You Can Be as Close to God as You Want to Be

by Debbie W. Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“I believe, but I don’t feel close to God like some of you. Not sure why. I’d like to.” My friend’s words caused me to remember my own faith journey.

In Sunday School my young heart warmed toward God when I heard the stories of David and Goliath and Zacchaeus, the wee little man. My grandmother made sure I treated God with respect. No food in my mouth when we blessed our meal.

But I didn’t understand the part about being a sinner who needed saving. I wasn’t sure what people were saved from. That changed when a youth leader explained John 3:16 at a weekend youth camp and the Holy Spirit cut through my blameless veneer. I’d wronged God. Jesus had gone to the cross for my sin.

The realization broke—and healed—my heart. The gospel became personal. Jesus didn’t just love this conglomerate called “world.” He loved me! I returned from camp on top of the world—a citizen of heaven—a child of God. Could anything be better?

But the glow faded. Instead of sprouting wings, I bristled when Mama said, “Clean your room.” I fussed when my little sister got into my stuff. Knowing Jesus assured me of heaven when I died, but it didn’t seem to make much difference now. Even reading the Bible raised more questions than it answered.

In college, I spent a weekend with some vibrant Christians. Their lives created a thirst to know God better. At a friend’s Bible study, we listened to Bible teaching audio tapes. This group treated the Bible as if it meant what it said.

I’d filtered the Bible through my own understanding. What agreed with my world view I kept, but I dismissed the parts that didn’t. No wonder it didn’t make sense.

I wanted the peace my college friends who simply trusted the Scriptures shared. But could I let go of relying on my own understanding and fully trust the Scriptures?

God tenderly wooed me to trust Him. I exchanged my know-it-all approach for childlike faith. The Scriptures came to life. Questions, I thought would never be answered in this life, became clear. Scales fell off of my eyes.

“I feel I’ve been living blindfolded all my life, and now I see,” I told my friend. “Even how I view the evening news has changed.” Life brimmed with the presence of God, and I couldn’t get enough of Him.

Perhaps like me and my friend, you want to feel closer to God. You can! Here are some tips to help you get started.

Tips for Your Journey

  • Ask your heavenly Father for a closer relationship.“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7: 7-8 NIV).
  • Read the Bible with childlike wonder.“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do’” (Luke 10:21 NIV)
  • Invite Jesus to be your life, not just a part of life.I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him…the lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.  Psalm 34:8, 10 NIV

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You Can Be as Close to God as You Want to Be – insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps people live in God’s grace so they can enjoy fruitful and full lives. Debbie is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. She enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Share her journey to refreshing faith at debbieWwilson.com.

Debbie’s book, Little Women, Big God will introduce you to the surprising women in Jesus’s family tree. As they journey through impossible circumstances, each discovers that quality of life is not determined by the size of our problems but by the size of our God. Debbie’s latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. 

Join the conversation: Are you seeking a closer relationship with God?

 

 

 

Knowing Who We Are Not

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @lorisroeleveld

He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” John 1:20-21 ESV

As vital as knowing who we are is knowing who we are not – and accepting that.

To my mother’s despair, I’ve always been a sensible shoe girl. I grew up studious, bookish, and serious about God and didn’t see the allure of shiny shoes. I was happy with a brown pair for every day, one black pair for Sundays, and sneakers.

My mother had an entire closet devoted to shoes. It sported every color imaginable, heels of varying heights, and, of course, purses to match. She always looks polished and lovely, but it seems exhausting to me to switch purses all the time and shop for the perfect shoes for each outfit.

When I began speaking to women’s groups, I fretted about my shoe situation. I imagined rooms full of women like my mother quietly assessing my boring, sensible shoes. Suddenly, speaking didn’t feel as much about my message as it did about what was on my feet.

It’s not that I wanted to change myself for them as much as I wanted the women to know I respected them enough to work at my appearance. I didn’t want my footwear to distract them from what God had given me to share.

So, I shopped for heels with lovely colors and practiced walking in them. I developed a modest collection, weathering blisters and sore ankles in preparation for events. But as much as I tried, I couldn’t feel at home in pretty shoes.

To my dismay, while no audience member may have been distracted by my footwear, I certainly was! The complaints from my feet began to register by the middle of my talks, growing into undeniable screams long before the end. Afterward, I could only half-listen to earnest women trying to share their concerns before rushing to my car for the relief of my sensible shoes.

Providentially, during a home renovation project, several hundred pounds of sheet rock crushed my left foot, leaving me in a boot for months. The orthopedist informed me that my days of wearing heels were over.

I could almost hear God’s sigh of relief.  I was never meant to be a pretty shoe kind of girl. He designed me for sensible shoes. I’ve worn them ever since. And you know what? None of the women to whom I speak have even noticed. How I underestimated the depth of my pretty shoe-wearing friends! I can now give them my full attention without the agony of screaming feet.

John the Baptist not only knew who he was, but also who he wasn’t. This grounded his ministry and prepared him to serve in the way God designed. He came on the scene with such incredible power. And as the crowds flocked to hear him preach, it might have been tempting to consider taking a greater role. But in humility, he accepted that as Christ increased, he must decrease.

Knowing who we are provides us courage in Christ; accepting who we aren’t increases our humility and helps us to see ourselves within the context of a body of believers. This ultimately gives us freedom in Christ to appreciate the varying gifts of others.

And as long as our feet are fitted with the gospel, we can serve in heels, flats, or flip-flops, but in the end we serve together as a body in the name of Christ!

TWEETABLE
Knowing Who We Are Not – insight from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Lori’s latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. The dialogues everyday Christians delay are often the very channels God wants to use to deepen relationships and transform lives. Through funny, vulnerable personal stories and sound biblical teaching, the principles here are guaranteed to increase the confidence and competence of Christians in discussing sensitive topics of every kind.

Join the conversation: Have you ever tried to be someone you weren’t?

The Importance of Thinking Truth About Who God Is

by Grace Fox @gracelfox

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.                                                                                                                                                               Philippians 4:8

Human artists can paint a canvas, but only God can sweep and blend colors across the heavens. Every time I see the sky ablaze with red, pink, orange, and yellow, my mind is filled with awe and wonder and my heart is moved to worship. If I’m feeling discouraged about something, my heaviness lifts at the thought of this amazing God cradling me and caring about every aspect of my life.

The thoughts we think about God are the most important thing about us. That’s because they shape our beliefs. Our beliefs then influence our behaviors, and our behaviors determine our destiny.

For example, imagine facing a tough situation. A cancer diagnosis, perhaps. Or an unexpected job layoff. If we think God is truly good, then we’ll believe He cares about every detail of our circumstances. Our beliefs cause us to turn to Him for help and to trust that He hears our cries. We pray in faith believing His answer is the best answer. Even though we might not understand why He allows these circumstances, we experience inner peace for which there’s no human explanation.

Now imagine facing the same situation thinking God doesn’t give a rip. Those beliefs result in our feeling anxious, angry, and abandoned. We make fear-based decisions believing the outcome rests solely on us because, after all, God doesn’t care. Or so we think.

The Bible story about the twelve spies demonstrates this principle (Numbers 13:25-14:25). Upon their return from scoping out the Promised Land, ten spies focused on the fortified cities and the powerful giants who occupied them. “We can’t go against them!” they cried. “They’re stronger than we are!” Their discouraging reports spread throughout the Israelites who, in turn, wept all night, spoke about returning to Egypt, and plotted to stone the other two spies, Joshua and Caleb.

These spies’ thoughts about God were small. This mindset led them to believe He would allow their enemies to crush them, so they refused to do battle. Their destiny? Death.

Joshua and Caleb demonstrated a different mentality. “We can conquer the land!” they said. They believed God would fight for them and give them victory. They were eager to obey and encouraged the Israelites to do likewise. Their destiny? They entered the Promised Land.

I can identify countless situations when my behaviors reflected inaccurate thoughts about God. Like when our family entered career missions and I stressed big-time over financial uncertainty. Or when He called me to write Moving from Fear to Freedom and I argued with Him for a year because I doubted His ability to equip me for the task. Or when I gossiped, ignoring the fact that He could hear every word and knew I was dishonoring Him. Goodness, my list could go on forever.

By human nature, our thoughts about God are often small and inaccurate. Those thoughts influence our beliefs and behaviors and ultimately determine our destiny. If we want God’s blessing, then we need to fill our minds with the truth about who He is and live from that truth.

TWEETABLE
The Importance of Thinking Truth About Who God Is – insight from @GraceLFox on @AriseDailyDevo (click to Tweet)

Grace FoxAbout the author: Grace Fox is the author of nine books. She’s an annual contributor to Mornings With Jesus (Guideposts Books) and a member of the writing team for “First 5”—a Bible study app produced by Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Grace’s book, Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation, will not only show you how to face your fears but to actually let fear be a catalyst for change. Learn how to stop hiding from God develop a deeper relationship with Him by experiencing Him in new ways.

Join the conversation: What is the most meaningful thing about God that you know?

See the Light

by Debb Hackett @debb_hackett

It was an hour before sunrise and the earth was shrouded in darkness. Not quite formless or desolate, like in Genesis 1, but definitely moody…

Some weeks ago I had the joy of attending a writers’ retreat in the heart of Amish country, in Lancaster, PA. As morning beckoned the sun, and it began to raise its sleepy head, the early shadows started forming. I walked into the dining room to have a quiet time of prayer, but was distracted by the sky. Shafts of golden light were embellishing the countryside, giving evidence to the hidden sun’s presence. It struck me that nature, God’s grand design, was providing me a metaphor to my relationship with the Father.

You see, I knew the sun was there, I just couldn’t see it. The beautiful evidence was right in front of me. But while certain parts of the sky were gloriously lit up, the shadows it caused kept some parts of the scene concealed. The work of the sun and its position below the tree line were unmistakable.

Life is the same. Our Bibles teach us the Lord is with us, and we know it in our hearts. Yet we don’t can’t take His hand in a frightening moment. Because the Lord isn’t a tangible, physical presence.

Except He is. Or rather the effect of his Spirit in our life is.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he assures his readers that when we believe in Jesus Christ and His saving power, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. “In Him…after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14 NASB). His Spirit is there to provide life, guidance, and instruction (John 16:5-11).

He is not always a discernible presence, but we can be sure He is within us. In Scripture, it is an indisputable fact. We may not see Him, but we can see the evidence of His indwelling. The fruits He produces are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NASB). Just like the rays of a hidden sun.

God’s Spirit reveals Himself all around me as well. Just like I don’t have to see the sun or the air to know they are present, so it is with the Lord. In the hardest moments of my life, hindsight has revealed the Lord was right alongside me. He was there when my husband whispered Scripture after we lost a baby to miscarriage. He was there when a friend brought flowers after news of a sudden death. When I was stretchered off a ski slope and wheeled into surgery, He was there in the skill of the medics. (And also in quieting my fear. Being skied down a mountain in a sled isn’t for the faint of heart.)

When I know just the right thing to pray for a friend who’s struggling, or feel the urge to stop and give a meal to a homeless person, learn their name and pray for them, that’s not because I’m a champion at love, but because the King of Love lives inside me and isn’t sleeping.

We might not physically see Jesus within us, beside us, before or behind us, but He is there. The evidence is compelling. Be encouraged to look for the signs. Look today for the tangible signs of God.

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.                                                                                                                                                  Hebrews 11:1 NASB

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See the Light – insight from @Debb_Hackett on finding God in the dark on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Deb HackettAbout the author: Writer, broadcaster, and speaker Debb Hackett  has been a radio journalist for more than twenty years. Married to a test pilot, Debb writes for military wives and lives just outside Washington D.C. with her husband and children. She’s having lots of fun working on an inspirational contemporary romance series. When she’s not writing, Debb can be found leading worship, playing bass, or skiing. Also, if you can swing by her house while she’s making scones, that would be a win. She blogs at: http://debbhackett.com

Join the conversation: What evidences of God’s presence have you noticed lately?

Sustaining Grace

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

 I woke in the middle of the night and the rawness of it all washed over me again. Our family faced a serious situation. I tried to fix it, but it seemed hopeless. I knew sleep would not come easily. I had no words left for prayer. I was prayed out.

Anxiety welled up and I reached for God. The Holy Spirit began to bring Scriptures to mind, so I began to “pray” them. Soon peace started to push out the anxiety until it was gone. Somewhere in the first chapter of 1 Peter I drifted off to sleep.

At the time, I was away from home staying with my oldest daughter. My grandson was just a few days old, and I was helping out. The next morning, Kelley reported on how Micah slept the night before. Then almost as an afterthought she added, “The second time I came back to bed, Jeremy asked me to pray with him. He felt strongly we should pray for you right then.”

“What time was that?” I asked.

“About 3:15, 3:20,” Kelley replied.

That was the same time I lay awake in bed with anxiety threatening to take over. I know because I had looked at my phone. God did not fix the situation like I’d hoped, but He was not idle. He saw my need and He cared. He poured out His grace through the heart of my son-in-law and gave me the peace and strength I needed to keep going.

Sometimes God intervenes in our trials in physical ways. He heals. He frees. He delivers. But not always. Often God works in far more miraculous ways. He pours out His grace to cover our soul needs.

The apostle Paul wrote about how he experienced God’s sustaining grace in the midst of his trials, after he had pleaded with God multiple times to remove his “thorn.”

“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, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV

Like this instance in Paul’s life, God may not change our difficult circumstances. But He will strengthen and sustain us with His grace.

God also used my experience to teach me more about Himself and His ways. First, this experience changed the way I respond to prompts by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prompted my son-in-law to pray. Jeremy obeyed and God answered His prayer by filling me with peace. Now, when the Spirit prompts me to pray for someone or urges me to call someone or send a card or give something specific, it’s because He wants to use me as a tool for His grace. I want to be a part of that!

Also, anytime I am tempted to think God doesn’t see my need or doesn’t care, the Spirit brings this moment to mind. And I know, God does see me. He knows my need. He does care. And He will graciously provide what I need in the midst of the trial.

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Sustaining Grace – thoughts on walking through the trials of life from @KathyHHoward on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy HowardAbout the author: A former “cultural Christian,” Bible teacher and speaker Kathy Howard now lives an unshakable faith for life and encourages women to stand firm on our rock-solid God. The author of eight booksKathy has a Masters in Christian Education. She and her retired husband live outside the Dallas/Ft Worth area with their miscellaneous assortment of dogs. Find free discipleship resources on her website, http://www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagramor Pinterest

This post was adapted from Kathy’s book “Embraced by Holiness.” Do you long for a deeper, more intimate walk with God? Embraced by Holiness is a focused six-week Bible study that will take you on a guided, deep, and consistent look at biblical principles on holiness.

Join the conversation: When has someone’s obedience to the Holy Spirit blessed you?

Grouse, Anyone?

by Sheri Schofield

We have ruffled grouse near our home. No, not the neighbors! They are quite friendly – not a grouse among them. The ruffled grouse near us are birds. For some cockeyed reason, one of the hens has decided to nest right beside the road. Not on the side nearest to the meadow where her family will search for food, but on the side away from it. This means she and her family must cross the road several times daily.

But this very-small brained bird thinks it is perfectly safe to cross the dirt road because God, in his great wisdom, gave it camouflage. If the grouse stands still, most predators will not see it . . . except when it stops in the middle of the road.

That’s what happened yesterday. One of the young grouse hatched this spring was crossing the road when I came barreling down the hill in my 4-wheel drive. I saw it in time, fortunately, and came to a halt about five feet away. The grouse froze. I sat still, waiting for it to finish crossing the road. It v-e-r-y . . .  s-l-o-w-l-y . . . l-i-f-t-e-d . . . i-t-s . . . f-o-o-t . . . a-n-d . . .p-l-a-c-e-d . . . i-t . . . o-n . . . t-h-e . . . g-r-o-u-n-d while I sat there drumming my fingers on the steering wheel.

I was not going to wait any longer. I opened the door, got out, walked up to the grouse, waved my hands at it and said, “Shoo!” It took off with a flurry of feathers and was across the road in less than two seconds.

I shook my head and got back into the car. That’s when the Lord whispered to me, “A lot of Christians are wearing camouflage. They think that if they remain perfectly still when difficulties approach, and don’t speak up, they can fit right in with everyone else and not get picked on for their faith. But they do not see the spiritual danger they have placed themselves in by keeping silent. In their compliance, they are aligning themselves with the world.”

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness…For we are the temple of the living God…” (2 Corinthians 6:14, 16 NASB) To cringe and hide in order to fit in with the world is to forget who we are in Christ and our responsibility to stand out from the crowd. But Christ, who is in us, is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

God has placed power over this world in your hands! When you pray, you bring God’s power to earth to combat evil! When you share your faith with others, you bring life through your words! When you speak up for righteousness, you are acting as a soldier of Christ, standing in the gap in the wall, keeping the enemy at bay! So don’t be afraid to put aside the camouflage and put on the armor of God. Be strong and courageous, for God is with you!

Christ has called us to be warriors, not grouse!

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-13, NIV)

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Grouse, Anyone? – insight on #FollowingGod from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.

Join the Conversation: Has God given you an opportunity to stand for Him recently? Please share!

Love One Another

by Christina Rose 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 NIV

This passage has had me in awe since I was a little girl.  I would think, “How could a parent give up their son?”   I couldn’t imagine, nor did I want to image my parents ever giving me up, let alone having me suffer for hours, being beaten and hung on a cross.  Yet that priceless sacrifice changed and continues to change billions of lives around the world.

Yesterday was the funeral service for Kendrick Castillo, the hero of the Colorado STEM School shooting that occurred on May 7, 2019.  Kendrick, a high school senior due to graduate in 3 days, threw himself upon a fellow student armed with a handgun who threatened the school.  He and two others rushed the armed student, giving other students the opportunity to flee.  In the process, Kendrick was shot and did not survive.

The service was held at my church, Cherry Hills Community Church, and thousands attended. Kendrick’s parents, John and Maria, had looked forward to seeing their only son Kendrick graduate in a few days, but instead they had to plan his funeral. His parents were heartbroken, yet revealed that Kendrick had shared earlier that if he ever found himself in the midst of a school shooting, he would not hesitate to attack the shooter to spare his friends.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay  down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NIV

Watching the thousands of cars arrive by procession, the throngs filling the church, Kendrick’s casket being wheeled in, his parents walking in with their small dog, and the pictures of Kendrick’s smiling, warm face touched the hearts of many and tears flowed freely. Each person who spoke shared memories of a compassionate, devoted, faith-filled young man who loved to help everyone he could.

John Castillo was the last to speak. I thought, “How could this man be so brave to address and comfort thousands when his only son was killed just one week ago?” It then became more clear to me how God allowed his only son Jesus to die on the cross for us. While the suffering seemed unbearable, in the end that example of unselfish love would inspire and elevate people to be their best.

John shared that we should all walk like Kendrick, who walked in faith and love just as Jesus taught us to do. He then encouraged, “When you see people struggling and moving into darkness, sit with them and help them figure it out.  Our world needs help; what you choose to do with your gifts is up to you.”

I wondered, “What if all of us reached out to everyone who is struggling to pull them out of darkness? What if we made everyone feel loved and valuable to prevent further acts of desperation and destruction?”

While our community continues to heal, we will never forget our selfless hero Kendrick, who was a gift, a blessing, and an inspiration of boldly walking in faith and loving the world.  Kendrick’s love and sacrifice has changed thousands of lives forever.

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Love One Another – thoughts on walking in #Faith and loving the world – Christian Rose on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

christina roseAbout the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. A devoted mom of two daughters and great aunt to over 40 nieces and nephews, Christina loves spending time in nature and hosting gatherings for family and friends.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. Her marriage in shambles, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power that is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: In what practical ways can we “give up our lives” in our own communities?

 

How to Trust God with My Biggest Battles

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

What do you do in that moment when you realize a battle is eminent? Your enemy has waged war against you, and the news punches you right in the stomach. Do you feel fear? Shock? Uncertainty of where to go, or what to do next?

For me, when a report of bad news comes, and I realize an attack is on its way, I immediately switch to defense mode. I pray, ask God for help, and even boldly claim my trust in God with my words. But sometimes my actions tell a different story. I try to convince myself that my situation is just a bad dream and waking up will make everything OK. And in a desperate effort to wake up from that dream, I start fighting the battle in my own strength.

We’ve all been there, on the front lines of impending battle. In that frightening place, it’s easy to see the magnitude of what we are facing and forget one important detail. There’s a huge difference between the way we see the battle and how God sees it.

King Jehoshaphat knew this. When Jehoram, King of Israel, asked Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, to join him and go to battle against Moab, Jehoshaphat agreed. The king of Edom also joined with them. But after marching seven days with no water for their men or animals, Jehoram lost faith.

“Then the king of Israel said, ‘Alas! The Lord has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.’” 2 Kings 3:10 ESV

But Jehoshaphat wasn’t ready to give up so easily. He called for a prophet, so they could see what God had to say about it. God’s words to these three kings revealed a powerful truth that still applies to our battles today.

“And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand.” 2 Kings 3:18 NKJV

What we see as our most difficult struggles are the simplest matters to God.

God spoke through the prophet Elisha, telling them He planned to fill every dry stream bed with water, so they would have plenty to drink. That was His first promise. Then He also added another minor detail. God would do one more thing; He would deliver the enemy into their hands. Amazing.

You see, God had a plan all along. King Jehoram couldn’t see it. All he could see was three armies of exhausted, worn out, thirsty men without water to drink. How would they ever be able to fight?

I hear you, Jehoram. I’ve been in that place of doubt. We all have. We look around at our circumstances, and our human minds can’t possibly foresee a good outcome. We’re exhausted, worn out, and thirsty. Yet it’s in those moments God calls us into a deeper level of trust.

“And when they rose early the next morning and the sun shone on the water, the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood.” (2 Kings 3:22)

The enemy thought the kings had turned on each other, so they went after the spoil. But when they came to the camp, the Israelites rose up and took them down. God used the water to confuse the Moabites and win the victory even before the battle began.

Just like Jehoshaphat, when we trust God with our biggest struggles, He will bring us to a place of victory in the most remarkable ways.

Are you facing a battle that seems insurmountable? Are you ambushed by feelings of fear, shock, or uncertainty? Instead of taking matters into our own hands, let’s take our trust to a new level today. Our biggest battles are God’s simplest matters.

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

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How to Trust God with My Biggest Battles – insight from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing insight with her readers in relatable  ways. Her life experiences serve as a backdrop for her lessons that highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Read Kristine’s weekly devotions at kristinebrown.net or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you ever question whether you measure up? Kristine’s book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan,  learn the solution to a battle all women face. Through practical Bible teaching, find contentment in your God-given uniqueness and take simple steps to claim victory over comparison. Learn how to say “I’m over it” and mean it!

Join the conversation: What have you entrusted to God lately?

 

The Number One Rule of Engagement

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

The day my littlest grandson was born was excruciating. It had been a difficult pregnancy for my daughter-in-law. Joseph had arrived ten weeks early, but barely alive. He was resuscitated three times in the first few minutes of his life outside the womb. He had a myriad of severe complications, including underdeveloped lungs, RH factor problems, extreme fluid issues, and most likely Down Syndrome. I could scarcely take it all in. My first reaction was shock, but it wasn’t long before my emotions morphed into full-fledged outrage.

God, how could you allow this to happen to our grandson and his precious family?

Attempting to muster up strength to even get out of bed the next morning, I found I could barely pray. And I wondered: Was it sin that I would question God at all?

If it is, I can at least know that I had good company. Plenty of people doubt God in light of their confusing circumstances. The prophet Habakkuk, for example, was full of questions about the violence and evil flourishing around him. “How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and you will not hear? I cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ Yet you do not save…the law is ignored and justice is never upheld,” Habakkuk complained. (1:2, 4 NASB)

God quickly assured Habakkuk that He was indeed working to rectify the situation. “I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people who march throughout the earth…All of them come for violence…They will sweep through like the wind and pass on” (1:6, 9 NASB).

Hang on, Habakkuk, justice is coming.

But Habakkuk found this to be even more disturbing than God’s previous silence. He was sending the Babylonians, an empire far more wicked than Israel, as His tool of judgment? THAT was justice?

“Why are you silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?” he pressed (1:13 NASB). God was making no sense at all.

But God did not get angry at Habakkuk’s questions. I believe the reason is that in his struggle, he never forgot what God had already revealed Himself to be. “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and you can not look on wickedness with favor” (1:13 NASB).

Habakkuk asked his questions from a place of faith.

We’ve all had circumstances in our lives that are impossible to understand in light of the merciful, holy, good God we love. The honest dialog recorded by Habakkuk through his struggle is a wonderful prototype for anyone with questions for God.

The principle the book of Habakkuk demonstrates is simple: when finding a need to question God, don’t give up too soon. Stay in the conversation.

Warning: God may not ever directly answer your questions. More likely, He will use the exchange to teach you more about Him rather than explain our circumstances. That’s why hanging in there with God, interacting with Him through the doubt and fear, is so worth it. In the end, we walk away with a more mature faith and a deeper relationship with Him.

Warren Wiersbe assures us: “To avoid tough questions, or to settle for half-truths and superficial pat answers is to remain immature, but to face questions honestly and talk them through with the Lord is to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ.”

At the end of his interactions with God, Habakkuk declared a renewed understanding of the God he loved. And so will we.

Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.                                                                                                                                Habakkuk 3:19 NASB

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The Number One Rule of Engagement – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDaily.com (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 theKingdom? 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 has God taught you about Himself during a struggle?

Endure

by Cheri Swalwell @CheriSwalwell

“But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.” Hebrews 10:39 (MSG)

When I used to think about the word endure, I have to admit, it left a bad taste in my mouth. It brought to mind all these horrible things I had to do because they were good for me: choking down cooked spinach, exercising for 30 minutes a day, every day,  cleaning the house; ____ (you fill in the blank).

After attending a women’s conference at my church, the word “endure” has now become more palatable. I would even venture to say I’ve changed my whole perspective. I learned that if God tells me to do something, even when I know it will be anything but easy, when I choose to remain faithful and obedient to His calling, God will bless that choice. That’s endurance.

Enduring doesn’t have to be painful. It can be a simple choice every day to ask God to help me in those painful moments, so that I can fulfill the assignment He has given me to do. For however long He chooses for me to do it.

A great example of endurance is Noah – he persevered for 100 years building the ark God called him to build. He followed God’s instructions even when his region had never seen the kinds of rains that God promised. He completed the assignment God gave him, and his family was saved from death.

And then there was Moses. He 2-4 describes how he lived in exile in the desert with his father-in-law and wife for 40 years before his encounter with God. Moses didn’t know it at the time, but it was all preparation for his big assignment: leading a mass of complaining, rebellious people through the desert. God was getting him ready to lead His chosen people out of Egypt into freedom.

Six years ago, I surrendered my life to God. Three years ago, I began specifically praying for something that still has not come to fruition. This past September, I surrendered even those dreams to God and asked Him to replace my desires with His.

While on the outside it may look like I’m still merely enduring, my perspective about the journey has changed. I am choosing joy. I am choosing to be faithful. I am choosing to look for and see God in the little and the big. I am choosing to endure because I know, in His time, if I continue to obey and be faithful, God will bless that obedience and faithfulness.

Do you think Noah envisioned as a teenager that one day God would use him to replenish the world and to save his family by building a giant boat? Do you think Moses, while wandering around in the desert, exiled from Egypt, had any inkling God was using that preparation to save His chosen people from bondage and lead them into freedom? God chose to use both of those men to fulfill His purpose, one much greater than any they could have imagined.

And, my friends, I’m believing God is going to use this time of preparation I’ve been in to fulfill His desire for my life, no matter how He wants it to look. I am choosing to endure, so I can give Him all the glory for when His plans for my life are fulfilled.

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Learning that Endurance isn’t the same as a call to suffer – from @CheriSwalwell on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cheri swalwellAbout the author: Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower who thoroughly enjoys her calling to be a wife, mother, and writer, in that order. She writes regularly for Book Fun Magazine and her devotional book series, Spoken from the Heart. You can connect with her on Facebook.

Her newest release, Journey of Complete Surrender, delves into the freedom that comes with giving God your whole heart and taking your hands completely off to give Him the chance to move as only He can.

Join the conversation: What do you struggle to surrender completely to God?