From Mess to Masterpiece

by Jennifer Smith Lane

We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.                                                       Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Have you ever introduced yourself as a masterpiece of fine art? I’m guessing probably not yet. Paul calls us “God’s masterpiece.” Do you know what that means? When God created you, He created a work of art that is one of a kind, custom designed, and tailor-made by the Master’s hand! Often when we look at ourselves, we don’t see a masterpiece at all. Instead, our view is distorted by lenses that magnify every little flaw, blemish, and imperfection like a flashing neon sign.

Consider this scenario. Imagine yourself standing with an artist before his masterpiece, would you point out all the things you don’t like about it, maybe what he could have done differently to make it better, or even brazenly take a brush to alter his work? Probably not.

Don’t we do the same thing when we scoff at ourselves in front of our Maker?

The prophet Isaiah says, “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘You know nothing?’” (Isaiah 29:16 NIV) Ouch! I don’t know about you, but I never thought of my sharp critiques of myself as harsh criticism of my Creator.

Even though you may not appreciate yourself as purposefully made and feel like you should just be tossed in the trash, it doesn’t make you, God’s creation, any less valuable! 2 Corinthians 3:5 says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (NASB). A masterpiece is still a masterpiece no matter where it is…even if it’s in the trash bin.

The truth about who you are is beautifully described by God in Psalm 139:

He knows when I sit and when I rise (2)

He is familiar with all my ways (3)

He is with me guiding me and holding me fast (10)

He created my inmost being (13)

He knit me together in my mother’s womb (13)

His works are fearfully and wonderfully made (14)

He saw my unformed body when I was made in the secret place (15-16)

He searches me and knows my heart (23)

He leads me in the way everlasting (24)

God knows you. He knows your thoughts and actions. He created you, designed you, and you’re breathtaking. He knew you from the beginning, inside and out. In fact, God loves you so much, He sent His Son to die on the cross for you!

Take a minute and soak in the truth, that even if you do nothing to change yourself, you are enough just the way you are. If you ever begin to doubt how much God loves you or how pleased He is with you as His creation, take off those old lenses and remind yourself of how God sees you through the lens of Psalm 139.

From Mess to Masterpiece – encouragement 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: Do you struggle with your worth?

Living as a Genuine Article or Cheap Knock-Off

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

I’ve just returned from a fabulous conference. It was a week filled with new ideas, new resources, great speakers, and a fresh infusion of “I can do this!” I brought home a long list of goals requiring my immediate attention.

That’s a lot of pressure. I do believe career boosting greatness and incredible results are possible—if I can just find the time and energy.

“Someone busier than you is making it happen!” This quote is a frantic reminder I’m falling behind on my to-do list; someone is beating me to it! As though it (whatever it may be) is in limited supply and only the first 25 on-the-ball doers can snatch the prize. But that’s just not true.

That pressure is magnified by Facebook. You’ve seen the posts: “I signed up for three online courses guaranteed to advance my career. That promotion is locked in!” Or “I did XXX at the gym today. Totally pumped!” I’m so far out of the gym loop, I don’t even know what the XXX would be.

Please don’t misunderstand. I believe progress toward goals is worth the time, and when you move forward, you deserve to celebrate. I’m a to-do list girl. I love checking off the boxes. But are they the right boxes?

Interestingly, I discovered earlier this year there’s “National Be on Purpose Month.” I don’t think there’s a parade or a pageant, but it’s a thing. Please note the wording in the official title: “be” not “do.”

Why is that significant? Because as His children, who God called us to be is more important than anything we could ever do without clarity on that single point.

Who has He called you to be? It’s about identity. We hear a lot about it these days, but what is it? A definition from Merriam Webster is helpful: “The qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group differ from others.”

Identity theft is common these days, and I’m not talking about someone hijacking your debit card PIN. The Fallen One is all about stealing what the Lord has given us. (John 10:10) If he can talk us out of who God designed us to be, we may adopt an identity and work to reinvent ourselves. And often, we do it in imitation of someone we admire. So instead of living as the genuine article— the one and only you—we become a cheap knock off of someone else.

Author Ken Boa is on target: “Scripture clearly teaches that we were never meant to be autonomous individuals who make our own way in this world apart from God. We cannot even know ourselves without knowing the One through whom and for whom we were created.”

God’s imprint for us is unique. He knew us before He formed us in our mother’s womb and set us apart (Jeremiah 1:5). And trying to reinvent ourselves outside of what He has designed us to be can be markedly dissatisfying. Even when we have achieved the success and accolades we’ve worked so hard for, we’re often left feeling surprised at the emptiness we experience at the finish line. Authentic identity is powerful, releasing freedom that can’t be duplicated.

We need to protect ourselves against identity theft. God created, designed, and fashioned each of us, calling us on purpose for a (particular) purpose. I struggle less with this now than ever before, but it’s still a daily vigil. And Holy Spirit is invited to tap on my heart when I stray. I keep Him busy some days.

Are you becoming His genuine article? Or are you busy doing good things?

“For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), created in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

Living as a Genuine Article or Cheap Knock-Off? @DebDeArmond on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: Have you strayed from the you God created you to be?


Quit Playing the Comparison Game

by Twila Belk

For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].
Ephesians 2:10 AMP

Linda brought several boxes filled with handmade pottery to our meeting and gave each of us the opportunity to choose one item as a gift. She had a wide variety of beautiful pieces—vases, plates, pots, and bowls—which made for a tough decision. I gazed at the assortment and considered the options, and then I discovered a pot I couldn’t resist. It had my name written all over it. Unlike any of the other pots, it was full-bodied, lumpy, lopsided, and had a warped mouth. I loved it.

My special acquisition now sits on a shelf in my living room and serves as a visual reminder of how the Master Potter created each of us differently. I share the unique characteristics of that pot, at the risk of sounding peculiar, because I’m that kind of  vessel. A unique creation God can use mightily for his work.

I know that. I teach that. Yet sometimes I get distracted by a person named Penelope Perfect. If I fall into her trap, she causes me to doubt who I am and leaves me in a state of discontentment.

You know Penelope, don’t you? She …

  • is witty, charming, and wise;
  • makes her own clothes, is a fabulous cook, and maintains a spotless house;
  • has obedient, well-behaved children who excel in everything they do;
  • leads a weekly international Bible study;
  • publishes a new best-selling book every month;
  • is an eloquent, hilarious, and dynamic communicator;
  • runs a fortune 500 company and owns a private jet;
  • established multiple charities around the world;
  • plays fifteen musical instruments—some while standing on her head;
  • has a flawless body with muscles and curves in all the right places;
  • and when she enters a room, awe-inspiring music plays and heads slowly turn.

We can find Penelope on Facebook, in meetings, at church, and lots of other places, reminding us of how perfect she is and how much we lack. She’s dangerous!

We might say, “Why can’t I be more like her?” We might envy her life. But doing that is unproductive. It undermines our confidence and strength and causes us to question our purpose.

One day I had an aha moment while reading Psalm 139:16, which says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” If I’m so set on being someone else and living their ordained days, who will do the things I was created to do with my ordained days? Who will tell the stories that only I can tell? Who will touch the lives that only I can touch?

No one can do me like I can do me. No one can do you like you can do you. God gave us our own ordained days to do things nobody else can do.

We’re incomparable. Let’s be strong in who we are.

Penelope Perfect is a dangerous person, Lord. When she distracts me, she causes me to forget who I am. She tempts me to be just like her. But you didn’t create me to be like anyone else, Lord. I’m incomparable. And you have things for me to do that nobody else can do. Who will do them if I don’t? You have a purpose and plan for me, and it’s not Penelope Perfect’s purpose and plan. Help me to be strong in who I am. I want to be the best me I can be, and I want to serve you in incomparable ways. Thank you for the one and only me!

This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, (c) 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.

twila belkAbout the Author: Also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila Belk  loves braggin’ on God. Whether she’s writing, speaking, or teaching, she offers hope and encouragement for people to fix their eyes on him. Twila is the author of The Power to Be: Be Still, Be Grateful, Be Strong, Be Courageous and Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose as well as five other books. Mom to three grown children and Grandma to three precious little boys, Twila lives with her husband in Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River and the home of American Pickers, John Deere tractors, and Whitey’s ice cream.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 51veIj1tu+L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book,  The Power to Be, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Do you ever have problems with Penelope Perfect?