Filled to Overflowing

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

For years, I was a stale and stagnated Christian. Christ had deposited His living water within my soul, but it felt more like a trickling creek than a gushing river.

I wasn’t thriving. In fact, in many ways I was barely surviving. Then one weekend, I went on a women’s retreat and heard the account of the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42) who’d gone through a string of relationships, and, I felt certain, lived as empty as I was. She may have been widowed, abandoned, or she may have chosen divorce. But regardless of the causes, she’d committed to and then lost five different husbands. That had to have left emotional scars.

Jesus saw her pain and sought her out. He arrived at the community well, and after sending His disciples away, waited.

Upon the woman’s arrival to draw water, He initiated a conversation with her by asking for a drink of water. He wanted to make her conscious of a deeper, spiritual thirst she had that no physical liquid could quench. “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks for a drink,” he said, “you would have asked Him, and He would’ve given you living water” (John 4:10, NIV).

In ancient Palestine, water so necessary to life was scarce. Rain fell only a few months each year. But when it did, the previously brown and barren countryside suddenly became lush and green.

It was in that dry, barren environment that Jesus invited her to believe in Him. It was a chance to come fully alive for the first time in her life. Later in John, Jesus described the saving work of the Holy Spirit: “Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:37-39, NIV).

As I sat under this teaching that day, I felt confused. I’d already trusted in Christ for my eternal salvation. But I had never learned to truly live in response to His Holy Spirit (Jesus’ Living Water) in me. Much of this failure came down to one simple issue: I didn’t know how to live loved. The scars of past hurts, fears, and continual self-loathing covered my heart. It was all blocking me from fully accepting God’s continual grace being poured over me.

I spent so much time attempting to fill all my empty places—through alcohol, social interactions, and food—in an attempt to distance myself from the only One who could ever fill me completely.

I hadn’t a clue how to have an authentic relationship—with anyone, let alone the all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present yet invisible Creator. So I asked Him to show me. To teach me. To heal me.

And He did. For the next fifteen or so years, He has healed my wounds, removed my distrust, and helped me discover the freedom of living love.

Of living filled.

We receive God’s living water, the Holy Spirit, the moment we trust in Christ for salvation. But our experience doesn’t end there. As we deepen our relationship with Jesus and surrender more of ourselves to Him, the river God has deposited within us grows stronger.  It will soak into every crack and crevice in our hearts, filling us completely with His Living Water.  His Spirit pours out in a refreshing, life-giving stream.

…Be filled with the Spirit…singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:18-19 NASB

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Filled to Overflowing – encouragement 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, hosts the Faith Over Fear Podcast (available soon on Crosswalk) and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder Hometown Healing: A Fresh-Start Family Romance (Love Inspired) by [Slattery, Jennifer]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 HERE to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Join the Conversation: Let’s talk about this! Have you experienced God’s living water? Is something slowing the waters of God’s Spirit? How can you give Him more access to yourself so that He can flow within and from you unhindered?

When the Dragon is at the Door

by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ESV

Life is full of hard times. Some trials are the natural course of years on a fallen planet. But there are other tribulations – times that feel specific, targeted, relentless, and cruel.

It’s the moment you hear the news and life goes on spin cycle. The moment the waiting room becomes a war room. The moment that every minute on your knees feels like a version of boot camp – preparation for this specific battle.

It comes out of nowhere, but when you exhale and reflect, it makes sense why now, why you, why your loved one has come under fire. And you feel very still, calling on training you had no idea was for this; but now, you know.

Someone dares say it aloud. “Could it be?” they ask, worried you’ll think they’re one of those weird, mystical believers.

“Warfare, you mean?” you answer, as confident now as a soldier on his third tour of duty. Oh, yeah, you nod, it’s warfare.

But with this soul-sight you suddenly realize you have, those words seem like a simple observation – not insight, not a mysterious message, just an obvious acknowledgement that this is an enemy assault, a smart bomb with your name on it. Naming it spiritual warfare doesn’t end it, but it does empower you to wage a defensive assault.

First, you call for a shield wall. Everyone you know who has ever bent their knee, called to bend it now on your behalf. And there is no shame in wanting a large force of well-trained warriors at your side.

Then, you take stock. Confess. Repent. Re-commitment. James 4 all the way. Resist the evil one. Draw near to God. Call on the name of Jesus. And suddenly you know how Joshua felt standing with his toes on the border to the Promised Land, staring down giants.

Like him, you slide your helmet onto your head, slip the King’s breastplate over your breakable sternum – barely covering your racing heart. You encircle yourself with the belt of truth – knowing you want nothing to do with lies – knowing deception is the mustard gas of the enemy.

And you step into shoes fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace, hoping that anyone watching from the sidelines will see you fight and know you serve the Most High King, worthy of any sacrifice you may make on this field.

Curling your fingers round the hilt of the sword of the Word of the Spirit of God, you pray your shield of faith has been modernized, so it resembles the coverage power of the Starship Enterprise. So, it can encircle all those you love to withstand the fiery, hot breath of an ancient dragon refitted now with chemicals and laser beams.

You look the enemy in the eye and everything else goes strangely silent except the sound of your own breathing, barely breathing, and the pounding of your heart like a raging waterfall, fueled by the melting snows in the mountains of your worst imaginations, as you await the voice of your Commanding Officer.

Disaster has come to your tent, but you are not a victim. You are a warrior. And while all is fair in love and war; war will have its end. Love will stretch into eternity and take you home on eagles’ wings.

The dragon is already defeated, and you are already a conqueror, safe in the heart of your Father- King. You are His favored child, and Joshua sits beside Him, calling you out onto the field.

Advance. Advance. Advance.

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When the Dragon is at the Door – insight on #FollowingGod from @LoriSRoeleveld on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

lori Roeleveld Headshot 2015About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

Join the conversation: Have you been in a battle with the dragon recently? Please share your experience!

Where to Find Hope When You Fear the Future

by Tammy Kennington @TammyKennington

I can’t sleep. Anxiety has wrapped its vice-grip around my stomach and presses hard on my chest. My turbulent thoughts spin and quicken my pulse. Bile rises in the back of my throat as one silent, dooming message after another ticks across the screen of my mind. Help me, Lord! I don’t utter the words aloud, but they pour from my soul, thick with worry and fear.

I know I’m supposed to pray for the dear ones on my heart. But I can’t even imagine a good outcome. How could anything worthy or beautiful come from an ugly, sin-ridden situation like this one? How can God possibly bring something beautiful from the rubble?

I persist in whispering prayers to the heart of my Father as the day moves on. The situation continues to be on my mind, still preoccupying me at times. But eventually the anxiety begins to fade as He reminds me about His faithful provision to His children, repeated in history time and time again.

When Naomi lost hope, God gave her Ruth.

When Mary heard of Christ’s impending birth, God sent her to Elizabeth.

When David faced the sword of the king, God offered protection through Jonathan.

When Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendego walked through the fire, the Lord stood with them.

When the waves washed over Peter, Jesus pulled him from the depths.

When the enemy laughed because He’d thought he’d overcome, Christ rose from the grave.

We all experience both ends of each spectrum: joy and sorrow, celebration and grief, delight and despair. Because we live in a world designed by God but polluted by the enemy, our experiences will oscillate between glimpses of heaven and encounters with hell.

For. A. Time.

Then Christ will scoop each of His children up into the arms of eternity. The sorrow? Destroyed. The grief? Overcome. The despair? Decimated. Instead, we will only know and remember the love, mercy, and grace of the God who brought us through it all.

I long for the timelessness of all that is good and beautiful, don’t you? In the meantime, though, our wrestling with worry, anxiety and fear can take a back seat to the faithfulness of God.

If He extended grace before the cross, what will He do for you now? Oh, Friend, you are safe beneath His wings.

Perhaps you’re struggling this week in the same way I have. Why not recite these words of hope as a proclamation of God’s love for you? Complete the blanks with your name as a reminder that you are beloved by Him:

When _______________ was without hope, God gave her new life in Jesus.

When ________________ faced impending trials or accusations, God was her shield.

When ________________ walked through the fire, the Lord stood with her.

When the waves washed over _________________, Jesus pulled her from the depths.

While the enemy laughed because He’d thought he’d overcome __________________, Christ had already won her victory.

Print off this list of verses to pray over and recite when the enemy comes at you with fear and anxiety. And fight Satan’s lies with the truth.

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Where to Find Hope When You Fear the Future – insight from @TammyKennington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Tammy KenningtonAbout the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, education workshop presenter, and child abuse awareness advocate. Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy leads women toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the God who loves them. The author of five children’s nonfiction books, Tammy has Moving From Pain to Peace: A Journey Toward Hope by [Kennington, Tammy]also written articles and devotions for Thriving Family, The Upper Room, MOPS and several other publications.

Does emotional pain and suffering hold you back from experiencing joy? Moving from Pain to Peace provides hope and healing through hands-on study of Biblical truths, journaling and prayer. Why not take the first step toward recovery from your wounds today?

Join the conversation: What helps you the most when you are consumed by anxiety or fear?

TRANSFORMED!

by Fran Caffey Sandin

“Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5: 17 NASB).

 Humpback whales cavorting in a feeding frenzy, soaring bald eagles, and a brown bear with two cubs climbing on the shoreline rocks were among the many wildlife sightings on our Alaska Dream Cruise. A small ship with 40 passengers sailing from Ketchikan to Sitka stopped for a brief tour of Thorne Bay. The small town of 473 currently featured seasonal residents plus those employed in the Forest Service and public education. Our tour guide explained its colorful history.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s Thorne Bay was the largest logging camp in North America and boasted 1500 residents at its peak. During that time, the city outgrew the sanitation plant from the early days, so they built a new one. The city wanted to sell the old site. Some adventurous members of a local church decided the location was great for the right price, so they bid on the property and won.

Today, the lovely Church at Thorne Bay is a beacon of light overlaying an old sewage dump. Isn’t that a perfect picture of what Jesus does for us when His blood covers our sins? Thinking about the comparison just made me smile. Jesus covered the stench of our sin with the beautiful fragrance of his holiness. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

During our trip, my husband and I met Roxy, a lovely, vivacious brunette who had majored in media and communications in college. After graduation, she moved to Hollywood to become an actress.

She did. But God had more in store for her. Her eyes sparkled as she related a life-changing encounter. On a movie set, she met a couple who asked two simple questions, “Do you believe the Bible?  Do you believe Jesus is who He said He is?” Startled at first, she began meditating about the questions. In younger years she had attended church but had never seriously considered the claims of Jesus. She enjoyed the social gatherings but never really knew Jesus in her heart.

After meeting the couple, she began reading her Bible, confessing her sins, and received Jesus as her personal Savior. She asked Him to help her start a new life. Acknowledging her anger and controlling ways, she contemplated the words of Jesus. God began to change her. She developed a desire to serve others, rather than to be served. As a result, she sold or gave away most of her belongings and moved to Alaska to work at a Bed & Breakfast. Unfortunately, a short time later the B&B closed.

She prayed and asked the Lord. “What do I do now?” His promptings led her to a large, beautiful house where Roxy took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. Her heart pounding as she waited, a kind woman opened the door and listened when Roxy explained that she needed a place to work. Roxy did not know the lady was a founding member of the Alaska Dream Cruise line, but God did.

Roxy left with a sigh of relief and a spring in her step. The lady, a believer, offered her a job as an on-board steward—to serve meals, clean rooms, and do other chores. Roxy obeyed God’s nudges and He provided. She is excited and happy for me to write her story because she wants to share her joy.  In her own words, “I have been transformed!”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your Holy Spirit’s power to conform us to becoming more like Jesus. Thank you that our old thoughts, ways, and habits turn completely around when we take His words seriously and apply them to our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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TRANSFORMED! – insight from Fran Caffey Sandin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

fran sandlinAbout the authorFran Caffey Sandin is a retired nurse, wife, mother, and grandmother in Greenville, Texas. She enjoys baking, flower arranging, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Jim. Fran is a church organist, a core group leader for Community Bible Study, and author of See You Later, Jeffreyand Touching the Clouds: True Stories to Strengthen Your Faithand has co-authored othersJim and Fran are parents of two sons awaiting them in Heaven; a married daughter and son-in-law, and three fabulous grandchildren. Visit Fran at her website:  www.fransandin.com.

Join the conversation: What are evidences in your life that God is transforming you?

Am I Doing Enough for God?

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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 11:28-30 NIV

A mother of three young children, who works part-time, recently told me: “I sometimes feel guilty that I’m not doing enough for God.”

Have you ever found yourself saying that?

We live in a world focused on doing to the point of making busyness our badge of success. Multi-tasking in the church is what appears to others—and ourselves—as ultra-spiritual. But while a relationship with the Living God produces a desire to obey and serve Him, that service results in joy and rest, not perpetual stress!

I shared with that precious mom that her ministry was her husband and the three little lives she shaped and influenced on a daily basis. I also shared that God wanted a relationship, not a work record from her.

I believe God would rather have us be with Him than do a bunch of things for Him. We can see that desire in Jesus’ response to a man who asked about the greatest of all the commandments. Jesus’ answer was “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NIV).

God is focused on relationship. We tend to be focused on activity. He is the One who tells us to “be still” (Psalm 46:10) and to come to Him and rest (Matthew 11:28). We are the ones who are striving to do more.

Yet, as we spend time cultivating a love relationship with God, we will know how to serve others well. But it will never be at the expense of overlooking our primary responsibilities (our families and those God has placed in our care) or feeling over-extended.

If you are a mom with young children, or a woman who works full time, or someone who has her hands full (and who doesn’t these days?), rest in the truth that as you grow in your love for God, your labor will naturally follow. As you sit at His feet, He will eventually call you to get up and serve Him. And as you are growing in your love relationship with Him, you will learn how to discern the difference between His loving voice and the voice of your own guilt telling you to do more.

Lord, help me to remember that Your greatest requirement of me is to love You before anyone and anything else.

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Am I Doing Enough for God? insight 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 strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), When You’re Running on Empty, When Women Long for Rest, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources Cindi McMenamin Long for Rest book cover (1)to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with guilt about not doing enough for God?

The Ripple Effect

by Donna Sparks @Donnasparks28

Most of us have experienced the simple act of tossing a pebble into a pond to see what happens. I remember the amazement I experienced as a child when I tossed a stone and watched the circles appear on the glassy surface. Little by little, they would expand farther and farther across the lake.

We refer to this as the ripple effect. One tiny sudden impact on the surface of still water can send out ripples that eventually reach the opposite shore.

We may think that a tiny pebble tossed into a giant lake can’t have much of an impact, but it obviously does. The same kind of effect happens when one life is touched by Jesus. Recently as I was ministering in the local jail, a precious young lady gave her heart to Christ.

As I worked with her, Angel became hungry for more of God. It was obvious that He had impacted her life in a powerful way. I could sense a strong call to ministry on her life, and she wanted everything God had to offer her.

Angel called me when she was released. She was so excited as we talked about her long drive home with her father. She related to me how she had told him everything she learned in the jail services. She talked about the Bible lessons I had shared with them and how my testimony had inspired her to follow Jesus. I was so thrilled to hear the excitement in her voice.

But it kept getting better. She said, “Miss Donna, when I got home, I sat down with my family and read the Bible to them! But that’s not all! I prayed with them, and they accepted Christ as their Savior.” I almost shouted right then and there!

She continued, “And, Miss Donna, we have found a wonderful church just seven miles from our house. We are all going this Sunday!” I was overjoyed! She shared the name of the church with me, and I told her I would give the pastor a call on Monday.

When I called him, he told me that she and her parents did come to church on Sunday. He said that their church had just started a new program for former addicts and those still struggling with addictions.

He also shared his plans with me to get Angel involved.

And he did. Angel called me back bursting with excitement, as she told me how the pastor was getting her planted in several areas of ministry! Both of her parents are attending church with her, and she is absolutely thrilled to see what future plans God has for her. She hopes to minister in jails and share her own testimony someday.

Sometimes we may feel that we are having little to no impact in what we are doing for Christ. But that is nothing more than a lie from the enemy. The smallest thing can make the biggest impact. Just like a tiny pebble causing ripples across a lake, our testimony shared with another individual can change a life. When that changed individual shares their testimony, other lives are changed. The ripples keep reaching outward.

We have to remember that the impact we make on one person can extend farther than we can even imagine. Oh, the stories we will share in Heaven when we meet those whose lives were changed as an indirect result of our ministry. Small beginnings yield huge results in eternity!

So, keep casting those small pebbles out into the lake. You never know how far those ripples may travel. You could well make an impact far greater than you will ever know.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth. It will not return to Me empty without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.                                                                                           Isaiah 55:10-11 NASB

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The Ripple Effect – insight on #FollowingGod from @DonnaSparks28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

donna sparksAbout the author: Donna Sparks is an evangelist and author of  Beauty from Ashes: My Story of Grace. A sought-after speaker for women’s conferences and retreats, Donna travels extensively to minister in churches and other venues. She also leads a vibrant and fruitful women’s jail and prison ministry, through which she has seen God perform countless miracles in the lives of the ladies to whom she ministers. Donna has been married for twenty-one years to the love of her life, Bryan, and they are raising their two daughters to know and experience the reality of God, the fullness of His love, and His power to lead them. Her newest book No Limits: Embracing the Miraculous, released on Oct. 1st.

Join the conversation: Have you seen the ripple effect happen in your life or ministry?

 

 

When No One Seems to Notice

by Ava Pennington @AvaPennington

Ministry can sometimes be discouraging work in the best of times. It may become even more discouraging when we’ve poured ourselves into our calling and no one seems to notice our efforts. Or maybe we’ve worked and worked . . . and someone else gets the credit for what we’ve accomplished.

As Christians, we know we serve to glorify the Lord. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world . . . let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16 NIV). The goal of our work is to glorify the Father, not ourselves.

Still, it’s natural to want someone to notice and acknowledge our efforts. We all need encouragement. Certainly, the Bible exhorts us to encourage one another.

But the Lord knows our hearts. He knows our motivations. I’ve found God will frequently allow periods of anonymity or discouragement in my life to reveal my motives. If I’m ready to give up because of a lack of recognition or appreciation, that tells me my motives have been all wrong.

It’s no accident that among the hundreds of named women in Scripture, there are also more than one hundred references to unnamed individual women or groups of women. Immortalized in Scripture for all time, yet virtually unknown apart from being identified by their circumstances. It doesn’t seem quite fair.

Yet nothing escapes God’s notice. He knows who they are—each and every one of them. And he knows who we are, what we’re doing, and why we do it. Jesus reminded his followers that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30 NIV). In Genesis 16:13, Hagar was amazed that God knew all about her, and she called Him El Roi, the God Who Sees.

So the next time you’re discouraged because of a lack of recognition or appreciation, there’s only one thing to do. Run straight into the arms of El Roi. Take comfort in knowing the Lord sees all you do and will reward you in His time and in His perfect way.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10 NIV).

So who are we really serving? Paul reminds us in I Thessalonians 2:4 (NIV), “We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.” And in Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV), he wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

When we’re in ministry the recognition and pay may not be much, but we can look forward to a retirement plan that’s out of this world!

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward his name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. Hebrews 6:10 NASB

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When No One Seems to Notice – insight 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: Have you ever struggled with a lack of recognition?

Giving up Control

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

“They will not fear bad news. Their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

I watched him climb the 3-foot retaining wall at the park, his legs pushing his stocky frame upward. As he stood on the makeshift balance beam, arms stretched out wide, my mom instincts kicked into high gear. I rushed to hold my five-year-old’s hand, helping him walk safely to the end of the wall.

I remember hearing my husband chuckle, watching me rush to offer support that wasn’t even needed. “The wall’s only 3-feet high,” he said. “What’s the worst that could happen?” He knew this wasn’t the only time I had unnecessarily run to my son’s rescue.

I adored my God-given calling to be a mom: loving him, caring for him, protecting him. It was my greatest joy. But in my zeal to keep him safe, was I controlling too much? My husband knew something I had yet to learn. If I didn’t let him try on his own, he wouldn’t know how to pick himself up after a fall. I needed to let go.

Parenting isn’t the only place I crave control. Whether it’s controlling my circumstances, plans, or other people, it’s easy for me to excuse away my controlling habits. I’m tempted to say, “That’s just who I am. A go-getter. An organizer. Someone who takes charge.” But there was much more behind my inability to let go.

Control is first revealed in Scripture in Genesis chapter 3, when Eve and Adam faced consequences for eating the forbidden fruit. God spoke to Eve and said, “And you will desire to control your husband…” (Gen. 3:16 NIV).

Could it be that the struggle with our need to control began when sin entered the world? One thing is certain. When I remove the mask of control, I reveal insecurities I’d rather not see. Things like fear, worry, and the desire to feel needed come to mind, and these things are not of God.

I’m guilty of trying to prevent bad news from happening. I’d rather formulate a grand escape plan than watch my son fall to the ground and get a scraped knee. Only when nothing else works do I turn to God instead of making Him my first choice.

Things won’t always be easy, but we can walk through anything with assurance that God is with us, even when we fall. The verse above gives us hope today. We do not have to let fear or worry drive us to try and control any situation. We can turn our hearts toward God and trust the outcome to Him.

I may have prevented a scraped knee or twisted ankle all those years ago, but now that my child’s a young adult, the walls of life are higher. But the risks are greater. With every decision he makes, thoughts of that day at the wall come flooding back. But instead of rushing to hold his hand this time, I see God sitting there a safe distance away, just watching. My job is to stand back and pray this simple prayer.

Lord, as I face the day’s challenges, you will be my first choice instead of my last resort. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you’re struggling to release control today, allow this life-changing prayer to help change your perspective. Let’s pray these words every time we desire to take control.

Remembering to give our problems to Him first will remove fear, worry, and insecurity from our hearts and replace them with trust, peace, and rest. May we keep steadfast hearts focused on our Heavenly Father today. He is our first and best choice.

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Giving up Control – insight from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing insight with her readers in relatable ways. Her lessons highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Check out Kristine’s weekly devotions and other resources at kristinebrown.net.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with wanting to control a given situation? Share your story!

What Do You Do With A Sign?

by Sheri Schofield

I was driving home the other day when a flashing road sign caught my attention: “GOAT INSPECTION AHEAD”, then a new flashing message, “GOATS WILL BE INSPECTED SEPARATELY.”

Whaaaaat? Yes, we do live in cowboy country. But most people have cattle and horses. Very few people have goats. I have certainly never heard of a goat inspection! And weren’t they getting a little picky by inspecting each goat separately? It sounded strange to me! Who came up with this idea anyway? Were the goats carrying some awful disease? And should I be concerned about it??

Then I saw a sign further down the road. It said, “BOAT INSPECTION HERE.”  Ooooh! The first sign was missing some light bulbs. Now I got it!

There’s a sign-dependent man in the Bible. In fact, this man was really big on signs: Gideon. Yes, I know: Men aren’t usually interested in asking for directions! But Gideon was. He asked God for a sign – then two, then three – because he just couldn’t believe what God had asked him to do.  (“Are you sure all the candles are working on that sign?” he probably wondered!)

Many in the land of Israel had turned away from God and were worshipping idols, including Gideon’s dad. So God sent their neighboring enemies to invade the land. Every harvest time, they would come in and strip the land of everything they could find. They brought their own livestock with them, since that was their mode of transportation. Their livestock would eat all the plants in the fields. Then the enemies would return home.

This left the people of Israel starving, and they finally cried out to God for help. In time, God moved to rescue them. He sent his angel to see Gideon, a nobody from a very small tribe. The angel found Gideon threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress which was well hidden from the invading armies of Midian. The angel said, “Hey, mighty hero! God is with you!”

Gideon was indignant. “Whaaaaat? Then why is God allowing all this hardship? Where are God’s miracles that we’ve heard so much about? It feels like God has abandoned us and turned us over to the Midianites!”

The next line gets a little more specific about who that angel was. “Then the LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go with the strength you have and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” (Judges 6:14, NLT)

Don’t you just love those words! God himself was telling Gideon to rescue his people!

But Gideon couldn’t believe it. He protested that he was the least in his family, and his family was the weakest in Israel! Finally, he asked for a sign to reassure him he was getting it right. . . and God did as he asked.

Gideon asked for two more signs, and God patiently honored those additional requests. Then he used Gideon, least in his family which was from the least of the tribes, to deliver Israel.

God most often chooses the weak to carry out His business. It’s counter-intuitive to how the world thinks, of course. So it’s hard for us to imagine He would choose to use little old us. But as the Lord explained to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for [My] power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB). God chooses “the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong…so that no man may boast before God” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NASB).

Do you have a great desire to see God reach someone for eternity and rescue them from Satan’s power, but you feel insignificant and not skilled enough for God to use you to do it? Hear this: The LORD . . . the same LORD who spoke to Gideon . . . put that burden on your heart. He wants you to step out in faith and trust Him to provide the right words. The Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost is now living in you and stands ready to help you share the gospel. Go in the strength that you have, for the Lord is with you!

“… I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. In those days, I will pour out my Spirit even on servants, men and women alike . . . And anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Joel 2:28, 29, 32, NLT

TWEETABLE
What Do You Do With A Sign? insight fro Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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

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

Join the Conversation: Has God ever given you a sign?

Receiving Peace in the Night

by Judy R. Slegh

A while ago, an event precipitated a sleepless night for me. It involved a choice my son made to hang out with friends over the weekend. Because of past compromises proving his inability to say no, I became fearful of what might happen while he was away. As I wrestled with the reality of placing my loved one into the complete care of God, I asked Holy Spirit a simple question.

“Holy Spirit, am I awake due to my spirit being unsettled or due to my soul (mind, will, and emotions) being unsettled?”

Immediately I heard, “It is your soul.”

He chided me saying, “Your loved one isn’t having a sleepless night, why should you?”

I then repented for allowing my soul to rob me of my peace and my sleep. I deliberately handed the issues with which I had been struggling to God. He assured me He was taking care of the situation and I could sleep restfully now. Within minutes, I fell asleep and stayed asleep for the rest of the night.

In the morning, I searched Scripture to validate this conversation with God.

I came across Psalm 16:7-9 NIV which states,

“I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,

The prayerful interaction I had in the night was God counseling me! Remembering His watchful concern and care prodded me to stop worrying about possible catastrophic events. I had let my mind race out of control. He was urging my mind to not be shaken so I could rest.

Then I was reminded of a verse I learned long ago. Isaiah 26:3 (NIV) states: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Once again, this was a confirmation to my mind and gave me peace.

I also asked the clarifying question, “What should I have done if my spirit was unsettled?”

Quickly I heard, “It would be an unction to intercede as needed for your loved one. I will keep you up as long as is needed, and then perfect and peaceful sleep will come easily.”

At times, this has happened after I ask the question, “Is it my spirit or soul?” and heard that my spirit was unsettled. I obediently and groggily got up and contended in prayer for about an hour. Sometimes it is more. Sometimes is it less. Then I sense it is time for sleep. This has been a great revelation to align myself to His promptings in the night and get peaceful sleep when He tells me everything is fine.

Asking the right questions has brought incredible peace to me at night. Especially when my children were in their teen years. Now they are spread across the world. It has been a stretch for me to let them go in obedience to the call of God, but asking the right questions in the night has brought many restful nights.

Paul assures us to trust Him in prayer, even when we don’t know the details. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 NIV

TWEETABLE
Receiving Peace in the Night – insight from Judy R. Slegh on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

judy sleghAbout the author: Judy R. Slegh is passionate in helping others get free of emotional baggage through healing prayer. She leads and mentors the growing team of prayer ministers and prayer intercessors at Nephros Ministries. Being a Minnesotan, she enjoys kayaking on lakes and rivers as well as bird watching with her husband Daryl.

In her first book, Help! I Have a Prodigal, Judy offers compassion and hope to those wearied by the turmoil of loving someone who has turned away from the faith and value systems of his or her upbringing. Experience compassion, hope, and healing through devotional readings, thoughtful questions, and prayers designed to help you identify and unpack your emotional baggage, freeing you to welcome your prodigal home.

Join the conversation: Has God ministered to you in the night?