Persistent Patience

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:7 NIV

I heard the phrase, persistent patience, several years ago, and it stuck with me. Patience, to me, has always seemed like a passive endeavor. Truthfully, I equated times of waiting with wasted time. Turns out nothing could be farther from the truth.

God is at work in the waiting.

That’s a difficult concept for me. I don’t know about you, but waiting patiently isn’t in my top ten of favorite things to do. I hate being patient, whatever it is—I want it, and I want it now. I particularly struggle with waiting when I’m striving toward a dream or goal. I look for ways to hurry things up, and that leads me to look around to judge others who have had to wait for something similar. Then that leads directly to comparison and competition and ultimately dissatisfaction. It’s a vicious cycle and a hard one to break.

I would like to say this impatience is due to the time in which I live and the environment around me. After all, we live in a world of the instant now. How nice it would be to put the blame anywhere else but me. But God’s word shows us lots of impatient people throughout the Bible. I can’t honestly say it’s caused by anything except my human nature.

One thing God has shown me—over and over again—that it’s in the waiting where I grow closer to Him and stronger in my faith. Learning to wait has given me strength of character and perspective.

God has also shown me that impatience really is immaturity with a mask. So many times in my life, if God had given me the answer the moment I asked, I would have missed out on so much. I would have missed the sweet prayer time, the fellowship with others who shared in my journey, and the ultimate joy of something anticipated and achieved. I would have also missed out on being used by God to teach and comfort others as they saw Him work in my life.

What are you waiting for? Use this time to walk closer with God and watch the amazing things He does for you and through you as you depend on Him!

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Practicing persistent patience as we walk with God – @EdieMelson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Edie-MelsonAbout the author:  Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction, or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged Edie Melson soul careaudiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, Soul Care When You’re Weary, is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: What has God done in your life as you have waited for Him?

Christians In A Pagan World

by Sheri Schofield

Montana is a place of rolling hills, mountains, big skies, and wildlife. Not all the wildlife are animals. Sometimes the humans get a little wild, too. There isn’t much entertainment around here unless we make it ourselves.

One summer, some of the young people got bored and decided to provide some of that entertainment. The bolder ones suggested something that maybe some of the more timid weren’t sure about. “Let’s all buy beige yoga suits and ride our bikes through town!”

I’m sure that the more timid ones were reluctant. But after some discussion, their friends convinced them that this would be a good idea. They all bought the outfits and chose a day for their event.

People’s heads turned as the group streaked by. Eyebrows rose. Gasps were heard. Soon everyone was talking about the invasion of nude bicyclists!

This event so enraged the adult population that the issue reached the state legislature. With a population of about one million people in the entire state, our issues are less weighty than, say, California’s or New York’s. So the legislators decided to do something about this unprecedented event. It was reported in the newspapers.

“Let’s outlaw the color beige and tight-fitting outfits! And while we’re at it, let’s outlaw going topless!” the legislators proposed.

But Montana’s businesses depend on tourists, and we couldn’t have the police going around arresting innocent visitors who might happen to be wearing beige or tight swimsuits or men who were hot and took their shirts off, could we? So the issue never made it out of committee.

I chuckled when I read this report. But it got me thinking about how often we Christians let ourselves be pushed into things that aren’t right or good just to be part of our social group. How often do we try to blend into the world’s ways in order to look cool or savvy? “Oh, everyone’s doing it!”  That’s the common excuse. It is often easier in the workplace or in our social groups to be more like chameleons – those small reptiles that blend into the scenery – than it is to be known as a Christian.

A cultural revolution has been making huge strides in our nation. We are expected to be silent about the evil that is openly practiced in our country . . . and in our churches. What should we do?

Daniel faced that same problem. His enemies deliberately laid a trap for him. They persuaded the king to issue a decree that no one was to worship anyone but him for thirty days. If they disobeyed, they would be thrown to the lions.  What would he do? All Israel would be influenced by Daniel’s behavior, for he held a high position in the government.

Daniel chose to behave exactly as before. He went to his window where all could see, just as they had seen him praying daily. He knelt and prayed to the one, true God. Yes, his enemies threw him to the lions. But God shut the lions’ mouths and they did not harm him.

The king issued another decree, that in every part of his kingdom, the God of Daniel would be reverenced. Daniel’s people could now worship the one, true God without fear, because Daniel had been faithful. (See Daniel 6 for the whole account.)

So stand true to Jesus as a living example of godliness to your world. Be ready with a gentle, truthful answer. You never know who may see and turn to Jesus.

“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.” Romans 12:2-3 NLT

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Christians In A Pagan World – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years, has just released her new book, The Prince And The Plan, to help parents lead their children into a saving knowledge of Jesus. Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at 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!

Join the Conversation: What are some effective ways that you have found to make yourself stand out from the crowd?

Breaking the Silence

by Michele McCarthy

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20

“I was just calling to tell you goodnight!” I announced to my husband. After all, he was all the way across the expanse of our brand-spanking-new king size bed. My whispered “goodnight” could have been lost traveling through the chasm between us. My cellphone was planted secretly under the bed on my side. When I crawled into bed, I reached down and quietly dialed our home number. Unaware, he answered the home phone on his bedside table just as he was slipping under the sheets.

We’d been married over a decade when we bought our first king-sized bed. I was thrilled. My husband, not so much. He lamented over and over that I would be “way over there” on the other side of the bed.  When he answered the phone and heard my voice, he turned, looked through “you got me” eyes, and I waved to him from the other side. It was hilarious. Basking in my cleverness, I laughed myself silly.

Most every night I “call” my heavenly Father. We connect relationally, sharing heart to heart about the day. I ask Him to speak to me through dreams in the night. I look forward to intimate moments with Him before I slumber.

When I leave the house each day, I’m learning to ask the Lord to lead me to someone who needs to hear from Him. Recently, I was led by the Holy Spirit, at the mall, to speak to a man. Turns out He was a practicing Muslim. This conversation went beyond my comfort zone. Yet oddly enough, I felt comfort and confidence rise up in me. I have only been stepping out for Jesus like this for a few years.

This gentleman kindly tried to explain his beliefs. I listened. Sharing with him how much Jesus loved him and wanted him to excel in life wasn’t hard. I explained that Jesus is the only way to God. We talked awhile but agreed not to debate. He was as passionate about his beliefs as I was mine.

I marvel at the thousands who believed at Pentecost and the stories about the disciples in the book of Acts. But the reality is our stories today continue building God’s Church until Jesus returns.  In Acts 4:29, Peter and John asked to speak God’s word with all confidence, in the marketplace of a community who often didn’t agree with what they said. As they depended on the Holy Spirit to give them the right words, I pray for His guidance as I also speak out.

After a day of attempting to show Jesus to people who may not appreciate what I have to say, I’m ready to lay my head down on my soft pillow atop my king size bed. With a grateful heart, I snuggle deep under the covers, Christ within me, no chasm between us. No span across a king size bed keeping us apart. No cellphone necessary. God right here with me and you, the giver of rest.

Yet, I believe with my whole heart God also wants to shake us awake – to impart boldness to us to represent His love and power everywhere we go (His plan all along). I often feel the Lord imploring us to step out of the “rest” mindset of our church huddle and speak up in our marketplace – because the time of silent Christianity is over!

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1-3 ESV

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Breaking the Silence and Remembering to be Thankful for God – Michele McCarthy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Michele McCarthyAbout the author: A wife to her devoted husband and a mom of two fine young men, two fabulous daughters-in-law and five beautiful grandchildren, Michele McCarthy has served her family faithfully for years. She is now enjoying attending Lifestyle Christianity University and exploring long hidden talents of writing and watercolor. She has written a children’s book, Daddy and Me, that is currently at the publisher. She loves reading, scrapbooking, deep conversations and talking about Jesus.

Join the conversation: How has God led you in recent months?

The Season for Seed Catalogs

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12 NKJV

The holidays are past, and the long cold nights of winter are upon us. Do you know what that means? It’s seed catalog season—that time of year when we race to the mailbox everyday hoping this will be the day the offering of botanical bliss will be waiting for us. (Actually, I don’t even know if that’s still a thing.)

It’s certainly not for me. The universe seems to have caught wind of my horticultural history and deemed me unfit. In fact, my husband has forbidden me from buying plants, claiming it is cruel and unusual punishment for the plant.

But I remember my grandmother and my mother receiving these catalogs, pouring over them for the newest variety of sweet corn or most intriguing color of Iris for the coming Spring. Once the selections were made and the order placed, the work began. Every effort was made to make sure the best possible conditions were available for the seeds or plants once they arrived. Ground cover was removed, debris cleared, rocks dug up and relocated, and the soil was tilled. Sometimes borders were built, or material such as compost or sand would be added to the existing soil to help create the right growing environment.  As the ground began to thaw in the Spring, they tilled it until it was a soft and suitable place for something good to grow.

God is a gardener and the place He seeks to sow His seeds is in our hearts. But just like soil of the earth must be prepared, so too our hearts must be made ready to receive His seeds and provide a nurturing place for what He plants.

Sometimes our hearts are overgrown with weeds that need to be removed. What we listen to and watch, the things we fill our time thinking about: all these can cause things to take root that are destructive to the good things God would like to plant there.

It is easy to let parts of our hearts become like fallow ground. Fallow ground is land that has never been tilled or has been tilled but is now left to idle. Whether our hearts have never been tilled, or they once flourished with growth but have since been ignored, both conditions will make it difficult for seeds to penetrate and take root. We must plow the unbroken ground of our hearts until it is a soft, fertile place for good things to grow.

The work isn’t easy. Pulling weeds, breaking up the dense soil, digging up rocks, carting in good soil if needed—these things are not necessarily fun, either physically or spiritually. We may have to distance ourselves from certain situations or old friends. We may have to give up unimportant things we enjoy but rob us of the time we need for what is important. We may have to dig deep in our past and take a painful look at the things we have wanted to keep hidden. But it is the only way we can turn our hearts—our whole hearts—into the fertile ground needed for the seeds of God’s love.

We should be prepared for sore backs and blistered palms. We can’t be afraid to get a little dirt under our finger nails. But if we are willing to work, we can anticipate the harvest of righteousness that will come.

Lord, I want a soft heart toward you. Please give me discernment to spot the things currently in my life that need weeding and the strength to deal with them as I should. I want to make You my highest priority in 2019. Amen.

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The Season for Seed Catalogs – @Lori_Altebaumer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori AltebaumerAbout the author: Lori Altebaumer is a writer and editor who only half-jokingly tells others she lives with one foot in a parallel universe. She is a wandering soul with a home-keeping heart and a love of words and story. Lori loves sharing the joys of living a Christ-centered life with others through her writing. Now that her nest is empty, Lori enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting her adult children where she can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat here (payback!). She blogs regularly from her website at www.lorialtebaumer.com, and can also be reached on her Facebook page @lorialtebaumerwrites.

Join the conversation: What have you found to be helpful in keeping your heart soft toward the Lord?

When God Doesn’t Intervene

 by Linda Evans Shepherd @lindaShepherd

A mother of a disabled child invited me to coffee one day.  She confided, “I’ve been wanting to talk to you, to find out how you’ve handled all the emotions and heartache of being a mother of a disabled child.”

Later, as we sipped our lattes, she confided, “I’ve prayed for healing for my child and my child is still paralyzed.” Her eyes filled with tears, “How do I process my disappointments?”

How I related to this mother’s angst.

In a Christian culture where we expect God to answer our every prayer, immediately, it’s hard to know what to do when our prayers seemed to go ignored.

We even wonder: doesn’t God love me?

I too have faced this question, as I tried to understand God’s silence to my own angst regarding my daughter’s disabilities. “First,” I told my friend, “God does love you, and I know he has answered many of your prayers.”

“Yes,” she confided.  “But not all of them.”

“I get it,” I said.  “I prayed that one day my daughter would walk again, but God didn’t answer that prayers until the day she walked into eternity.   How glad I am she’s completely restored now and can walk with Jesus.  But I had hoped that one day Laura would walk, here on earth, with me.”

My friend nodded.  “I totally understand.  So how did you process this disappointment?”

I said, “I had to remind myself to count my everyday blessings.  And to not discount the answered prayers we did have.  For example, I’d prayed daily that God would restore Laura’s brain, after half of it was destroyed in a violent car crash.  Then came the day, the doctor put a new picture of Laura’s brain on the light board for me to see.  I stared at a picture of an intact brain before jumping out of my chair to say, ‘This film does not belong to my daughter.’”

“That’s when the doctor said, ‘Your daughter’s brain restored itself.  We didn’t know a brain could do that.’”

I told Joan, “God had restored my daughter’s brain! So though I didn’t get every answer I ever prayed on her behalf, including some pretty major petitions, I could see that God was moving in my daughter’s life.”

I asked Joan, “Do you have blessings you can count?   Do you have miracles regarding prayers you prayed over your son?”

Joan nodded, “Lots of them.”

I told her, “Then keeping counting them.  As for me, I had to realize that real ‘faith’ is actually ‘trusting God no matter what. Like it says in Proverbs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (3:5-6 NKJV).

Joan wanted to know:  “But when do we stop asking for our children?

I replied, “Never.  We are the moms, and we will ask for our kids as long as we live.”

Joan agreed, “I’ll never stop asking either.”

I confided, “Neither did I, not until the end of Laura’s last day on earth.”

As I look back at the 28 years my daughter lived as a disabled person, I have to say how glad I am that I got to be her mom. It was a privilege. I counted a lot of blessings and even saw healing miracles, including the healing of my own heart. In that regard, I learned how to love in deeper ways, and I learned how to keep pushing into prayer even in the impossible.  And finally, I learned how to trust God.  For ‘faith’ equals ‘trust’ and ‘trusting God’ results in ‘peace that passes understanding.’

What a miracle.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.                                                                                                                                      Philippians 4:6-7 MSG

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When God Doesn’t Intervene and Faith meets Trust – @LindaShepher on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Linda ShepherdAbout the author: Linda Evans Shepherd is the author of 34 books including Praying God’s Promises and The God You Need to Know.  She is the CEO of Right to the Heart Ministries and the founder of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.  She’s the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily.

Linda has been married over thirty years and has two grown kids.  She loves to travel and bring the word to groups and events across North America.  You can read more about Linda at Arise Speakers.

Join the conversation: How do you process God’s silence when your prayers go unanswered?

To Know and Make Known

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

My husband has many wonderful qualities. But the night I began to fall in love with him, something bigger captured my heart. It was on a walk around the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool one cool fall evening. Strolling arm in arm, we shared our amazingly common experiences growing up in the Plymouth Brethren assemblies. We laughed over our camp stories, so similar in substance though experienced in different places. He may have been from Virginia, and I from New England, but it was like we had known each other our whole lives. And something clicked.

Our mutually familiar backgrounds proved to be a great foundation for an excellent marriage. Our shared experiences furnished an ability for good communication and understanding. On a profound level, we got each other, and still do to this day.

When God sent Hosea to prophecy to his people, he prepared him in a most unconventional way. He didn’t send him to study at seminary or into some kind of prophet-internship program. Instead, God told Hosea to find a woman prone to unfaithfulness and marry her. “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord,” he commanded (Hosea 1:2 NASB). Hosea’s painful marriage would furnish a visible picture to Israel of God’s grace in His choice of a nation that would ultimately prove unfaithful to him. Knowing it would bring heartbreak in the long run. Doing it anyway.

That much is plainly spelled out in Scripture. But I believe there was an even deeper, unspoken purpose in God’s unusual command. Hosea, through his personal suffering, would learn first-hand about God. Through the pain of his own rejected love, he would gain insight into God’s heartbreak over his people. That insight would inject a passion into his message delivery not otherwise possible.

The Navigators, an international Christian ministry, have a motto appropriate for every believer: “To know Christ and to make Him known.”  The latter can only follow the former. We cannot make someone accurately known without personal knowledge. Some of that insight cannot be gained through anything but shared experience.

We follow a suffering Savior. One way we can know him is through experiencing a bit of what he did on earth: insight that can only be gained through pain. Our heartache, our hurt, gives us a glimpse into his. In turn, that new intimacy and insight into God’s heart ignites a passion for him. The more we love him, the more effective message bearers we become.

Has God called you into painful circumstances lately? Grief over the death of a loved one, rejection from a spouse, hearing the word cancer, watching your children suffer; the list could go on and on. Our first response is often to demand: Why? Surely God would not allow this into the life of someone he loves!

The Bible shows us God’s love is precisely why he brings suffering into our lives. God is all about the relationship. Suffering is one tool that effectively draws us into to his open arms.

“Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for my glory… you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord… “so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He…and there is no Savior beside Me.” In the hard and sometimes explainable, God is at work to reveal himself to us and through us, his glory-bearers.

Someday, as the last tears are wiped from our eyes, we will understand the suffering that was a part of our lives. Standing in his glory, we will be grateful to have been used to reveal a small portion of it on earth. So worth it.

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings…” Philippians 3:10

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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. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. 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.

Join the conversation: What has God taken you through that enabled a more complete knowledge of Him?

 

Praying for Our Country

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson 

 My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law. Psalm 119:136

Everywhere I turn I see people crying out against our political situation. And while I do have personal opinions about events of these days—what I’m truly mourning is the fact that we’re no longer looking to God for morality, but to man.

I don’t believe it’s possible to legislate morality.

Don’t misunderstand me, we need to have laws and penalties for lawbreakers. But those fall under the headings of consequences and deterrents.

Each of us carries a foundational idea of right and wrong. It’s something that God has instilled within us. You see, our conscience comes from God. It was created within us when we were formed in the womb. If we were just products of Darwin’s theory, then our consciences would be weighted with a foundation of kill or be killed—survival of the fittest. Instead, we have a different foundation.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at our laws. Take a look at our day-to-day interactions. We don’t reward bullies and those who look out only for themselves. Our belief system reflects something more than that. It reflects God.

We can stifle our conscience by ignoring it and trying to re-educate it. But it’s still there, and when we once again turn our ear to that pure voice, it will spring back to life.

In these days, we each need to turn back—to look to God to dictate what is right and what is wrong. First as individuals, then as a country. When we make God our priority, then the other things will fall into place. We’ll interact with one another in love.

No, I’m not suggesting some type of hippy nirvana filled with a false sense of anything goes. Or a watered-down interpretation of God-is-Love .

I mean real love.

The hard kind.

The kind that calls for

  • Loving our enemies.
  • Forgiving those who wrong us.
  • Holding one another accountable.
  • Turning the other cheek.
  • Standing up for what is right, whether it’s the law or not.

When we look to God for the answers, we’ll find unity.

Not uniformity, never that. God created each of us unique and special. But He gave us traits in common—with Him—and with each other.

So this year, I’m praying for our country. And I’m not praying small. I’m not focusing on individual sins. I’m first praying about my own short comings and asking for forgiveness and a renewed sense of right and wrong. I want God to clean out the junk and put me back on a track to be more like Him. Then I’m asking God to claim this country as His—with His definition of right and wrong.

Can one person make a difference?

Maybe not at first.

But for a difference to be made, we must all begin alone, in a one-on-one conversation with God. Then, when all those individuals come together and return to God, absolutely.

Will you join me?

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14

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Edie-MelsonAbout the author:  Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction, or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged Edie Melson soul careaudiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, Soul Care When You’re Weary, is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: For what are you praying in this new year?

A Clear Measure of Trust

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

My trust is most revealed in how readily I respond to God’s guidance. I’m quick to talk about His power, love, and sovereignty. But too often, my daily actions demonstrate my heart hasn’t truly owned those biblical truths. When I hesitate to respond to God’s prompting or flat-out disobey, I reveal a deep layer of doubt, one that, if not swiftly squashed, will ultimately prove crippling.

One that will, ultimately, rob me of the joy-and-peace-filled life God longs to give me.

Had I been with the Israelites the day God told Joshua, their commander, to lead them across the Jordan River and into the lush and plentiful land He’d long promised them, I worry I may have politely declined. My thoughts would’ve been consumed by the rushing waters before me, my inability to swim across, and the threat of death both posed. This wasn’t how the Israelites responded.

I believe the why rests in their backstory—in the consequences they’d experienced due to disobedience. Decades prior, God had miraculously liberated their parents from slavery, led them across the Red Sea on dry ground, and commanded them to take possession of Canaan’s rich pastureland. But the people had refused, out of fear. Because of this, they were forced to wander through the desert for forty years. With each step, they were confronted afresh with their foolishness and reminded of God’s faithfulness. As He provided for them day by day, bringing water from rocks and honey-like wafers from heaven, they learned to trust in and depend on God.

And the Israelite’s children, now adults, had witnessed it all. They’d seen the suffering that came from rebellion and the blessings that came from obedience. Therefore, when faced with their own seemingly impassable body of water, they chose the latter.

In other words, they focused on their Savior, not the challenge before them.

This enabled them to move forward—to take hold of the blessing He’d prepared for them.

Scripture tells us, once Israel’s priests took that first literal step of faith, the waters miraculously stopped. As I read this account, recorded in Joshua 3, I was struck by the order of events. Joshua 3:15-16 says, “Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away …” (NIV).

The priests stepped into the raging waters first, and they didn’t just dip their toe in. According to verse eight, they stood in the river. This demonstrated total commitment to obedience and faith in God.

The result? God came through, as He always does.

We’ll regret countless choices made over the course of our life, but I guarantee responding to God in faith won’t be one of them.

Is God asking you to take a step of faith? What challenges do you need to surrender to Him? How might focusing on Jesus rather than your problems or obstacles ahead bolster your faith?

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.    Isaiah 43:2 NASB

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Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, speaker, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries. She writes for Crosswalk, is the author of eight contemporary novels, and helped write Wholly Loved’s Bible study based on the life of Sarai (Gen. 12-23) titled Becoming His Princess, releasing in the spring/summer of 2019. When not writing, Dancing in the Rain by [Rife, Eileen, Slattery, Jennifer]reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall outings with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.

Join the conversation: Share your thoughts, examples, and stories with us in the comments below.

Side By Side And Back To Back

by Sheri Schofield

I was on my way home from town the other day. I turned off the highway onto the dirt road,  my eyes feasting on the beautiful valley and mountains ahead. As I passed a clump of willows, two bald eagles rose gracefully into the air, one flying directly in front of my car. I slowed down to give the other one room to fly. It passed over the hood of my Rav4, its giant wingspan as wide as my windshield. The two birds joined each other and slowly soared over the field, looking for mice and prairie dogs.

This was the raven family’s territory. I looked around for the ravens, but they were nowhere to be seen. The week before, they had caught one of the eagles trying to hunt their territory. They had ganged up on him and chased him away. Now he was back with reinforcements. Together, the two eagles owned that field for the day.

It reminded me of the battle Christians are in. Jesus did not save us so that we could coast through life then spend eternity sitting around on clouds playing harps! No. He saved us to join him in the battle for souls. We live on a doomed planet, a planet captured by sin and despair. Jesus came to rescue us and as many others as possible. He gave his life for this purpose! He has asked us to join in the battle to rescue others by sharing the good news, so that others can share in the magnificent blessing of an eternity with God in a place where there are no more tears, no pain, no suffering. A place of peace and beauty.

But that task is not an easy one. Working alone, we are like a lone eagle among the ravens. We spend all our time fighting off the opposition. But when we join together in the work, we become strong. Those who would oppose our efforts lose power over us.

On the battlefield, soldiers often fight back to back. In this way, they are stronger and less vulnerable. The expression “I’ve got your back” comes from the battlefield. Those who do this usually become lifelong friends.

Too often, Christians bicker among themselves, draining spiritual and emotional energy, distracting each other from the battle, leaving each other open to attacks from the devil and his followers. How can we serve Jesus effectively if we are constantly trying to guard ourselves from attacks from other believers?

This was the case in two women Paul knew. Their names were Euodia and Scyntyche. They were working in the church at Philippi. Their focus had shifted inward, toward each other. Bitter words were exchanged. They stood face to face, weapons pointed at each other.

Paul wrote to their church, “Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News” (Philippians 4:2-3 NLT).

Are you part of a team of believers who are reaching this world for Jesus? Do you have each other’s back?

There’s nothing easy about resolving conflicts. But when we ask God to work, He does what we cannot do. He will make a way for us to work together, side by side and back to back, like we should. And when we do, we will be like those two eagles, harvesting the field together, seeing greater victory in the battle to reach the lost.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 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. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.                                                                                                                 Philippians 4:8,9 NLT

TWEETABLE
Side By Side And Back To Back – Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield, an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years, has just released her new book, The Prince And The Plan, to help parents lead their children into a saving knowledge of Jesus. Sheri was named Writer of the Year for 2018 at 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!

Join the Conversation: Have you experienced an attack from another believer? How did the conflict get resolved? Please share!

Helicopter Mama   

by Beth Duewel @DuewelBeth

“Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. So Kish said to Saul his son, ‘Take one of the young men with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys.’ And he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. And they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then they passed through the land of Benjamin but did not find them. When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, ‘Come let us go back, lest my father cease to care about the donkeys and become anxious about us.” 1 Samuel 9:3-5 NASB

I admit. There may be a hint of helicopter mama in me.

Sure, I want my adulting children to fly solo. To soar, flip, and do bungy cord belly-flops off the hope of their futures. Sometimes though, I secretly want their cord-thingy to tangle in my propellers. And tomorrow my oldest daughter and her husband will move past the invisible state line. They want me to drop them in the middle of nowhere-land and be happy about it. Please. Somebody STOP this high-drama-mama moment right here!

Moms, you know what, we don’t start out this way. All hovery and clingy and obsessively licky with smudges of dirt. We never intended to tuck hair into envelopes, mark walls with inches of growth, or lick purse fuzz off suckers. But I’m here to tell you—when it comes to the irrational way we love our children—these things happen.

We start off secure. We point up, train up, and show up with a dollar slipped under the pillow for good molar-measure. And has the price per tooth gone up? I don’t even know.

How did our moms stay calm while we slept on the backest inside window ledge of a car the size of a Cozy Coupe? No seatbelts or one single kilometer of panic from our mothers, and right now I’m sweating, sweating as I think about it, because, that window ledge was the porthole of death! Yet-we’re alive.

I think it’s harder than it was then, because we’re flying busy-anxious with a laser-like focus over the lives of our children.

We can’t look away, we can’t let go, we can’t trust. We. Just. Can. Not.

And I’m really not sure when “hover” mother showed up in our house. She just appeared one day, uninvited and fearful. One moment I got a phone call to pick up our daughter early from school. The next morning a seizure. An instant later a brain tumor. That first night, I touched the cold glass of my daughter’s hospital window and couldn’t reconcile with the Trust-God Mama within. Life looked different through frosty glass and tears.

Suddenly, I felt constricted and clingy while we followed the doctor’s advice to “look normal” because, “We don’t want Brittany worrying about you—worrying about her.” Oh, sweet Jesus, help. Then, with mascara streaking I reached for God’s Word where truth told me to trust.

I found Kish (a worried father), sending his son, Saul, on a journey to look for lost donkeys. They passed through many lands, but still—no donkeys. Finally, Saul tells his servant, “Come let us return, or else my father will cease to be concerned about the donkeys and will become anxious about us” (1 Samuel 9:5 NASB).

Before leaving Zuph, Saul and his companions decide to seek out the prophet Samuel for help. Unbeknownst to Saul, the Lord had already revealed to Samuel that Saul was coming. When they arrive, the Lord tells Samuel, “Behold, the man of whom I spoke to you! This one shall rule over My people.” On the very next day a recently clueless Saul is anointed king.

And what about the donkeys? Samuel assures Saul: “As for your donkeys which were lost three days ago, do not set your mind on them, for they have been found” (1 Samuel 9:20 NASB).

God brought Saul to that very place at that very time to fulfill His purpose for Saul’s life and give His people the king they requested. All through a frustratingly futile search for lost donkeys.

Friends, it’s really NEVER about the donkey. Or a brain tumor. Or rebellion, addiction, the worst or the best. The journey is—and always will be—about the high love and altitude of a God who loves well. Who is always at work, always present, and always able.

But we must trust God’s ability before we can rest in His abundance.

Mamas were never meant to carry the weight of their children. Jesus, You alone are able. He draws them to Himself through a gracious journey we may not understand. And when it comes to the irrational way God loves our children—lofty things will happen. Always.

Speaking of lofty, if you happen to have a helicopter handy, can you pick me up? Please. I’m just thinking a little fly-by can’t hurt.

TWEETABLE
How one helicopter mama learns to rest in God – @DuewelBeth on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

beth duewel (2)

About the author: Beth Duewel is a writer, speaker, and blogger at Fix-Her-Upper.com. She has three almost adulting children, and lives with her husband in Ashland, Ohio. Beth and her coauthor, Rhonda Rhea, are super excited about their first book, Fix Her Upper: Hope and Laughter Through a God Renovated Life!  And now you can catch Beth & Rhonda’s soon to release, Fix Her Upper 90 Day Devotional , (Bold Vision).  Start off the New Year with this Devotional, Journal, and Coloring Book in one! https://www.boldvisionbooks.com/shop/. Use the link to pre-order their new book now!

Join the conversation: Are you a helicopter mama?