A Predetermined Victory

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

When surveyed about the 20th century’s most memorable sports moment, Americans most often cited the 1980 Olympic hockey game between the United States and the USSR. Steve and I watched the game with friends by the fire that February evening. The match had actually taken place earlier in the afternoon, but ABC made the decision to delay its airing and announcement of the score until the evening, so fans could enjoy it during viewing hours.

The USSR came into the Olympics favored to win the gold.  They were a force with which to be reckoned. No one expected any team to pose a threat to them on their way to the top.  Yet as the game wore on, it quickly became apparent that the U.S. was going to give the Russians a run for their money. It was a hard-fought contest. Finally, in the third period, for the first time in the game the Americans pulled out ahead with a shot into the goal, making the score 4-3. Ten minutes remained left to play.

When the TV station cut to a commercial, I left to get a drink. While I was absent, the local news channel did a promo clip of the news show which would immediately follow the game. Someone made a big mistake.  To thousands of viewers on the edge of their seats, waiting impatiently to see the final ten minutes, the newscaster announced: “More on the exciting USA 4-3 victory over the USSR at eleven!”

I heard the room erupt in anger from where I was in the kitchen. The suspense and thrill of victory had been eclipsed by the premature announcement. The game was ruined for those who now knew the end. Of course, the TV station apologized profusely after realizing their mistake when the news aired at 11. But the damage had been done. So while I continued to be blissfully ignorant and on the edge of my seat until the end, my fellow-viewers remained passive. Knowing the outcome made all the difference.

The anxiety evaporates if we already know the ending. I know someone who always reads the last page of a new book first. She says she enjoys the book more when she doesn’t have to deal with the suspense.

As Christians, we are in a contest of sorts. Scripture tells us we fight a war on two fronts: against the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6) and against our own sinful flesh (Romans 7).  We discourage easily and give in more often than we should. It is easy to do in light of what we see around us. Just channel surf through what’s available on TV; the shocking lack of moral standards is evident within minutes of watching. Truth is now relative and no more a black and white absolute. Human life has become cheap, as we see murders on a daily basis in the news.

Satan gives all appearances of winning the war. We often don’t seem to fare any better on a personal front, either, as time and time again our lusts and ungodly desires lead us by the nose and we sin and sin again. It can seem hopeless. We seem to be fighting a battle we can never win.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” Paul wrote to the Corinthian church. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

We too easily forget that the outcome is already written in indelible ink. The victory is already ours because Christ has already won. “When you were dead in your transgressions,” Paul wrote the Colossians, “He made you alive together with Him . . . having canceled out the certificate of debt . . . having nailed it to the cross, having disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Colossians 2:13-15)

Author Chip Ingram put it this way his book, The Invisible War: “When we fight, we’re not trying to win. We’re enforcing the victory that Jesus has already secured. In His power, we are invincible.”

Knowing the end score should make all the difference in how we live. Jesus conquered sin and death with His resurrection! Victory has already been determined. The Good Guy won. Knowing this, we can face the enemy without and within with confidence. The battle belongs to the Lord.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                                                         1 Corinthians 15:57 NASB

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A Predetermined Victory – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the conversations Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What does Jesus’ victory mean to you?

Guilted by the Shoulds

by Debora M. Coty @deboracoty

The dental hygienist fixed her accusing stare on me after a not-so-stellar appointment. “You should floss more,” she leveled. “What are you doing to clean your teeth daily besides brushing?”

“Um …” I groped for something. Anything. “I use the doggie biscuit technique; I chew on extra crunchy chocolate chip cookies.”

She was right. I really should floss more. But sometimes should is a dangerous word. It’s a stress-filled, pressure-packed slave driver. It ruthlessly inflates the bulk of a woman’s to-do list, often crowding out healthy sanity-essentials with guilt-induced clutter.

  • I should go to that meeting; they really need my help.
  • I should cook a big dinner every night like my mother did.
  • I should clean my house so the kids won’t write notes in the dust.

Seems there’s always something more we should be doing.

But as every woman struggling to squeeze into last year’s skinny jeans knows, more isn’t always better; sometimes it’s simply overwhelming. You know, my friend, we can be whelmed without being overwhelmed. Whelmed is livable; overwhelmed is strangling.

So how do we shush that should guilt threatening to overwhelm us? Here are four suggestions that work for me:

Be stress-smart. When you’re slammed into a stress mess, sit yourself down with a calming cup of your fave hot beverage. I’m talking five mere minutes here, not five hours. You can afford it. Close your eyes. Tune in to Papa God’s loving presence … His heartbeat … His peace. “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul” (Psalm 94:19 NIV).

Avoid BOOP (Boiling Oatmeal Overflow Phenomenon). BOOP is one of my Coty Near-Facts of Science (theories not yet proven by actual scientific studies but nevertheless known by women to be true). I postulate that women are like pots of oatmeal; at the beginning of the day we simmer – little manageable bubbles of stress rise to the surface and harmlessly pop. But as the day progresses, the heat escalates and the oatmeal boils higher and wilder and meaner until it overflows and spoils everything around it with a nasty, ugly, sticky mess. The key to avoiding BOOP is to know when to remove the pot from the heat. And speaking of burners …

Promote yourself off the back burner. Don’t argue girl, just do it. You may sacrificially place yourself there routinely, but your Creator doesn’t. You’re a front-burner person to him. He wants you to enjoy this marvelous gift of life He’s given you, not sludge through it. So it’s time to add a little fun to your day.

Write yourself into your schedule for an hour of something you really enjoy a minimum of twice a week. Walk in the sunshine, bike a woodsy trail, sing opera, join a roller derby team, boogie your bad self down, get your nails done – hey, whatever tingles your toes. Put the beautiful smile back on your face. Your fam will be ever so grateful.

Be a dipstick. The Lord puts only enough fuel in your daily tank for you to arrive safely at the destination He’s routed out for you. All the detours you add will either run you out of gas or land you in a ditch. Check your tank, review your destination, and then engage in the Three Ps: Prioritize, Plan, and Pace yourself.

Achk, I know. So many things we must do. A few things we want to do. And countless things we should do. We just have to recognize that we have the power to choose which shoulds are potential coulds … and then unapologetically embrace the woman our choices make us.

I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.Isaiah 41:10 NASB

*Adapted from Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms by Debora M. Coty. Used with permission from Barbour Publishing.

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Guilted by the Shoulds – tips for coping from @deboracoty on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

deboracotyAbout the author: Debora Coty lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband, Chuck, two grown children and four energetic grandbuddies. Debora is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 40 inspirational books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series. Join Deb’s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Debora’s newest release is Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms addresses the heart needs of moms drowning in the churning stress-pool of busyness. In her beloved mom-to-mom, grin-provoking style, Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help you hear Papa God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Join the conversation: What stresses you out? How do you give yourself a break?

Believing God for More

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?                                                                                                                                                         Jeremiah 32:27 NASB

I am waiting upon God to come through for me in a particular way. But when I tell others of the hope I have, I often hear the words “at least.”

“At least you have a roof over your heads.”

“At least the two of you have jobs.”

“At least you’re healthy.”

“You might as well at least ask.”

Oh, the sting of well-intentioned remarks. And, oh the sting of those two guilt-ridden words: At least….

As I’ve ministered to women over the past 30 years, I have seen so many settle for “at least” in their lives.  And yet, I believe that if God went to such great extremes to show His love for you and me by having His only Son die on the cross for us, then He did not intend for us to be content with “at least.”

Yes, God’s Word says we are to be thankful in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)  It also tells us godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6) But God doesn’t want our gratitude and contentment to be a form of resignation (“I guess I should be happy with this, since it’s all I will ever get anyway”). Rather, God wants His children to be full of anticipation for the “more” that He is so capable of giving – to the point that we thank Him ahead of time for all that He is about to do. This God who tells us to be thankful in all things actually raises the bar when we decide to settle for less or at least what life brings us.

In Ephesians 3:20, we are told that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (NIV). You and I often hear or think or say the words “at least” when it comes to our lives. And yet God’s Word says “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24 NIV) and “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).

Perhaps God would like us to ask for a little more of the impossible.

I don’t want to be reluctant to pour out my heart to God. I don’t want to doubt He can or will do this for me. Instead, I want to honor Him by remembering He can do anything.

Lord, help me to be content in all things, and surrender to Your best for me, but don’t let me settle for less when You are the God who is capable of going above and beyond all I can think and ask for.

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Believing God for More than “At Least” – wisdom from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and When God Sees Your Tears. For more on her books and ministry, or to learn more about her coaching and consulting services for writers, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi’s book, When God Sees Your Tears, addresses our struggle during heartache: “Where is God when you need Him most? Doesn’t He care?”

Yes, you are precious to God. He knows the longings of your heart even more than you do. Place your trust in Him and rest…as you await the unfolding of His plan for your life.

Join the Conversation: When has God done the impossible for you?

Grief, Daffodils, and the Resurrection

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

The daffodils blooming in my front yard have a sweet history, a special significance. Before being transplanted to my Texas home, these bulbs spent a quarter of a century buried in the earth in my parents’ backyard about 250 miles away in Louisiana. Then two years ago, my parents’ failing health necessitated a move. We had to sell the house that had been their home for almost 50 years.

Although it wasn’t the right time of year to transplant bulbs, I couldn’t leave them behind – at least not all of them. I dug up a few dozen daffodil and iris bulbs, tucked them into a brown paper bag, and stored them in a cool, dry place. That fall, I planted them in the ground in my own flower beds and waited. They didn’t bloom the first spring, but the green leaves pushed out of the ground and grew tall, showing signs of life, and promising more to come.

This spring, the sunny spring flowers that adorned my mother’s garden for so long now brighten my own front walk. And God is using the daffodils’ presence to comfort me in my grief. My father passed away a few months ago and my mother suffers from the latter stages of Alzheimer’s. Although Mom’s body is living out her last days in a memory care facility, we really lost her a while ago.

I miss them both. But my parents loved the Lord and had placed their faith in Christ for eternal salvation. I know my father is with Jesus now and I know my mother’s eternal future is secure. And because I also have placed my faith and truth in Jesus, I will see them again. Like the burial of the bulbs was the prelude to new life, my parents’ death will also yield to life.

Jesus made this eternal life possible through His own death, burial, and resurrection. In fact, any of us who put our trust in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross will receive forgiveness for our sins and new spiritual life in place of spiritual death, eternal separation from God.

The yellow daffodils in my yard also remind me that Easter is near. Easter celebrates the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. These precious truths comprise the Gospel – the eternal, life-giving good news for all people of all time. The apostle Paul summarized the good news of the Gospel this way:

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved… that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV

The sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross paid the debt our sin deserves, providing our forgiveness (1 Corinthians 5:12). The miraculous resurrection of Jesus makes resurrection possible for all who belong to Him (Romans 8:11).

The next time you see a daffodil remember God’s eternal provision. Burial bursts forth in resurrection. Eternal life overcomes the temporary sting of death.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep…For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ will all be made alive.   1 Corinthians 15:20, 22 NASB

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Grief, Daffodils, and the Resurrection – insight from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Find out more about how to treat others with grace in Kathy Howard’s Bible study Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing.Lavish Grace is a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Join the conversation: How has the certainty of life after death impacted your life?

Take Time to Listen

by Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner @SGiesbrecht

“Say what?” “Can you hear me now?” These familiar catch-phrases have been used in popular commercials to get our attention. But hearing  words are no guarantee that we are actually listening.

According to Google, to hear means “to perceive with the ear the sound made by someone or something.” However, listen means “to give one’s attention to a sound.” Listening happens when we are drawn into someone’s words with interest, and choose to engage ourselves with them. Hearing occurs by happenstance, but listening intently is a choice.

Jesus struggled against people who were hearing but not listening. He told a parable to illustrate this. A sower tossed seed over different kinds of ground. Some seed fell on the hard path, which was trampled under and never grew. Some fell on rocky soil, which withered as soon as it sprouted. Other seed feel among weeds, which were eventually choked out. But some seed fell into good ground, grew up strong and reproduced. The seed represented the Word of God. Many would hear it, but few would receive it. As Jesus told the parable, he interspersed a warning several times to his audience: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Luke 8:4-8 NASB) They may have been hearing the Word of God, but they were not really listening.

Last week I was disappointed by a dear friend who has recently relapsed into her addictions. In processing the situation, I asked myself, “What more could I have done?”

I mentioned this concern to one of our mutual friends, who said, “She has all the tools she needs. She knows what to do.” Wow. My cloud of guilt and shame lifted as I was comforted with the truth – my struggling friend had heard already everything that needed to be said. It was her responsibility to choose to listen.

It was up to her. She had to decide to actively respond to God’s Word. She had to want to get back up again. God wanted me to surrender the responsibility for results to Him. My job now is to be faithful to pray for her and trust Him to work it all out.

So I’ve learned a new way to die to myself. I must choose to decrease so He can bring abundant increase. I need to practice what Paul did when he was faced with something he could not resolve on his own. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, to that Christ’s power may rest in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

I’ve been encouraged by the people of God and recalibrated by the Word of God. I’ve chosen to lean in and listen closely as God communicates to me through the circumstances, my friends, and the Holy Spirit.

I’ve made a choice to be a different person come Resurrection Sunday. I’m making this time of lent a time to listen to God. Interestingly enough, God wants us to listen to him speaking through the people he has placed in our lives. Can you hear Him now?

“So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he things he has shall be taken away from him.” Luke 8:18 NASB

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Take Time to Listen – insight from @SGiesbrecht on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

SherylGiesbrecht_35.JPGAbout the author: Exchanging hurt for hope is Sheryl Giesbrecht’s focus—a message she shares with audiences as a radio and television personality, author and speaker. She served as Focus on the Family’s columnist for Pastor’s Wives for four years. Hundreds of her columns, magazine, It'll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth by [Giesbrecht Turner, Sheryl]and devotional articles have appeared in Focus on The Family MagazineJust Between Us, Discipleship JournalCCMWalk Thru the Bible’s –  and Tapestry, Live-Living and Charisma publications. You can find more about Sheryl at www.fromashestobeauty.com, or follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Sign up to receive Sheryl’s weekly blog on her website: www.fromashestobeauty.com.

Sheryl’s latest book, It’ll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth , addresses the healthy role doubt can play in a Christian’s life. She encourages addressing doubts head-on to feed faith, knowing that misgivings and fears can be happily resolved through the grid of God’s Word—without leading to an unbelieving way of life.

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt shame as you approached God?

 

Anxiety, Distorted Vision, and the Power of Christ

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

You may have heard it said that each of us view our world through rose-colored glasses, which means we perceive situations or perhaps events as being better than they actually are. I disagree. I think, most often, our perceptions are distorted by a combination of garbage-splattered lenses and curved reflections similar to those displayed by carnival mirrors.

Our vision is tainted by past hurts, pride, fears, sin, and deception, making it hard to see God’s hand and clearly discern His guidance.

This tax season, as all my vision distortions fight for dominance, I’m combating them with truth. This is the only way I’ll be able to clearly see God’s will and heart for me.

In Matthew 6:22-23 Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if you eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

In Scripture, vision refers to one’s ability to view our world and lives from God’s perspective and clearly discern His heart and plans. Our vision sharpens as we grow closer to Him and align our thoughts and actions with His truth. It dulls when we move further from Him and become increasingly consumed with self—our sin, desires, and concerns.

Right now, due to an unsettling tax appointment, money has become a dominant concern, one that has me prayerfully questioning how I spend my time. When financial uncertainty hits, my first response is often to plot and plan ways to “fix” the situation. Where and how can we cut our spending and increase our income?

Relying on my wisdom, it seems logical to allocate my time differently, focusing on those things that generate the most income while reducing those tasks that don’t. Though there’s great honor in providing for our families, when doing so, we must operate from a heart that is completely centered in Christ and His will.

Because we can’t serve, which according to the original Greek, means to become a slave of two masters (Matthew 6:24). We can’t live enslaved to our finances and clearly hear and heed God’s voice. If our focus is on the here and now and finding security in material things instead of, ultimately, in Christ, the voices of fear, insecurity, and greed will drown out that of our Savior’s. The result will be confusion rather than clarity and anxiety and angst in place of peace.

“Therefore,” Jesus said, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink or about your body, what you will wear,” Jesus said. Do not marimnaó (original Greek) about your well-being, which means allowing your anxiety to draw you into opposite directions and pull you apart. Do not be internally divided, acting as if you were an orphan forced to rely on yourself and navigate life on your own.

Instead, God invites us to live like a child of the victorious, risen King. An adopted and chosen heir of the One who loves us deeply, knows us intimately, and holds the entire world, our lives included, in His hands.

Seek God first, Jesus said, and trust Him to provide, knowing He truly is a good and attentive Father.

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130 NIV

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Anxiety, Distorted Vision, and the Power of Christ – encouragement from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryJennifer Slattery is a multi-published writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s also a Crosswalk featured blogger and maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events that help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. (They just released their first Bible study, Becoming His Princess, which you can grab for free HERE.) When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Check out Jennifer’s latest release, Restoring Her Faith, published by Love Inspired: She left belief behind…Yet this family could change her mind. With two boys to raise, a fledgling contracting business to run and a family ranch to keep afloat, widower Drake Owens finds his hands aren’t just full they’re overflowing. When Faith Nichols is hired to help him renovate the church, he’s drawn to the beautiful artist, but he can’t fall for a woman who isn’t a believer. Can love restore her faith and his heart?

Join the conversation: What fears or past hurts can distort your spiritual vision?

 

Sensing God’s Love

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. Psalm 42:11 NASB

For years, Jean struggled with feeling God’s love and presence in her life. But, because she was looking for something tangible, something emotional, she continued to feel unloved and alone. Then one day, another woman showed Jean the facts from Scripture about God’s love for her. One of them especially resonated with Jean’s heart:

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4:9-10 NLT).

Today, when Jean begins to doubt her Savior’s love, she turns to the hard evidence found in God’s Word and focuses on those facts, rather than on her feelings which can fluctuate from day to day.

Sometimes, like Jean, you and I don’t feel God’s love, either. But those are the times we need to rely on facts, rather than feelings. God presented the facts – evidence of His love for us – in Scripture.

The facts are:

  • God loved us so much He sent His Son to die in our place (1 John 4:10).
  • There is nowhere we can go where His presence is not with us (Psalm 139:7-11).
  • Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).

Scripture says “it is impossible to please God without faith” (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore, we are not to rely on feelings, but to have faith in the facts.  Feelings change depending on our circumstances, our moods, our hormones. Facts stay the same, regardless. When faith comes first – “I will believe it because He said it”– the feelings sometimes follow.

The Bible says not even “death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

We can add to that list: neither fear nor doubt, neither uncertainty nor unbelief, neither guilt nor shame, neither insecurity nor a sense of worthlessness will be able to separate us from the love of God.

Can you focus on the facts today and let them determine whether or not you feel loved?

Maker of my Heart, thank You for not only telling me in Your Word that I am Your beloved, but showing me, through Your actions. No greater love exists than the love You had and demonstrated for me when You gave up Your life for me so that I could live eternally with You. On days when I don’t “feel” loved, help me to remember the facts about what You have done on my behalf.

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Sensing God’s Love – insight from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, and When God Sees Your Tears. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Recapture the romance of a relationship with God with When God Pursues a Woman’s HeartWithin the heart of every woman is the desire to be pursued, cherished, and loved. There’s only One who can lavish such love. Join Cindi as she takes you through the Bible to discover how God offers a relationship like no other.

Join the conversation: What fact about God do you turn to when you are not feeling His love?

Do I Treat God Like the Stein Mart Clerk Treated Me?

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

A few days ago I went into a local discount department store (Stein Mart for you shopping aficionados) to buy a birthday gift for a friend. The clerk behind the checkout counter was talking with another employee as I approached with my purchase.

I laid the scarf on the counter. The checkout clerk picked it up and scanned it but continued to talk to her associate. She did not say “hello” or “did you find everything alright.” In fact, she didn’t even look my way. She just continued her conversation with the other lady.

I couldn’t help but hear what they were talking about. It had something to do with another employee reporting the checkout clerk to the manager for some kind of unprofessional behavior. Hmm. I can’t imagine.

Well, she continued to ring up my purchase without looking at me or speaking to me. I saw the total pop-up on the register and handed her the money. She took it and gave me my change. Still, no word. The only acknowledgment from her that I had even been there was a tossed out “Thanks, have a nice day,” as I headed out the door.

I headed to my car sporting a rather indignant attitude. I couldn’t believe she would just totally ignore me. I wanted to report her to the manager. She went through the physical routine of her job but was never really “with” me.

That’s when God tapped me on the shoulder, like He often does, and said “You do that to Me all the time.” Huh?

It didn’t take me long to grasp what He meant. How often do I go through the motions of spending time with Him only to really be doing something else? I read my Bible. I pray through my list. But in many ways I’m already off in the middle of my day. I’m thinking about all the things I have to do. I’m planning next week’s meeting. I’m wondering what to fix for dinner.

Even when I do truly focus on Him, I hold something back. I don’t yield myself totally to His leadership in my life. I give Him part of me, but not all of me.

God deserves so much more than that from me. In fact, He deserves everything. First, He deserves all my worship. David expressed it this way:

I will extol You, my God and King, and bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. Psalm 145:1-3, ESV

I also owe my very life to God. I was lost, but now I’m found. I was dead in my sin, but now I am alive in Christ. Yes, I owe Him my life today and always.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

Update: After seeing this post, Stein Mart graciously contacted the author to apologize for its clerk’s behavior. Of course, the attitude of this one clerk is not typical of Stein Mart employees and the author still regularly shops at Stein Mart!

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Do I Treat God Like the Stein Mart Clerk Treated Me? @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: Find out more about how to treat others with grace in Kathy Howard’s Bible study Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing is her latest book. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at www.KathyHoward.org.

Lavish Grace: is a unique, nine-week study of Paul’s teachings about grace and ways he experienced God’s grace in his life. Filled with contemporary examples of grace at work, this well-written format gives you the rare opportunity to combine a character and topical study into one rich, practical approach to Scripture. Lavish Grace is the eye-opening study you need to recognize how God’s grace is being poured out on you and through you. His grace will give you reason to rejoice every day.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been made to feel insignificant?

The Hardest Thing to Surrender

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

If God were calling me to a temporary fast, I could do it. Give up sugar? Ice cream? Television and technology? Though it wouldn’t be easy, I’d manage. But this, what God is currently calling me to surrender, indefinitely, will take my most earnest prayers and every ounce of strength I possess. This thing cuts to the core of my hopes and dreams, triggers insecurities and fear, and ultimately, reveals where my heart truly lies.

So what is this thing that God calls me, persistently, to relinquish?

Control.

My agenda. My time and my to-do list. Whatever I’m striving for that keeps me from saying, at each moment, “Not my will, but Yours, Lord Jesus, be done.”

When I’m sitting with my Bible, reading of His love and care, meditating on all He’s done for me, surrender comes easily. Or perhaps I should say, easier. “Take everything, Lord. And help me to obey You. Help me to give up everything to follow after You.”

But then the day begins, and pricks of selfishness weaken my resolve and hinder my obedience. My prayers sound more like complaints and long-winded requests than commitments to my Savior.

This is my greatest, most fervent and frequent battle—the battle against self, saturated in pride and selfishness.

But Christ calls me to love—not with the conditional, temporary, convenient love our world offers, but the kind He demonstrated when He stripped Himself of all His heavenly glory, took on flesh, and died in my selfish, prideful place.

For, though He was God, He “did not considering equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:6-8).

This, Scripture says, is the same attitude I am to have.

Often, my prayers are centered on me—on what God wants me to do or not do, on how I wish things would turn out. And each time, God answers, but not in the way I expect. I’m looking ahead to countless external things. And though I’m certain He cares deeply about every one of my concerns, His focus often narrows on something of utmost importance, something that enables great ministry to occur and true love to flow, and that’s my heart.

If I want to be used by God and touch lives for eternity, to avoid the dangerous pitfalls of sin, my life must be touched first by the transforming power of God, the God who shows me how to love, to surrender, and to give all of myself no matter the cost.

Even if it means surrendering everything I hold dear.

In Romans 12:1, Paul urges us to “offer [our] bodies as living sacrifices.” In other words, to live sacrificially for Christ, not just today, or when it’s urgent or convenient, but always. To put God’s agenda above our own.

This is the call. The first step to greatness, and it begins with a quiet, yet desperate plea, “Change me, Lord. Help me. Do whatever you need to within me to make me pliable in Your hands, a cleansed and open vessel always and ready to do Your will and Your will only.”

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 NASB

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The Hardest Thing to Surrender – insight from author @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s also a Crosswalk featured blogger and maintains a devotional blog found atJenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder ofWholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events that help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. (They just released their first Bible study, Becoming His Princess, which you can grab for free HERE.) When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Check out her latest release,Restoring Her Faith, published by Love Inspired. She left belief behind…Yet this family could change her mind. With two boys to raise, a fledgling contracting business to run and a family ranch to keep afloat, widower Drake Owens finds his hands aren’t just full, they’re overflowing. When Faith Nichols is hired to help him renovate the church, he’s drawn to the beautiful artist, but he can’t fall for a woman who isn’t a believer. Can love restore her faith and his heart?

Join the conversation: Let’s talk about this! How might pausing to reflect on all Christ did for us—His death and resurrection—empower you to surrender completely to Him? To daily surrender our heart to be cleaned and filled by Him? And why might this be of even greater importance than anything you or I might do for Him?

 

Always Welcome

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

My sturdy little old Ukrainian grandmother was quite a character. In her old age, she came to despise anyone in the medical profession, especially nurses. During a brief stay in the nursing home, she once mistook my mother for a nurse when Mom entered my grandmother’s room. Grandma grabbed my mom and threw her across the floor; “Get out of here!” she snarled.

Shaken, my mom retreated. Standing outside in the hall, she began to wonder if maybe my grandmother hadn’t recognized her. So she attempted to enter again, this time announcing her arrival. “Mama, it’s me, Roberta,” she hesitantly called.

My grandmother greeted her with a big smile, arms opened wide. “Roberta!” she cried. We began to understand why the nurses were not crazy about Grandma.

While Grandma wasn’t fond of nurses, she was always warmly enthusiastic when a family member came to call. I never once doubted my welcome with her. Even the night that my grandfather died, as I arrived at midnight to spend the night with her, she welcomed me enthusiastically and with open arms. “You look hungry,” she told me. And got working right away to make me a poached egg.

I never doubted a warm reception from Grandma because I knew she loved me, unconditionally. Yet there have been times in my life I have doubted my reception with God. Usually it was after I had put my relationship with Him on the back burner and hadn’t talked to Him in days. Now I needed Him, and barely knew how to approach Him without embarrassment. Surely He would see right past any apologies I might offer as to my neglect—and look right into my selfish motives in approaching Him now.

Maybe this time he has had enough of this self-centered, unfaithful daughter of His.

That may be how a fallible human might receive me. But it is not how God, as revealed in the pages of Scripture, will interact with one He loves. James tells us “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5 NASB).

Did you catch that? Without reproach.

I might have been neglecting God, but He will not neglect me, nor will He ever. Like the father of the prodigal son, He patiently waits for us to turn to Him, ready to receive us back into open arms after we ignore or disobey Him. Later in his letter, James wrote, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4: 8, 10 NASB).

Not once in Scripture, when someone approaches God in humility, are they ever rejected. Even the worst of sinners are freely forgiven and welcomed back into the fold. Every time.

Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness… the Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.  Lamentations 3:19-23, 25 NASB

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With God, I’m Always Welcome – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the conversations Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What makes you hesitant to approach God?