Confident Dependence in the Face of Fear

by Jennifer Smith Lane

Last year my husband, an otherwise healthy man in his mid-forties, was diagnosed with cancer. The news blindsided us. Further testing led to the discovery of a second, unrelated cancer in his kidney. Another blow. This was particularly surprising because my husband is a urologist. Not only is kidney cancer his surgical specialty, it has also been the focus of his medical research for nearly two decades.

Suddenly our lives came to a screeching halt. Our world was turned upside down as a treatment plan was mapped out making the next six months look drastically different than what we had planned. If that wasn’t enough, during that same time, we had a water leak in our kitchen forcing us to replace all of the main level flooring, a close family friend died, and our son started having some health problems as well. I felt overwhelmed and afraid.

It’s one thing to say you trust God. It’s another thing to trust God when you are afraid.

Even though God had rescued me from my eating disorder and shown me that He was trustworthy, I still found myself afraid. Could I trust Him to bring me through yet another deep valley of suffering? “As for me, I look to the LORD for His help. I wait CONFIDENTLY for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me” (Micah 7:7 NLT). Wait confidently, with certainty?

When I’m afraid, I find that confidence and certainty are the exact opposite of how I feel. As I reflected on this, I realized I was afraid because I kept thinking the outcome rested on my shoulders when in actuality it rested on God’s. God was asking me to give my fears over to Him and trust Him, but I didn’t know what that looked like, so I turned to God’s Word for answers.

As I studied the Psalms, I was surprised by how often the psalmist prays in commands. Meaning when he prays, he doesn’t sheepishly skirt around his request. No, he pleads with God saying things like, “Save Me,” “Heal Me,” “Rescue Me,” “Help Me,” and “Vindicate Me.” I thought, how could David be so bold as to pray this way? It’s because David’s confidence rested in God, not in himself. David knew that the God he was crying out to was the same God who created the world and all that is in it. The same God who flooded the earth, parted the Red Sea, turned the Nile into blood, and performed countless other wonders and miracles. The same God who made up a plan to save all of humanity through His Son Jesus Christ. Even though David had a lot to fear, he prayed big because he lived in “confident dependence” (Hosea 12:6 NLT) on our amazing God.

We pray to the same amazing God David did. Don’t let fear hinder your prayer life by limiting our limitless God. The next time you’re facing difficult circumstances, pray like you remember how great God is and that He is on your side.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

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Confident Dependence in the Face of Fear – insight from Jennifer Smith Lane on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

jennifer smith laneAbout the author: Jennifer Smith Lane is the president and co-founder of the Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance, whose mission is to provide education programs to prevent eating disorders. In addition to her non-profit work, she leads an eating and body image ministry walking alongside women on their recovery journey and empowering them to find freedom in Christ. Jennifer, her husband, and three children live in Michigan.

Jennifer’s new book, Transformed: Eating and Body Image Renewal God’s Way, helps women identify the underlying spiritual issues that keep them stuck in eating and body image issues. It is an inductive Bible study that teaches tools to turn to God for rescue through the spiritual disciplines.

Join the conversation: What is it about God that gives you confidence in Him?

 

 

 

Significance through Surrender

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

Sometimes our greatest assignments, the steps towards our calling, come during the most mundane activities. And I wonder if the converse might be true as well. Is it possible to miss an amazing, God orchestrated opportunity when we’re focused only on chasing after something we believe will be amazing?

I never wanted to be a writer or speaker. It wasn’t that I was opposed to doing that; I just never considered it. I thought I was going to be a teacher. So I started attending college. I also began serving in my local church, mostly where I saw a need.

When our daughter was young, we lived in Southern California and were active in our church. We covered childcare for the Friday service. I soon began writing curriculum, sometimes that never got used, other times used for a season. I also wrote dramas, parent newsletters, and short story snippets. Rarely did anyone beyond the person I served under know I’d written it. But God knew. And He was working in and through me to grow me and lead me to where I am today. In fact, God used those activities and experiences to awaken my love for writing.

I’ve experienced opposite scenarios as well. I sensed God nudging me to launch Wholly Loved Ministries for at least two years before I finally responded. I felt I was too busy with my writing and the activities I found most important. I never hit pause long enough to truly seek God’s will in how He wanted me to spend and prioritize my time. I was too busy moving ahead.

I became overly focused on my career and under-focused on my Savior, who wanted to be my power source, faithful guide, and stabilizer. As a result, my stress and anxiety levels grew, as did feelings of discouragement and disillusionment.

Eventually, out of mercy, God intervened and put a halt on my publishing career for a time. It was long enough for me to launch my ministry and for Him to purge and realign my heart.

Back then, it felt a bit like death, but in reality, God was restoring life to what had become diseased.

Jesus said “”Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10, NIV). Those who are faithful in the little things will also be faithful in the big things. This means those who work behind the scenes, who show up every Sunday, who do what needs to be done regardless of who else knows or sees, will also be faithful in the big and glorious tasks. Perhaps that’s because their heart won’t be in the recognition, but in glorifying their Savior. For them in is about God’s agenda and glory—and not theirs.

We see this throughout Scripture. Moses, an orphaned baby turned Egyptian prince, turned fugitive, turned liberator, received God’s call while watching sheep (Exodus 3), a mundane and largely thankless job. God called the ancient prophet Elisha, while he was working in a field (1 Kings 19:19-21). God anointed Saul, Israel’s first king, to leadership, while he and a servant engaged in a three-day journey in search of a donkey (1 Samuel 9-10). Then there was Joseph, a braggart teen who received a God-sized dream but was “discovered” while faithfully serving as an imprisoned slave (Gen. 37-41).

I could go on. The Bible is filled with men and women who were called to amazing and history-changing assignments while performing mundane tasks.

May we all learn from their humble examples.

Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.                                                       Isaiah 43:7 NASB

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Significance through Surrender – insight from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryAbout 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 Hometown Healing 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 theyHometown Healing: A Fresh-Start Family Romance (Love Inspired) by [Slattery, Jennifer] 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 HERE to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Join the conversation: Can you share a time when God redirected you off of an obsession and onto Him? What was the result?

 

 

Called to be Generous

by Louise Tucker Jones

Blessed are those who are generous… Proverbs 22:9 (NLT)

 My son, Jay, is a Sonic Coke-a-holic. His day is not complete without his Sonic Coke, so I take him every day after lunch. Jay is an adult with Down syndrome and thrives on routine. This one started years ago. Truthfully, I enjoy our outings, and most of the Sonic crew loves seeing his beaming smile. But once in a while, we are served by someone who is in too much of a hurry to appreciate Jay’s exuberance. And sometimes we wait for service a little too long, and I’m tempted not to give that extra tip in my hand.

Then God prompts me to remember the word He dropped into my spirit months ago. GENEROUS. Then I can’t refuse a tip just because I’m impatient. And it isn’t just Sonic where the Lord expects my generosity. He’s challenged me with a whole new meaning to that word.

I’m to be generous in every walk of life, not just in the financial realm. I often hear the Lord remind me to be generous with praise, encouragement, love and kindness. To offer a helping hand without being asked. To compliment one who isn’t expecting it. To be gracious and generous to those unlike me, even if they seem rude.

And here is the biggie. Be generous with forgiveness.

Wait! Does that really fall under the umbrella of generosity? Yes, it does. God expects me to give forgiveness generously. And here’s what I’ve learned. Many times, the hardest person to forgive is myself. Yes. Me. It’s the little things. It’s the big things. Heart-breaking things.

Everything from eating midnight snacks while trying to lose 10 pounds to losing a friend whom I had planned to call to an unexpected death. I too easily pronounce myself guilty and assault my spirit with negative comments.

“What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I listen to my instincts?”

Perhaps you can identify. Sometimes we’re perfectionists. We don’t allow ourselves to make mistakes and pile on accusations when we do. We don’t think of it as egotistical. In fact, we often feel we just didn’t listen well to God. We prayed then made a wrong decision so it must be our fault. And sometimes that’s true, but other times it’s simply being human.

But no matter which, we need to offer the same forgiveness to ourselves that we give to others. We are not on the same spiritual plane as God. We don’t have all the answers. We will make mistakes and when that happens, we need to quickly forgive ourselves, whether we think we deserve it or not.

I can’t imagine King David thinking he deserved forgiveness when his selfish actions caused not only the death of a faithful warrior but also that of his own baby boy (2 Samuel 12). And I wonder if Peter berated himself when he became frightened and began to sink while walking on water to meet Jesus (Matthew 16:29-30).

 The lame, the blind and the sick begged Jesus for healing, but left with more than a healthy body. Why? Jesus forgave their sins as well, just as God forgave David and Peter. As people who want to follow Him, we need to cultivate forgiveness in our hearts—by remembering the grace of God.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) God’s extravagant love frees us to accept ourselves, with all our faults, as well as others. It also produces a grateful heart that is open to all kinds of generosity. Even forgiveness.

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Called to be Generous – insight from Louise Tucker Jones on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Louise Tucker Jones ProfileAbout the author: Louise Tucker Jones is a speaker, columnist and author of four books, including The Gift of Christmas. Her poignant life stories will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives With Heavenly Husbands. LouiseTJ@cox.net http://www.LouiseTuckerJones.com

Join the conversation: Do you have trouble forgiving yourself?

Do God’s Restrictions Seem Unreasonable?

by Debbie Wilson @DebbieWWilson

“Stop, stop!” I ran to stop the man clearing our land. I’d asked him to remove a section of trees so we could plant some evergreens behind our new house. He and his yellow bulldozer had gotten carried away. Or so I thought.

Now, years later, I regret stopping him.

At the time, I wanted to keep as many trees as we could. Now the gumballs that litter our yard and sprout up new trees remind me of my misplaced affection. While I’d focused on the immediate appeal of the trees, this pro had seen the trouble those trees would cause.

My gumball trees have helped me with some Old Testament laws and stories that sound over the top. One man remarked in a discussion about one such law, “Stoning for adultery? That seems rather severe.”

According to our culture, yes, that sounds unreasonable. But God gave that law to prevent the lifetime of suffering and loss some spouses, children, and even societies have suffered because of this kind of betrayal. Romans 6:23 and James 1:15-16 reveal the deadly nature of all sin. Old Testament laws and stories illustrate spiritual realities. God made the penalty for sin visible so we could visualize the damage wrong actions wreck on our souls and on the lives touched by our wrongs.

We live in a culture that normalizes sin. Illicit sex, recreational drugs, and other deviant behaviors are portrayed as personal expressions and even a means for finding personal meaning and fulfillment in life. The Bible acknowledges the passing pleasure of sin but warns that it ends in death—of character, relationships, spiritual life, and sometimes even physical life.

Is God Unreasonable…or Protective?

If you knew something would destroy your loved ones, wouldn’t your love motivate you to protect them? Is it loving or harsh to forbid your twelve-year-old from borrowing your car? Is it mean to take away the food that sends your child to the ER?

Just as I couldn’t imagine those shade trees causing so much aggravation, I can’t begin to comprehend the ripple effect of sin. But I can trust God’s wisdom and Word about those things. He is eternal. He makes no mistakes because He’s seen the end from the beginning. When He warns against certain behaviors and associations, I can trust that He does so to protect my life and well-being.

“Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people” (Philippians 2:15 NLT).

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Do God’s Restrictions Seem Unreasonable? insight from @DebbieWWilson on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her walk with Christ, and years as a Christian counselor, coach, and Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson helps women give themselves a break so they can enjoy fruitful and grace-filled lives. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. Her latest book, Little Faith, Big God, is to be released February 2020. She and her husband Larry founded and run Lighthouse Ministries, a nonprofit counseling, coaching, and Bible study ministry. She is an AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) certified speaking and writing coach. Debbie enjoys a good mystery, dark chocolate, and the antics of her two standard poodles. Refresh your faith with free resources at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Have you witnessed your sin or the sin of others causing destruction?

Follow the Road

by Lori Altebaumer @Lori_Altebaumer

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 NIV

I have never understood why the very first thing my vehicle’s navigation system feels compelled to tell me is “Follow the road.” Is it worried I might drive through the neighbor’s front yard instead? I think perhaps my GPS has control issues. And if you know me, you know how I feel about control issues.

Of course, there is a time to admit our weaknesses and seek dependable guidance.

Recently I found myself driving home from a writing conference in Oklahoma City on Labor Day. Since the trip would take me through the holiday weekend traffic of Fort Worth, I decided to program my navigation to direct me home by a different route through the country. A friend recommended an app for my phone that would not only direct me but warn me of things like cars parked on the side of the road or dangerous debris in my lane. This app told me everything—to the point of being annoying.

I reached the last major turn I was unfamiliar with and knew it was a straight shot down to the next town about thirty miles away. From there I easily knew my way home. Finally, I felt confident in turning off the pesky voice that kept interrupting my music. What could possibly go wrong?

Well let’s review a few things that could possibly go wrong. For starters, I have terrible night vision, and it was almost dark. And while I was currently on the correct road, I failed to notice that there were two highways joined here. The one I needed to continue taking would split off in a few miles. And we can’t leave out the fact that I have a terrible sense of direction.

To make a long story short, I made a long trip even longer. I missed my turn and ended up driving in the exact opposite direction I needed to go. I was headed right toward the place I had gone out of my way to avoid.

I now had plenty of driving time to consider the error of my ways. I thought about all the times I do this with God. He is my perfect guide. He alone knows the path I’m meant to take and what lies ahead.

But sometimes I let a few miles of smooth travel make me overconfident. This directly impacts my decisions. Maybe it’s a situation I’ve faced many times before. I think I’ve got it handled—no need to pray about it this time.

How about when I am reading a devotion or Bible study and I skim over or even skip reading the Scripture because I already know that one, and, well…I’m in a hurry? In my overconfidence, I stop listening to the only voice that sees the path before me and can guide me safely home.

Before I know it, suddenly I’ve missed a turn and find myself careening into trouble that could have been avoided.

Thankfully when this happens, if I seek His leading, God will always guide me back to the right path. First, I repent—I stop going in the direction I’m headed. Then I turn the GPS—God Positioning System—back on through prayer and Bible reading.

God’s Word isn’t meant to bore us with trivial observations or repetitions. If He says it, then it is significant.

There is no way we can go, no path so familiar, that God’s direction isn’t still needed. He alone knows what lies ahead.

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Follow the Road – insight from @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 is the best “direction” you have received from the Lord lately?

The Croquet Lesson

by Ava Pennington @AvaPennington

He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good.                                                                                                           Proverbs 19:8 NASB

 The outing was shrouded in mystery. All the planner would say is that we had to dress casually, wear all-white, and make sure we wore comfortable shoes – preferably sneakers. The four of us met at 9:00 am, three of us still clueless about our destination.

When we arrived at our destination, a small, unassuming sign by the entrance announced “National Croquet Center.” A long driveway led us to a clubhouse built in the style and charm of old Florida.

We spent the morning with our instructor, Monte, who patiently explained the history and rudiments of the game. And we had a ball (pun intended!). However, the more Monte spoke, the more I was impressed with applications far beyond the game of croquet.

One of his first words of advice was never say “I can’t.” When one of us faced a difficult shot, the words, “I can’t do this,” often escaped our lips. Monte was quick to admonish us that if we say we can’t, then we have effectively denied ourselves even the chance of succeeding.

As a Christian, I have an even better reason to avoid saying “I can’t.” I’ve been called to do many things beyond what I believe are my abilities. Still, I have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to enable me to succeed in what He wants me to accomplish. Maybe I can’t…but He can through me! As the apostle Paul wrote, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20 ESV).

Another bit of advice from our instructor was to follow-through on each swing of the mallet to gain the distance we needed for the shot. Life is like that, isn’t it? We begin a task, then become distracted or discouraged, and we don’t finish what we start. How many unfinished craft projects are hidden in the recesses of my closet? How many partial manuscripts are sitting inside documents in my computer? The Bible reminds us “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4 NIV).

Monte also cautioned us to be aware of the danger ball. The danger ball belonged to the next person in turn. Even if I set up a perfect shot, the danger ball could knock me out of position.

I’ve been hit by some danger balls in life. It happens when I become complacent, or when I allow unrealistic expectations of people or circumstances to cloud my judgment. The apostle Peter reminds us to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8 NIV). Even Jesus told His followers to “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16 NIV).

Speaking of being aware of the danger ball leads me to Monte’s next piece of advice, “Don’t block your partner.” We played in teams, and in addition to being aware of who followed us from the opposing team, we needed to be aware of our partner’s position. It didn’t benefit my team if I only focused on myself. Many of the times we scored a wicket were because one team member made sure her shot did not block her partner.

What would happen in our relationships if we heeded this advice? More to the point, what would happen in our marriages if we heeded this advice? Paul advised us to “not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4 NASB). We can at least start by not “blocking” our spouses so they are free to move as God leads!

Closely related to that last bit of advice is this: “Don’t trash the opposition; instead encourage your partner.” Croquet is a polite game. Instead of trash-talking between teams, we were exhorted to have a positive focus. Paul might have had something similar in mind when he wrote, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

Our morning lesson culminated in a delightful lunch on the veranda, overlooking the croquet courts. Did I have fun? Absolutely! But I also learned something about myself. Now if I can only remember to apply those lessons…in croquet and in life!

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The Croquet Lesson – wisdom from @AvaPennington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.

Join the conversation: Which piece of wisdom was most helpful to you?

 

Chasing Contentment

by Lori Hynson @LoriSuperGal

“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” I Timothy 6:6 NLT

“As soon as I . . .” get that promotion, make more money, potty-train the baby, get that book written, get over this illness, get out from under this debt . . . then I’ll be content.”

Have you spent your life chasing an endless list starting with “as soon as”?

While this is true for most people, it is especially true for those of us living with what I call SuperGal Syndrome. Running after approval, after some kind of achievement, after what someone else may have.

Contentment is the most valuable thing we can possess in life. We all want the first side of contentment—living satisfied, living peaceful, living joyful.  So, we chase after whatever we think will get us there. You know, get us there. The good there.

But true contentment has a second side. Being content is being at peace with all of our circumstances. Even those that weren’t exactly part of our plan—the failure to locate that pot of gold, the health issue, the ruffled relationships, the wayward kids, seeing someone else achieve what you wanted, comparing yourself unfavorably to others.

“I did it my way” may have been a profitable philosophy for Frank Sinatra, but isn’t going to much help the rest of us. Doing it our way usually leads to frustration, disappointment, anxiety, and failure. It leads to more as soon as…

What does the “true godliness with contentment” mentioned in I Timothy look like? It’s us saying, “I want what You want for me, Lord,” and meaning it. Learning what God wants for us, then trusting that God has the best plan for our lives, which may or may not include our as soon as.

Want contentment? Who doesn’t? On my best days, the days I’m NOT off and running too soon after my own plans, here’s what works for me—starting my day with a thankful heart.

Refreshing my mind with the positive—God’s beautiful creation, a smile, my ability to take long walks at my age—it’s all there if I look for it.

When we count our blessings—today’s and yesterday’s, it pushes open the gate to God’s path of peace for us, and comforts ours hearts to face that day’s circumstances.

That, for me, is true contentment.

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Chasing Contentment – insight from Lori Hynson @LoriSuperGal on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lori HynsonAbout the author: Lori Hynson is a Recovering SuperGalaholic, author, speaker, Bible teacher, and singer. Her life ministry is to encourage women to recognize and be healed of their self-imposed SuperGal burdens, to find God’s abundant peace and contentment through His Word, and embrace the freedom they can experience daily in their new life in Christ.

Lori’s book, SuperGal vs. God, is the story of a woman who was convinced she could control everything life threw her way. Until she couldn’t fix the one thing that mattered most. A Bible study/book club guide on the truths in this story is also available.

Lori and her husband have five children, thirteen grandchildren, and enjoy living near Valley Forge, PA with their cats Wednesday and Natasha.

Join the conversation: For what blessings do you most often thank God? How does remembering to do so affect your attitude?

Need a Filter?

by Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”                                                                                                                                          Ephesians 4:29 NIV

A friend I worked with for several years was known for his sarcasm and quick comebacks. But after realizing his “humor” had hurt people’s feelings, he began to work hard to control his speech. Whenever he wanted to say something he knew he shouldn’t, he would pass his hand in front of his face as a physical reminder to “filter” his words. It was a visible reminder to himself to think before he spoke. It gave him pause. Of course, since his efforts weren’t subtle, we all knew he had left something unsaid.

Like my friend, we all need to “filter” our words before we allow them to leave our mouths, to check our speech for any impurities or damaging elements. Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t much value the verbal filter today. Instead, we want to hear every cutting, rude, crude, hurtful word. In fact, the more outrageous the better. All we have to do is tack on a “just saying” and it’s all good.

God not only tells His children we should use filters for our mouths, He tells us very specifically what we should filter out and what we should allow ourselves to say in Ephesians 4:29 NIV: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

The Greek word translated as “unwholesome” refers to far more than foul language or curse words. It means we shouldn’t say anything that tears down or deflates the one who hears our words. That doesn’t mean we don’t ever say anything hard or difficult to hear, but that the goal of our speech is to help and build up the other person.

This is so challenging for me! Think about this, what percentage of what comes out of our mouths helps and builds up the hearer? What percentage hurts or tears down the hearer?

Yes, I long for 100% of my words to build up and 0% to tear down. Unfortunately, my filter is often faulty. How about you?

God commands us to control our speech, so in part, using our filter is a step of obedience. But we also need the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit because “no one can tame the tongue” (James 3:8) on our own. We need His divine power!

If you want to tame the tongue and control your speech, join me in this “filter prayer”:

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3, NIV

Here’s the good news: God is waiting to help us control our speech! Let’s ask Him to help us keep that filter in place!

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Need a Filter? 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.

Kathy’s book “Before His Throne” leads you on a 9-week journey through the book of Malachi to discover what godly fear looks in our daily lives and how this biblical attitude will help you find deeper intimacy with God.

Join the conversation: What about you? Have you ever taken pride in your “anything goes” speech? Have you struggled to control it only to fail time and time again?

To Know and Make Known

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His
sufferings, being conformed to His death… Philippians 3:10 NASB

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 chilly 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 prophesy 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 relationship with Gomer would furnish a visible picture to Israel of God’s grace: choosing 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 requirement. 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 of them.

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 allows 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” (Isaiah 43:7 NASB). In the hard and sometimes inexplainable, 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 that glory on earth. So worth it.

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To Know and Make Known – @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 have you learned about Jesus through suffering?

All in Good Time

by Nan Corbitt Allen

My times are in Your hand…Psalm 31:15 NIV

I did a double take this morning.

As I was passing a window that leads to my back yard, I noticed something that wasn’t there yesterday. And it wasn’t there the day before or even several weeks before.

Back in the spring, I had planted some lovely, colorful flowers in a box that hangs on the railing of my back porch. I watered those flowers, I fed them, I nurtured them, and gave them plenty of sunlight. However, within a week or so they all died. Just like that. So I plucked them out of the soil and tossed them into the trash. What else could I do? I vowed to plant another batch later, so I just left the soil in the box and forgot about it.

This morning, however, a lone bloom caught my eye. Right where I had plucked his (or her) mates, there stood a gorgeous, perfect, proud little flower! I immediately started writing a dialogue for him (or her). “Hey guys, where’d everybody go? Guys?” OR “Hey, what do ya think of me now?”

I was a late bloomer myself so I understand.

I entered school in a state that had different age eligibility laws than where I finished school. I have a late fall birthday, and so when I transferred to another state, there were classmates who were a whole year older than I was. A lot of my school years I played catch-up—and with that came a lot of waiting: waiting to be old enough to date, to drive, to have certain privileges.

You’d think I’d learn patience with all the waiting, but I didn’t. I strained against the days, months, and years often trying to make things happen out of sequence. Usually my efforts were in vain. It’s taken me this long to realize that God’s timing is so much better than mine (even though I still sometimes struggle to accept it).

When I was a young teen, there was a song titled “Turn! Turn! Turn!” on the radio recorded by a popular group called The Birds. To my surprise the lyrics were straight out of the Bible—the third chapter of Ecclesiastes—which, according to my parents, made it appropriate for me to listen to. They even bought me the record!

Ecclesiastes 3 is a lesson in timing:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2 NIV).

 Even my lone flower knows this. It waited patiently for the perfect moment, and when no one was looking, decided to bloom. When no one was looking. That was the message I took away from this morning’s random bloom. God is constantly at work and often I am too busy to see it, and then I am surprised to see that “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (NIV Ecclesiastes 3: 11). When no one was looking.

I have a friend who often reminds me that God is sometimes slow, but He’s never late.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV Romans 8:28).

All in good time.

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All in Good Time – insight from 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 great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. 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: Has God’s timing for you ever proved way better than your expected time frame?