Building Redemptive Relationships

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

I’m forty-four, and I’m still learning how to maintain healthy relationships. God recently sparked a major mind-shift in me on this, one that arose smack in the middle of tension, confusion, and heartache.

But in the end, the situation resulted in incredible hope and peace.

My two most important relationships are with my husband and daughter. Naturally, I am motivated to love them well, in a way that deepens intimacy, creates wholeness, and builds trust. I’ve discovered that being purposeful in those things long term has a greater impact than a quick solution for an immediate problem.

As the saying goes, we can win the battle but lose the heart.

This past week, my daughter has been dealing with some hard stuff. It’s been crazy-difficult to watch her struggle. My instinct is to want to immediately “fix” the situation. Whenever I give in to that tendency, however, not only am I getting in God’s way, but I miss out on opportunities to participate in His transformational work.

When I seek His heart and will, not for the problem, but for the person, my vision becomes clearer. More Christ-like. God is much more concerned with His work within us than external problems.

But our natural inclination is to focus on the now. We want solutions, to alleviate the pain of today. It’s easy to forget how often God uses our struggles to bring about His greatest and deepest work. This was my mind shift—to focus on growth rather than behavior. In short, to reach, protect, and equip the heart.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” To the ancient Jew, the heart involved much more than a person’s emotions. It was the core of their being and encompassed their will and intellect as well.

My daughter is facing the prospect of merging two families from different cultures. As her mom, I was tempted to center on the small, immediate solutions. But God impressed on me: This conflict is a good thing. You have an opportunity to show her what healthy dialogue looks like and how to communicate with others who may not share her perspective.

So, setting aside my “fix-it” tool belt, I chose a mentorship role. I planned a picnic for her, her future fiancé, and my husband. Together, we simply talked. We addressed tough issues, shared thoughts and feelings, and honestly…solved nothing.

But something greater was built that afternoon. A foundation of trust was laid, hopefully one that that will enable a lifetime of good communication. They got a chance to experience healthy discussion and learned how to persevere through hard conversations with a balance of love and truth. This will have a much greater impact on her future marriage than any decisions she and her boyfriend make today.

It’s easy to believe the immediate problem is the problem. But God’s vision goes so much deeper. Scripture says He uses all things for our good (Rom. 8:38)—to mold us into the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:39).

God’s goal is never merely behavior modification. He works toward our transformation. The process is more important to Him than any quick fix. I’m learning to keep the big picture in mind. I want to trust in His wisdom, know He has a plan, and is even now working that out in those I love.

Resting in who He is frees me to love well, focusing on long-term growth.  This is what it means to develop redemptive relationships.

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Building Redemptive Relationships – insight on #GodsLove on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: 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 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.

Jennifer’s latest book is Restoring Her FaithShe left belief behind…but could this family 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 that 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: Have you ever had a role in someone’s long-term development?

 

Do You Hear the Song?

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

My friend Lisa longed to see Old Faithful ever since she studied the geyser in her sixth grade geography class. Artesian springs were abundant around her southeast Texas home, but their gently flowing waters could not satisfy her desire to witness the power of Yellowstone National Park’s most famous natural site.

Unfortunately, Lisa’s family did not have the resources for many vacations, so almost three decades passed before she stood on the viewing platform next to Old Faithful. Lisa, her husband, and their five children had started their trip at the northern end of the park. They enjoyed the hot springs, canyon, mud pots, and wild life. But she purposefully saved the geyser for last.

Lisa knew the geyser would be impressive, but the depth of her reaction surprised her. The eruption built until water and steam reached more than 150 feet into the air. The power of nature demonstrated by the Old Faithful geyser turned Lisa’s heart and mind to the power of its Creator. The holiness of God overwhelmed her as she witnessed His majesty revealed in His creation.

“All I could think of was the majesty of God; how holy and mighty beyond my imagination. He had created this spectacular display of power, yet it is minuscule compared to His power. I could stand safely on the viewing platform and witness the power of the geyser, but I knew I could never stand in the presence of God except by His grace through Christ. I worshiped God in that moment. He had given me a glimpse of His majesty.”

Have you heard the songs of praise?

Before the stars dotted the heavens and the waves crashed on the shore, God existed in all His holiness. Divine, perfect nature witnessed solely by the Triune God Himself. Then God spoke, and His majesty burst forth in visible wonder. He splashed His glory across the skies and spread His power in the ocean depths. Now all creation sings a clear, unbroken chorus of praise about the holiness of God.

Since the beginning of time, what has been made testifies to the unlimited power and worthiness of its Maker. Nature beckons us to seek God, bidding us turn our eyes and hearts to the Creator. It is beyond comprehension that this powerful, majestic, holy God desires us to know Him. And yet He does.

The psalmist David responded to God’s handiwork. As a shepherd, he spent many nights under the stars with the sheep, where creation’s song fostered his own praise:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Psalm 19:1-3, NIV

Creation reveals the power and majesty of God. No language difference or cultural barrier can hinder its message. No government or law can silence its voice. The complex beauty of the heavens and the earth reflect the holiness of God to every person, of every language, in every place. Without exception.

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Do You Hear the Song? – Thoughts on the Majesty of God 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 books, Kathy 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 FacebookInstagram, or 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 was the last time something in God’s creation filled you with awe and worship for its Creator?

Accidental Daughter

by Peggy Cunningham @Inca_Writer

“I will remember the works of the Lord…” Psalm 77:11 KJV

Some of my memories are funny ones and some bring tears. Some do both, like the birth of our granddaughter. I can both cry and laugh out loud every time I think of it. After her entrance into this world, we headed home with our son-in-law. An hour later, a phone call broke the silence of the peaceful night.

Our son-in-law rushed out the door telling us to call our daughter––she would explain. We heard our daughter’s frantic voice on the other end. Kayla had stopped breathing. They had her on machines to keep her breathing and to monitor her.

Exhausted from a lost night’s sleep, my husband and I left for the hospital early the next morning. Kayla’s breathing stabilized but there was still no explanation why she couldn’t breathe on her own.  I headed to our daughter’s room while my husband tried to get information about the baby at the nurses’ station. Standing at the door of my daughter’s room, I froze in my steps. What happened to her? She didn’t look like herself at all. Her face seemed changed. Her hair was the same, the room was the same, but who was the strange man sitting by her bed holding her hand?

The man sitting by her side asked in a sweet soft voice, “Can we help you?”

Oh no! This was the birthing room from the day before. This was another young mother-to-be in labor. She looked so much like my daughter, they could have been sisters. Embarrassed, yes! Relieved beyond words, yes! Apologizing over and over, yes! Funny––not at the time!

I found my daughter’s room. Our whole family had already arrived. Reluctantly, I told them about my misadventure. The entire hospital must have heard the howling coming out of that room that morning. But that wasn’t the end of their fun.

The following morning, we returned to the hospital. We first stopped at the NICU to see Kayla. As I put on the gown, I couldn’t take my eyes off our helpless incubated baby. As I sobbed, a kind nurse comforted me and explained Kayla’s condition. Grateful for this hospital and staff, we headed to my daughter’s room.

After exchanging kisses and hugs, my son-in-law flung open the curtain that separated my daughter and her new roommate. To my surprise, it was the new mother from the birthing room the day before! She smiled and said, “Hi, Mom!” Her whole family also sat behind the curtain for the big reveal.  I’m sure the roar of laughter from that room on that day is one for the hospital’s records.

The next day, we were told that Kayla had been born with pneumonia, but she was on her way to a full recovery.

Seeing God provide both healing and laughter during those days is something I remember whenever I begin to doubt God. He has proved Himself and His goodness over and over in our lives. And with each difficulty and trial, He has revealed Himself a little more.

Job had that experience. Because of his faithfulness to God, he was targeted by Satan, who took everything from him. Job suffered in agony for some time. Finally, God revealed Himself to Job. And what Job learns absolutely blows him away.

“I know you can do all things,” he told God. “And that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You…” (Job 42:2, 5 NASB). In the hard, Job’s understanding of God’s goodness and power grew. God’s new revelation changed everything for him.

I’m thankful for the healing and laughter that God provided during Kayla’s first days. It is a wonderful reminder of His faithfulness that can keep me from floundering when the hard times come.

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Accidental Daughter – insight from Peggy Cunningham, @Inca_Writer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Peggy CunninghamAbout the author: Peggy Cunningham and her husband, Chuck have been missionaries in Bolivia, South America, since 1981. In 1999, they founded Rumi Rancho Ministries. Rumi Rancho is their ministry base and home outside the city of Cochabamba where they work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also a published author of children’s books and women’s devotionals.

Shape Your Soul: 31 Exercises for Faith that Moves Mountains is Peggy’s latest devotional book for women. Experience the miracles, supernatural encounters, and everyday blessings of an ordinary missionary gal with the same physical and spiritual challenges as you—albeit different circumstances. Train in God’s Gym … exercise guru not required!

Join the conversation: What has God revealed to you in the past that can help you with doubts in the future?

Hands War. Fingers Battle.

by Jean Holland @brideguide77

Why do I write?

God has laid it on my heart to sound the alarm: Get ready for Jesus’ return.

One of my favorite past times is chasing rabbits, not fur bunnies, but rabbit trails laid out in Scripture. The Scriptures are full of reasons to obey His call to write.

“We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT).

Y’all, we are in the midst of a spiritual battle. The enemy of our souls hates us with a passion. Satan’s job description is to kill, steal, and destroy. He has had plenty of practice since the Garden of Eden. He is diligent to fulfill his purpose. We must know the weapons of our warfare to battle him effectively. Our textbook is the Bible and our training ground is the world in which we live.

“Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle” (Psalm 144:1 NLT).

When I sit down to write my earnest prayer is, Lord, train my hands to war and my fingers to fight. Send forth Your Word and let there be light, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I am not a typist. I trust auto-correct and spell check to catch my typos. But more importantly as I write, I trust God to be true to His Word. It will not return void. It will accomplish what He sends it out to do. My job is to write the best I can and leave the results to Him. My motivation to continue on is much like Jeremiah’s:

But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in His name, His word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it! Jeremiah 20:9 NLT

Whatever God has called us to do, may it burn like a fire in our bones so we can’t hold it in.

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Hands War. Fingers Battle. Thoughts on #FollowingGod from Jean Holland, @BrideGuide77 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jean HollandAbout the author: Jean Holland has written and taught local and international Bible studies for children, youth, and adults to encourage the Bride of Christ to triumph through turbulent times. She has one book in the hands of a content editor awaiting publication, The Rising Bride: A Wake-up call for Christians Living in the Last Days.

Jean enjoys family camping trips across the USA and Canada in a vintage motor home. Her Beloved blog is devoted to heralding the call of our soon coming King.

Join the conversation: Is God’s calling a fire burning in your bones? What is it?

Strength in Rest

by Jeanne Gowen Dennis @HeritageTruthTV

 It seems for most of my adult life I’ve been trying to become the Proverbs 31 woman. Through her industriousness and creativity she took amazing care of her family, succeeded in business, and even helped the poor. Just think about the organization skills she needed to get everything done! What self-discipline she exercised every day! What confidence she must have had! All qualities I struggle to own.

As a creative person, I’ve had to face the fact that my natural tendencies fall on the opposite side of the spectrum from hers. It takes all the strength I can muster to stick to a daily schedule, keep everything in order, and disengage from creative activities early enough to get to bed on time.

Am I alone in this? Please tell me I’m not the only one!

When I become discouraged, I often quote Paul’s words to myself: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). But I have to remind myself that God will give me the promised strength providing I stay in His will.

How can I know God’s will? I’m not talking about the big question, “What is God’s will for my life?” I know the answer to that one. Jesus said God wants me to love Him with my whole heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love my neighbor as myself (Luke 10:27). That’s His will for all of us.

But how can I know God’s particular will for each day, each moment? That requires relationship, and relationship takes time to develop and grow.

I know what you’re thinking. If time management causes me so much grief, how will I find time to develop a deeper relationship with God? With the self-discipline I don’t have? No, I’ll do it with the strength He gives me.

I may seem to be talking in circles here, but that’s exactly how it works. When I spend time reading the Bible and praying, when I turn my thoughts toward God, I receive His power, His wisdom, and the desire to do His will (Philippians 2:13). It’s not a matter of doing more but of resting more in Him.

Resting in Him brings amazing results. For one thing, I find I can get more of the most important things done. When I start the day with God, my priorities shift. His desires become my desires.

I also experience less stress. He gives me the wisdom to see tasks, difficult circumstances, and other people’s requests through His eyes.

Most of all, He fills me with joy that carries me through tough circumstances, disappointments, and even tragedies.

Sure I still get upset, angry, or frustrated when things go wrong. I still cry and grieve when someone gets hurt or dies. I still wonder what He’s doing when I’m laid low with physical pain or illness when so many tasks remain undone. But deep inside, He holds me together because of the intimate love we share, and I have the inexplicable peace that comes from knowing I belong to Him.

So if you struggle as I do, take heart. It doesn’t take much self-discipline to read a few verses of Scripture and visit with God about your day. When you do, He’ll fill you with the desire for more of His Word and more time with Him. You’ll find your priorities shifting. And without even trying, you’ll become a little bit more like that Proverbs 31 woman. In Jesus’ strength, found by resting in Him, there’s hope for us all.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28 NASB

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Strength in Rest – insight on #FollowingGod from Jeanne Dennis, @HeritageTruthTV on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jeanne DennisAbout the author: An award-winning author of a dozen books, Jeanne Dennis hosts Heritage of Truth TV and is a commissioned Colson Fellow and Centurion. Through her writing and online ministry, she encourages Christian families to live biblically in our confused culture. She and her husband of over 40 years serve actively in their local church and enjoy spending time with their family, including three amazing grandchildren.

Have you ever wanted to witness the Red Sea opening or the walls of Jericho falling? Jeanne’s book, Bible KidVentures Stories of Danger and Courage takes you into the middle of the action of your favorite Bible stories. The lives of Moses, Rahab, Jehoshaphat, and early church leaders take on compelling excitement through up-close-and-personal accounts. In each of the four choose-your-own-ending stories, you decide how the story ends!

Join the conversation: What have you experienced when you have rested in God?

 

Dancing in His Light

by Janet Perez Eckles

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption , the forgiveness of sins.                                                                                                                                                             Colossians 1:13-14 NASB

“Sit down,” my Mom said patting the sofa beside her. “Listen to this invitation that just came in the mail: The Foundation Fighting Blindness is sponsoring a dinner dance in the dark.”

I wrinkled my nose. “What in the world is that?”

“It’s kind of clever,” she said, “It’s a fund-raiser for research. And also to give folks a chance to experience what it’s like to be blind. The whole event will be held in the dark.”

“Crazy,” I said. “You can be sure hands will be in the mash potatoes. And who knows how many glasses of water will be spilled. And, with no lights, wait till they have to visit the bathroom.  Lots of fun there, for sure.”

Living for thirty years in physical darkness, I’ve grown accustomed to it. In fact, I often forget I’m blind. Okay, you can laugh. It’s kind of silly, but I do forget. In fact, that dinner dance in the dark is way too familiar to me.

But to be fair, I had time to adjust and it’s no big deal now. But for sighted folks to be thrown into a dark room, what a bizarre thing!

But…sigh… not as bizarre as living where spiritual darkness is not an event, a fund-raising dance, or even a temporary episode, but a life-long choice.

I’ve been there. While physically sighted but spiritually blind, I sunk into secret disobedience. In the darkness, I slammed into obstacles while I groped, vainly searching for happiness. Barriers like relentless pride, shameful stubbornness, and disgusting cynicism all blocked my path, resulting in emotional bruises, cuts, and wounds.

But thank you, thank you, Lord. The day He turned on the light for me, the light of His Word, the splendor of His ways and the clarity of His path, new life began for me. Like a flower blooming, my heart opened up to joy and His reminder ever echoes in me: “… for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible” (Ephesians 5:8-13 NIV  ).

…and for me, now visible is the dance floor where Jesus leads the dance, step by step, day by day, to the melody of His promises and the harmony of His grace.

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Dancing in His Light – insight on accepting God’s Light from Janet Perez Eckles on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

janet perez ecklesAbout the author: Blindness tried to darken her life, but Janet Perez Eckles became an international speaker, best-selling author, personal success coach, radio host and best playmate to her grandchildren. Her books include Contagious Courage: a Thirty Day Journey to Overcoming Stress and Anxiety and Simply Salsa: Dancing without Fear at God’s Fiesta. You can learn more about Janet at www.janetperezeckles.com.

Janet’s book,  Hola, Happiness: Finding Joy by Dancing to the Melody of God’s Word is a brief Bible study to nudge you to the next level of triumph and joy. It is packed with deep reflections and answers from God’s Word. No matter what you face–disappointment, fear, heartache, shame, insecurity, sorrow–you will say “Hola” to happiness, peace, and the joy for which God created you.

Join the conversation: How does light make a difference in your life today?

Password: Truth

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Password anxiety. I’m pretty sure that’s a thing. You’re compelled to choose seven un-guessable characters, throw in some capital letters, add the name of a dead pet, sprinkle in a few lower-case letters, include some numerals, and, on the whole, the password should eventually grow and evolve into an even better password. Essentially, it should ultimately be able to beat up all the other passwords—make them run crying from the yard.

Anytime I have to choose a new password, my fingers hover over the keys for a solid five minutes. My sweaty fingers. Though I do try to hide any fear. Because I’ve heard the most evolved passwords can sense it.

It’s not that I’m a fearful person. Okay, as a child I might’ve been the only kid whose blanket fort had a panic room. But as an adult, fear isn’t such an issue.

Maybe that’s because as a follower of Christ, I know the password for conquering fear. Truth. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what you capitalize or how many numbers you add. Anytime we’re afraid, we find strength as we remember what is true, and by faith we hold onto that truth.

Isaiah 41:10 holds the no-fear message: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand” (HCSB). The truth is, God gives us the strength for no-fear living as we remember and believe that He holds onto us. Combine the password of truth with faith and trust, and then fear? It runs crying from the yard.

David wrote, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4, HCSB).

Fear, worry, anxiety. They’re emotional responses. Our emotions can be sneaky. It often feels impossible to reason with the rascals. And they’re insistent. It’s not like we invite fear to take us over. It just does. But our emotions must be taught the truth. By faith, we must believe that despite what our emotions are telling us, the indisputable truth is that we don’t need to fear.

Think of the things that cause you anxiety. Is there anything you’ve thought of that’s too big for God? Anything that’s too hard for Him?

Financial stresses? He owns everything. Health issues? He knit your body together. Too much to do? He holds time in His hands. Whatever the source of your stress, the Father loves you and it’s His loving desire to shoulder your burden and squelch your fear. “Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]” (1 Peter 5:7, AMP).

Our mighty God, the One who lovingly cares for you, is bigger than anything you could ever fear. He is the firewall of all firewalls, as it were, protecting your soul. Wrapping our minds around that truth in faith will delete fear every time. By faith, remember, understand, believe the password:  Truth.

As for your other passwords? You might as well also understand that when you finally choose one that’s remote enough to be secure, the chances of you remembering it are even more remote than that.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.                                            Philippians 4:8 HCSB

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Password: Truth – insight on #followingGod from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: With what fears do you struggle? What truth can help you overcome that fear?

Joy! The Pathway to Peace

by Pam Farrel @PamFarrel

If there were a power verse for joy, it would be this one:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Philippians 4:4 ESV

When doing a word study on rejoice, I found this meant: REJOICE (lean in and delight in God’s grace) at ALL times, I repeat, REJOICE (choose to be glad and joyful because of ALL God gives us)!

What a command! But God gives the “How how-to” in verses 6-7.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ESV

God doesn’t want us to be anxious, worried, and loaded down with cares. As we ask, request, and petition God, the confidence comes in believing we are giving the circumstance to the only One who has the real power to answer—the Almighty God—the King of Kings! And as we make this transaction, God gives us a gift back—peace that is beyond comprehension!

This week, use this joy builder: pray over worrisome situations using a name of God. Here is a favorite exercise I use for releasing anxiety and to imagine this exchange of our worries for his peace:

Imagine your greatest stress is placed into your right hand, wrap your fingers around this anxiety, now lift it heavenward; open your fingers and present it at the foot of the throne of heaven. Leave your care there but keep your hand open. Now think of all the traits and names of God, which name of God would be best to hang your heart on to find hope, joy, and peace. If you struggle to pick which trait, choose the name or trait of God that would be opposite of your stress. For example, if you care is your anxiety, trade it for the peace of God, then when you get home, look up all the verses about God being peace and giving peace. String your favorite verses together, put your name in the series of verses, and personalize God’s Word to your life.

To keep the peace, Paul’s last instruction is to guard your mind and thought life—keep doing this—and the God of peace will be with you:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 ESV

Now dwell on these things, all day, every day. And start each day and each season of life willing to give your greatest fear and anxiety to God and receive his radical peace.

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Joy! The Pathway to Peace – insight from @PamFarrel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an author of 48 books, including Amazon bestseller Discovering  Hope in the Psalms: 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman and her newest book releases today (!!): Discovering Joy in Philippians:  A Creative Bible Study Experience (coauthored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher). Pam and her husband, Bill are international speakers, relationship experts and  Co-directors of Love-Wise.

If difficult days have ever left you discouraged, Pam’s brand-new book: Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience, will help you engage creatively with God’s Word and establish habits that lead to greater joy and peace.

Join the conversation: What are your favorite names of God?

Stuck Tight in a Turnstile

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

We all have them – those funny family stories. The stories, when retold, bring peals of laughter from everyone. Well, almost everyone. Sometimes one family member simply responds with an embarrassed chuckle. That’s the way it is with our daughter Sarah and the turnstile story.

It was the last week of summer and time to get ready for a new school year. Back then we lived in a small town about 25 miles outside Calgary, Alberta. The kind of shopping we needed to do required a trip to the city. So the three kids and I piled in the mini-van and headed off for a day in Calgary.

We had almost hit the city limits when the smallest voice from the backseat announced he had gotten into the van without any shoes. Mom made a quick decision. We would not return home; six-year-old Mark needed new shoes anyway. Our first stop would be the sports store not far into the city.

It didn’t take long to pick out a nice pair of sneakers and socks and get to the check out. While trying to explain to the checker why I was paying for an empty box, I heard a familiar scream close behind me. Sarah, our 9-year-old, had somehow managed to get herself caught in the turnstile at the store entrance.

I can’t even explain how she did it, because I didn’t see it happen. The best I can determine is she tried to push through the turnstile on the wrong side where it spun under a crossbar. When she discovered she couldn’t get through that way, she tried to back out, but instead wedged herself between the turning tripod and the stationary crossbar. Head and shoulders hung out one side and lower half out the other. (I know you’re probably thinking I’m a horrible mother, but honestly, I only took my eyes off her for a second.)

She wasn’t hurt, but she was mad. While she continued to scream, the rest of us couldn’t help but laugh – while trying to help her, of course. But she was stuck fast. Her release required the manager and a special turnstile key.

Have you ever been trapped with no hope for escape? Held in slavery and in need of salvation? Just like Sarah’s turnstile prison, we’ve all been caught fast in sin with no way to save ourselves.

Yet, while we were still held captive, God called us out of the bondage of sin and into the freedom of holiness. Loosed from sin, we are free to be bound to God with cords of love and righteousness. Free to embrace the holy life to which He calls us. Free to embrace the Holy One Himself.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.   Romans 6:22 NIV

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Stuck Tight in a Turnstile – insight 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 books, Kathy 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, www.kathyhoward.org and connect with Kathy on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest.

This post was adapted from Kathy’s book, Embraced by Holiness. Have you longed for a deeper walk with God, but you seem to lack the intimacy you desire? This book is a focused, six-week study dealing with the biblical principles of holiness and includes life-changing opportunities to apply those principles to your life.

Join the conversation: Is there something still keeping you in bondage?

I Read Someone Else’s Mail

by Nan Corbitt Allen

When I was in grade school, I learned how to write a letter. I remember practicing different kinds of letters, formal and informal, and noting where the heading, the date, the address, and the signature went on the page. Unfortunately, the use of written letters, stamped and sent by USPS, is becoming rather obsolete as a way of communication – replaced by texting, email, and blogs. That’s unfortunate, because so much recorded history would have been lost if not for the handwritten letters sent by those who have gone before us.

For instance, one of my favorite books is John Adams written by David McCullough. (This book was turned into a wonderful HBO series.) So much of the content of this book (and so much of what we know of colonial America and our fight for independence) was gleaned from the letters that our second president wrote to his wife, Abigail. Of course, these letters weren’t necessarily meant to be read by anyone other than Abigail, but they are of great benefit to us today. They not only provide facts but perspective as well.

Every time I read the letters recorded in the Holy Bible (like the epistles of Paul), I try to remember that the Apostle had no idea that some 2,000 years later, we would not only be reading them, but embracing their theology and directions for godly living.

In the chapter 6 of Paul’s first letter to his good friend, Timothy, I was inspired and intrigued by what I found:

There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV

Those of us who make a living in ministry need to hear this. I know I did. Paul writes on…

But you, man of God, flee from all this [love of money], and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 1 Tim. 6:11 NIV

Remember, this was a private letter meant for Timothy’s eyes only. And yet this now encourages, teaches, and convicts us today!

Even though letter writing on paper may be going by the wayside, we are still leaving archives of words, deeds, and attitudes behind. I sometimes fail to remember that I am building a base upon which others will stand one day. As Paul put it: laying up “a firm foundation for the coming age” (1 Tim. 6:19 NIV).

The end of Paul’s first letter to Timothy spoke clearly to me this morning:

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. 1 Tim. 6:20 NIV

These last words inspire me to take care of the people, the tasks, and the calling that God has given me.

First Timothy. A personal letter from one man to another? Yes, but I don’t think that they would mind if I open and read their mail sometimes. In fact, I think they’d be delighted.

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I Read Someone Else’s Mail – Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the seemingly insignificant routine experiences can have great impact on a life. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: What Scripture has inspired you lately?