which were quite serious.

    What I learned during this holy pause is that down time does not equal wasted time. In God's economy and wisdom, down time — when prompted by Him — can spare us, equip us, refresh us or prepare us.

    If we are wise, we will use our down time, that holy pause, to allow our hearts to connect with His on a more frequent and deeper level. At some point the wait will be over and we will be free to move forward, with Him, into all He has for us at that particular time.

    When we seek God's will in all we do and learn to trust more in the Holy Spirit's promptings than our own desire for productive accomplishments, our hearts will come into alignment with His. And He will show us the right path, in His perfect timing.

    Lord, I long to obey You in every respect, even when I don't understand. Help me not to rush forward when You are inviting me into a holy pause. Bring my heart into alignment with Yours, and cause my thoughts to become agreeable to Your will. Thank You for accomplishing Your will in my life during every wait. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 40:31, "But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." (NLT)

    Psalm 31:15, "My times are in Your hands; deliver me from the hands of my foes and those who pursue me and persecute me." (AMP)

    Isaiah 55:9, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts." (NASB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write down the things you are currently waiting for on an index card. Then write Isaiah 40:31 directly beneath your list. Allow this verse to settle in your heart when you feel frustrated or weary, knowing that God is strengthening you while you wait.

    © 2014 by Julie K. Gillies. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs

  • God is Not Mad at You

    Posted on June 27, 2014 by Julie Gilles

    Julie K. Gillies

    "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving-kindness." Psalm 145:8 (AMP)

     

    It never took us kids long to figure out that our dad was angry. He'd bite his bottom lip, then ball up both of his hands into fists. In nanoseconds, all five of us would escape out the back door, where we hung out in our 10-acre, wooded back yard until the eruption was over.

    Unfortunately, many times we didn't make it out the back door fast enough.

    So years later, after I became a believer, the concept of a kind, loving heavenly Father was hard for me to grasp. The words my pastor spoke sounded wonderful, but deep down I couldn't escape a vague sense of God's anger directed toward me.

    Even when I read my Bible, the words often sounded angry to my ears. And every time I failed, messed up or fell short, I felt myself the target of God's anger.

    And I failed, messed up and fell short all the time.

    Initially I didn't understand that my background skewed my perception. It was as if the atmosphere of anger in my childhood home had warped my brain cells, and my experience blocked the truth of who and how God really was.

    Truth began seeping in after a conversation with a friend. I shared, through hot tears, that I desperately wanted to please God, but it felt like He was always angry with me. My friend said, "God is not angry with you, Julie. He loves you, and He understands you."

    This truth was the beginning of a massive boulder of a lie dislodging from my heart.

    For the first time it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, it was possible God wasn't angry with me. But things didn't change overnight. For me, it was a gradual unfolding, a slow process as I grew to know and understand God's loving character more intimately.

    When I stumbled upon today's key verse, tears stung my eyes again, but this time in a good way: "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving-kindness" (AMP).

    The fact that God is slow to anger, that He offers forgiveness when I confess my failures and that He does not hold my shortcomings against me in fierce anger, revolutionized not only my brain, but my heart.

    As if that were not awesome enough, that same verse declares that God is abounding in mercy and loving-kindness toward us. The word abounding means "to be present in large numbers or in great quantity; to be fully supplied or filled." As I meditated on this verse and dared to believe God's truth, the massive boulder that had lodged in my heart as a child slowly began to move.

    In reality, God is nothing like my past experience had shaped Him to be.

    He is our gracious heavenly Father who loves and accepts us as we are, patiently bearing with us, teaching and guiding us as we grow and mature in Christ. He is not mad at me, and He is not mad at you. God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31). He has good plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11), and He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

    Sometimes our past experiences shape us in ways we don't fully understand. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, God reshapes us, transforming our hearts and minds as only He can. Though it often takes time, God's truth can work its way deeply into our hearts and completely dislodge boulders of lies. And oh, how He loves to roll away the stones!

    God, where boulders of inaccurate perceptions are lodged in my heart, please remove them and bring truth. I am thankful that instead of regarding me in fierce anger, You forgive and patiently lead and guide me. I'm so grateful that You are slow to anger. You are a loving, gracious heavenly Father, and I adore You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Jeremiah 31:3, "God told them, 'I've never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!'" (MSG)

    Romans 8:31, "What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Do you seem to sense that God is angry with you? Ask Him to enable you to hear His gentle, loving, true voice. Ask Him to give you an accurate perception of who He truly is.

    Write down Jeremiah 31:3 and read it to yourself several times daily this week. Know that the same God who will never quit loving you is not angry at you!

    © 2014 by Julie K. Gillies. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm

  • Imprisoned by Shame

    Posted on September 9, 2013 by Julie Gilles

    Julie Gillies

    "But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high." Psalm 3:3 (NIV)

    They were only boots. On their own, boots are good. They are functional, sturdy, insulated. But that day they were an embarrassment, the last resort of a 7th-grade girl whose only pair of shoes was soaked. I couldn't walk through the foot-high snow to the bus stop without the boots.

    Maneuvering my dad's huge size 11 boots with my size six feet was a clumsy effort. Slide, slide, lift. Slide, slide, lift. My cheeks burned as I climbed the school bus steps, desperately hoping no one would notice. When the bus dropped us off in front of the junior high, I slide-slide-rushed inside and immediately pulled off the boots. In my stocking feet, I raced through the dirty snow accumulating on the hallway floors, eager to stow the humiliating footwear in my locker.

    All day long friends and teachers glanced at my wet socks and asked why I was walking around without shoes in the dead of winter. "My shoes are soaked," I told them, which was true. I didn't mention that they were at home, or that I'd worn the humiliating oversized boots that belonged to my dad.

    My heart was imprisoned in shame that day at the age of 12. And the shame only multiplied with constant hunger pangs, my parent's ongoing violent fights, and being left in charge of my four siblings more often than was wise.

    As I stepped into young adulthood, shame followed closely. I tried to push it away with other things and tragically sought love and attention from men, believing their affections could somehow make up the deficit of dignity I felt.

    On my own at 17, I was determined to earn my way, determined never to borrow from my neighbors, and determined to have a full pantry. I worked hard and bought lots of nice shoes to line my closet and heart. And I obsessively filled my cupboards with every food I had been denied much of my life.

    No matter what I did, shame clung to my heart and tainted my perception. I believed others saw me as less-than because deep down, that's how I felt about myself. I struggled to overcome the embarrassment from my childhood, but it refused to let me go. Though I was no longer in my shameful past, my shameful past was still in me.

    And then I met Jesus, and He gently began working in my heart. Slowly, through praying for myself, He began a transforming work in me.

    It wasn't an easy or instant process. When I was afraid to believe He could make me whole, He said, "Anyone who believes in [me] will never be put to shame" (Romans 10:11 NIV). When the wardrobe of my heart felt stained and embarrassed, He said, "[You are] clothed with dignity" (Proverbs 31:25 NIV). When I felt condemned by my past sinful choices, He said, "Then neither do I condemn you ... Go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:11 NIV).

    As my relationship with Jesus grew, it struck me that He treated me with the dignity and honor my soul longed for. As I continued to pray for myself, His exquisite love covered my shameful past and made me feel beautiful. Cherished. Unashamed. Free.

    The mortified young girl who wore her dad's boots to school now walks unfettered with the One her soul loves. As I continue to pray for myself, He continues His transforming work. And now, instead of defining myself by shame and embarrassment, I cling to the truth that Jesus treasures, esteems, and beautifully clothes me.

    Dear Lord, You know the shame and embarrassment of my past, both from what happened to me and through my own choices. Please bring the healing and transformation that only You can. Thank You that in Christ I am cherished, unashamed and free. In the Name of Jesus, amen.

    Related Resources:
    Billy Graham - The Reason for My Hope: Salvation

    In The Reason for My Hope, Graham presents the core message that has guided his life and calling for more than 70 years. Filled with new stories and timeless truth, he once again calls the world back to its spiritual priority as only he can.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Is your heart imprisoned by shame, guilt, or fear? Pray, forgive your offender, and ask God to bring healing and freedom to you both.

    Power Verse:
    Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Julie Gillies. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm, Shame

  • Don't Yield Your Mind Turf

    Posted on January 25, 2013 by Julie Gilles

    Julie Gillies

    "Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your mind in the way." Proverbs 23:19 (ESV)

    For years, I walked around with a destructive and negative mindset without recognizing it. Raised in a tumultuous home that simmered with anger, resentment, and critical words, I picked up these deadly thought processes early on. Sadly, it's how my family operated, and I considered it completely normal. Critical thoughts spread like weeds throughout my mind and threatened to choke out every positive thought.

    Years later, enduring a miserable marriage, I regularly cried myself to sleep. I was still unaware that negative mindsets poisoned my thoughts. Thinking the best of others was foreign to me. Each morning I'd wake up and rehash my husband's harsh words of the night before. I'd tell myself that things were never going to change, and meditate on my critical thoughts and feelings. I was extremely unhappy.

    My unhealthy mindset made it hard to forgive, because I replayed hurtful words and situations in my mind over and over. It's very difficult, (if not impossible!) to forgive what you regularly focus on. This set up a destructive cycle in my marriage. Instead of forgiving and letting go, I rehearsed the hurt and held on. And I always felt it was warranted because I felt my husband's words and actions toward me were wrong.

    It wasn't until a women's retreat that I suddenly became aware of my dangerous mindset. During a time of reflective prayer, God helped me to see that my consistently critical thoughts toward my husband were destroying our relationship. I began to understand that even though my husband's actions toward me might be wrong, my response as a Christian was just as wrong.

    Over time my mindset slowly changed, but it remained a real effort not to give in to the negative thoughts I had regularly entertained most of my life. It took time and concerted effort, but as I prayed and spent time reading my Bible, wrong mindsets were replaced with healthy, godly thoughts.

    You may not battle with a negative or critical attitude like I did. Maybe worry, fear, or insecurity bombard your mind regularly. That's the enemy's plan: to consistently assault our minds until we surrender.

    We must fight every step of the way. As busy women, we don't have one brain cell to spare. And as godly women, we cannot yield any mind-turf to the enemy. The first goal when praying for our minds is the ability to recognize when we're under attack. God's Word tells us, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7 NIV)

    The number one way to resist the enemy is through prayer. Though the attacks against our mind can be subtle, God gives us wisdom when we ask Him. He will reveal to us what we are not always capable of discerning apart from His help: flawed, potentially destructive thoughts and mindsets. Whether the intrusions in our minds are remnants from the distant past or yesterday's hurts and disappointments, we can face every day with clear minds and godly mindsets.

    Dear Lord, equip my mind with Your helmet of salvation. Protect my mind from every evil influence. I submit my thoughts to You and thank You for granting me ever-increasing discernment, wisdom, and an understanding mind. Thank You that I have the mind of Christ, and I hold the thoughts, feelings and purposes of His heart. Renew my mind and grant me a fresh mental and spiritual attitude and a godly mindset. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    This lesson is adapted from Julie Gillies' new book Prayers for a Woman's Soul, an invitation for busy, overwhelmed women with long prayer lists to pray for themselves.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you recognize the enemy's assault on your mind this week?

    What specific thoughts and mindsets do you need help changing?

    Apply the truths you've learned today and determine to spend this week praying for your mind.

    Power Verses:
    1 Corinthians 14:20, "Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults." (NIV)

    Romans 12:2, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Julie Gillies. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Proverbs, James

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