Exploring New Territory

by Doris Hoover

They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is the fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.” (Numbers 13:27-28 NIV)

When my husband and I were making a decision about where to retire, we discussed exploring options in a new state. Having both grown up in New Jersey, we had deep roots there. Our three children were married and settled there. Many of our friends and relatives lived locally. Our house of thirty-four years held a lifetime of memories. There was a strong pull to stay put, but we felt a stronger pull to venture into a new place. We struggled with conflicting emotions as we tried to make our decision.

The nation of Israel also had conflicting emotions about entering their promised homeland. Even though they had traveled many months through the wilderness to arrive at their destination, they were unsure about stepping into a new place. So Moses sent men out to scout the land.

At the end of forty days, the twelve scouts returned to report their findings. Two men recommended taking the land. The other scouts agreed the land was abundant with produce, but they were afraid of the powerful inhabitants. God’s promise of a blessed homeland was within reach! They need only step forward to receive it. Instead, the people clung to the word but. Instead of entering a rich land, that generation was sentenced to wander its borders and never partake of the goodness God had planned for them (Numbers 13-14).

How often do we miss out on wonderful opportunities because we cling to our fears and doubts? We see the potential for something new or better, then we say but. By refusing to take hold of the new land, Israel missed out on God’s wonderful plan for their lives.

Even though my husband and I saw the potential for an exciting retirement, it meant leaving the comfort of a familiar place and entering unknown territory. When we finally made the decision to move, some people questioned our choice. We had to be bold to follow through with our plans.

In our new community we’ve developed some wonderful friendships. We’re pursuing dreams and activities that weren’t possible in our previous home. And we’ve discovered creative ways to keep our ties to New Jersey.

An important blessing for me is the opportunity to grow my writing skills. The Lord has provided time, people, and experiences to help me advance in this arena; yet each time a door opens, I face a decision. I can stay where I feel safe and comfortable, or I can take a risk to venture into new territory. Sometimes I only hear the word but, and my fears win; however, when I trust God’s leading, exciting opportunities arise.

Maybe the Lord has stirred your heart to stretch beyond your comfort zone. It may be a decision about where to live. Maybe you sense a nudge to undertake a new venture. You have the choice to explore a new land, or remain where you feel comfortable.

If we ignore the Lord’s leading, we’ll have regrets. We’ll always wonder what could have been. Blessings come when we grab hold of the opportunities the Lord places before us, opportunities to taste the milk and honey of God’s plans for our lives.

 O Lord, give us courage to step into the new territory you place before us.

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Exploring New Territory – insight from Doris Hoover on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

doris Hoover

About the author: Doris Hoover lives in Florida, but she also spends time along the coast of Maine. Her passion is discovering God’s messages in nature and sharing them with others. You can visit Doris at captivatedbythecreator.com. 

Doris’ book, Quiet Moments in The Villages, A Treasure Hunt Devotional invites you to step outside to discover the treasures God places around you. She leads you to beautiful places in her home town. Her poetic descriptions and beautiful photography draw you into moments that will stir your heart.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been rewarded by stepping outside your comfort zone?

Got Stress?

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8).

What stresses you out?

Knowing there’s a misunderstanding that you’re not able to clear up?

Wondering about something that hasn’t yet happened?

Hearing a half-truth that was said about you and not being able to defend yourself?

Looking at your finances and trying to figure out how to make it all work?

Stress is clearly a result of worrying about what might be, dwelling on something that isn’t true, or being anxious about something we can’t change. And God doesn’t want you to stress. Stress and anxiety sends a message to Him and everyone else that He is not capable.

You and I don’t consciously think that, nor would we actually say that to others, but our actions display it every time we wring our hands, pull out our hair, or need to leave the room to let off steam.

In Philippians 4:8, we are told to dwell on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. That means we are not to dwell on what hasn’t yet happened, the worst of what might happen, or what we’ll do if something doesn’t happen.

We are to live in the here and now and experience Christ’s peace in it. Not in the what ifs of tomorrow and worry about what we can’t control.

In Philippians 1:27, followers of Christ are instructed to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” regardless of your circumstances. In fact, in the New International Version that verse is preceded by the words “whatever happens.”

Whatever arrives in the mail. Whatever is said to you at work, whether you deserved it or not. Whatever your bank account says. Whatever comes your way in any given day, you and I are to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

The Gospel of Christ proclaims that Jesus is capable. Our stress says He’s not.

Whatever happens, whatever comes to your mind to cause you to worry, whatever stresses you out, live a life worthy of Christ by dwelling on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, and lovely. As you do, you’ll experience God’s peace, not worry and stress.

Lord, when I begin to fear, worry or stress, help me to say aloud the word “whatever” – knowing that whatever happens, You are in absolute control.

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Got Stress? – Thoughts on God’s Peace from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and ministry, or to see if her coaching services can help you write your next book, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi’s book, Women on the Edge: Turning Desperate Times into Desire for God, (upon which this devotional is based), offers wonderful encouragement to women longing for a change, for a new direction, or ways to make a difference. Frustration can drive us away from God…or toward Him. Cindi helps women turn their negative longings into positive ones, as they pursue God in exciting new ways.

Join the conversation: What stresses you out the most?

 

 

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Four Steps to Being a Peacemaker

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.                 John 14:27 NASB

Have you ever been a part of a ministry or Bible study that, for whatever reason, went toxic? Though our inclination might be to walk away, God may be calling us to glorious assignment: that of speaking life, light, and health into darkness. I refer to this as mountaintop living.

Rather than allowing others to drag us into their dysfunction, we can help them rise to a Christ-inspired elevation.

Every believer is called to be a peacemaker, and this runs so much deeper than merely avoiding conflict. Biblical peace is God’s gift of wholeness as lives and hearts become aligned with truth.

Here are 4 steps to help you bring peace to dysfunctional situations.

  1. Center yourself in love.

Though we may convince ourselves otherwise, most often, conflict avoidance is rooted in self-love rather than love for others. We fear their negative reaction, retaliation, or rejection. But Jesus, who perfectly embodied love, routinely initiated tough conversations. He told the woman caught in adultery to stop sinning, the rich young ruler to sell all he possessed, and openly rebuked Peter for trying to persuade Him to avoid the cross. With each of these interactions, He was in essence saying, “I love you, and I’m willing to risk what you think of me to see you walk in truth.”

Remember, truth sets people free. May we, as God’s ambassadors, assume the role of liberators as well.

  1. Focus on growth not solutions.

When problems or disagreements arise, it’s easy to fixate on the difficulty, but Romans 8:28-29 tells us God uses all things, relational discord included, for our good and to transform us into the likeness of His Son. We need to align ourselves with God’s purposes, helping people toward maturity through healthy and Christ-centered interactions. When others grow frustrated, we can model patience grounded in our trust in God. When jealousy sparks harsh words or hurtful comments, we can lovingly direct the conversation to the cross. Modeling healthy conflict-resolution skills will benefit our churches for years to come, long after the current situation resolves.

  1. Ask Heart-probing Questions.

Most often, when individuals fight, the issue is more a symptom than the actual problem.  For example, when my husband and I were first married, I spent a lot of time nagging him about dirty socks left on the floor or food crumbs on the counter. When I finally evaluated my feelings, I realized it wasn’t the actual mess that vexed me: it took less than a minute to pick up the laundry or wipe the counter. What was really upsetting me was in feeling I was being taken for granted. Once I recognized that, we were better able to deal with the root of my emotions.

Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (NIV). Lovingly and respectfully asking thoughtful questions can effectively uncover an underlying concern or fear. Honest questions also have a way of defusing anger or anxiety by assuring others they have a voice.

  1. Pray.

Through prayer, God may reveal that He already has a solution in place; He might call us to simply be still and wait on Him. Or, He may provide the perfect words for us to speak at the perfect time. Either way, He will guide us toward His very best for every situation.

No one enjoys conflict. But in every situation, we have an opportunity to demonstrate mountaintop living—to draw others into a place of wholeness. By bathing our efforts in love, focusing on truth, and seeking and following God’s guidance, we can be an instrument of peace to dark and dysfunctional scenarios.

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Four Steps to Being a Peacemaker – thoughts from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer Slattery

About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Hometown HealingShe’s home again, but not for long…
unless this cowboy recaptures her heart…

Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?

Join the conversation: Have you had an opportunity to be a peacemaker in a difficult situation? Please share!

Peace in the Process

by Ashley Lauren McClain

 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

This has always been one of my favorite verses. God first said those words to His people, who were living in exile in Babylon as a punishment for turning away from Him to worship idols. He said them to give the people hope: their exile would not last forever. In seventy years, He would bring them back to their homeland. “I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back… For I know the plans I have for you…they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

The same God who promised good to His people, even while they were in the middle of experiencing His judgment, is the God I serve. He loves His people perfectly and will never abandon us, and always has our good in mind. This thought fills me with so much hope and excitement that this big dreamer girl’s heart has taken and run with it!

But in the process of sprinting ahead, I have sometimes found myself exhausted and disappointed. Why? I believe I have finally figured out two answers to that question.

The first is in the very first words. The Lord says He knows the plans HE has for us. He is not confirming the plan we have for ourselves. Nor are His intentions determined by the expectations others have on us. God’s plans are exceedingly and abundantly greater than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

Again, my big dreamer hearts loves this…but there is a second caveat. God also has His own time table for when He will bring those plans to fruition. His timing is perfect, which means often we find ourselves impatiently waiting for Him to act.

Not yet. Those two words are the source of so much struggle and angst in my life! Not yet. After getting myself in line with His agenda, finally being willing to lay down my plans and go with His, the only thing I hear is Not Yet. Seriously?

But when I finally decide to end the personal pity party, I remember that He most often works through a process, a much-needed process, which will grow our faith and bring us to maturity.

And if we can walk with Him in the midst of that process, we can find peace.

Peace in the process also comes from understanding that there is no title, job, or calling that will define us. The Lord alone defines us. Our greatest joy and highest calling in our lives is to follow Christ and share His love with others. I need to come to a place where I desire His name to be known more than mine.

I have learned that if I will determine to trust Him for my life, even though it may look totally different than what I thought it would be… I can have peace knowing it will be so much more fulfilling and better than anything I could have dreamed of for myself.

As you begin your day today, join me in laying down those unrealistic expectations. Rather than striving and chasing, concentrate on walking with Him, and truly live the peace-filled, abundant life that He has planned.

TWEETABLE
Peace in the Process – insight from Ashley Lauren McClain on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Ashley McClainAbout the author: Ashley McClain is a girl with big dreams and a blog to encourage women in their journey through this life we have been given by the greatest Gift Giver there is! She loves to read, write, drink coffee, and spend time with the hubby & puppies! Connect with Ashley on her website ashleymcclain.org. She would love to hear about your journey too!

Join the conversation: Can you recall a time when you experienced peace in the process? Please share!

You’ve Been Served

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

If it hadn’t required law school and…you know…brains and whatnot, I would be a lawyer right now. Except I’d want to do it exclusively so I could someday say to a colleague, “See ya later, litigator!”

It’s all about the line! It’s probably just as well that I didn’t. For many reasons, yes, but also, some people might’ve considered it the wrong motivation for a career choice. But come on, the line! Plus, somewhere in the course of that long-term legal education I could’ve also used the line, “After while, legal file.” So—totally worth it.

The secret to motivating people. What is it? How many times do we offer forever-heaven-points, for instance, to get nursery workers? Or offer to wash people’s cars to get them to keep Sunday School records? Or pay for their kids’ to go to college, so they’ll help with the 7th grade boys’ sleep-over?

Guilting, bribing, manipulating, even brilliantly arguing that case…those don’t usually work for very long when we’re seeking to provoke people to serve. They don’t even work for me on myself.

Do you ever try to reason with your own motivation? “YEAHHHHH! I’m going to do that project right now! And clean my house! Do every piece of laundry! Paint the kids’ bedrooms! Paint the entire church fellowship hall!!”

Then, before you get to even the first project, your motivation sasses back to you, “Nah, just kidding, bro. What I meant was that I’m just gonna get on Facebook for an hour, and then take a little siesta.”

R.I.P., Motivation.

In Samuel’s final public speech—his “closing arguments,” as it were—he encourages his people: “Above all, fear the LORD and worship him faithfully with all your heart; consider the great things he has done for you” (2 Samuel 12:24, CSB).

Anytime we’re interested in seeing motivation resurrected—our own or others’—considering our great God and all He’s done, is the perfect start. Real motivation to work/serve begins with an “all your heart” love for Him.

When people serve out of obligation, or feel used or manipulated, not only is the service half-hearted, but it’s not likely to continue very long. It’s exhausting, draining, often fruitless and can end in burnout.

Whole-hearted-service produces joy in jobs big and small. Our God notices that. “For God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you demonstrated for his name by serving the saints—and by continuing to serve them” (Hebrews 6:10, CSB). The service described there grows out of love for the Lord—for His name. And it’s a service, implied by the last part of the verse, that keeps on giving.

As we focus on the amazingness of our infinite, all-knowing, all-loving God, who is worthy of our love and praise and service, that love and praise and service happens organically. He is our motivation, and it’s our joy. “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful songs” (Psalm 100:2, CSB).

So, we can weigh ourselves and others down with guilt and pressure. Or we can get free so that service is merely an overflow of joy-filled worship. You can’t even stop a worshipper from loving on those babies in the nursery or hanging out with 7th grade boys. They do it with dedication.

Not litigation.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.                                                                                                               Ephesians 3:17-19 NASB

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You’ve Been Served – insight 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: When have you found long-lasting motivation? What was it?

God of Second Chances

by Julie Coleman @JulieZColeman

“…Where sin increased, grace increased all the more… Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 5:20, 8:1, NIV

He was a golden boy, loved in part for his sincere heart for Jesus. After seminary, he took a position as pastor of a small church. It was a good life. But then one day, he fell. During a counseling session with a church member, in the heat of the moment, he committed adultery. He was immediately ashamed. After confessing, he was asked to step down from his position, to take time to heal and devote attention to his devastated family.

We wondered: how do you come back from that? Were his days of ministry over? Had his failure disqualified him for good?

Of all the accounts of failure in the Bible, the night of Peter’s denial rates right up there at the top. Three times he denied knowing Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest. It was too dangerous to be linked to the man being tried for blasphemy. Peter simply lacked the courage to let his relationship be known.

We can relate to Peter’s shortcoming, can’t we?  Who of us hasn’t had a big fail in one time or another? A moment in which we did the wrong thing and continue to regret, even years later?

Up until his big fail, Peter was slated to be a leader in the Kingdom of God. Jesus had affirmed this on several occasions. But now? I’m sure Peter had his doubts. In fact, the next time we see Peter, he has gone back to fishing in the Sea of Galilee. Did he think that in his failure, he had forfeited any chance of the leadership for which Jesus had groomed him?

We can’t be sure, but the indications are there that he did. As the fishermen rowed toward the shore, they realized Jesus was there. John tells us Peter jumped into the water. But rather than eagerly swim to shore, I believe Peter jumped into the water on the other side of the boat.[1] And busied himself with the net and fish.

He was avoiding the moment he would have to look Jesus in the eye.

Jesus told them to bring some of the catch to the fire. John tells us Peter came up out of the water with the fish. Until that moment, he’d avoided stepping up onto the beach. He was dreading his moment of truth.

After breakfast, Jesus took Peter aside. And he asked him: “Do you love me?”

Three times he asked Peter that question. Three chances to set the record straight. But what about Peter’s denial? If I were Jesus, I would have sat him down for a little talk. What did he learn from his mistake? What would he do next time?

But Jesus didn’t do that. He just reconfirmed Peter’s Kingdom assignment: Feed my lambs.

Many commentators are hard on Peter. They feel his story is told as a stern warning. After all, Jesus had said early on that if someone denied Him, He would deny them.

Is that why his story is featured in all four gospels? I don’t think so. I think that hearing of  Peter’s failure would have been a huge encouragement to first century readers. They were facing terrible persecution. If God could forgive Peter and use him in leadership, then there was hope for them. Hope even if they caved and denied Jesus under the threat of the sword. God’s forgiveness was not based on how well they stood the test. It was based on grace alone.

God is a God of second chances. No matter what we have done, even if we do it over and over again, His grace is greater. There is nothing we can do to make us love Him more. And there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less. We can’t disqualify ourselves. We never did anything to earn God’s favor in the first place. He loved us when we were in total rebellion. He died for us while we were His enemies.

My pastor friend? He now works in a prison ministry, encouraging the inmates with the story of his failure and God’s redemption.

Do you need a second chance? Are there things in your past that seem unforgivable? God’s abundant grace covers that sin. Jesus nailed it to the cross. Put the guilt into God’s capable hands and let it go. We cannot out-sin His grace.

[1] The NIV says the boat “followed” Peter into shore. But the Greek verb is literally “came,” not followed.

TWEETABLE
God of Second Chances – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

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

Join the conversation: What story of redemption has God given you to share?

When You Feel Alone and Afraid

by Erica Wiggenhorn @EricaWiggenhorn

And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.   Luke 1:36-37 ESV 

When our daughter’s birth mother tenderly placed Eliana in my arms and said, “I want to be the first one to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day,” I sobbed with joy. After ten years of waiting to be called “Mama,” I was completely undone. As I carried our beautiful gift out of that hospital room, suddenly fear swept over me. Would I be a good enough mother? Who was I to deserve such a gift? This precious baby girl entrusted to me?

While I had no doubt the gift of motherhood had been given to me by God Himself, I also knew I was going to need help and support to fulfill this incredible call of motherhood upon my life. I couldn’t do this alone.

Can you imagine how Mary felt with the mighty archangel Gabriel standing before her delivering strange and miraculous news? Mary, you will give birth to the Son of God! As quickly as the joy of such an incredible announcement swept over her, fear certainly followed with equal force.  Mary, a young teen from a tiny village in Galilee, somehow had found favor with God to raise the most important child in human history.

Who could she talk to about this? God knew Mary needed help and support to fulfill the call He had upon her life, so He made certain Gabriel informed her about her cousin Elizabeth’s own miraculous pregnancy.

As she traveled down from Galilee to Elizabeth’s home, the reality of her situation surely began to sink in. What would Joseph say? Would he divorce her? Would her parents believe her? Pregnant, by God? Who on earth would believe such a tale? Nazareth was a small village, estimated to be anywhere from 500 to 1500 people- her story would be the talk of the town. Her family would be shamed.

Mary desperately needed affirmation and encouragement from the older, wiser Elizabeth. Suffering through years of barrenness, a condition in those days thought to be a punishment from God, Elizabeth also knew full well what it meant to live in shame and reproach among the women in her village. She understood first-hand the judgment and rejection Mary would face.

Mary needed to know she wasn’t alone in this, humanly speaking. She had Elizabeth, who believed in her, accepted her and rejoiced with her at the work of God in her life. Oh, how greatly we all need an Elizabeth, don’t we?

A mentor.

A confidante.

A co-laborer in ministry: whether it is in our home or elsewhere.

Someone who believes in us when we stop believing in ourselves.

Someone who can remind us what God promised in our darkest hours.

What is a circumstance in your life in which you feel alone or afraid? Who do you know who is going through a difficult circumstance who could use some encouragement? It takes courage to ask for help as well as offer it to others. In God’s beautiful design, He sends others into our lives to come alongside of us to help navigate whatever situation, season or circumstance we are facing.

He also calls us to come alongside of others. Ask God to open your eyes to those around you with whom He is encouraging you to connect. When you feel alone and afraid, ask God to send you an Elizabeth and while on your way, look for a Mary. We are all in this together, and God is for us.

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When You Feel Alone and Afraid – insight from @EricaWiggenhorn on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

erica wiggenhornAbout the author: Erica Wiggenhorn is the founder of Every Life Ministries, bringing you the truth of Scripture to transform your life. She is the author of the Unexplainable Bible Study series from Moody Publishers, including live teaching sessions available via DVD sets or digital downloads. Erica regularly speaks on a variety of biblically based topics and hosts a YouTube series entitled Unexplainable Stories of Hope and Healing. You can connect with Erica and learn more about her studies and ministry at www.EricaWiggenhorn.com.

Erica’s Bible study, The Unexplainable Church, explores the explosive beginnings of God’s Church. The early church didn’t grow because Peter and Paul were so amazing, but because average people were transformed by God and brought together in His work. This 10-week inductive study of Acts 13–28 will sweep readers into the great drama of the Kingdom, inspiring them to live together in the power of the Spirit and accomplish what could never be done alone.

Join the conversation: Are you in a mentoring relationship? What benefits have you experienced as a result?

My Heart’s Desire

by Christina Rose

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4 NIV

After 22 years in the family home, it was time to sell, and I dreaded it.  The house may have been quiet and empty after my two daughters left for college, but it was still full of joyful memories: new babies, holidays, birthdays, love, and laughter. I had never wanted those days to end. Now my husband was living nearby with someone new, and I felt more lost and alone than ever.  I was on the verge of sliding into a serious pity party and there was only one thing to do.

I put on my hiking boots and headed out with the dogs to call on my Father.

My home was at the base of Ring Mountain, a beautiful nature preserve that overlooks San Francisco bay.  Each day I hiked and prayed and found my peace.  Today I needed it more than ever.  I looked to the sky in prayer and heard, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).

Peace began filling my spirit and answers flowed. I was guided to call an old friend who had a beautiful historic home with a few rental cottages in the nearby town of Larkspur. This 100 year old home sat on a hill in the middle of a redwood forest with spectacular mountain views and was a short drive to the beach.  While I had not spoken to my friend in years, God’s message to call him was insistent. So I did.

I discovered he was now living a few hours away. He offered me the main house for a reasonable rent. But he was in bankruptcy, which meant if he lost the house, I might have to move back out with a few days’ notice. It was a huge financial and emotional risk. Again, I prayed on my mountain and the guidance to make this move was clear. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”  (Proverbs 3:5 NIV).

I lived in paradise for three years. My belongings fit perfectly, which made me feel at home immediately. My daughters and their friends loved to visit. The stained glass windows, high beamed ceilings, decks, views of the mountain, lush garden in the redwoods with visiting deer, hummingbirds, and butterflies were heavenly.  Each sunrise and sunset I prayed on the top deck. In the evenings the fog from the ocean would roll over the mountain refreshing the air.

A cottage became vacant, and my sister and her kids spent the summer with us. A niece came by with friends on their way to a Bible retreat. One morning, as I was watching the group praying in the garden, I thought, God’s plan is so much bigger than our own if we would just ask for his help and trust him. “Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us”  (Ephesians 3:20 KJV).

The three years I spent in Larkspur were so blessed, and I am beyond grateful. My leap of faith was rewarded in ways that were far greater than I could have ever imagined.  But I learned the true desire of my heart was not Larkspur.  My true heart’s desire was to have comfort in knowing how much our Father loves us and how much he wants his best for us.  If we will just turn to him and trust him he will astound us with his mercy and grace. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 KJV).

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My Heart’s Desire – insight from Christina 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: What desires has God placed in your heart (and fulfilled)?

Opposition

by Rebecca Price Janney @rebeccajanney

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…you are from God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.                                              1 John 4:1, 4 NASB

When I was in seminary, I dreamed of becoming a historian, professor, and author. Newspapers had been publishing my articles since I was just fourteen, I’d written for a national magazine, loved history, and enjoyed the affirmation of people who’d taken my Sunday School classes. All students were required to meet with a career counselor to determine our fitness for the various ministries we hoped to pursue, and I went to our meeting confidently. I did not leave in the same emotional state.

Talk about blunt. After reviewing the tests I’d taken, he pronounced, “You’ll never be happy holed up in a library doing the kind of research getting a doctorate would require.” He added, not for good measure, that I possessed “average writing ability.” Didn’t he know I was already an experienced journalist?

I was crushed, but not in despair. God had given me certain talents and goals, and I was determined that He was going to have the last word. He enabled me to earn that doctorate, with honors, and I’m about to have my twenty-third book published.

Many have said whenever God directs His people toward the work He has for them, they can expect opposition. Biblical examples abound. Think about Noah. When he began building his ark, his neighbors jeered and publicly humiliated him. How about Joseph? After sharing his dream with his brothers, they sold him into slavery. (At least my career counselor didn’t throw me into a pit and sell me.) No doubt Mary endured misunderstanding and averted-eyes-whispers when villagers learned of her “problem pregnancy.”

Nehemiah certainly encountered ridicule as he attempted to restore Jerusalem’s shattered walls. Opponents of the Jews tried mixing their insults with his mortar. They asked, “Who does he think he is, anyway?” Sanballat, Tobiah, and their cohorts held the visionary up as an example of deranged ambition, but even worse, some of Nehemiah’s fellow Jews “came from all directions,” shelling him with a steady barrage of negativism (Nehemiah 4:12). Ten times they urged him to give up the work. I imagine it was a struggle for him to maintain focus on the One who had called him to the job.

Not all “experts” have clear vision. Did you know Lauren Daigle tried out for American Idol twice, and failed to achieve success? One of my favorite stories along these lines is about Fred Astaire. When he took a screen test, the report came back, “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little.”

We can all relate to times we’ve heard God’s clear call upon our lives, and others rose up in opposition, whether they were authorities, family members, friends, or casual observers. When you undertake the plans God has for you, expect antagonism. Don’t let the naysayers catch you off guard, though. If you are sure of God’s call, take heart “because he who inspires you is greater than he who inspires the godless world” (1 John 4:4, NEB).

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Opposition – thoughts on #followingGod when others object from @RebeccaJanney on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Rebecca Price Janney Author Photo 2018About the author: Rebecca Price Janney is the author of twenty-two published books, including the Easton Series, Morning Glory: A Novel of the First Great Awakening, Great Women in American History, Who Goes There? A Cultural History of Heaven and Hell, and Harriet Tubman. A theologically-trained historian, she holds a doctorate from Missio Seminary, as well as degrees from Princeton Seminary and Lafayette College. Rebecca and her husband Scott live in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley with their teenage son and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She does a weekly podcast, Inspiring Stories in American History and is a popular speaker on historical topics.

Rebecca’s book, Easton at the Crossroads, is the compelling story of two people, more Easton at the Crossroads (Easton Series) (Volume 3)than two hundreds years apart, bound by family ties, life experiences, and the town of Easton, Pennsylvania. They have done everything they know to be right, but still, life is turning out all wrong.

Join the conversation: Have you ever been discouraged by someone as you pursued God’s calling?

Where Is Home?

by Sheri Schofield

Peculiar things tend to happen in our country church when our senior pastor goes on vacation. This time, the assistant pastor was in charge. His ministry, which is mainly to a local rest home, is to a different congregation. When he stood to give announcements, he said gently, “This week we have had a number of deaths among us.”

I felt instant alarm. I had heard nothing of this! I looked around to make sure all my friends were there.

The pastor said, “Dan Smith* passed away this week.”

Dan, who was sitting not six feet away from him, shot up in his seat, shook his head vigorously and said, “No, I didn’t!”

We all roared with laughter! Needless to say, confusion reigned for a few minutes. Communion juice and bread were passed out willy-nilly, and the ushers with the offering plates stood helplessly in front, one waving his plate in the air, not sure when to pass it out. It was most unusual. Fortunately, Dan has a good sense of humor!

Our senior pastor is now back from vacation. We are his flock. If he had been handed that announcement, he would have known it wasn’t true. He would have looked immediately for the family involved, and he would have seen Dan standing with them.

This reminds me of what Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep . . . My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:14, 15, 10, NLT). With our Good Shepherd, we go way beyond mere recognition! He blesses us, too.

What is this rich and satisfying life that Jesus wants to give us? Is it a life of wealth and ease? No. Elsewhere, Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me”  (Luke 9:23-25, NLT). He also told his disciples of coming persecution because of their faith, then ended by saying, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (Luke 16:33, NLT).

I do not think Jesus was speaking only of the peace and exhilaration we will have with him in eternity when he said he wants to give us a rich and satisfying life. I think he was speaking of the relationship we can have right now, if we keep our souls melded with his throughout our days. We will inevitably suffer some loss and grief in this life. But if our hearts have found our life and hope in Jesus, we will be inwardly rich and satisfied… even now.

Consider what Moses wrote: “Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!” (Psalm 90:1, NLT).

When I return home from a vacation, I feel a sense of relaxation and belonging. I have my own pillow, my own bed, and I know where everything is. I relax and feel comfortable. This is the feeling Jesus wants to give us when we belong to him. With Jesus, our hearts are rich and satisfied, no matter what external perils we suffer. Abiding in our Good Shepherd, we are at peace. We walk into his arms, and we are home.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.  Psalm 27:13 NASB

*Not his real name

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Where Is Home? Insight 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: How has God blessed you lately?